Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Losing my teeth in a caramel apple and explosive sandbox volcanoes

Do you ever think back on your childhood and wonder why you remember some things?

Although I lived in 3 different houses in my growing up years, one of the homes in particular comes to mind when I think of my childhood home. We moved there before I was old enough to remember, and we moved away when I was about 10.

It was a cute little 2 story with a grassy front yard, a fenced in backyard, a swing set, a sandbox and a dog kennel with our obnoxious dog, Axel (yes, for the Guns 'n Roses Axel), who was forever sniffing my butt every time I went outside.

I have so many fond memories of our time in that home (the constant butt sniffing not being one of those...).

Sitting on my front porch in the summertime offering the mailman a bite of my lime popsicle.

Coming *this* close to getting my little brother to eat a dog turd because I told him it was a tootsie roll.

Making the conscious choice to lock the door to my room, step outside of it, and pull the door closed, bidding all my toys farewell because of my brilliant plan to tell my dad that I couldn't clean my room because I was locked out of it. I may go the rest of my childhood without my toys, but if it meant I didn't have to clean it, it was worth it all. The plan got shot to crap the moment my dad was all, "What the hell!" and picked the lock with a pen. And I thought it was such a brilliant plan...

Watching in disbelief as my little brother - a toddler at the time - crawled under the table and the tried to stand up, hitting his head and then yelling, "Shit!"

Waking inside my house on my birthday to find a yellow brick road made of construction paper with clues about little munchkins waiting for me in the basement, leading to a surprise Wizard of Oz birthday party.

Losing my front teeth in a caramel apple when I went over to the neighbor kid's house to play.

Learning how to play pacman on our ginormous new computer. It was super high tech with a brown screen and orange lettering.

Watching ET in the basement with my family for the first time, and covering my eyes during the part at the end where ET is in all those tubey things and looks all powdery and chalky.

Using masking tape to put prices on all my toys, pretending I had my own store.

Sitting on the sidewalk in front of my house capturing ants with a shovel and putting them in buckets, naming each and every one.

Making volcanoes in the sandbox with a vinegar concoction of some kind.

When we travel back to the town we used to live in, we drive by our old house. It looks the same, but now it's gray instead of black and white. And it seems smaller. The neighbors who lived in the green house next door are still there. They told us people moved in who were selling crack or some other illegal drug.

Frickin' idiots.

Our family was never made of money, but my parents sure did a heck of a lot of things to make sure we had a buttload of fun memories to look back on.

And that, to me, is one of the things I get most excited about when it comes to being a parent. Now it's my turn to teach my kid all sorts of fun stuff like how to start a rock collection, how to make volcanoes in your back yard, and how to get out of cleaning your room for 3 minutes. There's so much to look forward to!

This post is a part of Writer's Workshop, hosted by Mama Kat over at Mama's Losin' It

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Great Success!"

I said I'd never watch Borat, but never say never, right? I caved. I watched it. I fast forwarded through the disgusting parts. And yes, I laughed at a lot of things, too. So, I had to use that for my title.

Anyway, some of your comments on Twitter made me realize I didn't let you know how Kaylee's surgery went.

It went GREAT! It was unbelievably fast, and she did fantastic.

She's such a Daddy's girl, and often favors Dennis over me, so when the nurses told me this little story, I about melted right then and there...

They explained that when the kids come out of anesthesia, they're often "little barbarians" what with the kicking and hitting and biting (crazy, huh?). They're scared and confused and don't know what the heck is going on.

Well, when Kaylee woke up, the first thing she said was, "Mama, please?"

That's my girl. :)

She's on some ear drops and an antibiotic for a week, and we'll go for a follow-up in 3 weeks.

And I just want to say thanks for all of you who left comments here and on Twitter offering encouragement and giving examples of your successes with the ear tubes. It was so awesome to see all that support, and I really appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers for Kaylee.

Monday, September 28, 2009

NOW we're talking...

So, ya know how I posted earlier today about all the frustrations with doctors since Kaylee's been sick? It got worse.

This afternoon I got a call from the ENT in Phoenix, cancelling our appointment for this Wednesday. That was supposed to be our answer. That was supposed to be the appointment where we figured things out, made decisions and got on the ball to get Kaylee BETTER.

Our pediatrician told me that when we saw the specialist Wednesday, I needed to push him to get her scheduled for surgery Thursday - that very next day. So, you can imagine that when I got the call that he had to cancel all his appointments for that day, I seriously nearly lost my marbles permanently.

I got our pediatrician's office on the phone and told them I was willing to see our local ENT (who we decided not to see before, when he couldn't be reached to see Kaylee during her first trip to the hospital).

The ENT office called me within the hour and told me to have Kaylee at their office in 45 minutes. And you know what else they told me? They had my sweet baby on the surgery schedule for 7 a.m. tomorrow to have ear tubes placed in both ears.

Now how is THAT for a step in the right direction?

He explained that they are on call 24/7 for their established patients, but with only 2 of them in our whole town, they can't respond to every call they get from the hospital to see a patient, unless it's one of their own. Understandable. So, now we're cool.

Tomorrow should be the start of some brighter days ahead for all of us.

Thank you, God.

The Mama Bear in me

I used to be pretty timid and I was petrified to stand up for myself.

