Sunday, September 7, 2014

That didn't go as planned.

Maybe my goal should be posting a monthly wrap-up instead?

Maybe I should realize that my blogging days might be over?

 What started as a great way for me to journal the day, get some ''me'' time and talk (write?) like an adult at the end of a day spent at home with very small children...isn't needed near as much these days. When I started this blog in July of 2007, Ryan was 17 months old and Logan was 2 months old....they're now 8 years old and 7 years old. Every day is now full of the go-go-go life that I was craving 7 years ago. I spent a lot of those first few years feeling under-appreciated and lonely (yet never alone). I blogged in the evenings because it was something I could do that was for me.

When you're a new mom, at the age of 23 with two children under the age 18 months, you're isolated not just by choice but practicality. None of my friends (at the time) had kids. No one I knew had breastfed, no one I knew was juggling two babies. I had two in diapers. Two who couldn't feed themselves. Two who couldn't dress themselves. Two needed at least one nap a day. They were both in cribs, both in rear-facing carseats, both waking at night and both needing me 24/7. Obviously Ron was there and he is an amazing dad and always has been but initially, it was  a huge time of readjusting for both of us. Ron had returned from a 15 month deployment in Iraq in January of 2006 and immediately returned home to a six month pregnant wife who was put on bedrest, he started a new job, lived in a new house (I had moved in while he was deployed) and within 3 months of returning home he became a father. We were both in a blur, going through the motions and doing what needed to be done. Oh and did I mention we were newlyweds? {Married/Eloped in May of 2004, he deployed in Oct 2004 and returned home in Dec 2006). Boy were the odds stacked against us!

But we did it! And we didn't just get by, we succeeded. We asked for help, when we needed it. I supported his career and he supported my (often zany) parenting. We moved when it meant more pay. We took it day by day and while it certainly wasn't easy, we had each other, we had family and we had our kids. We made it because not making it, wasn't an option. We voluntarily chose to live in a 2 bedroom duplex with 2 kids and with one on the way, just so we could stay near family when the alternative was facing a move to Wisconsin that none of us wanted. We then had four kids in that house and lived there for 2 years, before we moved from Kansas to Texas to follow his job, with our three boys and a newborn who was seven weeks old...because it needed to be done. When an opportunity to move overseas presented itself, I surprised myself by wanting to go. Everything I had ever known was going to be so far away and yet I realized it was something that we needed to do. Not just as a career move but for us. For our family, for us to grow.

When I look at this blog, I don't just see the pictures and the milestones, I am flooded with memories. I am reminded of the days of no sleep. The weeks where I had a child attached to my hip, one on my boob, and one jumping off of the kitchen table. The days where my house was a mess, the nights where the laundry was piled up, I felt like I hadn't seen my husband in weeks and yet I spent the evening making baby-food and superhero capes. I was often asked "How do you do it?" and the answer was "I don't know, it needs done and I don't know any differently". I have always wanted to be a mother and in those early days, it wasn't always what I had hoped for.

In the beginning, it's thankless. You are spending every waking moment caring for this amazing child who does nothing but eat for hours, cry for hours and sleep for even fewer hours. You get peed on and pooped on and getting dressed in something other than pajamas, is an accomplishment that no one else seems to even notice. You love him with a feeling that you didn't know even existed and it's exhausting. I wondered if being a stay at home mom was what I really wanted or something I "had" to do. I debated getting a job, or in my eyes: admitting failure. That I was wrong, that I wasn't good at this "being a mom" thing, that this wasn't for me after all and that I needed to get a job.  (I am NOT saying that moms who work are failures, not at all. But I had been told from the age of 16 that I would likely not be able to have children and being a stay at home mom, at least for those early years, was literally all I wanted to be.) But then your baby grows. That eating/pooping/crying machine suddenly starts to smile and giggle.

One morning you finish feeding him and he clutches your finger with his tiny hand, and looks right into your eyes. He recognizes you. One morning you wake up find him standing in his crib, clapping from excitement to see you. One night you wake at 2am and realize that he isn't awake. So you sneak into his room and check to make sure he's breathing. Your baby starts to sleep through the night and you wake more often, with worry if he's really okay. The day that he finally starts yelling "Mama!" you bawl to the point of startling him. When a second and third child come along, you wonder how you will have enough love? You question if you're being unfair to the others, by having another baby who is going to need so much of your attention, your time and your heart. I can remember pushing Ryan in the stroller to the park while pregnant with Logan, and just bawling that he didn't get me to himself for very long. Wondering if he was going to resent me. (Spoiler alert: He was fine, is fine and loves me still 8 years later).

Being a mother makes you selfless, worrisome, tired, crazy, lonely, patient, tired and a slew of other emotions...but most of all it makes you a better person. A slightly neurotic and tired, better person. I went from being a 21 year old newlywed who was worried about what would happen on this week's episode of "The Hills" to being a 23 year old mother who was worried about colic, teething, if that shade of green was normal for poop and why my 18 month old wasn't talking. I went from worrying about what style of jeans to buy to fretting over car seat brands, baby-carriers and if that bottle I was using was made with BPA and if I was causing ever-lasting damage by letting my son have a binky.

