Life and Faith

Have you ever just sat, pondered your current life situation and thought, “why me“? Not just in bad times, but even in good…

Life isn’t perfect. Jeffrey and I got hit hard with “life” the first few years of our relationship. Miscarriage, stressful pregnancy and rough labor, complicated health for our child (and health scares for myself), in the middle of moving and home renovations and new jobs. This bundle of life’s curveballs didn’t come over 10 or even 5 years. It came back to back or simultaneously, in about two years. So now, our son’s health is better than ever. Jeffrey’s new job is one of the biggest blessings to our home life and financial goals. And, I’m a stay at home Mom in a charming brick home bordered with perennial gardens and amazing neighbors. We’ve also been finding ourselves in growth through our church! What. Is. This. Perfection!?

I thank God for the blessings every single day but part of me can’t help but wonder, when does the shit hit the fan again? I know life just naturally has it’s ups and downs but these past couple of months seem too good to be real. What have we done to deserve this life we get to live as a family?

And yes, what I consider perfection, is completely dependent on my sole life’s experiences. My car has had tire issues, we have a bad window leak with tons of rain so we get to constantly put pans beneath it, and it’s been so humid my veggie garden was terrible this year and our outside time has been less than ideal…but that stuff is so minor to me now. On the grand scheme of it all, to me, my life is perfect.

We are planning our wedding and while that is stressful in itself, I’m just counting down the days to the celebration (and the calories to fit into my dress)! But we are learning a lot about our relationship in the process. Our most recent “session” with our Pastor left us high fiving each other. A relationship assessment we had taken came back with results our Pastor said were so impressive they were the best he’s seen for strength, success, and satisfaction in our lives together. Go us!

But why did we score so high in all of these areas of communication, expectations, financial management, child rearing, spiritual beliefs, relationship roles, time managements, etc.? Probably because God has brought us through major trials and tribulations. We’ve had to fast track our “growing up” with a seriously ill child. We had to buckle down on finances and learn to be completely transparent, in order to give up my working income. And we have had to be there for each other, through the scariest- heart and gut wrenching shit– that we have ever had to deal with. When we ponder how we got through it all…God. The success of our life and family we are building together is nothing short of the Lord’s work.

This post is basically a journal entry to myself. That I can reflect on when times get rough again, because they will, and that is life. I try to stop myself when I question why or how we got here and instead just be simply grateful. And while this period of life is so euphoric, I cannot take credit for any of it. All of the Glory goes to God.

 

 

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Easy Stuffed Peppers

I love when I search pinterest for EASY or QUICK recipes, only to find recipes with 20+ ingredients and 3 hours of prep. When I think easy and quick, I think Stoufers lasagna, poke some holes in the top and bake. So if you’re like me, finding actual easy quick recipes isn’t easy!! or quick…

Then I come up with or stumble upon concoctions that are mindless and think “why have I never done this before!?” And then I don’t write them down in my recipe book and come to the same epiphany 5 years later with the same exact “recipe”. So if you’re still following my rambling, here is one of the easy quick recipes I’ve whipped up for stuffed peppers.

And the best thing about it is you can make it with or without meat, rice, beans…tailored to your liking.

I made this for meatless Monday last night:

Steamed bag of mexicorn mix

2 green bell peppers, halfed and cleaned out

Shredded cheese

Optional toppings, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos

Steam your mexicorn mix (mine was corn, black beans, cilantro, lime, and red pepper). Clean out your bell peppers while veggies are steaming in the microwave. Preheat your broiler. Scoop the steamed mix into your peppers once it’s cooked. Sprinkle with cheese and broil for 10 minutes. Top with whatever you like!

I also cooked some rice on the stove top so I served our peppers over Mexican rice. From washing my hands to sitting at the dinner table this took about 20 minutes.

Easy. Fast. And your picky eaters can customize…

Share some of your favorite fool proof dinner options!

