Where does the time go!?

I miss writing. I know I say it every time I take a good long break from the blogisphere but I do!  My brain has turned into complete mush over the past year and a half. Granted we have been BUSY but I also haven’t wanted to come here. With my personal time I have been watching trash youtube videos and Bravo TV. I just haven’t wanted to write or organize or be every semi-productive with my time. With that being said, today I woke up at 5:20am due to a little girl shaking her gate and decided I didn’t want to go back to sleep. I came downstairs and did what I have been doing every day for the past 8 months…I opened my computer and started up (or down) the youtube rabbit hole. There was a little voice all morning long saying to me “do something worthwhile” and another voice telling me “you deserve this time to do as you please”. It’s the only time in my day away from my kids where I actually feel awake and calm and like doing something. But alas, I don’t do anything and just wait anxiously for someone to come down the stairs. You see, it’s been so long that I can actually count on a few minutes to myself in the mornings that I think I feel like a kid in a candy store. I get overwhelmed and know that I only have a few precious minutes and don’t want to start something because inevitably I’ll have to stop once the kids get up and that frustrates me to no end so I choose to do nothing. For example, I opened up this computer today around 5:55-6am and I’m not even joking you, the second I started my first sentence I heard Aubrey get up!  I went to grab her have continued to write. In the meantime Both Campbell and Emmett have come down and it’s now 6:12am and I need to wrap up shop. Anyhow, this felt really good just to write about nothing this morning. I’ll end with a few updated photos.


Time to dust this thing off and get to work amiright!?  No, I’m not serious and you know I’ll throw a couple posts up and then won’t return for several months because that’s just the season of life I’m in (or have been since starting this blog!).  But I wanted to just wish everyone a very happy start to 2017!  A lot of people thought 2016 was the worst.  But I have to disagree.  I mean for the country, yes, it was probably the worst and will only go down from here.  We even considered leaving the country and seriously looked at our options after this election because we just don’t want to see the downfall of a Trump nation.  But that didn’t even happen until November of 2016!  We lived a full 10 months prior to this country going to shit and in that 10 months it was great for our little 5-some.

Let’s reflect…In January we prepared for the worst and ended up having the most amazing little baby girl a family could ask for.  She had her heart surgery at just 2 days old and made a full recovery.  In February we got to bring that baby girl home and learn to live as a family 5.  In March we celebrated our Campbell Bean’s 2nd birthday.  In April we celebrated Emmett’s 4th birthday.  In May we continued the celebration and had a huge party here at our house for him.  We also got our surgery date for our sweet baby to have her lip repaired and finished out the NAM taping, something I was not sad to see leave our lives AT ALL!  In June Campbell started her preschool one day a week and Emmett started summer camp one day a week.  We had the actual lip repair completed for Aubrey and watched in amazement as our baby’s face changed drastically over the first few days after the surgery.  In July and August we did countless summer activities including pool trips, zoo dates, botanic gardens, nature and science museum trips, camps, trips on the lightrail to play in the fountains downtown, movie dates, playdates with friends, mountain trips with family, 4th of July celebrations, park dates after the sun went down, dog walks, theater in the park, and basically all things fun that you do in the summer like eating ice cream and popsicles non stop!  In September we took a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks and Emmett started back to his last year of preschool before starting Kinder next year.  In October we had fun decorating for Halloween and really getting into what the kids were going to be for Halloween.  We walked the neighborhood every night pointing out all the fun Halloween decorations that people had put up on their houses.  We trick or treated and laughed and stayed up way too late on the night of Halloween.  In November, despite the election results, we still pulled ourselves out of bed and managed to stay positive and do fun things at our normal hotspots while the weather held out due to global warming.  We celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and I even got to get our on a few mom dates myself.  In December, it truly was the most wonderful time of the year this year.  I made sure to jam pack our schedules with the most festive things I could find including Santa coming from the North Pole to the mall (we watched him arrive at night), our neighborhood tree lighting, zoo lights, botanic gardens lights, Santa visits at multiple locations, driving around looking at Christmas lights, putting up our own lights and trees and decorations, baking cookies, holiday shopping for teachers, school celebrations and eating all. the. sweets.  We made our way to Kansas City for Christmas and spent time with both sides of the family.  We saw people from my side who we haven’t seen in years and introduced Aubrey to them.  We laughed, we got sick a LOT, we lost sleep (I got to know my kids really well with all the time we spent together at night), we gained a new appreciation for the nights we do sleep, and mostly we just had fun.  December was the perfect cap to our 2016 and we definitely went out with a bang.  It was a year to remember for our family and we all came out of it in one piece, together and healthy-ish.

