Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crazy is as crazy does

So when you are a crazy loon like I am, you get fixated on things.  Lately it is a salad.  I eat the same salad every day, same ingredients, same style, same everything...everyday.  Thank goodness the ingredients are healthy and that I can make it here at home, but even I am starting to think it is nuts.  Except that, well, yeah, I am eating it right now and it is so good.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Small Victories

When you live in a house with six other people who may not define "clean" the same way you do, it can be a challenge.  I also have OCD which when it flares up due to stress or exhaustion, can make a small problem like a messy counter or unvacuumed floor seem like the world is crashing down on me.  It is a constant balancing act of how much mess I can tolerate without losing it.

The last few months have been stressful and well, sleep is hard to come by.  The result was a house that was seeming overwhelming.  Too many loads of laundry, rooms that I clean and clean and that keep getting messed up, and then not enough time for me to get to the rooms I wanted to clean. See, I need a space.  Just one space in the house where things are organized, orderly and peaceful, and that space usually is my bedroom.  However, since I have had Finn sleeping in our room, and Ryan works nights so he sleeps during the day, there was no time to clean up the mess that just happens with life.  Today I was exhausted after being up all night with Finn who has a cold, but I sucked it up and went upstairs while Ryan manned the kids downstairs.  I got the room scrubbed clean, changed the curtains, dusted, vacuumed and organized.  I also went into Teagan's room, rearranged and out Finn's bed in there (we will see how this pans out) so now I can keep things the way I want, and I am so very excited to be sitting in my clean, orderly space.

While I was busy upstairs, the kids and Ryan cleaned up downstairs and Ryan got my new print of NYC ready to be hung.  Now tomorrow I can do the regular maintenance that comes with a houseful, and know that when bedtime rolls around, I get to retire to a peaceful place.  I bet I will have sweet dreams tonight!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rants and Raves and Comments

Crazy is as crazy does around here lately.  Everything is on full tilt as usual, but I am also trying to get vacation planning underway.  This year I have two trips I am taking alone, one day trip to a double (!!) baby shower and then I will fly to California this summer to see one of those mamas after she has her baby.  I have been waiting, oh almost 25 years for this, so I am over the moon excited.  The bonus is I am going alone so I can just spend time with my friend, her family and her new addition.  Bliss.

We also need to plan a family trip for summer, I am thinking beach. We have a trip to NH scheduled for a graduation, we will then stop in NJ to see some of the hubby's family and then I will need to take the youngest three and go to NC and get my big girls who will fly to NC with my parents from NH.  Whew!

Finally I think it is about time that Ryan and I get the heck out of here for a little R&R.  My parents are willing to watch the tribe, so we are looking for a trip in October, and I am thinking we are going to need passports.  So excited to get away with my husband for a nice trip alone.

I also feel I must comment on this:

Seriously.  That was a perfectly good lunch for a child and they replaced it with scraps of over processed meat bits mixed with preservatives, chemicals and fillers?  Um, yeah they would have seen my wrath if they did that.  My kids often take turkey and cheese sammies, a fruit, a healthy snack and a sweet snack to school, that is our lunch setup.  Many of the products are whole grain and/or organic, so would they take that away and give them nuggets?  Terrible situation and I cannot believe anyone thought that jun food was a replacement for the healthy meal the parent packed.  This is the problem in America, too much emphasis on what the government tells us we need and not enough simple common sense.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Early Valentine's Day

I always try to do something fun and sweet for the kids for the holidays.  I want them to look back and not see what they got, but how they felt at the time.  This Valentine's Day I have my long work day at PT school so I decided to start the festivities a bit early.

Today I made chocolate cupcakes using my favorite chocolate cake recipe and topped them with my secret recipe cream cheese frosting.  For extra fun, we took some of the heart shaped marshmallows and dipped half in chocolate to serve as a topper.  They came out super cute, don't you think?

Finding your battle hymn

So we are again doing doctor visits with a kid, this time Gray.  He has just been off the last few months, tired, neck pain, etc.  Initial blood work was good, no mono or thyroid issues, not anemic.  Next round will include Lyme's which is what our gut is saying, but the docs are talking of getting some imaging of his neck and head done too just so we rule out the scarier concerns associated with neck pain in a kids.

When you have a houseful of kids, health issues come up.  Haven's "stuff" is primarily gone except for the lingering ADD issues and the food allergy.  She has outgrown her epilepsy, her gastro issues are long gone and we are all comfortable with her food allergy and how to protect her.  It was not a fun ride while going through the diagnosis, but looking back we feel lucky that her issues were so minor and easy to deal with.