 

Donors & Paying it Forward

We are two months post-transplant for our 20 month old. His checkup yesterday couldn’t have gone better. It’s mind boggling to think back to how sick he was and how unknown his future was…and how someone elses POOP changed his LIFE. It also makes me incredibly grateful for his donor, whom we will never be able to name.

OpenBiome, the non profit that screens and selects donors for FMT’s, only accepts around 3% of it’s applicants. Without this organizations existence, we probably wouldn’t have been able to find a donor so fast, or not at all. Before a “bank” was started (like a blood bank) when someone needed an FMT, family members were the first options, but it is so hard to find a family member that has 100% healthy crap (hope you’re not eating and reading this post).

Before we knew about these poop banks, we stressed ourselves on “what if we aren’t able to donate, how sick will our son actually get while we search?”. And then a doctor explained it all to us and a weight was lifted. Because of a donor, our minds were put at ease, there was a plan for our son- his health- and his future. His life was changed.

I heard a past president say ‘a life so blessed should be lived in service to others,’ (what up Obama). I love that. I agree with that. A pay-it-forward mentality. So, where does that type of thinking leave us after a successful FMT for our boy?

Swabbing our cheeks for Be the Match. (I myself am not a candidate for OpenBiome…all the more reason to be grateful for those donors.)

Be the Match is a national registry for bone marrow and blood platelets, like OpenBiome is for stool. When a sick patient needs a donor, doctors can start their search here and hopefully find a life-saving match.

Because God has blessed me day in and day out, I’m continuously looking for ways to do the same for someone else. Instead of a wedding registry, we’re asking for donations to a local charity. I can figure out how to survive without a kitchen-aid mixer (for now), but I figured some kids might not get a Christmas meal or a toy from Santa…or newborns might not get clean diapers like they should.

This was sort of a rambling post but you get the point…do something for someone who can never repay you.

 

 

 

Officially a SAHM

The Wall Street Journal recently published “Working Women Often Underestimate Motherhood Costs”, and I couldn’t identify more with it right now.

Since I was in high school I chased good grades, for good scholarships, for good colleges. After that fell into place it was solidifying my path, more good grades, volunteering and interning, and any work related involvement. This was for the knowledge, experience, and degree that would catapult me into my career after graduation.

So after you spend years upon years working toward a goal, your dreams, and how you would like to identify yourself successfully…you might find it hard to walk away from it all, on the turn of a dime. Rather in my case, the turn of a stool sample. (If you’re just joining us, my son’s health has become our all-consuming thought.)

I have been on a work-from-home special contract (amended FMLA if you will) for almost 6 months, to try and juggle my dual roles. My work couldn’t have been anymore accommodating or supportive and I’m forever grateful for that, which made it harder to leave them.

But nevertheless,Β  I turned in the keys to my office today. My photos, artwork, and plants left behind dust trails. My name plate came off of the window.

I hugged coworkers goodbye and took a huge breath of sunny, 78 degree fresh Iowa air as I left the building. And I didn’t look back.

It took me months to get here and to be as “comfortable” as you could ever be, leaving your career to stay at home. I asked God day in and day out for guidance. I asked him for a direction he wanted me to take and whether it be back at work after our son’s procedure, or permanently at home, I asked for peace with what would come.

So as this was my last day earning a paying wage for the foreseeable future, as reluctant as I thought I have been/should still be…I’m at ease. I find the silver linings of it all. Our son is healing, our family is able to live (tightly) off of one income, I have supportive friends and family, I have great networking and experiences made, and I have every day to get up and spend it with my child. It’s a luxury I think we all dream of having until it involves actually leaving a job we love, or benefits that are amazing, or a paycheck we rely on, or even the communication with adults.

Yes our son’s procedure went well, yes he’s still doing well too, but taking the advice of the specialists to “tread carefully” with his diet and even common colds…it came down to one question…

What do you want to keep in your life more, a paycheck or your child?

 

 

 

 

Untitled

I sit down to write the many thoughts and emotions that consume me following the events of the last 7 days. I’ve been eager to “get it all out” in writing but now that I sit with tons of space to divulge, I have nothing.