Being a mom makes me a better person. It defines who I am today and the early days of this blog, remind me of how far I have come. I was so nervous I was doing something wrong, or that I'd forget something cute they did. That I would miss a milestone or that I would miss an underlying illness. So much of those early years was spent second-guessing myself and a lot of it was spent proving myself. To whom, I don't know. Myself, others, family, strangers...the world I guess? I will forever be grateful for this blog because it is my journal, my proof that I did okay. It's my reminder to trust my gut. It's that lesson that ''this too shall pass'' and that ''shit happens''. It's my ups and my downs and it's pretty entertaining. It has videos and pictures of milestones and everyday boring occurrences. This may be "just" a blog but for me it's so much more.

Seven years ago I needed to "blog". Today, I need this blog not for writing but to serve as a reminder. A reminder that it's all going to work out, that it goes by SO fast and a reminder to trust my instincts because despite my often internal doubts, I am a good mom.

And my hope is that if you're mom, especially a mom still in those early years that you realize: You are Amazing. You are doing a great job. You are allowed to fail, you are allowed to cry, you are allowed a break. You are human. You get yourself up, dust yourself off and remember that tomorrow is a new day. Find your outlet. Find that thing that makes you feel like you and not just "Mom". This blog, let me be Shannon for 20 minutes a night back when I needed it the most and for that, I will always be grateful.

So yes, I have to realize that I may be done blogging. If you came here looking for a new post, do me a favor: choose an early year off to the left, click on a month and select a random date and read. Realize what's petty and what's important not just right now, but seven years from now. Take nothing for granted and realize that despite the cliche, it will go by very fast. Appreciate it and LIVE it. Will there be more posts? I can't say. Do I feel the need to blog? Not near as often these days but I don't know what the future will hold, only that I'm along for the ride with or without blogging about it!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

3 DOWN, 1 TO GO...The boys are ALL in School!

Yesterday was the end of Week 2 into the 2014-2015 school year and so far, everyone is doing really well!

Connor is loving kindergarten. Amazingly enough, no tears were shed by either of us on his first day (yay!) and every day he excitedly bounds out of the school doors to tell me all about lunch. Lunch is his favorite part of the day. What can I say, he loves to eat! And apparently, he really loves to eat the ''vegetarian'' options. He's had salad, salad with pasta noodles, a special tray that had cracker chips, yogurt, cheeses, celery and carrots. He usually tells me all about lunch, then all about PE or Recess and then something completely random and off the wall.
We did have a little hiccup when on Wednesday when I received a call from the school nurse. Connor had puked while skipping in PE but felt ''much better'' and had wanted to continue to play. Unfortunately for him, I had to pick him up. A quick doctor visit confirmed that all that running, got him to coughing and that the cough combined with a slight 'crackle' sound in his lungs earned him a preventative inhaler for the next two weeks. As bummed as I was, I have to say to go an entire year without an inhaler was a huge milestone for my little peanut. 

And the other boys? They are loving third grade and second grade.
Logan was actually assigned the same 2nd grade teacher that Ryan had and while he likes Mrs. G, he usually tells me all about how she called him ''Ryan" x amount of times today. His patience is a little thin but I explained how when she sees our last name, she naturally wants to say Ryan when calling attendance. And how they do look a little alike, so to give her some time. His best friend from first grade is in his class, so the two always choose to sit by each other (oh and he loves the ''open seating'' option that his teacher has). So far he hasn't had any homework but he is concerned because he remembers how much Ryan had last year. (Not a lot at all but Logan has never had a teacher who assigned much!).
Ryan was a little anxious about starting 3rd grade. When the class lists were posted, he realized that he didn't have any friends in his class (he did recognize a few names).  But now at the end of week two he is much more at ease. Apparently he is mostly in his class with his teacher, but for language arts they swap with another class so he has a different teacher. Then for block/specials (PE, Art, Music, Computers) they are the ''rainbow'' group so the entire class splits up and goes with other classes on different days so he is getting the opportunity to meet a lot of kids from other classes. I'm hoping that Ry might come out of his shell a little bit this year.  I know at home he is much more verbal and opinionated! The attitude of an 8 year old can be shocking some days.

And little Sis? She's loving all that time to herself. The first few days were a little rough; she missed her brothers. She would ask if it was time to pick them up. She would talk non-stop. But by this week, she was loving that alone time. Last Friday Ron had off so we took just Maggie and headed down to Galveston. She loved it. She got to walk on the beach and pick up shells, she got hold our hands and do the 1,2,3 swing. We went out  for seafood at lunch and she got her own steam-pot of crab, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. And she behaved so well and helped clean the table at lunch, so the waitress gave her a plastic shark toy...her day was totally made. She was telling people ''I'm just one kid today!". Totally adorable and such a different dynamic.
Overall, it's been a really smooth transition. They all wake and get ready pretty easily. Connor has had a few mornings where he really wanted to just stay home with me (not because he dislikes school but because he ''just loves me so much''). Those mornings are rough because of course I want to say, "okay you can stay home and snuggle" but I don't, I walk him to school and he does great. His teacher actually approached me after school yesterday and wanted to let me know that she is so impressed at how well he is doing, both academically and socially.In fact, they earn tickets each day but can lose the tickets for bad behavior/not listening...Connor had the most tickets out of anyone in the class; he has never lost a ticket. He got to "shop" the prize wall on Friday and gets to bring a stuffed animal to school on Monday. He was elated to hear that!




