July 23, 2014

Little Foodie

About a month ago I stated Mary on solids. I was in no rush to start solids before six months (same time I started with Finn) not because I didn't think she was ready, but mostly because it's just so much easier to just nurse a baby, so essentially I was lazy. And also there's the whole poop thing. I really was in no rush to get to that.

Finn took months to be a somewhat ok baby food eater. He's a great eater now, so I can't complain much, but when he was a baby he really was not interested in food and it was maddening. I really enjoyed making his food, but then would plead with him to eat it and try to trick him into taking bites. I remember having to mix applesauce into just about everything to get him to eat.

Mary is the total opposite. Girl can put back some food! I didn't bother with rice cereal this go around and her first food was carrots (with breastmilk). She did great:

She has since had the following and has yet to refuse anything that's been offered.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli
Butternut Squash

A few days ago she woke up from a nap and threw up which was very unsettling. She ate squash and avocado prior to that, both things she had had previously, but I'm wondering of maybe the avocado upset her, as it probably was on its last day, so I'm going to hold off on it for a little bit. Also, she doesn't do too well with bananas as the consistency is a little too slimy for her.

Finn asks every day, "what's Mary gonna eat, Mama?" and when I ask him what she should eat he says, "hmmm, sweet potato and prunes" as if he really gave it some thought.

While she has been great with eating, it has really backed her up and as such she now has prunes mixed in to just about everything I give her. Overall, it's been really fun feeding her and watching her try new things, but mostly it's fun to see how much this little meatball loves food!


July 18, 2014

iPhone Cleanse

 As I mentioned in my last post, my phone got wet during a race we did over the weekend. It was totally my fault and I thought that by putting it in the zippered pouch on my stroller, it would stay dry in the ran. The worst part was that inside the same pouch were two plastic bags. In the end my phone and the two plastic bags got wet via the water that started to pool in bottom of the pouch.

I put the phone in rice, but it didn't turn on after 24 hours. I then went to Verizon to inquire about a replacement. Because we opted out of insurance and had recently upgraded, I would need to pay full retail for a replacement phone. That caused me to audibly groan in the store as full retail on my phone is $549.99. Not happening. I put the phone back in rice for several more days and today took it to a repair shop and for $29 they attempted to clean it, but confirmed that the logic board was too far damaged to be repaired.

I ended up ordering an iPhone 4 off Amazon (the irony being that we turned in our old 4's back in November and scored free 5's out of the deal). Now I needed to pay to downgrade which is a total first world problem, I realize, but still kinda annoying and frustrating nonetheless.

I had uploaded a good amount of my pictures on to my hard drive recently so didn't lose too many, though I did lose some here and there that I wish I had (a few pictures of Mary eating and a bunch I took when we took a trip to the fire station last month). Some other odd end pictures have been recovered thanks to people re-sending me some I had texted them within the last few weeks.

A lot of people asked me if my stuff was saved to the cloud and the truth is I don't really know. I'm pretty sure it wasn't as I've never done anything with the cloud - wouldn't I need to create an account or something to have my pictures and contacts backed up? Does anyone know how the cloud works and how one can retrieve things off of it? Please explain it to me the way you would to a five year old.

Also, does anyone have cell phone insurance? We said no, and even though my phone is ruined, I don't really regret that decision as it's $10 a month per line AND I still would have had to pay a $250 deductible. The iPhone 4 I purchased was cheaper than that - so is insurance really worth it? At $10 a month, I figure investing in a good cell phone case makes more sense.

So as I've adjusted back to having such an archaic phone (no Siri, no talk to text, smaller screen, oh the horror!) I have had to re add all of my contacts. This actually didn't bother me at all. It was kinda like doing a contact cleanse. I'll get back the numbers of people I actually want to contact at some point, and now don't have to go through the hassle of deleting all the rest. It's kinda like how every once in awhile a good cleanse is needed on your facebook friends.

I've also had to re add all of the apps I frequently use and for the sake of blogging, figured I would share those.

