Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A short note to Sanaa, Layla, and my future daughter-in-law

I'm writing this post to Sanaa, Layla, and my future daughter-in-law (if Malakai chooses to get married). I don't really have time today to sit down and write since Sanaa, Layla, and I leave for Guatemala in two days. I have mountains of laundry to finish, meals to prep for Nate and Malakai, and some packing to do. I don't think packing will take long since I have most of the clothes already packed.

However, I need to get this off my mind.

Yesterday a mom made a comment to me that rubbed me the wrong way. Normally I don't think I would have been annoyed by the comment but for some reason yesterday I was really bothered by her comment.

I was talking with another mom about consignment stores and sales. She mentioned a store where she takes the items her kids have outgrown and I mentioned that I usually take my stuff to a week long consignment sale. If you take your items to a consignment store, they will price and tag your items for you. However, if you choose to do a consignment sale that runs anywhere from 3 days to a week, you have to price, tag, drop off, and pick up all your items yourself. It's a lot of work. I mentioned to the other mom that I've chosen to do the consignment sales because you receive more of the profit from the sale of your items then you would if you took it to a store. (For example, at a consignment sale you might receive 70%-80% of what an item sells for instead of 50%-60% from a store. But that varies among all the different stores and sales.)

I honestly don't care what people choose to do because they do what works for them. But the mom I was talking to said, "Oh, but you have so much more time that I do and I just can't do a sale."

This mom works full time outside of her home and has two children. Her oldest is Sanaa's age and her youngest is about 5 or 6 months old (about 8 months younger than Malakai). She knows that I stay at home and do not work outside of the home.

I didn't respond to her comment but in my mind I was rather upset at her assumption that because I stay home full time I have "so much more time" on my hands.

I've heard and read "war" stories between working moms and stay at home moms. Each thinks their job is harder than the other one. But I disagree. Whether you're a mom that works outside of the home or one that stays home, both are hard, difficult, stressful, and tiring in their own way. I wish we would stop comparing whose job is harder and just get along.

To, Sanaa, Layla, and my future daughter-in-law,

Whatever you chose to do in life I want you to know that I will support you 100%. If you decide to work outside of the home when you have children, you do it! If you decide to stay home with your children, you do it! There is no correct way to raise a family and each family has to make their own decision as to what is best for their family. There are pros and cons to staying home and there are pros and cons to working outside the home. You'll most likely second guess whatever decision you make. But as long as you pray about your decision, God will lead you down the path he has for you.

Once you make your decision, please don't judge other moms that have made a different decision. God leads all of us differently and has a plan for each of us. I also don't want you to take the comments of other moms personally in regards to the decision you have made. That is easier said than done. Some days those comments won't bother you one bit but the next day that same comment could rub you the wrong way and leave you angry. If a comment does bother you, call me and I'll do my best to reassure you! If anything I can at least listen as you blow off steam.

Right now Sanaa you are only 5, Layla you are 3, and Malakai you are only 13 months so the idea of you all being grown up with kids seems like it's a life time away. But I'm sure it'll happen before I know it.

I love you all a ton!

Friday, July 26, 2013

More loss...

These past few weeks leading up to our trip to Guatemala have been rough and stressful. I wrote earlier about Nate's car dying and the kids being sick for two weeks straight. This week the kids were finally better (however I'm not so sure about Malakai since he's started pulling at his ears again and has had a hard time sleeping today).

We've been a one car family for about three weeks now and it's not been fun at all since it really extends Nate's day. When he works he's basically gone for 12-13 hours. If I can pick him up or drop him off to meet his train then he's only gone for 12 hours, otherwise he's gone for at least 13 hours. We were expecting to buy a used van from one of Nate's co-workers over the weekend but the battery in the van died and he couldn't drive it to work to give it to Nate. Nate's co-worker is going to get a new battery in the van for us on his next day off and hopefully we'll have the van just before the girls and I leave for Guatemala.

Then yesterday I received an email that someone I cared for had passed away on Tuesday. Rich Krane was a wonderful man. He went by Jagi and was Cole and Dylan's grandpa. Cole and Dylan were the two children I took care of when I worked as a nanny. His death was unexpected even though I knew his health was bad. I spent a lot of time with Rich when Cole was young and he was the easiest person to talk to. I never heard a mean comment come out his mouth and he always knew how to make someone feel valued. He constantly complimented me and told me what a good job I did taking care of Cole and Dylan. We spent a lot of time going to parks, Target, or Chucky Cheese. Before Dylan was born, Cole and I went out with Jagi once a week. When I had Sanaa and stopped working for the Weitzul family, Rich continued to call me every now and then to say hi and let me know he missed our time together. I would then find out that he and Cole were at Target and they were reminiscing about all the times the three of us would go to Target together. A couple of months ago Rich called and I'm so glad I answered the call. Rich called at a time that wasn't the best but I answered it anyway. I had no idea that it would be the last time I would talk with Rich. I think knowing that makes me more aware that I need to stop getting so caught up with my to do list or whatever else I think is important and take the call from someone that is important to me. My to do list will never end but the opportunities to talk with those I care about will end. I am going to miss Rich's unexpected calls a great deal.

