Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving. . .

Well, we definitely have oodles to be thankful for this year - it has been a crazy year full of bumps and blessings, and it has been wonderful to see God work through it all (especially working out the "bumps" that seemed so overwhelming at times)! Our beautiful girls are the cutest and most fun to be around (I can say that - I am their mommy!); we often find ourselves looking at them and thinking that we are the most blessed people EVER! And now I must close, many responsibilities call - especially one named Nora - so I'll leave you with the most recent picture of us (minus the dog):

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Too good to pass up . . .

Late last night when everyone but my littlest munchkin was in bed, I took advantage of this INCREDIBLE offer: Ground Steak delivered for 36-cents a pound. I was able to order 24 Steak Burgers from Omaha Steaks for $1.98 shipped! It didn't actually "cost" anything from our budget because you can pay via PayPal and I had accumulated enough to cover this expense by doing YouData in one week (I've been doing YouData for 3 weeks and I've made over $12)! That may not sound like much, but it takes almost no time and every little bit certainly helps!

For more about YouData, go check it out. All you need is a valid email address, cell phone number (they will text you an activation link - they won't use it to call you), and internet access (which you obviously have!). Once you sign up, you "sell" your attention to advertisers. You load the ads available in a viewer like the one on my sidebar, and you get paid $.05 to look at the ad banner, then an additional $.15 if you "jump" and check out the site. That's it. They are still new and building up their advertisers, so you may only get a few offers a week, but there's no cost to you and a very little time investment - totally worth checking out! Oh, and pay-out is every Friday (to PayPal only for now) with no minimum! I was skeptical the first week, but I did indeed get paid - three times now! By the way, these are not referral links (to those who like to know before they click!).

Monday, September 15, 2008

In a rare turn of events. . .

I find myself with two sleeping children and no husband - which would usually mean frantic housecleaning, but not right now. I know that I have been negligent at updating my blog (that's putting it mildly), so I am going to make it a priority tonight (dustbunnies will get to play a little longer).

Let's see. . . Well Aayla is the cutest little cutie-pie ever, but she is a total toddler. She is becoming quite a challenge at times, and in those moments is such a striking picture of me that I am very humbled. Let me elaborate. Most of the bumps in our path are obedience issues - which result in some form of disciplinary action. In these times, I can ask Aayla, "Are you ready to obey Mommy?" To which she will reply "NO OBEY!" This can go on for quite an extended time and then I will finally hear the sweet words: "Yes, Mommy." In the middle of these situations, I always find myself shaking my head and wondering why she just won't give in. Then I realize - how many times am I prompted by the Lord to do something and I stomp my feet and shout "NO OBEY!"? It's funny to me that I see myself as the "mature" adult when I am dealing with Aayla, but my heart is just like my little toddler's, struggling with the simplest matter of obeying.

We quickly go from this:

To this:

Nora is a "little" sweetheart. She is usually smiling and very happy or sleeping. I say "little" only in a figurative sense, because she is HUGE! At her 8 week checkup, she weighed in at a whopping 14.5 pounds and was 23.5 inches long. As we often quip: "We grow 'em big in Iowa!" I can't even tell you how thankful I have been for my MobyWrap. It certainly saves my back (plus it's hands-free baby snuggling!).

She and Aayla are darling together - they love each other so much. Aayla can make Nora smile even when she's feeling grumpy, and Aayla is always looking a Nora and telling me "Aaah, cute" and "Sweet Nora"!

And now, I will leave you with some final sweetness:

Monday, July 07, 2008

Announcing. . .

Nora Pearl Ertl. Our newest little sweet pea was born Saturday, June 28th at 2:03 am. She weighed in at 8 lbs., 6.7 oz. and was 20.75 inches long.

