Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye old year...

Hello, new one!

2010 was a bit of a rough year for our family - between job difficulties for Daddy Mac, financial difficulties as a result of those job difficulties, surgery and following therapies for Miss Sunshine, the list goes on. We weathered the trials and have faith that with the new year will come better news for all of us.

It's a time of new beginnings. Many people talk about making resolutions. The thing about these New Year Resolutions, however, is that many do not stick. Oh sure, people do great for the first month or three, but somewhere around Easter, our resolve weakens and slowly but surely those resolutions slip out the window.

You may have noticed that I have not done such a good job of keeping up the blog with my weight loss journey, as I vowed to do back at the beginning of November. Well, the honest truth is that I simply haven't done anything to blog about. All my grandiose plans for change? Well, life pretty much got in the way. However, I am not longer going to let that pass for an excuse.

The time has come, my friends. The time to change. To make myself, my life, what I have wanted it to be. To that end, I present, not my resolutions, but my life-changes:

Lose the weight. That pretty much says it all. I've researched available classes that will fit in with my work and life schedule at the gym, and I am determined to make this work. I am stocking up on good munchies, like veggies, to try and curb my desire for more food so I can reduce my portion sizes at meals and not still feel hungry. I will go to the gym daily - sometimes just for some time on the elliptical, sometimes to take a class of one type or another, sometimes to lift some weights. But the time has come.

Lose the stress. This may be my hardest goal. I have always been a high-stress person. Even things that really don't deserve to be stressed about have a way of driving me nuts. I'm hoping to find that center of balance, that will allow me to take some deep breaths and let go. It's going to take a lot of work, and I know it.

Get organized. We are in the process of finishing off the soon-to-be-toyroom bedroom in our basement. ALL of the kids toys (well, the ones we are keeping at any rate) will be going in this room. I will be getting rid of a large portion of toys - I have no intention of moving toys into this room that do not get played with. It's time for them to get out of my house. I have already gone through the kids clothing and pulled all clothes that no longer fit from their closets and dresssers. Some items will be kept in storage (each child has a large tub for their old clothes that I'm not quite ready to part with) and others will find their way to the DAV. I will also be going through my own clothing, as well as Daddy Mac's. Once this is completed, it will be on to our storage room. We both have a bad habit of holding on to things we really don't need. That time is over. I did a purge in June when we held our garage sale, but it seems like already things are getting out of control again. So it's time now to get serious and get this stuff out of my house and out of my life.

Be Happy. This is my final goal. Be happy. Who cares what I am happy with? Who cares if the carpet needs vacuumed? I can be happy that the kitchen is clean. Who cares if I need to lose weight? I can be happy that there is food on the table to eat. Who cares if Miss Sunshine needs another surgery? I can be happy that I have a happy, healthy child. And so on and so forth. Does this mean I will just dismiss those concerns? Certainly not. But I can strive to be happy in spite of them. I'm halfway there. Time to get rid of my negativity and work on the positivity.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The beauty of song.

So, Monster Boy had his very first ever school concert a few weeks ago. Granted, he and his classmates only sang two songs, but it was so adorable.

I couldn't find the charger for our camcorder, so I had to settle for the video option on my camera (which is not so hot itself). So I apologize for the quality of the video, but for your viewing enjoyment, here he is!



And, another one. Just because!



(I know you can't see him at all in the first one, and the second one is not much better, but in case you were looking for him - Monster Boy is the little one in the blue shirt front and center on the second video)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where does the time go?

So I had planned all these great Christmas posts and such. They haven't happened. The last two weeks have been pure insanity around our house and getting things done, well, it just hasn't happened.

I promise I'll get back to Christmas, probably after the New Year!

But for now, I want to concentrate on something more important, at least to me. Monster Boy turned SIX yesterday. I can't believe my baby boy is SIX! When did that happen? How did he go from this:


To this?


My beautiful boy. I'm so very honored to be his mom (Well, okay, MOST days I'm honored). I'm just not ready for him to grow up.

And to top THAT off - I discovered today that he has his very first loose tooth. Which I'm ALSO not ready for. How can he be that big? Really? I wiggled it myself to confirm, and yes, indeed, a loose tooth is present. *SOB*. I want to rewind him back to that itty bitty baby, please.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Talking.

Miss Sunshine had her monthly visit with the speech therapist today. And, oh boy, was it a WONDERFUL visit.

The speech therapist was SO impressed with how she is doing. She said that she is completely on track with her speech and is in fact a bit accelerated, especially considering that she was behind not even four months ago!

