Posted by: chradek | March 15, 2010

Spring is in the Air!

With every changing of the seasons, I get hit with the intense desire for…well…CHANGE!  And of course, Spring this year has brought it in full force, with the new baby on the way next month and all.  So combined with the typical seasonal turnover, I am also experiencing the nesting instinct in full force as well.  Winter is a hard season for me.  Despite the fact that I was born and raised in Western Washington, I have never really adapted to the long dreary months of rain and gloom that we often experience here.  As soon as the holidays are over, and January rolls around, I get a pretty bad case of the “Blahs”.  It’s even worse when we get NO SNOW (like this year) because it just continues to rain rain rain.  As soon as March starts to roll around, I get practically giddy with the anticipation of Spring.  And what joy that it has come so early this year!!!  =)

So what is a girl to do to try and dispel some of the winter gloom from the house?  Here are some of my tried and true techniques:

1.  Bust out the bright colors!  Still wearing that old winter/fall wardrobe?  All of those warm colors are lovely for the right time of year, but I find them down right depressing come March.  Bust out the yellows, greens, pinks, purples, blues…anything bright and colorful and preferably Spring inspired.  Nothing lifts my mood better than putting on a yellow shirt.

2.  If you paint your nails, treat yourself to an at-home manicure and a new Spring shade.  If you’re still wearing dark red, it’s time for some pink!  It’s an INSTANT mood booster!

3.  Candles.  I love Bath and Body Works, but everyone has their own preferences.  It’s a little bit of a splurge, but so worth it for me.  I buy some of the new Spring scents and I light them whenever I need an extra little sense of Spring in the air!

4.  We have a large vase that sits above the mantel in our living room, and with each season, I change out the flowers that are in it.  It’s truly amazing what this can do for the feel of the house.  Fake flowers can get a little pricey for the nice looking ones, so I wait until I see a great sale and then I hit that up.  50% off at Joann’s today!  WOO HOO!  And once you have all four seasons, you can really just rotate through those instead of needing to buy more.  (I now have a bouquet for Fall, Winter, and Spring.)

5.  Open the windows and turn on the lights.  I am often times surprised when I go over to family and friends’ houses and see how so many of them keep the blinds closed and the lights off.  For me, it’s like being in a cave, and that is certainly not conducive to improving my mood!  Now, some folks like this feel, so I’m not putting that down.  But if you are like me and you can fight a bit of the seasonal depression…well, LET IN SOME LIGHT!!!  =)

6.  If you are crafty, there are all sorts of fun little projects that you can do around the home that bring a bit of Spring indoors.  Here is an example of a centerpiece that I made for our kitchen table.  I added a few flowers from the flower sale, and voila!

7.  And lastly, but certainly not leastly, Spring Cleaning!  Change out the bed linens for something more colorful, switch your fabric softener to a pretty floral scent, open up closets and clear things out, scrub scrub scrub…It’s amazing what a freshly cleaned home can do to improve your mood.  *note to self – do THIS!

And so there you have it.  The methods that I use to usher out the old and welcome in the new as Spring approaches.  Maybe you have some other ideas?  I’d LOVE to hear them!    Happy Spring everyone!!

Posted by: chradek | February 24, 2010

A Teeny Tiny Nursery

Right now, our little family lives comfortably in a 1200 sqft 3 bedroom apartment.  One room is Mike and mine’s, the second room is Henry and Helen’s, and the third room is the office.  We have really been struggling with where in this place we are going to fit a new baby!  The office really can’t be given up.  Mike needs it for work, not to mention there is SO MUCH in that room, we wouldn’t have anywhere else to put it.  So we’ve been doing some thinking and bouncing around a few ideas.

At first, I thought that we would just put a co-sleeper in our room and do our best to store any baby items there as well.  Our lease will be up when Baby is 5 months old, and we’ll be able to move to a larger home then.  But as more time has gone by, I realized that the thought of not having a little “space” to make for the baby is really bumming me out!  Now, I’m not being unreasonable either.  You really have to work with what you have.  But after some brainstorming, I think I might have a plan!