To those who are interested in all the details, here goes (be forewarned, there is talk of labor and delivery ahead):

I started having back pain around 2:30pm on Friday, June 27th. I figured it was normal pregnancy related aches and pains, so I didn't think too much of it. Less than three hours later, I was in so much pain I could hardly walk, but I wasn't having timeable contractions, so I didn't think that I was in labor. We were supposed to go have supper at Mike's aunt and uncle's house, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to eat, nor would I be good company - so we called and cancelled our plans with them and I called my midwife at 5:51pm. I had to call through the office answering service, and I'm pretty sure that the guy was laughing at me - I know that I didn't sound as though I was in labor, but I didn't know what else it could possibly be. At the end of the call, before he called the midwife, he said, "And you think you are in labor?!?" I said that I honestly didn't know what was going on, but my instructions from the hospital said to call if you are in constant pain, and I was definitely in constant pain. My midwife advised me to go to the hospital to get checked, so Mike's mom came to get Aayla - who I had to hobble to the car to kiss good-bye because in my foggy state I almost forgot - then we were off to the hospital.

Now, most people are somewhat prepared to head to the hospital as their due date approaches, but I am not most people. I fully expected Nora to be late and that I still had plenty of time to pack my bag and prepare for my hospital stay, but that was not the way it worked out. I was in too much pain to pack or even care if anything was packed, but you really don't need too much at the hospital, so I wasn't too worried.

When we got to the hospital (6:47pm), we checked in at the ER and they got me a wheelchair and took me to the Birth Center to Triage rm 1. They monitored me there for a while - they found that I had a fever over 100' and that Nora's heart rate was over 200bpm. This obviously was not good news - my midwife headed right to the hospital, on her way calling the on-call OB doctor "just in case." I was admitted at 8:00pm. Knowing that the on-call OB was coming in scared me pretty badly. I knew just how this birth was supposed to go, and having him on stand-by (very nice man though he his), was not in my birth plan.

I was on constant external fetal monitor and given Tylenol to bring down my temperature. Given two antibiotics and oxygen at 8:45pm as well as having blood drawn to determine the cause of my temperature. No cause was ever found, but after all of these interventions, my temperature did come down, my back pain went away, and Nora's heart rate dropped into the acceptable range (130-150bmp). They kept me on monitors, but I was able to walk around and labor in the tub, so all was acceptable in the world. My contractions were regular, 4 minutes apart - but they weren't doing anything.

Around midnight, my midwife suggested that maybe we should consider breaking my water. She had done this with Aayla, and it was incredibly painful, so I wasn't too sure. She made the point that if we didn't speed things up a little, I would be even more tired and less able to deal with painful transition when it came - so we decided it would be best to do it. It seems the high heart rate wasn't the only sign that Nora was distressed, there was plenty of meconium in the amniotic fluid too. So, the on-call pediatrician was called and notified that she would need to be at the hospital when I delivered.

As with Aayla, breaking my water was the impetus my body needed to REALLY get labor moving. In two hours, I was ready to push - I think it came faster than everyone expected, because my midwife told me to wait if I could, the on-call pediatrician was still on her way. I don't know how anyone is able to not push at that point. In Lamaze they tell you to pant through the contractions, blow in short repeated bursts, etc. - but it's not the contractions. My body was pushing her out whether I was ready or not, and there was no stopping it! Nora was born after 7 short minutes of pushing (which in the moment felt like forever)at 2:03am, then she was wisked away to be worked over.

They worked on her for probably 30-45 minutes before I could have her since she had swallowed alot of meconium and they had to keep suctioning her out. Then I got to hold my precious babe for about 5 minutes and try unsuccessfully to nurse her, and they took her again. I really don't know how long they worked the second time, because I was so dozey (I was put on pitocin and some other medication after her birth to stop the bleeding), and I just could not even think straight any more. When they were done with her, Mike got to give her a bottle (never thought I would be OK with a bottle in the hospital, but it was to be her only one - she hasn't had one since), then she was taken to the nursery so that we could rest.

At 4am I was on my call button asking for my baby back - I had rested enough, and I was ready to see my sweetie. I think that is my favorite part after birth - everyone else is asleep and it's quiet and I get to acquaint myself with this new little person for as long as I want with almost no interruptions.

