Monday, December 26, 2011

6 Months Later...

Since my last post in July, we have gotten the house almost completely ready for listing and we've made some important decisions.

We replaced most of the carpet in the house with laminate flooring, ripped out the linoleum from the bathroom and replaced it with vinyl tiles with a wood pattern, had the main bath tub and kitchen countertops resurfaced, replaced nearly all of the light fixtures, repainted everything neutral colors, removed the ratty old awnings from the front of the house, replaced the front door, and sold, tossed, or boxed up a lot of stuff. We bought a new, stainless steel stove, I made faux capiz shell chandeliers for the kitchen and dining room, and did some exterior painting in the front of the house.

We have had a few problems with the roof leaking over the years and really needed to have something done before attempting to sell it, so we decided to have it done with spray foam roofing. It was a fraction of the price of a pitched roof and it has helped so much with insulating the house. It is also a "green" option, which is a plus.

Speaking of "green," we bought and installed a saltless water softener/conditioner. I have to say, after being skeptical, I have been pleasantly surprised by the difference it has made in the fixtures.

We only have one repair to do before listing the house: replacing the wood flooring in the master bedroom that has water damage from water coming in through the sliding glass door.

Decisions, decisions...

Since the main reason we're moving is so the kids can have a better education, I've decided that Temecula is our destination. The award-winning schools are amazing. The crime rate is very low and the cost of living is so much lower than Los Angeles. We're very excited to move.

In my last post, I wrote about not buying a house when we move, but that's just against everything I believe in, so no. We're buying. I've been house-shopping for months. Depending on how soon we sell our house, we may look into the option of a short sale. Our new adventure in buying a house in Southern California is one that is so unknown that I am very uncomfortable with it. I enjoy being in control and it's unnerving that this huge part of our lives is something that I cannot predict or control.
Since I seem to only post every 6 months or so, I suppose I will be posting again near the time we move...

Wish us luck!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

We've done it!

We've made up our minds to move. And by "we," I mean me, of course. We have a goal to be in LA next summer ('12). Now all we have to do is....~deep breathe~...
Do lots of work on the house to make it sell-able, figure out a way to sell it ourselves to maximize profit, actually sell it, find Daniel a well-paying job and then find a rental house nearby that will allow pets (a zoo), move everything 730 miles and survive all of this while also working full-time, going to school, and raising three little monkeys. Sounds easy! No problem!

So right now, I'm doing as much research as I can to figure out inexpensive ways to spruce up the house and make it more appealing to potential buyers. I brought up the idea of replacing our old counter tops with DIY concrete counter tops... not a great response there. I thought that it would be much cheaper than brand new counter tops, it would be creative/unique, and might even be eco-friendly. We'll just let that one marinate for a while. He's got three more weeks of vacation this year and sitting around that long isn't his idea of fun.

I'm also kind of an HGTV and DIY channel addict. It's really a bad idea for me to watch these shows because I'm constantly getting attached to these ideas of renovation and home-improvement and I am really not equipped to follow through on them. I'm really not crafty at all. I am really not even sure what colors I am going to paint the house for selling...

Another fun thing about planning this move is scouring Craigslist with a fine-toothed comb in search of a good job for Daniel and something that I could do from home so that the burden isn't completely on him to support us.

I'm also going back and forth on whether I want to try to live right on the beach where we could see our friends and do tai chi or find someplace more inland in which the cost of housing is infinitely lower. We could dive 75 miles occasionally to visit friends, right?

A couple of years ago, I had the idea to move to Southern California and so I researched for hours and hours and hours. I researched statistics on schools, crime rates, climate, cost of living, employment, and came up with Temecula as the "perfect" place. Now, I really don't know if any perfect place exists; I'm sure there are pros and cons to every location. So I think the best plan would be to start out finding a job and then search for a rental home as close to that area as possible to minimize the commute as well as school districts. We can get a feel for the area and then if we want to move to a different part of the state later, we'll only be renting, so it won't be so hard.

