Thursday, August 8, 2013

Getting Organized for Fall- Chore Charts

I have always loved fall. For me fall is my "fresh start."  I think it is because fall was the start of a new school year, and since I have spent the better part of my life in a school system, from Kindergarten to Graduate school, this is what feels natural to me I guess.

Even though I'm enjoying the choas  freedom of summer, taking the kids to the pool, traveling, picnics, etc.  I am really missing the weekly schedule we used to have during the "school year."  I am amped for this upcoming year.  I have kept Mimi in her dance class and added soccer to the mix.  We also are starting a Kindergarten homeschool curriculum, and plan to do some field trips and such with our playgroup.

I am excited to get back on a more regular gym "schedule" too.  Before our trip to CA and the wedding trip I took, I was hitting the gym 5 days a week.  I need to get back at this, because I feel amazing when I work out more.  The kids both really enjoy the YMCA.  Olive gets to see other kids and gets lots of hugs and holding, and Mimi enjoys the kid fit and the arts and crafts.  Trips to the YMCA will definitely be in our rotation for fall!

We are taking the month of August to get organized.  We are currently deciding which homeschool curriculum to try.  We have re-worked our budget and are going back to a cash/envelope based system for spending.  We are setting up our calendar to organize our weekly activities, and scheduling some fall camping trips.    I plan to blog about all of the above.

Here is one thing I finished today.

Mimi's new chore chart.  Mimi is now 4 years old.  In my opinion a child her age can be expected to complete the tasks we have chosen (maybe even more). I had seen this chore chart on a homeschooler blog (which you can print for free) and it seemed too intense for our needs.  Mimi has 4 tasks per day.  She is to feed our dog morning and night.  She is asked to clear her dishes after each meal.  She needs to clean up her room before bed each night. She needs to brush her teeth twice a day.  For every day that she completes the said task, she gets a star (something like these).  Now, you will see at the bottom that there are a range of allowances granted for her work on a weekly basis.  If she receives between 5-10 stars in a week, she will receive $1, 11-20 stars she will get $3, and >20 stars she will receive $5.

Originally I wanted to giver her $5 a week in allowance.  I thought that realistically, there are days she will not complete all of her tasks, and wouldn't warrant the full allowance, but certainly deserves some reward.  Hell, I don't even do all my "chores" daily sometimes.  I thought this would help her see that she reaps the benefits of her work.  The harder she works, the more she gets.  I am not sure if this will work, but we'll give it a try.

We also have stopped buying her things when we go out just because she asks.  I think I'm the culprit here on this bad habit. I grew up pretty poor, we never got "stuff" every time we went to the store just for asking.  When Mimi was 2 and 3 I got in the habit of rewarding her good behavior with a toy or treat every time we went somewhere, now she just flat out expects us to buy her stuff for no reason and throws fits when she doesn't get what she wants. Now we tell her to save her money and she can buy things with her own money, or wait for her birthday or Christmas.  This makes her feel excited to save, and in control of her choices.  She has her eyes set on a new princess dress (like this one).  We keep reminding her of how much it costs and how she can keep saving.

I'll have to check back with you all in a month or two and see if this is working.  If you want to know how I made this, I can easily do a post on it.  It can be personalized however you would like.

Do your children do chores? Do you give an allowance?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pool Days and Sunscreen

I keep telling myself over this last month that Olive cannot be my last baby!  This is way too much fun to not do all over again!  

This summer has been the best summer of my life.  I am loving being a stay at home mom in such a wonderful family friendly city.  My life this year is such a starke contrast to how I was with Mimi at this same age.  Mimi was in full time daycare by the time she was 5 months old.  For financial reasons, I could only stay home with Mimi part time until she was 5 months, then she was at daycare 45 hours a week!  I look back on that now and I think about how much I missed!  I loved our daycare provider, she was a family friend who happen to run a at-home licensed daycare.  She was affordable and I knew her long before I was even married.  Mimi learned so much and always seemed happy.  I was the one that was unhappy.  The weekdays were a chaotic mess of alarm clocks and rushing here to there.  

Now I wake up with no alarm clock.  My kids are my built in alarm clocks.  My husband has the flexibility to start work whenever he wants before 10, so our mornings are pretty leisurely.  After we all wake up and have a home cooked (!!!) breakfast (something our fulltime working days never allowed), my husband leaves for work and I have this empty canvas day.  Errands can be run whenever we feel up to it.  The house gets cleaned and messed up throughout the day...most days I am in my pajamas drinking coffee until at least 9am.  

From May to August our days mostly look like this....

No joke, Mimi is a fish.  Mimi will be 4 this July and can swim with no floaties.  I am beyond proud of this kid.  Swimming takes it out of her like nothing else.  We go to the YMCA a lot and I will workout for an hour while the kids play with toys and color pictures in the childcare.  Then we have a picnic lunch outside and swim until Olive gives us the sign that she's had enough, which is usually about two hours.  We go through our favorite sunscreen like crazy!  Sunscreen is one thing I'm pretty picky about.  I am fair skinned and burn very easily. In my 7 years in FL working on the water in the hot FL summers, this was the one sunscreen I found that stays on, doesn't irritate my skin or eyes, and works amazing!  It was only natural to use this one for my kids too.

This fall we start homeschooling Mimi, which is shaping up to be another adventure!  For now I'll enjoy these carefree pool days...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Watching Mimi with Olive

Watching Mimi with Olive melts my heart daily.   When I as pregnant I worried about jealously and juggling.  Mimi being jealous of the time I spent with the baby or the attention she receives, and juggling the needs of both kids and not feeling like either is getting less than what they need from me.  These were my two concerns.  So far jealously had not been an issue.  Mimi had nothing but love for her baby sister.  Sometimes too much love lol....