Monday, June 30, 2014

After a 4 month hiatus we now return to regular programming...

Whew, was that a blogging break or what? It wasn't really intentional, life just kinda got really busy, really quickly and I think we've fallen into a little groove here in Texas. Back in March we had been stateside for about six months and I would say we have definitely settled down. We've met neighbors, made friends, started new hobbies. I started scrapbooking with Project Life so my blogging has lagged as I try to scrap our time in Italy. We also have had a slew of visitors and generally kept really busy. Ron and I are both taking online college courses so that keeps us busy.

Lets see if I can sum it up:

March- Let's see, in March was I post-op from my surgery and finally allowed to resume normal activities. About that same time, the kids had spring break from school. This was the first year in quite a few where we decided to plan nothing. We went nowhere and it was sort of amazing. We relaxed. We played xbox, drew with sidewalk chalk and blew bubbles. We explored thrift shops and playgrounds in our town. The following week B's niece, nephew and nephew's girlfriend came to visit so that of course meant visits to Kemah, crawfish dinners and fun. Frozen came out on digital download so we watched a lot of that and at the end of the month, Ry turned EIGHT years old!
He chose a dinner at Chili's and received the two things he wanted the most: a Kindle Fire and Lord Business Evil Lair lego set.

April- Ron's youngest brother came and stayed with us for a few weeks so it was a different dynamic having seven in the house instead of six. The weather finally started to warm up without so much rain and allergens and we spent most evenings outside. After my surgery I had made it a goal of mine to make some lifestyle changes. I had given up soda back in January and after having my surgery, realized just how much weight I'd put on (roughly 15lbs while overseas and then getting settled here). Ron had already surprised me with a treadmill but it was nice to finally be able to walk in the evenings outside. I started out walking with an end goal being running (but in April I was nowhere near running yet!) We bought the kids a basketball hoop and the boys kept pretty busy ''shooting hoops". Easter came and went. Ron took the kids fishing a few times and discovered new areas around the bay.
Overall the month passed by really quickly!

May- May was a BUSY month! At the beginning of May I pre-enrolled Connor into KINDERGARTEN!

What? This little guy is already going to school? Yeah I can barely believe it. He's also already reading a lot of signs, captions, etc as well as spelling and writing notes up a storm. That first weekend in May we so excited to go to San Antonio to visit Aunt Debbie and Christoper. Chris was graduating from his tech school in the AF and it was our chance to see him before he moved to his first duty assignment: Japan! It was so much fun getting to spend the weekend with them and to see our ''old stomping grounds". We went (of course) down to the Riverwalk and the Alamo as well as the Quarry and the Japanese Tea Gardens.
 
Sidenote...this was the last time my kids were at the Japanese Tea Gardens:
Yeah, that was THREE years ago. Seems insane huh? Anyway, I digress. So we had an amazing Mother's Day weekend with family (yay!) and returned home to a busy week of Mother's Day brunches at school, Field Day, and because we are completely insane and because I have an amazing husband who pretty much lets me get whatever I want no matter how ridiculous....we got a new puppy! I pulled out every card for this one folks. "I'm turning 30 this week" and "We've been married 10 years babe" were said. And he said "Okay, Okay, but we're just looking"  Yes, yes we just got a puppy last year (Can you even believe that Lucca is almost two!?). But we're settled now. We're in a home that we own and we have no intentions of moving EVER, we won't need to worry about an overseas flight and I wanted this puppy. Now I'll be honest, I had asked before, several times throughout our marriage and was always met with a ''are you insane, you want that now? Maybe when the kids are older and can help take care of it". Because you see, I got a puppy but not just any puppy either. I got a Great Dane.
That is Stella, at 8 weeks old meeting Lucca (who weighs 14lbs). Now Stella was nervous and timid and so utterly adorable and tiny when we got her on May 15. She is very smart. She learned her name in less than 2 days, her and Lucca became instant BFF's, she got house training and crate training down quickly. The "issue" of course with Great Danes is their size. And because we've always rented and always moved, we have always had little dogs. Hence why Ron always said that we could get or even rescue a Great Dane once the kids were older. We wanted the kids to be comfortable with a big dog, not afraid. Well little Stella was born into a litter of 12 pups and her owner wanted a re-homing fee but wasn't asking any sort of outrageous price. This was the perfect opportunity to get a Dane; the kids would see her grow day to day and know her without a fear of her size. With summer right around the corner we would have plenty of time to leash train her and play. Well as I sit here and write this, my now 36lb Stella is snoring. Here is a picture from last week:
Why yes, that is my husband carrying/hugging our now 13 week old Great Dane. To say she's found a way into his heart is an understatement.