Today wasn't much better. For one, Rich and the memories I have of him were on my mind a lot. But this afternoon my computer died. It's dead. It won't turn on. Layla spilled a cup of water that flowed under a binder and then to the computer. According to Nate the water hit the sweet spot and short circuited the entire logic board and power system. My computer is gone. Thankfully I had backed it up fairly recently and don't think I lost much. However it's just one more bad thing to add to my list of difficult and frustrating things these past few weeks.

I do hope to get the rest of our Mt. Hood vacation up before the girls and I leave for Guatemala but I guess we'll just see if that happens or not.

Nate was able to take my back up and load it onto his computer so for the time being we'll be sharing a computer. I'm doing this post from an iPad but I don't have access to my pictures. Luckily the pictures are now on Nate's computer so I can do write blog posts from there when he's not working on his Sunday school lesson.

All that to say I really wonder how Guatemala is going to go. So many frustrating/hard things have happened (car dying, sick kids, death of a friend, computer dying) these past few weeks that  it makes me wonder if Satan is attempting to make me second guess going on this trip.

We leave a week from today. I'm anxious about the trip to Guatemala that the girls and I are going on. I've been praying that we are an encouragement to those we meet and that we all stay healthy.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mt. Hood vacation, part 1 - the cabin

At the beginning of July when Nate's parents were here visiting we drove to Mt. Hood and spent 4 nights in a wonderful cabin. It was located near Government Camp (yes, that's the name of the town) and we really enjoyed our time there. The owners had pictures of the cabin during the winter and the snow was so deep it came up to the deck where you enter the house. In fact, we read that during the winter you can only ski in and ski out. 

Below is the front of the cabin. There were 3 levels. Nate, Malakai and I used the two bedrooms on the bottom floor. Nate's parents slept in the bedroom on the main floor and the girls had their own space on the 3rd floor which was one giant room with 3 beds (two full size beds and one twin size bed).

Malakai enjoyed exploring and looking out the windows when we arrived.

Sanaa and Layla ran around the cabin exploring and then we let them watch a little tv as we unpacked and settled in.

The next three pictures I took while standing at the front door.

The front deck was really nice. There were a lot of bird feeders surrounding the deck and we got to watch many birds and chipmunks eat.

While it would have been nice to eat outside, the table and bench were on wheels! It wasn't safe at all for our kids to eat at so we stayed inside.

The girls room. The first night was pretty rough and they had a hard time settling down. I lost count how many times Nate and I had to go up. The light really bothered them and they weren't about to sleep while it was light out. I think Layla finally fell asleep around 9pm and Sanaa may have fallen asleep around 9:30. However, they both woke up 2-3 times during the night and stumbling walking from the bottom floor up two flights of steps to see what they needed or calm them down from crying was not fun. Thankfully the rest of the nights there were a little better.

The stack of books in the room that Sanaa and Layla shared was amazing. Sanaa loved it and spent a lot of time looking at all the books. We also spent a lot of time reading with the girls.

The girls also enjoyed sliding the down the stairs. Even Malakai enjoyed the stairs and we had to keep a close eye on him because he would disappear and begin climbing the stairs. There was one baby gate to block the stairs to the bottom floor and there was a door that we could close to the stairs that led to the third floor. However, we discovered on the second or third day when Malakai pushed on the door that it didn't actually latch and he would keep going over to the door and opening it!

One of the many bird feeders.

Each day Papa Gene fed the birds and Sanaa helped. She really enjoyed helping.

Even Layla got to help put some suet in a bird feeder.

The chipmunks came to eat frequently and the girls had fun watching them. They would often let me know when birds were at the feeder so I could try and get a picture but I was never fast enough.

I did get lucky one afternoon while the girls were off exploring with Papa Gene and Gramma Carol and  got a picture of a hummingbird. Hopefully you can see it off to the right of the feeder.

