Life Right Now

I can't begin to count the number of times I've been meaning to get this post written down. I realized just now, as I was staring down at my sweet boy's face, that I've been keeping this on my long list of things to do and it's over-due. And besides, I'm not talking the sweet face of Daniel, oh no. He's been upgraded to big brother status and the sweet face I speak of currently is that of his little brother Julian.

He joined our party of 3 on April 14th and wow, what an interesting journey it's been so far for Gary and I now that we have children! Can I just inject a bit of weepy mommy emotion for a second and talk about how I wish I could capture every single face, every moment, for better or worse, so I can look back on it whenever I want? It pains me to think about how quickly Julian is growing right before my eyes, how fast his time goes by as evidenced by my giant of an older son Daniel, but oh how blessed I am to have eyes that see these fleeting moments at least once in my life, even if I will eventually forget. In all their flaws, my sons are absolutely perfect and so heartbreakingly beautiful to me.

Our journey towards Julian's birth started, and ended, with us thinking he'd be it. That we'd be a two-kid family, regardless of his gender. When we learned he would be a boy, I was over the moon. Another boy! A brother for my already sweet prince! I wouldn't know what to do with a girl anyway! But now he's here, and we're here, with two kids and a lifetime and I'm suddenly left feeling a certain way: do we have room for more? Because when I realized how easy the love for one child can morph into the love for two children without splitting, sharing, or dividing that love... then surely, we can have another?

But that's a conversation for Gary and I to have another day, down the road from where we are now. Right now I'm just enjoying the newness of Julian, watching Daniel grow as a person and a brother, and be the queen in a household of the men in my life. 

Where To Begin?

I can't even believe that it's been a year and a half since I blogged! (actually, I can...) SO much has changed for us, for ME, since I last updated, so I guess I'll just list them off.

  • We moved back to California from Iowa in April! While we were fortunate to the opportunity I was given in the Midwest, there is truly no place like home and now that we're back we're much happier!
  • I turned 30! ...doesn't feel much different, but I like saying it. It's always nice turning a year older so close to the New Year, but turning 30 this year felt like such a nice, clean start after such a dynamic (to put it nicely) last decade and thinking about all that's to come in 2015!
  • We're PREGNANT! Our second boy, due April 2015. Very happy and ready to welcome another busy boy to our little brood. This pregnancy snuck up on me, since at my first OB appointment baby measured 14 weeks gestation instead of 12 weeks like I thought. It's been flying by since. Short period of morning sickness (probably masked by the fact that gastroenteritis swept through our house around the same time), mild weight gain so far, baby is always moving, and so far very mild acid reflux; this has been a very easy pregnancy, fortunately!
  • Baby Bear turned 3 in November. I can't believe how fast he is growing, right before my eyes it seems like. He's already near 40 lbs. and of course much taller than most of his peers, thanks to his 6'2" Papa Bear. Despite how big he is, he reminds me every day just how much he still needs us; just as loving and cuddly as ever, constantly wanting to be near us. We're hoping to get him into a preschool that allows children who aren't yet potty trained, along with getting him into speech therapy for his delayed talking (it's there, but almost incomprehensible. He loves to sing and can count to 10, but we have to translate for him, haha!). Hoping the therapy helps w/ potty training, amongst other things...
  • Papa Bear started his teaching credential program at a local university = busy busy busy are we.
Along that same vein, what I really want to elaborate on: I reached an important career goal of my own last year which precipitated us moving back to California so quickly in the first place. We were living in Iowa for a mere 10 months and about 6 months into our time there, I started looking for a new job. I applied all over the place, including a different part of Iowa. I even interviewed at a major children's hospital in Iowa, but it just didn't work out. I was quite put off by it actually, but in hindsight it was for the best. I decided after that to apply strictly to hospitals back home. 

A few months later, the unthinkable happened: I received an email from a unit manager at a children's hospital here in California, asking to set up a phone interview with me! I was floored, ecstatic, and thinking how it couldn't have come at a better time with our family reeling in emotion over the death of my grandmother's husband (they married when I was 10). I mentioned the interview to my parents, but left it at that and didn't hope for much. The interview came, went, and a few days later I was given a job offer! So now, we're back in California after a whirlwind move and I'm working in my dream specialty, the unit I wanted to work in the most since before nursing school: a high-acuity Neonatal Intensive Care Unit! 

