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Being a Parent Is Ruining My Love of Scary Movies

Dustin and I are horror movie fanatics. We rarely get out to the theater these days, but when we do go, it’s usually because there is a new scary movie we just have to see on the big screen. Most recently it was “As Above/So Below”, which was quite creepy and worth a watch, if you’re into that sort of entertainment.

When I heard that the folks who thought up The Conjuring (terrifying, cannot watch when home alone) were going to make a prequel about the doll who kicks the movie off and then fades to the background, I knew we would be first in line to see it.

But now that the commercials are running on TV, I have to admit that I’m a little less excited than I thought I’d be. Why? Because the possessed doll, Annabelle, is clearly after an infant. There’s a scene where the mother rushes to the nursery to find her baby missing. There’s another where the mother is watching her baby from under the crack of the door, and the doll falls in front of her.

I’ll be honest – these previews make me feel uneasy, and not in the fun “I’m about to be scared” way. It’s in a “I know this is just a movie, but don’t hurt that baby!”.

It’s dawning on me that having a baby and becoming a mother is starting to ruin my love of scary movies, both new and old favorites. In “As Above/So Below” one of the main characters is tortured by images of his brother, who he believes he is responsible for letting drown when they were kids. Some old faves that are now ruined:

Scream – When Drew Barrymore dies in the opening scene (and if that’s a spoiler to you now…I can’t even apologize, it’s 2014 people) her mother listens to Drew’s final gasps of breath on the cordless phone (remember those?). I feel sick just thinking about the moment the mother discovers the body of her daughter.


Dawn of the Dead – The little girl who attacks in the beginning was happily rollerskating the day before. And then there’s the baby zombie…okay, so this is far fetched, but still, they kill the baby.

zombie baby

Pet Semetary – This one hits particularly close to home. Little Gage runs into the road and is hit and killed by a semi truck. Is your heart sinking yet? We live on a super busy road – the one thing that made me not want to buy our home – and it will be an ironclad house rule that Ben will never, ever go into the front yard without holding the hand of an adult.



Saw III – The main character is on a quest to get through one of Jigsaw’s house of horrors. The point of this torture? To make the man realize that just because his son died doesn’t give him the right to stop living. I beg to differ – anyone who functions after the loss of a child is a god among men in my book. In the end, the mother dies, the father is left alone in a pool of his wife’s blood, and their remaining child is locked away, alone and scared, and apparently, left to die.

How entertaining…not. What was wrong with me before Ben? Did I not have a heart?!

This isn’t limited to horror movies. I had a meltdown in Game of Thrones  (as in, I started crying) when this little baby was left alone, cold and crying in the snow. I almost couldn’t watch as the White Walkers approached.


Last but not least, we watched The Giver  the other night (it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it was going to be). I knew the release of the twin was coming. It is absolutely horrific in the novel. The CGI cheesiness of the twin doomed to die because of his slightly lower birth weight helped the blow a little, but I couldn’t separate my tiny baby, my tiny baby with needles and tubes, and my lost twin as I watched Jonas’s dad give the baby a lethal injection in the forehead and then stuff him in a box in the trash. I will spare you a picture, because frankly, I’m bummed out enough. 

They say that becoming a parent will change you and rock you to your core. I used to always argue that because I have this firm belief that you can still be “you” and be a parent. I need to amend this argument. You can remain “you”, but have to accept the fact that some big things will change – and for me, taking a break from certain horror movies might just be one of them.


Week 39: Nebulizers and Anniversary Apples

Our pediatrician – who is also the mom of a preemie – has told us the same story at almost all of Ben’s check-ups: when their preemie got sick for the first time she and her husband had this moment where they stared at the baby’s runny nose and realized, oh my God, it’s happening.

She’s warned us that despite all our best intentions and efforts, it would happen to Ben eventually too. I know this. Oh, how I know this. I’ve played quasi-nurse to hundreds of kids, as anyone who has ever been an early education teacher can attest to. But let me tell you, nothing can compare to dealing with it when it’s YOUR baby. Your PREEMIE baby.

