Wordless Wednesday — Maple Sugarbush fest

Wesselman's hosts the annual Maple Sugarbush Festival complete with a pancake breakfast starring Hoosier-made real maple syrup. Miles approved.

Wesselman’s hosts the annual Maple Sugarbush Festival complete with a pancake breakfast starring Hoosier-made real maple syrup. Miles approved.

Thanks to my own affinity for owls Miles has a fondness for the feathered creatures as well. This is Ralene.

Thanks to my own affinity for owls Miles has a fondness for the feathered creatures as well. This is Ralene.

Miles brought his "baby boy owl" Feather to the breakfast. The volunteers noticed his stuffed owl and owl hat that they made sure he got an upclose encounter.

Miles brought his “baby boy owl” Feather to the breakfast. The volunteers noticed his stuffed owl and owl hat that they made sure he got an upclose encounter.

Miles loved his up close and personal introduction to Ralene.

Miles loved his up close and personal introduction to Ralene.

Manic Monday

It’s 5:02 p.m.

How did this happen? I feel like nothing was accomplished today. There were fires, lots and lots of fires, that I stomped out. But actual work, I’m not really sure how much of it I got done.

First there was a mistake in Sunday’s paper. The designers unintentionally cut the last two high schools’ listings from the musical list so there were unhappy schools and disappointed reporter.

E-mails, calls, plan … fire out. I apologized to the offended parties and made a plan to rerun the list.

Speaking of apologies, a few weeks ago a columnist made a joke that someone, obviously easily offended, didn’t take kindly to and wrote a pretty scathing letter “demanding” an apology. Said columnist needed some advice on how to handle the issue and sent off a couple drafts of the follow-up column.

A couple reads, a few more e-mails and a plan is hatched. The original draft while entertaining probably wasn’t appropriate. Don’t poke the bear. A second draft it is.

One of about 8,000 phone calls for issues that I have absolutely nothing to do with come into my phone. This one is from an 87-year-old woman who can’t leave the house and depends on her television watching to pass the hours. She couldn’t understand her TV guide.

Several phone calls to track down who handles the TV guide and with her to try to figure out what her problem is. Eventually we figure out that she was confusing primetime with morning viewing.

Kelly, our entertainment reporter, comes in and her landline phone is kaput. Technically it isn’t a landline phone as they are internet based and, you know, technology is great, when it’s working… And this morning it wasn’t.

I thought a quick call to IT would be the fix. Nope, that’s too simple. No one answers so I send an e-mail explaining there is a problem with the phone. The response is that I need to fill out an electronic ticket that goes out into the great big interwebs.

Four hours later the IT person I originally called is able to fix it by simply plugging something in and hitting a few buttons. But in the meantime I had to respond to no less than five e-mails in this help desk ticket process.

The list of fires goes on… many of them involving cranky individuals making my personal cranky-meter rise with each one — a faulty iPad and poor freelancer who was sitting around waiting for it to work, photos that wouldn’t upload, you get the picture…

It’s one of those days that if I didn’t struggle to maintain a normal blood pressure (unlike most of the world, mine runs super-duper low) I’d be concerned about my head exploding.

I’m anxious to get home even though I’ll be greeted by my crazy 3 year old and currently pretty fussy 5 month old. Even with those challenges that I know are awaiting me, I can’t wait. That crazy 3 year old will jump in my arms and give me a great big hug and kiss and start excitedly screaming all about his day and the cranky, teething babe will give me a drooly smile of relief when I pull him into my arms.

My jaw is unclenching as I type the words…

It’s just another manic Monday.

 

 

Antsy for chickens

My husband rolled his eyes when I first approached the idea of getting backyard chickens.

We were still renting so he didn’t worry too much about it saying, “Sure, you can get chickens one of these days.”

Well, that day is finally here!

It’s been nearly a year since we bought our house (I still can’t believe that) and the chicken-keeping requirements are falling into place. And while Michael is far from excited he’s on board as long as he doesn’t have to deal with said chickens.

The biggest chicken tool — the coop is almost here. I have spent the last several months scouring Craigslist and online yard sales looking for secondhand coops but found none that would work so I switched my research over to the best coop I could get in our “beginner chicken” price range.

