Monday, December 8, 2014

34 Weeks and Counting!

34 weeks!  34 weeks!  34 weeks!  I made it to 34 weeks!  I've never made it this far into a pregnancy before.  Katherine was born at 33 weeks.  Steve and I psyched about how well this pregnancy is going.  It's a nice feeling to be healthy and know my baby probably won't spend time in the NICU.  (Although I do love the Unity Point NICU staff.  They were great!)  So celebrate with us that this pregnancy is going so well!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Giving Thanks: The Mind of a Child

Katherine has such an inquisitive mind.  It's one of the many reasons I'm thankful to be a mom.  We put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and she helped decorate.  For a few days afterward she would go over to the tree and point out various ornaments.  "A horse, Mommy!  Where other one go?"  "A ball!"  (for the purple and silver Christmas tree bulbs)  We'd stand for a few minutes looking at the Christmas tree and enjoying how pretty it is.  She's reminding me to slow down and savor the moments in the holiday season.  It's so easy to get caught up in the rush of everyday life.  Her excitement and joy about simple Christmas decorations remind me that this is what the season is truly about: finding joy in the little things and enjoying each day.  She also wants the Christmas tree to be lit all the time.  Each morning I make sure to plug the tree in before she comes downstairs so she's greeted by a lit tree.  

She's also a little nut.  Yesterday we were grocery shopping and she was laughing at everything.  And I do mean everything.  I have no idea what was so funny at Fareway yesterday but it made a normally mundane task a lot more fun.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Gift to Last a Lifetime

I love to read.  It's truly one of my favorite hobbies.  I remember the first time I went to a Barnes and Noble.  It was so huge and books were everywhere.  It was magical.  Reading holds a special place in my heart.  When I was younger, I couldn't read and it impacted my life in a major way.  Many of you don't know (some of you do) that I repeated first grade.  It was one of the most influential, embarrassing and difficult moments of my life.  I know you're probably thinking that's a little dramatic considering how young a first grader is but it's true.  Having to repeat a grade shaped who I would become.  When I was in first grade the first time, I couldn't read.  The school was using a new method to teach reading and it didn't click with my logic-based brain.  I was sent to the resource room to work on my reading.  Only it didn't have much of an effect.  My first grade teacher was young and inexperienced.  My parents weren't told the depth of my struggles with reading until 3rd quarter conferences when asked if they would consider holding me back.  The teacher waited too long to talk to my parents about my struggles.  If it had been brought to their attention earlier in the year, they could have worked with me at home to improve my reading.  But they didn't have time to do that before the end the school year.  My parents made the decision to yes, hold me back a grade.  It was the right decision.  The class I ultimately graduated with is the class I feel like I truly belonged in.  But at the time, for my young ego and heart, it was extremely difficult.  I had failed.  I had never failed at something so major and so publicly in my little life.  I cried the last day of school when I was told I wouldn't be going to second grade with the rest of my class.

My mom taught me to read the summer between first grades.  My aunt Colleen, my God mother, suggested my mom use the old Phonics method to teach me to read.  It was more logic based than the method the school used and Aunt Colleen felt it would make sense to my logic-based brain.  And it did.  My mom spent the whole summer working with me in the evenings, going over lessons in reading.  Phonics focuses on sounding out words.  At times it was really hard.  I would cry and say "But you don't care about me!" to which my mom would reply "No." (as in "No, that's not true.  I do care.").  Eventually she turned it into a game.  I couldn't say that phrase until the end of a lesson page in the Phonics textbook.  The Phonics series we used had little story books to go with the lessons.  I still remember the look of those books: small, simple type, maybe a black and white picture of the characters.  I loved reading those little books with their simple stories.  I was getting it.  I was reading.

