Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Delicious Moments Facebook Contest

Guess what! I am one of 15 finalists in the Delicious Moments video Facebook Contest. That means if I get enough votes, I will win $10,000 towards a dream family vacation. And you can help. Would you please go to http://apps.facebook.com/delicious-moments/ and vote for my video? My video is titled "The Truth." And that is what you will see on my video - the brutally honest truth about what I would probably do with an extra 30 minutes in my day.

You only get to vote 1 time in this contest, which ends on November 9th. And you will need a Facebook account. If you vote for me, I promise to send you a postcard while I am on my dream vacation... just make sure you tell me that you voted for me so I know who my friends are. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time For New Clothes

Charlotte has been wearing size 18 month clothing since she was about 20 months old. She has always been on the tiny side so I didn't anticipate moving her out of those clothes for quite some time. And that time is now. Not because she gained a lot of weight, but because she is getting taller and well, her head is getting bigger

Yep. Big surprise there. I am raising a daughter with a big head. I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with all of the people in her life who tell her how smart she is. That can't be it.

She won't tolerate pulling tight shirts over her head very well so I have no pictures of that, but I can show you that she is getting taller.

First piece of evidence:


When she first wore this outfit at 20 months, it dragged on the ground. Now, well, yeah, you can see for yourself.

And as an aside... I was planning this post yesterday because I have finally switched Charlotte into her 24 month wardrobe (except for some pants, she still has an itsy-bisty waist). While working on that project, I had  few gifts for Mary to put away, including some clothing. I thought I was all done when I found one more outfit. Since I didn't feel like getting the 9 month clothing box out, I just put it on top of the dresser to deal with later.

Then, this morning, when Charlotte came down stairs, all I could do was laugh.

 
 
Because Bruce thought the new 9-month outfit was Charlotte's new pajamas. And they fit!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland Costume Set GIVEAWAY!!!!

I don't normally link to giveaways on other blogs, but this one I'd have to link to even if I didn't earn an entry.

The creator of Grosgrain Fabulous is an amazing costume designer and this year, for Halloween, designed a Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland Costume Set.

You have to see it to believe it!

Really, go take a look.

And remember, when you see pictures of Charlotte's scrubs costume (unless we win the Grosgrain giveaway of course), don't laugh. Please.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Update on Mary's Therapy with Pictures

I must be a mom-blogger. Because I took my camera to therapy today so I could get pictures of Mary with her physical and speech therapists, just so I could put them on my blog.

Well that, and this blog is my scrapbook of their lives because I just don't have time nor space for a lot of stickers and paper.

Mary had her first actual physical therapy session this morning, after the evaluation on Monday. Antoinette (pictured left) is her lovely physical therapist and she seems to really enjoy Mary. Below are some pictures of the various exercises she does with Mary's tiny body. Mary's arms are stretched and her joints are flexed. The basic treatment idea for hypotonis, as I understand it, is to provide sensory input to Mary's nerves and muscles to "wake them up" so to speak.



 Antoinette has also recommended we had a second physical therapy session to our weekly schedule. So we are going to try that and see if it helps her improve. I also learned today that at some point the sessions will become more hands on for me and that I'll spend more time learning new exercises and stretches as well as practicing our current ones.


Nikki, whom I've mentioned before, is the speech therapist we've been seeing since Mary was 9 days old. Obviously, we are not dealing with whether or not Mary can talk yet, but anything related to the mouth falls under her treatment umbrella. She too works to stimulate the nerves and muscles in Mary's mouth. While my stated therapy goal (on the intake paperwork) is exclusive breastfeeding, I've been learning that addressing Mary's hyptonia from an oral perspective is also about making her ready for eating solid foods and for speech. I want my girls to learn sign language, but not because they can't talk!

Here is an analogy to understand how Mary's mouth is working right now. Have you ever ever realized how much work our cheeks do to keep the food in between the teeth. I hadn't. Think about the last time you had dental work and they numbed your mouth. Remember how hard it is to eat while you are still numb? How food spills out of your mouth and you can't really control it. Well, that is how it is for Mary, sort of. I mean, she isn't eating solid food, but her tongue, cheek, and jaw muscles have a hard time moving the milk to the back of her mouth for swallowing.

In the pictures below Nikki is stretching Mary's cheek and then providing stimulation to the inside of her mouth. In the third picture is the reward - Mary's sucking on Nikki's finger. I'll be adding the use of a dental stimulator (think baby toothbrush, like the kind that fits on the end of your finger) to our own at home sessions as well.



Nikki and I had a hard conversation today about whether or not to pursue exclusive breastfeeding as Mary's therapy goal or just stick with the bottle. The conversation isn't finished yet and I still have a lot of thinking to do. Also, of course, I need to talk to Bruce about our therapy goals because I am not raising Mary in a vacuum. My whole family is affected by these decisions.

