Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Life Lately

This is the longest I've ever been away from my blog.  Writing is my passion, my hobby, and my escape...and I have missed it terribly.  But life has thrown us another major curve ball and I just simply haven't had the time, or the drive, or both.  I don't even really know how to write this post.  I was thinking about doing a big catch-up on all things Stella, Josie and Kaiser...you know, like I used to.  All organized and following the usual format.  But honestly I don't have it in me, and pretending to be in a place I'm not goes against every principal I've had since starting this blog.  So I'm not going to go that route.  I'm just going to wing it.  An open, honest (probably too honest) catch-up post on life lately.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  So grab a drink and settle in, probably going to be a long post...

Where did I even leave off?  (pauses to read last post)  Oh yes, preparing myself for a beautiful fall.  HA HA!  Well October brought another trip to the ER for Stella (croup), an overnight hospital stay for Stella ON my birthday when I was also terribly sick because she had an ear infection and was refusing meds and fluids, Josie catching a bad cold, Mark busy at work, and my car battery dieing at the gas pump.  Stella was diagnosed with asthma and put back on her inhaler and allergy meds this month.  I had so much hope things would improve.  I even scheduled a long overdue birthday trip to the spa, where I was rewarded with a nasty burn on my face from an inexperienced esthetician waxing my brows.  That was super fun.  We did manage to celebrate Halloween before the sickness returned.  Josie screamed the entire time (social anxiety at it's finest), but Stella had a blast and I was so thankful we were able to take her out!
Little dragon and Dorothy.  Toto was in the basket but she wanted nothing to do with that!
And just like that, when I thought things probably couldn't get much worse, November hit.

Now let's pause for a minute.  I want to say something before I go on about the past few months.  Life can ALWAYS get worse.  I am thankful every second (and tell God daily) for all my blessings.  But that doesn't mean we aren't allowed to be upset when life gets us down.  I think at some point in our lives we all are going to face the eye of the tiger.  It's what makes us human.  It's what makes us lean on God.  Some people's tigers are just a little bigger, a little meaner.  But it's still OK to be afraid of our own.  Keep the perspective, but allow yourself to FEEL. 

OK.  Moving on.  So November...  I got a call the first day of November that Stella was wheezing again at daycare.  That led into another long sickness spell.  I was so discouraged, I truly thought the inhaler would solve her recurring illnesses.  At this point I think people thought I was crazy.  Thought I was using it as an excuse to avoid outings.  I felt like people weren't listening to me.  Everyone told me "oh yea she started daycare she'll be catching everything"  "oh yea they are sick all the time at this age"  Call it mother's intuition, but I KNEW something was off.  She just couldn't recover.  She had been sick now for over 4 months.  Even when she was better she still wasn't "healthy"  I was growing tired, frustrated, and so so concerned.  On top of that, Josie, Mark and I couldn't get healthy either.  We kept passing the germs around.  Think about when your kids or you get sick.  Sometimes it lasts a week or so, at most.  Even if it's only a few days being sick and having sick babies is awful!  Really puts a damper on things until every one's better.  Now imaging it lasting over 4 months.  For your entire family.  While you are trying to deal with therapies and mental disabilities of a 2 year old.  Ending Early Intervention.  Trying to get an IEP set up.  Trying to wrap your mind around an Autism diagnosis.  Having everything you try to do for the mental disability (therapy, daycare, outings) make her sick and delay her physical health.  But then keeping her home trying to get her healthy and suffering setbacks mentally.  I couldn't win.  I fought a losing battle every single day.  I never gave up, but I reached a whole new low.  Or so I thought.

Stella's birthday was quickly approaching.  November 17th.  I sketched a wish list of all the things I wanted to do.  Birthday pancakes.  Her annual balloon pictures.  Meet daddy for lunch.  Maybe a picnic supper.  Presents.  I knew she was very sick, but I hoped every day she'd wake up better.  That week was awful.  She wouldn't eat, drank EXCESSIVELY and then peed even more.  I changed her clothes and sheets multiple times a day.  From Saturday until Wednesday (her birthday was Thursday) she got worse every day.  Falling asleep everywhere.  Putting herself to bed.  Running into doorways.  I called the doctor 3 times Tuesday.  I took her in Wednesday.  She had a double ear infection and was on steroids.  The consensus was that she just felt lousy.  But I couldn't shake there was something else going on.

Thursday her birthday arrived.  She didn't eat the pancakes.  Fell asleep holding her balloons.  I cried all morning.  I called Mark, who came home at noon.  She asked for a happy meal.  I went to town and got one.  She wouldn't touch it, or her birthday cupcake Mark brought home.  She put herself to bed at 6:00.  I sat down and made a list of all her illnesses since July.  I cried some more.  I went back to her room and went to pick her up (she kept getting out of bed and laying on the floor).  I could feel her bones.  I cried hysterically, begged Mark to go the the ER with us.  I told him I was afraid she had a disease, it was like her body was eating itself.  He agreed. I packed up the girls, he started the car, and we headed to the Princeton ER.
This picture breaks my heart.  She is so thin and frail, and her eyes are so cloudy.  Looking at pictures I can't believe how sick she truly was, especially on her birthday.  That was the saddest day of my life.
An even sadder picture.  Mark filled a few balloons with helium for her before work that morning (from a leftover tank from last year's party).  These were the only things that made her happy that day, she put herself to bed holding them.  I can hardly look at these pictures, but they are a part of us now.
When we arrived they asked if her blood sugars had been tested after I explained her symptoms.  We said no.  They drew some blood.  At this point she was lethargic, but still interacting a bit (i.e. screaming and crying).  While they ran the tests I asked Mark what blood sugars meant.  He said diabetes.  I said "wouldn't that be a kick in the ass (pardon my French I was at a whole other level) if she had diabetes on top of Autism and not being able to tolerate medicines or communicate very well"   We kinda smirked at the possibility.  And then the doctor came back in.  He told us she was an extremely sick little girl.  I was SPOT ON about the intuition of a disease and her body eating itself.  That motherly intuition is some powerful stuff!  Her blood sugars were over 800 (normal is around 80).  He said "I'm afraid it's not good news, she has Type 1 Diabetes"  I can't explain what that was like.  To get bad news from a doctor is pure hell.  To get it about your little girl, while she lays there on the table almost unconscious in her birthday shirt on her f'ing birthday no less, clutching her puppy, already struggling with so much, is like a damn breaking lose.  I wanted to explode.  With anger.  Fear.  Sadness. Overwhelmed.  I cried.  Hard.  Which if you know me isn't like me.  Mark cried.  The next hour was a blur.  She had to be transported via lifeflight to OSF in Peoria.  She would be there about 5 days.  Josie was with us.  Mark's mom came to get her, but we found out we couldn't go in the helicopter.  The flight crew was exceptional.  The staff was amazing.  I cried at everything.  I had the fear of God in me that night.  Reliving it twists my heart.  I took her birthday hair tie and clutched it for dear life as we took Josie home and packed bags.  I looked to the sky and saw a light...was that the helicopter with my baby?  I almost puked.  The crew called me when they landed safely.  Mark and I drove to Peoria.  The longest drive of my life.