Every year seems to go faster than the last.  I just wish I knew how to slow these years down.  The good though is that every year that goes by and we get a little older, we do get a little wiser and we get to spend that much more time here on earth with the people we love.  Life is so damn short and I’m just happy to be a part of this life each and every day.  Happy New Year everyone!!!!

The Fetal Echo

And we are back!!  Hopefully I can finally finish Aubrey’s journey and start blogging about HER!  This summer was crazy for us and it’s so hard to blog with all 3 kids home all the time!  Now that 2 out of 3 are back to school I am finding a bit more time to myself 🙂  So without further adou, here’s the story of the fetal echo we had of our perfectly imperfect baby’s heart prenatally…(I started this post over 3 months ago and this post is almost a year after the actual fetal echo!!)

This title, the fetal echo, is just a fancy way of saying an ultrasound of the baby’s heart.  Echo is short for echocardiogram.  This is an in depth ultrasound of the baby’s heart.  It looks really closely at how the heart pumps blood through all arteries and veins and through the valves and so forth.  Anyways, the appointment was made for Wednesday October 7th at 2pm at the Kaiser Maternal Fetal Health center where I received my amnio and also where they confirmed the cleft.  These were now my new docs for the remainder of the pregnancy.  I had my dad come over to watch the older two kids and decided that it would be fine to go by myself to this appointment because I was convinced that there was nothing wrong with her heart.  This is a standard procedure for cleft kids since, as I mentioned before, it’s considered a midline defect.  The heart is also midline so they need to do extensive checks on the heart as lots of cleft babies also have heart issues.  I just knew that my baby’s cleft was isolated but also knew I needed to go to this appointment just to “make sure”.  I even emailed the doc. the night before the appointment explaining that I thought it was completely unnecessary that I show up to this appointment.  She talked me back into coming anyways.

I showed up without Chad figuring we’d just be looking at the heart and I’d be sent on my merry way.  The ultrasound tech came in and did her thing.  This was a great appointment because it coincided with my test on the heart in my A&P course.  The ultrasound tech couldn’t tell me what or if the baby had anything wrong with her heart but she could tell me exactly what she was looking at.  So with that we reviewed the heart in depth.  I think she is partly to thank for how well I did on my practical exam.  Anyways, it wasn’t a completely relaxing appointment because when we started the appointment and were just looking at the structures of the heart the ultrasound tech was super cheery and helpful.  Then we got into the more detailed structures and there were lots of pauses and her facial expressions started to change.  I knew something was wrong or not totally normal based on how her demeanor changed.  I just wanted the appointment to be over.  After what felt like hours, the doctor came in and sat down and picked up the ultrasound wand.  She placed it on my stomach and began.

They don’t really sugar coat much here at this place.  She began with “well the baby is looking good and growing fine but…”, and there it was.  My heart absolutely sank.  She explained that my baby had what looked to be a narrowed aorta.  The aorta is the large artery that pumps blood out of the heart.  This is kind of a critical artery because without we would die.  She didn’t go into detail because she didn’t want to scare me.  She explained that the baby’s aorta is about the size of a piece of spaghetti at this point and she wasn’t even sure my baby had this narrowing or if it was something we should even be concerned about because she wasn’t a cardiologist nor was she in fetal medicine.  Everyone at this clinic basically just specialized in maternal/fetal health and diagnosed the issues.  So she recommended that I get a better, more in depth look at our Children’s hospital and have another fetal echo. done there to either confirm or deny their findings.  She also told me that if the baby had to have a defect, this is the one we would want her to have because it’s very treatable and in the grand scheme of heart surgeries, “pretty easy” to do.  OH great!  So basically I was told that my baby may or may not have a heart problem and that I would need to wait even longer to get this confirmed for me.  And of course because I had already been given this information I was left not knowing whether or not to worry.  I decided not to worry about this heart thing because at this point I was still convinced that she didn’t have a heart problem and the doctor even helped confirm that with her vague diagnosis.

