Monday, November 2, 2015

Car Accidents, Pregnancy Problems, and Halloween!

I can't believe it's been a few months since I posted.  Well, actually I can.  Life has been giving us some big mama sized lemons and we are having a hard time making the proverbial lemonade.

Aside from almost all of our electronics blowing out... you probably read that post a couple months ago about losing our computers and phones.  I miss my laptop so much I can't even think about it without crying!!  And since then we have lost our TV and another phone... and well, our van.

Three weeks ago, my husband and I were on our way home from a doctor appointment when a lady came cruising out of a Walmart parking lot cutting us off (after cutting off the semi to our right) and we t-boned her.  Air bags deployed and everything.  Ben and I were fine, just shaken up and a little burned and bruised from the seat-belts and the airbags. The other lady hurt her back and neck, but she's fine too.

But our van... our dear beloved van... wasn't worth the cost of replacing the airbags and seat-belts so the insurance company had it totaled.  We've been driving around in a rental (which my 4 year scraped up with the handlebars of his bike) the last 3 weeks, trying to get everything worked out, but after 3 moves since we got the van, the title has been lost and it's been a huge deal just to get another one.  So this week, I get to look forward to having no vehicle.  Yay.

Then there is the issues with the un-born babe.

At my 20 week ultrasound they determined that the baby was in the 11th percentile and since all my others were beefcakes, it was a cause for concern.

So off we go to a perinatal specialist.  Longest ultrasounds ever.

At 26 weeks, the baby was in the 10th percentile, and now at 29 weeks he is in the 8th.  He is still growing, but slowly and he's a tiny little man.  So I have to go in every week for monitoring and measurements.  But the doctors are hopeful that I will carry to full term.

Then there are the on-going ADHD issues with my two oldest.  My 8 year old is struggling really badly controlling impulses and focusing.  He also has some behavioral issues, like not taking personal responsibility for his choices among other things.

Along with other trials, I won't talk about on-line, I feel like I'm being attacked with crap from all sides.  It's been a ROUGH few months.  It seems like no matter how hard we try, we just can't catch a break.  But I'm hanging in there and trying to keep my crying to a minimum and keeping my head up as best as I can.  I think being hormonal makes everything worse, but whatever.  I can do this. WE can do this.

But I didn't let all the bad stuff get to me this Halloween.  We had a blast!  My husband and boys are really into the theme thing -- or at least I am and they are cool enough to go along with my shenanigans.

This year's theme was Harry Potter:

AND it was little guy's 1st Birthday!

Also, while I was on bed rest for 6 weeks, as depressing as it was, I got a lot of crochet projects done:

Only, I had to stop because it gave me a bad case of pregnancy carpal tunnel... BOO!  Which is much better since I got some super sexy arm braces to sleep in.  But whatever.

But that's life.  It's a roller coaster.  And ALL of us go through things we would rather not have to go through.  Even though many of our trials AREN'T our fault, we ALWAYS have a choice on how we choose to face them and how we are going to come out of them.  Yeah, things are pretty sucky right now, but know what?  It's going to get better.  I KNOW it.  Sometimes trials are so big, it's hard to see the Lord's small tender mercies hidden within.  Yeah, we lost our beloved van - BUT we found a great one for the perfect price to replace it as soon as we get the money.  It was really depressing when Jake "keyed" the side of the rental van, but my brilliant husband was able to treat and buffer out the scratches so they were hardly noticeable and he even fessed up with the rental company about it and because he was honest and he did a great job they didn't charge us a penny. Yes, the baby is tiny, I hurt all the time, and it's been the hardest pregnancy by far!  But the baby still healthy and he is cruising along and this pregnancy will be over soon.  Yes, Nephi's ADHD is really out of control, but our doctor's and teachers are working hard with us to figure things out.  And not having a good TV was pretty stressful at times (especially being on bed rest, and now being on partial bed rest), but then our neighbor sold us theirs for a reasonable price and saved us!

