Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What is it if you don't have a head?

My kids are inquisitive. The princes especially so. Her questions amaze, confuse, blow me away, and drive me crazy. I try to answer her questions honestly and completely because I know she genuinely cares about the "why"s and will retain the information. But sometimes I just want to say "why do you care????". Usually I will just cop out by saying "I don't know" or "maybe daddy knows". That last one backfired recently when she asked why "daddy knows so much more than you?". Lately I've started to realize, as exhausting as it is for me to answer all these questions, it must be ridiculously more so exhausting for her brain. I mean, how can a person want to know everything about lighthouses (a 10 minute conversation consisting of at least 15 "why"s) and then immediately ask how dinosaurs became extinct only to switch over to why we have boogers when the dinosaur conversation is over? Those things are not related. And yet they were all swimming around her head, probably among a hundred other things she did not ask that day. It is just truly amazing.

Yesterday we were talking about disabilities. Her class read a book about being deaf and is doing a bit of sign language, so the princess wanted to know what it is called when you cannot hear (deaf), when you cannot see (blind), and when you cannot talk (mute). Then she asked "what is it if you don't have a head?" Weird, but okay. It took a while for her to get how critical a head is, but I think she finally did. I am interested to see what she comes up with next!

Thanks for listening!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Perfect Little Saturday!

Our weekends seem to fill up so fast with birthday parties, family events, house projects, errands, etc that we rarely have a weekend or two looming with nothing on the schedule for Saturday. This weekend, however, was one of those fabulously empty weekends! The princess has been talking about flying and asking how things fly recently, so I decided we would get up Saturday and head downtown to check out the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. It was just the four of us, no schedule, no worries about meeting up with anyone, so we got up slowly, packed up some lunch, and hit up Dunkin Donuts (or "DD" as the kids call it!) for breakfast.

The museum was awesome. It was our first museum experience and we made it very low key, bypassing the tours and shows, just letting the kids walk around and look at stuff. Obviously they cannot read and we did not spend much time reading the placards to learn. But, they did learn just by looking and hearing little snippets. We got to check out the lunar lander, see astronaut suits, touch a moonrock, look through telescopes, check out planets, play with a prism, and tons more. The kids favorite part was seeing Amelia Earhart's REAL plane! When the princess was a baby a friend of mine gave us a book "You Can't Do That Amelia", which is a kids book about Amelia Earhart from childhood through her infamous plane ride across the Atlantic. We have read the book probably a hundred times and every time we talk about being brave, Amelia Earhart is the reference we all use for bravery! It was awesome to see how excited the kids were to see her statue, her flying goggles, and of course, her red plane.

After walking around the museum (we only stayed about an hour to an hour and a half), we headed back to the car to get our lunch. Turns out the parking space we got was right next to this gorgeous, big autumn tree. So we sat under the tree with the brown, orange, and yellow leaves and ate lunch, played in the leaves, and ran around the beautiful buildings of DC. It sounds cheesy, it felt cheesy, but it also was amazing. Taking the time to enjoy beautiful weather and beautiful scenery with no cares to the time or a schedule was phenomenal.

After getting a second wind from lunch, we headed up the street to the Natural History Museum to check out the dinosaurs. There is so much to see in this museum, we will definitely be heading back there sometime soon. But, for Saturday, just the one exhibit was enough.

We are so blessed to live so close to DC that we can make a quick trip down to check out all of these (FREE) museums. I am glad we took advantage of this on Saturday. It was the kind of day that was "nothing special" yet one of the best days I have had in ages and I am glad to have a place to document this memory!