My nasty, ass-kicking cold made its way to Ben sometime late last week. We weren’t totally sure that he was sick because as luck would have it he was also getting a couple of teeth. On Friday he was so congested that I slept with him for most of the night in my arms in the recliner. On Saturday he was a little muted in personality, but no fever higher than 100*.

He was miserable again on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning, he was obviously a sick baby. He just cried and wanted to be held, and mostly slept when in our arms. His breathing was too hard, and there was crackling audible coming from his lungs.

We brought him in to the doctor, and the office was packed with coughing, hacking kids. The ease of the summer vanished and Dustin kept Ben outside of the office in the lobby while I waited among the germs. When we were finally seen, they pretty quickly ordered a nebulizer of albuterol and…an RSV test.

Why yes, that is my heart sinking to the floor. RSV? That’s the big one. The one we’ve been most afraid of.


He didn’t have it. We were sent home with nebs, a follow-up appointment, and a diagnosis of probably bronchilitis. When we headed to the doctor we had packed our bags prepared to go to Children’s hospital, because that’s just how preemie parenting rolls. We were beyond grateful that we could treat Ben at home.

It’s been a very, very, very long week. Ben spent most of the week sleeping in his rock n play (and by sleep I mean not sleeping) with a humidifier pumping out steam all night. He finally turned a corner on Thursday night when he made it until 2pm, and last night he made it until 6, with only one burst of misery from 11-1230.

We are exhausted, bone freaking tired, to say the least.

Wednesday was our 3 year anniversary, so Dustin took Friday off so we could all have a long weekend to celebrate. To keep with our tradition of doing something we’ve never done before (last year was Stillwater, the year before Cedar Point), we decided to enjoy the 80* day and take Ben to Deardorff Apple Orchard in Waconia.




Last night Dustin and I hit up Brave New Workshop for their Wolf of Walmart show, because really, when don’t we celebrate with something other than BNW?

Ben is feeling better and better each day, and is currently being rocked to sleep by Grandma Jan. As soon as he’s out, I am going to give my mom her first jamicure!

Drinking the Jamberry kool-aid. Let me know if you want a sip.

Drinking the Jamberry kool-aid. Let me know if you want a sip.

I knew trying a Jamberry nail wrap was inevitable. The patterns and pretty designs frequently populate my Facebook feed,and depending where you are in the world, you may know what I’m talking about. For those who don’t know, here’s an idea:


They’re environmentally friendly. They come in juniors sizes so your kids can have pretty nails too. They are non-toxic and never tested on animals. They require heat and about 20 minutes to apply. And the patterns…wow.

But do they last? And what about cost?

Many people post challenges such as this one comparing Jamberry to regular nail polish:

jamberry 3


My friends who are addicted to Jamberry have worn pedicure for 4, 5 even 6 weeks. They have to trim their nails before they have to replace their Jam.

And then there’s the cost – I’ve had…4 pedicures in my life? Maybe 5? And I love them. LOVE them. It’s one of the few girly indulgences that really make me feel dainty, or pretty, or like I’m not totally schlumpy in my sweats at 3:00p.m. on a Friday night. But they cost a lot of money to get, and they chip off in a week, two tops, which is why the last one I had was on my 30th birthday…in February.

One Jamberry sheet is $15, and comes with enough wraps to get 2 mani, 2 pedi and a couple of accent nails.

So like I said, it was only a matter of time before I bought me some Jams. The idea of having pretty nails all the time makes me feel good. It just does. Having nails that are artistic and funky and unique, well that just makes me feel a little bit like “me” after this momma-hood thing has sort of taken over!

What I didn’t expect was signing up to be a consultant. I hate selling, I hate sales, I hate pushy people, I hate the “salesman” persona…am I making myself clear? I don’t like these personalities or situations, so that won’t be happening, no sir.

But my hatred of sales aside, I did sign up today. A good friend of mine is a consultant, and we talked, and talked some more, and I sort of had a “screw it, why not?” moment. And since then, I’ve been pretty darn excited. Who knows if it will work out…all I know is I will have lovely, funky, expressive nails for the foreseeable future.

Here’s my recent order. I want the candy corn on my nails NOW:


The girls weekend countdown is actually shorter now – going to St. Louis in a few weeks to see my favorite extended family members, and I will be bringing these Halloween Jams to town!

