Friday, July 08, 2016

Oh, the places we went...

So I failed my attempt to blog for each of my children each day for a whole week.  That was a while ago.  In any case, this one isn't about my lack of blogging, but rather a recap of our recent vacation!

In celebration of Mike and my 10th anniversary, we went on an epic road trip.  Originally, we had a destination in mind, Lake Tahoe, where we got married.  The plan several months back was to fly to Reno, spend a few days there and then drive up to Tahoe, take the boat ride around the lake, stay another day or two and then go back home.  A few things changed our ultimate plans, as I'll explain.  One is that the airline times were a bit squishy.  And by squishy, I mean that the direct, non-stop flights from Phoenix to Reno were either really early or really late.  They weren't great.  The second was the price of the flights.  Tag on renting a car in Reno and then paying for the hotels that we really wanted, it started to get a bit pricey.  Since we were already spending money, I idly started looking at ways to extend our trip (do something fun, right?) and started looking at going to Disneyland or Legoland to have some fun with the kids.  Our one week fly to Reno and back turned into an almost two week road trip.

So here we go...

Day 1 was Saturday June 18th.  We intended to leave as early as we could (shooting for maybe 8am?), but we ended up not getting out of the house til around 11.  Oh well.  We still made pretty good time to Las Vegas, which was our first destination!  We drove straight through, which was pretty impressive not to stop for a potty break or a food break.  So we made it to Vegas, checked into our hotel (Treasure Island) and the first stop (a request/wish from Daniel) was the giant Coke bottle.  The last time we were in Las Vegas, he REALLY wanted to go up inside of it.  There's an Outback up there, so we had dinner there.

Day 2, Sunday, the first full day in Las Vegas.  The kids slept in relatively late, thanks to blackout curtains...hooray!  Plans for the day included hitting up the pool in the morning and then taking the kids to Circus Circus.  The pool was a hit, but as an unfortunate parent fail, Laurel got a bit sunburned.  Ouch.  At Circus Circus, we played a few video games and had lunch at the McDonalds there (exciting, I know, but the kids like it!).  We went to the Venetian as well to walk around and bought a few things (toys, hats, know, the important stuff).

Day 3, Monday, a travel day.  Time to check out of TI and make our way up to our next destination, Reno!  This was the longest driving day of our trip, so it was pretty exhausting.  On our way, we stopped to visit uncle Gary for an hour or so in Fernley.  Then onto Reno where we checked into the Peppermill.  The kids were already excited to have a hottub in the room.

Day 4, Tuesday.  Lots of just relaxation and a quick trip out to Target for supplies.  We took the kids to the game room at the Peppermill, which was definitely a hit (and repeated a few more times!).

Day 5, Wednesday.  The kids are still sleeping in pretty well (yay blackout curtains) and the only plans for today were a lunch with one of Mike's former co-workers.  Then back to the hotel, more splashing around in the hot tub in the room and so on.

Day 6, Thursday.  Today the pool was on the agenda!  All of us hit up the pools at the Peppermill and had a pretty good time splashing about.  We met up with another of Mike's former co-workers and family for dinner before returning to the hotel and finishing up the day in the game room again.  Over the 3 days of playing, the kids got to pick out the toys they wanted from the tickets they'd accumulated over the past few days.

Day 7, Friday June 24th.  Checkout of the Peppermill day and onto Tahoe!  It's also our anniversary!  The plan was to go on the 2:30 boat cruise on the MS Dixie (since the Tahoe Queen, the boat we got married on, wasn't's being renovated, and out of it's dock due to low lake levels).  We met up with Gary who accompanied us on the ride around the lake.  The kids liked looking out on the water the whole trip (Daniel the most, Kaitlyn probably next, and Jared got a little restless and wanted to run up and down the stairs between decks.  Laurel was happy whereever!).  At the end of the ride, we went to check into our hotel (Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel) and ordered some pizza for dinner.  Perfect anniversary!