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Selection Phase

I love our daycare/preschool, I like the school, the administration, and most importantly all of the teachers. At this point we have been there almost 3 years and while that seems like a short amount of time, we have really had an opportunity to grow a lot here. The munchkin started out in the infant room, moved up to the mobile infant room, then over to the toddlers room, which is where the princess started her journey at the school. They had the same toddler room teachers, the same two-year old room teachers, and they will have the same three-year old room teachers. But because of teachers moving around to different rooms and the fact that the classrooms of same ages come together on the playground, in the morning, and in the afternoon, we have been able to get to know all of the teachers. And we love them, I could not be more thrilled that we found this tiny little church daycare. Sadly, we are hoping to move next summer, which means big changes. The baby will never go here. The princess will leave her friends and start kindergarten. The munchkin will have a totally new school for pre-school, one where she does not know the kids or the teachers, one where her sister never paved the road for her. I am scared because she is the shier child, the more reserved one, whereas the princess  had no problem making a name for herself (in a good way!). The truth is, she is will be fine. And if she is not, we will find a different preschool. The problem is me, how will I keep my fear and my reservation from holding her back? I have noticed more and more recently that I feel more affected by things that happen to or around my kids than they do. If a child tells one of my kids they do not want to be friends, I hear the story in the same tone of voice as I hear about playing on the playground. So I try not to pry and make a big deal about it, because if it is not a big deal to my kid, I am not going to push that on them. But inside, my heart is racing. Why does that kid not like mine? What did she do? Is that kid a bully?

I asked today at the princess's parent teacher and they said it is normal, a part of the selection process, where kids select people they want to be friends with in life. It is totally normal. And all of the kids are friends and get along. There are no cliques, no issues, no bullies. It is just life.

Thanks for listening!

Friday, October 28, 2011

To be fair

After yesterday's post about the princess, I decided to capture somethings about the munchkin too!

She is a "big girl" except she is also a "little girl". It is something she struggles with - this desire to be big, but also recognizing she is little, and then being afraid to do some things.

She climbed into bed last night, threw out her arm, and said "Nobody kiss me". We did anyway.

She just started climbing into her booster chair at the kitchen table. The princess has been doing this for so long, I do not remember when she started. But, the munchkin is tiny and it was harder for her. After getting stuck halfway up the chair twice, she stopped trying. And then out of nowhere, tried again, and now she is like a monkey climbing up into her chair at the table!

Every day she has something new she will teach or do for or show or give to the new baby. I have no idea how things will change when the new baby arrives, but right now, the munchkin could not be more excited to be the big sister. Every day she says "you're having a baby in your tummy?!" - it comes out like a question, but she knows the answer and just wants confirmation or excitement or something!

The kids heard the song Dynamite - Taio Cruz at school and love to sing it, but the munchkin thinks the words ("sayin ayo") are "chicken migle" (or something like that) and she has this dance where she sticks her hands straight out behind her back and runs around the house yelling "chicken migle".

She calls jammies "jammits" and hoods "hooks" and probably a million other things I keep forgetting to catch on camera.

Her absolute favorite thing is to make people laugh. Luckily, all it takes is one of her little mischievous smiles to get everyone cracking up!

Thanks for listening!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The princess amazes me so many ways. At four, she seems so mature for her age and it is just mind-blowing to watch and experience. Because I do not want to forget, here are some things she has done lately...

- In church on Sunday, the munchkin's barrette was loose, so the princess took it out, smoothed her hair, and put it back in (still crooked and loose). It hit me so hard that I will probably see the same scenario - albeit with different hair things and a more mature style - in 10 years.

- When she does not feel like completing her sentence or thought, she lets it trail off saying something like "and all that stuff", but does it with this hand in the air motion like she is waving off the rest of the sentence. It is just like I do when I am trying to explain something. and so freaking cute on a 4 year old!

- She loves to please. She is so sweet and nice and loving! To us, to her friends, to her sister! I worry this will bite her in the ass later, but am hopeful that her niceness will just make her popular instead of a follower.

- She loves to tell jokes, but cannot remember any so she makes them up and they always start off right "two muffins were in an oven..." or "a mushroom walks into a bar..." but then she loses the joke and it trails off and she makes it silly. The perfect mix of her maturity and her childishness.

- Lastly, she learned about the letter "h" at school this month. This week they are reviewing the month's letters and "h" has come up again. The second teacher in the classroom is British and has an accent, so almost every day when we discuss what she learned at school, the princess tells us how Mrs. J say "hay-ch". She just cannot stop pointing this out!

Both my girls are great. Where the princess is sweet and calm and mature, the munchkin is silly and playful and so freaking cute, she is hard to get mad at for anything! Just looking at her silly face makes everyone burst out laughing, and that always gets her laughing, and then we all end up out of breath and in tears from laughter!

