Thursday, July 31, 2014

Single Mom and dreams

While I am by no means a single mom, I do have help from my husband - but there are those days when he has to work late and I have two kids until about 7 or 8pm at night. Sometimes I feel like a single mom. My hat goes off to the single moms out there who are raising young kids, because I am getting a taste of it and I know it isn't easy! Yet I am thankful for the job hubby has now, because it's regular income and it's paying the bills, despite the fact that his current job doesn't offer health benefits.

But sometimes I wish we were in a financial position to just jump on the 'work from home - be your own boss' bandwagon. It'd be great to set your own hours, work with clients and still get paid. But the hard part is finding clients.

Anybody need a new logo for their business? New website? Seriously. Contact my husband. Or me. I'm good with those too.

We are regular people, living in a regular tax paying world. Our house, it's beautiful, it's big, it's old. I love it. It's brick (good for keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter), and it's in a great neighborhood. But the city we live in keeps increasing our taxes, but our income has not increased since we moved into this house 10 years ago - if anything our income has gone down. The jobs for two graphic design professionals just aren't here - or they are, but they are already taken (not by us).

Despite the fact I have never had a full-time graphic design position, I do okay with the part time job that I have and with side graphic design jobs. If you have been to the Market On Main (if you live locally) and see the Apple A Day clothing boutique sign - yup, I did that. I'm proud of my artwork and designs, and I love what I do, I just wish I could do more of it.

Country Living.
Hubby recently did the math on moving out to the country - and he says it wouldn't be that much per year in vehicle maintenance, and even tire replacement (darn gravel roads). We know where we would move and why and there are benefits and the negatives as well. The benefits being: my kids would be outside A LOT, my kids would be close to what we refer to as the farm (aka Grandma's house), and life would maybe move a little slower - or at least be quieter - not living in town has that effect on people, building our own house for the purpose of having everything (including the laundry) on one level.  The negatives being: living so far out (almost 10 - 15 min.), this would be an adjustment for me because I haven't lived in the country since I was like 4 years old! So just dropping everything and running to Target would no longer be an option. Building our own house (are we crazy?), because we have very little income right now, we don't have money to dump into all the things that are needed to build our own house, the way we want it.

I'm not afraid of work, I grew up working for my parents on their rental properties or on their own houses - of course most of the time they paid me pretty well (despite the fact that I wasn't the best worker), but I was by far their prettiest! I don't think my husband will pay me $8/hour for painting, though. :(

Building a house is not only a dream, in the next 10 years it will become a necessity - due to the fact that I have 65+ year old knees (I was told this by a doctor when I hadn't even reached 30 years old!) , and since baby girl is 2 months old, and the pregnancy stretching of the joints and extra fluid have 'worn off' I have noticed a whole lot of extra pain when I try to go up and down steps (mostly up). The hard part is going to be selling our house, which involves: ripping up some 1980s carpeting, refinishing floors, finding area rugs, getting rid of stuff (yikes!), teaching children how to put stuff away and painting/ touching up rooms.

Hubby wants to build basically a pole barn, but make it look like a house. The good thing with this is that they are cheaper to build, and they don't need support walls in the middle, so we don't have to have them, if we don't really need walls. Open floor plan, that's what I'm talking about! Hubby wants to design it himself - and as a former architecture major, I'm inclined to let him. Of course I'll have input, but hopefully we know what we like at this point in our lives.

Something like this, but not necessarily exactly like this:

Here's to dreaming big and making a new home! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Two Months!

Caroline Renee Howk
At 2 months old she can:
  • hold her head up (mostly steady)
  • smile at us 
  • starting to make noises and sounds on purpose
  • weighs almost double her birth weight at 9 lbs. 8oz 
  • has grown a full four inches since being born
  • likes to spend time with daddy
  • thinks her big brother is silly (because he usually is) 
Caroline is a mover - if she's in her car seat and not moving, she usually gets mad. 
In her short 2 months she has already:
  • gone swimming in Lake Wapello (and didn't like it) 
  • been to Market on Main like 10 times more than her dad (because he's never been there)
  • goes to work with me every day
  • usually only wakes me once in the middle of the night to eat
  • started to enjoy her bath time - she likes the warm water! 
  • sleeps better on her stomach than her back - but only when necessary.
  • still hasn't been out of the state of Iowa, but has been as far Northwest as Emmetsburg and North Forest City, Iowa; and as far South as Bloomfield, Iowa. 

