Thursday, November 24, 2011

christmas news letter

Season's greetings to all our friends and family.  Much thought (probably too much thought) went into the narrations style of this letter.  After much deliberation i settled on an awkward combination of first and third person. Ultimately the decision came down to allowing the letter to be from all of us equally, but sounding like it was written by one of us (as opposed to an omniscient narrator. so from now on, i will be referring to myself as "Jess."  Now that that's settled, on with the news.

This was a very big year for this branch of the Brammer/Owens family. To hit the highlights we moved, Jess got a new job, Reid made a career change, Henry was born, and we bought a house (which will also lead to moving again very early in 2012). Which ever brand of crazy led us to do this must be genetic since Jess' cousin Samantha is doing the same thing.

In April, Jess accepted a new job in Danville, VA.  At the time she was almost 6 months pregnant and the job front in Wilmington was looking pretty bleak.  Jess and Reid moved in June with an amazing amount of the help from their parents and friends (shout out to Bob, Katey, and Steve). The move allowed Reid to make a career move to a stay-at-home-dad.  Jess absolutely loves her new job.  We miss Wilmington, particularly our friends/co-workers, bag of toys concerts, and oysters.

In August, Henry was born. He arrived three weeks early, unfortunately he wasn't quite ready to born.  He hadn't dropped yet and when he finally did, he came down on an angle.  As a result the fluid was not squeezed out of his lungs and he was born with transient tachypnea. Henry required oxygen for about 32 hours, after that he was right as rain.  We had a little hiccup with acid reflux. As a result Jess made some dietary changes, we use special formula at night, he takes baby zantac, and he sleeps on an incline. With this combination he is rarely bothered by his tummy.  He is now almost four months old and weighs about 16 pounds. On a good night he sleeps between six and seven hours straight!  He has quite the little personality, with curiosity being at the forefront.

Reid transitioned to being a stay-at-home-dad after Jess's six week maternity leave. He thought he would like it, but it turns out he loves it (except for the poopy diapers).  According to statistics in our parenting magazine 25% of stay-at-home parents are now dad's.  It is honestly probably the best situation, Reid's personality is better suited for staying at home, especially since Jess gets stir crazy so easily.  He has near infinite patience with Henry and thoroughly enjoys most days.  Reid also became addicted to  started playing the Magic card game this year.  It gives him something to work on during the week and gets him out of the house every Friday.

As for being parents, we both enjoy it.  Henry becomes more fun nearly every day. Some things are expected, and others are unexpected.  Jess never thought she'd measure success and failure by the terms she currently finds herself using. Very small things become insanely important. Life is different, but all around great. We mostly miss sleeping well and watching an entire tv show in one, uninterrupted sitting.

We put an offer on a house in early November. We looked at 18 houses and finally found the right one. We are scheduled to close on December 21st. Hopefully nothing will go wrong that will prevent us from buying it.  It is a Cape Cod with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Penny will be oh so excited to have a backyard again. The cats will hopefully get over the trauma of moving yet again when they get to stay for (with any luck) the rest of their lives.  We plan on moving in after we do a little bit of work (painting and a few projects) in early January.  2012 will likely be full of fun home improvement projects.

So that is our news from 2011!  We would love to hear your news.  We hope your holidays are merry and bright and filled with fun, family, and great food. Keep in touch and come visit us!

Jess, Reid, and Henry

Merry Christmas

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Saturday, September 10, 2011


We intended for this blog to feature some of the projects that we made and the patterns we create.  However, Henry coming early through a curve ball and our patterns sat uncompleted.  Alas, here is one of the projects and a pattern.  It is for the needle felted solar system mobile.  Click on the link to view the google doc of the pattern.

Solar System Mobile Pattern

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cloth Diapering

We decided to use cloth diapers on Henry. This has been met with mixed reactions: there is disbelief: "do people still use cloth diapers?" There are nay-sayers: we have been told we are creating too much work for ourselves, we see people roll their eyes (yes, we see you roll your eyes-you aren't as slick as you think you are), we've been given diapers that were removed from their packaging so they couldn't be returned; and the whole cloth diaper section of our registry that was basically untouched. There are also supporters: we have friends that are cloth diapering or planning to cloth diaper, and meet a lot of people who have at least tried it.

Cloth diapering certainly isn't for everyone.  People have different priorities and needs and we are in no way saying everyone should cloth diaper.  It just makes sense for us. There are several reasons to cloth diaper: namely financial, environmental, health, and function. We are doing it for a combination of these reasons. One child's disposable diapers will generate 1 ton of waste that takes 450-550 years to break down. We try to generate as little waste as possible; we actually drive our recyclables to the local collection bins; we use tupperware and reusable storage bags and refillable water bottles; we try very hard to eat all of our food; and will compost as soon as we have a yard. Adding all those diapers to a landfill just didn't jive with us. The average family will spend $1,500-2,000 on disposable diapers; so far we've spent $275 on cloth diapers and those should last us until he is out of diapers (not to mention can be re-used if we have a second baby). How is that possible?  Oh, because these aren't your grandma's cloth diapers. First, they got rid of more accidentally sticking your baby.  If we still had to pin, we couldn't do cloth diapering. Henry kicks, squirms, and screams like the world is ending with almost every diaper change.  My parents were skeptical until they saw the new cloth diapers. You can still use old fashioned prefold diapers, but now you use a snappi instead of a pin and covers instead of wet pants. There are also all-in-one diapers and pocket diapers.  With so many options we bought a sample pack.  Some diapers fit some babies better and some parents better ::smile:: As soon as his stump fell off we tried them all. Our favorite diaper is the Flip.  It is a pocket diaper. (visit for more info). The cover is reusable, but the insert comes out with the each change.  You change the cover when it is gets poopy.  The best part is  they work on bottoms of kids that are 7-35 pounds (you snap the flip differently for different sized babies).  My second favorite is the  actually the prefold with a cover; but Reid says it is like doing origami on a squirmy baby-so the Flip it is!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Welcome Baby Henry