I am sure all the other trials will work out too if we just keep faith and hope and do our very best to make good choices, be patient, and work hard to get things done.  We got this!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life: 10 Tips for Families (Guest Post)

Written by Sara Furlong
Maybe you’re ready to make the transition from military life to family. Maybe your separation is already scheduled. Maybe you’re worried about drawdown and how you would get by if it happened to your family.
Making the transition from military to civilian life can be daunting – and exciting! – for the whole family. Below are a few tips to help you get on the right foot for a successful transition.
  1. Start early!
Don’t wait until the week before separation to start planning your new life. According to a leading veteran employment firm, you should begin preparing one year before your transition to ensure you have time to discover the best options for your family, keep transition costs to a minimum, and use your military benefits to the fullest.
  1. Cultivate options.
As you embark on this new chapter, you’re going to want to explore as many options as possible to ensure your family finds its best possible situation. Luckily, there are lots of cost-free services available to help military families transitioning to civilian life.

Be sure to check out military job boards, placement firms, job fairs, and the military Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and Army Career and Alumni Program. It’s also important to reach out and make connections with veterans in the career world. Try your VFW and military associations and be sure to contact every former military person you know to let them know you’re looking for a new career.

Oh – and once you find yourself loaded with options, be sure to investigate them all thoroughly!

  1. Make the most of your military move.

So many families use their military move to head straight for their home town. While this is certainly understandable, it’s not always the best choice. There may be significantly better opportunities available to you in other places and not having to pay to move for your new job would be a great thing.

Plus, many companies pay for employees’ relocation. Having a military move that could save a company your moving expenses could give you an advantage over your competition and tip the scales in your favor. It could also be a nice bargaining chip when negotiating salary and benefits.
  1. Sign up for gap insurance.
If it takes some time after separation for you or your spouse to find a job, there could be a period of time when your family isn’t covered by insurance. Military health insurance coverage usually ends on the day the service member is discharged. By signing up for gap insurance, you can make sure your family is covered throughout your transition.

  1. Get your papers in order.
Now is the time to start getting your and/or your spouse’s resume in order.
Be sure to include any special awards, honors, training, leadership roles, and responsibilities you’ve earned during service or past employment. Haven’t been working for a while? (Or even a long while!) Don’t worry. Make a list of every organization you’ve been involved with, any volunteering you’ve done, and any experiences you’ve had that might add to your value as an employee but that might be unusual for civilians. (For example, you might be able to say foreign travel in the military has made you comfortable interacting with diverse groups of people.)
Brainstorm any skills that you might have displayed or acquired through the items on your list. Include them in a well-crafted cover letter when you apply to jobs, explaining whenever possible how those skills will help you perform that job well.  
Helping your spouse to prepare their resume? Remember to remove as much military lingo as possible. Most civilian employers probably won’t understand it. Also, help your spouse to keep from being too modest. The military mentality stresses the team over the individual, so service members can sometimes be reluctant to talk up their accomplishments. Make sure they highlight their achievements, knowledge, and experience and explain how they make them an exceptional job candidate.
  1. Clean up your internet persona.

It’s a fact of life that job recruiters, hiring managers, and employers now check out their candidates on social media to weed out any candidates whose personal lives raise red flags.
Get ahead of the curve by logging into every one of your social media accounts and removing anything even slightly questionable. While you’re at it, share a few links to articles about recent developments in your industry of choice. This will show the person reviewing your profiles that you will be truly interested and engaged in the job. Applying to jobs in numerous industries? Make posts highlighting any volunteer work you’re involved with or share links to articles that demonstrate good character.

Once you’ve cleaned up your accounts, sit down with your spouse and help them to do the same.

  1. Take advantage of military education benefits.

College is a great way to ease the transition from military to civilian life and to prepare active duty service members and their spouses for new careers. And the best part? There are tons of military education benefits available to help make it super affordable.

