Monday, April 7, 2014

Cook Book: Updated

I updated my cookbook. I've been noting any typos as I followed the recipes myself. And when I made a copy for one of Justin's coworkers and for one of my friends, I updated the file with all of the changes. I also added a few new favorites at the end of the sections.

So, for anyone interested, HERE is the updated file.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Trip to California

Last weekend I got to participate in one of those life events I wouldn't have missed for the whole world. My good friend, Estelle, got married in the Newport Beach temple. I flew down for two days and stayed with my sister. I attended the sealing which was emotional and special to all who attended. The reception was fun and it was nice to see so many people I know. I just love being in California. It feels like home. And I'm so happy for Estelle!

The flight there was easy enough. I nursed Ava to sleep and she was calm the whole time. It was nice to have an hour to read a book! That's a rare commodity in my life. I sat by a nice man who was aware and respectful of breastfeeding and seemed to understand. The flight home was a different story. Ava was having a decidedly harder time and because standing up to bounce and sway wasn't a feasible option, I nursed her several short times and this time I wasn't sitting next to people near as understanding as before. People were positively staring. I only brought one blanket and was using it to swaddle her, so I was not covering up. Don't get me wrong, I was plenty modest and nobody would have seen anything unless they leaned over and put their face in her face, but that didn't stop the stares. The obnoxious, obvious kind. The man next to me did not seem like a family man and seemed very uncomfortable. The rows next to me were filled with teenage girls who were in a group traveling together. All of them staring. I was so uncomfortable for at least half of the flight. Then, Ava started to calm down a little and I realized that my example may bare fruit someday. One day when one of those girls has a baby, she might think "Breastfeeding is okay" or "I can breastfeed in public," all because some crazy lady sat across from her on an airplane and openly breastfed.

Our Family of Five

Things at home are going along as usual.

Ava is growing and changing. She's not looking as much like a newborn. She smiles a lot, with the cutest little twinkle in her eye like we have a special connection that only we understand. Things with her CF concerns are at a stand-still right now. The pulmonary specialist has ordered another sweat test for her at six months that will hopefully determine a diagnosis that we can work with. She seems perfectly healthy. No breathing concerns. The only thing we've been dealing with is crazy eczema that is stubborn and persistant.

Jaime is growing up like crazy. She's becoming more mature and aware of everything around her. She asks insightful questions and offers well-thought-out (yet extremely kid-like) solutions to life problems. Lately, I've been the most shocked to see how she is noticing things about what I'm going through. A few days ago she could tell I was at the end of my rope as I tried to get them ready for bed on my own while Daddy was on a business trip. As she listened to me struggle with a very uncooperative Vida, she said, "Mom, I'm sorry it's hard to stay patient with Vida." I was just blown away that she'd notice that and feel empathy for me. That's Jaime through and through - thoughtful, deep thinking, kind and helpful. Not that she doesn't have her more difficult moments, but I'm really proud of the sweet little girl she's working hard to become.

Vida is...well Vida is two years old. I'm learning a lot about her lately. For instance, I've learned that she seems to prefer playing on her own and can play for long periods of time on her own if Jaime is distracted. She also tends to live her life demonstrating little emotion, but it isn't far under the surface and will present itself sporadically (hmm...sounds like one of her parents...). We've also discovered that she seems to have some kind of blood sugar issue (like her other parent...). If she doesn't eat regularly she cannot stay calm and rational. She can go from 'the world is ending' to 'hey, what's up?' with just a few bites. Helpful thing to know. She still has nudity issues. Justin came home from work the other day and she was stark naked. Eh.

Justin is working hard at his job and calling. He has been traveling tons this year, but that might be changing to less so soon with a promotion this month. He'll be managing the team he's currently on. I'm so proud of him! I've really enjoyed watching him grow in his career and learn a lot about the business world. He'll be learning new skills like hiring, training, managing, encouraging, and setting goals for other people.

I'm...well, I'm kind of a crazy person right now. I work hard, try even harder, and then try and assure myself it's okay that it's not all done. I care for three kids, attempt to manage a home, cook meals, and get in a couple hours of work everyday. The kind of stress in my daily life is something I'm not well equipped to handle, so I'm trying to develop coping mechanisms and Justin is trying to be a support to me. We're working on it.

