Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking back one last time before looking forward...

Looking Back...I tried to institute some new Christmas traditions this year that I hope will stick. Here are the keepers for next year:

- Go to 7pm mass instead of our usual 4:30. Much less crowded and the timing is better. We got home around 8:30 just in time to put out cookies for Santa and tuck a fairly tired little one into bed.

- Dinner on Christmas Eve was fondue. I made it for the first time ever and it was really fun. I made a traditional Swiss fondue and served it with cubes of pumpernickel bread (next time I would toast these, they were a little crumbly in the fondue), lightly steamed broccoli & cauliflower, sliced granny smith apples and chicken sausage sliced into rounds. YUMMY! Button mushrooms might be a good addition too.

- Christmas morning was the usual open stockings, eat a big breakfast, then open presents routine. No need to mess with that, it always works well.

Overall I would say we had a really good Christmas. We stayed in budget or under budget, which is good because our budget is being sucked dry in other areas right now. Joe seemed really happy with the gifts I got him (a new LL Bean henley, sleeping bag, and dri-fit work out shirt). I got some sparkly things and some techy (Apple) things, along with a new veggies slicer/cheese shredder that hooks onto my Kitchen Aid mixer. The man knows me too well!

New Year's Eve Joe was working 2nd shift at the hospital so it was just Little One and I at home and we basically treated it as any other ordinary evening. On New Year's Day I did make a big pancake breakfast but it was a pretty low key holiday.

Looking Forward: 2012 is full of possibility and potential.

- Joe will finish his BSN and hopefully be gainfully employed full-time for the first time in 4 years. We'll be back to double income, thank GOD!

- 1 or both of our vehicles will be replaced (Joe's truck has to be replaced soon, or we'll have to spend 2K on repairs that just aren't worth it on an 11 year old vehicle).

- My job is likely to change within the next month. Same company, just waiting for the new VP of our dept (my boss) to announce what her restructuring of our dept will look like and what my new job responsibilities will be.

- Baby #2 is back on the table. Joe and I have been talking. It's 2012 or never.

So here's to looking forward only from here on out... 2011 treated us well, but I am very much looking forward to what 2012 brings. I have a habit of writing my Christmas Card letter for the following year as an exercise during the first week of the new year. It becomes a wish list of what I hope I'll be able to say has happened in our family during the year. It feels a little less formulaic than writing a list of goals but it makes it easy for me to visualize the big goals I'm shooting for during the next 12 months. I don't share it with anyone, I just tuck it away as a reminder to myself and it's interesting to read at the end of the year and see how well it matches up with what has really happened in my life. If it doesn't make it into my "fake" Christmas card letter it's probably not all that important.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is it vacation yet?

So much has happened in the last week. I think I'm going to list it all in a bulleted form or I'll start rambling and never document it all. Because I'm a fast typist my fingers can actually keep up with my thoughts this way, unlike in a pen & paper journal:

- last Wednesday Joe's Dad finally had an experimental heart valve replacement surgery at Mass General. He spent the last year meeting with the 4 teams that are part of the clinical trial at various hospitals and finding one that was willing to take him on as a patient. The he had to work with his insurance to get the survery covered and then finally travel to Boston to have all the pre-op testing that determined he was strong enough to undergo the surgery. Surgery was a success, he was moved out of the ICU last Friday and has been off oxygen since the surgery. Amazing. He has been on supplemental O2 24 hours a day for over a year now. So excited that things are progressing so well for him after such a long wait.

- Joe got confirmation that he got an A in the last class he was waiting to hear results on, which means he pulled a 4.0 during his toughest semester in 4 years. That also pulls his GPA up high enough that unless something horrible happens during his final class this spring he will graduate with honors "Cum Laude".

- Joe's mom finished up chemo treatment for Stage -4 Lymphoma with good results. The tumor they had been watching shrunk from 9cm to 5cm with 6 courses of chemo but she did not tolerate the chemo well at all. After every treatment she spent 3-4 days in the ICU. So her dr. is changing her treatment plan and is switching from chemo to radiation after the first of the year. Hopefully the more targeted approach will be better for her overall health.

- Joe's shoulder separation injury is improving each week, he's been able to go 24 hours without pain meds when he's not working which is great. He has good range of motion but still can't lift heavy things or bear much weight on it.

- On the home front, I finally got the tree up and decorated and all the other Christmas decorations are up. All the Christmas gifts are purchased and Santa's elves (aka FED-EX, UPS and the mail man) should be making the final deliveries this week. Christmas cards are out the door!

- Joe's truck is on it's last leg and is requiring a $2500 repair. The truck BADLY needs to be replaced. There is no point in my mind in sinking $2500 into an 11 year old truck, time to replace that baby but not until we have another paycheck rolling in. We're going to try to nurse it along until spring if possible.

- Little One has today and tomorrow in school and then is off for 2 weeks. yay!

- Just this morning I signed off on the final round of proofs for all of my projects at work that had to go to the printer before Christmas.

That's plenty for now. Hoping to relax over the holiday with my little family and take a breather!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yay for Christmas Break!

Not for me or little one yet, but for Joe. He took his last exam of the semester this morning. Then he and I met for a fancy lunch downtown to celebrate. We both knew going into it that this was going to be one of the most challenging semester's of the last 4 years. Upping to 18 credit hours from his usual 12-15 at most, plus working. And it's not like a normal college student taking 18 credit hours when you only have yourself to take care of. Being a Dad and a husband on top of everyything, we knew that a lot of the normal responsibilities around the house and Little One would end up resting on my shoulders. But we made it. We survived the semester from H.E. double hockey sticks. He has 2 A's and is just waiting for the grade in his final class, but he feels pretty confident that should be an A as well.