Thanks for listening!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Renaissance Fair

We went to the Renaissance Fair in Maryland yesterday. I went once as a kid with my friend's family and had a great time. I remember seeing all sorts of fun renaissance things and getting a really cool toy. Which, honestly, could not have been that expensive because I could afford to buy it with whatever spending money I had at the time! So, yesterday, we took the kids. Every year I see the commercials and think I want to go, so it was a big deal that we finally made time to go this year. Plus, I really try not to frivolously spend money (this is why we have not gone to Sesame Place, I just could not justify the expense for going when my kids were so young).

Well, I am PISSED. Not only was the Renaissance Fair NOT fun, it was a total RIP-OFF!!! You pay $19/adult (kids under 6 are free, yay!) to get in to the fair, which I was fine with paying. Until we walked in and realized you have to pay additional for every single thing there. Face Painting - $7. Thanks, but we get that for free on Chick-Fil-A kids nights. Ride a slide? $1/person. Oh, and kids that are below the height line need an adult to ride with them and no, it is not $1/ride, it is $1/person. And the kids play area was a tiny playset that was so overcrowded with all of the kids at the fair, I refused to let my kids go in for fear they would get lost or trampled. The only redeeming part was the free 30-second pony ride. The fair had some shows - a juggler and a music group - which you can sit and watch for free. But, they only hold kids attention for a minute. The jousting competition was cool and free. Unfortunately, being the ONLY cool and free thing, it was packed, and we had to stand in the back with the kids on our shoulders so they could see and tell us adults what was going on with the horses.

So, if you were considering going, I would say, stay away! There are a lot of cooler things to do in the area.
Also, if you went as a kid and enjoyed it, definitely stay away or else you will risk tainting that wonderful memory. Blast!

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How are you doing?

Such a simple question. People ask all the time and truly mean it, but how often do you give a truthful response? A co-worker of mine was telling me about a movie he watched a few months ago called "Dakota Skye", which is about a girl who is born with the ability to detect lies. I have not seen the movie yet, but it sounds like a fascinating movie. The truth is, people lie all the time. And not always in a bad way. If you come home from a long, blah day and your spouse asks "how was your day?" you may not feel like unloading or talking about it, so you just say "fine". But if she/he could read your mind, they would see it was anything but fine. I planned on renting the movie at some point and still do.

Lately, this has really struck me quite a few times as I have faced this question awkwardly. A friend who I rarely see and really only know through another friend is pregnant and having a baby in November. She sent me a random text about a sale and then asked how we were doing. I said fine. But then she asked if we had any more ultrasounds coming up because she did not and was bummed because she really wants to see the baby again! I thought to myself, yeah, I know how you feel, but this time, I need more ultrasounds and it would be great if that was not the case! So, I told her, over text message, that yeah we had more ultrasounds coming, in fact we need them monthly and then went on to summarize our situation. Honestly, it was not that weird for me. I am not feeling bummed out about our situation because we have had so many positive things come out of this - support from family and friends, a new view of a lot of things, and a baby who is healthy despite her deformity. But, I felt bad after sending the texts. Who wants to be unloaded on like that? So the next day when a friend I have only seen a few times in the past few years asked if the baby was healthy, I just said "yes". It was a total lie, but I did not feel like talking about anything because it was gchat and I was just checking my email! Was it wrong to lie? I guess I would rather lie than be cryptic and say "no, but I cannot talk now because I have work to do".

Today, I was really struck by this by a comment I saw on facebook. A mutual friend made a comment on a post of another mutual friend asking how she was doing. The truth is she is probably having the worst month ever, having gotten horribly bad news on the same day as our sonogram and is facing (what feels like) a long awaited appointment at the end of this week. She is a private person and it is a private family matter, so she will probably either ignore the comment or lie and say fine. But, probably, when she logs in and reads that she will be struck hard by that question.

Such a simple question, and one I will continue to ask. But, still, one that holds a lot of weight and frequently generates an answer far from the truth.

Thanks for listening!

Monday, October 3, 2011

It is okay to cry

My OB said this last week. I was there mid week and we had our fetal echo coming up that Friday and toward the end of the appointment she said "how are you doing?" to which I quickly responded, "fine. as well as can be expected!" or something like that because that is what I do. I do not really unload emotion on people I am not close to if I can avoid doing so. But then she asked me again and I teared up, and then she gave me a kleenex, and then my emotions were flowing and I could not swallow the lump so I just sat there with tears.

