Friday, September 30, 2011

Sleep, Sweet Sleep!

I need sleep. Always have. Always will. It is just a way of life for me. Ideally, I'd get 9 hours every night. I survive on 7 to 8, but would be in sleep heaven if 9 hours could happen each and every night. With 3 small children, I often get asked if, or how, or what I do/did to sleep train my kids. Here's how we did it:
Buy the book 12 hours by 12 weeks. It is by Suzy Giordiani. She's amazing. If she walked into my house, I'd give her a great big bear hug. Yes, a huge hug for a stranger!
When Blake was 3 1/2 months old, I took him in for his baby check up. One of the questions the pediatrician asked was if he was sleeping through the night. At the time, he wasn't. He was still getting up twice to nurse. It was fine. He was our only child and I was okay with a little snuggle time with our little man.

Who could resist this little man when he was up in the middle of the night waiting to be nursed to sleep? I sure couldn't.

However, the pediatrician said we were being "worked" by our little man. Yep, he was beginning to own us. He said by 4 months, all babies can sleep through the night on their own. No extra formula or rice cereal, just sleep through the night. The key was to get them to eat all their food during the day. During waking hours.

I always thought I'd be a laid-back mom who just let her kids kindof dictate their own sleep/awake schedule. As long as it didn't interupt my life, it wasn't a big deal. Go to bed at 10? No biggie. Me having to wake them to go to work? Not a problem. He was happy and smiley, so it worked. Wrong.

I read the book and started to sleep train Blake.

Here are the keys:

  • 12 hours of sleep at night

  • regular feedings during the day

  • 3 hours in naps during the day

Not a problem. I read the book in a day. A few hours at most. It's a small book, but is SUPER helpful for training the parent how to train the child to sleep.

We were ready. I immediately "put" Blake on a sleep-awake-feed-sleep-awake-feed schedule. It says a child can be trained in a week to sleep 12 hours. For us, it took about that long, but by this time Blake was almost 4 months old. I remember the first night we put him to bed. It states to give the child 5 minutes of crying. Then if the child is still crying and hasn't calmed down at all, go in and reassure them by rubbing their back and talking quietly. No picking them up, no turning on the lights, etc. Easy-peasy. NOT.

Having your 1st baby scream bloody murder for 5 minutes is torture. Pure torture. Mike and I had to sit out on our front steps while he screamed so we wouldn't hear it and feel like the worst parents in the world. It was awful. But that was the 1st night.

Night and day #2 was better. Less crying, less tears, all was better.

By the 3rd night, miraculously he fussed for a bit, then fell asleep. He was still getting up at night, but I was working on getting him on a daily routine and trying to force him to eat more during the day. The nighttime feedings soon followed suit and dwindled down night by night. From 2 to 1 feedings and from 1 feeding for a few minutes to 1 feeding for 2 minutes.
It was working! We were succeeding at this parenting thing and it felt A-MA-ZING to sleep more than 3 hours at a time!

Literally, by the 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th night, he was sleeping through the night. It was insane. It was all us...parenting. Life lesson #1. Reflect on what you are doing and try to see if you are the cause of your child's behavior.

Boy, have we learned from this lesson as our children have gotten older

So...for 12 hours by 12 weeks. Makenna was 11 weeks and was sleeping through the night. Sleeping through the night to me means that the baby DOES. NOT. GET. UP. AT ALL. 12 hours. No waking. Fussing/fidgeting=okay, but I don't want to go in their bedroom for an entire 12 hours. Unless I want to see major cuteness!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My dad died (part 2)

In this post, I talked about his initial diagnosis and day 1-Christmas Day 1992.

Merry Christmas to us-right!? Your dad has Leukemia, the prognosis doesn't look good, now go open your Christmas gifts. Not my idea of fun, nor anyone in my family!

After that first day, things looked pretty dismal. We, as his kids, had no idea. We were young and innocent. My sister was 8, I was 11 and my brother was 13. We didn't know anyone that was in the hospital, anyone that had cancer, or anyone that was "that sick". Over time, I’ve found out that my dad was given less than 2 months on that first day.

Boy, were we in for a shock! Yet somehow, it became the norm. After Christmas, it was time to celebrate New Year's. We always went to my Godparent's house, the Schuster's on New Year's Day, so what else would we do but go! Everything seemed quite normal except my dad wasn't there to celebrate-he was in the hospital. We skated on the rink, ate yummy food and enjoyed the company. And then, the ritual of visiting my dad in the hospital began. On our way to the hospital, we picked up KFC. I distinctly remember him saying that the hospital food was not good and he wanted something tasty to celebrate the new year.