Reaching one goal always lends itself to a new goal, and this is no different. Currently, my new goal is just to make it past my first few years in this new unit and finally train into our high-level intensive area (where are micropremies, surgicals, and severe birth defect infants are initially admitted). My unit prefers to allow us time to work with stable ventilators, non-invasive oxygen administration, basic IV drips, and babies who are "feeder/growers" before training us in babies who are much, much worse off. I'm thankful for this practice, which isn't so in most NICUs. 

Hopefully, I am fully trained to all areas of my NICU by the time Papa Bear finishes his credential program so I can tackle another goal: graduate school! I never considered it an option before, but now that I'm working in the unit I love I find myself craving the next step. I have found several programs here in California and abroad offering a Doctorate in Nursing Practice in Neonatology, which upon completion I would practice as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP for short). Me, a Nurse Practitioner? Me, with a Doctorate?! Craziness, but I look forward to the challenge of achieving this huge goal while working and raising my boys. I could just go the certification route, study up and pass the test to become a certified Neonatal Registered Nurse (which I still have hopes to do), but the way I see it now is go big or go home. Certification is big, DNP is BIGGER. 

When Life Calls

Wow! I can't believe the last time I blogged was on June 1st. That day seems like a lifetime ago but at the same time, just yesterday. Since moving here to the midwest, everything is happening on overdrive for me (can't speak for Gary on that one...). I am no longer training in pediatrics, I've cross-trained to NICU and have had several solo shifts there already, and on my days off we explore our surrounding areas or lounge at the pool soaking in gorgeous 90 degree heat and glorious humidity. Just yesterday, we drove over an hour to Norfolk, Nebraska to play at the AquaVenture water park. It's a smaller park made for a small town but it was perfect for our little guy and he enjoyed it immensely! As did we!

Even though we live near the city, it's still a small town life we now lead; finding things to do for fun takes a little bit of creativity and more than likely, a little bit of driving too. Fortunately, the two bigger cities that have more things to do than our own new home are only 1.5 hours away from us in either direction.

Actually, it's more than just fun and games that we look for in these two cities. Omaha, Nebraska, is an easy 1.5 hour drive from here and has the closest accredited, free-standing birth center to us. After having Daniel I knew I would not want a hospital birth for our #2 and as we talk about our plan for a second child, I'm relieved that I won't be forced to deliver at the hospital where I work! Now, whether my insurance will cover any part of an out-of-network birth in another state is an entirely different issue... but this is such an important aspect of our family planning that I'm willing to pay the out of pocket expenses.

When my parents come to visit us on September, we will probably plan days of play in Omaha and our other "big city", Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I also want to visit the Ingalls Homestead in Desmet, South Dakota. My mom grew up watching Little House on the Prairie as a child in Japan, while I voraciously read the series front to back when I was a kid. Visiting one of the many places Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up would be so interesting for us! Weather in September should be comfortable enough to spend some good time outdoors.

In the spirit of exploring our new surroundings, Gary and I finally braved eating at our first sushi restaurant here in Iowa and boy were we disappointed. I really, REALLY wanted to like this place - the service, albeit slow, was very friendly and the atmosphere was fine. The fish was good too... but the rice. Oh, the rice. The MOST important thing about sushi is the rice. It is the one constant throughout the world as modern sushi takes on its own face and flavor apart from traditional sushi. It should be firm but soft, not mushy, sticky yet not clumped together, and have the slight taste of seasoned rice vinegar. This cooking and seasoning of the rice should complement the fish and when it's not there in any way, well, you've failed at sushi making my friend.

This restaurant's rice was everything sushi rice SHOULDN'T be. It was cooked to death and lacked flavor. It did such a disservice to the quality of the fish that it was almost painful to eat. In hindsight, we should have ordered much less than we did (at a painful $70 tab, I felt robbed) and gotten McDonalds on the way home. I enjoy their $1.29 hamburgers a hundred times more than I enjoyed this sushi experience. But I am not deterred. There has to be good sushi here in the Midwest! And I will find it...