Day 8, Saturday.  Another day at Tahoe!  We FINALLY were able to go on the Heavenly Gondola!  We'd attempted to go on it a few times in the past, but it was shut down due to weather or some other odd reason.  At the top, we went to play on the playground, and let Daniel attempt the rock wall (which he totally rocked!  Up three times in no time at all!).  A ride back down on the gondola and dinner with Gary and Kiara!  They had to leave to go pick up Grandma Stone from the airport in Reno,  We hit up the pool for a little while in the evening before tucking in for the night

Day 9, Sunday.  Check out and departing Tahoe. Our destination was Yosemite!  None of us had ever been there, and we are kind of kicking ourselves that we used to live so close to it, yet we never went!  It was about a 2 hour drive to the park entrance from South Lake Tahoe.  From there, we took the road through to the west side and down to Yosemite Valley (where all the "good" stuff is).  It was a very memorable trip!  It was busy in places, but we still had a few opportunities to get out and get some pictures.  We saw one coyote and one bear while there (exciting, I know, but I honestly wasn't expecting to see much of anything, I suppose).  Backing out of Yosemite, we headed for Fresno for the night.

Day 10, Monday.  Heading out of Fresno and towards Anaheim!  We hadn't told the kids that we were going to Disneyland, and we were really rushing to try and get out of Fresno and on our way!  Traffic was sort of icky in some places, but we made it to our hotel around 2pm!  The kids were still kind of clueless about where we were (Jared kept insisting that we needed to go to the zoo), and it really didn't hit them until they saw a big statue of Goofy in the lobby of our hotel.  We got checked in and headed out to Disneyland (since we were at Paradise Pier, one of the resort hotels, it was a pretty quick walk).  We got to go on the rocket ride, as well as hit up the AstroBlasters.  We were all pretty tired, ordering room service for dinner.

Day 11, Tuesday.  One of the perks of staying at a resort hotel is getting into the park an hour early.  Daniel and I were the ones to get up and head out (the others were sleeping in a bit).  We hit up (Hyper) Space Mountain and Star Tours (and grabbed a few more Fast Passes for Space Mountain) before heading back to get the rest of the gang.  Our plans for the day included a few more rides, like Thunder Mountain Railroad, Autopia, and so on. Making use of FastPass and Rider Swap made it so both Mike and I could ride the ride, and sometimes the kids got to go twice.

Day 12, Wednesday.  California Adventure Day!  We got in early and got our FastPass to the Radiator Springs Racers (that was our goal, since the last time we were there, all of the FastPasses were gone and we never got to ride it).  While waiting for our time (about an hour), we all got to ride on some things in A Bugs Life land/area...Flik's flyers, the Lady Bugs and the Chew-Chew Train.  We did the Radiator Springs Racers (yay!) and got two more Fast Passes for that.  A few more rides (Mater's Junkyard Jambouree and Luigi's thing in Cars Land) and back to the hotel for just a bit.  Mike headed out to get a few more Fast Passes for the Grizzly River Rapids and came back for us so we could head out for a 2nd round of Radiator Springs Racers.  Riding the rapids (Jared went once, then refused the 2nd time) and over to ride Mike and Sully to the rescue (Monsters Inc) twice.  After that, we headed to the hotel again and then prepared to go out to see the World of Color (we'd picked up reserved passes earlier in the day).  It was a tiring day, but worth it!

Day 13, Thursday.  Our last day!  We checked out of our hotel and headed to Disneyland to meet Gillianne and her family!  Before we'd met, Mike took the boys to wait in line for the Matterhorn.  The ride broke down so we ended up needing to go at a later time.  Upon meeting up with Gillianne, we went on Pirates of the Caribbean (all of us did!), and Splash Mountain.  Daniel got his wish to go on the Matterhorn (the boys got to go twice, once with Mike, once with me!), and then on a boat ride in Storybook Land, and ending out the day with the spinning teacups (Mike, Daniel, Jared and Kaitlyn).  We headed for home and arrived about 12:30 am.  Tired...happy...did I mention tired?

We're still recovering a week later...but it was a fun trip!  We showed ourselves that we can do it with our complete family of six!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Challenge Day 2!

Welcome to the weekend, and my second consecutive day blogging!  Blogging every day has the potential to be a little boring in the sense that there's not something exciting going on EVERY day.