I love this photo of her just hanging with some RAGBRAIers in Emmetsburg, Iowa. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Need You Now

Need You Now (How Many Times)
Plumbfrom the album Need You NowBuy on Amazon | iTunes 
Well everybody's got a story to tell And everybody's got a wound to be healed I want to believe there's beauty here Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on I can't let go, I can't move on I want to believe there's meaning here 
(Chorus) How many times have you heard me cry out "God please take this"? How many times have you given me strength to Just keep breathing? Oh I need you God, I need you now. 
Standing on a road I didn't plan Wondering how I got to where I am I'm trying to hear that still small voice I'm trying to hear above the noise 
Oh I walk, oh I walk through the shadows And I, I am so afraid Please stay, please stay right beside me With every single step I take 
How many times have you heard me cry out? And how many times have you given me strength? 
I need you now I need you now

This song. Has helped me get through the last 2 years. 
There is beauty here: 

In the past 2 years: 
My husband was laid off from a good job, that allowed me to be a stay at home mom 
(hence the name of this blog).
We were worried that we would have to put our child in public school, something neither of us wanted, but thankfully God has provided us a way to keep in the local Christian School for at least another year.  It's also not the most expensive private school: we pay about $2,000/ year, which equals about $200/ month. While it's not 'free' we believe it is a better education, and the community has been great- we pray for the teachers and I know they pray for our family.

I was offered a part time position (during school hours) for a non-profit organization. While we have to pay for my son to go to daycare this summer, because last summer dad was able to take care of him, for free, I am able to take my daughter to work with me (for now). Thankful for a good day care provider and very thankful that my job allows me to have her at work with me! 

Husband was hired as a temporary, now a full time delivery driver for FedEx 
(but the contractor doesn't pay insurance). 

Found out we were pregnant in May of 2013, only to have a miscarriage
Found out we were pregnant late in 2013, and this one was a viable pregnancy - she's beautiful! 
Our daughter was born on May 20, 2014. 

I thought my world was ending when my husband got laid off, and in my mind, it was, and in a way, it did. My world was taking care of our son, getting him to school, volunteering at the school and working on my volunteering that I did for a local non-profit organization. The thought that they wouldn't 'call' him back never occurred to me at the time (we'd been through one layoff with this company before), but that has come true, as it's been a year and a half, I first mentioned it here

It's hard to believe today marks one month of my daughter being born! Where did the time go? She's so precious, and I know, after a hard day of delivering boxes, my husband enjoys holding our soft, squishy, wiggly baby - even if she is crying. 

Some things about my daughter: 
  • She hates being bundled (unlike most newborns) she likes to have her hands free. 
  • She is a very warm baby. They say to layer baby, like whatever you are wearing and then plus 1 layer. Not this girl. She's hot! 
  • She's started turning her head when she hears mom or dad's voices. 
  • Although she's only one month old, she still fits into most newborn clothing, and probably will for another month or two! 
  • She's a snacker: she will eat, then (maybe) burp, then take a nap, wake up and want more food (repeat). My son was different, he would eat, burp, eat (switching sides), burp and then take a nap. Boys and girls are so different. But I am a snacker to, if I have sweets in the house (cookies or bars or anything) I will snack on that stuff all day long
  • Her big brother is in love with her. Adores her. Thinks he has to kiss her. Every. 5 minutes. Sometimes every 10 minutes! 
  • She spits up more than my son ever did, in fact, I'm not sure if we have a clean burp cloth in the house right now. Oy! 
  • Loves to fall asleep on mom or dads chest, we think this is because she loves to hear the sound of our heartbeats. 
  • Likes to take naps anytime I am wearing her. I have a sling at church and a Moby wrap at work. 
  • She is starting to enjoy bath time (almost).
  • She is full of grunts, and squeals, and squeaks. In fact my boss calls her 'Squeaky baby.' 
  • All in all, she really is a good baby and only wakes me up in the middle of the night a few times. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Welcome Baby Girl!

We are proud to announce the birth of our second child!

Here I am meeting her for the first time! 

Name: Caroline Renee Howk
Stats: 5lbs 9oz, 18 inches long 
Date: Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Time: 6:27pm 

How she came into the world is a story, as every baby has their own very unique story. 

Tuesday started just like any other day, I woke up, took my son to school, talked with a few moms before heading home to having a meeting at my house before heading out to work. I usually go into work at 10 am, and that day was normal, except I noticed my feet were more swollen than usual. So I kicked off my flip flops almost as soon as I got to work and told my co-workers "For the next two weeks, I'm not going to wear my shoes." Being 9 months pregnant, none of the other gals seemed to mind - most of them understood. I was sitting at my desk and just before noon I noticed some contractions that were happening. I went to lunch around 12:30pm, and thought nothing of the contractions until I returned from lunch around 1pm. 

The first photo of the four of us! 

I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions on and off for a little while, but I knew if I moved around a little bit they would go away, so I walked to a local coffee shop and grabbed a sandwich and a clear soda and sat down and ate a yummy lunch. I also knew that if this was the real thing, they wouldn't let me eat for a while. Baby girl has been breeched for a few weeks, so I knew I was going to have a C-Section. That's definitely not what either of us wanted. Longer recovery time, more long term pain and complications can arise.  

