Monday, April 30, 2012

Birth Story (3 yrs later)

*** this post contains some descriptions that some may find graphic. this post also contains some cursing. ***

I just now realized that despite my posts on PPD / PP-PTSD, mentions about a difficult labor & delivery, etc. I've never actually posted my birth story on my blog.

So here it is. Long. Three years late.

I would say "to the best of my recollection", but the truth is with all my missing memories I don't think it's changed much. If anything I probably have more to share from recovered memories than I would have if I'd posted it shortly after Jena's birth.


Jason & I always thought they had our due date wrong. From the very beginning. We weren't 100% sure which cycle we conceived on, and using our own calendar, plus several different online due date calculators had confirmed our due date to be either the last week of September, or the last week of October, depending on the cycle.
Our Ob determined my due date to be October 16th. This never made sense to us. Even when Jena measured ahead, they said it was never enough for them to change the due date (must measure 3 wks ahead, 2 appts in a row for them to up the due date).
This is important info. All weeks noted below are based on their calculation.

around 32 weeks

I had repeatedly had slightly elevated blood pressure (although Jason noticed it was only high when one specific nurse took it,  no one else, hmmmm) so my Ob ordered me to be on partial bedrests and begin NonStress Tests (NSTs) 3x/week, as well as weekly urine drop-offs. Yay me.
No protein in urine.

36 1/2 weeks
I'm having a routine NST when the nurse comes out and asks me why I didn't tell her I was having contractions. I told her I wasn't. She said I was. And they were 3 min apart.
Jason is an hour away at work. I'm there with my parents. And they're sending me to Labor & Delivery (L&D) for monitoring / observation / just-in-case.
I never did feel anything, except just... well, I thought the baby was moving around. Nothing that I thought would be a contraction. In the hospital they checked me and I was not dilated at all, so we told Jason to stay put for the time being, but stay by the phone.
They start talking about stopping labor. I'm scared. They're throwing around words like "preemie" and "too early"... and my husband is an hour away.
I discuss with my parents, and it seems like the right thing to do, but we don't really have a definitive answer. The nurse asks what I want to do, and I think I nodded. She gives me a shot. Then she says "whoops" and asks me to sign a consent form, because if I didn't consent then it's medical abuse.
At some point after receiving the shot we're told that if I had been just three more days along, they would have recommended allowing labor to progress naturally. Three days.

37 weeks:
See my Ob in the morning for a regular checkup. My blood pressure has skyrocketed, and there is now protein in my urine. I have full-blown toxemia. We're inducing today.
We're told to go home and get my bags (which aren't even packed, by the way), it's time.

It didn't take long after Jena's birth for me to come to the conclusion that had I don't believe I would have developed toxemia had my labor progressed naturally. Lesson learned.

At the hospital:
We check in. Get settled. My parents are on their way. Jason's mom is working, and they will come later on. They start the Pitocin.

Hard labor starts around 12noon. The last thing I remember is shortly thereafter looking at my dad and telling him it was one of my favorite songs on the radio.

I don't actually remember eating any popsicles, but I do remember Jason telling me there aren't any more purple ones because I ate them all. I also vaguely remember him feeding me ice chips once, although I'm quite sure we probably emptied the freezer of all the ice as well, LOL.

The next thing I remember was sitting up in bed puking into the little plastic pan thingie. It's 4am. Ever been in so much pain you threw up? I have. Repeatedly. Of course, with not eating... I was vomiting bile. I remember staring at the green liquid in the pan. I remember smelling the bile. I remember throwing up again. And again. With every contraction it seemed.

They told me I'd be more comfortable if I laid back. I tried.
They lied. I sat back up. Modified cross-legged position on the bed. Still puking.

They ask if I'll have an epidural yet. I tell them 'no'.

Not only had I planned on a non-medicated childbirth, the scars from my back surgery were in precisely the place where they administer the epidural, and I had met with an anesthesiologist during my pregnancy who advised that an epidural would likely not be completely effective, if at all.
There was no point. So... 'no'.

They mention a drug called Stadol. Say it will give me a couple of hours of relief. Enough to sleep so I can get my strength back up when it's time to push.
After all, this is apparently going to be a long labor. 16 hours later and I am only 3 cm dilated.

I agree to the Stadol.

Couple of hours my ass.

I did doze off. And woke up half an hour later like I'd never had the meds. Thirty freakin' minutes is all I got.

Around 6am I agree to try the epidural.

I remember the nurse begging me to please just try it. I remember nodding and saying 'okay'.

I do not remember them administering it. I've been told that I cried, begged for them to let Jason stay during the procedure (they did not), and actually tried to reach out to hold on to him as he was leaving. I have no recollection of anything after consenting.

It worked. Sort of. It eased the pain enough for me to rest. I dozed off several times. I never stopped having pain though. Not like you hear other women talk about. Trust me, I felt pain, lots & lots of pain. Just not as intense as before the epidural.

They would end up readministering the epi 5 times before we were done.

The next thing I remember had to have been after 2pm. I was pushing.

