Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Leap 7 & 9 Month Check Up

Still a big fan of the Isabella show, BUT these leaps can take a flying one!

For real, these developmental leaps are awesome.  It is amazing how this little girl grows with each one.  However, the initial stage of moodiness, clinginess, and weird sleep stuff (though not full on regression) is for the birds.   Girlfriend goes from laughing to crying within seconds.  I haven't taken any crying pictures, but here are some silly ones:

It appears this leap started on Sunday and the clinginess this go round is off the charts.  Similar to leap 6, Isabella gets upset if I leave the room (even if she can see me or hear me).  When I am in the room she is only happy if she has my complete and undivided attention.  When it is time for me to go to class-WATCH OUT!  It is meltdown city the size of which we had not seen before.  Oh, and for an added bonus our younger dog Aiden is the king of empathy and cries right along with her:(.   Tuesday she cried the whole time my friend Stacy and her daughterd watcher her. 

Last night was the first night sweet neighbor was watching her.  Brittany teaches first grade and even though I offered to pay her, she said she would be happy to do it free of charge.  Bless her; however, after last night I wonder if she regrets her spirit of volunteerism.  As soon as Brittany walked in the room Isabella started wailing.  I intentionally had her in the high chair eating Cheerios to try to mitigate and avoid a heart breaking "cling"on removal session.  Brittany put her in her coat and stroller and they went for a walk.  I texted to check on them and she said Isabella stopped crying at the end of the driveway and even smiled a few times.  However, J.T. said when he got her Brittany had to bounce her around to keep her calm when they got home.   Today I went out to lunch with a friend and her kids.  I attempted to leave the table to go to the restroom and baby girl almost blew out a lung the minute I was out of sight.  Had to take her with me!

Tonight is one last sitter for the week.  Next week I don't have to go to class on Wednesday so that may help some.  Even better, maybe we will be past this nonsense and my feisty, spirited INDEPENDENT little girl will return.

We went out to lunch after baby girl's appointment.  All is well.  Apparently I have to learn to live with the 4:45 am wake up calls until she adjusts herself which sucks, but she is healthy so that is all that matters.  She has three top teeth about to make a debut and the doctor gave some suggestions for finger foods a two-toothed child can eat in the meantime.  Her eyes continue to have difficulty draining which means they are often goopy and crusty.  I found some saline wipes that seem to be working better than other cloths we have used  and the doctor said 99% of babies have this clear up on their own.  Here's to hoping baby girl saves being a part of the 1% for something special and not for eye duct surgery!

Monday, January 29, 2018

6 Month Anniversary

Of what you may ask...well it has been 6 months since I have started my little child care endeavor.  An endeavor that both my mother and my husband were not 100% sure would be a success.  If I'm being honest I was kind of touch and go there at the beginning myself!

I have retained 2 of the initial 4 families I started with.  Poor H had to find somewhere else that he could find a way to sleep (I am assuming he did or maybe they ended up doing a nanny-I would love to know).  Then this past Friday was the last day (for this school year anyway) for the K & K siblings.  Poor baby K could not handle all the transitions that having three different sitters brings (who can blame him?!) and none of us could take him full time, so his mom had to find another sitter who could watch him five days a week.  The good news is that she will be watching him for three days in his own house and the other two at hers.  I think that is just what this little boy needs. 

His mom is still interested in having me watch them again next school year (she's a teacher) this time full time, but I'm going to have to see how this dissertations "stuff" goes over the next month or so before committing to two full time kids.  Also I am noticing Fridays creeping into the 18 month old's schedule more often so really it would be almost three kids full time which technically pulls the trigger for licensing...hmm, I'm thinking no...

Anyway 6 months in and we have as much of a groove as you are going to get with tiny creatures who have wants and needs that change as often as the wind blows.  And you know what?   Even if it WAS a disaster I am still getting a front row seat to the Isabella show each and every day.  It was well worth the 6 year wait!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Weekend Roundup

It started as a very busy weekend but then mellowed out as time went on.  On Friday, I had four kids all day (including Isabella).  We all made it through the day unscathed:).  A friend brought over her 4 year old and a friend to play for awhile so it was nice to have another adult to talk to. 