Monday, July 15, 2013

An ear infection and viral conjunctivitis

This afternoon Nate took Malakai to the pediatrician. Malakai's right ear started oozing some drainage over the weekend and it wasn't clearing up. Since the girls had never had drainage ooze from their ears it concerned us some. However, it turns out the oozing ear is just fine! The drainage coming out is the tube keeping his ear clear and free of any ear infection. His left ear is a different story.... that ear has an infection and is nice and red. So we learned something new today about ears and drainage. I seriously would not have guessed that Malakai had an ear infection in the ear that is not draining.

Malakai also has viral conjunctivitis (pink eye that has resulted from his cold). We can't do anything about this and have to just let it run its course. Poor guy. His eyes aren't red at all but they have had the goop coming from them.

He is still coughing a lot and having some trouble sleeping. His cough seems to wake him up but most of the time he goes back to sleep by himself.

The pediatrician did tell Nate that if Malakai begins to run a fever or he begins to have some respiratory problems (his breathing sounds worse) then we need to take him back to the doctor. The pediatrician has seen many children recently who have developed pneumonia so hopefully that doesn't happen to Malakai and he'll start getting better tomorrow.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A long week with 3 sick kids

It definitely wasn't enough that Nate's car broke and we decided not to repair it. Nope. All three kids got sick with a summer cold. Sanaa has been coughing for nearly 2 weeks but is finally doing better. Layla started coughing at the end of last week and steadily got worse this week with Wednesday night being really rough with her. Wednesday afternoon Malakai started getting cranky and coughing and Wednesday night was rough with him too. So three cranky, sick kids + one tired mommy = a very long week ending with a very cranky mommy.

The girls are doing better. Wednesday night I thought Layla had an ear infection because she was crying hysterically and kept complaining about her ears. I used ear drops that I had and it didn't seem to help much. So then I got desperate and started looking up home remedies. I ended up making some garlic oil (I just warmed up vegetable oil and let a clove of garlic soak in it until she woke up again which was about 30 minutes later) and then gently massaged it around the outside of her ear which surprisingly had a calming effect on her. I read that you could put a drop or two in the ear but I wasn't going to try that. I was more hoping that massaging and gently (very, very gently) pulling on her ear lobe would help move the fluid out of her ear. Layla did end up sleeping from 11pm-7am and Thursday morning she didn't complain about her ears at all. So something worked. I'm just not sure what! 

The picture below was taken Tuesday evening before the week got worse with three sick kids. If I sit or lay on the floor I'm basically giving Malakai permission to climb all over me.

Wednesday morning I met a friend with her 3 kids at the splash park. Sanaa, Layla, and Malakai loved it! They were quite worn out from playing so hard.

Then Wednesday late afternoon and evening Malakai looked like this most of the time. Cranky and crying. I couldn't put him down at all since that led to full on tantrums and screaming.

Thursday his eyes started getting goopy and he today he still looks like this at times. He's doing a little better since he's started having a few moments where he'll actually play and I don't have to hold him, but those are only moments.

During some of the moments where Malakai is happy, he has learned how to crawl up on the trundle bed in his room.

He spent a little time sweeping my bathroom.

He discovered the knobs on the stove and got very angry when I moved him away. That resulted in a massive meltdown and then I was stuck holding him again.

He also decided he would try and follow his sisters up the bunk bed but thankfully didn't make it past the first rung.

Today he figured out how to use a chair to climb onto his sisters little folding table and made the huge discovery of the cluttered counter. The expression on his face almost seemed to say, "Wow! I've hit the jackpot."

He then gave me a look as if to say, "What? I'm not doing anything wrong."

I ended putting the chairs on top of our dining table so that Malakai would stay off the folding table but he wasn't done climbing. He finished the morning by pushing my laundry basket around and then climbed in it.

And he was very proud that he found the marker lid that he had dropped in the laundry basket.

So yes, he's been a cranky, sick little guy but after he gets his dose of Ibuprofen or Tylenol he's ready to get into mischief for a few minutes. I'm just hoping that tonight all the kids sleep all night long. Layla has been waking up in the middle of the night crying because her eyes get stuck shut with goop and Sanaa has been waking me up because a bug bite is bothering her.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sanaa's 5 year check up

This morning Sanaa had her 5 year check up and it was the hardest doctor's visit I've had. She is growing fine and her development (according to the questionnaire I filled out) shows that she's well above the cutoff in all areas of development. It was the end of the appointment when she got her shots that was hard. But we'll get to that in a moment.

At the appointment Sanaa did quite well and answered most of the questions the doctor asked her. I had to keep asking Sanaa to stop looking at the books and answer the doctor's questions but the doctor just laughed and said having trouble keeping her away from books was a good problem to have. 

