Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Car seat safety...short version for all of you minimalists :)

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After I spent hours on the last blog post on car seat safety, a few friends told me I should make a poster out if it, outlining the main points without so many details. Gosh, you just can't please anybody these days, can you!?

I'm obviously joking. They had a good point. A shorter version will catch someone's attention much easier than something that makes them feel like they are back in school.

As a mom, you will inevitably run across those types of moms that are convinced they could do no wrong when it comes to their parenting skills...or the moms that get extremely offended at the mention of any advice.

"I know what's best for my child!"

^If I had a penny for every time I have heard that...I'd have lots and lots of pennies.

Oh and don't worry if you are one of "those moms." I've been there!

This is my son when he was 2 1/2

and this is right before his 5th birthday (he's playing around in his sister's car seat-he is actually FF in a Recaro ProSport)



This is my daughter 2 months after her 4th birthday



And this is her now, 2 months shy of 7 years old



It's hard looking back and seeing just how horribly they were restrained (or not) in seats...and knowing that had I gotten into any sort of significant accident, chances are, they would not be here today.

"When you know better, you do better"

Before my 3rd child, I learned...A LOT, so I don't have any real "car seat fails" with her, just staged ones.

So for the fun of it...this is how NOT to put your child in a car seat:


and this is the right way!




So without further ado, here is a much simplified, eye catching version of the car seat safety blogpost. Maybe it is enough to interest even the most perfect of all perfect moms. Enjoy!

I've been thinking...

Like the title? Rare, I know! haha

So first things firsts. I made it a goal to blog every single day. Then I got to thinking today...some days I really just don't have much to say. So, would people rather have a daily post of rambling nothings...ORRR would an every-other-day-actually-meaningful-post be better?

I choose the latter.

From now on, I will try to post every couple of days, but if I don't have anything good to write about, don't expect to see anything here. I'll spare you the boredom, because I'm nice like that :)

First things first...

Crap, I already used that one. Let's try this again...

Second things second?

Okay I give up, and it's perfectly clear now that I need to get some sleep so I'll try to keep this one short and sweet.

WHHHHHYYYY oh why can't life be simple?

I remember being in Elementary school and getting into a fight with a friend, over something stupid I can assume. You always exchange the "You're not my friend anymore!!" insults and go on with your day not speaking to another.

The next morning when you get to school, you are best friends again. It's like the fight never happened.

Why isn't life like that when you grow up?

What is so hard about forgiveness? I think the Facebook "block" button makes it too easy for people to not have to step up and say "I was wrong, I apologize" or "sorry for offending you." Since when does having an argument mean the friendship is over? Some people could really use a lesson from a kindergartener.

Arguments are normal, people get their feelings hurt, NOBODY is perfect. It's what you choose to do and how you react after the argument that really makes a difference.

It is far too common for an argument over something extremely petty, and usually online, to end a friendship. It really shouldn't be that way.

It's sad when social media ends true friendships.

Most of you that know me know that I don't hold grudges. Even my "worst enemies" could come to me and I would give them the shirt off my back if they needed it. That's just the person I am. I forgive very easily because I hate confrontation. I don't like to deal with the stress of being angry or the energy it takes to be upset with someone. God says to forgive "not 7 times, but 70x7 times." I try to live my life by that. I will always be the person to give you a second, a third or even a 10th chance, no matter what you do to me. (Now hey, don't think that's a free pass to treat me badly haha ) Having enemies is no fun.

I love to laugh, I love to have fun, and I LOVE when people like me. So when friendships end, it sucks. It really does.

Monday, February 27, 2012

11 DEADLY mistakes you didn't know you were making!

This post was a request from some friends, feel free to share wherever you'd like!  

There are many, many more that I could write, but it would take all day, so I am touching base on the ones I see most often.

#11- That little thing that's called a chest clip...it goes on the chest, no really- IT DOES!
If your child's chest clip looks like this:



then you are doing it wrong.

This is the proper placement of the chest clip (a general rule of thumb is to have it even with the armpits, you can never go wrong if you remember that):



What could happen:

The chest clip is designed to keep the harness straps properly positioned on the child’s shoulders; this is important because the harness is the component that keeps the child restrained in the car seat. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that 59% of child harnesses are not tight enough. If the harness is loose and the chest clip is too low, one or both harness straps can slide off the child’s shoulders, allowing the child to potentially be ejected from the car seat in the event of a crash.

In a collision, the chest clip can cause damage and/or internal bleeding to vital organs in your child's abdominal region, which is not protected by the ribcage.


#10 Harness straps should fit snugly!

The easiest way to check to see if your harness straps are too loose is the pinch test. Secure your child in the car seat and buckle the harness as usual. Using your thumb and pointer finger, try to pinch one of the harness straps at your child’s collarbone level. If you’re able to pinch the strap, the harness is not tight enough. You should not be able to pinch any
excess
   
Picture borrowed from Britax, no copyright infringement intended.

Be sure that you don't get the harness straps TOO tight-there is such a thing. You don't want it digging into the child's body, making it uncomfortable for them.

What can happen:
Loose harness straps leave your child at an elevated risk of injury during a crash because they may allow your child to move out of position; they can even lead to ejection from the child seat during a crash.


#9 Installations need to be TIGHT 
This video speaks volumes


If that wasn't simple enough for you...

You should not be able to move your car seat side to side more than 1inch...that's it, an inch. In a car accident, the force is much stronger than you are, so that 1 inch becomes even looser. Unless you want your child's seat thrown around like a rag doll (as shown in the video), keep their installation tight!

What can happen: besides the obvious, whiplash...severe shaking of the brain could cause swelling and bleeding and possibly death. Imagine the car seat striking the window or another passenger.