The boys kissing the girls, so sweet! 

I called the local clinic after I returned from lunch and told them I was having contractions - at this point I knew they were 'real' because they hadn't gone away while I was at lunch and they were coming hard and were pretty painful. The clinic said to come over and they were going to put me on a monitor. So I did that, and notified the other person in my office that I was leaving, as my boss was out of town. I went to the clinic and got hooked up to the monitor. Not thinking much of it at this point, because they have done this before with me. But the contractions didn't stop. My doctor came in and said, okay why don't you head up to the hospital (about 45 minutes away). Ultimately it'll be up to the hospital, and we'll see if things calm down after you get there. 

Mommy and baby taking a nap at the same time. 
This happened over six years ago- see the photo here

Yes, I drove myself to the hospital, people. The contractions at that time, actually weren't that bad and only had a few the whole time I was driving. Once I got to the hospital, they gave me a lovely room, but hooked me up to a monitor. The contractions kept coming- harder and closer together and there was quickly talk of having the C-Section at 6pm that evening. I tried to delay them, as to the fact that I knew Roy was not going to make it. He was still delivering boxes for FedEx, over 60 miles away! 

By 5:45pm, Roy noticed I had stopped texting him - something along the lines of 'Get Here Now!' and they had moved me into the Operating Room and the contractions were coming at about 1 minute apart and were pretty painful. This baby wanted out! 

At 6:27pm baby girl was out of my body, and as I found out later that day Roy was here at 6:37pm. So only by 10 minutes did he miss her entering into the world. He met her in the nursery, when they were doing all the check up stuff they do on newborns. By the time they had finished with me and I had spent some time in the recovery room, Roy and baby girl had a little bonding time. 

Having a C-Section was painful. Getting out of bed the first few times was tough, but I'm doing much better now, and we are hopeful I can go home tomorrow. I would have been going home tonight, but I had a slight fever after eating dinner last night, and that was our 'Stork Dinner' the hospital provided us. It was lovely, until I started not feeling so hot. 

I do have some fluid in my lungs, after an X-Ray yesterday and an MRI scan today has proved. Anytime you are not moving around a whole lot, there is the potential to develop pneumonia. While they haven't said I do have pneumonia, they have told me to do my breathing exercises that will help. 

My parents were able to make the trip down from Emmettsburg, Iowa to see Caroline in the evening - just a short 4 hour trip, rather than the two day trip they would have had when our 6 year old son was born, because they were living in South Carolina at the time. They didn't make that trip until 2 weeks after he was born. 

Hubby put this on Facebook and I just love it! 

Everyone who has seen her has said she looks like her big brother. And she does, with a few differences. He was one ounce heavier, and one inch longer. His nose was straighter when he was born, and he had eyebrows, she does not. Both kids had dark hair, and baby girl has steel blue eyes. Plus baby girl also is very pink in complexion- my son had a little jaundice after he was born. He was a natural birth, so his head was funny shaped, while her head is perfect, because she didn't make the same trip! Everyone has said how precious she is, and I agree. I can't wait to see how she grows and changes and challenges us! 

Better photo of her face, she's so sweet. 

The first time big brother got to hold her! 

That's her amazing birth story. I am so glad she is safe and sound and here. There was no possible way that she could have flipped (medically, not possible). Plus she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice. 

We had our friend Autumn come up Thursday morning and take a few photos of Caroline and us, while we were still in the hospital. Her business is Happy Day Photos, and if you need a photographer in Southeast Iowa we highly recommend her! If you are on Facebook, she's already posted a few photos of Caroline that are adorable! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pregnancy has worn me out! 

Here I am at 24 weeks, 34 weeks, 35 weeks with my friend Rachel
who has the same due date as me (June 4th!) and 36 weeks. 

Today I am 37 weeks... and baby girl is still breech. Unfortunately, they won't try flipping her because I'm borderline Preeclampsia (had that with my son).  
Scheduling for the C-Section is tomorrow,
so I guess I decide when baby's birthday will be then! 
It will probably be on a Monday, so hubby can be there (that's his day off).

I am dilated to less than one... but in baby time that is far from 10,
and I am having semi-regular contractions - depending on the day, time and what-not. 
They did put the baby on the monitor for 20 minutes or so in the doctors office today and
I got to hear/ feel her hiccup - it was cool.

So... baby girl is coming!
At least we still think it is a girl.

My shower is at my church this Sunday, we will have to see if she shows up before then- her big brother showed up the day his shower was supposed to take place! They then decided to have his baby shower on his original due date (he was 9 days early). But everyone played pass the baby,
but that's always a fun game!

