Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Road Trip ToDo List!

I had a short list of things that I wanted to do on our most recent trip home. This list consisted of only things that I can't do unless I'm in Greensboro!
We arrived in Greensboro about 2pm on Wed, September 19, and we stayed until yesterday morning.
My list of "Greensboro Only" items was as follows...

Sill's Shoe Shop
Juice Shop
Maxie B's
O' Henry
Pita Delight

If you are one of my readers from Greensboro, or you have ever lived in The Greensboro area, you most likely know what all of these places are, and why these places would make my list. If you are not one of those people... let me do a bit of elaborating!!

The first place on my list was Sill's Shoe Shop.  They are a fun, vintage shoe store for kids.  They will measure your child's food and they have an assortment of shoes from Stride Rite, Keds, and many other brands.  Abbie measured an 8 (no wonder all of her size 7 shoes were hurting her feet!!).  So, we bought a size 8 in the white leather Keds for her.  She has worn Keds in just about every size.  However, when we reached a size 5... mommy decided to go "cheap shoes" for a bit!  Abbie loves her new shoes!  Sill's also introduced us to Tongue Pads.  They are sticky on one side, and you put them inside the shoe on the tongue.  It helps the shoe fit your foot more snugly!  They put the tongue pads in free of charge, and her shoes fit great!

Next on my list was Juice Shop.  This was virtually one of the last stops I made while in town!  We picked Juice Shop up as we were about to hit the interstate!  I enjoyed it on our ride back.  Juice Shop is by far the BEST, and I mean truly the BEST smoothie shop around!  Tropical Smoothie and Smoothie King here are both a far cry from Juice Shop!  I enjoyed a Guava Gulp smoothie and Derik enjoyed a Strawberry Splash smoothie.  Since I was sick, I couldn't share mine with Abbie... however she very much enjoyed the last few sips of daddy's!!  I wish we had a Juice Shop here SOOOOOO bad!

Next, was Maxie B's.  Once upon a time, Maxie B's was called "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt".  They were really Greensboro's very first and ONLY frozen yogurt shop!  I remember having to decide on TCBY or ICBIY!!!  Those were the only 2 places to pick from!  However, the Frozen Yogurt thing went haywire, and now there is one on every corner!  ICBIY became Maxie B's, and they expanded into cakes and cupcakes.  We ordered our wedding cake and groom's cake from them, and they were fantastic!  The shop is SUPER cute now, and they even expanded the bakery into the space next door.  We ordered 2 Red Velvet Cupcakes with butter cream icing, just like our wedding cake!  We ended up picking up 2 additional cupcakes and a mini cupcake, so we could enjoy with Abbie, my dad, and Carol!  However... dad & Carol weren't interested, so we got to eat another cupcake!!!

Moving on to the O 'Henry Hotel.  How I love the O' Henry Hotel!  This was the location for our wedding reception 5 years ago!  It is the most amazing hotel in Greensboro, and luxurious is the only word to describe it!  Since our 5 year anniversary was Saturday, September 22, and we were attending a wedding on the 21st, we decided to pay O' Henry a visit!  The wedding was at the O' Henry's sister hotel Proximity.  Proximity sits about 200 yards away from the O' Henry!  So, we booked a room, and stayed the night.  It was just as amazing as I had remembered!  Derik had a gorgeous flower arrangement, chocolate covered strawberries, and a bottle of Veuve chilling when we returned from the wedding!  What a perfect evening!

Now, the next place on the list may confuse a few of you!  However, if you are an Arby's fan... which I am... and you have ever been to an Arby's in another state, you might understand.  Since Arby's is a franchise, they are allowed to select their own menu.  The Arby's here in town, serve things that are not available in North Carolina, and vice versa.  One of my absolute favorite things to order at Arby's is the Loaded Potato Bites.  SO DELICIOUS, and sooooo not available in Virginia.  Since my dad literally lives around the corner from Arby's, and we were staying at his house... I made a trip!  Just as good as I remembered!!!!

Last, but certainly not least, is Pita Delight.  I have a food crush on Pita Delight.  This may be one of the few things that I am glad is not available in Virginia, as I have NO will power for it!  (Sing to the tune of the Oscar Meyer Bologna song...)  "I could eat it every day"!!!
I love Pita Delight, and I am pretty sure I have never strayed from my original menu decision!  Every time I have enjoyed the deliciousness, it has been a Turkey & Cheese Pita with a side salad (no tomato, extra dressing) and a side of Fajita Sauce.  OH THE YUM!  I can taste the goodness now!

So, I am going to wrap up this blog post with this.  You may have noticed that most of my list consisted of food options!  I am no a foodaholic, but I do enjoy some good eating!!  I made a few other pit stops that were added bonuses!!  I got to see most of our Greensboro family, and a few of my old friends!
I am so sorry to Ashley Farrar & Karyn Sterling.  I hated that we missed you guys.  Hopefully we can get together on my next trip back! 