#8 Car seats expire just like your food does!
Why do car seats expire?

***Technology gets better, standards change.For example, in 2002, car seats were not even equipped with Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children (LATCH). Now however, they are a standard feature in nearly all car seats. Car seat expiration dates ensure that seats being used are current and safe for use.
***Materials wear down, just like clothes get holes in them. Nothing was made to last forever. Over time, the seat base can develop hairline fractures which may shatter in a crash, and belts can become more loose and relaxed after years of use, both causing a car seat to fail.
***Seats are only tested for a certain period. After X amount of time, manufacturers do not test seats. They cannot attest to how older seats will perform in an accident.


This is a quick 16 second video showing what happens if you get into a car accident with an expired car seat:



What could happen: see above video

#7- Washing your car seat straps
 Let's face it- kids are very messy. If yours are anything like mine, their car seat straps have been covered in candy, juice, and some odd sticky stuff that you'd rather not know what it is.

So you take the car seat cover off and throw the whole thing in the washer, right? Wrong.

Harness straps may not be washed, they are not to be submerged.

Why not: Soaking the straps in even just plain water can wash away the fire-retardant chemicals on the harness and currently, there is no way to get that back. Even worse, washing with detergents that have bleach alternatives, optical brighteners, and a laundry list (no pun intended) of chemicals can weaken the integrity of the straps, causing them to fail in an accident.

Your best bet is to wipe down the straps with a damp wash cloth. If you can't fathom using only water to clean up the grime, most car seats allow the use of a mild soap like dove. Just be sure to check your manual first.

If you have already washed your straps before reading this, call your car seat manufacturer and explain the mistake. Most of them will ship you replacement straps for free as a courtesy.


#6- Incorrect harness position

So your straps are tight, the chest clip is up, you're all set! Not quite...

There are other factors that can cause a child to be injured in a car accident even when the most obvious precautions are taken.

When a child is rear facing the harness straps should be coming out AT or BELOW shoulder level. Here is a dummy-proof picture:
 
Picture borrowed from orbitbaby.com, no copyright infringement intended.
So why is this?

Most car collisions happen when the car is moving forward causing a rear-facing child’s back to be pressed against the seatback of the car seat. This makes it extremely important to keep the child's body from sliding upwards against the car seat's seatback.

Any additional acceleration of the child upward influences the performance of any rear-facing car seat. Also, every tiny increment of increased distance the child moves exponentially amplifies the forces on the child's body. The more a child’s body accelerates, the more the child’s head and chest are subjected to increased g-forces both at the beginning of the collision and during the deceleration after the collision.

For FORWARD FACING seats however, the harness straps need to be positioned AT or ABOVE the shoulder level.
Picture borrowed from Britax, no copyright infringement intended.
If the child is forward facing during a frontal collision, the crash forces will cause the child’s body to be thrown forward. The harness straps should be positioned at or above the child’s shoulders when forward facing to most effectively decrease the amount of distance the child will travel when propelled forward and to limit the forces on the child’s spine and shoulders.
#5 Re-using a car seat that has been in a crash
Car seats are a one time use deal.
Most car seat manufacturers state to replace a carseat after any crash regardless of the details of the crash. Here is a list of some of the popular brands, just check your manual if you don't see your brand listed here.

Combi's website says "
Q: Should my car seat be replaced after a vehicle crash?
A:
Combi recommends replacing a seat after any crash. This includes the seat base if it was in the vehicle when the crash occurred. "
HOWEVER, If you consult your Combi Coccorro manual, it will say they follow the NHTSA guidelines and the seat may be reused after a minor crash. In this case, it would probably be best to contact the manufacturer directly in the event of an accident.


Graco says to replace the carseat after any type of crash.


Graco's FAQ page-
I was recently in an accident. Do I have to replace my child's car seat? There doesn't appear to be any damage.
Answer: Yes. You must replace your child's car seat if it was involved in an accident, no matter what. Even if there appears to be no damage to the car seat on the surface, the impact and force of a collision can cause unseen structural damage to the interior of your car seat. Any such damage may prohibit your car seat from properly protecting your child in the event of a sudden stop or crash.

Evenflo's FAQ
instructs parents to discontinue using the crashed seat immediately and to contact Evenflo for additional guidance.

For Dorel Juvenile Group (Cosco/Eddie Baurer/Safety First) ever manual states "Do not use a child restraint that has been in a crash.You must get a new child restraint" Here is just one example.

Britax is one of the only brand that is safe to reuse in a minor crash. Their FAQ refers to the NHTSA criteria for carseat replacement after a crash at.


Q: What should I do with my child restraint that's been involved in a crash?

A: Britax recommends that use of a child restraint be discontinued if it has been in a severe crash. We further advise of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) position that it is not necessary to replace a child restraint after a minor crash. A minor crash is one that meets ALL of following criteria:

* The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
* The vehicle door nearest the child restraint was undamaged;
* There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
* The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
* There is no visible damage to the child restraint.

Sunshine Kids products states "Do not use restraint after it has been involved in any accident. Damage to the restraint may have occurred which could impair its ability to adequately protect a child." Here is the manual, it is on page 4 of the pdf or page 7 of the manual

This holds true for the original Sunshine Kids Radian seats, but I was made aware that the Diono brand (which is what SK is now called), does in fact allow the reuse of their new seats in a minor crash. Please check your manual to be sure.

Here is a link to a Recaro manual  which states on page 5 "If the ProSPORT was occupied during a crash or vehicle accident, it must be replaced. Do NOT use the child restraint again. A crash can cause unseen damage and using it again can cause serious injury or death."

