Moving Forward

>> 8.19.2014

I look back a year and see an entirely different picture of my little family. At the time last August, I was strung out on worry for Ada's impending MRI. The whole idea of the test sort of stole my entire summer last year. I had no idea what to expect. My hopes were high that the macrocephaly scrawled on all of Ada's charts and sheets was just a genetic fluke . . . that a big head meant nothing more than a big head. Still, I was also expecting the worst and spending so much of my time mulling over possibilities from hydrocephalus to brain cancer for a sweet child who could barely string two words together.

(And, btw, Dr. Google is never right!)


So, it was nothing short of awesome to return to Ada's neurosurgeon's office yesterday completely on the other side of things. I know I've declared the full circle statement before, but having two post-op appointments go well feels . . . amazing. The appointment consisted of asking Ada how she's feeling, measuring her head, checking of any obvious signs that something might be amiss, hearing that everything is perfect, and then scheduling a follow-up for 6 months from now.

Guess what? We might not even need to put her through another sedated MRI. I feel like my dark and twisty insides started bursting with flowers and rainbows at that one! The weight of the last year feels almost entirely lifted from my shoulders. Diagnosis, received. Dreaded craniotomy, completed. Healing, almost done (we have one more specialist to see about that one). Ada, too, is thriving, and I can't believe we made it through the whole ordeal.

Ada starts preschool next month. We're moving forward in all those ways I used to imagine. My own healing has gone into hyperdrive as I've had time to process events and let myself understand that I did the best job I could using the resources I had. I know in my heart that I did everything I can do. I know that I continue to advocate for my daughter's health and wellbeing. We may have many more struggles ahead of us -- like all families -- but we can face anything together.

Thanks so much for your thoughts + prayers along the way.

Pssst: If you found my site because your little one is in need of some hospital care, I do have a few resources that might help you. Here are What to Pack for Short Hospital Visits as well as What to Expect When Your Child Needs Surgery (that last one might surprise you). Just know that there are many of us who have been there . . . and your child and your family -- and YOU -- can make it through this.

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Cash Envelope System

>> 8.17.2014

I try not to write about stuff because I've had the chance to try it out, but this time -- I'm writing for motivation. With moving into our new home this summer, we've allowed ourselves to slush a bit on our budget. You know, a few cans of paint here, a couple decorative items there, and definitely extra takeout to fuel our fire.

Now that the school year is upon us, I'm getting back into hyper-budget mode.

My first line of defense?


// The CASH ENVELOPE System


I've been meaning to take out cash at the start of each month for our variable expenses (groceries, entertainment, allowance, etc. -- read more about different budget terms), but shied away. For what reason? Well, I worry that I'll get to a checkout counter and not have enough money to pay. Or losing the cash. Or spending it all before the end of the month. And cash certainly isn't as easy as swiping my debit card.

Hmmm. I think I'm revealing a few reasons why I've decided these inconveniences are absolutely in favor of our budget -- right? My idea is that if I can feel, touch, smell, and otherwise interact with our money face-to-face . . . I'll treat it with more care. I'm already mindful, but debit cards make it all too easy to forget if I've spent my allowance already or already bought enough at the grocery store for the month.

I'll certainly be sharing my experiences soon. We're planning to start next week and see how it goes. It's my hope that by seeing my money dwindle, I'll come up with some new, crafty ways to save. I may even find ways to shop smarter. Heck -- I have a feeling that paying cash for everything will make money all too personal!

What to do with the leftovers? And I hope there will be some leftovers!


// Create a Stash


I'm planning to write a whole bunch more about the changes I'm making to our spending -- including adding Freekends to cut down on entertainment costs. In short: It would be nice to have a little random savings around with any extra cash that's leftover each week. You know, for emergencies. Or added extras that don't otherwise fit.

Or having a small stash might be extra insurance for months when we do need to buy more food or do more things out. I haven't figured it out yet -- but we already have around $50 in our pot. It feels nice to have this little bit set aside for a rainy day.

