Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Photos

 There are many more to come, but here are a few of the Christmas pictures I took.

Sooooo big!



This isn't a great picture of Abby, but it was the best one that we got.  And given that we now know she wasn't feeling so hot, it's understandable why she'd have that face! 

Giving the Gift of Lock and Lock!

It was a Lock and Lock Christmas at our house!!  My mom gave everyone in the family at least one piece.

These pictures are a little on the silly side, but I will try to link the product so that you can see what each one is. 


Matt actually got something we didn't have yet!


I really like these square ones for leftovers.

This one is good for pouring things (like coffee, if you drink it).  The one in the background is the perfect size for a cupcake, onion, or green pepper.  I actually use that one a lot.

Sadly, I cannot find a link to these exact containers.  They were a special set, so I think they probably just discontinued it.  It's two large containers with a handle, with several smaller containers inside of each one.  These are the best kind of deal when they have a sale because you get a lot of different sizes. 


The best part of this whole picture is the baby legs sticking out after a fresh diaper.  :)

I did some reorganizing of my L&L "stash" today because our freezer apparently shut off while we were at the hospital with Abby and we lost...everything.  I had no idea how much L&L was in my freezer until I emptied it completely out!  Now to find room for it all...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Medical Update

So, if you're not friends with me on Facebook, you may not know about our little trip to the ER on Wednesday.  Yes, we were just discharged the day before...almost exactly 24 hours before we went back to JHH. 

Abby tolerated her feeds all night (she is fed continuously at a slower rate) but couldn't handle her daytime feed--much more food in a small amount of time.  She got sick three times in 5 minutes and it was bubbling out of the trach.  After a call to our pediatrician, we were instructed to go back to the ER.  Unfortunately, the ER doctor just kept saying, kids throw up.  That's what they do!  Yes, but kids do not throw up from their trach!!!  She failed to see our (and our pediatrician's) concern.  They ran all of the tests again to see if anything was missed.  They attempted to start and IV, but couldn't get it.  They drew blood, but it clotted.  After an eight hour stay and a lot of arguing with the doctor, we were sent home.  It was pretty much pointless, although we really feel like she should have been admitted.  Our pediatrician did too, and said as much when we followed up with him the next day.

They still don't know what she has!  They're calling it viral at this point, but we seriously doubt that it is viral because Abby was around a lot of people the few days before Christmas, and us every day...no one has gotten anything that are similar to her symptoms.  I really think they're just saying that it is viral because they don't know what else it could be.

She got sick again today, so I called GI to see if they had any recommendations.  The doctor was none too happy with the ER doctor that she was not consulted about Abby, and said that her rate should have been slowed way down when she first started to be sick.  Now, Abby is only taking pedialyte at a very slow, continuous rate.  She'll not go back to full feeds until Monday, at the earliest.  The goal is to try to keep her from getting sick anymore.  (In case you don't realize, throwing up is really dangerous for trach kids because they have a hole that leads right to their lungs.  Vomit can get into the lungs and cause aspiration pnemonia very easily.  You really want to avoid getting sick at all costs!)

We're also all worried about dehydration because there are other tummy issues going on that have resulted in numerous clothing changes each day!  Her wet diapers have been minimal, but I'm hoping that this continuous feed of pedialyte will help.  We are keeping an eye on it.

My poor girl seems fine when she isn't eating (regular feeds--pedialyte is fine), but she is absolutely miserable when she is getting sick.  She fell asleep almost immediately after her stomach was emptied.  So sad!

So the saga continues...just what does Abby have????  She'll have been symptomatic for a week tomorrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Special Needs Moms Rock

‎1. Because they never thought that "doing it all" would mean doing this much. But they do it all, and then some.

2. Because they've discovered patience they never knew they had.

3. Because they are willing to do something 10 times, 1,000 times if that's what it takes for their kids to learn something new.

4. Because they have heard doctors tell them the worst, and they've refused to believe them.

5. Because they have bad days and breakdowns and bawl fests, then they pick ourselves up and keep right on going.

6. Because they manage to get themselves together and out the door looking pretty good. Heck, they even make sweatpants look attractive.