With Finn it was a bit different since he essentially spent three months not changing, not growing an inch, not gaining an ounce, not making one developmental movement.  Then when we saw genetics and we began testing, it was a long wait and the outcomes were pretty varied.  Now that we know what he has going on, and that there is little information but we believe it to be the milder form, we feel more in control.  Of course we took the proactive approach and got him into early intervention, and he has already phased out of physical therapy.  We see his cardiologist regularly to watch how his heart develops.  He has seen the ENT to determine if his throat is OK and if there is apnea and we will watch his lung development for any signs of emphysema.  There is little else we can do but be proactive, to be aware and to be ready for battle when it comes.  All parents of kids with "issues" do this, we just roll along with life because the "problem" disappears and just becomes our  reality.  I don't wake every day and see Finn's genetic condition, in fact, most days I don't even think about it unless we have therapy or an appointment with a doctor.  Sometimes kind people will comment on his big, soft cheeks and how cute they are and I am reminded that they are a symptom, but then I try to see what strangers see, a sweet baby boy with gorgeously kissable fat cheeks.

For me, the most helpful thing I did for myself when facing the unknown or the stress of a diagnosis was to come up with my battle hymn.  I found a song, for that child, that made me feel empowered as a mom, that made me feel like we could conquer the world and that I could project down the road at a future event, graduation or their wedding, and focus on the destination and not the path.  It helps, when I am scared or worried or generally sad about the situation to blast that song and sing it at the top of my lungs (even badly!) and feel that sense of power come over me.  We have it easy here.  My kids are healthy and will hopefully live long and joyous lives.  Finn's issues are still unknown, but we can handle what comes at us and when I doubt myself, my strength as a mama, my ability to get the job done, I pull out that battle hymn and know I am more powerful than I ever imagined.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The most common defect

Our family is a heart family.  I have a heart condition and have been very lucky to have avoided surgery up until this point.  The common question when doctors hear my condition is when was your surgery, not have you had your surgery.  My youngest, Finn, has the same condition however his is getting worse little by little and has changed enough over the first year of his life that we know he will not make it to his mid-thirties without the surgery and will probably undergo surgery by the time he is eight or nine.  While it is scary, as it is an open heart procedure, the results are good and outcomes can be amazing.

We also have three other kids with heart defects, Haven had pulmonary stenosis and a VSD which thankfully closed and her stenosis improved.  Brittan has a simple murmur.  Teagan has pulmonary stenosis and a malformed pulmonary valve but she too has been thriving and is just being followed and watched.

We hold CHD close to our hearts, and they are the most common defect found amongst newborns with the impact ranging from a simple murmur to a life threatening anomaly.

We are wearing red today for CHD Awareness Week.  Chances are you know someone who has a CHD, so will you wear red to support them?

Check out Mended Little Hearts here

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sigh of relief

I was spared in the layoffs, but a good friend and coworker was not and I am a mix of angry and sad tonight.  Corporate policy and rules confound me sometimes and in my heart of hearts I don't think it was a good call.

In other news today, we officially ended Finn's physical therapy and his speech/occupational therapist thinks he is only a few months behind!  He is signing "more" really well and vocalizing a lot more.  So happy he is making such good progress.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oh my poor neglected blog

Well, yet another week has passed and I have not posted.  Life has reached critical survival level and it is all I can do to get through the days and keep a smile on.  The kids are good, great in fact.  Finn waved bye bye, blew kisses and signed "more" all for the first time this week!  He just turned 14 months old yesterday and I can see us catching up, I am over the moon.  The rest of the crew is doing equally well, good schoolwork, decent behavior and being the all around swell kids I expect.

I met with the designer at my PT job so I could finally start designing the online course for them.  Good thing since they already paid me for it :)  PT gig is going well, I teach a class from 12-1 on one campus two days a week, and one of those days I also teach a class from 4:30-7 at another campus.  This gives me a huge chunk of time between classes that I plan to use for dissertation work, course design work and well...a job search.

Just when we began to think the FT gig was looking more secure earlier this week, the hammer kind of fell Friday.  I logged onto a call with a bunch of other faculty only to learn that our bosses had meetings Friday and Monday and that layoffs for faculty were looming.  I emailed my boss since we go back almost 7 years and she called me to discuss, and she sounded so sad on the phone.  She has no say in who stays or who goes or how many go.  Seniority means nothing, and while we hope that what we do translates through our reviews, and committees and course assignments, the truth of the matter is that the people who are making the decisions are not faculty and have very little contact with faculty, so who knows what is coming.  I have no choice but to explore other options, I have a family that I need to help provide for, and I cannot sit on my rear waiting to see if I have a job next week or not. Even if I make it through the first round of cuts, who is to say there won't be more?  So we made the hard choice, and I am looking for teaching gigs and industry jobs up and down the eastern seaboard.  It is hard to accept, especially since I love my job and my coworkers, but i love those five shiny faces more and they need stability.  Fingers crossed that I end up with time on my hands and keep my job, this may be a long week.