Please note that the above manufacturer's crashed seat FAQs and NHTSA criteria do not differentiate between an unoccupied and occupied seat. (aside from a Recaro seat used as a booster) The car seat has been subjected to crash forces even if it was unoccupied at the time of the crash. There could be unseen damage from the stress of the crash that could potentially cause the seat to fail to properly protect a child in the event of another crash.

If you have been in an accident and your car seat should have been replaced, immediately contact your car insurance agent and explain the situation. The majority of insurance companies will reimburse you or pay for new seats after an accident. I was able to get Progressive to pay for 3 car seats, totaling over $600, for an accident that had occured over a year before, once I learned that crashed seats couldn't be used.

If you have any problems with your insurance company not cooperating, shoot me an email and I will be happy to provide you a form letter that has worked in every situation.
#4- Purchasing a used car seat
Everyone loves a good deal! Consignment stores, friends...Craigslist, the mecca of bargain shoppers.
Any given day, you will get hundreds of results if you search your local Craigslist for a deal on a previously owned car seat.
There are some things you must not buy used, underwear would be on that list.
However, I'll try to stay on the subject of car seats.
What is wrong with a used car seat you might ask...well, the problem is, we just don't know. So many people just want to make a quick buck and you can't verify the safety of anything that you don't know the full history of. Has it been used in a car accident? Did the owner ever wash the straps? Is it expired? Believe me, when someone is wanting to make a sale, they are less inclined to disclose truthful details and will more often than not, tell you what you want to hear.
We already know what could possibly happen if you buy a faulty seat, so let's just skip the "what if's" and only buy new. It may cost a little bit more, but your child's life is invaluable.
#3- Winter coats and car seats don't mix
I can't really put this into words any better than these videos, so take a quick look.
#2 No Aftermarket Products!
Most simply put: If it didn't come with your car seat, it isn't safe to use.
Those cute little puppy dog harness covers, the newborn head support, the notorious JJ Cole. All of these (and ANYTHING that attaches to your car seat) are not only potentially dangerous because they alter the seat or affect the harness fit, they also void manufacturer warranty in the event of a crash and the car seat fails.
#1- Use the LATCH system OR the seat belt...NOT both
Often times, I have heard moms tell me that they install their car seats with the latch and then the seat belt, just as a precaution. The common misconception is that using both is doubly safe. In fact however, it is the opposite.
It seems like common sense that it would hold the seat in place better, but actually, a car seat is supposed to be able to move and flex a small amount during an accident to absorb some of the impact. If you used both, it could possibly cause too much of the force to be transferred to the child...or having two straps could simply put too much stress on the car seat's belt path, causing the plastic to break and have the child and car seat fly out of the windshield.
Truth of the matter is this: we don't know WHY we can't do it, all we know is that EVERY.SINGLE. car seat manufacturer says not to, so it would be safe to assume that it has failed for some reason or another. Since they don't release crash test info, we can only speculate on theories.





Insert Clever Title here- my creativity is running on empty today

I was doing soooo well until yesterday. I forgot to post a blog entry...I know, I know, shoot me now!

So to keep up with my goal, I have decided to just make this one lonnnnnnngggg...and maybe I will write another later on.

First order of business (official voice): I'd like to make a motion to request votes for a photo contest I am in.

Okay, enough playing around. In all seriousness...I entered a photo contest the other day with Kristy Sola Photography. I met Kristy on Craigslist in February of 2010. We were getting ready for Dan to deploy and decided we wanted to get family pictures done before he was gone for a year. I am so glad I decided to search there (of all places) for photographers, as we were fairly new to the area. Kristy had a very small amount of clients locally at that point because most of her work had been back at home in California or of her family (She and her husband JJ have 3 beautiful children of their own), so her prices were significantly lower than most places I had seen, but she had great talent.

About a week before Dan deployed, she took our pictures. The weather was COLD, the wind was AWFUL, and yet, she was able to capture some stunning shots. Here are a few highlights of that shoot:














Needless to say, after this shoot, I fell in love with her photography. Since then, I have referred her to hundreds of people and so many of my friends have had equally pleasing family photos taken by her. She's one of a kind!

And she's not just a great photographer, she is an AMAZING person, beautiful both inside and out. She has gone above and beyond, out of her way so many times to cater to me and my crazy schedule, or lack of and words can't express just how much she has meant to our family.

She photographed us for Dan's R&R (Malachi had a massive scratch from the cat across his eye and face and she was able to almost completely erase it from the picture):












She took pictures of our Kaylee bear at 5 months:






She took more family photos of us in July this past year, right before Dan left to go play Army dude in Fort Benning:








And lastly, in November, she took pictures of Kaylee for her soon to be birthday and birthday party:













Okay so back to the point, because believe it or not, I am not just showing off my gorgeous family (I mean, come on...look at those kids!) haha :)

When Dan left in January, I took down all of the family photos and packed them into his stuff. It was really hard seeing us so happy and everything so perfect, everywhere I turned. It was also causing a lot of meltdowns with the kids for the same reason. I figured this was for the best.

Our walls are pretty much bare now and I would love to take new photos and make new memories with the kiddos, but money is super tight and doesn't allow for any of that right now.

What I am asking for you to do is to simply go to Kristy's link to our picture: (just copy and paste it into your browser)

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=371612382863819&set=a.371608352864222.91599.232390536786005&type=1&theater

and simply "like" our picture. I promise, that's it. If we have the most votes by Wednesday at 6pm, we get a free photo shoot and it would mean the WORLD to us.

Part 2 of the blog post that never ends:

Yesterday I finally finished unpacking all of the kids' toys in the basement. We now have two large rooms full of their stuff, separated by age so Kaylee has her own space. It was really hard, and it took a long time to do...and not just the sorting aspect, but the fact that I was having to unpack things that I had just packed up in anticipation of our big move to Texas just a few months ago.