By the time I began first grade the second time, I could read.  I don't remember much about my second year of first grade.  I had a different teacher than the previous year.  (My original teacher went to a different town after getting married, I think.)  I do remember there was a bully from my former class who was always sent to the hall for being in trouble and would call me stupid as I walked by.  And that hurt.  My best friend, Jennifer, and I were in the same grade which now, I'm thankful for.  She's been a huge part of my life since we were babies.  It was nice to have a friend in my new grade that year.  By second grade, I had more confidence in myself and my abilities.  My second grade teacher asked my mom why I was held back.  Upon learning the reason, she responded "You're kidding!  She's one of the best readers in the class."  I had caught up.  The fear of failure learned at such a young age stayed with me for a long time.  It took me a long time to learn that it's ok to fail.  It's ok to not be the best at everything.  

And so my faithful readers, after all of this, the struggles, the tears, the humiliation, came a love of reading.  Reading means so much to me, probably more than the average person.  It signifies that I am smart, that I am capable of things I didn't think I could do.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day!  I'm up before Steve and Katherine so I have the opportunity to reflect on what I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving, as weird as that may sound.  I'm thankful for a holiday to gather with family, prepare a meal and appreciate what we've been given in the past year.  Steve and I don't live near family so anytime we're able to have family visit us, I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for Katherine's vacation days at day care.  Katherine had 5 vacation days at day care that would have expired in January.  I decided to take this week off so she and I could get some quality time together before Baby S arrives.  We didn't do anything super exciting this week or out of the norm.  We've had more snuggle time and time to play together.  The days off also gave me a chance to recharge.  I'd been feeling pretty exhausted lately.  Staying home with Katherine actually allowed me to not push myself too hard and get a few extra things done around the house.

I'm thankful for my crazy cats, The Fuzz and Leela, who as I type this are running around the living room attacking each other.  Our lives would be so boring without them.  Katherine loves them and now wants them to come play with her.  She'll hold a cat toy and yell "Leela!".  So far, Leela has yet to come running but it's still cute.

I'm thankful for the internet and Weight Watchers magazine.  Both have enabled me to find low-carb pumpkin and cranberry dishes so I can still enjoy some of my holiday favorites without going over my carb allowance.

I'm thankful that despite a few hiccups I'm healthier with this pregnancy.  I'm confident I will deliver a full-term baby this time around and not spend a week in the hospital clinging to my life.

I'm thankful all of the specialists I've been referred to this year have been in Sioux City.  This has made my life so much easier.  Rather than take a full day off work for a specialist appointment, I can take a few hours and drive across town to my appointment.

The things listed above are just a drop in the bucket.  I have so many things to be thankful for, this post could continue indefinitely.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday today with your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I'm adding a new feature to my blog: gratitude posts.  This year has been quite stressful for me (for reasons I won't discuss in this blog) and my stress management skills have not been the best.  I'm hoping that expressing gratitude publicly every week will help with that.  So without further ado: welcome to my first gratitude post.

I'm thankful for Steve, Katherine, The Fuzz and Leela.  Steve has always been very supportive of me whether it's supporting my various interests (crafting, reading, music, whatever it may be at the moment) or my recent medical issues, he's always there by my side cheering me on.  He's a lot more patient than I am too which helps a lot!  He has pretty much taken over meal prep which isn't an easy task now with my gestational diabetes.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still involved in part of the planning and prep but he does the bulk of the work.  Katherine's baths have also been taken over by him now that my belly gets in the way.  I'm so thankful he's willing to help out with these and so many other things.

Katherine brings such joy to our lives with her cute giggle and inquisitive mind.  I love when she asks "Where go?" when someone leaves the room or even the TV screen.  I also find it absolutely adorable that if the answer is "I don't know", she whispers the question twice more.  This week she's been really snugly.  She's wanted to sit on my lap more and just hang out.

The Fuzz and Leela are such dorks that I can't help but love them.  Their crazy antics make me laugh or shake my head daily.  I can't imagine not having them as part of our household.

