Not so immune.

We had an appraiser come to appraise our house yesterday.  We are in the process of refinancing.  (Interest rates are so low that if you have not financed or refinanced your house in the past year – do it!)  The appraiser did a drive by appraisal of our home a few weeks ago and the appraisal came back way low.  $70K less than the last house that sold in our section of the neighborhood (last summer) and almost $10K less than we paid for our house in December 2004.  Less than we need in order to make our refinancing work for us.  So yesterday, the appraiser came back to see, measure, oogle, gawk and form opinions about the inside of our house.  And maybe to judge my messy family room a little.  At least I made the beds and picked up the dirty clothes – Aubryn did get tubes yesterday!  He asked us straight out how much we need to make the refi work and we told him.  I am crossing my fingers that the number comes back where we need it.

Besides the historically low interest rates, we are refinancing now because we may not be better to do it later.  There are two houses in the other section of our neighborhood (the section built by, in my opinion, an inferior and less prestigous builder) which are short sales.  What this means is that the owners can no longer afford their mortgage.  Instead of foreclosing on the property, the mortgage company will let the owner stay in the house and sell it for less than mortgage left on the property.  The bank takes a loss but does not have to carry the property – banks are really bad at managing foreclosed residential assets.  The bank has to approve the sale, realtor commissions, etc.  Both houses in the other section of our neighborhood are larger than our with all of the bells and whistles (we’re talking three fireplaces, including one in the master bath) and are for sale for less than we paid for our house.  One of those houses is for sale for more than $100K less than we paid.

For those that know me in real life, you know that we tried to sell our house last summer to move closer to my parents’ house and my office.  Although we got three offers, we weren’t able to get the price that we needed and decided to stay.  Now it looks like we’ll need to stay for at least five years.

Before the first of the year, I had lived in a bubble pretty much thinking that we were immune from what is going on in the economy.  A bit naive given what Tom and I do for a living?  Perhaps. I now realize that we are not so immune.  Some of our neighbors are avoiding foreclosure on their houses by selling them at a short sale.  Some people who were just like us in 2004, 2005 or 2006 are now have their credit scores in ruins because they cannot afford their houses.  Are they different from us?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that TK4 and I are incredibly fortunate to both have our jobs.  If you follow legal news, you know that last week saw more than 800 attorneys losing their jobs from firms just like mine.  Another large law firm announced that they are asking their associates to take a 10% pay cut.  Almost every large law firm – including mine – has frozen salaries and virtually eliminated bonuses.

My husband does not exactly work in a stable industry either.  He has seen his company lay off 60% of their workforce in the past 2 years and we have seen his salary reduced by 25%.  We have seen many friends lose jobs.  We are blessed to not count ourselves among them, yet.

So we are not so immune from what is going on around us.  I know that it is much, much worse in other areas of the country but what I see here scares me.  How did we get this way?  When did our nation (our world, really) come to this?  I know that God will not leave us or forsake us and that we should depend on Him for all of our needs.  But some days it is so hard not to worry.  In the end, I know that as long as Tom, Aubryn and I are together and healthy, that is all that really matters.

Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 5:00 am  Comments (4)  

She came home with more than just tubes.

When they discharged Aubryn from the hospital yesterday and sent her home with me, she came home with more than just tubes.  She came home with an a-t-t-i-t-u-d-e.  Well, that’s not exactly correct – she’s had the attitude pretty much since she turned one.  Best of all, it seems to be reserved for me.  Sweet!  I never knew it would start this early.

Generally when we are home, Aubryn is either being carried around by me, sitting on my lap or hanging on my leg.  Most of that time she is either whining at me or fussing.  Maybe she’s frustrated because she really wants to walk and talk and just can’t yet?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I cannot go to the bathroom or take a shower without her banging on the door or the glass shower stall to get in.

This morning, I was drying my hair when Aubryn woke up.  By the time I had made it into her room, she had worked herself into such a screaming fit that she had thrown-up in her crib.  Fabulous.  A little 7 a.m. present for Mommy.  She calmed down when I picked her up but when I dressed her (did I mention that we sit on the floor to dress because she screams bloody murder if I even take a step towards the changing table these days?) the screaming commenced anew.  She screamed when I put her on the foor in the kitchen so that I could pack up her food for school and my lunch and screamed again when I put her in the car seat.

