Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 - A Year in Review

2013. Well, you sneaky devil you. Here you are, almost over, and it does not feel like 365 days have passed since you began. What a year you've been!

I've said this many times over the last few weeks, but 2013 will go down as the luckiest/unluckiest year of my life.

Let's review the good, the bad, and the wonderful.


- We put our first house on the market in February. It sold in 3 weeks. And then it didn't. But then it did again, with an even better offer. Though the weeks in between were incredibly stressful, I'm so glad it worked out the way it did!

- We found our new house, and it has been absolutely perfect for our family. We love the location (close to 3 parks, close to family, quiet street). We found a new daycare two doors down, so we are literally two doors away from our girls. Our neighbors are friendly. We're 1 minute and 45 seconds away from Kroger and Home Depot, which are the two most important stores in our lives (next to Target).

- We made our new house our home. Check out the before/afters of our living room/dining room, family room, kitchen, master bedroom, and nursery. Because we're suckers for a good home improvement project, we've made even more updates to some of these rooms, so pictures of those plus the guest bedroom, Emerson's room, and laundry area coming soon!

- I rediscovered 80's music, and I can't quit it. It's just so good. There is no way a homely 40-year old could succeed in today's pop music market, but back then, our radio stations were filled with cheese and mullets and it was amazing. Like seriously, would a record label take this dude seriously today?

- I'm one of those people who believes that life is too short for negative energy. If there is someone in your life who is a lifesuck (I can't think of a better term, but someone who sucks the life out of you and you dread your encounters; a person who makes you feel worse about yourself instead of better), then they need the ax. Figuratively, not literally of course. You can't always control this (for example, a coworker or neighbor who just drains you with their asinine comments) but you've gotta do what you have to do to keep their negative energy away from you. I always try to see the best in others, so I just choose to believe some people just can't see that their words or actions are hurtful/annoying/obnoxious. Somehow, this year, through various circumstances, any lingering lifesucks made their way out of my life. This was especially important when going through what we went through with Anna. I didn't have the time, energy, or willpower to deal with anyone who was a butthead. And luckily, I didn't have to.

- So many good things have happened to my family. My brother got married, my sister is having another baby and bought a wonderful new house for their family, and my sister-in-law had a healthy and adorable baby boy. I couldn't be happier for them!


- One of my biggest regrets in 2013, and probably in life, is that I didn't truly get to appreciate my pregnancy with Anna because I was SO busy, preoccupied, and stressed with the sale of our old house and the purchase of a new one. I had never experienced such anxiety, and I wish I could have that time back. We are not sure if we will have another child, and I am sad to think that if it was my last pregnancy that I wasted it being stressed.

- Everyone in our house got the stomach flu twice. I do not recommend this. While 32 weeks pregnant, I lost 8 lbs and felt like absolute garbage. The worst was watching poor Emerson throw up. Sick babies are so sad because they don't understand why the feel so bad. I wash my hands obsessively now, but I saw this article this morning and instantly felt terrified.

- My father-in-law had a stroke and it rocked our family to its core. The threat of losing someone that close to you is enough to make you question anything and everything you're doing, and never taking for granted the moments that you have together.

- From August through October, I experienced a series of emotions that I can't even begin to explain. I thought the anxiety of house buying was tough, but it was nothing compared to my journey with Anna and her health. You can read the story from the beginning starting here.

- I learned the very hard way that I will ALWAYS trust my motherly instincts.

- There are two sentences in my life that will haunt me forever. The first was in September 2010, when a doctor came into the room and said "I'm so sorry, but your baby is not going to make it."

The second came in September 2013. It was 2am on our first night in the PICU at Children's Hospital, Jon had just arrived back from a conference in Wisconsin, and a doctor came in with the results of Anna's preliminary MRI. I'll never forget his words:

"Unfortunately, I don't have good news for you."

He told us they could see two clots in Anna's brain, indicating that my 4-month old had had two strokes. He said he couldn't guarantee that she'd ever regain brain function at all. I think I actually went into shock. I remember shaking violently, being cold, and feeling like I wasn't in my own body.


But, as we know now, the results from the advanced MRI showed blood running through the clots, which is a good thing and meant that she was going to be fine. Eventually. What a journey it was to get there.

