Almost Christmas

How is it almost Christmas??? I can’t even tell you what happened to the past several months since school started. Nadia turned five and now Nora is already half finished with first grade! I have lots of wrapping to do yet, gosh, I don’t even know if I’m finished shopping for everyone! I’m even behind with Christmas cards, which are actually happy new year instead, which aren’t addressed yet. I’m hoping to do some baking with the girls this week, as they only have school today and tomorrow, and maybe watch a cute Christmas movie. One of these years we will slow down and enjoy the season…

School has been a struggle. Nadia is actually doing really, really well, but she’s only going to the actual preschool sessions which are in the afternoons four days a week. The rest of the time she is home with me. I wonder how she will do next year in kindergarten full days..? Nora is still very, very sad each morning at drop off. Her separation anxiety seems worse than Nadia’s lately. Sending Nora back after the long Christmas break will be hell.

We had COVID at the beginning of November. And while it was an incredibly LONG ten days home together… we survived. I felt really crappy, but thankfully had been vaccinated and thus survived without any medical intervention. The girls seemed completely fine and rather enjoyed the ten days home playing Barbies.

Nadia’s health is ever so slowly improving. Although with anything, there are setbacks along with the small steps forward. She’s still on a ton of medications, immune therapies, and supplements… And now we’re focusing on eliminating gluten, dairy, and processed sugars. Which is basically her entire diet, so it’s been very, very hard for me. I really am trying, but feel like I fail every time she refuses a new food we try, and hence I go back to the old standby crap that is awful for her.

We’re starting to investigate Nora’s health, just to make sure we aren’t missing anything with her severe separation anxiety… more to come on that. We have some lab orders, but I’ve been dreading it, so maybe over Christmas break as she needs to be fasting for them anyway.

Eric has been working like crazy, but thankfully is off for a week starting Christmas Eve. The time together will be nice as I feel like his schedule takes him away from home more often than not. How long until he can retire?? Ha, just kidding. Years and years I assume.

I wanted to share a few pictures from the past several months, but I got a new iPhone and I now realize it’s taking pictures in some weird format that isn’t compatible with this blog. Ugh. I need to figure that out. And I’m not that techy, so wish me luck.

I’ll write more again soon…

And… It’s Over

And just like that, Christmas is over. How, I have no idea. I swear I was just sitting at my computer frantically searching Amazon for the perfect gifts. I guess I was… Below are some very random pictures I took over the past week. I’m realizing more and more I need to plan my photos a bit better! We did end up having my side of the family over, despite COVID, and because Eric was on-call and couldn’t leave the area.

Nadia is doing remarkably better. Although hard to tell what helped, as she is on several prescription medications and quite a few over-the-counter supplements. I’d list them all, but it would take me forever… Nadia still has some angry outbursts here and there, but not like before. Way fewer meltdowns, although she is still quite physical sometimes, hitting, slapping, scratching, kicking, usually Nora. Hand washing is much less frequent now, and she doesn’t have much of an issue going to the bathroom, and has only said she felt ‘wet’ once in the past week. She even put on pants a few times all on her own. Of course, she knew we were doing something fun those days… Putting on underwear and pants for school might be very different. The girls are off this week and then our plan is for Nadia to start back next week. I’m nervous, for her. Her anxiety around school is so great. I did just email a play therapist, hopefully she is taking new patients.

I’m sitting here staring at my new, still blank, planner, wondering where to even start this year.

  • Continuing Nadia’s treatments and getting her closer to 100% better is definitely a priority. I’m not sure if we still know what exactly caused all the inflammation in her brain… we are still awaiting a few more test results.
  • I’ve been working on a business venture. More to come on this as I need to find time to actually proceed with it, hopefully once the girls, both of them, are back in school. Could be really exciting though! Well, if it works out.
  • We need new furniture. We still haven’t ordered anything from the interior designer who was here months ago… I really don’t know how to decide. I thought having her come would make it a lot easier, but so far, that hasn’t been the case. I feel like most things she suggested are more appropriate for my mom’s house than mine.