So, she says "it is okay to cry when you find out your baby is not going to be perfect". Really? I mean, of course, it is okay to do that. But, I just felt like going off on her, I mean, she really thought I was just crying because of that? It was so trite and simplistic and seemed kind of rude. And a week later, I am still kind of ticked off at what she said or how I felt. I simply nodded because I could not speak through my tears and I really did not care to talk to her.

But, for the record, I was crying about bigger things than having an "imperfectly formed baby"! Like the fact that in four weeks we went from a perfectly normal pregnancy to a pregnancy filled with worry and wonder. We had four ultrasounds, an abdominal MRI, two specialist visits with the perinatologist, and a 6-hour appointment at Children's National Medical Center in those four weeks. We came away with some answers and some questions. We have to plan for the cost of specialists, some of which we know we will need and others we cannot predict. We have to figure out logistically how we are going to switch from a local daycare to driving out to my parents house every day (which is only 25 miles away) so the baby can get in home services and I can keep my job, while also factoring in the other two kids - one will be starting kindergarten and the other starting preschool. We have a lot of things to figure out, a lot of things to process. And in the four weeks where we had all of these appointments I did not have time to process. I have a full time job, as does my husband, we have young kids, and I was filling all my "downtime" with making or going to doctor appointments. The last four weeks have been like riding a high-speed train. I just write stuff down so I can come back and process it later, struggling to make dinner and put the kids to bed, taking my parents up on every offer to watch the kids, and just moving through life. And that is why I was crying. Not for some small part of this, but for all of it as a whole.

Thankfully, the last ultrasound showed - again - no issues other than her arms. This means we have to go to the perinatologist monthly and the OB monthly, and then more frequently as we get later into the pregnancy. But all the specialist appointments and "big" ultrasounds are behind us. We can just sit back and move through the rest of the pregnancy somewhat normally. For the first time in four weeks I actually did the laundry, I started picking things up, and the kitchen has stayed relatively clean this week. Thankfully, my mind is leveling out, and that is awesome. It feels amazing to be off that train!!!

Thanks for listening!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mean Words

Last night my husband worked late, so I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A, where we met up with friends (mine and theirs!) and played and talked and it was wonderful. Then I decided to bring my husband a milkshake because I am such a nice wife, and even caved and bought the kids a milkshake to share! My kids drink stuff in the car all the time so I was not too concerned. We get to the car and I give the princess the millkshake to hold while I buckle her bottom buckle on the carseat, and she holds the milkshake up and to the side, where it spills onto the sweater next to her. So that ticked me off and I took it away while finishing buckling everyone in to the car. Then I gave the milkshake to the munchkin first because I was still ticked off at the princess for spilling.

No sooner did I get in my seat and start to buckle my seatbelt, when panicked voices started shouting about the milkshake being dropped. Upon opening the door, I see the milkshake completely upside down, pouring out strawberry, whipped cream deliciousness all over the seat and the floor (literally half a small milkshake out of the container). AGH! I started cleaning it up, yelling about how it was gone and they lost the milkshake, blah, blah. And then the princess says "I'm thirsty. Can I have the rest? I'm thirsty, I'm thirsty, I'm thirsty". And so naturally, I did what any sane person 5 year old would do. I yelled "shut up! just shut up and stop talking to me while I clean this up". Yeah, that happened.

No one talked. They cried until I told them to zip it and then I cranked up the radio, said we were having quiet time, and deep breathed my heart rate down. No one talked until some a-hole on a cell phone almost ran me off the road and I yelled at him too. And then a few minutes later, the princess asked if she could talk. And she pointed out that I called the other driver's phone "stupid". And that is one of our mean words. And I had to apologize for saying "stupid" and for telling her to "shut up" and for getting so upset about the milkshake. And I thought I did a pretty good job of apologizing and explaining why I was so upset.

And then, she said "I'm thirsty. Can we get another milkshake?" And, my head exploded. We spent the rest of the ride home listening to the radio.

Thanks for listening!

