"I love you and want for you all things that make you happiest; and I guess you, not I, are the one who knows best what those things are."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What To Choose?

What a great week it’s been!  So much accomplished and so much to be proud of that I’m going to having a hard time picking out our successes.  We’ve just been a really busy family!

1.  Last week I hosted cooking club for our MOMS Club.  I choose a theme of “Served On A Stick” and it was a huge hit.  We enjoyed fruit salad on a stick (fruit kabobs), stick in the mud (chocolate cookie on popsicle sticks), PB&J skewers, muffin pops (mini muffins on toothpicks, and more.  I personally made bacon-wrapped breadsticks and they were the hit of the party!  And super simple to make thanks to the microwave and only 3 ingredients.  Then a mere 3 days later I hosted the MOMS Club executive board here at the house for our monthly meeting.  We got through our business and had time to enjoy each other’s company which was wonderful.  So we’ve been a bit like MOMS Club Grand Central Station this week…

2.  With the help of my wonderful husband, we purged the clutter out of the dining room, cleaning closet, coat closet, and most of the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen this weekend.  I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all the random ‘stuff’ that doesn’t have a real home in our house, so he graciously agreed to help me do some serious cleaning.  A lot of items went in the trash, some went to family members  who could use them, and a bunch are now downstairs in our yard sale box  Those two rooms and two closets make me happy!  Hopefully we can keep up the momentum and work our way through more of the house in the upcoming weeks.

3.  Nathan is right on the verge of walking.  He has taken a couple steps here and there this week (the first truly notable ones on Sunday, July 24 while we were Skyping with grandma and grandpa).  He’s now standing up in the middle of the room periodically so I’m sure the actual walking will be here in no time at all.  Then I’ll be chasing two little boys around! Nathan-man is also a chatty little boy.  “Up” seems to be his favorite word right now meaning “pick me up mommy!”  He babbles the day away and makes requests for “dink” (drink), “up”, “ow-pa” (out please – of his highchair), “mow” (more) and “aw-duh” (all done).  I’m loving all the conversation!

4.  Since I used #3 to celebrate on behalf of Nathan – I’m tacking on a #4 for John.  He successfully made it 60 minutes in the child care room at the YMCA yesterday!  Only brief tears at the very beginning and then he did fine the rest of the time.  This is a huge success in my book.  Since he was 1 we’ve never been able to use the child care room because he would cry to the point of hyperventilating within the first 10 minutes at which point the day care workers would come get me from the gym.  With the help of his psychologist from Early Intervention over the past 6 months – we’re now up to 60 minutes!!!  And on another note – we’re meeting with a physical therapist today to have the structure of John’s ankles and feet examined.  I’m interested to see what she has to say! 

So – it’s been a busy week – I could keep going!  We’ve booked tickets to South Padre Island in September, I’ve started holiday/birthday wish lists for the boys, I baked my first ever blackberry pie, I located a developmental pediatrician for John and have started gathering the 9 bazillion papers and forms he wants, and we started doing some school supply shopping in hopes that John gets into Early Childhood starting in October.

Jump over to Chocolate For Your Brain and share your successes!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Successes

Today I’ve decided to celebrate the new successes in my week.  You know, the things that I’ve never done before – but did this week.  Smile
1.  I made blackberry jam!  All by myself.  OK – let’s be honest – with the help of my wonderful neighbor Dale who provided us with 1 gallon of blackberries from his backyard.  It tastes great, looks pretty and best of all – I MADE IT!
2.  We went blueberry picking and got 2 pints full.  Where you may ask?  Right in our backyard.  When we moved into this house last summer we noticed a few blueberry bushes on the side of the house.  However, with Nathan being born in mid-June we never got out to pick any of the blueberries last summer.  Nathan is loving them – he’s a blueberry-aholic!
3.  I bought the supplies to make my own laundry detergent.  I know this isn’t really something to brag about – but it’s a step in the right direction.  I’ve always tried my own detergent.  So much cheaper, and wonderfully clean clothes!  Now – to find the time to make it (or more accurately…find the grater that I don’t mind getting soapy with Fels-Naptha).
Can you tell I’m feeling very Susie Homemaker this week?
What are your successes? 
Let us know over at Chocolate for Your Brain!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Favorite Summertime Drink–Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

This has never been much of a food/cooking blog – although I often think about how much I love to cook and should probably share more of that on here.  But as I’m sitting here this morning….I’m really enjoying my morning iced coffee.  So I thought “there has to be another mommy some place that needs a great morning pick-me-up”

The recipe requires a little advance planning, but it’s well worth it!