I don't remember them telling me to push, I just remember pushing my little heart out. I remember Jason telling me he could see her head and hair that was like an inch long and me not believing him. That I was almost there. I'd ask him over & over if he could see her.

I remember once when they gave me a break from pushing, and I was on my side, and holding onto the bars on the left-hand side of the hospital bed, and a nurse came in to take my blood pressure from my left arm. And I was like 'no'. And she was like 'but I have to'. And I was like 'no. I'm trying to have a baby here'. And she stood there and insisted. And I held up my right arm. And she was like 'it has to be your left arm'. And I was like 'no'. And I really wanted to cuss her out, but didn't. And finally another nurse said something along the lines of "For Pete's sake take it from her other arm!" And she did.

I have always hoped that maybe she was a new nurse, and maybe I was a learning experience.

And... we're pushing again. It didn't seem that long to me. Maybe 15-30 minutes.

Apparently sometime in there we had a conversation with my Ob. A serious one. I have no memory of it.

They wanted to do a C-section. But Jena's position, f they did a C-section, there was a high likelihood that I would not be able to have anymore children. Ever. They would essentially have to damage my uterus to get her out, and (if I remember correctly from what I was told, which is suspect) would possibly have to perform a hysterectomy if the damage was too great.
The only other option, our last resort, was a to attempt a forceps delivery.
From what I am told I appeared lucid, of sound mind, listened, asked intelligent questions, and eventually consented to the forceps delivery.

I have absolutely no memory of this conversation ever occurring.

The next thing I do remember is my Ob between my legs saying something about me "not pushing very hard at all" I attempted to sit up enough to look at him, and contemplated whether or not I had the strength to kick him in the head.

Alas, I did not.

Not pushing hard my ass. I was pushing the fuck out of this baby. Jerkface.

aside - I actually adore my Ob, and he quite literally saved both mine & Jena's life. But seriously? Not pushing hard my ass.

Next thing I remember is them placing Jena on my chest. It felt like another world. I just started at her, then looked up at Jason. I didn't know what to do.

At some point someone took her off of my chest.
I never held her. I think they started washing her. Or maybe they gave her to Jason. I don't really remember.

I do remember my Ob saying (and we have this on video, which is hilarious) "now I will begin repairing the anal sphincter. Heh. {{ chuckle }} Sphincter. That's a funny word to say. I like to say it."

I remember at some point yelling at a nurse to push the button. See, at the hospital where I delivered, when a baby is born the father can go out & push a button, and a lullaby plays, and that way your family members in the waiting room know your baby was born.

And I had to let my family know she was born. They had to know. We needed a way to tell them.

Jason couldn't leave because he was still tending to me, so I kept yelling at the nurses to go push the button so my family would know. But they were apparently trying to take care of Jena and me, and it was shift change (you know, because it was their job to take care of us & stuff, but I was not exactly of sound mind at the moment...) so I had to yell several times. One of them finally did.

Of course, at this point I have no idea that it's been over four hours since we kicked the rest of my family out of the room to start pushing, and they've heard the lullaby about a gazillion times, and will have no idea that this time it's for us.

I don't remember Jason asking a nurse to go get the grandma's, but I do remember our moms coming into the room. I was in enormous pain.

I found out later they thought they were getting special Grandma access to the baby. They were. Sort of.

He ordered his mom to sit and handed Jena to her. He ordered my mom to the left side of my bed while he stood at the right side so they could both tend to me.

I remember the nurse pushing on my abdomen to get my uterus to contract, and I remember the pain, the immense pain when she did it. I remember her apologizing "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I have to do this" over and over again. I remember telling her "I know. It's okay" while sobbing in pain.

I remember looking over at my mom.

That was the last thing I remember about that night.

What I've been told / seen pictures of:
- my pain was so intense and unable to be controlled, and my body was so weak, that the decision was made to not wait for my body to deliver the placenta. My doctor grabbed the umbilical cord with both hands and ripped it out of me.
- I was also given something to render me unconscious, due to the pain.
- at some point my sister, aunt, and Grandma came in to visit.

I awoke around 6 o'clock the next morning (around 11 hours later), as the nurse came in to check on Jena.

I would find out later that I was in hard labor for a total of 30 hours. The first 16 were without pain medication.

I pushed for over four hours.

Internally, I had a 2nd degree tear. Externally, I had a 4th degree tear. This means that the skin and external tissue tore from my vagina to my anus. Internally the tear was not as deep.
click here for a slide show explaining vaginal tears in childbirth

I suffered severe bruising to the genital area from L&D. One of the nurses told me during her checks that it hurt her just to look at me.

I was hospitalized for an additional 3 days following Jena's birth (5 total) due to low blood count from excessive blood loss and continued bleeding.

My genitals and butt were so sore, as were my abdominal muscles, that I could only hold Jena for very short periods of time at first.

When I did finally get to go home, the thing I remember most about that first day home is the screaming. I was in so much pain I couldn't stop screaming.

I was on Vicodin for I-don't-remember-how-long.

