Time marches on

Family

“The only thing that stays the same is everything changes.” – Tracy Lawrence

It’s been a year and a half since I blogged. At the time that I left Mamamash behind, I was caught in a whirlwind of change. We’d just added a new baby and moved from KCMO to Texas. We were adjusting to the new lifestyle that came with my husband’s career change. Life was not without its stresses, but we were happy and hopeful.

The whirlwind didn’t stop, didn’t slow down its spinning until, oh, about a week ago.

In the last 18 months we:

Moved. Again, to our own cozy little rent house where we’ll hopefully stay until we’re ready to build our dream home. Because moving sucks, y’all. I still get panic attacks at the screeching sound of moving tape being pulled from its roll.

Reproduced. Again, this time a gorgeous baby girl who is definitely the easiest of the brood. Having a daughter unlocked parts of my soul I never knew existed. Every single day, no matter how much poop or how many tantrums, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have been given these three children with my husband. I feel complete.

Said Goodbye. For the first time in my life, I lost someone close to me. My grandmother, Meme, lost her battle with a blood disease and went to be with her Lord and Savior. I’m fairly sure He’s gained like 20 pounds since then thanks to her cooking, but we miss her every single day, and it’s taken us the better part of the last eight months to figure out how to function within our new normal.

Our new normal is pretty hectic too, what with three kids under five, four dogs, and a husband who works crazy overtime shift work. But oh, man, do we have some stories to tell. So here we go, blog.

Let’s do this. Again.

Mother’s Day 2013

comments 6
Family

I keep meaning to blog, I do. But there’s so much love to catch up on.

There’s a lot of laughter.

mothers day 13

And some horseplay.

mothers day 13 2

We’re eating like kings and queens.

mothers day 13 4

And sometimes we even grab a nap.

mothers day 13 3

Thank you, God, for bringing us home to Texas. Thank you for our family.

Deep in my heart, it’s Texas

comments 38
Texas

Texas

In late 2008, I was more than thrilled to pack up the few things hurricane Ike had left us and skedaddle up north to Kansas City. I was ready for an adventure with my new husband in the place he had always thought of as home.

Moving from a small Texas coastal town to a medium-sized Midwestern city was a bigger culture shock than I’d expected. I stuck out like a loud, drawling sore thumb, for sure.

But it was fun – braving the snow, learning my way around the city, and enjoying the comforts of living within driving distance of five different Target stores, a BBQ joint on every corner and more Starbucks than you could shake a latte at.

But when we made the decision to come here, we didn’t count on a few things. One, that we’d have a kid. Two, that we’d have two kids. And three, that we’d miss that mosquito-infested, hurricane-threatened, refinery-stenched Texas town and all the crazy people in it so much. So much that it was physically painful at times.

But oh yeah, that all happened.

And despite the wonderful friendships we’d built and the quiet existence we’d carved out in our little Heartland home, we felt that we needed to find a way back to the Lone Star State.

Well friends, after more than a year of trying, God opened a door for us to do so. Today my husband accepted a job offer that will put us right smack dab in the middle of things back home in Texas. Tonight he tendered his resignation with a company that has provided for us since the beginning – a company he’s been with since before we met.

It wasn’t easy for him to do that, and it won’t be easy to say goodbye to those we love here in the city. We’ve got two weeks to get packed and get gone, and we’re a bittersweet mixture of excitement and sadness.

But we’re sure of this, I know. We are SO prayed up on this. We are ready for the next adventure and we know there’s a whole crowd of folks waiting on pins and needles for us to get on home.

Texas, we’ll see y’all soon.

No more licking the baby

comments 22
Mouse

Brothers

I still haven’t gotten a chance to write Mouse’s birth story, because every time I would try to sit down and put that beautiful day into words I was reminded of this big dark cloud that has been hanging over our heads.

When Mouse was a week old, we received a call from his pediatrician telling us that he’d had an abnormal test result from his newborn screening.

In all 50 states, hospitals are required to collect blood samples from a heel stick shortly after a baby is born. This blood is then tested for a whole host of disorders like PKU, hypothyroidism and MCADD, only to name a few.

Our son’s test had been flagged for high IRT levels – meaning he could have cystic fibrosis, a deadly inherited chronic disorder that could destroy his lungs and leave him unable to process nutrients.