If you would like to order your own a-dor-a-ble nails, go here. If you’d like to set up a Facebook party and earn free wraps, contact me in the comments below.

My blog will by no means become a Jamberry blog, nor will my FB page become Jamberry spam (so annoying!), but I will post pictures or funny Jamberry related stories as appropriate.

Now on to the next adventure…painting our basement floors!


Leap of Faith Taken. Let’s Hope We Stick the Landing.

We’ve taken a huge leap of faith this week. Huge. These are hard for me to do, especially when they involve money and financial stability, because I’ve never been one of those people who has believed that things “just work out”.

Actually, I don’t think anyone should think that way. Thinking like that is like saying all you have to do is pray about something and the magic God fairy will answer your prayer. God isn’t a fairy, and prayer is only part of the solution. Hard work, sacrifice, changing your life and your choices – without these, it “just works out” is a lazy solution to problems.

But I digress. Sort of.

We knew that there was a deadline before the cushion we had built for ourselves would run out. In June, we knew we were OK until January 2015. And by OK, I mean able to pay our bills. I always figured I would worry about the food/gas aspect later, because one can only worry about so much at one time.

Yesterday I re-balanced everything, and we are looking at a new deadline. November.

How did this happen? A couple of things caused the upset, like paying more on medical bills as the donations started coming in just to get them completely paid off, me signing up for a girls weekend in October at $156 (this includes lodging and meals Friday-Sunday, and my first opportunity to be away from the “momma” job, so yes, this was a worthwhile expenditure).The unknown cost of heat and electric, which can either add $50 to your budget or put $50 back in your pocket, depending on how hot or cold Minnesota gets in July, August and September. With days in the high 90s and nights in the mid 30s, we’ve run the heat and air within weeks of each other. Stupid Minnesota.

So what’s the leap of faith?

Even knowing this deadline, be it November or January, was looming, we made the decision as a family for Dustin to leave his part-time job at Target. Did we (and do we) need the money? You betcha. But he was miserable. I was miserable. Ben was missing time with his dad. And there was just something about Dustin working his butt off to bring in $320/month that didn’t seem right. He would come home on Sunday bone tired, and would have a paycheck of $160 to show for it.

This week was Dustin’s last week at Target. And this week we received not one but two HUGE pieces of good news. I shared the first with you earlier this week. The second came in yesterday. After 3.5 months of paperwork, applications, hours spent on the phone with the hospital and the state, being denied, we got a call from our financial worker at Children’s Hospital: they finally found a way to qualify us for assistance, and 60% of Ben’s surgery bill ($3,150) will be forgiven.


We celebrated and felt waves of relief and gratitude…until I burst the bubble with the news that Dustin’s paychecks will stop taking care of our bills in November.

But this news is huge, and brings down the total that we owe (and we wouldn’t be here without all the help of our friends and family) to around $2,500. That’s it, and that’s something to be happy about.

I guess the fledgling optimist in me believes that these two pieces of huge news and relief came to us on Dustin’s last week at his part-time job to remind us that sometimes, if you work insanely hard and refuse to quit, the rewards do come.

Now I can only hope that there’s a third surprise waiting out there for us. There are rumors of my job becoming full-time, and even with the hours I’m working now we could just cover our bills and be back to the figuring out how to eat later. I could start looking for full-time employment, but we don’t want to put Ben in daycare during cold and flu season, and then there’s the cost. Whatever job I would take would have to be enough to pay for daycare and our bills and food.

The next 8 weeks will be interesting, indeed.

Week 37: FINALLY! A post worthy of all caps.

Nothing but great news, news worthy of obnoxiously typing in ALL CAPS!

Ben is a movin’ and a groovin’. If we had carpet, he’d be crawling, I’m almost positive. He’s making leaps and bounds in his development, which leads me to…

His 9 month appointment was this morning. He looks great, is 19lbs 7oz, and is hitting a lot of 9 month milestones. He has a few delays – eating solids, sitting up from laying down, pulling to standing, etc – but nothing we can’t handle. FINALLY, to have a real live doctor tell us that all the work Ben did in PT this summer really paid off…yeah, that was awesome.