All I know right now is that I'm so ready to leave and start a new life in a beautiful place.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I've been such a bum!

I know, it's been forever. But I finally have a bit of a break and am not in the mood to do any of the other things that I normally do in my spare time, so I'm blogging. What a great way to start, huh?

I'll try to update all of my loyal readers on the recent happenings of The Hunters 5.

My sweet new baby doll is almost 7 months old. Celeste is very close to 18 lbs, and very close to crawling. She loves food but loves water (and any other drink) moreso. I switched her to cloth diapers at 5 months- I'll have to dedicate a post or two about that- so that is a pretty cool new development. She is quite the mama's girl, but then, so were the other two during their nursing period. She absolutely adores her siblings, especially Auron who can make her crack up by just standing there watching the grass grow.

Chloe finished her first year of school and I would say that it was a raving success! She has learned and grown so much in this past year and I am so proud of her bravery and dedication this year. She no longer solicits others to do all of her "work" like zipping up her jacket, she can write, spell, and recognize her name. She knows every letter in the alphabet and the sound that each makes. She's more adventurous, which is evident when she plays at the park. She never used to be courageous enough to go down the slide, but now she flies down the large one with joy! She is starting to show early reading skills and is very interested in books. She is always asking me to read stories to her- which I totally love! She is very excited for Kindergarten.

Auron has matured as a 3 year old and has gotten through his constant grumpiness that ailed him for the past several months. His vocabulary and problem-solving skills have skyrocketed. He enjoys being a big brother to Celeste; I think it makes him feel proud and accomplished to show her things and to take care of her. He is getting ready to start his first year of preschool in the fall and he seems pretty hyped about that. I hope they take care of him. 3 years old still seems young for school, but he loves to challenge himself so much that I'm hoping it will be a blast for him.

I am close to finishing my Bachelor's degree. Next week I start a new term- which will be my 2nd to last- and I'm taking an English and Math class. My degree plan was audited awhile back and it was determined that I was short on these classes. Boo! Oh, well. I just hope that I can keep up my GPA.

I recently applied to a distance ed master's program at the University of Bridgeport, which is located in Connecticut. Their nutrition program is incredible and focuses on holistic philosophy. I am praying that I'll be accepted into the program for Jan 2012. I know it's a boatload of more debt but it will open doors for me to great opportunities which will hopefully come with good pay. So once I graduate with my Master's, I figure I will have been in school for a total of 20 years! I will be 28 by then- Daniel will be 30ish, Chloe- 7, Auron- 5, Celeste- 2. Who knows? I might just keep going and seek a PhD! Time will tell.

Great! Blogging is good for putting the brain in sleep-mode. I guess it just needed a bit of an exercise before hitting the sack. G'night world.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Finally back!

My laptop crashed and I finally got a new one (thank you Mom!) so I can start blogging again. Here's what's happened since my last post...
I had my baby! Celeste Lily was born on November 4th, 3 days late. It was the greatest birth experience I could have hoped for and we're really enjoying having her in our family.
Celeste is now 2 months old and is getting so big! She was born weighing 7lbs 6oz and 21in long. At her 2 month appointment, she weighed 12 lbs 10oz and was 24 3/4in long, putting her at the 88th percentile for weight, 96th percentile for height and 77th percentile for head circumference. She's a big girl!

She started smiling, laughing, and playing in the last couple of weeks and it's great. Chloe and Auron absolutely love her and are always showering her with love and affection. Chloe is an especially proud big sister. She has surprised me with the amount of maturity she has when dealing with Celeste. She will hold her and rock her. She even made her stop crying and go to sleep once. I was amazed.

Since Celeste was born, time has flown by. Before I knew it, the holidays were upon us and I just wasn't ready! It all ended up being fine and we had a joyous holiday season with family. The kids really enjoyed Christmas.