She screamed at dinner because I would not let her have my knife.  She screamed in the car the whole way home from my parents’ house.  She screamed when I got her undressed for her bath and had such a fit in the bathtub for Tom that she held her breath until she passed out (don’t worry – it’s not the first time and my pediatrician says not to worry about it – she’ll always pick breathing over screaming).  She screamed while I put her pj’s on and Tom was finally able to get her to bed.

Maybe her ears are bothering her?  They told me that at school she laughed and played and had a wonderful day.  Maybe it’s just for me?  Hopefully it’s just a phase.  Please tell me it’s just a phase!

In the mean time, what parenting books should I be reading?

Published in: on February 17, 2009 at 8:43 pm  Comments (5)  

We survived.

I think that Aubryn might even have fared better than I did.   It was pretty traumatic for me.

My day started at 5:20 (like it usually does) but this morning I felt more of a sense of urgency.  I got myself up and ready and then got Aubryn up around 6:00.  She was not allowed to have any milk or other fluids this morning so she was a bit c-r-a-n-k-y.  Not just fussy.  More like “I am going to scream until you give me some milk and if that doesn’t work, I am going to cry ‘mama, mama’ in my most pathetic voice until you let me have my cup.”  Fun times – really.

Around 6:20, Aubryn and I left the house and Tom drove separately so that he could make his Dunkin’ Donuts coffee run.  Obviously he did not learn his lesson when I was in labor with Aubryn.  We only had to go to the CHOP outpatient surgery center in Exton and we were there in about 10 to 15 minutes.  I am so incredibly blessed to have, not only the premier children’s hospital in the country close by, but, a satellite office for it practically in my back yard.  Every time that we are there, I end up talking to another parent who has had to travel a great distance to get there.  We are very fortunate.

As soon as we got there, a nurse checked us in and took Aubryn and me back to a changing area where I changed Aubryn into a tiny little hospital gown and scrub pants and tiny little grippy socks.  (I totally meant to bring my camera but completely forgot it this morning).  Before we were even done with that, another nurse arrived and took us into the pre-op room where she weighed and measured Aubryn and asked me a gazillion and one questions about Aubryn’s medical history.  The nice nurse then gave Aubryn some medicine to make her “happy.”  They give this to all of the babies before taking them into surgery but my child especially needed it as she was still whining for milk – even doing sign language for it.

Next the anesthesiologist came in to talk to us.  She was a wonderful, gentle woman.  She asked me a million and one questions about not only Aubryn’s medical history but also about my own medical history as well as TK4’s medical history and the history of our families – including parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins.  The ENT also came in to talk to us.

We did not have to sign any consent forms before the surgery which really surprised me.  I signed some forms when we were at the appointment a few weeks ago when we were told that Aubryn would need tubes but I did not have to sign anything before the surgery today.  Maybe it’s the recovering medical-malpractice defense attorney in me (I don’t do that kind of work anymore – thank goodness – I just did not have the stomach for it), but I would have thought that we would need to sign more forms.

After the anesthesiologist left us, another nurse came over to carry Aubryn into the operating room.  Part of the reason for the “happy medicine” is so that the children don’t cry when they are leaving their parents to go into the operating room.  Not my child.  My child screamed for me as the nurse took her away.  It just about broke my heart.

The surgery itself did not take long and Aubryn was only gone from me for about 20 minutes.  As soon as she was in the recovery room, a nurse came and got me.  Aubryn was screaming when I got into the recovery room.  Typically, they like the children to sleep for about a half hour after the surgery and then the nurses wake them up.  Aubryn was awake before they even got her all of the way into the recovery room.  The nurses were really sweet and let me hold her and give her a bottle of apple juice (which was a real treat for Aubryn – juice and a bottle!  Her mean mom does not let her have either!).