Cold and flu season 2014-2015 will be an extremely different story than last year. You know how we sacrificed my job, our finances, my sanity and many other things to keep Ben at home and away from harmful germs the past 9 months? Well that REALLY paid off too, because he’s too strong to even qualify for Synagis (yay!) and…NO LOCKDOWN!

We still have to be extremely careful and cautious with germs, meaning we will tell you to wash your hands or tell your kids to wash their hands, or tell your kids to stay away from the baby if they have a runny nose, and we ask that you stay away if you’ve been sick, and we will be wiping down all surfaces in public places with sanitzer and wipes, and we may skip out on some crowded events and holiday stuff (yeah, the list is long, I know) but…we can have visitors! We can leave the house! The walls have busted open, mostly because I’m knocking them down.

It was worth it. All the stress and sacrifice that brought us here…so very worth it.

And to top off the list of incredible news – we’ve been going round 100 with one of our hospitals, applying for their last ditch effort they offer for assistance. We weren’t expecting anything, because at this point, nothing has come through for us from hospitals. You know the drill, you read my blog. Not 15 minutes ago I received an email that after reviewing our application we qualify for 50% ASSISTANCE! This means that our $2,500 bill just got sliced IN HALF!

We can leave the house.

We get some help.

Ben is developing beautifully.

We kept him healthy.

We can treat him like an (almost) term baby this winter.

Our marriage grew stronger in the face of all this crap.



So You Have a Job? A Real Job?

Today I brought Ben to his first 3 hours of daycare. I drove him there with nothing but fear of fall germs running through my mind. I drove him there with the very real possibility that his pediatrician will tell us that he can’t attend any more in an effort to keep him healthy. I drove him there wondering how I would possibly leave my baby with strangers (and silently applauding all parents who do this every day!).

I dropped him off and left with almost dry eyes. I spent my 3 hours at Caribou working on – gasp! – my book. I hadn’t opened my manuscript since July 17. It’s been 2 months since I’ve taken the time for my work. You know, that whole “author as a living” work. The work that I hadn’t realized I stuck on the back burner, but there it was, all back burner and cold.

When I came to pick Ben up (who was fine, and had a great time at music class, and possibly has his first crush on a cute blonde named Olivia) his teachers asked me how my morning went. “Good, I got a lot of work done.”

“Real work? Like, a real job?”

Yes, a real job.

I’m a writer.

The Walls Are Closing In.

You know how they say parenting and child-birth comes with its own form of amnesia? As in, you have a second baby because you forget how much it hurt the first time? (Ha! RIGHT! If I ever forget the trauma of Ben’s birth it means I’m in a special care facility with a severe brain injury.)  I think I experienced my own version of this amnesia this summer. After months of isolation from the outside world, Ben, Dustin and I were able to break free and experience the great outdoors. We went from washing and sanitizing and never bringing Ben outside our four walls to coming and going as we please, handing him over to family and friends, going to public places and really enjoying having a baby in the family.

I think I had blocked out how awful, lonely, depressing and anxiety filled last winter was….until today, when I was bombarded with information and media updates on Enterovirus 68. It’s not even an epidemic in Minnesota yet, and just the words “severe respiratory illness” are enough to make our preemie parent skin crawl.

And just like that, I realize that it’s fall, and cold and flu season is beginning. I remember now – the fear of germs, the anxiety over Ben getting sick, and the possibility that we will endure another winter of lockdown.

I pulled up to the gym today and was waiting out Ben’s car nap in the parking lot when I noticed how many kids under the age of 4 were heading in to the daycare with their moms. I counted 8 before I couldn’t take anymore. They didn’t look like cute little kids. They looked like deadly germ factories. I couldn’t bring myself to stick Ben in that tiny enclosed space with at least 8 other bigger, curious, probably-have-older-siblings-bringing-home-germs kids. Panic attack ensued, and I left.

Ben goes in for his 9 month check up on Monday, and top of our list is asking his pediatrician (who is a preemie parent herself) what kind of precautions we need to take this cold/flu season. I’ll do whatever she says, obviously…but God, I don’t know if I have the strength to be isolated for another 4-5 months. Not after experiencing freedom.

I love Ben.

But having a preemie can really suck big time.



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