The girls need lunch… always something!

More Catch-up

I was looking through pictures on my phone and realized I still have so many to share, so much catching up to do. Okay, actually half of the good pictures are in some strange extension that WordPress won’t upload… Because, of course.

The days surrounding Christmas were filled with lots of eating. Which is very apparent from the weight I gained over the holiday season. Only five pounds, but feels like so much more. And today was the first day I worked out in the past almost three weeks. I mostly skipped because my girls don’t do great in new places, thus I didn’t want to take them to the daycare at my gym. They went back to school today, so to the gym I went.

We don’t have a ton of good restaurants here, and plus, with taking a three and four year-old out… well, we don’t go to fancy places! But over the girls’ Christmas break we found ourselves at Texas Roadhouse (they might have worn Christmas PJs), a Chinese place I can’t even remember the name of, for our annual Chinese Christmas dinner on December 23rd, Olive Garden, and Longhorn Steakhouse, just to name a few. The girls have a thing with acting crazy at restaurants, and of course climbing under the booths.

On Christmas Eve we usually go to one of my mom’s sibling’s homes to celebrate, but this year we didn’t. We decided to stay home and just spend the moments with our little family of four. I felt a little left out, knowing others were celebrating, thinking we should have gone, but I’m beginning to realize life is too short to keep doing the shoulds… Why we didn’t go? Well, the obvious, more time with our little family, but I also didn’t want to travel, knowing we were traveling on the 25th and 26th. Our day was spent cooking, decorating our gingerbread village, making and decorating sugar cookies for Santa, and lots of relaxing. The girls opened presents from Eric and me in the morning, so they were busy playing with their new Frozen figurines, magna-tiles, and legos. After the girls fell asleep I wrapped the Santa presents, an ‘Our Generation’ doll for each of them, and a ton of clothing and accessories for the dolls. I figured I’ll wait till they’re a bit older, and gentler with their dolls, before I invest in the ‘American Girl’ versions.

On Christmas day we traveled to my mom and step-dad’s home to celebrate with my side, my sister and her family. Oh goodness the girls got so much, and my mom made so much amazing food! I know we are blessed with so many gifts and I should be so thankful, and I am, but sometimes it just feels like overload, like what do we do with all the toys?? I already packed up some they don’t play with anymore and donated. And we need to donate a lot more. Again, I had a lot more cute pictures, but all in that funky extension. I just went into my iPhone and changed the setting to ‘most compatible’ but clearly it doesn’t update the pictures already taken.

The remainder of our Christmas break was filled with odds and ends, a trip to the library, several to Target, of course, lots of movies at home, and playing in the little snow we got so far this winter.

The day after Christmas, December 26th, Eric took the girls to his hometown to see his mother and grandparents. I offered countless times to tag along, but his response was always no, that I should stay home. He knows I don’t love his mother, but I was willing to travel for his sake, and for the girls. They are getting older and I fear they will start to notice I’m rarely along on visits with his family. I rendered from my conversations with Eric that he was scared his mother might say or do something inappropriate, and he didn’t want me to be there to experience it. He told me she hasn’t been well, and while he can let her rude comments go, he knows I can’t as easily. All that is true, and I guess I have to respect his feelings, but it bothers me that he would take our girls into such a situation. I don’t feel his mother is a positive role model for our daughters in her current condition, and I still don’t completely trust that she won’t hurt the girls in some way, whether it be unintentional or not. But I know I have to trust Eric to some extent too. When they all arrived home from their visit the girls were in good moods, enjoying all the gifts they received, so I guess it was a good day for all as I was able to clean up the house a bit and relax.

Can you believe another holiday season is over???

It’s 2020

Did any of you make any New Year’s Resolutions? I made a few…

  • Less phone time, be more in the moment!
  • Exercise at least three days a week for 60 minutes.
  • Appreciate the small things in life, moments with my family.
  • Write more, and not just on my blog, but get serious about my book.
  • Read >35 books.