Stella was in the hospital from Thursday night until Monday afternoon.  It was the worst experience of my life.  I won't go into much detail.  Someday I will, just not today.  Not yet.  She screamed.  Yelling words and emotions I didn't even know she knew.  She yelled she was mad.  The doctors were monsters.  She yelled she was scared.  They lost her IVs.  She still had that damn double ear infection.  She had to get antibiotic shots.  They were AWFUL.  Respiratory came up for her inhaler.  We had lots of issues with the hospital staff.  Mark said he'd deploy to war again in a heartbeat before he'd ever want to experience that again.  It was an experience that will forever be etched in our minds.  It will always feel like yesterday.  The scar of those few days is deeply seared in our souls. 
First admitted to OSF, the last night we were there when she finally got excited to open her birthday present (troll painting craft that she happily did for an hour!), and rocking the Life Flight shirt they sent us in the mail. 
But then we found the turning point.  After every hurricane comes a rainbow.  She was transferred from IVs and fluids to insulin shots.  The every few hours torturous blood draws ended with that transition.  The Pediatric Diabetes Recourse Center (PDRC, located in the hospital) sent up a wonderful educator to answer some questions and start our training.  We met her diabetes doctor (endocrinologist) who was magnificent and worked out our staff issues for us.  We finally slept after 3 days without.  Josie was doing great with her grandparents (she pulled it together just in time, previously she screamed for anyone except us.  Thanks be to God).  Kaiser was doing fine in his kennel at home.  Stella could get out of bed.  She could eat and drink (with carb counting and insulin).  It was still awful, but it was a breaking point.  Things started to get better, not worse.

We came home on a Monday, after a full day of training with two more days of training left to complete in the following weeks.  Again, I won't go into too much detail yet.  Basically Stella can eat anything, we just have to count every single carb.  Try it for a day.  Try to count carbs in a casserole.  It SUCKS.  Then imagine trying it out and about in public.  Then remember this is a (just turned) 3 year old with communication difficulties who doesn't understand what's going on.  The holidays were right around the corner.  Pre meals mean a blood sugar check, post meals mean an insulin shot.  3 times a day, with a check and shot before bed.  Plus at least one in the middle of the night.  It's like learning to care for your kid all over again, like having a newborn.  Oh yea, you also have a new baby too.  At first the sugars were all over the place.  Highs.  Lows.  I called the PDRC every day.  I've always fed her healthy foods, but I grow so frustrated with her eating now.  At first she ate a ton, now she is going through a stage where she never wants to eat or drink.  To make counting carbs possible while we're overwhelmed, I use boxed foods.  When she's low I have to feed her sugar.  Snacks must be under 10 grams of carbs or they accumulate (or we have to give insulin for snacks too).  This leads to a lot of sugar-free (aka chemical rich) foods.  I am having to go against everything that is important to me.  It sucks.  But for now I do the lesser of two evils and just try to keep her blood sugars stable.  I will work through the rest in time.  It is a marathon, not a sprint.  Except I'm a sprint kinda girl.  Learning to adapt, trust me!
Thanksgiving 3 days after we got home from the hospital.  We spent it being oh so thankful at home.
Thankfully she handles the shots and checks very well.  We were surprised.  The other big part of the puzzle is keeping her healthy.  She was scheduled for tubes January 12th as her ears had yet to drain.  I hoped that would be the last piece of the puzzle to get her healthy.  We were on a wait list since October.  It sucked.  I tried taking her to a chiropractor who specialized in ear infections and Autism.  A true blessing for Stella.  But it's over an hour away and I couldn't commit to that at the time.  So we go with tubes and will take her this summer to align her body properly. 

So anyways.  The sickness.  If Stella gets sick, we have to push fluids, check ketones in her pee, and correct with insulin accordingly.  If she gets on antibiotics, they interfere with the insulin, possibly making her resistant to it temporarily.  When Stella gets sick, she refuses liquids and medicine.  Hence the previous hospital visits and stay.  Now it's even worse.  She was a sitting duck with one ear infected, and fluid behind both and her nose.  So we have chose to delay Pre-K until after the tubes.  We also decided to be hermits to expose her to as few germs as possible.  Some people understand.  Some don't.  I really don't care.  Trust me, it affected me the most as a SAHM hibernating at home with a teething 7 month old, a 90 pound dog recovering from an ACL tear, and a 3 year old with ASD and diabetes all trapped in an 800 square foot house during the winter.  But it was the best option until we could get her tubes in, so that's what I did. 

Despite being trapped at home in the winter, December brought a few positive changes and we really did make the best of it!  Stella wasn't sick (other than her ear issues), and began talking and experiencing fewer meltdowns as a result of feeling better.  She was in the "honeymoon" stage of Type 1 Diabetes (her pancreas was triggered to release the last of it's insulin when we started injections.  this can last from a few weeks to a few years.  this means we didn't need to give her much insulin, but her pancreas is unreliable.  Sometimes it produces too much and we get scary lows.  But it is a break from the shots and gave us time to compose ourselves and prepare for whats to come). 

We were thankful for a good month with Stella, because as always we met several other challenges at the end of the year.  Our heater broke and our septic system needed pumped again.  I also tripped over the baby gate and ripped off my toenail and sprained some tendons in my foot.  That made caring for my babies interesting!