As I've grown older, more independent, and more sure of myself, I am not afraid to say what I need to say. I don't let people walk all over me, and I will speak my mind.

Then, Kaylee was born. I had this tiny, helpless little human to protect and nurture and raise, and God help me if anyone ever even THOUGHT of hurting her. Out comes the first sighting of Mama Bear.

Then, Kaylee got sick.

And out comes the ferocious Mama Bear. Claws, fangs, growls and all.

Out came the part of my personality that, until then, still hid from time to time. The part that has strong instincts and doesn't question them. The one that will stand up for my daughter come hell or high water, and the one who gets infuriated when those who should know more than me only prove their ignorance.

I know it's okay to question doctors. I also know that there's a reason they went to medical school and I didn't. I've always been of the mindset that you ask questions and keep asking questions. You advocate for yourself. You have to. And, then there comes a point where you need to trust that the doctors know better than you do.

THEN. Oh, then there comes a day.

We shall call this day Sunday. Sunday the 27th of September, 2009. Let's call it Kaylee's 3rd Trip to the ER This Friggin' Month.

Dennis and I called it the last chance. They'd screwed up twice before. First, by misdiagnosing Kaylee with pneumonia and never calling us to say we could take her off the heavy duty antibiotics because the x-ray was clear. And second, we find out that last time we went to the ER to rule out a bone infection in Kaylee's ear, the doctor told our pediatrician said she "didn't look too bad" and was just going to send her home on oral antibiotics. Thankfully, our pediatrican said ooooh, no you don't, and that's when we eventually had to transfer Kaylee to a children's hospital for inpatient IV antibiotics.

Yesterday was their last chance. Maybe the first two times were a fluke. But this was it. They screw up again, and we're done. The bad part of that? The next closest ER is 2 hours away. Do you chance it and make the trip, or leave your child's health and wellness in the hands of a bunch of incompetent morons? What do you DO?

So, yesterday - when Kaylee began to get redness behind her ear and her ear started sticking out like a little Hobbit ear again - JUST as it had done when it was bad enough to transfer her to another hospital, we took her straight to the ER. This is what we got from the doctor:

"It really doesn't concern me." Told me the plan was home with oral antibiotics and he told me how to recognize symptoms of meningitis in case the infection turns into that. Gee, thanks - DOC. We brought her in so it wouldn't progress to THAT.

NO! No, no, no, no, NO! You did NOT!

This, after I told him her detailed history of not responding to several oral antibiotics and how our pediatrician and all the doctors at the children's hospital were alarmed by the way her ear looked, when it looked just like this last time.

It was like pulling teeth getting him to agree to do anything besides the oral meds. I asked for IV meds since I knew that treated it well last time, but he agreed to do a shot in the leg of antibiotics instead. And I think he probably just did it to get me to shut up.

At this point, I don't even know what to think. Today, her doctor said both ears are now full of this yellow gunky stuff, and the infection is back with a vengeance.

I don't know what's going on, but I do know this...NO ONE is going to feed me another line of bull crap. We are getting this fixed - one way or another, and this Mama Bear's got her claws out, ready for a fight.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Enough already.

I'm realizing that one of the hardest things about being a mom is finding yourself in situations where there is no clear cut answer about what you should or should not do.

And there is no worse feeling than knowing your child is hurting and having to watch them experience any kind of discomfort.

Kaylee's been sick for over a month.

We've been home from the hospital almost 2 weeks now, and although she's not 100% better and will need a drainage of one ear and probably ear tubes, at least she's been getting better. Acting more like herself, eating more, no fevers, finally finished her umpteenth course of antibiotics.

And then today she wakes up with a snotty nose from hell and a high temperature that took a few hours to come down, even after we gave her Motrin and Tylenol.

Like I've said before, I do my best to be optimistic with whatever I'm up against, but this is just ringing all too familiar to me because it's exactly like her illness started out a month ago.

I can't help but think that maybe her ear is infected again, and the fact that she had such a serious complication of her ear infection that she landed in the hospital last time makes me ultra cautious about it.

We talked about taking her the ER this morning, but decided against it after her fever finally came down, and eventually stayed that way, even after several hours with no medications.

I'm just rambling, and I really don't have incredibly clear thoughts about this whole thing, except to say that I just want this to be over. I just want her to be WELL. I just want her to be able to carry on and be healthy like she has been up until this point.

It scares the heck out of me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oh, dear sweet oatmeal chocolate chip pancake...come to MAMA!

Today will not go down in history as one of those days you could consider more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Nothing monumentally bad happened. In fact, by most standards, it really wasn't a bad day at all.

But, I'm on call this week again, and as luck would have it, my sleeping butt got woken up at 2 a.m. with the buzzing of my pager, beckoning me to come to work. I had so much fun. It was a blast. Not really.

Anyway, I got home at 4:30 a.m. and finally fell asleep. About 15 minutes before the alarm went off, beckoning me BACK to work for my regular shift. Do I really need to explain that I was Miss Pissy Pants all day long, or did you just assume that before I even explained it? Because I WAS a stick in the mud all day. It was one of those one friggin' thing after another days.

And, believe me - I'm thankful to have a job, so I'll take some bad days here and there. But, let's just say my coping mechanisms were malfunctioning.