Isabella has been waking up between 4:30 and 5:00am like she has somewhere to be, so I am still going to bed early even on the weekends which kind of stinks.  But it's just a phase, right?!?

Saturday we went out for Mexican as a family and for our couch date we put together a Lego model.  Only took two grown adults with 4.5 degrees between them an 1.5 hours to do.  Betcha the 12 year olds it was intended for can get it done faster!

I was also texting with a friend of a friend who found out that she has Turner's Syndrome and feel like adoption is their avenue for building their family.  Once again I am guiding another family AWAY from our adoption professional.  It SUCKS that we have so much invested in them and are so anti-what they do:(.

Sunday it rained all day.  Isabelle must have been feeling the the gloom because girlfriend was such a fussy britches!  We went to the library and the dollar store so that kept her entertained for a little while.

I was supposed to spend a healthy part of the weekend working on an annotated bibliography but with trying to entertain a fussy baby and spend time with my husband (and let's be honest finish the current season of Hart of Dixie which I started watching on a whim on Netflix and catch up on This is Us) very few biblios got annotated.  It is due tomorrow so hopefully the little children ill cooperate and I can get it done!

Friday, January 26, 2018

One More Shot

I began reading infertility blogs when we were first diagnosed in 2011.  They served as a place for comfort and hope.  Depending on my mood I would seek tales of success or actively search for women like me who were still suffering through the throughs of the unknown.  As time went on I added adoption blogs to my repertoire.  In the beginning months of 2016 I looked for blogs written by women who used Donor Eggs and Donor Embryos as we were trying to determine our next steps. 

Maya was one of these women.

Maya and her husband Noah joined what Maya calls IF Island around the same time we did.  After attempting IUI's, IVF and IVF with donor eggs without success, they successfully began their family through the gift of donor embryos.  Their daughter, whom they refer to on the blog as Momo, was born in March of 2015.  Maya and Noah also have a gift for film making and created a documentary sharing their experience which was recently released: 

I have been looking forward to its release and was excited when I found out it was available on Netflix.  Despite my excitement, I have watched less than 20 minutes of it so far.  I could blame my hectic schedule or the fact that I have babies underfoot constantly and can't really focus, but do you want to know the truth?  I have only gotten 20 minutes in because it is so incredibly hard for me to watch

They did phenomenal work.  They are funny and the content is engaging, but the frustration, hopelessness, and pain we endured for 6 years is still so close to the surface.  Even on this other side with my beautiful daughter right in front of me, when Maya and Noah share their story my "battle scars" are reopened and the tears fill my eyes. 

All of the women I follow regularly on the other side with me--the last three through adoption and IVF in the fall.  Even with the joy we have for the children with whom we have been blessed, I believe there is still a vulnerable place in each of our hearts from the struggle we have endured.  I am sure as time goes by this vulnerability will fade or...actually, know what?   Maybe it won't.  Maybe it's there to make sure we don't take, even for once second, our time with these amazing gifts of life for granted.   Maybe this is a bonus gift the Lord has thrown in.  He can be sneaky like that.

So for now I will continue to follow Maya and Noah through the blog and watch snippets of the documentary as my heart allows.  From the blog I have learned Maya and Noah are gearing up to try for their second child. 

To read more about their story, beyond what they share in their documentary, you can visit:

Don't Count Your Eggs at http://dontcountyoureggs.typepad.com//blog/

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ugh-teenagers and a jail break

Last semester I had classes two nights a week, one online and one on Saturdays that met once a month on Saturdays.  My friend Stacy would bring her girls over and watch Isabella during the week for an hour until J.T. got home and J.T. watched her on Saturdays.

