Sunday, January 31, 2010

Change is in the air...

I really don't like change. I was super excited about moving to Colorado, but that was about enough change in one year to keep me satisfied for the next decade. #2 on the list of things I hate is being sleep-deprived. You can ask anyone in my family how pleasant I am to be around when I've only had 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I am also a terribly light sleeper and struggle occasionally with bouts of insomnia. So why would I willingly enter into a situation that involves some of my least favorite things? Why would I apply for a part-time night nurse position with benefits?
I'll give you a little background. When I started searching for a job in Colorado, I applied for a night position at St. Francis Medical Center NICU. I submitted all the necessary documents, passed the HR screening and then waited for the interview from the nurse manager which I was assured would happen that week. I waited... and waited... and called HR... and waited and waited some more until after three weeks, no phone call, no interview. They apologized, but no one could explain to me why there was such a long delay. We waited until the 11th hour before I had to have a job offer so we could get our mortgage and finally HR offered me a position with the regional float pool. I was paid a higher hourly rate, but no benefits. I pick my schedule and work whenever I want, at least four shifts a month.
Initially we didn't think that would be a problem, we would just pay for insurance out-of-pocket privately and I already knew of a few companies with affordable plans. Unfortunately we discovered insurance companies won't touch a pregnant woman or her family with a ten-foot pole. We ended up paying an astronomical amount for COBRA until Caroline was born and then signed up for a more affordable monthly plan. In this plan, all child-wellness visits are covered 100% and Rylan had been a super healthy boy, so we thought it was worth the risk of paying nearly the full price for a sick visit. Then we were exposed to the H1N1 in October, Caroline had two ear infections in a row, they both got the croup, I think Caroline has another ear infection now and.... you get the idea. The stress of worrying whether I should take my child to the doctor or wait and see if we could avoid paying the $100+ for the office visit was wearing me down. Plus it is hard to budget when both of our incomes vary widely from week to week.
I think having excellent health insurance and the reliability of at least one income is worth the extra sleep deprivation. I love my job and the people I work with. I never dread going to work.
But my heart is so torn and that is why I have resisted this change for a long time. I don't want to feel like an exhausted and impatient zombie one more day a week. I want to have the energy to love my family well. I hate to miss fun outings with the kids. There are some activities/commitments I enjoy that I would have to give up. I have truly loved being a mostly stay-at-home mom. I am disappointed that God's plan hasn't included a full-time job with benefits for my husband so I can stay home with my young children. In my mind, that would be the perfect scenario. Charlton works very hard and desires to completely provide for our family, but most counselors have to be self-employed.

While I was writing, God reminded me of Philippians 4:6. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God." I have been anxious, about even being offered the position, about all the changes that would happen when I work 24 hours a week at night. I haven't trusted God's goodness and the knowledge that I can do all things with His strength. I want to be thankful I have the type of job where I can contribute financially while working a minimum of hours. We can arrange our schedules so when I am sleeping, the kids get to spend time with their dad instead of going to day care. I think about some things in the past that I worried about and dreaded in advance and they were never as terrible as I expected when they actually happened. I have a feeling God might be doing the same thing here as well and there could be some unexpected blessings.

I know one thing for sure, as soon as our new insurance kicks in, I'm calling my doctor to beg for some Ambien! :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rylan Reads the Bible

I guess you would call this translation the RIV....or Rylan International Version of the Bible.

Rylan: 3 1/4

I also want to write a few notes about my best boy. I have been working on this post for over a week and think the third time just might finish it. Maybe I need to be less long-winded!
Rylan has been growing and maturing since his 3rd birthday way back in October. I am so proud of how well he has been doing with potty-training the past month. I can't remember the last time he had an accident during the day. He will go to the bathroom all by himself now and is almost completely independent with pulling his pants back up.
We struggled with getting him to tell us about going #2 for long time, but now he alerts us and loves to sit and read a book or magazine, always asking for privacy. I wish he didn't have such an affinity for going #2 at the park bathroom.....but at least he is telling us when he has to go! We have had more than our share of funny/gross/frustrating potty moments over the past few months, which I won't share in any gory detail because I am sure most of you moms can relate already. We have had lots of discussions about anatomy and bathroom etiquette, like not peeking under the stall to say hello to the nice lady next to us, or trying to have a conversation with her, or asking if he can scratch his bottom in a public place.... Sometimes having such a chatty, outgoing child isn't so great.