All is well (as well as can be) in the world of this 9 month pregnant lady! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Florida Fun!

So a few weeks ago I was invited to visit my parents, who are now living in Florida. It's funny, I never pictured them living in Florida after they retired, but they are (at least for part of the year). My mother said she'd never do 3 things.

  1. Live in Florida 
  2. Live in a retirement community
  3. Live in a trailer home. (It's actually quite nice)
She ended up doing all three things - on the same day. Never say never. Because I once said I'd never live in Iowa. Look where I am now!

CJ on the plane ride to Florida. This was this kids 7th (down) and 8th (back) flight on an airplane. Not this kids first rodeo. He was pretty good - despite the delays and waiting on the tarmac for take off. (Both times!) 

My parents church. It was the first church they visited when they were looking and found it perfect for them! I love the fact that they are able to go on a mission trip later this summer
with this church to Africa! They are excited about it. While I was visiting with their Sunday School the class (made up of mostly retirees who winter in Florida) prayed over them for the trip. It made me cry, how much these people have come to love and support my parents and of course are praying for them. Such community! 

There was a Koi fish pond outside their main sanctuary. The church had at least 5 separate buildings, and two different worship services in two different buildings with the main sanctuary broadcasting to the other building. The main sanctuary had a full choir and orchestra, I guess the other worship service was band - led. My son had a blast in Sunday School and worship service that included puppets. We only get puppets in our country church once every few months - not every Sunday. 

 Here we are on the beach, at Sunset. 

My dad and I on the beach, while CJ plays in the water in the background. 

Sanibel Island, Florida with the cool lighthouse in the background. There were lots of seashells on this beach, and my dad and CJ were able to make a really cool sandcastle. 

Fort Myers Beach, Florida. While I did think ahead 'Maybe we should bring CJ's swim suit' I ended up not brining it because 'We won't be there long.' I should have thought like the mom that I am and brought them with anyway! He ended up soaked, in his clothes, but he had a blast! This was a totally different experience with the ocean from when he was 4 years old on our cruise. He didn't like the saltiness of the water, and didn't want to go in much, even when we were on a beach. He's since had swimming lessons and he had a blast jumping over the waves and running back in as if the waves were trying to get him! 
This is a definite must-return stop for next time we visit! Beautiful beach. 

No, we didn't spend the entire time on the beach. There were other things we did. CJ got his first Camel ride ever, he played mini-golf and worked on his technique - we have very few nice mini-golf places where we live. We swam in the pool at my parents community several times - CJ said that was his favorite part. Of course wrestling with Papa C came in a close 2nd place. 

On Sanibel Island - there was a free bird show. Yes, that bird is real that's on his shoulder. He had plenty of them on his shoulder and his head. That's my baby bump in the background. 

Even my dad had a bird on his shoulder at the end of the show. Meet Piper. He was a little naughty. 

It was a fun week - despite my being sick for 24 hours and on a nice day. It was cool (at least it wasn't super hot) and everything was so green. I thank my sister in law for encouraging me to go - despite being 29/30 weeks pregnant! While I missed my hubby terribly we talked almost everyday. Hopefully we can all go next year - as a family of four! Yikes!

I know see why the Des Moines airport is awesome, because once you come past the security area and start down the escalators you see your loved ones waiting for you near the baggage claim area and you start crying. I did. I missed hubby terribly, and sleeping in the same bed as my son is not nearly as nice as sleeping next to the hubby! I know hubby feels the same way (only he had to sleep by himself). 

A nice little bonus when we got home, we went to Red Robbin in Des Moines to celebrate my hubby's birthday (free burger on your birthday month) and his brother and wife met us there and we enjoyed dinner with them. Then they offered to take CJ for the night! I think they win the award for being the best Aunt and Uncle of the year! 

A great surprise ending to a great week! 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Growing a baby!

So it's been fun to see this transformation.
Here I am at 14 weeks, 20 weeks, 22 weeks and 24 weeks. 

Considering the last one - the 24 week photo- was taken just a week ago, I know I have a lot more of this pregnancy to go- only 101 days left until June 4th!

I was given baby girl clothes from a friend of mine, mostly 6 month to 12 months clothing, but it's now in a large tub in our living room. It's a start, and it's more than I had, because before she gave me a whole tub worth of clothing, I had like one outfit. But this baby girl is on her way!

It's fun to feel her kicking and squirming inside of me. Her kicks are getting stronger by the day.

In other news, my six year old is enjoying mommy time and lots of cuddle time with mommy before the baby comes! He is becoming a really great reader, and is actually trying to read my words as I type this. He is good with the small words, but he is making me read this as I type. He is such a good boy and is enjoying Kindergarten and his little class of 7.

I have to go take a little boy to bed, who apparently is informing me of why he colored (with crayons) on the floor at church - this should be an interesting story.