The G.I. Bill offers significant tuition assistance, whether your spouse is still serving or already discharged. If your goal is to prepare your family for a future transition, you might want to take advantage of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program which will afford you with funding for many great educational and job training opportunities.   
The first step is to find out what benefits you qualify for and how many college credits your spouse has earned through their experience and training in the military. (Yes, military service often earns you college credits!)
Once you’ve requested this information, start searching for military scholarships and programs that may interest you at military-friendly colleges. What’s a military-friendly college? These schools will not only honor your education benefits – they’ll also provide important services that will ensure you get the most out of your experience. Even more important, many of them offer reduced tuition for military veterans, service members, and their families.
For instance, Pace University is widely ranked as one of the most military-friendly schools. They offer impressive military discounts, host special military admissions events that speed up the process, and you can even estimate your college costs with Pace’s handy online tool.

Trident University International is a military-friendly college that provides military education grants that decrease the cost of tuition up to 36% for veterans, service members, and their dependents. Trident also has a Military Assistance Center that is knowledgeable about all aspects of education during and after the military. They’ll help you identify and take advantage of all available opportunities and lower your costs as much as possible. (Sometimes as much as 100%!)

Below is a list of military-friendly colleges that may be helpful as you begin your research:
  1. Ask for help when you need it.
There are so many services available to help service members and their families with everything from finding jobs, getting into good schools, or coping with the complex emotions that can sometimes accompany switching over to civilian life. Seeking help and overcoming issues before they get too big is always the best approach. So don’t hesitate! Contact your Veterans Affairs office (VA) if you find yourself struggling.

  1. Look into joining the reserves.
This is a great option if your spouse is having a hard time wrapping their brain around not serving and wearing that uniform. And it’s simple. They can transfer to the reserves without making a commitment that will conflict with any job they may take in the future. However, the money they could make by committing for a certain number of years could also make your family more secure as you pursue employment options and get settled into your new life. Either way, joining the reserves can ease the mental shift required when one goes from military to civilian life.

  1. Stay positive!
Embarking on any new life situation can be daunting. Just remember that it is perfectly normal to be nervous, but that you and your family will be just fine. There are so many companies out there that are clamoring to hire veterans and loads of educational opportunities available for military families. So, while you may be apprehensive, you should get excited, too! Now is the time for your family to pursue your dreams, move any place you want, and spend lots of quality time together. Do your best to stay positive and focus on all of the ways this change will be great for your family.

Did you and your family make the transition from military to civilian life? Leave your tips and stories in the comments below!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

In Which I Let the Man Cut My Hair

Oh, yes I did.

For a couple months I have been wanting to cut my long locks.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  Long hair isn't all that it's cracked up to be... seriously.

1.  It takes FOREVER to blow dry.

2.  It takes FOREVER to style.

3.  It gets to a point where it's too long to do ANY of the cute styles for so-called "long hair" and you just end up looking stupid.  Prime example:

4.  It gets caught in the seat belt.  All. The. Time.

5.  It's hard to fasten my bra without catching hair in it.

6.  I have to braid it every night or my husband gets tangled in and it ends up in his mouth or drooled on.  Sometimes he even rolls in it and I get stuck.  This particularly sucks if I have to pee.

7.  It gets stuck in my armpits.  It gets stuck in other people's arm pits too.... please don't even think of hugging me... I know you mean well, but my hair... just don't.

8. It falls in my food.

9.  The baby loves to pull it.  Baby loves to eat it.

10.  It gets zipped up, tied up, and shut up in doors.

11.  Lipstick, gloss, and chapstick are a nightmare... all it takes is a little breeze....  People standing around me shouldn't wear it either... Just sayin'

12.  The snarls and tangles... oh, let's not go there...

13.  We actually have to budget in shampoo and conditioner.

14.  It's just too hot!

15. We find long blond hair EVERYWHERE!  It clogs the bathtub drain.  It sticks on the shower walls.  It gets caught in the vacuum.  It's like an invasion!

16.  And my favorite:  Changing poopy diapers is a new level of nasty when your hair is taking a dip.  Shuttering at the memories....

Now you have to understand something about me.  My mom is a hairdresser.  I was raised watching her cut, color, perm, etc.  I spent many MANY hours in a salon helping out and watching.  Now, even, my dad is a retired cop and went to barber school and they work together... so cutting hair is in my blood.

