This Month's Topic: Focus on Finance

I’m Mom Now

You know when you were growing up and no matter what was wrong, your mom could always make you feel better? Whether you got hurt or failed a test or just had a really crummy day, your mom was always the one you turned to to make things better?

That’s how I used to feel anyways and, often, I still catch myself feeling that way now.

The other day, Austin was playing in the kitchen while I was cooking dinner. Before I even knew what had happened, a few drops of hot water from the stove splashed and landed on him. He immediately started crying, and I panicked. I grabbed him and hugged him as hard as I could and rubbed the spot where the drops had been.

Serious blog requires a not so serious pictures!

A serious blog requires a not-so-serious picture!

I felt terrible. I have probably never felt so terrible in my whole life. I started to cry and definitely continued to cry long after Austin had moved on and wanted to keep playing. The hot water had been from boiling chicken, so I knew that salmonella was a factor and I was totally panicked. My first thought – which didn’t seem weird to me until I thought about it a few hours later – was that my mom would tell me what to do and help me clean up the spilled salmonella water in the kitchen. I kept thinking about that, bizarrely, for a few minutes, until I finally snapped out of it, stopped crying and decided that Austin should get in the tub. I kept the water at room temperature and washed him to make sure that no salmonella water was left on him. After the bath, I decided I should put Austin in the pack ‘n play and clean the kitchen floor.

I am only writing this because I had an epiphany that day. It seems simple but the fact is, I’m mom now. I will be the one to make my kids feel better when they are sick or get hurt or when anything bad happens. I need to toughen up. I need to toughen up for my kids and not let them see that I get worried, too, and that I am terrified that they will get hurt and that it makes me want to cry when they are sick.

My dad always used to tell us that we needed to have thick skin, and I always thought I wasn’t too terrible… until I had kids. When I think of myself crying on the floor with my son, I realize that now more than ever, I need to develop thick skin. When I watched my sister spend an entire weekend with her daughter at the hospital because Anna was having seizures and that’s what the doctors recommend she do, I was amazed at the way she handled the situation. I remember texting her afterward to tell her how impressed and inspired I was by how together she’d been. Her focus was on her daughter, not herself.

That’s what I need. I am working on it and I bet, as I have a few more kids, I’ll get better and better. Right now, though, I’m working on developing my thick skin, so that my son will always know that his mom will always be there to make things better.

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I know we’re not alone in feeling this way, but we have had a very rough winter in our house. In fact, I’m pretty sure we have had every possible cold or stomach bug available this year.

When I was about 10 weeks pregnant, we found out that Austin had Fifth disease. WHAT?! OK, so it sounds really scary, but it’s basically a virus that gives kids a rash. However, while it’s no big deal for kids, it can be very serious for pregnant women.


I had to see my doctor and give blood to make sure that I had already had the virus when I was a kid because that would mean I would be immune to it now. While I waited for the results, I convinced myself that I was already showing symptoms and that this new baby was not going to make it. Then, a week later, after I’d cried myself to sleep the night before thinking about my poor, doomed, unborn baby, the doctor called and told me the test showed I had immunity and that I shouldn’t worry. Phew!! My “symptoms” magically went away and I forgot about the whole thing…

…until a few weeks later when Austin came down with another bad cold, which went into another round of antibiotics.

Austin getting sick was manageable, though, as long as I was healthy.

Keeping my eye on the prize..

Keeping my eye on the prize..

Then, I got a cough and it was constant and miserable for about a week. I went to the doctor, who told me it was not pneumonia or bronchitis and prescribed me some heavy-duty cough syrup, which I decided not to take because I was tough and the cough would go away. After a little over a week, the cough finally started to subside. I was thinking we were in the clear. Thank goodness!

That night, though, as I was giving Austin his bottle, he pushed it away and made some gurgling sounds. A few seconds later, he vomited all over the floor in front of us. I did the only thing I could think to do: I cried. Austin has never thrown up before, and it was traumatizing (at least it was for me!).

After 24 hours of no one getting sick, I thought, once again, that we were in the clear. However, I should’ve known better because we were not. Austin and I now both have the stomach bug.

Unwillingly, I have to say that he is handling it much better than I am. I keep telling myself that it will go away and it just has to run its course, but I’m feeling frustrated. I can’t help it. I’m frustrated with this winter and I’m frustrated with feeling sick, and we desperately need some fresh air in our house. I always start to feel this way around February. I know everyone does. But this constant parade of sicknesses just has to end.

