Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Birthday Camping Trip

For James' and Brian's birthdays they wanted to go camping in the mountains with grandpa! They all had a blast hiking, fishing, and camping! The only downfall was that all three shared a two-man tent! They reported it was a tight fit!


Waiting for grandpa at the meetup spot. Brian let James have a Coke since he had been so patient after the long drive and then they had to wait some more!


Found grandpa and then they were on their way to the mountains.







Lots of fishing and hiking.



SIMBA!


And some more fishing in the morning!


A look at the tiny tent! And then off for some ice cream and shakes before heading home. These boys were in hog heaven after a fun camping trip. And I had a fun girls' weekend with just me and baby Christina, shopping and eating out!





Friday, June 20, 2014

Baby Christina at 10 months

Baby Christina is nearly 10 months old and she is doing very well and she keeps surprising us with her milestone achievements.

We feel so blessed (and maybe some luck, but I attribute luck to God anyway, so it is still blessed) that Christina has been so healthy. Granted she's had her issues, but no major bacteria or viruses! Wait, so formula-fed babies can have a healthy immune system?! (I'm mostly just being sassy, I am actually pro-breastfeeding, where it is possible.) But I digress. When Christina was born, Brian and I both had trouble answering certain types of questions about Christina. For instance, when people would ask "Is she healthy?" or "How is she doing?" These questions seem so relative. Because in some ways, she is as healthy as a horse. But in other regards, nearly every body system in her little body was made wrong but does in fact function well enough. And when people ask how she's doing, well, she's happy and not in pain, so that is good, right? Does she do typical things most 10 months are doing? Well, no. Does she seem to care? Well, that's a no. So she seems fine to us!

James is easily her favorite! At least when it comes to entertainment purposes. They both really love each other and James will spend hours a day playing and wrestling her. At first I was worried at how wild and rough he was with her, but when you hear her cackle laughing it's hard to argue that she doesn't love it! I am her favorite when she wants comfort or cuddling. And she has warmed up to Brian, inasmuch as she doesn't cry anymore when left with him!

She does her own version of crawling. She can go surprisingly quickly from point A to point B. She does move her legs one at a time forward as she scoots her head forward without lifting it. She will rest and lift her head momentarily, but her lifting is up off the ground, not like up looking around. She also loves the yoga position downward dog, but uses her head to balance and not her arms! She is a determined little thing!

She still doesn't eat anything orally and is solely fed through her g-tube. But I am hopeful that she will at some point eat by mouth since she loves things in and around her mouth. We just started to brush her four little teeth and she lets me brush her teeth for over half an hour. She loves the taste of a little bit of toothpaste and the feeling of the toothbrush. So things like that make us hopeful that she will learn to have food in her mouth again and learn how to swallow again.

My mom came to town to visit and she thought we were not seeing all of her brilliance and potential (said with some jest) but I argue we are just realists! So we went out and got her some toys. One that she has seemed to enjoy and engage with a little is a play mat with music and toys that dangle. She also has a light toy that is basically a big box that lights up when you push a button. She just recently started to enjoy that toy. She intentionally pushes the button, but we are still undecided if she understands the cause and effect of this toy. If she can figure that out she could be entertained by a whole range of toys!


And she really was smiling in these pictures!


So far she mostly goes by sissy or baby Christina or baby sister. When baby sister number two comes in the fall this might get confusing and we may have to nail down some more distinctive nicknames! And speaking of baby tres, she's really in there!




Friday, June 6, 2014

A legacy of maternal strength

I hope to be able to leave a legacy of maternal strength to my daughters. We are very happy to announce that we are pregnant with a baby girl due this fall! We can hardly contain our happiness to be having a healthy baby. But with this joy also comes some apprehension because, like me, she is also a carrier.

For Brian and me, choosing when to have children has been both the most wonderful as well as the most terrifying experiences. As many of our friends and family know, I have a chromosomal balanced translocation. There is a lot of genetic jargon to explain what a balanced translocation is but most simply put it means that when I have children there is a 50/50 chance at conception of having a severally handicapped child. Brian and I both knew that we wanted to have children but with my condition the when and how can be quite complicated. We have made all of our procreative decisions very seriously and prayerfully. I am thankful to have had my parents to look to as examples and support in our tough circumstances. And most importantly to have a wonderful husband to love me and listen to my endless chatter and nervousness about this issue.

We have been dying to announce that we are expecting for several weeks but we wanted to wait until we knew more about the baby. Concealing the pregnancy grew ever difficult because it seemed my body knew just what to do the third time around! I am 18 weeks along, and besides lots of fatigue, the pregnancy has been very smooth sailing!



