Barely Afloat

I am pretty sure there is little else I can put on my shoulders right now, on my metaphoric plate of life. Literally, one more thing may cause me to topple over and explode – turn to dust, ash, disintegrate. And at this point, maybe that would be better.

In the last few months, I have developed what my therapist is calling Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. If you don’t know what that means, it means I am reluctant to leave my house – which is affecting my work attendance. By not attending work, affects our finances, as the only person making steady income to support our bills. Which means, we are very very behind on every bill we owe, including rent. A contributor to the reluctance to go to work is Kim’s health has been on the fritz lately, and I know I have discussed it here before.

She was having trouble walking, stumbling around, losing function in both her legs and her arms. She was becoming clumsy, dropping everything, the grip in her hands were gone. She was finding it difficult to see, focus on anything in her vision. She couldn’t hold our kid. She couldn’t help take care of her and it made me nervous to leave the house and leave the two of them without proper support.

It was starting to scare the shit out of me. Every doctor we went to see sent us to a new doctor, racking up more and more debt that we don’t have money for. When we Googled it, which remind me again, not to do that, I know – I know – we found that all the symptoms really pointed to something neurological, Multiple Sclerosis to be exact.

However, what we found out instead was Kim had developed Lithium poisoning. And Lithium poisoning is no joke. It can mess up a ton of things in the body and affects the body much like other neurological disorders.

We found out that due to her bipolar medication, Lithium, in three months, her kidney function was cut in half. She was being poisoned by the medication that was supposed to help her. This contributed to the symptoms that we originally were concerned may have been multiple sclerosis. The neurologist had her Lithium levels checked and they were well beyond a safe range and the psychiatrist took her off the medication for a bit.

So, while, currently we are seeing some improvement since she has been taken off it, she is still experiencing some of the symptoms on a smaller scale – like her hands still shake, but she is at least able to sign her name somewhat legible now. And, we are happy to know that she doesn’t have MS, but instead she was being poisoned.

**Which I know sounds terrible, perhaps even the same kind of terrible, but at least it’s been caught and likely reversible! I am trying to look on the bright side here!**

After the last three months of craziness with Kim’s health and my concern for leaving her alone with Punky, I wasn’t going to work and was focusing on taking care of things at home. What does that mean? It means we are so far behind in our bills and finances that we have to move out of our apartment and go live with Kim’s mom in their basement. Yes. We will be basement dwellers with a two year old. I’m so very not pleased about this, mostly because I feel like such a damn failure as a person, a partner, and a mother.

I’m 30 years old and we are going to pack all our things and go live with her parents. It continues to sadden me. I am so grateful that we have this option and we aren’t instead on the street somewhere, but it’s really a very humbling experience to know you can’t support your family or your kid the way you want to. I am still very grateful to have the support of her family around us right now when things are so out of whack mentally and physically with both of us. We both decided to break at the same time!

I’m also disappointed in myself that I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for so long that I broke our finances and was no longer able to be counted on to be a provider for our family. So while this is not the most ideal situation I would want us to be in, we will have more support from Kim’s parents while she is on the mend from her ordeal medically and I will be feeling more confident in leaving them alone – so that I can go back to work and start making money again.

Luckily for us, and one of the prouder moments of my last few months, Miss Punky isn’t the wiser of what’s going on. Its always my concern that she will never knew the struggles we go through – not like I did when I was growing up.

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Instead she doesn’t know what’s going on, but she’s still going to school, which we have had trouble paying the tuition on, but I just can’t let it go, yet. And she’s making friends and her teachers say she has really come out of her shell a lot! How in the world do I take that away from her!?

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She’s interacting, exploring and overall thriving in her toddler-age and that is something I am most excited about. So even though we have some troubles right now, the bright light of our life is always Punky, even when she’s driving me nuts – with whining and tantrums – a little hug or cuddle and my heart is unburdened a little and my spirit is uplifted just a bit more.

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We are in the process of packing up our belongings and finding a storage place to keep them for maybe 6 months or so, hopefully by then we will be back on our feet and house hunting. Rental houses, but house hunting nonetheless. I really don’t want to live in an apartment again. I would love to have Punky living in a house with a yard, where she can grow and thrive and play. And … maybe get that puppy she’s been asking for, thanks to her Mama’s suggestions!