My body was so swollen that 5 days after delivering a nearly 9-lb baby, I'd only lost 5 lbs. For a couple of weeks I could only wear my maternity clothes or Jason's clothes, and no shoes, no bra.

A week after delivery I went to the ER with excessive bleeding. I was just a few points above needing a transfusion, and that was after being on iron pills for a week.

It was nearly 6 weeks post partum before I was released to drive a car.

It was around the same time that I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression, having gone to see my Ob at the urging of my mommy.

Due to financial constraints, I had to go back to work, at right around the same time.

A few months post partum I was still having issues with not being able to tell when I was having a bowel movement. I just couldn't tell that I needed to poop until it was literally on it's way out. There just was no "gotta go" sensation from my lower bowel / anal area. Back to the Ob.
He determined that during delivery (ie. what he called not pushing that hard) I had damaged my pelvic floor muscles.
Surgery is the only thing that will fix it, but is silly to do if we aren't done having children. He gave me some exercises to try. They worked. As a workaround.

Three years post partum and urine leakage has progressively gotten worse. I now wear a pantyliner every day just in case.

Fun times.

And that, dear readers... is the story of Jena's birth.

So now you know.

Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bedtime Snuggles

We've been having some great quality time at bedtime lately. She's started really talking to me. Yes, sometimes I wonder if she's stalling. But it's honestly the best conversations of our day.

We often end up melting into silliness & giggles at some point.

Not sure it's helping her sleep better, but... I think it's helping us both live better.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Fat Butt

Time for another update.

Well, I guess it's time to admit that my endocrinologist really was right... because the weight keeps coming off!

The most I've ever lost on Weight Watchers was 7 lbs - and it took several months to reach that.

After 2 weeks.... I've lost 6.6 lbs!

It's insane. To me anyway.

The fact that I lost another 2+ lbs this past week - the week that I went over my points 5 of 7 days - the week that I was on my period (hello cravings!) - the week that I was sick (hiya comfort food!) - the week that I figured out caffeine kept my headache to a minimum (how ya doin' Pepsi?)- yea, that week.

I started out each day doing pretty well. Breakfast & lunch anyway. So just by following it for breakfast & lunch, I still lost over 2 lbs!

I'm still wary. I suppose years of these sorts of things working for everyone around me, but not for me does that to a girl. But I am starting to get my hopes up. Starting to think what I really want my weight goal to be (instead of the tiny little number that I'm almost at already!).

Maybe I need this kind of structure to keep me in line. Or maybe I just needed some structure to help me get that picture of what I should be eating back in my mind.

Either way, I'm pretty happy with my progress so far.

Oh, and yes, FireMan's still losing too! He lost another 4 lbs this week! yay!

As always, thanks for checking in!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I've been MIA. Sort of. Might be for a little while.

If you've ready either of my last two posts, you know that my father-in-law passed away last week.

I tend to pre-write and schedule my blog posts, so there was no gap in posting. Yet.

However, I have not yet had time to read & respond to everyone's comments on previous posts, nor have I had time to read the blogs that I usually follow.

I will probably eventually read all of ya'll's (it's totally a word, I live in Kentucky) comments, but doubt I will be able to respond to all of them.

And, not surprisingly, I have several future posts rambling around my mind, as we deal with the loss.

Last, but certainly not least - thank you for all the kind words, thoughts, and prayers that ya'll have extended to our family over the past few days. They are truly appreciated.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just How He Wanted

He'd been sick for a long time, my father-in-law.  He had a heart attack eight years ago, which he survived. Five years later he failed a stress test and his cardiologist recommended having stents put in.

Mark opted to refuse all treatment. He didn't want another procedure, ever. Within a few months he'd stopped taking all medication, and eventually stopped seeing the doctor at all.

He got a lot of flack over his decision. I had the opportunity to speak to him privately about it one evening over dinner, after he picked up FireGirl from preschool. I listened to what he had to say. When he finished, I told him he would get no judgement from me, and I would never pressure him to receive medical treatment that he didn't want. I believe such a decision is an intensely personal one, and it's not my place to push that on someone else.

I did however ask beg him to sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), so when another heart episode occurs, if any of us are present, we aren't put in the agonizing position of choosing to follow the wishes he gave us verbally, or administering / calling for the assistance he didn't want. Especially FireMan.

He never did sign it.

But when he finally passed away last week, he did so just as he wanted.

He went quickly. Alone. While "alone" may sound sad to some, I know to him it meant he wouldn't be burdening his family with the scene of his death.

When it comes to dying, I think all we can really hope for, is to go just as we would wish.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Smell of Death

For the past week or so, our three-year-old daughter had repeatedly talked to us about death.

We've always been open & honest with her, included her at every funeral we'd attended since she was born, and was very candid with her when her kitten died a year ago. She was no stranger to the topic of death.

But this time I had no idea what was triggering her frequent death discussions.

She was asking questions about her dead kitten, kept telling us how our oldest dog would die soon, and repeatedly asking questions about "dead" and "deading".


The minute I opened the back door that night, I was overwhelmed with the smell of death.