In no way was Nikki discouraging towards my initial stated goal of exclusive breastfeeding. But I think she is trying to guide me towards a more realistic understanding of what may or may not be possible for Mary in the short term. She encouraged me to take this decision week by week for now. And we also discussed some new techniques for encouraging Mary to latch and develop positive associations with the breast.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hypotonia and Micrognathia

It has been a few weeks since I posted an update about Mary. In that time, we have continued to visit a speech therapist once a week as well as practicing some oral exercises at home to strengthen her mouth muscles.

Additionally, Mary went to her one-month well baby visit. At that visit, the doctor diagnosed her with hypotonia, which basically means she has low-tone in her muscles. This results in delayed milestones and possibly delayed speech. We really won't know what affect, if any, this could have on Mary for the long term. The doctor also gave us an additional referral for physical therapy and we followed through on that just a few days later.

The physical therapy (PT) evaluation went well and I was happy to confirm that Mary has just a mild case of hyptonia. We don't know the cause (and may never), but we do believe that with additional exercises, time, and motivation, this is something that we can over come. For those of you who know and love Mary, please don't stress yourself out trying to Google hypotonia. It won't make you feel good and could put dread in your heart about what might never be. We are just going to take this one day at a time and since Mary isn't supposed to roll over, crawl, or walk yet, we are still right on track. :)

For now then, we are visiting a speech and a physical therapist once a week and augmenting that at home with techniques designed to wake up the nerves in  Mary's body. We do cheek pinches and stretches, tongue tickling, joint compressions, and I'll be adding baby massage this week as well.

Some of you will be wondering about Mary's nursing too. As of right now, she isn't. I am still pumping 7-9 times a day and giving her breast milk in a bottle. She still dribbles milk when she is tired (from working to drink) and we've had no success breastfeeding yet. I've tried a nipple shield several times, but, even after manual compressions to get let down, it is too much work for her. Coming straight to the breast to nurse has had better results so far, but still no real latching or nutritive sucking.

Oh, and the other diagnosis Mary received was micrognathia. Basically, this means the doctor feels her jaw is smaller than expected for the size of her head. No treatment for this, and we expect her jaw to catch up with the rest of her by puberty. (I don't think this will affect nursing though based on my online reading.)

I probably won't have much to say about this unless I get cranky and need to whine about full-time, exclusive pumping. That is tiring. But it is a small thing to ensure that Mary has the food that God designed specifically for her.

My Mom's Scrapbook - Part 12

College! While my mom didn't actually come to college with me, she managed to know all my friends names and favorite foods, and made sure to include them in this scrapbook that she gave me and that I am now sharing here.

The group of friends I had in college were great. Actually, they still are! In this first picture, I can say that I am still in touch with all but 3 of the people in it. After 11 years I think that is pretty good. Though, I have Facebook to thank for that. Without Facebook I would't know where at least 2 of them were.


You may be wondering what BSU stands for. No, it isn't the initials of my college. BSU stands for Baptist Student Union, the student organization I spent the most amount of time with during my days at the U. And that girl next to me, her name is Amy. She went on to become the Maid of Honor at my wedding. And then we lost touch. And now we are back in touch. Thanks Facebook!

I was surrounded by talented people in college. Some of them got together and formed a music group called "Sincerely His." I think they mostly did covers, but were working on some of their own music when they had creative differences and broke up. Now, if any of you former Sincerely His members are reading this and I got it wrong, let me know.


Just before my Sophomore year of college, on my way home from South Dakota, I stopped in North Carolina to attend the national BSU meeting at Ridgecrest. Pictured with me is my friend Dracey. She practically lived in my dorm room for the second half of my freshman year and then we went on to become roommates in the upstairs apartment of the BSU building. Sadly, we had too much of a good thing, and like many friendships hit some rough patches. But now, we are friends again and I am excited to share that Dracey is going to become a momma real soon!
 
(A group shot of the Miami BSU on a mountain in North Carolina)

 
And the top of this last page is oddly blank. I have no idea what my mom intended to put there. But, again, I am out to eat with my friends. I am pretty sure both of the restaurant photos were taken at Swenson's across the street from the University of Miami. They must have had decent food if we went there so often, or at least cheap food.

Where did you hang out with all of your friends while you were in college?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ducks & Pumpkins - 2009 Duck Edition

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, here are the duck pictures...



Remember I said Minda and Fischer joined us? Now I have photographic proof since I didn't get any decent pictures of Fischer yesterday. Totally my fault though, because clearly he is wonderfully photogenic!


We don't go to visit the ducks without some sort of yeasty offering. Fischer liked it too. (So did Charlotte, she never gets white bread so it is a treat for her.)
 

And here is the only half-way decent picture of Charlotte from our duck feeding excursion.
 

And here is why. After about 5 minutes, it became clear that protecting our children from the giant swans was more important than taking pictures! I have never seen them as aggressive as they were today.
 

Ducks & Pumpkins - 2009 Pumpkin Edition

Last year, I took Charlotte to play in a local pumpkin patch and feed the ducks with our long lost friends Cayman and Jackie. I decided to take Charlotte back this year, along with Mary, to play among the pumpkins.

When we arrived, after losing a shoes first, Charlotte decided the pumpkins needed to be rearranged. Good thing most of them were "too heavy!" for her.