Anyway, today was a pretty typical Saturday.  Mike and I woke up to a little bit of kidlet squawking, and came downstairs to find that Kaitlyn (presumably) had scattered corn chips all over the floor.  Sigh.  After doing a bit of cleaning, we prepared to go out to do a little shopping.  Target today!  The past few weekends we've been favoring going to Fry's Electronics (for no good reason other than we're nerds!).  The mission at Target was to get swimsuits for the older 3, maybe pick up a little pool, and check on shorts for the boys too.  And mission was easily accomplished without too much fuss.

We decided to head up to South Mountain (another popular weekend driving destination) to see if J, K and L would nap (mostly geared towards K napping).  We managed to catch a few chuckwalla out again, and snap a few more fuzzy pictures.  Of course, Kaitlyn fell asleep as we were most of the way home.  Great.

Still plotting and planning our epic trip coming up in a few weeks here!  And that's about all for now!  Off to blog for the kids!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mommy's Little (Personal) Blogging Challenge

I decided sometime last week (mentally) that I was going to challenge myself to doing a blog a day.  Not just ANY blog a day (cue Daniel voice when saying that)...but one for myself AND each of the kids' blogs.  Ambitious!

I managed to do a blog-a-day for a period of time when I was on bed rest while pregnant with Kaitlyn.  At that time, though< I had a lot of time on my hands, and a lot of time to sit and ponder.

In any case, today I'll start!

Today was a pretty good day.  It was the first day of summer vacation for the boys (hip-hip HOORAY for them).  But, on top of that, the girls were home too, since they only go to daycare two days a week.  Mike went into the office today, so I had all four of them home alone with me today.

It actually wasn't too bad with all four of them, since the 3 older ones keep each other company.  Kaitlyn seems a lot less needy when the boys are around.  Laurel is getting better with not needing to be held every waking hour either, and she's kind of content to watch the others too.

Aside from that, we're putting everything in motion for our EPIC summer vacation trip.  I suppose it's more epic for us since it is a road trip (eep!) and we'll be hitting up a few stops and celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  So far, we've got the Reno leg hotel booked...just need to nail down a few more places to stay and we'll be good to go!  So exciting!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Tubal!

Has it REALLY been over two years since my last post here?  I have a weird addiction to blogs, and I know I've posted elsewhere, but I guess it really HAS been a while!  And now I'm editing to note that I actually started this post over a week ago...eesh...

I actually had to go back and look at the title of this post.  The Tubal!  A tubal ligation, that is.  'Coz I got one.  And I was more excited about it than a sane person should be (maybe).  I can't really pinpoint what makes me the most excited, but I think it has to do with being done having kids, having a family that I couldn't have planned better for if I tried (which isn't to say that I didn't try!) and just knowing that my uterus is closed for business!

So here goes, with all of the TMI (maybe, again) details.  I didn't post this on this blog, but my 4th child, 2nd daughter, was born on one of my favorite holiday's of the year...Groundhog Day!  Laurel Alexis Stone came into the world at 3:33am, a whopping 8lbs, 12oz...not too shabby for being nearly 2 weeks early!

At one of my prenatal checkups, of which there were MANY, due to preterm labor and things, one of the doctors talked to us at length about the different sterilization methods.  I always figured that I'd get my tubes tied when I was done having kids, but there are other ways of doing it nowadays.  I have had 3 Mirena IUDs that have worked out well for me between pregnancies in that they do wonders to lighten periods.  I'd thought about getting one again, but it is still "temporary", and they like to be diligent about having it checked every year, it is good for 5 years, etc etc.  My first Mirena also shifted and they had to use the jaws of life to get it out.  Well, not really, but it was wedged up there pretty far and it took the doctor about 45 minutes to get it out after making sure it was still in there by ultrasound and using a bunch of knitting needles (cervical dilators) to open things up to fish it out.

