Year 2 Without You

Yesterday marked 2 years since my dad passed. Most of my day was spent in normal fashion. Chasing my children around, yelling at Ava not to jump on the couch, yelling at Livy not to eat my computer cord hanging down, the usual. But I did spend some time reflecting on another year without my dad, as well as looking through Facebook at all of the “on this day” posts (which is a curse and a blessing might I add, especially on hard days). It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years. Or has it? I don’t really know. In some ways, 2 years sounds like forever ago. I think of everything we have been through and accomplished in that time and February 8th, 2015 seems like an eternity ago. But in some ways his passing feels like it was yesterday. Those trips to Seattle, the conference calls with doctors, the heart wrenching hospital visits. Sometimes I can still smell the way he smelt in the hospital, it’s not my favorite, put lightly.

I spent some time talking with Ava who is wise beyond her years about my dad, her “pop pop” (he wanted to be called that). She had a hard time grasping that I didn’t have a daddy anymore. Explaining death to a 3 year old is hard and honestly depressing, so it didn’t last too long. While talking about it she brought up Cody. And my heart broke in 5840925738405 pieces. I told her that my dad and Cody were probably up in heaven throwing a football and drinking “beard” (as she calls it). That comforted her. Kind of comforted me too. Loss is hard, especially when it happens before it is “supposed to.”

One of the most important things I took away from yesterday was how important health really is. Pre-MSA, my dad loved to be active. He loved riding bikes. He loved playing tennis, basketball, golf, you name it he loved to do it. Oh and corn hole, how could I forget that? He loved to be outside in the sunshine, he loved “camping” at his parents in Stockport. When he first moved to Seattle, him and Shawn were always doing things outside (when it wasn’t raining of course. I still need to get out there during the summer time because I’m told it is beautiful).  As his health deteriorated, so did the activities (obviously). What I have concluded is that I have no reason to be unhappy with how I look or how I feel. I am not confined to a walker or a wheel chair. I have always gone through random health kicks, but after my reflections yesterday I am pledging to live a healthier, active lifestyle for my dad who couldn’t anymore towards the end of his life. I challenge all of you to do the same.

So while of course I am still absolutely heartbroken that I lost my dad to such a terrible, awful disease, I am choosing to live my life FOR him. I know this is cliche, but really trying to live my life to the fullest, every single day. I am planting the “love for outdoors/sports/activity” seed in myself and in my girls. I don’t foresee this year to be any easier without him. I don’t think it will ever get “easier.” But I will choose to live my life through him and embrace what he loved. It’s so important not to get wrapped up in the sadness of death, while it seems hard, there’s always a positive to take from it. So, as always dad, I love you. I miss you. I promise to make you proud.


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HBD Daddy

Dad,

Today is your birthday in heaven. Looking through all of my memories on FB, every single year I have called you “old man.” Truthfully, you’re not an old man. Today you would have been 49. That is not old, in fact, it is FAR too young. I wish that you were here so Ava could sing Happy Birthday (and blow out your candles a split second too early, stealing the show) and so we could celebrate YOU. The past few days I have been looking through pictures at mom’s and I just miss you. That’s all I can really say. I find myself getting mad at God, wondering why you were taken from us so soon, why my babies don’t get their “pop pop.” But I know that the life you are living up there is pain free, and that is what I have to remember. So, this post is to you, my “old (who’s not even old) man.” I love you so much. They say sometimes memories can sneak out of your eyes and roll down your cheeks, and that couldn’t be more true as I reminisce.

“Today is your birthday that’s what I’ve been told, what a wonderful birthday you’re one more year old. On the cake there will be candles all lighted for you, and the whole world is singing Happy Birthday To You.”

Keep looking out for us up there. I love you forever and always.
Infinite hugs and kisses,

J

Hi There

Okay okay okay I know I promised that I was going to keep up with this, but I swear when life happens, it happens fast, and my downtime is not spent writing about how my days are going. I’m SORRY!! Looking at views of this page I realized people check in quite often and now I feel like an a-hole. So. I am BACK! …..For now. Let’s see how long this time lasts.

My last post was in September, about 4 months ago, and wow I feel like so much has happened! That cute little house in Blue Ash we were hoping and praying for, is now ours. We are in love! As far as the house goes, we are still unpacking things. Kevin’s man cave in the basement is finally complete (anyone looking at purchasing a 65 inch curved TV, do it, because life’s short and it’s pretty awesome), Ava’s toy room is complete. Only hiccup we’ve had was deciding to put Ava upstairs in the massive bedroom which we slowly realized was never going to happen. After moving her mattress downstairs we decided that we didn’t want to cosleep with out 3 year old and we moved her bedroom down and put ours up (which makes much more sense I was just nervous to begin with) and bedtime has been smooth sailing since.

