Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Okay, I'm a Believer

My friend, Rosa, posted about her experience with Ebates a couple of months ago.  You join their website and then link to your favorite online retailers through them instead of going to the retailer directly.  You earn cash back on what you spend, and you still get to use coupon codes.  I was hesitant at first, just like her, so I decided to join and see what would happen before writing about it.  Well, I've been a member for a while, and received my first rebate check, so I guess I'm a believer!  They have partnered with tons of websites, so you get credit for most of the online shopping you would be doing anyway.  Since the beginning of January, I spent $141 at Old Navy, The Children's Place, and Teleflora, and that translated to a check in the amount of $8.63.  Not bad to earn 6% cash back on stuff I buy normally.  If you do a lot of online shopping, I recommend joining Ebates!  Here's a link to sign up:

Refer a friend 

Hope it works out for you too!  Happy shopping.

Monday, February 25, 2013

One Year Old!

Wow, can't believe my little Dutchie is a year old.  I vividly remember what it was like driving him home from the hospital, feeling like he was super precious cargo and wishing we could hurry up and get home, away from all the crazy drivers.  We couldn't believe we were responsible for this tiny little helpless human, but we made a great team and took it one day at a time.  Here we were then:

And here we are now:

Our little guy has progressed so much over the past month.  His walking has gotten a lot better, and he switched to using it as the default, with crawling coming secondary.  He has learned to wave bye bye, point to mommy's nose, and sign for more food.  He is starting to process more complex ideas, like knowing to open someone else's hand when they're hiding something in it.  He's gaining a better understanding of how toys work, and oftentimes he just needs to be shown an action a couple times before he can repeat it.  He LOVES the remote control, our home phone, and pens.  If he sees a cabinet or a drawer, he has to open it.  He is pretty speedy going up the stairs, and knows how to properly go down them, and how to properly get down off your lap or the couch.  He says lots of things that sound like words, but we're still not convinced he knows when to use them correctly.

For his first birthday party, I didn't have a lot of free time to plan something big for friends and family, so I just had to keep it simple with close family.  Meezy and I made a bunch of cupcakes and cookies and then provided frosting, sprinkles, and candy for everyone to decorate their own dessert.

The other kids in attendance definitely loved the idea and Dutch did too!  Even though he was timid at first, and not sure he should be eating the cupcake, he eventually got the hang of it.

The activity we set up for the little ones was an inflatable swimming pool with 300 ball pit balls.  Dutch was hesitant at first, but he thought it was fun as the day went on.  It eventually ended up being mayhem, as seen below, but that just made it more fun!

We had a great time celebrating this special day, and we look forward to many, many more!  In keeping with previous posts, here are Dutch's 12 month pictures:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Finally Some Good News

As mentioned in previous posts, I've been battling some health issues recently.  I haven't written out the full details on this blog, because I didn't want everyone worrying about me.  We weren't sure what was going on, so I figured I would wait until we had more information before I shared the full situation with the world.  First things first, I'm finally done with my weekly blood draws!  It took FIVE weeks, but my hcg went down to zero.  What a relief. 

Now, on to another issue I've been dealing with.  I've said a little about the cyst that was found under my right kidney during the MRI for my back.  The doctor wasn't too worried, thinking it was either filled with protein or blood, but protocol dictated that we investigate it further.  I went in for an ultrasound a couple of weeks ago.  The results from that weren't great.  The ultrasound told them that it wasn't a cyst, but instead a mass.  "Mass" is a nicer way to say tumor.  That's not what I wanted to hear.  Doing a biopsy would be invasive, because of its location, so my doctor ordered a CT scan first.  While I waited for my appointment for the scan, my mind wandered to a lot of different places.  Most of the time I told myself it was nothing, and I had nothing to worry about.  But, of course, there were those fleeting moments where I thought about it being something more, something cancerous.  You want to stay positive, but you also can't live in a utopia where bad stuff only happens to other people.  All I could do was wait.

I had the CT scan last Friday.  It was "with contrast," which means I had to get the contrast fluid administered through an IV.  I did some research on what contrast is, and what its potential side effects are, and I started to get nervous.  It took three tries before they were able to get the IV set up correctly.  Not a good start!  Luckily the scans took less than 30 minutes and before long, I was on my way home.  I didn't have a reaction to the contrast, so that was a blessing.  Just more waiting until I got the results.