So anyway, back to May. We got Stella and that same week Logan and I celebrated our Birthday's. We had a small party with friends and a taco bar here at home. The following week Auntie Michelle came to visit! YAY! Of course we went to Kemah and Galveston and downtown Houston and hit up the outlet mall a few times. We went on Dolphin tour boats and ate Tex-Mex and grubbed on s'mores in the evenings. We basically had fun every.single.day for a week.
And immediately following Michelle's visit, we had more visitors. Nanaw and Papa and Grandma Phyllis came down for a week too! They arrived end of May and stayed into the first week of June. We did much of the same activities (Kemah, Galveston, Dolphin boat tour, Outlet Mall) with them as we did with Michelle but we also spent evenings chit-chatting and staying up late with Grandma watching Criminal Minds :) Grandma was diagnosed with Parkinson's while we were overseas so while she gets worn out a little easier these days, she's still a night owl and still keeps up with the kids!
 
It was a lot of fun having them here. While I often wish we lived closer, I love living here and I love having so many visitors (and that we can accommodate them). They stayed until June 8th, then had to head back to Kansas.

June- It's summer break! With suddenly no visitors and Ron back at work, the kids and I found ourselves with entire days needing to be filled with fun. We initially bought a kiddy pool for the backyard but have since grown to love the neighborhood/community pool. I was extremely nervous to take them to a big pool by myself. One mom and four kids who don't know how to swim real well, is totally nervewracking. But we loaded up their arms with floaties and tried it out: so. much. fun! It's a big pool and is never crowded. The kids took to the water like little fishes and the lifeguards are attentive. If it's not raining, we head to the pool every afternoon loaded down with snacks of course.

On rainy days we watch movies. I've made it my mission to show the kids all the good movies from my own childhood. Last week it rained every.single.day but it gave us an opportunity to watch 'Back to the Future' 'The Princess Bride' and even 'The Sandlot'. They also have fallen in love with "Hey Arnold". We bought a family pass to Moody Gardens, which is resort/park in Galveston. It has three Pyramids, one is a Rainforest, one is an Aquarium, and the other is a Museum and has a 3D and 4D movie theater as well as a "Beach" with imported soft sand, a water playground, a zero entry wave pool and a lazy river. The first time we went we did the Rainforest and Aquarium. Last weekend we tried out the Beach. While it started storming two hours in, we had a lot of fun before we got banished from enjoying the beach due to lightning.
Today we took to exploring a nearby Nature Center that has a 1 mile walking trail. We saw lots of rollie-pollies, ladybugs, slugs, birds, two snakes, toads, a slew of butterflies, snails, palms and cacti. It was hot (93 degrees when we started) so there was plenty of whining (both heat and snake induced) but afterward they all admitted that it was a lot of fun.

With the boys all being in school come August, Maggie and I are keeping an eye out for fun things to do just the two of us. I mentioned above that I had started working out and I'm now up to walking/jogging anywhere from 1-6 miles a day (usually treadmill in the morning and outdoors in the evenings but that's dependent on weather). I can even run an entire mile, in 11:22 seconds. I realize that is a jog to most but I am really proud of myself as I have never ran an entire mile without walking until now, at age 30. I just ordered a jogging stroller so that Maggie and I can go on walks/runs in the mornings after dropping the boys off at school this fall. She is really excited to go with me and while I wouldn't have thought I would ever buy a jogging stroller for a 3.5 year old, she is still really petite and I know she isn't in anyway up to walking 4 miles. After a great recommendation from Amy and prior knowledge with them from Hollie, we went with a BOB. I'm stalking the FedEx man I'm so eager for it to arrive!

My doctor gave me the okay to workout the second week of March and since then, I have. I walk at least 10,000 steps everyday (love the fitbit) and then mix in yoga, the shread dvd and using the stability ball as well at least 3 times a week. I've never been one who likes exercising but I really do find myself enjoying it and I love that ''me'' time. I love being outside more, I feel myself getting stronger and I've lost 11lbs without using any pills, shakes, vitamins, etc. I don't want to diet, I want to have a healthy lifestyle, be here for my kids and set a good example.  So the evenings that I used to spend sitting at the computer eating oreos, surfing pinterest and blogging...I no longer have time for. I'm usually exhausted by 10pm! So while there has a been a significant lack of blogging, that's only because we're busy living life (don't worry I'm still busy eating oreo's too!).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tooth Fairy!

Logan will be seven years old in May and prior to last night, had yet to lose a tooth. Ryan is a year older and has lost seven teeth so to say Logan was eager for a visit from the tooth fairy, is an understatement.

When I took the kids to the dentist back in September, Lo had a panoramic X-ray taken and the hygienist commented that his permanent teeth were just under the gumline and that he should lose those baby teeth "any day now". Well Lo is terrified that losing a tooth with hurt. He's our cautious child, always asking if this is "too dangerous" and he will not wiggle his teeth no matter how loose. Yesterday his one bottom tooth was so loose it was practically sideways and I had had enough. I could see the permanent tooth behind it. So we looped a piece of floss around it and criss-crossed pulled and that little baby tooth came right out!
He finished brushing his teeth, wrote a note to the tooth fairy and was ready for bed.
He was so excited I think he was laying in there awake until 10pm! This morning he awoke to find two crisp $2.00 bills, which to quote him "I didn't even know that these existed. I thought they were fake money. Like 5.00 but it was backwards". He was a wee bit excited :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Buon Appetito!