Might as well address the one question I get asked frequently, “so are you working?” Nope.  Do I see myself staying home forever? No. I never wanted to do that (hence why I paid an ungodly amount of money to go to college)… but right now it makes sense. And if our family can afford it financially why wouldn’t I? I know I have kind of touched on this before, but stay at home moms deserve so much credit. It’s not easy, or at least not as easy as some people make it out to be. Especially when you have a threenager and a soon to be on the move 7 month old. (YES. seven. months. old… when did that even happen??) While I am at it I might as well update you all on my heathen children (lol).

So, Ava. How do I even describe Ava? Those of you that know Ava know exactly what I am talking about. She is a free spirited, independent, go getter, but has the sweetest heart (even though I struggle to find it some days). Forget the “terrible twos” phase, three is much more challenging. But despite me telling her 574070348 times a day not to jump on the couch, or to get out of the bathroom sink (she obsessively washes her hands 3820989 times a day), or asking for 5 minutes of silence so I can just sit by myself, I love her. So much that it actually hurts me sometimes. All of the time I think about how boring our lives would be without her. Even though she wasn’t “planned” like our Livy girl, she has and always will be one of life’s biggest blessings. This seems obvious, but I’m telling you, sometimes the days are rough and the fight to get her to throw away her used toilet paper is long (I mean really?????), so I have to remind myself that she is so perfect in her own special, crazy way and I will always love her for that. (Even if I am screwed down the road).

Olivia is 7 months old. That is crazy! How can she be 7 months old?? We just started solids within the last month and she is doing great. We are attempting our own version of BLW (google it) but it really makes me nervous, so she is mostly eating purees. She is still breastfed (holla!) and I don’t plan on stopping until she is 1 and switches to cows milk. I honestly think I will have a harder time stopping than she will. I love it! I just want to help everyone who wants to BF to be successful, because I have had such a great experience. Liv is probably days away from crawling, she gets up on all 4 and rocks back and forth and then will reach an arm out and flop to her belly reaching superman style. She is seriously the happiest baby. So laid back, so easy going. Very chill. God knew that I could only handle one Ava, so he gave me her perfect counterpart. They are going to be best friends. I melt at the way Livy looks and smiles at Ava and love watching them play together (even when Ava is screaming because she wants the teether Livy has, like, why?) Speaking of! She has 2 teeth and 2 more on the top coming in. I already miss her gummy grins. Why does time fly when you have kids???

Other than my kids aging at lightning speed, the house coming together slowly but surely, life has been going pretty good. I took a girls trip with my best friends in November and it was AMAZING! Nothing like a little time away to make you realize how good you have it at home. Kevin loves his job (good thing lol) and we enjoy the time we get to spend together as a family, but also as a couple. I think it’s important for any relationship, but especially those with young kids, to get to spend time without them. We have amazing parents who love their gbabies! I have lots of pictures I want to share, but honestly an extra hour of sleep sounds more appealing right now. Promise I will share a bunch soon!

For now, I will keep on keeping on. Do the same “loyal followers.” May your coffee be strong, and your sleep be longer than 3 hour spans,
❤ J

You’re Gonna Miss This

So. Life with two kids has been pretty nuts. Life in general has been pretty nuts. (Hence why I am writing this at 11 PM…) We moved into my mom’s house in June right before Olivia was born (THANK YOU, MOM!) because we have been on the lookout for a house in Blue Ash, and were tired of paying rent towards nothing. Well we finally put an offer in on a house in time (24 hours after it being put on the market….) and it was accepted! Let me just say that buying a house requires you to basically chop all your limbs off and give them to the bank for underwriting. Never realized what all goes into it. Holy. But. We are trucking along through the process and I am in love with the house. (Here’s to praying all inspections, appraisals, and everything else I’m unaware of, goes well and we can actually close).

Anyways, living at my mom’s house has been great to help with saving some extra $$, but it has been quite the adjustment for everyone, and especially hard on Ava. Between a new baby she has to share attention with, a new sleeping environment, and just a complete change in routine, she tends to act out pretty badly. She’s also fighting a bad cold which she caught after ONE day of pre-school (awesome) which doesn’t help either. She is too smart for her own good, so when she is bad, she is BAD. And then she cries. Boy does she cry. Pretty bad when your 2 month old sleeps better throughout the night than your 3-year-old… but, we changed everything up on her, and once we get this new house (fingers crossed) we will be doing it again, so I am trying to remind myself that it will take time and we have to be patient with her as she adapts to her new environments.