Sanaa had her vision and hearing tested. Her eye sight is 25/20 which the nurse said is completely normal for her age group. Her passed the hearing test as well.

She is 3 feet 5 1/2 inches tall (36th percentile) and now weighs 42 pounds (66th percentile).

Sanaa really enjoyed filling out the questionnaire with me since there were items she had to draw or write. One item asked her to draw a person. Below is what she drew. The doctor loved it and said it reminded of her of a puppet. The doctor pulled up a picture of the puppet (or cartoon character) online and Sanaa's drawing did resemble the character. But I can't remember what the character was called so I can't find the picture online to show you. Bummer. It was one I had never heard of. The doctor asked Sanaa if she could keep her drawing but Sanaa said no, so then the doctor asked if she could make a photo copy of it. I'm not sure what the doctor will do with her copy but I think that made Sanaa feel pretty special that the doctor liked her drawing that much. We have a great doctor and I love how she makes each of our kids feel special and I love how she acts as though she has all the time in the world to discuss any issues I might have. I don't feel rushed at all with her like I have with other pediatricians.

Anyway, the end of the visit did not go so well and was quite traumatizing. Sanaa needed to get 4 shots for kindergarten and she had been worried all morning about it. I tried my best to calm her fears but once the nurse walked in with the shots I couldn't do or say anything to get Sanaa to calm down. Since I was holding Malakai in my sling (he's sick and won't let me put him down at all) a second nurse was called in to help hold Sanaa down. It was awful. Sanaa screamed and fought with all her might and I was close to tears myself. I'm use to my kids crying with shots but I was not prepared for her to fight so hard. I have a bad feeling that all future check ups where she needs shots are going to be very very hard. As Sanaa screamed, Layla hid in a corner and covered her ears and Malakai started crying as well. It was not fun at all.

We have also entered a new stage of emotional development with Sanaa, empathy. Recently, if something happens to either Layla or Malakai that causes them pain Sanaa will start crying. For example, earlier this week Layla had really bad ear pain. I had ear drops from a previous appointment and started to put those in her ears. Of course Layla was crying and then Sanaa started sobbing and saying, "Mommy please stop. Mommy don't put ear drops in her ears. Mommy stop! Mommy your hurting her!" While we were at Mt. Hood, Layla also stuck a green bead in her nose and nearly got it stuck. That scared Sanaa as well and she cried just as much as Layla cried. When Malakai needed shots at his 12 month appointment, Sanaa covered her ears and almost started crying telling me that we were hurting Malakai. I know this is an important stage of development but it is so hard to reassure her that everyone will be fine.

Layla is starting to show some empathy as well but it's not too the extreme that Sanaa is and I think some of it has to do with the fact that Layla copies some of Sanaa's behaviors. So it's hard to tell how much of what Layla is doing is true empathy or more because she's copying Sanaa.

Finally, here is a picture of Sanaa in the flamingo shirt aunt Karen gave her. I figured at least one light-hearted fun picture should be included in this post. Sanaa sure loves flamingos! She'd probably wear this shirt everyday if I let her.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bye, bye Saturn and bye, bye Nate's childhood home

My intention today was to do some posts about our week at Mt. Hood with my in-laws, but today was a rough day. We started the morning with Nate dropping his car off at the shop. We had trouble with it starting on Friday and Saturday. We hoped it would just be a bad battery but no such luck.

The mechanic ran a diagnosis on it and 4 diagnostic codes came back as not working. Ugh. On top of that they discovered the radiator was leaking. Just dandy. After testing the car and diagnosing it for most of the morning the mechanic called to give Nate a quote of $550 to fix the radiator and the one code they believed was causing the other three codes to malfunction. Nate and I talked and thought about things for a few hours and made the decision to sell the Saturn as is to the mechanic and become a one car family.

The decision wasn't easy but seeing as how the 4 diagnostic codes and radiator were not the only things wrong with the car helped us make our decision. A couple of months ago both windows on the driver's side stopped working. We got a quote of $350 for that since it was the window motor that was broken.

We chose to not have that fixed because the a/c still worked and most of the time it rains in Oregon so it's not like Nate is going to have his windows open anyway.

Not long after that Nate discovered that his a/c stopped working. At the time we didn't even bother getting that checked out because the passenger side windows still worked and since Nate doesn't drive his car that far he would be fine without a/c.

Last weekend Nate's parents arrived and his dad went with him to have the a/c looked at and see what was needed to repair it. We found out that the compressor was broken.