More pictures to come , but for now I have two kiddos who need mommy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Very Long Overdue. . .

Well, it has certainly been a long time since my last post; I'm sure that many people have ceased checking this blog altogether. Many times I sit down to write, and the words just won't come - or most often, Little Miss Aayla's "mommy's on the computer" radar goes off and my attention is required elsewhere. For a few moments at least, her attention is diverted elsewhere, and I have time to write. So, here it is in a nutshell. . .

Shortly after my blogging hiatus began, we found that we are expecting baby #2 around June 30, 2008. While 2 weeks may not be much time between "we're expecting" and "announcing the birth of," it seemed better than nothing! This pregnancy has really been ideal - just the usual morning sickness and common aches and pains - I certainly have been blessed to have two such pregnancies in a row. I am slightly more uncomfortable than I was with Aayla - probably because time erases our memories somewhat, and because chasing an almost 2 year old around takes a toll as well.

I'm sure that something blog-worthy happened between Sept and Jan, but my brain is a little slow now, so we'll skip ahead.

In January 2008, Mike and I went to an open house (house for sale, not graduation), and even though we were not planning on moving for some time, we decided to put an offer on the house and list ours for sale. Our offer was accepted, but eventually fell through because it was contigent on our house selling. We prayed about it and decided that at least for the present, we would leave our house on the market. Nothing happened for several months - we had people look at the house about once a week, and we would occassionally look at houses ourselves - and we were considering the option that what we had was better than anything else that we saw. Then on May 2nd, our realtor called us to tell us that there was an offer on our house, and she would stop by to discuss it with us when Mike got off work. The offer was very good, but there wasn't much time to make our decision (they wanted to move in by the end of the month). We had no prospects and we were leaving the next morning to spend Mike's birthday in Chicago - but we decided to accept the offer, changing closing and possession to mid-June. The following Monday, we called our realtor, Maxine, right away to see a potential house. It turned out to be a "better to tear down than fix up." Maxine quickly lined up a few more homes for us to look at - the next one being in Hudson, IA. Mike and I agreed to look at it, but we both thought "if it's in Hudson and we can afford it, it has to be a pit!" Hudson is a fairly desirable area and the housing market seems pretty competitive. Well, we loved it. Enough said. It was the perfect house for us. Maxine wanted us to see a few more before we made an offer, so we did, but this was our house. To condense the rest of this long story, we made an acceptable offer, moved closing to the end of May, and have been "settled" in our new home for two weeks now.

All of that was crazy, made crazier by the events that unfolded during the week of our move, but we could see God working out all of the details in ways we would never have foreseen.(Mike-My favorite being our realtor getting a fax the morning of closing that our buyers still did not have all of their financing in order. God worked it all out and they had it about and hour or two before we were to close.) And the move could not have been at a more perfect time. Tornadoes and flooding have hit Iowa extremely hard this year - to the point of downtown areas being flooded and evacuated for the first time in who knows how long. Areas less than 1/2 mile from our old house were evacuated, and the roads surrounding our neighborhood were closed. You can read more about the flooding and see pics here. I'm just so thankful that we didn't have that to worry about.

That about takes us up to current status in the Ertl household. Aayla is playing with magnets beside me, but needs to have a snack and head off to bed. Mike is relaxing in the living room, enjoying the beginning of week 2 of his "vacation" from work (we are hoping that week 2 will bring less work, more relaxation!), and I am running out of thoughts.

Thanks to all the faithful who still check this blog, and many apologies for my long absence (now if we can only find the camera and cables, we may be able to post some pictures. . .).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yikes! A month and a Half gone by

I'm surprised that anyone even checks this anymore. I have been super - negligent at posting! A lot has happened since I posted last, and life has definitely been busy. For a little over a month now, Mike has been sick with bronchitis combined with a variety of other delights (sinus infection, ear infection, etc.). Now, Aayla is sick as well with an upper respiratory infection and an ear infection. Hoping to get her in to the chiropractor soon so that we can get the juices flowing again and some of the congestion cleared up. I guess that's the bad news. . .

