Julie's Mission at Home: A Soldier's Wife's Journey of Health, Family and Survival

Journey with me as I document my experiences in parenting, getting healthier, and being a wife to my wonderful soldier and a mom for my two boys!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Time Flies

How is it possibly almost March? March is the month he leaves. How can it be? There is still so much to do. I've kinda put a list down, with some help, but I'm sure there are things I'm leaving out. Here are a few things we want to accomplish still:

** Get the baby's changing table fixed. For some reason, it is "loose" and needs some adjustments...plus I want it flush with the wall so I don't keep losing things over the back ledge. Andrew drops stuff all the time. This being said, right now I have chosen to change him on my lap so I have more control over his movements--he's so strong, and the little Houdini manages all sorts of acrobatics when I change him on the dang table.

** I want to learn how to use the basic tools Neal has, and where he keeps them! The latter is more important, actually, as I have no idea where things are. If I need to hang a picture or tighten a bolt, I don't want to feel at a loss. I used to have a handle on this as a single parent, but he has taken over this portion (thank goodness) in the family, so I've not paid much attention on where things are and the best method to drill holes in the wall, or so on. I don't want to have to call my friends just to drill a hole.

** I need to familiarize myself with the lawn equipment. I don't plan to actually mow, but maybe I will. I definitely need to know how to use the lawnmower and weed-wack. Whack? Weed-whack. It's been many years since I've done either and I never have used our equipment. Probably I will pay someone to mow, maybe our friend Caleb is he's available, and perhaps Aaron can do a portion. I still want to know.

** I would like the outside flood lights to work, if possible. I think outdoor lighting is a good safety measure, and we have like 5 lights that aren't operating currently--they need replaced, or (I hope not!) more. If new bulbs are the only issue, this will be GREAT. If it's more, SIGH, we'll see.

**The ginormous motorcycle, a Harley, needs a better home while Neal is gone. I won't ride it, it needs a few fix-ups before it is usable, and it takes up lots of carport room. I can't fully park in the carport as a result...and this is okay, but not ideal. Neal is saying the bike will go to our friend Brandon while Neal is gone, so Brandon can ride and enjoy. But it needs to be operational first.

** We want to get my little Nissan ready to sell. I don't need 2 cars while Neal is gone, and the slightly larger and slightly newer Pontiac is the wiser choice for me to use in his absence. I actually like my car more, for whatever reason, but it's not practical. Plus we could use the money. So let me know if you know anyone who would want a nice little well-kept 2002 Nissan Sentra! It's in good condition and runs well, no problems, regular maintenance, etc.

**We have some bank stuff and financial stuff to get straightened out before he goes. Just complicated stuff that I won't bore you with--getting accounts opened, funds here and there, etc. Arranging for when his pay comes in, etc.

**Neal built a wonderful loft for Aaron at Christmastime, and there are a few things that he is wanting to add/enhance before he leaves. He wants to add a bar on the side, as there is no barrier between Aaron and the air...and floor, 5 feet down. He also wants to put in a desk underneath, and maybe do a dresser underneath as well. Lots of neat stuff.

**We have a few fix-ups around the house that aren't too hard, really, but just need to get done. We have a broken thingy in our bathroom. Actually in both bathrooms. Also, the front door is broken. Stuff like that.

**Also, stuff that is hard to put here. I want to cuddle more, laugh more, hold hands more, have dates, watch movies, spend quality time, go for walks. I want more time.

We plan to go to New Jersey in May to see Neal off--he'll have a few days' leave before he leaves country. Figuring out finances and the bus trip (with our FRG, which I am so thankful for...such a wonderful group) up. We are looking at fundraising in order to afford the chartered bus to all go together. While we're there, I imagine we will rent a car. We have have to stay near the base, or perhaps we will have enough leeway in order to go somewhere fun, like New York City or Philadelphia! We'll just have to see.

If you know of any fundraising ideas for our bus trip, please do let me know! Also, if anyone is interested in a great used car that I mentioned above, let me know too! :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rough Beginnings

Thought I'd include a picture from this past December--our family enjoyed having a special dedication for our baby just before Christmas. My hubby feels strongly that infants shouldn't be baptized, so we are letting him choose baptism when he is older. So, we had a dedication and then a reception at our house afterward. It was really lovely!

