Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Things I Learned on My Trip - Part 5

5. It takes a village. Our village in Vegas is bigger than I knew until I was gone.

When you are a military family and don't live near any family, it is really easy to feel isolated and alone. Sometimes on days when I have no plans with the kids and Troy is at work, I get in this weird funk.

I get in this circular thinking where I'm like, "I miss my family. And my friends. I don't know anyone. I need to make more friends. Troy needs to get out of the military so we can be closer to our support system. I don't think I can do this today. I just can't. I miss my mom. Maybe I'll FaceTime her. Why isn't she picking up? Is she mad at me? I'll try my sister. What could she POSSIBLY be doing that is more important than talking to me? My family hates me. Why isn't Troy home today? I wish he could just take leave. Everyday. Except for when I have to work. He should only work when I work. I need to get a grip. I need more friends." And it goes on and on.

But here's the funny thing. I went on this trip and there were several people who stopped by, brought Troy dinner, invited them over, and checked on them while I was gone. Some of it was planned and some was unexpected. And they all called or texted with updates on how Troy and the girls seemed to getting along without Mommy there. While I was gone and getting phone calls and message with updates, I kept thinking, "Wow, our support network in Vegas is really great. I'm a whiner. They're really stepping up to help us out. This is great!"

I'm not saying that Troy couldn't have done it by himself. I have NO doubt that everyone would have been alive when I got home. But I AM saying that they might have lived on chicken nuggets, french fries and green beans the entire time I was gone. With an occasional mac n cheese or peanut butter and jelly. On that diet, their gallbladders would have been going crazy, but no one would have been dead.

Troy only worked 2 days the whole time I was gone. He said it was funny because when he initially submitted leave for that week and his reason was to stay in town at home with the kids, some of the dads he works with were like, "oh no, 10 days all by yourself with the kids? Eek, good luck." So on the 2 days he went in to work, people were saying things like, "Are your kids still alive?" or "Are you guys ok?" He was actually a little offended, which I thought was cute. At one point he called and said to me, "You know, you were with the kids for 2 months while I was at SOS. And you've had them for a couple weeks while I did other TDYs. I can handle a few days. They're my kids too."

Respect. That's a good daddy right there. Love him.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Things I Learned on My Trip - Part 4

4. I'm good at moving logistics. It's a gift.

Kristen helped me move into our house in San Antonio and she has since told me..."You are a beast."

I am relentless. Unnecessarily ruthless. Brutal even. Troy does inventory (checking off boxes and furniture as they come off the truck) and I immediately start unpacking the kitchen. Here are my moving logistics.

My MOST important piece of advice: ASK THE MOVERS TO UNPACK YOU. They will take all the garbage (boxes and packing paper) with them and break down all the boxes. Then you don't have to do it or arrange a later pick up. This forces you to put stuff away because it is everywhere. They won't put a thing away and will overturn boxes and you'll have stuff all over your floors. But as they take out your dishes and glasses, put them away. As they unpack your wardrobe boxes, hang everything up. Immediately hook up your washer and dryer and start washing your sheets and towels.

As they unpack you, you will feel overwhelmed and wonder how you have so much stuff. Just pay attention to the task at hand. Try not to START another room until you are done with your priorities. NEVER go up or down stairs unless you are carrying something. Put all your shelves into bookshelves so you have a place to stack stuff. Make sure your "parts box" (with brackets, handles, screws for beds, remotes) is in your car and not on the truck so you know where all your hooks, nails, brackets, etc are located. Especially for beds, so the movers are dumping boxes onto beds and not on the floor.

By the end of the day 1 and all of our stuff is off the truck, I aim to have the kitchen COMPLETELY unpacked and put away with all the beds clean and made up for sleeping.

On day 2, I can do the grocery store run since the kitchen is completely done so we can eat at home. Which is a huge time and money saver when you are moving. And probably have been eating out and doing fast food for a while. By the end of day 2, I have the living room, master bedroom/closet and bathrooms unpacked.

Day 3 is the "leftover" day. That means the less important rooms for required for daily living. Things like an office, guest room, linen closet, etc.

Day 4 is hanging pictures on the walls, curtains up, and leftover organizing (decorative shelves, candles, junk drawer).

We followed this model with Kristen's home, but did not do a day 4 because she wanted to make some of those design/decor decisions when her hubby was there. He wasn't there on monday morning when we received her household goods because he was TDY for a school for his new job the whole week. So we did it all ourselves. Because we rock.

She was like, "Dude. I wasn't expecting to make this much progress on the house in 3 days. I thought you were like this (translation of "this": a slave driver) because it was your house and your stuff. But we killed it."