We opted to stay home for Christmas.  I was so desperate to keep Stella healthy for her tubes.  I couldn't bare to reschedule, we'd been waiting MONTHS to get her in.  I just wanted that poor girl to get fixed up and in school already.  Add in Josie's social anxiety and I knew it would be more trouble than it was worth this year.  Turned out I made the right decision.  Several members of Mark's family got hit with the flu right after Christmas.  BUT...   We had visitors over the holiday.  It was against my better judgment but I let it happen.  And in case you couldn't guess, I got hit with the flu right after Christmas.  Hard.  It was the worst flu I've ever had in my life.  I threw up so much for so long that my chest hurt for days afterwords from the heaving.  So, even though I was better by New Years, I was all prepared to take Stella into the hospital should she get it.  I literally spent the New Years weekend holding my breath praying over and over to God that she didn't get it.
Christmas Eve snuggles, and Stella all dressed for our tour of Christmas lights in her jammies!  Matching PJs and kisses Christmas morning.  A beautiful and blessed Christmas at home.
New Years also spent at home.  New Years Eve fun and matching jammies for a relaxing New Years Day!
And my miracle happened.  We sailed into 2017 with me being the only flu victim.  I was sure things were looking up.  We took down all the Christmas d├ęcor, did some small cleaning, and re-arranged all the kids toys.  And then Josie woke up the first Sunday in January with a bad eye.  It was watering terribly, she couldn't open it.  She cried all morning and wouldn't eat.  First we thought she poked her eye (as she'd done before), but after a quick nap it wasn't any better so I sent Mark to the ER with her.  I had a bad feeling it was something more, just based on our luck lately alone!  Sure enough, it was pink eye.  Drops 4 times a day for the week.  GREAT!  I can give pokes and shots no problem but eye drops make my stomach turn.  Oh well, once again just buck up and do it!  Again, I prayed and prayed Stella wouldn't get it.  Thankfully, once again, she avoided it!  She made it to January 12th illness free and ready for tubes!
Poor pink-eyed baby :-(  Still all smiles after the drops got her feeling better!
I called the PDRC, Stella's pediatrician, and the anesthesiologist at the hospital prior to her surgery.  I was sooo nervous about her sugars dropping since she couldn't eat or drink before the surgery.  They said she could have sips of apple juice up to 3 hours before the surgery, so I woke her up at 4:00 am to sip some juice and get her sugars up just a tiny bit to prevent lows.  We did the surgery at the hospital, and she was the first one of the day, due to the diabetes.  They assured me she didn't need an IV and the surgery only takes about 15 minutes.  We had the best doctor there is.  But I was still so worried.  She did great, other than being an absolute bear waking from anesthesia.  They assured me it was normal, but if you can imagine she refused food or drink.  What I forgot to account for (simply because we hadn't experienced it yet) was that stress raises blood sugars.  So she remained very stable because getting worked up over the surgery balanced out the lack of food or drink.  She slept on the drive home and was back to her usual self by the time we got home!  Other than having lots of blood and drainage come out of her ears (they were still pretty infected at the time of the surgery) and having to do the ear drops twice a day for a week, she was even better than ever!  Drinking more water (she HATES to drink.  anything.  it's awful), talking more clearly, and in a better mood!  Poor girl, I think those ears bothered her more than we thought.
Waiting for tubes on daddy's lap.
Well I'd like to say it's been smooth sailing since then.  But we know better by now, right?  My mom watched Josie during the surgery, and as luck would have it she came down with Influenza A while Josie was there.  I prayed Josie wouldn't get it.  But that Saturday (2 days after the tubes) I went to my overdue New Year's spa day (honestly the only thing I do for myself anymore, about every few months).  Somehow I managed to have an allergic reaction during my facial.  I swear my body is revolting against the stress.  It was so bad!  My face turned red, blotchy, and puffy.  She applied cooling masks and rags and I laid there until it went down a bit.  Real relaxing, right?  I had to go right home after that because I looked like a Halloween character, and I got home to a sick baby girl.  Josie was miserable all weekend, so I had Mark take her to the doctor Monday (he always has MLK Day off...well he went in that morning but came home in the afternoon).  Sure enough she tested positive for Influenza A.  Stella was starting to lay around so I feared it would hit her too, but prayed she would be lucky again.  That night my dad got married in a small ceremony at a friend's house with just family attending.  As you can probably guess I had to go alone while Mark put the babies to bed.  I was bummed, but what can you do?  That night my nose started to stuff up too.  Great.
So happy for my dad and excited to have such a wonderful step mom!
Sure enough Stella woke up screaming every hour all night long.  Tuesday was supposed to be her PDRC appointment in the morning and first day of Pre-K in the afternoon.  I cancelled both and headed to OSF instead.  She was refusing food and drink, and I knew it was only a matter of time until her sugars dropped and I'd have no way to keep them up.  We needed fluids and sugar water through an IV.  After the drive and a 2 hour wait at the hospital, we got into the ER.  Sure enough we were in the 50's by then, so they gave her glucose gel.  We endured the awful process of putting an IV in.  The nurse failed twice so they called the trauma nurse, who thankfully got it in.  I had to step in the hallway this time.  I made it through 5 days of hell when she was diagnosed, but this time I couldn't take it.  I was crying and didn't want her to see me.  She called out for me when it was over and I went in there.  I don't know what is best.  Seeing me during the process might relate the trauma to me or it might help her deal.  I don't know.  We just do the best we can.  We spent the entire day in the ER.  They were amazing.  Brought her toys, chocolate milk, blew bubbles during the IV torture, and even found Cars 2 and a DVD player for her. 

