Saturday, December 15, 2012


Yesterday an unimaginable tragedy occurred miles and miles from where I live, but never before had an act of senseless violence struck so close to home. I learned about Newtown, Connecticut and the 26 innocent lives taken there while I was at work, and I spent the better part of the afternoon and evening crying or with tears in my eyes. All I wanted was to hold my baby and never, ever let her go. I wonder all too often what kind of world I have brought my daughter into. But in our house, on a night of heartache, we did not watch the sad news unfold. Instead, we made the most of the life we have been blessed with.

Amelia and I had our first tea party. She's just starting to learn how to pretend, and would hold the cup up to my mouth while I made exaggerated slurping noises. She laughed hysterically and her giggles filled a piece of my heart that had broken yesterday.
At bath time I showed her the Ernie "Rubber Ducky" video on YouTube for the first time while she played with her ducky. She thought that was pretty great too.
And after her bath, we snuggled downstairs and watched "Elf" until she fell asleep in my arms. I carried her upstairs for bed, and I rocked her for awhile even though she was already asleep. It took a lot of effort to lay her down in her crib and close the door.
I always thank God for allowing me to be Amelia's mommy and ask him to watch over her, but last night I was beyond grateful. The tears continued today, hitting me as I drove or when I looked at my sweet girl's face. I pray for peace and healing in Newtown in the days, weeks, months and years to come. I pray that we can all be reminded that there is still good in the world, and that we will strive to share that goodness in the lives of all we encounter.
"And you ask me what I want this year/and I try to make this kind and clear/just the chance that maybe we'll find better days/'Cause I don't need boxes wrapped in strings/or designer love and empty things/just that chance that maybe we'll find better days..." -Goo Goo Dolls, "Better Days"

Monday, November 19, 2012

'Tis the Season for Giving - and Saving!

As I mentioned in my last post, things are a little tight within the old Miller pocketbook these days. (Pocketbook. What a weird, archaic word, eh? Goes hand in hand with "purse strings", I "reckon.") Anywho, I've decided to take advantage of a few ways to save this holiday season. I'll be honest and admit I could save more, but dagnabbit (see what I did there with another old-timey word?) I do love Christmas and finding great gifts. I am not, however, Looney Tunes enough to stay up all night and camp out in a line full of deal-crazed Black Friday shoppers hopped up on adrenaline and 5-hour energy shots while frantically making lists, texting their friends in line at other stores, and analyzing their store maps. I value every moment of sleep I can get these days, and there isn't an electronic gadget on earth I want badly enough to forgo the sweet comfort of my bed. (My apologies if you are one of those people. More power to you.)

So here's what I've done instead:

Kiddo Stuff
Because I hate Mother Earth and have been making her weep by filling landfills with disposable diaper garbage for the last 15 months, I have also racked up a bunch of Pampers Gifts to Grow points. Enough points that I was able to cash them in for a Little Tikes grocery cart for my aspiring shopaholic. You don't even have to pay for shipping on GTG purchases! The site said shipping would take 6-8 weeks, but it showed up on my porch this weekend after only two weeks. Yay for "free" Christmas stuff!

(Bear and boy not included. Daddy assembly required.)

For my voracious little reader (ironic that voracious also applies to appetite, because sometimes Amelia eats magazines and books) I also scored a great deal on a four-pack of Eric Carle books through a program at the school I now work for. I basically got four books for the price of two. They'll be good as she grows because they are hard cover paperbacks, and they include learning questions in the back of each book.

It included these and another one I can't remember (less used than these, of course)

More Rewards Points
I also took the opportunity to cash in some credit card points for a Target gift card, which I plan to use toward Christmas gifts. If you've got debt racked up, you might as well use it to your advantage, right?! 

Stuff for ME!
Because I am greedy like that, I've also got some stuff in the works for myself. For meeting a fundraising goal a few months back with my March of Dimes March for Babies team, I earned a small gift card to Macy's that I have yet to spend.  But last week I realized that I have enough gas station reward points to get another Macy's gift card. Still not enough to cover the new wardrobe I desperately need, but it might be worth it. Mama needs a new pair of shoes! (And some jeans. And various other items of clothing.) 

I'm also taking part in a fitness challenge at work that won't pay off until this spring, but I'll get a $50 Visa Gift Card for basically no extra effort on my part. I just have to "check in" with certain healthy daily activities that earn me points (I actually get points for feeding my child) and I've already reached the gift card goal.

Helping Others
While I don't have a lot to spare this year, I am still doing my best to help others. I've volunteered at work to help with their adopt-a-family program, and our MoPs group is collecting some items for children in need. I found some great kids' items to contribute to that project in the Target dollar bins! In the future I hope to teach Amelia the importance of helping others and get her involved in some holiday giving as well.