So...KFC and a visit to the hospital it was.

Whatever family routine we had before my dad was admitted to the hospital was all thrown out the window. The new routine was school, bus home, then we'd go down to visit my dad. From what I remember, it was almost everyday, unless we went to a friend's house or had a sporting event. I know my mom was there daily, and can only imagine how exhausting that must have been-to watch the love of your life, the one you shared your most intimate secrets, the one who fathered your children, the one who swept you off your feet when you were a hippy-loving Californian-to watch him fight the battle of his life right in front of your eyes. I can't imagine, and I pray for those who have and are fighting like this with their loved ones.

From all indications and from how you'd think a normal family life would be, it was rough; yet when I look back I don't ever remember it being that bad. From my mom's standpoint though, I can only imagine it was horrible. Try going from being a mom, wife and homemaker who rarely paid the bills, much less knew anything about where they were paid to, out of which account and whatnot to being the bill-payer, mom and dad, dinner-maker, chauffer to the hospital, confidant to your husband, cheerleader for my dad, peacemaker during the chaos, and all else that comes with being a wife to a cancer patient and a mom to 3 young kids whose dad has cancer. It sucked. I can assure you of that.

Then, there's the pain. My dad was on a constant stream of pain killers as his body was enduring the vicious-ness of chemotherapy. Pain killers to dull the pain of mouth sores. Ever had a canker sore? They hurt. A lot. Now try having your whole mouth be a canker sore-hard to imagine...right? Another horrible side-effect: Chemo affects your cells. All of them, whether cancerous or not. Know what that means? Butt sores. Yep. I remember my dad having to sit on a donut-an inflatable little ring-in order to be able to sit comfortably. Glamorous! Just lovely. And these two things are just the pain-related items that I clearly remember. I know there were 100's of other things he had to endure throughout the struggle.

On a brighter note, with him being confined to the 4 walls of the hospital, it allowed others to love on our family. My dad received so much mail on a daily basis that they ended up giving him his own PO box in the hospital. All of the cards and notes he received were placed on the walls of his room to brighten up his day. We also received and outpouring of love and support through meals, people driving the 3 of us around town and to/from the hospital, as well as sleep overs and other forms of help. It's amazing the community you can build in an instant when something like cancer happens.

Back to the timeline:

November 1992-back pain

December 1992-fell off roof

December 25, 1992-admitted to hospital

December 26 or so, 1992-diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

December 1992 to April 1993- in hospital receiving rounds and rounds of Leukemia in order to rid as much of the cancer as possible. Never once stepping out of the hospital…can you imagine not breathing fresh air for 4 months!?

As you can see from the timeline above, my dad endured almost 5 months of chemo and all the nasty side effects that go with it. He was on the 4th floor ICU at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, MN for the whole time. He never left the floor he was on in 5 months. No going outside, no riding in a car, nothing. Imagine that!? I can't. Watch life go by as you sit in your hospital room with a drip of poison in you all day long. Know what though? I never remember my dad sad or unhappy. I know it is something he must have worked hard at doing, but he was always the usual David George Guimond that we knew and loved. Same great big bear hugs that are closely mimicked to this day by his cousins, Gary and Randy O'Brien. Same loud laugh that he was so notorious for! Man, makes me want to bring him here right now.

To be continued....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The things they say....

On Kenna's birthday, she was standing in the doorway to her room looking at Mike and I who were in the hallway. Blake was standing behind her and was sizing her up. We were commenting on how she was now the big "3" and she was so excited. Her excitement was dampened by Blake, as he said "but mom! She can't be 3". Mike and I looked at eachother inquisitively and asked him "Why?" He then said "but she doesn't LOOK any bigger!"
Oh boy! If only our age is judged by how "big" we look!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sweet dreams!

If you were wondering what all the lumber was for in the last post...

Here's your first clue:

Any guesses?

A bit more of the view...I'm sure you all know what it is now!

Yep. I made our headboard. Me. By myself (Mike helped do a little distressing, and helped put the 4 x 4 post legs on). I know. I know. You can't believe I (a girl) could do this!? Yep, me neither. Ana White at drew up the plans. She posts homemade furniture plans that even a novice can do. Our plans came from the farmhouse bed plans. This was my first project and it took quite a bit of time, but that's because I'd work on it for 10 minutes here, an hour there, and I really didn't know what I was doing.