Now Olivia, my sweet, bright-eyed, little bundle is really and truly a good baby. She is happy. Sometimes I think to myself is she actually being this good?? And never say it out loud because I’m afraid I will jinx myself. Because I’m breastfeeding, sometimes the boob is the only thing that will calm her down. When Kevin gets home from work, I’m ready to run for the hills some days before going insane. He will take her from me and then she cries. And cries. And then cries some more. Then Ava cries. Then I wanna cry. And I take the baby back and she’s happy as a little clam. I know this isn’t Kevin’s fault, but boy is it frustrating for me sometimes. I hate leaving her crying to do things like bathe, eat, ya know basic life necessities, and when I’m in the shower and I can hear her little cry my heart hurts.

I’m writing this because it isn’t always rainbows being a parent. And even though we always have good things to say about our children, it doesn’t mean that life is always easy. BUT, in the midst of one of my breakdowns the other night (Olivia had been cluster feeding for 2 HOURS before finally falling asleep) Kevin looked at me and was like “You’re gonna miss this.” And I was like no way. This is terrible. I can’t do it. Ava’s so bad. But thinking about it, I will miss this. He’s right, they NEED me. Right now, I am Olivia’s only source of nutrition. Right now, Ava whines and cries because she NEEDS me. At the end of the day when I am tired and frustrated and I question how I will get through another day like today, I wake up to a smiley baby, and a toddler who is so excited to see me and I mean really, I will miss that. I saw this on Facebook earlier and I thought it was great….

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I know that I am doing the best that I can everyday. I wouldn’t trade a single thing that I go through with my grumpy toddler, and a clingy little baby. With my supportive husband, and my little girls, my heart is so full, even on my hardest days.

Olivia Mae

As promised, here is a little bit about Olivia’s birth/my pregnancy.

Should preface this by saying my pregnancy sucked lol. I developed an umbilical hernia around 12 weeks and it basically gave me discomfort the whole time. I was also working and on my feet all day, then directly from work going to class in Clifton, and then coming home to chase Ava around. I was exhausted. My ankles would swell over the tops of my gym shoes. It was hard. But I was making good money and so close to my goal of graduation, that it kept me motivated. I also knew that this is what I wanted; Olivia was supposed to be part of our crazy little family. Firm believer that God doesn’t give you something you can’t handle, so I tried to keep that in mind on my hardest days.

Since Olivia is number two for us, I had a good idea about what to expect as far as contractions go, but this babe faked me out multiple times. I would think today’s the day, time out all my contractions, call my doc and he would literally say “go back to bed Jordan, you’ll know when it’s really time.” And I would grumpily hang up and sulk, but knew he was right. After getting mainly moved into my mom’s and getting the baby’s stuff set up and organized I was ready. I woke up on the 19th having contractions, thinking to myself ugh here we go again and I decided to ignore them, but as the morning progressed they were actually painful. I called my doctor (mind you it’s father’s day, and game 7 of the NBA finals….) and he decided I should at least go get checked out because at 38 weeks, and a planned c section, he didn’t feel it was necessary to wait it out.

So off to Bethesda North we went, I didn’t even take my hospital bag because I really wasn’t sure it was going to happen and I was trying not to get my hopes up. Idk about all you other mama’s, but I could NOT tolerate cervical checks. For some reason every time, they ended in tears. The doctor stopped doing them at my checkups because it was such a traumatic experience. Anyways, that’s the first thing they have to do (obvi) to check progress. Thankfully the nurse in triage was amazing and I survived. The first time she checked I was a dimple dilated. Contractions were still coming very strong. Doc told her to check me in an hour and if there was any sort of cervical change, it would be baby day. When it was time to check again I was SO nervous, because I was SO ready. She checked and I was 1 cm…. BABY DAY!!!! I cried tears of joy. But then started to freak out because they scheduled my surgery for 5:45 PM, which gave me an hour to prepare myself. I told them I needed to wait for my mom to get there (she was dropping Ava off with Kevin’s parents) because obviously when you’re scared you want your mom. Well she made it right before it was time to go back to the OR.