After about 1/2 hour in the recovery room, we were discharged.  I did have to sign some paperwork before leaving…  Aubryn slept on the way home and has been asleep most of the afternoon.  By tomorrow, she should be her old self again.  We have a follow-up in six weeks and another hearing test at that time.  Her hearing is expected to be normal.  I pray and am very hopeful that this will end the sickness that we have endured for the past six months!

Published in: on February 16, 2009 at 7:22 pm  Comments (5)  

All set?

We had the pre-op run down with a nurse at CHOP today.  Aubryn’s surgery is set for 6:50 on Monday morning.  I guess hospitals don’t get holidays (lawyers don’t either – my office is open on Monday – but that is an issue for another post).

This morning the nurse went through a list of pre-op instructions with me.  No medications between now and Monday.  No solids after 11 on Sunday night.  Clear liquids are allowed until 4 a.m. and nothing after that.  I have to bring a pacifier (although Aubryn has never taken to them – I’ll have to dig one up somewhere), a blanket or comfort item (don’t really have one of those either – when we were nursing, my b**bs were pretty much her comfort item), an empty cup, an empty bottle and a change of clothes for her and for me in case she vomits from the anesthesia.

Surprisingly for me, I am not feeling anxious about the surgery.  God has granted me a great deal of peace and I am looking forward to this chapter of our life being over and (hopefully) to a healthier, happier child.

Speaking of, Aubryn has been totally healthy for two weeks now!  Even with a nasty flu virus going around and with TK4 having strep throat last week!  Tomorrow will be the 10th day in a row that she has gone to school.  In the five months that she has been in school, Aubryn has never gone more than one week without missing a day.  I am so thankful.  Now if we can just keep her healthy until Monday…

Published in: on February 12, 2009 at 9:14 pm  Comments (2)  


What’s the etiquette for thank you notes from children?

I just received the thank you notes that I ordered for the gifts that Aubryn received for her first birthday.  Should the notes be written as if they are from her?  Should they be written as if they are from all of us?  It’s always been a pet peeve of mine when parents write “baby talk” or use “baby handwriting” in notes from little kids.

What’s the proper thing to do?

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 8:40 am  Comments (5)  

Wordless Wednesday: Just like Mommy.


Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 5:00 am  Comments (2)  

What I learned this week.

I can’t go near the dishwasher without a helper.


How about you?  What did you learn?  Join the carnival over at Musings of a Housewife.

Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 5:00 am  Comments (6)  

A list.

It’s all that I have time for right now.  Life is moving too quickly.

* I finally finished the last book of the Twilight series – Breaking Dawn – last night.   I also managed to bribe my sister (for the price of a ticket) to see the movie with me.  It was her fouth time seeing it.  The movie was pretty cheesy but I am glad that I saw it.  I could look at Robert Pattison as Edward Cullen for hours.  I need something new to read – any suggestions?

* My mom watched Aubryn on Friday night and Tom and I went to see He’s Just Not That Into You.  Meh.  Not really worth seeing in the theater.  I probably see two movies a year and I saw two this past weekend.  Guess I’m good for another year.

* I have decided to cut the crazy out of my life.

* Aubryn’s surgery is next Monday – the 16th.  I am praying that she will stay healthy until then.  My pediatrician told me that even the slightest bit of a cold could cause a delay in surgery.   For her sake – and ours – I’d like the surgery to be over as soon as possible.  I am praying that she stays healthy for the next week.

* After I ran Broad Street two years ago, I went to physical therapy for two months and then found out that I was pregnant and stopped.  I exercised too hard on Saturday and Sunday and my knee is really bothering me again.  I’m not sure why – I exercise fairly regularly.  Hope this does not foil my plans to run Broad Street this May.

* I  am trying my best to cut soda out of my diet.  I can no longer get it at work which is helping – it’s a start at least.

That’s all I have for Monday.  What’s going on in your life?

Published in: on February 9, 2009 at 9:34 pm  Comments (2)  

Wordless Wednesday.


All done!

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 6:00 am  Comments (5)  


I am praying right now for wisdom in some tough decisions that I have to make – both at work and in my personal life.

Published in: on February 3, 2009 at 8:37 pm  Comments (3)