So, while we are not really on the path I would like to be on for our future, it will only be for a small bit, a little while and in the end, the goal is to be better than we were to start with. Hopefully. Here’s to a big hope. So while this post may be full of what I feel like is overwhelming depression, we are wading in a pool of uncertainty, I’m not even sure where to begin – the future is in sight, the goal for better things is in our minds, but it sure does feel like a long way away!

Maybe Miss Punky will keep our spirits light by learning to play the piano! Or … just banging on the keys of the piano she discovered at Papaw’s house.

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22/52 – Father’s Day and Water Play

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This pretty girl has declared recently “I not a baby anymore!”

Which, neither of are really sure what that means, to Punky, but we know what it means to her mothers.

We aren’t supposed to sing songs for her, she will do it. We aren’t supposed to help her dance. She will do it. We can’t help her put her socks on, Punky will do it. Moms are allowed to take her shoes off for her, she’s got it.

We also can’t make presents for her Papa/Uncle Day without her assistance. So, she got to put the presents for her uncles and papa in their bags and stuff the paper in as well. This year they all got custom chocolate Hershey’s bars. Mommy made the wrong dimensions and we had to improvise, but it was still cute!

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For her Bubba (godfather) we made him a Moonpie Tower, because he loves Moonpies and of course was over the moon to have them! But of course, we had to try them before we made the tower!

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Papa got a T-Shirt with this ironed on it and it was a pretty awesome hit! Immediately worn when unwrapped, which is pretty much every year, since Papa gets a new shirt every year! Suppose it’s better than a tie!!

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Overall, Papa/Uncle Day was a pretty good success. After the festivities of presents and BBQ, it was time for the kids to get in the pool for some water play and swimming. Punky is really loving the water right now. Its great that her preschool has water play on Tuesdays as well, so they have her bring her swimsuit and they explore different water type activities, this week it was running through the sprinklers.

So, she loves her goggles and swimming at Grammy and Papa’s house, so they spent the afternoon browning in the sunlight – and swimming up and down the pool.

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And at the end of the day, Papa/Uncle Day wore out my kiddo and her Mama! This is by far one of my most favorite pictures ever!!

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Father’s Day In Preschool When There’s No Dad

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Father’s Day is Sunday. I read about how other people handled Father’s Day in their own lesbian homes and everyone is a little different. Some people are celebrating their day by giving Father’s Day to their partner, while they have Mother’s Day. Or others who don’t celebrate at all. Or some who explain what it is, but just that other people celebrate. And then there are some like our family.

We celebrate the men in Punky’s life. It’s lovingly referred to as “Papa/Uncle Day” and its a super special time. It really does keep in our minds how lucky Punky is. How loved she is and how many male role models she has in her life.

And then there are days like yesterday that squash the ideas and my happy little bubble.

I picked up Punky from school and she had painted a tie picture for Father’s Day. When her teacher handed it to me, I smiled and said thank you. It was super cute and when I picked Punky up in my arms and asked what she made she replied with:

“I made it for Daddy.”

Insert stomach drop here. Heart sinking feeling. Disappointment washed over me.

“Can we give it to Papa, sweetie? You don’t have a Daddy, but you do have a Papa!” I suggested an alternative and tried my best to curb my anger at the tone of my voice.

This whole thing had put me in an awkward position. I was having to vocally tell my two year old she doesn’t have a Daddy. And why? Because all day, or at least while they were painting, the teachers (who know she has two moms) were repeating over and over, what I am sure they thought was a simple and non-offensive phrase, “Let’s make a present for Daddy.” 

I am absolutely sure this shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is to me. I am extra sensitive right now – I have noticed, with all the stress of Kim’s health and how that has effected us in regards to childcare, finances and just daily life – I’m pretty snappy.

I didn’t bring it up to her teacher at the time and I probably won’t, because by the time she goes back to school, Father’s Day will be over and it won’t matter. It will be a whole year before we have to deal (wishful thinking here) with the whole Daddy thing again. The only reason we are dealing with it right now is because of the holiday that is coming up.

Kim tried to get me to logically see that this wasn’t an issue. It’s Father’s Day. They didn’t think about. Blah Blah Blah. But, its not just Punky who doesn’t have a father. I mean there are plenty of kids who don’t have dads in their lives. They have deadbeat dads, actual dead dads, or any number of other types of families. I just felt like they should have been more vigilant in their wording.