I am thankful that Rylan still takes an afternoon nap anywhere from 1-3 hours. He goes to bed around 7:30 at night and gets up around 6-6:30. He plays in his room, sometimes quietly, and usually we don't have to get up with him until 7. He is starting to stall sometimes at bedtime, asking for one more....of this or that, and he does express being afraid of monsters sometimes.
I wonder if he is going through a growth spurt, because his appetite is incredible, especially in the mornings. He has put away two pieces of toast, some blueberries, cereal, and eggs for breakfast without slowing down. I can't imagine how I will feed him when he is a teenager! He will eat a decent variety of adult foods for dinner and dessert is always a great motivator to get him to finish his vegetables.

Rylan has been especially interested in dinosaurs and one-eyed monsters lately, the latter due to receiving "Monsters vs. Aliens" for Christmas. I'm pretty sure he has asked to watch it every day always telling us to "on-forward" it to the part where his favorite monster appears. One of his favorite toys is a large empty plastic container that Charlton drew one eye on the front, poked holes on the sides and threaded a bungee cord through to make arms. Again, why do we buy him toys? I made the terrible mistake of throwing away makeshift one-eyed monster #1 just before Christmas in an fit of organization. I hadn't seen Rylan play with it in weeks, so thought we could make room for the new toys coming. Big mistake, lots of tears= lesson learned and one-eyed monster #2 will be safe for a long time to come.

Rylan loves cartoons and movies of any type and it is a conscious struggle to limit his TV viewing. I have been letting him watch Sesame Street when we are home, (that's my prime shower time) and he loves it, especially Elmo. We also discovered some alphabet type games on and he has impressed us with his ability to identify letters and their sounds. Plus he thinks it is really cool to have computer time like a big boy. He also loves a program where he can "play" the piano by typing on the keyboard. Rylan is full of questions about life: one of his favorite is the "What's inside?" game. He starts with a random object, a grape, or his arm and asks me what is inside. We get all the way down to protons, neutrons, and electrons before I tell him you can't get any smaller than that. Sometimes the constant questions can tire me out, but I do love his curious nature and want to encourage that love of learning. I am also glad he loves to read and can understand longer and more complicated stories. He will still pick out a favorite few books and want to read those over and over again, though.

We still have our playgroup with Jimmy and Dain on Wednesday mornings which is one of the highlights of Rylan's week. We are still working on sharing the toys and taking turns, but overall they guys play well together, especially if they get some time outside to run off energy. Jimmy will be moving to North Dakota at the beginning of the summer. I haven't told Rylan yet, and probably won't until the time gets closer. I'm not sure if he will be able to understand the concept, but I know he will miss his best buddy. Dain is having his 3rd birthday party at the end of February and it should be fun to celebrate with him.

Rylan is not terribly fond of his baby sister these days. He is so territorial of his play space and possessive of his toys. I can understand his frustration, but the constant refereeing gets tiring. I am trying to teach him to pick out another toy to offer Caroline so she won't try to steal his toys, or simply ask me for help rather than beating on his sister.

Last year I read in a book about child development that you should start to wean your 2-year old from his/her lovey or special toy. I thought the timing was bad since his baby sister was soon to arrive and then before I knew it, we were starting potty-training, and well... I am really behind on this issue. Plus I am not totally convinced it is such a terrible thing to have "bear-bear" still tagging along with us everywhere. Rylan usually just wants him when he is tired and sucks his thumb. Still, I think we should probably try to transition to keeping "bear-bear" just at home before he turns four, so I want to try to work on that. Also, I am thinking Rylan might be ready to try wearing underwear for naps instead of pull-ups. So, those are a couple "goals" we might be working on in the next few months.