2/3 c. course ground coffee
2 Tbsp. coffee creamer in your choice of flavor
1 c. milk
cold tap water

Place coffee in french press and fill press with cold water.  Allow coffee to cold-brew overnight.  In the morning press the coffee down and pour into a storage container for the fridge. 


To make your iced coffee:

Fill a glass with ice, add coffee creamer, milk and cold-brewed coffee to taste (I use a little more than 1 cup).  Stir and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thoughts On Activity Bags

Thoughts in 3 words: Best Idea Ever!  The activity bags worked out great!  We were able to provide the boys with a couple items at a time out of the bags as we drove.  Each bags provided around an hour of entertainment without the movie.  In fact, we only stuck the movies in about half the time – the other half we really didn’t need them and there’s no reason for the boys to zone out to the TV if they can do something that requires some brain waves.

Here’s the original post to the Activity Bags so you can check out the pictures and contents in detail.  Let’s get to the highlights though. 

Activity Bag #1 –

  • The small Magnadoodles were a hit.  Both boys enjoyed coloring and erasing pictures and since we had 2 of them there was no squabbling over the toy.
  • John loved pounding the golf tees into the playdough with his toy hammer.  (For some reason John wouldn’t pull the tees out of the dough though so I had to keep reaching back and yanking them out for him.) 
  • The colored clothespin activity was a success and John proudly exclaimed every time he was all done.  The only thing I would have changed is that I probably would have written the colors on the back of cards so that we could have worked on sight words too.
  • Nathan enjoyed the toy phone – but as you’ll see throughout this post – Nathan enjoys anything have makes noise when you press a button.

Activity Bag #2

  • The LeapFrog Fridge Phonics was a loaner item from John’s speech therapist.  Both boys played with this incessantly.  As long as you can handle the repetitiveness of the jingle it sings every time you put a letter in it – you’ll be fine. “Every letter makes a sound…the A says Aaahhh”
  • John spent quite a bit of time flipping through his Tonka Truck book from the library and playing with his toy trucks at the same time.
  • We actually stuck another kid-friendly camera in the bag right before we left and the boys spent at least 30 minutes “taking pictures” of each other, cars, trees, mom and dad, and who knows what else.
  • The Lap Book was a success – but John always likes playing with it.

Activity Bag #3

  • In the interest of full disclosure – we didn’t even touch this bag.

Activity Bag #4

  • We got to this bag in the last hour of our drive home…so we only played with a few of the items. That being said – the playdough finger puppets were a wise investment from Target.  Both boys thought they were great.  John wanted to make his own finger puppets but wasn’t coordinated enough to do it yet. 
  • Nathan didn’t really enjoy the toy remote much so that one didn’t make it back into an activity bag for the 6-hour drive to Lake Geneva.

Activity Bag #5

  • John played with the transportation themed “I Spy” bottle for a while on his own.  I hadn’t glued the lid on though so I found myself constantly worried that he’d open the bottle and I’d have beans from here to who knows where.  In reality – John never even tried to open the bottle.
  • The Disney Storybook CD was nice and we listened to it, but the boys couldn’t grasp the idea of following along so it was more like kid-friendly background noise.
  • Toy keys were a great success as long as Nathan didn’t throw them around…
  • And John did color one picture in his Mickey Mouse coloring book – although he’s never been much into coloring.

Activity Bag #6

  • Another bag that went untouched on the trip with the exception of the electronic storybook.  When the toy remote was failing I grabbed this as a back-up.

So there you have it – a simple recap of our activity bags.  The boys did great on the trip! But the pictures below probably tell the greatest truth…

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New  tractors Mom & Dad bought on the trip make little boys smile

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When all else fails – get Taggie out & take a break to suck your thumb

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The best way to entertain little ones on a road trip:

Stop the car, get out, and PLAY!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere!

We spent 5 days in Lake Geneva, WI recently (ok – it was a month ago now).  Random place to visit, right?  Well, not really.  Lake Geneva is where all the Chicago big names and socialites have their lake houses.  We’re talking the Wrigleys (as in spearmint gum) and Oprah for example.  And did you know that back in the day Hugh Heffner has his Playboy mansion in Lake Geneva?  We actually stayed a hotel and waterpark on the property of the old mansion (no Playboy bunnies are still hopping around the place though).