And in even more wonderful, exciting speech news - we will not be seeing our therapist again until February! (Not that we don't like our ST, because we do. We like her very much actually. But not seeing her means Miss Sunshine is progressing so well that the need is reduced!) She will come back when Miss Sunshine is two and reevaluate again, and we will go from there.

We are noting some nasality in Miss Sunshine's speech - mainly when she had to transition to a non-nasal vowel from a nasal consonant. In particular, we hear it when she says "Snacks". "N" is a VERY nasal letter (Go ahead and say it. You'll notice that you can feel a lot of the sound coming out your nose if you concentrate on it). And she just has a hard time transitioning to a proper sounding "A" after that "N". Her ST (speech therapist, in case you didn't already catch that) says this is totally normal, and likely something she will outgrow, as she CAN say the non-nasal vowels properly when they are not behind a nasal consonant. It's along the same lines as the ear tubes - it's just going to take TIME for the muscles of her palate to learn how to do their job now that they are in the correct place - and one of those jobs involves speech. So, we give it time. If she is still having issue with this at around age 4 or so, she may be checked to see if she is a candidate for another procedure, a pharyngeal flap (or P-flap as it is more commonly called) which somehow involves lengthening the back of her palate to create a better seal to reduce nasality, or at least, that is my understanding of it. I really haven't done a lot of research into the procedure as yet, because I am still hoping that it will wind up being unnecessary in Miss Sunshine's case. Only time will tell.

So for now, we are just going to be THRILLED with Miss Sunshine's progress, as her speech has always been at the top of our concerns, and now we can shove it to the back of the list. Well, honestly, now that we don't need to be so worried about it, that pretty much eradicates the list!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sometimes you just have to speak.

I met another cleft family this week.

Well, to be accurate, they go to my gym. You know, where I work in the drop-off nursery. And they drop their kids off there. And I noticed about two months ago that one of their daughters has cleft lip.

And I've been wary of saying anything - because the last time I said anything to someone, the mom got totally offended and basically rushed off before I could even tell her my daughter has cleft as well. And I completely do not think I said anything offensive, all I asked was if her daughter (who had a scar running from her lip up into her nose) had a cleft. She informed me that she did not, she was just born with the scar (which is what is called a microform cleft, by the way - and is what Joaquin Phoenix has - although he denies it... but I digress), and then rushed off. I totally wasn't trying to be rude, just to connect with another parent who has been there, you know?

So, last night, I worked up my guts and said something to the dad. And he was wonderfully receptive. And told me that I should speak to his wife, when I mentioned I didn't know any other cleft families HERE, because, as he put it - she's totally involved and educated and knows a lot more than he does. He travels for work, so he missed most of the nitty-gritty, aside from surgeries, and told me I'd be better off talking to her. So hopefully, one day soon, I will work up my guts AGAIN and say something to her.

Because as much as I know I can do this on my own- oh, how wonderful it would be to have another person HERE, live and in person, to talk to about my fears and struggles and such. Someone who has been where I have been, or am going, and can reassure me on these things.

I have a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful network of online support. But sometimes, a real, live person and not just a screen name on the web, would really be great too...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Well, so much for that plan...

I had grandiose plans to do lots of exercise this week as Monster Boy is out of school all week - so I was going to need that sanity time.

Unfortunately, Miss Sunshine decided this would be an opportune time to get sick. So I have not made it to the gym at all - I even had to call in to work yesterday to stay home with her. She'll be going in with me today, snotty nose and all, as she's been fever free since last night, but since she's refused to take a nap today (I am about at the point of duct taping her to the darn bed so she'll STAY IN IT), that just means I get to have a super cranky little girl with me today in the midst of all the insanity that Tuesdays bring at work. Ah well.

So, needless to say, the weight loss isn't going quite as I'd hoped it would at this point. I shall endeavor to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday and start fresh next week. SIGH. The best laid plans...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glory Days...

I have been working out this week. (I'm pretty proud of myself for this accomplishment. Hopefully I keep it up, AND start seeing some results from it). I worked out every morning for at least 30 minutes this week.

I also discovered this totally awesome app on my phone. It's called Pandora Radio - I'm sure many of you have heard of it. Well, Daddy Mac has been raving about it for some time, so I decided when my MP3 batteries died to give it a shot this week. And it's fantabulous.