7. Because they are strong. Who knew they could be this strong?

8. Because they aren't just moms, wives, cleaners, chauffeurs, cooks and women who work. They are also physical therapists, speech therapists, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, nurses, researchers, coaches and cheerleaders.

9. Because they understand their kids better than anyone else does - even if they can't talk or gesture or look them in the eye. They know. They just know.

10. Because just when it seems like things are going OK, they're suddenly not, but they deal. They deal even when it seems like their heads or hearts might explode.

11. Because when they look at their kids they just see great kids. Not kids with cerebral palsy/autism/Down syndrome/ADHD/developmental delay/whatever label. ♥

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Christmas Tradition I Would Like to Discontinue

Last Christmas, we celebrated at Mount Washington. This Christmas, we were fortunate to spend most of it with family and enjoyed opening presents Christmas morning, but the last few hours were spent at the JHH ER.

Abby’s secretions had increased on Christmas Eve, and we were keeping an eye on them. Nothing major, so we weren’t worried. Christmas morning, we had to suction her five times between 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. For Abby, that is a lot. We normally only suction three times a day! Although we had planned for the whole family to attend church (we had just one service, so we could drive together), I decided that it would be too hard to bring Abby in and out for suctioning. Matt dropped Abby and me off to hang out at my parents’ house (where we were going after church anyway).

Abby continued to need frequent suctioning throughout the day, and it was obvious that she just wasn’t feeling well. I lost count at the number of times we suctioned somewhere around 16, which is more than we have ever done! During her evening feed while we were all eating dinner, I was giving Abby a little taste of solid foods when she vomited. I wasn’t overly concerned because she didn’t like what I was giving her to taste, so I figured it was a spite thing…she does that, you know! It became pretty obvious that she was truly sick when she vomited three more times in the next half an hour. She was also feeling pretty warm. At that point, we called the pulminologist on call at the hospital, since we were pretty sure she had an infection of some sort.

The pulminologist was paged and while we waited for her to call back, I counted out Abby’s respiratory rate and took an oxygen saturation levels read (with her pulse oximeter). Her respiratory rate was 78 at rest (her average is in the 40s), and her saturation levels were 92% (she is usually right around 99 or 100%!) Her heart rate was also very fast at 176 (usually around 130 while awake and 100 while asleep).

When the pulminologist called back, she at first wanted to see if Abby could be maintained at home and then seen by her pediatrician the next morning. However, when I gave her the rate statistics I had collected, she said that we needed to go to our local ER. We told her we would feel more comfortable just going directly to JHH, so she said she would call ahead to let them know we were coming.

Poor Abby was absolutely miserable, although she managed to sleep during the ride there. When we woke her up to go into the hospital, she was quite possibly the saddest little girl I have ever seen. Her cheeks were bright red, her eyes were red and puffy, and she was burning up. Plus, she managed to vomit two more times while I was holding her in the ER.  :(

They ran a bunch of tests on her, including flu and RSV—both of which came back negative. They took some blood to run additional tests, and even used a catheter to get a urine sample. THAT was fun! If that’s not potty training motivation, I don’t know what is! She was started on an IV, which the tech managed to get on the first try, although she did have to draw blood from a different site because the vein wouldn’t bleed. They also did a blood gas test, which they were thankfully able to do from her line. That’s one miserable test!!

In the ER, the doctors were tossing around the idea of Abby going to the PICU because of her respiratory rate and the amount of suctioning that was needed. This made me nervous because it seemed like it must be really serious for them to consider the PICU. Thankfully, she settled down enough overnight to be able to go to the Intermediate Care Unit, which is where we have always been.

Unfortunately, there was not a bed available in the IMC. Because of her trach/vent, she has to go either there or the PICU, so going to the regular pediatric floor wasn’t an option. So, in the ER we stayed for the night! Let me tell you, there’s not a lot of sleeping going on in the ER! Most people don’t stay all night, I suppose, so I guess they thought 3 a.m. would be a good time to buff the floors with the super-loud buffer. Plus, there were lots of screaming kids who didn’t like getting IVs and blood drawn. Poor Abby slept quite fitfully all night and cried whenever she woke up.