Our living room has a little “nook” in it.  Here is what the space looks like now:

It mostly houses the kids’ toys.  However, if we put the bunk beds together again in their room (providing Helen is done FALLING off of them!) then we can move this stuff into their room, no problem.  A quick move for the bookshelf to the other side of the sofa, and voila!!

The mini crib that we like is 39 inches long, so it will easily fit where the bookshelf is now, and I can put some shelving/changing table/ dresser thing where the kitchen is now.  Some new curtains and some coordinating art and we’ll have the tiniest nursery around!!

I was surprised when I was Googling “very small baby spaces” and such, that people still consider an entire ROOM to be a small space.  There wasn’t anything that I could find that showed pictures or talked about creating a nursery in the corner of a room.  Maybe I’ll be able to help someone else out down the road as I post more about this little project.  I think we even have a theme!  I finished making an adorable crib blanket today that is gender neutral and would look very nice in our living room.  I would post a pic right now, but the camera battery is charging.  So I’ll put it up soon!

Here is a pic of the crib though.  It looks like a full size one!  I love that I’ve discovered mini cribs because Henry and Helen were both out of their cribs WAAAY before they even got close to needing all of that space.  This is perfect, and even if I HAD the big room to use, I think I would still get a mini crib.  Isn’t it pretty?

So that’s the project for now.  I have more to update, but I think I’ll wait to get the camera charged.  =)

UPDATE:

I managed to get the camera battery charged enough to take a picture of the blanket I made.  The colors seem a little dim – that’s what you get for owning a big expensive camera that you don’t know how to use!!  What do you think?


Posted by: chradek | January 11, 2010

Decision Made For A Home Birth

Everyone knows that Mike and I are expecting our third baby this coming April.  With every baby, a family has to make a decision about where to have the birth and with what care givers.  In our case, we have been with The Pearl Place Midwives with the birth of both Henry and Helen.  We’ve had them at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma, and been very pleased with the level of care that we were provided with.  In Henry’s case, they were very hands off, just letting my body do what God made it to do.  I was very grateful for everyone that helped us to achieve the un-medicated birth that we had planned for.  In Helen’s case, I never went into labor.  Over a weekend, I developed a fever of 103 degrees, and a routine stress test revealed that the baby was non-responsive with a heart rate close to 200 bpm, and that my fluid levels were at a 4 (VERY low).  This made us to make the difficult decision to undergo an emergency cesarean section.  It was a good decision.

In the case of this baby, however, we are running into some big problems.  The midwives, that I love, have birthing privileges at St. Joe’s…a hospital that has jumped on the bandwagon in Washington State and has now banned VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) births.  Their reasoning is very simple.  While the risk is very small (especially when compared to other obstetrical complications), the resulting lawsuits that are allowed in this state have made it not worth it for the hospitals to allow.  This is because they do not have the ability to have an OR/emergency room staff “immediately” available vs within the regular 30 minute time frame.  Rather than risk the liability, no matter how faint the possibility, they simply ban VBACs.

This is a horrific problem.

The average cesarean can cost in excess of $30,000.  It is the number one most commonly performed elective surgery in the United States.  The cesarean rate in the US is currently at an embarrassing 32% compared to the recommended 15% (with 10% being closer to ideal), and yet we have the 21st highest infant/maternal morbidity (death) rates in the world.  The system is broken.

A cesarean section can be life-saving.  (This is rarely the case, as even life-threatening conditions are most commonly caused by hospital intervention), but it can’t be argued that a c-section is a wonderful tool when used properly.  I can personally vouch for this, as seen with our experience with Helen’s birth.  So many people have said to me that being in a hospital saved their baby’s life…but they don’t know what to say when I point out to them that their baby’s life would never have been in danger in the first place if X, Y, or Z hadn’t been done to them.

