Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Saying Goodbye

I hate goodbyes--I'm not good with them and would just assume never having to deal with them (but don't we all?). Today is a very bittersweet day for my family and me; today is the day we leave our home in Kansas to set out on a new adventure in Colorado.

Moving to Colorado is something that Brandon and I have been talking about since we first started dating--Brandon had only been to my home state a few times before meeting me and fell more and more in love with it each time we went back to visit my family. We knew from the start that it would be our home one day.

Today is that day.
I treated Brandon to the "real Denver experience" (that is not a marijuana reference, I promise) for his 25th birthday--we visited Red Rocks, the Botanic Gardens, and Casa Bonita (of course!).
Moving to my favorite city really is a dream come true for me--I'm so excited to take Jackson around to all of my favorite childhood spots: the Denver Children's Museum, Butterfly Pavilion, State Capitol, Denver Zoo, Washington Park.. I can't wait! But all of this comes at a price: leaving the place I've called home for the last 3 1/2 years.

When I first moved to Hays in August of 2010, I wasn't a happy person; in fact, there weren't many aspects of my life that I was happy with. I was actually on the verge of dropping out of college when my mom suggested checking out other schools--that's when I found Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. My mom is originally from Kansas, so I was familiar with Hays--it was the town with the Applebee's (that I would eventually work at) and two-story KFC.

Come to find out, there was a lot more to it.

Hays is..

..where I really learned my craft: journalism and marketing

..where I first tried whiskey (I'll save those stories for another time..)

..where I pulled way too many all nighters

..where I decided that anything Grunge was my jam

..where I grew out my bangs (which only took 21 years)

..where I made some of my best friends

..where I started this blog

..where I had my first "real" job (pertaining to my field)

..where I found my sisters in Christ

..where I met and married my husband

..where my son was born

..where I found myself
Not pictured: Miss Mary
I will never forget my time here in Hays--these have been the best years of my life and I am so thankful for all of the experiences I have had and for all of the friends I have made. Thank you to everyone who had any part in my Hays adventure--you helped make me the person I am today and for that I am grateful. 

It's time to close this chapter in my life and open the next. 

Stay tuned for the new adventures of Brandon, Annie, Jackson, & Bitsy--we're just getting started!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jackson's One Month Update!

My baby is one month old already?! I don't like this at all!

I love watching our little guy grow and learn more and more each day, but I hate how quickly the time is going.

This has definitely been quite the month for Jax, Mom, & Dad--not only are we getting into the new baby/family of 3 groove, but we're preparing for a huge move out of state next week! Side note: Since we'll be moving into a smaller (albeit gorgeous!) apartment just outside of Denver, we've been having to downsize and sell several items--with that being said, we are selling a 1920s Brunswick record player that you should buy.. it would look great in your dining room! Our days are filled with cuddling, playing, sleeping, and packing--I wouldn't change it for the world!

Here's our little guy!
He wasn't having this photo shoot one bit.
"Why would you put me down, mom?!"
Weight: 6 lbs, 10 oz. (taken at his 3 week checkup on 1/10--he's gained over a pound since leaving the hospital!)

Length: 19 3/4 inches (also from 3 week checkup)

Nicknames: Jax, Jack (what my parents call him), Bubby, Bebe, Baby, Little Boy

Wearing: Newborn size fits perfectly right now--he also wears a lot of 0-3 outfits/onesies (his legs aren't quite long enough to reach the bottom but he always looks warm, comfy, and content so we'll keep wearing them!).

Sleep: He's a pretty good napper (I can usually just set him on his Boppy during the day and he'll sleep 1-2 stretches, wake up to play and eat, and then take another nap) but nighttime is rough.. this boy wants to be held and cuddled all the time! We are finally starting to get somewhat of a nighttime routine down (more sleep for mom & dad = good for everyone) but the first few weeks were rough.

We may just be the only parents in the world who have a baby who hates their Rock & Play Sleeper..

Jax likes: Eating, playing on his mat, cuddling, "Big Chicken", having books read to him, bathtime, when mommy "gets" (nibbles on) his tummy, kisses, looking around, toys that play music, sleeping in the car, jabbering, "guy time" with dad.

Jax dislikes: Dirty diapers, being changed out of his dirty diaper, being naked, being hungry, his car seat, sleeping alone, being left alone for too long, loud noises, being constipated, being burped.