And I am SUPER picky about who I want to touch it.  I even fought my mom on many occasions... she still tells the stories of how I would refuse to let her cut or trim certain sections of my hair.

But she's in Utah, and I'm far far away in Tennessee.  So I started looking around for someone to cut my hair.  Checking out websites, Facebook pages, asking around for referrals, etc.  And nothing felt RIGHT to me.  AND I am super cheap.  With forking out the big bucks for back to school, (y'all know how I feel about THAT) I couldn't justify a $35 haircut for myself.

So, a couple nights ago, I had this brilliant plan.  I could have Ben (who has zero experience) cut my hair and I would guide him through it.

Me: "Hey, want to cut my hair?"

Ben: "Okay."

So we decided that we would do it today.  I wanted an A-line cut -- shorter and stacked a bit in the back, and long on the sides.  I prayed. Then we did it.  I'll let the pictures tell the story....


The cut:


It looks a little asymmetrical... but it isn't.  I just have more hair on one side due to some breakage from always wearing it in a braid.  Oops.  But hey, It looks GREAT to me!  I'm really happy with it and I think Ben did a really great job. What a studly hubby I have.

And I'm feeling lovely today... I needed that.


PS - My boys are really creeped out about the braid.  They think it's a little freaky.... which makes it HILARIOUS to me!!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Unexpected Adventures

It all started with a desperate need for a pressure washer.

This last year since we bought the house, we have plotted and planned to weatherize our wooden fence and deck out back.  We knew that in order to save money we would have to do it ourselves, but getting the equipment together was going to be a little pricey even if we rented it.  So all year, Ben and I have been looking for and waiting for sales on paint sprayers, weatherizing stain stuff, and pressure washers.  We found a really good deal on the paint sprayers, working on getting the stain stuff still... got the paper and tape to cover the house when we do the deck, we just couldn't seem to get our hot little hands on a reasonably priced pressure washer.

Now, it couldn't be just any pressure washer.  Ben said it HAD to be 3000 PSI -- those babies are around $400-500.  He has standards you know...

And I have been pinching and saving the best I can, especially with the whole back to school thing going on.  (Y'all know how I feel about THAT.)  Anyway, I felt this strong urge that we really needed to get the fence done soon.  I have learned never to question my 6th sense... so I actually prayed about it.  Yes, I really did ask the Lord to help us find a pressure washer we could afford.  I told Him that if we REALLY needed to get the fence done, I really needed his help.

Seriously, only a few minutes later I felt like I needed to check Craig's List.

Which I ignored at first.  Craig's list creeps me out a little.  You know all the horror stories.... But after thinking for a minute that people usually aren't targeted over things like pressure washers, I got on and took a look.

And there it was....

EXACTLY what we wanted and needed!!  A $400 pressure washer for $175.  In almost perfect condition.  Apparently, the carburetor needed to be replaced and the owner bought one but didn't want to deal with putting it in.  He just wanted to buy a whole new one.  And since Ben is Mr. Fix-It it was a great deal for us.

But since I was too scared to call anyone on Craig's List, I got Ben to call.  (Who was WAY more than willing to because he was so thrilled we found one we could afford, it was like Christmas).

After talking to him, Ben felt like it was legit, so this morning we headed out to meet the guy.  He lives south of Nashville so it was a little over an hour drive.  We put his address into the GPS, and off we went.  I told Ben if his house was in a shifty neighborhood and he was selling it out of the back of a condemned trailer, we were going to get out of Dodge quick!

But as we drove through Nashville and hit the other side, the area was lovely.  After we got off the freeway, the houses started to get bigger and bigger and BIGGER.  We weren't quite sure we got the right place when we pulled up to a huge mansion.

Ben went up and knocked on the door and the guy was super friendly and had us drive around back to his garage(s).  When he opened them up, they we saw several classic cars in there... it was pretty cool.  He invited us in, and it was like he made up the whole basement and garage area into a museum that looked like an old English town.  It was SO cool.  And what impressed me the most was that the kids actually behaved very respectfully and didn't touch anything.  He even let them hold and play with a few things and take some pictures.