So yay for Christmas break. Joe is still working 2 shifts a week, and already has studying he has to get done in preparation for his next clinical rotation in Acute Care but it still feels like a break for both of us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nuts Nuts Nuts

So, after a long delay a brief recap of Little One's Medical Emergency.

My Mom and Dad brought some gourmet candies from New York as a special treat. We opened them on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for dessert. The candies are made be a tiny independent candy shop in the town where I grew up and are super simple, just chocolate, sugar and Brazil Nuts. Within seconds of Little One eating a bite she looked pale and shocked and was complaining that her mouth felt REALLY funny, it was tingling and burning and she didn't feel right. Her face was incredibly swollen on one side within minutes, within 15 minutes her whole face was swollen, her tongue was double it's normal size and she was broken out in a rash. Within a half hour she was complaining she could feel her throat touching and we starting seriously considering going to the ER. We were taking the situation minute by minute. Brother-In-Law (who is a general practitioner MD) had his Dr's bag out and was checking her breathing and pulse every few minutes. We spent the next 2 hours watching her intently. If my Brother-in-law had not been there we would have headed to the ER with her for sure.

We gave her Zyrtec within minutes of her swelling up (allergy meds I have on hand because I have a food allergy myself). We gave her ice water to sip which helps me when my throat starts to swell. And just watched and waited and hoped the meds would kick in soon to counter-act the allergen. My Brother-in-law said the normal course of action would be to give Benadryl but he was concerned with the sleepiness it causes, especially with her airway tightening. He wanted to keep her alert.

It was so strange, nearly an hour and half after the initial reaction just all of sudden she said "Mommy, I took a deep breath and it didn't hurt, I can swallow again." and from there it seemed to subside. Deep sigh of relief from all involved.

She broke out in huge hives on her hips and groin area later that night, and the next day her whole trunk from neck to knees was covered in tiny red pin point hives. I did give her Benadryl then since her airway wasn't a concern and I was ok letting her nap through the day without worrying about her being able to breathe.

A trip to the Pediatrician that afternoon and he confirmed what we all thought, a tree nut allergy, specifically the Brazil nut.

Sooo, last week I spent picking up prescriptions for Epi-Pens (adrenaline shots) and delivering them to school/her teacher/the afterschool program staff and filling out what felt like a bazillion forms to have her classroom labeled as "nut free". It was an emotional week. Little One was overwhelmed with all the concern and had a couple of breakdowns at school. I love the staff there, they are so good with her, and I think they handled a tough week really well. Her teacher sent her to have a chat with the guidance counselor after a particularly tough day which really seemed to help her to talk through her concerns.

We take her to an allergist in January for further testing, and we're hoping they'll be able to say it's strictly the Brazil nut that she's allergic too, and not all tree nuts. But that might not be the case. Her pediatrician says that often one tree nut will start the allergen and then you are allergic to all tree nuts, even if you've been able to eat them in the past. So that's almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts... basically every nut except a peanut.

This week I finally feel like we're on the other side of all the drama. Plans are in place with school and after-school programs and Little One has I think started to come to terms with the allergy and not be so scared. For now.

Joe is recovering from his separated shoulder. He's still on pain meds and not able to use it as much but he is seeing a little bit of improvement and is starting some physical therapy exercises that will hopefully increase his mobility. He's on medical leave from work until this Friday. So a little silver lining was that we actually got to spend time together as a family this weekend when he would normally be working.

The fun never ends at our house!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My people are falling apart.

So Thanksgiving was great. Family drama was pretty much nonexistent which is great (and pretty unusual for my family). But the post-Thanksgiving weekend was really tough.

Friday we went as a family to a local park to play a game of touch football and burn off some calories and energy. The day was in the mid-fifties and gorgeous. The group included my parents, my 3 brothers + their wives and kids, my 2 sisters + their husbands and kids, in total there were 26 of us.

Halfway through the game there is an incident. Joe had made a sharp turn to try to make a catch and ran right into Little One who had been tailing him. He tripped over her and in an effort to cushion her fall he used his hands to cradle her head. Because he had no hands free to catch his fall he fell square on his right shoulder. He's not one to complain so when it took him longer than a minute to dust himself off and get up I knew this would not be good. At first he thought he had dislocated his shoulder.

We headed home and my brother in law who is an MD (general practitioner) took a look and his best guess was it was either a broken collar bone or a separated shoulder (where it's not dislocated but all the tendons holding the joint together have been stretched or torn to the point where the arm is hanging).

Joe held out for a few hours before the pain got so bad that we had to go to the ER for an x-ray. Turns out it's a separated shoulder. The least bad of all the bad options it could be. So he's in a sling and on vicodin for pain. All while trying to finish up the end of the semester and his final pediatric clinical rotation. He has an 8 hour rotation in the ER at Children's Hospital scheduled for Wednesday and I know he's disappointed that he won't be able to be as hands on as he normally would be.

He has a follow-up with an orthopedist on Thursday morning to get more info on how long his shoulder will need to be in a sling.

Next post.... Little One takes her turn with a medical crisis.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Ok, so the trip to Nicaragua might be delayed or off for Joe. The trip in Feb. I mentioned is full! His professor is trying to get more spots opened up, but if that doesn't happen he's second on the wait list if someone drops out. They're also trying to schedule a 2nd trip for early May that also might be an option if the Feb. trip doesn't work out. He should know more after Thanksgiving.