Caroline: 14 months

Caroline turned 14 months on Sunday and I wanted to write a little to remember her at this age. I am amazed to say that she seems to be feeling better since Friday. She still has a pretty impressive snotty nose, but no fever and she is sleeping well and a much happier girl overall. I am so thankful and hope she continues this trend. It has definitely worked in her favor that she has perfected saying "mama" and knows exactly who that special person is! She is normally too busy playing and exploring to snuggle much, but with being sick lately, she has wanted to cuddle with me. I have enjoyed bonding with my usually independent girl, just wish it didn't have to be combined with so much snot!
Caroline has 10 teeth now, four in the front on both the top and bottom and her upper one-year molars. She is a great eater although I wish more of her cooked veggies would end up in her mouth rather than on the floor. She loves her pancakes and waffles for breakfast and even ate some oatmeal this past week, something Rylan wouldn't touch at her age. She has also started dropping her morning nap. I am actually really happy about that because it gives us so much more time to do things in the mornings. She is definitely exhausted by lunchtime, and I am hoping this will translate into taking longer afternoon naps or sleeping later in the morning. I can hope, right? :-)
Caroline has started talking this past month; her vocabulary now includes, "ma-ma", "da-da", "bubble," "bye-bye," "night-night," "ball", "hi," and of course, her favorite,"uh-oh." We hear "uh-oh" when she is experimenting with throwing toys over the bannister, or dropping her food onto the floor (on purpose). If we aren't quick enough with vacuuming, she will crawl around and eat whatever she has dropped, because her food tastes so much better when mixed with carpet threads. When daddy comes home from work or I pick her up from the nursery at church, she squeals "oooh, oooh" with delight at the top of her lungs. She also will hold anything even remotely resembling a phone shape (yesterday it was a trailer to one of Rylan's trucks) to her ear and shout "Hey!"
Caroline enjoys reading books with me at bedtime. We read the same ones over and over again, and I think she likes being able to recognize "her" books now. I make the animal sounds and she has started copying me "quack-quack" when we get to the duck. She also likes to reach out and feel the textures on her touch-and-feel books.
I have to move quickly to be able to catch my girl now. She can almost run and doesn't fall dwon quite as often She is also a climber. Rylan was content to simply push the mailbox on wheels toy when he was a baby. Caroline pulls the little drawer covers off, puts both feet into the hole, and stands up. She also likes to scale the stack of three or four tupperware containers that organize our toys and sit on top of them, grinning like she has accomplished something really impressive.
Her favorite toys are anything that Rylan is currently playing with, anything that can be banged together to make noise, or the dirty contents of the dishwasher or forbidden cabinets. With the cabinet locks in place, the cabinets will only open a small crack. However, it is enough for Caroline to grip the top of the cabinet with her tiny fingers and slam it open and closed. Rylan, the ever helpful big brother, announced to me today, "I am a big boy now, mom, I know how to open the cabinets for Caroline so we can play!" So now, our child-proof cabinets are no longer so child-proof with such a smart 3-year old in the house. Caroline is definitely an instigator of mischief. I can't even bathe her with Rylan any more because she starts kicking her legs and splashing. He joins in and they get each other so excited that I get soaked and the bathroom looks like the splash zone at Sea World.
We've had some warmer weather lately so Caroline has enjoyed some play time outside. She squeals, "oh, oh" when I blow bubbles and was so thrilled with them that she even learned how to say "bubble." She likes the feel of the sand in the sandbox and is figuring out how to "drive" Rylan's ride-on bulldozer, backwards only. Caroline is way more interested in her stuffed animals than her baby doll. I often show her how to wrap her baby and hold her the right way, but she couldn't care less. She does love her stuffed wolves from Grandpa and squeals whenver she sees any dogs in general.
I am seeing some hints of a toddler temper. She will scream and fall down dramatically when I take away something she shouldn't have or stop her from doing something she really wants to. My biggest struggle the past few weeks has been dinner time. From about 3:30 or 4:00 on, as soon as I go into the kitchen to start making dinner, Caroline falls apart. She wails and follows me around the kitchen trying to wedge herself between me and whatever cabinet I am standing in front of. Nothing wears on my nerves faster than maneuvering around a screaming child while I am trying to cook dinner. It is a constant battle to keep from totally losing my patience with her. I have tried so many things to distract her or prevent the drama in the first place, but nothing has worked very well. Praying has helped! I should have tried that in the first place.
All is forgiven a few hours later at bedtime, when Caroline snuggles her head into my shoulder while I rock her. Sometimes, she will just stare intently into my eyes, making me wonder what she is trying to communicate. Then I remember and we rub noses over and over again in our special way of giving kisses. It sure is fun having a girl!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Some bumps...