Well, our Italian night dinner was a hit! While it wasn't as good as Walter's it was pretty close. The Penne Aurora was almost spot on, I think I used just a touch too much cream as it was a little too sweet. That being said, we ate it all and the kids raved on. While it wasn't the same as Regina's, it was the most authentic pasta we've had since returning to the states.
And the bruschetta tasted nothing like Walter's but it was delicious! I think I used the wrong tomatoes but it was really good....like so good that even Ryan and Logan each ate a piece and those kids HATE tomatoes. It smelled really good and the mozzarella bubbled up nice and they just couldn't refuse.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Having an "I miss Italy" day

Today I am having an ''I miss Italy day." *sigh*

Last night, I had dreamt that I was back in Italy visiting friends. Now I just left six months ago so I'm not sure it's really time for a visit yet but whatev, a dream is a dream.

In it, I went alone and my bestie Amy picked me up at the airport. That dream-hug we shared felt SO real!

In the dream, I stayed at her house and we did all the things we used to. We chatted about life and had a cappuccino, we ate lunch at Regina's, stuffing ourselves on Penne Aurora and Margherita Bruschetta. We went shopping and I picked up pottery, olive oil and we went to the winery where I bought six bottles and joked that I really hoped the airline didn't check my bags. At some point we were in snow, which was a bit weird but I guess just weird enough to remind me it was only a dream.

So I woke up with that ''homesick'' feeling. Missing friends and a place from my past. Then when I looked outside, it was super foggy. I didn't snap a photo but I should have. It was like northern italy foggy. It seemed like most mornings from October-April, every morning it was a blanket of fog.
This is the kind of fog common to Italy this time of year...
So between the dream, then the weather, I just missed Italy today. I woke up immediately craving a cappuccino and a cornello con crema. 
This is a cup of perfection once I add about 3 packets of sugar :)
Instead I had a cup of coffee from my Keurig and hopped on Pinterest. 

It is officially my mission this week to make margherita bruschetta and penne aurora that tastes at least a tiny bit like Walter's. I found a penne aurora recipe that seems sorta similar. It's on a french recipe site but the others I found just didn't seem right.  The problem is I never asked Walter enough times what was in it to finally break him, lol. He always just laughed when we said we needed the recipe. It's a big feat ya'll. I can't seem to find a photo of the pasta (probably because I inhaled it before I thought to take a photo) but this is drool worthy bruschetta. 
What you can't see under that glorious cheese is that the bread is toasted, then lightly brushed with olive oil and a swipe of pesto, then topped with chopped tomatoes that are sprinkled with sea salt and maybe tossed with a little more EVVO, add in a bit of pepper and basil and then melt mozzarella on top. 

Heaven on a piece of bread, in short. 

So today is Ron's last day at home. It's been 11 days since my surgery and my incisions are healing nicely and I can go all day without a nap. I do get tired and I do get sore but overall I have been pleasantly surprised at how smooth this recovery has gone. Well because it's his last day home, I made us go grocery shopping all together. So I could be sure to get what we wanted/needed and he could push the cart and do all the heavy lifting. 

I bought fresh mozzarella. I bought fresh basil. I bought the pricey pesto. I found and purchased campari tomatoes (because they didn't have plum tomatoes and these look most like the ones I commonly saw at IperSimply). I still have 2 bottles left of my garlic infused olive oil from Bonamini (which apparently I never blogged about...say what!? I need to catch up!) and sea salt. I found the toasted type bread. It's not hard like a cracker but it's not soft like American bread.

Tomorrow is the day. (today would have been the day but I already had chicken prepped in the crockpot). Tomorrow is the day where I will attempt what is probably the impossible. On the menu is Penne Aurora and Margherita Bruschetta. Wish me luck!

I have a feeling that tomorrow night will probably be the evening where I try to talk Ron into letting me go back to Italy for a quick visit. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Recovering

I wrote a little about my health history in the "parents" tab at the top of this blog. Normally that isn't news that one shares on a public blog but I'm not normal. See I was surgically diagnosed with severe endometriosis, just two days after my eighteenth birthday. It had been speculated for a few years prior. After my first diagnostic laparoscopic surgery, my surgeon said that from the looks of things internally, the extent of the endometriosis that I had made my uterus look like that of someone who had already had "a couple" kids. I had a prolapsed uterus, endometriosis and "mild" PCOS. Not great news when you just turned 18 and as someone who had always dreamed of having a houseful of kids, dreamed of just being a mom. I found myself a new doctor and went on.

It was a lot to take on at 18 years old. Between the timespan of turning 18 and finally getting pregnant at 21years old, I had four total laparoscopies to remove endometrium and ovarian cysts. I had been on several birth control pills, taking them continuously as to not have a period. I did the depo lupron shot and it was horrific. Mood swings like you wouldn't believe, night sweats, hot flashes, weight gain, headaches...horrible stuff. At this point B and I were engaged, we eloped and decided to immediately try to have kids.

