Post Baby Heart Check

I had my post baby cardiology appointment on Friday. I had an Echo and then saw the cardiologist. She says everything looks great!

I did tell her I’ve been having (what seems like) more palpitations. It’s normal for me to have some and from what I described, she wasn’t worried.

She did say lack of sleep, stress, and sometimes caffeine can increase them. I’ve never noticed a specific correlation with caffeine, but lack of sleep and stress (or anxiety about having palpitations so I have more or notice them more) are part of life these days.

Other than the fantastic “see you in a year” doctor’s orders where as follows:

1. Get more sleep

2. Lose 10-15 lbs

Both of these are directly related to being a mom and having 3 kids.

More sleep shouldn’t be out of reach. I can easily adjust my bedtime and go to bed earlier.

The weight one however is so new to me. I’m actually right in line with “normal bmi”, but being a heart patient, I totally understand wanting to be on the lower end of normal.

She wants me at 130-135. We looked up what I weighed when I first came to see her 9 years ago. I was SHOCKED! Y’all. 112 pounds. That’s like being see through! Way too light for my 5′ 6” frame.

I figure in 9 years, with 3 kids and 1 heart surgery, 35+ pounds isn’t terrible considering my starting point.

Now that I’m middle age, it will take some effort. I’ve never had to be concerned with what I eat before. (And I do love candy!) My game plan to start with us drink more water, eat less carbs. I’ll do that for a while and then reevaluate my plan as needed.

Overall – I’m so pleased. Also – I love my Adult Congenital Heart Disease Cardiologist. She’s brilliant and funny and kind.

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Busy

I find myself (obviously) blogging less just due to having a full life.

We are doing well. We’ve been mostly healthy. We are still loving our house (can’t believe it’s been over a year here!).

And we love having this pretty girl along for the ride. (She’s wearing my baby clothes in these pics.)

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Thread on our Lower-Middle Class Family

It’s been a while. We added a new child to the family in October so I’ve haven’t had much time to blog. The following is actually a series of tweets from yesterday. I did make a few small grammatical/clarifying/organizational edits, but it’s basically a series of 15 tweets:

Looking at our income and all these tax numbers…

We are basically lower-middle class. A one income family with 3 kids.

From all the talk, one would think we are dirt poor and cannot survive. Yet we do. Pretty comfortably, I might add. Here are a few thought as to why.

  1. The only thing we owe on is our house.
    1. It’s descent size but not massive. Two kids will share a room until one of the 3 move out. *gasp* And we prefer it that way, shocking I know.
    2. We only have a house because my husband (as a single man) purchased a town home way below his means. And we lived in that “semi-inconvenient” town home until we had 2 kids and the profit of a sale would cover a house down payment.
    3. We also don’t owe on school loans because we bought nothing but needs for several years. (All extra money went to pay them all off.) Not having those helps tremendously.
    4. We drive 2007 & 2008 vehicles. No loans on those. One was bought used, with cash (other is a hold over from single days)
    5. While we use credit cards for convenience, we never carry a balance.
    6. Having little to no debt (just the house remember) frees up a lot of money every month. Less locked in payments and less waste to interest
  2. Having only one income provides opportunity for saving money
    1. I cook most of our food (healthier and cheaper). I have the time to clip coupons, find the best sales, and make meals from scratch. It’s a lot more difficult to do this when time is limited
    2. Our monthly budget for gas and clothing is lower than most. Not only do we drive less, we don’t need work clothes (helps that our one income earner also works from home)
    3. We don’t pay for any child care (except an occasional date night)
  3. Probably the most significant, we define “comfortable living” very different than most
    1. All of our needs are met (first!) Food, clothing, shelter, water, power, transportation, these items are always covered. We recognize this and are extremely grateful that our income covers the basics. Some are not as fortunate.
    2. We have such great peace of mind that the basics are covered, we get to really enjoy when there is extra to cover the fun stuff.
    3. We value getting a deal. We truly enjoy finding deals and bargains. We love shopping thrift stores. We love store brands. It doesn’t make us feel “less than” because we don’t value the pride attached to brand-name or new. The reverse is actually true. It makes us feel like we are smarter than others wasting money.
    4. We get to live our value of people & quality time over stuff. We trade money and a second income (which buys nicer stuff) for what we really want – joy, peace, love, less stress.
    5. Our idea of fun is different. We do lots of free activities with the kids. We drive for vacation and have adventures on our journey (see things you miss on a plane)
  4. For me, growing up as a preacher’s kid has impacted my world view in regards to money
    1. I trust God will provide for my needs. First and foremost, spiritual needs, but also physical needs.
    2. We (similar to my upbringing) have a wonderful community and support system. Should something terrible happen financially – we know our God provided support system would step up. And we do the same for others.
    3. Not having much money as a kid, I saw my parents work to cover needs and then some. We were loved and didn’t feel like we missed out.

In summary, our world view regarding money is very different than most.

Because of that, we can live comfortably with less. Practically speaking, we work hard to live this way. (Physically, emotionally, and intellectually)

The resulting freedom: Absolutely Worth it.