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I am certain I’m going to love having our own sweet, little flock of hens in our “urban” setting but Michael isn’t so certain. So while I wanted quality, I didn’t want to break the bank on something he isn’t yet convinced will be around for more than a month or two. I read blogs, message boards, countless Amazon and eBay reviews, consulted my resident chicken guru and friend Stephanie and even went to a few brick and mortar stores to check them out first hand.

We finally, well I finally, settled on one. It’s adorable and green and looks like a little house. Seriously this thing is cute.

It is supposed to be here today (my tracking is telling me it is in Evansville but there’s a “delay in delivery due to weather or natural disaster”) so I’m hoping maybe we can get it assembled as soon as this silly white stuff is gone.

My Facebook ads always revolved around baby topics such as cloth diapers and breast feeding but now it is all chicken coop and feed. It’s like the ads are taunting me making me even more eager to start my feathered adventure.

The next step is more research. I need to determine what breed of chicken to get. I’ve done a little research but haven’t quite decided what’s the most important factor — egg output, egg color, appearance, friendliness, heartiness … I can’t decide. My dream flock would be diverse and fluffy giving me a lot of a variety of different egg colors (cream, brown, blue, green), could handle warm summers and cold winters and would love to be held by me and Miles.

I know, I know … if wishes were chicken poop I’d soon have whatever I wanted.

Speaking of chicken poop …

Throwback Thursday — snow!

Winter through the years!

Miles first winter in 2011/2012

Winter 2011/12

Winter 2011/12

Then we had 2012/2013

Winter 2012/13

Winter 2012/13

Winter 2012/13

Winter 2012/13

And the winter of 2013/14 was our first back in Southern Indiana

Winter 2013/14

Winter 2013/14

Winter 2014/15

Winter 2013/14

This this winter, 2014/2015, is Owen’s first and our first in our new home! (And yes, Miles has worn the same winter coat for three years in a row, a hand me down no less! What can I see, he’s a little kid!)

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Winter 2014/15

Winter 2014/15

Little baby, I implore you, please sleep for more than an hour

Is sleep a four-letter word?

You tell me, I can’t count letters myself; I’m too tired.

But I am pretty sure Owen — now 5 months old — thinks it’s a dirty word. He certainly wants nothing to do with it.

Wide-eyed Owen not wanting to sleep.

Wide-eyed Owen not wanting to sleep.

We went through the newborn weeks like most moms and babies, up every two or three hours each night. That was pretty consistent until about three months. During that time, I learned to function as a zombie, and by the time I went back to work — eight weeks in — I’d gotten pretty good at it.

But then we started having longer stretches of sleep. Every once in awhile even five or six hours at a time. My brain and body took a collective sigh — awesome. This I could handle.
I just started to get that rhythm and then BAM — it all changed again.

What, sleep, NO!

What, sleep, NO!

 

 

Owen has now decided he misses me SO much that he needs to see my smiling face (I try) every hour on the hour throughout the evening. This is not an exaggeration. I may die.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists the causes of sleep deprivation, and it’s not pretty: lack of energy, an inability to focus, forgetfulness, distractibility, attention problems, irritability, anxiety and a lack of physical coordination, among others.

OK, so I might not die. That may have been a bit of an exaggeration. But I can certainly vouch for all of those other symptoms. I’m sure my co-workers, friends and family can too.

Sorry guys.

Thankfully most of the times when the little bugger gets up he’s happy and smiling. We chill in the rocking chair and babble to each other sometimes. Other times I nurse him. Sometimes I try to negotiate with him. Sometimes I beg and plead through tears of exhaustion.

None of it works. He’s still up EVERY SINGLE HOUR.

I’m blessed with a husband who has offered countless times to help. Unfortunately, said hubby wasn’t blessed with the miracle of lactation. And by the time 5:30 rolls around each evening — whether or not I’m home from work yet — Owen is over his daddy and his stupid plastic bottles, and he makes that displeasure well known.

I get that this is a short-lived stage. (It is, right? Oh please let it be. Don’t tell me otherwise, or I might not make it.) I recognize it’s just one of the many sleepless nights to come.
Right now, I’m doing my best to silver line it all — after all, it means there are plenty of extra snuggles with my baby who’s growing up too quickly. But folks, I’m beat.