Finally around 6:00 they had a room ready upstairs for us.  We were admitted upstairs by 7:00.  At this time I was so tired and HUNGRY.  Thankfully they have a late night menu.  After eating we both fell asleep.  We spend the next 2 days riding it out (oh, she tested positive for Influenza A too if you hadn't guessed by now!)  She had to be better enough to eat and drink on her own before we left.  Mark was at work or with Josie, so I was there with Stella alone this time (other than Mark bringing me some stuff Wednesday night).  We were in isolation, so I couldn't even leave the room (because Stella was contagious).  The coffee was terrible, I didn't sleep, and I was sick myself.  Thankfully Stella's doctor called in Tamiflu for Mark and I to help us stay healthy and it worked quickly.  After an extremely long few days she was finally better enough to go home.  I was nervous but excited to leave.  On the plus side we were actually able to get the Tamiflu in her and she kept it down, so that was a first!  Really has me hopeful we can give her medication now! 
From a super sick little girl in the ER to recovering in the Children's Hospital with her beloved balloons to getting ready to leave and enjoying the view.  Thankful they helped her heal!
Once we got home she did OK.  She still hates to drink (yes, EVERYTHING.  I've tried.  pop, chocolate milk, every juice under the sun, you name it.  I have no idea why she hates drinking).  The nurse suggested giving fluids through a medicine syringe if she won't drink, and to this day I have to do that occasionally.  Unflavored pedialyte, a few ounces at a time.  It keeps her out of the hospital at least.  Otherwise we just rested up over the weekend and checked back in with their doctor Monday.  Both girls were on the mend, so the plan was to rest up this past week.  Stella had her first dentist appointment Wednesday though.  I was referred to a kids only dentist in Peoria.  I am so thankful we found her!  With the Autism, a trip to the dentist can be quite traumatic.  Instead it was a day Stella still talks about!  She had a cage of birds, a tank of sea turtles, tons of toys for the kids, and a photo booth.  Stella didn't want to leave!  What a wonderful experience, thank the Lord.  Going through tough times makes you appreciate people and blessings so much more.  Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing life for the first time. 
LOVE these pictures.  Shows how much fun she had at the dentist.  Still talks about it everyday!
Yesterday Stella was finally able to start Pre-K!  She loved it so much that both days she cried when I picked her up because she didn't want to go home!  Her blood sugars have been a bit wacky due to the different schedule, and she is used to an afternoon nap so going without 5 days a week is definitely an adjustment, but this is such a big step for her.  She loves kids and I know she is going to learn so much.  Josie is napping in the afternoons now, so that will also give me some much needed time to myself every day.  This week I am taking her, but next week she will be picked up by a bus (van actually).  She goes to the next district over because our district is too small and doesn't do Pre-K IEP's.  The school she is going to has 2 full time nurses that are WONDERFUL (we had a meeting already).  One even has a Type 1 daughter!  There are 2 other little ones with T1D in the school, close to Stella's age even.  Back to those blessings.  I thank God for placing us in this district right now.  It's just what she needs and I have no worries about her care.  Not sure what services she will need educationally, they plan to evaluate her and go from there.  We are starting private speech back up next month with her previous therapist too.  Her Autism doctor recommended it and I agree.  Her therapist is amazing. 
First day of Pre-K.  She started by crying when I put her book bag on (take the bracelet off mama!).  I asked her if she wanted to wear a pretty dress but she said "how about red lightening McQueen shirt?"  good thing Santa knows her so well!  True to her unique form, she randomly grabbed a pretend ear of corn and blue rubber duck from the dentist (along with puppy of course) on the way out.  When we got there she was happy to wear the book bag since all the other kids had one.  Love this unique girl to pieces, such a memorable first day!  I'd expect no less :-)
I know I've said this a million times, but I feel like things are finally looking up.  We have our health back.  Kaiser is moving around so so much better, he's back to his old puppy-self!  This weekend I scrubbed down the house.  Stella finally go to start school.  We can get into a better routine.  The honeymoon stage of her diabetes is on it's way out, so we are back to shots, but on the plus side that means it will be more predictable at least.  I feel optimistic.  I know we can get hit again.  With something.  With everything.  That's been our pattern over the past year.  But I have learned it can't break me.  However, I am severely bruised.  My body is (literally!) in bad shape.  My marriage has really taken a hit.  Don't get me wrong, we love each other very much, but you can't experience all we have endured without tension sneaking in.  We have a lot of work to do.  Starting with training a few baby-sitters so we can leave Stella once again for date nights.  (keep in mind no one knows how to take care of her right now so she is with one of us 24/7.  This means zero date nights and good-bye vacation we wanted to take.  drop in the bucket compared to everything else, but a side effect none the less)  Despite the scars burned into my mind and the stress waged on my body and marriage, I am not broken.  I am still here.  And no matter what comes at me I will continue to be here.
Finally feeling better and got his beloved Kong back!  Not running yet, but walking him every chance we get and helping get that leg back to 100%.  Love this dog!!
My beautiful girls.  My inspiration.
But I need some time.  I have to heal.  I need to go through the stages of grief.  My daughter is going to have to fight constantly.  Her mind and her body are fighting her.  She's only 3 and every day has been a struggle for her.  She will learn to cope with Autism and T1D, but they will never go away.  She will not outgrow them.  No 2 days are the same, and as one struggle  gets easier a new one will present itself.  It's going to be a long road.  She needs me.  Not the broken version of me now.  The strong mama I know is buried under all these scars.  So I must grieve the simple life we will never have.  Get mad at the world for all her struggles.  And then grow strong, physically and mentally, turning to God for guidance, so that together we can wage war on these diseases.  I must rebuild my marriage, for together we are so much stronger.  I have a lot of work to do.
The bravest, strongest, most special little girl I know.  I can't wait to make her proud and teach her to be strong and FIGHT the challenges in her life.
On this note I have to say I am pausing my blog for a while.  Seems ironic because I haven't wrote in 4 months anyway, but I wanted to do one last update before I take a break.  The last few months I have just been in survival mode.  Keeping busy with what has to be done, and learning to care for my daughter all over again while caring for my baby too and enduring all the sickness to boot.  I haven't even truly processed everything to be honest. 

So the next few months (or however long it takes) will be all about family, health, and rebuilding all we've lost.  I just want to pause from all social media and the world and just learn to live again in our new reality.  Learn to thrive, not just survive.  This will take all my mental energy and time as well.  I look forward to coming back stronger than ever, re-vamping my blog (lets be honest it's long overdue!), and sharing more about our life and overcoming all of our struggles.
My beautiful family.  Time to heal.
Thank you for reading, God bless you and we will meet again soon!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Josie's 4 Month Update

Today truly feels like the first day of fall.  The temperature has finally dropped from the humid 80's to the cool and breezy lower 70's.  I have the windows open and a gentle breeze is flowing through our house.  It gives me hope that a new season will bring some most welcome changes in our household.  Because to put it mildly, Spring and Summer plain sucked the wind right out of my sails.  It's been rough and unfortunately last month wasn't any better.  Thank God for my beautiful girls despite such tough times.
Sneaking outside for some playtime and bubbles!
What We've Been Up To:

This month we really didn't get out much.  It was a tough one.  We attempted a 5K, but it was rainy and Josie screamed almost the entire time, so we headed home right after the race.  She has decided on top of everything else that she is going to be terribly afraid of anyone other than Mark, me, and Stella.  It seems to be getting a tad better in the past week, but she screams when we have to send her to the Grandparents (only twice this past month because I feel bad asking anyone to watch her!) or when a stranger looks at her.  Stella never went through this, and it's hopefully a phase that will pass soon.  I love my baby but she's pretty high-maintenance and mama needs a BREAK sometimes!! 
Daddy and his girls. 

Last Sunday we finally managed to celebrate our 5 year anniversary (3 months late, but to get it done at all was an accomplishment this summer!)  We took the girls to Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Iowa where we got married.  It's a cute old-fashioned town with a church and buildings set up as they were in the Pioneer days.  Mark and I fell in love with it and are so happy we got married there.  It was a beautiful day and since it was later in the year it wasn't very busy.  Stella had a few meltdowns (to be expected lately) but given the circumstances it was a great day.  The church was locked up but when we peaked inside Stella got upset because she thought the alter was the Carebear Castle and wanted to go see it haha!  We got a picture out front, something we plan to do every 5 years.

Stella enjoyed sitting in the train and swinging with mama and Josie, and she especially liked having ice cream in the parlor.  She didn't care for going in the buildings, confined spaces scare her right now.  So we just walked while Mark looked around :) 

We thought about having lunch at the Golf Course down the road where our rehearsal dinner was held but the girls were fussy so we headed back to the Quad Cities.  Maybe next time.  They were tearing down the building where our reception was held the very next day, so we drove by and I caught one last picture of it.  It was The Lodge, an old rustic hotel.  It really deteriorated in the last few years, so sad to see.  After that we stopped at Panera for lunch.  When they called names over the loud speaker Stella yelled "coffee light ice" like we were in the McDonalds drive through!  So hilarious!  (mama needs to lay off the iced coffee I think!)  We headed home after that so Mark could do some yard work and the girls could get to bed.  It was a fun day, just as I'd hoped.  I'm such a sucker for traditions.  Mark and I really hope things calm down this winter so we can take a quick relaxing vacation, just the two of us, to really celebrate our 5 year anniversary.  He's not a huge fan of vacations but I am, and I know it really is hard to get away with kids and a busy job.  So an every 5 year anniversary trip is a great compromise :)

The only other outings we did this month were separate so one of us could stay home with the kids.  Mark went to an antique tractor show one day and I went out for a delicious supper with my mom and sister to celebrate her birthday.  We planned on doing the zoo last week but it rained.  Such a rainy summer!  Hopefully this weekend we can go...