What are some of your favorite ways to save? Any holiday deals you want to brag about?

I hope everyone in blogland has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Back

So I promised to be a better blogger, huh? And uh, it's been...well, not quite a month since my last post, so I guess that's an improvement. I would love to come up with some creative and/or witty and/or entertaining posts, but all I've got is my life which isn't all that exciting these days. So let's see, what's new with us? Other than Daylight Savings Time making me want to curl up in a ball every night by 7:00 pm...

Miss Amelia was Little Red Riding Hood. This was a last minute costume as I intended for her to be Max from Where the Wild Things Are since she and Max both love to "make mischief" and it was one of my favorite books as a kid. However, I was a mommy fail and didn't order the pjs I wanted to use for the costume before they ran out of her size, so Little Red it was (seeing as that was one of the few costumes left in her size at the Halloween store two days before Halloween). I managed to find a goofy wolf hat while I was there, so we were a lovely pair.
It was freezing the night of Halloween, so Little Red and I hit a few houses for trick or treat with her cousin, and then came back home to hand out candy. She loved saying "hi" to everyone before it got too cold and she had to go inside.

My new job is still going well. It's nice to be off earlier to be home with Amelia at night, and I am looking forward to our holiday breaks. And working with high school students is always interesting/amusing/crazy. However, through some miscommunication and some idiocy on my part, it turns out I am actually netting a lot less than my old job instead of more. And let me tell you, we weren't exactly raking in the money to start with. It's tough to be a 31-year-old college graduate and still barely scraping by. This is definitely causing some stress, and leading me to consider whether I can find a part time job after the summer instead that will allow us to save on one of our biggest monthly expenses - child care - while still having benefits. This is also factoring into the fact that while I had toyed with the idea of TFAS next year, I don't know that it will happen. Maybe I should start playing the lottery...

Other Stuff
I decided to host Thanksgiving at our house this year and also elminate another Thanksgiving stop. It's part of my goal to start focusing on OUR family rather than everyone else at the holidays. It may not always work out perfectly, but my hope is that we will spend less time in the car, less time disrupting naps, etc. and just focus on celebrating.

As for Amelia...oh, this girl. She has quite the personality! She is so funny (loves to "dance") and sweet (loves to give kisses). She also has a major stubborn streak and throws some serious fits. She is in perpetual motion and like a ninja when getting into things she shouldn't. But watching her grow is just so amazing. This past weekend she started repeating things when I said them, including "eat" and "cheese." Which I got her to say so I could take this ridiculously adorable picture.

Note the hair clip to pin back her flowing locks. It stayed in for about 5 minutes.

So there you go. Nothing terribly earth-shattering happening for us. If you'd like some more regularly updated munchkin pics, you can follow me on Instagram: sem513. I don't post a ton, but I try to update every now and then when Miss A is doing something especially cute.

Next up - Christmas! Maybe I'll even post again before then.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Y'all still around?

I am such a terrible blogger these days. I don't know if anyone even still reads when I do post, but I thought I would give a quick update!

Miss Amelia is doing great. She is so much fun these days. She runs everywhere and is into everything. This is a pic from when she unrolled half a roll of toilet paper into the family room the other night.
Who me? I didn't do it.

She says "hi" and "bye" and waves to everyone and everything. She says Daddy pretty regularly but Mama only comes after prompting from me. She will say Dora and ducky when she feels like it, and out of nowhere the other day I said "thank you" when she handed me something and I got a sweet little "tain oooh!" back :-) She sleeps through the night for the most part now (it only took a year!). And she eats like a champ. The child will eat anything. One night she demolished five chicken nuggets, some squash, cheese cubes, and peaches! She is also starting to throw some Grade A tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. Oy. But otherwise she is a pretty happy kiddo and I love her to bits.

Here are some obligatory pumpkin patch pics from last weekend.

Her shirt said, "Cutest pumpkin in the patch." I have to agree.

As far as other life stuff, I started a new job a couple of weeks ago. I am now an admin assistant at a vocational/technical high school. It was a good move for me for several reasons: I get paid more, it is closer to home (I use HALF the gas I used to) and perhaps most importantly, I get school breaks off. Which means I get Christmas and spring break and six weeks in the summer!!! I am already planning fun things for next summer with the munchkin like swim lessons and maybe potty training ;-)

If you're still checking in with me, thank you! If there's anything you want to hear more about, please let me know, and I will try to post more regularly soon!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bright as the sun...

The theme for Amelia's party was based on the phrase from her invitations: "Bright as the sun, Amelia Grace is turning 1!" We had a wonderful day filled with friends and family and sunshine (hot sunshine!)