Finally asleep

Finally asleep

Memories take me ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’

Memories are funny things.

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You can be driving home, mindlessly listening to the radio, when … BAM! something out of the blue hits you and reality takes a back seat to whatever time and place you are recalling.

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Sights, sounds, smells and even tastes can bring these recollections out when you least expect it.

It was sound, specifically music, that recently brought memories of my dad racing throughout my mind. I usually have him somewhere dancing around in the back of my mind, but occasionally those background thoughts become the focus of the moment.

dad and mom

The littlest munchkin, Owen, and I were driving back from a weekend spent sewing at my mom’s house. Talk about memories — the hum of that sewing machine instantly put me back to a Sunday afternoon in my elementary school days as my mom sat in the dining room sewing while my dad watched football. The melodic hum of the machine would often be interrupted by dad’s cheers or colorful language, depending on how the Bears were doing. But that’s another story altogether.twins2

Music was huge in our house. We made a lot of road trips to see out-of-state family, and those trips always included music — mix tapes and CDs, usually. We’d loudly sing along with John Prine, the Beatles or the Indigo Girls. Many of the songs would end up getting slightly modified to suit whatever trip we were taking or whatever else might be happening in our lives at the moment.

The Temptations’ “My Girl” was a favorite of both my dad and his girls — my twin sister and me. He’d sing the chorus, “… Talking ‘bout my girls …” and Sarah and I over him would sing, “… Talking ‘bout my dad, my dad, my dad.”

twins4

So back to this recent drive back to Evansville — of course “My Girl” comes over the radio; I sing my version of it through tears. Happy ones, but tears nonetheless. As soon as I get myself mostly put back together, here comes Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s ukulele cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and the waterworks start back up again. This was the song that played as my dad walked me down the aisle for my wedding.

That’s a good memory. My dad being classically my dad: After the bridesmaids had gone and it was time for us to make our way, he goes down the aisle without me, starting toward his seat to the laughter of the audience — our closest family and friends who had made the trek to Louisiana from Illinois and Indiana. They amusedly directed him back up the aisle to retrieve me.

Good thing that was a long song.

ab dad dance

I treasure those silly memories. Those times in the car when dad would say, “Where’s your microphone?,” and we’d all grab the nearest thing that we could sing into. Or that intimate moment when we finally got ready to go down the aisle and he squeezed me close to him and said, “I’m so proud of you. I love you so much!”

The anniversary of his death, although that phrase is really a cruel one, is Wednesday. It doesn’t take that day for me to think about him because he is really all around me. I hear him in a song. I see him in the eyes of my two boys. I know that without his guiding influence I wouldn’t have the fulfilling professional or personal life I do today because he taught me how to dream big and how to live bigger.

ab and dad

Ultimately, I am my father’s legacy. In some small way, I know that part of him will continue to live on in his grandsons and their grandchildren. I can’t think of any better way to remember him than to keep singing through those happy tears and know that he is proud of me.

ab dad and sarah

Heart of the matter

ab

When I got that positive line on the pregnancy test a million things raced through my mind – I was ecstatic. My husband and I had been trying for months to get pregnant with our second child; I couldn’t be happier.

I had lots of expectations, like most moms, of what this pregnancy, birth and child-rearing experience would be like. And one thing that weighed heavily on my mind was my desire to have a good breast feeding relationship with this baby.

With my son Miles, now three, I struggled with nursing. He lost more than 15 percent of his body weight while we were still in the hospital and continued to lose weight eventually being diagnosed with failure to thrive and falling off the growth chart meaning we supplemented with formula. But I tried just about everything to maintain a good breast feeding relationship – constant pumping, the use of a supplemental nursing system for supplementation, what seemed like around the clock nursing, daily visits with lactation consultants and more. Miles got a mixture of breast milk and formula for nine months before my breast milk diminished completely – not the breast feeding experience I’d at all imagined.