This semester was tricker because I have three classes that meet during the week and Stacy could only commit to one evening.  I was able to get our weekend sitter to do a night as well.  For the last night I went to the neighborhood Facebook page.  A high school student volunteered.  We met and I checked her references including a home daycare where she works after school.  We were good to go...until the first night.  She called about an hour before I was supposed to leave and said her car had broken down and she was not going to be able to make it.  She was very apologetic and these things do happen.  J.T. was fortunately working from home so he took an extended break so I could get to class on time...or so I thought.  Somehow I missed the memo that the class started 30 minutes before the regular start time for evening classes.  So I walked in all proud of myself for getting there at 5:28 only to find out I was STILL quite late.

Last Wednesday there was snow, so no class.  I texted the girl last week and let her know about the time change and she agreed she could come at 4:30s instead.   So 4:30 comes yesterday...no sitter.  4:35 I call her and she answers totally casual.  I remind her that she was supposed to be here at 4:30.  Her response "Oh, you're right".  FUMING!  Using what I can only guess was my principal voice I let her know that unfortunately our arrangement was not going to work out.  J.T. was working at the office.  Fortunately, Stacy had let me know I could call her if I got stuck.  Just as she was about to come down J.T. got home and said he could watch her.  I called Stacy back only to find out that the change in their evening plans caused a meltdown for her 8 year old.  I felt so bad:(.  I am also still without a Wednesday night sitter.   Ugh....teenagers, man!

The only upside to last night's cluster was that J.T. got to witness Isabella's long awaited and hard fought jail break from the playroom.  Our playroom is in a sunken living room, so while there are gates at the two entrances we usually just close them when the 18 year old is at our house.  Isabella has been trying for WEEKS now to pull herself over the step and bottom of the gate and finally succeeded.  When J.T. came out of the downstairs bathroom he was greeted with...

This little girl may never look like me, but darn if she doesn't have my what I like to call determination...others call stubbornness.   It will serve her well, though may make life interesting for her parents!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Puppies and Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Isabella loves her friends.   This was her face when I brought A down from his nap yesterday morning (Isabella had already been napping when he arrived).

He loves her right back and had the same dopey grin on his face too.  Their love for one another knows now bounds.  Interestingly Isabella expresses her love by turning into a zombie.  A zombie in that she attempts to give anyone she loves "kisses" which better resembles a zombie trying to eat brains.  She also grabs onto the things she loves with all her might.  This includes A.   He is a sensitive little boy and for the most part is not fond of being grabbed by the head or the back of the shirt (go figure).

We are working hard on using "gentle" touches and when gentle doesn't work we separate.  The tricky part is that A mimics everything that Isabella does so now I am trying to teach both of them what gentle means.  Also Isabella is a speed race crawler and I can stick her on the other side of the room and if she wants to, she can be back to him in no time flat.  

After the initial excitement of being together they do improve.  They then begin to resemble a litter of puppies in that they play right on top of each other:).

Speaking of puppies, one of our puppies is having a hard time handling the "new" addition.  Isabella has been here for almost 10 months, but since becoming mobile over the last 2 our older dog, Kayleigh, is becoming less and less of a fan.  Over the last few weeks she has begun growling if Isabella gets too close and Sunday she snapped at her when she crawled between Kayleigh and J.T.:(. 

Both dogs have been around kids their whole lives, but I think the two main differences now is that: 1)  This is the first kid who takes more of our attention than she does.
2)  This one doesn't ever leave!  

We are currently in the process of finding a trainer to come to the house.  We have spoken to two that both seem to think it is a manageable issue.  Kayleigh's behavior is absolutely NOT acceptable, but I do feel bad that her world has been rocked to the point where she feels like this is the ways she has to respond.  Time to teach this old girl some new tricks!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mealtime Rut

Last summer J.T. started getting serious about losing weight, so our dinners at least 5 nights a week have consisted of baked chicken and one of those sides you just steam right in the bag like this:

I also make J.T. baked chicken, rice and broccoli for his lunch to take to work.  He has lost 20 pounds- which is awesome!   I have also loved how easy prep, clean up and meal planning has been. However,  not surprisingly after 6 months, we (especially J.T.!) are chickened out.