We have amazing technologies in this country, but we overuse them.

When I ask people how much their doctor’s visit cost them, their reply is always “Zero dollars!  Insurance paid it!”  This mind set completely flabbergasts me.  How can we hope to control health care costs in this country if no one even bothers to check how much things cost in the first place?  Trust me friends…you paid for it.  I paid for it.  Americans all over this country are paying for it in the form of outrageous health care premiums.  The current administration thinks that we need a public option to fix this.  Nonsense!  We need patient accountability.  If more people started finding out what a procedure cost, and then either refusing it or going elsewhere if it was too much, we would see health care costs come down in this country.  And while we are at it, how about we become educated about our own health care?  Should we simply accept everything like little babies that can’t possibly think for ourselves?  I appreciate the vast amount of knowledge/experience that my care giver provides.  However, what they say is not going to become my gospel truth.  I use them as a way to educate myself and then make my own informed decisions.

Which brings me back to the subject.  How can I believe so passionately about the sad state of affairs this country is in regarding health care, and yet then blindly subject myself to that broken system?  Should I simply schedule another cesarean, despite the fact that it is neither the safest nor most cost-effective option?  Should I allow my body to be subjected to what amounts to assault simply because I have no other option?  Should I subject myself voluntarily to a procedure that is so painful and invasive because a paper-pusher somewhere says that I have to?

No matter how many times I go around and around about this, the answer is always the same…NO.

So I have educated myself.  I have used the many resources at my disposal…obstetricians, midwives, the internet, books, personal accounts and birth stories.  I’ve taken all of this (sometimes conflicting) information and I’ve used the brain that God gave me to make an informed decision.  (BTW – if someone makes a different decision, but does so in an informed manner, I totally respect that!)  The conclusion that I’ve come to is that the only way to have the chance to achieve the birth I want (Remember that they are all different, and things do occasionally happen that are unforeseen) is to plan to have a midwife-attended home birth.

Phew!

Making a decision is like having a huge weight lifted!

But wait…insurance companies don’t insure midwives to attend home birth VBACs for the same reason that the hospitals are so afraid.  Legal retribution.  Thankfully, the midwife community is trying to fight these absurd  rules and regulations, and after many many phone calls with almost as many dead ends, I have finally found a group of midwives that are willing to interview me to determine whether I would be a good candidate for a home birth.  I will share more about this after I speak with them.

I have some hurdles to jump through first, so while I’ve made the decision, something might still prevent me from it.  But at least I’m trying.  Maybe I’m just one person that is fed up with being treated like a mindless animal by the health care community, but at least I can rest my head at night knowing that I am doing what small things are within my power to stand up and say to whomever will listen that this is wrong.

More to come later about this, but I encourage anyone that wants to debate this decision to attempt to become educated about the facts before launching out from an emotional viewpoint.  Maybe we will still come to different opinions, but we will both be able to say that we are informed decision-makers.  Now let’s change America!

Posted by: chradek | October 17, 2009

Fall Decorating and A New Addition to the Family…

I am not usually a big fan of fall.  After all, that really just heralds the end of summer.  I have always considered myself a summer girl, although I can certainly appreciate the other seasons.  However, this year has brought a change!  While I always consider October 1 the start of the holiday season, (and hence reason enough to put up decorations!)  I have found myself genuinely enjoying this time of year.

So when the beginning of the month came around, I changed out the seasonal flowers we keep in the vase on the mantel, put on a nice festive tablecloth, added a centerpiece of pumpkins and flowers, and even bought the most luxurious candles from Bath & Body Works called Autumn Leaves and Autumn Berries.  (They make the house smell so good!)

Last night, we finished decorating outside our front door.  Now, we live in an apartment, but I say that’s no reason to be a grinch!  BOO!!

Our Festive Front Door

Our Festive Front Door

Another View of the Front Door

Another View of the Front Door

Pumpkins!  (Mike hasn't carved his yet...)