I've long been a fan of what my husband likes to call "chick music" - or more accurately, indie rock female singers. You know - like Jewel before she was big and famous? (I still LOVE Jewel, I just don't think you can call her "indie rock" anymore). 4 Non Blondes, Alanis Morrissette, Sheryl Crow, Leah Andreone, the list goes on. And from back in the day (and by day, I mean early to mid-90's) especially.

So with this totally cool, awesome thing known as Pandora, you can type in the name of a favorite song or artist, and it will automatically create a "station" of music based on that one piece of info. So I've been rocking out to "Jewel radio" this week - and man, it's so cool. I've heard some great new stuff as well as some old classics (well, okay, no, they don't really qualify as classics, per se... but you get my drift...) and it's just been a good old time. So good, I've caught myself starting to sing out loud along with the songs - in the middle of the gym. Yeah, that was a bit embarrassing. Especially since I, you know, work there and all...

Anyways... where was I going with this? Oh, yes. Enjoying my music and my memories that go along with them... so I was curious - do you ever hear songs that make you stop and think "Oh, wow! Remember when?". I'd love to hear what some of them are - you people never comment on here and my blog posts are getting kind of lonely! So, come on, comment already!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Of naptimes and other craziness...

You know, being a stay at home mom is radically different than I ever thought it would be.

Before, there were never enough hours in the day, because the majority of them were spent away from my home, at my job. So I had limited time, in the evenings, to get things done.

Now, there just are not enough hours in the day. Every time I turn around, something else needs to be done, and there is nobody else there doing it and somehow it's already time to go pick Monster Boy up from school and head to work, or to the doctor, or to a play date, or to sports practice, or to Grandma's or whatever.

And trying to make time for ME in all of that mess? Forget about it. I'm lucky if I get showered by noon most days. Ah well. In the long run, it's certainly worth it. I wouldn't trade these moments for anything.

BUT. One thing I would trade? My daughters new-found refusal to take a nap. You see, we recently made the transition from crib to toddler bed with her. A bit early, possibly. But someone (cough, cough, Miss Sunshine, cough, cough) decided that it would be fun to try and climb out of their crib. And while I am all for inquisitiveness and exploration - falling over the top of a crib railing flat onto our heads? I'm not such a fan of that. So, we made the decision that it was toddler bed time. Which worked out great for the first few days. Miss Sunshine was SO terribly excited by her new bed, it was unbelievable. And since she is also Miss Independent, the appeal of getting into bed on her own for nap was huge, too. So, she'd climb in, and get settled, and I'd cover her up and give her kisses and off to dreamland she'd go. But then, about four days in, it finally clicked in her head. "Hey, I can get IN the bed on my own, I bet I can get OUT of the bed on my own, too!". And she did just that. And has continued, periodically, to do just that. Mostly on days when Mommy has to go to work in the evenings, which makes for one cranky, whiny, clingy little girl at the daycare center. Which means that Mommy spends roughly three hours a night CARRYING said little girl because she simply cries if Mommy (and ONLY Mommy) is not holding her. SIGH.

I'm trying not to jinx myself right now, because she is actually ASLEEP for nap time today, miraculously. And Mommy has to work tonight. And is praying that she won't have to carry Miss Sunshine everywhere. But is totally packing her sling just in case.

Because, man, my arms are getting TIRED.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Do you ever...

look in the mirror and dislike what you see?

Something I have struggled with nearly my entire life is my lack of self-confidence. My self-image. I have never been truly happy with myself, if you know what I mean. There has always been something, whether physical, intelligence-based, performance-based or what have you, that I have not been satisfied with.

While I do feel that everyone has room for improvement, I also know that there is a point that this dissatisfaction becomes unhealthy.

Many of my friends will tell you that I am talker. I am loud, I am opinionated, and I am not afraid to share it. But the reality is - I am not really that way. Oh, yes, I am that way with people that I KNOW. People that I am comfortable with. But people I have only just met or don't have a close acquaintance with? I am quiet and reserved. I probably come off as stuck-up or stand-offish. But the reality is - I am SHY. I am probably too concerned with other people's opinions and impressions of me, and it's something I struggle with daily.

Today I am starting a diet. Ever since Miss Sunshine's birth (well, really even before I got pregnant with her, but most especially since she's been born) I have struggled mightily with my weight. I currently weigh the most I have ever weighed in my life, with the exception of when I was heavily pregnant with Miss Sunshine. Yes, I even weigh more than (or equal to) what I weighed when I was my most pregnant with Monster Boy. There, I have admitted it. It makes me unhappy. Which makes me depressed, which makes me eat. It's a vicious cycle. I am an emotional eater - I always have been. So when I get upset about something, I eat. Which, you know, causes you to gain weight. It's a circle I have been stuck in for a while now. It certainly does not help matters that those little happy pills that I took for a while after Miss Sunshine was born also cause weight gain. Add those two things together and you get where I am now.