Now for something completely different. A slight rant about the Bus Stop.
Little One gets on the school bus in the morning at the corner of our block with about 10 other elementary school kids. What kills me is that most of these kids are unsupervised at the bus stop, or their parents drive them to the bus stop and then sit in their cars and whip out the instant their kid is on the bus. We live in a neighborhood where the majority of families have 2 working parents. I get it, you gotta get to work. But seriously, take 2 minutes and stand at the bus stop with your kids and give them a hug goodbye. 1 other dad and I are the only ones who do that. I have a long commute but it's still worth it to me to spend those couple of minutes in the morning to see her off.

Then there is The Dirty Kid. And I mean literally a child who is dirty and needs to be washed. There are a fair amount of kids at this stop that to me look like they need a little more parental guidance in the morning in terms of putting on appropriate clothing for the weather, a jacket, getting their hair brushed etc. But there is one girl who looks like Pig Pen. Remember him from The Peanuts comic strip? The little boy who walked around in a tornado of filth? That is this girl. Her hair is never brushed and it looks like a rats nest in the back, her clothes are generally ill fitting, inappropriate for the weather and stained and ratty. But the topper has been now that the weather has turned chilly, she has been wearing a light blue down coat and that thing is beyond FILTHY. I mean COVERED in ground in dirt. It is inexcusable to let your child out into the world that way. To show so little care that you send them out in complete filth to face the world. Even if your child wears hand-me-downs or thrift store clothes they can be clean and neat. That is your job as a parent. I honestly don't want Little One to associate with this girl because if her parents care so little for her that they routinely send her out filthy and ill-dressed I'm guessing there is a whole lot of general neglect going on in her house. What do they feed her? Does she have a warm blanket on her bed? Do they check her homework? Read to her? Teach her right vs. wrong?

Good grief. All these things seem like such basics of parenting. And not even exemplary parenting, but just the "Must Do's". It makes me sad for this little girl and repulsed at her parents.

Edited to add: After rereading this I felt like I needed to clarify about the kind of neighborhood we live in. These families are NOT poverty level. We live in a neighborhood of nice homes (all 4-5 bedrooms homes with playsets in the backyard and 2 cars in the driveway) all under 10 years old, with sidewalks, a duck pond and a neighborhood playground. There are a lot of professionals in our neighborhood and a fair amount of cops, firemen, teachers etc. In my mind this makes it worse, these are not people just scraping by and trying to make it under tough circumstances. They are choosing not to parent their child. And honestly, after being in the position for 4 months where I was unemployed and Joe was a full-time student, I know first hand that not even trying circumstances and very little income gives you an excuse to neglect your child.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Time to renew that passport.

Unfortunately, it's not for me. It's for Joe. We decided last night that he's going to go on a week long medical mission trip with his nursing school and the University of Cincinnati medical school to Nicaragua. They're traveling over spring break, the last week in February into the beginning of March. He'll be done with classes by then (yeehaw!) since he only has to take one clinical that lasts 8 weeks during the spring semester.

He came home and told me that his Public Health professor did a presentation on the trip yesterday and that even though he couldn't go he wanted to figure out how he could contribute. So we were talking about what the needs were and figuring out what we could purchase (clothing, books etc) to send along to the families there. And then we just realized what an amazing opportunity this was for so many reasons. Travel to a new area, putting his nursing skills to the test in a rural environments without the normal supplies, having a chance to really help families one on one and educate them about health care. All things he is passionate about. I've jokingly nicknamed him MacGyver Nurse because he can rig medical equipment out of nothing and has developed that reputation in pretty much all of the clinical settings he's worked in. If they need a certain piece of equipment to do a job and it's either slow to come up from supply or doesn't exist, Joe can figure out a way to make it out of the supplies on hand.

So we're considering it his graduation gift. It really will be pretty inexpensive, they have to pay for their flight (about $300) and then it costs $260 to cover meals, lodging and expenses for the week. He showed me this video about the organization that they're working with on the trip. The scenery looks amazing. The last day of the trip they'll take some time to go hike a volcano. How cool is that?! Here's the video he showed me last night:

I really am so excited for him. So many good things are happening. Completing his BSN and then getting to go out and really use his skills for people in need is a great way to wrap up these last 4 years for him. Now I have to figure out how to stop being terrified about him traveling to a South American country and the possibility being kidnapped, robbed, held indefinitely by a rebel army.... :0

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Medication Shortages

Joe has been diagnosed with ADD since he was 32. He has had ADD since he was a kid but it was never diagnosed or treated. The hazard of being a child in a family of 7 parented by a single Mom, some things slip through the cracks. His ADD was one of them. He learned how to cope the best he could but once he went back to school we both knew getting it officially diagnosed and getting treatment was the only way he would excel in rigorous coursework. So he's being doing great. He's on medication that helps him immensely with his concentration and focus. BUT. It's a medication that is abused and is under strict controls because of that. And it's in a serious shortage because of manufacturing issues and its general overuse and abuse. You think your kid has ADD, sure, we'll just medicate him that's fine. So all those kids that are now being medicated without a firm diagnosis and teenagers who are abusing the meds for fun are causing a serious shortage.

Every month is a scavenger hunt for us to find a pharmacy that his it in stock, and if they do have it, do they have enough to fill the entire script. With the protections on this medication you can't just fill it partially and then go back for the remainder when it comes in. If you fill it partially you don't get the remainder of the meds, and that is not good. So Joe has been without meds for 4 days unbeknownst to me. He told me this morning how off he was feeling, how he has been unable to concentrate and buckle down to study. These meds really do change your body chemistry. So I spent this morning calling the pharmacies in town to find 1 that had the full script available. Thank god for Walgreens, they were the only one. I rushed out in my PJs with coffee in hand to get his script before they were out too. So we're good for another 30 days, which takes him through the end of the semester.