I came back in and asked my husband if the dogs had gotten anything lately. After all it's not unusual for the larger dogs to kill a raccoon, possum, or other small predator. He didn't know of anything.

I went back out side and shone a light all around. The smell of it was so strong, moreso than I ever remembered. I was convinced it was something rather large, and had to be close to the house.

But alas, it was nearly midnight, and was pitch black out. So since I could not easily see anything from the porch, I decided I'd check again in the morning.

I went back inside and informed hubby that the smell was so strong I wouldn't be surprised if it were a deer or something, but I couldn't see anything from the porch.

I woke up early the next morning, and decided to walk the property looking for whatever was creating the smell of death the night before.

The minute I opened the back door, I was overwhelmed with the smell of... nothing. This took me off guard. As strong as it had been the night before, there was no way it was just gone this morning. Smells much fainter had always produced at least a small kill.

I spent about 20 minutes walking the property. There was nothing. And the smell was gone


Around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I started feeling a pain in my upper abdomen. Convinced it was gas, I excused myself to the bathroom several times over the next couple of hours, in a vain attempt to relieve the pain that was worsening.

It didn't work.

I picked up my daughter from preschool and headed to dinner at a local restaurant. I really would have preferred to go home, considering the pain in my abdomen, but we needed groceries, so a trip to the store was needed before we headed home.

I suffered thru dinner, barely able to eat, the pain was so bad. Around 7 o'clock, I noticed it was getting better, and within another 20 minutes, I told my daughter that my tummy was all better.

As we loaded the groceries in the car, I got a phone call from my mother-in-law. My father-in-law had been taken to the hospital, and she was unable to get in touch with any of her sons. I promised her I would take care of contacting them, not to worry, and I would be at the hospital as soon as I could.


My husband was on shift at the fire house that night. I called the fire house directly, and got in touch with another firefighter, who was able to get my hubs on the phone. I told him what was going on, and to come home.

I then called my sister-in-law. She and her husband were walking a trail in the woods. I gave her the news, and they began running back home.

Then I called my dad, told him what was going on, and asked him to come to the hospital to pick up my daughter. No matter what happened, I knew it was gonna be a long night.

I continued the drive home, unpacked our groceries, and packed my daughter an overnight bag.


While driving to the hospital, my husband called. We always talk on speaker phone, so I knew when he asked me to take him off speaker, I wasn't gonna like what he had to say.

He didn't say it. Never did. Just told me that he didn't want our daughter to see everyone crying in the hospital, so please have my dad meet me in the parking lot.

I understood.


My father-in-law had collapsed at his home shortly after 7pm, likely died en route to the hospital, and was pronounced by the ER doctor at 7:31pm.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Random Doggy Pictures

I should mention that the purpose of these pics was actually to show how big Chief had gotten. He is approximately 15 weeks old in these pics. Weighs 25 lbs.

photo by Jena
Chief sitting on Tootsie

photo by Jena

Flopsy, Tootsie, & Chief

photo by Jena
photo by Jena
Buddy & Chief

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Christian Divorce - part 2

*disclaimer - I am not divorced. nor am I getting divorced. nor am I a theologian. these are simply my thoughts on the subject

So what about divorcees within the church? What happens to them?

Well, many conservative Christian pastors will not perform marriage ceremonies if one or both parties are divorced.

The idea being that it is impossible to know whether or not their previous marriage was Biblically justified, so in order to prevent from the appearance that they support divorce in all instances, they refuse to perform re-marriage ceremonies for anyone.

Personally, I have no problem with that. I think we're all just trying to do our best, so if a pastor thinks that's the best way to do it, so be it.

I can say that when FireMan & I were engaged, I was a little worried we wouldn't be able to find a pastor to marry us.

I was fine with not having our ceremony in a church, but I was standing my ground on having an ordained man of God perform the ceremony.

And we finally did find someone, who was absolutely perfect.

But... I digress. After all, finding someone to perform a wedding ceremony is just one of the struggles divorced Christians find in the church.

Probably the next largest issue, is whether or not they are permitted to serve in the church.

There are a multitude of reasons for this, ranging from being afraid to look like they're supporting divorce, to not wanting to set a bad example (if you want to volunteer in any children's or youth ministry), to "the Bible says so" (which almost exclusively is in response to being in an ordained position).

The first two... well, let's just say I have yet to find a verse to support this.

But the last one, well... let's take a look.

The verse used to prevent divorced members from serving in official church positions are these:

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; ... Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well."    -- I Timothy 3:2,12 

Now... I am in full support of this verse. To me, it's pretty clear. A bishop ("pastor" in most churches today) or deacon must be "the husband of one wife". Clearly to hold that office you must be a man, must be married, and must not be a polygamist.

As far as whether or not this verse addresses those who were divorced... I say it does not. And let me explain why.

Let's say you would be willing to make an exception if the divorced man had a Biblically justified divorce. So I'm not even gonna address that.