Friday, November 14, 2014

There's the Sugar

Pregnancy complications seem to be my normal for pregnancy.  I was hoping for a pregnancy with minimal complications.  We were referred to the maternal-fetal specialist earlier due to a few cysts.  The cysts have disappeared and the baby and I were given a clean bill of health.  Then I received the diagnosis of gestational diabetes.  Initially I was really angry about my diagnosis.  While this isn't the diagnosis I had hoped for, I've decided to accept it and move on.  There are a few positives to this diagnosis:

  • I get to meet with a dietitian.  I've taken an interest in nutrition in the past few years and have wanted to meet with a dietitian for awhile.
  • I get to search for new low-carb recipes.  For a foodie like me, it's the perfect excuse to look through recipes.  I've already found a few for Thanksgiving so I can enjoy some of the traditional foods without completely blowing my carb count.
  • My cousin Erin has been an enormous source of support and knowledge.  Erin is a Registered Dietitian and I've relied on her for nutrition advice since Katherine was born.  I really appreciate her knowledge!
  • We have to plan out our meals in detail and are eating healthier, more balanced meals as a result.  
  • I'm learning more about nutrition.
  • There are more foods I can eat than I originally thought there would be.
  • I can't die from this.
  • Steve is very supportive in my diet and cooking healthy foods.
  • I'm allowed 3 meals and 3 snacks each day with specific carb counts for each.
  • Proteins, cheese and most vegetables are considered "free" foods.  Thanks goodness I can eat however much cheese I want!  And yes, I'm serious.  I love cheese.
  • I don't have to take medication.  Usually gestational diabetes can be controlled through diet.  I really hope this is true in my case.
  • I've had to finally give up Pepsi for good.  I've known for awhile I should do this.  Gestational diabetes was the kick in the pants I needed to actually do it.
  • This has made me even more aware that I need to adopt healthy habits.  I'm hoping to adopt an exercise routine within the next year.  (I'm giving myself a little leeway when Baby S is really little.)  I'm also hoping to continue with a healthy diet about Baby S's arrival. 
  • A coworker also has gestational diabetes.  We've been able to commiserate and support each other.  It's comforting to have someone in the same boat, even if I wish we both didn't have it.
  • So far, my blood sugar has been within the acceptable ranges.  
  • Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born.
  • Pumpkin spice cream cheese is only 5 carbs per serving.  Yay!  A pumpkin something I can enjoy.  
There are a few negatives to this as well:
  • I have to go through the holidays with this new diet.  I'm really not thrilled about not being able to eat whatever sweets or foods I want during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We are celebrating Christmas in Sioux City and I was looking forward to trying traditional dishes from all over the world.  That probably isn't going to happen now.  
  • Learning to carb count takes time out of my day.  Until I get really good at it, it takes time to figure out what I'm eating for my meals and snacks each day.  
  • I really, really like pasta, bread and sweets.  I'm a little bummed I can't eat these whenever I want in the quantity I want.  
  • Our meal-planning takes a lot longer.  Steve and I sat down and really had to think of low-carb meals for the next week.  I know this will get easier over time.  It's a just a little frustrating right now.
  • Possible health risks for the baby if I don't follow my diet and the potential for diabetes in the future for me.  I really didn't want to add more future health risks for myself.  I have a few potential future health concerns due to the preeclampsia I had while pregnant with Katherine.  I also want to have a healthy baby who gets to leave the hospital the same day I do.  
  • I can't eat ice cream whenever I want.  
  • I have to check my blood sugar 4 times a day which means my fingers get jabbed each time.  On the plus side, it could be a lot more.  I'm only required to check my sugars in the morning and 2 hours after each meal.  
  • I've had to finally give up Pepsi for good.  It was my one vice and I really like it.  I don't drink (even when I'm not pregnant I don't drink much alcohol.) and I've never smoked.  Pop was my vice.  As you can see, I have mixed feelings about having to give it up.
I'm trying to make the best of this situation and be positive.  It is only 2 months and I can stick with it for that short of a time frame.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

New Name, New Look

Welcome to the re-launch of my blog!  I finally settled on a name that seems to be a better fit for my blog.  For the Love of Food didn't feel right anymore.  This blog doesn't focus on strictly food anymore and I felt it was time for a change.  Tots and Tails describes my life perfectly.  Our days are filled with Katherine, Baby S coming in January and our cats, The Fuzz and Leela.  Thanks for sticking with me while I've been MIA in the blogging world.  I plan to post more in the upcoming months.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Busy Bees

