Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Terribly Blessed

As I lay next to this gorgeous little girl, sleeping peacefully in her co-sleeper, arms up by her head and breathing softly, how can I not feel completely blessed?

I have been so incredibly blessed.  I am married to this amazing man who would do absolutely anything to try and make me happy.  I mean, he works hard for us, helps out at home and even after spending all day at work has no problem helping to cook dinner, occupy iKaitlyn and Super Baby so I can sew, or clean, or cook or take a bath or run errands or whatever I want to do.  He makes me laugh, is there for me when I cry, shares in my interests and is really and truly my best friend and partner.  There isn't any doubt in my mind that we'll grow old together, not because we have to or because we made the vows but because we want to.

We have this gorgeous 6 year old little girl who has learned the fine art of sarcasm, is an amazing big sister, smart as a whip and just a ton of fun to hang out with.  We were blessed with 10 weeks of holding, hugging, kissing, feeding, comforting and caring for a little boy that no one thought would make it through delivery.  We have been blessed again with another gorgeous little girl, the striking image of her older sister who brings so much joy to our life each and every single day.

We live in a great house that has more than enough room for us, a soon to be sparkling pool and a playground that beats any park near us :)  We have plenty of food in our cupboards and in our fridge, the medicines we need, an ample amount of clothes and just about everything we could ask for.

And family and friends.  Sometimes I sit and wonder how we got so lucky to have such an awesome support system.  I love my family.  I have no doubt that there isn't a situation or circumstance where I couldn't count on them 100%.  I know they love our kids, I know they love us and I know they want us to enjoy our lives however we see fit.  I wouldn't trade my friends for anything in the world.  I don't know how I got so lucky to have friends that I've known for over a decade and who I feel closer to with each passing year and amazing friends who I consider family.

When I sit and look around, I know that even though we do not have Matthew here with us to enjoy it all, we are still so incredibly blessed.  And even through the pain and grieving, I am so grateful for all that we do have.  Thank you to our friends and family who have helped make us who we are today.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grieving without Faith

I wouldn't say I'm a terribly religious person.  I don't go to church.  We don't go to church, never really have.  It just isn't an environment I am completely comfortable in or that I think is necessary to have a relationship with God.  I do not believe He only hears you in those 4 walls.  And I've just never been one to preach.

When my water broke with Matthew and I didn't go into labor immediately, I could feel my faith growing.  I could feel a relationship with God getting stronger.  I was so incredibly grateful for the time we were being given.  I was so thrilled about the ability to continue to feel our little man inside my belly.  When he was born, alive, kicking, crying, breathing at 33 weeks so big and so strong, I knew it was because of God.  It was an absolute miracle.

When Matthew wasn't breathing, I pleaded, I begged, I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before.  Over and over, please just fix him, please just let him breath, please save him.  Over and over again.  I could feel tears streaming down my face and I was just so fixated on praying and pleading.  I held Kaitlyn tightly in the living room and I watched into the office, pleading and begging while she asked me what was wrong.  I wanted so badly to tell her, nothing, we just had a scare.

By the end of that week, I wasn't angry at God for not giving him back to us, but I was so frustrated that my prayers weren't answered.  At least not in the way I wanted.  I didn't get my way.  I didn't get my baby back. I didn't get to bring my baby boy home to grow up and play with.  But, I did get him.  I did get my miracle.  I did get kisses and hugs and diaper changes and nursing.

The thought that he isn't going to ever join us for Easter, Christmas, for hugs, belly laughs and tickle sessions feels like an elephant standing on your chest while you try to breath.  It's overwhelming and painful to say the least.  But, I take solace in knowing that one day, we will be reunited.   One day, our entire family will be complete again.  One day I will hold him again, I will tell him how much I love him and how much I've missed him.  I look forward to that day.  The first day of eternity.  The day when we get to be together again.  And while I want decades after decades here with my family, I look forward to eternity.

I also find comfort in knowing that he is being held and played with by grandparents, great grandparents, family and friends that have gone before us and who I do not doubt loved him and love on him.  I believe that he is running and playing with other angel babies and angel kids whose parents had to say good-bye to them far too soon.  And they are watching over us and waiting for when we are together again.

While the pain of losing a child is enough to make you want to throw up around the clock, the pain of mourning that loss without the comfort of believing in a Heaven and a God just seems to much to handle and leaves me feeling so blessed to have my faith.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

5 months old!

Today, Samantha is 5 months and 1 day old.  Somehow, nearly half a year has passed since she was born.  Where it went, I couldn't begin to tell you.  Dusty said it best today, it's like we blinked and all of a sudden she has figured out toys, getting around and what's what.