Pumpkins! (Mike hasn't carved his yet...)

So that was fun, and Mike comments every day when he comes home that its so nice to have a seasonally decorated home.  I feel like such a success when I hear that!

In other news, we have a new member of the family!  (And no, I’m not talking about a human being!!)  In fact, I am talking about a vacuum cleaner.  How can I be so enamored of a simple household device?  Oh yea of little experience…let me show you the light!  We’ve had our Eureka for about 10 years now.  My Dad and Step-Mom got it for us after they came over and say that our carpets were dirty.  *shame-face*  It has done a pretty good job, but its getting older and can’t really keep up with a family of four.

We’ve been doing a lot of research, thinking that we would most likely end up with a Dyson.  I mean, they’re supposed to be so great, right?  Surprisingly, the reviews were not exactly glowing.  What we did find was that a lot of people claimed the new Hoover series to be much better.  Even the guy at Bed, Bath & Beyond that was supposed to be selling Dysons told us to get a Hoover.  And at $299 compared to $399 and higher, it sounded like a good idea to me!

Our New Hoover

Our New Hoover

So today we decided was the big day!  The carpets are getting cleaned soon, and we thought it would be nice to have a better vacuum on hand.  I brought this baby home, and let me tell you…Its love!  This amazing machine even has a dirty/clean indicator light that I honestly expected to be a little gimicky.  I was so wrong!  Its amazing!!  It took me about an HOUR to get my dining room and living to show as “clean” on the indicator, and I just vacuumed with my old machine last night!  Check out what this bad boy got out of my carpets in just those two areas:

Dirt!

Dirt!

I cannot say enough good things about this vacuum.  I want to go over and clean my friends’ houses and convert them!  All I can do is show it the love it deserves:

Showing Some Love

Showing Some Love

I have more cleaning to do now…  =)

Posted by: chradek | October 15, 2009

The First Pics of the New Baby!

I have been soo lax in posting here, as I seem to think that there are other more important things to do.  But no more!  I love following the blogs of our friends, and so I hope that by updating here more, we can reciprocate.

I had my first Ultrasound on October 1, and here are the pics!

Traditional 2D US picture of Baby number 3!

Traditional 2D US picture of Baby number 3!

I love the ultrasound technician.  Her name is Theresa, and she has always gone the extra mile to give us great pictures.  She switched over to 4D and here are some of the pictures from that:

4D!

4D!

4D!

4D!

That’s allo I have time for right now – we’re gonna go pick Mike up from work so we can spend an extra hour together.  Yay!

Posted by: chradek | August 9, 2009

Our 7 Year Wedding Anniversary

August 3, 2009 marked the passage of seven years of wedded…well, if bliss isn’t ALWAYS the right word, it comes close on a lot of days!  Mike and I are very blessed to have such a strong marriage even after all of this time.  In fact, this November will mark the completion of our 13th year together.  WOW! Time has flown by, and we have experienced many major changes in our lives over the years together.  There isn’t anyone else that I would want to walk through life with than my beloved husband Mike.

Because the actual day fell on a Monday, we decided to celebrate on Saturday, the 1st.  Imagine my surprise when I came home from grocery shopping on Friday to find flowers had been delivered!!

Mike bought me flowers!

Mike bought me flowers!

He later told me that he wanted to make certain that they would be delivered on time, so he ordered them early.  What a thoughtful husband I have!

Mike’s mom and sister came over on Saturday just before 6:00pm in order to watch the kids for us while we went out for a special date.  The little ones get so excited to have them over!  Before we left, we asked Joanna to snap a few pictures for us.

All Dressed up!

All Dressed up!

And of course, once we started taking pictures, Henry just had to get in on the deal.  We thought it would be an excellent chance for us to get a picture of the whole family.  We only have one other and that was from the pumpkin patch last year.  Yikes!

The Whole Hradek Clan!

The Whole Hradek Clan!