Well, thus far this morning I'm sipping my coffee that I'm really impressed my hubby remembered to make, and blogging here with almost nothing to say of any inspiration, and sending my older son off to school, and listening to Andrew awakening in his room.
I'll tell you, it was hard to have Andrew move to his own room. For those of you who don't already know, Andrew was forced to come a month early, which for some babies wouldn't be that big of an issue. Some of them come on their own a month early, after all, and without incident. Andrew, however, was not ready to be born. He had what is called neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, which caused him to be in the NICU for 2 weeks. I had the experience of not holding my baby right after he was born, for about 15 minutes or more, and then only holding him for a little bit before they whisked him away to be helped. He had this scary little noise he was making, and wouldn't latch on, wouldn't open his eyes, was fairly lethargic, but was so precious and beautiful. His apgar was 7 at 1 minute and 8 at 5 minutes.

UT Medical Center was so good to us. The NICU there is top-of-the-line, and in a situation for parents that is very stressful, they were comforting and calm and encouraging and kind. Thankfully, Andrew only had to be there 2 weeks--some are there for far longer, with far more serious conditions. We were blessed to bring home a very healthy, only slightly smallish, little guy after 2 weeks in the the hospital. He was up to 7 lbs and a few oz at the time we brought him home, so he was growing nicely, too!

Breastfeeding had a rough start, probably because of the hospital stay and stress in the beginning. My milk did not want to come in, and only trickled in for the first two weeks with pumping every 2-3 hours, and every 4 at night. Andrew had an ng tube and was fed mostly preemie formula through that due to my low milk supply, but he got everything I pumped. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Knoxville during our time, and I am so thankful for the comfortable atmosphere of the house and our room--especially as I sat on the loveseat in our room at 2 and 4 am, pumping, bleary-eyed and out of it. Pumping 3-4 times at night, away from the hospital, I maybe got 2 ounces. Hard to feel encouraged with that!

Daily I tried to breastfeed the little dude, and we had little tiny victories...but I was getting injured over and over again from improper latching. All those tubes and junk in his face and head, I think, made it more challenging. I was NOT giving up, however. I wanted to provide something for him. It became such a mission for me, I tried everything. We tried the supplementation drip system while I nursed, and that was not a lot of fun...but try, try again! The lactation consultants at UT are amazing, and I am really thankful for all of their help. So despite set-backs, we persevered, and after about 2 months of pretty horrible nursing pain at the beginning, we now have a fantastic nursing relationship, still going strong at 8.5 months!

Andrew slept in our room, right next to me in a bassinet, until he started rolling over. Like his older brother, he did much better sleeping in his little carseat, and therefore most of the time, I set the carseat safely in his bassinet to sleep, lol. It made for a little more peace! After a month or so, I moved him back to just sleeping without the seat and just in the bassinet. He did great!

Once he started rolling and waking himself up from being confined to a smaller space, I knew he needed more space...but his bed just wouldn't fit in our room. Because at that point, Andrew no longer was waking up in the night to eat, I felt it was okay to move him to his own room where he had a crib. If he were a night feeder, I would have reconsidered. Now he's a pretty great sleeper, has put himself on his own schedule, and is so happy and healthy! The only scare we've had since coming home was a bout with RSV....VERY nasty stuff. We were nearly at Children's Hospital with that one. But he came through with bronchiodilators, Tylenol, and humidifier. Thank God! Now he's a happy guy, eating all sorts of table foods, breastfeeding 4-5x a day, and now sipping water from a sippy cup! And this morning, I swear to you, he said "kitty" at our cat, Sarah. I mean it--it really, really, REALLY, sounded like he did. Who knows?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fake Wedding Anniversary: Success!

We celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary on Friday night (2/12)! Okay, yeah, it wasn't our real date, or even relatively close, but he'll be gone at our anniversary...so we decided to take advantage of the Valentine's Day weekend romantic dealios and go with it!
The Melting Pot is our favorite celebration spot, so we enjoyed the Valentine's menu. Here's what we had:
Cheese Fondue in a Caribbean preparation, in which we dipped different crusty breads and veggies and tart apples.

Caesar Salads, with parmesan-crusted pine nuts.

Coq au Vin Main Entree preparation, with two lobster tails, filet mignon, marinated chicken and shrimp, pork tenderloin, veggie and chicken pot stickers, plus broccoli, mushrooms and red potatoes. This is served with different dipping sauces after you cook the stuffs.

We opted finally for the Chocolate Cream Pie dessert chocolate--complete with graham crackers crumbled on top. This is, of course, served with the customary cheese cake, brownie, pound cake, marshmallows, strawberries, bananas, and rice crispie treats. I can't eat all of that, so I limit myself to the favorite things at this last step. I just can feel the blood sugar rising--too much sugar. So I enjoyed a small part of cheesecake, and really had the fruit.