We have had a busy, somewhat crazy week. On Monday, our friend Bekka and her daughter Izzy came to visit. Izzy is just a few weeks older than Caroline and at their age they don't interact much, but it was fun to see them together. I was especially glad to see Caroline's neglected baby doll get some attention. Izzy loved to hold her and carry her around, and really wanted to take her home. I don't think Caroline would have ever missed her. Sniff..
Monday afternoon I was walking down the stairs after the kids woke up from their nap and my heel slipped out from under me. I bumped/slid from the top of the stairs down to the landing. I mostly bumped my back and arms, but I think my head hit the stairs on the last few steps. I remember being scared and hurting all over, so I just rested my head on the steps. The next thing I knew I felt hot and dizzy and had this weird rushing sensation in my head. I heard Rylan calling, "mommy, mommy" and I woke up to see his little head peering over the top of the stairs at me. I don't think I was out for long and he wasn't overly concerned. I took it easy the rest of the day and gave myself the night off from cooking dinner!
Tuesday we had MOPS and Wednesday morning Caroline and I ran errands like crazy while Rylan was at his boys playgroup. Thursday was dentist and groceries and I cooked two meals in the afternoon.
Today we met some friends at the park in the morning. I am so proud of Rylan's potty-training, but wished he could have gone #2 the first time we trudged up the enormous hill to the bathroom! We spent about 45 minutes of our park time traveling to and from the bathroom. Oh well, such is the life of a mom. At least the sun finally came out and warmed things up while we were spending so much time in the bathroom.
And I feel like our lives have been a broken record in this area, but the kids are sick again! At least Caroline is still sick. Rylan had a runny nose and cough for a few days, but seems all recovered now. Caroline has a terrible runny nose and is fighting sleep like I have never seen her do before. She cried for 1 1/2 hours this afternoon with two attempts to rock her to sleep after which she promptly woke up as soon as I put her back in the crib. She really just wanted to be comforted by mom and when I curled up in my bed with her, she finally fell asleep and has been resting for the past hour. She's not running a fever, but I am worried this cold has led to another ear infection. And now it is Friday night and the doctor's office is closed for the weekend. I feel like my poor baby has been sick more often than she has been well for the past two months.
Here are a few pictures from this past week:

My little seamstress in training. I have been sewing and making hair bows like crazy when the kids are taking naps and many evenings lately. I really can't sew when they are awake; too many dangerous and sharp objects for them to get into trouble with. But this measuring tape seemed relatively safe for Caroline one afternoon as I finished up one of my latest projects. It brings back memories of being a little girl spending time with my mom as she sewed, playing with the pin cushion and scraps of fabric.
We have been working on our special Valentines cards and after our "top-secret" project was finished, I let Rylan paint whatever he wanted. He has been more interested in drawing and absolutely loved painting. These are what he called his paint brush "prints." Maybe he has some artistic interest, or his attention span is finally lengthening enough for a more stationary activity like this! I do love seeing his excitement at his creative projects, and it really wasn't as messy as I was afraid it would be.

This picture just cracks me up and here is the caption that goes with it: "Mom, feel my bumps!" Bumps being the grapes I gave him for lunch. He stuffs them in his mouth and then asks me to feel the lumps in his cheeks. What a character! Makes me remember a time when his cheeks looked like this all the time, and there were no grapes in them. He was the chubbiest baby.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fox Run Park

On Saturday, we took advantage of another nice day to play and picnic at Fox Run Park.
There was still a lot of snow on the ground. Caroline would grab handfuls and try to eat it.

Rylan poses for a quick shot. He made a few friends and enjoyed playing with them.

Play group picnic

I pay close attention to the weather out here, but especially on Wednesday, more precisely every third Wednesday, when we host Rylan's playgroup. We hit the jackpot last Wednesday and I managed to get the kids outside for a whole 1 1/2 hours. We even ate our picnic lunch outside, although I use the term loosely, because nobody eats very well at playgroup. There are just too many distractions. Funny how none of the moms seem to mind! We are just so thrilled to have tired, played-out toddler boys.