BUT of course we couldn’t just leave it at that.  There was something else “of mention” in the ultrasound that couldn’t be ignored.  The doctor started like this, “We also see a small amount of blood in the baby’s feces.  There is a 99% chance that this is due to the fetus ingesting some blood through the amniotic fluid after your amnio and that she’s still trying to get rid of it BUT it could also mean that your baby has cystic fibrosis or CMV, an infection that could cause severe developmental defects in the fetus.”  WTF!?  First of all I had never even heard of CMV and second of all why was this the first time they had seen blood in her bowels!?  All I could think was that this HAD to be because of the amnio!  I asked the doctor what we had to do now.  She said that if it were her receiving this news, she would want to rule out the CF or CMV possibilities and advised for me to get a blood test to see if I was a carrier for CF or if the fetus has CMV.  I obliged because what’s one more test at this point?  I was sent with orders for a blood test to rule out these other debilitating problems that again, could forever change the course of our lives. I went straight from that appointment to the lab to get my tests done asap.  It would be another week or so before I would receive the results.

I went home that night and did more crying and researching on what cystic fibrosis actually is and the prognosis isn’t good.  I know more about cystic fibrosis now than I ever thought possible.  I also now know that CMV is one of the scariest things out there and that if you’re pregnant it’s EXTRA scary.  Ok actually it’s not at all scary for you if you’re not pregnant but want to know who the most susceptible people are to get it and spread it?  Toddlers ages 1-3.  Guess what I had TWO TODDLERS AGES 1 AND 3!  It’s not at all deadly for them either and you’d just chalk it up to a nasty cold and move on with your life then they become immune to it and that’s that.  But if you are pregnant and have never been exposed to it then your fetus is at a huge risk.  I was tested to see if I had been exposed to CMV and if I had antibodies already in my system to fight it off or if I’d never had it before or if I had had it any time during my pregnancy.  The CF test is an easy blood test that just tests your genes to see if you’re a carrier or not.

So that’s how my fetal echo went.  More on the results from my blood tests (ok obviously I’m not a CF carrier which I found out before the results were even in in some other paperwork from a previous doctor for my previous pregnancies (I had already been tested and tested negative) and the CMV test showed I had never had the infection.  I was terrified knowing that I had never had the infection before and still had so much longer to go with my pregnancy but my doctor told me that after 20 weeks gestation the infection is far far less likely to harm the fetus.  Amen.

One Year

I started this post almost 2 weeks ago but wanted to document how important time can be for people waiting on news.  Expecting the worst.  Hoping for the best.  Never expecting the unexpected.  One year ago…

Today, August 31, my husband’s birthday of all days, marks the one year anniversary of our 18 week anatomy scan of Aubrey.  Little did we know that 24 hours later we’d receive a phone call that rocked our universe.  Little did we know that a few days later we’d opt for a level II ultrasound and that a cleft lip would be confirmed.  We knew nothing one year ago about clefts or hearts or had any clue that we’d be lumped into the category of having a “special needs” baby.

Would I change anything?  Of course I would.  I would never ever ever want my baby to go through what she had to in her first 5 months of life nor would I have ever wanted to go through the emotional struggles and anxiety that my pregnancy brought both me and my family.  But I can’t change anything.  I can only move forward, expect the worst and hope for the absolute best.  You know what?  The power of positive thinking is so freaking important.  I learned through this baby and these experiences to be a more positive and upbeat person.  This baby has completely changed my mindset on everything.  I mean EVERYthing.  I know I have expressed my gratitude for this baby in previous posts but my heart is just so much bigger than I could have ever imagined now.  I’m so grateful for what we have gone through with this child. These experiences have not only shown me that I’m so much stronger than I ever thought possible but they’ve also opened up my mind and my heart to those families who are going through so much worse than what we have had to go through.  It’s shown me that the smallest person can have so much strength.  If ever I run into a challenge that I can’t see myself overcoming I think of my newborn baby having open heart surgery and while she didn’t have any say in whether or not she was going to have this surgery she has shown me so much strength.  I always think of her when I hit a wall and know that if she can do what she did and come out more than ok then I can over come my shitty day or hard workout or conflict with a friend.  This baby has made me so much more compassionate towards other’s situations and has also opened up entire worlds to me that I never even knew existed.