Well, that is what's going on with each of us! We love you all and hope you are doing well!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ava's Journey with Genetics

To some this is a story you have already heard. For others it is new.

When Ava was born she underwent a routine newborn screening looking for common diseases. This test was performed twice, and to our surprise, the results for the second test were the same as the first: indeterminate for Cystic Fibrosis. Her blood samples were then sent on for further genetic testing.

While I was away on business, Jodi received a call from the genetic specialist at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. It was revealed that Ava has two specific genetic mutations associated with Cystic Fibrosis, and she needed to be seen at Primary Children’s right away for further testing. I bumped up my flight, and returned home as soon as I was able so I could accompany Jodi and Ava to the hospital. There Ava underwent a Sweat Chloride Test, the “gold standard” for diagnosing Cystic Fibrosis for more than 50 years. During the test we met with a genetic counselor to learn more about the genetic mutations, possible scenarios, and next steps. Honestly, we left with more questions than we went in with.

The Sweat Chloride Test: Use electric current and chemicals to stimulate the sweat glands in the arms, collect the sweat, and measure the salt content. People with Cystic Fibrosis have a higher concentration of salt in their sweat.
The results of the Sweat Chloride Test were borderline between being classified as a carrier, and having mild symptoms, which led to another visit to Primary Children’s four days later for a meeting with the pulmonologist and further testing to better understand the specific nature of the genetic mutations to give a more accurate diagnosis. Blood was drawn, questions were answered, and we were on our way, still very uncertain as to what the future would bring for our little Ava.

After two long weeks, the results finally came in. We knew Ava has two genetic mutations associated with Cystic Fibrosis: one severe mutation, and one mild mutation. The additional testing showed that the severe mutation is such that it could express itself mildly, and the mild mutation is such that it could express itself moderately. What does this mean? Though there is still much we don’t know, we do know it means that she should never exhibit full symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis. So far it seems that the worst case scenario is that she will show mild symptoms, while it seems the best case scenario is that she will be classified as a carrier, and never exhibit any symptoms. We will be back at Primary Children’s in another few months to again have Ava do the Sweat Chloride Test, where we hope to know, with more certainty, what to expect long-term.

Through all of this we have felt the faith and love of family. I have been quite at peace through this process.

We wanted you all to know about the adventures we have been having. We are full of faith.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

February Recap

February was an interesting month to say the least. It's been two months since Ava was born, and in those two months Justin has gone on 3 business trips, we've had 4 weeks of visitors (not all in a row), a baby blessing, remodeled two bedrooms, took a day trip to Saint George, dealt with unexpected medical concerns, began a healthy living challenge with Justin's family, and I started working a part-time job from home.

Working from home has taken it's toll on my time. I haven't taken as many pictures, and definitely haven't cleaned the house as well as I usually do. Luckily, we've got plenty of freezer meals to deal with the lack of cooking. I get the work done during Vida's nap or after Justin gets home from work. So far, I love the change of pace to complete a couple hours of job-work each day, and haven't decided if it's too much for me or not. We shall see. I'm entering my 5th week this week and it's going pretty well so far.

This month, we had my sister and her son here for a week, then my mom the week after that. It was fun to introduce Ava to members of my family and see the love they already have for her.

I've received so much support from family and friends since Ava was born, which has made our transition to a family of 5, along with all the additional stresses and concerns we've had, much easier to bare.

The girls are still loving taking care of Ava with me. Everyone keeps asking me how the girls are doing with the new baby. The truth is that they LOVE the baby, but wish I had more time and hands available for them. One day recently Jaime followed me around for at least a half an hour with a brush and hair tie in her hand, asking me to do her hair. I kept saying, "sorry Jaime! I don't have enough hands!" while I took care of the baby, or helped Vida, or got people food, etc. The wheels were turning in her head, I could see them. She looked up at me and said, "Mom, if you had 3 hands, then you could do it!" Oh Jaime, I couldn't agree more.