Josie loves watching Kaiser, and he tries to sneak in kisses for Josie when we're not looking!

The Routine:
We ended up pulling the AR medicine again.  I swore it was causing her constipation.  She went 3 or 4 days without pooping when I started it back up, and when I pulled it again she finally pooped!  But I was wrong.  She has been off the medicine for about a month and she is constipated again.  It's been about 4 days this time too.  I'm doing gas drops a few times a day and still nothing.  I did buy infant suppositories to have on hand, so might have to give her one tomorrow if she doesn't poop today.  Must just be something with her digestive system.  She does still have acid reflux, but I don't want to start the meds back up unless I have to.  She does spit-up a lot and often, but she isn't fussy so I want to avoid them for now.  She is taking 6oz about every 3 hours, so we are still doing ok.  Just have to change clothes (hers and mine!) a few times a day.

So the sleeping.  She has slept through the night since about 8 weeks, but a few weeks ago she started waking up multiple times a night.  She just was sleeping horribly.  Finally I asked Mark if he thought she outgrew her bassinet.  She always tried to turn sideways and I wondered if being contained was waking her up.  We had Stella in the bassinet until around 6 months I believe, but it never bothered her.  We lost a nephew to SIDS at 3 and a half months, so I am more paranoid of moving to the crib than most.  Especially since Josie started rolling over already!!  But she wasn't sleeping and neither were we, plus we do have the AngelCare monitor, so we decided to give it a try.  It was the answer!  Once we moved her to the crib she started sleeping from about 6:30pm until about 7:30 am, not waking up once!  And some mornings she even sleeps until 8:30am!  Such a blessing.  Naps are still another story...she won't take them ANYWHERE, except in the car or her bouncy chair if you are bouncing her.  I think she just doesn't want to miss out, she's a very alert baby.  It gets to be a LONG day when a 4 month old refuses to nap for 11 hours.  During Stella's nap I used to get so much done, and she still naps every afternoon so it's been hard for me to give up that chunk of time.  I am working on making better use of my mornings and evenings now that Josie sleeps so good at night, and will just set aside nap time for reading or computer work while I bounce her.  Adapt and adjust.  Story of a parent's life, right?

Last day in bassinet/first night in crib.  So tiny!
Every once and a while Josie will nap in the swing.  Heaven!

We had her 4 month check-up this month.  She got 3 shots and an oral vaccine.  Handled them like a champ!  She was 23" (4%, guess she's short like me) and 13 lbs 9.8 oz (36%).  So for being a big newborn she's kinda a peanut now.  In fact I just changed her clothes over to the 3-6 months last week as well as started her in size 2 diapers.  Maybe it's because she's so active and spits up so much I don't know.  Still in the healthy range so I'm not worried.  Just different because Stella was such a little chub!  Gotta say I miss those baby rolls :)

A Few of Josie's Favorite Things:
  • Again, attention!  She has the warmest, biggest baby smile I've ever seen.  She just lights up when mommy, daddy, and Stella talk to her and play with her.  She's not too vocal, but she does babble and squeal with delight in the late afternoons.
  • She loves to reach out and touch our faces.  She already shows preference for certain toys and looks for them after she drops them.  She's a smart baby!
  • She has already figured out how to push and pull her musical toys.  She plays much better on her mat now, but still prefers the Bumbo and her bouncy chair.
  • Rolling over!  She first did it at 3.5 months but we missed it.  We looked down and she was on her tummy on her mat!  But after doing it once we now can't keep her on her back.  I don't even have to do tummy time anymore, she does it herself!  She prefers it!  Still working on rolling from tummy to back though.
  • "Exercise" time with mama.  After Stella's developmental delays I like to keep an eye on Josie.  So far she is well above average.  She can already keep her head level when pulled to sitting and bear weight on her legs.  I prop her up with pillows and I don't think she's too far from sitting on her own!
  • Babywearing!  I invested in an Ergo baby carrier.  I never bought one with Stella, I tried the hand-me-down Bjorn from my sister-in-law and didn't really care for it.  This one was a tad pricey but SO worth it.  I did lots of research and this seemed the best.  Safer for babies, tons of positions to wear them in, and can be used from birth up to toddler.  Plus so easy to put on myself!  I have to use it when we go shopping or run errands.  She doesn't like to be cooped up in her seat in the cart.  It's so hard taking my girls out in public so splurging on the perfect carrier was one of the best decisions I've made!  Now I look forward to taking her out, she loves to be snuggled up against me taking the world in.  Hopefully helping her social anxiety too...
    Puppy always has to do what sister Josie is doing!
    Huge fan of the Bumbo...even fell asleep in it!
1st day rolling over!
Sisters and best friends!  Even both thumb suckers!!  Stella always shares puppy, her most prized toy.  She sure loves sister Josie!