I am not obese. I am medically overweight, but not obese. If I lose 30-35 pounds, I will be dead center in the healthy weight range for my height. I'm shooting for 40 pounds of weight loss - not because I have an overwhelming desire to be skinny (because, let me face reality for a minute here - even if I do lose 40 lbs, I will never be skinny. I am just not built that way. Ah, the joys of having "child-bearing" hips....) but because I want to be HEALTHY. I want to feel GOOD about myself when I look in the mirror. I want to think to myself "Man, I look good for having two kids." Not be using "Well, I have two kids" as an excuse for the way that I look.

I have been researching my options - looking at the best ways to lose weight. Do I want fast results? Of course! Who doesn't? But I want results that are going to LAST as well. So I made the decision that I am not going to use a fad diet. I'm not going to go for those fast results. If the results come fast, well, then great. But that isn't my goal. I am going to reduce my portion size. I think this is a huge part of my issue. Along with that, I'm going to count my calories (at least in the beginning, until I get used to eating appropriate foods) and watch my fat intake. I'm going to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five days a week. And most of all, I'm going to have faith in myself that I can make this work.

This is about making a lifestyle change. Today is the first day of my "new" life. Life as a healthy person. Because I know one thing for certain - as much as Daddy Mac and I would both love to have another child - I'm not doing it until I reach my goal weight. I have, with both pregnancies, been lucky enough to lose most of, if not all, of my "baby weight" within 6 weeks of delivery. I've just developed a bad habit of putting it all back on about 6 months later. So, if I can get myself into a healthy lifestyle, at a healthy weight, and THEN get pregnant and have a baby, I have faith that not only will I have a healthy pregnancy (which would be a first for me, by the way) but that I will be able to maintain my healthy lifestyle AFTER my baby is born. So that I can be the best parent possible for ALL of my children.

And if we don't have that third child? Well, isn't it even better for the children I DO have to have a healthy, happy mother? A good example for how to eat healthy and live healthy?

So you, my friends, get to go on this journey with me. I'm not going to be recording every little thing that I eat here, or anything like that. In fact, I'm not even going to tell you my starting weight. I am, however, going to do a weekly check-in, as a way to keep MYSELF accountable for where I am at on my journey. Put it out there for all of you in cyber-space to see, so that I can't avoid it, I can't hide it, I can't run away from it. Starting today.

Today, I have 40 pounds to go.




This little ticker will take up residence on my sidebar for daily tracking (and a way to make myself enter my weight daily). Weekly, I will make a post solely with my weight left to lose as the title, and a blog posting about how I am feeling about my progress, along with a copy of said ticker, again.

Friday, November 12, 2010

On the road again...

Well, not really NOW. Now, we are back home again.

But we DID go to Chicago for a follow up with Shriner's this week, for Miss Sunshine's ear tubes. Everything checked out great! Her tubes are in place and functioning properly. She passed her hearing test, although the audiologist did make sure to inform me that at this point they are only testing her GENERAL hearing. She is too young yet to test individual hearing in each ear (do you remember the big old headphones they used back in school? Eventually they will do that kind of testing with Miss Sunshine to verify if she has any hearing loss in either ear) but her overall hearing, meaning the hearing in both ears combined, falls within normal range.

And, while we were in Chicago I got to meet two people who I know from the internet, but not in real life. Well, I suppose now I know them in real life! One is a mommy who also has a little girl with cleft and who is also going through Shriner's for her care (and her daughter is just beautiful!) and another is a mommy who has a little boy the same age as Miss Sunshine. We met up and took the kiddies to a children's museum, where they had a blast and we got some cute pictures. (And since I haven't had a chance to ask said Mommy yet if I can post pictures of her adorable little boy, I will regale you with pictures of Miss Sunshine alone - although I do think his arm shows up in one shot!)


She is dragging a cube over to use as a chair at this desk area in the "vet's office" here. Pretty inventive, this one.
Going grocery shopping. Capri Sun and fruit.

Pretending to be a checkout girl - just like Mommy did back in the day! (Well, okay, I didn't pretend, I really was a cashier at a grocery store for nearly four years in high school and college...)
Steering the ship!
She put herself in the cage. First thing she did after opening the door to it - and I totally saw it coming!