I only made a few, as I wanted to actually focus on them, accomplish them, I hope! We’ll see! I have a million in my head I could have listed.

It’s Thursday the 2nd of January, the girls are still off school until Monday the 6th. The house is a disaster, I should clean, do laundry, take down the tree… a million things. But ah, they can wait, right? I also have a million pictures on my phone I want to share and ideas for blog posts to go with them.

I can’t even remember where I left off writing… Did I mention the girls preschool Christmas concert that was ADORABLE!? I have a feeling I already posted these…

Mid-December was Eric’s work Christmas party which we host along with the other partners. Eric was on-call this year, so he probably didn’t enjoy it as much as he usually would, but we still had a good time. We don’t get out without the girls often, so it was nice to have my mom come stay overnight with Nora and Nadia.

The last week of school before Christmas the girls got sick and ended up missing most of the week, including their Christmas parties. I felt bad, but honestly, they didn’t seem to know they were missing out. And they would much prefer to be at home with me anyway, or so it seems. We did have a few moments of fun mixed in with the sickness though…

And we even made time before Christmas to make our annual gingerbread creation, this year an entire (small, thank God) village, and bake my favorite cookies!

Until next time…

P.S. We changed all the batteries in our smoke detectors and they haven’t gone off since. They are hard-wired in, so no clue why that would have fixed the issue…

Christmas

I think I wrote this same post last year…
How is Christmas over already?? I look back at the past several weeks and our celebrations… I feel so blessed, too blessed. Do you ever feel like you’re too lucky, like you have too much good in your life? It’s almost like I’m waiting for the good to end, for something awful to happen. Given Eric’s profession I hear of awful things daily… cancer, people who can’t afford medical care, people who have lost their husbands and wives and even children to car accidents, or worse… There is so much bad in the world, am I due for some? 
Several weeks ago when I formally started my Christmas shopping I told myself I wasn’t going to spoil the girls. And then I kept forgetting how many gifts I had already purchased for them, and just kept buying. In fact, I just took a bunch of stuff back to Target that I decided not to give them. Again we are so blessed. I forget sometimes than not everyone is as blessed as we are. If 2020 brings me anything, I hope it’s insight and time to help others in need, and to teach my daughters about sharing our wealth to help others.
I’ll write more when I have more time… That’s another goal of mine is 2020, write more!

And just like that… it’s over

All the preparing… and just like that… it’s over. Christmas that is…

I’ve said this before, but I feel the need to say it again. Traveling with (my) kids sucks. They don’t like the car. They don’t eat well, as they are picky and seem to find holiday food unappetizing. But… seeing family, celebrating together, opening presents, seeing the joy on Nora’s face… all worth it. I snapped a lot of pictures so I can look back at the memories. Someday, when I have time to look back!

What they say about always wanting what we don’t have, it’s so true. In the mist of the mess of the holiday, the baking in a kitchen that looked like it exploded, while the girls screamed and hung on me, I couldn’t help but think I’d be happy once it’s all over and life is back to a calm normal. But now, that life is back to that normal, I’m sitting here wondering how it’s over already, and wishing we could rewind and redo. I was supposed to relax and make Christmas cookies with the girls. And wrap presents next to the fireplace while listening to Christmas music. Does that only happen in the Hallmark movies?? One of these years maybe… when the girls are older? Maybe?

Below are pictures of the girls taken Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This was our first real year of playing Santa, and I think we did okay. The girls got Legos, a LeapStart learning pad, shoes, some clothes, PJs, lots of books (we’re really into books!), a Mickey Mouse Roadster Racer remote control car, and other items I can’t quite remember now. Nadia enjoyed ripping the paper, and Nora just kept saying she wanted to open more. I surely hope we haven’t already created a monster. I had a hard time buying gifts, everything seemed to be for Nora, as I didn’t really want to buy a lot of gifts for a one-year old… I feel like we’re going to be past that soon, and we already have so much! In fact, going through all the boxes yesterday, attempting to recycle all the packaging, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of guilt. We have so much… Too much. We should have given more, purchased less for ourselves. I think I need to go through the girls toys and pick a bunch to donate. I still want to by a little table and chairs for the girls so I can set up their playroom and organize some of the more creative toys.