We have a specific way we refer to her donor, and it’s not Daddy. She’s only met her donor once, before she could actually remember meeting him. She doesn’t know what it means to have a donor, she’s fucking two. But, the last thing I want to have to do – is try and explain to a two year old what a Daddy is and why she doesn’t have one and other people do.

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Its probably just because I’m in a funk, and its effecting me more than I should let it. More than it really needs to. But, the last thing I ever want Punky to feel is “left out” – especially on a holiday that the freaking whole nation celebrates in some way. Which is why we came up with Papa/Uncle Day. It’s her way to giving presents still and celebrating the holiday without having to discuss “Father’s Day”.

So, I guess for now, its not as big a deal as I wanted to make it and I am not going to freak out on the teacher. But, it does remind me that our family is different and it also reminded me that people don’t really take into consideration that my child may need different things when it comes to holidays.

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There are a ton of Christian people who ask why atheists get so ‘uptight’ about their religion being taught in public schools or religion being brought up outside of the church. It’s the same concept as what I’m talking about in regards to Father’s Day.

Not everyone celebrates the same. Not everyone believes the same. And while, I have no problem with my daughter being exposed to other things and I’m not asking that Father’s Day be banned from school – I am asking that we take into consideration that one phrase or one belief is not depicted as the only way or the RIGHT way to say the phrase or believe the belief.

When I heard her say “I made for Daddy.” it was a definitive phrase, like there was no one else that tie painting could be for. Like she wasn’t given any other choices. But she has other choices. So, instead of narrowing the field and bringing on just one word in regards to the holiday, expose kids to differences, let them explore and learn different ways to celebrate, include everyone’s beliefs and everyone’s version of the holiday.

So, just like religion being introduced to my kid. I am not upset that she was exposed to “Daddy”. I am upset she wasn’t given another option to consider. Just the same for church. I don’t care if you talk to my kid about Jesus or God. I don’t care if she’s exposed to it, I want her to be able to explore on her own – but I also want her to be given the choice to explore more than just the one choice and be told it’s the only choice there is.

Because in the end, there’s just not one right way in any subject, its all perception and circumstances. She needs to be able to make up her own mind. And, yes, she’s only 2 so this is a little deep and a little heavy for me to be thinking about – but damnit, it really bothered me.

Now, I need to figure out a better way to head this off before it becomes an issue when she’s older, when it may actually effect her in a real negative way.

21/52: Tired, Stressed Out and Broke – These Are The Days Of Our Lives

With each passing day, I’m starting to feel like we are drowning just a little further into the abyss of stress. The full weight is felt on my shoulders, crushing me to the brink of insanity.

Miss Punky has become increasingly more contrary. She’s less than polite lately – almost as if she’s completely forgotten the words “Please” and “Thank You”. She’s up at all hours of the night again, she woke me up at 3AM, 5AM, and then at 7AM. She hadn’t had a BM for three days and was running a 103 temperature yesterday, so silly me, I got up each time.

All she wanted was cuddles and few minutes of rocking before she was out again. But, she screamed like she was in pain. She was crying like she was scared. She broke my heart in a way she hadn’t when she was little and we did the crying it out to start – and believe me, standing outside the closed door while your baby is ‘crying it out’ is its own kind of heartbreak!

We are the type of parents who lay her down in her room, give kisses/hugs/I love yous and when the door is shut, for the most part, unless she’s sick, we don’t open the door. It’s the best way we were able to train her to sleep and it really helped all of us get more sleep when she was an infant. (And I credit crying it out to our little one being a champion sleeper) Suddenly, she’s less of a champion and I’m more of a coddler as she gets older!

With all the health stuff going on with Kim – we just really decided that perhaps potty training isn’t going to happen right now. We tried for a day and a half, but seriously, it wasn’t going as I would have liked. Punky is interested, she loves wearing panties and she loves getting stickers for her chart.

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But, we can’t be consistent right now. Its another stressor on Kim and I that we just can’t handle any more on our plates. So, for now, we wait. We continue with pull-ups and helping her be vocal on the need and want to go potty.