Let's see, where to begin, how about measurements?

Weight: 17 lbs!  This is on my baby scale and looking at her thighs and carrying her infant car seat has me totally agreeing!  This puts her at 10 lbs (about) over her birth weight, and in the 90th percentile.

Length: 26.5 inches.  90%

Head Circumference: 17 inches, 90%

She's so big!  At this rate, she has 5 lbs left on her infant car seat.  My forearms are bruised from carrying her and I might end up giving up on it much sooner and just moving her to the convertible car seat sooner so that I can't carry it.  But, on the other hand, I will really miss it, and being able to transfer a sleeping baby easily without waking her up.

She has grown so much!  She is rolling over all the way.  Mostly from back to front but about half the time the other way too.  She has started realizing that she can get around by rolling.  There have been a few times too where she has moved an inch in a crawling like motion.  She gets on her tummy and has her leg work mastered, she just needs to figure out to use her arms in the same way.  She sitting up pretty decent too.  Mostly still tripoding, but once in a while, she'll hold herself up nice and upright.

She's also eating like a CHAMP.  Nursing every 2 hours, around the clock still.  Wait, scratch that.  Once a while at night she'll go a whole whopping 4 hours before eating.  She's also eating food.  She doesn't like stage 1 foods at all.  Unless, I mix it with rice cereal to thicken it up.  She also prefers fruits way more than veggies.  Her favorites are bananas, peaches and the new one she just loves is yogurt mixed with mangos and pineapples.  She gobbles that right up.  She liked the mixed veggies with pasta or grains better than just plain veggies.  We do a couple ounces of fruit or cereal in the morning before a nap, a veggie for lunch, usually an ounce or so, and then at dinner time she'll finish off a 4 ounce container of food.

Bedtime is still at 8:30, and she has to get up every morning by 7:45 to take Kaitlyn to school.  Here is her daily schedule lately:

1:00 AM - Nurse and back to sleep in 10 minutes
2:45 AM - Nurse and back to sleep in 10 minutes
4:15 AM - Nurse and back to sleep in 10 minutes
6:30 AM - Nurse and back to sleep in 10 minutes (this is when I get up, shower and get Kaitlyn up and ready)
7:45 AM - I wake up Samantha, Daddy leaves for work, clean diaper and clothes time.
8:05 AM - Take Kaitlyn to school
8:30 AM - We're home!!  Nurse and play a little
9:30 AM - Food Time!!
10:00 AM - Short nap
10:45 AM - Wake up!  Nurse
11:15 AM - Lunch time!
12:00 PM - Long Nap, usually when I get the most done
3:30 PM - Picked Kaitlyn up at 3 and usually this is when Samantha gets up and nurses again, then plays while Kaitlyn does homework.
5:15 PM - Samantha eats dinner, we eat at about 5:30
6:00 PM - Nurse
7:30 PM - Nurse
8:00 PM - Starts getting everyone ready for bed
8:30 PM - Kaitlyn goes to bed, Samantha Nurses and goes to bed
10:45 PM - Nurses and back to sleep in about 10 minutes.

We really need to cut out some of those night nursing sessions lol!

Samantha is outgrowing nearly all of her 3-6 month stuff, mostly for length.  She is still wearing some of the 3-6 month stuff, anything with flexible thighs still works great and she's getting into the 6-9 and 6-12 month stuff pretty good.  No idea what size shoe she wears since we don't really put them on her.  Her feet are 4.25" long though lol.

She has started reaching out to be held and will go to anybody.  She's just a pretty happy girl.  The only time she gets upset is when we drive in the car after dark, she hates that, and when it's bedtime and she isn't in her bed.  She likes to be in bed.  Which is in the co-sleeper, next to our bed :)

Some of her favorite things are: "peek a boo", Super Baby! (- Daddy's game!), Kaitlyn singing to her, watching baseball and really, anything that involved people looking and paying attention to her.  She is playing a lot more with her toys lately and just loves taking in everything.  We've been spending a lot of time at the park lately, and going for walks together in her stroller and she's loving it all.

Here's a video of the first time she rolled over and a picture of the girl's trip to see the Easter Bunny!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Finding Happiness

Last week there was a comment on a post that got me thinking.  Ashley had wrote "Found your blog through another SIDS mommy...just wanted to say that your children are beautiful.  I lost my son about 8 months ago to SIDS and it is inspiring to find someone who has gone on to be happy."