Once we left, Mike was such a gentleman – opening the doors and being so considerate.  He can be quite charming when he puts his mind to it!  We weren’t sure where we wanted to go, but we thought that dinner and a movie sounded good.  When we were just dating, we used to visit The Keg in Puyallup a lot (because the cheesecake was to die for), so we thought that it would be fun to go there and reflect on how things have changed in our lives since then.  But we got there and found that it had been turned into a Black Angus.  Boo!!  And then it hit me…Mike wants a good steak house, right?  Then Ruth’s Chris it is.  Off we went to Bellevue.

We have never been to Ruth’s Chris, as the pricing had always been a bit daunting to us.  But we are in a better position now, and it WAS a special occasion.  Let’s just say that we were not disappointed.  Their food, the atmosphere, the service…everything was wonderful.  Because we didn’t order alcoholic drinks, our tab came in at $130 ($108 plus tip) and I think that for a fancy-shmancy dinner, that’s pretty good.  I had the stuffed chicken, mashed potatoes and salad, while Mike enjoyed a steak, salad, and potatoes au gratin.  Fantastic meal!  It was so delicious!  For dessert, we each had a plate of berries and cream.  It was absolutely luxurious, and we had to have a little laugh at our own silliness when the waiter cam by and asked if we didn’t like the chocolate cups.  “You mean to tell me that the cups that the berries came in are made of chocolate?  We thought it was metal!” Silly Mike and Crystal – we don’t get out often enough I guess!

Once the meal was over, we felt that it was really too late to go to a movie.  We didn’t want to wear out our wonderful babysitters.  So we meandered our way home and got there just after 10:00pm.  Our kids were both asleep, tuckered out from the fun that they had.

It was a wonderfully memorable night, and we both had a wonderful time.  Happy Anniversary Honey!

Posted by: chradek | August 7, 2009

A Special Post Just for Mike!

Baby #3!

Dearest,

I’m sorry that I’ve been a bit crabby…and maybe even a little “off” this last week.  You’ve even noticed it.  I haven’t been able to sleep, all of my energy seems to have vanished overnight, and just the thought of food is making me sick.  Actually, yesterday I realized that I’ve felt this way before.

TWICE before, actually…

Remember that conversation that we have all of the time about whether or not we will have any more kids?  We debate back and forth the various benefits and challenges.  We love having little ones around the house because they keep you laughing when you least expect it.  Tonight, Nana asked Henry if he could fly.  Henry said no because the sky and the moon get in his way.  And Helen has just learned how to give kisses and hugs.

They are precious.

You come from a small family, so having a large one contains its appeals for you.  A big family now means an even bigger one some day.  We even got a prophetic word once that we would have three children!  However, there are certainly challenegs to increasing our family.  Our car only seats four, we want to go on vaction next year, its hard to find a babysitter for more than one child…but these are all surmountable  obstacles, right?  I certainly hope that you think so…

Baby #3!

The second pink lines are very faint, (you can hardly see them in this picture) but these both show positive results!  The pregnancy hormone hCG has to be present in order for ANY second line to appear,  no matter how light or dark it appears.

Ok…take a deep breath.

All of those emotions you are feeling?  Excitement, fear, amazement, wonder, worry, love, and more?  It’s all mixing with a racing heart and a queasy stomach?  I know!  I spent all of yesterday in shock.  And now today I am slowly starting to settle in to the thought.  But it will take us BOTH a while to adjust.  We thankfully have a whole 9 months to do that.  Nothing is for absolute certain yet, so I would like to keep this to ourselves for a little bit, get used to the idea a little more.

But I know one thing for certain right now.  We have a WONDERFUL family and we are very, very blessed.  A new baby is going to turn our lives upside down – but bring so much joy into our world that we will hardly be able to contain it all.  I’m nervous for sure.  But I’m really happy!  We’ve done it again Mikey!  God always gets His way in the end!

I love you!

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