/End of Tweets

***Long time readers will know this, but I’ve blogged extensively on how we got out of debt. Starting in Jan 2012. We paid off 46K in 22 months. If you want to read about that, look for the “by the number’s” posts. To be fair, we were dual income for most of that time, pre-kids.

*PS: In the blog post editing page, I got the code to do a nice ordered alphabet list nested in an ordered numbered list. (Point 1. A, B, C, Point 2. A, B, C etc.) It’s driving me crazy that the actual post isn’t reading the code correctly but I don’t have time to fix it. Sorry. “Hashtag Three Kids” ;-p

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These days

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I’d do an update on what we are doing these days.

*We started preschool last week. By pre-school, I mean me take 30 mins – an hour, about 3 days a week to do some intentional play, reading, and crafts. Now that E will be two next week, both boys get to participate. Mostly this has resulted in E throwing fits when I put the colors away because he wants to keep going. 

*Z and I started “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. He’s really interested in reading. I’ve modified the lessons a little and told him we will do 10, and then he can decide if he wants to keep going. A lot of research shows it’s most helpful to many kids to not start formal, structured learning until they are 6 or 7. Generally, I agree with this research, which is why “pre-school” is pretty casual in our house and I’m not pushing the reading lessons all that hard (thus the letting him decide if we go past 10). [He won’t start kinder until fall of 2019. We have tons of time.]

*Baby girl is set to arrive in 8 weeks.

*We moved E into a big boy bed on Z’s room. So that is a new challenge.

*This summer has been tight between work slowing down and OB bills, but we have hopefully made it past the most difficult period. Work is picking back up and my OB pre-pay plan has likely been met.

*With the help of some birthday money gifts from family, daddy built the summer birthday boys a sandbox. We’ve been having fun with that. (Sand everywhere! Hose downs before coming back in the house.) 

*As we approach being in our new house for almost a year, we’ve finally gotten around to selling some things. Vases, chairs, shelves, dishes, and such. Stuff we didn’t have time to sell before we moved last year. That’s been both a challenge (taking pictures, writing up descriptions, determining prices, and posting online) and a relief (cleaning up clutter, making space, and having a little extra cash).

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Filed under baby, birthday, kindergarten, pre-school, reading, school, summer, work

Summer Vacation 

Mount Rushmore

On June 1st we set off on what turned out to be a 2,589 mile trek. From our home in Texas to my brother’s in South Dakota. We visited my brother and his wife and their two kiddos. My almost 4 year old son was only 13 months old the last time we saw them. Since that time, both of our families added a child and we are each expecting another this fall. 

It was a long drive (17 hours split into 2 days) to get there, but definitely worth it!

We had a great time catching up with family. Our kids had so much fun playing with their cousins. (In addition to enjoying their playmates, we also learned that a sandbox may be something our boys would appreciate.)

The trip included visiting three national parks & monuments. Devils Tower in Wyoming, Mt. Rushmore, and the Badlands. All beautiful. All worth the entrance fees.

We also made the practically obligatory stop at Wall Drug. All those billboards reminded me it was a must see if driving through. 

Another theme of our trip seemed to be dinosaurs. From the toy ones I packed to hand out to bored little boys, to the Wall Drug Dino, and Dinosaur Park in Rapid City.

The trip also proved to be delicious. We had hot dogs and s’mores over a campfire one night. Another evening we had grilled “farm beef” hamburgers (as in, my sister-in-law knew the family that raised the cow we were eating). 

In Spearfish Caynon, we had a nice dinner for two. Indian bread taco for an ap, than cheesy bacon potato soup. Followed by steak, a twice baked potato, and some of the best cooked veggies I’ve ever had. Buttered, sprinkled with dill, they practically melted in my mouth. For dessert, more Indian bread [think elephant ears] with a warm strawberry dip. I was so full but it was so incredibly tasty.

All in all, the trip was a wonderful success. Yes, we are tired. Yes, it was a long drive. But for the savings (the minimal cost of the trip would not have even purchased 2 plane tickets to Rapid City), we are so glad we took the time and effort to visit our family up north.

I grew up in the north west and many years we traveled across Idaho & Montana to reach my grandparents house in North Dakota. I’ve spent a week at a family reunion near Rushmore. I’ve seen the Badlands and appreciated the prairie. I’ve driven north from here to South Dakota and enjoyed the rolling hills and the flat plains, filled mostly with cows and crops. 
It was wonderful to show my husband and sons this beautiful, under-appreciated part of the country. 

If you are ever looking for a new place to visit in the United States, don’t rule out South Dakota based on what you may think of when you hear the word “Dakota.”

Our crew at Devils Tower

JJ and I jumped out of the car and took a quick picture during our drive through the Badlands

 

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One Year

One year ago today, my heart stopped for 20 minutes. Isn’t that crazy?!? On average the heart stoppage time for having a pulmonary valve implant is 45 minutes. A heart can go 3-4 hours on “pause” for transplants.