It was a great trip back, but I sure am glad to be home.  Perhaps I can work on opening my own Juice Shop & Pita Delight here in town!!!

 - Jessica

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mommy BASH

Some of my mommy friends will be elated to hear that the Mommy BASH Awards were cancelled this year!!  I know personally, I am ecstatic!  This award ceremony is for Mommies who Breastfeed & Are Super Human... yes I am making this up!

WARNING... I do not wish to insult anyone with this post, I am simply venting...

The first time that I heard about a woman going through a pregnancy PROBLEM FREE and giving birth naturally with no drugs involved, I took the whole concept for granted.  I thought that having a baby was a piece of cake!  This was of course BEFORE I ever got pregnant!

(Enter my 1st positive pregnancy test...)
We started calling all of our family and friends and were beyond excited to share our good news!  We were oblivious to the idea that anything could go wrong, and wrong it went.  We miscarried, and had to share the devastating news.
We thought when we had our next pregnancy test and got past the first 12 weeks that we were safe!  NOT... at 22 weeks I started spotting, and at 32 weeks... BED REST.  I was on bed rest for a month, and even doing absolutely nothing triggered labor 3 times before Abbie graced us with her presence.  Let me clarify for those who have never experienced it before, there is nothing false about the preterm labor I went through.  I labored hard 4 times with each baby.  Drugs were used each time to stop the labor as I was 32 weeks with each when it started.  The 4th time with each child... I labored through drugs.
The night before Abbie arrived, I thought my water had broken.  We checked into the hospital after contractions had started at around 1030.  I labored through the night with COUNTLESS cervical checks and tests & an ultrasound to determine if my water had in fact broken.  They never could tell me.  But after 9 hours of laboring through the drugs to try and stop it, the doctor feared my uterus was in danger of rupturing.  So, off to the OR I went.  The decision to have the C-Section was made around 7:45 and we met Abbie at 8:21am.  It was quick, and it was terrifying, and I was never even given the option to do anything naturally.  The decision was beyond me and was based on what was safe for my child. 
16 months later we got a big surprise with another positive pregnancy test!  We were excited, but feared the worst when I began bleeding at 10 weeks.  We thought we had lost the baby and learned it was a minor issue.  We had another scare later into the pregnancy when they told us there were chances of Brady having Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy.  Another happy day, shattered into a million pieces.  We were just supposed to find out if it was a boy or a girl, and we left terrified.  At 32 weeks... the preterm labor began.  I spent 4 days in the hospital the first time.  Then after 3 trips back, laboring for 10 hours through the drugs, and another doctor fearing my uterus would rupture, we were swept into the OR for another C-Section where we met Brady!
Abbie arrived at 36 weeks 1 Day & Brady arrived at 35 weeks 4 days.  Both children early, both children by section, and neither time was I ever given the option to have a baby naturally!
I have what doctor's call a "Uterine Anomaly" called a Bicornuate Uterus.  Where most women have a round, circle shaped uterus, I have a heart.  That means there are 2 chambers, and my children get stuck in a breech position.  The chances of me ever having a baby get into the head down position was slim to none.  Breech babies are not exactly the easiest to deliver, but when you mix that with a problematic uterus... it makes for a bad combo!
This means, I will never give birth naturally.  I will never get the opportunity to try having a child without drugs, and I am just fine with that!  It doesn't mean that I am not a Super Woman!  Reading stories, or hearing friends tell me about their incredible birthing experience with no drugs, and a calm environment just sounds absurd to me!  My labor hurt, the contractions hurt, and the drugs were WONDERFUL!!!
A girlfriend of mine had an emergency C-Section with her first baby after laboring and pushing.  They did her section with no additional drugs, and she felt everything.  (Shout out to Stephanie Titus... you should get a Super Woman Award for that!!!)
My whole point is... Im over it!  I worked hard to get my babies here, and I'm proud I did it.  I'm proud that I bit my lip when I was told I had to have a C-Section.  I'm proud that I took the spinal.  And I'm proud that TWICE, I have taken care of my newborn while recovering from a surgery in which they basically cut me in half!!!!! (exaggeration... yes... get over it!)
I also had breastfeeding issues.  With Abbie my supply diminished, starting when she was 4.5 months old.  I pumped as much as I could, for as long as I could, but at 6 months... it was a lost cause.  With Brady, I had an overabundant supply.  However, there was no hind milk, which apparently is a problem.  2 babies, 2 completely different issues... no breastfeeding success stories.
SO... to sum up...
I DO NOT wish to attend the Big Latch On event that is sweeping the nation, so stop sending me e-vites!
I DO NOT want to read another story about a woman who had her baby in her living room with no drugs.
I DO NOT wish to insult any of my friends or family, so please understand that this is a sore subject.
Telling a woman that you had a super human birth when she will never have the chance for that experience is like telling an infertile friend that you are pregnant.  I am excited for you all, but that is just where I stand.
No one gives awards out for being super human or breastfeeding your baby exclusively until they are 2.  I am glad that your babies didn't recieve any drugs, but mine did... LET'S MOVE ON!!!