Did you know pumpkins make cool drums? Especially orange and white striped pumpkins. Or so Charlotte says.


Time for the annual blessing of the pumpkins...


More drumming and more declaring, "mine! mine!" God forbid another child, even her friend Fischer, try to play with one of "her" pumpkins.


I really wanted to get a great shot of Charlotte looking right into the camera amidst this great field of pumpkins... this is what I got instead. Repeatedly. The girl won't sit still!


Oh wait! There is her face! But not for long... she was on a mission to tire mommy out!


Finally! A child that can't run away and carry pumpkins to new spots.



Good thing I have a new, faster camera... Charlotte stayed here for .03 seconds!



Charlotte's mind moves as fast as her little body and this small gourd was both a tree and an umbrella. So creative!


Have you visited any pumpkin patches yet?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How To Paint A Pumpkin - Toddler Style

Start with an eager toddler and a clean, white pumpkin...


Carefully dip your clean paint brush into the first color...



Then dip your next brush into the second color...


Spend a few moments keeping your colors separate and neat, like Mommy tells you too...


And then throw all caution to the wind and just go crazy with mixing the colors...


If you follow these directions very carefully, you can end up with a masterpiece just like this...




Raising Itty-Bitty Bookworms
For more Wordless Wednesdays, visit

Monday, October 05, 2009

How I Save Money with Coupons - Part 1

I have been asked several time recently how I manage to find such great deals at grocery and drugstores. And the answer is always the same. I combine coupons with store sales to get the best deal possible. It isn't rocket science and it doesn't have to be scary. But it does take a small investment of time.

I'd been thinking about sharing my tips here for a while and then a few nights ago, I went to a class on how to use coupons. The teacher is obviously a mega-couponer with a few years experience and no babies or toddlers at home. But, in my opinion, she gave the class too much information considering most of the attendees were coupon novices. So, now, I want to share my ideas with my friends near and far so you can bring down your grocery budget without having to buy 200 boxes of cereal.

Today, I'll just share a few tips to get you started. Let me know if you have any questions.

First, and most obvious, buy a Sunday newspaper for the coupons. Actually, buy 2. The best way to turn a good sale into a great sale is to have 2 of every coupon. Most people don't know that if cereal is on sale B1G1 free, you can use 2 coupons. So if the cereal is normally $4.49/box and it is on sale for B1G1F, when you add 2 $1 off coupons, you can get your cereal for $1.25/box. That is a savings of $7.49!

Sure, you can get 10 papers and try to clip the same coupon 10 times, but how many of you are like me with small children and just don't have the time, space, or energy to organize 20 boxes of cereal when you come home from the grocery store?

Second, your coupons will do you no good if they just sit in a pile waiting to be forgotten. Now that you have 2 copies of all the coupons, you need a way to organize them. There are several ways to do this and each personality will prefer a different way. Personally, I don't have time to clip everything (you know, those 2 adorable girls take up a lot of time!), so I keep my coupon inserts whole and file them by date.

By date you might ask? How do you know the date for the coupon inserts? Well, if you look at the folded edge of the insert, you will see the date printed on it. I typically re-write it on the front of the insert to make flipping through my folder easier. Each week's coupons go into a clear page protector inside a 3-ring binder. Then, I only clip the coupons I need, as I need them. This saves me time and my sanity. Because seriously, I don't have a dog, and we won't be getting one any time soon.

And my final tip for the day, become familiar with the websites that match up the coupons and the sales for you. There are people out there on the world wide web who have a great mind for these things, so I say, let them do all of the hard work. They enjoy it, and it helps you save money. Don't waste your own time trying to figure out if you have a coupon in your binder for that bottle of V-8, just go to your favorite deal website and let them tell you what week or insert it came in.

So that you don't get overwhelmed with sites either, here are three my favorite websites/blogs for coupon/sale matchups:
Fiddledeedee! (She posts Publix matchups each week, but as a friend pointed out recently, does miss some deals)
I Heart Publix (lots of emphasis on rebates here as well and there is a lot of information not directly related to coupons, but still helpful for saving money)
Money Saving Mom (shares deals for CVS, Walgreens, Target, Kroger, Save-A-Lot, and lots of other stores so no one around the country is left out)

Do you have any specific questions? What do you want to know about becoming a couponer and better steward of your money?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

First Fall Playdate

Yay! The weather has finally given us a glimmer of Fall here in FL. I know it is fleeting, but we took advantage of it and met some friends at a local park for the first playdate of Fall.

Swings and bright blue skies are a great combination!



Follow the leader... anyone else surprised that Charlotte isn't in the front?


This is Charlotte telling me she is scared to get on a toy dragon that I had just seen her sitting on a few moments earlier.


I told Charlotte to say 'cheese' for the camera and instead she decided to pretend she had her own camera and was taking my picture.


But lest I think she was going to stand still for too long, she made a mad dash for the gate. Fortunately, we are working on obedience and she stopped when she got to the gate.


Given the chance, she will always swing.


And that's it... time to go home!