Come soon, spring!

And Baby Makes Four

Positive Preg TestWell, I think it’s finally safe to say that WE ARE EXPECTING AGAIN! I am excited to finally announce that we will be adding a new member to our family in early August. We cannot wait!

That said, I am finding out that learning you’re pregnant with No. 2 is a little less dramatic than finding out you’re pregnant with No. 1, at least for me.

With Austin, I took one test and that was all the proof I needed. I was ecstatic and couldn’t believe that we were pregnant and wanted to immediately go out and buy little onesies and socks.

This time, I took about 10 tests because I honestly couldn’t believe it and am still having trouble thinking about a new baby joining the family. It isn’t that I’m not excited. I am beyond excited! I can’t wait to have a new baby join our family, and I think it’s going to be wonderful to watch Austin become a big brother. I guess it’s just that I don’t have time to focus on this new baby like I did my first.

Obviously this nut needs a sibling!!

Obviously, this nut needs a sibling!

I find myself actually forgetting that I’m pregnant. (Is that normal?!) If it wasn’t for the vomiting and constant hangover feeling, I would probably go hours without thinking about this new baby.

I think that for me, actually, the lack of focus is a really, really good thing.

I know I’ve mentioned it in the past, but I’m a bit of a worrier. My family would probably exchange the word “bit” with a different word, but let’s just say that I spend 90 to 95 percent of my time worrying about something. Pick a week and you can pick a topic, basically. Needless to say, pregnancy is not my best time. I hope that this pregnancy is better, though, because I won’t just have one baby to worry about. I already have Austin, and he takes up plenty of my hours spent worrying as it is, so having two kids should allow me to spread the worrying love a little.

Over the next six months, I’m going to do my best to not drag my crazy issues into this blog, but I can’t promise anything!

The Terrible… Ones?

The other day, Austin and I were hanging out at my sister’s house when I noticed something shocking: Austin kept hitting Sophia. For anyone who has spent any time with my son, you know that he prefers to be carrying something with him wherever he goes. Well, on this particular day, he was carrying his favorite item: a plastic spoon. I watched Sophia crawl over to him to play and, to my dismay, Austin turned and began wielding the spoon at her, as if to say, “Back it up, Soph.” Naturally, Sophia did not understand this gesture and continued to crawl over to Austin. He then proceeded to hit her on the head with the spoon.

Bengals Austin

Now, Sophia is a tough girl and held her own, but I ventured into new, uncharted territory of disciplining my 1 year old. I said “no” in my most stern and authoritative voice and took the spoon out of his hand. Austin then threw himself on the ground and began crying. WHAT?? Are we seriously entering the temper tantrum phase already?

It was just a few weeks ago that I was watching my baby boy take his first steps and now I feel like I have a toddler who may or may not be borderline bullyish. Up until Austin began walking, I thought of him as a baby and now, as I watch my son swat Sophia on the head, I can’t help but think we have been catapulted into toddlerhood. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little nervous. Gone are the days when I could take a toy from Austin and 30 seconds later he would be playing with something else. Now, I will take something from him and put it up on a table and 10 minutes later he will walk over and whine at it until I get it for him. When did this happen? It feels like the transition was overnight and I’m left feeling very unprepared. I felt pretty good about babyhood. I would be walking around the mall or a restaurant and I would see families with their toddlers having tantrums and I would think, “Oh, man, I’m glad we’re not there yet!” But, apparently, I’m there!

So, I guess my challenge now is learning how to discipline a 1 year old who really has no idea what I’m saying. There is no reasoning with a 1 year old. Heck, I don’t know if there is any reasoning with a 2 or 3 year old. I guess this is how all new moms learn, and I guess I will now be joining those parents I always felt sorry for as I watched their children threw tantrums. I know I used to judge those parents and wonder what I would do differently, and now I’m rethinking all of that. Mothers of kids having tantrums, I respect you and am coming to join you! Here we go, terrible ones!

First Birthday Memories

We celebrated Austin’s first birthday this past weekend, and it was a blast! When I was planning the party, I was preparing to be a sobbing, emotional mess on his big day, but it ended up being just the opposite. I watched in awe as my little boy opened presents, ate cake and played with the other kids.