Back to the talk now.  I considered the IUD again.  Then the doctor talked about Essure, but that sort of turned both Mike and me off when they described the metal coils being in there permanently, the 3 month wait time for effectiveness, how it may not work, complications, etc.  I don't react particularly well to metal in general, as I can barely wear earrings for any length of time these days without my ear lobes swelling up.  And it freaked both of us out that the metal coils would be in there...FOREVER.

Then the tubal stuff.  Two ways of doing it.  One was shortly after birth (mini-laparotomy) and the other was a little more time after birth (laparascopic).  The mini-lap seemed to rely on digging around for the tubes (no scope) and she explained that it could be hit or miss.  The laparascopic one used a scope, had two incisions (but smaller) and possibly shorter recovery time.  So we kind of went for that, and made it officially on the books when I went for my post-partum checkup.

April 26th was the day!  I got to abstain from ibuprofen for a week or two before, and no food, water, etc starting the night before.  The plan was that I'd get up and drive myself up to the surgery center, and Mike would get all of the kids to where they needed to be and meet me up there.  We decided to put the girls into daycare again (a few days a week), and it would be Laurel's first day.  I needed to be at the surgery center no later than 6:30, so I set off around 5:45.  Mike put Daniel on the bus around 7:15.  Then dropped off the girls, then Jared at preschool and was on his way.

Meanwhile, I got to the surgery center about 6:20ish, and checked in pretty quickly.  They called me back around 7 or so, and I went into the pre-op consultation, where they do all of the vitals (check hematocrit, blood pressure, temperature, weight, etc) and I got to sign all of the paper work...yes, I am fully aware that this will make me unable to have more kids. They had me pee in a cup for a pregnancy test (just checking!) and I got changed into a spiffy gown, cap and paper bootie things.  Down to pre-op I went, and they came by to set up the heart rate monitors with stick-ums all over my chest and start an IV.  The nurse who did the IV was AWESOME.  She numbed it up with lidocane (which I can't say I've had before an IV was put in) and the whole thing went in like butter...I could hardly feel anything.  And then I waited.

Lots of people in pre-op for various things.  Of course, everyone is separated by curtains.  It was kind of a cacophony of voices in there while doctors, nurses, patients, whatever talked over each other.  And after a while, everyone got pushed off to where they were going, and I was still kind of waiting.  It was still early though, but I was kind of bored until someone came by with magazines to read.

My doctor showed up and said we could start earlier than 8:30 if everyone was ready.  I think all they were waiting for was anesthesia.  The resident showed up and introduced herself and finally the anesthesiologist arrived and we were good to go.  Although it wasn't too much earlier...I went back about 8:19.

I can't honestly remember what it was like the last time I had total knock-me-out surgery, since I was only 7 or so.  I couldn't tell you what the operating room looked like, and so on.  In any case, as much as I could see without glasses, we got to the operating room, I got to lay down on the table (which seemed super narrow to me!) and had my arms out like I was on death row ready to get a lethal injection.  Then the mask.  And then I heard the anesthesiologist say that she was putting the stuff into my IV to make me verrrrrry sleeeeeeepy.  A few seconds later I was out, and the next thing I know I'm waking up in recovery.

I felt really tired (but I was tired anyway!  I have four kids, remember?) but not too bad on the pain scale.  The doctor came by and said everything went well (which he had reiterated to Mike in the waiting room), although I had 3 incisions instead of 2 (which I come to find out is probably due to my weird anatomy...ha!).  Mike came in and the nurses got him some ice chips and water for me.  Yum.  Just like labor and delivery.  It wasn't too long before I was free to go home!  I got home, slept off the rest of the day and all was pretty good.

Aside from a few days of soreness (there were a few times I had a hard time bending over to get Laurel up for night feedings) and wearing dresses vs pants/shorts, I think I'm healing up well!  Two out of the three sets of steristrips fell off after a week and a half or so, and the NP at my appointment today ripped off the 3rd set.  Voila!  I'm fixed!

And if I get motivated later, I'll post pictures on here...hahaha!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Back to Life, Back to Reality

After a summer spent chronicling all of the goings on, I appear to have taken my good ol' time putting a new blog post out there!  September 9th?  Wow!  Has it really been that long?!

So what has been going on since then.  Hmmm...