Our second reaction to this news (our first being immediate and fervent prayer) was to learn everything we could about the disease. We’re information junkies, but this wasn’t knowledge we really wanted to have.

Nevertheless, while we waited a week for an appointment to have true diagnostic test done (and another week for those test results) we read all we could find about CF.

Early symptoms of the disease include failure to thrive, coughing and wheezing, stool issues and salty-tasting sweat. So we weighed our baby every few days before his morning feeding. We trembled at each sneeze and cough, inspected every diaper. And yes, we licked the baby. A lot.

And while his sneezes seemed normal, his poop perfectly formed and his weight gain impressive (27 ounces in two weeks), we worried that maybe he did taste a little bit salty.

When it came time to have his chloride sweat test performed, we made the nerve-wracking trek to the children’s hospital. There, the technician strapped electrodes to our baby’s arm and applied an electric current to stimulate his sweat glands, then wrapped a spot on each arm with gauze and plastic. I had to hold him still for this, shushing him through his grunts and cries of protest.

That in itself was a supremely shitty experience, but it had to be done so I put on my calm mom face and did it as my husband sat close by, white as a ghost and looking like he’d like to vomit. Later, as the days ticked by so slowly while we waited for test results, we took turns consoling each other.

That’s one of my favorite things about our marriage – the unspoken agreement that we are forbidden from collectively losing our shit in times of crisis. We have to take turns. Somebody has to be the badass at all times.

We were, thankfully, one of the lucky ones this time. Our son tested negative for cystic fibrosis. But I know too much now, and I can’t just go back to being oblivious to this disease.

While it once proved fatal for children early on, cystic fibrosis is now much more manageable. The average life span for a person with CF reaches into the late 30s. There is no cure, but science is working on it, folks, and with our help I believe that in my son’s lifetime there will be.

Cystic fibrosis is a sneaky little recessive disorder. More than 10 million Americans are symptomless carriers of the defective gene. It’s not something that can be predicted by family history – and it will strike one in every 3,500 live births in America.

Next month is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month and I’d like to begin now doing my part to help fight this disease. I encourage you to read more here, and if you feel called, to join me in donating here.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is in the business of adding tomorrows, and I hope you will join me in helping them.

Wanna play a guessing game?

comments 18
Parenting

Baby Boy Bump #1 vs Baby Boy Bump #2, same shirt, same pants, same gestational length.

Bump comparison

On the left, my first son. I gained about 40 lbs and he came out at 8 lbs, 10 0z, 21 inches long. The doctors kept insisting he was going to be 10 lbs. Whoops.

On the right, my second son. I’ve gained 20 lbs exaclty and the doctors think he’s measuring about 7.5 lbs, but probably just as long. So what do you think?

Winner gets a bottle of my encapsulated placenta pills!

JUST KIDDING.

How about a placenta bear instead?***

placentateddy

***I’m sorry if you didn’t realize this thing existed. It’s so creepy, I know. Really, I’m sorry.

An afternoon with the Kansas Freezer Meal Queen

comments 17
Friends / Noms

This morning I’m sitting on the couch, looking like a Buddha in yoga pants and a maternity t-shirt, humbly contemplating the blessings of true friendship that I have.

Friends from back home in Texas who, even four years after I abandoned them to the storms and mosquitoes, still regularly keep in touch and send gifts to my boys. Friends from all over the Internet, some of whom I’ve never met, who care for my family and are helping welcome our new son.

I have one friend who sends me morning text messages checking up on me when she somehow just knows it’s going to be a rough morning. I have another who sends me silly Facebook messages and keeps me laughing.

And I have this friend who, even though she juggles four kids, a yard full of dogs, a household and her own successful, busy blog, still took an entire Sunday out of her schedule to shop for and prep a freezer full of meals for my family and me.

Superwoman here, she’s working on running 500 miles this year. She’s mastered a gluten-free lifestyle for herself and her family. Her birthday parties are epic. And she can turn a cart full of groceries into nearly a month’s worth of meals in one afternoon.

Greta presents Freezer Meals!

Yesterday after a tasty brunch we hit up a few stores for supplies. Greta was kind enough to refrain from making fun of me as I huffed and puffed and grunted my way down the aisles. I had chosen eight or nine different casserole recipes that used groups of similar ingredients and spent about $150 on food and pans – not bad for a dozen dinners (that will yield plenty of leftovers)!

