Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Moving and First Time Home Buying

Well, ladies and germs, Scott has accepted a job in Columbia, South Carolina.  Columbia is where Scott and I met.  He was a student at the University of South Carolina.  I was a staff worker with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship there.  Eight years after we met, we got hitched.  In November, we'll be moving there.  This is exciting, thrilling, adventurous, and scary as crap.  It's exciting because Scott has been trying to get out of teaching for a while.  He's going to embark on the journey of becoming an actuary with an insurance company.  I'd love to explain that to you, but I hardly understand it myself.  

noun: actuary; plural noun: actuaries
a person who compiles and analyzes statistics and uses them to calculate insurance risks and premiums.

There.  Now you understand what they do?  Great.  Moving on then.  I am still looking for a new job in the Columbia area.  If you know someone who works at a hospital in that area, I'd love to talk to them!  I am so sad to leave my very comfortable work environment.  I love the people I work with and I really, really like what I do.  Transitioning to a new hospital will feel like leaving home.

Speaking of home, Raleigh has become home to me.  I lived here from 1996-2000 while I attended NC State.  I moved back in 2004 and have been here since.  That's a long, long time for an Air Force brat that never lived anywhere more than 2-3 years.  Although I'm having to dust off this emotion, I remember being intrigued and excited about moving to a new place as a kid.  I'm beginning to feel that way about Columbia.  The area is somewhat familiar to me from living there before, but moving back married with children is a whole new ball game.  I'm excited about the possibilities.

Also, I'm pretty sure my parents are moving with us, just a few months later.  My mom said she's coming.  My dad said he's going where my mom goes. :)  Fair enough.  Columbia, here comes an invasion of Davidsons and Acuffs!!  Watch out!

Since we've been married, Scott and I have rented apartments.  Well, we *think* we're finally ready to look at buying a house!  We've already found a real estate agent (through Dave Ramsey's website) and she's sending us tons of houses to peruse online.  We are still in the process of figuring out a mortgage lender.  We know it would be a fast turn-around, but we're hoping to find a house, get the financing worked out, and close on it by mid to late November.  

Tell me about your first home buying experience!  Or if you don't own a home, what your thoughts about owning are.  The whole thing seems totally overwhelming to me.  I grew up military.  We moved a LAWT.  We usually lived on base, so I didn't observe the home buying process as a kid.  I think it must be that military-kid part of me that is afraid of buying a house.  I'm afraid of being "stuck" in a house we can't sell.  Probably some of the recent years' real estate market has contributed to that fear as well.  

If I ignore the fear, though, I am really, really pumped to be in a house.  I want to be able to walk out my back door and play in the yard with my kids.  It doesn't have to be a big yard at all.  Just a tiny postage stamp yard is fine.  That would be more than we have right now (none)!  I want to not hear my upstairs neighbors at all hours of the day and night.  Pretty sure our neighbors will be excited for us to move, too.  Hearing kids crying (all hours of the day and night) has to be thrilling for them. :)  My 'requirements' list for my first home is surprisingly small.  I just want to be in a house we can comfortably afford.  That's what I care about the most.  Hardwoods, carpets, separate shower stall and tub, garage or not, two story or one...none of that matters as much to me.  Should make it easier to find a place right??

What advice would you give a first time home buyer?  I'll tell you the things I've heard already that sound reasonable to me:
  • Buy a little bit more house than you think you'll need.  I translate that to mean more bedrooms.  I don't want to have to move if we have another kiddo.
  • Pay attention to school districts, both for your own kids, as well as resale later.
  • Don't use the home inspector recommended by the real estate agent.  They are on the same team.  You want someone looking out for YOUR interests.
  • If you can do it, 20% down payment is best.
  • Visit the neighborhood at night.  Sometimes neighborhoods have a very different feel in the dark hours.
  • Ask about how old the roof, water heater, HVAC units are.
What else would you add to this list??

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The "Stitches at Wake Med" Story

Lots of people say that as a mom of a boy, I should get used to him hurting himself.  Apparently getting stitches is some sort of rite of passage for little boys.  I figured those people meant it was because boys are so active and go-go-go all the time.  Well, my son needed stitches from an injury he sustained while pretty much standing still.  Not quite what I had imagined...