It’s actually a very quaint and relatively quiet little town.  Lots of mom & pop shops on Main Street, a couple nice restaurants, plenty of local dives and some great waterfront. 

I’ve been going with my family to Lake Geneva once a year for a long, long time.  My dad attends a conference there once a year and we’ve always tagged along as a family.  Frankly, the conference caters to this – they have a big family carnival the first night with bounce houses, cotton candy and airbrush tattoos and even a type of kids daycare for when mom and/or dad is in a meeting or at the formal dinner. 

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John tagged along with us for the first time when he wasn’t quite a year old yet.  And no one went last year because – well, I had just delivered Nathan (I’m talking days here!) and Grandpa wasn’t about to miss the arrival of his newest grandchild over a couple of meetings and a booked hotel room.  But we all packed up again this year and hit the road – Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Lizzy, Mom, Dad, John & Nathan.

What did we do in Lake Geneva this go round?  We enjoyed the family carnival the first night we were there and shopped in downtown one afternoon/evening.  The rest of the time?  We were human prunes from our time at the waterpark.  We swam, and swam, and swam.  We went down slides, played with water hoses, floated the lazy river and soaked in the hot tub. 

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See you next year Lake Geneva!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nathan-Man

My little Nathan-man is a long way from being little now-a-days.  He’s weighing in at nearly 25 lbs (85%) and his height puts him well into the 98% – so according to the doctor “he’s taller than he is thick” – well, that’s a relief to a mother who’s lugging 25 lbs everywhere she goes!

Besides the physical developments – he’s desperately trying to catch up with his brother in motor skills, cognitive skills and speech.  He’s attempting to stack blocks when he’s not busy knocking over his brothers.  Nathan loves self-feeding, periodically manages to actually get something on his fork all by himself and if it wasn’t for the fact that most things that go on a spoon slosh right off – he’d be a pro with the spoon.  (As I type this I’m remembering that we used to buy John the whipped yogurt because it was thicker and would stick to the spoon.) 

Let’s talk speech – yeah, Nathan’s going to be my talker.  He pretty much narrates his whole day with babbling right now.  His current vocabulary includes: mama, dada, ow-tide (outside), in-tide (inside) more, aw don (all done), oh no, mmmmm (yummy), dink (drink) and okay.  On top of those – he’s mimic and imitate almost anything.  In fact, when John’s speech therapist works with John – Nathan sits across the room and does the speech sounds on his own. 

Nathan-man isn’t quite walking yet.  He’s at that stage where he gets distracted and lets go for a few minutes, then suddenly realizes he’s not holding onto anything and either lunges for the nearest item or falls down.  Seriously though, walking has to be close because when he cruises the furniture, walls, and everything in between, he’s only hanging on with 2 fingers most the time!

Other important growth milestones – his lovely curly hair that Matt wants to cut.  Right now I’m winning this battle if only because the ladies at Matt’s office are smitten with the curls!

Now – for the visual update!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Coming Back to Small Successes!

I’ve been away for a while…hope no one thinks it’s because Small Successes is now being hosted by Sherry over at Chocolate for Your Brain.  I’ve just gotten away from blogging for a little while.  You know – so I could deal with things like my family, my house and my friends.  Not a bad exchange if you ask me.

But what are the successes for the past week?

1.  We’ve been working on potty training.  This is a huge success in m book.  Although John’s still having plenty of ‘accidents’ we’re making progress.  I was hoping it would work like a light switch..just flip on all of a sudden and he’d be dry for days.  Not the case!  But with lots of reminders to ‘tell mommy if you have to go potty’ we’re on our way.  (Maybe the light switch just takes a month or so to flip?)

2.  I’ve been baking Amish Friendship Bread every 10 days and passing out my starters to friends.  So far so good.  Although I may be exhausting my list of friends who have any true interest or talent in baking.  We’ll have to see if I can find enough friends to pass this next round of starters out to ….

3.  With the help of my dearest husband….we’ve paid off my car!  Which means we officially own both of our vehicles!  YAY!  So hopefully we’re a little easier on our budget (since we’re still paying a  mortgage in NC and rent in IL – Anyone what to buy a house in NC?  3 hours to the beach, 2 hours to the mountains, quaint town, completely remodeled in 2007… Just sayin’)

Make sure to head over to Small Successes Thursdays at Chocolate for Your Brain!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Second 1st Birthday!