And we survived our horrendously long day in the airport the day after our appointment, and even managed to make it home a bit early on standby. And came straight home and went straight to bed, and got right back up and back in to everyday life. With the good news that everything is going well, we will go back for her one year post-op sometime in January or February, and I have every faith we will be released to yearly visits at that point, because of how well she is doing now. Such a huge weight off of our shoulders.

And now, well, I'm going to go get some rest because I still haven't caught up on all the sleep I didn't get while in Chicago (since I NEVER sleep well when sharing a room with either of my kids) this week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Still being thankful.

Today was fraught with insanity. (Oh, how I love busting out my mental thesaurus!)

Our thermostat in our house has been on the fritz. I cannot set the heat above 68 degrees, and if I try to, I get (not so) cool blue sparks coming out of it. We decided it was time for a new thermostat. On top of that, Monster Boy is in desperate need of new uniform pants for school since he underwent a sudden growth spurt about two weeks ago.

So today, after I dropped Monster Boy off at school, Miss Sunshine and I headed off on our adventure. First stop was a local (okay, really a LARGE national chain) home supply warehouse. After doing some searching, I discovered the thermostats. I also discovered that, since we have a heat pump rather than separate heating and air conditioning units, I got the privilege of spending MORE money on a thermostat. Ah well. I did get a programmable thermostat, however, which should save us money in the long run by allowing me to set it to different temperatures for different times of the day. So that was good news at least.

After the home supply store, it was off to another retail giant to get some basics. Laundry detergent, toothpaste, and of course, those now nearly infamous uniform pants. After some searching for our laundry detergent (because they now put all the free & clear detergents together, instead of with the same brand names - I know, made no sense to me either) which I have to be specific about thanks to Monster Boy's very sensitive skin, it was off to the little boys department for some uniform pants. (By the way, did you enjoy that giant run-on sentence? I know I did!) Much to my dismay, no pants were to be found. After about 20 minutes of digging and coming up with only size 12 Husky pants, I conceded defeat. As a consolation prize, I did, however, score a couple of Halloween costumes for $3 each for Monster Boy to play dress up in.

So now, it is time to make a trip to the dreaded mall. I have no other choice, as I have exhausted all my other store options for these darn uniform pants over the past week. So off we go. We get parked, I get out of the van to get Miss Sunshine out, and lo and behold - my jeans (the already distressed kind) have torn from pocket to knee straight down the front. Joy. As luck would have it, though, we were, as I mentioned, at the mall. So I walk straight in to the department store, straight to the women's clothes, and grab a pair of jeans, which are, as luck would have it, on sale for 50% off. I pay, head for the dressing room, and make a quick wardrobe adjustment. I am, however, pretty upset, as the pair of jeans that are now ruined were my most comfortable pair of jeans. But I don't have time to dwell at this point - it's on to our mission. Since I'm at the mall, I have decided to add another item to my list - black boots for Miss Sunshine. I already possess brown boots for her, but since she has an equal amount of clothes that require black shoes, I want a black pair as well. So off we go on our mission. Three stores later, I finally locate pants for Monster Boy, after a nice associate goes and checks their back room to see if they MAYBE have some in his size, since there aren't any among the six pairs currently on display. As luck would have it, they do, and I buy them out of their stock in his size. (That would be two pairs of pants, by the way). Now off to the shoe store. I find black boots, but not in Miss Sunshine's size. They check THEIR back room. No luck. They do locate in stock boots around the city for me and give me a list and a $3 off coupon though. I hit up another shoe store. This store has black boots in her size, but they do not zip up the side. Um, yeah, there is no way I'm getting imitation Ugg boots on this child that do not zip down the sides. Have you ever put shoes on a toddler? Then you know where I am going with this one. So that was out. Two more shoe stores later, and I am left to wonder why everyone has brown, pink, purple and red boots, but nobody seems to carry black ones. So that is a journey for another day.

So today, I am thankful that my jeans decided to wait to rip until I was at least at a place where I could replace them with jeans that were on sale!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Giving Thanks

(I promise I will provide you with happy Halloween pictures later. However, my camera and computer are not cooperating with each other right now and I am just not in the mood to deal with it, so you'll have to wait.)

Halloween has come and gone, and it is now November. On to Thanksgiving!

(On a side note, today is MY Daddy's birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad!)

I'm sure many, if not all, of you have seen the facebook thing that runs around in November encouraging people to post a status each day for one thing they are thankful for? I think it's a marvelous idea. It really makes you get down to the heart of the matter. By the end of the month, you can really be reaching deep within yourself to find something you are thankful for that you haven't already posted.