Just a year ago, I was headed to the hospital, anxious to meet the little boy who had been kicking me for nine months. (He still kicks me, actually.) I can’t believe it has been a year. His birthday party was a success. He ate his smash cake like a champ and was naturally more interested in the wrapping paper than the actual presents, but that’s all to be expected from a 1 year old, of course.

Austin also started to take his first steps a few days ago, and I can’t even contain my excitement. I cheer him on so loudly that he falls, but I know he’ll get used to me yelling. I guess I have been a little emotional – crying when I rock him to sleep at night only happened twice, I swear – but I think that’s normal. My little baby boy is no longer a baby, but a walking, talking, little man. This year has been the fastest and best year of our lives and I can’t wait for more adventures with my family.

This post is truly just a reflection on an amazing year and a prayer for another amazing year. I think that is probably what everyone wishes for this time of year, but with a birthday and Christmas, I feel truly blessed, and I cannot wait to see what 2014 will bring!





Miscarriage Shouldn’t Be Taboo

I recently read this article on Facebook about women and miscarriages and found it fantastic!

As a woman who has experienced a miscarriage, I remember feeling exactly the way it is described in this article: embarrassed, like I’d done something wrong, and just flat-out not wanting to talk about it.

Although, surprisingly, the more I did talk about it, the better I felt. I would mention it to someone and they would say, “Oh yeah, I had one, too.” I would immediately think, “Really??” And then I would (almost immediately) feel better and not so alone and a little more aware of the fact that miscarriages are very common. The author of the article also mentioned how she thought her miscarriage was her fault. I 100 percent understand that feeling!Jill's blog

I found out I was pregnant in January of 2012 and was so excited, I called my family and everyone I knew in a matter of 10 minutes.

At the time, I was traveling for work and, a few weeks later, I was scheduled to go to Charleston, S.C., for a few days. I didn’t think anything of it and prepared for my trip. I was scheduled to fly into Charleston, work the next day and then take a connecting flight to Charlotte, N.C. I worked in Charleston, all excited and wanting to tell everyone there that I was pregnant, and left for the airport around 3 o’clock in the afternoon to catch my flight to Charlotte.

As I was headed into the airport, I started to feel weird. I was having pains, and it felt like I was getting my period. I tried to stay calm as I went through security, but I think deep down, I knew what was happening. Once I got into the terminal, I ran into the bathroom and, sure enough, it was happening. I sat in the stall crying, calling my husband and my mom and finally deciding that I needed to fly home and not continue my trip.

I boarded my flight to Atlanta, crying the whole time, bleeding through my pants and having an hour plane ride to really process the cold, hard reality that I was having a miscarriage. In Atlanta, I talked to the Delta representatives for an hour, explaining to them that I needed to get to Cincinnati as soon as possible. I must have looked like quite the mess because they put me in a row by myself and, apparently, listed me as a “medical emergency.”

I remember sitting in the bathroom in Atlanta and just crying. I couldn’t wait to get home. When I finally arrived in Cincinnati, my husband, Kyle, was waiting for me at the gate and, as we made our way to the car, I discovered I was exhausted. We called the doctor on the way home and he said that there was really nothing he could do and that I needed to just go home and rest. I felt drained. I felt like something had been taken from me, and I think in a way it was.

As Kyle and I start talking about expanding our family again – obviously, we were able to get pregnant again and now have a nearly 1-year-old son – I can’t help but feel terrified that the same thing will happen to me all over again. I wonder if this is how all women who have experienced a miscarriage feel. When you find out you’re pregnant, you immediately feel nervous instead of excited. When I found out I was pregnant with Austin, I cried weekly until I was 12 weeks and even then I don’t think I ever relaxed until I was holding him in my arms.

Miscarriages shouldn’t be taboo. It’s OK to talk about your experience. In fact, I found it tremendously helpful when other people talked about their experiences and I shared my experience with them.

It taught me how strong I am, how much I can handle, that there will always be storms and, God willing, I’ll always be able to weather them. I guess that’s all the preparation you can really do when you’re getting ready to start again: Remember it, put it away and look forward with hope.

There are Worse Things

Austin has recently decided he only needs one nap a day. I fought it for awhile, but, eventually, I decided that maybe it was for the best.

