Sunday, September 22, 2013

Visitors

This past week we were lucky to have my Mom, sister, and her family come visit us here in WV. We sure enjoyed their visit; however, it went much too quickly. Anyway, during their stay we dropped by the children's museum, perused the farmer's market, went fishing and had a bonfire in the mountains, visited a couple of parks, shopped, played some Settlers of Catan, watched a few too many episodes of Psyche on Netflix, stayed up too late visiting, and consumed a good deal of food. Overall, I would say a good time was had by all. I even managed to take a few pictures!


7 girls plus Asher. He's such a chick magnet!
Gone fishin'
My brosef-in-law Ben. He caught his first fish, it's a lunker!
Marlee loved playing with her cousins
Let's just take a moment to revel in the fact that my mother and Marlee have the same hair:)
It took us all a couple of days to recover after our visitors left. Poor Asher has 5(!)teeth coming through, so sleep has been a little sketchy around these parts. I sure wish my family lived closer, but unfortunately, WV isn't the top of most peoples' "places I want to live" list. Sigh. Maybe one day we'll convince them...;)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"West Virginia, Almost Heaven...."

Life is good here in wild, wonderful WV and we are starting to feel right at home. Things are a little different in Appalachia than the Midwest (oh the humidity! I melt!), but I must say, West Virginia folk are quite friendly. For example, my heart generally gets blessed at least once a day while we're out and about: "Oh bless your heart honey, you sure have your hands full! Let me help you with that buggy (shopping cart)!" Even though we've lived here nearly a month, I still don't have quite everything unpacked....we've been too busy playing and exploring. I also decided to paint our dining room on a whim in the middle of unpacking and that "little" project turned out to be the bane of my existence for over a week (uneven/thirsty walls, streaky color, ugh....)
Marlee modeling the dining room color, it doesn't look too bad...from a distance
Jamie is on internal medicine service for the month of July, and it has been busy. He leaves at 6 every morning and usually gets home around 7:30 at night. In addition, he only has 4 days off this month, so most of his time is spent working or sleeping with a little bit of eating and studying thrown into the mix. I knew what to expect schedule-wise coming into residency, but it still took me a couple of days of feeling sorry for myself until I adjusted to his new schedule (especially since he was home everyday on vacation for the past 3 months). I shouldn't complain though, many have it much worse. Looking back, med school's demands don't seem all too bad now:) The kids and I stay busy playing with the great group of moms here and going on daily adventures to exotic places such as Target or the park. I'm so grateful for the wonderful women I've met already. They have literally saved my sanity and made me realize that residency is survivable.

Marlee has adjusted well to the move. Our house is much bigger here than it was in Nebraska, so she has more room to roam and the number of friends she has available to play with has increased vastly. The humidity is also doing marvelous things to her hair, giving her some lovely "West Virginia curls" (as we like to call them).
 
 My cuddly little cherubim Asher is doing great too. As long as he continues to have a supply of warm milk on demand and gets his requisite naps during the day, he's (mostly) a happy camper. I just love the  sweetness babies bring into our home. Things were a little rough with him in the beginning-he wasn't colicky, but definitely fussy-so now that he's smiling and laughing it turns my mama heart into mush. I think that 2 1/2-4 months is my favorite stage of babyhood. At this age, my babies' personalities begin to shine as they start to smile and laugh, no longer need to be fed continuously, and start sleeping through the night (a sleep deprived Amber=a crabby Amber). Also, they're not on the move, so they can't really wreck havoc on my home (yet).
Gone are the days of chicken legs

Chunky Monkey
I  love the beauty of the hills and the lush green trees that are everywhere 'round these parts. I also love that I can drive 2 hours or less to go somewhere where I can ski,  go spelunking, rock climb, white-water raft, or zipline through a forest. Not that I really do any of those things-especially since I have small kids and a small budget-but the thought that I could is still nice:) When Jamie gets a day off, we try to maximize time spent with Daddy. Here's a  picture of Jamie taking Marlee fishing for the first time at a quaint little pond inside the Kanawha forest. After continually yelling, "I got one! I got one!" and haphazardly reeling in her line immediately after it was cast, we gave up on fishing and let her throw rocks in the water the rest of the night (which is MUCH more entertaining of course).
Another notable event that took place in WV was the celebration of old man winter's 29th birthday. His actual birthday was spent working all day. The next night however, I took him out on a REAL date (aka-no kids!) to Pies and Pints and we devoured a scrumdiddlyumptious Thai shrimp pizza. It was so wonderful to spend time with that boy of mine. I sure nagged me a good one!
I'm obviously a very skilled photographer.... Don't mind Marlee's belly, Jamie's lack of eyebrows, or Asher's flexed guns (such a show-off that boy is!)