We are going to do a new variation on that this year, and I'm going to involve the kids. Well, okay, Monster Boy. Miss Sunshine isn't quite big enough yet to understand (or heck, tell us) what thankful is. But each night at bedtime, I'm going to have each of us say something we are thankful for and write it down. After the kids are in bed, I will then take scraps of fabric (probably quilting squares cut in half) and carefully write our "thanks" on each scrap of fabric. At the end of the month I will quilt them together to create a table runner for our Thanksgiving table. I will probably leave one end "unfinished" so we can continue to add to it next year, or perhaps I will just make new ones for each year. Either way, I think it's a great way to teach our kids about thankfulness, as well as creating wonderful memories, and a family heirloom to remind us how important it is that we give thanks for all that we have!

I'd love it if you'd like to join me in doing these things too - in fact, feel free to comment throughout the month with me and show me what you are doing too! I'll try to do a weekly update on the table runner and some of our "thanks" for the week.

And I'm going to start it off right with a little thanks of my own today : I am so very thankful for wonderful friends and family who are so loving when we need them to be, so supportive when we need them to be, and just so themselves when we need them to be!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

excitement

Monster Boy has today and tomorrow out of school for Parent/Teacher Conferences. Our very first! I'm trying to make a list of pertinent questions to have written down to ask so we can get the most out of our pretty short period of time with his teachers. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to fire them my way!

Tomorrow, Monster Boy is going to have a play date with his best little friend from pre-school. His friend's mommy called me last week and said that her son has been literally crying about seeing Monster Boy, and Monster Boy has been BEGGING since school started to see his friend as well. Lucky for us, our parent/teacher conferences for our schools (the boys go to different schools this year) fell on the same days! So play date, here we come! Monster Boy is practically beside himself.

Before we head out on our play date, though, I think we are going to hit up his school Book Fair! I haven't been to a Book Fair since I myself was in grade school, but I know I always loved it. I have always had a major love affair with books of all kinds (I read "Gone With the Wind" in two days my freshman year of high school... Yeah, I'm a nerd like that.) and Monster Boy LOVES books as well. Actually, both of my kids are big readers, which I really think is SO very important. We have TWO bookshelves bursting at the seams with just children's books. I even went through and cleared out a box full of books we don't read/never have read from Monster Boy's bookshelf a few weeks ago to donate to the kid center I work at - and still our bookshelves are overflowing! I'm going to have to figure out a new organizational option soon - especially now that Monster Boy is reading on his own (he read his bedtime story to Daddy Mac and I last night and did SO well - he even sounded out the words he didn't know without any assistance!) and is ready to upgrade to early readers and such, I know we are going to have lots more books to come. Pretty soon we'll be graduating to chapter books for our bedtime stories!

Miss Sunshine has been doing great lately as well. She is eating much better (although we are still on our "picky eater" phase, she's at least added a few more foods to her acceptable list) and is growing quickly. She jabbers CONSTANTLY and is becoming more and more understandable to people outside our family circle. We definitely still have things to work on as far as clarity in her speech - but we are getting there. She's miles ahead of where she was two months ago, and I feel she is well on track where she should be for this age. We have another visit with the Speech Therapist on Tuesday and we will see what the therapist says as far as how she is doing. Then the following week, we head back to Shriner's again, for a post-op check on her ear tubes. Make sure they are still in, placed properly and functioning, and do another hearing test on her to see how she is doing there. She and I will have a full day with NOTHING to do in Chicago, so we are hoping to be able to meet up with a friend from an online parenting group I belong to and maybe check out some sights! I am excited and cannot wait.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ahhhh...

We (Miss Sunshine and I) went shopping with my grandmother this morning. I think she needed something to keep her mind occupied so she wouldn't worry about my great-aunt, who had to have extensive surgery to repair her badly broken leg (from a VERY bad car accident a few weeks ago) this afternoon. (I have not had any updates about how surgery went as of yet.) So Miss Sunshine and I obliged her.

I needed to get some new uniform pants for Monster Boy for school, since sometime in the last week or so he decided to outgrow all but two pairs of his current uniform pants. I still need to pick up another pair since they only had one pair in his size at the store we went to, but at least he has more than two pairs of pants now.