My first thought was sadness.  Ashley, I am so sorry for your loss.  I truly am.  If I could get a magic wand and turn back the clocks and make it so it never happened, I would do it before I could blink.

But then, it got me thinking about how far we've come and where we are.  I really never thought I would reach a point where I could have a fun day, a day of laughter, giggling and joy without guilt again.  I mean, how could I giggle and have fun when our son had died?  How could I do that?  Why would I want to?  Why would I want life to go on, to get "normal" again?  What good would that do?

And I don't think it has been easy to get to where we are, and while I would say that we are a happy family, and I am happy, I would be lying if I said that there wasn't still a really sad part of me.

I think eventually, you reach a point where your point of view and outlook on everything changes drastically.  Instead of feeling guilty for enjoying life, you feel guilty when you don't.  You feel like unless you are doing everything possible to make your life worth living you're taking for granted the fact that you still have your life, and that's not fair.

You start to realize how precious every single day is.  You stop taking so much for granted and you stop wasting so much time on things that really do not matter.  You see how pointless stupid drama is, you see how important some people in your life are and how unimportant others are, you see how you want to spend your days and you begin to act on all that you see.  You change.  You become the new you.  You grow as a person.  Your relationships with those important to you grow so deeply.

And, you make a switch to being so grateful for the time you did have with him.  Knowing so many women deliver their babies and never see them take their first breath, or cry their loud cry, or nurse or feed or bathe their little ones even once really helps you to see how truly fortunate you are.

I'm not going to lie and say everything is always hunky dory, or that there is even a minute through the day when I don't think of him, wish he were here or wonder how he'd be, or that it does not physically hurt to not have him here.  But, I am going to say, I can not only go a few days at a time without crying, but I can do so without feeling guilty.  I can enjoy parts of life without feeling guilty about living.

Matthew will always be missed, loved and an important part of our family.  He will never be forgotten and he will never be replaced.  He is with us every day and thought of so often.  He has brought so much joy and happiness into our lives and there is nothing that can minimize that joy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

What a Week!

So far, since Samantha has been born, I've been really, really good about not doing as much, not taking on as many projects and spending a lot more time relaxing.

Last week, I started to feel more "normal", you know, out of the fog of those baby days, adjusting to the new sleep (or lack thereof) schedule, comfortable with our new routine, used to breastfeeding around the clock and all that good stuff.  I guess I decided to have a super busy week to celebrate.

Saturday we had my sister Christina's Bridal Shower. My sister Samantha and I hosted and I think it went super spectacular!  I could be biased though....

Best part, homemade marshmallows dipped in the chocolate fondue.  YUM-O to the 10th degree.  I got home around 8:30, cleaned up the house and then we (the girls and I) went to bed.  Sunday was our traditional Sunday, dinner at my parents.

Monday, Kaitlyn had school.  After school, I picked her up and we headed home to start homework.  When Daddy got home we decided to head out for dinner  It was the first time just the four of us have been out to eat and it was a good time.  I think Dusty was a bit scared, but Samantha was awesome and slept through most of it, then when she did wake up, she just ate and looked around.  Kaitlyn was on her best behavior, I mean, amazing best behavior.  So good, Dusty suggested we get the stroller (and OMG, I recently got the Peg Perego Si and am SOOO in love with it, it's seriously incredible) out of the car and go for a walk.  Normally Dusty hates the mall, I cannot remember the last time we went to the mall just to go, so that's what we did.  After we enjoyed our California Pizza Kitchen, we headed to Arden mall, walked and browsed and filled Kaitlyn and Dusty some large bags of Candy at the Candy store.  Kaitlyn's reading is great, and she really impressed the clerk when she read "sugar free" and said "Mommy, those are sugar free! I have to try those!"  We got home just in time for bed and did just that!

Tuesday started out again with school, picking up Kaitlyn and then going home for me to finish the cleaning I needed to do and put away my sewing stuff.  Kaitlyn worked on her homework and then we headed to Girl Scouts.  We left the meeting a tad early to rush to Sunrise Mall and stand in line for 45 minutes to get an awesome place in line for the Jenette McCurdy, Sam for all you iCarly fans, for the Generation Me Concert benefiting St. Jude's.  I had to pick up Kaitlyn to hold her through the 4 songs, which did not make Samantha too happy (the music scared her a bit), but luckily she was in her awesome stroller!  After the concert, we waited in line and Kaitlyn got to meet Jenette McCurdy and get an autograph.  She was on cloud nine!  We got some yummy ice cream then headed home.  On the way home, she was also super excited to blow her first bubblegum bubble!