I think Caroline was the only kid actually eating. This girl can put away some food!

Smiles from Jimmy, Dain, and Rylan. Caroline is still busy eating! She is loving playing outside and just runs right along with the boys.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hope Springs Designs

Some of you may have noticed the new "button" on lower right side of my blog. If you click it, you will go straight to my new store on Etsy. Right now I am selling nursing covers, burp cloths, and pillow-case dresses for little girls. I also make simple hairbows, hairbow holders, and am hoping to have some items for little boys in the future. I love custom orders, so if you are interested in something that isn't shown in my store, e-mail me and we can talk about your project. Thanks for looking!

Chatty Caroline

This video is a little long, but so worth it to hear some of Caroline's new words. I was really excited to be able to catch so many of them on tape.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Playing outside

We have experienced the most wonderful reprieve from winter these past few days. This time last week, we had temps below zero, but yesterday and today we have played outside in only light jackets. There is still snow on the ground, but it is melting fast, and the warmth feels amazing. If we have occasional days like these, I think I can survive those long months until spring!

Rylan is happy to be outdoors.
We opened up the sand box again.

Rylan climbed into a deep drift just outside our neighborhood. If you look closely, you can see part of Pikes Peak just above the fence. The snow covered mountain looked beautiful against the bright blue sky, but I can never get it to look quite as amazing in my pictures.

Oooh! This snow is a little cold!

Caroline checks out the snow on her mittens.

Caroline "mows" our patio. She loves playing outside and I realized this is the first time she has been able to play in the yard. She only learned how to walk a month ago and it was too cold after that to go outside. It is fun to watch her almost run back and forth across the yard, investigate the grass, rocks, and sticks, and try to taste them. (Well, the eating gross stuff isn't so fun for mom. Thankfully I don't have to worry about dog piles any more.) She squeals with delight when I blow bubbles, another new and fun experience for her.

Who needs real toys...

....when you have bowls and spaghetti strainers. Seriously, Christmas was only three weeks ago and we are well-supplied with all kinds of new interesting toys. Just goes to show that old adage is true, sometimes the best toys are the simplest and those that use your imagination.

Here Rylan is playing with my kitchen ware, a baby toy and our back-rub tool, which he calls his monster. He played contentedly like this for at least a half-hour.

Charlton replaced our broken cabinet locks with new ones. Unfortunately, this one didn't quite lock all the way and Caroline's smart and helpful big brother opened it for her. I have an almost identical picture of my sister Anna sitting in the cabinet of our kitchen growing up. They had the same round cheeks and hairstyle (with hair coming loose and hanging into their eyes) and look so much alike!

Mom's bowls make great hats, did you know?

When mom's away.... daughter plays with firearms.

Is this how I hold the gun, Dad?

Watch where you're pointing that thing, girl!

Do we have a future Annie Oakley in the house? This girl means business.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Some more dancing Rylan

I just never get tired of watching this little guy dance. He cracks me up! I have no idea where he gets these moves! I hope he makes you smile, too.

On the mend

Croup, croup, go away..... You know your kids have been sick and you have been cooped up inside for too long when you start making up crazy songs. I am hoping there is a light at the end of our tunnel. Rylan is back to his perky, happy self and Caroline hasn't had a fever for two days. Her cough still sounds terrible and more wet than croupy, so she's been getting the humidifier in her room on full blast. Evenings are worse for her and she just follows me around crying almost constantly. When I am not trying to cook or eat or clean up from dinner, I do enjoy her new-found desire to cuddle. I wonder if it will stick around when she is feeling better.
On Tuesday, we took advantage of another relatively "warm" day and went to one of our favorite parks. It was really nice to get out of the house and let the kids burn off some energy other than climbing the walls, leaping off the couch, dumping all their toys out on the floor, throwing toys over the balcony, banging on the pots, dragging all my throw rugs into the living room, wrestling with each other, etc.. We also discovered, thanks to some other kids, a fabulous place for sledding and hope to try it out on the next big snow. I will definitely take some pictures then.
All this time at home inside has given me a chance to work on some creative projects. I have decided to re-activate my Etsy account and work on a few items to sell. I dusted off my sewing machine and have been making it hum lately. I am really excited to share my "creations", but need a few more weeks before I'll be ready for the official launch. So stay tuned and I hope to update you on this new project soon...
Meanwhile, keep warm. I am thinking my brother and sister- in- law picked a perfect time for their Caribbean cruise... and am just a little jealous!