We also got a bottle of Brut to enjoy with our meal, and spent time toasting each other about 10 times or so--some very sweet, some very silly. All very loving.

I love my husband. He's my best friend. Even though sometimes I want to knock him out, I wouldn't change a thing--he is wonderful.
Hope you had a special someone--whether is was family, friends, or romance--during your Valentine's weekend.
And guess what? Didn't gain a thing after all that!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yum Yums and Being Convinced

(Picture featured is from Christmas Day, 2008)
Ugh, really, egg whites in their natural form, from a carton at that, look pretty diiisssguuusttting. So I didn't look at them too much as I poured them into the waiting pan. I've never actually bought one of those cartons before--I usually just separate them on my own. However, my family eats the yokes-in version of eggs, so I am supplementing our supply with my ready-t0-be-made-normalish-looking carton of egg whites. I had some amount of these with salt and pepper, used a little butter in the pan to scramble with, and added 2 pieces of incredibly complicated-looking whole grain toast. I added about a tsp of butter per slice. I believe in butter.

I do have other ways I've started gradually cutting back, though, so measuring small amounts of butter for things I enjoy is a way to be sane. I'm at a point where I can't just go "cold turkey" with this. If I do, I know what will happen. This is not like alcoholism, where the alcoholic can just completely, and SHOULD completely, cut alcohol from their intake. Same thing with pretty much all other addictions. Sadly, this isn't possible with food--I must partake, and daily, and fairly often. So this food addict that has manage her food intake. And hopefully without thinking in the third-person voice too often.

So, last night was challenging and I didn't do great, as I used a classic excuse for excessiveness. My son's birthday dinner out with my parents--we ate at Red Lobster. I didn't choose steamed veggies and lowfat dressing and grilled fish. I got coconut shrimp and a baked potato with sour cream, no butter, and a caesar salad. These are all mediocre choices. Also had 1 cheese biscuit. Drank water. So there were small victories, but mostly due to the fact that other people were there, watching. I couldn't get away with eating 3 or 4 of those delicious evil biscuits without a comment or look, both of which I abhor. I really really hate them.

My therapist was impressed last time we spoke with the fact that I'm doing fine with ultra-managing our expenses and budget while my husband is deployed. That is to say, my husband and mother are going to be very helpful in setting up a system, which I'm a part of, because I can sometimes overspend. Depression doesn't help in those times. I am happy that we are setting up a pretty controlled, but very reasonable, system. Therapist said she was impressed that I didn't feel like bucking or reacting to this kind of system--I said thanks, but spending isn't my #1 indulgent/compulsive behavior, so I don't feel a loss. If someone starts to try to control my eating and food choices, buddy, watch OUT. I get offended, defensive, nasty, and probably intentionally self-sabotage the "dietary suggestion." It is incredibly infantile and ridiculous, but I feel like a cornered animal when that happens. I also struggle with the guilt and shame and self-deprecation when it is brought to my attention that other people are aware of my weight, of my struggle, and are moved to help.

Why is this so complicated and difficult?

I went grocery shopping and had some fun with that, picking whole grain things and lighter things, and very little red meat. I am going for healthy options first, reducing cholesteral-laden items more often, cutting back on red meat, increasing lean proteins and higher fiber. Trying to keep those veggies, fruits and non-caloric liquids up. Before I think of doing other things, I am first tackling these hurdles, which aren't terribly difficult. Just a little challenging. I'm bringing better balance in. I've not weighed myself yet, I've not done anything like measuring, but I am increasing awareness and intention in my eating.

Andrew is smearing cottage cheese all over the high chair tray and his face....he is thoroughly enjoying himself. I want to be sure he has a healthy relationship with his food. Right now he is definitely loving it. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Celebrations and Anticipations

Can you believe it? It's my oldest baby's birthday today...again! How is it possible that he is 11 years old? Time has completely flown by, as it always does, as it always will. It is flabbergasting.

I have a few pictures of him to include in this post--to the left is at his 7th birthday celebration, which was pretty modest. We had his friend Cade over to eat pizza, play, and have a sleep over. Other than the fact that they fight like brothers sometimes, it was a great time. We were fairly new to Oak Ridge at that point--we had moved in August of the previous year (and Feb is his bday, obviously).

On the righ, the picture is from his 8th birthday mayhem. Just ask my friends who were there---it was crazy! We went to one of those kids' party places, this one called Zuma Fun Center, and whew! It was loosely organized chaos, basically.