Around the House:
  • Just like after I had Stella, my back was completely out of whack this month.  I could barely get out of bed in the mornings.  So we decided to break down and head to the chiropractor again.  He said I was really out of alignment but was able to straighten me out.  He also adjusted Mark's hip, which was giving him trouble when he took up running again.  Now that I am back in alignment I am really hoping I can start taking better care of myself.  I am hanging onto this baby weight for dear life once again.  The sickness, all Stella's therapy, and Josie's extreme colic have left me drained.  I love my girls but it'd be a lie if I said I wasn't overwhelmed with motherhood right now.  I am pouring from an empty cup though, so I know I must take better care of myself to be the mommy my girls need and deserve.  That is my number one priority this month.  Fall is my favorite time of year, so I know it will bring some new motivation and breathe life into me once again. 
  • Harvest is right around the corner, so Mark has been working to get things wrapped up around the yard.  Once harvest ends it seems winter approaches, and we haven't been ready the past few years.  This winter is rumored to be a bad one so we're starting early!
  • And miss Stella.  Poor Stella.  After my last post her cold took a turn for the worse and we ended up at the doctors.  She had a double ear infection.  Stella REFUSES medicine with a passion so he prescribed chewable amoxicilan.  Thankfully we could break them in half and hide them in Reece's peanut butter cup minis, so she got over that with the help of the medicine.  But she did miss a week  of daycare.  I'd like to say that was the end of it, but after about a week of being healthy she got sick again a few days ago.  Just seems to be a cold, and she is at daycare today, but she was coughing so we will see how this pans out.  Give this girl a damn break already!  I'm so angry.  She's been sick since July 4th.  ENOUGH. 
  • I still plan to do a post on Stella soon.  There is so much to update on.  I'm just trying really hard right now to grasp everything that's going on with her and make sense of it myself before I share her struggles.  So I will just say for now that we had her transition meeting at the end of August to decide the gameplan for Pre-K.  When she turns 3 she will be done with Early Intervention and move to public schooling.  We decided to put moving on hold until next summer.  I desperately wanted her in Annawan or Geneseo school district when she started school, so much that we even contemplated buying a place in town to move into while we wait for our dream country house.  But then we realized the timing is wrong.  We are so busy and stressed and harvest is here, so it would only make things worse.  I observed Stark County's Pre-K (we are in Bradford district but they don't do IEPs in Pre-K because it's so small, so they bus their IEP preschoolers to Start County Grade School in Wyoming).  I loved what I saw.  I think the teacher, aide, and program will be a great fit for Stella this year.  Truly an answered prayer, thanks be to God.  We will have the IEP meeting closer to her birthday.  She will go Monday-Friday afternoons, which is a lot and will take away her nap, but she is READY.  She will do great.  I'm just not ready to let her go yet, but it's for the best.  And we will still have lazy and relaxing mornings together, I'm thankful for that.
And that's a wrap for now.  I'm sorry every post seems so negative lately.  I do count my blessings and love my girls, and we are enjoying our time together.  Just been a challenging few months.  Praying fall brings the end to the sickness and some positive changes around here.  Going to do my best to make it happen!  Be back next month with a post on Josie's routine and her 5 month update!  Enjoy the best month ever :)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Josie's 3 Month Update

Well so much for getting this post done closer to her monthly "birthday" (the 11th)!  I think this is my latest post yet.  I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear it's because things are crazy around here and we are sick!  Just the norm around here this summer :)

What We've Been Up To:

We did have a few weeks of calm between sicknesses, so we tried to have as much summer fun as we could.  We kept it pretty simple and enjoyed some pool time, yummy food, and family.  We changed up the location so the kids wouldn't get bored.  At this age it's pretty simple to keep them entertained thankfully, because to be honest my mind was pretty drained this month from all the craziness!
First play day at Grandma's!  Tried to get a picture of all 3 cousins you can see how that turned out.  Torpedoes for lunch and late afternoon deliciousness from the Coop of course!
Play day #2 at Jeff & Jenny's, complete with their awesome pool, a cookout at night including our home grown corn on the cob, and popcorn and a movie for the kids at night (although Stella insisted on staying up until 11pm when we left, go figure!)
Third play date at Abby and Ryder's.  Fun day of feeding the fish, enjoying the pool and sprinkler, going for a Gator ride and eating apples from their tree, riding bikes, chalk, "pretend" napping in Ryder's bed, and treats with Grandma!
4th play day at our house.  Enjoyed donuts and Play Doh, time in the pool, and stickers and apple snacks in the afternoon.
Superhero birthday party we attempted to attend in Cedar Rapids.  Loaded up the car for an overnight trip only to come home after a few hours and unload it.  Josie SCREAMED the entire time, wouldn't even eat.  No idea what was up with her.  Stella fell down the stairs and was a little irritable, but not terrible.  Still glad we tried it but boy are events hard with little ones!
The Routine:

Josie set the pace for a routine this month.  As soon as we can go a while without sickness or extreme fussiness I will establish a better routine and post on it.  But for now we wing it :)  With that being said Josie has fallen into a decent routine on her own, which I think a baby-led routine is your best bet anyway.  No sense in going against the grain!  Eating has been a little weird for Josie.  Right at 3 months I pulled her AR medicine.  I thought it was just a milk allergy that made her colicky, and I didn't want her on meds for no reason.  We made it two weeks and I started seeing changes.  She would thrash in our arms while she ate like she was in pain, often leaving most of her formula behind.  She went from eating 5oz at at time (at 3 months in big Dr Browns bottles) to struggling to get 3 down.  She was also puking up formula a lot again.  And then she started to get fussy about 2 weeks after I pulled it, so last week Mark and I decided acid reflux has got to be at play in addition to the milk allergy.  We put her back on the medicine and within a few days she is back to taking 5oz at a time no problem.  She eats every 2-3 hours during the day.  Still lots of spit up, but that may not go away for a while. 

She is still in a size 1 diaper, and still in disposables.  Again when things calm down I will go to cloth.  Just gotta get my mind back first :-)  She was in a pretty good potty schedule, pooping once every morning, but a few days ago she became constipated.  It started when we started the medicine back up.  We have tried the gas drops every day but they don't seem to help.  Looks like I'll be putting a call back into her doctor on that. 

Josie maintained her sleep schedule until last week.  She was going to bed between 7:00 and 8:00 and waking up between 5:00 and 6:00 every morning to eat, then back to bed until around 9: 00.  Awesome!  But last week she started waking up every 3 hours or so in the night wanting to eat and crying.  A few times I fed her, a few times I just rocked her back to sleep.  Not sure what was going on there, but after a few days back on the AR medicine she's sleeping well at night again.  Naps are a different story.  She fights sleep HARD during the day.  I don't think she likes to go to a room by herself, but she's a light sleeper and won't sleep in the living room with Stella and I awake.  She used to take a quick morning nap, a 2-3 hour afternoon nap in her swing, and a quick evening nap.  Now she fights them all and will only fall asleep to the vacuum.  Not a vacuum app, just the actual vacuum.  Fine at home but can't take that thing in public!  So working on letting her "cry it out" when we can at home, but that's been hard lately with Stella and I being so sick (more on that in a minute).  Naps are a work in progress at this point, when everyone is better we are going to move Josie to her crib.  Hopefully that helps her sleeping.