Today I’m reorganizing my mind. Trying to do all the things, well, some of, the things I’ve been putting off while Christmas shopping took priority. I think Kona has been feeling a bit neglected lately, so I booked grooming for her Friday and I’m in the process of setting up a new doggie daycare. Not sure how often she will go, I guess depends on the cost and their availability. I did buy her a new leash and collar for Christmas thinking maybe I could start walking her more regularly… but it’s 4°F today. So yeah, not today. I’d also like to get back onto reading, my book club, knitting maybe, oh yeah, that bible I got, and my Silhouette machine that is now collecting dust. Ugh. And to add to my machines that collect dust… I got an instant pot for Christmas! I promise to use it. I hope. Tonight for dinner we’re having spaghetti… I hope this turns out!

Last Monday before Christmas!

Only a week until Christmas. I wish I could say I felt more prepared… But what do they say? If it weren’t for the last-minute, nothing would get done? Or something like that!

The girls are at daycare today. After I dropped them off and stopped for a latte at Starbucks and then to Sam’s Club for kleenex and toilet paper. Necessities people! Then Hy-Vee for a few groceries. I’m doing laundry now and waiting to see if the whole house humidifier I attempted to turn on is going to run… Time will tell.

The house is nice and quiet, and I wish I could say I was relaxed and enjoying the moment. But no, I have a billion things on my mind, wondering how everything will be accomplished in the 6 more days until Christmas Eve. Eric is on-call this week, so not back in town until Friday. Ugh. That doesn’t help matters. And next week should be his entire week off, but due to the holidays he is only off Saturday through Tuesday. It’s so hard without him here! Where is my time to listen to Christmas music, make cookies, and wrap presents???

I have most of my shopping done. Actually, it’s my girls that are left, as I have zero clue what to get them. They need nothing and I don’t want to spoil them with more toys. God knows they will receive enough from everyone else. We didn’t really do Santa last year, as Nora was too young, and she might even be too young this year to understand? We’ve mentioned Santa but it certainly hasn’t been a daily discussion here. I only have a few gifts for them, educational toys, so are all those gifts Santa gifts? What do they open from Eric and me? Why do I feel so lost when it comes to parenting and Christmas?? And I just remembered I forgot to do St. Nick gifts in their stockings in early December. Oops.

I better go update my to-do list so I don’t forget anything else!

They’re Both Napping

They’re both napping… So I shall type fast… While I quietly eat these potato chips and dip with black licorice for lunch…