But I was inspired by a recent vacation post from my friend Lacey over at Life of Lacey - who wants to hear all of the fun details about the awesome party I threw? Wouldn't you rather hear about the things that DIDN'T go as planned? Of course you would.

1. The Slideshow
I was determined to create an awesome video full of clips and pictures from Amelia's first year of life. I spent countless hours compiling, editing and arranging the slideshow...only to realize the day before that I had no way to show it. You see, we don't have a laptop, nor a DVD burner, or actually a DVD player. We hardly ever watch movies at home, so all we have is a Playstation 2.

So the morning of the party, I was frantically trying to figure out a way to display the fruits of my labor (pun intended). As it turned out, we do have a DVD burner (who knew?!) so my kind brother-in-law brought me a couple of blank DVDs to burn the slideshow. While doing so, I noticed a blank spot on the saved movie. Thought I fixed it. Nope. Oh well. Burned the DVD. What's that? Burned DVDs won't play in our Playstation? Sweet.

I drove like a bat out of you-know-where to BIL and SIL's house a few blocks away to try out their DVD player. Score! It worked. So I rushed back home with the DVD player only to find out we didn't have the necessary cables to hook it up. Eventually MIL brought the cable and the day was saved.

The slideshow in all of its glory (which I can't get to embed at the moment. See! My problems continue).

2. The Monthly Pictures
I also had grand ideas to display Amelia's monthly pictures on the doors to our family room. I found cute little wooden sunshine frames (ok, really I think they were flowers) on clearance at Walmart before I had this project in mind, then decided they would be perfect. Except I only had 10 of them. So I went back and scavenged around the bins where I'd found them, and alas, there were no more. So I had to make do with other flowers. All of which I spray painted and printed numbers for.

THEN I had to figure out how to attach them to the doors. I ended up using craft wire, but it took far longer than I anticipated. The end result:


And the big picture
3. The Food
I made rainbow fruit skewers, buffalo chicken taquitos, and pizza roll ups (among other things), all inspired by Pinterest. Due to a recent outbreak of diseased melons, I had to substitute mandarin oranges for the cantaloupe. The pizza thingies charred on the bottoms (thanks to my awesome mom for cutting that part off, they were still delicious!). And ultimately we ran out of food, but everyone got to go through for at least one plate! (There were plenty of cupcakes though. I had about two dozen more behind the scenes.)

4. The Nap
Or the lack thereof. Not that she is ever a stellar napper, but apparently Miss Amelia was so excited for her birthday that she took one whopping 15 minute nap in the late morning. Luckily no major meltdowns!
5. The Cake
The cake was wonderful and adorable. But the cake eater, who clearly must not take after her mother, wanted nothing to do with it. Smash cake? No siree. Poke cake maybe. But she did happily feed pieces of it to Mommy. Oh, and I forgot to buy ice cream. Now there's a phrase you won't hear me utter often!
But all in all Amelia's day really was a wonderful success. I was one exhausted mama, but I was so happy to create a special day for my wonderful girl! I can't believe she is already 1!
Playing with her cousin
 Not impressed with the cake

Opening presents with Mommy


Thursday, August 23, 2012

1 Year Old!

[Amelia's party will be on Saturday, so more fun stuff to come! :-) ]

My sweet Amelia,

It's 10pm on August 22, 2012. One year ago today at this time, your daddy and I were leaving the house to head to the hospital, knowing the next time we walked in the door we would be a family of three.

At 3:09 the next morning, after exactly 24 hours of labor, you arrived in our lives. The moment the nurse laid you on my chest, nothing else mattered. You were amazing and perfect and I couldn't believe this tiny person was the same being that had poked and kicked and hiccupped in my belly for the past nine months.

I still didn't know then what it truly meant to be a mom. I didn't know how I would feel so helpless and frustrated, or how your first laughing fit over a toy piano would be the sweetest sound I'd ever heard. I didn't know that every time I thought I couldn't lose one more hour of sleep, I would, and I would survive it. I didn't know that being a mom meant  I would have to be strong and brave when we faced more doctor's appointments than one baby should have in a year. I didn't know that I would still to this day feel the need to check on you before I could fall asleep myself - and risk waking you up by touching your cheek or your back or your toes.

You are such a spirited, strong willed little girl. I often wonder where life will take you, and I hope you will use that fire in you to love others fiercely and follow your dreams. The past year has both flown by and at times stood still, but it has been a beautiful adventure.

Your daddy and I love you, sweetheart, and we always will.

Happy 1st birthday, kiddo. We made it!


My silly girl!