I HATE that getting his meds has become such a hassle. It feels like some months it would be easier to get them on the street corner downtown.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I am stressed. The past 6 weeks I've been running at a constant level of high stress and it is starting to take its toll. It's all work related too. Normally at the end of a stressful work week I might have had a glass of wine to relax. Now at the end of pretty much every work day I have been brewing a fresh pot of coffee because there is so much to be done in the evenings that I need another jolt of energy. Forget relaxing, it's all GO GO GO. I feel constantly on edge, wired and yet not feeling like my thoughts are organized. I feel scattered. Distractable. Unable to focus. In conversations lately I struggle to find the right words.

Every weekend I say I'm going to get some rest and be back on my game for the upcoming week. But by Monday at 7am the stress is back on my shoulders and I'm out of sorts again.

I have no good solution for this. How do you tackle stress and force yourself to relax? Any good suggestions? I'm considering trying Gingko Biloba or some kind of supplement meant for concentration but I think that's just grasping at straws.

Post Script:

- added to update on my last post regarding my husbands incommunicado status driving me bazonkers: I must give him some props for yesterday to make up for that. Yesterday he was AWESOME. Amazeballs.* Joe worked his standard clinical rotation at Children's yesterday with an absolutely miserable 2 year old who he said cried nonstop all shift long. Poor kid. He came home, picked up Little One and was hosting an impromptu game of kick ball in the back yard with 3 neighbor kids. One of our neighbors was in the middle of treating his lawn when a wheel fell off of his spreader. Knowing that Joe is that guy in the neighborhood who will help anyone he came over and Joe dug out our commercial grade spreader that had been put away for the winter for him. I got home, barely walked in the door when I received a desperate text from a neighbor whose 5 year old had just had her tonsils and adenoids removed. Child was refusing pain meds, was 4 hrs overdue to be dosed, miserable and throwing up. Could Joe come down and help? Off to the rescue he goes with stethoscope in hand (I love when he rescues people!). And to top it off when he got home from dealing with our neighbors little one he told me that he had fixed our broken oven that afternoon. Total renaissance man, I love it. Fix the oven, help a neighbor, take care of sick kids... he's a total keeper. But I still wish I had a direct line to reach his brain. :)

*I love that term. One of my guilty pleasures is reality TV (the little couple, giuliana and bill, tori & dean etc) and that term comes from Giuliana and Bill. I find them hilarious, mindless entertainment.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


In this world of instant communication, texting, smart phones, iMessaging, FB and Twitter, when is someone going to install a direct line into my husbands brain so that I can reach him?

I spent the majority of the afternoon trying to touch base with Joe while he was on a clinical rotation at Children's Hospital. Little One needed to be picked up from school early (constipation that had taken a turn for the worst and the girl was miserable). I had 2 COULD NOT MISS meetings scheduled for the afternoon and had already gotten to work 45 minutes late and missed a critical team meeting this morning while trying to cajole her into eating prunes to help the situation along. After talking to Little Ones teacher and finding out she was miserable but it wasn't an emergency, I iMessaged Joe on his iPod, and left a back-up voicemail on his cell phone asking him to please go to her school ASAP after his rotation let out. And to call or text me and let me know he was going to get her. 2pm no response... 3pm no response... 4pm no response. Finally finished up with my meetings at 4pm and bolted from work to get her. Since he hadn't followed up I figured he was stuck with a patient. My drive from work to home is 35 minutes at best. I made 2 calls on my way home to his cell. Still no answer. Made one final call when I was 5 minutes away from her school to leave him a voice-mail to let him know to ignore all of my previous messages and that I had picked up Little One.

He answers. He is at home. He had his phone on vibrate while at the hospital, then it was shoved in his backpack for the ride home and he had headed straight to take a shower without checking it. He hadn't checked his iPod for messages. Would he like me to go pick her up now? Good freaking grief! I'm 5 minutes away now, and left work early to try to "rescue" her. ARGGGGGGG. That man is killing me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Arranged Marriage.

I have a new boss. I loved my old boss.... a lot. :) She was a fabulous mentor and support person. My main cheerleader and a person who knew how to push me to do more than I thought I could.

...and now for my new boss. I don't really know her yet. But I'm doing my best to remain open minded, to not constantly compare her to my old boss, and to stop my judgemental side from being too critical. I think when you start a new job having a new boss and new co-workers feels normal, you choose to be in this new situation. When you are already established in the structure of an organization and then have a new boss put it place it feels very much like an arranged marriage. You're on your best behavior, trying to make the best of it. And hope that in a years time you will have created good chemistry and a positive working relationship. But there's no guarantee.

And my oven is still broke. Why is it that the minute my oven broke I was absolutely dying to make a roast chicken and bake scones? Fall with a broken oven is the pits.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's Up?

2 weeks ago my family went on a vacation with some friends. We rented a home in the Adirondack Mountains in NY with 2 of my best friends from high school and their husbands. One of the couples has a little boy that is 1. We've done a group vacation twice before with these friends and it's always a blast. I love vacation with my family but vacationing with friends is a such a different vibe. We did a lot of outdoor activities, hiking, kayaking, lots of fires at night. One of my favorite evenings was when we had a HUGE bonfire going and then decided to pull the big screen tv out onto the covered patio to watch the movie The Great Outdoors. That movie is hys-ter-i-cal. The only thing that vacation was missing was sleep. Because my friend's little boy was out of his normal routine he was not a great sleeper. He is such a rambunctious kid that once he was up for the day pretty much the whole house was up. Next year I'm packing ear plugs.