I’m starting to feel like we are “less than” parents though. She’s so interested and she really is taking it to it when prompted. We just … our routine is off, our days are off. I’m taking off work more than normal to take Kim to doctor’s appointments or to take care of Punky when Kim is feeling less than able to care for her. Kim and Punky spend more time than normal outside of our house, at my mother-in-law’s house which isn’t our house which can make potty training difficult right now.

Until we get all the tests run and figure out everything we need to figure out for Kim, health-wise, we just don’t need to take on something else. Even if I sometimes feel like we are delaying Punky’s development somehow.

My therapist says we need some time. We need more support. My therapist is telling me that I need more support. We aren’t really the type of people to ask someone to take our kid for a day or a weekend. Ugh.

This last few weeks have been tough. Someone suggested that I blog the good, the bad, the not too ugly – so well, I’m doing that. Its depressing, complaining and overly not cute at all! I just hope with the doctor’s appointments we have tomorrow and next week will help us sort out what we are looking at with Kim’s health.

Then maybe some of this stress will go away and we will dig ourselves out of this hole and float to the top of this ocean I’m drowning in right now!

Just wish us luck, send us some positive thoughts, calming vibes, whatever to help my nerves be less shot and my attitude be less than snarky!

Off to the Potty Races!

Punky has been vocally more interested in telling us that she is “poopy” or “I hafta pee” in the last few months. I have been hesitant on the potty training front before because we don’t have a washer and dryer in our apartment and it is just going to be a mess. I’m sure of it.

However, everything I keep reading says when your child is ready, things will fall in place. And just like when we used to think “we need to wait until we are ready to have a baby”, I thought, “I need to wait until we are ready to potty train.”

Except … when is any first time parent really READY to potty train. I mean seriously? There’s never going to be a ‘perfect time’ to potty train.

With Kim’s health right now, still uncertain and very much up in the air, I have been increasingly more hesitant to potty train Miss Punky – but as kids around her age are starting to potty train and little girls in the family are starting to have potty charts and such, I figure, now is as good a time as any to get started.

Tomorrow morning, we wear panties. Big girl panties. I bought some when she started school a few months ago, and she has worn them over her pull-ups, but she’s never actually worn them alone.

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She’s been able to communicate so much better lately, she’s speaking in full (semi-coherent when she’s not whining) sentences and singing up a storm. Just this afternoon, I caught her singing a choppy version of her ABCs and it was pretty much, give or take a few letters, on tune and in order. Miss Punky can also count to 10! Its just awesome how much she has blossomed in just a few months from her second birthday.

I’m hearing more and more “I do it!” when it comes to get dressed and undressed. So, Kim has to keep reminding me to let her do it and she will come to me when she wants help. Even when she tries to put her head in the head hole of her shirt instead of the bottom of the shirt first. It’s just nuts to watch the trial and error and the extreme frustration that comes with learning basic skills we adults take for granted.

In other news, Kim has a neurologist appointment on the 20th. Fingers crossed that her ailments aren’t something severe. for a 31 year old woman, she’s falling apart, my love is breaking down and we could all use a few positive vibes (and if you are my mama, prayers in lieu of positive thoughts) sent our way for healthy results to the next few weeks and less stress on me!

In even more news, state by state is knocking down their bans on gay marriage, congratulations to Wisconsin. I sure can’t wait until Missouri makes it that far, but of course, I won’t hold my breath. I am sure we will be the last belle to arrive at the ball! Instead, I have been putting my creativity to use, making super cute bridal shower invitations for lesbian weddings. I’m so excited about the new line int he shop.

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I’ve just been super busy in the shop coming up with new ideas and of course, I am always looking for new themes and ideas!

In the meantime, I’m all ears for tips and tricks on potty training a toddler, a two year old girl to be more specific!! Give me a shout, I could use a little words of encouragement to keep my sanity in check this coming week, for more reasons than just the potty training!

Think Before You Speak – Questions That Erk Me

In honor of Mombian’s 9th annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families, I am writing up a post I have been meaning to write for some time now. As always, my goal of this blog is not only to document our lives and the growing up of our Punky Monster, but also to get the point across that we are just like everyone else.

Yes. We are atheists.

Yes. We are lesbians.

And Yes. Our daughter is still healthy, loved, and nurtured.

So, I wanted to pick apart the questions I get asked pretty regularly. I’m an open book. I have always been an open book.

