Getting Our Money’s Worth

This has been an expensive two years for our household.

First, there was the whole pregnancy and labor thing. It’s expensive to have a baby. Especially when it’s a cesarean section. Then, Alex was in the NICU and the Pediatric ICU for days after his birth. Staying in a hospital is expensive.

Then? All of those early-babyhood appointments. Vaccines are expensive.

Next up came the horrifying news that Alex was going to have to have surgery for a hernia. Surgery is expensive.

Then I had the fun opportunity to visit the Emergency Room two months ago because of intense abdominal pain. ER visits and blood tests? Yup! Expensive.

Since then I’ve been back to my primary care physician twice, who last week told me that it probably was not my diagnosed problem of gastritis (finally someone listened to me!). I had an ultrasound, and the next day my doctor called to tell me I have gallstones. Adding up all of those appointments and the ultrasound? Phew! Expensive!

In two weeks I’ll meet with a surgeon and schedule a time to have my gallbladder removed. Yet another surgery will just add to our increasing cost of staying healthy in this family. (Lucky Zach is as healthy as a horse! Although he needs to schedule a physical! Hear that, Zach?)

Needless to say, I am so very, very, thankful that we have health insurance. If we had to pay for all of this out of pocket we would be drowning in debt. The cost of health care is absurd, and it’s no wonder people will refuse to get taken care of when they have no health insurance. It’s no wonder you don’t see people finally getting help until it’s too late. We are lucky. Hopefully one day we won’t just be lucky, we’ll be the norm.

Broken Hearted And Refreshed

For Memorial Day weekend, I was given the opportunity (Thanks, Zach!) to drive to upstate New York to visit my bestest friend in the whole wide world. We met during my second year of college when we had jobs that required us to have training together. From the second we had our first conversation we were hooked. She told me this weekend that after we hung out the first time, “I was like, yup! She’s my new best friend.”

Some people just connect. It’s more than shared interests, trust, and the ability to have fun together (though we certainly have all of those things); it’s this unexplainable event that occurs. Honestly, I’ve never experienced “love at first sight,” but if I had to call my relationship with Sarah anything it would have to stem from that. We just knew that we would be friends forever. And through everything over the past few years, my pregnancy the year she graduated, her living in Boston and soon New Orleans, we have made it.

We spent the weekend hanging out with her amazing parents, drinking Corona, enjoying the nice weather outside on the back porch.

Being away from Alex, though, was hard. This was the first time I have been away from him for more than a night, which happens pretty regularly with my mom living only a few minutes from us. This was different.

I dropped Alex off with his “Manga” (Grandma) in the early afternoon and made the 6-hour drive North and East. When it came time for his usual bedtime I felt a bit empty, knowing that not only was I not going to be putting him to bed, I also wasn’t going to see him first thing in the morning. I wouldn’t be giving him dinner, breakfast, snacks. There would be no wrestling, no diaper changing, no super-cute kisses. No hand holding.

It was strange. I could stay up late, sleep in, eat without a little mouth asking me for more and more of my food. I could drink beer without worry of Alex deciding he wanted to drink it himself. I could go to bathroom in private!

But I missed him.

When I came home it was a lovely little reunion, regardless of the fact that when he saw me he asked me for “Manga” and to go outside.

Sometimes it takes a little time away to realize just how great things are. I have this awesome little man in my life, and as wonderful as it was to be able to have some adult-only time, I wouldn’t change what I have for anything.

He’s my world.


The Joys Of Parenthood

I never realized how much I would come to appreciate a good vacuum cleaner.

Almost every day I vacuum. I vacuum our rug in the living room and I vacuum our kitchen. I don’t like to clean. I really don’t. Some people enjoy making a place sparkle. Me? Not so much.

But everyday there are crumbs. Little pieces of food end up everywhere. Everywhere.

Even when Alex isn’t actively throwing his food from his highchair or smooshing crackers with his foot into the floor, there are still crumbs. Crumbs, crumbs, crumbs.

People always say that little kids are snot-machines. I disagree. Little kids are crumb machines. I don’t know where the crumbs come from. There are times when I do, like when I let Alex eat crackers in the living room. Obviously that is going to be a mess. Obviously when Alex eats crackers in the living room there are going to be crumbs everywhere.

But then, somehow, the crumbs end up in the kitchen, too. And in the dining room. And on the stairs leading upstairs.

And then, after I vacuum, there are more crumbs. Even when there is no food around, when meals are long done and the only food is in its appropriate place in the kitchen, little bits appear around the house. Where they come from? Nobody knows.

Little kids are crumb machines. They walk around producing crumbs.

Watching the big kids

Little Tiny Smooches

The fact that Alex loves to kiss makes me happy. Very happy.

When Zach gets into the car every evening after we pick him up from work, Alex gives him little tiny kisses on his fingers, stretched back to reach the car seat from the front seat.