This was basically the final straw and we couldn't see putting all this money towards the car anymore. We had an especially hard time swallowing the idea of spending $550 when the mechanic wasn't even 100% sure all 4 diagnostic codes would begin working okay after repairing the one issue. If the other 3 codes continued to test as malfunctioning then the car would fail the DEQ test in a couple of months and we'd have to take it back to the shop. (Note from Nate: For our non-Oregonian friends, the DEQ test is an Emissions inspection that Oregonians have to subject their car to every 2 years to get our registration renewed).

So, bye, bye Saturn.

And that wasn't even the worst part of our day........

After dropping off the Saturn this morning we drove to the grocery store. While there Nate received a text from his mom letting us know that a pipe had burst in their downstairs bathroom flooding the entire first floor of their home. Their housecleaner discovered it this morning. At first I just thought the carpet was soggy but it was much, much worse.

Essentially, their home is unlivable for the foreseeable future. And they are dealing with all of this while on "vacation" in California.

All I know is that since there was so much water sitting in the house for an entire week, some of the walls may need to be torn out. The kitchen flooring was floating on top of the water, the furniture is destroyed, and there is even some damage to the garage. If you've ever been inside my in-laws home you probably remember how large their downstairs area was. So there was A LOT of water sitting there. We also heard that the force of the water from the pipe was so strong that the water shot straight up and we have no idea what (if any) damage was done to their upstairs.

I have had the worst pit in my stomach all day just thinking about my in-laws home and what they'll be returning to. Losing our car today seems very minor to losing your home. The assessor said that on the scale he has in regards to water damage, the damage done to the home was the worst that it could be. So as you think of Nate's parents over these next few days and weeks please pray for them.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll start the posts about our wonderful time at Mt. Hood.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My dancing daughters

Since this blog serves as my photo album and memories (I've slowly been putting them into hard bound books) I decided I should share these fun pictures of Layla and Sanaa. After their birthday party they opened their gifts while my parents and Nate's parents were there. We waited until all the party guests left since I figured that would be too overwhelming for the girls to open presents with 30+ people looking on.

My parents gave both girls some new sunglasses and dress up shoes. Layla tried her items on and then the dancing began. Only there wasn't any music playing so they were dancing to the music in their head. It was hilarious to watch. We were all laughing pretty hard and it's hard to see their cool moves in pictures but I still wanted to include this memory. Nate did comment that he believes the girls got their moves from me and I don't know whether to take that as a compliment or not......

The girls splish splash birthday party

The day before Sanaa's 5th birthday I held a combined birthday party for both girls. They currently have the same friends and while we had a lot of people at the party it was easier to plan one large party than two smaller parties. We had about 16 kids and 18 adults. I honestly wasn't sure everyone would fit in the backyard. But they did! All the kids had a blast and Sanaa and Layla really enjoyed themselves.

Here is the set up before hand. I borrowed my parents outdoor umbrella and folding table to make more room on the deck for the kids to sit and eat.

We had a slip 'n' slide set up along side the deck and then a pool off to the side.

To make the pool a little more fun I had Nate help me put the slide into the pool. The kids loved it!

I also set up a bubble blowing station by using our small water table and then I used our turtle sandbox to hold water for Malakai and my niece Ariana to play in. I wanted to keep Malakai and Ariana separate from the bigger kids so that they didn't get run over and could enjoy the water as well.

Here is a shot of all the kids eating some lunch. I served pb&j for the kids with chips, carrots, celery, watermelon, and cantaloupe. For the adults I had BBQ pulled chicken and BBQ pulled pork in crockpots. My mom brought the BBQ pulled pork and fruit which was wonderful. I let the kids play in the pool and on the slip 'n' slide for about 45 minutes and then served lunch.

After most of the kids had finished eating we brought out the birthday cakes. Sanaa had a chocolate cake and Layla had a strawberry cake. Sanaa was a wonderful hostess and while I sliced the cake she shared her chocolate rainbow with all of her friends. Once everyone was served I looked around for Sanaa and discovered she still hadn't had her slice of cake. She was too busy taking care of her friends. I thought that was awesome!

After the birthday cake and ice cream we finished the party by pulling out some water balloons which Nate's parents filled and tied the morning of the party!

As a party favor the girls' friends got to take home a pull-string piñata that I made out of cereal boxes and tissue paper that we had. Of course, everyone thought the piñatas were a lot of fun. I don't plan to ever make them again for such a large party but for a smaller party I might.

Now the busy birthday month has come to end and I have a good year to plan for next year. Haha! I think next year will stick with a small party and maybe hold a large party every other year or so.