On to more pleasant topics, Mike's sister Jenni is home for a few weeks, and it's been lots of fun spending time with her. Aayla had a significantly shorter "warm-up period" this time around, so she's been enjoying her Aunt Jenni from the start - especially the sharing of ice cream!

We've finally found time to get some landscaping done. I purchased some plants mail - order, and I must say - just not as satisfying as planting mature plants (no visible fruit for my labor!). And Mike has been putting in time on the 360 playing Halo 3. It came out Tuesday, and by Wednesday he beat it without putting too much time in (he's pretty proud of the accomplishment so quickly!).

Well, that's about it. Here's a pic of Aayla in the crocheted top I made her:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

In a Nutshell

To all of you who faithfully check our blog - though I am woefully unfaithful at updating it - thanks! Everything around here has been crazy busy, coupled with chasing a now 1 year old around, I barely get to check my email. No complaints though - I love it all!

So, I decided to take a few moments and give a very swift overview of the last four months since my last post. Hopefully, I will be able to add a few more details soon. Here goes:

My last post was in April, so we'll start with May. Too long ago to really remember. We celebrated Mike's birthday at the beginning of the month. He chose to go to the Hu-Hot Mongolian restaurant for his bday. The food was excellent, and we have been back several times since. The rest of the month is a blur, except that I designed my first webpage. I have much more work to do on it, but it's been on hold for a little while due to the chaos!

For June, belated shout-out to Jen for her birthday (yes, I did wish her a Happy Birthday before now!)!

Mike had two weeks of shut-down from Deeres, so we flew out to PA to visit my family, and show off our beautiful baby girl. It was definitely a whirlwind trip. We were there for 5 days, and we spent each one of them in a different part of the state. We put over a 1000 miles on the rental car just travelling from place to place. Just a note - while we were in Philly, we went to Geno's and Pat's King of Steaks (rival cheesesteaks, both claim to be the original); we decided Geno's was better overall, but Pat's had better bread.

The next week, our car all but died. We were at the point where it would cost more to fix than the car was worth (I know many of you can probably relate to this). So, it was car shopping. We have never had to go to a car lot to buy a car before and every cliche about greasy slick used car salesmen was swimming in my mind (Mike's parents came along to intimidate. . .er bargain with the salespeople). We ended up buying the first car that we looked at (God was definitely leading here). I was so sick I could barely stand up, tornado sirens were blaring, and we bought a car. It's a 2002 Chrysler Town and Country. Very nice and quite a step up for us.

I'm sure more happened, but my mind is not what it used to be. . .

July brought Aayla's first birthday!!! I can't believe she's one already, but everybody is right - it does go by so quickly. We had a party for her the week before her birthday with friends and family. It went very well, and of course Aayla discovered that she LOVES cake.

For her birthday, Mike's family went with us to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. We had a great time and Aayla loved all the animals. I was afraid she might not enjoy it much, but she does love animal so much - it ended up being perfect. Jen came up for the family birthday and stayed for two weeks, so she got to help us celebrate too, which made it extra special!

As far as August, it has just begun. Not much to report, and I am too tired to anyway. Since I know that I can't post this without pictures, I'm off to find the camera and upload a photo or two. The good bday pics are on other people's cameras, so I will have to post more later.

Oh, and Aayla update. She is now enjoying solids, she was a late bloomer in that area, so we are working to catch up. At her last checkup, she was just over 23 lbs and 30 in tall. She has been cruising all over the house for forever, took a few steps on the fourth of July (and just about every day since then), but has yet to decide that walking is more than just a novelty act. She says two words: "Daisy" (of course that would be her first word!), and "Hi". Grandma recently taught her "Bob" and she's really close to "momma"!

Aayla enjoying the "rides" the the mall.

Forget a milk moustache, Make mine whipped cream!

A rare photo of all members of the elusive m.ertl family with the seldom seen cement pygmy giraffe family