It made everything so real. I guess up until now I didn't want to believe that he would really leave us here. But he did. And.it.sucks.

While unpacking, I began to think about the future and try to figure out just exactly what to do with my life. Let me tell you this, it is really hard to do when you don't have a lawyer and have no clue what your rights or entitlements are. I have come to the conclusion that I have WAYYYY too much stuff to move, and will probably never find a big enough place to put it in, that is also within my budget.

This got me thinking...what are the odds that in lieu of child support, I could keep the house and Dan could just pay for that instead. I could use the money that Bobby helps me out with in addition to the financial aid excess I get, to pay all of my bills, and then just pay cash for a used vehicle in the upcoming months. Again, don't get your hopes up about me staying in Colorado...because this is yet just another crazy thought. I guess it will be a while before I figure out if it is even possible.

So many things to think about.

Part 3 of this never-ending saga:

I brought Kaylee back to the doctor's office today for yet another follow-up. This makes 5 since she has been out of the hospital. She gained all of her weight back that she lost the week she was admitted, and then some. However, her oxygen levels still are not where they are supposed to be, and the doctor STILL has no idea why. He referred us to Rocky Mountain Pediatric Pulmonary Dept in Denver and said we should get a call back within a few days. He doesn't know what their course of action will be but he said we can expect to spend a couple of days inpatient in Denver for a sleep study and some other tests. YAYYYYY!!!! (sarcasm) I'm not looking forward to it, but I know that I'll do whatever it takes to figure out what exactly is wrong with Kaylee...because there IS something, I just know.

So if you pray, please do. For her, for me, and for Avery and Malachi who have had to deal with so many stresses over the past few months...far too many things at such a young age.

And lastly, part 4...the controversial one.

I mean, really...what is a blog post without controversy??

Dan texted me today and said he was going to be coming up here this summer for his friend's wedding (the same wedding that he said he was going to be surprised if it ever even happened because he couldn't stand his friend's fiance and didn't think it would last) Okay, I'll stop being bitter, but I dislike both of them for some awful awful things they had to say about me when this all unfolded in November.

Anyway, so he asks if I can fit in my schedule for him to see Kaylee.

Ummm...did I read that right?

I contemplate it for a while and decide against it. Kaylee doesn't know who he is and seeing him for a couple of hours will not change that, so I am not going to put Avery and Malachi through hell, just to please him because he wants to act like a dad for a split second.

So I tell him no, I can't, and to leave me alone.

Does he really think that he can go 3 months without fitting her into his schedule when he is living 10 minutes away, but then expect me to cater to him when he wants to play dad? Ha.ha.ha...no!

Who has changed every single diaper since July? ME
Who has given her every bath? ME
Who has put her to bed every single night? ME
Who has wiped away all of her tears, fed her every meal, stayed up and watched her sleep for the past 3 weeks? me, me, ME!

Who do you think you are that you can walk out of her life, ignore her and me for months like an immature little high school boy that broke up with his girlfriend, break my other 2 children's hearts...and then say you want to see her all of a sudden because you are coming to town? Why should you get the perks of having a child without having to raise them? I have done EVERYTHING for her and you asked about her for the first time in over a month because she was in the hospital...

How does this make sense?? What makes you think this is okay to do??

Go ahead and judge me, because I know some of you are shocked. I begged for him to have a relationship with her for so long and now that he finally asks to see her, I say no? That's right, I call the shots now. She is my child. I am just supposed to say okay and jump when he says jump?

It definitely does not work that way anymore.

If he wants a relationship with her, he will build one again from the ground up. He can start by calling and having me put it on speaker phone, he can try skyping with her so she sees him and gets used to him, because right now, she has no clue who he is.

Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that I like it that way. He is not her dad, he is her father and as much as it breaks my heart to say it, it's the truth...and it took me a long time to see it for what it was. I wanted so badly for him to be the person he was before, and he won't be, and my children are not going to suffer anymore because of his selfishness.

And to tell you the truth, there is no way I could stand to be around the person he has become and keep it civil, after all of the awful things he has said and done---and I do not trust him alone with Kaylee because until there is a written custody order in place, he could legally take her away. I'm not saying he would do that, but I'm not saying he wouldn't, because the boy he has become is not the man I married.

Until a judge gives him rights, he has none in my eyes. He is nothing to our family.

I know some of you may disagree with this, and that is fine. Maybe if you were in my shoes you would understand a little more, but maybe not. I have heard many people say things like the more I talk about what he is doing, the further I am pushing him away or that I am just making him more angry by being mad at him for what he has done.

You know what I've realized?

I.DON'T.CARE.

It is not my job to walk on eggshells to make sure I don't upset him. HE did this, not me. It's not my job to fix it, it would be his (if that were something he wants-which he doesn't). He screwed up, I did not. This is why I don't censor myself, I am not wrong for writing about what is going on in my life. If it makes people think poorly of him, well, he should have thought about it before he did the things he did.

Rant over.

After a stressful few texts back and forth, I came home from a friend's house and got the kids in bed, then went to check the mail.

An amazing friend, one I have never even met in person, sent me this:


It was the perfect ending to a pretty awful day. I am so thankful for the friends I have, I really don't know what I would do without them! Many of them have been through everything with me the past few months and I consider them family. Thanks again JEN!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's official, I'm going back to school.

After much consideration, lots of phone calls, emails and complaints, I am finally enrolled in school again to finish my teaching degree.