I guess I could start with a recap of the things my family experienced.

It all starts with another positive C-Diff test, our 18 month old officially has VRE, and will in fact need a FMT…

  • 24 hours later notification from one of the top hospitals in the country that his procedure date has already been set
  • Prep for an endoscopy and colonoscopy begin
  • Starving our child follows
  • Stressing about work, continuously, follows
  • Packing for the family to travel and be gone for an undetermined amount of days
  • Still starving my child, offering only clear liquids and prep
  • Countless diaper changes
  • An unconscious baby in my arms
  • A vomiting, unconscious baby in my arms
  • Tests, pokes, screaming and crying
  • Low blood sugar & dehydration
  • Seizures
  • Possible cancellation of the FMT we’ve been waiting months for
  • A very sick little boy
  • A very impressive hospital/staff/care
  • More tests, pokes, screaming and crying, bit lips and tongues
  • I’m now soaked in vomit, my babies blood, and tears
  • An NG tube and listening to my baby cry “mama” and be held down for it
  • A baby in my arms, so tired and exhausted, he doesn’t even wake for IV changes or diaper changes anymore
  • A sleepless night
  • A day in the hospital
  • A long wait in the procedures room with a hungry, tired, fed up 18 mo old
  • A doctor telling us the colonscope and endoscope was a success
  • A doctor telling us the FMT went well
  • Seeing our little boy coming out of sedation, not gracefully
  • Getting discharged
  • Coming home to tornado sirens and water in the basement
  • More dirty diapers
  • The family in our own beds, IV/cords free, snoring soundly

I can’t even fully explain what we have gone through because of this relentless C-Diff infection. Life has definitely thrown us a curve ball, but somehow we keep going. God, keeps us going. When shit hits the fan SO extreme like that, you don’t have time to soak it in, dwell on it, or really even think. You just act. You’re just there. You do what you need to do as a spouse, as a parent, as a Christian. You get yourself, and your loved ones t-h-r-o-u-g-h it.

Our son is looking at one week post FMT, he’s doing OK. We haven’t seen the results in his diaper like we had been anticipating but I really think he is doing pretty good. (An FMT is a fecal transplant, used for recurring C-diff that is drug resistant. Essentially, a last hope to an infection that causes extreme flu-like symptoms and a lot of pain.)

If you’ve been reading these posts, I’ve officially put in my resignation. It has been so damn hard to put a career I love on the back-burner while my son has battled this infection. But God’s brought me here, a crossroads, and I’ve had to choose. My son, my family, our faith… wins.

Conscious Eating

I once heard a saying like ‘eating was an opportunity to do your body good’.

I hadn’t looked at food that way, or thought about food as a step to take toward a healthier body and life. Food was just a means to an end. Hungry? Grab a snickers, literally. Thirsty? Chug a bottle of Coke. I cringe when I think of how rude I was to my body in my younger days!

I didn’t start caring much about nutrition, until I learned to pay attention to the affects of it on my skin, my sleep, my energy, mood, and more. The more I learned about natural remedies to health issues I wanted to “fix”, the more I found what I eat (and drink) controls so much!

In high school I was on a daily pill for my acne. You could argue a million different things here so let’s spare that sidebar. I’m not saying water would have cured my suffering and saved me $$$ on makeup…but why didn’t my derm even mention it to me!? Hormones have a lot to do with it, yes, but when I see my skin start to freak out even now, I can look back and say ‘yeah I obviously was cheating myself with diet and water these past few weeks’.

Take my thyroid for instance; there’s a whole section in the bookstore about how to help subside autoimmune issues with nourishment. In my recipe book, I actually label a soup as “thyroid healing”, so if I feel like I’m getting out of whack, I prep a huge pot and eat it throughout the week. And YES, it makes a difference.

Sometimes, especially with kids, grabbing the easiest and fastest thing is OK for your sanity. But looking at what you eat as an opportunity to fuel your body for the day, or to nourish an ailment that’s been causing concern, is so powerful.