We were thankful to get up to the IMC around 10 a.m. on the 26th. We know a lot of the nurses there and they are very knowledgeable about trachs and vents.   The pulminology team saw her around 8:30 a.m. on the 27th and decided she’d be fine to go home “in a few hours.” Translated in hospital time, that meant that we left there at 3:30!!! We got the initial discharge papers at 2:30, but some of the stuff wasn’t specific enough for home care. By the time they redid it and we got the prescription filled (there were insurance issues…shocker!), we didn’t leave until 3:30. Ahhhh, hospital time!

Once again, we are thankful to RMH for being our home away from home! We slept there on the 26th and were able to get a bit of rest after a long night/day. They are so sweet to us!

At this point, we are still waiting for the trach culture and blood work to come back. Hopefully, the point of infection will be identified so that the best antibiotic can be used. They initially wanted to keep Abby in the hospital until they knew what the infection was, but then decided that she was feeling so much better that she would be fine to go home. Right now, Abby is being given a broad-range IV antibiotic to hopefully kill whatever infection it is. They’ll change if needed when the results come back.

Abby will also be going back on the Tobi nebulizer, which is that crazy antibiotic she was on at the beginning of December...remember, the one that is toxic for us???  Yeah, well...she's doing another round!  Then, she'll begin a schedule of a month on and a month off....indefinitely.  We're going to be very well aquainted with the Tobi around here.  Gas masks, anyone??


We got home around 5:45 after stopping at RMH to grab our things and pack up, as well as pick up Caleb from my sister’s house. A nurse met us there to do an in-take assessment, which is something that has to be done every time she goes into the hospital before nursing can resume. It can only be done by specifically-trained RNs, which makes it rather difficult at times…it’s one of those things that has to be done, but they have trouble finding people who can come. Last night was one of those times, and there was a possibility that we wouldn’t have night nursing. Thankfully, someone was able to come and it all worked out.

Abby slept well last night and seems to be feeling much better now. She’s still sleeping as I type this, so I think she’s happy to be back in her own quiet bedroom without the crying babies!

For those of you who knew, thank you for your prayers! I’m sorry that I’m just now writing the details about what happened. I didn’t have my laptop until the evening of the 26th, I don’t blog while Abby is awake, and I was way too tired to blog by the time we got back to RMH that night! This is literally the first chance I had to write.

Next year, I will not be writing any posts about how I’m excited to be home on Christmas. That was definitely not a good idea on my part!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Okay to Stare

In the December issue of Parents Magazine, there is a great little article called, "It's Okay to Stare."  The writer and two of her children have a rare condition that causes them to be missing fingers and toes, so they have dealt with more than their share of rude comments and staring. 

I loved the article because it is so similar to how I feel about the questions and comments.  This was my favorite part of the piece.  It is almost exactly what I have said multiple times when I speak about little kids staring: 

"All young kids are curious when they see a person who looks different, whether it's a child with a disability or a grown-up who's obese. I've observed (even while being observed) that children blurt out what's on their mind not only to quench their thirst for knowledge but also because they're worried that the same strange condition could happen to them. Their poor parents usually don't know how to react, and so they stifle their kid's questions in order to spare themselves embarrassment. That mom at the Empire State Building may have had the best of intentions when she prevented her son from saying something that could have offended us, but she sent him the message that Ethan and I were strangers to be feared, rather than individuals who were worth getting to know."

It's worth a read, either in print or through the link above.  I was really excited when I found it online, because I really wanted to share it with ya'll!  :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ornaments

I do not have a "pretty" Christmas tree.  There's no fancy ribbon on it, I don't have a theme, and my lights work sporatically in different sections, resulting in a weird blinking/no lights pattern.  I like to think of it as whimsical.

Yeah, that's it!

What my tree lacks in beauty, it makes up for in sentiment.  I'll never have a pretty tree, because I think my tree is pretty darn special.  We've got handmade ornaments not only from Caleb, but from Matt and me as kids as well.  There are photo ornaments from various years.  We have ornaments marking special occasions.  Decorating the tree every year is like a walk down memory lane, and I love it! 

On the nights when Matt is gone and Caleb is asleep, Abby and I have been hanging out by the tree and spending time looking at the ornaments.  She really loves to examine each one, hold it in her hand, maybe shake it, and occasionally...throw it!  (This happened last night and resulted in one less red ball on the tree!)