I ate almost a whole Dove chocolate bar (which, by the way, I do not regret - I fully believe it helped me from going completely mad at times) and I got a mini pizza for lunch, which I haven't done in WEEKS. Didn't feel so hot about those choices, but it was all about the comfort food.

So, I came home and changed into my comfy clothes and got to relax a bit. And even though the plan was to eat some chicken that I cooked up in the crock pot yesterday, it just wasn't going to do the trick for me.

It was definitely a breakfast for dinner kind of night.

Quickly, I cracked open the pages of my Hungry Girl cookbook and got out a mixing bowl and the ingredients for my current Hungry Girl obsession - "Oat-Rageous Chocolate Chip Pancake Minis."

Now, the recipe makes 5 mini pancakes, but I get all crazy with my bad self and just make one huge honkin' pancake. And it is so. GOOD. I'm telling you!

It was total comfort food, and just 3 of my daily 18 Weight Watchers food points. I could indulge and not feel one bit guilty.

I'm sure I'm breaking some sort of law by sharing this with you, but I'm feeling fiesty, so I'm going to tell you how to cook up some of these bad boys for yourself...

Oat-Rageous Chocolate Chip Pancake Minis


3 Tbsp. regular oats (not instant)
3 Tbsp. fat-free liquid egg substitute
2 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp. light vanilla soymilk
1/2 Tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1 no-calorie sweetener packet
(I also like to add some cinnamon)
Dash salt


Place all ingredients in a small bowl, except for chocolate chips. Add 1 Tbsp water and stir until thoroughly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips.

Bring a large pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Pour batter in the pan to form 5 mini pancakes (or one ginormous pancake, like I do). Once pancake(s) begin to look solid, after about 1 minute, gently (or ferociously) flip.

Cook for an additional minute, or until both sides are lightly browned and insides are cooked through.

My favorite toppings? I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray, sugar-free (or sugar-filled) syrup, and/or fat-free Reddi Whip.

Makes 1 serving

Source: Hungry Girl 200 Under 200 recipe book, page 30 - with a few of my own words and variations thrown in here and there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Random thoughts over a piping hot bowl of popcorn

Took a little blogging holiday, and I must say it was rather refreshing. Now I'm ready for some more talking.

First off, I must say that Orville Redenbacher is a damn genius. I think his 94% fat free butter popcorn is largely under appreciated. It's just so delectable, low in fat, and chased with a couple tall cold ones, totally fills up the belly. Guilt free and oh-so-good. Mmmm.

So - Swedish massages. Last week when I had my "moment" and dropped Kaylee off with mi madre, she slipped me a few extra Washingtons, and so I decided to get a Swedish massage (followed by a spa pedicure). Loved. Every. Minute. If I was physically able, I would have kicked and screamed and threw a fit when the masseuse told me it was over. But, I am not entirely sure I was even half conscious at that point, and I was moving at a snail's pace. I think our family needs to quit drinking milk and eating cereal, and then I can just put that money toward getting a massage every month. I need to start thinking of a way to break the news to Dennis...

My attitude has sucked lately. Ever since we brought Kaylee home from the hospital on the 14th, it was the only thing I could think about. I'd even venture to say I was obsessing about it. Just replaying the events over and over in my head and thinking about how bad it could have been, and that's just not me. I'm not a pessimist. I do my best to see the positive in everything, but the whole thing sort of just shook my world up a bit, and I let it get to me more than I should have.

Along those same lines, I got a call today from the hospital she was at and found out that our bill is $13,000 and that's before the doctors bill for their services - that fine chunk 'o change is just for the hospital facility charges. All I can say is I am SO glad we have insurance so we won't have to pay the entire amount. I guess we won't be having any trouble paying that deductible this year...

So, a while back I told you I was getting back on track. Eating better. Taking care of myself. Reading. Working out. Trying to lose a bit of extra poundage off the badonkadonk. I'm taking the slow route, but I've managed to lose 5% of my body weight since I started Weight Watchers again eight weeks ago. It feels good to fit into my pants again, and - believe it or not - I even have some pants that are loose - what, WHAT!?!?!

Here are some things that have helped me the most with the whole eating better, working out, losing weight thing...

Hungry Girl - namely, her book 200 Under 200, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray (Hello! Zero Fat. Zero Calories. Hallelujah!), Zumba, Pump Iron (group weight lifting/cardio class), of course my dear, sweet Gilad, Mommy and Me class, and eating chocolate every day. Maybe I'll talk more about that stuff another day.

But for now, I'm calling it a night.

And no - I'm not kidding about the chocolate every day. I'm serious. A little bit each day keeps me from totally overindulging. I highly recommend it. Personally, I think it's a pretty genius plan.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Psssst! Come check it out!

So, not long ago I signed up for the whole Blog Frog thing, and last night I finally had some time to mess around getting it all set up.

In case your like, "Eh? Blog WHAT?" Blog Frog is a place where you can find new blogs, get more exposure for your own blog, and where you can create a community for your readers to talk to each other.

See that sidebar to the right? When you visit the blogs of people who are on Blog Frog, you'll show up in THEIR Blog Frog sidebar when you go to their blog and vice versa, so it's one way to get people to find your blog.