Well, in September, Kaitlyn turned 1 month old.  The end of September approached, and it was almost time for my 6-week maternity leave to come to an end.  I went "back" to work to finish out the days that I had coming to me before I went into labor.  Essentially, I had 7 days to work before my departure.  So those 7 days were Friday the 20th of September, the following week, and the Monday after.  My last day at TGen was the 30th of September.

As I left, I had arrangements made to go to the hiring company that I would be getting paid through for my contract work.  I went to the office and was there for a good 2 hours or so, filling out forms, taking tests and talking to people.  I got the impression that they didn't realize that I was going for a particular job, I didn't need them to FIND me one.  One of the ladies that I talked to was telling me about all of these random job opportunities.

Moving on, I had the rest of the week of to let everything get processed. Due to the government shut down (ha!), they mentioned that they couldn't verify work eligibility.  But that was OK, since I wasn't in a rush to start right that moment...especially with a trip to Montana coming up.

Daniel was on fall break the first week in October.  Kaitlyn wasn't yet in daycare, and so we figured it was prime time to take a trip to Montana.  It also happened that Mike's father was very sick, and we got there with a few days to say our goodbyes and let him meet his newest granddaughter.  He passed away right before midnight on the Wednesday of our trip, and the memorial was on Saturday.  We headed back to Phoenix the following day.

Monday came, and Kaitlyn started daycare (having the record of being able to keep her out of daycare the longest out of all of our kids...Daniel and Jared both started at just over 6 weeks of age, and she made it to about 10 weeks!).  Daniel also started his after school program as well.

After a few more weeks of waiting for the staffing company to get back to me, I finally started my new contract job at Paradigm!  It has taken a while to get into, but I really enjoy it and I find that I really get engrossed in the work.  Another surprise came right before Christmas, with an offer of a more permanent position and working in-house!

For Christmas, we made the somewhat last-minute decision to drive to Reno.  That way, we could bring Mike's mom back with us and spend some time in Reno as well.  We stayed in Yerington for a few days, spending time with Mike's brother and mom, and his brother's girlfriend's family.  After Christmas, we went to Reno and stayed at the Peppermill for a few nights in the most awesome room ever (or most awesome BATHROOM ever!).  We met up with a few of Mike's former co-workers, including Maurice and his family.

One of the days in Reno we took a trip to Tahoe, where the kids got to sled a little bit and play around in the snow.

As we departed Reno, we made our way to Vegas, deciding to split the return trip into two parts.  We got to Las Vegas a little after dark and crashed out in our room at the Excalibur.  The trip from Reno to Vegas is LONG!  The next day we got up and went to the Venetian to visit the wax museum.  We hadn't been there since Daniel was a baby, and it was fun to have the kids pose and see all of the new things that they have.

Back to Phoenix we came, with Mike's mom in tow.  After that, who knows what direction she will go!

I say back to reality now, as just this week I started going into the office.  I now have my very official badge (which, comically, has my TGen picture on it, since it's in the same building).

The kids are definitely growing like weeds!  Kaitlyn turned 5 months yesterday, and I'm still keeping up with the picture a day thing with her.  For the boys, I started doing the daily picture for them on New Years.  Kaitlyn is good at rolling over, holding her head up, and tries to wiggle and crawl.  She is getting the hang of the exersaucer too!  Jared is picking up so many things, and he loves to point out his letters and numbers, and he's trying his hand at some words.  Daniel is picking up a lot of words too, and is really good at doing detailed work.  He likes to tinker, and can put together things (like a vacuum cleaner!) and likes "machines".

Well, that's about all for now.  The dust is settling from all of the drama of 2013, and we are now all enjoying the ride!

Monday, September 09, 2013

New Past-time...Documentaries!

In the evening, when Mike is putting the boys to bed, I take Kaitlyn and do her evening stuff (feed and put varies each night when she might go down).  Usually, Kaitlyn goes to sleep around 8:30 or 9, and Mike is still with the boys for a while longer.  Until the kids are asleep, I usually do a few computer things, grade papers (if I happen to have a class going), read email, blog (like I'm doing now) and so on.  Recently, though, I've gone through the Netflix cue for a few things to watch, but something maybe Mike wouldn't necessarily want to watch, and something I could just interrupt halfway through (didn't have to invest an hour or two in one stretch).  One of the categories that came up was documentaries...specifically I think they called it "cerebral documentaries" or something like that.