Well, this post is a little scattered (that's generally what happens when you don't blog much), so I'm just going to go ahead and call it a night. Y'all come back now ya hear!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Graduation Extravaganzas

A lot has happened over the past 2 months, but I'm much too lazy to write about it all, so I'll give a synopsis. Most of April was spent in a newborn haze, you know, where most of your energy is spent caring for a new baby and obsessing about sleep-but not actually getting any. Jamie saved up all of his vacation time from the past 2 years, so he's been on paternity leave since Asher's birth. It's been wonderful having him around. Toward the end of April when Asher was 3 weeks old, we packed up our car and both kids and made the trek to West Virginia to look for housing. That was kinda fun, but mostly not:) We wanted to buy, but after searching for a week, we just couldn't find anything we loved, so we decided to go with one of the hospital's rental homes. We're actually pretty excited, the house we got is a decent size, has a flat yard (a rarity in Charleston), and is super close to the hospital. So if anyone finds themselves in WV, hit us up! The day after getting back from WV, Jamie packed his bags again and headed out to Utah for 5 days for his brother Dan's BYU graduation. I missed him while he was gone, but managed to survive with both kids on my own (I thought of it as preparation for residency!)


Dan and his cute pregnant wife Ashley (who also graduated from UVU). They'll be moving to Des Moines this summer to start med school at DMU....wahoo!
I also graduated from UNMC in early May, but decided not to walk because I was basically too cheap to pay to for a cap and gown rental. Maybe one day I'll start to feel more sentimental about things...
      We headed up to Estherville toward the end of May to help another one of Jamie's brothers, Brad, celebrate his high school graduation. While in E'ville, Jamie also gave Asher his baby blessing. Once again my lack of sentiment and cheapness came into play because instead of buying a cute blessing outfit, I decided to borrow one from my sister-in-law (who has a little boy a few months older than Asher). Unfortunately, our chunky Ash-man was too big for it and looked like a stuffed sausage, so a white onesie had to do on his special day...

We also spent time playing with family and enjoying the great outdoors (aka Gma and Gpa's driveway) while up north.
Marlee's makeshift rain gear.

Cute cousins chillin' out maxin' relaxin' looking all cool

After spending a few days in Estherville we headed down to Des Moines to celebrate a day we have been looking forward to for a long time: Jamie's medical school graduation. Can't believe 4 years have passed by already! We will forever look back on the roller-coaster of our med school years with fondness. I think Charles Dickens was referring to medical school when he wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...." Although challenging, we feel like our Des Moines days were some of the best we've had. We made some great friends, grew closer as a couple, expanded our family, and most importantly, learned that we can do hard things. Even though our weekend in Des Moines was jam-packed with graduation dinners, picnics, ceremonies and family, we still managed to get together with some of our very favorite people.We BBQ'ed with our pals the Taylors, Baumgartners, and JBDB one night, and met up with our friends the DeMars and Barretts for breakfast. I'm just bummed I didn't get any friend pictures!
The fiercesome foursome, or something like that...

Both sets of Jamie's grandparents came from Utah to attend!


Pre-graduation dinner

The Dr. is in the house!
Hermanos hanging out at our hotel after party
Now that graduations are over, we're on the short countdown for our move East. Can't wait for the next chapter of our lives to begin! I hope it will be just as great as the last!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Asher's Birth