Unfortunately the week of catching up with old friends means coming home to a boat load of work, a household that's a week behind on chores, and Joe diving full force back into his heavy course load.

This week coming up is a crazy one. Little One's 8th birthday is this Friday. On Wednesday I have my first afternoon volunteering in her classroom. And I'm not going to be just passing out papers or something mindless, I'm taking a group of 8 2nd graders and working on putting together a poetry performance with them to put on for all of the 2nd grade classes. Halloween means making a home-made robot costume per Little One's request. And somehow making a costume always ends up costing me more than just buying one at the store. It is fun to do together but it would be nice to at least save some money with all the work that goes into a homemade costume.

I have a new boss at work. And that's just hard because it's such a change. Nothing in my life is normal or smooth sailing right now. Every day is full of the unexpected and new challenges and I tend to be someone who likes stability and routine so it's pretty mentally taxing for me.

Then why... oh why... am I still hoping so desperately to add baby #2 into this crazy mix. At church this morning a woman in the pew ahead of me was holding the most adorable 3 or 4 month old little girl. She was great for 80% of the mass and then she had just had enough and was fairly fussy. I spent more time makes faces at her to keep her happy than listening to the priest. I want to be the one bouncing a fussy baby at church again. The only thing I really don't look forward to is the sleep deprivation. Anything else I'm ready for!

- oh and how's this for a WTF moment. My oven broke. The stove top still works but no oven. I had made dough for oatmeal/raisin cookies and popped them into what I thought was a preheated oven. No heat. Oven dead. Husband too busy (literally) to even consider fixing it. I have no time to sit around waiting on a repair man. So what was my solution. I went to Goodwill and bought a $7 toaster oven. One big problem... one cannot bake a birthday cake in a toaster oven. And I have ALWAYS baked a cake myself for little one's birthdays. And usually some kind of treat for her to share at school. I casually suggested she might like an ice-cream cake for her birthday and she went for it so that's solved. But the class treat is something I still have to figure out. There's always something!

If I make it through this week unscathed, or without the help of massive doses of caffeine, I'll be REALLY REALLY surprised.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Is the time ever really right for baby #2?

So one door in my life that was slammed shut when Joe decided to make a radical career change 4 years ago was the option of a 2nd child. Little One was 4 at the time. And I had been MORE than ready to try for baby #2 for a year, but Joe was so miserable at his job that he couldn't consider adding one more thing to his plate. Let alone such a major life changing addition as another child. That is a very brief synopsis of what has been an ongoing conversation and major sticking point in our marriage over the past 4 years.

I am from a family of 6, all by the same parents. I want little one to have siblings. But I don't want her to have siblings at the cost of our marriage. And Joe was so miserable in general that having a 2nd child really might have been the tipping point to us getting divorced. Is that too honest to share here?

So, after going back and forth on this issue of baby #2 for a full year, then the decision to make a career change happened after serious issues for Joe at work. I went back to work full time to support the family. Our income dropped by 60%. And now we had had to factor in tuition costs, while still having full-time daycare costs while Joe was in school. We've managed. We've just barely squeaked by. With some help during the first 2 years from my parents with tuition costs and the occasional "just because" check that they would send we made it. Almost 2 years ago I got off the mommy track and took a more demanding job that significantly increased my income. But still, our savings are down to a level that frightens me. We haven't incurred any debt other than his student loans which we kept as low as humanly possible. He will be done with classes and have his BSN at the end of Feb. Then all he has to do is pass the NCLEX (no concerns there) and find a job. :) With 3 major hospital systems in the area we live in I hope the job search won't be a long one.

When Joe heads back to work our income should almost double, even if he only works the standard nurse schedule of 36 hrs a week. Soooo, the question rears its head again. Is it time for baby #2? Is it completely ridiculous to have 2 kids that will be 8/9 years apart? Now that I'm back on the career track can I manage a full-time, mentally demanding job along with a grade schooler and a baby? We've held off on many major expenses over the last 4 years that are now coming due:
-both of our vehicles are going to need to be replaced in the next 2-3 years
- our mattress needs to be replaced
-I'd really like to move closer to either my office or whatever hospital Joe will be working at
-Those pesky student loans will be due 6 months after graduation

How the heck can we do all of that and have a baby? Joe is still planning to continue onto grad school while working to become a Nurse Practitioner. Is the time every REALLY right for a baby? If I waited until everything was "just right" I'd be in my 40's, Little One would be 15 and it would be a pipe dream. Time would have made the decision for us. If Joe was on board I'd jump in and just deal with concerns/expenses as they came. I've been off birth control for 3 months now, Joe knows it. I'm ready. Just not sure if he is, or ever will be. But I'm still not ready to shut the door on adding another member to the family. Tick Tock.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I have a yucky cold and am sacked out on the couch today while Joe took Little One to the zoo for a few hours to give me some quiet.

I love seeing other people's pictures, so I thought I'd share some of my family. I'm having a hard time getting pictures arranged so in no particular order:

1) Me and Little One, first day of school last year
2) Joe and Little One on a hike
3) Joe, Little One and Joe's Mom (she's in the middle of cancer treatments)
4) Little One at a local aquarium
5) Joe and Little One
6) Me and my super silly Little One

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Best. Day. Ever.