Mom & Dad's Favorite Things: His jabbers, the cute noises he always makes, his "Mac & Me" face, those cheeks, his sweet demeanor, the infamous cackle, all of his hair, his facial expressions, the way he smacks his lips when he's hungry.

~Jackson is SUCH a gabby little guy--he is always jabbering, cackling, or making some sort cute little noise! A social, chatty baby? I wonder where he gets that (since Brandon & I are both so quiet and soft spoken.. Ha)?

~I can't believe how strong this boy is! He's been lifting his head since arriving home from the hospital and has been rolling over (from stomach to back) since he was about a week old (he's done it several times now so it wasn't just a one time fluke).

~Jackson loves to eat--he typically nurses anywhere from a half hour to three hours (which wreaked havoc on mom at first but I'm starting to get used to it.. plus, I discovered that I can just nurse him in his Ergo while I do chores/pack). Our newborn photographer, Andrea Rodger, even made a comment about how she's never seen such a little baby eat so much!

~He has been so bright eyed and curious since he was firstborn--I love watching him explore the world around him!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Save Moolah with CampusBookRentals.com

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post but the opinions are my own and never influenced by the company.

My (almost) one month old has more money than me.

No joke.

Jackson is very, very lucky to have such generous family and friends who have sent so many thoughtful cards, cute outfits, beautiful gifts, and money for his savings account (AKA "the college fund"). As I was depositing his money the other day, I couldn't help but think of the high (and always rising) cost of college and what it will be like in 2031, when Jax begins school at Yale. "Well, the money I just deposited should cover at least half a textbook.." I thought to myself.
Jax's High School Graduation Pic
But then I remembered my friends at CampusBookRentals.com.

Now, I know you're probably thinking "Why would I want to rent a textbook when I can spend $350 on my Introduction to Dynamical Systems book that will never again see the light of day after I complete the course?"

Well, if you rent your text book, you can..
-save 40-90% off of bookstore prices
-get free shipping both ways
-highlight in the textbooks
-enjoy flexible renting periods

Still not convinced (if you're not, may I just say "are you crazy?!")? What if I told you that you that renting from CampusBookRentals.com could also save a life? With each textbook rented, CampusBookRentals.com will donate to Operation Smile, an international children's medical charity that heals children's smiles by providing free cleft lip surgeries.

Let's recap: Not only will you save money and be able to highlight in your books, but you'll also be changing the life of a child. Pretty cool, huh?

Oh, and one more thing:

CampusBookRentals.com can put cold, hard cash into your pocket with their exciting new RentBack program! With RentBack.com, you can rent your old textbooks to other students and make 2-4x more money than you would selling it back to your campus bookstore!

Need more info? Look no further:

What are you waiting for?! If you're a college student (or a parent of a college student), visit CapusBookRentals.com--and tell them Annie sent you :D

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

We're Moving to Denver!

Whew! What a whirlwind couple of weeks this has been!

We have been really busy getting into the groove of parenthood (which we love!), celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary with dinner & a movie, have had several visitors for Jax, and received word on Friday that we'll be moving to Colorado in a few weeks.

I'll talk more about the big move here in a sec--first I must show off my cutie(s) (Jackson, Brandon, & Bits)! 
One of Jackson's newborn pictures--does it get any cuter than this? (No. It does not.) Photo by Andrea Rodger Photography.
We celebrated our anniversary with sushi and "American Hustle."
Jax was too busy being loved on by his Mimi & Papa to know we even left!
Nana came out to visit us for her birthday! More cuddles for Jax.
Brandon's sister and our niece & nephew came to visit us before Nana's birthday--we had this grand kids picture taken for her gift (Brandon actually took and edited it).
Oh they grow up so quickly!
Okay, info on our move..

My tech guru husband was offered a job with the one of the world's largest internet providers late last week and has decided to take it. It's going to be really, really difficult for us to leave our friends and Brandon's family but we decided this move is the best decision for our family and that an opportunity like this may not come again. I'm originally from Colorado so this move will be like going home for me (my parents will only be an hour away too which I'm excited about) and I am so excited to take Jackson to the Botanic Gardens, Butterfly Pavilion, Children's Museum, and other places I grew up visiting. 