Friday, June 29, 2012

10 Month Letter to Amelia

Dear Amelia:

The past couple of months have been even more amazing than the few before them, if that is even possible. You are developing such a little personality. You laugh at peek-a-boo games. You are very strong-willed and determined, and you have started throwing fits when you don't get what you want. I am afraid this may be a preview of your teenage years. You continue to wake up once a night and never sleep past 7:00am, no matter when you go to bed. Your naps still last 30 minutes, like clockwork. You certainly did not inherit your sleep habits from your mama.

You wave and clap, and you LOVE to eat. Feeding yourself pieces of fruits, vegetables, cheese, bread, rice, you name it - you seem to love it all! You also like to fake cough to get us to laugh and return the sound.

You took your very first vacation and dipped your toes in the ocean for the first time. The car ride to South Carolina wasn't fun for any of us, so you and Mommy flew home - your first airplane ride! And to add to your firsts, you also got your first tooth while we were on vacation.

We upgraded you to your "big girl" car seat when we got back. You seem to love anything that is the shape of a star - a water toy and the topper to your stacker toy. You love water - the pool, the ocean, the tub, and you love to "splish splash" with your hands.

You crawl faster than any baby I have ever seen when you are on a mission (like chasing the cat or following Daddy to the kitchen), and just last week you took one eensy weensy little step! Mommy and Daddy both saw it, and I'm sure we're in trouble when you figure out how to take a few more. (And so is the cat!)

We've started planning your birthday party, and I can't believe it's been almost a year since you came into our lives. I love you so much, sweet girl. And your daddy does too. Happy double digits!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Luckiest

It's been forever since I've blogged, and I hate to come out of the gate with something that is kind of a downer, but it's something I've been wanted to share. I work in a college disability services office where we provide services to a wide range of students - learning disabilities, Asperger's, psychological issues, and physical disabilities, including students who are deaf or blind.

One of the first students I met when I began working in my office over two years ago was a girl named Samantha (Sam). Sam had a degenerative condition that was slowly stealing her ability to see, hear, or speak clearly, and at the time I met her she was in a motorized wheelchair and assisted by a service dog. She was a sweet, smart, funny girl whom everyone bent over backward to help. About a year after met her, Sam withdrew from the university to go home and pursue writing children's books about service animals. The truth was, her health was declining and her family wasn't sure how much longer she had.

Recently we learned Sam was at home, being cared for by hospice. One of her friends at the university decided to set up a scholarship in her honor, and at our office's scholarship reception a couple of weeks ago, Sam's dad came to help present the scholarship to this year's recipient. He choked up as he shared how grateful he was for the support they had received from our office, and told us Sam was still holding her own, resting peacefully for most of every day. I later went up to him to tell him how often people inquire about her, how loved she was, and recounted a story to make him laugh about a day when her service dog was tangled in her wheels, and we heard a very clear, "HELP!" from our hallway as she yelled to us. As I told him the story from where I was seated, I realized looking up at him that Sam had his eyes. And my heart broke for their family.

I went home that night and I rocked Amelia before bed, and as she squirmed around and pulled my hair, I couldn't help but wonder if Sam's family ever had those moments. And I felt so terrifically blessed. The future is always a great unknown, but in that moment my heart was so full of gratitude and love for my precious girl that I can't put it into words.

There are amazing women I encounter every day who have lost a child, or who have tried for years to get pregnant - and are still trying. There are amazing families who are blessed with children, only to have their lives changed forever by illness. But rather than drowning in self pity, they are often the strongest, most amazing people I have had the privilege of knowing.

"They left me with your shadow, saying things like Life is not fair & I believed them for a long time. But today, I remembered the way you laughed & the heat of your hand in mine & I knew that life is more fair than we can ever imagine if we are there to live it."

*To read the story of a wonderful mom and daughter currently fighting a battle for a 4-year-old's ability to speak, check out this blog post at Uncommon Sense.*

Thursday, April 26, 2012

8 Month Letter to Amelia

My little munchkin,

The past month or so has brought new challenges and milestones. You were sick - really sick - for the first time, with RSV. You were coughing and having trouble breathing and it was hard to know we couldn't do much to help you. This meant you were back in your Rock 'n Play for a couple of weeks to help you sleep and breathe better. You'd decided you didn't care much for sleeping all night before that anyway and had us up a couple of times each night. But after a few weeks we realized you wanted more to eat during the day and you are sleeping well now.

You LOVE to eat. Now you seem to view your bottles mostly as playthings and rarely finish them during the day. I'm sure it's because you'd rather have "big girl" food. The only thing you've hated so far has been avocado, but that's ok because Mommy is more than happy to eat your share.