My odds were crap but they were best while I was young. I did several rounds of clomid (a fertility drug) and it didn't work. I ended up with a husband who deployed to Iraq and me finding out I needed surgery again. While B was deployed, I read a book called "taking charge of your fertility" and it made sense. Maybe my cycles weren't normal. Maybe I was ovulating, just not when I should be. So I charted my temps for months and learned that I did ovulate; just later in my cycle. For the first time in three years I was off of any birth control, I was charting my cycles and taking pain killers for the bad days. When B came home for r&r, we got pregnant.

It wasn't an easy pregnancy; my husband was deployed, I was really sick, I ended up with PIH and on bed rest. But I was *pregnant*! And March of 2006, three weeks early, I gave birth to Ryan. Afterward I nursed/pumped milk and went on the mini-pill. In September we were SHOCKED to find out we were surprisingly pregnant again. Logan's pregnancy was picture perfect. (I should add that once I was pregnant I was completely pain-free. While nursing, my period stopped and I was pain free.) But after Logan was born in May of 2007, I learned not to trust the mini pill and went with a Mirena IUD instead.

By November 2007 I knew something was wrong. I was in a LOT of pain and I went in to the doctor on a Friday only to learn I would have surgery Monday. I had a huge cyst in my left ovary. I ended up having another diagnostic laparoscopy; where my doctor removed both the Mirena as well as my left ovary and left Fallopian tube. It was extremely hard for me to process but I was so blessed with my two boys that I didn't hesitate nor regret losing the ovary. After the surgery I went on seasonale; the pill that you take for three months straight. Only when I got to the end of the three months, I didn't get my period. On a whim I ran to walgreens and bought a pregnancy test. More to give myself piece of mind than anything but what we learned was that I was pregnant again and that a)my body doesn't respond well to hormonal birth control and b) that apparently I didn't need two ovaries.

I had Connor in November 2008, nursed him until September 2009. By that December I was in pain again and we were talking about a hysterectomy. After all I had three healthy boys, I had tried everything else to control the pain and even though I was 25, it made sense. B and I talked and decided that we would try for one more baby. And if it didn't happen right away and I couldn't handle the pain then I would have the hysterectomy knowing I had the three boys that we were meant to have.

That first month, I got pregnant with Maggie. I cherished being pregnant for what we knew would be the last time. It was an easy pregnancy and birth and Maggie nursed until she was almost two years old. While extended breast feeding was never the plan, it worked. She was thriving and my periods hadn't returned, so I was pain free! Best of both worlds. Sissy weaned in August of 2012 and since then, it's been an uphill battle trying to control my pain. April 2013 it got bad but we were overseas. Birth control pills, naproxen, Percocet...it was to the point where nothing was working. We started talking about a hysterectomy but I didn't know how I could do that overseas. How would B miss that much work? We lived in a two story house, how would I get Maggie, groceries, the dogs even...in and out? I put it off.

I managed to deal with the pain for eight months. Eight months of pain, irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, periods that would be three weeks long and I couldn't take it anymore.

I found a gyno doctor here who came recommended and was knowledgeable with endometriosis. His action plan was the same as my previous doctor: a laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy with removal of all endometriosis. My right ovary had been functioning just fine, I got pregnant with just it twice, so the plan was to leave the ovary so I wouldn't need hormone replacement drugs.

On Thursday afternoon I had surgery. Yesterday evening I came home and today I am resting in my bedroom. The surgery took over four hours but was successful. My right ovary was perfectly healthy and remains. I have three incisions on my belly and while I am in some pain, it's not even as bad as my period cramps used to be.

I'm 29 years old and for the first time in 18 years I'm not dreading my period. It's an amazing feeling! While I do worry for my daughter, and I hope she doesn't have to go through this, I know that if she does, I will be able to support her. Despite what doctors say about endometriosis, every person is different and it doesn't mean you have to settle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Out of the mouths of babes...

Maggie is now three years old. Like most girls, she LOVES to talk. These are some of her recent sayings:

-"What are you waiting for...an emma-na-gentation?" {Invitation} Said at a stop light, waiting for a car to turn. 
-She goes into her own room, promptly steps on a lego and says ''Who left the damn Legos out?"
Her: "I want to be able to see my brain Mom"
Me: "Sis, we can't do that. Our brains are very important body parts, that have to stay inside our head".
Her: "I just want to take it out and see it Mom."
Me: "Hon, we can't see our own brains. They are inside our head, kept safe by our skull. That's part of our skeleton."
Her: "Mom, I just want to see my bwain. Spongebob does it. I want to take mine out and see it too. I'll put it back when I'm done. Pinky promise!"
Yesterday Sissy comes running downstairs saying her room is SPARKLY clean. "Come see, Mom...Come see!!" as she is tugging me toward the stairs. So we go up and I notice that yes, her floor is VERY clean. Everything had been picked up and her floor was no longer covered in stuffed animals, mini lalaloopsies and dress up clothes. "Sissy your floor is very sparkly clean, and I'm proud of you for cleaning your floor but did you maybe just shove everything under the bed? It looks like there is a lot of stuff under your bed..." *huge dramatic sigh* and she says "Mom,  I just yike my stuff under the bed. That's where I keep it.  It makes my room SPARKLY clean Mom...see?!"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Proud Mama Moment!