      I always enjoy reading other's birth stories, so I thought I'd write about how Asher made his grand entrance into this world. Probably it's TMI, so if you don't like reading about labor, etc...skip this post:) I felt like his birth was completely different than Marlee's. With Marlee, I went to an ObGyn group and spent 2 days in the hospital on Pitocin to induce labor since I was close to 42 weeks. I felt as though my physician was a little too quick to jump to induction since I continually measured small and Marlee came out a healthy 7lb 4oz. Therefore, with Asher's pregnancy, I decided to go a midwife...not because I was all about being "natural" (I loved my epidural with Marlee!), I just didn't want to be induced again. Once again I went past due with this pregnancy, which I was totally expecting. However, when I went to my appointment on Tuesday the 26th, I was 42 weeks 2 days pregnant according to my original due date, so I started to get a little worried and my midwife suggested sweeping my membranes to kick-start labor. I had read about membrane sweeping and knew that it wasn't proven to work, but figured what the heck!? So my midwife performed her little sweep at 10:45 in the morning and sent me on my merry way. I wasn't really expecting much to happen, so I went about my day. I fed Marlee lunch, treated myself to a little nap, visited the local health department (for an assignment I had), and went grocery shopping.
         I started to feel a few cramps at about 3 in the afternoon, but they weren't painful and I knew to expect them because of the membrane sweep. After I put groceries away and did some housework, my cramps got a little worse and my stomach was feeling pretty upset. At this point it was 4:45pm so I texted Jamie and said, "Sorry, but I'm not going to cook dinner tonight," and then asked my Mom to watch Marlee for a little bit. I decided I should pack a hospital bag, just in case, but I was pretty sure I was not in labor. I started throwing a few things together and within minutes was crawling on the floor because my cramps were pretty intense. By 5:00 I was in a good deal of pain and texted Jamie, "I think I'm in labor". No response-he was with a patient. My Mom helped me pack my bag in between contractions and kept Marlee occupied. I had her time my contractions and they were coming every two minutes. By this time it was 5:15 and I really felt I needed to get to the hospital, so I had my Mom call Jamie at the clinic and tell him to come home right away. He got home at 5:30 at which point I was breathing pretty hard and acting pretty crabby. We headed to the hospital, checked in, and got up to our room at 6:00. I was in a LOT of pain and ready for an epidural. My nurse immediately checked me and said I was, "A loose 7, almost an 8". NOT what I wanted to hear as I wanted that dang epidural SO BAD!!! I knew I wasn't going to get it. She said by the time they got an IV and fluids in me and the epidural placed, I'd probably already have the baby. Frown.
        I had not prepared for a natural birth at all and I didn't know what to do. I kept saying, "This sucks!" in between contractions. I was mad and seriously doubted my ability to handle such intense pain. My lips and hands were tingling because I was breathing so fast and my legs got so weak I could no longer labor standing. I poured myself onto the bed and found a "comfortable" (haha) position. I finally just let go of everything and my body took over. No one told me when it was time or encouraged me to push, my body just started to do it. The "ring of fire" description I've heard about was fairly accurate:) After a few contractions, Asher was born at 6:54 pm. He was a chunk and weighed in at 9 lb 5oz and 21 in long.. My midwife let Jamie catch him, and he was born in his bag of waters.
         I had heard recovery from natural birth was easier, but I'm not sure if I agree. Unlike Marlee, I didn't need any stitches, but I think it's ironic that I had to have Pitocin after I delivered Asher (to help control bleeding). I also felt pretty darn sick and weak that first night. If given the choice between a natural birth or an epidural again, I'm not sure which I'd chose (and at this point, thinking about giving birth again induces slight panic). We so love having handsome little Asher in our home and the sweetness he brings. So far he seems to be a pretty chill little guy and tolerates well his older sister's overbearing love. We feel so lucky to be able to call him ours!


Also, the day before Asher was born was Marlee's 2nd birthday (how's that for timing!?) We played it pretty low-key and treated her to a McDonald's Happy Meal since she never gets chicken nuggets at home. We can't believe she's 2 already! My, how time flies!


 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Swing and a Miss

Well, I'm 0/3 with this pregnancy. Today was my final due date (I had 3 different ones....) and unless I have a child within the next hour, I will have officially struck out. I really hoped that since this was my second time around I might actually deliver a little sooner, but history is repeating itself, and our little man seems to enjoy his accommodations as much as his sister did. As my mother says, "there's no such thing as a premature baby in our family", so I guess some babies just need to be cooked longer than others. Anyway, per my sister's request, here's a picture of me at somewhere between 40-41.5 weeks pregnant with #2. Oh, and just as a side note, when taking multiple pictures of me tonight, Jamie stated, "It doesn't matter anyways, your not going to like any of them because of the poundage". Sometimes he's so sensitive to my "delicate" condition.
(Post edit: He learned the term "poundage" from Papa Phil on the show Duck Dynasty this last week and thus has been trying to use it in any context he can lately....it is actually a term of endearment:)  But he's right, I didn't like any of them. Please come out soon little boy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Set, Match