**See Unconventional Conception if you don’t believe me! I tell that story – in person, without hesitation to anyone who might be curious enough to get into the gritty details of our conception story. (You’d be surprised how many people want to know the details and then regret it when they learn them!)**

Which means that I answer cordially pretty much any question about our family, our parenting styles, our religion, or our lives in general without much hesitation. That doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed by the frequent questions that are bordering on over the line, I may not voice it, but perhaps, there might be some tact that people could exercise before asking these types of questions.

1. Who’s Mom?

Look, I try real hard not to make this awkward. It always ends up poorly. The very definition of ‘lesbian mom’ means the kid has TWO moms. I also attempt to really think about the fact that its probably really intended to be “Who carried your daughter?” which may be a valid question, it’s still presumptuous that the mom who carried Punky is her “real mother”, which is not the case.

No matter the law, no matter the tradition or the ideals of the world around us, we are always both her mothers.

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2. Does She Look Like Her Dad?

Well, again, I will define “lesbian mom”. Two moms. No dad. I mean, I know there are plenty of lesbian moms and families with two moms that do have contact with their donors. The donors are called all sorts of things, including Dad or Father in some family dynamics.

But, we really shouldn’t assume that. For my own family, we have contact with our daughter’s donor. He is and always will be a very special man in our life. We aren’t super close, in that we visit or hang out regularly, we don’t even talk on the phone or text message in regular intervals, but he will always have given us a gift we can’t ever thank him enough for.

He is still … not her dad. To most people it seems harmless, it seems like its no biggie, a slip up, not offensive. But … it is offensive. To my partner, to my daughter. It overshadows the very definition of my daughter’s family dynamic. The family she knows.

He’s wasn’t there holding my legs as I was pushing her out of a small hole. He wasn’t up with her at 3AM singing a made up lullaby in those first few weeks, so I could get a little sleep. He’s not catching her as she jumps without warning towards his arms. That’s Kim. And much more.

Basically, while it may seem harmless, it confuses my kid and I anticipate it will confuse her more as she starts to understand that some kids have dads and she doesn’t. When she really notices that she her family is different from others. Do me a favor. Its already going to be a weird conversation for me to have with my kid, don’t confuse her more.

(And if you ask anyone, she really does look just like me. I got myself pregnant is the joke around our family and friends!)

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3. Aren’t You Worried About Her Not Having A Father Around?

You know, I had a dad around. I still have a dad around. I love him to pieces, but he hasn’t always been the stand up dad that traditional June Cleavers are married to. Frankly, my dad has helped mess me up and I’m still in therapy working through the issues I have because of actions, a result of emotional distress in my childhood from having a father.

Do I think having a father is a bad thing? No.

But, do I think Punky absolutely has to have a father? Absolutely not.

We have discussed it before – Punky has more role models than a little girl could possibly had! She has one hell of a godfather in her life, who loves her to bits, like his own kid I would surmise. He is already planning on taking her hunting (which I will probably fight when the time comes), fishing, and teaching her how to do things with cars.

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I have no doubt my brothers will teach her all about comic books, video games, badass underground, never discovered local bands, and how to take the perfect picture of her poop (yes, that’s a thing).

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Kim’s brother is sure to bring a culture of motorcycles, tattoos and fast cars.

I know her grandpas have a wealth of knowledge in work ethic, humor and silliness, and overall doting and caring for her.

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And all the men in her life are sure to teach her how a man is supposed to treat a lady and she will be able to raise any man she dates to the standards they set in her eyes for her future mate. And should she, (personally, I hope not) be a lesbian, she will learn how to treat a lady right as well.

4.  Isn’t Punky Confused About What To Call You?

Okay, so this is a valid question. However, there is a much tactful way to ask it. Perhaps something like, “What does she call you? What does she call her other mother?” I have been asked, “Who’s Mama, Who’s Mommy?” That’s also acceptable. Some lesbian families have all sorts of different ways we help our kids distinguish between two moms.

We decided to sort of guide her in the process of picking a name, but not choosing the name for either of us. She just settled into Mommy for me and Mama for Kim. Both of which we are thrilled with. She’s not confused, because she doesn’t know anything other than having two moms and calling us what she calls us.

Its normal to her, no confusion – thanks for asking!