When Dan and I bought a house right before his deployment in 2010, I emailed my academic counselor to let him know that I needed a late start in my next class because I was going to be making a move across town, mostly by myself and with two kids since Dan was leaving right after we closed on our home. He reassured me everything would be fine and if I needed extra time, just to let him know. The only stipulation was that I could not be out longer than 30 days or I would lose my financial aid- fair enough.

When the first week was drawing to an end, I realized I wasn't even close to being finished with the moving, so I emailed him again and let him know I needed a couple more weeks before I could return. Then I shut off the internet so that it could be transferred. Two weeks passed and I was finally all set up at the house. I hopped online to check out my syllabus and lo and behold, I was not enrolled in a class. I WAS enrolled about a week prior, but my classes had both been dropped for not meeting attendance requirements. My counselor had either never read the email or forgot to transfer me to a later start date. For whatever reason, I was still enrolled and "didn't attend" thus causing me to lose all of my financial and in turn, owe the school $865.

For weeks on end, I called and emailed to get it straightened out since it was definitely not my fault and I had the receipt of the email I sent the counselor...but I never got a return call or email. After a few weeks, things became hectic with the deployment and I guess I forgot.

Over the past two years I have tried a few more times to get through to someone- always got the "he'll call you back" but never actually got a call.

With everything happening with Dan, I figured I have another shot, it's basically now or never. I choose now. At least it is one thing I have control over.

The only problem was that there was no possible way I could afford to pay off $865 to the school and then try to qualify for financial aid with that blemish on my school history...so I turned to the BBB. Everyone told me I wouldn't get anywhere going through them but seeing as the staff had never once tried calling me back, I figured it was my last resort.

A couple of days ago, I finally got a call! She said they had received my complaint through the BBB and were working to resolve the issues for me and would call back soon :)

This time someone did call, they said they read through my complaint, verified that I had tried to take a short leave of absence so that it wasn't my fault and they were able to reinstate financial aid and credit my account back- even after two years!

I'll be starting again in early March, still trying to get the dates figured out and I'm a little bit excited. The old Dan would have been proud. He always encouraged me to do things for myself, but I never did.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Not again!!

I always do this.

EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT.

When the kids go to bed, I always fall asleep on the couch with Kaylee, trying to get her to sleep. Without feeding the dogs, without cleaning up dinner, without locking the doors...ughhhh. I wake up around midnight, and there is no way I am going to go to bed without doing all of those things, and after 30 minutes pass, I'm just not tired anymore. It's a vicious cycle and I really should work harder to break it because it is now almost 3 am and guess what??

Still not tired.

But hey, what do you know? It is a perfect time for blogging! ;)

We finally got a call back from Dr. Corrigan with Kaylee's pulse ox test. He asked me how she did during the test, if she appeared to be in any distress etc. The thing is, she seemed completely fine, no gasping for air, a little bit of sleep apnea, but nothing too alarming. This wasn't what he wanted to hear. With Kaylee's night time oxygen levels so low, he wanted answers...he wanted to hear that she was having trouble breathing, because then it would be easier to find out why...but the problem is, there is NOTHING wrong.

So then why does she not get enough oxygen at night? He was baffled. That was definitely not the answer I wanted. I have been waiting nearly 2 weeks to figure out what was going on, so getting a call at 6pm to say "I am concerned because her sats are lower than 90% the entire night and I have no idea why" is pretty disappointing. How am I supposed to do my job as a mom and protect her, when we have no idea what is wrong with her? And how could she have possibly had this, whatever "this" is, since she was born and I had no idea? Mom fail.

Little things are starting to come together though, and who knows if they are relevant, only time will tell. For example, the fact that she has always seemed tired, even after just waking up from a nap, or the fact that she can't sleep more than a few hours straight without waking up and needing to sit up and move around. Could these possibly be clues? Am I overanalyzing things? I am pretty notorious for that.

So what now?

We wait.

We talked about sleep studies. He said he hasn't had to ever refer anyone out for a sleep study at her age but it looks like an appropriate next step. We talked about a pulmonologist referral. He wants to see her next week and then we will decide for sure what an appropriate course of action would be. He is also going to call the respiratory therapist and set up a more extensive pulse ox test...whatever that means.

So we wait.

I am NOT good at waiting.

I am probably the most impatient person I know. When I want answers, I want answers now. The past 4 months, I have come to realize you don't just get everything you want.

So we wait.

I really don't want to go through this alone, even if it turns out to be nothing. I hate being alone. And I hate waiting. I've also realized that God doesn't just give you a break because He thinks you've had enough...otherwise I would have had a break many months ago. What He does do is promise is to be with you always, through all of the trials and tribulatons...and you know what? That's good enough for me.

Completely off topic while I am thinking about it, Avery finished her book in AWANA. It is so refreshing to see her memorizing verse after verse of the Bible, it's even better when she knows exactly what she means and believes every word. We've talked briefly about baptism and I think she's almost ready.

One of her most recent verses is very fitting for what is going on with Kaylee, with Dan...and just life in general.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

One more for tonight

Well Kaylee is awake, surprise surprise.

The respiratory therapist that came by yesterday was able to give me a little bit of insight to her oxygen needs. He was telling me how when a person's oxygen stays too low (usually 85% saturation or less) for a prolonged period, brain damage will likely occur. Seeing as Kaylee's nighttime oxygen level drops and stays really low while on room air, she wakes up frequently. Normally, this would be frustrating to me, but he reassured me that it is her body doing what it needs naturally for her to stay safe.

When she is awake, her oxygen levels are fairly normal, so after staying too low for a while in her sleep, her body forces her awake so the blood can get flowing better again. Pretty cool how that works.

From now on, when people ask me if she is sleeping through the night, I can finally say no...and be satisfied with the answer. God created her amazing little body to do exactly what it needs!