So far, I'm on my 3rd documentary in the past week.  The first was called "Dying to Know", a documentary about the Gerson therapy.  The second was a National Geographic documentary on tracing the paths of human migration through genetic markers.  Now I'm watching "Burzynski", a documentary about a novel cancer treatment.

I like to think I'm a pretty "open" person...I like to learn new things, I'm open to new ideas and ways of doing things.  I also know quite a bit about certain topics, academically, and those topics I feel confident that I know more than the average person and can evaluate them critically.  So after watching these documentaries (and notice, they're all biotech/biomedical/cancer related...a subject I'm well versed in), I feel the need to offer my opinion on the documentary...which in turn ends up being about the topic of the documentary in general.  The way I see it, documentaries SHOULD try to show both sides of an issue and let the audience decide, but you can totally tell when the maker is trying to sway the audience towards one viewpoint.

Anyway, hopefully I'll get around to spewing my opinion on these...stay tuned! :)

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Four Weeks with Kaitlyn and Other Things

Today marks Kaitlyn's four week birthday!  Time really does fly!

We've had a bit of a busy week thus far, and it was technically a "short" week due to the Labor Day holiday, but it seems longer sometimes when it's hot out and everyone is stir crazy by the end of the long weekend.  Monday we did go on a trip to the Sea Life aquarium, and to lunch at the Rainforest Cafe (where we had quite the heart stopping when Daniel decided to wander off halfway through lunch, setting off a whole search party for him!).

Tuesday Daniel went for his 5 year well check at the doctor.  He's growing well (pretty much 50th percentile for height and weight, blood pressure was good and all of that).  Back in January when we had gone to the developmental psychologist, she had suggested that Daniel might try some medication for ADHD (formally, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum, with ADHD, sensory processing disorder and language delay, primarily).  We had decided to see if having speech therapy and going to the developmental pre-K at the school district would improve things (which, it did!), but he is still having a hard time grasping a lot of questions that we and the teachers throw at him.  In any case, we decided to give medication a try, so we're optimistic that it will help him focus so he can overcome some of the communication difficulties he's been having (among other things).

Jared's well check was on Wednesday, and he was good as well.  Instead of being in the lower percentiles, he's finally moved up to the mid-ranges again!  He had one shot scheduled and the FluMist if we wanted (figured why not, since Daniel had it the day before, and if the boys are vaccinated, it might prevent transmission to Kaitlyn who is too young to get it).  Jared had a bit of a runny nose, but it was easily wiped so they went ahead with the FluMist.  He went to daycare and was acting fine.  A little while after Mike put him to bed, though, he woke up with a really barky cough and was wheezing pretty hard.  It scared him, and it ended up that we spent a good chunk of the night up with him (Mike primarily...he ran the shower with him for a good long while, and sat up with him until around 2:30am before getting Jared back to bed).  I was up with Kaitlyn at the usual time, but still kind of tired from being up even as late as I was and worrying about Jared.

Today, Jared stayed home, even though his wheezing was a lot better and his cough was sporadic at best.  He'll probably go to daycare again tomorrow.  Daniel came home at his usual time (right before 3pm), so I was home with all three for about 3 hours.  Eep!  Basically, it's hard to get ANYTHING done with all of them needing me (or thinking that they need me) in one form or another.  Mike asked if I had gone insane from that or lost it, and surprisingly I didn't totally go off my rocker (thanks Zoloft?).  I do fear, though, that these types of things are just making me teeter on the edge, even though I've been the most stable after this pregnancy compared to after the boys.

So that's pretty much that!  It really boggles the mind that 4 weeks have passed, and Kaitlyn's one month check is coming up soon.  I'm really kicking into gear again with job hunting (although it's going slowly...but momentum is building!), and hopefully things fall into place so we can all be settled and stable again!