He let the boys try out this boxing stuff in his gym:
 And he will forever be known as the guy with the sword... forget everything else...
 Nephi was more impressed with his collection of miniature cars and planes and WWII paraphernalia.
 Here the boys are in front of his award winning car:
Apparently, the owner is a big time music producer in Nashville.  And he was super nice and extremely patient with my boys.  I think he really enjoyed showing off his cool stuff to people who were genuinely interested. 

We had such a good time.  And we got to explore a part of Tennessee we would normally not have been able too. 

... Oh, and the baby's favorite part was going to Panera after and eating part of Nephi's grilled cheese sandwich.  Seriously, I give up on trying to give this kid age appropriate food... he is grabby and fast and wants it all.

Good times!   All and all, an excellent adventure!


PS -- In case you were wondering, Ben got the Pressure washer up and going pretty quickly and we look forward to playing around with it. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Challenge to Myself

Y'all know I LOVE running.  It's one of my passions.  I'm not fast, but I have found that I have great endurance if I work up to it.

The peak of my running life was a couple years ago when I ran the RAGNAR and my first (and only, so far) half marathon.

That was my best summer I have ever had!  Oh, the glory days... sigh... Then last summer I was in my last months of pregnancy.  I continued to run, but I was lucky to get 2-3 miles in at a time.  I finished my pregnancy with the last run of 2.5 miles that actually ruptured my water just over 38 weeks.  That was the best labor and delivery! (I mean it wasn't fun, per se, I mean we are talking pushing 8 pound babies out of small holes, after all -- but it was by far the "best" of my four).

Then I had to wait the 6 weeks after to start running again... and I did.  But man was my body fighting me!  There was all the pregnancy weight I had put on, the weeks without running (it really takes a toll when you go so long), and the whole my-body-is-still-recovering-from-a-BIG-event.  It didn't help that I was nursing and my chest hurt when I ran... like a lot.  When baby was about 5 months he weened himself, and I was gearing up to start training for a 1/2 marathon I wanted to run in October.

Yeah, that lasted a couple weeks.... because then I found out I was pregnant and a couple days later the extreme exhaustion and nausea hit.  Trust me, when you can't keep your eyes open, you have 3 boys running around and another one that needs your constant care, running is the LAST thing on your mind!

Then I got put on "pelvic rest" because of the bleeding.  So no extra curricular activities with the husband and no running.

This week I finally got the big "okay" to start running and enjoying other things.  So my first challenge to myself is to get back to running.  But I don't want to to over do it, and hurt myself and the baby.  That would be stupid.  So I am going to start slow with the Couch to 5K program (C25K).  I think it's excellent for someone in my spot...  Start off slow and repeat weeks if I have to.  I really have no reason to run more than 3 miles while pregnant anyway.  I'm not trying to prove anything, I am just trying to keep myself and the baby healthy, the weight under control, and hope for a smooth labor and delivery like last time.

My goal is to run a 5K the last week of this 2nd trimester. I know it's a lofty goal and a little crazy... especially for a pregnant woman who hasn't gotten her running grove back yet.  But I think I can do it.  I really do.  I did Day One Week One this morning and it was actually pretty easy... so I am pretty sure I got this.  I guess we will see, huh?

Any beginners, preggers, or out-of-shapers want to join me??  Train and run a 5K by the end of Sept?


Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Story Behind the Craziness!

Since posting our pregnancy announcement yesterday, we have been met with mixed reactions.  From profanity to "are you sure it's a boy?" to many congratulatory responses and even laughter.  It's all good, we knew people would react those ways because, hey, we are having our 5th boy -- conceived when our last one was only 5 months.  Yeah, it's crazy.

Then everyone wants the story.  So here it is:

First off, I know your primary question is: was it planned?  No, it wasn't.

If you read back to after I had my last baby, I wrote about my plans for taking my body back, getting back in shape and running a marathon.  Having another baby was the LAST thing on our minds. Wow, I just had a baby!  That was so great!  Let's have another one right now!!  Said NO ONE EVER!