Here are a few of the ornaments that spark a memory or have sentimental value.

Matt's trumpet, which was a huge part of his high school life (I hear he's making a comeback...) :)

A sweet ornament made just a few weeks ago at Caleb's preschool


A CC heritage ornament that shows the one-room schoolhouse (I took many field trips there as a teacher!)


On the left is a Santa ornament my grandmother gave me.  On the right is a handmade original by Matt Leach, circa 1983.


In college, the Resident Assistants came up with a theme every year for their residence hall.  We were the Nanticoke Divas my junior year, and our Area Director made us these.  That was the most fun group of ladies to work with, and we had a lot of laughs!!   (That was also the year I "met" my husband!)  Is it "meeting" him when you've already known him 10 years and just didn't realize he was created for you?


A picture of hmm...7? year old Matt (quite the baseball lover, even at an early age!)


Our sweet Becky Dog.  Miss her. :(


Caleb made this a few weeks ago. :)


I got this at a shop in Salzburg that is nothing but these blown, handpainted eggs!  It is quite a site to behold!  This one of a kind is of the city of Salzburg.  The most amazing part is that I managed to get this back home without breaking it!  Needless to say, this one hangs hiiiiiiiiigh on the tree.


Another Matt Leach original, circa unknown (2010?)  


An ornament given to us when we moved into this house, which was a BIG deal!  I remember thinking that this house was HUGE and we would never fill it...ha!  (Our previous house was teeeeeeny and we didn't even have room for a saucer for Caleb.  That was one of the first things I bought when we moved in here!)


There are many more ornaments, but I hope you enjoyed taking a look-see at a few of them!  :)

Today and Always...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

This is Not Your Typical Christmas Post

You've been warned!  :)

This time last year, I was trying to skillfully put toys out in our tiny little room at RMH without Caleb waking up.  This was no easy feat, considering he was in a bed about 4 feet away.  Thankfully, he's a pretty sound sleeper!  I'm pretty sure I was also teary-eyed because of our situation.  RMH does a fantastic job of creating memories for families and the toys that are donated are pretty amazing, but it does not replace the comfort of home.  It is not easy being away from home for the holidays, even when your home is only 2 hours away.  For us, home is truly where the heart is, and our hearts were firmly planted in Baltimore with our brave little girl in that hospital bed.  There was no way we were leaving her.

This year, I went to church with my family, started a new tradition of going out to eat afterwards, came home and let them open up one present, and tucked my sweet kiddos into bed.  Then the fun began!  :)  Tomorrow morning, we will be woken up by one very excited little boy and we'll all head downstairs to open presents and see what Santa left. We'll head to church and then spend the afternoon with my family.  It will all be a very welcome change from last year!!

A few days ago, we went back to RMH for a very special toy drop.  (There will be a post devoted just to that in the near future--I just have to load the pictures off of my camera!)  I met a lovely woman there who was thankful for the toys that were donated, but it was all bittersweet.  She was from a different state and her daughter was supposed to be out of the hospital before Christmas.  Unfortunately, there were some complications and that wasn't going to happen.  This woman was going to be staying with her daughter for Christmas while her other children and husband were back home. 

We had a good talk and I listened to her share her story.  I told her that I understood how she was feeling and shared a little of our story.  We felt even more connected when I realized that she was in the same room that we had called home for three months!!  We shared some tears and I gave her a hug, but I couldn't offer any encouraging words of advice or anything...because there aren't any that will help. 

Being away from home for the holidays in any capacity (illness, military, work, etc.) is just not fun.  It's especially difficult when you have medical worries on top of the sadness you're feeling.  It's kinda hard to get into the holiday spirit, ya know?

So this Christmas, please take a moment to remember all of those at hospitals and places like RMH around the world.  Those families are trying to make the best of a difficult situation, but it is just not easy.  Count your blessings and hug your healthy** kiddos, because you never know when that could be you. 

**I'm hugging my two healthy kiddos, because in comparison to last year, Abby is quite healthy!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gingerbread House

One of Caleb's (8, now, thanks to the tear-off links he made at preschool!) Advent calendars has pockets with a special treat written on a little slip each day.  Sometimes it's an activity, like go Christmas caroling, something it's a prize, like eat a special dessert, and sometimes it's a get-out-of-jail free card, like a no-chores day! 