In trying to maintain the same level of ease, I think we are going to try a meal rotation that changes up the protein without adding a lot of extra work.  I know he wants to switch up his lunches too, but for now he is just going to have to live with some different chicken marinades.  

After doing some digging I think we are going to try this schedule.   

Sundays:   Pork loin (prob in the crock pot) with mashed carrots and sweet potatoes (microwave side)
Mondays:  Pasta with meat sauce (ground turkey)
Tuesdays:  Abridged sheet pan dinner.  I used to make this a lot with asparagus and turkey sausage.  To make life even easier  (i.e. no veggie prep)  I think I will do the sausage in a skillet.  Then I will do the microwave potato trio and green beans add them to the skillet with the Italian seasoning.  May not work as well but we will give it a shot!

Wednesdays:  Salsa Chicken (in the crock pot) & corn
Thursdays:  Add shrimp to one of the microwave veggie pasta options
Fridays:  Pizza (this is a given in our house)
Saturdays:  I don't cook:)

I can't believe I didn't think about breaking out the crockpot until now.  We used to only use it on the weekends because we were both nervous having it run all day without us being home.  Well now that I am home all day time to put that puppy to use.  Also, leftovers may break up the chicken for lunch monotony.  Hoping this solves our mealtime rut without my having to exert any additional effort!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Weekend Round Up

We finally busted out of this joint Friday when we went to my friend Amy's for a playdate.  She has two little girls (2 years and 8 months).  Isabella had fun and I got some insight into "this is 2" as I prepare for the little girl I watch A crossing the threshold.  In the last few weeks she has begun saying "no" quite a bit (to Isabella, not me) and has begun doing some fun mini-screams when she is upset.  For some reason I thought 2 was the magical age when you got to start time out, but watching Amy and her daughter attempt to the timeout dance and doing some more digging when I got home turns out for some kiddos 3 is the better age to start.  I promise I am not trying to speed Isabella's babyhood up any faster than it already is going, but I am looking for the day these kiddos turn 5 and I have better clue as to what I am doing!

Saturday we had lunch with Uncle Mark at a really good pub near where he works.  Isabella did well even though she has upped her game.  It used to be that I would just keep chucking her toys and as one accidentally fell on the floor she would get a new one.  However, now throwing things to the floor has become a fun past time.  At home I will usually just let them lay there, but since I had to keep her entertained the servers, the girl sitting behind us, and I got a good work out picking things up:).  Oh, we also learned that rolled up silverware is fun!

Saturday night was our first couch date using our new system.  I got to draw and we spent the evening in a blanket fort watching Transformers and the Smurfs.  J.T. is one serious blanket fort maker which resulted in a much better structured fort than any I ever made back in the day...

In 2017 we not only stopped going to church, but also stopped watching online.  2018 we picked back up with the online watching and will hopefully make our way back to attending in the coming months.  The current series is on Jonah which is making me wonder what is my current Ninevah?  I am definitely working through some things (idolizing day to day events, searching for continuous calm here on Earth and getting overly upset when the calm is disrupted, traversing the current political climate...), but can't quite put my finger on where God is calling me and where I am trying to go instead...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Snow Day Part Deux

Yep, 4 inches shuts this place down for a while.  In my effort to streamline by adding an inclement weather policy, I only saw the one obvious downside (no money).  I failed to account for the fact that the other kiddos by their simple presence entertains my child for a healthy part of the day.  So we were now on day 2 of mommy as primary source of entertainment.

The day started out well.  After she played with her toys for a while I busted out some Pinterest inspired sensory and motor skills activities:

This kept her entertained for a while, but then I had to do some schoolwork so had to improvise which led to the non-Pinteresty "Post it note pull down"  and "Shoelace slurp".


Thank goodness her jogging stroller is amazing and made it over the snow and ice that continues to linger in our hood so we made it out of the house later in the day for walk.  After a walk, some books, and some songs things kinda took a nose dive from there...