I'm only going to speak to those whose divorced could not be justified Biblically - let's say he divorced her because she was too annoying & got fat on him - could he, at any time later in his life, hold the office of pastor or deacon in the church? Even if his divorce was a sin?

I say that as long as he is currently married, then "yes".

And my reason for this goes back to what it means to be saved from your sin, to have accepted Christ as your Saviour.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."    -- II Corinthians 5:17

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before"    -- Phillipians 3:13

 "Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more"    -- Hebrews 10:15-17

God has told us that in Him we are a new creature, that He will not even remember our sins. It advises us to forget what we have done in the past, and look forward to our new future in Christ.

Everything in the Bible tells us to look forward. Even when we slip up, to keep trying, keep moving forward, there is no life in looking backward.

How can we, as men, make a rule about anything (including church office), based on someone's past offenses? If they are presently making an earnest effort to follow God's will, how do we as men find ourselves a better judge than God?

One thing that has baffled me is that Christians will accept other sins without reserve - we welcome the repentant thieves, drug abusers, fornicators, and even murderers - yet somehow hold divorce as the unforgivable sin. Oh, your lips say you know a divorcee is forgiven, but how can you truly believe that, if you still put restrictions on what they can or cannot do within the church? That is not forgiveness. That is forcing someone to continue to pay for one bad (or not) decision from their past.

Even our secular definitions of to forgive indicate you cannot hold someone accountable for something that is truly forgiven:

to forgive:
- to give up all claim on account of
- to cancel a liability of

If God has given up all claims of divorce (spiritually), and has cancelled all spiritual liabilities of divorce, then how can we as Christians, who claim to believe the Word of God, hold them accountable and base our rules on something God has wiped away?

Well, it seems to me we can't. Not with any legitimacy anyway.

Once again, I know there are plenty who disagree with me, on all sides of the argument, and that's okay. These are simply my thoughts on the subject.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Christian Divorce - part 1

*disclaimer* I am not divorced, nor am I getting divorced. nor am I a trained theologian. these are just some of my thoughts

I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. We attended very conservative churches.

One of the things I was taught growing up is that divorce is wrong. Period.

Growing up, the only family member I knew that was divorced was one of my great aunts. Her ex-husband had been abusive. That's about all I know.

She never re-married. Never really talked about it. From what I understand it was primarily because of verses in the Bible that say if your spouse is still living, and you "lie" with another, you are committing adultery.

I suppose she divorced him legally to protect herself, but spiritually she saw that they were still married? It's a common belief among certain churches.

The next time the topic of divorce came up in my life was in my teenage years, as my older sister was going thru a divorce. Her husband had had an affair, struggled with pornography, (insert lots of other stuff), and (if memory serves) while she struggled to work things out, he asked for the divorce.

She struggled a lot during that time, and I'm sure part of the reason was because not only did her church teach against divorce, she also received "talks" from her own mother, and grandmother, about why divorce was wrong.

It was during her own study that she came across this verse: 

It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.    -- Matthew 5:31-32

That phrase "saving for the cause of fornication" - this is what we call a Biblically justified divorce.

But I always struggled with another cause for divorce, my great aunt's, abuse. I had a hard time believing my God would ask someone to stay in a truly abusive marriage. That just didn't make sense to me, and seemed to contradict other parts of the Bible.

And then in my early 20s I met a friend who was attempting to divorce her husband, who had abandoned her & their son. And by "abandoned", I mean abruptly left them and moved several states away. It took her years to locate said husband so she could file the papers. Would God really hold her responsible for a marriage in which the other spouse had quite literally left the marriage?

Faith and religious beliefs are a journey for me, and I can tell you I usually know I've found my answer, when I have peace about a subject; when it no longer causes internal conflict, "For God is not the author of confusion..."    -- I Corinthians 14:33a

And one day, in my late 20s, I heard a message about divorce that made a whole lot of sense, not just logically, but Biblically.

I wish I had taken (or could find) better notes.

The sermon was delivered by the pastor of the church we attended at the time, and in that sermon he revealed that there were three Biblically justified reasons for divorce: Adultery, Abuse, and Abandonment.

As he expounded on each, providing Scriptures for each, I felt the pieces of the puzzle come together. And I've not struggled with this topic ever since.

Again, I'm not a theologian. And I know there are plenty of people who disagree with me, on both sides - that there are more reasons for divorce than just those three, and that there is no justified reason for divorce.

But... these are my thoughts, and until I find greater Biblical cause to change my thoughts, it's safe to say they are my beliefs on the topic.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jena on Stage !!!

Her school had an Arts Showcase, and she performed. On stage. In front of well over 100 people.

Oh, sure, it was part of her class. Not like a solo or anything, but... she performed. On stage. In front of strangers!

She wasn't even the kid that needed to hold the teacher's hand the whole time!

I am beyond proud, beyond thrilled! She did fantastically!

Enjoy the pics.

passed out 10 minutes from the school

her class's art display

the dragon the kids designed & made themselves

her music teacher

the director

their grand entrance (the lady in the flowered shirt is the dance teacher)

getting a hug from her teacher

 One proud momma here!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Fat Butt - Weight Watchers update

Well, I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but I think my endocrinologist might be right: maybe I can lose weight "like a normal person" now.