Friday, September 23, 2011


The day after our 20-week sonogram, our OB received the radiologist's report and called me to discuss. She recommended a perinatologist and the perinatologist's office quickly put us on the schedule. Our appointment was about 12 days after the first sonogram so the baby had a couple weeks to develop some more, which was good because we felt better knowing she would grow a little more and hopefully give the perinatologist's office a better look at her arms. But, that also meant 12 days of waiting and wondering. The radiologist's report said "consider radial ray, Holt Oram, or Trisomy 18". We did a little research on these, but tried to stay off the internet - no need to Dr. Google ourselves into a frenzy! Just seeing Trisomy 18 written down was frightening. But, then based on the results of the sonogram it seemed she did not have any of the other symptoms of any of these syndromes. Her face, her brain, her heart, her kidneys, her nose, her lips, everything else was fine. But then again, that was one sonogram. So who knew?

A friend of mine says we all change in one big way when we have a baby. We become more paranoid about something that previously did not bother us, or change the way we deal with certain situations. Mine is definitely negative thinking. I always go for the worst in any situation. If my husband and I meet at a place and one of us takes the kids home, I always find myself thinking the entire ride that the car with the kids and one spouse will crash, leaving the remaining spouse with nothing. When the kids want to go to the pool, I am hyper aware they could drown and think about what I would do and how I would react. It is not an obsessive thing where I hold my breath and stress out, but rather, just my natural reaction to figure out what the worst thing that could happen is. This situation is no different. By the time the 12 days were up, I had imagined almost every horrible scenario down to the baby's funeral.

The perinatologist did another complete sonogram, took all new measurements, and then stated he disagreed with everything on the radiologist's report and believes our daughter has isolated phocomelia. Phocomelia is a catch-all term for limb deformity. And isolated is in reference to the fact that it only appears to affect her arms and does not appear to be associated with any other syndrome. This was great to hear! Two sonograms showing the same thing - a problem with her arms, yes, but no issues with her brain, her heart, her kidneys, or her face (which would likely be indicative of a more serious syndrome like Trisomy 18). We walked out feeling much better about everything. Two appointments show the best case scenario!!!

Just to be safe, we have to see a genetics doctor at Children's Hospital and have a fetal echocardiogram to check her heart.Thankfully we live near the nation's captial and can go to such a fantastic plan for testing without having to worry about long-distance travel.

Thanks for listening!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The 20-week Sonogram

A little over three weeks ago (Aug 29) we had our 20-week sonogram. We went in hopeful to find out what we were having - not hoping for either a boy or a girl, we just really wanted to know! The kids had been talking about a baby brother since April, before we even found out we were pregnant, and were convinced this one was a boy. The pregnancy was different, harder, and so we thought maybe this was a boy. But when a friend asked me what we hoped for, I really truly could not answer with either - the standard "just a healthy baby" was all we wanted. Another girl would be fun, easy because we have all the stuff, but then a boy would be new and exciting and we already had two friends ready to hand over their outgrown boy clothes. We are hoping to move soon so space and sharing a room is no issue.

We found out! A girl! I think my husband and I were both a little shocked to hear the news!

After checking everything and taking tons of pictures the sonographer left and came back with some juice to "get the baby moving" before the radiologist came in to check. Not having done this for a few years, I did not think anything was off and they just wanted to get a better look at some things. And then the sonographer and radiologist came back in the room; the radiologist asked "did she mention what is going on here? okay, well, we think there is something wrong with your baby's arms." And then they start the sonogram over, rechecking all the measurements, the brain, the kidneys, the heart. Everything looks good, measures where it should. But, the arms, they are having trouble finding the arms and the measurements are short - one arm bone is 14 weeks (it should be 19) and then other arm bone is about 17/18 weeks, which is longer than the other but still too short to be considered okay. They measure these bones as the humerus, but really, because she only has one long bone on each arm, they do not know what bone it is. Then they think they see forearm bones on each arm - there should be two, a radius and ulna, but they can only find one on each arm and it is short. One "forearm" bone measures 12 weeks and the other "forearm" bone cannot even be measured. The presence of fingers is unknown. So, they collect all the pictures they can, write it up, and send it to the OB so my OB can direct us where to go for a second opinion. And we leave. Shell Shocked. 