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Finances: Our History and Current State


So before you start reading, I wanted to preface this blog entry by saying that I am nervous to write about this topic. I get so excited talking about personal finances, but I was worried that no one else would care (and that still might be true) so I asked my husband if he thought people would be interested in me writing about finances. He laughed and said of course people would care because people love to talk about sex, money, religion and politics. With that said, here I go to start the discussion of money on my blog. (And maybe more to come if people really are interested!) And no, I don't think I will be discussing sex anytime soon on my blog, I'll keep it to money!


Our Financial History and Current State

The Beginning

Early in our marriage, Brian and I decided we wanted to avoid debt as much as possible in a world where it seems most people are comfortable having loads of debt. We were fortunate to get married without any debt and we both were able to avoid debt in our undergraduate degrees by working, scholarships, and grants.

Our Debt and Money Issues

We first went into debt when Brian started law school. It was a calculated choice since Brian could not work for most of law school and I was staying home with James. We also bought a home here in Las Vegas for under $70K. We lived very frugally during those three years and we were very creative with our spending and saving of money. What creative tips do you have for staying out of debt? Or stretching a dollar?

Soon after Brian graduated from law school, Christina was born. We had health insurance with a high deductible so my prenatal care and the birth were several thousand, but not atypical prices with insurance. However, baby Christina's cost became astronomical in only a matter of minutes. A stint in the NICU will cost you several thousand per day. Yes, thousands per day! She stayed in the NICU for 19 days and her final bill was over $100,000. So after a little math, her stay cost well over $5,000 per day! And I don't say all this to say "Woe is me" but on the contrary because we had insurance. (If you don't have health insurance, go buy it today! You cannot afford to not have it!) We only had to pay a mere fraction of that! But even with only a fraction of that due, it was still a lot of expense and Brian wasn't a licensed attorney yet and was making minimal money. It was the first time that we didn't have any money in the bank because we had exhausted all of our savings and even our emergency fund to pay for the birth and NICU bill. Even after baby Christina was discharged from the NICU she had LOTS of specialty doctors and surgeries and the costs still seemed never ending. At the rate it was going we feared that we would never financially get ahead of it! And luckily we were able to avoid debt, but it was month to month for a couple months until we were able to get ahead! And we can thank monthly budgeting and Brian's increase in salary to that! I mentioned in a previous post how I hated budgeting but at that point I knew something had to change. We had been hearers of the word (Dave Ramsey's word that is), but not doers of the word. In the last six months we have been able to get very ahead and we feel very in control of our money. Do you worry about money month to month? Do you budget each month? Do you hate it like I used to? Or are you a nerd and love to watch your money?

Our Current Choices

And I stress the word choices because as we control our money and our debt we are able to have more choices and I can't wait until all of our debt is gone and all the choices we will have then! But back to the point, our only debt is our mortgage. Our current choices are to knock out our mortgage as fast as we can or to invest 15 percent of our income in retirement (401K and Roth IRA). Currently we are only contributing about 10 percent. Dave Ramsey (our favorite financial adviser and author of The Total Money Makeover) suggests at the point we are at to invest 15 percent into retirement before paying off the house. The reason we are debating the issue is that we want to be moving to a better area and to a bigger house in the next two years and we want to have as much money into our mortgage so that when we sell we can have a big chunk of our next house paid for. What are you thoughts? Are you putting money away for retirement? How much? Should we be more aggressive with retirement savings, as Dave says to do? Or with our mortgage, as the Nelsons want to do?



Friday, April 25, 2014

Random Facts

Most of our blog entries are kid-centric so I thought it might be fun to do a different kind of blog entry. Here are just some random, boring or maybe interesting facts about Brian and me.


Christina
  1. Every night I take a bath and listen to the Dave Ramsey podcast.
  2. I wear high heels almost everyday.
  3. My name was Amy until I was about a month old and my parents had my name legally changed to Christina.
  4. I never drink juice or sugar soda.
  5. Since I've had kids, besides driving I don't do anything that has high physical risk, e.g., skiing, hiking, skydiving, and I always wear a life vest if I'm forced on a boat! 
  6. I don't have a smart phone and I hate even having a cell phone and I never answer it but I take it with me in case of emergency and I sometimes text.
  7. I got married at nineteen. 
  8. I hate wash cloths in the kitchen or to clean the house with. I prefer to use (and waste) paper towels for all cleaning. 
  9. I don't like to be surprised, so I buy for Brian all of my birthday, anniversary, and Christmas gifts.
  10. I wish I knew how to grill.
  11. I hate horror movies and even the previews make me terrified.
  12. I know how to play the piano but I hate to play for people and prefer to play when I'm all alone.
  13. I hate doing arts and crafts.
  14. My favorite song of all time: John Rutter's A Gaelic Blessing.
  15. I'm not shy and often lack discretion. (Which makes me fun!)
  16. I want to start a beauty and fashion blog/YouTube channel, but I've been too scared to do it.
  17. I am not a morning person, but I wish I was. I love the idea of everyday waking up early, going for a morning run, then getting my Diet Coke fountain drink at the gas station, and getting showered and dressed all before 7 AM. But I'm lucky if I roll out of bed before 8 AM, with none of those things done!
  18. The nicest thing I own is a Dolce & Gabbana evening coat.
  19. I love to go thrift shopping and I got that Dolce & Gabbana coat for $10 at a thrift store.
  20. I can't whistle in tune.
  21. I cannot drive standard and at this point I refuse to learn.
  22. I would love to go to law school once all my kids are in all day school.
  23. I love to wear leather and fur and all black.
  24. I let Brian believe I was going to dump him only to soften the blow when I told him I have a balanced translocation.
  25. The perfume I wear the most is Chanel Coco Mademoiselle.
  26. My favorite scripture: "Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10.
  27. I don't believe in horoscopes. I love the quote from Stacy in Phineas and Ferb when she says: "I am a woman of science, at least that's what my horoscope said."
  28. If I'm having a really bad day buying a Diet Coke from tap and a new lipstick help lift my mood.
  29. I love fresh, new school supplies and I get so excited when school starts again in the Fall and I'm jealous of all the little elementary age kids with their new shoes and backpacks filled with new pencils, notebooks and folders as they file onto the school bus.