We have survived one year and hope to survive many more.  My sweet Aubrey bear, what would I do without you?  Thank you for choosing us a million times over.  I needed you so badly and you have saved me in more ways than you will ever know.  I love you my sweet baby girl.

After a Sugar Detox…My thoughts

So obviously I didn’t do a full blown sugar detox.  I still had my 85% dark chocolate most days and probably too much fruit and substitutions but I decreased my sugar consumption by a considerable amount for me so I’m calling it a sugar detox.  This was hard for me.  I love sugar.  I am a self proclaimed sugar addict and while I did feel better during the day and think I slept better at night, I still don’t want to cut the stuff out of my diet.  It was a good experiment to bring me back down off my sugar cloud but the fact of the matter is that it makes me feel happy and I feel like a prisoner when I limit what I eat.  I don’t like the feeling and I actually really look forward to my daily treats.  I love my salad and eggs and veggies as well and when I’m super hungry I want to fill up on that stuff but I also really like the habit of eating something sweet after my meals to finalize them and move on with my day.  Yes, I called this a habit because I don’t need to do this but I really like to.  I also don’t like making substitutions for my sweet treats.  All 10 days I was trying to substitute my sweet snacks for things like shakes made with only coco and banana and almond milk or super dark chocolate that really wasn’t satisfying or some sort of treat that I’d made with only bananas and a few other none sugar items.  It wasn’t working for me and wasn’t making me happy.  This life is too short to not feel happiness everyday.  Some may argue that food shouldn’t make a person happy and that there’s something else psychologically going on.  Ok, maybe there is and I’m ok with that!  In these intense times in my life I really love having sugar as my substance of choice to go to and make the world right again.  Sure I may pay for it with mood swings and poor sleep but I may not.

Here’s the thing, after the 10 days I totally blew off everything I learned and did.  Ok, maybe not everything.  I was still conscience of what I was doing and eating sugar wise but I ate real cow’s milk ice cream and have pretty much every day since last weekend.  I don’t do my mindless snacking on M&Ms and TJ’s boxed chocolates still but who knows, that will probably be back at some point.  I haven’t done any baking either except for an amazing paleo treat that I’m trying very hard to resist eating every last bite because paleo or not, they are incredible (and SUPER high in calories).  So I have cut back and I’m trying really really hard to only eat my treats after the kids go down but even that has been a challenge for me because I really just like sugar.  It’s the same with coffee.  I will never give that up and I don’t care to.

So where am I at now that a week has gone by?  Well I feel like my sleep is honestly the same and my moods have actually continued to be steady.  I really don’t think you need to completely give up sugar at all to feel the benefits.  I think that if you just cut back on sugar and take in the recommended daily amounts of sugar you’ll be fine.  I’m sure you’d be fine even going over that limit if you exercise.  I do exercise and pretty intensely at that so I feel like my sugars get used up in my body so that maybe I don’t feel the effects like some people do.  Who knows, I do know that when I eat way too much sugar I do feel it.  I definitely am more tired when I consume nothing but sugary treats all day and I’m more on edge.  But that also happens when I don’t exercise.  So who knows.

All in all I can say that I’m glad I did it for the small amount of time that I did.  At some point I really really really want to try to stick to and do a Whole 30.  I have read the book and the cookbook and done a ton of research on Whole 30.  I love the idea but again, I just don’t want to cut sugar out for that long.  I do know just after doing my little experiment that it does work and I could gain more energy and sleep better and all that but I’m just not ready to give up my treats.  Maybe I’ll do a Whole 30 with a night time chocolate treat 😉  I’m sure the authors would love that, especially after writing about my experience.  Anyways, bottom line is that you need to do you.  And I highly recommend That Sugar Film which can be found on Amazon Prime.  Wow, it was eye opening and such a great documentary.  I loved every second of it.