But! My favorite part is the community/forum on Blog Frog. I just created the first forum discussion last night on my page last night, and it looks so lonely over there! So come on over, and let's get talking. Click here to visit my forum. Got ideas for future topics to discuss? Leave me comments with your ideas.

And if you haven't already, go check out Blog Frog and get yourself hooked up. There's lots of fun to be had!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wait, wait. I'm having a moment here...

Sometimes all I want is just a minute.

Well, that's a lie. I want more than a minute. I'd like 5, 10, 45 minutes, or hey - how about a whole afternoon? A whole day? A weekend? That's probably pushing it...

My life has a tendency to spin a bit out of control at times, just as I'm sure yours does from time to time. Things pile up, the stress continues to mount, and I reach a point where I have a hard time just carrying on as usual.

Sometimes it just gets to be too much, and if I could just have a minute (and by minute I mean at least a couple of hours), I could function oh-so-much better.

Do you ever have those times in your life where you feel like so much is going on that you don't have the ability to just sit? Just be? Just think and ponder and reflect and get back to basics?

That's what kind of time I'm having.

I try to wind down every night by reading a book before bed. It relaxes me, it distracts my mind, makes my eyes tired, and helps me get a restful night's sleep. But even that doesn't give me what I ultimately need, and the majority of the time, I don't make what I need a priority.

I think it has to do with the fact that there are these unspoken expectations that go along with being a wife and a mother and, in general, a woman in today's world. I think we're finally making some progress as it is becoming more acceptable to take care of ourselves, but that is not how it's been for women in our society.

You can talk about women's liberation until you're blue in the face, but the fact is - we are still followed around with these expectations that we are supposed to do certain things and be a certain way.

Cook dinner. Take care of your babies. Listen. Nurture. Behave. Don't be bitchy. Don't be rude. Volunteer. Don't lose your temper. Don't confront. Say yes. Go there. Be there. Do this. Do that.

It's so sad that for many of us, it's like pulling teeth just to say no to something. We're plagued by this guilt, and for those of us that are moms, we all suffer from Mommy Guilt in its many forms.


For not spending enough time with our kids.
For not feeding them organic or fresh food.
For giving them pre-packaged, microwave it in 30 seconds lunches.
For plopping them in front of the TV so we can have some silence.
For wanting to get away.
For using formula instead of breast feeding.
For getting mad at them.
For yelling at them.

We're scared...

Of being judged.
Of not being perfect.
Of not being as good as those other moms who appear have it all together.
That we really can't handle all that comes our way.

But, that's not how it's supposed to be.

We shouldn't plague ourselves with guilt. We shouldn't be scared of failing or of being judged or of falling short of the mark.

We are humans. We are moms. And we are doing the best that we can.

But, if there's one thing we suck at, it's taking care of ourselves. Taking care of ourselves without the guilt...

...Realizing that just because we want to get away from our kids and our spouses and our homes and our responsibilities - THAT DOES NOT MEAN WE ARE BAD MOMS.

We can't be on our game if we're burning the candle at both ends and constantly on edge about something because we've just had it up to HERE and feel like we're going to crack. We have so much on our plates as women - I don't care if you have kids, work outside the home, are married, are single, whatever. The mere fact that we are women automatically means that we have a tremendous amount of responsibility, stress, and unrealistic expectations.

We all just need a minute. A minute to breathe, to think, to be ALONE and not be bothered.

I've felt the need for my own little minute coming for quite a while now, and the events of the past couple weeks, eventually resulting in my 16-month-old spending 3 nights in the hospital have only made that more clear to me.

I have so much on my mind. I feel so overwhelmed. And I am still shook up about everything that happened. But, I came home to past due bills, piles of laundry, not a clean pair of underwear in sight, and a kitchen full of dirty dishes. I couldn't just melt down. I had things to tend to.

So, hmmm...have a much-needed cry fest and let everything out, or gee - get our house payment in the mail yesterday to avoid late fees and annoying calls at 8:45 p.m. from the idiots at the bank? Let's go ahead and just make that payment. The breakdown can wait for another day...

I want to be able to just sit and think. I want some time to myself where I don't feel the need to accomplish chores and run errands and be productive.

And Friday, I'm going to have my minute.

I've got to play the mom card first thing in the morning to take Kaylee to a follow-up appointment, but after that...I'm a free woman.

I'm getting a spa pedicure at a fancy little spa (thank you Colin and Sarah!) where they have huge cushy chairs that you sink way down into. They have big copper bowls with marbles in the bottom, bubbles galore, and rose petals on top of the bubbles where your toes soak and soak and soak. There's scrubbing and massaging and hot paraffin wax dips. And beautimous toes, freshly painted in what I'm guessing will be a deep, sparkly red.

Who knows what will come after that. All I know is there will be no washing of clothes or dishes, no paying of bills, no poopy diapers, no naptimes (unless I decide I want a nap), no crying from people whose name is not Sera, and no stress.

I don't have a plan. And that's how I want it. No strings. No real plans. Just time. Time to chill out, to let things sink in, to cry if I want to, and to get myself back together - back where I feel like I can handle things again and where I feel more at peace.

What would YOU do with a minute?

*This post is a part of Mama Kat's brainchild - Writer's Workshop - taking place every Thursday over at Mama's Losin' It.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - She's my brave little toaster

My daughter's resiliency has me sitting here completely befuddled.