Hello!  Steve and I have been pretty busy lately.  Last weekend was a crafty weekend for us.  Steve started painting a wooden dollhouse he'd given me as a gift for last year's anniversary.  (Don't judge... I have projects from 2 years ago I still haven't finished.)  I made Katherine's birthday invitations.  The invitations turned out pretty much how I envisioned them.  I don't plan on making the invitations every year but this year I couldn't find invitations that I liked.  Her birthday party theme is Teddy Bear Picnic and there is not a lot out there for that theme.  Unless you want to spend an arm and a leg on the invitations alone but I knew I could do better on my own and save some money.  I purchased gingham earlier in the year in anticipation of her party and a teddy bear rubber stamp when I realized I'd probably be making the invitations.  I already had the blank note cards and the party info stamp.  I got to work and the invitations were done that afternoon.  I'm pretty excited for Katherine's birthday party.  The menu is full of bear-themed food and there will be baskets with gingham and teddy bears everywhere.  I think it will be a lot of fun.

On Sunday I also finished making a look-and-find bean bag I had been working on for quite some time.  I needed to finish that bean bag before church today.  I have a bag of toys only for church so Katherine has something to play with while we're there.  She's grown tired of the current church bag so I need to switch things up.  (I knew this would happen.)  Months ago I had purchased two felt squares from Hobby Lobby (love that store!), some craft beads and some alphabet charms.  I cut the felt squares down so the bean bag wouldn't be huge and cut a hole in the middle.  We also reused the plastic covering that came on her car seat for the window.  It was nearly impossible to find the bendable clear plastic anywhere!  I sewed it all together, leaving one side open so I could pour in the beans, beads and alphabet charms.  I didn't use all the letters.  Instead I picked out letters to spell "Katherine", "Mommy" and "Daddy" 3 times.  The bean bag turned out pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

I also purchased some fabric at Hobby Lobby last Saturday.  I will be making a quilt for the new baby.  I've dug through my stash of fabric and picked out a few I liked.  The fabric from my stash needs to be measured to ensure I have enough for the quilt.  The 2 new fabrics compliment the stash fabric nicely.  There are a couple of the stash fabrics that won't be used because they clash a little with the new stuff.  I picked yellows, greens, tans and white for this quilt because we're not finding out the gender of the baby.  Right now green is the dominant color so I might buy one more yellow and one more tan.  I think the quilt will be beautiful when completed.  I am deviating from the pattern a little bit with the number of different fabrics I'm using.  The pattern is a nine patch so I don't think it will matter too much.  The quilt will have a vintage feel to it which I love.

Yesterday Steve and I decided it was time to start the decluttering process, again.  Steve worked evenings for the last 3 weeks and our house became even more cluttered than it already was.  I went through a stack of a magazines, tore out recipes I wanted to keep and recycled the rest.  It was a good feeling to get rid of that small piece of clutter.  We also made our menu for the next 2 weeks and went grocery shopping.  While shopping at Fareway, I saw a former Target coworker of mine.  It was fun to catch up with him.  I hadn't seen him in quite some time.  Fareway's ad was really good this week so we stocked up on ground beef and pasta.  We also bought the lemonade for Katherine's party because the sale was fantastic.  We went to Target for a few things not available at Fareway.  I went armed with a bunch of Target coupons and my Cartwheel bar code.  This was my first experience using Cartwheel and I'm pretty pleased with it overall.  We saved over $20 at Target using the coupons and cartwheel and also received a few gift cards (yay!).  Saturday was also laundry day.  All of the laundry was washed (with the exception of one quilt).  All the laundry was folded except for the things on the drying rack and half of it was put away.  The rest will be put away today.  I might tackle our office today for the decluttering project.  It's rather scary in here.  I also need to put away clothes that no longer fit and pull out some of my maternity clothes.

Wish me luck with our decluttering and organizing endeavors!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

An Ode to My Dishwasher

When Steve and I purchased our home, we had to buy a new stove, washer and dryer.  The dishwasher and refrigerator came with the sale of the house.  I love the stove, washer and dryer we picked out.  We did careful research regarding these appliances: going to the store to look at the models, going to multiple stores to check prices and also reading user reviews online.  Overall, I'm pretty pleased with our selections.  The dishwasher that came with our house was another story.  I hated it.  The racks were strange and it didn't do a great job cleaning the dishes.  The dishwasher would only hold 6 plates.  The racks were also waved with the top wave of the bottom rack and the lower wave of the top rack being on the same side.  This made it impossible to wash anything tall.  Pictures might do a better job explaining the awkwardness of our previous dishwasher.