I can't complain, February has been pretty good to us thus far. We had eagerly awaited the official DO "Match" day for months to see what destiny had in store for us. Well, the morning of the 11th, destiny came knocking. About 8 a.m. Jamie received a rather non-climatic email from the national matching service informing us that he matched at the urological surgery (urology) program in Charleston, WV. Even though the delivery was pretty bland, excitement escalated all day as reality set in and Jamie spent (literally) the entire day on the phone talking to/texting classmates and family members. West Virginia was Jamie's #1 choice, so we feel blessed to have been granted a spot there. He loves the program and the camaraderie among the residents, and I love the family-friendly appeal of Charleston. Jamie interviewed at programs all over, with most of them centered in Michigan or Illinois. To be honest, I wasn't too excited at the prospect of living in a tiny inner-city apartment in Chicago with 2 kids or moving to run-down Detroit with its long commutes, so I was keeping my fingers crossed for West Virginia. Neither of us has lived so far east, so we're excited for our 5 year backwoods adventure in Appalachia!  It's weird to think that in just 3 months this med school journey will be through. It feels like we've been on a non-stop roller coaster for the past 4 years, but it's gone SO quickly! I'm sure residency with its 80-hour work weeks will be no cake walk, but we're excited for this next chapter of life!
Nothing says "congratulations" better than an over-sized chocolate-chip cookie!
Eating a celebratory "all you care-to-eat" salad bar dinner at Hy-Vee. We're just so fancy!
Earlier in February our poor Marlee got put through the ringer. Illness has been rampant this winter, and Marlee got hit hard. She kept getting sick and wasn't improving, so after a spout of high fevers, I took her to the pediatrician where they poked, prodded, and x-rayed her. It was sad to hear her screams as I helped the doctor pin her down on the exam table, but my heart broke even more as she later laid listless on the same table as they drew her blood, admitting defeat. She was diagnosed with pneumonia, double ear infections, and eye infections. Her doctor said she had one day to improve or else she would need to be admitted to the hospital. Luckily, she took all of her medications like a champ and started feeling better.
Time for her "puppy" (aka-nebulizer) treatment

Marlee's thoughtful Grandma Olsen sent her a get-well/Valentines package with a "fun" pair of boots included. Here's a little video of her strutting about in her new shoes:
  
video


Also earlier in the month when Jamie and I were in a zombie-like stump (due to Marlee's sickness and not sleeping for weeks), I decided we needed a little break and left our sickly child with my Mom while we went on a "real" date. The roller-derby happened to be in town, so I dragged Jamie out for a night of entertainment with Norfolk's finest. It was a fun date (especially when participants got tackled or clothes-lined). I've always been a little aggressive when it comes to sports or competition, so I could totally see myself getting into roller-derby one day:)

In final news, I have just one month of pregnancy left. Oh boy, am I ready for it to be over. I forgot how uncomfortable the last trimester can be! I'll spare everyone a belly picture. However, if you wonder what I look like, just go to my blog archives from 2 years ago, look at me when I'm 41 weeks pregnant, add a little more belly and overall puffiness and there you go! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January Doldrums

Anyone else suffering from the January blahs? January has always been one of my least favorite months...cold weather, no fun holidays to look forward to, pale, dry skin (although honestly, my skin is always quite pale). I wouldn't mind one bit if we skipped directly to Spring after December. My motivation hit rock bottom today, so instead of working on homework, cleaning, or painting my neglected toenails, I'll post a few pictures from our Puerto Rico trip we took in December. Jamie and I had a great time bumming on the beach, sleeping in, and enjoying our general lack of responsibility.

Soaking up the sun

One day we took a catamaran tour and got to snorkel off this "private beach"

Some pregnant lady who didn't want her picture taken in a swimsuit
The charming cobblestone streets in Old San Juan (walking up that hill 6 months pregnant was quite the task!)
One of the forts we toured: Castillo San Felipe del Murro (yes, I had to google that)
Bustin' out the big guns

Baby or cannon ball?

Wearing white after Labor Day is so scandalous!


Don't worry, we didn't support animal cruelty
 
We didn't get any pictures, but one night we also went kayaking through the bioluminescent bay at Fajardo. The flagellates living in the water cause it to glow in the dark. It was a really neat experience, and we felt slightly rebellious because pregnant women weren't technically allowed to participate due to the physical nature of the tour. Therefore, I slapped on a baggy shirt and spent most of the night "sucking it in" and holding a sweater in front of my abdomen so we didn't get kicked off the tour.

Not us, just an example of what the bio bay looked like


Also not pictured is the plethora of food we ate. Don't worry, we didn't go hungry. We sampled some of the local fare and also frequented the Subway near our hotel. They had a $2 special on chicken subs, so we probably ate there at least once a day. It's really kind of embarrassing, but you can't beat $2!

After a week in the sun, it was hard to come back to the cold. The night we flew back there was a horrible blizzard that we foolishly decided to drive 5+ hours through. It was quite a white-knuckle, panic-inducing drive. Luckily, we survived and so did our marriage. This cutie pie was waiting for us at Grandma and Grandpa Olsen's house when we got back...we're not sure if she missed us, but we sure missed her!