When I first went in they had to do my spinal, and Kevin was not allowed in while they were doing it (I don’t really understand why, bc that part is the most terrifying). It hurt like hell and my right leg kept tingling and I kept threatening the anesthesiologist (labor rage???) that if I was paralyzed I was going to freak out (funny now, but I was serious then lol). My doctor got there and told me he had just gotten to his family Father’s Day cookout, whoops lol. He turned on his iPod and asked what music I wanted to hear, didn’t care, was worried about the child he was about to cut out of me. He turned on Mumford & Sons which was cool but again, not what I was worried about. My c section went as expected. Felt like I was gonna vom, lots of tugging and pulling, Kevin closing his eyes because he didn’t want to see lol, and finally at 6:02 PM Olivia arrived! 8 lbs 14 oz and 20 inches long. A big girl! When she came out she had a little extra fluid in her lungs, normal for c section babies, and I kept freaking out asking them to tell me what was going on. They had her laying on her belly trying to pat out some of the fluid. Kevin finally came over and showed me a picture of her, but they wouldn’t let him hold her yet. After she sounded a little better, he finally got to do skin to skin with her, something SO imperative to us. I cried my eyes out as they sit next to me. She was so perfect and you really fall more in love with your husband when you see them with your children, it’s crazy.

I was finally all stitched up about an hour later, and got to hold my baby girl for the first time as they were pushing me back to recovery.

I remember being SO itchy from the spinal, apparently. My face itched so bad, I kept apologizing to everyone because I probably looked like a crack head or something. All my friends and family who showed up while I was in recovery took turns coming in and holding her. I was so focused on breastfeeding we had her start while I was in recovery. She was already latching on her own, something Ava and I never accomplished. My next day was spent entirely focused on breastfeeding and nursing her. every hour and a half. By the end of my second day, my girl was latching like a PRO. I never even needed an appointment with the lactation nurse. I couldn’t believe it. But what they don’t tell you, is how incredibly PAINFUL it is. My nipples were so chapped and sore. Every time she latched on it seriously hurt. We chugged along through the next day. The morning of the 22nd, the nurse came in and said, “She’s down 10% of her weight… has no one seriously talked to you about supplementing yet?” She told me she was going to go get formula and stuff so I could pump. When she left the room I BAWLED my eyes out. I couldn’t believe that all my hard work, all the pain I was in, was basically for nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against supplementing, or formula feeding in general, FED is best, but I had a goal, and I was dead set on her being exclusively breastfed, so I was so angry. I decided to wait until the pediatrician came in to do anything, bc that nurse really made me mad, and I wanted to see what his thoughts were. When he came in, he never ONCE mentioned supplementing with formula, or even being concerned with her weight. Like what?!! I couldn’t believe that nurse got me all worked up. Later, my pediatrician told me that bigger babies have a longer way to fall, so it’s normal. Instead, we supplemented pumped colostrum with a syringe after feedings, so she was getting as much as she could. She was up to her birth weight in 2 weeks, which is what they are shooting for with breastfed babies. I was going home with an exclusively breastfed baby and I was over the moon about it.

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It wasn’t all happy faces. Most of my days were spent with this little chick on my boob. There were definitely times I wanted to give up. I felt like I was a prisoner, I couldn’t do anything without a baby attached to me. I would cry the first 30 seconds of her latch on my right side in excruciating pain. One night I remember telling Kevin I couldn’t do it anymore, but seriously the next day, it stopped hurting. It took a good 3 weeks, but I did it. I’ve never been so happy about a decision in my life. There really is no way to prepare a mom for how hard it really is. I remember feeling like the pain I felt from breastfeeding was worse than the pain I felt from my c-section incision. Now I have a 2 month old little chunky breastfed baby (Kevin calls her a honey baked ham, lol) who is sleeping through the night, and is so much happier than Ava was as a baby. Again, I’m not knocking formula, but I really do notice a difference in overall mood in Olivia and I truly believe breastfeeding has helped with that. My best advice is to not give up. If breastfeeding is something you want to do, you definitely have to set your mind to it. I’m so happy I stuck with it!

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Long Time No See

So remember a couple years ago I said I was going to document Ava’s life and different funny things she did so I would remember them…. yeah well that never exactly happened. Work. School. Kid. Ya know, I was a little busy. Well since then, I got married, got pregnant, graduated from UC and had my (final….???? sorry Kev) number 2, Olivia Mae.  I plan to post about her birth story and some of my experiences with breastfeeding, but this one is just to update my ever so many viewers (I don’t have any) about what has happened the past couple years. So enjoy this slideshow. (WARNING: there’s some sad memories, because that’s part of life).

9.13.14 First things first: I got engaged!!!! At Ava’s first birthday party Kevin proposed and it was the sweetest surprise ever. (I said yes, btw).