- My amazing, adorable, strong, beautiful, happy, perfect second daughter, Anna Beverly, was born on May 9th, 2013. Read her birth story here and here. Last night I was cuddling her as she slept and I just had one of those moments when I stopped and took everything in. The way she smelled, the way her lips parted, the sound of her breathing. I know these days are numbered, but I hope I never forget these perfect moments.

- We had an amazing summer in our new house with our girls. My maternity leave fell during the perfect time. Almost every day included our double stroller and walk to the park. The weather was beautiful, and we made a few new friends. I doubt I'll ever get 12 uninterrupted weeks with my children again, so I will always cherish this first summer in our house and remember it as one of the best times in my life. 

- I got a new job! I'm still in the same office (literally, I didn't even have to move my stapler) but I am working with a new team and a new student population. It was the greatest career move that has happened to me because I was able to stay in an office that I loved but get back to the roots of why I went into career counseling in the first place. I couldn't be happier and I never dread going to work every day.

- Jon also got a new job, which is perfect for him and for our family. Flexible, keeps him in Ohio, and allows us to afford daycare which costs almost the same as our first mortgage. Yep. It is also allowing us to take a second honeymoon in May, and we are so excited!

- My little fighter, Anna B, is doing wonderfully and thriving like crazy. See her latest update here.

- My beautiful Emerson is just a breath of fresh air and I couldn't have dreamed up a more perfect child. She's SO smart. Like freaky smart. We went to the pediatrician for her 2-year check up, and he asked if she was saying 2 word sentences yet, just as she said to me: "Mommy, I want to go home right now. Please." He laughed and put her in the advanced category for speech development. I'd like to thank my parenting skills, but I think some credit is due to Mickey Mouse as well. She's 33 inches and 24.5 lbs, and is 2 going on 16. I love them both more and more every day.

 In short, the entire year can be summed up in one picture. Despite all the stress, all the tears, all the anxiety, all the pain, at the end of 2013, the only thing that matters is that everyone is happy and healthy.

My little family. My whole heart belongs to these three people.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Two Weekend Recaps in One!

Well, hi there. 

The past few weekends have been a little crazy, but lucky for you, I managed to take a few pictures so I can share a little bit of the fun (with the three of you who read this blog).

Last weekend we celebrated Emerson's 2nd birthday with an "Oh Two-dles" party. Toodles is a character on her favorite show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (aka toddler crack). The party was very low-key, but when my kids are little, and really for just anything in life, I've just gotta have a theme. So that's what we came up with.

Then, we corresponded all of Emerson's favorite foods with characters from the show.

Goofy's Greens. Daisy's Dip.

Clarabelle's Cheese and Crackers

The pièce de résistance, Hot Diggity Dogs

Minnie's Bow-Tie Pasta. Pete's Pizza. Pluto's Puppy Chow.

Excessive amount of presents for a 2-year old and a Toodles cake.

Everybody laughing at something Emerson said.

So, do you remember last year when she hated her birthday cake?

 Well, this year, instead of crying, she just politely declined.

"No mommy, I no like that. That cake is yucky."

^^ What? Is this even my child?

Wearing her new birthday jammies after a long day of partying!

And switching gears, this past weekend, Jon and I took a whirlwind trip to Chicago to celebrate his birthday. My first overnight trip away from Anna and it was SO hard but truly had an amazing time.

Our hotel, Hotel Sofitel, was amazing. Probably one of the nicest hotels and best hotel experiences I've ever had.

The hotel, and the whole city for that matter, was decorated for Christmas, and it just added to the magic of the weekend.

It was also our first time going out for sushi together since 2010. We get take-out alot, but we haven't had a sit-down sushi dinner alone in 3 years. That is just unacceptable.

On Saturday, we started the day off right with brunch (who doesn't love brunch???) at the Sunnyside Up Cafe. As soon as I saw the word "Cronut" I knew it had to be mine. It was over so quickly I thought it might have been a dream, but this picture proves that culinary works of art really do exist. Just like Santa.

Anna's first time FaceTime-ing with mom and dad and she thought it was a hoot!

On Saturday night, Jon's friends scored us tickets to the Cavs/Bulls game. The seats were awesome. The Cavs performance? Not so much. Such is the life of a Cleveland sports fan.

Even though we spent less than 48 hours in Chicago, and it was definitely one of the best trips we've ever taken, we were so ready to get back to these two. I am honestly not sure how I'm going to survive a 6- day trip to California without them. Do they charge extra to bring toddlers as carry-on luggage?