Last Tuesday, his slip said we would make a gingerbread house together...and make it, we did!  I lathered on the icing while the boy meticulously placed each and every piece of candy.  We also made windows and doors and drew faces on the windows with edible markers.  Caleb even made "bushes" out of icing and candy so that Abby could enjoy a taste too.  He'd just eat the candy for her so she wouldn't choke.  Isn't he thoughtful?  :)

Caleb gets bitter if people eat his house though.  I keep telling him that's what it is for!

The reindeer (like a cheap Elf on the Shelf) got into the gingerbread house the other night and ate all of the M&Ms off of one section.  He even had frosting on his nose!


Caleb even flipped all of the Skittles over S-side down to keep Matt from eating them all (Matt likes Skittles, but not M&Ms.)  Matt's too smart for that though, and was able to pick them out by their slightly rounder shape. 

Were you aware that the gingerbread house is a German tradition?  True story!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Preschool Christmas Program

Caleb's preschool put on a great Christmas program.  They sang probably 7 songs and memorized 2 poems with actions.  I was really impressed with how well they did!

Here's my drummer boy leading the band in.

After each song, the bowed and curtsied.  It was their favorite part, and they would all giggle every time they did it.  Adorable!!




Pay close attention to the bowing and curtsying in these videos.  :)



I was very impressed with how nicely he sang.  He sings all of the time, but rarely in front of a group.  He's not camera shy at all, but he seems to get stage fright. I was glad to hear him singing!




I can't believe my boy will be in Kindergarten next year!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rare Love

As an update to my post the other day...

I have started a Facebook group called Rare Love.  It was created specifically for families whose children have rare syndromes or diseases, because there often is no support group for them!  While we may not deal with the same symptoms or daily issues, we all have felt isolated.  My hope is that we can encourage and support one another.

Right now, there are already 24 people in the group!  We're sharing our stories, inspirational quotes, and a few pictures.  It's already encouraged me quite a bit to know that my feelings are shared by others.

If your child has a rare syndrome or disease, look Rare Love up on Facebook!  This is a "closed" (private) group, so you will need to ask to join (in the upper right hand corner of the RL page).  If you know someone who could benefit from the support, please feel free to pass this information along! 

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispie Treats

Update:  This is now an award winning recipe.  Yes, folks, it's that good!!!  Ha ha!  Our MOPS group votes on the favorite dishes of the night, and mine won 2nd place...which means a point for our table!!!!  (We're doing a year-long competition to try to win a kid-free date night, and it is quite competitive!) :)

-----

I am not a baker.  Seriously.  I set our smoke alarm off on a regular basis, and I'd be lying if I blamed it solely on the fact that our smoke alarm is very close to my oven. 

But, I can make these!  And I make them well!  Probably because I don't have to use the oven.  I'm sure it's because my baking skills are improving.


I even used some for gifts, as I mentioned in a previous post.


The hardest part, by far, was finding the peppermint marshmallows.  If you're local, no store in CC sells them.  Trust me.  I've been in them all!  I had to go down south across the bridge to the Super Walmart!  I may or may not have bought 6 bags of them.


So, if you aren't a baker, try them.  If you are a baker, then go ahead and make your own puffy crispy rice and homemade marshmallows and peppermint sticks...I bet I'll be done and chowing down way before you.  :)

Either way, try them!  They're yummmmmmmmmy! (and the marshmallows are awesome all by themselves....although, I wouldn't know...)

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispie Treats


Recipe by Our Best Bites

Ingredients

1 10.5 ounce bag peppermint mini marshmallows*

4 tablespoons real butter, plus extra to butter pan

5-6 cups rice krispie style cereal (I don't measure...I just pour in about 1/2 a box)

3 tablespoons semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

3 tablespoons white chocolate chips (I skipped these--not a white chocolate fan)

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided

a few drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) peppermint extract

2-3 medium sized candycanes, crushed (I didn't think this was enough.  I did about 5 per batch, but crushed a whole box at once.)