Big boots to fill....

Wonder if Rylan will have size 13 feet like his dad one day? He's definitely got some room to grow in these boots.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Snow movies

Charlton took these videos last Monday before Rylan started feeling really bad. The kids had fun playing in the snow; especially Caroline since it was her first time outside in the white stuff.

The week after Christmas...

The weekend after Christmas, we just relaxed, ran a few errands on Saturday and went to church on Sunday. On Monday Rylan spiked a 101.4 fever and started complaining his mouth hurt. We figured out it was actually his throat causing the pain, and I was concerned about strep throat. I took him to the doctor on Wednesday and his strep test was negative, big surprise. At that point we thought he just had a cold virus. Then a few hours later, he woke up from his nap drooling, crying with an awful barking cough and struggling to catch his breath. I had heard of the distinctive "croup cough", but had never personally experienced it. Actually I think I would have preferred strep throat to the croup, because we could have at least treated it with antibiotics and known he would feel better soon. Instead poor Rylan has been sick all week with nothing but extra fluids, motrin, and the humidifier to help him out. Caroline started running a low fever yesterday. No cough yet, but croup is very contagious, so I'm not real hopeful for her chances of escaping it. (Oh, and we took Caroline to the doctor Monday and her ear infection is finally all cleared, after 20 days total of antibiotics. We are getting very comfortable at our new pediatrician's office. I think we've been four times in six weeks. I really, really like them, but I would be thrilled if we didn't have to see them quite so often. :-)
I have worked about two shifts a week over the holidays so I've also been busy between caring for sick babies at work and the hospital! I hate being so tired and having to be away from the kids, but am trying to be thankful the extra work is available right now especially when Charlton is on vacation.
We had a beautiful sunny morning today when the temps actually reached 43 degrees. It felt like a heat wave compared to the deep freeze we've experienced lately. We've all been suffering from cabin fever, so I bundled up the kids and took them to the park. The fresh air and sunshine were so therapeutic. Rylan moved a little slower than usual, but I think he really enjoyed being out even though he didn't feel quite 100%. Caroline is walking really well now, and it was fun to see her finally be able to enjoy climbing and waling on the play equipment. I am not sure how I will be able to keep up with both of them in the summer! Not even an hour after we came home, dark clouds blew in, we heard several claps of thunder and it started snowing again. I am glad we got outside when we could!
Sorry this post is so random, but I had to tell you about my New Years Eve. I had to work, and don't feel bad for me because I got Christmas and Thanksgiving off which is a major coup for a nurse. We have amazing views of the mountains and the city of Colorado Springs from our NICU windows. At midnight, a mountaineering club shot fireworks off Pikes Peak as part of their annual tradition. Seeing the bright colors reflecting off the snowy mountain peak and other smaller explosions all over the city was a very cool experience. We nurses stood by the windows and toasted with our plastic cups of sparkling apple juice. Corny, I know, but this will go down as one of my favorite New Year's. I probably wouldn't have even stayed up to watch if I wasn't working.

I finally was ready to put away the Christmas decorations yesterday and it felt wonderful to clean and de-clutter the house back to normal. We did leave the couch and chair arranged the "Christmas" way in the living room because we liked it so much. I had been planning to put everything away while the kids were sleeping so I could take my time and carefully sort and organize as I put things away. That didn't quite happen, but the kids had so much fun playing with these gold beads that they entertained themselves happily the entire time. Once I even looked over and Rylan was decorating Mr. Potato Head with lots of "bling." Wish I had gotten a picture of that!

I'll leave you with a picture of my girly-girl wearing her Hello Kitty necklace and purple sweater from cousin Katherine. Isn't she cute! We are still trying to convince her that girl toys are as fun as boy toys. The other day her new purse was lying next to Rylan's baseball bat on the floor. Which toy did she choose, do you think?