We even made a trip to Babies R Us to buy nursery furniture on the morning of day 2. Since their baby was born October, and they knew they were moving, they didn't want to buy a nursery set just to move and have it get beat up before getting a change to use it. So they decided to wait until they got into their house to pick something. Unfortunately, I asked the movers to unpack EVERYTHING in the house, which meant in the nursery (and the office) they overturned boxes and just left PILES and PILES of baby stuff all over the floor. I thought Kristen was going to stroke out. Especially when had to lug that baby dresser we just bought at Babies R Us up her stairs. I really thought we were going to die. It was the hardest I have worked out and the quickest I have ever broken a sweat in my entire life. Ever. I might have been in fear of Kristen's life, who was on the lifting and pushing side of the dresser on the way up the steps.

Her movers came monday morning and we were done wednesday night. House completely done, other than the day 4 list, which she and her hubs are going to do together. Well, the garage needed some work. But we had to leave something for her husband right?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Things I Learned on My Trip - Part 3

3. I don't want any more babies.

A couple things. I love love love my babies. BUT, I had a hard time enjoying Avery as an infant because I was so worried about her dying (please read this if you have not). I had a hard time enjoying the twins as infants because I was just trying to keep my head above water.

Somewhere in my head, I decided that I wanted another baby. Just one. Because I felt like I missed out on ENJOYING the baby thing because I was trying to avoid an absolute total anxiety attack/mental breakdown to keep my babies alive and fed and clean. On 4 hours of sleep a night. While working a few days a week.

As it turns out, you know what I don't miss? Carrying around a baby all the time. My house looking like a daycare with swings and high chairs and bouncy chairs and exersaucers. Trying to adjust to a whole new person added to your family dynamic and routine. And the panic feeling during the witching hour slow approach...watching the clock with impending doom. STOPPING EVERYTHING to feed the baby or to sit and nurse. Having spit up on my clothes at all times. Being up to my elbows in poop. Listening to crying and not knowing what to do to fix it. Loading a stroller (or 2) in and out of the car 10 times just to run errands. Making baby food.

You know what I love about my kids?

We can all walk together. Avery can hold one of the twins' hands and I hold another hand and we can WALK into the store. They can fetch things for me. They can play INDEPENDENTLY. They can play together. They sleep 12 hours at night. Avery goes to school. They feed themselves with set up. Avery does her WHOLE bedtime routine by herself. We are DONE with all the large baby gear items. DONE. The twins are talking and have these personalities that are SO adorable and different, I'm ready to punch them and chew their faces off. AVERY IS READING. They can wear dresses now because they walk all the time and don't get their knees stuck in the front. THEY UNDERSTAND NO. I don't bring a stroller anywhere anymore. They hug each other (be still my heart). They blow kisses.

Now. Don't misunderstand. I love love love me some babies. But hanging out with Kristen for a week when we were BUSY, just made me like, I'm ready to be done. Her 5 month old was a solid reminder to me of everything that we have survived through. And I'm ready to go forward and not look back. Except for when my friends or family have babies and I can snuggle them and give them back. Because I love little babies.

I'm excited to move to the next phase of kid fun. The phase of bigger kid activities. Skiing. Skating. Bowling. Arts and crafts. Museums. Learning. Having grown up conversations about kindness, Jesus, friendship, and bad things that happen. And why we have boogers. I'm just ready to do the big kid stuff.

Troy was SO relieved to hear me say it outloud. Because before I went, I was mourning the baby phase. Pathetically. Every few weeks, I was like, "um, so I want a baby still." Troy would just ignore me. And now I kind of feel like a grandparent to my friends who have babies. I get to snuggle them, smell them, coo at them and when it's time to get down to serious business, give them back. It was a relief.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Things I Learned on My Trip - Part 2

2. When you have a job you love, you never work a day in your life.

I have heard this before, but seriously.

So I was planning to go help Kristen move. But we are also starting all of this program at work and I got "volun-told" to help with some new protocols to develop an early mobilization program for people on mechanical ventilation. I worked on a team that had done this in San Antonio. Since I had done it before, my boss asked me assist in writing some protocols for review.

Like any good medical professional, I went to research first. Reading like a crazy person. Then I collected about 8 protocols from other facilities. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel. However, sometimes reading is not the same as the hands on learning. I would seriously SUCK at getting an online degree. I really need the dynamic environment of a classroom and teacher to learn. Really really.

In some of my Googling, I came across a class that we being offered in a couple cities, but none of them nearby. One was being offered in DC, and luckily, I was able to coincide my trip to see Kristen to line up with the timeline of the 2 day course.