And so begins the slow tick up the rollercoaster...

Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We're Pregnant again

It is so complicated now - people ask what pregnancy this is and I always stumble over the answer. 3, 4, 5...Two kids at home, one kid that does not live with us, and one miscarriage. Is that too much information? I mean, the technician is probably just filling out the paperwork right, but then I never know what to say.

Everything in life makes you stronger.

I have never once regretted my decision to place my child for adoption in college. It was the best, most selfless decision I ever made. But, people have different opinions of adoption. So, I always want to explain more. But, then if I ramble do people wonder if I am trying to prove a point to them or to myself? So, I usually just say one child that is not at home and leave it alone. I mean, this really only comes up when I'm pregnant and people actually care about all your history!

My miscarriage was sad and difficult, but at the same time, there is something about going through a miscarriage that makes me feel like I crossed another threshold in my womanhood. I think it is silly, but still it feels like another check in the box. Another experience I know. Another person I can relate to.

And now we are pregnant again. With our third baby to bring home. And my kids are excited and we could not be happier. We talked about it at the beginning of the year, but wanted to wait, to move to a bigger house, get things more situated. But, then April rolled around and things got hectic with work, I kind of wanted to be pregnant so I let my charting slide, and then in May the kids started asking when they could have a baby brother. They got so repetitive that I told a friend, who suggested I take a test...and PREGNANT! And the timing is great. Our debts are almost gone. Things are working out at my husband's new job. I'm well established at work and am not worried what maternity leave will do to my career. We could move early next year. And, once again, we realize how blessed we are!

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday to the Princess!

How could I not have written a birthday post for my biggest baby - my 4 year old. I cannot believe that her year of preschool is over and her first year of pre-k is starting. This time next year we will be buying backpacks and checking out the elementary school! It is mind blowing. And sad. Makes me want to cry just thinking about her growing up so fast...

And growing up she is! At 4, my "baby" is way ahead of herself. Sometimes I feel like I am living with a teenager and have to stop and remind myself to treat her and talk to her like a 4 year old. She has an opinion about everything, talks non-stop, and is a fantastic listener. One of the things that surprises me the most about my little girl is how in tune she is with everything going on around her. It is easy to think that kids are in their own little world doing there thing and not listening to you talk, but my girl! She listens when my husband and I talk - even if she is also playing - and she inserts herself appropriately into the conversation if she wants to talk. There are plenty of times when she catches me off-guard asking questions about something I had no idea she even overheard. Her language skills are just amazing - to everyone, including teachers and other parents at school as well as our family.

She is not just growing verbally, though. At four years old, she completely dresses herself. I can walk in to her room in the morning, wake her up, and then hit the shower while she gets up, potties, and dresses herself. Her outfits may not always match, but they are weather appropriate! She has opinions about what to wear, which is both a blessing and a curse. When she wants to wear an outfit, she will fight to tears to get her way. Most of the time we go along with whatever she wants to wear, but if it does not fit and needs to go into the "grown out of" bag, 10 minutes of back and forth and tears (sometimes mine and hers) will ensue! She is amazingly self-sufficient. She gets her own water and snacks, uses the bathroom by herself and does not even tell us if she is going, she just goes and does her thing.

As much as she is acts like an adult, she is just an awesome kid! Her imagination is amazing. She makes up stories and things that happened that are so realistic it is hard to tell whether she is actually recounting a story or pretending. I picked her up from school not long after her birthday and her teacher said "Have fun in Disney World!" then looked at me and asked if we were going to Disney World or Disney Land. Umm...we were not going to either! Apparently she had talked about going all week and packing and taking a plane, so they all figured we were headed on a trip to Disney!!! She and her school friends play all sorts of make believe games, and she has started doing some things around the house with toys that involve the munchkin so they not only play together, but play games and stories together.

I could go on and on about all the things that amaze me about this little girl, but I'll stop here. She is truly amazing and I feel blessed every day that God gave me such an awesome kid!

Thanks for listening!


Have so many thoughts running around in my head these days I think I might actually put them down on paper the internet. So, trusty blog followers (all 3 of you!), stay tuned...

Thanks for listening!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday, munchkin!