The scene of the crime:

I was sitting in the computer chair, James was standing up beside me and had wedged himself between the laundry baskets and the computer chair.  What happened next is still somewhat of a mystery to me.  He was standing up, and then he was abruptly sitting and WAILING, and the laundry basket was on its side.  I think he may have tried to step up on the side of the laundry basket and it tipped over, sending him rapidly to the seated position.  
Somehow, in a freak of nature way, the semi-rounded edge of the chair's arm caught his forehead in just the right way and busted his head open.  He frequently overreacts to non-serious falls and such, so I figured this was another one of those times.  I reached down to pick him and then OH EM GEE THE BLOOD.  As I am a trained healthcare professional, when I observed the blood I calmly assessed the situation I quickly recognized that this was the exact time to freak the heck out.  Pretty sure I said "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, okay buddy, it's okay, buddy..." over and over.  When he moved his hand long enough for me to see the wound I knew immediately it was going to need stitches.  I thought, "I need help!  I need to call my parents!  Oh son's head is bleeding, I should deal with that first..."  (see, top notch healthcare professional skills to the rescue...please note sarcasm)  I carried James to the kitchen and reached for some paper towels to hold on his head.  While reaching for the paper towels I noticed how badly my hands were shaking.  I was thinking "These paper towels aren't sterile!  I need something sterile!  But wait, I'm at home, it doesn't have to be sterile at home, right??  Oh I don't that's a lot of blood..."  I decided at this point that James was not going to quit freaking out if I didn't tone down my own freaking out.  I pressed the non-sterile paper towels on his head, sat down on the kitchen floor with him in my lap, pinned his arms down with my free arm wrapped around him and told us both to take some deep breaths.  I talked in a soft voice.  Told him it would be okay.  He calmed pretty quickly after that.  We both did.  I reached up to the kitchen counter and grabbed my purse that contained my phone.  Hands still shaking, I noticed.  Found my phone, called my dad, not my mom.  I needed a calm response and very quickly.  Dad's the man for that.  

"Are you at home?" - me.

"Yes." - calm dad.

"James hit his head and he's going to need stitches and I need help RIGHT NOW." - me.

"Okay, we'll be right there." - calm dad.

I don't know how long it was in reality, but it felt like TWO SECONDS LATER, there's a knock at my door.  I opened my door to find my mom in tears and out of breath.  She RAN from her house to mine (usually about a 6 minute walk).  James' head had stopped bleeding, he had stopped crying and he was calmly walking around.  Meemaw came in, scooped him up, held him tight and cried, rocking him in her arms, praying as she did so.  Just watching her I knew this hurt her the same as it did me.  I guess grandmas are wired that way.  I rubbed her back and told her he was okay.  And also, she needed to squeeze him a little less tightly because she was making his head bleed again...

Where was Reese during all of this?  I honestly don't remember.  On the floor, NOT bleeding from the head.  That I do know.

Dad showed up minutes later.  I put some gauze on James' head and secured it with bandaids.  I made a couple of quick phone calls (Scott being one of those calls).  Dad and I dropped off Mom and Reese at their house and the rest of us headed off to Wake Med Raleigh to the emergency room.

 Our brave little patient...

Within a very few minutes of arriving, we were put in a room.  A few minutes after that, the doctor came in to look at his head.  The next step was putting some goop on his wound that would numb it up before the stitching procedure.  He tolerated all of that fairly well.  He frequently cries the minute a doctor or nurse comes into the exam room when we are at the pediatrician.  I expected that to be the case here.  But he actually did really well.  He was nervous about the people as they came in, but until they touched him, he didn't get too worked up.  These people work with kids all the time, so they know not to touch the kid unless they have to! They asked questions while standing close to the door, as far as possible from James.  I really appreciated that.  We could answer their questions without James completely freaking out.  

The numbing goop had to sit for 20 or 30 minutes on his head.  We watched some Lion King on the ipad while we waited.  Several more staff people came and went during that time.  One nurse gave him a dose of fentanyl (a spray up his nose).  That was to help take the edge off for him during the procedure.  I wanted some of that too...  