My friends Brandy and Priscilla are very deal savvy and introduced me to Ibotta, Shopkick, and Checkout51. Ibotta and Checkout51 are similar in that the offer little deals for items purchased in the grocery store, such $.25 for banana's or $.50 for a gallon of any brand milk. I only use them for things I purchase anyway, but since using Ibotta I've gotten $62.25 that has all been transferred to my paypal account. I don't use Checkout51 much, so only have about $8 there. I don't think I get any referral deals, but I do believe Ibotta offers a $2 referral to those who sign up, which you can do here. Shopkick is just another deal app where you scan products at stores (don't have to buy them) and you get 'kicks' for your scans. Kicks can be transferred to things like Target gift cards (I've gotten about $50 worth in those bad boys), free RedBox rentals, etc. So you should definitely add that to your phone if you haven't already. I'm pretty sure everyone is familiar with Target's Cartwheel app so I won't explain that one, nor will I share how much I've saved because Miles reads this blog and he will just want to know how much I had to spend in order to save that much. What a downer.

As for non finance related Apps, I use Instagram and an app to make picture collages, Pinterest, Groovebook, and Pandora. I did used to have the Facebook app, but will keep it off my phone for now.

So there ya have it. My iPhone woes and such. It really hasn't been a big deal (and I'm grateful to Miles for not giving me a hard time when I'm always on his case about not taking care of things). It was actually kind of nice to be phoneless for a few days. I do miss the camera quality the iPhone 5 has over the 4, but that's really about it. If your cell phone got ruined today would you be screwed, or do you have your act together and have all your stuff backed up?

July 13, 2014

A Lovely Rainy Race

Yesterday Miles and I ran a 5K race which benefited the Zoe Foundation. I mentioned it a few posts back, but this wonderful foundation exists to help families who lose a child by providing funds to help cover the costs of a funeral or memorial. We were fortunate that the Army took good care of us when we lost Cale. Our out of pocket expenses were incredibly low and the service we had for him was very small and did not place a financial burden on top of our grief. But this isn't always the case and my heart aches for those who, in addition to suffering a tremendous loss, have any sort of financial stress trying to figure out the one thing they never should have to - how to say goodbye to their baby. So in addition to running the 5K we also did a fundraiser for the Zoe Foundation and thanks to the generosity of friends and family, we passed our $500 goal and raised $525! For those of you who helped us get there - thank you so very, very much.

When we moved to Savannah I joined a stroller fitness group. I've always been a little apprehensive about groups like this since losing Cale. But in this group I've found some really kind women, who despite never enduring a similar loss, are very supportive and sympathetic. Most of them didn't know about Cale until recently and I was very touched by all those who signed up for this race and helped us honor him. Our group won the award for biggest team and the woman from our group who organized our team asked the race director to give me the award in honor of Cale. It was so nice to hear him mentioned in a public setting - a simple rarity that really means a lot. There were about 150 people who ran and probably another twenty or thirty who helped support and organize the race and considering it rained the ENTIRE time, I was really pleased with (and surprised by) the turnout.

The only downside of the day - I foolishly put my phone in the pocket of the stroller thinking it would stay dry. It did not.

I hope to participate in this race each year until we move (epecially if Miles pushes the stroller) and am so glad that we got to do some good in honor of Cale.

July 8, 2014

DIY Gallery Ledges

The house we are renting now has a lot of great features. It's the biggest house we've ever lived in and is perfect for visitors (hint hint), has a nice yard, tons of storage space, and several other amenities we've enjoyed. But there are a few shortcomings as well and one of them is that it doesn't have a fireplace and therefore has no mantle!

I love my mantle decor for not only some personal touches, but because we have Cale's framed sketch as well as a picture of Daren displayed and I wanted those up in our house somehow, mantle or not.

I thought about just doing some sort of gallery wall above the couch and using a lot of the same things I normally have up (I can't find an old picture of just the mantle, but you can see it here), but in the end I decided that I wanted to try out a gallery ledge.  The wall above the couch needed something anyway, so seemed like the perfect space for it.

So off to Lowe's we went to get the lumber for Miles to build a shelf similar to the ones he built in Mary's nursery from the Ana White $10 ledge plans.

Miles got fancy on this project and decided to add crown molding and I think it adds a perfect touch. I was torn between staining and painting, but I loved the look of my white frame gallery wall that we had up in Texas, so I decided to paint this ledge white and add all white frames to it and include some of the pictures from our old mantle.

Once we had it hung up I quickly realized that it would not be able to hold all the pictures I had from the gallery wall (with a few changed out) and some of the mantle pictures, so in addition to the gallery picture ledge, I also have a smaller gallery wall near our kitchen table that looks like this

Pictures include Cale's sunset name, Roscoe, 7 month old Finn, 
and also these two pictures of Miles and Finn and Miles and Mary

Family picture on Cale's bench

Our 'Home Sweet Home' needlepoint and story about it from Miles' mom

But back to the gallery ledges. . .