Looking back I see some of my pitfalls – a huge one being no skin to skin in the beginning. I didn’t even get to touch my son for a couple hours. I feel like this may have doomed me from the beginning. So I was determined to make immediate and constant skin to skin contact a priority.

ab1
But things, like with my first breast feeding experience, don’t always go as planned. I have a heart condition and pacemaker which makes things for me a little more complicated, especially in pregnancy. So within the first few weeks of pregnancy I had an appointment with a high risk obstetrician. The doctor said she thought I would either have to deliver in Indianapolis or deliver at The Heart Hospital with my baby immediately being taken to The Women’s Hospital where he would stay for the duration of our hospital stay. I’d get to see the baby once or twice a day.

Once or twice a day? Obviously this wasn’t going to work, especially with my desire to breast feed. I talked to my OB who said that wasn’t going to be the case—that we would figure something out.
After a few more complications arose later on in my pregnancy it became clear I wouldn’t be able to deliver the baby at The Women’s Hospital. There’d been two other babies born at The Heart Hospital and Deaconess Gateway handles one or two deliveries a year but in all those cases either the mother was too ill to care for the baby or the baby needed NICU care. They’d never encountered a situation like mine – a high risk (yet healthy) mom and baby with no complications.

With some persistence on my part and amazing work on the part of Dr. Foster and the entire team at The Women’s Hospital, a plan was hatched. There were meetings, phone calls, e-mails and compromise. I know at one point they had a room full of all the key players who would be involved in my medical care in a care conference. All along I’d stressed that separation not only would be traumatic for me but it would mean the end of my hopes for a positive breast feeding relationship. That was what I kept in mind each step of the way.

The end result was amazing, so much more positive than I think any of us expected. I gave birth to Owen at 38 weeks via a C-section performed at Gateway. The anesthesiologist allowed me to have immediate skin to skin contact while Dr. Foster continued the surgery. There was a lactation specialist in my private recovery area to help with the initial latch and with nursing. Someone from lactation made the trek all the way from The Women’s Hospital to Gateway (through a super-secret tunnel) for nearly every feeding those first 48 hours.

The care I received was amazing! I spent the first two nights at Gateway. While there I had two nurses assigned to just me – a cardiac nurse and a nurse from The Women’s Hospital. They all were aware of my strong desire to have a successful breast feeding relationship and did everything in their power to make it possible.

I was transferred to The Women’s Hospital after I stayed stable for the first 48 hours and spent two additional nights there. I continued to have amazing care and am so grateful to the staff and nurses who made the experience so positive.

And all that work was worth it. Owen and I are still going strong, fifteen weeks in even with a return to work. Until I went back to work he’d only gotten two bottles so the little guy definitely has this whole breast feeding thing down.

After I came home it wasn’t without speed bumps – I got thrush from the antibiotics I received after the surgery, there was a dip in weight gain for a short time and like many moms I struggled with latch. But the amazing care offered didn’t end when I left the hospital – I have taken full advantage of the trained lactation staff at The Women’s Hospital coming in several times for weight checks and to talk to an expert. And every single time the experience was amazing. I was helped, reassured that I was doing everything right and that I was a good mom – something we all fret about.

It’s been hard to say thank you enough. I know that a lot of people went to a lot of work for little old me. I’m not a celebratory, I’m not special, and I didn’t have to pay more. I’m just a mom who expressed a strong desire to successfully breast feed and bond with my kiddo who happened to have some additional medical concerns. And without missing a beat they all made it happen.

I apologized to nearly everyone that first day knowing that I was causing extra work and headaches; every single one of them talked about how they were happy to see the positive outcome. And now the hospital has a plan in place if this situation arises again.

For more information on The Lactation Services at the Women’s Hospital, click here.

This blog was originally published on The Women’s Hospital’s Breastfeeding Connection blog.DSC_0815

Spontaneity at its finest

I don’t think this is the way it works.

The older I get and the more responsibilities I earn the more spontaneous I become. I thought this crazy “fly by the seat of your pants” stuff was for the “kids,” not mothers of two who are just “learning the Twitter.”

But it’s hit me — the spontaneous bug has hit me.

This morning as I was nursing Owen before coming into work I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a post for Big Splash Adventure, an indoor water park and hotel in French Lick. I’d liked the page for just this reason, to be alerted to deals they had. This one was for a one night stay around Christmas that seemed too good to pass up.
But I thought, “That’s just silly. We can’t do something like that. We’re grown-ups. We plan things out weeks in advance. It’s Christmas.”

