Per Usual – Catching Up

I suppose I should just stop saying I’m catching up… You can all just assume I kind of suck at making time to write right now. Maybe when school starts? Who knows. I try. I want to write. We’ll see.

Dear God, we are halfway through summer, I think. The girls go back on August 24th, which happens to be Nadia’s 6th birthday. Which reminds me, I need to add plan her party to my ‘to do’ list. July so far has been extremely uneventful. In fact, we didn’t even head downtown to our usual fireworks display. Although mainly because we missed it. It’s always on the 4th. This year, for reasons I’m unaware of, it was on the 2nd. So… yeah. But, there were so many we could see from our house every night around the 4th that the girls didn’t even seem to notice the missing larger event.

In June we went to Florida, Clearwater Beach to be exact, and had a beautiful week to relax. It was so so so so hot there, but still, it was nice to get away. Our hotel suite was gorgeous, the pool was fabulous, and the girls loved collecting seashells on the beach. Eric’s favorite part of vacations is always eating at fancy restaurants with food we wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy. But… with a five and seven year-old, I think we failed in the fancy food department on this vacation. It was so much easier to just find kid food to satisfy them. This was the girls’ first time flying, and they did fantastic. Nadia was actually so worn out she slept the entire flight home.

Long Overdue Update

I haven’t written in forever. And now, so much has happened, I’m overwhelmed with how to explain everything you’ve missed on our PANS journey. I guess maybe highlight the big points for now…

School is out. I can’t believe Nora will be in 1st grade come August… Wasn’t she just born??? I did remember to take a few pictures the last day of school, and a few at the park where the school went for the afternoon.

I’ve been interviewing college girls to come watch the girls a few hours a day so I can get my long list of crap accomplished, like organize every room of the house, buy furniture, do laundry… you get the idea. So far I haven’t loved any of my choices. We have one more interview tomorrow. Nora is in dance camp each morning this week… so thankfully no constant fighting at least for a few hours.

We went to Adventureland in Des Moines, IA which is not that far from our home a few weeks ago. I’m surprised the girls liked as many rides as they did, I kind of figured they, well, especially Nora, would be terrified. But they both had a lot of fun!

And then the following week we went up to Minnesota for two reasons… One to hang out at the Great Wolf Lodge water park, and two, to see another PANS specialist who I’d heard wonderful things about. I’ll write a separate post on that visit, soon, I promise.

And here are a few more random pictures of summer so far 🙂

Last Day of Daycare

Yes, today was the last day! Nora wasn’t all that interested in smiling… Notice the red mark on her head. Remnants of her collision only moments earlier with Nadia’s head.

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We stopped and picked up cupcakes this morning to celebrate their last day. Both girls insisted on carrying their own bag of goodies to the car. Nora cried at drop-off… from the first day at this center until the last. Nadia was actually pretty excited this morning to tell her teacher all about the cupcakes! Thank goodness one was happy!

I’m supposed to be doing laundry and labeling their school supplies, but here I sit on my computer. Maybe it reminds me of working, of being productive. I did notice a new house for sale, I should go drive by and decide if it’s worth viewing. And of course, kickboxing later this afternoon before I pick up the girls and prep for our vacation which starts Sunday, our quick trip to Minneapolis to a waterpark! Oh, and Nadia’s 3rd birthday is also next Friday. Dear God, I have a lot to do before then!

I’ll leave you with a few cute pictures I took last night after baths!

Wisconsin Dells Trip

I’m exhausted. A water park trip spanning five days and four nights was too long with a now four and two year-old. We actually ended up coming home a day early, Thursday evening instead of Friday afternoon.

As stressful as traveling with toddlers is for me, and for Eric, I think it’s good we went. The smiles on the girls’ faces each time they came down the water slides, shouting ‘go again’ were priceless. Nora really came out of her shell, enjoying the water a lot more than I anticipated. Nadia had fun as well, but was scared in certain instances, as I expected. Nora especially liked wearing floats so we could take her into deeper water and let her try paddling around on her ‘own’ a bit. Her own, haha, that’s exactly why Eric and I were exhausted, as there was never a moment we weren’t right next to them, keeping them from dying. Even in the four-inch kiddie pool!

We stayed in a two-bedroom condo at the Great Wolf Lodge, which was really perfect for the girls. If you ask Eric, we needed the three-bedroom. Nadia didn’t sleep well. But hell, she doesn’t sleep well at home either. That topic deserves another post all its own. Thankfully Nora is a pretty good sleeper, even on vacation.