You'd rolled over here and there but it never seemed to be your thing. You started scooting backward for probably a good month, and then suddenly just before your 8 month birthday, you were OFF. Crawling everywhere, pulling up, and making a beeline for anything you weren't supposed to have. Like the newspapers, magazines, and an envelope you've eaten. The cable box and Playstation. The fireplace. The cat. And we lowered your crib a notch after I found you standing in it when you were supposed to be taking a nap. (You're still not a fan of naps. Maybe 20-30 minutes at a stretch.)

You seem to be extremely happy with this newfound freedom, though Mommy is constantly worried about you bonking your head. And getting you dressed is now pretty similar to wrestling an octopus because you are sitting and standing and grabbing everything. You love to coo and talk and "ga ga ga". No teeth yet, but sooner or later I'm sure they will be here!

You're a lot of fun, and we can't wait to show you new things this summer! Happy 8 months, happy girl!

Love always,
Your Mommy

Monday, April 16, 2012

Small victories

I got the following email today from Productive Parenting, and it made me smile:
"You're a good mom. When's the last time you've heard this? When's the last time you've thought it yourself? From book covers to advertisements, magazines to models there's a message that sometimes leaves us feeling that we just don't measure up as moms. Today I'd like to offer an antidote. You're a good mom.
I'm going to generalize that we want our children to grow up to become confident adults. The best way to support this growth is to model it. Give yourself the gift of affirmation and acceptance today. Along with the areas you want to grow in, acknowledge the progress you've already made. Along with the challenges you still face, reflect on the ones you've already surmounted. Just for today, let yourself believe that you are a good mom. Perhaps not perfect, but progessing."
It came on the heels of this article that was shared across Facebook by some mommy friends and myself.
Both are important reminders for me. It's so easy to get caught up in the "what I didn't accomplish today" and "why can't I be more patient with my child" and "WHY won't this kid SLEEP?!?" moments. I need to take a look back at how far we've come and celebrate the good days and the little moments that make it all worthwhile and allow me to go bed with a smile on my face, thanking God, instead of the days that end in tears.
Amelia is almost eight months old. Eight months ago - heck, even five or six months ago - I was sleeping on the couch or in the recliner, sitting up with her on my chest. I had to hold her all day. She was colicky and miserable and I was lucky to get four or five hours of sleep at a stretch. We battled jaundice and reflux and UTIs. Taking her out in public was a crapshoot.
Now she is sleeping in her crib. Not necessarily sleeping all night, but a few nights recently have given me hope. She is babbling and laughing and CRAWLING! She loves going to restaurants and stores. Her health issues are more or less under control. And in the past week we have had more days than not where I can smile and say, "Today was a good day."
I AM a good mom. I'm learning, she's learning...we're getting there. My mother-in-law got me a necklace for one of my baby showers (that Amelia now loves to play with and try to eat) that says "You are worth it all" with an imprint of tiny feet. And she is. Always.
My rotten little bunny on Easter


Monday, March 26, 2012

Cake Walk

I'm just going to lay it out there for the blogosphere and myself - I have really started to question lately if I am cut out to be a mom. And the thought of that tears at the core of every emotion in my heart. All new moms doubt themselves, I know. We all wonder if we're doing a good enough job, whether we're really cut out for this. I love my baby. My daughter. Wow. Just to say those words - "my daughter". That's crazy and amazing. But I find I am questioning myself more and more.

Amelia was sick last week. Really sick. She has RSV, which essentially is a really nasty cold virus, complete with awful wheezing and a rattly cough and lots and lots of well...snot. So I stayed home with her for three days. And I thought I might lose my mind. On a good day she needs entertained constantly. Throw in her being sick and nothing made her happy. I know she was miserable. I felt awful that I couldn't make her feel better. But I was And when my mom came to help one day for a few hours, she kept saying to me, "She can't help it, she's sick. Poor baby." I realize this. Obviously. But I felt like an awful, terrible mother because all I wanted to do was run away. The next day my mom asked if I am ok. If maybe I have PPD, or if something is bothering me. Well, yeah. EVERYTHING is bothering me. And I don't know how to fix it.

I first referenced it here. I was trying to think of a way to put it into words and I came up with this little analogy:

Imagine all your life you've wanted to be a chef. When you were little, your favorite toys were your toy kitchen and little plastic food items. You "cooked" for your friends and family. As you got older, you helped your mom in the kitchen and were fascinated by the process and results. The measuring, the stirring, the taste testing - you loved every minute. You got your first job working in a restaurant, and your love of food only grew. You knew more than anything that you wanted to be a chef, to run your own restaurant, and that you would stop at nothing to acheive your dream.

You worked your way through the ranks, as a prep cook, a line cook, eventually a sous chef, soaking up every bit of food knowledge you could until one day you were ready - your hard work was about to pay off and your dreams were about to come true. You're going to open your own restaurant.