Little Joseph had just weened himself off the breast -- ALL my boys lose interest at 5 months (it's really weird).  So I was finishing off the mini pill and had just had my first period since I got pregnant on April 10th.  I called my doctor and I told her that I needed a new pill because I wasn't nursing anymore.  I got an appointment for April 29th, but I had to take a pregnancy test on the day before to make sure I wasn't pregnant and getting on the pill.  So I got the test (blood test) and went in the next day.  The test was NEGATIVE.  So I got all my new pills, and the doctor told me not to start until I started my next period and to take the first pill on the first day I started.  Okay, my period was due in a week, so Ben and I used protection until I could start on the new pill.

So I waited for it to start, and it didn't.  I was really confused because I was usually right on day 28.  But then I rationalized that I had only had one since the baby, and my body was probably still adjusting.

And I waited...

A week went by... then two....

I started to get concerned that something might be wrong with my hormone levels or something.  Not once did it cross my mind that I could be pregnant.  It took us a year and a half to get pregnant with Jake, and 5 months to get pregnant with Joseph, and was NOT on birth control.

So, I thought, well, I have this left over test from the last time, might as well take it just for the peace of mind that I will probably start the next day.

I hadn't even finished pulling up my pants and it was giving me the double lines.

I just stared at it.  Then I said some choice words no good Mormon girl would ever say.

Then I cried.

How could this happen!?  We were taking precautions!!!  I had just had that blood test that said negative!  I had JUST HAD A BABY!!!! This wasn't happening....

Ben was out in the field until later that night, so I had to keep it all to myself as I feed the kids dinner and cleaned up the house and got them to bed.

When he finally came home tired and smelly, I sat him down and told him:

"I'm pregnant."

He just stared at me for a second while it clicked in his tired brain.  Then he did the unexpected and smiled.  "THAT'S AWESOME!!"  Wait... what?!  

"Are you serious!?"

"Yeah!  That's awesome!  Wait until I tell the guys!!"  I guess there is some kind of social status hierarchy for men who knock up their women while using birth control... like it's super manly or something.  I just wanted to flick him in the forehead... or punch him in the nose.

I started crying and he held me for a bit and told me it was going to be alright... if the Lord was going to mess with birth control it must be meant to be.... that kind of stuff.

I didn't want to tell anyone, but just the next week after that I REALLY started showing... it was so embarrassing... back into my maternity clothes!  So I finally fessed up to my family and those I saw every day.  But it took me a couple months to really come to terms with the fact I was going to have another baby at the end of the year.  New baby and Joseph will only be 14 months apart.  I know they will grow up close, and that's cool, but it's not cool on my poor body.

It takes me a year to recover after having a baby.  This pregnancy has been hard because of that.  I bleed for 4 weeks... I thought I was miscarrying and ended up in the ER.  Everything looked good so they just chalked it up to my body trying to make sense out of all the craziness.

I have never been morning sick until this one, either.  Sprite Zero has been my friend.

So I thought, it might be a girl.  But I KNEW it was another boy, because that's how we roll.

I got really anxious about it so we scheduled an ultrasound at 15 weeks to find out the gender so I would stop obsessing and felt like I could finally officially announce it.

We went in yesterday, and the second that wand hit my stomach I saw the boy part... After 4 boys you get really good at reading ultrasounds. I usually don't post my boy parts ultrasound pictures, but since there has been many questions about the validity of the ultrasound, here it is, judge for yourself:

Here are a couple other shots:
 Below, he is waving to us:
This one is awesome because you can see all his fingers as he sucks his thumb (It's amazing what you can see these days at only 15 weeks old!!):

Was I disappointed it wasn't a girl?  I don't know.  I mean, I thought it would be awesome to have a girl, but I KNOW boys.  Boys are my thing.  I'm pretty good at it, I think.  And I pretty much knew the whole time it was a boy, I just got the male vibe.  

I'm okay with it!  It's going to be fun!  Boys are crazy, dirty, loud, out of control, and completely precious... and they adore me :)  It's going to be great fun!


Saturday, July 25, 2015