She is still in 0-3 month clothes, although I did put the newborn stuff away at 2.5 months.  She is pretty tiny but getting taller.  We didn't have a check-up this month but go in a few weeks so I will know more on her size rankings then.  I will switch out clothes pretty soon to 3-6 month.
Isn't she beautiful?!!
A Few of Josie's Favorite Things:
  •  Attention!  She is much more social than Stella was.  Josie loves being talked to and sang to, she is always smiling at us and laughs a lot when you talk to her.  Although she doesn't "talk" as often as Stella used to.
  • Keeping her hands busy.  She loves holding her toes, blankies, and toys.
  • Sitting up.  Although she plays sometimes on her mat, she really doesn't like laying down.  Probably the acid reflux.  She had good neck strength though, so we already brought out her Bumbo and put her in it for short periods at a time (since she's still a bit of a bobble head!)
  • Bouncing in her chair.  Just like her big sister!  Josie is already sort of figuring out how to use her leg to bounce the chair herself (Stella did too, just when she was almost a year old).
Working on that neck strength!
Loves playing with her feet!
 Around the House:
  • I am currently sick with a nasty sinus infection.  Right when I was finally ready to start the 21 Day Fix again too.  Just accepting crazy is the new normal around here and powering though!
  • So far Mark hasn't gotten sick this round, but he did break his phone again.  See any recurring themes around our house?
  • Stella had about 2 weeks of feeling good before she got a bad cold and cough.  Thankfully no fever this time and she was only down a few days.  Still has the cold but really not feeling too bad, so still sent her to daycare today.  She was SO CRABBY last month that I really wonder if she ever felt good.  The virus she had last month never really came out...no cough or anything...until she got the bloody noses and a bit of diarrhea a few weeks back.  Now that she's sneezing and coughing with more diarrhea she's actually a little happier, so I'm hoping all those nasty germs are finally leaving her!!  Kinda to be expected with starting daycare for the first time...
  • Speaking of daycare, we did increase her to 2 days a week this month.  She goes every Monday and Tuesday.  She LOVES it!  Every morning she asks me "I have school today?  I see kids?"  Makes my heart happy although I miss her dearly.  Her speech is really improving with exposure to the kids, and I know it is helping her social skills as well.  We also added OT back into the therapy mix this month, as recommended by her developmental specialist.  She will come to our house twice a month to help with some of Stella's quirks.  That's about as good a description as I can give right now.
  • Still house hunting.  Looked at a place last weekend but it was a big no.  We really had our hopes up for it too.  Just nothing out there and we've been looking for so long!  Maybe it's a blessing right now though, moving at this ridiculously crazy period in our lives would be really stressful.  Praying things calm down soon and we can find our forever home!
Pizza picnic in the living room.  Despite the hectic and stressful pace lately, we always make the most of it and despite all that's going on in our family we are doing well.  

Be back in a few weeks with Josie's 4 month update!  (or you know in a month after more sickness, fussiness and broken phones, whatever...)   Looking Forward to Fall!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Josie's 2 Month Update

Month 2 brought some good news and some bad news.  Since everything was all over the place (AGAIN!) I am just going to wing this post as well, since we are nowhere near in a routine.  Might as well carry that theme over to my blog!

At the end of June I tried my best to get the house put back together and cleaned and do some grocery shopping in the hopes of a better July.  Nope.  The chaos just wasn't ready to leave yet.  We encountered another run of craziness.  It began when I burned my face.  I have super sensitive skin and sometime it just reacts funny with products I'm using.  I don't even have to try something new, one day my face just decides it doesn't like what I'm using and it actually burns.  Like I got a chemical peel or something!  On the plus side it happened the night before I had a dentist appointment, so my awesome dentist gave me a sample of some expensive cream and it cleared up in about 5 days.  But for those 5 days I could barely talk or go out in public so that was fun!

We had a fun weekend planned for the 4th of July, just lots of stuff around home and with family.  Josie was still screaming everyday but we decided to try and fight through it rather than letting it keep us behind closed doors every weekend.  So Saturday I packed up the kids and headed to my sister's while Mark tried to get the yard work done so we could spend the rest of the weekend together.  Well I no sooner got to town and Stella was sick.  Watery eyes, 102 fever, and runny nose.  I turned back around and headed home, hoping it was just a quick summer cold.  Josie was more unhappy than ever, so I headed to Wal Mart to grab some "sick snacks" (usually Stella eats super healthy so when she's sick I stock up on the good stuff to make sure she eats and drinks).  I decided to try a different formula for Josie too.  I was a desperate woman!  We'd been through Newborn, Gentlease, and AR (too thick to drink through her Dr Browns bottles and made her constipated), so I decided to give Nutramigen a try.  A few friends suggested a milk allergy on Facebook when I put up a post asking for suggestions, and Nutramigen was the most recommended dairy-free formula.  I grabbed a can hoping it would work in 48 hours like the can claimed!  Wouldn't that be nice!  To my complete and utter surprise, after a miserable 4th of July weekend with a screaming baby and SUPER sick Stella (she didn't eat, drink, or talk all weekend!), our prayers were answered almost exactly 48 hours later.  By Monday Josie was a completely different baby!  Just in time too because Stella didn't get much better after the weekend.  Monday I took her into the ER since Mark had the day off.  They ran tests for RSV, strep, influenza, and did chest x-rays.  They also tested her blood and gave her fluids through an IV.  We were there all afternoon and it was pure torture for Stella, and everything came back negative.  Just a nasty virus.  I was happy but frustrated to put her through that for "nothing".  But as a parent you just have to.  She was so so sick.  For 5 full days she didn't eat, drink or talk.  Her fever hung around 102 that entire time.  Thursday I called the doctor to see if I should take her back to the ER for more fluids since she was so dehydrated and he said yes.  But that morning she had some luck:  the fever broke and she started to eat!  Tons of fruit and applesauce.  By Friday she was drinking and talking again, and even though she was still sick most of the next week we didn't have to return to the ER thankfully!
A very brief 4th of July celebration this year.

That week Josie was so good, it was such a change.  I soaked in the quiet and her baby smiles, it was the first calm I'd experienced since she was born!  But Mark got really sick and then so did I, so the calm didn't last long.  Thankfully mine was only a 3 day thing, because just like we knew she would, Josie eventually got sick.  To see a 2 month old cough and sneeze so much was heartbreaking.  She only got to be free from stomach pain for a week before the virus hit.  Life can be so cruel sometimes.  During this time Mark had to go on 2 trips for work.  Taking care of two miserable kids by yourself is NOT FUN!  And just when Stella got completely better, about 4 days later she relapsed and got a runny and bloody nose.  A sick Stella is the worst.  She is SO stubborn and won't take medicine.  She fought us so hard she bit through her lip, so we had no choice but to give up.  I think she would have healed better if she would have taken the Tylenol, but what can you do.  So we had one sick and miserable house ALL MONTH!  Thankfully (knock on wood) I think we are all pretty much healed!
Thank you Nutramigen for giving me my baby back! 

My poor little sick family!

But the bad luck didn't stop with the sickness.  Mark ran into some stress at work and broke his phone AGAIN, plus our dishwasher broke last weekend.  Just one thing after another I tell ya!

We did manage to finally sneak in a date night last Sunday.  We went out for pizza and to see Jim Gaffigan live in the Quad Cities.  That's always been on my bucket list, I was so happy to go.  The girls stayed with Grandma while we went, and thankfully it wasn't too late of a night since it was a Sunday.
Date night to Jim Gaffigan!

OK, so that was the "bad news".  I always like to get that out of the way first so there's something to look forward to.  As July comes to a close I am hoping August brings a fresh start for us.  But that's exactly how I ended last month, so we shall see!  Let's do a quick "where we're at" check-in:

My incision is healed.  It is no longer seeping, but it doesn't look pretty like after Stella.  It is still really red and bruised.  Not sure if that will ever go away.  But I am healed and free from pain so I am a happy camper!  I ordered a new at-home fitness program and I am super excited for it to arrive!  Hoping to have a good update on that next post!