After months of hard work, you're ready for your big debut, and you're so excited you're already making plans for your second restaurant. You've carefully planned a delicious menu, complete with dishes you know your patrons will love. You add a couple of elegant desserts to round things out, even though the entrees are what you've poured your heart and soul into. The customers come, the orders pass through the kitchen, and you start getting feedback from your servers - "They love the food but what everyone is really raving about is the awesome cake."

The cake? What about the entrees you painstakingly planned and prepared? Sure, the cake was good, but that wasn't supposed to be the star of the show. The critics' reviews the next day echo the same results: "Excellent dinner, extraordinary dessert. The most beautiful and delicious cake I've ever eaten.", this wasn't how it was supposed to go! Day after day the restaurant is filled with customers as you've always dreamed, but all they want is dessert. And you realize you have to face facts. If you're going to succeed at this you're going to have to run a bakery, not a gourmet restaurant. Your vision, the dream you've had and prepared for your whole's not going to turn out the way you'd planned.

So you make the cakes. The detail you have to devote to decorating them is far more exhausting than the menus you're used to. Yet everyone raves, and you're more successful than you'd ever dreamed. But part of your heart aches because this wasn't the dream you had. You're proud of your success, enjoy making people happy, but you can't let go of the part of the dream that didn't come to be. You look at the friends you went to culinary school with and see their successful restaurants and you wonder why you can't have what they have. You wonder why you can't just be happy with your beautiful cakes.

That's where I am. And I don't know what to do with that. As I read more online, maybe what I'm feeling could be PPD. I had always envisioned PPD meaning you were sobbing and unable to get out of bed and wanting to drown your baby, and that's not me. But I think maybe I need to own up to the fact that this is a possibility. I've been to therapy and been on medication for depression years ago, and I really didn't want to go down that road again. But I don't want to cheat my baby girl or myself. I need to get to a place where I love my precious, beautiful cake and enjoy being the baker.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My little money pit

We've all heard it - kids are expensive. I used one of those useless online calculators to tell me how much my child would cost before I had her. I don't remember what it told me, but as it turns out my kiddo is more expensive than most.

The biggest expense is feeding her. She's on Similac Alimentum formula (almost twice as expensive as normal formula, in case you didn't know, and twice as smelly) because it seems she has quite the sensitive tummy. In addition, following a modified barium swallow test we had done several months ago (did I mention that somewhere? I can't remember...) it was advised that we thicken her bottles with a gel thickener. The test showed she was at risk for aspirating non-thickened liquids (sucking them into her lungs). And then there's the Prevacid that she takes twice a day because of her reflux. And the purees she eats every day.

Here's a rundown of our monthly "feed Amelia" bill:
  • $28/can of formula - we need two a week. Luckily I usually have some sort of coupon or formula check, so I'm gonna call this $23/can in reality. = $184
  • $65ish/case of gel thickener - we need two per month = $130
  • $ .50/Gerber puree, which she eats two of a day (occasionally I have coupons for this or catch a good sale, but typically they are $ .99 per two-pack) = $30
  • $25 copay for Prevacid once a month
  • $4 for her prophylactic antibiotic for the UTIs
$373 a month
And that's without diapers, wipes, and any other odds and ends we may need along the way.

Throw in another $100/week for the babysitter (I know, we get off cheap compared to a lot of people!), and that means my child costs about $773 a month. HOLY CRAP. Oh, and did I mention a $15 copay every time we go to the doctor or have had tests run? I can't even begin to calculate that. (Well, I could...but I'm too lazy.)

The plan has been to start weaning her off the expensive stuff and Prevacid, but so far we haven't been successful. It's worth it, of course, to keep her happy and healthy. Like this:
But if this continues, she'd better find a job before she hits kindergarten.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

6 Month Letter to Amelia

Happy half birthday, sweet girl! I can't believe it's been half a year since you came into our lives. It seems like the time has flown by but stood still at the same time. I feel like I have known you forever, but you change and teach me something new every day.

So much has changed in the past six months. When we went to the hospital the night you were born, it was the tail end of summer. The nights had just a hint of chill to them, but it was still warm outside. We've seen you grow through fall and winter (the most mild winter we've seen in years), and now I can't wait to share spring with you. Going for walks, playing outside...I think you're going to love it :)

The past month or so has brought the biggest round of changes in your little life. You've rolled from your belly to your back (exciting even though you did it first for Grammy and wouldn't do it for us!). You started eating cereal at 4 1/2 months, and then veggies at 5 1/2 months. And you love to eat! So far you have loved sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, and apples - everything you've tried! You also do a funny flipping thing with your tongue where you turn it sideways all the time. Silly girl :)

You're on your way to sitting up by yourself and you lunge at everything in your reach, including the cat. This past Saturday you spent your first night in your big girl crib and slept all night! I was so proud of you. You're such a happy girl when you wake up - definitely not something you get from Mommy!