I write this as a I FULL ENJOY my temporary stay at home mom life. (IF YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING MY STORIES…STAY TUNED FOR A PLOT TWIST.) My babe sleeps and I plan out our lunches and snacks (aka budget my grocery list). I told Jeffrey last night, I love that our son gets excited when I chop watermelon. He stomps his little feet and says “peese!” for a bite, before I even get it halved. I might as well have a bowl full of skittles to offer those chubby little hands; that’s how excited he gets over fruits.

Exposing our littles to healthy options should be a natural thing, but sadly it isn’t (and wasn’t always for me growing up, either).Β  With a little more energy into a grocery list, grabbing more produce, and shopping organic, I find stocking the home with healthy choices makes it *almost fool proof to make good food decisions. And when I say “planning out our lunches and snacks”, for snacks- that seriously means grabbing something from the pantry and handing it to the babe. Sooo, not much planning at all πŸ™‚

Our favorite good choice pantry snacks include Earth’s Best fruit bars, HappyBaby Yogie Bites, Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Plum Organic ANYTHING (we love them).

So anyway, the babe naps, the oven is preheating for organic whole grain breaded chicken nuggets, I’m slicing some avocado, and of course his plate will be graced with watermelon. When I was working, I couldn’t really control what he ate, and now with all of his digestive issues, I wouldn’t give that control up easily again.

I’ve also tricked our little boy into loving steamed vegetables…by showing him it’s an opportunity to smear organic ranch in his hair and nose πŸ™‚ Happy Tuesday, friends!

 

Working Mom Struggle

Good Morning Friends!

We’re back on this subject on this- “winter storm warning”- Wednesday in April. I’m still on partial leave with my job while our little man heals and gets through his big stint of meds. This “do I go back to work” limbo is a daily struggle for me.Β  I posted previously about Stay at Home Mom’s being the real MVP’s in today’s society and I’m thinking more and more that I want to join their team.

Having a SAHM in the household most likely means one income, lifestyle changes, and discipline with a budget. It actually almost seems unattainable in my part of the world. I have a few SAHM friends but the majority of my Mama gal pals still work. Is it because they want to? Because they have to? I’m sure the situation changes for every friend.

Here’s what I find concerning; We constantly hear about the struggles of student loan debt, yet society feeds us that college is the ONLY way to make a decent living. Now we’re starting to hear about the skyrocketing prices of daycare, too. Expensive college and expensive daycare? Basically if you’re a parent who wants to work and put your degree to use, be prepared to be broke.

In high school, when you’re directed to choose a path after graduation, getting knocked up and raising babies isn’t in the drop down. Maybe I’m a unique situation but I don’t recall the option for a path to learning how to be a good mom and wife. I think this couples with our “what is happening to today’s youth” concerns. I have a plausible explanation- their mom’s were all working to pay off student loans!

Right now we’re caught between “damn daycare is expensive” and “your student loans are too much for one income”, guess what isn’t on the table…SAHM tryouts.

Our nation is also in the middle of this amazing movement that’s empowering woman, blurring ethnic lines, and pushing for equality in all aspects of life. And I am 100% on board with it all! BUT BUT…where are the old-school values? The importance of a home life and family; why aren’t they part of the discussion? Why does it seem like the traditional mom at home role isn’t even acceptable anymore?

Those old school values are the most likely the same ones that raised these movers and shakers in today’s world. How did these people get the confidence, brains, and balls to go after what they believe and deserve?Β  Did their mamas (or dadas) stay at home when they were wee little ones!? I bet they did.

Why can’t we still promote further education and dreams bigger than outer space, but also nurture those whose dreams are home-bound? Can we at least get that option back on the menu? If someone would’ve shown me how to get an AA, knock out some serious career years, and then comfortably take time off to raise wholesome little hearts and brains- it would’ve seemed more fitting. (Right now I feel like I’m forced to choose work, for many reasons. I’m forced to ‘figure it out’ when it comes to a mom life and work life balance…FORCED).