Most of the indoor water areas were great for littles. I didn’t really think it was that packed, although I guess I have no idea what it’s like other weeks. We never waited on a slide and had plenty of room around us in the pools for the most part. We did see the family across the hall from us several times in the water areas. They have three children, including twin little girls younger than Nadia and therefore seemed to very much understand our struggle between smiling through the stress for the sake of the kids’ smiles, and just wanting to scream with frustration when your toddler asks to go to the bathroom for the sixth time in 15 minutes. I ended up friending the woman on Facebook, I’m anxious to see how the rest of their trip went.

Before arriving at the water park I had this idea in my head… of spending each of the five days, the entire days, in the water with the girls. That expectation was not realized… Not sure if I should be thankful for that, or disappointed. I would say at the most each day we made it three hours, probably closer to two in the water. After two hours the girls were tired, and Eric and I were sick of constantly catching them out of the slides and hoisting them back up the ladders to ‘go again’. We ate a huge breakfast each morning that I had prepaid for before getting into the water, so after only two hours, we weren’t starving, but the girls definitely had room for Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream, strawberry to be exact. Our first day we started later in the day with travel time, so just bed was in order after dinner, but Tuesday and Wednesday we showered in the afternoon, found some shopping and then ate out each evening before heading back to our condo for bed, rather late each evening. Tuesday Eric picked a fancy steakhouse. I was so embarrassed to take the girls. No kids menu, the place was full of professional looking, dressed up adults. Ugh. Thankfully the girls have been out to eat enough that they were fairly well-behaved despite the quiet, fancy atmosphere.

I didn’t end up taking many pictures, probably because all good photo opportunities took place in water. And lets face it, my iPhone is worth way too much to me and Sprint (whom I rent it through) to risk dropping it in the lazy river or any pool, for that matter. I did get a few each day though. The smiles on the girls faces tell me the vacation was everything to them, and I’m already excited to plan another trip. Hopefully traveling becomes less stressful for Eric and me as the girls get older 🙂

 

 

Kansas City Vacation

I have no idea where to even begin! I guess by saying… in the girls eyes the vacation was amazingly fun… in my eyes, it was very stressful! I’m beginning to think that the key to lifelong happiness is to see life through the eyes of a child. Everything is wonderful and fun to my girls! But, as a friend told me…

Traveling with toddlers is a trip, not a vacation!

We left home last Monday and stopped at the zoo in Des Moines on the way to Kansas City. It was really just a way to break up the day for the girls. The DM zoo was surprisingly good, considering it’s in Iowa! We skipped naps that day though and didn’t get to our rental house until after 6pm though… so obviously the girls, especially Nora, were cranky. Actually, skipping naps and cranky girls was the overall theme for the week.

On past trips we really tried to adhere to a nap schedule. But we found it broke up the days too much and really just made us feel like most of our time was wasted in our hotel. Now I realize naps were smart. But thus, I digress.

The days are all running together in my mind now, but in addition to the zoo in Des Moines we also went to the Kansas City Zoo, the aquarium, Science City, Lego Land, a mall, and lots of boring restaurants. I say boring restaurants because clearly we’re not brave enough to take two (overly tired by 5pm) toddlers to fancy establishments! Well, we actually did go to a somewhat fancy Italian restaurant one night, but learned our lesson. There was some smiling at dinner before the meltdowns though!

Eating at a not so fancy restaurant…

LEGO Land was one of the girls’ favorite places. And OMG, did you know it’s someone’s job to just build huge Lego sculptures?? What major should I have picked for that profession??

The day we went to the zoo in Kansas City was beautiful. The weather was just perfect, about 65 and sunny! I know the girls had fun, but honestly, zoos are always my favorite. I’m amazed at the creatures! The Des Moines zoo actually had five month-old lion cubs. Talk about adorable! And huge! I especially liked how they climbed on mama and she literally threw them off across the park. I won’t be adding that to my parenting skills anytime soon, but it was certainly interesting to see. The pictures below are from our zoo adventures. Obviously taken before Nora lost her binkie and had the mother of all meltdowns. Yes, it was one of those moments when you feel like thousands of people are staring at you and judging your parenting skills. Probably because they were. It was awful. Another day with no naps though, we should have known better.

We did spend a few hours one afternoon at your typical bigger city mall. I was desperately looking for outfits for Nora’s three year-old pictures, and did find one dress. In the process though, Nora insisted I carry her on my back. And of course I’d only brought the waterproof carrier, which has zero padding!