Wednesday was late start Wednesday!  Yay!  It was much needed.  After school, we met Daddy at home, Kaitlyn did a few pages of homework and we headed to Nana and Papa's.  Kaitlyn and Camaryn played, Daddy got a hair cut and Samantha found the dogs absolutely hysterical.  Soon we headed to the game, I took Dusty and his dad and the girls went with Nana.  I got there early, so after I dropped them off, I headed over to Babies R Us to have a peak around.  I got Samantha the smallest pair of sunglasses I could find, but even they were too big for her huge head, which shocked me!  I also found this really cool mirror that goes in the car and has a remote control to turn on a night light and music.  Samantha normally likes her carseat, but at night, she HATES it.  I mean, screams the entire time she's in it and nothing will make her even remotely close to happy.  I went back to the field after, met the girls, watched (some of) Dusty's game.  We headed home and Kaitlyn was asleep before we even got there.

Thursday we had another fun day.  Kaitlyn had school, and we did Baby Show and Tell, which made Kaitlyn happy.  We went home and did some playing and relaxing and homework.  We had tacos for dinner, the Giant's had their opening day and then we headed over to Red Robin to celebrate our friend Nicole's birthday!  Kaitlyn started reading her first official chapter book and fell in love with Junie B. Jones.  She thought the "Stupid Smelly Schoolbus" was hysterical.  She ended up finishing it by Saturday.  And she was so proud of herself.  So were we :)  It was a lot of fun.

Friday was another great day!  We started out same as before with school, and it being sports day.  Since I didn't know it was sports day until the day before, Kaitlyn wore the only sports outfit she had, shorts and a University of Alabama top.  After I took her to school, Samantha went to the doctor to talk about her rash!  Her eczema has spread to her chest, in the rolls of her fat, back and elbows.  She's up to 15 lbs and 15 oz!  Holy Moly, she's so heavy and healthy!  This was the one night we stayed home after school.  We rested, we relaxed, we ate, we played, we had a good time.

Saturday we started out really lazy.  We slowly got around and ran a few errands.  We took Daddy some lunch.  We went and got some ice cream.  We enjoyed that yummy ice cream and went to the park for a couple hours to play.  Then, we picked up some steaks for daddy to cook for us and headed home.  It was more relaxing and resting!

Sunday we met up with Kaitlyn's friend Shelby and her super mom April to head up to do some horseback riding lessons.  Kaitlyn's gone once before and loved it and loved it again this time.  Part of their lesson is cleaning, grooming and caring for the horses.  After we got some more yummy ice cream and then headed to pick up Daddy and go to Grandma and Grandpa's house for dinner!

Today we had another day of school and a couple hours at the park.  Another fun day, Gosh I'm loving this weather!!!

And that was our week!  We have so much coming up still, we have Christina's bachelorette party next Saturday, Alicia's baby shower the following, A Day in Photos the following with Easter that Sunday (obviously lol), and the following weekend is March for Babies!  Then we're in May!  The first Thursday we're heading to Vegas for Christina and Brian's wedding, then we'll get some resting and relaxing before we head to Texas the first weekend in June!

Can you believe this little one is so close to being 5 months!!!

And now, we're excitedly and patiently awaiting the arrival of Mr. Hudson!  Hopefully he'll be here soon!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The school situation

Last year, we really loved Kaitlyn's school.  Unfortunately, it was part of a district that ran into financial problems, and although it had been open since the 50s, had an awesome staff, small class size, great principal, amazing pick up and drop off situation and we loved the community feel of it, they closed it at the end of the school year.

We lived in the middle of two other elementary schools and really struggled with which one to send Kaitlyn to.  We had to chose between Orchard or Dry Creek.  We were going to go to Orchard, I liked the community garden, I liked that it didn't start until 9:30, I liked that it had a great pick up drop off set up, I liked that her principal was going there, I liked the location, I liked sooo much of it.  The main thing I didn't like was that it was a K-8 school.  But, we had chosen it.  We had to go to Dry Creek to have them sign off on her transfer (she was randomly assigned a school) and when I went in to do it, I met the principal.  We talked.  He told me Dry Creek had smaller class sizes, more technology grants, a computer lab in every classroom, smart touch white boards and was only K-4, plus he has a student there, so I thought that would mean great things.

And for a while, I did think we made the right choice.  Since then though, little things have really bothered me.