You love to snuggle with blankies (and worry your mama when you smoosh them up against your face). You love tickles from Daddy. You also love eating your feet, whether they're covered by socks or not. Looking in the mirror and at pictures of your cousins and friend Kendall makes you giggle. You still have a mighty temper for someone so small, and you want to be entertained all the time. Because of this we found out you LOVED riding in your baby carrier at the grocery store this month. You smiled and laughed and talked the whole time.

I'm starting to understand those moms who told me I'd miss these early days. Soon you'll be crawling and getting teeth and starting to talk... I hope you'll still let your mama snuggle you before bed, because I'm not ready to give up my munckin snuggles just yet. I love you, sweetie, and can't wait to watch you grow in the coming months.


Friday, February 17, 2012

It's my life...

*cue Bon Jovi synthesizer music per the title of this post*

My bloggy friend Emily over at The Many Thoughts of a Reader has been hosting a series of "day in the life" posts from her friends, so I was inspired to share my fascinating day with all of you. Hold on to your hats, kids. My days are thrilling (cue sarcasm font).

5:30am - My alarm goes off. My brain fires off a silent round of expletives and I hit the snooze button. Particularly if Amelia has chosen to wake me up at some ungodly hour prior to this, as was the case at 4am nearly every day this week.

5:40 - After my alarm goes off again, I resign myself to dragging my butt out of bed. I pry my eyes open and put eyedrops in them because I have insanely dry eyes. *note to self - check on the cost of that Restasis Rx the eye doc wrote me a month ago. Whoops.*

5:45-6:20 - Shower, makeup, hair, etc. in an effort to make myself look presentable. Find something to wear to work (these days the only requirement is that the clothes match, and even that is a little iffy). Clothes are inevitably wrinkled from sitting in the laundry basket for a week, so I take them downstairs and throw them in the dryer. Who needs an iron?

6:30ish - Gather some snacks and lunch for myself, get out Amelia's clothes if I haven't already, get her reflux medicine and other odds and ends necessary to start the day. By now she is usually stirring. Luckily she is more of a morning person than her mommy and is typically happy when she wakes up, like the other morning when she got her feet out of her jammies.
Good morning, Mom!

6:45 - We wake up Daddy and go downstairs, change her diaper, clothes, etc. because we are used to using the Pack n Play changing table as opposed to the one in her room which serves the primary purpose of being a cat bed. That will be changing soon.

I make a mad dash around the house collecting coffee, bags for the sitter, work, etc. while Daddy hangs out with Amelia and they watch SportsCenter. Oh, and somewhere in there I pull my clothes out of the dryer and put them on.

7:00 - We're out the door. (Note that no one ate breakfast. No time!) Drop Amelia off at the sitter's, who luckily lives about one minute from our house.

7:15 - I begin my 45 min. commute to work. Blech. I drink my coffee while I drive. On Mondays my best friend and I commute at the same time so we talk on the phone and compare notes about what crazy things our children have done lately since our girls are only four days apart. (Yay for the Bluetooth hook up in my new vehicle!)
Hello there, Santa Fe!

8:00 - Arrive at work. Ok, who am I kidding. I rarely make it there at 8:00, but I am always at my desk by 8:10! Eat a granola bar for breakfast.

8:15-4:30 - Work. I do business-y type stuff at a state college. I don't love it by any means, but it's not a difficult job. I spend more time than I should online playing instead of working, but no one seems to notice or care.

I do get to interact with students on occasion which is by far my favorite part of my job as opposed to the statement mailing, invoice processing, etc. My background is in marketing, so this is not exactly my dream job. Which means I also spend part of my day hunting for jobs online.

4:40 - Headed home. I call the hubby to let him know I'm leaving and check on the munchkin, who gets picked up by Daddy because he works closer to home and usually gets off earlier than me. I often talk to my mom or a friend on the way home because the commute is uber boring and by this time I am struggling to keep my eyes open.

5:30ish - Get home if I didn't have any stops to make on the way, kisses for the munchkin and husband. He has already started dinner (remember eons ago when I told you I'm domestically challenged? Yeah, he's the cook.) and I run upstairs to change my clothes into "comfies" as we call them. Feed the cat, who is winding around my ankles incessantly meowing and begging for attention and food.

6:00 - Feed the munchkin some big girl food. This is a recent addition to our evening routine and she loves it.
Hey, give me more of those sweet potatoes!

6:30-7:00ish - Playtime with the munchkin on her mat or in the jumperoo. She needs to be entertained constantly so no activity lasts more than 5 minutes. Try to get her to roll over. Fail. She's far more interested in eating her feet.