Brian
  1. My favorite author is William Shakespeare.
  2. My favorite Shakespeare work is The Merchant of Venice.
  3. I am good at making paper airplanes.
  4. I am a probate and guardianship attorney. 
  5. My life goal is to become a judge.
  6. I lived in Quebec Canada for two years where I served a LDS mission.
  7. I am pretty decent at drawing on an Etch-O-Sketch.
  8. If I'm not wearing my dress shoes, I'm wearing my Rainbows, year round.
  9. My favorite movie is Life is Beautiful.
  10. I enjoy construction and would love to build a house someday.
  11. My grandmother was born in Mexico so our family recipes have some Mexican flare and I can make yummy beef enchiladas.
  12. I speak French fluently.
  13. Christina proposed to me after six weeks of dating, and I of course said yes!
  14. I'm related to Mitt Romney, he is my second cousin once removed.
  15. I've meet and chatted with Zachary Levi. He assumed I was a Chuck fan, but at the time I'd never even heard of the show and I said I knew him from the movie Shades of Ray (NOT to be confused with 50 Shades of Grey) and he was surprised because the movie was a small, low budget film (A really good movie by the way!)
  16. I used to flip furniture on Craigslist to pay for rent and utilities.
  17. I have a goal to build a cabin near Cedar City and I hope to have it nice enough that I can get Christina to go to it.
  18. I had Bell's Palsy as a teenager.
  19. I was homecoming king in high school.
  20. I've learned everything I know about women from Phil Dunphy.
  21. I love Dwight Shrute from The Office. My favorite quote from him: "Before I do anything I ask myself  'Would an idiot do that?' And if the answer is yes, I do not do that thing."
  22. I've lived in Vegas for four years and I've never gambled.
  23. I love modern medicine and the miracles it has brought to my family, but I can't stand working with doctors, luckily my wife is really good at that!
  24. My wife is embarrassed by this, but I enjoy rollerblading.
  25. My wife and I were married in Boston, Massachusetts.
  26. When we have a spare garage my dream is to restore a 1969 Corvette.
  27. I can't remember the last time I had the hiccups, but it has been years.
  28. I love Netflix and I plan to never have cable television.
  29. I am a very loyal In-N-Out and Costco fan.
  30. I am ridiculously good at Super Smash Brothers on N64. (It's almost embarrassing, I must have played a lot as a kid)


Monday, April 21, 2014

Baby Christina Laughing


Baby Christina didn't start smiling until she was over six months old and now at almost eight months old she has finally started to laugh and giggle! And to hear that from this little girl is just so wonderful since she doesn't show much reaction to us. But the fact that she's now laughing means she has a fun, little personality in there bursting to get out! We got her on video cackling and it is just so scrumptious! And the more wild I threw her, the harder she laughed! She is a little thrill seeker! (Sorry about the quality of the video, we keep our house pretty dark for baby girl, so it's quite dark in the video.)

video


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Busy, busy weekend Pt. 2

We quickly snuck off to California after Christina's surgery, scared her doctor would advise against it. But she was a happy camper the whole trip down and during the mini-vacation. She really is such a pleasant baby and she's happy to go along with whatever we're doing as long as she can stay in the dark, literally. 

We had so much fun with all the cousins, aunts and uncles, and of course Grandma and Grandpa! We celebrated the Easter weekend with a little egg hunt, then went to the beach and then to church on Sunday. Every time we got in the car James would just crash! I guess he was having too much fun!







James and mommy's selfies before we hit the road back home. We already miss California and all our family!