Last night, I got an email from my doctor with the findings.  The CT showed that the kidney mass was just a benign, fatty tumor.  Benign is a glorious word to see!  Feel free to tease me about having a "fatty" tumor, though.  Lol.  I don't care!            

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sleepy Time

Dutch is pretty predictable when it comes to his sleeping position.  99% of the time, his preferred position is on his stomach, arms tucked underneath him, legs crossed behind him, butt up in the air.  It's friggin' adorable and looks like this:

sorry for the poor quality; it's a picture of a picture

For a couple nights recently, he didn't sleep well.  He woke up multiple times and had trouble going back to sleep.  Of course it was rough on us, but apparently it was rough on him the next day too!  For his naps the two days after the two bad nights, these were his positions:

Poor guy was apparently so exhausted, he couldn't even get himself into his normal position!  Lol.  Still adorable.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tunnel Vision

I've joked with friends in the past about how our husbands seem to have tunnel vision (or no vision) when it comes to looking for things.  This exchange has played out numerous times in our household:

Meezy: "Where is the so-and-so?"

Me: "It's in the drawer."

Meezy: "I looked there.  I didn't see it."

Me: Walks to drawer.  Opens it.  Pulls out the brown so-and-so.

Meezy: "Oh, I thought the so-and-so was black, so I didn't see it."

He's explained it to me before as a phenomenon where he has a picture in his head of what the thing he's searching for should look like, so if it strays from his mental picture, he just can't see it.  A prime example happened in the car today.  We were headed to Fedex, and he was driving.  He asked me where it was located, and I said, "It's on the right, before the liquor store.  The next street after is Inwood/Addison Rd."  He knows where the liquor store is because we went there just a couple weeks ago. He also knows where Inwood/Addison Rd is. I figured my instructions were pretty clear, so I went back to answering emails on my phone.  The next time I look up, we're at Inwood Rd, and we have passed Fedex. 

Me: "What are you doing? Why did you pass it?"

Meezy: "I didn't see it."

Me: "I told you it was on the right, before the liquor store, before Inwood Rd."

Meezy: "Yeah, I just didn't see it."

We make a U-turn and go back to it, and as we're pulling up to the building with the purple Fedex awning, he says, "Oh, that's why.  I thought Fedex was orange."


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Guest Bathroom Remodel

I haven't been a fan of one of our guest bathrooms since we moved into our house over 4 years ago.  But, since it doesn't get much use, I have ignored it.  A few months ago, I noticed the wallpaper coming off in one area, so I took that as my cue to make a big change!  I made a plan to remove the wallpaper, paint the walls, remove the linoleum, install tile, and replace the light, faucet, toilet paper holder and towel holder.  Here are the before pictures:

 Look at that snazzy linoleum!

Brown, spotted wallpaper with a border of books (yeah, really)

Builder's special $5 light fixture

Wallpaper removal in progress

Taking down the wallpaper was a very frustrating process!  In some places, part of the sheetrock came off, so the wall was left uneven.  It took so many nights to get it all done.  By that time, I was SO over the remodel.  Since that part had already sucked up so much of my time, and it's not easy getting any work done with a baby, we decided to just hire someone to do most of the rest of the work.  We installed the faucet, towel rod, toilet paper holder, and new light, but that was it!  Here's the finished product:

Beautiful 16 x 16 travertine tile

New light fixture, textured wall, paint, faucet, toilet roll holder

New light fixture close up

No wallpaper!  No books around the border!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Deep Breaths

I can't remember a time in recent memory when I've been this stressed.  I've been through health problems, job changes, deaths in the family, becoming a parent, etc, over the past couple of years, and yet none of that has compared to what I've felt over the past week.  This isn't easy for me to even say because I hate coming across as anything less than strong, and I hate pity party posts.  Yes, everybody has bad days at work.  Yes, every mom thinks she has reached her wit's end.  Yes, everybody gets sick every now and then.  I know this.  I'm not unique.  But, when it all happens at once, there just comes a point where you're like, "Seriously?  How is a normal person supposed to handle all of this?"

I was supposed to have a closing for one of my buyers on either Monday or Wednesday.  So, I signed Dutch up to be in daycare Monday through Wednesday so that I'd have ample time to iron out any last-minute issues and attend the closing.  He's on a 3 day a week program, and I have to tell them the last week of the month what those 3 days a week will be for the following month.  At the end of January, everything looked to be on track, so he went to daycare those 3 days.  Of course, the closing didn't happen as planned.  Lots of issues arose, and ish hit the fan on Thursday.  Dutch was at home with me that day, so I had to juggle phone calls and emails from my client, the title company, and the lender, while also taking care of an 11-month old.  As of late Thursday night, all the details still weren't ironed out, so Friday was no different.  I called daycare trying to see if I could do drop-in that day, by paying extra, and they didn't have room.  Stress. 