Tomorrow schools are closed again, but it supposed to warm up.  We are blowing this popsicle stand for sure!!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Snow Day!

Snow days have a new connotation now that I work with people who are not affiliated with schools.  I had one kiddo today and another family made an attempt but couldn't get out of their hilly neighborhood.   Four inches of snow is a big deal in these parts! 

As a result of today's events I have created a child care policy that aligns me with the local school district.  If they are delayed, I delay opening.  If they are closed, I am closed.  Half of my families do work with the school district and one of the others have school aged kids as well so instead of living in a "Who's going to show up?" mindset, I have decided to make it clear.  Our school district is huge though which means that sometimes they close and our part of the world is absolutely fine so I may end up modifying later, but for now I have a game plan.

We took Isabella out in the snow and she was pretty not impressed.  She especially did not like it when we gave her a taste.  Frozen flip flop ice cube things?  Yes!  Frozen washcloth?  Yes!  Snow?  "That is where I draw the line, mommy and daddy!"

We had no sled and the good hill is a fair hike away so we will save that experience for when she is older.  That means we got to spend most of the snow day from my favorite vantage point--inside:).

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Couch Dates

Other then our gym "dates", J.T. and I went out on two actual dates since Isabella was born.  Both in December.

For a little while at the end of the summer we made an attempt to do regular couch dates.  Now these couch dates were not code for "Netflix and Chill", rather it was an attempt to spend time together and actually talk which not surprisingly became tricker once you add J.T.'s new job, plus my night classes, plus Isabella's arrival.  Also, currently our babysitting budget is being zapped up by going to the gym and the hour between when I leave for class and JT is done with work so going out is not generally an option, so we landed on the Couch Date concept.

Our intentions were good, but our follow through was weak. 

It ended up becoming a:

"What do you want to do?"

"I don't know...what do you want to do."

Cue one or both of us randomly searching ideas for couch dates and tossing out ideas which may or may not have been met with much enthusiasm and our enthusiasm waned rather quickly.

So in 2018 we are attempting to resume our couch dates; however, after exhausting our go to last Saturday night (playing a game) I found an idea to streamline the process.    The Date Night Jar.

Last week I ordered the craft sticks via Amazon prime (still waiting on the jar) and last night's date night consisted of us filling out the sticks for future list.  The rule starting next Saturday is whatever is selected we must do.  We also went ahead and ordered any of the necessary items (for example a Star Wars model and puzzle to put together) right then from Amazon.  

I like that we already have things set and also, as lame as it is, like the mystery/surprise element.  Looking forward to next week's date...wonder what it will be?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

9 Months

"This is my supermodel pouty face"

"Or I can dance for you"

"Come on up puppies"

"Don't mind if we do!"

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


You know how new parents in a fog of activity and sleep interruptions/deprivation make minor error in judgement.   You know like forgetting return the video to the RedBox or failing to pay a bill.  Well I think I may just committed my biggest new parent induced oops yet.

I took four classes last semester and made it out alive by the skin of my teeth.  At least that is how it felt. 

So this semester I was looking forward to only taking three classes along with my comprehensive exam (comps).  A classmate who is trying to complete the program in the same timeframe told me that her advisor suggested taking a required course called "Dissertation Proposal" along with comps.  I had it slated for next Fall, but figured I guess I should follow the advice and signed myself up.  I guess I didn't give much though to what a dissertation proposal WAS.  I assumed it was some kind of outline or extended abstract.  Assumed is such a dangerous word!

After attending class tonight I learned that Dissertation Proposal means drafting the first 3 CHAPTERS of your actual dissertation.  Cue nervous laughter and heart palpitations.

So the lightened load I dreamed about last semester suddenly just got a pretty health dose of reality and it ain't pretty.  In looking at the up side- one of my courses is an independent study for which I am writing a literature review so I will attempt to write it in a way so that it can stand in for or possibly even serve as chapter 2 of my dissertation.  Other than that I got nothing in the way of positive prospects.