I'll have to say I really enjoyed last year's celebration--we ate at Big Ed's, and for those of you not familiar with Big Ed's, you're missing out! Very well-loved community icon of yummy pizza here in Oak Ridge. If you're ever here, we must go. You may or may not feel it's the best pizza you've ever had, but no matter. You just still have to go.

So now here we are, at #11. As Andrew sits, eating his crackers and banana, I wonder how this adventure into Laser tag will go? Yup, we're heading to Laser Quest and then afterward having pizza at Mellow Mushroom. We're doing a small group of friends this year--it should be a lot of fun, hopefully. And Neal gets to go this time--the only birthday this year that he's in town to celebrate! He even had to celebrate his birthday early this year.

Which reminds me, we're heading to The Melting Pot to celebrate our wedding anniversary this Friday...and no, it's not our actual anniversary, but he won't be here for that. So this Friday it is! We're doing a combo Valentine's/Anniversary celebration. It should be great...we LOVE Melting Pot. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ever have one of those "well, crap." moments? Yeah. I definitely have those, and looking at old pics of myself definitely elicits this response from me. You know, they say youth is wasted on the young (did I type that correctly?). Well I propose that fitness is wasted on the young, too. Heh. Not saying that I think kids shouldn't be fit. Of course that's not what I mean...but just look at that girl over there! I was darn cute, even while I was being silly! And not in shape, per se, but I was the weight and so forth that I should be at this height. I don't expect to be at that place again, as I am not 18 anymore. But a fit 30-something would be fine.

I just finished another paper--I'm taking 3 classes for poops and giggles, currently, and mostly I'm pooping. This is due to the fact that I am a huge nerd at heart and cannot stand to "mess up" anymore with school---perhaps an overreaction to the fact that I utterly screwed up when I first was in school 16 years ago. So I really, really, REALLY like to get darn-near perfect grades/marks on things. Is this realistic always? Nope. So this is where the poops come in.
It doesn't help that I'm taking one of the most depressing courses imaginable. By my choice, at that. The History of the Holocaust. Needless to say, this is often a soul-wrenching class. The readings are riveting and moving and horrible. Tonight, after getting off the phone with my hubby, I sat on our bed, rocking back and forth, weeping. I had just been taking notes on the happenings of Nazi Germany in around 1933-38 and felt such a sense of hopelessness for what happened then. Then hubby calls and as we hang up, I realize we have approximately 5 weeks until he deploys. That's about all it took for the waterworks. So this Holocaust-Deployment-Lack-o-Sleep cryfest lasted about 10 minutes, where I took it upon myself to pray and have a good heart-to-heart with God. I got my head on straight again, freshened up and headed onward to Holocaust Paper Land. I finished the darn thing with 4 minutes to spare.

Good night.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A New Beginning

Well, here goes.

I've had a blog before--in fact, I was pretty faithful to the online journal for a few years. It was a Yahoo 360 account. I sorta used that account as a way to vent, or sometimes to share thoughts or quirky things I came across in life. Mainly it was for fun and entertainment and a bit cathartic.

I don't believe this will be quite the same in nature, although I definitely think it will be cathartic. Who knows?

I was inspired to start this blog by a few different sources: Julie & Julia's main character, Julie (great name, yeah?) used her blog to document her journey for a year whilst cooking through Julia Child's cookbook. Neato! What a concept! I bet there are a billion zillion folks who were inspired in some way by that story, right?

Also, I'm really super-overweight and I need to NOT be really super-overweight. I am totally unmotivated most of the time. I say this in all honesty, although it is somewhat difficult to admit. I will write more on this particular struggle at another time.

The third motivation has to do with my husband. You see, my husband is preparing to deploy. Right now I won't say with what unit, or when or where to, or any details, as this hasn't been released to the press yet. But it is coming up sooner than later, and I felt really moved to start a blog that he could access and perhaps enjoy whilst deployed. Maybe it would be fun or a nice distraction, or inspirational or whatever. I don't know. So in part I wanted a small gift, of sorts, for my hubby.

So here I am...not sure if anyone will eventually read this beyond our small family or not, but I do welcome others to view and comment.

As I contemplated this blog I realized that I wanted a mission. My husband will have a mission when he leaves, and it is often said that the family left behind has a mission as well--the mission of being at home, caring for others, keeping it together, raising children, etc. That is my mission.

I have decided that I have another more specific mission as well, and that is where this blog comes in: My mission at home is one of improved health and fitness. I didn't say "losing weight," as it is so much more than that. Again, I'll enumerate details another time on this.

I will post pictures, stories, health info, family stuff, and pretty much anything I darn well choose. I want to portray an accurate image of what is going on in my mission at home--sanity, health, family and life.