Honestly, I now think it was a great decision. Not only do I no longer have to listen to Austin fight his morning nap, but we have freedom that we’ve never had before. We can go shopping in the morning, go for play dates that we used to miss, and the morning is actually less stressful without a nap.

Austin has adjusted beautifully to only taking one nap a day. He goes down around 1 or 1:30 and usually sleeps for at least two hours. It’s fantastic, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Just watching a little football with dad :)

Just watching a little football with dad :)

In fact, I’m the only one who seems to be having difficulty adjusting to the one nap… When Austin started taking two naps in his crib, I was ecstatic. I was able to shower in peace, and it was a wonderful thing. Now, my shower time is gone. I have been super lazy this past week and have been waiting until Austin’s afternoon nap to shower. Not great. The thing is, Austin is now sleeping in until 8 or 8:30 each morning. (I almost don’t even want to write it because I’m afraid I’ll jinx it.) I can’t for the life of me get my butt out of bed to shower before he wakes up. (Let’s be honest: I haven’t slept in until 8 in almost a year, so I’m taking a few days to really enjoy myself.)

The issue is that I have to get ready for the day without a shower and with a nearly year-old baby wreaking havoc through the house. How do people do it? Well, I’ll tell you what I do and I’m beginning to feel pretty guilty about it. I place Austin in his Pack ‘n Play, with some toys and a wooden spoon that he loves to bang against the wall, and I turn on a cartoon. No, I don’t feel good about it. I, meanwhile, run around like a crazy woman trying to get dressed, do my hair, put on some makeup, brush my teeth and finish my coffee, which takes about 10 minutes.

So, how bad is this? No, don’t answer that. I know there are moms out there who don’t let their kids watch TV and more power to them, but what is my other option? Letting him go crazy through the house while I’m trying to get ready? I’ve tried it and he gets hurt almost every time. (Remember those days when you could lie your baby on your bed while you got ready? I miss that.)

Deep down, I know what I need to do. I need to get my tired self up before Austin wakes up and take a shower. I would feel better, and I promise I will start doing it soon. But, for a few days, I’m going to enjoy my “sleeping in” and Austin is going to watch 10 minutes of cartoons a day. He’ll be fine and, even if he starts saying “mouse-ka tool,” there are worse things.

Soaking It In

As Austin is currently screaming in his crib, on day two of no nap, I’ve decided to write about how much fun it is to have a 10 month old. (No pun intended.) I need to remind myself right now, with the screaming in the background, of how much I love this stage. This might just be my favorite age.

Austin is currently working on walking and talking. I can’t wait to hear what my son is going to say, what his voice is going to sound like, what he’s going to want to talk about. I am so excited that after 10 months of talking to him, he will soon be able to talk back. He is starting to say “car,” which sounds like “crrrrr” but I’m putting it in the baby book because, to me, that counts. He is cruising around furniture like a little drunken man and it is fantastic. It is so much fun to watch him discover how to move his feet and arms to get to where he needs to go.

He never lets me cuddle with him...thank you Wiggles!!

He never lets me cuddle with him. Thank you, Wiggles!

Yesterday, we went to the museum center, which, up until now, has not been very much fun for us. But yesterday, he had a blast! He was crawling from one toy to the next, pulling himself up, cruising around the place. It finally felt like I belonged there. I saw a few moms with young babies and I thought I would be nostalgic, but I wasn’t. I didn’t have to stop to breastfeed Austin, or worry that he was going to poop through his clothes, or that he would, God forbid, wake up and then I’d really be in trouble. My son was loving every minute of it and, when I finally went to put him in the stroller, he cried.

Austin asleep

I can’t believe that Austin is becoming a toddler. I am realizing now that before he becomes old enough to throw a tantrum, I need to soak it in. Before he figures out how to say no, I need to cherish every moment. I know that sounds mean, but I also know that those tantrums are coming and that, for just a little while, I still get to enjoy my sweet, non-speaking, little baby boy.

So, sure, he may be giving up one or both of his naps (still crying by the way), but I guess that’s just part of growing up. I think that just like me, he is excited about everything new that is happening. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. I know that when I’m excited about something, I don’t sleep. Either way, I think it is important that I remind myself that I am incredibly lucky and blessed.

And there, he’s finally sleeping… only took 45 minutes after I put him down.