My kids LOVE to draw, color, paint, play with play-doh, use markers...anything ''artsy'' and all four are immediately interested. Last year at this time, Logan had submitted a drawing to a PTA Reflections contest and he placed first in his grade level at his school and then went on to the European level. Unfortunately, he didn't place at European's but we were still VERY excited for him and proud of him and his work.

Well here were are a year later and last week we received a letter from Ryan's art teacher that she had submitted a piece of Ryan's art to the Houston Rodeo K-12 Art Exhibit and that Ryan's artwork was chosen to be displayed. Very exciting! We were invited to a small reception at the University of Houston last night, to see his piece, a watercolor silhouette that he name ''Whoa Cowboy!"

Isn't it just the cutest? I have no clue how he is able to blend the sunset sky so well at age 7. This isn't the first piece he has done in watercolors that I have been uber-impressed with either. He painted this picture (on the right) of ''trees at sunset" at the beginning of the year, then I had it matted around Christmastime.

Needless to say, the whole family was excited to see his art displayed. He received a second place, red ribbon on his work as well. So proud of my Bubba! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Almost four years ago...

We made the switch to a mini-van.

I dreaded the thought of it. I hated the idea. I didn't want to be a stereotypical stay-at-home-mom carting my kids off to soccer practice in a mini-van. But finally, we caved and bought what we affectionately call ''The Swaggerwagon".
Now it didn't happen overnight, but each day I liked it a little bit more. The sliding doors were genius...the kids didn't whack the walls of the garage anymore. I could buckle the baby in at Target without blocking an entire parking spot. I had room to change a diaper, when needed. I could fit both the stroller and my groceries. The stow-n-go feature on the Chrysler Town and Country is GENIUS! I can keep my reusable grocery bags in there, a spare change of clothes/jackets, snacks. When we travel it seriously saves so much space because you can fit a lot in those floor cubbies. Dare I say, I learned to love it?
And the kids did too...until they learned there was better out there.

Amy drives an SUV with a DVD player in it which prior to becoming friends with Amy, I don't think my kids knew that this feature existed. Then the more friends we made in Italy, the more the kids realized everyone's vehicle except ours, had a DVD player. I was fine without having one. In fact, when we bought the van years ago I insisted on getting the base model. I didn't want power doors that little arms could get caught in. I didn't want to worry about the fighting over which movie to watch. I didn't want leather that carseats would tear up. I was secure in my decision, knowing that the kids were little and well, dirty and that some day I would have a nice car again. And the kids learned to live without a DVD player.

However, when we returned from Italy, we had to rent a van as ours was on an ocean carrier. We rented a 2013 Town and Country Touring. It was ''just" like our van but leather, had a DVD player, power windows, power trunk gate, satellite radio...it was like our van but better!
When the kids spilled a little Sonic drink, I just wiped it right off the leather. When they were arguing, jet-lagged and wanted to be anywhere but the car on the drive from San Antonio to Houston, I popped in a movie. When I had eleventy-billion things to carry and the dogs, I just pushed a button and the doors opened like magic.

I was intrigued.

So here were are, having been stateside five months now and I was still thinking about that rental van...especially after driving to Kansas and back at Christmas. Our van was at the point where it needed help. I won't go into all the issues, but it seemed like we had two choices: put in about $1000 of work or put that money toward a new van.

Today, we made a decision and it came with a DVD player.
While I still don't think we ''need'' a DVD player, I no longer feel guilty about turning the screen on the second we get in the car. For one, I'll take peace and quiet any way I can get it. Secondly, we don't have cable nor watch hardly any TV during the day at home, so it's not like they watch it all the time. Third, I no longer care, to be honest. It makes them happy. Happy kids means happy parents. 

Now I don't mean to turn my blog into a complete review of the 2013 Chrysler Town and Country, I'm pretty much going to do just that. Reading a review on edmunds or consumer reports is dandy, but really getting to know the vehicle from a mom's perspective, its more practical when it's moms who are buying the van!

So, on the outside, it looks almost the same as our old one. (It was a 2009, this is a 2013).
The color we got is called "Maximum Steel" it's not really black, not really navy, not really a dark gray but all three colors depending on how the light hits it. As Maggie put it, "it's very sparkly!". Exterior wise, it looks pretty much the same but this does come with nice rims instead of plastic/fiberglass hub-caps. We also opted to make sure we got the roof rack/rails package because we have used our van to move mattresses or IKEA furniture before and this would make it much easier. Standard on the 2013 is fog lights and a rear back up camera too.

On the inside...it's heaven. It's just like the rental we had. Satellite radio, DVD, leather, power doors/gate, and a REAR BACK UP CAMERA. (Amy, now we're twins!) I can make phone calls by pushing a button on my steering wheel (through the dash's uConnect system). There are FOUR USB ports in this van and four lighter/chargers. So I can use the GPS, charge my phone and charge Sissy's leappad. I can charge the boys cameras while we drive to our destination, rather than completely forgetting and having the batteries be dead on arrival, only to have disappointed kids. I can listen to my iTunes music by plugging my phone into a hidden USB port inside the glove box, which will charge my phone while I listen! (In our 2009 van we had to use an AUX out cable and then my phone had to be plugged into the charger to do this).