We didn’t spend much time, other than sleeping, at our rental house. And let me say, I would not do that again based on this experience. Separate post needed for that. Maybe a book. At least a chapter. But again, in the girls’ eyes, it was perfect and fun and special. Eric was brave enough to get down on the floor for playtime with the girls… Not so much for me.

Thursday night as I was putting Nora to bed, the night before her 3rd birthday, I got a bit emotional. I know I bitch and moan and complain a lot, about how hard parenting can be… because let’s face it, it is hard. But it’s also wonderfully special, and priceless, and timeless… So often I want to speed up the days or weeks or years, thinking life will be easier if the girls were older. But honestly, who the heck knows if that’s true. All we really know is it will be different, and nothing, no amount of wishing or praying will bring back the past. We must make the best of the hard times and cherish the good, making memories of both along the way. As Nora and I were snuggling in her travel bed that evening, after finishing reading together, I snapped a bunch of pictures of her and I, hoping to always remember the moment. Here is one of those…

Looking back on our week, I think five days/four nights was too long. Friday of the week was Nora’s actual birthday, and honestly, it was probably the hardest day for all of us. We were tired, sick of being away from home, sick of the car, etc. Again, we celebrated Nora’s birthday for about six days straight, so to her, Friday was fine, and her birthday overall was wonderful, but for me, it was disappointing. I think sometimes I just want everything to be perfect and special, as I somehow connect that with showing my children how much I love them. And since Friday didn’t live up to my special and perfect expectations, I was a little sad. We did start the day with special cupcakes from a cute shop in Kansas City. And of course, Nora only took maybe two licks of the frosting and was finished!

Check-out of the rental was noon, so we had to get up and be on our way shortly after cupcakes… And on our way meant the five-hour drive home. Four hours in the girls were sick of their car seats, and even sicker of traveling, being the God-forsaken DVD player on our van picked that day to stop working. (Remember how every single thing on that new van has broken??) Anyway, we were hungry and tired and needed out of the car, so where did we stop for dinner on her actual birthday? A restaurant connected to a gas station. It seriously doesn’t get any fancier than that. But… the workers were the nicest most amazing people I’ve ever met in my entire life. They got the entire crew, cooks and all, to sick Happy Birthday to Nora with ice cream and candles. She was smiling from ear to ear!

All in all, a good week. A test for Eric’s and my parenting skills, but I think we passed, for the most part. I know we will travel again, and more often in the future, but honestly, I’m in no hurry to pack up and go anywhere anytime soon!

Oh, and that travel toddler bed… Nora did AMAZING in it. She never once tried to escape its boundaries. Seriously, never came out the of the strange bedroom we stuck her in at the rental house. When we got home we figured she did so well we’d convert her crib to a toddler bed. And again, she’s been doing awesome, no different from when it was a crib. She doesn’t ever get out, waits for us to come get her up in the morning, even if she’s awake before we are. How did I get so lucky?? And does this mean it will be impossible with Nadia??

Damn Snow

If I wasn’t born and raised in Iowa and married a guy also from Iowa, I would not still be here. I hate snow. Yes, it can be pretty. But the chaos it causes, the car accidents, the deaths… I could certainly do without all those. We are supposed to get six inches of this white stuff today, and already the interstate is snow-covered. And of course today is Eric’s clinic day in Ft. Dodge… Why do I feel like he’s going to get stuck there and end up spending another night away??

Today is my mom’s birthday and I wanted to surprise her at work with a bouquet of flowers. Cue snow storm… When I dropped the girls off at daycare this morning around 8:30am I learned they were closing at noon due to the expected bad weather. If I’d known ahead of time I would have just kept them home the entire day… Sometimes the morning struggling of waking up, getting dressed, breakfast, and somehow out the door, just isn’t worth it. Especially for only three hours. Although… buying groceries was easier alone.

I returned home to shower after dropping the girls off and received a call that my afternoon window shutter install needed to be moved to the morning. Again, the freaking snow. So I bought groceries quick as I needed ingredients for dinner, Million Dollar Spaghetti, and by that time it was already 11:35am and thus back to daycare. I’ve made this dish several times and the girls really liked it. Fingers crossed they still do. You know toddlers! And another dish with sour cream, cream cheese, even cottage cheese…

So back home, girls are napping, I’m feeding my face for the first time today (how do I forget to eat??) and wondering how I will occupy Nora’s and Nadia’s busy brains once they wake. Do other people’s kids just play? Do you entertain your children? To be honest, I love them, but I don’t love sitting on the floor playing train or coloring all afternoon… I’d rather be doing laundry, making dinner, and perhaps dreaming up ways to decorate this room with furniture and other fixtures now that the shutters are here… What do you think? A bit hard to see in the pictures due to the lighting. I really like them, but Nora was already banging them open and closed as I was rocking Nadia before her nap.