She's been through the ringer this past month. I've lost count of the number of pediatrician visits she's had. The ER visits have been a bit easier to keep track of as there have been two, but that's two more than any mom wants to have with her child. Ever.

This kid has had bronchitis, breathing treatments, three different antibiotics, a freaking ruptured eardrum, green crusty and gooey junk coming out of her ear, and let's not talk about all the testing - blood, urine, swabs, cultures, ick.

It's too much. It's more than an adult should have to endure, and I can say for damn sure it's more than any kid should have to endure.

Things just kept going downhill, and Friday, after seeing the pediatrician for high fevers and red swelling behind her ear, she said Kaylee needed to straight to the ER. Ok...scary?

Then she told me the reason why she had to go NOW.

She said she was afraid Kaylee may have something called mastoiditis - which, apparently- is an infection that gets into the bone and air pockets behind the ear. The concern, she explained, was that this area is so close to the brain and it needs to be treated immediately and agressively because the worry is that it can spread to the brain.

I can't even describe what went through my mind at that moment, except to say that I'm darn glad I was sitting at the time.

She fussed when she got poked or when the nurses tried to take her vitals or look in her ear, but other than those times, you never would have guessed anything was wrong.

I mean - shoot. The kid ruptured her eardrum and we DIDN'T HAVE A CLUE. She didn't whine and cry. She was still my sweet little Kaylee, and there I was a complete wreck watching this all happen.

She had more testing, IV antibiotics, IV fluids, and a CT scan of her head. I will never be able to erase the image of her getting all wrapped up in the protective equipment and having them wrap her little head like a mummy around the thing she was laying on to keep her head from moving while they did the scan.

All I could do was stand back while a room full of people, including the doctor - just in case something went wrong - hurried here and there and talked in low voices while my baby was crying and I couldn't DO anything. I couldn't comfort her or make it stop.

We eventually got transferred to a children's hospital a couple hours away to see a specialist and to have Kaylee admitted for more IV antibiotics.

It was a rather long weekend, but we finally got to come home yesterday. I'm so happy to say that she's doing phenomenal. Her body responded really well to the IV medicine and there was no need for surgical intervention, and everything on her CT indicated that the infection never made its way to the bone. We were incredibly lucky.

To be honest, I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. I've had some good talks with Dennis and with my mom, but I'm still having a hard time just processing everything that happened, and I've got a lot of thoughts floating around in my head, so the tone of my posts may be a little bit different for a little while since I finally actually have some time to ponder things. It sure sheds perspective on so many aspects of my life, and it's really made me take a step back and be thankful for things.

Here are some pictures of my brave little toaster during our crazy little weekend away from home.


Remember her newfound fascination with fashion and her insistence on wearing certain things? After digging through her bag, she found these and just had to wear them.



Going home - finally...



I am SO proud of her. OH, so proud. She is amazing and resilient and such a fighter. I am so proud to be her mom.

This post is a part of Wordful Wednesdays, a weekly feature at Angie's 7 Clown Circus.

Tuesday's Tribute - To Caitlin

We had quite a scare with little Kaylee last week.

Long story short - we had to take her to a children's hospital a couple hours away to get her to a specialist that could treat her for a nasty complication of an ear infection. More on that tomorrow - today is about Caitlin, an amazing nurse that cared for Kaylee 2 of the 3 nights we were in the hospital with her.

She was to the moon and back amazing. She was so gentle, and so patient with Kaylee. She let her play with the stethoscope, thermometer, just talked quietly to her and took her time in gaining Kaylee's trust.

Caitlin was constantly coming in to check on Kaylee, and to check on us, and she did a lot of the jobs that nurses normally leave for the CNAs - there was nothing she wouldn't do. If she ever got tired of my never-ending questions about what was going on with Kaylee and what the plan was, she never acted annoyed. She just answered every question as best as she could.

She told us that at that hospital, they don't just treat the patients, they treat the whole family, so she was constantly reminding Dennis and I that we needed to take care of ourselves, get out of the room every now and then, and making sure we were doing well.

She gave me hugs and talked me down from a potential panic attack. She was the only one, out of all the nurses that took care of her during our time there, that Kaylee was not uneasy around. Kaylee trusted her. She played with her. She smiled and waved at her. She wasn't afraid of her like she was most of the other nurses.

Aside from one terrible nurse that we had during 2 different day shifts, the other nurses weren't bad, but they just didn't go above and beyond like Caitlin did.

I could tell she genuinely cared about my baby and her health, as well as our whole family.

She did a phenomenal job, and we will never forget how she helped us get through the scariest thing we've had to deal with as parents to date.

*This post is a part of Tuesday's Tribute over at Angie's 7 Clown Circus.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Oh, that? It's nothing. It's just my front yard. Floating down the street.

They say there's a first time for everything, and I say - yeah, there's a first time for everything, and all those first things can be boiled down into two very simple categories: first times that rock your face off, and first times that scare the living daylights out of you.

Let's talk specifics.

So...first times that rock your face off...

First car. First time on the Gravitron at the fair. First plane ride. First job out of college. First baby. First time your baby laughs. First time you do a Total Body Sculpt workout with Gilad. First time you simultaneously hold a small child while peeing and talking on your cell phone. Are we getting the picture yet?

