Saturday, March 21, 2009

Job Dilemma

Back in January I was hired for a position as a server in a brand new semi-fine-dining seafood restaurant (Devon's) that would begin in the end of April. In the meantime I applied to work at the local grocery store as a cashier to bring in a couple of bucks. I got the job at Giant (the grocery store) and have been there for the past month and a half.

April is quickly approaching and I have to make a decision. I need help deciding between the two jobs. So the pros and cons of the two:

Pros-I enjoy the job
-My hours are good (6:30pm-11:30/midnight)
-No need to pay for a babysitter for the kids since I leave after Jason gets home from work
-I get a few hours with the kids once they get home from school before I have to go into work
-Our family eats dinner together every single night
-Its a steady job that most likely won't be affected much by the economy (people still need to buy groceries) and I'm working a shift that not many employees want (I'm the sole cashier from about 10-midnight)

-The money isn't great though its better than minimum wage ($8.50/hr)

-I have the potential to make a lot of money in a short amount of time

-I hate waitressing
-My stomach gets upset before every shift when I serve
-I'll have to be at work by 4 which means paying for a babysitter, no dinners together, no time with the kids or DH
-It's a new restaurant and its going to be expensive - with this economy I don't know how "safe" it is
-My wages aren't guaranteed
-I'll be miserable which usually rubs off on how I respond to the family

It kind of seems like a no-brainer right? Well that's what's hard about it. This summer DH and I are going to be busting our butts working to get rid of some debt/expenses so that in the fall I can go back to nursing school. So really this job thing is a short-term deal. Once school starts, I'll only have to work maybe 1-2 shifts per week, maybe not at all, depending on how much we pay off during the summer months.

Jason is really pushing for me to be waitressing. I hate it. He worked out a "budget" of what he thinks I'll be making each shift and how much debt we could pay off in such a short amount of time. I think it's a bit unrealistic to think I'll be making $100-150/shift, 4-5 nights a week for 18 weeks at a brand new restaurant, with the economy as it is, during the summer (not a good money-making time in the restaurant business for this type of dining).

But I also know that working at Giant isn't going to bring home the bacon either (well I could pick some up after my shift, along with some eggs and OJ). I could work more hours once summer starts. Right now I'm working 4-5 days a week, about 20-25 hrs/wk.

So do I suck it up and work at a job I hate for a few months in order to pay off stuff? Or do I stay at a job that I actually like which may not allow us to get completely out of debt? Is it worth it to be miserable and to let it affect the family just for a few more dollars per week?

Friday, March 13, 2009

What's been happening the last two weeks

It's been a crazy couple of days around here and I'm beyond exhausted. Last Tuesday, I finally saw my doctor about a headache that lasted more than 12 days (at the time of the initial visit). Given my past history (a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage following a 12 day headache back in 2000) my doctor ordered and MRI and MRA to check for signs of hemorrhage or aneurysms for that night. On Wednesday morning the dr called back and said the results of my MRI was normal and that there was nothing to be concerned about in that department. So he wrote out a prescription for Imitrex, a migraine medication. I was scheduled to work that night at 6:30 and originally planned on just picking up the prescription at the start of the shift (I work at a grocery store) and taking it immediately before working. I decided instead to pick it up at 4 to give myself a chance to get rid of the headache. Thank God I did that because I can't imagine what would have happened had I taken it at the store. Within 30 minutes of taking the meds I was on the phone with the on-call nurseline concerned with my reaction to it. I had a overall heaviness to my head, neck, throat and shoulders. I felt buzzing in my ears, my heart was racing, my fingers were cold, I was having a hard time swallowing, I felt an overall disconnect to parts of my body (I had to keep reminding myself that yes, my lips were attached to my face and my legs were still there). It was weird and very scary. Jason had to rush home from work and take me to the urgent care walk-in clinic. They said I had an allergic reaction to the medicine. I had to call off work for Wednesday and Thursday. On Thursday I saw my doctor again and we tried to come up with the reason for the headaches. Digging a bit further into some of my other issues, he decided that my biggest issue is my insomnia. I had been back on Ambien for two weeks and he thought we would try Ativan to try and get me relaxed a bit more so that I could sleep soundly. Since getting the Ativan I haven't noticed any improvement in my sleep so I may be calling him next week to come up with another plan. The headache has since, thankfully, gone away, after sticking around for a full 18 days. Lovely, huh?

Last Friday night three of my Scrapshare buddies, Sarah, Lisa and Miriam drove down from New Hampshire and Connecticut to come to a crop I organized at a local scrapbook store. They didn't arrive here until 2 am, after having been given awful direction from their GPS. Haha! On Saturday morning I took the three of them out to The Fractured Prune, a local donut shop that prepares made-to-order hot donuts in about a million different flavors. Oh it is sooooo good, but I try to stay out of that place as much as possible because before long, I'd end up looking like one of their donuts! We then met up with 12 other SS friends at the cutest scrapbook store around. Later on, we had dinner at Red Robin. It was a great day, but went way too fast. I laughed!

On Sunday the girls left me. The nerve of them! I was sad to see them go. I don't have many real life friends around here and so these days that I get the chance to surround myself with real good people who enjoy the things I do and who "get me" and who allow me to just have fun, well I feel like a person again. I need that and it feels so good. The worst part though is the emotional low you feel once they leave and things are back to the ho-hum normalcy that is my life.

The kids had off school on Monday. In the morning we had an eye appointment scheduled for Riley at the optometrist's office. She has been complaining of headaches and blurriness for the past month. Diagnosis? The need for glasses, though fortunately for her its not a strong prescription at this point. She'll only need to wear them at school and when she is reading. But for watching tv, playing outside, cheerleading, etc, she can go glasses-free. She and I spent a good half hour, 45 minutes picking out the perfect frames for her. I never realized just how hard it was to pick the perfect frames - you've got to get the right color, frame material, and lens shape just right for that face. I've never worn glasses before so this was all foreign to me. Ri was a trooper and we found a super-cute light purple frame for her. No pictures yet, as they had to special order it as they were all out of stock in the store. Figures. So she should get them early next week and then I'll take pictures of my cutie.

Well this post has taken me off and on all day long to get it done and I'm still not finished. Matthew has been anti-nap for the past two days and its wearing on me. He wants to be entertained Now I've got to figure out dinner and then get ready for work. I work 6:30-midnight again tonight (and tomorrow, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of next week). Yea me. Not.

I'll post more later.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Matthew's Early Intervention Appointment

Yesterday the ladies from the local EI came to spend some time with Matthew (19 1/2 months) and evaluate his for his qualification in the programs. I had called last month after telling our pediatrician I was concerned with his speech. He had had a few words at 12 months but "lost" all of them after he started walking and hasn't really gained any of the words back. He currently only says mama, daddy, Austin and Riley (his versions anyway). The words he does use are very random and more of him just being told to say it, so he's repeating the sounds. He never initiates those words and it seems as though he doesn't recognize that the word Mama means me, or that daddy is daddy. If that makes any sense. Now his understanding of words that I say to him is excellent. He can follow directions. He knows what we're saying and responds appropriately to our words.

So the three girls came over yesterday and spent time playing with him and talking to him and just getting a grasp at where he's at. They noticed that when he does make sounds, he barely moves his mouth. Most of his sounds are just him flicking his tongue around. One sound he makes all the time is "tickatickaticka". If you say that, you'll notice that your lips aren't really moving. The evaluated him on all kinds of skills. His gross and fine motor skills are right on cue with his age. His cognitive skills and social skills are also right on target. As is his receptive language skills. His problems? Adaptive skills like dressing/undressing, using a fork, etc. But more than that is his expressive language skills.

This was pretty much exactly what I expected. However what I wasn't quite prepared for was for them telling me at what level he was on with his receptive language. My 19 1/2 month old has the expressive verbal skills of an 8-10 month old baby! That's a bit devastating! I am thankful that I pushed the issue and sought out help so that he wasn't 3 when he finally starts getting help.

So our plan is to get with a speech therapist in the next week or so and he'll start speech therapy every other week. At 6 months we'll reevaluate and see where he is and what course we should travel on. We're also going to start sign language with him to see if that will help him communicate with us.

That's our plan. It scares me a bit (ok it scares me a lot) but I'm thankful that we're catching it early and doing something about it. I don't know what his "official" problem is, perhaps its just the weak facial muscles. I'm sure we'll get more of a diagnosis once he's seen by the actual speech therapist. I'm hoping that in a few months you'll read a couple posts by me telling you all about my little chatterbug and how I can't get him to shut up! Let's hope so!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Love - Day 11

I love all of my dear sweet friends that live inside my computer. They're the greatest and my life is so much richer and fuller because of them (they know who they are!!). The majority of my online friends I met on Scrapshare back in late 2003/early 2004. The forum is primarily for scrapbookers but oh the gals on there are so much more than just women who love to play with paper and pictures. They've been a huge part of my life. They have prayed with and for me, they have laughed with me, they have cried with me (and I with them). They have been there through the best times and some of the worst. They're all so real to me and they really do know me. The best thing is that I have met so many of these ladies in real life so they're not just my "imaginary computer friends". We've spent weekends together bonding at scrapbooking retreats, we've gone out for lunch together, we've talked on the phone. We've visited for hours together (sometimes days). I'm just so blessed to have so many of these girls as close friends.

And in just 9 days I get to spend time with a few old pals and meet some new ones. I'm hosting a one-day crop and dinner next Saturday for 16 of my friends. Three of them are coming in Friday night from New England and will be sleeping over at my house. Two more are joining in for a sleepover on Saturday before driving back to New Jersey. My husband knows but really, he has no idea! LOL! It's gonna be great. Like a huge slumber party from when we were kids.

I can't wait!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Love - Day 10

I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. LOVE love them. But they have to be straight out of the freezer. I don't like them at room temperature. Oh, I'll eat them straight off the store shelf if I
you twist my arm (you don't have to twist very hard) but I much prefer them cold. They're so much better that way. I don't like melted chocoloate messes. I hate when my hands get dirty from candy, which is probably why I like them frozen so much more. No mess!
Right now I have stash in my freezer that Jason and the kids don't know about. I'm hoping that it stays that way. The three of them would devour my candies in 4.2 seconds flat. Me? I take out one at a time and truly savor and enjoy it. It drives Jason nuts 'cause I can make candy last a very long time. And its not just PB cups. I'll buy a Snickers bar, eat two or three bites, and put it in my purse to enjoy a couple bites later on. Twix? Eat one of the cookie bars and then save the rest for later. Jason thinks its ridiculous. I think I get twice or maybe three times more enjoyment out of my candy by doing it this way. This also allows me to satisfy my sweet tooth immediately because I almost always have some small piece of candy hanging around in a coat pocket or purse or desk drawer. Jason never has anything left 'cause he's a hog and devours his sweets immediately. Who's the smart one now, huh Honey? Haha!
Speaking of which, I think I might take one of my Reese's out of the freezer and enjoy a bite or two!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another blog giveaway

Wanna try for some other cool prizes? Lindsay posted the information for another blog giveaway. Just go here. Lots of neat things to win. I love the kids Adventure Suit and Rain Boot combo. Know the perfect little boy for that! So go check it out. Good luck.

Meg Needs...

Saw this on Facebook and decided to post it here on my blog instead. It's quite simple Just go to Google and type in quotes "[Your name] needs" and then post the first 10 things that show up. Here's what, according to Google I need:

1. Meg needs drink and to go to the Bahamas and find a man. I'm cool with the drink and the trip to the tropics. Don't know how Jason would feel about me finding a new man.
2. Meg needs junk food!! Mmm, specifically frozen Reeses peanut butter cups. Send 'em my way. I NEED them.
3. Meg needs the ladies' support right now. C'mon girls I really need your support. Lift me up! Support me! LOL!
4. Meg needs a new leg. Heck give me two new legs. I want them to match. The legs I have are too skinny, and are sickly pale and bruised. I want legs that just keep on going! Vavavavoom!
5. Meg needs a book title. Didn't know I was going to write a book. Got any suggestions?
6. Meg needs sample e. forms. Where the heck did I put those darn sample e. forms??
7. Meg needs to change her attitude. YOU need a change in attitude. My attitude is just fine, thankyouverymuch. What-evah!! You don't know anything. *rolling my eyes*
8. Meg needs a gay boyfriend. Yeah I want a wife around here.
9. Meg needs your number because her pyschopathic exboyfriend smashed the phone. Oops.
10. Meg needs more blood. Keep your stake and garlic away from me!

11. Meg needs a pie in the face. Banana cream anyone??

Okay now its your turn! What do you need??

A Blog Giveaway

Lindsay posted about a blog called The Maisy Report. The blog is cute and she is having a giveaway. Now who doesn't like the chance to win something? Go check her place out and enter yourself into her drawing. You might just win!

Love - Day 9 (warning, very long!)

Shh. Lean in a little closer. I'm going to tell you a secret. But if you try to tell anyone else, I'll deny it vehemently. You didn't hear this from me, but I love... seriously, you didn't hear this and you better not repeat this... I love my dog.

I'm not a dog person. Never really was, even though I grew up with a dog. I'm more of a cat kinda girl. They're just better animals. They're quiet. They're independent. They sleep a lot. They don't require much care. They are just my kind of pet. Dogs on the other hand? Loud. Rambunctious. Always jumping and running and barking and playing. They need lots of attention and can barely function without a human owner. I don't care for them much.

But we have a dog. She's a 4 1/2 year old yellow lab named Sunny. She's obnoxious as hell. She's got some major issues. MAJOR issues. She has severe separation anxiety and was on Prozac for almost 3 years until it started to destroy her liver. Yes, you read that correctly. I have a dog who was on a human antidepressant because she can't handle us leaving her alone for two seconds. Shoot, she can't handle it if I leave the living room couch to go pee. She's gotta be righttherewithyoueverysinglesecondofeverysingleday, otherwise she shakes and hyperventilates. She's a mess. Unfortunately she's not the first dog that I've had that has separation anxiety and needs medication. How, you must wonder, could I ever be so lucky? I've got to backtrack a bit to tell you how I became the owner, twice over, of mentally unstable dogs when I don't even like dogs.

The most important thing to remember as you read this story is the fact that I'm not a dog person. I like cats. Remember that. It's a very key point. Okay ready? When I started dating Jason in 1998 he told me how much he loved dogs and how he was going to have a basset hound once he moved out of his parents' home and into his own place. That should have been my flashing red light saying GET OUT OF THIS RELATIONSHIP BEFORE IT BECOMES A RELATIONSHIP! He told me that little tidbit very early in our relationship so that I had a chance to walk away. Someone should have knocked some sense into me 'cause I stayed with him anyway. He continued to talk about this damn basset hound that he was going to have one day. Basset hound, basset hound, basset hound. Do you know how ugly they are? How disgustingly stinky they are? How freakin' stupid and stubborn they are? Jason wanted the dumbest dog of the whole canine family! And this was the guy I was falling in love with!? What the heck was I thinking?

Anyway as the weeks turned into months and the months turned into a year or so I fell more and more in love with this man. I tried to talk him out of the whole basset hound dream of his. Wouldn't he prefer a cat? Perhaps a hamster? A fish? A wild raccoon? Anything? Nope. He was adamant. There was no persuading him to change his mind. Jason equaled basset hound. There was not going to be one without the other. Ugh I thought. At this point I knew I wanted to marry him despite the dog thing. I also knew that Jason would never actually propose to me. At least not anytime soon. And I knew that I would one day be the owner of a basset despite my lack of desire for one.

So I concocted a plan. A plan that would get me the man, give the man the dog, and would perhaps give me the opportunity to actually like said dog. I decided to propose to Jason using a basset hound puppy that I picked out as the "engagement ring". I saved up several hundred dollars and picked out a 16 week old female. Oh she was cute in the dumb stinky ugly basset hound way. I liked her... a little. So in March of 2000 I picked Jason up and told him that we were just going to go for a little ride. We drove and drove out into the middle of nowhere. When we got about 1/2 a mile from the home where the dumb puppy was living, I told Jason to get something out of the glove box. When he opened the door, he saw a red collar with a heart-shaped tag that said "Will you marry me?". He didn't say "Yes" or "No" or had any response to the question asked on the tag. All he said over and over again was "Did you get me my basset hound? Did you!? Did you?! Oooh I'm getting my basset hound!!" He didn't even care that I was proposing. He was too excited about that damn puppy. Eventually he came to his senses and stopped thinking of the stupid dog long enough to say "of course I'll marry you". But it was a short lived moment and then he was back to bouncing around in the car excited about the dog.

We picked up the dog and brought her home and named the pup Emma. We should have just named her Evil or Devil or Psycho or Stop-Crapping-on-the-Table-You-Stupid-Vile-Hound. At the time we were living in a 3rd floor apartment. We bought her a crate and thought that life was going to be good. Oh and it was, for Jason and Emma. But for me? It was a living nightmare. The dog hated me and I think I hated her even more.

Jason and I worked opposite shifts. I would be home during the day with her and would work in the evenings. When Jason was with her she was a perfect angel. She was quiet and good and would go potty for him. They would cuddle together on the couch or would "spoon" in bed. They loved each other and couldn't keep their eyes off of one another. It was sickening. She would growl and physically try to come between Jason and I if we were sitting on the couch together and I'd lean in for a kiss. When I was with her, she barked incessantly at me. I would take her downstairs to go potty. She'd pee a little and then we'd come upstairs and she'd pee on the floor right in front of me. She pooped in her crate and laid in it whenever I left her home for a little while so that I'd have to clean it and her up. All the time! She once peed on my side of the bed. In my bed!! The b***h! Oh and the best thing that she ever did to me? Just to prove how much she hated me? You're really not going to believe this. In our apartment, as soon as you walked in the door, there was our dining room table to your left. We would place the mail, our keys, our baseball caps (I wore one all the time back then) on that table. It was basically our catchall. One day Jason and I both had our hats sitting side by side on the table. Devil dog pushed the chair enough to be able to climb up on the table and, I kid you not, she crapped on my cap, on the DINING ROOM TABLE! She didn't even get one tiny Hershey kiss-sized piece of poop on Jason's hat! I had to throw away my favorite cap in the whole world because the dog hated me so much. I'll never forgive her for that.

I put up with that hateful mutt for two years. Two long miserable awful years. Jason couldn't understand why I was so upset. He didn't believe half the stuff I told him that she would do to me. She made me cry all the time. At this point we had two children, Riley was only a few months old. Emma was peeing and pooping all over the floor anytime I was home alone with her. I told Jason that she had to leave because we had a baby that needed to be able to play on the floor and there was no way I was going to allow my baby girl to crawl around on crap-laden floors. Jason said that it wasn't fair for him to have to get rid of his dog, that she was like his baby. I told him either she goes or the kids and I will pack our stuff and we'll leave. I wasn't going to live another day with that dog in my home.

He finally agreed to get rid of her. The dog that brought us together as man and wife nearly caused our divorce. We found a home for her with a friend who was a dog person. She had several dogs and trained them. Guess what? After a week of having Emma she returned her to us!! That's how awful she was. Eventually we found a home for her with a person who had other bassets. We've received a few updates on her over the years and supposedly she's a wonderful, calm, loving, GOOD dog. Good for them. I'm glad I don't ever have to see her again in my life.

Now after having had such a horrible experience with Emma, you'd think I'd never have another dog in my home as long as I live, right? Unfortunately, Jason's love affair with four-legged barking friends didn't die just because Emma left. He wanted another dog. Our two kids wanted a dog. So when we bought our first home in 2005 I agreed to allowing them to have a dog. But I told them that I would get to choose the breed. We decided on a golden retriever. They're beautiful, very family oriented dogs. I figured that'd be a good match for us.

We decided to go through a Golden Retriever rescue. We applied for adoption of a golden and was accepted. We were just waiting for the right dog to become available for our family. In the middle of this whole process, I read an ad on Craigslist about a free Yellow Lab. I told Jason about it and we decided to check it out. Hey, it was still a retriever so it'd be a good family dog, but she'd be free! Sunny was 9 months old at the time that we met her. The family had another lab, both of the parents had full-time 12/hr a day jobs, and a three year old deaf and autistic son. They didn't have the time or the energy to deal with Sunny (who was named Dakota at the time). Sunny had been getting in trouble at the home and they were fed up with her.

Jason and I thought that she just needed some one-on-one attention and a little bit of discipline and she'd be just fine. She needed rescuing from the home that she was in. So we brought her home that day. She did pretty well with us. Though we discovered that she had severe separation anxiety. We kept her in a crate and she would literally freak out. We tried leaving her out of the crate when we went anywhere and she was a mess that way too. It got so bad that our neighbor called the cops on us and we were told that if she continued to bark when we left the house that we would be fined $1000 from the borough because we were breaking a noise ordinance! We tried all kinds of therapy and behavior modification for her to get her to get over the separation anxiety. Eventually we took her to the vets and she was put on the Prozac.

After that she was a totally different dog. We got rid of the crate and things were good for a couple of years, as long as she had her Happy Pills. Unlike Emma, Sunny became super attached to me. I have been okay with it 'cause it sure as hell beats having a dog that hates your guts and shows you her dislike for you. Unfortunately we found out in September that the Prozac was destroying her liver and could end up killing her. We didn't have a choice but to take her off the meds. She's done okay without them, but lately her anxiety is getting worse and worse. The good thing is we live far enough from our neighbors that we don't have to worry about the cops being called on us.

This post was supposed to be about how I love Sunny and it turned into a whole "How come I hated Emma" spiel. So what do I love about our latest mentally unstable canine? Well for one, she likes me. That helps tremendously. She's also great with our kids, which is so important. She allows Matthew to pull on her tail or her ears, sit on her back, fuss with her paws and she just lays there and takes it without once showing any irritation or aggression towards the baby. Very very important 'cause her butt would be out on the street if she ever snapped at the kids. Oh and she's LAZY and low maintance, much like a cat. She sleeps all day long. She doesn't need to go outside every 15 minutes when I'm home alone with her, but the minute Aus gets home from school, she needs to go out about 6 times in a row. Sunny loves to cuddle up next to me on the couch. She makes a great arm rest.

She's just a hundred times better than Emma ever was. Having such a horrid dog in the beginning really made me learn to appreciate how good of a dog Sunny is, despite the anxiety. She has her moments when I'd just like to string her by her nails and hang her from the ceiling fan cause she can really piss me off too, but for the most part I like having her around. Just don't tell Jason.

Oh and speaking of Jason, he now has dreams of owning a Saint Bernard. HA! I told him he's gonna have to find a new wife first. There's no way we're getting one of those!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Love - Day 8

I love lazy days, especially Sundays. They're my favorite. I like not having to get dressed in the morning, just staying in my comfy cozy pjs all day long. I like it when we don't have any plans. The kids hang around, playing video games or watching movies. Matthew plays with his blocks and his trains. I might get to scrapbook. No chores to do, no laundry. We usually order pizza which means no dishes to wash.

I find that the during the week, in the evenings, I get into that lazy mode again, especially now that football/cheerleading season is over for the the kids. After dinner, I make the kids empty and load the dishwasher. I give Punky his bath and then I put my lounge pants and tee-shirt, put on my slippers and just get comfy for the night. I try not to have to do anything once dinner is over. Just sit down and relax, watch my favorite shows with the family and that's it.

Sometimes you just need to be lazy. And I welcome it with open arms and warm slippers!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Love - Day 7

Well I guess it's about time I post about Riley, huh? She's the girl stuck in the middle of two rough and tumble boys. The princess of the family and oh does she wear the tiara proudly. Before I had Austin I always pictured myself as a mom of girls. I couldn't imagine parenting a boy. But I did, and it just felt "right". When I was pregnant with Riley I prayed for a little girl. I thought I'd had my fill of all the boy stuff--the trucks and trains and blocks and footballs. I was ready for a house full of dresses and bows and dolls. I thought I was ready for all that a girl entails. I was wrong.

I'm not a girly-mom. I get irritated by all the frou-frou and fluff. And oh, the drama and the emotions? Can't stand it. I'm not a very girly-girl myself. Riley is. We're polar opposites in so many ways. She's got my looks but she has the personality of her daddy. She's extremely outgoing, very hyper, very much into fashion and her hair, she's funny and weird and super sweet all rolled into one. We clash in so many ways. We butt heads on just about everything. She's got her dad wrapped around her little finger and it drives me nuts.

But she's my Ri-girl. The only one I have and I know that one day we'll be super close and will be able to appreciate our differences and embrace them. She makes me laugh (even when I'm rolling my eyes at the same time). Just as I was typing this she comes in (when she's supposed to be getting into the shower) and says "Mom let me show you my new move". She then proceeds to do some funky dance where one foot is stationary and she is spinning on it and shaking her hips and bouncing the other foot. It was weird and hysterical and so just a totally Riley move. She's just that way. Whacky. The girl loves life. She loves making people smile. She's just that kinda girl.

I can't wait to see the woman she'll become. I know she'll be something else, that's for sure. She has the best qualities of her father and me. She's going to be a great mother to her children. She already has such a strong and loving maternal instinct. Riley truly loves her baby brother. He is everything to her and she shows it proudly. She hugs him and kisses him and comforts him when he's hurt or sad. She loves to entertain him and keep him happy. And Matthew adores her. He waits for her to come home from school every day. He kisses her before she leaves every morning (I've got to literally pull teeth to get him to kiss me!!). They have a great relationship and it makes me so proud of her to see the way she cares for him.

Riley makes me strive to be a better mother. She's hard to deal with sometimes because we are so different but I'm learning so much from her. I find that she's the one that I blow up with more that the other two. I know I'm harder on her than I am on Austin and I try not to be. I know my weaknesses and unfortunately for her, she is the one that bears the brunt of it and receives the Monster Mommy yellings. I don't intentionally do it but because of our different personalities she's the one who gets to me most. It's horrible of me and I feel so guilty. But Riley takes it in stride. I think she understands me and knows that I'm not trying to get so frustrated.

One evening a few months ago I had had it with Riley not listening to me or doing what I asked of her. She has a tendency to get distracted easily and flitters back and forth between things. I don't remember the exact things that happened but I know that I was in a foul mood and Riley was driving me batty. I went off on a yelling rampage (I'm horrible with that and really need to vent my frustrations in a better way). Riley went to her room, upset. A few hours later I walked into my bedroom to get ready to go to bed and I found a yellow handmade card on the nightstand. The cover said "To Mom". On the inside was two sad faces and two happy faces with the words "Sad Mom. I'm sorry that I make you upset. Happy Mom. I will always love you no matter what. Love Riley". Oh my goodness. My heart broke and the tears flowed from my eyes. I felt horrible. HORRIBLE. How could I be so mean to such a sweet loving little girl. I felt like I was crushing her spirit and her self-esteem. I don't want to be that kind of mother, the kind of mom that my own mom was to me. The next morning I thanked Riley for the beautiful card and apologized to her for yelling at her. I told her that I was so sorry for being mean and that I just wished that she would listen to me and do the things I asked of her. I will forever keep that card that Riley made me, as a reminder to myself that I need to be a better mom to my daughter.

We don't always agree on things. She may physically look like my Mini-Me but we're so different in so many ways. I love that girl with all of my heart and I don't want to make her feel worthless or unloved or unappreciated. I don't want to ever make her feel bad about who she is, because she is the person that God intended her to be. I need to learn from her and enjoy things a little more, take life a little less seriously. Do my hair and wear glittery lipgloss and stinky cotton candy perfume. Sing at the top of my lungs, crack up at dumb jokes, create funky dance moves. But more than anything I just need to show my little girl that I absolutely love and adore her, despite our differences. She's the only girl I've got and I'm lucky to have her!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

At the suggestion of a blog reader...

...I have changed the background of the blog so that its easier to read. Those swirly curly-cues were making it quite difficult to read the blog posts. (Hope this is a bit better for you, Judy!!)

So blog readers, do ya like the color?? It's Austin's favorite - University of Texas Longhorns burnt orange. Everything that boy owns is this color. Even his bedroom and his bedspread. We like this color at our house... hope you do too. And if you don't, sucks to be you! LOL!

Love - Day 6

I love love love hot showers! Ahh, is there anything more relaxing and at the same time rejuvenating than a nice hot shower, with GREAT water pressure? I, myself, can't think of too many things that can top that.

I love the moments of total peace, away from the fighting kids, the screaming, whiny toddler, the barking dog, the, ummm... wonderful, non-nagging husband! LOL! Our bathroom is especially great 'cause if I turn on the exhaust fan, I can't hear a single thing going on outside of that bathroom. I'm in my own world, just me, the water, and the fresh smell of shampoo and soap. Ahh!!

I just wish I could stay in there all. day. long. Every. single. day! Wouldn't that be bliss? Though I'm not sure if I can really pull off the attractive wrinkled prune look. And who would take care of the screaming whiny toddler, the fighting kids and the barking dog when the wonderful, non-nagging husband is at work?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Love - Day 5

I love federal holidays. Love 'em. It's an extra day that my husband gets off and my kids are home from school as well. It's sometimes hard being the wife of a mail carrier 'cause right now Jason works 6 days a week, 10-12 hrs each day. The only day off for him is Sundays, and on that day he's so beat from the previous work week that all he wants to do is veg out on the couch most of the day.

But on federal holidays, we get one extra day with him! The kids love it and so do I. Yesterday was Presidents Day so of course he didn't have to work. We decided to take the kids to the Whittaker Center, a kids science museum in Harrisburg. Normally the day would have cost us more than $60 for our family to go and visit the museum. However, we learned that on MLK Day and Presidents Day a local bank sponsors the museum and opens it to the public for free!

We called up Jason's sister and BIL and invited them and their kids (Jake, 4 and Summer, 2) to join us. Unfortunately his sister had to work but BIL, Andy, was able to come along with the kiddos. We all had such a blast, even my big kids. There were all kinds of hands-on activities for them to do. We got to feel what Category 1 Hurricane winds would feel like. We made giant bubbles, completed a simple electrical current, learned about our anatomy. We saw an experiment with liquid nitrogen which was awesome. There also was a Kids Place that was intended for children under 5. Andy and I took Matthew, Jake and Summer through that. They played with water, climbed up and down equipment, created vehicles using supplies similar to K'nex. Matthew's favorite area was the Farmers Market where he got to play with plastic fruits and veggies and food. I think I'm oing to have to buy the kid some playfood because I could hardly get him to leave that area.

I think the best part of the day was the egg drop. The kids had to use recycled boxes, balloons, newspaper, plastic bags and other assorted materials to create a contained that would allow an egg to be dropped more than one story without breaking. We all had so much fun creating it. Austin and I worked together, Riley and Jason worked together and Andy and the little kids created one as well. The museum employees then dropped our eggs to see which ones survived. All three of our eggs made it and the kids were all so ecstatic. It was fun watching the others' contraptions, especially the ones that just went *SPLAT*!

We all had such a great time together, playing and learning and just being together. I just wish there were more federal holidays each calendar year. Only three more months until Memorial Day!

Here's a few pictures from our day:

Matthew loved the water play table...

...and the Farmers Market

Riley and Jake learned about Sound Waves

My niece and nephew, Summer and Jake

Riley got to feel a tornado and learn about its formation

Matthew and his daddy

Egg drop!

Riley and Jason and their egg drop contraption

Austin and his egg container

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Love - Day 4

I absolutely love having a little person in my home again. It had been seven years since we had a baby or toddler running around here. Matthew has been such a joy and I'm so thankful that God allowed us to share our lives with him. I'll be the first to admit that I love babies. Love 'em. Love the smell of them, the sounds of them (unless its screaming at 3 a.m., then the love, not so much!). I love to hold them and feel them snuggled up against my neck. I just adore babies. Once those babies get big and become real people, the infatuation with them fades a little. Not saying that I don't like children, 'cause I do, but its the babies that get me more.

Matthew has been a bit different for me. True, I miss the baby stage with him and think it all has passed way too quickly for me, but I am enjoying the little boy that he is becoming. He is learning and discovering and its awesome to watch. He gets so excited at the littlest things and that excitement is contagious. Just yesterday I was showing him how to use his spoon and scoop into a cup of applesauce and bring the spoon to his mouth to eat (rather than just using his hands and grabbing big globs of messy applesauce and shoveling that in his mouth!). His eyes lit up when he realized he was doing it himself and oh, we were just clapping and shrieking in excitement. It was such a simple moment that we shared but it was awesome. Matthew is learning new things every day it seems and its all so exciting.

Matthew is such a funny little boy and he knows it. He cracks me up daily and the kid can't even talk yet. Sometimes when I'm just sitting on the couch, just lounging and hanging out, he'll come up to me, pull up my shirt and do a raspberry on my belly. It's so funny and so random and I just love it. And he cracks up when he does it. It's hilarious. What else does he do? He loves to be chased down the hallway, especially by daddy. And the neat thing is that he'll provoke us to chase him. He'll run down the hallway a bit, turn around and laugh and head back towards us, stop and run away again, laughing hysterically. When he does that, you have no choice, you've got to growl at him, get down on your knees and chase after him. Oh the squeals of laughter that erupt from his tiny belly. He is such a treasure.

It's been fun watching him become a person. Discovering his likes and dislikes. I often wonder what kind of a child he'll become. Right now he loves playing with his blocks and trains and dancing to The Wiggles. One day he may become enamored with dinosaurs or cars or all things sports. Heck he may decide he loves to dress up and play with babies (he does love Riley's dolls). I wonder if he'll be shy or outgoing, if he'll prefer to play outside and make forts, or if he'll want to stay inside and read. Will his imagination run wild or will he be more reserved? Will he remain Mr. Cling, attached to my legs or will he decide that he doesn't need Mommy all the time?

I can't wait to see how he eventually becomes but in the meantime I'm truly enjoying the little changes that he's undergoing as he learns new things. He brings our entire family such refreshment. He is good for our souls. He makes us all laugh together and we have all been seeing life through the eyes of a toddler and its been amazing.

I love my Punky boy! I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings with him as a member of our family.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love - Day 3

Today is Jason's and my first anniversary. No we haven't been only married for a year. We've been married for 8. But we have two official anniversaries. Huh?

We got engaged in March of 2000. A week later we found out that we were expecting Riley (oops!). I wanted to push the wedding up to a date before Riley was due. Jason wanted to wait until after she was born and have a big "church" wedding. He was pretty adament about that so we set March 3, 2001 for our wedding date. But in November 2000, only 13 days after giving birth to Riley, I had a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage. I spent 10 days in the hospital and 6 months after that recuperating from the hemorrhage. Jason and I were terrified that something else horrible would happen to me. I had health insurance coverage for me and the kids through my job but Jason didn't have any coverage. We were also afraid that if something would happen to me, the state would try to take Austin from Jason and give him to his birth father to raise. He and I spoke with our pastor a few weeks before the wedding and voiced our concerns with him. We explained why we wanted to get married sooner so that Jason would have insurance coverage and more rights to Austin. But we couldn't just change the wedding date since invitations had been sent and people had plans to come from out of state.

So Pastor Geib agreed to marry the two of us in a private ceremony after church service on Sunday February 11, 2001. We didn't tell a soul. My inlaws kept the kids and we told them that we were going to go out for lunch and do a little shopping. Instead, we headed back to the church and exchanged our vows. I didn't wear my wedding dress but I honestly can't remember what it was that I wore. We did exchange rings however took them off following the ceremony.

Jason and I decided not to tell our parents about our first wedding as we thought they'd be a bit disappointed that they weren't involved in it. But getting married a few weeks early allowed Jason to have full coverage and rights prior to the big wedding ceremony. We were excited to have an anniversary that no one would know about. And today is that anniversary. In a few weeks we'll celebrate the wedding anniversary that everyone else remembers. (Oh and we did eventually tell our families the truth but it was more than a year later. They understood but we a bit upset anyway).
For the Month of Love challenge, Jason is the love that I want to write about. I truly love this man. We've had our ups and downs over the years. We've gone through some major stuff in such a short time -- stuff that many couples never have to endure in an entire lifetime of marriage. We've dealt with the death of a child, infertility, a brain hemorrhage, a 7 month separation, financial issues, depression, surgeries, and job loss. And yet through these struggles we have remained loyal and strong.

Jason accepted my son as his own child when he was just 22 years old and in college. He has loved Austin unconditionally and treats him no different than his two biological children. Jason is a provider. He works long hard hours six days a week delivering mail so that we can have a nice home and a comfortable lifestyle. Jason is unselfish and caring. He supports me through all of my crazy and wild ideas. He's goofy and acts like a child which sometimes drives me nuts but I love it anyway. Jason enjoys spending time with me and the kids even though he's exhausted from work.

He is just a good man. A great father. A loving husband. And I'm so proud to be Mrs. Halter. I look forward to a lifetime with him.

Happy 1st Anniversary babe. I love you!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Love - Day 2

Ahh, what to talk about today? Love... again. It's the 6th of February and already I'm slacking on the monthly blog challenge. I really need to step it up a bit. So my love topic today? Should it be Jason, Riley, Matthew? Nah, I'll leave them for later in the month. Today we'll chat about my well-known love and addiction to Turkey Hill Iced Tea.
I live in Lancaster County, home of the best Iced Tea on the planet. For those of you not familiar with the area, Turkey Hill is a local dairy that produces milk, ice-cream and iced teas. They also have mini-markets on every other corner throughout the county, much like a 7-11, so that the local addicts can always run in and get their daily fix of tea anytime of the day or night. There is something in this stuff, and I don't know what it is, but Turkey Hill has an entire county completely addicted to it. It's horrible but oh so good!!

I don't remember exactly when I became an addict. My mom can't drink it and when we were growing up we always had homemade sun-tea in the house. That was the only tea mom would drink. So even though I was growing up in the middle of Turkey Hill country, I wasn't really exposed to it much. I do remember as a child stopping at TH with my dad when we'd go fishing and picking up a carton (at that time it was those little cardboard cartons that the tea was sold in). But it was one of those once in a blue moon kind of experiences.

I'm thinking that the addiction must have begun in highschool (1992-1994). I would pack my lunch but would buy a carton of tea almost every day (for only 55 cents - today that same amount cost $1.19!). At the time, there weren't a whole lot of drink choices at lunch - milk, chocolate milk, TH tea, or orange juice.

So slowly, but surely, I was getting my daily fix. I must have been a full-blown addict by the summer after graduation. I was accepted into a local state university that was only an hour away. However, Turkey Hill hadn't enlarged their market that far yet. My highschool friend, Steve, and I were attending the same college and made a pact with one another that anytime one of us went home for a visit we had to bring back a gallon or two of tea for the other. I'd also have my parents bring me my tea whenever they came to my school for a visit.

It's so funny to think about that. This was 1994 and I was begging my friends and family to hook me up with my drug of choice. In 1996-1997 when I moved back home and attended another university, I was in hog heaven so to speak. I was drinking the tea constantly. I had a new baby and I went to school full time and worked part-time. I needed the caffeine in the tea to keep me awake and focused on my schoolwork and my responsibilities as a new mom.

And so I continued to hit up my local drug dealer and get my fix. It started off slowly. A pint here a half galloon there. Oooh a sale! Gotta bring home three gallons 'cause its the same price as 2! Next thing you know, I was going through gallons of tea a week. FOR YEARS!!

I've tried to kick the habit several times over the past 15 years. I'd be successful for a week or two but then I got right back on the wagon. But when I go without, I have horrible migraines. I can't sleep, I can't focus, I become irritable. I've tried substituting the tea for sodas or for other brands of iced tea. But its not just the caffeine that my body craves. Its the sweetness, the flavor, the smell. Its the Turkey Hill experience! LOL! I just need it.

When I was pregnant with Matthew, I quit cold-turkey. I went through horrible withdrawal for several weeks. I was drinking lots of water. Having an occasional soda here and there. I was doing pretty well. I think I went without for about 4 or 6 weeks. And then, as in true addict fashion, I bought a 16 oz bottle. Just to taste it. I knew I was strong enough to handle it. Ohh that first bottle was honestly the BEST tea I had ever had in my entire life. It was pure heaven, nectar from the gods. I resisted again for a few days, and then took a bite of the forbidden apple again after walking into a Turkey Hill and buying one more small container. It's just one. I can handle one every couple of days. Again, I drank the nectar and my body got all warm and gooey inside. This was awesome!!

A few days later I returned to the store. This time I bought a 20 oz. container. The next day I did the same thing. Okay so 2 20 oz containers in one week. No big deal. The following week it was just a half gallon. I'd make it last three or four days. After that it was a gallon of tea in my fridge. Nowadays there's usually 1 half empty gallon and a full gallon of tea in my fridge. I go through a gallon every other day usually. Not as bad as it had been in the past, but nothing to really brag about.

I've decided that I'm not going to try to give it up again anytime soon. I need my tea. My family needs me to have my tea otherwise they have to deal with a miserable, irritable, migraine-ridden bear of a mother and wife. It's just better this way. There are worse things I could be addicted too...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Love Challenge - Day 1

I'm going to go down the expected route with this blog entry. My first love topic? My oldest child, Austin. He was the very first person in my life who captured my whole heart. He's the one who taught me how to be a mother, one of my proudest accomplishments. He has had such a huge impact on the kind of person that I've become.

Before Austin arrived in my life, I was your typical young adult. I was in my sophomore year of college, not really having much of a direction with my life (after being told by my Chem prof the previous year that I'd never make it as a dr, but I've already posted about that!). I had decided that I was going to drop out of college and get a job as a nanny. I can't even believe that is something I even considered! I would have been miserable I can tell you that much. I've done in-home daycare off and on for the past 5 years and I hate it. But anyway back to sophomore year. Like I said, I didn't have much focus or direction. I was just kind of walking through life. I was a good student and wasn't much into the party scene. I had had my partying days during freshman year. However in February of 1996 I was persuaded by several friends to attend a fraternity party. There was lots of alcohol involved, and I ran into one of the brothers who was in my sociology class. You can put two and two together.

Two weeks later I found out that I was pregnant. Oh my God! How could that happen to me? ME? I wasn't that type of girl. I wasn't one to just have one-night stands. I had been a virgin up til the year before. I was a good girl. And there I was, 19 and pregnant to a guy I didn't know and who wanted nothing to do with me or our child. He tried to talk me into having an abortion or giving the child up for adoption. He told me that it was irresponsible to keep the baby and that if I did I would be ruining three lives -- his, mine, and our child's. I told him that WE had been irresponsible when we slept together and that the only way to learn from our mistake was to take responsibility for our actions. Getting rid of the pregnancy wouldn't teach us anything. That would be irresponsible.

And so the journey of single-parenthood began for me. I had a purpose. I had a focus. I had a drive and a determination. My parents allowed me to move back home at the end of that semester under the condition that I would go to the local university full-time and work 24 hrs a week during the school year. I fell madly in love with Austin before he was ever born. He was all I thought about. He was the reason I did everything I did. He came first in my life.

Austin and I didn't have it easy. I worked really hard for everything that we had and did. I gave him everything that I could and went without so that he didn't. He made sacrifices easy. He made everything worthwhile. And fortunately, when he was only two, I found the love of my life, Jason, who would accept Austin as his own son. We are so very blessed.

He's a great kid. He just turned 12 in October and its hard to believe that I am the mother of sixth grader. He's an excellent student. Gets all A's and B's. Has been in advanced math for several years. He's athletic, funny, caring, sweet, ambitious, determined, strong-willed, and loving. The middle school girls all swoon over him and his friends' parents think he's wonderful and always well-mannered. But Austin isn't perfect by any means. I'm not blinded by my love for him. He gives me attitude and back-talk. He instigates fights with his sister and just down-right lazy when it comes to chores. He's moody and rolls his eyes at me and Jason. But overall he's just a wonderful kid and I look forward to continuing to guide him on his path through life and help mold him into the man he is to become.

I'm privileged to be his mother and I don't take that responsibility lightly. He is one of my greatest accomplishments and he taught me first how to unconditionally love another human being.

Love you Squirrel!!! *SMOOCH* (now stop rolling your eyes at your mother and go load the dishwasher!)

Blog Challenge -- Take Two

So I failed miserably last month. I had a good start, the momentum was there, and then all of a sudden I got a Charley-Horse, couldn't catch my breath, stopped to take a sip of water and wipe the sweat off my brow, and before you knew it, I was out of the race. But I'm not one to just roll over and give up so easy. I'll just dust myself off and hop back on the horse.

Traci is hosting this month's challenge again. And our mission, if we so choose to take it, is to blog all about love. Doesn't have to be that sappy, romantic, "the Notebook" type of love. It's encompassing all types of love. I think I can do this! But if I fail, that's okay. There's 9 more months of the year left. The good thing is, I'm actually blogging and that's what I always wanted to do.

Here are the rules: Since Valentine's Day is Feb 14th, I'm asking you to post 14 posts this month all about Love. They can be about someone you love, a place you love, a love that you've lost, your first love, Valentine's crafts, romantic meals, a loving relationship that you've always admired... the list goes on. This is an easy one ladies, it's only 14 posts. It doesn't matter to me how you space them, but I would think that every other day would be the easiest. Because it's such a low requirement, I'm holding you to the 14. If you need to, then pre-schedule your posts, etc., but make sure you get all 14 in! And don't forget to check in on the other bloggers playing along, some of the posts you find will be truly inspiring.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Little Redirection

I have big dreams. I admit it. The problem with those big dreams is that I have a family too. A family that wants and needs me here. I'm no longer a single woman who can just get up and go do whatever it is that I want. I have responsibilities. I have to look out for what is best for Jason, Austin, Riley and Matthew too. And I want to see my family and be there for them.

So my dream of attending medical school? Not in the cards. At least not at this point in my life. I just can't ask my family to sacrifice that much. I've spent the entire last 4 days researching my options and talking with my husband. We can make the short-term sacrifice of school for me, but we can't do 8+ years worth of schooling at this point. We need me to be able to be around to take care of the kids plus bring in a little income. Full time schooling for 8 years isn't practical. We'd be beyond broke.

We've come up with a new plan. Not exactly following my ultimate dreams but getting as close as I can under our circumstances. I will still be able to go to school, still get my degree, still bring in an income, still see my family, still feel good about my accomplishments. I'm happy with that. So the new plan?

I've applied to the local community college. I've taken lots of classes there in the past and am familiar with the school. I will get my associates degree in nursing. The program will take about two years and I've applied for the fall semester. After that, I'll hopefully get a job right away at Harrisburg or Hershey's hospitals. While working, I'll take the necessary classes to get my Bachelor's in Nursing. Should take another two years or so, possibly less since I have so many undergrad credits under my belt as it is. THEN, after I have my BSN, Matthew will be in school full time, Austin will have graduated high school, Riley a freshman. That's when we'll see what I want to do regarding furthering my education. There's always that possibility of med school, or Physicians Assistant school (a 2 yr post-baccalaureate program). Or I may just be happy with my BSN. But no matter what, I'll have option and most importantly, I'll have a career I can be proud of and an education!

I'm happy about the changes that will be occurring. I'm so thankful to God that I have such a wonderful, caring and supportive husband. I'm so thankful that I'm going to be able to accomplish some of the things I've dreamed of. I'm glad that there are other option available to me that will get me close to those dreams. Things are looking good!


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Little Man is sick

Took him in to be seen by his pediatrician yesterday. The cause of all his pain and discomfort? A double ear infection. Yea us! It's his first ever ear infection and of course he's gotta make up for that with infections in both ears. He was put on amoxycillan and we're hoping he starts perking up here soon. At this point, though, he's worse than he was before yesterday. I laid him down for a nap yesterday around 1:30 (after coming home from the drs and the pharmacy and drugging him up). I left the house at 6pm to go to a scrapbooking crop. He was still asleep. Jason told me he woke Matthew up at 9pm, changed him, gave him his meds, and tried to get him to eat something. He barely ate and went right back to bed. I woke him up at 11 this morning! He looks like he got run over a truck and he's still running a high fever. I tried to get him to eat something and he looked at me with the most pathetic looking stare. My baby boy looks so horrible. He refused all food, and just wanted to go back to bed. So that's where he is. He was awake for all of 10 or 15 minutes so far today. I really hope that his antibiotics start working soon.

As for his overall 18 month doctor's appointment yesterday? Well Dr. Carlson isn't concerned about the amount of sleeping he's been doing (prior to his illness). She said that toddlers sometimes just understand the needs of their body and his needs sleep. She said that as long as he is generally happy and active when he's awake, things look good. She is a bit concerned about his speech (or lack of). Actually its more that he lost words rather than that he's not talking much. She suggested I call the local early intervention group and have them evaluate him to see if he qualifies for some extra help. I'm happy about that. Jason and his brother both had speech problems when they were younger and I don't think they had EI back then. So if we can get Matthew any help out there as early as possible, all the better for him. I put the call in to EI yesterday afternoon but got voice mail. Hopefully they'll call early next week.

Finally the size of my little moose. He actually lost a pound since his appointment at the beginning of the month, probably due to his illness and the fact that his appetite has been nil. He "only" weighs 28 lbs and is 34 3/4" tall. HA! He's at the 75% for his weight and the 96% for his height. The boy is gonna be TALL!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I'm at a crossroads. I'm thinking about returning to school so that I can finish my degree and apply for medical school! It's been on my mind a lot (especially since the Letter to yourself at 17 post). The biggest regret I have is listening to my college Chemistry professor who told me that I'd never become a doctor. I believed him, and since then, deep down I've been miserable and my self-worth has suffered.

Last night Jason and I had a huge heart-to-heart. I finally confided in him about my low self-esteem issues and how it almost all goes back to my freshman year of college. How I feel like I am worthless because I have never had a "career" and that the only jobs I'm qualified for are waitressing or $9/hr crap jobs. I've felt trapped for the past 14 years. I've used the kids, family and money issues as excuses for why I haven't become all that I've wanted to be. So now I'm thinking that the best thing for my family is for them to have a wife and mother who feels good about herself; who feels successful and validated.

I AM good enough. I AM smart enough. I AM determined. I CAN do it.

So tonight I'm going to apply to the local state university to begin classes in the summer or fall. And then after that, well, medical school. Am I crazy? Am I too old? I'll be 33 in the fall when I plan to return to school. I have about 2 years worth of pre-reqs to finish for my degree. So that would put me at 35-36 or so when I would apply for med school. Add in 4 years of that so then I'm 40 (with a 20 yr old, a 16 yr old and a 9 yr old).

Has anyone done anything like this? What was your experience? Do you have any regrets?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ugh I'm exhausted

It was a long night. A very very long night. A night where only two people in this household were awake all night long -- me and Matthew. It was horrible. He couldn't sleep. He was having these coughing fits that were so bad he was almost puking. He couldn't get comfortable. He was running a fever. I felt so bad for him. I felt bad for myself 'cause I was exhausted too. I slept on the couch so that I could easily get to him without waking DH who had to be up for work at 6 this morning. Thankfully he finally was able to fall asleep and stay asleep from about 4 am until 9. I've been giving him Advil every 4 hours today. He's back in bed for his second nap for the day. His cheeks are flushed, his cough is yucky, and he looks like he got hit by a truck. He's go that "sick look" in his eyes. Poor baby.

But we're hanging in there. Today is not the kind of day where you want to be out driving around unless you absolutely have to. So we're gonna tough it out unless he gets any worse. He's got the Vicks Vaporizer running in his room all day/night. I'm keeping an eye on his fever and his fluid intake and output. If things turn ugly, we'll be at the doctors. Unfortunately, I'm thinking my Punky Boy has the flu.

It's gonna be a long night

It's after 1 in the morning. Matthew has been up off and on all night long. He's practically hacking up a lung. And now he's running a fever. Earlier this evening it was 101.3. I just checked him a few minutes ago and it was 103.0. Lovely. We're having a snowstorm right now that is to turn over to all rain and ice during the day. My van doesn't do well in the snow, and it does even worse in the ice. I don't know if I should call his dr and have him seen tomorrow (Wednesday) and risk the weather, even though he'll be back there on Friday, or if we should just hang tight here at home and get through this on our own. Ugh. Normally, if it were one of the other two who were sick like this, we'd just tough it out unless I really felt that it was absolutely critical that they be seen. But I never know what to do with Matthew. If you are so inclined to do so, please pray for us. Pray for Matthew's comfort and healing and rest, and for me to have the wisdom to make the best decisions when it comes to him and to have peace. Thanks.

I'll update later on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So am I just a paranoid Mommy or is my Mommy-Radar working?

I can't shake the feeling that something is wrong with Matthew. I don't know if its just that I feel it is to be expected, or if I'm super-paranoid, or if I just know what others don't. Matthew and I have a strong connection. The two of us have been through so much since before he was even born. I always get those feelings that something's not right, and unfortunately, I've been right so many times when it comes to him.

For those who don't know much about Matthew, we started off having problems with his pregnancy right at about 9 or 10 weeks along. I had placental abruptions straight through until delivery. I went into preterm labor at around 29 weeks with him. Was put on hospital bedrest from 30 weeks until delivery at 36 weeks (with a week of bedrest at home). After Matthew's birth, he had jaundice, then lost a pound and a half of weight during the first 5 days of life. He had severe reflux almost from day one.

At 6 weeks, I took him to the ER because I knew in my heart something wasn't right. He screamed a scream I had never heard before, was ashy, and unconsolable. At the ER it was determined that he had two incarcerated inguinal hernias that needed to be repaired immediately. That next day, before being prepped for surgery, he had an apnic episode in my arms. I thought he was going to die right then and there. It was one of the scariest moments I had ever experienced.

During the next few months, he was slow to gain weight, was refluxing everything he took in, and just wasn't thriving the way he should. By the grace of God, and the fact that his pediatrician actually listened to me and my concerns, she ordered an upper GI test for Matthew the week before Christmas 2007. The UGI found something that they weren't looking for. It showed us that Matthew had a birth defect called Malrotation of the Intestines. Its a life-threatening birth defect that usually is only found out after the child becomes very sick or dies (the intestines wrap themselves around the mesenteric artery, stopping blood flow to the intestines, causing them to become necrotic and die). We were so fortunate that Matthew's defect was found before there was any damage. Matthew had his surgery last January to repair his intestines.

A few months later, we were concerned that Matthew had food allergies because he wasn't eating well and was reacting to almost every food he ate. He was tested and at the time all things came back negative. His medication was upped for his reflux, and it was like a switch with him. All of a sudden, he was eating everything in sight. He was thriving and gaining weight. It's been amazing to see. And yet, in the back of my mind, and in the deepest parts of my heart, I have these bad feelings when it comes to him. Like I just expect that there's going to be something else. Like the shoe is going to fall off the other foot. And I can't shake it.

So my latest concerns? There's a couple. The good thing is that Matthew goes in for his 18 month well child checkup on Friday. I'll be voicing all of my concerns with his doctor (who I love love love and would follow her literally to the ends of the earth - or at least within a 45 minute drive from here!) but I thought I'd write them down here too.

Concern number one is the amount of sleep Matthew gets, or I should say requires and demands. He goes to bed every night between 6:30 and 7 pm. He sleeps straight through the night until anywhere between 7 and 8 in the morning. So about 12-13+ hours each night. Okay pretty normal. But within an hour of waking, he's ready for nap number one. He tells me he's ready each time. He'll be sitting there playing or whatever and then BAM, he fusses. If I ask him if he's ready for night-nights he grabs his cup or blankie or paci (whichever is in the room with him) and runs to his bedroom door. He stops at the door and just waits. As soon as I open the door, he runs to his crib and waits to be picked up and put in. He starts singing as soon as he's in his bed and is asleep within 10 minutes. He's an angel that way!! Love it. However, he'll nap for anywhere between 3-5 hours!!!! If I wake him before he's ready, he's miserable and will scream the rest of the afternoon until he's put back to bed. So after his nap he'll get lunch (which lately has been around 2pm because he's been sleeping so long). He eats lunch, plays for an hour or so and the cycle repeats itself. Fussing, running to his bed, singing and sleeping for another 2 to 3 hours. Count them all up and he's sleeping anywhere between 17-21 hours a DAY!! That's not right. It's not normal and its scaring me. His crazy sleeping schedule is also making me feel trapped in this house. We can't go anywhere because he's always sleeping. And I can't wake him before he's ready or I'm dealing with a Grizzley Bear. But this isn't about me. It's about him and like I said, I'm nervous and think something is wrong.

Concern number two: Matthew's cough. He's had a cough since before Christmas. Our pediatrician doesn't recommend cough medicine for toddlers his age. She's recommended Benadryl in the past. For the first week of his cough I used that on him, but it didn't make much of a difference so I stopped. We made it through the holidays. He still had the cough though it was mainly just at night. On January 8th I brought him in to see her, told her about my concerns with the cough (as well as his sleeping patterns). She listened to him. Lungs sound clear, no signs of sinus or ear infections, throat looked good. Sent us for a Chest X-Ray just to be sure and recommended we give him Claritin to clear up the cough. Chest xrays came back normal. We used the Claritin and the cough cleared up within a few days. Stopped the Claritin. Well guess what's back? Cough, mostly at night and when he's napping (which is I started him back on the Claritin today.

Concern number three: Matthew's speech, or lack-thereof. He doesn't talk. He used to talk. From 12-14 months he was talking, not much but some. He'd say Mama, Daddy, uh-oh, hi, hello, Sunny (the dog), Riley, Austin. At 15 months he started walking (yeah, a bit late). Once he started walking, he stopped talking altogether. I expected that, ya know the whole learn a new motor-skill, forget about focusing on others thing. But he's now a running, climbing fool. But he's not saying anything. He doesn't say any of the words that he used to except he'll occasionally call out Austin and Riley (comes out souding more like "Autty" and "I-yee"). We don't talk for him. I don't baby talk to him either. I'm constantly saying "Matthew, tell Mommy what you want" or "Say more please" "thank you mama for the cup", etc etc. I point to things and tell him what they are. He doesn't respond, doesn't try to repeat the sounds. He understands me and can follow simple directions - go get your kitty cat and bring her to me, show me your belly, can you find your sock. He babbles and has a full conversation with me but none of his words even sound recognizable. Its just a bunch of nonsense, with the same sounds repeated over and over.

I dunno. I don't think these things are all related. They're just three separate observations about him that make me think, "Hey things aren't right". The sleeping thing has me worried about anemia or horrible things like cancer. The cough? Probably allergies. The talking? I don't know. I get scared with all the talk about the number of cases of autism being reported in kids.

But the truth of the matter is, I'm deathly afraid that he's not going to be with us for very long. I've had that fear ever since he was a few weeks old. I've had dreams about him dying. I just have this deep feeling that we'll lose him before we should. Like he's not going to make it to adulthood. I hate this feeling. It scares the crap out of me and makes me even more paranoid. Its horrible but I just can't shake it. I don't know if its just because of all the things we've been through with him. I don't know if its just me going crazy. I don't know if it's because I KNOW. I dont' know what it is but I hate feeling like this. The only good thing about it all is that it makes me very proactive when it comes to his health. At the slightest sign that something isn't right I take him to see his doctor. And for the most part, I've been right about things. Mommy radar works here. Which, unfortunately, just scares me even more. Because if I was right about things not being normal which lead me to take him to the ER and find out that he needed surgery, then maybe I'm right about things now.

I can't lose another baby. I just can't do it. I'm not that strong.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I think I'm finally getting my Scrappin MOJO back!

This past week I rejoined a group of ladies that do border/page kit swaps. I had been a member of their group for a few years until Matthew was born. I missed swapping with them, missed the wonderful creations I got back, missed the wonderful pages I would create, and missed the whole creative process. I have been scrapping for the past 18 months, and my pages look good (for the most part) but they just don't have that POP or that WOW factor. I've been bored with them. I've been bored with what I'm creating and for the most part had that "git-r-done" type of mentality with the pages. Last night I decided that I was going to work on a swap that is due at the end of April. I have plenty of time but just wanted to do something different. I spent a couple of hours perusing the internet, trying to find some inspiration. It's a toddler themed swap and I wanted to do something fun. I decided on monkeys and came up with an adorable set entitled "Monkey See, Monkey Do". It's really cute. I'm about 90% finished with the set. I'm going to order some ribbon to go along with it but I'm just so excited about swapping again and creating. Once the entire thing is done, I'll post it. I have another swap to do which I may work on tomorrow - a kids spring theme. Got any ideas to get the wheels turning in my head??

Want a chance to win a Digital Rebel package and bring a baby home?

Shelley is having a raffle to help pay for expenses to bring their baby daughter, Claire, home from Korea. Donate a little and get the chance to win a fabulous prize! Go to to find out more!

Who doesn't want a new Canon Rebel!? And to know that you are helping to bring a family together? Wow!

Best wishes Shelley, Robert and Joshua.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A letter to Me at Seventeen

Alright girl, sit down and pay attention because I've got a few things that you need to hear. They may not all make sense to you now but keep them at the back of your mind because eventually they all will.

* Don't believe a word Dr. Lacey says. You are smart enough to become a doctor. You'll regret believing that you can't do it. And you'll spend the rest of your life just wishing you would have stayed a bio/pre-med major. You'd have made one hell of a doctor!

* Better yet, don't take Dr. Lacey for Chemistry your second semester of freshman year. It's just a bad move and there are plenty of other Chemistry professors out there. Find one who will encourage you, not pull you down and make you feel worthless.

* Stay away from Hector. He's not worth it. He may be separated but he's married and he's taking advantage of you.

* Apologize to Leigh and Sarah now. They were great friends and you hurt them badly. You need to realize that "the guys" were not friends with them just because of you. They were friends with them DESPITE you. You messed up.

* High school isn't as important as you think it is. It's just the beginning of your life.

* Whatever your problem is with your self-image, get over it. You are fine just the way you are. You will marry a wonderful man who loves everything about you and thinks you are sexy just the way you are.

* Ignore mom when she puts you down. She's just trying to make herself feel better because she's got low self-esteem. You're better than she makes you feel you are.

* Do not take that sinus medicine on the morning of November 28, 2000. DON'T TAKE IT!! It'll cause you to have a brain hemorrhage. You'll also scare your husband to death. You'll miss the first year of your daughter's life because you won't remember anything because of all the pain killers you're on.

* That crazy annoying guy in photography class? He's the one you're gonna marry. He's wonderful. You'll really like him. And he makes cute kids!

* Do not buy the basset hound. You can still propose to Jason without her. She'll only cause problems. She'll bring the two of you close to the point of divorce. She's the devil. Oh and don't put your favorite baseball cap on the dining room table. Devil dog will get up on the table and crap on it!

* Go to the XGI fraternity party when you're 19. This will sound crazy but you'll get pregnant and even though it seems like the end of the world, you'll be blessed with the greatest gift ever. It'll be hard, but you're strong enough and you're a wonderful mom.

* Do not fill out that application for the credit card in college. A large package of Twizzlers given to you to entice you to sign up is not worth the problems that credit cards cause you. Buy things you can afford.

* And for goodness sake, girl, pay your bills when you're young. What did you think was going to happen to the Saturn if you didn't pay the car payment? Don't act surprised when they come to repossess it (but get the CDs out of the car before they take it! You'll miss them.)

* Hold onto Ian for a little bit longer than you think you should. And kiss the top of his head like you want to. Do it! Bring your camera and take pictures of him. Realize that Jason is hurting just as much as you are. Don't let this cause you both to drift further and further apart. He loves you and he hurts too. You guys will work through this and eventually you'll be stronger than you ever were before.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blah, blah, blah

Today is just one of those days. The kind that has you unmotivated and not willing or wanting to do a thing even though you know you have to. One of those days. Today. Oh and it was like that yesterday too. Hmm... come to think of it, it was the day before as well. So its one of those weeks. I guess I have myself in a bit of a funk. Gotta get out of it. Maybe tonight after dinner, when Matthew is in bed, and Jason is over at his friend Sean's house, I'll scrapbook for a little bit more.

I'm trying to finish up my 2007 family album so that I can begin working on Stacey Julian's Library of Memories system for scrapping. I so wish I could afford the money to take her class which begins in the middle of February. I'd give just about anything to take it. But unfortunately, things are tight around here. We had a bathroom remodel in December that cost us about $1500 more than we were originally quoted and we have to come up with the rest of the money by the 30th. Don't know where that money is going to come from, so there's obviously no way I could pay for the LOM class. That's okay. We'll figure it out.

In the meantime I've read both of Stacy Julian's books and am part of a Yahoo message group for the Library of Memories. They're a chatty bunch with lots of great ideas. Some of the members have already gone through the class and have given lots of valuable information so far. I'm hoping that I'll gain lots of info from them after the class begins and they start really talking about it. I feel like a fly on the wall with them. I don't think I've posted a single message but I've read all of theirs! Haha! Perhaps next year though I'll be able to participate in the class. I hope.

Hmm. So let's see. What's new going on around here, besides the fact that Mommy has been unmotivated to do anything? Surprisingly, the house isn't a total mess. It's not beautiful, Good-Housekeeping-cover-material, but its not a total disgusting mess either. It's got that "lived-in" look. Its comfortable, though it could use another decluttering.

I'm thinking about purchasing a potty for Matthew. He's 18 months now, and though I don't expect to have him potty trained anytime real soon, I think it's time to at least introduce him to it. He's got himself on a pretty regular schedule and I'm finding him staying drier longer and longer. I never attempted something like this this early with Austin or Riley but then again, I wasn't a stay-at-home mom with either of them either. I'm here with Matthew I've got the time. I might as well try it. Anyone have any helpful advice or links online to help me out?

Oh I checked out the latest edition of People Magazine at the grocery store the other night. They ran a story about Matt, Liz and Madeline Logelin in it. It was so exciting to read. I've been following Matt's blog since a few days after Liz passed away. I read it every day that he has it updated. You should check it out. Prepare yourself first with a box of tissues for the very beginning. And before long, you'll find yourself laughing out loud, nodding in complete understanding, and enjoying watching little Maddie go from a tiny little helpless newborn to this beautiful baby girl who is so full of life and joy. She looks so much like her mommy which must be hard and wonderful all at the same time for Matt. That man has a heart of gold and you can see just how much he is hurting but knows that he's gotta keep on keepin' on for Maddie's sake. Maddie is very blessed to have such a loving daddy looking out for her.

Crud. Riley is about to get off the bus which means the busy part of my day is about to begin. Gotta start dinner since Jason will be home in less than two hours. Ah, the routine of a stay-at-home mom.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beauty Day 13

I miss my son, Ian, terribly. The ache and the pain is still so real after over seven years. Today is the anniversary of his due date. Seven years!! My baby boy should be a first grader. I should be planning a birthday party at the bowling alley or the skating rink. I should be wrapping the latest video game he so desperately wanted, or a bike without training wheels, or a new basketball. He should be learning to read and excited about losing a tooth. He should be playing with legos and looking forward to trying out for spring baseball or soccer. He should be here. He should be 14 months younger than Riley. He should...he should...he should.

But he's not. And he never will be. He's gone and that's all there is to that. No amount of begging or pleading to God will bring him back to me. I know that. Trust me, I've tried. I've spent hours upon hours pleading for God to return him to me. To have one more chance to kiss his tiny head. I've begged for the chance to watch him take a breath. To hear him giggle. To wipe a tear from his eye. To sing and rock him to sleep. I want to be able to take him into my arms and never let him go. But I can't. And I have to learn to live with that, no matter how hard it is or how much it hurts. I need to keep on keepin' on.

So what is the beauty that I find in a day that is so sad and hurts me so much? Oh there is so much beauty. So much to be thankful for. And I need to remind myself of that. Of how blessed I am. Of how thankful I am. Where do I even start? What is the gift that Ian and God has given me? How can I be so thankful when I have lost so much?

Losing Ian was the worst thing that has ever happened in my life. The worst. And yet, in so many ways, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Seems very contradictary doesn't it? You're probably thinking I must be crazy. What is so great about losing your baby?

So let me just tell you. First off, losing Ian brought me to God. How incredible is that?! What a gift! Prior to losing Ian, I didn't know God. When Ian died, I was angry. Oh I was so angry. How could such a so-called loving God take a baby from a family that wanted him so much? I hated Him for doing that to me. Hated him. As the weeks and months passed, I was sitting in my darkest of dark days, feeling alone and helpless, feeling as though my world was falling apart, separated from my husband and heading towards divorce. My pain was too heavy for me to carry alone. The thought of my son laying in a cold grave, never for me to see him again, made me seek out this God of Comfort that so many people told me about. I began to read my Bible. I began to pray. I began to see that this God had made so many promises to me. That He was holding a place for Ian. That one day I would be reunited with him. He showed me that I was blessed to be the mother of a son that knew only pure love for his entire life. That he was taken from my womb and carried into the arms of God, never knowing pain. My son was chosen for this! He had learned everything that he needed to learn about life in such a short amount of time, never having ever seen the sunlight or felt the wind on his cheeks. I was the lucky one because it was my son who was special enough for this.

Climbing out of my grief and despair, with the help of God, allowed me to renew and strengthen my relationship with my husband as well. We are stronger than we ever were. We are happier than we ever were, and I can't say that would hold true had we not gone through what we did by losing Ian. His death also threw me into membership into the Club. The club that no one wants to be a part of, but that every member is so thankful for knowing that there are others out there that understand the gamut of feelings we go through. I never knew anyone who had a loss prior to my loss. Losing Ian changed the woman I am, the compassion I feel. I have made some wonderful friends through this grief journey. I know that I have also helped a few others just by sharing my story about Ian. What a wonderful legacy Ian has left.

Finally, it is because of Ian that I am the mother of Matthew. Ah, Matthew John, the newest light in our lives. My little Punky, Chunkamunka, and Punkster McMunkster. After Ian's death, I prayed and prayed for another baby. I needed that other baby. And God made me wait. Five long, heartache-filled years. But I know now that I needed that time to grow and learn and to heal. And when the time was right, as God always knows the right time, I became pregnant with my miracle boy. The boy who put us through so much just to safely get him here safely. The boy who had two major surgeries before he turned 6 months old. The boy who had medical issue after medical issue and who is now, by the grace of God, the healthiest little man. Matthew makes our lives so much more full, so much happier, so much more tired (that boy is busy busy busy and never stops!). Matthew is exactly who we needed as a family to recover from our loss and to complete the Halters. He's perfect for us. Perfect.

But he wouldn't be here if Ian was here. How do you live with that? I yearn for Ian. I miss him so much and I want him back. I'd give anything to have him here. But if he was here with us, Matthew wouldn't. I'd give anything, but would I give up Matthew for Ian? How do you choose? The baby that you have grieved for for 7 years or the new child in your life who is only 18 months? The good thing is I don't get to choose! God has made the choice. I get Matthew. I get to pour all the love I have for Ian onto Matthew. I get to watch him sleep. I get to kiss his head. I get to hear him giggle. I get to wipe his tears. I get to rock him and sing him to sleep. I get to!

And one day, God willing, I'll plan Matthew's 7th birthday party. I'll wrap that video game up for him. I'll hear him read his first book and I'll get to see his big toothless smile. I'll take him to baseball tryouts. I'll do all the things that I wanted to do with Ian, and Ian will be right there with us, tucked safely in my heart. Matthew is a lucky boy. And I'm an even luckier mommy.