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Friday, December 20, 2013


I miss alot of things about college.

The lack of responsibilities, getting to sleep in, and my waistline being a few. But something I don't miss? Paying for textbooks. 

I work on a college campus, and I feel so awful for these students who barely have two dimes to rub together, and yet can spend up to $350 per book for a class that is 14 weeks. Especially if the professor doesn't even use it.

In May, Jon will graduate with his MBA, which also means that we'll get a 16 year hiatus from paying for textbooks. But for now, we're going with our old standby, Campus Book Rentals. They are literally always the least expensive option for us. It will usually run us $50 per book for the semester as opposed to paying $250 to own a book that will collect dust on our bookshelves.

CBR is now offering a new service called RentBack. So, let's say you do end up purchasing a book (and ironically, that you probably only use exactly twice). Well, you can just give it to Campus Book Rentals and they'll rent it for you, FOR FREE, and then pay you everytime someone rents it from them. Seriously, could it get any easier? Why oh why didn't this exist when I was in college?!? That's money I could have spent on more important things, such as Chipotle and chandelier earrings (which were all the rage circa 2004). 

Here, take 54 seconds and watch this awesome video. They help explain a) Why the textbook industry is so crappy inefficient and expensive and b) What they are doing to fix it. 

So even if you're not in school, go on over to that bookshelf, wipe off the dust, and type the ISBN into RentBack. You never know when some poor college student will be paying you to rent your book that you thought you'd never use again.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Two Years

I apologize for any misspellings or grammar issues in this post. I am already crying and we're on sentence two. 

You see, two years ago tomorrow, this beautiful girl made me a mommy.

And I can't even begin to process the fact that I have a two-year old.

People say that having a child completely changes your life. And that's absolutely true. But it's also absolutely true that Emerson changed our lives for the better. I have never for one single second regretted my decision to become a parent. No matter what I achieve for the rest of my life, my children will be my greatest accomplishments.

In two short years, she has shown me the true meaning of unconditional love. Every day I'm in awe that I helped create someone so perfect. Every day I love her more and more. Every day she amazes me with what she's learning/doing/saying/being.

She is the sweetest, smartest, funniest, happiest hazel-eyed girl I have ever met. Jon and I constantly say to each other "How is this our baby???" because she is so awesome and we really don't feel worthy to be her parents. But man, it's a blast, so I'm not giving her up!

Happy birthday Emerson - I love you more than words can say.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Anna Update

I realize it's been way too long since I've posted an update about Anna. I sometimes forget that my memory is crap (<-- Exhibit A) which is one of the reasons I blog... so that I can look back on moments in my life whenever I want. I know all too well that stress, life and sleep deprivation make you forget little details, even if you don't want to.

So, let me tell you a little bit about my sweet Anna B and what she's been up to...

In short, well, she's perfect.

She is SO beautiful. I completely understand parental bias now, because I look at her and I swear I'm looking at the most beautiful blue-eyed baby that God ever created. And I truly believe that. Her beauty is not just in her big, sparkly eyes, her silky soft baby skin, or her adorable giggle. She is also beautiful because I know what she has been through, and her strength is the most beautiful part about her.

 She just started doing physical therapy, and will continue to do it about once every other week. Because she was laying in a hospital bed for a solid month, and was sick for a month before that, her neck and leg muscles are weak. We have already started doing the exercises at home every day, and they've made a huge difference already. They have no doubt that she'll be caught up quickly, which is a relief.

Though there is physical evidence that she's been through alot, there is no trace of the struggles she faced in her personality. She's just such a happy little baby. So happy. So smiley. I can't tell you what it means to me to have that Anna back. There was a time when I never thought it would happen, but here we are.


She's had follow-up appointments with every doctor she saw in the hospital. If you're keeping track, that's Neurosurgery, ENT, Eye, Neurology, and her pediatrician. She has been given a clean bill of health by everyone! We will continue to follow up with Neurosurgery a few times a year, where they will give her an MRI to make sure no fluid has accumulated, but so far, so good.

She also has an appointment with Genetics in January.  Some people have asked if Anna's condition was in any way related to Jack's. So far, they think no. Whenever my mind wanders into the "Why did something bad happen to 2 of my 3 children?" territory, I stop immediately and remind myself that Anna is going to be fine, and that although what she had to deal with was horrible, I am eternally grateful that she is here with us, and that her condition was treatable. And that's that.