Anyways, I digress. While we were there we found an oh.so.cute dress for Miss Sunshine for Christmas (my grandmother always buys the unmarried grandchildren a Christmas outfit for Mass on Christmas). I picked up an 18 month size, which is what she is wearing right now, and looking at it, it just looked small to me. I worried aloud that it would be TOO small by Christmas. My grandmother handed me a 24 month size and it looked just huge next to that 18 month dress. After some debate, we decided the best approach would be to try the 24 month dress on her to see how much too big it was - if it was really very large on her, we'd go with the 18 month because we wouldn't want her to be in a dress that was just too big. So off to the dressing rooms we went (fortuitous because she also needed a diaper change) and I put her in the 24 month dress. And it fit! It's a little long in the sleeves, and a bit loose around, but I can tighten the sash and it's just fine. The length is darn near perfect. The 18 month dress would likely have been too small! *Sigh* My baby is growing up too fast. (Yes, I am aware that she is actually almost 21 months old and most children her age are already in 24 month clothing - but the point is that she is not! Or, at least, wasn't.)

I seem to remember posting some time back about how I was D.O.N.E. having children - that I had no desire for another child, that I didn't want to go through pregnancy again, that my fears of having another child with cleft were outweighing any extremely small desire I might have to expand our family - even though Daddy Mac really wanted another baby. Um, yes, recently I have been having second thoughts about that. And today, baby fever officially set in. I WANT another baby. I don't know where that came from, but I do. Oh, how I do. I want to get to have the breastfeeding relationship I didn't get to have with Miss Sunshine. I want to smell newborn baby hair, and hold a small, wiggly little baby in my arms. I want to cloth diaper a newborn (yeah, I know a lot of you might think I'm nuts for that) and fold up teeny tiny little clothes. Oh my goodness, how I suddenly want another baby!

You will be happy to know we are certainly NOT trying to have another baby right now, however. We know we have many things we need to resolve before we can even consider expanding our family - catching up from all of our trials earlier this year being foremost at that. We are slowly digging out of that snow pile, but it just isn't melting as fast as I had hoped it would. We are hopeful that perhaps late next summer we will be in a better position to consider having another baby - which is really perfect timing anyways. I have a thing about symmetry - and we have December and February babies - which means that we need an April baby now! Actually if you want to get really particular, the kids' birthdays are roughly 6 weeks apart, so REALLY we need a late March baby - but I would be afraid of duplicating Daddy Mac's birthday there, and I have a thing about everyone needing their OWN birthday and not sharing with other family members. (Which is pretty hard to do in a family where your father is one of nine children, all but one of whom are married with at least two, if not more, children of their own, plus some of THOSE children - that would be me! as well as another cousin - having children of THEIR own.... did you follow that yet?) Anyways, there I go again. So likely sometime around May or June of next year we will open negotiations for a new baby if things are caught up, and probably start actively trying to get pregnant again in July or August. We shall see....

In the meantime, I'll enjoy what little babyhood I have left of Miss Sunshine's - because she is certainly becoming a little girl, rather than a baby, much more quickly than I would like.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Look into my soccer ball...





I love my son. For a very long time, he was my entire world, and I wouldn't trade those moments for anything. Our world has now expanded to include a wonderfully loving stepfather (even though we don't refer to him as that - my son has nearly always called him "Daddy") and a very special baby sister - and we wouldn't change anything about that either.

I try to make things special for my son. So when he asked, or rather, BEGGED, to play soccer on our local Y team this year, I thought to myself "why not?". I've always been of the attitude that I'll let him try anything (okay, anything within reason) once, and if he likes it he can continue with it and if not, then we move on to something else. Now, this interpretation also means that if I sign him up for a season of a sport, he has to FINISH that season - because I also do not believe in quitting. But if he plays out his season and doesn't want to do it again, so be it.

This is our first foray into organized sports. And I use the term organized VERY loosely here. The reality is that for five year olds, "organized" soccer really consists of a group of roughly five boys on each team chasing a soccer ball from one end of the field to the other. There are no positions, there is no goalie, they just run the ball back and forth. And my son, love him to death as I do, has absolutely ZERO athletic ability, as it turns out. You know those little kids who play baseball and just stand in the outfield picking dandelions? Yeah, my son is the soccer equivalent of that. I don't think this is a sport we'll be repeating. But you know what, he says he loves it! So, we just let him play, and take lots of pictures, and we'll take it from there...


Sunday, October 10, 2010

One of these days

I'm going to look back on this time in our live and be grateful, I know it. But sometimes, when you are right in the thick of things, it's just hard to feel that way. Truly it is.