I’m so grateful we’re in a society that first of all, ALLOWS us to do and achieve these things. I’m just saying…I think those of us struggling in this stay at home mom vs working woman limbo could use a little more direction and support. We don’t have options. AND of course our single working moms with college debt and daycare expenses…warriors. Can we just get a maternity leave (with debt deferment) that extends into toddler years? All problems solved πŸ˜‰

Top Baby Must Haves

Good Morning!

It’s apparently Spring here in Iowa, however inches upon inches of snow covers our ground. Since we are unable to go out in the yard, the extended time indoors is allowing me to do a post I’ve wanted to write about- for months!… BABY PRODUCTS πŸ™‚

I’m one of those moms that researches every baby product before she invests. So not only was time and energy already sacrificed for the safety, reviews, cuteness, and best-of’s in baby world…I’ve already personally used them!

If I had to offer any Mom (first baby or 15th baby) advice on the game changers for surviving that first year, this would be it:

1.) OWLET Baby Monitor– 5Β  of our friend’s homes (and counting), now have this product because of my recommendation. If you could track your baby’s oxygen and heart rate while they sleep and have that extra (much needed) sense of security, why wouldn’t you?

Let me start by saying this little sock monitor is the ONLY reason I was able to sleep when my little guy slept. He was diagnosed with Laryngomalacia (LM) a day after he was born. LM causes stridor in breathing and crying, cyanosis, apnea, chest retractions…all kinds of fun stuff you never want your newborn to suffer through. Though our son’s case was mild to moderate, knowing your baby has troubles breathing sometimes is enough for any parent to write off sleep.

His diagnosis, coupled with a warning of his condition worsening if he caught any common illnesses, was the reason the Owlet was not only worth it to us, but a necessity for our child’s LIFE.

Common Cold + Baby with LM= Zombie Psycho Mom

Common Cold + Baby with LM + Owlet=Β  Well Rested Happy Mom

User reviews of false alarms, over sensitivity on the monitor, etc., were never an issue for us. If you want this sock monitor, just educate yourself on how to use the product. They make it almost fool proof with a booklet, video tutorials, and amazing customer service. We only had one red-alarm in our year of use and our guy’s oxygen was dangerously low from a scary bout of apnea. Did it save his life? Is it number one on my list? Moving on…

2.) Fisher Price Rock & Play– Need baby to sleep in your room? Done. Need baby to sleep at grandma’s? Done. Need baby to sleep by you while you potty…uh-huh…done.

This little hammock-type rocker cradles your baby on an incline (better than baby laying flat all of the time) Incline was especially important for our little guys breathing and reflux.. It has mesh sides for breathabiltiy, vibrates for extra comfort, and is light and portable! One thing I would offer extra caution on, the placement of you baby’s head and neck; make sure baby uses their head and neck on both sides of the rocker (IE our baby favored his left side and we had to adjust and stretch him to avoid torticollis and plagiocephaly.) That piece aside, this double as his bed early on, his lounger while he was awake, a place to watch mom in the kitchen…it was so versatile for us.

3.) SKIP HOP Sound Machine- Moonlight and Melodies Owl- This adorable little plug-in Owl plays music, waves, heartbeat sounds, water and/or nature sounds. His belly glows and you can change the brightness of it. He can also be put on a timer and his volume is adjustable. AND he has a projector on his little head that throws stars across the ceiling for baby to gaze at while drifting off to sleep πŸ™‚

This sound machine/night light has set the calming tone of the nursery every night for us. We actually even took it with us when we traveled so our babe would have the familiarity next to his pack and play in a hotel. We started using this about week 2 of his life, in our room, and it made the transition with him to his room around 4-5 months. He knows when we go to rock in his room with his owl on, it’s time to wind down. He started sleeping through the night at 4 weeks old and now sleeps about 12-13 hours a night (he’s 17 months).Β The owl is cute, calming, and a good part of a routine for our little guy.