After my first week on Weight Watchers, of which I went way over my points three days... I still lost 4 pounds!

Now, to be fair, I was pretty sure I was retaining water at my initial weigh-in. So that could be part of it. And is one of the reasons I'm trying not to get my hopes too high.

But I still didn't expect to lose 4 lbs the first week! Especially not when I blew it about half the time!

*mental note - not a good idea to start a new eating program just a few days before that time of the month. or before 2 family get-togethers with home cookin' and yummy desserts

I will say I really like how fruits & veggies are zero points on the new PointsPlus program. Eating more fruits & veggies has always been a struggle for me. But now that those are the only foods I can eat without using my points... I have an extra motivation for scarfing them down!

It definitely also helps that Jason is doing the plan as well (he lost 9 lbs his first week!). Especially since he's the competitive type.

Instead of him wanting to go out, he's now telling me we need to stay home, and now I'm more likely to ask to eat out. The first night we were on the program, he made dinner on the grill - chicken breasts & asparagus. We added a side salad, and... yum!

And it's so much easier to grocery shop when both of you are on the same plan! Instead of having to buy "regular" food and "diet" food, like I would have done in the past, it's all diet food, and we're eating a lot of the same things.

*mental note - buy Jena some cookies! Poor kid doesn't know what's going on around here!

I really think this will help us to eat healthier. My one struggle point right now is that I refuse to throw away the food we already had, so... there's still quite a bit of not-the-healthiest food around the house that needs to be eaten.

Once that is gone, it should be quite a bit easier to stay within my points, without the guilt of ignoring the "bad" food (ie. hard earned money) in our cupboard.

Anyway, that's my update so far. Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Pillows !!

I've been looking for pillows for our couches for what seems like forever. Maybe I'm a cheapskate, but everything I found that looked halfway decent cost too much for my taste.

And then... I found these on clearance at a Kroger Marketplace, of all places! Love 'em!

They only had 2 left, so I'd like to get another 2 to fill out both couches, but still... I'm excited about this find!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feeling Domestic

The other day I woke up feeling all domestic and schtuff.

I really wanted to work on house stuff. Clean & laundry, and organize & decorate, and on, and on, and on. I wanted to. I was motivated. I had energy. I was ready to roll.

This is an unusual feeling for me. And I was ready to act on it.

But alas... my paying job was calling.

But I decided I would still do it after I got home, and made the goal of having Jena's bathroom and the dining room completely cleaned before I went to bed, as well as at least three loads of laundry.

In my domestic moment, it all seemed doable.

Do I need to tell you that it didn't happen?

I needed to go grocery shopping after work, so by the time we ate dinner, went to Kroger, then came home, it was after 7:30pm. Put the groceries away, then time for Jena's bath, bedtime routine, etc.

I did manage to tidy up the bathroom a little during Jena's bath, but that's about it.

I was so tired I passed out on the couch while Jena watched television. She woke me up to put her to bed... at 10pm. An hour past her normal 9-ish bedtime.

It took about 30 minutes to both tuck her in, and get her to stay in bed.

I was exhausted.

I checked on the injured chicken in the laundry room. Fed & watered the dogs. Looked around at our mess of a house, and decided sleep is more important.

Watched a show on NetFlix to wind down (if I don't wind my mind down, I don't fall asleep. It's just how I am). Headed to bed a little after 11pm.

So tired. With a headache. And a little disappointed that I didn't get anything done that I'd wanted to.

But the morning starts a new day, so... such is life, I suppose.

Maybe next time I feel that way... I should call in to work. Whaddya think?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Things NOT to Say to a Working Mom

I could never leave my child for that long.
Yes, well, it breaks my heart too but someone has to pay the bills. But thanks for the guilt trip.

I don't know how you do it...
This statement is always trailed off. I'm never sure if they mean they don't know how I work & take care of a house & child, or if they don't know how I leave my kid every day.
I suspect it's the latter, but I don't really know.
Either way, the answer is the same: necessity. I'm a mom, so I do what needs to be done. Period.

Why do you work?
There is no right answer to this question.
If I say it's because of our finances, then it comes across like I am blaming my husband, or that my husband has somehow failed our family because yes, if he made enough money, I would stay home.
If I say it's because I like my job, then comes the side-eye of how could you choose your job over your child.
If I respond by asking why you stay home, then you list the 6,000 things that are awesome about being a stay-at-home-parent, and why it's so much better for your family that you stay home.

If you're struggling with (housework, child care, pet care, etc), why don't you just hire a (housekeeper, nanny, dog walker, etc)?
This one frustrates me because I have heard it said so many times to working moms by other working moms.
Just because a family has two working parents does not mean that they have disposable income with which to hire domestic help to assist with chores. In my experience, it more than likely means that they do not have such disposable income.
Besides, don't you think that if someone, anyone was regularly struggling with a task, and had the means to hire someone to do it for them they would have thought of that already? You're kind of implying that the person you're speaking to is an idiot as well.