When we got to the house, Greta roasted the chicken, browned the ground meat and boiled the pasta, all while looking cute in her coordinated pink apron/shoes/phone combo. I sat in a chair at the table, ate chocolate and whined about my pelvis.

She makes cooking look cute.

Over a period of about three hours, we assembled a variety of baked chicken pasta dishes, a couple of Mexican-inspired tortilla bakes, and one very badass macaroni and cheese. There’s some greek chicken pasta in there, some pizza pasta, an enchilada casserole that I’m using all of my willpower to avoid cooking RIGHT NOW and a tater tot casserole that will be my guilty pleasure one day.

casserole collage

My kitchen was a glorious wreck through much of the process, although it cleaned up right quick when we finished. Looking back, the whole experience was an absolute blast and I look forward to being able pay it forward and do this for another mom one day. In the meantime, I plan to make “Freezer Cooking Day” a new tradition around here.

If you’re interested in giving freezer cooking a try, you just need about an hour on the Internet, some good organizational skills, a great friend to help out and one afternoon a month.

I hope to show off some of these meals on Fridays after the baby is born – you know, once I can form coherent sentences again. In the meantime, check out a few resources if you’d like to get started on your own freezer stash!

Our Best Bites

Happy Money Saver

Denise Rudolph’s Pin Board

 

Full term and fabulous

comments 12
Family / Friends

Yeah, ok, so not really. When the OB asked how I was feeling today, I told him I felt like an irritable, sore gummy bear. And it’s true! I have very little patience. My pelvis is coming apart in places. My belly is so big I can’t reach my feet to tie my own shoes and I’ve officially got two chins.

So here we are, nine months and twenty pounds into our pregnancy. My rings still fit but just barely. I haven’t been able to breathe out of my nose for at least the last three months. I am SO. OVER. IT.

But damn, my hair looks good. So there’s that. (I took this pic this morning. If you compare it to the one I took a couple weeks ago, it looks just about the same, which kind of cracks me up. I have A LOT of purple maternity shirts, yes?)

Almost done

And the little guy seems happy to bake away in there. He measures up around the 77th percentile now, a sizeable jump from the 47th percentile last month. According to the ultrasound, he looks a lot like Homer Simpson – which totally explains the cravings for donuts and beer.

Anyway, now that we’ve gotten our twin blizzards out of the way and my husband is officially forbidden to travel anymore, I do declare that we are ready to have this baby. Not that the declaration influences him one way or the other, of course. I think he’ s perfectly content to continue harassing my rib cage.

But really, Baby Homer, anytime is fine. Mom and Dad are ready to meet you. Big Brother is beginning to think Mom is lying about there being a baby in her belly. Aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins are looking forward to tickling your toes and snuggling you – and several of them are even flying all the way up here to do so!

Your friends from all over the world, the ones who read this blog and comment and keep your mom sane through everything, they’re ready to see you too. They’re ready for Mom to stop whining about being pregnant and just post baby pictures already, dammit. They’ve even sent gifts for you – outfits and toys and this beautiful, handmade blanket from sweet Jennifer who writes Just Jennifer and lets mom sit at her lunch table on Twitter from time to time.

blanket

You are already so loved. See you soon.

SnoPocaGeddon ’13

comments 13
#BloomWhereYourePlanted / Family / Kansas City

I find that when you can’t overcome or prevent something, it’s best to just give yourself over to it fully.

We woke up this morning to snow that was just beginning to fall. Over three hours, we accumulated about seven inches and it’s still falling. The gnomes were not impressed.

#SnoPocaGeddon

Neither was the dog.

#KCSnow

At first the kid was less than thrilled.

#KCSnow

But wait, this is kind of cool.

#KCSnow

Nah, Daddy, I got it.

#KCSnow

Ok, that’s enough. Pick me up now!

#KCSnow

Final verdict? I think it’s safe to say that while our son is genetically identical to his father in appearance, he’s totally Texan deep down in his blood like his mama and is not a fan of this cold, wet, sticky mess!

#KCSnow

35 weeks: Still rockin’ and rollin’

comments 30
#BloomWhereYourePlanted / #iPPP / Kansas City

I wrote this morning on Twitter that I no longer feel human. That I feel like an incubator glued to a couch being fed Cheez Its as fuel.