I was looking at my calendar for the next few months and noticed Eric is away overnight 12 out of 28 days in February, 43%, and 17 out of 31 days in March, 55%. Um, certainly more than the 33% of the time we originally discussed when our decision to move here was made. Granted, there are special circumstances the next couple months. Eric takes his oral boards in Dallas during his vacation week in February, and Eric is going to Las Vegas with some friends in March during his vacation week. And don’t even get me started. I know he deserves a vacation… but… Where does one draw the line? When you’re already away from your family that much, shouldn’t you possibly forgo vacations? I don’t take vacations, how would I? We don’t take any as a family either. I know Eric works so hard, so many hours… But, I don’t know. Part of me feels like perhaps now is not the time for him to vacation with friends, that sacrifices, while they suck, are being made on all our parts. Eric choose this professional, long before him and I even met. Yes, I was probably a little naive as to what I was getting into when Eric and I got married. I didn’t realize the extreme time commitment that was being a surgeon. And while I do complain a lot, I’m handling two little kids here, alone, more than 50% of the time some months. It’s exhausting!

Time Got Away From Me!

Seriously people, time got away from me.  I don’t even remember the last time I wrote…  But I’m back, to Iowa, back to my normal life, and thus, an update!  But where to start!

Materniti21 Results – Let’s start with the exciting stuff!  Last Thursday my doctor’s office called with my Materniti21 results.  And it was all good news!  Results were negative for any chromosome abnormalities, and…. it’s a girl!  I’d be thrilled with either a boy or girl, but I think two girls so close in age will be fun!  We had an ultrasound way back when my blood was drawn for that test, which I don’t think I ever posted.  A profile picture, and then a little foot, which was 1cm long at 12 weeks.

baby us        foot

Belly Pictures – I guess I need to start these again.  I personally hate them, but I kind of like looking back and comparing, so I guess I’ll do them again…  This was taken this morning, so a bit over 13 weeks.  Yes, I cut my head off on purpose 😉  And I think my behind is actually larger than my baby bump…  I better cut back on my McDonald’s runs.  I’m in maternity jeans but regular shirts still.

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Nora’s IgG Results – Finally got these back!  Last check was only 107, and it’s now 211, which is hugely encouraging.  I mean, it’s still a far cry from normal, which is around 650, but we’re getting closer.  And really, it’s just good to know it’s increasing.  They still want to check it every 4-6 weeks until it’s in the normal range.  Ugh.  But it could be worse.

Las Vegas – I got back last night from Las Vegas, a trip Eric purchased for my birthday, for just my mom and me.  I was seriously scared to leave Nora, but I have to say, Eric really impressed me.  Even if his parents were there to help.  My mom and I had a wonderful time, eating, shopping, sightseeing, etc.  It was just nice to get away, and get an actual night’s sleep, without peaking at the monitor every hour!  We stayed at the Venetian and even had a limo from and back to the airport!  I’m still exhausted today though, as I think we walked over 17 miles!  I took some random pictures, if you’re interested, click here.

Otherwise, I’m not sure what is new…  I lead a really boring life you know!  Nora was really cute this morning when she saw me…  Huge smile!  And she was super sweet all morning, didn’t seem to be as clingy as last week.  She played on the floor without needing me right there.  She even attempted to lay on Kona, and Kona’s bed, which is currently in the middle of our living room.  And, she took a two-hour morning nap!  That never happens!  So I was actually able to shower and relax!

Alright, until next time, I hope you’re all well!

January 25, 2016 – 45 Weeks (34 Weeks Corrected)

How is Nora 10 months old already??  I seriously don’t know where the months have gone!  I best start thinking about her 1st birthday celebration!

Nora’s a very busy little girl, never stops moving, pulls herself up on everything, tries to stand…  Which probably explains why she is gaining so, so very slowly.  Last Wednesday was her last weight check, up to 14 lbs 9 oz.  We are still fortifying my milk.  And while we are adding in solids, her pediatrician stresses that my milk is still best for her at this stage.