Working while the kids are young is just not worth it.

Really? 'Cause I think my daughter enjoys having a roof over her head & food on the table.
And if I happen to find my career very fulfilling, then I think my child would find a happy, stable mommy more rewarding as well. But maybe that's just me.

Are you coming back from maternity leave?
I'm a responsible employee who would not leave you in a lurch if I knew ahead of time that I was leaving my position, for any reason. The choice to return from maternity leave or not is a personal decision to be made by the mother & her family. Back off. She'll tell you when she's ready, either by presenting her plan to return, or submitting her resignation.

You should just take a day off!
Yes, of course, why didn't I think of that?!? Because of course, all employers grant us unlimited time off, right?
I have a limited number of days off in a year. If I took off every time I "should" take a day off... I'd run out of days long before the year was even half over.
Are there times when I should? Of course. But can I simply take off for every single one of those occurrences? Not without risking losing my job.

Why don't you just take time to... ?
As if time were a limitless commodity. As if we wouldn't love to do just that. But after working 8+ hours during the day, handling child care drop-offs & pick-ups, feeding the family, doing the bedtime routine with the kiddo, and completing the most minimal of household chores (and I mean minimal), well... there is no time left in the day. Unless I give up sleep. Which I do way too much of already. So... please stop acting as if I have all the time in the world. Because I don't. I have all the love in the world, but time? If I could find the time to do it, it'd already be done.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

ThirtyOne Makes for a Cute Easter

When I was looking for something for Jena to carry her Easter eggs in during the family's Easter egg hunt, I wanted something a little... cuter... than our traditional plastic grocery store bags.

I'm all for re-using items and all, but I also knew I'd be taking a ton of pics and wanted something that would look good.

And that Jena would like carrying. Something she would enjoy carrying around.

And then I remembered. Back when ThirtyOne rolled out their Spring Catalog, I got one of their new Mini Utility Bins.

I'm not gonna lie... I wasn't exactly sure what I was gonna use it for when I got it. But I knew it was cute, and it was a good size for Jena, so I was sure whatever I decided, she would probably be the one getting some use out of it.

I was right.


disclaimer - I was not asked to write this post, nor was I reimbursed for it. All thoughts, experiences, and opinions contained herein are my own.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bills, Important Papers, and Things to do, Oh My!!

As a member of the Life Well Lived Getting Organized Panel, I was asked to blog about how I handle paper clutter.

That's an easy one. I don't just deal with paper at home, I deal with a ton of it at work too.

I definitely don't have it down perfectly yet, but here's how I handle it.



bills:    We put incoming bills in a basket on our kitchen counter. Once a month Jason & I have a Home Budget Meeting where we review the bills, set up online payment, and update our monthly budget for this month & next (if it won't be paid in full for any reason), and our debt reduction calculator.

important papers:    important papers are locked in a safe. Easy breezy.

stuff we might need:    this goes in "The Pile". We keep a pile in a kitchen cabinet with all the "might need" papers. Going thru The Pile is on my chore to-do list, to ensure that it's reviewed on at least a semi-regular basis.

emails:    an email doesn't leave my inbox until it's dealt with.

electronic files:    any electronic documents are stored on my hard drive in properly labelled folders. Files are backed up onto our external hard drive on a regular basis.


expense reports / copies of expense reports / travel itineraries:    as the sole support staff for 50 employees I handle a lot of mundane, but necessary papers. I have a file folder rack at the end of my desk for collecting papers from my team members for processing.

inbox:    besides the obvious of using my inbox for collecting incoming papers & need to deal with, I also use it to hold anything that still needs to be done. Makes it easy to know what items I still need to address.

current projects:    on another corner of my desk I have a desktop file organizer to hold papers related to current projects. This keeps them neat & organized, but still handy for easy access.

binders:    the small bookshelf next to my desk is filled with about 20 binders, each of them identical, each of them with a standardized label identifying its contents, and arranged alphabetical according to label. These binders hold everything from instruction manuals, to copies of request forms, to important record-keeping.

important papers:    important papers, particularly confidential information, is kept locked in a file drawer at my desk. The key is on my person at all times I'm in the office, and goes home with me.

emails:    emails don't leave my inbox until they've been dealt with. Once they've been handled, they are filed into folders labelled by either topic, or employee name. Yes, this means I have about 50 folders for email. Yes, this also means that my butt is covered if anyone ever comes looking for something.


Hopefully that might give you a helpful idea for handling document clutter. What about you? Any tips?


Don't forget to visit the question on to read other bloggers' suggestions and leave comments of your own!


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Friday, April 13, 2012

Who Needs a Five Year Plan?

Back when I was interviewing for jobs, the most hated question for me was the dreaded "Where do you see yourself / where do you want to be in five years?"

I don't, okay? I want to be happy. That's it. Whatever shape that takes, the answer is that I want to be happy.

Incidentally, I gave that answer in the interview for my current position.

The thing is, I learned at a relatively young age that plans don't work out how you want, and that even if they do, it's not always how you expected.