One nurse and one doctor came in to do the actual stitching procedure.  They swaddled him tightly, arms down, and strapped him to a papoose board.  He LOVED that, as you can imagine.  Let the wailing begin.  

About 6 minutes later, James had four stitches in his head.  

He didn't cry the whole procedure, just at times, which let me know he definitely wasn't feeling pain from what they were doing.  He would have jumped and wailed and objected a WHOLE LOT more than he did if he was feeling pain.  He seemed to mostly be upset by being restrained. Understandable.  I was so glad the worst was over.  Just for the record, my dad was very brave as well.  He didn't cry AT ALL during the procedure.  Nor did he pass out at the sight of blood.  Good job, Dad!  Thanks for being my moral support!

Just after the procedure was done, a nurse came back to do our discharge instructions.  Clean his head twice a day with half-hydrogen peroxide, half-water combo, bacitracin, bandaid on top.  Stitches would absorb in 5-10 days. 

We left the emergency room 1.5 hours after we arrived.  That is unheard of!  Fastest ER visit in history!  I was soooo grateful.  I put James down for a nap when we got home and checked on him frequently.  He threw up twice after the ER.  I'm blaming the fentanyl for that.  It can cause nausea.

The ER gave James a new teddy bear.  I didn't think he would care anything about it since it wasn't his beloved "bankit" or a Lightning McQueen race car.  I was so wrong.  He loved that thing.  He slept with it.  Asked where it was if he wasn't holding it "Beer? Beer?" (how he says bear)  The volunteers who made that sweet little bear have no idea how that made James' day.

The twice a day dressing changes went much better than I expected for the next ten days.  He ate a LAWT of marshmallows during those mini-procedures.  

Today, 18 days post-injury, his little scar looks great.  You can barely see it!

What I learned from this experience:
1)  This nurse who works with babies for a living is almost COMPLETELY worthless when it comes to her own children.
2)  Ditto for James' Meemaw when it comes to one of her grandbabies. :)
3)  My dad is a ROCK.  A solid person to lean on in crappy situations.
4)  Wake Med Raleigh was efficient, proficient, and just plain kind to us during our visit.  Much, much appreciated.
5)  Little boys do not have to be in motion to harm themselves.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Grandma Is Moving

This past weekend was truly a LABOR (day) weekend.  No, not in the sense of giving birth kind of labor, but more the doing-work kind of labor.  I had the opportunity to help out at my only living grandparent's house, 86 year old Grandma Acuff.  She is preparing to move into a retirement community in a few weeks.  Several of us family members were involved in helping move stuff.

We moved one of my brothers out of her house into his new place.

We moved lots of furniture to grandkids' homes.

We  moved.

We cleaned.

We vacuumed.

We moved some more.

And sometimes, we ate. (probably our favorite part)

Have you ever helped an elderly person move/sort through a house they have lived in for 45 years?  It is not an easy task.  I can't imagine how overwhelming it is for the elderly individual.  Trying to decide what of your stuff you want to keep, what to give away, who to give it to, how to move it, all the while processing through the emotional decision to move into (possibly) your last home ever.  I felt overwhelmed FOR Grandma, and it wasn't even my stuff all these people were moving and going through.

I think it's also a hard process on the non-elderly family members.  There is guilt involved.  Guilt for taking her stuff and making it my stuff.  Guilt for NOT taking her stuff and possibly hurting her feelings because I don't want that trinket or item that she values.  

I'd say it was a mildly successful weekend.  We got accomplished what we needed to with only minor aggravation for all the involved parties.  Grandma and I did butt heads a couple of times.  The problem is that I'm cut straight from the same cloth she is.  When stubborn meets stubborn there is bound to be some friction. :)

I'm so proud of Grandma for making the impossibly tough decision to move.  May this process and major life transition go as smoothly as possible for her.

Be nice to an elderly person today.  You have no idea what tough decisions they may be facing.

Grandma and Reese (~3 months old)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Couch to 5K, Day 1

Here's how it went...


Day 2 may or may not ever happen, but hey, at least day 1 went okay. :)