Jaime is so inquisitive and sharp. She constantly talks to me about the things she wonders about, or things she's thought of solutions to. She's still obsessed with how cute Ava is. She'll randomly say "Ava is SOOO cute!" "How come we weren't as cute as Ava?" "We should have more babies if they'll be as cute as Ava!" I've adored watching her sisterly love blossom for her newest sibling. She's really been very patient with the changes that have come.

Vida has had a bit of a harder time. I suppose it's hard to be pushed out of being the baby of the family. She's constantly asking me to hold her, especially when I have arms full of baby. She does love Ava, and doesn't seem to resent her at all, it's just that she too wishes I had an extra hand or two, and an extra lap for good measure.
The photo on the right is of Vida pretending to be a kitty, eating out of a bowl on the floor.

It's been a learning month. One full of time constraints and stress, and also full of stretching myself to do more, be better, and appreciate more fully what I have. I mean, who could complain?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

One Month

Ava June is one month old today! She is still incredibly sweet and makes plenty of newborn sounds - the snorts, squeaks and adorable hiccup sound at the end of each cry. Her eyes can focus on us more, but no smiles out of her yet. She still scratches her own face occasionally but not as often now. She still hates diaper changes and it's the one thing that makes her cry predictably. Her sleep schedule is getting better and we usually get one 4-5 hour block each night, but at this point are feeling pretty exhausted.

The adjustment to three kids has been interesting. The adjustment from one to two kids was more dramatic for me and the adjustment from two to three has simply been more of the same…to the point that I've relented a lot of control. My biggest sentiment has been "things just got real." Do I really value people more than things (my children more than every single object in our home)? Am I really okay with a "real" body instead of longing for a celebrity sized one? Can I really put my kids feelings first and be empathetic? Am I really able to accept help when I need it? Can I really ask for help when I need it? Am I okay with others knowing I'm not perfect? Am I really okay with others knowing how imperfect I am? These are all things I've had to ask myself over the last month.

In some ways, I feel like I'm making a lot of progress on these fronts simply because I'm now to the point that I know I need help and I'm more accepting of myself being imperfect. It's a good feeling to be compassionate with myself and be willing to let some things go. I had this thought not too long ago as I could hear my little girls being destructive in the other room as I nursed the baby "Even if every object we own is completely destroyed by the end of this (meaning life, or at least the next 18 years), at least we'll still have each other and we'll still love each other, and if that can happen, that's all I care about!" That thought was very freeing - that everything around me doesn't matter except the people around me. They are all that really does.

This is our journey, and we're still on it!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Justin Quotes

I'm grateful for a husband who can laugh at himself, and for one who says such hilarious things. Here are some Justin quotes!

"There's lots wrong with me, you know?"

"I look like such a loser when I stand next to you."

"We should not be allowed to talk about my driving style."

"Hon, I'm about to look really really good. Brace yourself."

"That's what I live for right there. Being an idiot and making my kids laugh."

Me: "You look at me so clueless."
Justin: "It helps me not get in trouble, as much."

"I wasn’t laughing at you, but there is a slight amount of amusement to it all."

"You’re probably right. I just can’t admit that."

"I’m sorry I said that. It was just a joke. I’m really bad at this joking thing."

"Why don’t we engage in a meaningful dialogue about my mustache?"

Me: "Why can’t you just let me be me?"
Justin: "Your 'you' is too good for me.  I have to bring you down to my level."

"I’m gonna go ahead and take half of that out, that’s a lot of sausage...What have you done to me?!"

"Sometimes I am a little flippant and I apologize for that."

"I told you not to be offended before I said it. That means you can't be offended."

"I'm trying to think like you and it's backfiring on me."

"I'm glad my children know that when I yell at them it's all in love."

Justin: "I'm sorry."
Me: "For what?"
Justin: "Being a bum. Isn't that what it always is? I don't know why you even ask anymore."

"I didn't hit you, that was a love slap."

"Hon, I was very engaged in the conversation we were having, but I can't remember what you said. I can't remember what the conversation was about."

"I'm not going to argue anything, I'm just going to claim ignorance."

"I know it sounded like I meant offense, but I really didn't."

"I'm giving you what you want, you just may not know it yet."