There are SIX cup holders just between the driver and passenger seats (eight if you count the ones molded into the driver and passenger doors). Which while I admit is a little overkill, it's convenient on road trips when Ron and I each have our water bottles, then drive thru Starbucks for coffee. I don't have to hunt for my nalgene bottle nor risk it rolling under my feet while driving. The center console is huge, without being bulky. It sits much higher up than the old one and has two separate compartments as well as a handy little inlay that my phone can rest on. The first compartment is semi-hidden by the phone tray and has a power outlet. Perfect for keeping the GPS in. Then with the press of a button, the console slides open to reveal a much bigger compartment, perfect for fitting DVD's in. I love the fact that there is no clutter like in our old console! The entire console can also slide back, I imagine so whoever is in the second row can reach the cup holders, but with Connor and Maggie, neither can reach. Like the 2009, this one also has two glove boxes. With four kids, I use one to store the first aid kit (we have to carry an epi-pen with us at all times with Ryan and while I keep one in my purse, if Ron takes him somewhere it's good to know there is one in the car) and the other to store the car papers.
The 2013 is also flex-fuel and I finally live in a big enough city to take advantage! While it doesn't offer 8 passenger seating like Honda or Toyota, that doesn't bother us. I LOVE having the two captains chairs and the ease of being able to walk down the middle if the kids need something on a long road trip. And the stow and go in phenomenal. When we need more room, we can put Maggie in the third row with her brothers then fold down the van seat into the floor and have room for all that stuff we bought at IKEA. It's literally a lift of the handle and pull of a different loop handle.

Yes, I'm not yet thirty years old and pretty damn excited about a mini-van.

Could we have gone with the more ''trendy'' Honda Odessey or Toyota Sienna? Sure. But the features of the Town and County, with that stow-n-go that I love, comes with a price that is so much more 'down to earth' that the competitors.

So for now, I am basking in the stereotype. Enjoying the peace and quiet that an episode of Scooby Doo can induce. With the push of a button I can open the doors from inside the house without having to hear ''I wanted to open the door and *insert kid here* didn't let me." I am a card carring member of the ''Minivan driving, stay at home mom" club. What, what!?

Just don't expect to see any stick people decals on my back window. I haven't completely lost my mind.

Yet.


A Day Trip to Galveston

When we settled in Texas, we settled in a suburb equal distance to Houston as it is to Galveston. So this weekend when it was 65 degrees and sunny and we were left with ''What should we do today?" we opted to see Galveston. Now we had been a couple times before but for the beach. This time I first went to the Galveston tourism website and searched ''budget friendly''...since we really were just wanting to sight-see. We found two things that sounded like good, cheap, family fun: The {free} ferry from Galveston to Port Bolivar which dolphins can often be seen from and a candy shop called LaKings located on the Strand. Off we went.
We chose the Ferry first.

The kids loved it! They couldn't wait to depart the landing and get out of the van.  It's a 20 minute Ferry ride across the channel so it's just enough that they have fun without getting restless.   
 Logan is "Star Student of the Week" this week and with that honor comes the responsibility of taking care of the class mascot :Brown Bear. Now he can say that Brown Bear saw a ferry this weekend :)






After the ferry we spent about twenty minutes at Port Bolivar before the kids were itching for that taffy we had talked about. Most of the homes were built up on the stilts, which the kids thought was neat.


 Ron was amazed and actually pulled the car over...those ''rocks'' on the ground are all oysters!
A quick ferry ride later and we were on our way to The Strand.
If you've ever been to Lawrence, KS ''Mass Street" well "The Strand" is a lot like that but bigger, right by the Gulf and from the Strand you can see Cruise ships dock in the port. We (in the fashion that we do) just hopped in the car and went and were pleasantly surprised to discover that the day we went was a Chili and Beer Fest. Lots of yummy 'fair' food and microbrewery beers. I enjoyed sipping on a Strawberry Daiquiri while we explored. At last we found La King's Confectionery...also known as "the taffy place". Walking into La King's was like walking back in time. Soda bar, candy cases, adorable little tables and chairs everywhere and the sweet smell of sugar!

I got so wrapped up in it all that I didn't think to take photos until we were at the back of the shop, watching him pull the taffy. D'oh!
 He puts forty pounds of taffy on this belt and it stretches it out. The end of the belt will cut and wrap each piece of taffy. 40 pounds of taffy will be cut into about 3000 pieces and it takes about 30 minutes. This flavor was ''Mardi Gras'' and was yellow with ribbons of purple and green. It tasted like ''tutti frutti".


 As the machine started wrapping, the sampling begun! After tasting a warm piece, it wasn't as exciting to pick pieces out of bins. We bought peanut butter, pina colada, strawberry, orange, watermelon, root beer and cherry. I didn't taste all of them but there were no complaints. All in all, a fun afternoon followed up with dinner at Rainforest Cafe. The kids LOVE Rainforest Cafe.