A new year began and so did a new school term. I got back to two classes since dropping down to one per term and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed already. I only have three terms to go before I graduate and luckily the classes are all electives and are subjects that are interesting to me. This term I am taking two nutrition classes, which I love, so I'm excited about learning more.

I'll be posting my birth story in my next post.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

36 weeks

36 Weeks Pregnant
Your baby continues to put on weight by about 1/2 pound each week. It's no wonder the womb is becoming very cramped. Your baby is gaining weight quickly because layers of fat pile on and help in both body temperature regulation and developing his immunity in preparation for life in the outside world. You may find you are carrying your baby much lower now (or soon will be) as the baby drops into the birth canal, readying himself for birth. Your baby is about 19 inches long and weighs from 5.5 to 6.0 pounds. The vast majority of babies born now will live with little need for intensive medical treatment.

My due date is fast approaching, being one month from yesterday. My contentedness with this pregnancy is running out. I know this is normal but I was hoping it would last longer. The biggest annoyance is the pain in my tail bone from the fall I took a couple of weeks ago. My midwife described to me what she thought happened since I was confused about how I could possibly hurt my tailbone by falling on my hands and knees. She said what probably happened was the impact of me falling made the baby's head slam into my tailbone and now it's inflamed and the muscles are trying to compensate for the torqued tailbone. It seems to be getting worse every day. Hopefully I can get into see the chiropractor at my next appointment since I missed it this week.

I had a good appointment this week. Everything looked good and I miraculously only gained ONE POUND! I must be nesting so much that I'm burning all the calories I'm consuming. I have now gained 23 pounds; MUCH less than my previous pregnancies.

I finally got to meet the midwife's apprentice who will be assisting during my delivery and Daniel and I both really like her.

I talked to my midwife about labor and what to expect since I've never gone through the actual delivery of my babies without a spinal or epidural. Hopefully I'm prepared enough for that. I also talked to her about my frustrations with Daniel refusing to be in the birthing tub with me and she explained to me that guys are different when it comes to birth- they don't see it as a beautiful process that should necessarily be treasured on every level, they're more concerned about the safety and messiness of it all. She encouraged me to give him a break and let him handle it as he feels comfortable because it's all he can really do and the fact that he's willing to be there with me through it all and not just say, "I can't do this" and walk out (apparently it happens sometimes!) is something that I should appreciate and accept. I feel much better about it now that she helped me put it into perspective.

I did the Group B Strep test and she felt the baby's positioning and heartrate, which were both good.

I go back in two weeks when I will be 37 weeks. Let's see where my patience is standing at that point...

Monday, September 20, 2010

34 Weeks- Fleeting Time

I cannot believe I am merely 6 weeks away from my due date. As any woman at this stage, I have mixed feelings. I'd love to be relieved of all of my pregnancy ailments, but I'm also clutching the last few moments as a mother of 2, family of 4. I'm trying to spend as much time with Chloe and Auron as possible while I can since I'll be so occupied breastfeeding and kangaroo-caring my new little Yummy.

Last night when we put the kids to bed, Auron was feeling particularly clingy, so I cradled him in my lap while I sat on my exercise ball and bounced him to sleep, knowing that the time I have to rock (or bounce) him to sleep uninterrupted is closing, moment-by-moment. And I felt a sense of sadness. My baby boy is no longer going to be the baby and I won't be able to devote so much time cuddling (and, yes, coddling) him as I have done for the past two and a half years. He'll be pushed to the "older sibling" slot and he'll have to deal with my diverted attention to a new baby brother or sister. I'm not sure how well he'll handle the transition, as much as he seems excited about the prospect of a new baby.

Chloe was never jealous of Auron. She handled the situation in a different way. She hated me and replaced me with her daddy. In fact, she began doing this when I weaned her 5 months before his birth when I (traumatically) weaned her from the breast. She felt I rejected her by refusing to connect with her the way we had always done and adding a new baby that got my mostly-undivided attention only made it worse. We've reconnected over time and are mostly healed, but I wonder what may have happened had I waited longer to have Auron, as I have done with this baby (which will be a 31-month difference compared to the 23-month spacing of my first two).