On Monday, I had an appointment with a back specialist to address my slipped disc.  They put me on a steroid pack, which I will follow up with anti-inflammatories, while doing some physical therapy.  I'll go back next month to see if there has been any improvement.  On Tuesday, I had an ultrasound to see if they could figure out what the cyst was that was found under my right kidney during the MRI.  Waiting to hear the results of that.  On Thursday, I went in for another blood draw to see if my hcg level has dropped to zero yet after the ectopic pregnancy.  Waiting to hear the results of that.  Stress.

We're looking at buying another house and putting ours on the market.  We've been getting it ready the past couple of months, and I had a sprinkler company come out on Wednesday to address broken sprinkler heads and a suspected leak.  As luck would have it, when we got our fancy fence installed a few years ago, they put it directly over a line of sprinkler heads in our backyard.  Previously, there was just a singular fence between our yard and our neighbor's, that we shared.  It was falling apart, so we decided to just install a new one.  At the same time, our neighbor decided he wanted to do the same, but he wanted a vinyl fence.  No.  Ours would look much nicer, so he put his up, and we put ours up right next to it.  That meant the new fence line was moved over from where it had been before, alas our sprinkler heads were now covered up.  Maybe that's when the leak also materialized, but who knows.  (We just turned those zones off and haven't watered that area in a while since we knew there was an issue).  Result?  $2K in repairs needed.  Stress.

We have 5 rental properties.  Many of them are in West Texas, so we don't manage them personally.  Over the past few months, there has been some turnover in a couple of them, and major repairs needed, so our property manager (my awesome mother-in-law), handles all of that and then submits the receipts to us for reimbursement.  What we owe for all of that made my jaw drop.  Let's just say it was substantially more than what the sprinkler repairs are costing us.  :(  Stress.  

I have a listing in Decatur and sometimes people call me from my number on the sign, looking for information about the house.  Most buyers have their own Realtor, but sometimes I get asked to show a house to a potential buyer (even though I'm the seller's agent).  I got one such request today, a day where Dutch is home from daycare.  So, I am having to scramble to arrange childcare, then drive an hour to Decatur to show a house, then drive an hour back, then drive 45 minutes south to Oak Cliff for my closing that is finally happening.  Stress.

While I was putting Dutch to bed last night, Riley jumped up and grabbed my Michael Kors purse off the counter.  He ate through one of the leather straps.  He also jumped up and grabbed a tub of formula off the counter and ate it.  Stress.

When does it end?  Any one of these things is stressful enough, but put them all together and I literally feel like my body and mind can't take anymore, or I will snap.  Just a short couple of weeks ago, I was helping a close friend through a very difficult time.  She felt very depressed and pessimistic about her future.  I remember telling her, "I just want you to remember that there will be a better time after all this has passed.  It's bad right now, and it might be for a while longer, but it won't always be."  I really, really need to repeat that over and over again.  It's going to get better.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Health Updates

I feel like my body is just a walking disaster. I know a lot of people have health issues when they get older, but seriously, I'm not even 30 yet! After my surgery last month to remove the ectopic pregnancy, I've had to go back for weekly blood tests to make sure the hcg level returns to zero. I was hoping last week's blood draw would be the last, but of course that's not my luck.

1/11 - 4946 (right before the surgery)
1/18 - 474
1/25 - 73
1/31 - 34

So close to zero! I have to do another one this week and it would be awesome if there weren't any more after that.

As far as my sciatica, I got the results of my MRI and the scans showed a bulging disk. The L4 has a "tiny disc extrusion with minimal inferior extension resulting in right subarticular recess stenosis and encroachment of the descending L5 nerve root." That's a lot of medical mumbo jumbo, but it translates to being in pain hours out of each day, and not being able to stand or walk for very long. I'm seeing a back specialist today and we'll hopefully start a treatment plan.

During my MRI, they also uncovered a "hyperintense cystic lesion" under my right kidney, which may mean a blood or protein cyst. What the heck? Can I just deal with one thing at a time, please? Now I have to schedule an ultrasound to get that looked into to see if it's an area of concern.


Thank goodness for good insurance.