Once all painted and dried, Miles hung the ledge (which is six feet) above the couch and I got busy arranging and rearranging pictures on it.

I'm really pleased with out it all came together and hope that we can find a spot for it in our next house.

Pictures include: Miles and I on our 4th Anniversary just 11 days before Finn was born, 

 Miles and Mary, our family "what a difference a day makes", Daren and Roscoe, 
Aunt Kate and baby Finn

and my beautiful babies


July 4, 2014

The 4th in Pictures (lots of them)

Last night we kicked off the 4th of July festivities a day early by going to a local minor league baseball game, the Savannah Sand Gnats. It was Finn's first game and afterwards we were able to see some much anticipated fireworks. I snapped a few pictures prior to leaving for the game, but that ended up being just the beginning of my 4th of July patriotic picture taking spree. Enjoy!

Can I hold this flag, brother?

Ok, I'll just hold your neck instead.

You give mom a cute smile and I'll look confused.

Notice the digger toy also attended his first baseball game.

 Baseball fascinated Mary for about ten minutes. Then she slept in the ergo the remainder of the time. Also, sporting the biggest bow she's ever worn. All in the name of America, baby!

You see Mary, this is how you hold the flag.

 They are incapable of smiling at the same time.

 As good as it's gonna get.

Pool day!

 American baby.

Back from the pool, ready for more pictures. Or not.

Babies cooperate so much better than three year olds.

Not shown - Apple pie and ice cream. Nom nom nom.

 Our grocery store caters to suckers like me. America! Flowers! Must purchase.

My favorite spot for family pictures, Cale's bench.

Happy Birthday, America!

July 1, 2014

What Four Years Post Loss Looks Like For Me

The aching and the longing are still there, just not as acutely present. I can look at baby boys and find that my eyes don't well up with tears as they once did. In fact I can look at baby boys and not feel much of anything as they aren't my baby boy. Seeing brothers play together still makes me sigh, but it's an inward and silent sigh.

I usually don't initiate it, though sometimes I do, but when I talk to pregnant women, I can ask them questions about the future they are preparing for. I never ask, "is this your first?" or any question related to numbers of children, but sometimes I wonder if I should as there are times that I want to be asked those questions so that I'm afforded the opportunity to talk about Cale. Yet four years later I still don't always have the right answer and sometimes give a response that later causes anguish and guilt. Speaking of guilt, four years later and the guilt still plagues me in regards to all I failed to do after Cale was born. I'm afraid it always will.

Four years later and I'm still (thankfully) very much a part of the little kiddo stage of life. Conversations about crawling (not yet) and sleep patterns, pottery training, and tantrums happen almost daily. It's a season of life that I'm not ready to move on from for several reasons, but one of which is the connection it has to Cale. When the kids are older and no longer babies, I worry about what will happen to my forever baby. His presence will fade further and further from conversations and memories of pregnancies will start to blur.

As I mentioned before the age itself doesn't bother me as much as it once did. Perhaps that's because the age itself is getting less distinguishable. I should have a four year old, but four year olds don't cause me the same ache that one and two year olds once did. I suspect as time moves on it will be events that cause more reflection than age - I should have a kindergartner, a high school senior, etc.

Four years has me not only missing my baby, but also who he should have been. What's hard about that is not knowing who he should have been and not knowing exactly who it is I'm missing. Maybe he would have loved construction vehicles as much as Finn, or maybe trains or race cars would have been his obsession. What would his favorite food have been? What book would he want to read over and over? I have a hard time picturing what it would be like to have him as a four year old because he will forever be our baby.

Four years later and the acts of kindness people do for and because of Cale still mean as much as they did just following his death. Four years later and I still, very clearly, remember who was there for us (and who wasn't).

Four years has taught me that when I do bring Cale up and share his story with someone new, their reaction will lay the groundwork for any future relationship I may have with them. Four years makes you able to discern the keepers from the rest much more quickly and unabashedly.

Stories of loss and love and kindness and pain still resonate much more with me than they did over four years prior and I'm realizing more and more how connected we all are by the stories that are sometimes hard to share.

Four years later and I still can't believe he's not here, yet as I recently read another mom state, I think I'm accepting that he died (though I will forever hate the unfairness of it), but not able to accept that he never got to live. His death will always be wrong and horrible and I'll never be ok with it, but I am able to recognize it a little more for what it is - the worst kind of bad luck possible. A fluke and a tragedy.

Four years post loss and I still miss him every single day

Four years later and I love him just the same.