In the last year a lot has changed. For the first year of the munchkin's life, she was sick a lot - always with a runny nose or congestion and frequent ear infections. I knew almost immediately she would need tubes, but it took me a year to convince the pediatrician and another 3 months to convince my husband (even AFTER the ENT doctor agreed). She finally got tubes a few months after her first birthday and they changes have been amazing. She is sick less often, and as a result, is much more active - playing, talking, running around, and all of those wonderful toddler things.

The munchkin has quite the personality. We say she makes up for her small size with attitude! She is stubborn, bossy (how is it possible I have two INSANELY bossy kids? I guess God thought I needed a double dose of my own medicine!). She talks a fair amount, but not nearly as much as her older sister did at this age (though, the princess is - and has always been - very verbally advanced for her age). Sometimes I worry about her speech because she does not put two words together and much of her speech is very "toddler-speak". But, then I watch the kids and realize she does not need to talk because the princess will announce the munchkin's every thought and desire. I know she can talk more than she does, we have been surprised plenty when she says things we did not know she could say. Her biggest hurdle with speech is probably her stubbornness. We sound out syllables to help her say harder words and sometimes she plays along, while other times she will flat out say "no" when you ask her to repeat a syllable. We will see what the doctor says, but I think as much as I have worried over the last year about her speech, I will just keep working with her at home and wait for the day she spits out whole paragraphs much like "uh-huh" from The Little Rascals.

The munchkin is still the cutest kid around, and gets spoiled by everyone just for being so adorable. Her daycare teacher thinks she is an "angel" - and we think this only contributes more to why she is so stubborn. Everyone babies her - including my husband! But her smile and her adorable face are irresistible. She loves to make people smile and laugh, and knows how to do it too. She started making a funny face at me during Christmas Eve mass that had my shaking my shoulders and crying with suppressed laughter. I guess she learned it from my sister, but I never saw her make that face until church and it was too much. Now she makes it all the time so everyone can laugh. She gives hugs and kisses, and says "iwuvu" (one word, three syllables = i love you) until your heart melts.

While we think she is pretty amazing, we know she is no angel. She has mischief in her eyes and tries to get away with everything when your head is turned. She bullies and bosses her sister around despite being half her size*! If she does not like something, you will know by the pout, the anger on her face, and the way she chucks the item across the room. She is one tough cookie. But, one minute in time out - spent wailing, of course - and she is ready to come out, say sorry, give hugs, and find something new to do. She is a perfect combination of a strong-willed, loving little girl!

*We are working on this. I truly do not understand why the princess allows her sister to bully her. I try to tell her to bully the munchkin back, but she refuses. What kind of kid does not want permission to push their sibling back?!

Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Debt

As I mentioned yesterday, one of our resolution's this year is to get out of debt. There are a few things I discovered this year that are fantastic resources and will keep us motivated.

The first is blogs - specifically, The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly. The authors of both of these blogs worked tirelessly to get out of debt, which is what we are trying to do. They are both in a place now where they can "play" with their budget more, which is interesting to read in a "this is what our future could hold" way for me. They have great ideas for staying frugal and helping keep your eye on the prize (unfortunately paying of debt is more of the slow and steady race and requires a lot of patience, something I lack). I highly recommend everyone with any interest in your finances check out these blogs as they are very relatable and will give you some great tips and ideas for budgeting and investing.

The second thing I want to mention is Dave Ramsey. His book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, kick-started our plan. My husband received the book for Christmas in 2009, but did not start reading the book until mid-year. The book lays out a plan everyone can use to get out of debt and then set themselves up for financial success. Not everyone agrees with Dave Ramsey's plan (in fact the financial blogs I read both like some, but not all of his principles), but for us they are working. We like the debt snowball of paying off the lowest debts because it keeps us motivated and moves us through the cards faster. My husband and I started with five credit cards that all had balances (varying amounts). As I write this today, we have only one card left. Sure it is our hugest debt, but we have the minimum payments of four other cards to apply to this one, which is fantastic! We have our emergency fund and are working on our debt snowball. We plan to have a HUGE snowball by the end of the year, which we can use to plow through the last couple big ones early next year. I read the posts on Dave's blog and listen to his radio show on XM Radio. I cannot wait for the day we can call in and yell "WE ARE DEBT FREE!"