11.26.14 & 2.1.15 Thanksgiving 2014 was spent in the hospital in Seattle with my dad which would start a rough couple months of trying to figure out what was going on, and how to make it better. On January 31st, 2015 we received the call that they weren’t sure if he was going to make it. My mom, sister and I flew out for one of the most heart wrenching experiences of my life. February 1st we made the decision to place my dad on comfort care, as his quality of life was very poor and we couldn’t stand to see him suffer anymore. On February 8th, 2015 he passed peacefully from what we now know was MSA, Multiple Systems Atrophy. In March we had a beautiful service for him, and afterwards we all got way too drunk, just like he would have wanted. It was a great celebration of his life. I miss him everyday, but I know he is in a better place, pain free. *wipes tears, ugh*

9.12.15 So in the middle of August we decided the traditional wedding route was not really our thing, so we planned a wedding in a month. On September 12th, 2015 we got married in our backyard with all of our closest friends & family. It was perfect.

12.17.15 Kevin and I knew we wanted to have another baby right after we got married. We announced our addition in December that would be arriving early July. With Ava being our biggest surprise blessing, it was so fun to experience pregnancy a little differently this time. (Shout out to one of my BFF’s Brooke the pregnancy/baby guru, without her I don’t think I would have gotten pregnant lol! She brought me a pregnancy test one day while I was working and was the first person I called bawling that it was positive).

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2.12.16 We announced that our new bundle would be a GIRL (despite every single person thinking I was having a boy, including myself… Again, sorry Kev)IMG_0666

2.26.16 This is very important to note. Ava was successfully potty trained!!!! This was a huge goal of mine because I refused to have 2 in diapers. She was so proud of that pee, lol.

4.4.16 My best friend got married!! Kevin & I were so excited to be a part of Brooke & Thomas’ big day. It was so beautiful and of course Brooke looked absolutely stunning. I’m so thankful for her friendship.

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4.30.16 This was such a huge, important day. We graduated from the University of Cincinnati! I am so beyond proud of graduating in 4 years with a Marketing degree. It wouldn’t have been possible without my husband’s sacrifices throughout the last 4 years and without our parents help. SO much love.

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5.8.16 Happy Mother’s Day to me! I spent 3 days in the hospital after falling down the steps cleaning out our upstairs out (why was I cleaning on Mother’s Day??) This inevitably ended my time at work at 32 weeks pregnant. I left with a sprained ankle, but with a baby still in my belly, thank you Lord! Side note: Ava is the sweetest.

5.13.16 I still got to have the best baby shower put on by these two beauties. It was such a fun night. I’m the luckiest girl when it comes to my friends. They would do any and everything for my family and I. So incredibly grateful.

6.18.16 We moved into my Mom’s house because our lease was up and we have no interest in continuing to rent. We are saving up until we find the house we want to buy! Also included the one and only belly picture I took at 38 weeks pregnant.

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6.19.16 On Father’s Day we welcomed Miss Olivia Mae Clark into the world weighing a whopping 8 pounds 14 ounces. I know my Dad was smiling down on this day & what a great gift for Kevin. (Again, I plan on posting about my birthing experience, so I’m going to keep this short).

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6.27.16 A week after one of the best days of my life, our lives were shook with one of the worst days. We lost one of our good friends Cody. It was one of the hardest pills I’ve ever had to swallow. I miss him and wish he knew how much we all need him here.

8.18.16 As I sit here today, these are the memes that basically describe my life. I am managing to get through each day staying at home with my crazy almost 3 year old and a 2 month old. So, I promise to post more. Plus this is a cool keepsake and something to keep me entertained.

XOXO,
JMClark

A blog eh?

I originally created this blog for an English class at UC, but now that I’ve written a couple posts and have a better idea of how this whole thing works, I decided to change the direction a bit. My daughter is now 8 months old and she is the funniest, sweetest, cutest, most perfect human being in the world. She is constantly making us laugh and I want to remember as much as I can! With all the improvements to technology I figured a blog would be a good idea to keep track of the memorable stories. (Heck, I use Facebook as my digital photo album, so this is pretty much the same thing right?) Before I get too far, I want to say that I am not a writer, and I apologize in advance for any grammatical/spelling errors. (I just spelled grammatical wrong LOL). So stay tuned, I’m sure my perfect baby girl will steal your heart just as she has stollen ours. We love you Ava!!! I’m sure you will be embarrassed when you read this in 10 years. Sorry boutcha (: you’ll thank me when you’re 30.