  • I was productive today. I cleaned out and organized the panty and cabinets, and I might do the fridge and freezer later this afternoon! Oh, and I cleaned the entire house as well! Okay, well, the cleaners did, but lets just tell everyone I did.
  • A clean house relaxes me. I’m sitting here listening to Christmas music on my new Amazon Echo. Does anyone have one of these? So far I’m not seeing the value. I know it does a lot, but all I figure I’ll use it for is listening to my Audible books and Amazon Prime Music. Maybe Nora will enjoy talking with Alexa… Maybe Alexa can translate Nora’s Chinese (?). 
  • Last week I took Nadia to Iowa City for her cardiology appointment. Did I already write about it? I can’t remember, so skip this bullet if I did. The appointment took forever. First they wanted a blood pressure on each limb, with her calm, of course. Nice try people. Then they wanted a EKG, with her completely still and calm. HA! I guess both were fine as the doctor increased her dose of Propranolol to 0.3 ml of I’m not sure how strong of a dose, every eight hours based on her weight and sent us on our way. We follow up in three months for another EKG. This Friday, two days from now, Nadia has another appointment in Iowa City, this time for her immature eyes.
  • Speaking of Iowa City, we were there yesterday for Nora. She had an immune blood draw and then a follow-up with ortho for her hips since she was born breech. Nora’s IgG level in August was 226, and yesterday it was 305, so a huge increase, and great news! It’s still far from normal of around 600 for her age, but we’re getting closer. And Nora’s hip x-ray was normal, so now we don’t need to return for an ortho visit until she’s 5. OMG, I can’t even imagine Nora five years old…
  • I’m seriously exhausted from taking these two girls to appointments in Iowa City. Do full-term babies have this many appointments in their first years of life??? These don’t include any of their regular well-baby exams.
  • Our Christmas tree has been up for two days, but it’s still not decorated. Am I the only person that loves a decorated tree, but hates the process of decorating? I always imagine sitting around as a family happily putting the ornaments on the tree. Somehow it never happens that way. I probably should be doing it when the girls are napping… Maybe tonight Eric can help me.
  • I did set up our Nativity scene… And as I was setting it up I told Nora all about each statue. And then I realized that we’re horrible about teaching Nora about religion, we rarely even take her to church. Why do I dread attending mass each week? The hassle of taking two kids? Of getting up early? I feel guilty, like I should want to attend mass each week. But I don’t. Is something wrong with me? How do I teach my daughters about religion when I can’t even make myself attend?
  • I’ve only ordered two Christmas presents so far… No clue what to buy anyone on my list, including Nora and Nadia. They don’t need anything.. I’ve mentioned Santa to Nora, but I think she’s too young to understand, right?
  • I might need to give up on using those blocks for weekly/monthly pictures. It’s so hard getting Nadia to sit in a chair with them. I got a few cute pictures of her last night, and decided those would be her 13 week photos… 
  • I must be slightly (a lot) OCD, as it bothers me now that all weekly pictures won’t include the blocks.
  • It snowed here this morning. Not enough to stick, but the first real snowflakes of the year. I’m already counting down the days until spring when the girls and I can more easily get out of the house each day again.
  • I’m down to pumping just once or twice a day. Wow, I have so much more time in my life!
  • Nadia seems to be falling into a groove, she wakes just once each night around 2am to be fed. Granted, I feed her around 11pm before I go to bed, and she’s normally awake again around 6am for her breakfast… I’m tired, but it could be a lot worse. Eric hasn’t done any night feedings, even though he totally could since we’re using formula now. I think Eric believes that since I stay home with the kids, that it’s my job overnight as well. He makes comments about how he has to be up for work and needs his sleep… How do other families handle this if one partner stays home? Does the one who works outside the home since help during the night?
  • I’m still disliking where we live. The house yes, but more the city. You know how you can search and find Facebook events near you? Well, it appears as if there are tons of kid related Christmas events where we used to live, but little to none offered here. I’m just so scared that raising our kids here is not going to be the experience I wanted to give them.  This topic probably deserves a post of it’s own, if I ever find the time.
  • I now have $75 worth (1,000 grams of powdered) Hipp Hypoallergenic formula that we can’t use. I ordered more after the first couple feedings, when I still thought it was going well, as I knew it would take several days to arrive. Does anyone feed or want to feed their baby this? Make me an offer… It’s still sealed.
  • Instead of exchanging gifts this year, my family mentioned vacationing together, although Eric wouldn’t be able to join us… Knowing we live in Cedar Falls, Iowa and want to drive (with little kids) to the destination, does anyone have any recommendations? Again, feeling like there is so little around us…
  • I feel so horrible that I haven’t made time for friends in my life lately. I mean well, I think of them often, but time gets away from me. Or maybe I’m just really bad at making plans and reaching out to others. I’m here alone so much, and would love the company, but the idea of getting two little kids ready to go anywhere in the cold discourages me, and how can I really expect everyone to come to me? How do adults stay in touch when they don’t live in the same city and feel so busy with kids?

Nora is stirring so I must go for now. More another time… I’ll leave you with a picture of her from this morning.

    Nora’s 1st Christmas

    Christmas

    What?  It’s the 26th?  How can Christmas be over already??  Wasn’t it just Monday and I was fretting over everything I had to do this week???