The last - and, in my opinion, the best - thing we discovered is Mint.com. I cannot say enough how much I love this website/program. The way this works is you add all of your accounts - credit cards, banking info, home info/mortgage info, car info, investments, etc - and mint.com will keep track of all your accounts. The overview tab shows the status of your budget, the balances on all your accounts, and your net worth. The transactions tab pulls in transactions from all your accounts and auto-categorizes these (you can edit the categories to meet your needs). The budgets tab allows you to set a budget, including a budget for your "goals". Mint offers plenty of options for goals like paying off debt, saving for vacation, etc, and also lets you add custom goals. We set up our budget and let it roll over month to month, understanding some things change monthly (the power bill, water bill) so we will have to adjust as we go. This is not a stagnant process in any way. I log in daily to categorize transactions and check the status of our budget. Multiple times a week my husband or I will call each other to check the status of the grocery or shopping budget before heading to the store. I think my favorite thing about this program is the trends tab. This allows you to graph all sorts of things - your net worth over time, your spending by category, etc. Although that should decrease now that we both have iPhones with the mint app loaded!

I am so glad I stumbled onto these resources as they have done a lot to get us started and to keep us motivated! In the last 7 months (since we started with Mint), we have paid off a large chunk of debt and increased our net worth by 16%. If that is not motivating, I do not know what is!

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year

So it is a new year. I think in the past I have said I do not believe in resolutions, but honestly, I am just too lazy to make them or stick with them.

However, I read a blog post recently that dove into some benefits of new year's resolutions. The one thing that stuck with me was the way a year is already broken out for you - into 12 months, 4 quarters, 52 weeks, whatever. It is easy to check in on your goals on the first of every month or every sunday, and it is easy to assess your status every three months.
So, with that, my new years goals...
1. Get back my mojo. I have been overweight too long. I was overweight before I got married, gained some with pregnancy #1, gained some more with pregnancy #2, and gained even more in the last two years. So, this year, I want to get in shape and lose weight. I have some numbers set up, and my biggest goal is to lose half by my birthday (in May) so I can feel good about myself when I turn 30.

2. Get out of debt. Out of credit car debt (we used my year end bonus to pay off our 4th - out of 5 - credit cards, so we have already started this year off on the right foot!), pay off our cars (we just agreed to a great plan for this action), and pay off my measly student loan. Next year we will tackle our big debt consolidation loan and our second mortgage. But, we are hoping if things go right with my husband's business sale and new job, that we can do all of that this year and be looking for a new house at the beginning of 2012. Either way, we want to move to our "forever home" by Summer 2012.

Two goals should not be too hard to keep, right? Ha! But at least I have this space on the internet to log in my goal progress.

Thanks for listening!

Monday, January 10, 2011

My baby turns 2 next week!

TWO! TWO! Two is no longer a baby. Two is a toddler. When the princess turned two, I had a six-month old baby and that was perfect. Now, I have a pre-schooler and a toddler and no baby! No baby on the way either. Not that I mind - I want another baby, but also want to get our life together (pay off debt and move to a more reasonably sized house for our growing family). So, for now, we are contentedly enjoying our family of four. With our toddler and pre-schooler and no baby.

I guess it is so hard to imagine the munchkin not being a baby because she is still so small. I do not know what will happen at her 2-year appointment, but I would bet my salary that she will still not be on the growth chart. Hopefully she will be on the weight chart, but if she is, it will probably be just barely (as it has been since she was born). When we go places with her and people see her walking around, sliding down the slide by herself, and climbing big structures, we see their eyes get wide and can practically hear their judgmental thoughts while they struggle with a nice way to say "wow! she does a lot for her age!". And then, when we announce her true age, the next sentence is always "she is so little" and frequently, "she is really almost two?". *No, I lied! Hello, of course she is!* I hope that things will be leveling out, but I fear that her pediatrician will - rightly so - want to send her for another barage of testing similar to what they did at her one year appointment. We will go back to the Endocrinologist for a more in-depth look, and we will see what she says. Although I am as opposed to growth hormones now as I was last year, so we will see if that conversation arises. This child always keeps us guessing!

Thanks for listening!