Stella still has a bit of a runny nose, but I'm thinking it's allergies.  She feels pretty good, but the sickness made her very ornery.  I think she just got cabin fever and I can't blame her for acting out.  Being stuck in an 800 sq ft house all summer just stinks.  Hoping to change that next month!  We did decide to put her in a daycare center where her cousin goes once a week.  Just to get some social skills and help her speech along.  Today is her second day.  Last week she LOVED it and did so well.  Mark was gone so I took her and picked her up, but it's in Geneseo so normally every Tuesday he will take her before work and get her after.  I think it is going to be so good for her, and it will help me get some things done too.  That's how I'm finally finishing this post today in fact!  We also decided to up her Speech Therapy to once a week rather than twice a month.  This month she was sick her first session and her therapist was on vacation during her second.  Her therapist is AMAZING, but is so booked solid we can't make up missed sessions.  She does such a great job and I want to take advantage of her before Stella is done with EI (they are done when they turn 3).  I'd also like to hit everything full throttle before she turns 3 and gets sent to PRE-K.  We have a meeting for that coming up soon!  Yesterday I took Stella for her ADOS evaluation (we were supposed to go at the beginning of the month but had to re-schedule because she was so sick).  This is basically a test to determine if enough Autism signs are present to warrant the full diagnostic test.  A lady just played with her and took notes.  Stella seemed to do well, only had meltdowns in the restroom and elevator (big surprise!)  I will do an update on Stella after we meet with her pediatric developmental specialist next week to discuss the results.  Don't want her to steal Josie's blog post :)  But we made some nice changes this month and now that the girls are better we can get out and about more!  Regardless of the test outcome, I'm pleased with the direction she's headed (although I am super nervous).
Sisterly love!  Stella is such a good big sister.  She always shares puppy and enjoys helping burp and feed Josie.  She always says "she's so cute" and "she's talking" when she's happy or "Josie sad" when she cries.  So in tuned with Josie!

OK, now to the star of my post, Miss Josie Mae.  We started calling her Josephine as her colicky alter-ego, and now that's all Stella calls her.  It's super cute but I know we gotta work on that!  Nutramigen formula is stinky, pricey, and doesn't mix well.  But it is a BLESSING!  Josie is now the happiest baby I've ever seen.  Constantly smiling at people and starting to coo.  It breaks my heart to think of how bad her tummy must have hurt all those weeks.  But only looking ahead from here.  She's finally pooping normally, not spitting up as much, and burping after eating.  She is using the Dr Browns bottles and is still on 0.8 mL of her AR medicine.  We aren't pulling that until 3 months just in case she does have some acid reflux too.  I don't want her to hurt anymore.  She is able to take 4oz of formula at a time consistently now!  I kept raising and lowering the amount until we got on Nutramigen because she was never content, but this formula allowed her to get herself on somewhat of a "schedule"  She goes to bed every night around 8:00 and sleeps until about 5:00am.  Wonderful sleeper, just like her sister!  She eats at 5:00 and goes back to sleep until about 8:30ish.  So great!  Then she eats roughly every 2 hours throughout the day.  Probably more often than most babies, but she cluster feeds because she doesn't eat through the night.  She also takes about a 3 hour nap most afternoons, around the same time as Stella.  I fully believe in routines and will do an updated baby routine post soon (when it's a little more established).  Stella's baby routine post is my most popular post (find it HERE).  It provoked quite the debate, but I stand by my words that you should do your best to get your kids in a sleep routine from an early age.  Anyways.  After Josie started feeling better we moved back to the bedroom at night.  She still slept in her rock n play by the bed at first, but I really wanted her on a flat surface as soon as possible to avoid wearing a helmet.  I don't know if that's what causes mis-shaped heads, but I have heard it might so why risk it.  Just my opinion.  So she is now in her bassinet (thankful we can finally use the Angelcare Monitor for her!) during the night.  We put her to bed in it around 8:00, but after her 5am feeding she doesn't want to go back in there so I put her in the rock n play for her morning "nap".  I'm OK with that. 
Just love clean baby snuggles!  Josie loves the bath!

Josie can already hold her head up for quite a while.  We have done some tummy time, but not as structured as I did with Stella.  Mainly laying on my chest and practicing holding her head up on my lap.  She also loves to grasp toys and hold blankies while she sleeps.  And we already have another thumb sucker!  She never did take the pacifier, I don't even try anymore.  She jams her thumb in her mouth but is super awkward with the other 4 fingers.  She usually ends up poking herself in the eye, and she gouged her cheek up last week.  I tried mittens but the little stinker can get her thumb out of them!  I remember Stella going through that phase too.  She still sucks her thumb when she's tired or upset.  I'm not one to complain, I like that they can self-soothe and I HATE pacifiers.  Personal preference.  Josie was 22" (24%), and 11.7 lbs (51%) at her 2 month check-up.  She also got her shots, but it was when she didn't feel good so that added to the misery!  But happy to report she is now a healthy, happy, absolutely beautiful baby girl!  I can't wait to start doing more with her now that she feels good!  Don't ever take that for granted moms, and if your newborn screams all day every day don't believe that it is "just colic", even if that's what the doctor tells you.  Please consider acid reflux and/or a milk allergy from the beginning, and don't quit until your baby's happy!  I am so glad I didn't!
Puppy getting in on tummy time!

Mark is mostly better too, just has a little cough left.  He's swamped at work right now with paperwork, but that should draw to a close as the month ends.  I am also SUPER happy to report that I took Kaiser in this morning for a half-way check-up from his ACL surgery.  I can't believe it's been 3 months.  He was still limping quite a bit so I was worried he snapped the line or tore the other one (happens often because they bear all weight on the good leg while the other one heals).  The vet said he is healing beautifully.  Very little arthritis in the torn knee, and the other one isn't swollen at all.  3 more months of taking it easy and he should be back to his old self!  (we won't ever stop worrying about tearing the other one, but at least the recovery will be over and he will be as healed as he can be)  He has made himself quite comfortable inside and keeps busy watching over his sisters, and when he's in his kennel outside (when weather permits it's been humid and miserable lately) he enjoys watching and barking at all our chickens.
Always lays by the girls or outside their doors when they sleep!

So there you go.  Super long and probably boring post.  But now we are all caught up.  I have high hopes for August.  We are all healed and healthy.  We have some nice changes coming our way.  Fall is right around the corner, my absolute favorite time of year!  I will be back with Josie's 3 month update soon (hopefully closer to her actual monthly anniversary -the 11th- now that things are looking up!)  Enjoy the rest of your summer, I know we will!