My Fear of Halloween

I used to love Halloween when I was a kid. I got to dress up and run around with my friends and collect candy. Really, what’s not to like? I remember coming home with my pillowcase full of candy (yes, we used pillowcases for maximum candy capacity) and dumping it all out on the floor to survey my loot. It was a wonderful time.

IMG_0544I feel like I might be alone in my feelings when I scan Facebook and see tons of people dressed in different, creative costumes, and I somehow, still, get uncomfortable even looking at them.As an adult, I find Halloween uncomfortable. Sure, I am beyond excited about dressing Austin up for his first Halloween, but don’t expect to see me dressed up. I have so much respect for people that keep dressing up year after year, but I’m just not one of them.

Is that weird? It seems weird. Maybe it means I’m an insecure person or maybe it means I have no creativity or maybe, it just means that I just don’t like to dress up. It’s very hard to say.

People keep asking me if we’re taking Austin trick or treating and, I guess, I just assumed we would until I stopped to think about what that would mean. Austin is 10 months old and isn’t walking or talking. So trick or treating would consist of us carrying him around and saying “trick or treat” while the poor adults giving out candy shoot us dirty looks because, obviously, it won’t be Austin eating the Kit Kat bar when we get home.

After thinking about that, I decided that maybe we would just hand out candy and dress Austin up. Austin, but definitely not me.


Kids Eat the Darndest Things

Before there was Austin, there was Charlie.

And now, there is Austin and Charlie.

Charlie is very good; great, actually. He doesn’t touch any of Austin’s toys and is so good with him. I wish I could say the same for Austin. Since Austin has become mobile, he has taken to wanting Charlie’s toys instead of his own. This is really cute and fun, until he shoves one in his mouth and I die a little inside. Maybe these are the “good germs” that people are always talking about, but I doubt it.

Charlie knows he's in trouble!

Charlie knows he’s in trouble!

Austin also likes to climb on Charlie, pull his tail and poke him in the eyes, and my poor little Chuck just takes it. Which he’d better or I would kill him.

Having a dog and kids is work. I vacuum/sweep once a day, at least, and Austin still ends up with fistfuls of dog hair and treat crumbs. I can no longer call these “good germs,” I’m pretty sure. But, at the end of the day, I’m always left feeling a little sorry for Chuck. During the course of the day, there is a lot of, “No, Charlie!” “Ew, Charlie!” “I hate you, Charlie!” and, most often, “Go outside, Charlie!”

So, the other day, I was feeling bad for Charlie and I wanted to take Austin to the park. I decided to take Charlie with us and thought, what great pictures I’ll take! It was going swimmingly, until I took Charlie off the leash to let him run around for a little bit, while I got some of those mandatory pictures of Austin in the fall, next to leaves, outside, looking delighted (not really).

See what a wonderful time we were having before the poop!

See what a wonderful time we were having before the poop incident!

As I was gearing up for picture number 38, I glanced over to see Charlie rolling in something. I yelled at him and, as he trotted over, I could already smell it: poop. His whole left side was covered in poop. He then decided to lay right next to Austin, and the poop was transferred. I wanted to cry, but there was no time. We had a situation. I grabbed Austin, put Charlie on his leash and made a beeline for the car. This is where the real trouble occurred. I took off Austin’s random dog poop-stained pants and put him in the car seat. I tossed the stroller into the back and then Charlie and I had a stare-off.

You see, even though Charlie is only 2, weighs about 80 pounds and is eye level with the back of my car, he will not jump in. This is typically when I say, “I hate you, Charlie.”

As I was trying to find the right angle to lift him with the minimum amount of poop transfer, a lady with a leashed dog came up and first asked if the dogs could play and, second, why wouldn’t my dog jump in the car by himself.

Before I could tell the woman as nicely as I could that I hate her, too, two little kids ran up to ask if they could pet Charlie. I could see the smiling moms behind them and just said, “No, it isn’t a good idea.” The moms gave me dirty looks and I thought, “You know what, I should have let them touch my poop dog!”

I finally decided, screw it, and threw Charlie in the back, getting poop on me and the stroller, and climbed into the driver seat. The whole way home we had the windows down because Charlie smelled and we were listening to Austin’s music. There will be no more park days in Charlie’s future, unless Kyle is there for poop duty.