While at work it kept gnawing at the back of my head. Waterpark, fun, memories, crazy!
So I dashed off a message to Michael with the details saying, “Let’s do this.”

In typical Michael style he said, “Sure!”

I decided that it would be fun to have my mom join us. So I called her.

“What?” she asked, dazedly. “I need time to think.”

You see, my mom is not of the spontaneous variety, or at least not typically. But she mulled it over for about an hour and called back with a yes.

So, yes, we are nuts and we will be spending Christmas Day at a water park! And I can’t wait! I’m going to bring our stockings, Miles’ Santa present and a miniature tree. And we are having a more traditional Christmas celebration Saturday with mom and my sister and her family. So why not?

Hope everyone else has at least one moment of spontaneity this holiday season. This feels pretty good!

New adventures ahead

Last week I took my first steps into a new world as features editor here at the Courier & Press.

When I was hired about two years ago as senior features writer, I knew this was the kind of paper for which I had always wanted to work.

What I didn’t realize was at that same place I would find a tremendous mentor and friend in the woman I am replacing, Linda Negro.

I find myself trying to fill some pretty big shoes.

As a newsroom, we just said goodbye to five valuable colleagues, tremendously skilled journalists with deep ties to this community. Two of those five came from my department — Linda and longtime arts and entertainment reporter Roger McBain.

Their departure is a loss we will certainly feel in the newsroom. I learned much from Linda and Roger in a short time.

Yet, this big change has also provided an opportunity for a next generation of leaders to step up. In addition to myself, two others have taken on new roles of leadership in the newsroom — Jon Webb as assistant metro editor and Erin McCracken as photo editor.
I am excited that the Courier & Press’ leadership has shown confidence in us as we work to introduce the newspaper to a new audience.

If you haven’t been a regular reader of my occasional column and daily parenting blog, here’s a quick intro. I am a native of Vincennes, have worked for newspapers all over the country for about a decade and came back to Evansville early last year. I have a family — Louisiana-native husband Michael and two little boys. Miles is a strong-willed and spirited 3-year-old who attends preschool at St. Theresa School, and Owen is a lovable two-month-old night owl obsessed with his momma and ceiling fans.

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As a career journalist, I strongly believe that a newspaper must remain a vital part of any community. It is my hope that we can find a way to reach out to people my age and younger, for which to many, the newspaper is seen as a thing of the past.

I don’t think that’s true at all. And in interacting with the public I’ve discovered a number of my regular blog readers — young parents, professionals and more — who like what we as a newspaper do. I’m hoping to help even more discover this too.

This doesn’t mean we are neglecting or forgetting our established readers. We will continue to do many of the things you enjoy. Hopefully you will also enjoy the innovative and exciting storytelling and new ideas we are adding as we try to reach more people and enrich our audience.

Linda’s strong involvement in several nonprofits and service organizations has been a very important part of the newspaper’s efforts to be an engaged and vital member of the community. It’s important for me to live up to that example and continue my own dedication to community service. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer — I taught English and HIV/AIDS awareness in Bangladesh — this has always been a big part of my life.

One of the city squares in Comilla.

One of the city squares in Comilla.

desh goat

I currently serve as the vice president on the board of directors for Project Reveal, a nonprofit that’s working to provide a voice and community for women by sharing their stories of daily struggles and survival through written, video and photo “reveals.”

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My first act as editor was to hire Roger’s replacement, a huge challenge. His talent and connections are irreplaceable. But our new reporter, Kelly Gifford, has an energy and enthusiasm that will serve the arts community well. She’s excited about incorporating new storytelling techniques and will breathe new life into our coverage. Check out her weekly column, Culture Shock, on page D3.

My family and I plan to be here in Evansville for a long, long time. So I have a vested interest in seeing this community thrive and grow. I hope this paper continues to play a role in that by telling the stories that you the reader want to hear.

That’s where you come in. What kinds of stories do you want Kelly and me to tell? What changes would you like to see? I look forward to your input and working to make this paper the best we can for our readers.

Until next time.