Kindof amazing-right? I think so. I couldn't believe it when we went into Pottery Barn a few weeks ago and took a look at this bed which we've been drooling over for years:

But with a heft $1,499 price tag, it doesn't exactly fit into our budget! Here's one that is a bit more within the budget:

But honestly, at $999, I'd rather spend money on fun stuff like garden plants and grass for our yard!

So, I made my own. It cost me less than $100. You'd never know the difference. Really, you can't tell that I made it with my own two hands, a cordless drill and a table saw. Amazing...huh?

Sorry to seem conceited, but really?! I built it. I've never built anything before, except our deck, which was really just a few support beams and some wood. All. by. Myself!

And now we don't feel like we're in college with our bed on the floor and no headboard.

Want me to build you one? I'd be up for it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happiest kid in the world

I am infatuated with birth order. It ceases to amaze me the order in which children are born and knowing how they will "turn out" when they are older. I strongly believe birth order plays a huge role in who you are in life and what your personality traits turn out to be like. My 3rd little one is absolutely the most laid-back, easy going, go with the flow little ham!

Happy as a little lark in his car seat waiting for everyone else. He even smiles for the camera through his nukie!

He's not always happy, happy, happy!

Just kidding!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


What is all of this lumber for?

Here's the beginnings of what I built:

Any ideas?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

That looks good...

Something looks delicious on my plate!

And maybe not! A lime looks green, inviting, tasty...I guess not!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Baby Names

Prior to our kids being born, we lamented over baby names. With our oldest, we had a very difficult time trying to find a name/names. We would throw out names to see if the other liked it, and 99.999999% of the time, the other would have one reason or another that they didn't like it. For instance, I liked Jack, Mike didn't. Why? There was a guy in college that lived across the hall from him that smoked pot all the time. Therefore a kid named Jack=a pot smoker. Mike liked the name Hannah. It reminded me of a hippy flower girl type person who had flowers in her hair and didn't care about anything. Therefore Hannah=hippy kid. Nope. Wasn't going to happen!

With our 2nd, we broke down and ended up getting baby books and going through them. We'd each pick our 5 to 10 names, then tell the other. Again, things got so heated that one of us would end up walking away or "quitting" trying to name our little one. At one point, Mike decided that we'd break up the pain of baby names by having contests to see who could come up with the best Vikings, 80's rocker, grandma, etc. names. THIS, my friends, was comical relief. We laughed and laughed and laughed at names for each category. It also helped to cushion the names we each thought of that were "real" possibilities for our child.

With our 3rd, we'd just casually say a f ew names and see if they stuck. We both knew how offended we'd get when the other would immediately shut down a name, so we took it easier with naming the baby. We did get a few books a few times, but we were living in chaos, so it didn't work out the best.

Our 1st born name options were:

Kirk, Dirk, Blake, Tyler, Jason

Hailey, Olivia, Julia, Isabella

Blake David it is. David is my dad's first name. Papa Dave-if my kid's could actually "know" you, other than through pictures...that'd be heaven on earth!

Our 2nd:


Hayden, Gabriella,

Makenna Jane it is. Makenna came about after she was born. Mike just "came up" with the name on the spot. The middle name was going to be Michelle (my sister's name), but it didn't work very well with Makenna. Jane is part of both of Mike's grandma's names.

Our 3rd:

Crosby, Hudson

Gianna, Brooke

Crosby Charles it is. Charles is Mike's dad's first name. We love our papa Charlie!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The things they say....

Tonight when Blake and Kenna were giving eachother their good-night hugs, Blake told Kenna to "Hug me like a garbage truck hugs a garbage can!"
Oh boy....does he think in terms of all things boy or what!?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Dad Died