In short, fulfilling your plans does not guarantee happiness. And your plans aren't guaranteed to pan out anyway, so...

who needs a five year plan?

*aside* I know there are those out there who find five year plans and the like very helpful for them and satisfying, and helpful towards them achieving their goals. I just am not one of them.

The fact is, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I still haven't decided if I want to grow up.

When I was a teenager, the age when people seem the most likely to ask what you wanna be when you grow up, I would tell them I wanna be Peter Pan... and never grow up.

Most adults seemed either to think this was brilliant, or foolish.

Past the age of 15 or so, there was never a career that really seemed appealing to me. Not one. Oh, there were phases I'd go thru where I thought it would be really neat to be a teacher, or an FBI agent, or what not, but... nothing that grabbed my attention, nothing that held my attention, nothing that I wanted to dedicate my life to.

As a child I wanted to be a veterinarian. Until I found out they had to euthanize animals (not against euthanasia in certain instances, just not sure I could do it myself). So then I decided I wanted to be an animal breeder. Until I learned about pet overpopulation (not against all breeders, just too many pets dying to be rescued). So then I wanted to start my own rescue, except there's not really any money in that, and a gal's gotta eat, you know?

I still think about it.

Sometimes I think I'd like to be a pro-blogger, maybe start my own web design business, marketing is kinda interesting, as is being an Ebay reseller. I'd love to have an Etsy shop (but I'm not crafty), sometimes I think I'd make a fantastic CEO, maybe I should get my EMT certification, wonder if I could be an underwater engineer, should I become a computer programmer? or start that cat rescue I've thought about? Wonder if I could ever get that foundation going that I've wanted to run for years. Or maybe I could be an animal breeder, if it were for rare breeds or possibly working breeds. The list goes on & on. And on. And on.

The fact is, the only thing that has held my attention is that I feel called to be a wife & mother. Have since I was a teenager. The same as some feel called to be doctors, or lawyers, or ministers, or what not.

Wife & mother.

And now I am.

Yet somehow I still feel this pressure to have a plan for my career. But I don't. And I don't really care. Although I'm a little bummed that I've been working a job for eight years, with no motivation to move up, and not much of a chance of that happening anyway ('cause I don't play those politics-at-work games).

I picture myself in so many roles.

And even as a wife and mother, I see myself more loving & patient & kind than I really am in real life.

In my head I see that day where I bake cookies with my daughter, and cook meals from scratch, and craft the heck out of our house, and homeschool my children, and have an immaculate house, and wear sexy nighties every night before rocking my husband's world in bed.

Oh, and I can also do minor plumbing, take care of all the animals, do basic auto care, and build a doghouse. Out of brick.

And I do it all well. In my mind.

this post inspired by this post

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I figured it out!

Why I'm a bitch, that is.

a tongue-in-cheek reflection of an earlier post

I had this revelation a couple of weeks ago, after finally losing it with Jena.

She had been repeatedly disobedient all day, for hours, despite time outs, taking away privileges, everything I could think of, and I just lost it. Yelled at her, dragged her out of a restaurant, yelled at her some more.

Not my finest parenting moment.

But you know what? She was good as gold afterward.

And later that day I had a mini-breakdown.

Why doesn't anyone listen to me? Not just Jena, my husband, my co-workers, my bosses... no one.

Unless... I lose it. If I reach a point where I am either completely blowing up out of frustration & anger, or sobbing out of desparation.... well, then people seem to listen to me.

It's happened with Jason before. I completely lose it, and suddenly he's treating me better than he had in months.

It's happened at work. No one pays one bit of attention to me, until I lose it. Then suddenly stuff is happening.

And now it's happening with Jena.

I don't like being a b****.

I surely don't like blowing up at people, reaching the end of my rope, breaking down and sobbing out of desperation.

But... it appears that's the only way to get anyone to listen to me. Or so it seems.

It's so frustrating to me.

And I had this realization... no wonder people think I'm a b****. They don't even hear me, don't even see me until I have these meltdowns. I'm completely invisible except for these moments where (I feel) I'm at my worst. So that becomes all they remember.

They didn't even see me before. All they see is the anger, the frustration boiling over.

So of course they see a b****.

So now I get it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jena Rides a Bike

Santa brought Jena a big girl bike for Christmas. Of course, it wasn't until recently that the weather was nice enough for her to ride it.

She started on our driveway, but it's got a slight slope to it, and quite a few rough patches, and four dogs running around, so... it was proving quite a challenge.

We decided to take her to one of the local parks, and... she took off!

Jason helped her around the trails.

Yes, her helmet is too small. You'd think buying one sized for a 5 year old would fit our 3 year old, even with a big head. As our pediatrician once told me: this is why I needed a forceps delivery.

See that smile? It's all about that smile.

After we finished the trails, we were headed back to the car when Jason noticed the empty tennis courts.

They proved perfect for a child learning to ride a bike. Smooth, level, no rough spots... it was great.

She really took off then! Riding around completely unassisted, with no spills at all!

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