Now, first times that scare the tar out of you...

First time you lacerate your middle finger on a broken olive oil jar. First time you bare hand a turd out of the tub (your child's, not your own - let's just be clear now as I can't having you all thinking I poop in the bathtub - I assure you I do not). First time you lose someone you love. First time your front yard decides enough is enough and it packs up, along with a mighty rushing river and decides to bid you farewell without so much as even a goodbye wave as it goes floating down the street in front of your house.

We got some freak of nature rainstorm in our neighborhood this week (in an area notorious for droughts, I'll have you know) and it ransacked our front yard. Hmmm. I think ransacked might be a more appropriate word to use when describing what burglars do to a house, but I'm using it here anyway. It sounds good.

Anyway, this God-forsaken storm took out part of our cement step, all of our landscaping, and the fabric that was underneath the landscaping. The water (and clay-like dirt from our property) also decided to take a fun trip through our air conditioner and our vents, and flooded the crawl space under our house, where our electric water heater is housed.

And, insurance isn't covering a thing because - oh, I don't know why...BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE FLOOD INSURANCE because no one in this town has flood insurance because we are in a frigging DROUGHT area.

But! The claims specialist assured me that, in the future, they WILL cover landscaping if someone, other than myself, is driving a motor vehicle and runs into either my trees or my shrubs, uprooting or damaging them. Gee, thanks, lady. I don't have any trees or shrubs - it's a drought area and I don't want to pay a gajillion dollars a month to water them so we have landscape rocks, which happen to not be covered even though they cost more than your precious trees and shrubs...

So, getting back on point. Yes, there's a first time for everything. I never thought I'd experience the first time I watched my front yard float down the road, but now I can say that I have, and that I hope to high heaven and all the way back that it never happens again.

Here's our mighty raging river...

This post is a part of one of Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, taking place every Thursday over at Mama Kat's Losin' It. If you're not playing along, you totally should be.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - Raising the red curtain on the nursery closet

What a difference a week has made!

Last week I showed you the embarrassing pictures of the closet in Kaylee's nursery. Things were just shoved in there, and there was no form of organization whatsoever. This was pretty much the worst part of her unorganized room, so it's where I started first.

Her whole nursery is now cleaned up, decluttered, and all organized. I am just waiting to do the BIG reveal until I get these adorable pieces of art in the mail so I can show you the finished product in all it's bin-ridden and adorable glory (for those of you who recommended bins, bins, bins, you were right on the money - bins rock my face off!).

So, let's flash back to last week and check out the messy, messy, ugly before picture. Ughhh. (And, notice how I have just one before picture and seven, count 'em - SEVEN - after pictures...I'm just a little excited over here...)

I love how I had the boxes stacked all zig zaggy so they stayed put. How frigging high can I stack EMPTY DIAPER BOXES WITH NOTHING IN THEM? Hello! What was I thinking? It's called a trash can. Through the living room, out the door and to the trash can. Simple. 30 seconds max, people. What was my problem? Ughhh.

Behind these closet doors there is no longer an avalanche waiting to barf itself out all over the floor like the picture above. Oh, no, no, NO! Behind this door is a beautiful little thing I like to call organization. Say it with me - "Or-gan-i-ZATION!"

I can't seem to locate my giant velvet red curtain with yellow tasseled pull strings that I usually bust out for occasions such as this. But, I think it's a pretty dramatic difference, and if you ask me, it deserves a red curtain reveal, so this is as close as I can get to the real thing...


I got a multi-cube shelf thing at Target on sale for $35 and got some bins to go inside of it. Before, I had 4 bins (hey, at least I was on the right track with the bins) under Kaylee's window - 2 bins had books in them, and 2 had toys. Now that space is open, and all her toys are in her closet. I actually have three of those long pink bins that her shoes are in. The other two are being used to hold diapers on her changing table, which you'll see next week, hopefully.

And the top shelf? No longer cluttered with random books and junk. We've got one of those bins full of books that, if given the opportunity, Kaylee would rip to shreds in 3.2 seconds flat because they are made of actual paper, and not cardboard or fabric. So, they'll stay there until she can learn better. The other bins are filled with clothes that she's not yet big enough for, and next summer's wardrobe. Eventually I'll put little labels in those plastic things so I don't have to get on a chair and drag each one down to see what's in it, but I'm taking baby steps here, people. BABY steps.

Part of the reason I'm so excited is because it's my goal to get Kaylee's room, as well as the rest of our house organized. Get rid of the stuff we don't need and actually organize what we have. Things don't get so crazy and messy and out of control when everything has it's place, and when things that don't have a place get chucked. I want our home to be peaceful and relaxing.

I don't want it to be spotless - I want it to be lived in, but I don't want Kaylee growing up in choas, either. I want to teach her that she can be organized and that a good old purge of unused stuff is necessary from time to time. When she gets old enough to understand the concept, I plan to have her pick a toy or two to donate to a shelter every time she gets something new - to teach her not to hoard, and to teach her that there are other kids out there who don't have many toys and could sure use some of hers.

I feel like I'm on the right track - like I accomplished something. Like maybe, just maybe, I can do this. I can have an organized house.