*In place of the peppermint marshmallows, use regular marshmallows and add about 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract to melted marshmallow mixture. Or more to taste, I’m guessing on the amount.  (I did this before I finally found the peppermint marshmallows.  I just poured a bit in...no measuring!  Maybe that's why I'm not usually such a good baker....)

Instructions:

Line a 9×13 pan with foil (didn't use foil and it was fine!) and lightly butter bottom and about 1 inch up sides.

Melt butter in a very large bowl in the microwave. Add marshmallows and stir to coat. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. (You can do that whole process on the stovetop as well.) Add rice krispie cereal and stir to evenly combine. With buttered hands, press mixture into prepared pan.

Place white chocolate chips and 1/4 teaspoon oil in a small bowl. (Skipped the white chocolate, but do it if you like it!)  Heat in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Repeat same process with semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips and add a few drops of peppermint extract. Drizzle both chocolates on top of rice krispie treats and sprinkle candy canes on top. Let sit until chocolate is set, place pan in fridge to speed process along. Cut into squares and eat up.

Monday, December 19, 2011

One of Those Days

Today was just one of those days.  It gets really lonely here in crazy-rare-syndrome-that-no-one-understands-land.  But, my wonderful sister planted a seed in my brain, and I think I'm going to start a support group here for people in our area.  If I made it for Cerebrocostomandibular Syndrome, I have a feeling I'd be sipping hot chocolate by myself at the library.  So I was thinking about making it for all families with children who have rare syndromes or diseases.  I have a feeling they all probably feel lonely now and then, so we can certainly be a support to each other in at least that aspect. 

I have absolutely no experience with face to face support groups (all of mine are online) and no idea how to start one!  But I'm going to make some calls and try to get something going, because everybody needs someone they can relate to.  And as much as my friends want to, they just can't.  I live a very different life.

So, wish me luck!  I welcome any advice regarding starting the support group...please!!

PS:  Isn't this picture describing Abby to a T?!

This Christmas...

Give the gift of Lock and Lock!!

I sure am! We've given all of Abby's nurses and Caleb's teachers Lock and Lock in some form or another (and always with food inside!) and these treats are for his Sunday school teachers.  Water bottles, round containers, and these rectangular containers have all been given as gifts this year.  Our day nurse is well aware of my L&L obsession and asked if I wanted the container back after she finished the treats!  :)  I assured her that that was part of the gift.

Germaphobe note:  I most definitely washed the containers thoroughly before putting the treats inside.  This was done at the risk of the recipient thinking I was giving them a used container (They were new!  I promise!), but I figured they'd appreciate their food being in a clean container.

Stay tuned for the recipe for these delicious peppermint chocolate rice crispie treats!  :)

PS:  Matt discovered my L&L stash today and mandated that I never buy any ever again.  Don't worry, that won't last long.  :)

Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer

Caleb's version, that is!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How Big is Abby?

SOOOOOOOOO Big!


Abby learned a new trick. :)

On the Move!!!

I'm not sure that this counts as "official" crawling, but the girl is most certainly moving.  This is a pretty big milestone, considering we weren't sure that Abby would ever crawl.  I love when my girl proves "them" wrong!!

You can also get a pretty good view of the rolling AND pushing to a sitting position all by herself!  That wasn't even what I was going for when I took the video--added bonus!  (Sorry it all kind of fell apart at the end there!)  :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

For My Birthday...

I was surprised with this when I left my last school of the day:

In all honesty, I was a little confused at first and thought maybe that wasn't my car!  But no, there was my Relay magnet, and the lights were flashing as I hit the unlock button!

I liked the characters Matt picked out....all very appropriate!  I especially love my angel dog, Becky.  :(  We all still really miss her.

Oh yeah, and I also got something else for my birthday...the camera I used to take the picture!!  Yep, still working on that one.  I think this is the last holiday for it though.  It's worth it.  I have gotten sooooooo much use out of it!!!

How to Make a Snow Globe

When we were at Homestead Gardens recently to see the trains, Abby fell in love with this snow globe.  It was glass and expensive, so I wouldn't let her hold it, but I shook it around for her to watch the snow falling.  She sat mesmerized until I put it back on the shelf...then, she burst into tears and had herself a full-on fit! 