Do you use a cash envelope system?

Why or why not?

// RELATED

How much $$$ Is In Our Bank Account
Planning Number 2: Budget Edition
SAHM: Money Matters
SAHM: Budget + Sacrifice
Piecing Together Income from Different Streams
Making On Car Work For Our Family

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When Pregnancy Isn't Fun

>> 8.15.2014

I feel like this topic needs just a little more discussion, especially moving forward to pregnancy posts that will likely (hopefully) come in the future. Whenever I hear the strong and contrary opinions of a select few, I know there are more like-minded people out there. I don't like being misunderstood or having my feelings/thoughts assumed because I make myself so available. I like to clear the air before I get swallowed up in it.

So, yes. We've been over that I got some guff about being a little crazy when it comes to planning our second baby. I don't deny that I am putting a lot of too much thought into it.  But, also yes. It hurts when internet strangers assign personality traits and other apparent failings or defects from their computer chairs. I'm a nervous, anxious person. I don't pretend not to be. I'm sort of an open book. Transparent and vulnerable in that way. And if you haven't gathered already from the many times I've explicitly written it out in black and white before: I'm scared to be pregnant again because of how it went last time.

Hence the talking about it. Because writing and healing go hand in hand -- a sorting of my thoughts and feelings so I can look at them outside my own brain. Hence the planning for it. Because, though I have no idea how easy getting pregnant will be the second time around, I got pregnant right away last time. I can't help that, but I do know -- as a result -- that I need to be ready if it happens that fast again. Hence the preparing for it. Because if I can do absolutely anything to help my chances of not irritating my uterus again, etc. -- I'll do it! Any and all of it!

(Ada's Ultrasound!)


I wish pregnancy and TTC could be fun and joyous for all women. I had something like 7 ultrasounds in my last pregnancy because the doctors and midwives couldn't figure out if what was happening to me was OK or not. I've written so much about it and left a lot of more personal stuff out, I'm sure I sound like a broken record. But I spent from weeks 17 through 38 (that's around 5 months!) toggling between feeling alright and having sheer panic attacks because I didn't know if I'd give birth prematurely. When I crossed into week 37, my fears eased. But that's a long, long, long time to be told to relax, lay on my left side, and get off my feet (without it ever working).

I don't know about you, but when I entered the mommy club just shy of 3 years ago, a whole new world of the dark side opened to me. I've seen friends struggle to get pregnant for years. I've seen fertility treatments fail and others succeed. I've supported friends who have miscarried early on and, others, not so early. And with all that, I've cared for my own sick baby and seen the kind of sights that would make most parents want to crawl into a hole.

Throughout all this sadness, loss, frustration, worry, and strife, I've also experienced the light that is life. How children, as this isn't to skim over the hard parts -- which, there are many, are absolutely miraculous beings. Not only are they adorable, lovable, and cute. My own child has made me learn new things about myself and expanded my capacity for love and understanding. All the struggle and pain and fretting is, somehow in the end, worth it. Really. And I know in my heart I want to do it all again, but it means delving back into this place . . . this place that has taken years to be OK with returning to.

It's sort of like flying.

I don't know if I've ever written about my (somewhat extreme) fear of flying. I love travel, so the two don't go together quite well. Understatement. I get so worked up that I've missed several trips that could have been incredible. Every time, though, I try so hard to plan and ease the experience by trying different routes that might mean fewer bumps (landings/takeoffs). I try looking at flying in different ways so I can overcome my fear. And sometimes I can do it, other times, not.

Maybe that's a bad analogy, but it's the only one I've got. I really want to go on this trip. This second child is a destination I don't want to miss. It's taken me years to plan the itinerary. I've postponed several times already. Thing is, I know whenever I go, it will likely still be very uncomfortable and even scary. I can't guarantee that there won't be some massive disaster. I can't guarantee I'll arrive at my destination.

Fears are often irrational and very subjective. But I'm ready now. And I appreciate the support of those of you who will go on the journey with me, whenever we depart.

To the rest?


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