    I’m not the only one who is sad once the holidays are over, am I?  I’m not sure I can explain why, I just went to bed last night a little sad that the day was over, that my family had gone home, that Nora’s 1st Christmas was complete.  I worry constantly that I’m not making the firsts in Nora’s life special enough, or that I’m not taking enough pictures to remember it all, or writing enough posts to share it all!  Do all mothers feel this way?  We didn’t do Santa this year, didn’t fill a stocking for Nora…  Were we supposed to?  What do other families do??  Maybe we need to start more traditions…

    There is one tradition that Eric and I started several years ago.  It was actually kind of silly at first…  We just happen to go out to eat for Chinese on December 23rd of 2012.  And then the following year I was looking back at our calendar and noticed, and so we decided to do it again on the 23rd, and now we’ve done it every year since.  We usually just pick a Chinese place, doesn’t always have to be the same place, and nothing fancy, just something we’ve been doing now, and it was kind of fun to take Nora along this year for the first time.  Maybe next year she’ll actually eat something other than her (my) milk!

    I guess I should back up though…  Our first Christmas celebration was with Eric’s family in Fort Dodge last weekend, December 19th and 20th.  We almost always celebrate with them the weekend before, and I completely understand why, so everyone can plan ahead and be available for the celebration, but…

    Ugh, where was I?  Several days have passed and I’m just now finding time to write again…  It’s January 3rd already!

    Okay, so with Eric’s family…  That celebration was way back on December 19th.  Seems like ages ago!  I loved seeing Eric’s brother and wife and daughter!  I so wished they lived closer.  I’m not close with the rest of his family though, so I’ll just leave it at that.

    Eric was on call Christmas Eve and Christmas, so the plan was for my family to come spend Christmas day with us at our house, since Eric couldn’t really leave the area.  But that meant skipping a Christmas Eve get together at my aunts, which I had been looking forward to.  And yes, Eric told me to go and take Nora and have fun with my family, but it just seemed wrong for me to spend Christmas Eve away from Eric.  And I know I shouldn’t be like this, but it kind of ticks me off that I seem to be the only one making sacrifices these days.  Oh, this probably deserves its own post, but really.  Eric was on call over Christmas, but yet he still was able to attend all of his family’s celebrations.  Just annoys me I guess, my own issue to work through perhaps.

    On Christmas Eve Eric did have to go into the hospital, both in the morning to round on his in-patients and in the evening for a procedure, but overall it was quite a nice, relaxing day.  We slept in, stayed in PJs, even took a walk as a family in the snow!  The falling snow was beautiful and it was actually quite warm!  It turned out to be really fun.  Eric even suffered through several Hallmark Channel Christmas movies with me.

    Christmas morning Nora woke us up early, as usual, but that gave me and Eric the opportunity to make the food for our celebration with my family.  Eric really likes to cook but doesn’t always have the time.  My mom brought the majority of the food with her that she had prepared ahead of time, but Eric and I provided a few appetizers, a very yummy sangria, and a non-alcoholic punch option as well.  All were very tasty!

    Nora actually surprised me on her first Christmas.  She is normally super into people-watching, loves to be in loud, crowed places, in fact, she usually seems bored at home with me, if that’s possible.  Can babies be bored?  Anyway, she seemed completely overwhelmed while we were opening presents.  Perhaps she just wanted to get down and crawl around, but between all the dogs, the people and kids, the mess of wrapping paper, well, it was hard to put her down.  So she squirmed and cried some.  Eric ended up taking her into her bedroom and reading to her a bit, which seemed to calm her down and cheer her up.  Once the bulk of the presents had been opened and the older kids resorted to our lower level we put her down to explore the disaster of wrapping paper.  The picture above is her enjoying the freedom of crawling about.

    I honestly can’t believe Nora’s first Christmas is over…  Is this how all the firsts go?  And then the seconds?  And before you know it, they are graduating college???