My sister sent me the link to a how-to on homemade snowglobes on http://www.ourbestbites.com/ (quite an addiction, I might add--way more than just another food blog!)

I didn't follow the how-to exactly, because I didn't put Caleb and Abby's pictures in the snow globe.  I don't have laminating access and didn't want to pay out the wazoo for two little pictures at an office supply store.  Plus, Caleb was quite content to pick out an ornament to put in his.  :)

I used two little glass baby food jars, which are a good size for little hands.  I hot glued the ornament to the lid. 


Then I filled the jar with water and dumped a fair amount of glitter in it.  I've heard you can use glycerine to help the glitter float better, but it did just fine on its own.


(Notice that this is a different snow globe--the red one was Caleb's, and this one with the snow man and tree is Abby's.)  I put the lid with the ornaments on it into the jar with the water in it, screwed it shut, and turned it upside down.  Then I glued around the edge of the lid to seal the jar.  I don't need glittery water all over my floor!


Abby was quite enthralled with it, although I could never get a picture of her shaking it.  She's shaking her foot here--does that count?


If you're looking for a quick, easy, do-it-yourself winter craft for your kiddos, here you go!  Only, PLEASE use good hot glue instead of the cheap stuff.  Mine is cheap, which hasn't been a problem...until now.  The next morning after we did the craft and I took all of the pictures, the ornaments came unglued in both of the snow globes and are now floating around in the jar.  Abby doesn't care--it just makes more noise now, which suits her just fine!  Caleb was pretty bitter though.  None of the ornaments are heavy and I used plenty of glue, so I'm chalking it up to cheap glue.  Sadness.  I want to try this again when I have better quality glue...and a way to laminate so that I can put a picture in it!

If you make this, let me know how it goes!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The German Pickle


We have a tradition in our house where people who come have to find the pickle on our tree.  Has anyone else ever heard of this?

It's a German tradition where the parent hides it on Christmas Eve and the first child to find it gets a special gift. We don't do a present for finder and we hung it on our tree when we did the other ornaments, but it's fun see who is actually able to spot it.  It's always hidden in the boughs of the tree behind some other ornaments, so we don't make it too easy on you!

If you want to read more than you ever wanted to know about the origins of the Christmas pickle, go here!

Perhaps that's a weird family tradition to have, but it's our family tradition--and I love it!  What are some of your quirky (or not so quirky!) Christmas traditions?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You Look Tired

"You look tired," says the unassuming clerk at the grocery store to the mom with two kids.  One, a bouncy little girl with golden curls, rides in the car in front of the cart while the other, a boy of maybe two, stares blankly into space in the front basket, supported by the blankets on either side of him.  His tongue escapes his mouth a bit and there is a little drip of drool on his chin.  A plastic tube protrudes from his neck, and he makes a noisy sound each time he breathes.

"Tired?" the young mom shakes her head and chuckles.  "Yes, I suppose I am tired.  I'm tired of my son's life having to be so hard.  I'm tired of every achievement finally coming only after months of therapy and exercise.  I'm tired of the looks that other people give the son that I love so much.  I'm tired of the stares I can feel even when I'm not looking.  I'm tired of the rude and insensitve comments people make.  I'm tired of the phrases mentally retarded, compared to normal children, and severe learning delays.  I'm tired of the petty complaints people have about how their kids talk too much when all I wish for is for my son to say Momma.  I'm tired of the medical bills that we can't afford to pay, yet we find the money because we want to give our son the best chance at life.  I'm tired of feeling like I live at the hospital more than my house.  I'm tired of feeling isolated, even from the friends who want to understand but just can't.  I'm tired of doctors attempting to dictate what my son will and will not be able to do.  But most of all, I'm tired of others being too afraid to look past my son's outer appearance to discover the joy and love he holds inside."

With that, the courageous young mother kissed her son on the top of his head and pushed her cart to the exit of the store.  If she had looked back over her shoulder, she may have noticed the tears streaming down the cheeks of the clerk.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes...

I made this handprint ornament a year ago.  When I did it, I was praying that it wouldn't be Abby's first and last Christmas.

Happy birthday to me. :)  A beautiful family is the best present ever.