Pretty ridiculous, right?  Who designed this and thought "It loads 6 plates.  That'll be great."?  And why did the previous homeowner buy it?  Our new dishwasher is definitely a different story.  Our new dishwasher holds at least 10 place settings.  The bottom rack has ample room for plates, pots and big bowls.  The top rack has space for the numerous glasses, sippy cups and bowls we use throughout the day.  The silverware caddy is in the door but can fit in the bottom rack.  It took awhile for us to get used to everything the new dishwasher could hold.  If we were behind on dishes and the sink was overflowing, we'd think "Great. That'll take at least two loads to clean."  We were always pleasantly surprised when all of the dishes fit in one load.  Here is a picture of the new dishwasher.

Much better, right?  The best part about buying our new dishwasher was how we paid.  I had won a health contest at work.  I decided to take the $300 I received and buy the new dishwasher.  Overall it has made life so much easier.  The dishwasher is the working woman's best friend.  So much time is freed up by using a dishwasher.  I can be playing with Katherine and "washing" the dishes at the same time.

So, my faithful readers, what do you think of my dishwasher?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What I'm Reading

I love to read.  When I was little, my mom taught me to read the summer before I repeated 1st grade.  (That's a story for another time.)  Ever since that summer, it's hard to find me without a book in progress.  I don't have a favorite type of literature or a favorite author.  It's hard to pick one out of so many great books and authors.  Right now, I'm in a kid-lit mood.  I'm reading through the Anne of Green Gables series.  I dove into the first book.  Anne of Green Gables was a story I always loved but have just read for the first time.  We had the movies Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea starring Megan Follows when we were younger.  We watched the movies all the time, much to my younger sister's dismay.  (Sorry, Darce!)  My sister-in-law gave me Anne of Green Gables for Christmas a few years ago and I finally read it for the first time last month.  It was fun to see how the movie and the book aligned.  For the most part, the movie stayed on track for the book.  Anne of Green Gables tells the story of Anne Shirley, an orphan, who has largely been unwanted and unloved until she is mistakenly brought to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, unmarried siblings who live together.  Matthew and Marilla decide to keep Anne and raise her together.  Anne is a very imaginative girl who constantly gets into various predicaments.  After finishing the first book, I decided I must read them all.  I searched Barnes & Noble and Amazon for them.  I purchased Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island, books 2 and 3 in the series.  I just finished reading Anne of Avonlea.  Anne of Avonlea follows Anne as a teacher at Avonlea school.  I started Anne of the Island, the third book in the series.  I've really enjoyed this series.  Reading about Anne and her family and friends feels like I'm catching up with old friends.

As a family we are reading our way through The Chronicles of Narnia.  As mentioned in this blog post, we read a chapter aloud each night before bed.  We finished the fourth book Prince Caspian and will be starting The Voyage of the Dawn Treader..  I've really enjoyed this series.  It's very fun to finally read this piece of classic children's literature.  I enjoyed The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe immensely.  A Boy and His Horse has so far been my least favorite book of the series.  The other three books have involved someone discovering Narnia or traveling to Narnia from our world which is why I prefer these books over A Boy and His Horse.  I'm not sure what books we will read next as a family.  Maybe the Laura Ingalls Wilder books or some other classic.