Juggling the needs of both is hard sometimes.  Mimi is still young and can't always understand why Olive's needs come first.  I try really hard to balance the time I spend with both.  I make so many attempts to spend quality one on one time with Mimi.  I enjoy the quiet late night nursing sessions (or early mornings  when everyone else is asleep.  Everyday it gets easier more and more natural to divide my time between them, and enjoy them together.

The other side arrives

A few days after my mother and brother left, my husbands family arrived for New Years.  We had 8 people camped out in our tiny Austin house for a very cold TX New Year.

It as really nice to watch the entire family meet and snuggle Olive, and of course our big girl Mimi.  Our girls are the only grandkids on my husbands side and they are definitely the center of attention.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A full house for Christmas

After those last three depressing posts you need something positive right? Damn I do.

When I was pregnant with Olive, they scheduled an induction on December 17 if I had not had her yet.  My mom booked her plane tickets accordingly and arrived that day.  Little did we know when we booked them that little olive would be over a month old!  We spent that week before Christmas cuddling our new bundle and enjoying the first Christmas that my mother, brother, and I had been together for Christmas in 10 years!  My brother's baby was 6 months old at the time.  She is my only niece and she is such a puddin!  Watching him as a father is amazing.

Don't google it...

Over the next two weeks, Olive was doing really well.  She was down to 1/2 liter of oxygen and was nursing and bottle feeding well.   I drove to the NICU for as many of the "touch times" and feedings as I could manage with my husband being back at work.  On Thanksgiving morning the NICU called us to tell us they wanted us to bring in her carseat for her test and she may go home soon.   We were so excited.  We had to purchase a new carseat because Olive as too small to fit in the GRACO seat we saved from Mimi.  On the evening of black friday I waited in line for two hours at Toys R Us to buy a Chicco Keyfit that the NICU recommended.

I got to the hospital late Friday night and my heart sank when I walked in to find my baby back on oxygen and full of IVs again. I broke down and cried right there in my little visiter chair next to her isolet.  The nurse handed me some tissues and got the doctor to come and tell me what had happened.  They explained that they had found blood in Olive's diaper, along with a lot of vomit in her crib.  She also had a distended belly and was very lethargic.

Olive was diagnosed with Necrotizing Entercolitis.  The first thing the doctor told me was "don't go home and google it" which of course I did.  I wish I hadn't.  My browser screen was flooded with statistics like "only 40-60% of babies survive.."  Officially wished I hadn't googled it.  More tears over the next 10 days as they filled her body with hardcore antibiotics, had to move her IV every few days, attempt putting in a PIC line.   She was on a 10 day course of these drugs, with no food allowed.  She was sustained by IV sugars and electrolytes.  For the first few days I was not allowed to hold her.  Once her x-rays showed that the gas in her intestines was reducing, I was allowed to hold her every few hours if I could get to the NICU.  The poor thing would root and root for food and I wasn't allowed to feed her.

After 10 days, they slowly introduced food again and then nursing again.  I am still feeling so blessed that I had all the milk she needed.  She had to be weaned off oxygen again as her body healed.  In retrospect, Olive was so lucky.  Her doctors pinpointed the symtoms quickly enough to reduce the damage to her intestinal track and avoid surgery.

After she tolerated the volume of food that was required for her to maintain weight and was off oxygen for 48 hours, she took her 10 hour apnea test and her carseat test.  After anxiously waiting the doctors answer....On December 13th Olive came home.

Even though Olive is home safe in my arms and growing strong to this day, this whole experience has scarred me.  My heart will never be the same after experiencing the pain of leaving my baby in that hospital day after day for an entire month.  I missed so many firsts.  I will never forgive myself, because it was my body that couldn't make it to 40 weeks.  When they had done my c-section they discovered my placenta was in fact torn, and I my amniotic fluid was filled with blood.  My placenta was heavily calcified, as if I was past 40 weeks in my pregnancy, not at 34 weeks.  The doctor told me after that we had made the right decision to take her out when we did.

Olive was put through so much.  No mother should have to face this challenge and no baby should spend those first few precious weeks in a hospital and not in their mother's arms.  I pray if we have any more babies that this is not in our future again.

The Hardest Month of My Life

Olive's crazy pregnancy and birth story were only a sample of the challenges I would have to face.  The emotions that I went through the month Olive was in the NICU have been safely packaged up and tucked deep into my hard and far from my memory for a reason.  To this day I cry when I remember how if felt to be without her.  I cry now as I am typing this.  I want to remember though, so I am going to write it out.

Olive was born 6 weeks early, and although I received the steroid injections, her lungs were not ready to breath air yet.  She needed oxygen support soon after birth.  I wasn't allowed to hold her until she was three days old.  I could go down the NICU in a wheelchair during my stay at the hospital and sit with her as much as I was able.  My blood pressure was really messed up after the birth due to the toxemia, that I had these crippling headaches whenever I was upright.  I tried once a day to go see her if I could.  

My friend Emily came to see me in the hospital on the third day and took me down to the NICU to see Olive. The nurse let me hold her for all of a minute, but it as amazing.  I hate looking at these pictures because they make me cry to this day, but I am happy Emily took them for me.

I stayed 6 days at the hospital total, 4 after her birth. I pumped milk religiously every 3 hours night and day and they took it down to Olive and she received it through a tube.  Thank god for one thing going right! My boobs knew their job man and the nurse were blown away by my supply after only 2 days post partum.

Each day Olive grew stronger and eventually came off CPAP.  They were telling us she may be there only 1 or two weeks.

Being discharged from the hospital without your baby was heart wrenching.  I walked past the nurses station, my husband holding my hand tight, passing by all the moms with their babies nestled in their carseats ready to go home.  This heart wrenching feeling was the same each time I left the hospital over the next month....