I think that accurately sums up the last month of pregnancy. It’s just not fun. Your brain stops working, everything is beginning to swell and hurt and your uterus thinks it’s fun to randomly contract here and there. Because of the excruciating heartburn, there are like six things you can eat without burping lava.

It’s a miracle that I’ve got makeup on in this photo of my 35th week. My hair is even done. I am wearing a bra.

IMG_4174

We had a little bit of drama a few weeks ago with the pregnancy. I am currently classified as high risk for some issues, and so every week I go in and have a few tests done on the baby to check that he’s growing well and is healthy.

Well, during one of these tests, the baby was terribly uncooperative and decided to take a nap. Not just a light snooze, mind you, but one of those mouth-open, deep-sleep on the couch naps you take during the first trimester. Nothing would wake him up, no amount of buzzing or shaking would get him to respond.

So the doctor stamped a big ol’ FAIL on our test results and sent us up to Labor and Delivery for an afternoon of constant monitoring.

I was kind of in shock, having expected a quick 30-minute visit first thing in the morning. My phone wasn’t charged, I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and I had other plans.

But, nope, we got into an actual labor and delivery room, had to put on a gown and get into bed and get strapped with heartbeat and contraction monitors. I was so nervous that I put the gown on backward. (In my defense, I was thinking, “Well, they’ll want access to my front so it should open to the front.”)

Check it out:

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Whatever, backward or not, my lovely lady lumps and I totally rocked that gown.

Anyway, baby further frustrated people by turning himself so his back was against my back and his hands and feet were in my belly. The monitor couldn’t pick up his heartbeat for more than a few minutes, so we couldn’t get the 20 straight minutes we needed to be released.

I sat there for four hours with my mischievous fetus until the doctor finally decided I’d been tortured enough with hospital food to let me go home with a clean bill of health.

Luckily, we passed our tests last week (I may have visited Starbucks on the way to the appointment) and didn’t have to repeat this procedure, although I’ve been warned that it will most likely happen again, and in the event that he doesn’t cooperate and pass monitoring in the hospital, it’ll be “Happy Birthday Baby.”

Meanwhile, life goes on as usual around the household. Hubs is still working lots of hours and is so very much my hero lately. He takes care of so many things that I normally do and to show him my appreciation, I planned an afternoon of fun this weekend at a traveling music exhibit.

My husband is a music geek of the highest caliber. His iTunes collection is massive, we have all kinds of noise-making apps and gear and I’m often treated to long lessons on music history, theory and various performance critiques. (Well, it could be worse, he could be addicted to baseball too. Oh wait…)

Anyway, Union Station in Kansas City is serving as the first stop for a traveling exhibit called The Science of Rock. The exhibit is extremely hands-on and a blast for all ages and levels of musical experience.

Along with a couple of our friends, we marveled at the displays, played with the instruments and laughed as Monkey made it his personal mission to try on every pair of headphones in the place.

On the way out, we had to do some train watching, of course.

SoR collage 1

soR collage 2

sor collage 3

If you’re in the area and would like to visit the exhibit, you can plan your outing here. In addition to the exhibit, Union Station offers many activities perfect for family outings and also serves as a great date night destination.

Linking up with Greta and Sarah for #iPPP this week!

GFunkified

The 2012-2013 Holiday Saga

comments 24
Family

Spanning two weeks, three states and five different beds, here’s Mamamash’s fourth grade essay, “What I did on my Christmas vacation.”

Let me preface this by saying that over this holiday season, I did a few things differently. One, I deleted my Twitter, Instagram and for a time, Facebook accounts. I needed a break from the external noise and a chance to focus just on what was in front of me. Two, I don’t think I used my big fancy camera at all except for Christmas eve and morning. And three, I didn’t think about blogging during any of the festivities. I just sort of hung out with my family, completely immersed myself in the insanity and ate ALL the food.

So yeah, the pictures, they kinda suck. But they do give a pretty accurate portrayal of what this incredibly special holiday was like for us. 

My mom, sister and nephews made the trek to Kansas City the weekend before Christmas Eve. They arrived bearing bags of citrus fruit, Christmas gifts and even a large Swiss Colony tray – a tradition we’d had as children that my mom thought it would be fun to start again.