45 weeks 1 45 weeks 2 45 weeks 3

Last Saturday thru Wednesday Eric and I went to Minneapolis with Nora.  Eric had a week off work and while I’d love to just fly to Aruba like one of his partners, I don’t feel like it’s all that feasible with a baby.  I have no clue how one takes frozen breast milk on a plane.  And honestly, I’m learning that traveling with a baby is a lot of work.  Stressful.  And takes some of the fun out of time away.

minn 1 minn 2 minn 3 minn 4

For whatever reason we didn’t take many pictures…  I need to be better about that.  We did have a nice time though.  Eric even let me shop two days at the Mall of America!  I got Nora a bunch of cute outfits and myself another pair of Uggs.  I’m addicted.  Nora was best at restaurants, being she is so nosy.  If we put her in a high chair with puffs she entertains herself by people-watching.  It’s quite amusing really.

Aside from the mall, we went to a bunch of furniture stores.  There was one in particular I wanted to stop at, Room and Board.  I found several things on their website I liked and wanted to see them in person before ordering.  This bed and matching Bennett collection should be arriving this Saturday in the color shown on the site.  And I’m pretty sure I’m going to order this table with charcoal stained legs and a bright white quartz top.  Not sure about chairs yet.  I’m just pretty much awful at decorating.  I ordered these bar stools with graphite legs and black leather seats.  But now I’m wondering if black will be too dark.  And what do I order for chairs with a table with a white top?  Can I order the same chairs with a black seat?  Or is that too much contrast?  Help!  Oh, and then there is the house situation, which might change all this furniture anyway.  Without boring you with pages and pages of complaints, let me just say, I don’t like our current home.  It just doesn’t feel like home to me.  We looked at several open houses yesterday, but honestly, there isn’t much for sale right now here.  The only one I kind of liked was this one, but I don’t love it, it’s nothing all that special, the basement would need to be finished, and frankly, I feel like we shouldn’t just buy something again to buy something.  That’s how we got into a house I don’t like in the first place.  I guess ultimately I still want to build our dream house we designed last year, but Eric wants to wait until his practice is more stable, so probably three years from now.  In the meantime though, does it make sense to build again, or just live with this house I don’t care for so much?  I feel like I spend so much time at home though, and not liking where you live, well, it’s hard.  But on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with the house we just built…  Perhaps I’m just way too picky…  I’m sure our Realtor thinks I’m quite crazy!  Maybe I am…

Vacation!!!

It’s that time folks.  Vacation!  Worked totally sucked this week, so this vacation is even more needed now than originally.  Remember when I said I didn’t really mind accounting so much?  Yeah, I take that back.  It took me three days to build an entry this week.  OMG.  I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it was!  So dinner with Eric tonight, laundry and packing tomorrow, and off to Vegas Sunday for the week.  I’ll try to get some good pictures to share!

Vacation Booked!

I’m learning the fine art of compromising.  Or I’m just too tired to keep arguing with men, specifically my husband.

Eric has the second week in August off work, which is huge because normally he forgoes his vacation time each year and just keeps on working.  But no, this year he told me to plan something and he was damn well going.

So me, I love tropical, plop me on some white sandy beach for a week with my iPod and a book and to me, that’s a vacation.  Eric…  He has other ideas.  He wants to ‘do’ something.  I’m confused by this since we seem to do something everyday, AKA work, so why would this need to continue during a vacation.  But, like most things with men, I don’t understand.

Eric’s favorite thing to do on vacation is gamble, specifically in Vegas, but honestly, if you’ve been more than one, I feel like the thrill kind of losses itself.  Plus, I’m not into gambling, although I certainly don’t turn down the free drinks while Eric is blowing our hard-earned money. If I’m going to spend money on something, I’m taking something home with me, be it a shoes, make-up, you name it, I don’t really care, but something is going in my suitcase home.

When Eric discovered I was checking out tropical vacation spots, his response was somewhere along the lines of, um, what the crap at we going to do there?  He had the same response the last time I tried to book an all-inclusive beach report, and ultimately he won, as last time we went back to Vegas.  To me compromise is perhaps taking turns picking the vacation spot, since I’m not sure any destination is going to 100% satisfy both Eric and me.  My only tropical trips have been with friends, mostly spring break trips, so ultimately I felt like it was my turn to pick the spot.

I googled beach resort with casinos, thinking maybe we could find something for both of us.  And while there are several out there, of course, they range from $10k+ for a week stay.  Ouch.  Further down the page in my search though I came across The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa.  The pictures pulled me in, but I realize sometimes pictures are quite deceiving.  It has a spa for me though, and a pool, and some pretty spots to relax…  And they have a free shuttle several times each day to the strip in Vegas for Eric.  Perfect!  I mean, not what I originally had in mind, but I could certainly use a week there relaxing, and Eric and I will still have the strip to occupy our time each evening for dinner and dancing.

Now, if I can just find a new bikini I don’t hate 😉