I’ll end with saying that I’m now much more aware of the added sugars in things that don’t even need sugar.  My kids are better without sugar too.  Why would I cut sugar out of my diet and not theirs?  I want to always teach them that sugar isn’t the enemy but portions are and I just want them to be aware of how much sugar is in our food.  They can make their own choices.  I loved doing this and I hope that some of my habits (not eating a treat after breakfast) stick around but to give up sugar completely is a crime and, at least for me, would take out a lot of the joy in my every day life that I experience.  I love rewarding my kids with special dates to get cupcakes or donuts and I just can’t/won’t deprive us of those special memories.

Sugar detox, Day 10…The Final Day

*This was supposed to publish on 8/22.  Oh well.  Here you go…It’s now 8/27.

Alright so full disclosure, I have probably not been on the same “detox” that a lot of people deem a real sugar detox but that wasn’t the point of this in the first place.  I went into this with really only the expectation that I could get rid of processed sugary foods like cakes, muffins, cookies and candy.  I really didn’t care if I eliminated hidden sugars in my diet because truth be told I really don’t use hidden sugars in my diet so that I can eat all. the. processed. sugar.  Anyways, I’ll write a full report when I’m done with day 10.

Today I woke up and was TIRED.  I slept on my daughter’s floor from 2am until I decided to leave her room at 5:15am.  Well joke was on me because at 5:30am she noticed I wasn’t there anymore and started crying and just got up for the day along with my other two kids.  It was a horrible morning and definitely not a recipe for a good day.  That being said I did jump on the treadmill somehow and pump out 7 miles.  I knew that if there were any day of the detox that I was totally going to snap it was going to be today because of the lack of sleep situation and the cold that was in full blown effect now.


I was starving when I came up from my run so I snacked on some roasted pecans while I made my breakfast.  I made egg whites with chopped red peppers.

Mid-morning snack

I was trying to get us out the door earlier than the previous day so I really don’t remember eating anything (I’m writing this post on Sunday and trying to recall everything).


I sliced two cucumbers and mixed them with 1/2 an avocado.  I brought some sugar free caesar dressing in a container with me and used maybe a tablespoon but that’s probably being generous.

Mid-afternoon Snack

I came home from our outing and was starving.  I made myself a shake and also snacked on my homemade banana ice cream.  Oddly enough, this was all I wanted.  I didn’t even need anything else to be satisfied.  I was so happy about this!


Chad was going out to dinner with friends so I made the kids some organic chicken nuggets and sliced red peppers.  I also had a few nuggets along with some sliced manchego cheese and seeded crackers and then finished my dinner with some plantain chips and guacamole.  It was a super snacky dinner but it was delicious and one of my favorite types of dinners.  The kids were all in bed by 6:15pm and Chad left so I was on my own to create something.  This can end very badly.  I really really really really wanted some ice cream but not the dairy stuff we had in our deep freezer.  I wanted vanilla ice cream with something chocolatey.  So I did the best I could do and made a coconut vanilla ice cream with honey as the sweetener.  I technically wasn’t supposed to have honey on my detox but I just really wanted it and so instead of eating twice as much food to fill the craving with other stuff I didn’t want I caved and made vanilla ice cream with coconut milk, vanilla extract and honey.  I also made these brownies which didn’t set and were actually not great but they totally hit the spot probably because I haven’t actually had sugar for so long.  They were more like a thick chocolate sauce than a brownie but they were perfect for what I needed.  I had a few bites of both the ice cream and the brownie and I was done.  That’s all I needed!  I was surprised because in the past it would have taken much much more to get the same satisfaction. I was happy and went to bed happy and to me, that was all that mattered.

Notes on today:

*I felt horrible today.  Like the worst I’ve felt in a long time.  I am sick and irritable BUT I was flat.  The kids fought so much and were so annoying today but I didn’t blow up once.  Was that the fact that I had given up sugar and my moods have been more stable or was it the fact that I was so sick that I just didn’t have the energy to deal with them?  Who’s to say but I almost always spark and yell at them when combined with little sleep and being sick and I just stayed totally calm and flat today.