With all of that being said, I ask you to bear with me and my sporadic posting schedule. Brandon's new job begins February 3rd so these next couple of weeks will be full of packing, apartment hunting, and baby cuddling. Stay tuned for more adventures with the Sand people!
Who will be more difficult to move: Jax or Bits? Place your bets now!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Jackson's Birth Story

Have I ever talked about how much I love blogs? Seriously--you can learn so many different recipes, makeup tricks, gift ideas, etc. It's amazing!

Over the last 9 months, my favorite blogs/posts to read have been pregnancy and birth stories--Brandon and I never took any classes (we kept thinking "oh we have plenty of time to take one" only to realize that it was December and that Baby Sand would be here any day) so reading these raw and candid stories from real women was a way of mentally preparing myself for the birth of our son. My hope in sharing our story is to help someone who was in the same boat as me, and to offer any advice or guidance that I can.

I should also warn you that this post might be a little TMI for some so proceed with caution..
3 days old and propping his own head up when I burp him--does it get any cuter (I think not!)?
My story begins on Thursday, December 19th (3 days before Jax was born).

Now, if you've ever been pregnant (or have ever known somebody who is pregnant), you know that the restroom is your second home and that you need to potty every 4 minutes. I was completely aware of this fact and had fallen victim to the occasional leaks (word to the wise, if you need to sneeze, cross your legs) but began to notice more leaking than usual..

Did my water break without me realizing it?

I really didn't want to be the boy who cried wolf and make a bigger deal out of it than it was but after talking to Brandon, I decided to call my doctor and head over to the hospital to get checked out (I have heard so many horror stories about a mother's water breaking without her knowing it and the complications it caused the baby). After being swabbed (which is exactly what it sounds like) and monitored for a couple of hours, the verdict came back that my amniotic sac was still in tact and that the leaking I had was most likely urine.


I left the hospital, picked up a couple things at Walmart, and headed home to use the restroom and prop my feet up.

The rest of my day went on as normal--our landlord is selling the duplex we live in to his daughter and was coming over Friday morning with an appraiser so I spent the afternoon vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing down our place (remember the story about how we're not supposed to have Bitsy? Yeah, he still doesn't know that we have her..). After all of that cleaning and moving around, I was spent and lounged around for the rest of the day.

Fast forward to Friday morning at 2am.

I woke up to use the restroom (nothing new!) and noticed that my legs/pants/sheets were soaked. I was really warm and wondered if I had just been sweating (or worse.. wet the bed.. :/) or if maybe my water had broken for real this time. I woke Brandon up to tell him what had happened and we decided it was time to head to the hospital.

Biggest. Ordeal. Ever.

I had planned on dropping Bitsy off at my brothers apartment before my doctors appointment Friday morning but that obviously wouldn't happen if I was really in labor, so I called Joey (who was thankfully still awake) and we quickly threw all of Bits' toys/things into one of Brandon's old army foot lockers, packed up Bitsy & her essentials (food, litter box) and sped over to Joe's place. Bitsy was really scared and cried from her carrier the entire time we were in the car which in turn made me cry.. Poor, poor Brandon.. We got Bitsy all dropped off and taken care of and were on the road to the hospital by 2:45. I was once again swabbed and monitored for about an hour or so before they sent us home.

It had just been sweat.. or pee..

We made the decision to just leave Bits over at Joey's the rest of the night, came home, washed the sheets, and headed back to bed at around 6am. I went to my doctors appointment at 10 that morning, discovered I was dilated to a 3 (this time 90% effaced), was told by my doctor that I'd most likely deliver sometime that next week, picked up the cat from Joey's, and headed home to rest.

Saturday rolled around and Brandon and I designated it as "baby day"--we were going to do lots of walking around the grocery store, mall, eat really spicy food for supper, and do other "things" that are said to induce labor. Not even 5 minutes after arriving at the grocery store (we were trying to buy all of our groceries for Christmas dinner), I had to throw up. "Well, maybe something is actually happening.." I thought to myself as I ran to the restroom. This wound up triggering a few hard contractions but they eventually subsided into nothing.


We went home, took naps, walked around the mall, ate really spicy Mexican food for supper, and went about our normal evening before I realized I was losing my mucus plug. I was so excited!! This had to really be it, right?! After some quick research, Brandon and I discovered that this really means nothing and that it could still be weeks before I went into labor.