Need I say more? Well, I suppose a little explanation... it was the best day ever career wise. Which for me is saying a lot. I have had some pretty stellar days if I do so say myself. I work REALLY hard, I put a lot of pressure on myself and my team to perform well. And today in front of the top 12 members of the executive management team of my company I was called out by 3 separate departments and given kudos. They said our team made a real difference in their ability to hit their goals and that they couldn't have done it without us. I was personally called out by one executive to say that I had risen above and beyond expectations over the last 2 days of meetings. That makes me feel see damn good. I'm not a person who toots my own horn, by nature I am humble. But on the anonymity that is the internet I feel a little more free to celebrate my successes. I KILLED it today. I want to be a part of this executive level team. I want more kudos. I am so in the right position at the right time in my life.

And now I'm going to call it a day because tomorrow is day 3 of this marathon of strategy meetings and I want to knock their socks off yet again. Which means I need a good night sleep. 2 1/2 glasses of Cabarnet Sauvignon means it's early to bed tonight. Cheers!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Tonight I'm packing and prepping for my first business trip since Little One was 2. That trip was so hard (Vegas for 2 weeks for a company conference) I that I was searching for flights home after only 3 days and trying to figure out if "missing my baby" was a legitimate reason to head home 10 days early. It wasn't... I suffered through. Luckily this trip is only 3 days long and an hour and half drive away. Plus the fact that Little One is 7 makes a huge difference. She'll be in school most of the time.

I did have to hire a sitter for Monday afternoon/evening since Joe has a class that runs until 8pm. Luckily our little town is home to a private college that is ripe with wonderful babysitter candidates so one of our favorites will be getting Little One off the bus and handling the normal routine. Little One is excited to have a break from the after school program and get to head home right after school on the bus. That's a rare treat for her with our schedules.

One other happy coincidence that made this trip easier is that Joe is done with his 12 hour clinicals for the quarter. So this Tues and Wed he's home all day and can handle mornings and afternoons. Thank god. I don't know how I would have made it work. Have a sitter come to the house at 5:30am when he would normally leave to get Little One off to school? Then have them come back from 3-8pm? I guess that's what I would have had to do but I'm sure glad it worked out this way.

I'm going to miss Little One and am a bit nervous about the series of meetings I'm attending with the uppity ups at my company. Amazed at all the info I normally keep in my head that I had to put down on paper for the sitter and Joe. Homework, what day is what special activity and requires an art smock, gym shoes etc., appropriate snacks, dinner menu all planned out, what day Little One has chosen to buy lunch so don't send a packed lunch. Plus of course I decided the house has to be perfectly clean for the sitter (like a college kid will even notice that, ha) and all the laundry had to be done because surely they can't survive 3 days without every piece of clothing in the house being clean.

Off to bed I go! Hope they survive without me...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I need caffeine.

My brain hurts a bit today. Not sure why, just feel a bit in a fog. I think I need a nap.

School is reaching a fever pitch for Joe. He finished his clinical hours for his ER rotation yesterday. So for the next 2 weeks his Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be free which is AWESOME. Well, by free I mean he'll have that much more time to work on his homework which he desperately needs. His next rotation is in pediatrics at Children's Hospital. That will start up in mid-Oct after their fall break. I love when he starts a new rotation, good stories always come home.

He was sad to end his ER rotation, I know would like to apply work in the ER after graduation next spring. Some cattiness reared it's head amongst some of the nurses he worked with though. He reported some serious sterile technique violations that he was witness to and it ruffled a lot of feathers. He also reported some poor bedside manner issues that a nurse he was working with demonstrated toward a child and their parent. That did NOT go over well and apparently his preceptor shared his concern outwardly with the nurse in question. Nice. So he's got a great reputation with the dr.'s and some of the nurses, and some of the nurses HATE him. Ugh. That's how life has always been for him. He's a super over achiever and very strict rule follower, his expectations and standards are so high that he will often call out those who aren't living up to them in work situations. And now in nursing he feels obligated to work to the highest standards because the health of the patients depend on it. I just hope it doesn't hurt his chances of working in that dept.

I have 3 days of off-site strategy meetings next week for work. Sort of looking forward to them, sort of dreading them. I'm part of a group of 10 people attending that are all much higher in position then myself. I was invited by my old boss as a way to expose me to how these meetings work and the upper mgt team as I work my way up in the company. No pressure to perform or anything. And as of this Monday I have a new boss. My old boss is still with the company they just pulled the creative portion of the business from under marketing so we're under a new supervisor. I hate change. I really really really had a great relationship with my supervisor. So I'm sad. She didn't go any where and I know her door is always open to me but it still makes me sad. She was/is my #1 supporter and cheerleader, she knew how to challenge me in ways I would never challenge myself and when I made a mistake or a flub I knew I could turn to her without any concerns and we could work through it together. She let me work completely independently and was purely there as a support. Loved that. I learned so much from her about how to be a good manager. So I'm bummed. Pity party for one... I'll bring the whine.

We're headed on vacation in two weeks. We're renting a cabin in the mountains in NY with old friends from high school. 2 of my best friends from high school and their husbands and I have been getting together over the years for a group vacation. My husband went to the same high school and was buddies with these 2 friends as well. And all 3 of the husbands get along great. It's been 2 years now since we've gotten together and one of the couples has a little boy that is 1. Yay, our Little One won't be the only kid in the group this time. She's going to LOVE having their little guy to play with so much we probably won't even need to bring toys, he's enough of a toy for her! She loves kids and babies.