 - Jessica

Let Go & Let God

The past few weeks have been a type of stressful that I have never experienced before.  For some unexplainable reason, God gave me 2 incredible children that I get to love and raise.  Even though I call them mine, I know they actually belong to God.  I just get to borrow them for a little while!  This concept has been one that I seem to not forget, but overlook, often.  I seem to forget that the whole life is already mapped out!  God hasn't just mapped out my life either, he has mapped out the life of each of my children.

For those of you who were a part of my pregnancy with Brady, you know it was a bit bumpy!!  For those of you who weren't witnesses to it, I'll give you the short and sweet version!
At 10 weeks pregnant, I thought we were having a miscarriage.
We headed home from our summer beach vacation early to learn
that everything with the baby was fine, but there was a separation 
in my placenta.  No big deal, it would heal itself, but bleeding is
a side effect, so dont stress!  We didn't hear of another issue until
we went to our gender determination ultrasound!  We were thrilled
to learn that we were having a boy (well Derik was, I wanted a girl!!)
and then we were hit with a bombshell.  We were told that Brady 
had "Echogenic Bowel & Ascites".  BEWARE, do not google either
of those terms!  Remember, they only put the bad stuff on the internet!
So, basically there were many many things that could have caused this
"glowing" bowel and unknown fluid surrounding it.  None of which
are conditions that you want to hear at an ultrasound.  We left terrified,
and at that point, me wanting a girl was the furthest thing from my mind.
I wanted a healthy baby boy.  We worried ourselves sick for 4 weeks
when we had our follow up ultrasound with another doctor!  He wasn't
concerned at all.  He said that the bleeding which occurred at the 
beginning of the pregnancy is what more than likely had caused this
condition.  After 3 false labor trips to the hospital, and 10 hours of labor
on the 4th trip... Brady was born!  Emergency C-Section 5 weeks early
and he was 6lb 10oz!!  This means that in spite of the worrying, 
stressing, and fear... GOD GOT BRADY HERE SAFE & SOUND!
Holding Brady for the first time, I just couldn't believe that a baby which was 5 weeks early and was sure to spend at least a few days in the NICU could be this healthy!  God has control.  So, why do I keep forgetting this detail??  Brady is just a few days away from 8 months old.  He is not sitting up yet, or even close to sitting up.  While the other kids his age are learning to crawl, Brady is content laying in his bouncy seat.  I never thought that at 8 months old I would still have a swing sitting in my living room.  However, that is where we are!  He has been diagnosed with a condition called "Nystagmus" which may or may not affect him for the rest of his life, but again... that is where we are!  He has picked up a "habit" in which he "snake dances" or does a great Stevie Wonder impression!  His eyes look up to the ceiling in a way that usually makes most people a little worried, but that is where we are.  The truth is... I can take Brady to as many specialists, and run as many tests on him as I want too... But God has already mapped out his future.  So, why stress so much?  If the rest of his life has already been written, what will crying fix?  What will stressing about it fix?  What will worrying about it fix?  NOTHING...
In fact all it does is give me a headache that has lasted for days, a stomach ache that wont go away, and a 2.5 year old who had fed off of my negative energy so much that she regressed in potty training.
There are a lot of things that could be wrong with Brady.  There are a lot of things that this could be.  There is a chance that it could be fixed.  But I will love that little boy for the rest of my life no matter what is going on, and so will God.  That is all that matters.  
So, I am writing this blog post as more of a vent.  I needed to get this off of my chest.  I needed to SHED MY STRESS!  I am vowing to Let Go & Let God.  Sometimes I am sure that will be harder than others, but the infectious smile of the sweet little boy that God has let me borrow, will make any day better!!!

 - Jessica

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Meal Planning Simplified

I have tested many meal plan tactics, and none have really been easy enough for me to continue using!  I looked at several different options on pinterest, all which I thought sounded great, and came up with a combination idea that I now call my own! 

I printed a week meal plan sheet and put it in a frame on my Mommy Central wall.  
 I have recently began using my Mommy Central Station again, and I am glad that I have the time to be organized again!!

After going through my recipes, I typed up recipe tabs for the recipes I use most often.  I color coded them for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, and added a few extra tabs.  I printed 5 leftover tabs, and 3 "Derik brings home food" tabs!  I cut them out, laminated them all, and cut them out again!

After I had them all ready, I put a sticky tab on each section of the framed plan, and I started planning!  I simply stuck a menu option in each section!  SO SIMPLE... I can keep this up!  When the week is coming to an end, I simply pull off the tabs, and start again!  I write my grocery list based off of my list, and go shopping!  It really is so easy, and I actually had fun planning this weeks menu!!!

   - Jessica