Crazy to think that it will be 18 year ago in July that my dad died. It is the single most defining moment in my life and I will be writing a few posts about it.
In late 1992, my dad had been complaining about back pain and how much his lower back hurt. His doctor put him on some pain relievers and sent him on his way. A couple weeks later, he was shoveling snow of the roof of the house and fell off the ladder. Again, the back pain came back, but he attributed it to falling off the ladder!
At the time, he was traveling quite a bit, and apparently was really busy with work and didn't notice the pain got significantly worse.
On Christmas eve, the pain became so unbearable that he brought himself to the ER on Christmas morning. I went with him while they ran test after test after test. It turns out that his lower back pain was due to an extremely inflammed/enlarged spleen, an indication of Leukemia. After some initial tests were done (which took all day), they determined that he would need to be admitted to the hospital and my mom needed to come down as soon as possible. I remember watching my dad in his hospital gown pose against the fashionable curtains in the ER. He would pose like a model, which made me laugh so hard I remember the nurse coming in and politely asking us to be a bit quieter! I also remember when my mom got there, we went to a little cafeteria with a refrigerator vending machine that had sandwiches in it. I remember my mom and my parents friends talking in hushed tones while I sat at the table, bored out of my mind from being at the hospital so long. I don't remember them telling me anything then, but I assume they were discussing my dad's diagnosis and what that meant. I also remember going with my dad up to the room he was admitted into and the nurses drawing what seemed like copious amounts of blood into many, many small test tubes.
I remember my dad getting morphine that night before I left and that he had a severe reaction to it. Why do I remember these crazy details? I have no idea. What a minute details that I remember so vividly.
The final diagnosis that evening: Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Onset: 44 years old.

Thus began the most defining point in my life.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Santa came to our house on Christmas Eve!

(Isn't he a hottie!?)

He delivered the goods to our fabulous little ones...

He posed for a few pictures and then woke up a little girl...

He woke up a little boy as well, but he was QUITE crabby, and NOT impressed!
He was, however, excited the next morning that Santa did, in fact come, and deliver the goods. He was also very inquisitive as to how Santa got down the chimney with his big bag. He seemed to be okay with the idea that Santa is magical and can do magic (coming down the chimney and not getting burnt).

The four cousins. Not too easy getting 4-4 and under to look in the same direction. Smiling at the same time AND looking? Not gonna happen!
My brother and SIL at Christmas dinner. (That's Matthew's sippy cup and baby food)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Too funny not to share!

An e-mail I received from a friend contained the following message about parenting:

11 step program for those thinking of having kids...
1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the LAST time.

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appalingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to "run wild"
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.
Enjoy it, because it will be the last time in your life YOU will have all the answers.

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10 PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Attempt to eat cold food with one hand for dinner).
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. Just as you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM, make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get back up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up, make breakfast, get ready for work and go to work (work hard and BE productive)
10. Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and put-together!

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the couch and jelly onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer long.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed and then rub them on clean walls.
4. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc and rip out pages here and there.
5. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Dressing small children is not as easy as it looks.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to pt the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.
3. Time allowed...3 minutes before you jet out the door to work!

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. ANd don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. FAMILY cars don't look like that!
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back of the seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then mash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Grocery shopping is not as easy as it should be!
1. Go to the local grocery store.
2. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then DEFINITELY take more than one goat.
3. Buy your next week's groceries without letting the goat out of your sight and without eating any of the food in your cart.
4. Pay for everything the goat DOES eat and destroy.
5. Until you can easily accomplish this, do NOT even contemplate having children.

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small whole inthe side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now, get a bowl of soggy cheerios and attemot to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the cheerios are gone.
6. with the remaining cheerios, tip the half onto your lap and the other half throw in the air.
You are now ready to feed a nine month old baby.

1. Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barny, Dora, Disney, Martha Speaks, etc.
2. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS or the Disney Channel for at least five years.

1. Make a recoding of Fran Drescher saying "mommy" repeatedly. *Note: no more than a four second delay betwen each "mommy"; occasionally crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required.
2. Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next 6 years.
3. You are now ready to travel with kids.

1. Start talking to an adult of your choice.
2. Have someone else continually tug on your shirt sleeve, or elbow while playing "mommy" tape from lesson 10 above.
3. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

REMEMBER: a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!

AHhh.....aren't these true!? Everytime I read this, I get a chuckly because I knew EVERYTHING until I became a parent. What a humbling experience it is!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The old house

Our mailbox. That still is our *current* mailbox until this frozen tundra thaws out!

One view...pre-tear down.

The road view. It was such a beautiful day for pictures. The lighting was amazing!

Pulling the snow away from the house so the deck can be ripped off.

Yes, that cloud is 100+ years of dust and dirt from inside the walls.

Josh...FYI-if you smile...the camera will break!

Much better Mr. Lafond! And Larry. The excavator guy. What a great picture you two!