I have a list on my computer of books I want to read.  Type-A?  Probably but there are so many good books recommended by friends or little blurbs in magazines that it's impossible for me to remember them all.  Want a peak at my list?  Here it is:

Within Arm’s Length by Dan Emmet
Mother Teresa: An Authorized Biography By Kathryn Spink
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader C.S. Lewis
The Silver Chair C.S. Lewis
The Last Battle C.S. Lewis
The Journey Peter Kreeft
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Room by Emma Donoghue
Fahrenheit451 by Ray Beadbury
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K LeGuin
 The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafron
Don Quijote de la Mancha
The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olson
The World Without You by Joshua Henkin
Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann
Tell The Wolves I’m Coming Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
The Beatles Anthology by The Beatles
The Beatles Every Little Thing by Maxwell Mackenzie
Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anne of the Island by LM Montgomery
Anne of Windy Poplars (Anne of Windy Willows) by LM Montgomery
Rainbow Valley by LM Montgomery
Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
By the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little Town on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
These Happy Golden Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Story of a Soul
The Help
Happier at Home  by Gretchen Rubin
The Magician’s Nephew C.S Lewis
Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert
The Thirteenth Tale Diane Setterfield
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe C.S. Lewis
The Horse and The Boy C.S. Lewis
Prince Caspian C.S. Lewis
Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Building a Bear

Katherine's 2nd birthday party will be a teddy bear picnic birthday.  There will be teddy bears, baskets and gingham everywhere.  We'll have bear-themed food: honeydew melons, gummy bears, Teddy Grahams, beary fruit cups, little smokies, honey barbeque wings and the list goes on.  She's even going to have a teddy bear shaped cake.  In keeping with the theme, I decided to knit her a teddy bear.  I've never knitted a stuffed animal before.  (Well, I made my nephew Aiden a weird monster dude thing a few years ago but it wasn't as involved as a teddy bear.)  I searched patterns on Ravelry and found one that I liked.  There are a lot of ugly teddy bears out there and there are also a lot of teddy bears with strange complicated patterns.  The pattern I settled on was the Diamond Jubilee Bear.  The bear is absolutely adorable.  The bear wears a crown because it was designed for Queen Elizabeth's 60-year celebration.  Initially I decided to not make the crown for Katherine's teddy bear.  Now, however, it will depend on when I get the bear done.  I have made a few adjustments already.  The pattern calls for size 3 knitting needles.  For you non-knitters out there, that is size super tiny.  I started over twice.  The second time I started over I switched to a size 5 needle.  Size 5 needles are still tiny but are a little bit more manageable for me.  I'm almost half-way done with the teddy bear's head.  I need to get moving or, to be more accurate, knitting.  I have two arms, two legs, the body, 4 paw pads and the nose to knit before September 8th.  Right now I knit during my lunch hour but can usually only knit 2 rows due to time constraints and my hands starting to hurt (because of the needle size).  I want to work on the bear in the evenings as well.  Even if I only knit 1 row at a time during stolen moments, it will be better than nothing.  Now I know all of my knitting friends are wondering what brand of yarn and what colors I chose.  I'm happy to share that information.  The pattern did not give a brand of yarn or on second look, it did: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK... whatever that it is.  On the actual pattern, it doesn't list any specific yarn so I choose Caron Simply Soft because it had colors I liked and it was on sale at Michael's.  For the body of the bear the pattern said light brown, so I chose Bone.  Yes, the color is called Bone and no, I didn't know that when I bought it.  It's a very nice tan color.  The paw pads are a darker brown.  The color I chose is Chocolate and looks very similar in color to, you guessed it, chocolate.  I also bought some black yarn for the nose.

Wish me luck during this adventure!  I'll try to post pictures and updates during this process.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bedtime Stories

           One of my favorite parts of the day is the end.  We all pile onto our bed and we read a chapter of a story out loud.  Sometimes Steve reads, sometimes I read.  This all started before Christmas.  I decided to read A Christmas Carol because I had never read it before.  Figuring it would be a fun Christmas tradition for Katherine to listen to, I read it out loud to her.  She didn't always enjoy it and usually ended up falling asleep.  For my birthday Steve bought me a book that contains all of The Chronicles of Narnia.  I've never read those either, if you can imagine that.  It was Steve's idea to continue reading out loud.  (Previously we would look at board books and read picture books to Katherine.)  We've already finished The Magician's Nephew and have started The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  It's such a nice relaxing end to the day.  I hope it will foster a love literature in Katherine.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Leela's Dental Saga

Dental health is extremely important... for cats too.  When we adopted Leela, we were aware that she might have a few health issues coming from a shelter.  At her initial vet exam after adopting her, the vet told us she had gingivitis.  The vet explained to Steve that at least one tooth would need to be pulled and this caused her awful cat breath.  (Take regular cat breath and multiply that by at least 10.  That was Leela's breath.)  Steve was told to bring her back in sometime within six months for dental work.  