The drop off and pick up line is ridiculous.  Drop off isn't as bad, but you do have to arrive at least 10 minutes before class to get your kid to the front and dropped off.  I do not like to get Samantha out in the cold or rain if unnecessary to drop Kaitlyn off.  And Kaitlyn prefers to run off with her friends.  The pick up line is a joke. I arrive most days at 2:30 for a 3:05 dismissal.  I sit, parked in line and rarely get to the front before 3:15.  That's 45 minutes everyday, wasted sitting in the car.  If I want to park, get out and get her, I can either park blocks away, or I can get there at 2:40 for a space.  Again, sitting parked in the car waiting until the bell rings to go and get her.  It's so frustrating.

Then, we got the letter.  Students are only allowed to miss 10 excused days a year.  Kaitlyn used 7 the first week and a half of school when she had her tonsils out.  I had told them when we signed her up, we didn't want to enroll her until after she was released from her doctor.  They refused and said they wouldn't be able to hold her a spot in the district if we did that.  Ok.  And since it was the beginning of the year, they wouldn't do Independent Study.  Ridiculous.  So, we took it.  And after 5 days, the nurse started calling saying she needed to go back to school.  She should be fine now.  She ended up going back 4 days before her doctor released her because of their constant phone calls and her feeling ok.  But, I had to worry all day if she was drinking enough through the day.  Then, she got a sinus infection which caused pink eye.  They wanted her back 24 hours after she started the medication, even though her eyes were still goopy, she was miserable and had no voice.  Um, no.  So, she has used all 10 days.  Which resulted in the letter.  The letter explained that all future absences required a doctor's note or Dusty and I could be held criminally responsible.  Um. Seriously?

The principal had told us that every other Wednesday he sent home a not to the parents keeping them up to date on what was going on with the school.  This lasted through December, but never included the fun stuff they were doing, and it can be really hard for a 6 year old to remember that next Friday is sports or jammie day.

Kaitlyn's class doesn't have heater or AC.   All the copper has been stolen out of their class.  That sucks.  And I don't hold the school responsible, however on the really, really hot or really, really cold days, they get sent to another classroom that has both working.  And is DOUBLE the size of their class.  And it's an empty class.  Um, why not just move them to that room????

Not to mention the other little things, like her being so bored at school, them not pulling out the advanced or behind kids to let them have extra time doing other things, the library incident and all that.

You know how when all those little things keep adding up, it can take a tiny little incident to push you over the edge?  That happened today.  Oh boy did it happen.

The second week of March, they sent home little letters asking if parents wanted to buy "Love Notes" to put in the yearbook for their kid.  The rules were: 1. Max of 30 words; 2. Max of 3 per student; 3. $1 a note; 4. Due March 18.

I asked Dusty's parents if they would like to buy one and my parents and of course we did.  On March 17, I saw Kaitlyn hand her teacher her envelope with the order for yearbook and love notes.  Plenty of time, and she did just as she was told to do.

Today, in her backpack (which I check daily) had an envelope with her receipt for her yearbook, and a note saying that her Love Notes weren't received in time so she would not be getting them.  WTH??  So, I call on my way home (I know, bad) because I'm that mad.  I talk to the administrator in charge of year books who tells me that she didn't receive them until March 24.  To which I explained she handed them in on time and it stinks that the teacher didn't get it into her, but Kaitlyn should not be penalized for it.  She got flustered, said the principal had already gone home for the day and she'd have him give me a call Monday.  I will say, while I was mad, I was very nice, because my kid goes to school there and I know better.

What makes this a situation though has more to do with a school that sent us a mailing the other day.  It is in our district, but about 23 minutes away and really in the middle of nowhere.  If you see my previous post about getting lost, it's in the area I first got lost in.  Very country.

The school is accepting transfers.  While it is a public school, they do have an application process, are tough on discipline (which I do find important), have GATE for all grades, an art program, choir, drama, dance, a science program, an agriculture program, a school garden, sports and PE and all for every grade, K-8.  They require community service projects from all students, they push for ethical and moral education.  They are a really small school and while they are only K-8, they are only 9 classrooms.  I checked out their website and me and Dusty have been talking about it.  Their website is updated for the parents, EVERY DAY.  Wow.  That alone impresses me lol.

They are a CA distinguished school, the computer ratio is 2:1, and they have some of the highest test scores in the region.

They are having an open house on Tuesday.  I want to go.  I want to check it out.  While I don't want to transfer Kaitlyn again, I know how great she is at making friends and I want to have her going to the best possible school.  And I argue that even though it's 23 miles away, it isn't like I would lose any time in dropping off or picking her up.

Dusty said if they don't do her love notes, she's transferring (he's not happy with the school either lol), but I am just so torn!