Still 100% breastmilk (thanks to a hefty freezer stash I accumulated while she was in the hospital). We attempted sweet potatoes and she seems to like them, but they said not to push her until her head control gets stronger, so that she doesn't associate eating with pain. So I give her a few spoonfulls here and there, but I'm not going to stress about it until she gets more comfortable.


I am happy to report that SHE is sleeping through the night now. Keyword being she... it will probably take awhile for my body to adjust, so I'm still up several times a night. After getting the go-ahead from her pediatrician, we used the Sleepeasy Solution just before Thanksgiving, and it literally took one night. More on this later. 

On my way out the door the other day :)


She's back at daycare with all her friends (including one baby boy named Tucker who is getting a little too handsy for my taste).

But the person she loves most in this world?? Her big sister, Emerson.
Caption that went with this photo?? "Daddy!! She's holding my hand!!!" I die.
These girls literally melt my heart into a puddle of goo. They are SO cute when they're together, and I can't imagine two better sisters. Emerson "performs" for Anna, and Anna just eats it up. No one can make her smile like her sister.

Thanks again for all of the well wishes over the last few months. We couldn't be more grateful for the wonderful people who have kept Anna in their thoughts and prayers.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

How I Know I'm a Nerd

I mean, so many reasons, but here's just a few for today: 

We all have recurring nightmares, right? My recurring nightmare is that I sign up for a college class (usually Biology or Chemistry) then forget to drop it, and then realize I have to take the final exam without every attending the class. I panic because I don't feel like I have enough time to study and I might not get an A. I've had this dream for years and years now and always wondered... What does it mean?!?!? I have just recently come to the conclusion that it means simply that I am a nerd.

I am geeked out excited to see Catching Fire this weekend. 

 Even worse? I am going to see Catching Fire at 9:30AM on Saturday. Who does that besides 80 year olds and nerds??? No one, that's who.

When I use curse words, even to this day, I cringe a little inside and feel like someone is going to tell on me and that I'll get in trouble.

Two things happen to me every single day: 1) I trip over my own feet and 2) I spill something on myself.

I heard Hootie and the Blowfish yesterday on the radio, and probably looked like this as I sang along:

I follow Walt Disney World on Facebook, and I am thrilled when they post something new. 

I am a SUCKER for a good pun. Always. I will always laugh, no matter how bad it is.  I mean, this guy???


When I re-read all of the above, I am reminded of the absolute miracle in that I both have friends and am happily married. Surely these people just haven't figured me out yet.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Friendsgiving 2013

I moved to Columbus in January 2008 for my perfect job out of grad school. Jon and I were debating on whether we wanted to stay in Ohio or not, and this job sort of solidified things for us. We said it was Columbus, Ohio or not Ohio at all. We loved the city, and how many exciting things were happening in it, and felt like we could start our married life there.

Still, I moved here knowing exactly 3 people. I left my college town and all of my close relationships and BFFs to start a new life in a new city. Jon was finishing grad school, so he couldn't move there until August. My new job ended up being an incredible blessing, because right away I met some amazing co-workers (later dubbed as the "Kids Table") and I felt more and more like Columbus was home.

A few months into my new job, I met this girl. We instantly connected over our mutual love of eating. If that isn't a solid foundation for friendship, I don't know what is. I remember calling Jon and telling him about this awesome girl I met at work, and how isn't it strange when you become good friends with someone after college? Like honestly, think about your best of friends.... how many of those relationships began after college? I feel like, at some point in your mid-20s, your energy at maintaining relationships dwindles, and if you're not already good friends with someone, it's very hard to establish that friendship. Does that make sense to anymore other than me???

Anyway, Holly went to college in Columbus, and her group of college friends was still by and large in the area. One night, she invited me to a networking event so that I could meet some of her friends. We even have photo documentation of that night:

Oh, 24 year old Audra.
Throughout the last 5 years, despite not having attended said college with these girls, I have been indoctrinated into this group of amazing women. These gals have been such a blessing in my life. I am so amazed with the support system they provide to each other, and now, to me. 

For the past few years, we've had a Girls Thanksgiving celebration, and this year, it was at my house. Though my life is anything but boring right now, I love the times I get to share with these gals because I know that whatever mood I'm in, it will instantly be lifted when we're all together.

 Food. Laughter. A cozy fire. Wine. And most importantly, friendship. The perfect way to celebrate.

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