We enjoyed a wonderful celebration for Nathan’s second 1st Birthday…yes, you got that right…his second 1st birthday.  Remember?  We celebrated his first 1st Birthday Party in Texas during our trip…

So here’s the highlights:

  • Nearly 40 people (including kiddos) descended on our house
  • Matt was the grill master with ranch burgers and hot dogs
  • All the kids knew exactly what Chuggington was – none of the adults did
  • Little man successfully devoured an entire baby cake (and I’m really not exaggerating)
  • Nathan got more toys than he could ever play with in a lifetime, although the one below seems to be a favorite

IMGP0881Seriously – who buys a 1 yo a power wheel? 

Oh wait – Grandma and Grandpa!

 

Happy Birthday Nathan-Man!!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Speech, OT, BT, DT, PT–Can you keep it all straight?

John’s therapies have been moving along just swimmingly.  At times I feel like our house is the Grand Central Station for all local therapists though.  Not that I would change that – I want John to get whatever help he needs so that he can start school on an even keel with his classmates.

It’s been an uphill battle with his speech in particular, but he’s finely making some real progress.  He can put together 2 words pretty consistently and periodically surprises us with a 3 or 4 word combination.  Right now the biggest concern is that his errors seem very inconsistent.  (He’ll get a word or sound right one second, then completely wrong the next).  And unlike most almost-3-year-olds, he doesn’t have a “common” set of errors (i.e., always using an “f” sound in place of “tr”).  These are all textbook apraxia issues and ones that we’re hopeful we can work through before Kindergarten.

As for OT – well, were keeping on.  His grasping skills are still a little weak and his wrist tires pretty easily.  But he has (finally!) mastered his pincer grasp and can button a shirt, unzip a jacket and tolerate a little bit of messy play.  He seems to continue to struggle with loud environments, slimy or sticky anything, and some textures of food.  He’s also gotten his net swing that fits in out kitchen doorway.  He’s absolutely loving it!  And as a bonus, it came with a trapeze bar that’s providing a totally different type of input for his shoulders, arms, wrists and hands!

As for his behavioral therapy – he’s definitely making progress.  Two weeks ago he went for 15 minutes in the YMCA Child Care Room before he started crying.  I know that’s not very long, but it’s progress.  And no, he didn’t engage in play during those 15 minutes; he stood at the window, holding his timer and waiting for someone he knew to come back.  However, since he normally starts crying the second we walk in there and they come get me from the gym about 7 minutes in because he’s on the verge of hyperventilating…15 minutes seems like eternity!  Not to mention that I’ve enjoyed getting an hour to workout every other week while his BT works with him in the daycare Smile

Development therapy is what it is.  John really doesn’t have any delayed concept skills – but the DT has been working with John in many crossover areas (sensory play, social situations, encouraging speech).

And our newest development comes in PT.  In the next few weeks we’ll have a PT evaluation for John.  With his low muscle tone it’s been brought to our attention that his feet are really really flat and that it’s causing his ankles to turn inward a little.  While he’s not behind on his gross motor skills because of this – the therapists feel it’s important enough to get checked out so that we don’t run into long term problems later in life.  So we’ll see what the final evaluation says, but I’m guessing there are some arch supports in John’s near future. 

In the meantime, we’re in the process of transitioning out of Early Intervention.  At that point we’ll be handed over to the Collinsville School District Special Education Office.  We’ve already got John set up for an Early Childhood Screening on Sept. 2nd.  From there we’ll be able to gauge whether or not he’ll be eligible for services under their guidelines (which are, of course, different from the EI guidelines).  Otherwise, we’ll be on our own to provide John with any therapies he needs through our health insurance and our pocketbook. 

Here’s to hoping he qualifies for the services we know he needs!

Monday, July 11, 2011

No Good Excuse

I feel like I write a lot of the “sorry I’ve been missing from the blog recently” posts.  I always come back eventually though.  For about the last 2 weeks I’ve been thinking that I needed to get on an post some family updates, but to be honest, once I take a break from the blogging…I find it hard to sit down and type up a post.  Why?  Because I have so much I want to document and post, but don’t want the posts to become muddled with information…. *sigh*

That being said, I’m going to try to write several posts over the next few days.  Updating on important things like Nathan’s second 1st birthday party, a trip to Lake Geneva, WI, updates on how the activity bags worked on our two road trips, information about John’s therapies and progress, and at least one general update on Nathan (cause that boy is growing and developing leaps and bounds!!!).

Hope you’ll all hang in there with me over the next week or so.  Look for updates often!  I’m committed to getting the blog caught back up!