Is it May, yet?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Weekly Home Blessing...with Robots

Now that there is less stuff up in this place, I can focus keeping it clean and tidy.  In November I restarted my attempts at using the FlyLady system of home organization/cleaning.  However, in retrospect instead of reading all the words and following the advice that was being offered I wound up trying to do it MY way.   This turned into basically an iteration of what I had been doing that WASN'T work-ugh.

So this time I downloaded the app and am trying it just the way it is written-what a novel concept!

Already I am feeling better.  Time wise I feel like it is a wash, but productivity wise and sense of accomplishment wise (which is surprisingly important) is infinitely improved.

Instead of doing a thorough cleaning of a room each day, I am now doing a "one hour" home blessing one day a week:

The robots help keep the actual work to under an hour.  Robots you say?  Yes, robots.  When we were both working J.T. was responsible for the floors.  This led to him ordering a Roomba and Braava.  

For some reason, I was hesitant to use them.  I guess I felt like if I didn't do the floors "the old-fashioned way",  I wasn't doing them right.  However, that led to my not doing them sooo... robots it is!

Then for 15 minutes a day I do deeper cleaning in the assigned "zone".  There a list of chores and I just set a timer and get done what I can in that 15 minutes.  I may have to do 3 five minute spurts depending on the babies, but only time will tell!

I think the problem with the one room a day thing was that the house never FELT clean.  By the time I got to the last room, it was time to clean the first one again.  There is a lot of be said for the feeling of accomplishment along with the contentment a basically clean house can bring.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Life Savers

There are two carryovers from 2017 that I will be bringing into my new streamlined 2018: 

Alexa and Amazon Prime.

I have always been a fan of two-day delivery Amazon Prime provides, but over the last 9 months it has been essential.  I may not always get the best deals, but on the days when I have kids all day and class at night and the chances of getting to the store in the near future is nil all I have to do is place an order with prime and I have it in 2 days.  It was particularly helpful during my recent organizational frenzy. 

For instance I have been moving around a stack of race bibs and medals for going on two years now because I envisioned making a DIY display.  Well clearly that wasn't EVER going to happen, so when I was cleaning out my desk a searched amazon and found a cute binder designed to display them.  Bam, ordered it.  I also have some memorabilia such as ultrasound pics, our hospital bracelets, baby shower invite, baby hat, etc. that I had been meaning to frame or put into a shadow box.  Bam, ordered one.

I heart Amazon Prime.  Along, the same vein I heart Alexa.

I ordered Alexa somewhat on a whim last summer during their Amazon Prime Day in July.  It was half off and I figured "What the heck.  It may be useful since my hands will be full a lot.".  It has been more than useful, it has been amazing!

The love affair began with the music.  From anywhere in our downstairs and even from the top of the stairs I can play any song I want.  When the babies were tiny it allowed my to play white noise, ocean waves or other calming tunes without moving from my spot.  It also allowed me to hold "circle time" by just calling out the names of songs I thought the kids would like.  If it wasn't for "Alexa, what's the news?", I would have spent most of last fall in the dark regarding current events.  She has also saved my sanity by allowing me to randomly call out things for our shopping list as the need arises "Alexa, add diapers to the shopping list!" as I am changing Isabella or "Alexa, add cooking spray to shopping list," as I am making dinner.

Over time I realized she would give me reminders if I set them and gives me notification so I know whether to go to the door when someone knocks or if it's just a package being delivered.

I use Alexa with such frequency that when I say "Alexa", Isabella immediately looks over the counter where she is kept.  Actually, that may be a sign I need to use Alexa a bit less.  But I don't see that happening anytime soon...

Monday, January 1, 2018

OneWord365 2018 Edition

Last year's word was health and there was definitely a lot of time and energy put into physical health...mental health...spiritual health for myself, J.T. and Isabella.

Given my focus over the last few weeks in preparing for a better sense of internal calm in 2018, this year's word of the year is:

Goals within this word include phrases like: