March 29, 2011

This is it...again.

Joshua's leave ends in a matter of hours and I want to throw up. First, he'll get another 4 day leave in a few weeks but he won't be able to come home and this pregnancy prevents me from being able to go to him. To make life even more fun, I had fully emotionally prepared myself (as best as one can) to deliver baby girl without him because a variety of reasons, meant he wouldn't be home but for the last three weeks, we've been told, no problem, he can be there. As with most Army things, it changed. Yesterday. Joshua called me from the Armory to let me know and there were about 3 hours where Army was a nasty four-letter word in our home because after these few hours we have left, we won't see Joshua until his R&R sometime late this fall. I'll get over it, again. I'll get back to being ok but it won't be today. It won't be tomorrow. These few days I'm taking to give myself a deployment/Murphey's-Law's-kicking-my-ass pity party. I make no apologies and I don't give a blankety blank what sort of image I'm supposed to portray. Before I was an Army wife, I thought military families were strong and proud. Maybe others are but right now, I'm not and I don't care. I'm being thrown into a situation I hate. A situation I have NO control over. And a situation that just sucks. I'll be strong next weekend. Today I'm crying. Today I'm mad. Today I'm letting my pregnancy hormones take over.

At least while the boy is asleep.

I can be strong or at least fake it for him. I can stay together while he's awake because his world's about to crash around him all over again and there's nothing I can do but hold it together while he cries and doesn't understand.

This is it...again. And I hate it.

March 26, 2011

Leave Update

This might be a bit long because we've done so much over this mini-leave. Joshua's on his way to the furniture store to pick up our new kitchen table set (yay!) so I have a couple hours to catch up on the week's activities because we live in the middle of nowhere so it'll be at least two hours before he's home again.

First of all, I'm home blogging instead of with Joshua to pick up the table set because the boy is still's 2:00 in the afternoon. Yesterday morning, we drove about 3 hours to my parent's house because my Aunt came into town for her annual "beef pickup." Basically, my family lives in the middle of nowhere and has a couple cows slaughtered every year at which time my Aunt makes the 12 hour drive to fill her freezer with organic beef in various forms. This is the same Aunt who has in many ways adopted Joshua...I say that partly because she's more like a mother-in-law than an Aunt to me now-she always agrees with my husband and they enjoy ganging up to make fun of me and because she's now officially seen the boy more times than my real mother-in-law but that's a post for another day. We had a great day planning our next family vacation, holiday plans (requires a bit more planning when everyone is spread so far out) and getting excited about the new babies that are about to join the family (4 infants in about 3 months). After dinner with the family and the boy's Godparents, we went back to my parent's and played games until about midnight at which time we had to leave because we hadn't brought the dog with us. To our surprise, the boy stayed awake the ENTIRE three hours back to the house. Oh joy. So today I see him waking up, hopefully soon, and we'll obviously skip any nap and hope to get him back on track tomorrow.

Going back to this week though, I had two OB appointments. My high risk perinatology appointment on Tuesday (which went GREAT!) and my regular OB on Thursday which also went well.

Tuesday's appointment showed that the echogeneticity of baby girl's bowel is significantly less although not totally gone which is actually the best of both worlds because although it's barely present, I will (oh darn) have to have another 3D ultrasound next month....for free. Insurance rocks. Also, the ultrasound showed that the bleeding I was experiencing has pretty much gone away totally and so certain pelvic restrictions were lifted...8 hours before Joshua came home. Woohoo. That is all I'll say about that.

Here's a couple of my favorite shots from the ultrasound Tuesday.

I think she really looks like her brother and I can't wait to see what the next ultrasound will show because she'll have some more meat on her. For the record, I'm not offended  if you think 3D ultrasounds are a little creepy. A lot of people do...I've noticed it's especially true of men who don't yet have kids of their own. It's a strange fluid environment but as my little girl, I think it's awesome. I loved getting video of our son in utero sucking his thumb and now battling the same bad habit almost three years later.

Serious moment: it struck me, watching my daughter get annoyed with the poking and proding of the ultrasound that legally, because I have a heart condition which with pregnancy can be life-threatening, I have the legal standing for another week (almost two weeks after these pictures were taken) to request an abortion. It's unspeakable. I can't really imagine how anyone could look at those pictures and still tell me that she doesn't have the right to continue living. That somehow my rights outweigh her rights because she's not yet real? not developed enough to have rights?

Ok I need to stop. Serious moment over.

Wednesday we did the swim lesson thing with the boy and just hung out at the house.

Thursday was my 2nd OB appointment of the week and I found out that baby girl is in the 46th percentile for size which is pretty good because I've had a really hard time gaining weight. In fact, in a weird twist, I'm still not gaining enough pounds in general but my stomach is now measuring larger than the normal pregnant belly at this stage. For the record, I wasn't overweight to start with so it's not like the weight is just relocating. My OB said it's most likely because I only have about two inches from my ribs to my hips so what little there is of her, is sticking out, a lot.

That's about it for the leave update...lots of running around and having fun in between OB appointments. Good times.

March 22, 2011

24 hours

The next 24 hours will be a bit crazy for me.

1st-I have a perinatology (high risk OB) appointment. These appointments are always a difficult combination of stress and excitement. I get 3D ultrasounds every time (YAY!) but they're monitoring me for a few reasons...most importantly right now there are two, baby girl hasn't been gaining as much weight as they would like especially since I have a high chance of premature labor and also, they are checking to see if the echogenic bowel (her kidneys are showing up brighter on the ultrasound than they should) will clear up because otherwise it's a soft marker for a chromosomal defect like Downs or cystic fibrosis. Like I said stress/excitement.

2nd-I get my baby boy back (FINALLY) today. He spent a LONG weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's house because I was starting to have too many contractions and not getting enough done around the house. We're not the type of parents that regularly send the kid to his Grandparent's house (not that we couldn't, they're great) but we just don't. This is only his 2nd time away for more than a night. Mom-guilt hit the day he left (he had to say goodbye to Daddy a month ago and now I'm abandoning him too) but overall, I really enjoyed the peace and solitude. I think it might have been the longest I've been alone...other than the dog...since we had the boy. It's strange how having a kid, nursing and the Army converge to never leave you alone-time.

3rd-Joshua will, at some point in the next 24 hours, call me to pick him up. Yup. He will start a VERY short leave and they will be back in the state and able for release soon...I'm really hoping he'll call before midnight since armory where I'll have to pick him up is a little over an hour away and the boy will be with me.

4th-It's my birthday tomorrow. Normally I would never shamelessly promote it because I wouldn't want to seem like I'm just desperate for birthday shout outs ...but last year, Joshua missed my birthday and next year he'll likely miss it again (both courtesy of the US Army) so it's kind of cool that his one mini-leave happens to be on my birthday.

March 15, 2011

Weekend Warrior

Just fair warning...most of this post will be a vent.

I just read an article about a politician who was an Army National Guardsman. Whether I agree with this particular politician or not, the thing that bothered me about the article was the way the author portrayed Guardsmen in general. In an attempt to apparently discredit the politician, the author wrote:

"Remember, he wasn’t a real soldier, he was nothing but a weekend warrior… he couldn’t take a couple years off to serve his country… he had a “real life” to lead."

Not a real soldier? Ok. Fine. I don't know this particular politician's military record but it just got under my skin because maybe there was a time when members of reserve components weren't as often activated or critical to war efforts as they are now but the point is they are now and I for one, as a Guardsman's wife would like the "weekend warrior" stereotype to stop.

By the time my husband returns from this deployment, including R&R leave, he'll have spent a total of 17 of the previous 24 months serving his country, away from his family, most of which in a combat much more real does it get?

Granted, Guard and Reserve families don't have to PCS. They usually don't deploy as often or for as long but we face other issues that active duty families never do. We, for example, live more than an hour from any military installation. We don't have the support of either a military facility or even just another family (offline) who really understands what we're going through. We face knowing that we're very lucky my husband has a job with a company which supports the military but many of his fellow Guardsmen and women are not as fortunate.

Please don't misunderstand, in no way do I mean to say that it is more difficult to be a member of a reserve component. I can't say how thankful I am not to have to PCS and to have my husband home (in general...or at least I will in the future) more often than if he were an active duty member. I'm just tired of the "weekend warrior" rhetoric. It's archaic. It's inaccurate. And it's offensive.


I'm not often speechless.

Most of the time I don't shut up but I don't have any words. I'm shocked.

Ok. Before I choke on my own inability to speak. I should probably let you know why I'm so flabbergasted.

I enjoy politics. I have friends and family on both sides (and everything in between) of the political spectrum. Couple that with the fact that I have family members who live and work for the state of Wisconsin and you can see why I've kept my mouth shut about the conflict. To be honest, I think both sides have made this mess worse than it needed to be and although I certainly side more heavily with one group, I do understand the passion that both sides have.

None of that really matters though when it comes to my utter disbelief. You see, an acquaintance from college just posted on facebook. Here's what he wrote:

"Who is more deserving of our sympathy right now, the Japanese or union workers from WI?"



March 12, 2011

Ear Infections, Elephants & Earthquakes

It's been a crazy week.

We started it off with a trip to the family doctor because the boy was having a hard time sleeping and that is not the norm. This is the same kid that slept through the night on the night we brought him home from the hospital. I'd like to say we only had to wake him to nurse but honestly, we didn't. He nursed. We changed his diaper. But the boy never really woke up. All that to say, he likes to sleep so when he doesn't, even just one night without crying, I KNOW something's up. Sure enough. He had a double ear infection...again...this is #6 in his short two and a half years but it's only the second over the last year so although we've considered tubes, it's not something we're leaning towards at this point.

Sadly, as a result of the ear infections, we have to nix this week's swim lesson but we did have some fun yesterday at the zoo. Our local zoo recently got their elephants back from a fairly long visit to another zoo...they were on "dates" with some of the other zoo's elephants and the zoologists have been happy to report that at least one of the dates was successful and there will be a new baby elephant at our zoo sometime this May. In addition to the elephants being back, the zoo was opening a whole new elephant area complete with a demonstration pavilion, and a long winding bridge which overlooks the new savanna. I have to give the zoo credit, they did a great job...but it's hard not to compare any zoo experience with Disney World's Animal Kingdom. If you or your kids have never been but love animals, you NEED to go. (And when you do, check out the safari first thing in the morning, it's breath-taking!)

The trip to the zoo was tempered with the sobriety of what was going on in Japan. I have two close friends from high school ( married now, as well as their daughter) stationed on a air base outside of Tokyo and a college friend who was a foreign exchange student and my roommate for a semester from northern Japan. My American friends are safe and I know that the Air Force will take care of them if anything further happens but once I heard where the epicenter was, my heart dropped. It took some time but I got in contact with her and miraculously not only was she safe but her family has all been accounted for as well. There were some injuries but nothing it seems too serious. I pray that they all remain safe and the government is able to get control of their nuclear facilities as soon as possible.

March 9, 2011

Britax B-Ready (singles mode) Review

Britax apparently read my review because they have come out with foam-filled rubber replacement tires! They're $89.99 (currently) and you can only buy them from Britax. I'm looking forward to buying them soon!

The new Britax stroller/car seat arrived last night and I was excited to give it a whirl today so I took the boy to the park.

First off, I have to say that my son is more than old enough to walk the two blocks to the park (obviously not alone...thought I should mention that before some troll responds) but why walk when there's a cool new stroller. He loves the stroller-which is great because sometimes it's just nice to have the ability to strap the child down. We went with the Britax B-Ready because it's one of few strollers which can be both a single and a double. When we started really thinking about what we would need to buy and do when the time came that we would have a second child and since most of our "baby gear" is gender neutral, the stroller was the biggest concern. Initially I expected our children to only be about two years apart but we had a miscarriage and then the Army took some time away so now our kids will be almost (possibly) exactly three years apart. As a result, my assumption that we would NEED a double stroller has changed a bit. I still want to have the double option for the deployment and vacations but otherwise, I don't really want the trouble of a double. Here's my theory on doubles: tandems suck. I know so many women who get excited in the store because "it was so easy to maneuver" and then six months and 40 lbs of kids and bags later, it's just a pain...side by sides also kinda suck because unless you spend about $700 (aka Bumbleride Indie Twin) it's impossible to find one that  is both narrow enough to fit through a door but also enough of a stroller that a sleeping toddler can lay back. I was prepared to go the financially painful route and get the Bumbleride but then I saw the Britax in the store and fell in love. I waited for an awesome sale which included a new infant carrier and now that I've used it, I still love it, but there are some caveats.

Here's my thoughts on the pros and cons of the Britax B-Ready in singles mode...once the Princess arrives and I take both kids out, I'll post a doubles mode review too.