We welcomed Henry Oliver Owens on August 1 at 4:42 a.m weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces. He is 21 inches long with huge hands and feet.  We named him after Reid's Papa (Oliver). His genes gave Reid his big feet and hands, so it is fitting.   Baby Henry arrived nearly 3 weeks early (just squeaked in at full term).  My water broke, just like in the movies in a puddle at my feet, around 5:00 on Sunday night.  We went to the hospital and after almost 12 hours of labor (with a hour and thirty-two minutes of pushing) Henry was born.  Most babies are born facing down...but Henry is not most babies; he was born facing slightly sideways, so his shoulders got him stuck in my pelvis. Because of his presentation my pelvic bones didn't squeeze his lungs like they should, so he still had fluid in his lungs.  He was born with Transient Tachypnea, which is basically underdeveloped lungs filled with fluid. Ten percent of babies born at 37 weeks have Transient Tachypnea. The nursery nurse was fantastic and caught it right away, so Henry got rushed off to an Isolet where he received oxygen for about 32 hours. He was also on IV antibiotics for 48 hours to prevent pneumonia.  He did a fantastic job breathing as he was weaned off of oxygen and will have no lasting affects from either complication.  By Wednesday morning the pediatrician said "he is now just a normal baby."   We came home on Thursday afternoon where we are making up for lost time holding him.  Henry is a fantastic eater and a decent sleeper.  Reid and I are adjusting well, as are the animals.  He is such a sweet baby and we are loving being parents.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Here are our responses to our most frequently asked questions:
Q: When are you due?
A: August 20th

Q: What are you having?
A: a baby (a boy baby since that is what most people are getting at ::smile::).  Reid thinks it may be an alien or a marsupial. 

Q: What are you doing with all of the animals after you have the baby?
A: We are keeping them.  Penny very much likes children and is interested in babies.  She is terrified of the baby swing.  We had a baby gate to keep Penny out of the room with the cat's litter box was in our last house, it is only 18 inches high and she never tried to jump it or knock it down. She is super smart that way. We have 2 hexagon baby gates which we plan to use to separate Penny from the baby. They should also work on the cats since my cats don't think they can jump more than 2 feet.  The ferrets are kept in their cage for most of the day.  Our new house has a hallway that can be blocked off from all of the other rooms using doors we let them play in the hallway (or the hallway and the bathroom).  They are happy and contained.  If they figure out how to breakout then we will have to reconsider. It won't be fair to the ferrets to just live in their cage; so we will likely try to re-home them. We will cross that bridge if we need to.  Just to be safe, one of us will be in the room with the baby if the ferrets are out.  We have a crib tent to keep the cats out, although our cats have not tried to get into the crib (different story for the pack and play--but now it isn't close to anything so they cannot climb into it.)  We set up the baby chairs. crib, pack-n-play, and swing to give the animals a chance to get used to them and figure out if they will try to use them for their own.  Penny wants all plush toys, Potter likes to nap in the changing station of the pack-n-play; and true to form Pixie likes to hide under the crib.  Oshikuru (our beta fish) should experience the least amount of change so long as we remember to feed him when we are sleep deprived.

Q: Why did you move while 8 months preggers?
A: The economy is North Carolina is terrible; one of the worst in the country with not sign of improvement. New Hanover county cut at least 25 teaching positions.  Reid did not have a tenure position and was told that even though they would love to re-hire him, he had less than a 5% chance of having a job.  Medicaid policy changes continued to negatively impact my job and our benefits were cut a few times, if the new budget contains cuts for speech therapy reimbursement we would at best see more cuts and at worse not have jobs. It wasn't anyone's fault except for the budget-makers.  Our choice was to stay, hold our breath, and potentially both be unemployed and have to move because we couldn't afford rent--or look at other options. I found an incredible job opportunity in VA and I am really loving working here.  To top it all off Reid gets to stay home with the baby!!! He may work part-time or sub; he is currently pursuing some opportunities.  We are both excited that we will not have to put the baby in daycare.

Q: How long will Reid stay at home?
A:  Until further notice. He is going to play it by ear.  It will likely be at least a year since teaching positions are hard to find in the middle of year. It depends on finances, if he likes staying at home, if we decide to have another baby...etc.

Q: Why Danville, VA?
A: I was six months preggo when we were looking; we wanted to leave North Carolina (because it doesn't matter where you go--it's the state budget that is bad). We didn't want to go too far (flying for interviews and such was pretty much out).  We ruled out Tennessee last year, discussed Wisconsin, and were both interested in Virginia.  We are not beach people--Reid actually hates sand and thereby all sandy beaches.  I am not a fan of ocean wild life unless it is behind glass in an aquarium.  I really wanted to live in or near the mountains and Reid was game; I've been trying to go north west since i got here, but somehow wound up moving south east first. Danville is close to Reid's family in North Carolina.  It is closer to DC and Busch Gardens, zoos, and a ton of other things we enjoy; not to mention you are in the mountains in an hour.  It is wicked affordable, the clinic i work at is amazing, the town has a ton of potential, and the location is great. We are happy to be here; it seems like it is the right place for us.  We miss our friends...