Somewhere in there we cram dinner down our throats while we watch tv because we're "those people" who eat in front of the television - a bad habit I hope to break as Amelia gets older. I also usually slip in some Words With Friends time on my phone.

7:30 - The munchkin is reaching meltdown mode, so I put her in her jammies and feed her a bottle. (If it's bath night, that happens somewhere between dinner and now.) She gets her reflux medicine again as well as her antibiotic to keep the UTIs at bay. Sometimes we read a story, but lately all she wants to do is eat the books so that isn't going too well. We rock in the recliner until she is asleep.

8:00-8:15ish - Ideally Amelia is asleep and I carry her upstairs and put her down. If the planets align, she'll stay asleep until morning.

8:30-9:30 - Get in some tv watching with C and start gathering things for the next day. Wash bottles (I despise washing bottles. We fight over who is doing it almost every night!), do some laundry, etc. Inevitably Amelia lets out a little whine or cry somewhere in here and I stare daggars at the monitor willing her to go back to sleep. Usually it works.

9:30 - I get myself ready for bed (quietly - don't wake the baby!) while C stays downstairs watching tv.

10:00 - I'm in bed, playing some more WWF and usually have House Hunters on tv. Those people are picky!

10:30 - Lights out and my version of prayers - I silently thank God for the blessings in my life, including the biggest little blessing, my baby girl. I ask Him to watch over us, our families and friends, including my online friends who are mommies, pregnant, or trying for babies. I have to confess that I usually fall asleep in the midst of this. I've got a lot of people to pray for!

I also pray that Amelia doesn't wake up overnight... At some point my husband comes up to bed unless he falls asleep on the couch, but I am usually already asleep. 

There you have it - the jam-packed day of a working mommy!

"It's ok, so nice/Just another day in paradise/Well, there's no place that I'd rather be/Well, it's two hearts/And one dream/I wouldn't trade it for anything/And I ask the Lord every night/For just another day in paradise." ~Phil Vassar

Monday, January 23, 2012

Five months!

I can't believe my little baby is five months old today! (I probably say that every month, don't I?) Here she is on her "birthday" this morning for your ooh-ing and ahh-ing.
She has the roundest little head and face!

So what's new with us, since I'm a bad blogger these days? In baby milestones, little Miss A is still a little high maintenance but overall a pretty happy kid. She laughs a lot, especially when you tickle and kiss her feet, which she loves to try to eat. She hasn't rolled over yet, but hopefully that will come soon. We have tried feeding her rice cereal a few times but so far she just shoves it back out of her mouth, which is why we usually try before bath time! She has discovered she can make some of her toys make noise and is very pleased with herself when it happens. When she's feeling so inclined she can hold her own bottle, and she does pretty well sleeping all night now (I totally just jinxed myself, I'm sure).

She also LOVES her thumb and tries to shove it in her mouth even when not terribly convenient - like when other things are already in her mouth. Photo evidence:

(and yes, she is totally trying to watch TV in the first and last pics...)

In other news, we have spent a lot of time lately at doctor's appointments. Amelia had her first UTI in December, and a few weeks ago I had a feeling it was back. Unfortunately I was right. (In case you're wondering, the symptoms of her first infection were spitting up a lot and not eating well, and the second time her wet diapers smelled really strong in the morning.) The standard is that more than one UTI in an infant is grounds for testing, and coupled with the fact that she had no fever with her infections, chances were they were being caused by something anatomical.

Urinary reflux was the most likely culprit - instead of all the urine going through the urinary tract and exiting the body, some of it goes back into the kidneys, which leads to infection. The reflux is graded level 1-5, with 1 being the lowest degree and 5 being the worst. The higher numbers typically lead to surgery at some point, while the lower degrees are usually just outgrown. I read that 50% of all children with recurring UTIs have reflux, so I was pretty prepared to find out that was the case.

First we had a renal ultrasound, which showed her right kidney was larger than the left (I wasn't expecting that) and they suggested we see a urologist at Children's Hospital. We scheduled that appointment and once her infection was cleared up, we had a VCUG test done to check for the reflux. They used a catheter to send dye through her urinary tract to see if any urine goes back into her kidneys.

Long story shorter, she does in fact have urinary reflux, but currently only a level 1. Luckily this means right now she just stays on a daily low dose of antibiotics, and she will have the VCUG performed again in a year to see if she is outgrowing it. They said it's not uncommon for a kidney to be enlarged with this condition. It has been a little exhausting for Mommy while hauling her around and trying to entertain a very nosy baby while we did a lot of waiting, but all in all she was a trooper and I am hoping the worst of it is behind us.

So there you have it - I'll be back again someday, I promise!