I know it's just a closet, but man, I sure do feel good about it. And so does Kaylee - cleaning out all the junk gave her a whole new place to play (and hide - thankfully, she can't seem to help but SLAM the doors shut - repeatedly - so it's pretty easy to find her)...

Head on over to Angie's 7 Clown Circus for more Wordful Wednesay fun!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tuesday's Tribute - To nursery decor to die for

Last week I told you all I was setting out to organize and redecorate Kaylee's nursery, and this week I'll be showing you some of the progress. Today, you'll get a little sneak peak of a few things you'll be seeing.

I love supporting women who own their own businesses, and that's why I've always loved browsing shops on Etsy, where there are all sorts of fun handmade goodies.

When I was thinking of things to put on Kaylee's walls, I decided I wanted some photographs and some artwork, but I wanted the art to be really special, not baby-ish, and something that would fit with the colors we already have (reds, pinks, and sage greenish colors).

You can imagine my delight when I found this little shop on Etsy. (Click the image to visit shop.)

I found so many pieces that I ADORE.

So, before I show you the finished nursery in the next couple of weeks, here's a preview of some pieces that will be on Kaylee's wall. I just love the artist's style. Bold. Simple. Too cute. Love it.

These are two 8x10 prints that are going in a little reading corner I made for Kaylee in her room.

And, since I'm not made of money, I had to stop with this next set. The print with the verse on it will be customized with Kaylee's name at the bottom, and it will be 8x10. The other two prints will be 5x7.

Definitely go check this Etsy shop out. They've got really cute stuff for boys, too, and there are several other pieces I'd love to have. Here's a little sample of some of the other work.

This post is a part of Tuesday's Tribute over at Angie's 7 Clown Circus - a weekly feature where we shed the spotlight on someone else for a change. Go check it out!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New mamas and future mamas, listen up!

This week Mama Kat is asking her readers to give advice as part of Writer's Workshop. So - new and future mamas, even though you didn't ask, Mama Kat did, so this is not considered unsolicited advice - that thing we all hate so very much.

There are so many nuggets of wisdom I've got sitting up in this head of mine, just waiting to be shared with the world, but I'll just share a few of them with you today.

1. That mom in sweatpants and a ratty t-shirt you snickered at in Wal-Mart who had the screaming kid with something orange on his face, hair with something sticky in it, and only one shoe on? Maybe next time don't snicker at her. That's gonna be you some day. You can swear up and down all you want that you'll never take your kid in public if he's unpresentable, and that you will always look cute when you show your face in a large shopping center, but that will all be a big lie. Please proceed to #2.

2. The minute you say, "I'll never" is the minute fate will look upon you and laugh a hysterically deep and annoying belly laugh. I uttered those two fateful words in my head in regards to a couple of furry little beasts named Barney and Elmo. And to be honest with you, Barney and Elmo should be the new words for MOMMY GETS A SHOWER TODAY in our house. Seriously. You'll be surprised the things you'll do that you swore you never would. Go ahead, join me and the ranks of thousands of other neglectful and mean mothers who let their THREE month olds watch Baby Einstein so we could catch a quick nap or check our email. I dare you.

3. When you're pregnant, people will tell you - "You better sleep while you can!" with a look on their face that instantly makes you want to reach out and strangle them because you've heard that piece of advice a gajillion times. Really, they don't know what they're talking about. Sleep doesn't carry over after you have a baby. You won't sleep at the hospital after you have the baby, and you won't sleep in long stretches for an ungodly period of time after you bring your little bundle home. You could sleep your life away before you have kids and it won't matter one bit. So, you know what I say? Don't sleep! Party it up. Live a little. Shop at Target for 3 hours. Go to the grocery store and appreciate the fact that you can get 50 items in 20 minutes or less, and a small creature in your cart will not be shouting and screaming as if you are beating her silly, even though you're actually 2 feet away from her.

4. And, on the less funny and more practical side, there are things you are going to need at 2 in the morning, and no one will have given them to you at your baby shower because they were too busy buying you Johnny Jump Ups and Pack 'N Plays, which do not replace elecrolytes, cure yeast diaper rashes, or help in between doses of Tylenol. So, baby on the way? Go to the store and get these goodies so you actually have them when you need them: generic Pedialyte (come on - you have a baby now - time to start buying the storebrand, ladies!), generic Pedialyte pops, Hyland's teething tablets, Infant's Tylenol AND Infant's Motrin (and be sure to ask your pediatrician about how you can stagger these medications to keep your kid constantly drugged up...I mean contantly drugged up when they're in pain, of course), anti-fungal cream for yeast diaper rashes - if it says for athlete's foot or jock itch, that's what you're looking for, and go ahead and pick up some chocolate that you will bust out for yourself when you are dealing with all of the above problems at the very same time.

That wraps up my advice for the day.

But! if you have a daughter, a granddaughter, or a special little girl in your life, you might want to catch this last bit as well. In about three weeks, Laughing Through the Chaos is going to be a part of a book blog tour for the book The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence, and we have the opportunity to do a question and answer post with the author, Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out.