Before bed, Alex asks for lots of kisses. “More Mwah?” is something he says to me almost every night. If he doesn’t say it, he makes the kissy sound and sticks his face near my face. He needs a lot of kisses before he is willing to go to bed.

He kisses anything and everything that he likes. Whether that is his parents, a stuffed animal or the water coming out of the faucet in the bathtub, if he likes something it deserves a kiss.

But yesterday? Yesterday was possibly the happiest moment of my life.

Walking into the backyard of his home day care, I saw the four kids playing in the grass. The owner was gathering sippy cups, and Alex was kicking a ball around.

The owner waved and said “Hello!” and before I knew it, I heard “MOMMMMYYYY!” coming from Alex’s mouth (I won’t get into how it breaks my heart that he is calling me “mommy” more often than “mama” these days). He ran as fast as he could, arms flailing and legs tripping over themselves, with a huge grin on his face. When he reached me he said, “Hi! Up!” In my arms, he said “Mommmyyyy….” in a calm voice and gave me a big kiss on the mouth. His head nestled into my neck with a smile stretching to his ears and he whispered “mama.”

That night I made sure to give him extra kisses, even if he didn’t ask for more.

"Mwah Wawa!"

Language Explosion

People aren’t kidding when they say a child’s language will increase exponentially towards the end of the second year.

Just a few months ago, I was concerned about Alex’s language development. Even though I claimed that I wasn’t, I was. Even though he was gaining a new word every so often, I was still worried.

But then? His language exploded. Once he hit about 19 months I found myself shocked every single day by what he was saying.

One morning I asked him, “What do you want for breakfast?”

And not only did he respond, he told me he wanted pancakes. And grapes. He had never said pancakes before that morning.

He tells me when he makes a mess now by saying “messy.” When he’s tired he lets me know by saying “night night.” When he wants the only meat he likes for dinner? He asks for it by name: “kielbasa” or, more often, “basa.”

When he is standing on a surface that he supposed to be sitting on? He says, “Sit down!” in a very stern voice. No idea where he got that voice from.

The playground is still the beatdown, penguins are still “waddle waddle” and apparently bugs “meow” even though he calls them “bug.”

He’s getting there. Two, and even three, word “sentences” are becoming more normal. When he says “Bye bye daycare!” or “Bye bye beatdown!” I smile. Every. Single. Time.

And when he asks for “more mwah!” at bedtime? My heart melts.

Swing Fun

We Came, We Marched, Some of Us Were Cranky

The March of Dimes walk was fabulous. Absolutely, fantastically, beautifully, marvelous. The team I was on raised more than five thousand dollars. Five thousand!

Our group was beyond-words-awesome-fantastic. Beyond the fact that there were so many of us and we raised a lot of money, everyone was very supportive of each other while we walked. You can witness proof of that here, here and here. And you can find all sorts of photos that prove just how fantabulously awesome we are from Burgh Baby.

Our team:

Stolen From Gina

Also? This happened, and was immensely cute:

Stolen From Gina

I mean, seriously. Look at those faces!

They liked eachother

Alex was a bit of terror. He wanted to steal everything that any other child had: sippy cups, crackers, entire wagons. I can’t blame him on the wagons, though. Those are things are pretty awesome. Even with his toddlerhood raging that morning (and my unexpected crankiness that day) it was a wonderful time. Have I used enough positive adjectives? It was awesome. Stunning. Astonishing. Moving. Wondrous.

Pittsburghers are all of those things. And more.

True story.

Gathering by the river before the walk

Marching for Tiny Ones

Something happened.

When Maddie died, things changed. People came together. Her passing brought many tears to my eyes, and the second I saw that there was a Pittsburgh team walking for Maddie and March of Dimes I had to join. Because when that beautiful little girl died, something happened. In all of us.

People who had never heard of Maddie were brought to tears by her death. People who have lost children of their own, people who have children that were born prematurely, people who have never once even babysat a child…all of us were affected.

So now, Pittsburgh is coming together. The Burgh Moms and Dads team has raised over $3,500 now, and I just know we can get to $4,000 by our walk on Saturday.

Can you spare one dollar? Two? Maybe even ten? I have done what I can, and I hope you will too.

Are you in Pittsburgh? Can you join Our Team?

Please, think about donating in this beautiful little girl’s name. Please click here to make a donation through my page, or click here to make a donation through the Pittsburgh Moms and Dads Team.

Think of her:

I’ll be thinking of my own son, who was in the NICU for four days after his birth. We were lucky, and he is perfectly healthy. I’ll be thinking of all of the babies who we have lost, all of the babies we have saved, and all of the babies that we will one day be able to save because of advances in medicine.

My baby? May not have made it if it weren’t for IV fluids and Bili Lights to help his severe jaundice. I’ll be thinking of that. What will you be thinking about this Saturday?

Think about donating. Every little bit helps.