I’m very thankful for my less than average stoppage time. I credit it to not having the typical brain fog that often follows open heart surgery. I’m also extremely grateful that the Creator of the universe allowed his creation to understand the human body so well as to be able to have the knowledge and skill to do heart surgery. And I’m grateful I was created at this period in time, where I could live a full, mostly healthy life.

Since One year ago:

HEALTH
My health has been great. After the initial healing time, I’ve had more energy and have been able to bounce back better from full, exhausting days or lots of time spent out in the heat.

HOME
Because of such a surprisingly easy and quick recovery, I was bored and started looking at houses. This resulted in us listing our town home to sell. Because of our location and price point, we received 7 offers in 4 days. We found a new home (that we LOVE!) that met our needs and even checked off some hard to find wants (my large kitchen!). Within 4 months of heart surgery, with the help of many family and friends, we moved.

ADDING ON
With cardiologist approval, we found out at the beginning of this year we are expecting our third child. We couldn’t be more thrilled to add to our family. And as I suppose is normal, this third pregnancy is flying by. I can’t believe we are already at 18 weeks.

FINANCES
We are very fortunate to not owe on any of the heart surgery medical bills. We have been sticking with Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and the only debt we have is on our new house. We’ve been working really hard on not buying items we really would love but just don’t have the funds for right now (like a new grill) and God has surprised us with some fun stories of perfect used items that “fell into our lap” with very minimal expense. (Like our “new to us” grill. Free from a neighbor two streets down. We just had to buy a couple of small replacement parts.)

OTHER ADVENTURES
*A week after moving in, we “crashed” the national night out block party a street over
*We participated in our new city’s Trash Bash, our little family picking up trash on 3 streets and allies near our home.
*I found an amazing facebook group dedicated to women with CHD. It’s the first time I’ve ever “met” anyone born with a similar heart condition
*We participated in the neighborhood spring fling party, winning 2 of the 5 raffle prizes (I finally have a porch swing!). The party also included the ribbon cutting for the new butterfly park so the boys each got to release a butterfly
*We completed a 16 week marriage enrichment class
*Our oldest son had eye surgery to correct his crossed eyes
*I’ve been able to read at least 1 new book each month since we moved. I love reading, but when our oldest was born, I put that hobby on the shelf.

It’s been a busy year. It’s been a fun year. It’s been a surreal year.

We are looking forward to another full, fun year, with many, many more heart healthy years to follow.

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I have stuff to say

With Jimmy Kimmel and his son’s diagnosis in the news, along with the fact that the end of this month marks one year since my most recent Open Heart surgery, I have stuff to say.

Plus, we just announced two days ago I’m pregnant with our third kid. (Due in October. Yay!!!)

This takes time and energy – I don’t have an overwhelming amount of either at this moment so I’m making this place holder blog.

If you want to read up on my original Pulmonary Atresia diagnosis and being born in 1980 with CHD, you can find my story (With pictures!) here, here, and here.

I hope to address some more specific issues that have been talked about the last couple days because of Kimmel’s story soon.

Thanks for stopping by.
***Update*** I never had time to go back and write a post, so here are some of my thoughts I did share on Facebook:

From my personal page on May 5th: The following is a comment I posted on a fb article. Some of my thoughts regarding Kimmel’s son, our broken system, and Congential Heart Defects. 

You get a repost because my brain is exhausted and full to the brim with recent insurance, care, CHD, and pre-existing conditions talk. **edit: and for it’s worth, I wrote this before yesterday’s AHCA stuff. I know little to nothing about it. This pregnant wife, mother of two, CHD patient has other things consuming the day. 😊** 

“Hi. An adult here, born with CHD. In fact, very similar to Billy Kimmel, I was born with pulmonary atresia. Complete blockage of the pulmonary valve. A death sentence if not immediately addressed. (I had my first surgery at 24 hrs old in 1980.)

It wasn’t an issue so much when I was a kid (parents insurance, etc) or when I was working full time (group insurance typically covers pre-existing conditions) – my issues are now. 

Zero ACA plans cover the specialized cardiologists in our area. Regular cardiologists can’t help me and ACA plans (which we can’t afford) don’t even cover the cardiologists that can help me.  

Insurance is NOT the same as Care.

It’s extremely complicated. The old system was broken and the new system is also broken.

At the same time, I don’t want single payer because waiting lists and lines kill people like me. They kill people like Billy that grow up and are no longer cute kids.
I’d rather take this Kimmel coverage and have people taking about CHD. The Number ONE birth defect. Did you know that? 

1% of kids are born with CHD, yet it receives very little coverage and very little research. Kids born with CHD like Billy and me need life long monitoring (at minimum).

There is no cure. Once a heart defect, always a heart defect. Yes there are repairs and some can lead fairly “normal” lives, but it’s never gone, cured, or fixed.

I wish we were talking about that.

Want more info on CHD? Check out the Adult Congenital Heart Association.  

https://www.achaheart.org
Not the American heart association. They tend to ignore us ;-)”

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