I haven't finished the book yet, but so far it's great. It's all about raising our daughters to be confident, assertive, and to be brave enough to go after what they want in life, rather than dealing with some of the issues so many of us who are raising daughters have, like being people pleasers, being passive agressive and afraid to say things like they are or not being confident enough to confront people in an appropriate manner. I am loving what this book stands for, and I hope that it will help me in my attempt to raise one heck of a girl who already has enough spunk and perhaps not enough fear.

Please leave a comment or email me at with your questions for Rachel Simmons. I'd like to email the questions in the next week so she has plenty of time to answer them. So...questions/ideas/concerns you have about raising a confident girl? I know I'll be asking about what us parents of infants can do to start off on the right track and do things the way we should before we hit the teen years. Shoot your questions and such my way, and then we'll hear what an expert has to say about it. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Now, head on over to Mama's Losin' It to join in the fun of Writer's Workshop.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - Nursery Makeover: Before

What I'm about to show you is an incredibly messy, disorganized, boring nursery.

Before Kaylee was born, I chose to decorate her room in a theme of ladybugs and dragonflies. The colors were red, pink, and sage green. I had a matching curtain thing, hamper, and little wall decals that I thought were just the coolest thing since sliced bread.

Back then, I thought, "This is a smart choice. It's cute, it's girly, it's not Pepto Bismol pink everywhere, and it's a theme that will grow with her for a few years."

Silly, silly pregnant lady.

Let me tell you something.

I am SO over the ladybugs and dragonflies, and I have been for quite some time. I wish I'd just chosen a color scheme - that way I could have incorporated new things, taken some things out, kept it fresh...but no. No - I had to go with the silly little theme, and then I got sick of it.

So, one day not long ago, I took pretty much everything off the walls, and I rearranged her room - a fresh start, if you will. I used to have some painted wooden letters that spelled her name, a few of the decals on the wall, and a couple other hanging items.

Now, the walls are bare, and it's driving me batty.

Her nursery needed some serious reorganization, so I decided that I would get everything organized, and then once that was under control (which it is SO close to being!), I'd decorate the walls.

My plans? Minimize the ladybugs/dragonfly theme. Put photographs and artwork up on the wall. Add more stuff to help keep things better organized. Eliminate the dresser.

So, here are the boring before pictures (and remember - it wasn't always like this - this is just the bare bones, starting over phase)...

This is what it looks like when you enter. BORING.

Crib, changing table - bare wall. What else can I say?

I just put that ladybug thing on the chair so you could see it. My sister-in-law made it for Kaylee from scratch, just by looking at the ladybugs from all the match-matchy ladybug stuff. That will be up on one of the walls for sure. I love it.

Here's the window to the outside world. I think I want to ditch the little curtain thing and go with a solid color. I'm thinking of red, to match the lamp, and to break up some of the other pink stuff (sheets, diaper organizers, hamper, etc.). The nightstand is staying, even though it really doesn't get used, because I think we need a place to set stuff like a humidier, etc.

Bigger view of the wall with the window

Lovely little mess there, eh? Welcome to life with a toddler. The dresser? It's going to its new home in the garage. I took everything out of it a few days ago, only to discover that 90% of what was in there is too small. After I hung some stuff in the closet, only about 1 drawer was being used, so it's going. It's taking up way too much space that could be used for playing.

And, now we're at the closet. I believe, in part, that closets exist so that you can give yourself the illusion that a room is clean, even when it's not, simply by tossing everything that's all over the place into the closet. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Except, it wasn't exactly out of sight because I saw this horrific mess every time I went to get Kaylee some clothes. I'm happy to report that the closet is probably 90% organized and is looking fabulous.

So, there you have it. In the coming weeks, I'll be showing pictures of the progress each Wednesday. I'm already pretty excited because I've made a lot of progress since I took these pictures.

Want to share your tips on keeping your kid's room organized and clean? Got any fun decorating tips? Leave a comment and share them!

Head on over to Angie's place at 7 Clown Circus to check out more Wordful Wednesday posts from other bloggers.

Oh, dear God - she's gone and done it again...

I'm at a little bit of a loss for words today.

It has just come to my attention that Michelle Duggar is pregnant with her 19th child.

Now, a few months ago I had quite the fascination with this family, which led me to write several posts about the Duggars. I'll be honest - when I look back at them now, I realize I was a bit harsh from time to time, and I'm really not a mean-spirited person at heart, so forgive me if some of the stuff I said was a little much.

I even started a weekly feature on the blog called Freaky Fridays where I posted something Duggar related. It only took a couple weeks for my guilty conscience to kick in, and I halted the Freaky Friday posts.

Since I wrote the original posts, I'll admit the show is on my DVR, and from time to time, I watch it. I've grown to tolerate the family a little more, but I still think something is definitely wrong with Michelle's head.

I mean, hello! Her first child and his wife are expecting their first child in a month, and here she is, going on The Today Show announcing it's time for their 19th. I'd be just a bit freaked out if my mom kept having babies on purpose, even though she's a grandma.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them.

And, if you're interested in reading my past posts about the Duggars, check them out below. I'm prepared for my follower count to drop...

The original Duggar post - my letter to Michelle Duggar

Oh, no he didn't - when Dennis taped A Very Duggar Wedding as a joke

Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It, Duggar Style - The oldest Duggar kid gets hitched

Duggar factoids for the newbies

Jim Bob explains he can't keep Michelle off of him