At Christmas my grandma was generous enough to give us some money.  I decided to use Grandma's money to take care of Leela's gingivitis.  I scheduled her appointment for Thursday January 16th so Steve could drop her off on his day off.  I carefully wrote down the instructions from the vet's office about when to stop her food and water before the procedure; no food after 6 PM the night before, no water after 6 AM the day of.  Getting Leela into the carrier is quite the job.  She hates it more than The Fuzz does.  And who can blame her?  One time when she was put into a carrier, someone took her somewhere and left her there until we adopted her.  I would hate it too.  Somehow Steve managed to shove her into the carrier.  He and Katherine left to take her to the vet at the same time I left for work.  Leela had to be at the vet's office by 8:30 that morning.  The receptionist told us we could call after noon that day to check on Leela.  

When I came home for lunch, I called.  My heart sank when I heard Leela's diagnosis.  She didn't have gingivitis.  She had somatitis, a gum disease in cats.  This disease causes the gums to reject the teeth.  This means the teeth and gum tissue around the teeth rot.  The only cure for somatitis is to pull the rotted teeth.  I was told Leela had 4 teeth left, the canine teeth.  The receptionist explained that the vet industry has done numerous trials and studies and keep coming back to that conclusion.  She also said Leela's quality of life would be improved and she would not hesitate to have the same done for her cat if the cat had somatitis.  My poor little Leela.  The receptionist's words did make me feel better about Leela's surgery but I felt bad for Leela for having to go through it.  Steve called later that afternoon before picking up Leela to see if she was ready to come home.  The vet was not satisfied with how she was coming out of the anesthesia and wanted to keep her overnight.  

The next morning I called to check on her.  I planned to pick her up during my lunch break but wanted to make sure she didn't need constant supervision when she arrived home.  She was doing great and could go home whenever I could get there.  When I arrived at the vet's office, I was pleased to hear she actually has seven teeth left instead of only four.  I chatted with the secretary and vet tech about somatitis and Leela's one eye.  I took Leela home and watered down the dry cat food per the vet's instruction.  We were given antibiotics and pain meds for her.  Have you ever tried to give a cat a pill?  It's about as easy as it sounds.  After trying to give her the third pill on Saturday and having her meow and bat at face as if to say "Why are you being mean to me?", I reached out to Steve's cousin who is a vet for help.  Thankfully she was able to give us some tips including buying some treats called Pill Pockets.  Basically the treat has an opening on the one end for the pill and you pinch it closed around the pill.  They worked like a charm.  Leela wanted another treat after having her first one.  We also gave The Fuzz an empty one so he wouldn't try to eat Leela's.  

Overall Leela's quality of life has improved.  She is much more active than she used to be.  She still plays with her cat toys, biting them and carrying them in her mouth.  I was concerned she wouldn't be able to do that after having her teeth pulled.  I hope this is end of Leela's health struggles and she can enjoy living with us.  She really is a sweet kitty.  After this surgery, we've been told by family and friends Leela is lucky to have us.  I disagree.  We are lucky to have her.  She is a sweet cat who tolerates Katherine's loving smacks and tail pulls.  Because of Leela, Katherine will grow up knowing that just because someone looks different or has a disability does not make them less of a person or scary.  And that, to me, is priceless.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year, New Resolutions

I'm joining the millions in making New Year's resolutions.  But unlike the majority of the millions, I hope to make my resolutions part of my daily life and have outlined a few baby steps to help.  Drum roll, please!
  1. Eat healthier.
    • 1 fruit and 1 vegetable with lunch and supper.
    • Eat at the dining room table.
  2. Plan weekly menus.
    • Assign days of the weeks a category (crock pot, soup, sandwiches, left-overs, etc)
    • Pre-make dishes on Sundays.
    • Thaw necessary meats.
  3. Get in shape.
    • 10 minute yoga DVD 4 nights each week.
    • Family walks when the weather is nice.
      4.  Drink 6 glasses of water each day.