5. Isn’t It A Concern That She Will Be Teased Growing Up?

This is a very good thing to be concerned about. I don’t know if all lesbian or gay parents are worried about this. I know I was. I still am. I have been concerned – sometimes that we actively thought to have a child, in a world where having gay parents, being gay in general isn’t completely accepted (check out the states still banning gay marriage, HELLO MISSOURI.)

And then I remember that there are several states striking down the bans on gay marriage and it means that acceptance and tolerance is coming around. I put into perspective that Punky is only 2, she’s in preschool, where kids don’t care if she has two moms, her teachers are incredibly supportive and all my mommy friends want to meet Kim and if she wasn’t agoraphobic, they would with no issues.

So in the end, by the time she is school, real school, my hope is that kids will be taught about love and acceptance. That their kids will taught by parents the different ways to make a family, the different kinds of parents and family dynamics out there.

I am getting less worried and more optimistic. This question is a well meaning question, but it can be seen as presumptuous. It could be interpreted by some that you think I’m selfish for ‘daring to bring a child into an intolerant world, just to get bullied.’ I’m sure that’s not the intent, but it sure can be misconstrued.

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These are my five pet peeve questions. I will always answer them, and they aren’t altogether offensive. But when I answer them everyone is then made to feel awkward. I’m uncomfortable, the person asking is uncomfortable because they made some ill-conceived, usually well intentioned faux pas.

So in the end, I’m more annoyed by the uncomfortable air around the question and the answers and the awkwardness that ensues around the whole thing.

Think before you speak, think about how your words may be interpreted. I won’t ever say out loud that your questions are offensive, stupid, or hurtful – but rest assured, I’m probably thinking it.

20/52 – And the Busiest Week Ever

Ugh. I have been a terrible blogger this last week. Of course, I did have my 30th birthday weekend and it was awesome.

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I worked on Memorial Day, which consisted of me sitting at my desk, working on this little pretty!

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Its a “Smash Book” which is like a scrapbook, but in so many ways, it is not a scrapbook. I have been putting all our trip pictures in the book and it has been awesome. You can journal and you can stack pictures on top of each other. Its like an art journal and I love it. An “unscrapbook” if you will. I got it for my birthday on my trip and it’s been fantastic to put together.

And then I was helping plan a very special first birthday party for one of my friends’ kids. It was a vintage circus theme and it was pretty darn awesome.

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We are dealing with some concerning health problems with Kim, this time not mental by physical – we have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday, so more to come on that, I guess. Its been a little stressful here in our house.

Bills piling up, sickness, and looking for a new place to live. I just think we need something new. A new change, something to get us back on track. I’ve been stressed to the max the last week or so, which is likely why I haven’t really done much blogging, because I just don’t have a lot of ‘nice’ things to say.

And then I remember, we get through every storm and while we may be battered and torn, we are not broken. We will get through it in one piece, even if there are chips and scratches along the surface.

Miss Punky is loving school and loving swimming! Right now, the pool has been her most favorite thing. Her Grammy has a small pool in their backyard and thank goodness this kid doesn’t burn like her Mommy. She is developing quite the little tan lines, even with the 100 proof sunscreen I slather on her! These goggles get me every time!

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Friday and Saturday, I think she may have gotten a little too much sun and she was running a fever and extra cuddly. Which, I don’t mind, the cuddling part, but it sure makes me sad with my Punky is sickly.

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If you don’t know what “Fever Bugs” are or you haven’t seen me mention them before, I swear by them! Great for infants, but Punky is also too wiggly for a thermometer and far too impatient. She picks the bug, knows it stays on her head and Mommy can check it anytime she needs to up to 48 hours as long as it doesn’t get pulled off or wet. You can order them online or go to Walgreens, its the only place I have found them in a retail store.

All my Must-Have mommy items for those of you who are expecting or TTC’ing. Total lifesavers and if I was coming to your baby shower you would get one!

 

She was better by the time we made it to the party yesterday, full of sugar highs and bubbles. We had a great time yesterday and while I am not going to work today, for other health reasons related to Kim, we had a pretty good weekend.

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Next major event will be Papa/Uncle Day. I’m still trying to figure out what I will be doing for that, but we will surely have a great big celebration of all the great and wonderful men in Punky’s life!