Time to go get an afternoon cup of coffee and see if I can kick this headache to the curb. Gotta get some work done.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kicking A** and Takin' Names!

Do you ever have those days where you just feel like you are taking the world by storm? Totally had one of those days yesterday. I had a HUGE project at work that was on an insanely short deadline. I had to rally my creative troops and tackle concepting and design of 10 new products for a major retailer that many like to refer to by it's French name, Tarjay. It was iffy at best if we could get this all done in 4 days. But my group absolutely nailed it. We pushed, and worked our butts off, and brainstormed and designed like our hair was on fire. The presentation I lead was clearly above and beyond what the group expected, our awesomeness as a creative team and my prowess as a manager and art-director was confirmed (joking, I don't really have that big of a head), and it ended with high-fives in the stairway as my team departed the meeting. We had them at "hello."
When you have those days you just have to savor them, the adrenaline, the "I can do this" the confidence the follows for several days afterwards, or until the next big project gets dropped in your lap. These are the days that I say to myself, THIS is why I work. THIS feeling, THIS validation of my creativity, THIS joy in seeing a group come together and leading talented designers through a challenging project that forced them to do more than they thought they were capable of.
And to top it off I have stayed on top of the crazy influx of paperwork that accompanies the beginning of a school year for Little One, kept the house in decent shape, managed to get a hot dinner on the table each night and nailed down a schedule for volunteering in Little One's classroom once a month. I'll be working with a total of 12-16 2nd graders to put together a small production of poem's by Shel Silverstein.
Today I am owning my Super Mom, Super Employee, Super Boss title. I know it won't be long before I'm back in the monotony of everyday work and life, and I'll get behind in some area, or all areas, and wonder how the heck I'm going to make it through the day. But for now, I'm owning it. Watch out world!
- oh crap, did I forget to pay the electric bill. Gotta go get on that! :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Single Parent Angst.

Ok, so I'm not really a single parent, but with Joe's work/clinical/class schedule this fall it feels like I am most of the time. I can't even attend curriculum night at Little One's school next week. It's scheduled for 6:30 and kids are not welcome. I pick her up from the after-school program at 5:45 and then I have to get a babysitter, seriously? Joe is in clinicals until 7:30 so there's no way he can be home to watch her. And I feel like after being gone ALL DAY the last thing I want to do is shuffle her off to yet another babysitter. There's only so many times you can impose on your neighbors you know? And with no family locally we're stuck. I really feel for all the single parents out there that do this with no support.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Yesterday felt like a "maintenance day."

I worked from home in the afternoon. I went to a dentist apt and saw my chiropractor to adjust my poor back before it decides to cause serious trouble.

I made some phone calls relating to hiring an executive coach. I work in an open office space so everyone can hear your conversations and this wasn't a series of phone calls that I wanted my team listening in on.

Got the chance to putter around the house as well and do some cleaning. Oh if only I had a few clones, one to clean, one to work, one to organize the house, one to volunteer at Emily's school and do fun things, one to workout every day… life would be grand!

School is plugging along for Little One, we're back in a pretty good routine in the mornings. Her fall gymnastics class starts tomorrow evening. She has been obsessed with headstands. She finally got the balance thing down a bit and can hold one for around 5 seconds. She does them ALL.THE.TIME. She calls out to me when she's got a long one going "Come and watch me Mommy!" Cooking dinner is challenging because I'm running back and forth between the kitchen and the living room to watch her latest feat. I gotta say, it looks super uncomfortable and I keep looking at her poor neck hoping it doesn't break. Isn't that a creepy thought? but I can't help it! I need to get a picture of her doing one. Hopefully her weekly gymnastics class will will work with her on technique so I can worry a little less about her hurting herself.

My birthday is on Friday, the big 35. I'm kind of indifferent, kind of not wanting to make a deal out of it because it means I'm half way through my 30's which feels very surreal, and just plain old. My 10 year old nephew has the same birthday so on Sunday I'll head off with Little One to my brother's house to celebrate. Joe doesn't work this weekend so depending on how much school work he needs to tackle this weekend he might come with us. That would be nice. The single parent routine gets old even when you're doing fun stuff. I try not to push him though, because I know he'd rather be with us than studying but sometime you gotta do what you gotta do. It's hard for him to give up an entire day to travel an hour and half to my brothers for a birthday party with so much work he knows he has to get done.

That's it for now!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thank God for scholarships!

So….yesterday was the official announcement of the scholarship awards from Joe's college. He walked away with almost enough to cover his senior year tuition after his discount for working at the hospital system was applied. Phew. The bread winner of the house wipes her brow. That much less in student loan debt so that when Joe is finally working his entire salary won't be going to pay off the debts! So we'll have made it through 4 years of nursing school with 17,100 in student loans. Not bad for a school that costs $19,000 in tuition each year. Now grad school… who knows if we'll come out as unscathed but we'll certainly do our best. Joe's 2nd job the last few summers has been to apply for scholarships so he's got the drill down pat.

Little One starts 2nd grade tomorrow. We went to an ice cream social at the school last night to meet the teacher and drop off her school supplies. Even though Little One didn't get the teacher she was hoping for she seemed excited after getting a chance to talk to her teacher. She's young, fairly perky and seemed really good with the kids. Got right down on their level, good eye contact, good questions. Also, a buddy of Little One's from the after school program last year is sitting at the same table as her so she was pleased as punch about that. I have an insane desire to volunteer in the classroom, I may need to be talked out of this at a later date. I haven't really been involved in Little One's classroom since she was in Pre-K. I started a new job (my current job) when Little One was in Kindergarten and I just didn't have the flexibility in my schedule to be out of the office when I was trying to learn a new job. But now that I finally feel like I know what I'm doing, and I have a staff that can handle things fairly independently, I think it's time to get involved.