SO! That’s it πŸ™‚ Those are my favorites. The ones that promote healthy sleep mostly…wow that must be important for moms and babies? πŸ˜‰

Honorable mention to this list, the Wubbanub! Our camo print fox Wubbanub was named, he was THAT important. Peaceful sleep, car rides, doctors appointments, you name it, Felix the fox was as vital as an appendage to our baby boy’s comfort. The cute little animal that hangs off of the ONE PIECE (whoo!) pacifier is easy for them to feel and grab and also helps them control pulling the paci out and putting it back in (accurately).

And the best part about this list is I’m not paid a dime to like these things or promote these things. It’s unpaid honest advice πŸ™‚ And if you have questions, ASK!

 

SAHMs…How do you do it!?

Stay at home momma’s, if you’re out there reading, teach me your ways.

Our son has faced some health challenges in the past few months. We’ve come to the conclusion that I will need to quit my job or we need to be ready to fork over some serious cash for a good in home nanny.

As of now, we’re going to see a specialist to get to the bottom of his condition but to leave it vague, he has a suppressed immune system. Nothing is life threatening yet and I wouldn’t even be considering a nanny if I thought he wouldn’t still thrive. That being said…

I love my job, I love the people, the benefits, and the fulfillment I get it from it most days. I think I am a good working mom. So how do you even know if you would enjoy being a stay at home parent and giving up your career? I don’t know that answer, yet, which has led us to start nanny shopping.

The more I interview and search for the perfect fit for our son, the more I wonder if I’m doing this all wrong. If we’re paying someone THIS much money to do my daily mom duties, why am I just not staying home? Will we find someone we ever actually think is WORTH this huge investment risk? And the minute I sign up to return to work (on leave now, with my sickie)…I know I will cry.Β  I miss him every time I leave him.

And lastly, how does any family go from two incomes to one? It is such a huge lifestyle change and commitment. We need all the tips and tricks to make it work. We don’t want to live stressed out about bills or money but we also understand things like new cars, designer clothes, eating out, and cable…might be luxuries of the past.

I direct these million questions to God, every day. I pray for direction and to make the right decision, whether it be leaving my career or hiring an extended family member. In the mean time while he works on answering those prayers…feel free to share your experiences, thoughts, and advice on going from working mom to SAHM. Or from two comfortable paychecks, down to one (WITH STUDENT LOANS might I add).

Saturday Sledding

Last weekend we had a pretty picture perfect time together. (Much needed following weeks of little man’s illness.) We had probably (hopefully) our last snow storm of the winter and took advantage of the storm falling on a weekend and not a weekday.

I bought clearanced snow boots, snow pants, and a sled for Harry G. He had yet to own these items because he’s been couped up in the house! This was to be his first time playing out in the snow. We were so exited!

The snow didn’t fall according to plan but it was enough powder to play in and warm enough to enjoy the outdoors for a chunk of time. The whole family (including doggos) was able to run around outside with the sled.

Chili was bubbling in the slow cooker, fresh cupcakes stood to be frosted, and all of our winter gear was laid out by the back door waiting for occupancy. We were all healthy, happy, and together. It reminded me of story book. But by golly it was OUR normal Saturday.

Peanut loved the snow and the sled, although he couldn’t move very well in all of his gear. I thought he would get mad about the layers we had to suit up in (for the first time) but he was patient and made us proud. Kind of like he knew some fun was about to happen, so the layers were worth it.

Jeffrey pulled the sled with both of us in it mostly, because it wasn’t an infant sled, Harry fell over a lot if he was on his own πŸ™‚ and then laid there until someone sat him upright (because again, he couldn’t move). The dogs ran circles in the fluffy snow, which was also good entertainment.

After we came in and warmed up, we played nerf gun wars (where mom and dad shoot darts at each other around the basement and Harry runs back and forth screaming and laughing…and the cat chases him.) Our cheeks got such a good workout that day.

 

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