I know that somehow we will all get through this adjustment as all families with a new baby have done and I believe that having the experience of Chloe to Chloe + Auron will help us to handle the situation with more wisdom and tact.

As for the pregnancy, it is continuing well. I had gained 6 pounds between my last two appointments (2 weeks apart), putting me up to 22 pounds in total; still not bad although it is a bit much for a two-week period. I guess I'll start watching my late night snacking a bit. Baby was still vertex and my midwife predicted it to be a boy. Daniel still needs to find a boy's name but he did an excellent job of picking the most beautiful girl's name (which will not be revealed until the birth). I had chosen Lily several months ago for a first name, but the name he came up with was so spectacular that I demoted it to middle name status.

I've been having many more Braxton Hicks contractions lately which were made much worse when I took a fall yesterday. I went to the neighbor's house to retrieve my silly dog that had escaped and when I got her on the leash, she jerked forward to try to chase one of the neighbor dogs that runs loose and I lost my balance in the gravel and fell forward, cutting my hand and leg and deeply cutting into my pride. My uterus was very irritated for most of the day after this and made me uncomfortable and a little worried. I knew I would probably not be thrust into early labor and was glad that I could shield my belly from the impact with my hands, so everything turned out fine.

I ordered my birthing kit online yesterday as well as the start of nursing bras. I began packing my birthing center bag as well so I continue to feel more and more prepared with each step. I also ordered some incredibly divine ichiko shochu which is Japanese barley vodka that I sampled while in Los Angeles to use for my placenta tincture. By the way- holy cow, shipping on mail-order alcohol is ridiculous!! It was $20 for shipping for a $19-dollar bottle of alcohol! ...I should have just taken the time and found it in Albuquerque. Oh well, live and learn.

I will be able to deliver at the birth center at 36 weeks, so I have 2 more weeks to keep this baby in here so that I can avoid an icky hospital experience. I keep feeling like this baby is going to come sooner than my desired 4 days late (November 5th is my grandparent's anniversary), but I'm doing my best to keep him/her inside until we have reached full term.

This weekend is my baby shower and I am very excited about celebrating this baby with my closest friends and family.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chloe’s Birth: The child who made me a mother.

It took a year to conceive her, with a miscarriage at 10 weeks in the middle that ended on Easter, 2005. I knew the moment it happened that she was with me. I took a pregnancy test 3 days before my cycle was due and it was positive. That was the only home pregnancy test I ever took with her. My pregnancy was filled with dreams of meeting her and the new life to come. It was a healthy pregnancy with no complications until the end. I was not very active and probably ate too much; I gained 42 pounds, topping the scales at almost 190 pounds.

My due date came and went and a 6-mile walk with Daniel did no good but cause fatigue. Finally, 6 days after my due date, my water broke. It was 2:30pm on Wednesday, March 28th. I called Daniel home from work so that we could drive an hour to the hospital, not knowing how quickly labor would be. My mom came with us and I kept a notebook, timing contractions that started about 45 minutes after the water broke. They were very gentle and not coming frequently in the beginning.

Arriving at triage, I am 2 centimeters dilated and am told to walk around the hospital and eat lightly so we head down to Subway and try to get labor going. We walk and walk and walk. Eventually we go back and get set up in a room. The birthing suites were very nice and comfortable. Visitors begin arriving. I’m checked occasionally and am not progressing very quickly, despite the increasing pain of the contractions. Family and friends who were well-meaning ended up making me feel out of sorts and stressed, extending labor further.