So I laid in bed, watched "48 Hours," fell asleep before the beginning of SNL, woke up at the end of Justin Timberlake's 2nd song, couldn't get comfortable again, and just stared at the ceiling.

And that's when it finally happened.

My first ever real contraction (I had been getting period like cramps here and there and assumed those were contractions--nope, not even close). I hurt so, so badly, couldn't breathe or move and decided it was time to get the stopwatch out. After about an hour of monitoring, I woke Brandon up--there were only 4 minutes between each contraction at this point and I needed to get to the hospital.

I called the hospital (they kept transferring me to the wrong department which is extremely frustrating when you can barely talk), they gave us the okay to come in, and we headed out. Our nurse checked to see if I had dilated anymore (still at a 3, just like the day before) and told us she'd check again in the next hour.. that, my friends, was the longest hour of my entire life.

My contractions were anywhere from 1-3 minutes apart at this point, I couldn't breathe, talk or drink water, and I kept throwing up; I told Brandon that if they sent us home, I wouldn't know when to come back if these weren't what real contractions felt like.

An hour finally passed and Kaitlyn (the nurse) checked me again and announced that I was now at a 4--I was in active labor! She put me on an IV drop (bless her heart) and gave me a shot to somewhat ease the pain which made my life so much better. I continued to dilate, progress, and rest as the hours rolled on--Brandon started making phone calls to our families to let them know it was indeed time as I drifted in and out of sleep. The doctor arrived a little before 9 that morning to check in on me and give us the go ahead to start labor--he said we were definitely good to go, broke my water, and then we began to wait.

The rest of the time leading up to pushing is kind of a blur but I know the following happened at one point of another:
  1. An anesthesiologist came in to give me my epidural (yes, you read that correctly--they let me have an epidural!).
  2. The epidural didn't help at all with my abdomen contractions so a second anesthesiologist came in and gave me a stronger one (which worked!).
  3. We watched the movie "Big" (with Tom Hanks).
  4. Several random people came in and out of the room and commented on what a great movie "Big" (with Tom Hanks) is.
  5. We surfed channels for the Broncos game.
  6. We couldn't find the Broncos game and settled on watching the Chiefs lose. 
At around noon, our nurse announced that I was at a 9 and that it was about time to push--I couldn't believe it! We did a few practice pushes while we waited for the doctor to return from lunch and by the time he arrived (around 12:30), it was baby time! I couldn't have asked for a better labor--I seriously didn't feel any pain and couldn't have asked for a better support system (our nurse held one of my limp and dead legs, my husband held the other).

After pushing for nearly 30 minutes, Jackson Lee was here!
Baby Jax--5 lbs. 13 oz.
The happiest moment of my life.
My sweet and alert little boy.
Those first moments we had with Jax are memories that I will always hold in my heart--I had never seen anything so perfect before as this little boy I was holding in my arms. Brandon and I laughed, cried, and stared in awe at this beautiful little life we helped create. I loved holding, cuddling, and feeding (he latched on immediately and has been an awesome eater ever since) my son--I couldn't get enough!

However, our cuddling time was short lived; Jax couldn't cry and needed to be observed closely. 

Since he was born a week and a half prematurely, the doctor worried that something was wrong with his lungs (he would groan when he breathed) and had him placed in the NICU. I was scared and devastated; I have never felt so helpless in my life as I did when I walked into the ICU and saw Jackson's little head in an oxygen machine.

Brandon and I stood next to our son as we talked to nurses, cried, and prayed--I felt like a failure because there was nothing I could do to help him. I'm so grateful to the nurses in the NICU who took such good care of our little guy and helped talk us through everything; the nurses called our room every time Jax was awake so I'd be able to go in and feed and cuddle my little boy. Jackson was released from the NICU on the morning of December 24th and was able to come home Christmas morning--the doctor was amazed at how well Jax was progressing and told us that he wasn't even the same baby she'd met a few days earlier!
December 23rd--no more oxygen machine!
Christmas morning--Time to go home!
Thank you all so much for your prayers, kind words, cards, and gifts you've sent for Jax--he is such a sweet, content, and curious little boy and I constantly thank God for allowing us to be his parents. Like I said earlier, I really couldn't have asked for a better delivery and have been recovering very well at home (the only discomfort I really have is from tearing/stitches). I can't wait to continue sharing Jax's story with all of you--we're so blessed to have you all along for this new adventure!
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