      5. Cut expenses and funnel money to pay off student loan debt.
    • Cancel cable.
    • Shop at Save-A-Lot and Fareway sales
      • Plan menus based on sale items.
        6.   Be a more pleasant and positive person.

A lot of these resolutions are aimed at making me a healthier person.  This was no accident.  I want to be healthier and stronger.  Lately we've fallen into the lazy trap while making supper.  We would make a menu but fail to thaw the meat for the majority of our meals.  This caused us to fall back on eating mac and cheese and pizza way more than I care to.  The reality is I don't have the necessary energy for my life when I'm eating something with no nutritional value.  I also want to feed Katherine more nutritious meals with a variety of foods.  I don't want her to constantly be eating the same bland nutrition-less foods.  I plan to accomplish this by having one fruit and one vegetable with lunch and dinner.  Hopefully we can get some variety in those so we're not eating the same thing constantly.  I also want us to stop eating in front of the TV.  We have a beautiful dining room table.  It serves as a landing area for all sorts of things.  No more.  We need to sit at the table, pray before our meals and actually talk about our day instead of zoning out in front of the TV.

I also want to get better about planning and implementing our weekly menus.  I've put a lot of thought into what hasn't worked for us with our menus and what will work.  Each day is being assigned a category and we'll pick meals that fit that category.  This should make it easier to plan our meals.  I also want to do any prep work for our meals on Sunday.  I want to be able to come home and make supper quickly.  Sunday will be spent cooking chicken, browning ground beef, chopping veggies and putting together the crock pot meals.  And lastly, we need to remember to thaw out the meat needed for our meals!

This year I really want to get in shape.  I don't want to talk about getting in shape anymore.  I actually want to do it.  I'm not a huge fan of going to the gym and going to a gym would be hard to fit into my schedule.  Instead I plan to exercise 4 nights each week.  I have a yoga DVD with 10 minute work-out each focusing on a different section of the body and another fitness DVD with 10 minute work-outs.  This should fit perfectly into my evening.  Ten minutes is very doable.  There is no excuse to not do 10 minutes of exercise 4 days a week.  I also want to ask my faithful readers to give me some gentle encouragement on this.  But please don't nag me.  When the weather is nice again, Steve and I plan to start going for our family walks again.

I was really good about drinking water when I was pregnant with Katherine.  (Partly because it reduced some of the swelling from my preeclampsia.)  But within the past 16 months after she was born, I've gotten really bad at it.  There are some days I only drink a glass or 2.  There is no way this keeps my energy level up.  I want to drink 6 glasses of water everyday.  This shouldn't be hard considering the water bottle at my desk holds 24 ounces of water.  If I drink 2 of those at work, I've already met my goal.  Eventually I would like to drink 8 glasses each day but I want to set goals I can reach and then adjust them as needed.  Another bonus of increasing my water: the more water I drink, the less pop I drink and that can only be a good thing.

Steve and I want to get serious about paying off my student loan debt.  We have made such progress and I'm so proud of us.  We still have a little bit more to pay off and I really want to be done with student loans!  After my loans are paid off, we can funnel the money into more important things like repairs around the house, saving for retirement, saving for Katherine's Catholic school education and maybe vacations.  To be able to funnel money to the student loan debt, we plan to do a few things differently.  First we're going to cancel cable.  We watch too much TV as it is and most of our shows can be watched online the next day.  We plan to funnel the savings from not having cable into my student loans.  (I'm also hoping we'll get more done around the house without the distraction of TV.)  We're also going to plan our meals around the sales at Fareway and also shop at Save-A-Lot.  Hopefully this will free up more money in our budget to throw at student loans.

And lastly I want to be a more pleasant and positive person in 2014.  I've become a bit of a brat in 2013.  I really don't want to be known as a brat so I'm choosing to bite my tongue, remind myself to think positive thoughts and try to go with the flow.

Those are my resolutions.  Hopefully I've set myself up for success!