The Hardest I Have Laughed in a Long Time

I turn 30 today. 

I know.  Ugh.

Meanwhile, I still get mistaken for a student at the 2 middle schools (not to even mention the high school!) I work at.  No one seems to notice my CCPS ID, or the fact that I carry a laptop and wheel around a crate full of materials.  Doesn't every middle schooler do that??

Anyway, I digress...

So, last Friday, Matt had a surprise date planned for us.  I really thought the surprise was that he had no idea what we were doing, but I was pleasantly mistaken on that one.  He had arranged to have our awesome friends Jenn and Steven meet us at Walmart (Matt said he had to stop and get something, and then all of the sudden they jumped in the van!)  We then went to The Silver Skewer, a Persian restaurant that I'm shocked Matt would even consider, let alone like.  It was really good though, and right up my alley.  I love ethnic food and rarely get to be adventurous because about as "ethnic" as my steak-and-potatoes-loving-husband gets is The Olive Garden.  :)

After dinner, we came back to our house, let our nurse head home early, and then sat down to play a new game.  Abby was thoroughly entertained by it!

It's called Quelf, and it is hysterical!!  I think it is best played with close friends though, because there were things that we could say and do to each other that would be awkward with peopole we don't know as well as Jenn and Steven! 

It's a hard game to explain, but you have different things you have to say and do, depending on the cards you draw.  For example, Matt had to announce, "Excuse me please.  I feel a question coming on!" in a loud voice with his hands in the air every time he wanted to ask a question.  If he didn't and we caught him, he had to go back two spaces.  I had to rate each person's action they did on their turn or I would have to go back spaces. 

Here are a few pictures from some of our funniest moments.  I promise Jenn was there too!  I don't know why I didn't take pictures or video of her yodeling with her finger up her nose while she tried to roll a two three times!!  :)

Steven had to use something nearby as a neck tie, so he grabbed my fuzzy scarf.  BTW:  That's Jenn's finger!  Proof that she was there.  :)

Matt had to carry a plunger like a scepter for part of the game.

As a punishment for not doing what he should have for one of the cards, Steven had to wrap himself in wrapping paper (or in this case, butcher paper, since it was convenient).  He was also the one who had to lick his teeth and say, "Willy Wonka has arrived" in a creepy voice and slap his knee and yell, "Char, char, char!" everytime someone laughed...which was often...

We all had bullseyes that we hung on our clothes.  If anyone looked at it and we caught them, they had to go back two spaces.  Steven was mean here.  :)

He seemed to get all of the "good" ones!  Here, he had to pretend to have a movie camera and do a running commentary on whatever Jenn did. 

It may sound really dumb...and it was, but in a hysterical way!!  I haven't laughed this hard in a long time, and laughing is good for the soul.  And the heart.  I probably burned a few of the calories I gained from our meal from all of the laughing.  :)

Fun, fun night.  It helped me to transition into the realm of 30 just a little easier.  Thanks, Jenn and Steven, for being great friends that we can laugh with!!! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yum!

"My" kids (the two classes I work with on a regular basis) will hopefully be enjoying some yummy gingerbread men--so that I don't have to bring them home and eat them all myself!  They are GOOD...a little too good!
(I'm teaching a little lesson on German holiday traditions to go along with their social studies unit on world cultures, and the Gingerbread house is a German tradition.  Since I can't really bring in materials to make houses, I figured cookies would suffice.)  :)

Look What's Coming!!!


After spending last holiday season packed up in the garage...






The Christmas dishes have officially been sprung!!
These dishes are so "me."  I'm not a fancy person in the slightest, and I love how fun and cute...and blue...these are!


My favorite is the salad plates, which we use for virtually everything except salad.  If I have salad, I eat it in a bowl.  Weird?  The "salad" plates have three different scenes on them, and they are all equally cute and whimsical!  My fav is the three caroling snowmen, though.



Yay for Christmas dishes!  Because I do not live in a huge house where I have room for two sets of dishes, our everyday dishes are packed up in the same packaging we keep the Christmas dishes during the off-season and stored in the garage.  The nice thing about these dishes is that there's really nothing "Christmasy" about them, so I can (and do) keep them out all winter.  I usually put them away in February...or so... :)