*I’m so glad I “broke” the sugar detox tonight.  I have never been happier with a decision and I actually felt free.  I went to bed with an entirely different outlook on how I’m going to continue on with my life with less sugar in it.  It really is all about moderation and I needed to run this experiment to get myself back on track with a healthier lifestyle.

Sugar detox, Day 9

*I had actually set up days 8-10 to be published this past week so that I wouldn’t have to do anything with my blog but the publisher didn’t work!  UGH.  Anyways over a week later and here is day 9…

And I’ve made it to Thursday!  Only TWO more days before I hit my goal of staying away from processed sugars for 10 days!  I’m only going to blog about the first 10 days but I’m going to continue to eat like this as long as I can.  I really like what I’m seeing in terms of how different I feel day to day.  It’s so good!

Started my day off at 5:17am when Aubrey woke up and I had to feed her.  She went back to sleep so I came downstairs and had a few extra moments to myself because no one was awake so I blogged and had my black coffee in peace.  These are hands down the best mornings and basically why I go to bed so early.


I ran on my treadmill for 7 miles and still in the back of my mind was thinking about my weight.  I hate that my weight can get the better of me but it actually really helped me make good choices today and really think before eating something.  I came up and made myself a huge bowl of frozen kale, egg whites, ground turkey and salsa and topped it with a scoop of cottage cheese.  This bowl is SO Filling.  So much so so that I was stuffed and wasn’t even thinking about food all morning.  I was able to get all my chores done without thinking about a sweet or something to eat.

Midmorning snack

Like I said, I wasn’t really thinking about food but Chad came home for lunch with a few bags of chips so I did have a few handfuls of those.


We went to the Nature and Science Museum late today.  It was 12:15pm before we even left the house.  We almost never do this but Aubrey napped until 11am, at which point I actually woke her up finally and Cam slept in until about 9am so I figured we did have some wiggle room for nap skipping.  I packed our lunches and we ate around 2pm today.  I made myself a similar cauliflower bowl that I made for the art museum with riced cauliflower, ground turkey, 1/2 an avocado, salsa and a scoop of cottage cheese.  It was better than yesterday’s but still not great.  Again, I just need to make meat with taco seasoning.

Mid-afternoon snack

I had a larabar and needed it.  I usually am home all afternoon and I think this is what gets me into trouble.  When we are out I actually listen to my hunger cues and never need something sweet or even crave it.  This even happened to me prior to cutting back on sugar.  When I’m home it’s my ritual and it’s been a damn hard one to break.  Today I was starving so I had my bar and actually reached for a few bites of the kids bagel and cream cheese that they didn’t eat for lunch because I was so hungry.


It was so amazing to be hungry for dinner tonight.  I picked up some organic freezer burritos for dinner and sautéed some zucchini in olive oil and salt and pepper.  The kids got red pepper slices since neither like zucchini.  I had made 4 different burritos and cut them all in half so we could try each of them.  I had one and a half.  Two halves were chicken and one was a potato/bacon/egg one.

After dinner snack

I made the kids strawberry “ice cream” which was a total hit by throwing frozen strawberries, 2 bananas and some unsweetened almond milk in the food processor.  I put a few shakes of sprinkles on it for the kids and they LOVED this!  I totally tricked them and love doing that, esp. with desserts.  I ended up having my usual 2 squares of 85% dark chocolate and then making myself banana “ice cream” by blending bananas, coco powder, almond milk and vanilla extract and then I added some cacao nibs for some crunch.  I sat down and thoroughly enjoyed this while watching my secret obsession, Bachelor in Paradise.

Notes on Today:

*I was really tuned into my hunger signals today which felt really really good.

*I still had heartburn at night and figured out it was the xanthin gum I was putting in my afternoon shakes.  This stuff makes the shake a creamy consistency but I still have yet to find out the perfect “pinch” of the stuff that most people are talking about.  I have read that it can give people horrible bloating and indigestion problems.  Totally the case for me and I’m going to stop using the stuff.

*I feel myself starting to get sick so I’m hoping my healthier lifestyle will pay off and either ward off the cold or at least diminish the length of time I’ll be sick.