I still have to finalize Little One's activities for the year, looks like she'll be doing a gymnastics class once a week and piano lessons once a week. 2 days a week is the max extra-curriculars I like to get her signed up for. With Joe's classes, clinicals and work schedule this semester he is only home one weekend night before 9pm, so I'm doing most of shuttling to activities. Plus church school on Sunday. And this year is First Communion which means more meetings and rehearsals than usual. Whew.

High Five for Scholarships and Yay to the first day of school tomorrow!

Friday, August 19, 2011

YoYo Doctoring...

Ok, serious parental decision here. 2 years ago we switched our insurance coverage from my employers to my husbands insurance through the hospital system he works for because it is FAB-u-lous coverage at 1/3 the price. BUT, and big but here, we all had to switch dr's because you have to see a Dr. associated with the hospital system. The hospital is self-insured, part of the reason the costs are so low, but it means you have to only use their dr's, their labs, their hospitals etc. It was worth it, but it meant a new pediatrician for Little One, we'll call him Dr. Newbie. While I like Dr. Newbie, I don't necessarily like him MORE than her old ped, let's call him Dr. Smith. And Dr. Newbie's office is a 1/2 hr drive from our home. Dr. Smith's office was in the same town we live in, really convenient when Emily was sick.

Long story short, I just found out that Dr. Smith's practice is now listed as a provider under our insurance. Do I switch her back to Dr. Smith? I want to for the convenience factor of being so close to home, and I really did like the doctor's there. But I feel like that's YoYo doctoring. If I do switch her this will be the 4th Ped she will have had since she was born... and she's only 7! There's just not much consistency in her care. But she really liked Dr. Smith and when we drive by his office she still comments that she wishes she could go to Dr. Smith.

To switch or not to switch. What if I switch and then in a year Dr. Smith is taken off of the list of providers and I have to switch her get AGAIN. I'd really like to stick with a dr. for a while so they would get to know her and have some history, which I feel like will translate into better care.

Sheesh... the things you have to worry about as a parent are just never ending.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School!

Today… some about my husband, we'll call him "Joe".

Joe is in his final year of completing his BSN (Bachelor's of Science, Nursing). He took a full course load this summer to get ahead and will (fingers crossed) be finished in March. Then he will work as an RN for a while before he starts the next chapter in this journey… apply to the graduate program and get a double Master's as a Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator. Ambitious much? Yes, Joe has some serious drive. This is a man who back in the days before he went back to college for this new career would create projects around the house to keep himself busy every moment of the day, even after working a 60hr work week. "Down Time" is a dirty word to him. I am in awe, and sometimes annoyed, as I am exactly the opposite. Oh, I should also mention he has a degree in marketing and worked for 12 years at the mgt level. He was extremely successful in the business world. The career switch was to make a change to a career that was more personally fulfilling and in line with his beliefs and desire to serve others.

For his senior year he got the coveted clinical rotation of the ER. Only 5 students out of his class of 150 or so were assigned to the ER. He definitely excels in his studies and it doesn't hurt that he has a pretty tight relationship with the Assistant Dean of the College. So in addition to his full course load and working 2 shifts a week in the hospital he is putting in 2 12-hr shifts in the ER each week for his clinical rotation. Yesterday was his first shift in the ER. He had one pretty exciting case that he assisted with (chain saw injury to the leg, ick) and he came home exhausted but I could tell he was just LOVING what he was doing. He was in the thick of trauma, making quick decisions on the fly, exactly what he was hoping for when he started this process over 3 years ago.

So, surely more interesting stories will come from his clinicals this semester. But for now it's just so great to see him excited about what he's doing. Talk to me in 6 weeks though after I've been basically a single parent for that amount of time and we'll see if the honeymoon stage we go through at the start of every semester is still there.

Little One, as I will call our daughter, starts 2nd grade next Wed., and was super irritated that Daddy got to go back to school before her. The girl LOVES school. In fact, her playroom is basically a mock classroom where she is the teacher and her stuffed animals and dolls are the students. Most Saturdays she puts on her "fancy" clothes first thing in the morning, packs her lunch (no joke) and heads off to teach school in her playroom. Little One can keep herself occupied with this for HOURS!

That's enough info overload for one post I guess! I'll get to myself eventually but honestly find the two of them way more interesting than myself. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

When a door slams shut a window opens. Or so "they" say.

I feel like in the past 4 years many. many. MANY doors have slammed shut on the life I had so carefully planned out when I was the ripe old age of 21. I have to really pay attention to the opportunities those closed doors opened so I don't entirely loose my mind!

I seem to have an obscene amount of thoughts floating around in my head on a daily basis, and journaling just wasn't cutting it for me. I blogged back when my daughter was little and loved it. That blog was mainly about her. This blog is totally, selfishly, completely about me and my life.

Just a little background before I launch into things...
I'm married, today is our 13th wedding anniversary. Yay!
We have one daughter, who is 7 and starts 2nd grade next week.
I work full-time as a creative project manager for a children's publication, fast tracked to upper-mgt (but not sure that's really what I want).
My husband is a full-time nursing student, studying to be a Nurse Practitioner, and works part-time for the hospital system his school is connected with to pay for his tuition.
We have one cat, Miu-Miu, he drives me crazy/keeps me amused/has separation anxiety.

That covers a basic intro to me and my family. Thanks for reading!