Don't get me wrong, it's very tiring, but obviously worth it. It is still very hard not knowing what is wrong with my beautiful baby girl, but it looks like the pneumonia/RSV was a blessing in disguise because we may have never known there was something wrong, and likely has been this way since birth. There will probably be a lot more doctor's appointments, tests and more tests, in the near future, but I am determined to figure out what is causing this.

Meanwhile...waiting for her to get back to sleep, I find myself searching through youtube videos- it keeps me occupied. It looks like she is slowly nodding off again, so I will leave you with this video, it is really great to watch, this guy has knowledge beyond his years.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I want a Dr. Pepper

No really, I'd love one right about now. It would definitely help the massive headache I have, and face it, it just sounds great.

But I'm here, alone, with three small kids.

Well, isn't that something?

I guess I never realized how much of a convenience it was to get to run to the gas station alone so I could grab a few things that we had run out of. These days I will be in the middle of dinner and realize I am missing an ingredient, so instead of packing up 3 kids and dragging them out into the cold, we scrap dinner and make something completely different. It sucks...and it's a pain in the butt.

I guess this is the blog post of complaining because you know what else I don't like? When I care hear Avery and Malachi playing upstairs in their beds, or in this case, the hallway...an hour after bedtime, and I can't do a thing about it! I mean, don't get me wrong, I could yell up the stairs for them to get their little butts in bed, but since I have a baby slowly falling asleep on me, I run the risk of waking her, which means a couple more hours before I can get her back to sleep. Why can't things be easier?? It's really no fun raising three kids alone, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Well....maybeeeeee

Just kidding, I really wouldn't. It's hard. It's depressing. It's hard. It's exhausting. Did I mention it was hard?

It's 10:00, Kaylee is nursing and half asleep, and I still hear the kids, it's like they know I can't get up and do anything about it- they are going to be in trouble in the morning.

Who am I kidding? By then I will forget...but still, this is so frustrating. I must say though, it is better than some nights. I always try to think of how things could be worse and believe me, lots of things have been worse recently. For example, when they are all set for bed and I'm leaving their bedrooms and I get a question out of the blue like "is daddy ever coming home?" or something as simple as "I wish daddy was here to tuck me in." Cue waterfalls. I guess I should be pretty thankful that tonight, it's just laughter and playing coming from their rooms. It may be frustrating but it sure beats all of the tears.

Yep, I could really use a Dr. Pepper right now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Life goes on...right?

The last time I blogged was early 2010. Let's just say I am NOT a good blogger! It seems like everything else in my life, almost like one of those collages floating around on facebook...I'm sure you've seen them, the "how I see _______, how ________ really is." Yep, that's me in a nutshell. I always envision all of these things in my head that I am going to do or say, but when it comes down to it, it never turns out the way I planned...EVER!

So here I am, once again, going to attempt to blog. Who knows...maybe it will work out this time, I have so much to say so it's a perfect time I guess. My goal is to post once a day, no promises though.

Now where to start...

I guess since this blog is going to highlight what my little family's life is like now, there's no better place to start than the beginning of it all...whatever "it" is.

I am warning you now that there are details in here, lots and lots of details. If you don't want to know about everything that has happened to me the past few months, then there is a little "X" at the top right corner. I'm not going to hide anything. It's a one time deal and then I will begin my daily blogs tomorrow focusing on what is going on currently...but to get to the present and the future, I have to explain my past. So bear with me please...

In December of 2010, Dan came up on recruiting orders. It came at a great time because we had just decided that recruiting would be a great next step in his career and it would mean 3 years of no deployments. Any position in the army that you can be stateside for a while is obviously a blessing to a family with small children, so of course we were ecstatic. We started doing some research on choosing duty stations and the whole nine yards. It didn't take long to decide that as a family, Texas would be the most obvious choice for him to try to get stationed in. It meant Avery and Malachi being closer to Bobby, which meant less time driving to Texas for visitation and more time for date nights. Of course it also meant I would get to be close to my family for a little while, which in turn meant he would get to see his more often. We'd be the same distance away from them as before, but since we would be living so close to my family, we would take more trips to see his instead of having to split our holidays between the two. He also said that since I came to Colorado for him, despite hating the cold, it only seemed fair that we do 3 years in Texas too, despite him hating the heat. Again, all of these reasons made Texas the obvious choice.

Fast forward to July, July 12th to be exact. We took the kids to the movies, came home to barbecue ribs in the crockpot...and then came time to drop him off with some coworkers waiting in the Walmart parking lot so they could drive to Fort Benning for school for the army. If you haven't noticed by now, I have somewhat of a photographic memory, so this entire blog is going to be viewed through things I can think back and see in my head so clearly.

This was only a 6 week school, but it dragged on and on. No joke, it felt like a deployment. On September 2nd, he came home again! I feel like a little kid looking back at how giddy I was, embarrassed to look him in the eyes. It's what even the slightest separation does to an army couple. It's falling in love all over again...pretty hard to explain unless you've been there.

The next night, Dan met my church family for the first time, at Chick Fil A (which has become a weekly ritual). During his 6 week school, we had grown extremely close to a lot of people up there. For his birthday, we went on a date night and I love thinking back to how excited we were to be able to get out alone...it never happened. I still have a text from him the night before telling me how he couldn't wait. It was the littlest things that mattered.

Two weeks came and went by way too fast and soon enough we were getting ready to say goodbye to him a second time. It wasn't nearly as bad, I think because we knew that as soon as this 6 week recruiting school was over with, it meant 3 years unseparable...and like any other army couple who had been apart for half of their marriage, we could definitely use it!

Dan called me one of the last days of September to tell me that we were indeed going to San Antonio and to start looking for houses- yay for good news! Within the days to come, he would send me link after link to different houses in our budget, making sure they had enough room for extra kids because we wanted more right away. With 3 years together, it was the perfect time to expand our family so that we knew he wouldn't miss any of the really important stuff that he was missing with Kaylee.

October came and went like normal, with the daily "I love you" and "I miss you" texts that I looked forward to waking up to each morning. Conversations started slowing down but we were both busy and it was understandable. I felt awful that he didn't have anyone over in South Carolina to hang out with, I knew it was making time drag on for him...so when he started calling to say he was going to a movie with a friend from class, or grabbing a beer with a study partner, I was happy for him and gave him some space, especially since had plenty of friends here to keep occupied, and the kids kept me busy for sure.

October 22st was the last time my husband ever told me he loved me.

The next few days are now a blur for me, I think it's because I have subconsciously tried to block them out, I really am not sure though. Sunday, October 23rd, I called to find out why I hadn't been able to get ahold of him the night before, when I had Kaylee in the urgent care. After he finally answered his phone, we talked a little bit and he seemed annoyed, as was I with the situation, and we got into a small argument...if you can call it that-more like a misunderstanding and I hung up. For the next 3 days, he didn't respond to calls or texts unless it was to be rude, so I finally told him to just stop talking to me. I should have known something was really wrong at that point because our arguments never lasted more than a couple of hours. On the 27th, I texted him asking him why he hadn't called to check on the kids in days and he responded with "you said not to talk to you." Me: "yeah but if someone had my kids, I don't care what they said to me, I'd still text to see how they were." Him: "you don't have my kids, you have my kid."

I lost it at that point. The man that had raised them for 3 years, the one who had told all of our friends that he didn't see a difference between his stepkids and his daughter, the man that changed his myspace parenting status to "proud parent" the day we got married, and the man that always corrected me in an argument where I called them my kids and said "no they are OUR kids." How could he? Was it just to hurt me? Still, how could anyone say something that bad? I went to bed hoping it would blow over, but knowing it was going to take a huge apology from him the next day.

But the next day didn't bring an apology...it brought more hurtful words from him, and then finally "I'm done, I want out."

My head was spinning and I burst into tears...what? how? This is not happening. Where did this even come from??? Things were perfect less than a week ago, I don't even have a clue what's going on at this point. So like any woman I ask him, "are you cheating on me Daniel??" and he gets defensive..."why do you always jump right to that!?" So I feel stupid for asking, and guilty for bringing it up.

I guess in my naivety I wanted to believe that even this argument was unlike any other, it would blow over too.

It didn't.

Talking to a friend the next evening, she asked if it were possible he was seeing somebody else. Um no...not my husband, not ever. He had already screwed up royally before while we were dating and he was still regretting everything because it changed our relationship and trust levels so much, he would never do anything like that to hurt me again- I trusted him 100%. So what led me to check the cell phone records that night, I have no idea.

But there it was in black and white...some strange number, over and over and over. My stomach dropped and in my heart I knew. That stupid number, hundreds of times a day in texts, at least 10 incoming and outgoing calls every.single.day. All of those days he made me feel guilty for keeping him up late because he needed to get in bed since he had class the next morning, he would hang up...and call that number, not go to bed. So this is why he was becoming so distant.
I picked up my phone, shaking and bawling my eyes out, and I called him and called him and called him until he finally picked up.

She's just a friend, he said. She's just interesting, he said. I'm sick to my stomach just replaying that night. I begged him to stop talking to her, to just come home and we'd figure things out. But he said he couldn't promise me that. So I called his parents in the middle of the night, I didn't know who else to call or what to do. Why was this happening to me? It was so surreal. They were as shocked as I was, but they promised they would talk to him. His dad could get through to him at any point in the past, so I knew that's all it would take.

So this is when I check the bank records. For the past few weeks I had been asking him if he needed me to transfer more money to him. I wanted to make sure he had everything he needed. Little did I know that I would look at the bank statement and see he had been going and spending $50+ for each dinner. How does one single man spend that much on dinner for themselves? They don't. Hundreds of dollars at the bar? All of these times I encouraged him to go to the movies with his friends, go to dinner with study partners? He was going with another woman...and I was sitting on the sidelines, wishing him a good time. How was I so stupid?

He came back the following weekend, after his graduation. I am sure she went to his graduation, the same one I was going to fly out with the kids to surprise him at before all of this happened. I picked him up at the airport hoping that once he saw me, everything would coming rushing back and he would realize exactly what he did to his family. But it wasn't even him I picked up...he just wasn't himself, he was an emotionless shell of the man I married. He look disheveled and reeked of smoke. But the man I knew didn't smoke. What on earth happened to him??? It took everything I had in me not to break down at that moment. Over an hour drive back from the Denver airport and not a word was spoken.

This is where some more of the details fade. I remember searching through his laptop for clues to this girl he was spending all of his time on the phone with. I found pictures, I found phone numbers. I did everything in my power to keep him from communicating with her, but he always found a way. I spent the next couple of weeks begging for marriage counseling, begging for a chance. I still don't understand why I was the one begging when I did nothing wrong. But I still did it. I wanted a chance, my marriage means the world to me...even after everything he had done, I knew we could get through this, we could get through anything.

I spent weeks wondering what I did to deserve it, where on earth I went wrong? What could I have possible done to make somebody want to hurt me (and my kids so badly), and I blamed myself. And I didn't stop blaming myself until a very wise pastoral counselor at church told me that no matter what, even if our relationship was full of hatred (which it wasn't) or if we fought constantly (which we didn't), that what he did was inexcusable and that there was no way he could biblically or morally justify his actions. I know I have had some harsh things to say, but it wasn't until he told me he wasn't going to stay no matter what I did said. Of course I was angry, I am still angry...who wouldn't be? But my feelings of anger are short-lived and I go back to hurting and crying and begging God to restore my husband to the man so many people knew and loved.

All of November was spent begging and pleading...to God and to Dan because I knew they were the only ones that could fix what had been broken. My efforts were fruitless. Dan left our home and stayed in the barracks. Once again, I was alone. It hurt...so much. I was supposed to have the next 3 years with my husband once he got home from recruiting school, and I was all alone. I still don't know how I have survived this long, only by the grace of God I suppose.

I remember texting him in early December asking him if he was planning on filing for divorce and if so, if he were going to do it in Colorado or in Texas after 6 months of living there. He said he had no idea what he was going to do yet.

I'd find out the next day that was also a lie. I got into his email account that day and found a receipt for a local attorney's office for a little over $1800. Where he got that money, I will never know. I checked his account and somebody had deposited it for him the day before. I've assumed it was somebody from his extended family as nobody else he knows has enough money for anything like that. But rest assured, whoever you are, you enabled him to do this to his family. Congratulations.

Communication with Dan has been few and far between. He doesn't respond to texts, emails, calls...anything. I have probably said everything in the world to convince him that what he is doing is wrong...from biblical scriptures, to quotes from favorite books and movies of ours, links to divorce counselors, pictures of our family and his daughter. Nothing has swayed him, the new Dan is made of stone.

And let me just stop here for a second and say this. I do not think I am perfect. I have never claimed to be. But I try and I try, and I make improvements each day and then sometimes I stumble. But...my commitment to him meant something. I believed that when we got married and he said we'd be together forever, that it really meant forever. I believed him a couple of years later when he said divorce would never be an option. And I've tried...and tried.

How could someone so dedicated to their family one week, up and leave the next? How could he decide he didn't care? How can he ignore me pleading with him to be a part of his child's life, the daughter we tried to conceive for over a year, the daughter we had named 2 years before even becoming pregnant? And now she means nothing...and how, HOW can you claim to be following Christ, when your actions and words prove opposite? How could you move to Texas and not ask about your child a single time in over a month?

Just a couple of days ago, a friend asked me if the pictures he was tagged in on Facebook was of his new girlfriend. My heart sank. I guess it was stupid of me to hope and believe that all he did was work and go back to his apartment to sleep. Wishful thinking maybe. My friend sent me the pictures, I immediately felt like I was going to vomit. How quickly he just forgot about us. While I was dealing with a sick baby in the hospital, he was out partying with yet another new woman. It is evident in pictures and this girl's facebook statuses that they are definitely together. My heart is shattered. How easily we were replaced.

And I know it shouldn't matter WHO he is with, just the fact that it isn't his family should be enough. But I can't help but be upset that he is clinging to everything that he used to hate and call trash...the drinking, partying scene, the girls who dance all over the bars wearing less clothes than it would take to make Kaylee a new cloth diaper. I guess this is just me being bitter again, but I can't really help it.

What happened to him? Who is he? I've tossed around the idea of PTSD because how else does somebody just snap like that? It doesn't help that he has told me since his first deployment he thought he had it but was never taken seriously. So maybe that's it...or maybe I'm just grasping at straws trying to figure out what on earth happened to him.

One thing I can be sure of is this will end for him someday. I am positive. I can say this because when we were dating at one point, he broke up with me. He said that the way we met was wrong (yes, it definitely was) and he was not honoring God by being in a relationship with me (this was true as well), and that he really needed to focus on re-building a relationship with God because everything else would crumble in time if he didn't have a solid foundation with God first. This hurt...but was understandable. A couple of weeks later, I found out I was pregnant-obviously not very Christian-like of either of us since we weren't married yet and he took it as a sign that God did want us together. (That pregnancy later ended in a miscarriage) We ended up changing a lot about our relationship, trying to start over the right way and do things that we knew were reflective of our faith. But back to the original point...he's been at a low point before, not nearly this low...but one of these days, he will wake up. He will realize God is supposed to come first, and who knows, with God first, maybe he will get to that breaking point and wonder what on earth he was thinking when he threw his family away.

And maybe he won't.

So what does this mean for us now?

Our divorce will be finalized in the middle of March. I tried fighting it but apparently in America, you need money for that sort of thing. Money- one of the many things he left us without. I have no choice, and I can not fight it. Again, thank you Mr. No Name that gave my husband money to walk out on his family and divorce me. You must have no morals.

And after all he has done, most of which I haven't touched base on because I try to block out the hurtful words, I still love him.

And I miss him.

So very much.

I miss having someone to come home to after a long day. I miss cuddling up on the couch watching the Big Bang Theory or The Good Wife. I miss having someone who knew every last detail of my life. I miss getting texts every time I left the house, telling me to hurry home because he missed me already. I miss taking pictures of him asleep on the couch with Kaylee in his arms. I miss Sunday breakfasts where he would sneak downstairs and cook and not let the kids wake me up until it was time for me to eat and then us go to church. I miss his arm around me during the service.

I can't even go to church without Kaylee anymore. I have to have her in my arms because I need that physical touch. Nobody understands.

I miss his stupid little jokes that always made me laugh. I miss hugs from behind when I'm standing in the kitchen. I miss having someone to talk to every time something gets the best of me. I miss him having my back no matter what. I miss feeling safe in his arms at night.

I miss him, and it hurts.

It hurts so much I can't breathe.

"If I would have known that the last time I held him would have been the last time, I would have held him and never let go."