And HOLY COW. This was the BEST course I have ever taken. Normally, I take courses just to check a box. You know, get the units to maintain my license. But this lady was amazing. I didn't realize that all the research I had been doing and reading was BY HER. Then, I kind of started fan girl crushing. She is the leading expert therapist in the field and doing so much research, publishing, and writing protocols and assessments for predicting outcomes for patients in the ICU after mechanical ventilation.

I was expecting to be a little bored with some of the material when I initially looked at the brochure because some of the topics were, "reading a monitor" and "managing lines." I was like *YAWN*

I WAS SO WRONG. She got her degree in Brazil and English was her second language. Because of this, she taught in a very direct, blunt way that I found refreshing, appealing and useful. She was able to explain how to talk to physicians and patients in a way I had never considered and said things that INSTINCTUALLY I knew, but never would have thought to evaluate or explain to a family. She really explained things from a business, personnel, time management, and team approach that I never would have had the courage to approach without her example and encouragement. She had this way of explaining all the different settings on a ventilator and what to adjust for therapy that just made sense, was down to earth and didn't go over my head.

She gave me information that made me feel empowered as a therapist and a consumer of medicine. I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed her course and recommend that any physical therapist or occupational therapist that works in an ICU should take this course. It will really make you evaluate yourself as a therapist, what kids of goals and education approach you should use with patients, families, nurses, and physicians.

This course made me want to quit my life (kidding...sort of) and move to Houston to work underneath her. The course was offered through Education Resources, Inc.

Christiane Perme, PT CCS

And here is the description of her course:

Therapists working with patients in ICU face a complex challenge. These patients have limited mobility due to life support, monitoring equipment, multiple medical problems and muscle weakness. For selected patients in ICU, early mobility and walking enhances functional outcomes by optimizing cardiopulmonary and neuromuscular status. Early mobility can lead to an increase in the patient’s quality of life and higher functional capability. It can also potentially reduce length of hospital stay with overall reduced costs. The content of this course will guide clinicians through the process of managing adult ICU patients. Case reports will be presented to demonstrate how the early mobility and walking program in ICU can positively impact the recovery of selected patients. - See more at:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Things I Learned on My Trip - Part 1

1. Being sick on an airplane is pretty much the worst thing. Ever.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I left on a red eye Thursday night from Vegas to go to Washington, DC.

Monday night (3 days) before my trip, Troy and I had to give Kinley a bath in the middle of the night because she barfed all other the place. She woke up crying and Troy went to check on her and took a shower with her while I changed her bedding, got out new pajamas, and tried to convince Caris it wasn't play time. Kinley had diarrhea on tuesday with a side of diaper rash.

Caris threw up 3 times wednesday morning and had diarrhea all day. It appeared to be only a 24 hour thing.

Troy was freaking out while I was at work on Wednesday, knowing that I was leaving, but counting the seconds for Avery to start praying to the porcelain gods as well. Spoiler, Avery was the only person who made it out free and clear from any sickness. He was begging me to take them to the doctor Thursday morning before I left "just to make sure they were okay." NEWSFLASH TROY! They're more likely to pick up something else from the waiting room than be magically healed by the pediatrician.

Instead I did some laundry, cleaned up, and packed my stuff thursday and get on the plane at 11pm in Vegas. I was in the emergency exit row (score) and AMAZINGLY was the only person in the row, so I got three seats to myself. I decided to be very mature and lie down immediately across all three seats and fall asleep. You know, before someone stuck in a middle seat tried to move and ruin my plan.

Well, that was short lived. I woke up about an hour into the flight and my stomach was churning. Bad. It came out of nowhere. Thank goodness the seat belt light was off. I took off at almost a sprint, not wanting to tip off the other passengers to the war about to happen in that TINY, AWFUL airplane bathroom.

Decisions you never want to make: Do I throw up in the bathroom sink, or put my face in a place that was just occupied by my rear end? And the rear ends of tens of thousands of other strangers? WORST. EVER.

SO...that happened.

Luckily, I wasn't running back and forth during the flight. I had a one long trip to the bathroom and was done.

I landed in DC and Kristen picked me up. Luckily, she was very understanding. Unluckily, Mother Nature had dumped about 6 inches of snow on the DC Metropolitan area and the drive home was bumpy and slow. Her mom had a stash of Pedialyte popsicles in the freezer. God Bless her. I ate 1 and was in bed by 9am. I'm not joking. Sitting up in a chair, I thought I was going to die from the nausea. Worse than my nausea while pregnant with the twins. I woke up at noon and ate another. Back to bed for 3 hours and got up and ate another. Those things are the Her mom said she bought a box of them at Wegmans. I've never seen them before. Although, I've never looked either. You better believe I will be from now on. Those should be stashed at all times.