- SO EASY to push! I was on the phone with Joshua and pushed the stroller over grass with the other hand
- The handle adjusts for short parents like me-I'm 5'2" (and actually low enough for my 2 and a half year old to be able to push) but it also goes almost straight up so parents like my 6' 2" husband won't have to bend down to push
- The included rain cover, parent console and cup's not a big thing but it is nice to have that all included
- The main toddler seat is up way higher than most in order to accomodate either the 2nd toddler seat or the infant carrier below so in the single mode, you're not going to be bending way down to wipe a nose or buckle the kid (and if your kid is like mine, he loved being up high in his little "rocket ship")
- It looks great...I know it's not hugely important but it is nice pushing something around that doesn't look like every other stroller
- The brake is the best brake I've ever seen (this is officially stroller #4 for us and as a nanny I used at least a dozen others before the boy came along). It's a one touch brake but it's better than the ones you see on a lot of jogger style strollers that have a bar which goes across the bottom and locks both back wheels. It's just on one side and if you're in flip flops, have no fears, you lock it with one step down (a little indicator goes red) and then you unlock it by stepping down on the brake again (indicator goes green)
- The basket is HUGE. I have NO concerns about putting kid #2 down there and still having space and accessibility because there are zippers on the front and both sides to help with access
- The snack cups (sold seperately) are literally just two snaps into each side of where the bumper bar normally goes. Some parents don't like that there isn't a tray but I love it because it means that when we're at the zoo and the boy has a sippy in one cup and crackers in the other and he has to go to the bathroom or wants a closer look at something, I don't have to worry about the tray and the crackers and the juice all going flying
- Compared to the Baby Jogger City Select, it's not as long...almost an entire foot shorter while in doubles mode (which doesn't give you the maneuveribility troubles of most tandums but it does pose problems for shorter parent like myself when we come to a door that isn't automatic...with the B-Ready, it's short enough that I can still reach any door)
- So many options. There are 14 configurations including the doubles mode but just as a singe, it's great. I'll be able to use an infant car seat after removing the main toddler seat which is great for two reasons A-it's less weight with just the infant carrier (most times they snap into the toddler seat instead of removing it) and B-the toddler seat gets less wear and tear before it's necessary. Once you are using the main toddler seat, baby can face out or face you.
- The recline feature is super convenient. No more stupid rope to sinch up or down. It is a simple pull of a handle on the top of the seat. The feet also come up so if you have an itty bitty in the seat, they can sleep really comfortably.

- It's heavier than most singles so if you know you won't need a double at all, there's probably better options
- The wheels are my biggest complaint. They're hard plastic instead of the air-filled jogger style. I had sworn NEVER to use anything but the air-filled tires but the B-Ready really surprised me. It isn't as smooth as a jogger would be but because I've never used a jogger stroller for actually jogging, it works. I do wonder how long the tires will last and am kinda hoping Britax comes out with air-filled replacement tires because we have a cobblestone walkway in front of our house. Also, the rubber air-filled tires grip the road better so it feels like you have to do less work with them than with the hard wheels the B-Ready has for now.
- The center of gravity is much higher because the main toddler seat is so high. The good news is that it doesn't really affect the stability (my son got into the bottom and was hanging on the side and it never rocked or looked the slightest unstable). The downside is that tipping it up a curb or down a couple stairs in front of the house takes some work especially for shorter, not so big people like myself.

In conclusion:

If our kids were closer together and I'd use a double for longer, I'd go with the Bumbleride Indie Twin.

If our kids were further apart I'd stick to a dedicated single stroller and maybe just buy a buggy board for the boy to hop on from time to time when his legs got tired.

If I wasn't so small and was willing to spend another $200, I might have gone with the Baby Jogger City Select because of the air-filled tires.

If we had twins, I'd cry. And then probably buy a snap and go frame that holds two car seats for the first 4-6 months that the kiddos would be in infant carriers and then also get the Bumbleride Indie Twin.

UPDATE: I now have a Doubles Mode Review posted

March 5, 2011

Goodnight Moon

Last night, I had to run a quick errand a little later than normal and as always the boy was with me. Before I go any further, you should know that he has a thing for the moon...long story short, he and his Daddy were on a let's-go-outside-and-look-at-the-moon-kick before Joshua left for his deployment. So with it dark out, the boy immediately started looking for the moon. After about five minutes of searching (it was too low to be seen unfortunately) the boy announced that the moon was "too far away" and it was "sad." And then he said "the moon sad, moon cry." At first, I was impressed with his ability at two and a half to understand the linkage between sad and cry because he's not an overly emotional kid so we haven't focused much on emotions. In fact, he's pretty easy going and great about listening to the rules even if it's not a particular favorite as long as he's had the reason behind the rule explained to him. But then his train of thought continued and he said "Daddy too far away too...Daddy sad." And then he just got quiet and starred out his window. It was sweet and heartbreaking and kind of beautiful too. The boy has taken this deployment better than I had expected but moments like that remind me that it hasn't gone without notice.

March 4, 2011

Deployment Sucks

That's pretty much it for today.

I'm highly irritable so I'm trying to stay off facebook. I don't want to get too annoyed with anyone and forget to be polite. I do that sometimes. Quick wit + sharp, uncontrolled tongue = family drama more often than it should but that's not hard when you have 60+ first cousins and most of them are on facebook along with my 16 biological aunts and uncles...all their spouses (and ex-spouses...and then you have to add all the step-people). Somehow the step-people are the worst but I need to stop because that line of thought will go nowhere good.

I'll try to be less annoyed tomorrow.