Fast-forward to the next evening, 28 hours after water broke. I’ve dilated to 8 centimeters and things are going downhill. By this point, I have no energy to stay on top of the contractions and exhaustion is getting the best of me. I end up sleeping through the contractions in the last few hours. The baby stops responding to the contractions and is not fully engaged in the pelvis and the on-call midwife is concerned about my water being broken for so long (with so many vaginal exams, infection is likely). I’m talked into a dose of an IV drug, Nubain. It does nothing but make me even more tired. An amnioinfusion is done to try to cushion the baby, in hope of making her relax and come down the birth canal. As far as I can tell this has no effect. I’m also instructed to get on my hands and knees to help with her descent. This is difficult because the contractions are killing me and I have zero energy.

Finally, “c-section” is brought up and I have no fight left in me to combat this idea. The midwife explains the combination of factors that make it seem like the best option: water broken past 24 hours, “failure to progress” (which I suspect was not true), failure to engage, fetal distress, and maternal exhaustion. I agree and am wheeled into the OR for the prep.

In the OR, I’m told to sit up so that I can receive my spinal and have one last contraction. The anesthesiologist says, “That may be the last contraction you ever feel.” Once I’m numb and ready for the procedure, Daniel’s brought in, dressed in scrubs and a mask. Most of it’s a blur because I’m in and out of consciousness, trying to stay awake for the birth of my baby. Then she’s out and I hear crying. “5:56 pm.” The nurse asks me if I want “a little margarita” in my IV and I just nod. Then I’m asleep. Once the rest is over and I’m all sewn up, I’m wheeled into the private recovery room where Daniel and my sweet little girl are waiting. I get to hold her 30-45 minutes after she’s born and, although I’m dead tired and half-numb, I am so relieved to have her out and see that she’s healthy.

One stupid thought I had when I was being wheeled into the OR and after the c-section was, “Oh, thank God. Now it’ll just be me and Daniel and since visiting hours are now over and everyone else has to come back tomorrow to see my new baby, I’ll have her to myself!” That was definitely a perk!

I try to nurse her right away in the recovery room, with the help of the nurse and it’s not exactly successful, but it’s a good time to get acquainted. I continue trying to breastfeed her over the next few days and it proves very difficult. Chloe was born with her tongue sticking out. I mean, her head was born, sticking out of me, and she’s looking up at the doctors with her tongue sticking out at them- not a happy girl. Turned out that she kept it out for the next 3 months and that made it hard for her to learn breastfeeding and I experienced cracked, bleeding nipples. Since I refused formula (it was never an option for me) and breastfeeding wasn’t getting the job done, she developed moderate jaundice. She was put under the bili-lights for 24-36 hours because her level got up to 19 and the doctors got concerned. So we spent most of that time in the nursery with her, feeding, cuddling her, and holding her under the lights.

Finally I received a visit from the midwife who had taken care of my prenatal care and we discuss the birth and the breastfeeding problems. I had been visited previously from an on-staff lactation consultant who did nothing to improve the situation except frustrate and confuse me and piss off Chloe by shoving her onto my breast. My midwife suggested I try the “football” hold. We get her all setup, I move her in slow-motion toward my breast to latch on and… it works. Since that latch-on, she nursed like a champ. I continued to have soreness from the previous damage, but it healed after that and my temporary use of a nipple shield was discontinued.

Afterbirth experience

Once home, I was stuck in bed to recover with my new tiny angel and Percocet. I had Daniel there helping me for the first week or so but I couldn’t tell you what it was like because the drugs had me so out of it that it’s all a haze. Somehow we made it through that time without any drug-induced mishaps and I eventually come out of the Percocet Haze. Once it was just me and my girl, I settle into a routine of cuddle, nurse, nap, cuddle, but something is amiss.

As I described in a previous post, my uterus was not ready to let go of her and experienced its own version of post-traumatic stress disorder which was cured with sessions of closeness between the two.

I went on to breastfeed Chloe until she was 18 ½ months old, when I was 4 months pregnant with her little brother.

She still has the stick-your-tongue-out-at-the-world attitude. That’s my girl!