Thank you, Jesus, it was only a 24 hour bug. So, after sleeping all day, I was starving. I was able to eat a full meal for dinner. And feeling SO much better. Like about 90 percent. Which was so necessary because I was attending a $450 continuing education course for work all day Saturday and Sunday. And there was NO way I missing that, sick or not. Spoiler alert, it was the best course I've ever attended.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Left Troy Alone with the Girls for 9 Days - Prequel

So I have this friend. I've known her for 15 years. Which is crazy. I've known her more than half of my life.

This is Kristen:

This is Kristen and Me. In high school (sorry, it's bad):

Kristen and I have been through a lot. Like when we drink together and my feet hurt and she drops me in the parking lot and we can't stop laughing. This was supposed to be a shot of Kristen giving me a piggy back ride. But she dropped me instead and somehow, we got an action shot of us falling:

Or when Troy went TDY when Avery was a week old. And we were moving away from Dover and living in a hotel. And Kristen came to my rescue. Look how sleepy she is. That's sacrifice. Staying up with a baby that isn't your own:

She got married 3 years ago. We look better than high school, huh? We clean up well:

So let's pause a minute and list all the things that Kristen has done.

1. She came when Avery was a week old to live with me in TLF while Troy was gone.
2. She drove with me to Texas when Avery was 4 months old when we moved to San Antonio and Troy was already there.
3. She stayed a week and helped me unpack my house in San Antonio.
4. She came to Vegas when I was hospitalized for hyper stimulated ovaries and took care of Avery.
5. She came to Vegas for a week when I was on bedrest. She left 3 days before the twins were born.

Kristen married a guy in the military. This is him:

She moved to Florida. She's been living there since she got married. They got orders a few weeks ago to move back to Virginia. OH and she has a 5 month old little boy. Ain't he cute?

So go ahead a scroll back up to that list. I'll wait.

As her first move as a military spouse with a new baby, it can be SO overwhelming. SO much to do. On a plane I went to help her. I mean, not only was I ready for a trip by myself, but Kristen was doing her first move.

I left on a red eye from Vegas thursday night and arrived in Washington, DC on friday morning. I flew back to Vegas the FOLLOWING saturday...9 days later. Troy was with the kids all that time. He did great. They're all alive and accounted for. In addition, being gone really reinforced the importance and power of building your "village." I'm not entirely certain he would have made it without our village.

In addition, I got to see a lot of people I grew up with and have known me for years. As well as acquaintances that I have only met a few times, but am friends with on Facebook. Apparently, more people are reading this blog than I was aware of. I had about 12 people ask me, separately, a version of the question, "why aren't you blogging anymore?" Or "I'd like to fan girl stalk your babies and you're making it hard." Or "I am very invested in your family because you blogged about your fertility and stuff and I'm going through that now." So I'm back. And making a better effort. Promise.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fall 2014 Family Photos

So here we go again. I'm going to try this blogging thing. These are SO 6 months old. People who got a Christmas card from us have seen some of these, but it appears that there are a lot of people reading this blog that I wasn't aware of. I will be address this in my next blog...which I am off to write now -

We decided to have some professional photos done the weekend after Caris and Kinley turned one year old. ONE!

We headed out to Floyd Lamb park (it's the peacock park to Avery) and it was a little chillier than we thought it would be, especially with the wind. And the coordinating outfits that I selected weren't super warm/didn't have sweaters or jackets to match, so we just decided to tough it out. "Tough it out" meaning the high that day was like 67 with some wind also. Eek. We have definitely adjusted to the desert weather.

Here is the all girl picture.

Here is one of us sitting on a low bridge thingy.

Sitting on a big tree.

Avery is RIGHT in the middle of saying "cheese" here. Can't you tell?

Caris had JUST started walking when this photo shoot was done. Kinley is still happy to sit and not move. I wish you could have seen me just outside the frame. I would hold Kinley up in standing and let go right when the photographer took the picture. Which is why it looks like Kinley is sloooooowly lowering herself to the ground. Because she's like "eh, I'm good sitting right here."

Family picture with Optimus. He got put in the car right after this. He thought the peacocks were squeaker toys. And he couldn't stay calm. Although, he was only in about 5 shots total so I think technically, he won the "most photogenic award" since all of his pictures were awesome.

The babies took some "One Year" pictures. I just love those little faces.

AHHH! They're so cute. I love them.

Sharing. It's very rare right now. And it was captured in a photo :)

I wish I knew what faces/noises we were making when this picture was taken. I would make it all the time.

So if you live in the Las Vegas area, we had a great experience with Dancing Frog Photography and we will definitely be utilizing Erin Kelly's business again.