Christmas 2012

I’m not sure if we would call this Christmas “The Pajama Christmas,” since we pretty much spent three days in our jammies indoors thanks to the freezing temps, or perhaps “The Christmas Poo Debacle,” since a water main in our neighborhood broke Christmas Eve morning, leaving about 50 houses without running water until late afternoon.

(FYI, it takes several gallons of water to make a toilet completely flush the morning waste of eight people, and the people at Walgreens will totally look at you funny if you keep popping in to buy more gallons all day, and you will definitely want to kill your husband when you find out he’d neglected to mention there was a full five-gallon bucket of water in the basement you could have used instead.)

We adopted a few new traditions (a Mexican casserole feast on Christmas Eve instead of gumbo, at my husband’s request, and a popcorn tin and Christmas movies before bed) and continued a few old traditions (driving through the Longview Lake Christmas light display, baking a birthday cake for baby Jesus and singing to him).

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas morning was the usual mad dash down the stairs (the adults looking for coffee) and slow plod through the hallway (the children, lured from their warm beds by the over-excited adults who were entirely too cracked out on caffeine to pay attention to the early hour) followed by a brief break to clean up wrapping paper, a long family nap and lots of playing throughout the evening.

Christmas 2012

Two days later, we loaded everything up into two cars to make the trip back to Texas with everyone. My husband had been unexpectedly called to work down there at the last minute, so we got to have one more visit with our extended family before the baby comes.

The drive was a little scary at times through Arkansas, which had received almost a foot of snow in places. Although the roads were mostly clear, there were a few mountain passes that required white knuckles and prayer. And of course, The Posh had to stop and get out to touch the “ice rocks.”

Christmas 2012

We stopped about eight hours into the drive to spend a night at a hotel, not something I normally do but definitely a welcome break from being cooped in the car. Third trimester traveling is frowned upon by my OB, but between this hotel stop and the eleventy hundred gallons of water I drank, I managed to avoid any pregnancy-related issues.

The little boys wreaked havoc in the hotel room together while the big boys went swimming downstairs with their mom, then we all passed out for a few hours before hitting the road again.

Christmas 2012

The visit to Orange was an absolute joy. There was no shortage of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents to play with.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Sometimes play was gentle, like with the other little guys and girl.

Christmas 2012

Other times, it was wild and probably dangerous, like spinning chairs and dogpiles with the older boys.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Some cousins shared their toys willingly, others, not so much.

Christmas 2012

texas 2013 14 Christmas 2012

Not even if you hug them first and say please.

Christmas 2012

We got to help Meme peel shrimp for gumbo and help Aunt Jan grind pepper for steaks.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

There were a few Texas-true moments, like finding a deer tail in the outside fridge, making sauces using produce from Pop’s own trees and driving back and forth over the majestic bridges between Bridge City and Port Arthur.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

We even got to go to work with Daddy for a little while.

Christmas 2012

New Year’s was rainy and a little cold, but we still headed out to the country to blow things up with some friends. Living next to an amusement park has made Monkey pretty immune to the noise of fireworks, but he still enjoyed the “BOOM! BOOM!” they provided.

Christmas 2012

On the way back to Kansas City, we stopped for a night at the lake house. When we arrived we were greeted by a roaring fire and a gorgeous home still decorated for Christmas. And by decorated I mean decorated. Aunt Karen even has a Christmas tree in the bathroom. Oh, and yeah, that’s totally a Santa dressed in camo. Of course it is.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

The next day hubs, Monkey and I set out for the longest part of the drive – the drive back to life as usual. As we snaked our way north among forests and mountains, I amused myself by snapping pics of such wonders of the world like snow-capped ridges and my husband’s massive beard.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

About halfway through Arkansas, Monkey was totally over the drive. OVER IT.

Christmas 2012

So we stopped and let him run in an indoor playplace while we stretched our legs. Man, you give my husband a couple of McRibs and my son unlimited access to a slide and life is good once again.

Christmas 2012

I am thankful we made it home safe and mostly sane. It has taken us a few days to recover from the holiday, but life is up and running again as usual and we’re finishing up preparations for the newest member of our family, set to arrive in a couple of months. As you can see, I’m now more than a little bit pregnant, although some of that might be gumbo, and cookies, and Shipley’s donuts, and…

29 weeks