I want to be grateful now. I want to know that we have made it through trials and tribulations many others have not successfully navigated, and feel pride in that, feel gratitude that we made it through with the help of our loved ones and our faith. But some days it just feels like for every step forward we make, we get shoved three steps backwards.

I guess I'm just having one of those days today. I do hate trite expressions that people spew at these points in time in an attempt at comfort. I know they mean well, I want to not be annoyed or frustrated by them saying them, but let's be honest here. Sometimes it's just the breaking point, you know? I want to be able to follow these trite sayings and have them be truth in my life, but some days, I just can't. I try, I truly do. I try to have faith that God is not going to let me down, that he will be there to pick us up and move us forward, that all things are happening in His plan, on His time. But sometimes I just want to rail at the injustice. Why? It's hard not to question things sometimes. Part of what makes us human, with all that entails. Sometimes I just get mad, at God or whoever decided we were strong enough to deal with these things. Sometimes I just want FAIR. Only, really, who decides what fair is? Yep, you guessed it.

As a child, whenever my sister or I would cry out "It just isn't fair!", my father's standard (and often quite annoying) response was "If you want fair in Kansas, go to Hutchinson in the summer time." It is an amusing statement now, but back then, in the throes of our angst about whatever we found unfair, well, amusing was not a word I'd use to describe it. But he had a point. Really, what is fair? Is it fair that Daddy Mac and I both were laid off within 6 months of each other, and of having a baby? Is it fair that our daughter was born with a birth defect? Is it fair that our son is growing up in a so-called "broken" family? Well, who decides that? WE decide what we are going to view as fair in our lives. And most days (today being an exception, because sometimes it's just necessary to your mental health to "wallow" a little bit, I think) I'd say, you know, it may not be what most people think of as fair, but it's our life, and we are so lucky and blessed in so many other ways, that does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Because, really, does it? I'm not going to stand there and say "Oh, we have it so much better than other people do" because while that may be a reality, it's a conceited reality. And while we may have it better than some, we certainly have it worse than others. And where does comparing our life to other's lives get us? Nowhere but "keeping up with the Jones's". And we aren't the Jones's. We'll never BE the Jones's, and frankly, I don't think I'd want to be. Most days I'm happy with our crazy, messy, stressful life. Because it's OURS.

Just sometimes, I'd like a break.

Friday, October 8, 2010

And another thing...

You know, it's amazing how much craziness ensues around our household.

I did mention our dishwasher died a few months back, didn't I? We finally were able to replace it two weeks ago. Hooray for new dishwashers! It's so exciting to pull dishes out of a recently ran dishwasher and find them CLEAN. Amazing how that works!

I have been feeling a little bit blah lately. I'm not sure if it's because I've been phasing myself off the little "happy" pills I've been on for the last year, or what. I honestly reached a point where I was having all the side-effects and none of the benefits of the medications, and I'd had enough. So I talked to my doctor. He has called me in a new prescription, but we mutually decided perhaps medication is not the answer. So I am weaning off the meds and we'll see how things go for a month or so. If all is not well, I will begin the new prescription. I'd like to be done. I'd like to think that my life will get back to "normal" (well, okay, there really is no such thing as normal, I know - so we'll go with MY normal!) and I won't have a need for these little pills anymore.

My past struggles with depression (I have been diagnosed twice with Post Partum Depression formally, we are pretty sure I have some seasonal depression mixed in there but so far it's been manageable without medications) have opened my eyes to some things. I don't understand why the word depression is so taboo in our society. Many people struggle with this without even realizing that is what the problem is. They find themselves discontent with a life that up to now has been perfectly suited to them. Or they are mad all the time. Or sad. Depression doesn't just mean sadness. It is an extreme of an emotion. One of my symptoms of depression (and how I know it's time to head back to the doctor again) is a hyper emotional reaction to mundane things. I have a tendency to lose my temper easily over silly little things. The worst part of this situation is that I KNOW I am overreacting to whatever is happening. I just can't control it. There is nothing so humbling as finding yourself snapping at a child who really didn't do anything to deserve being snapped at for. Which is what was happening last year and why I found myself back at the doctor asking for help. I truly feel for all the people out there dealing with undiagnosed depression - who probably don't even realize that is what the problem is, and that there IS a solution for it. If only there was a good way to reach them.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thoughts

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately (a dangerous past time, I know!). Remembering, really, would be a more accurate term.

Remembering our shock at Miss Sunshine's cleft diagnosis. Remembering our fear at what our daughter would have to face. Remembering our pain at all the losses we were facing (well, mostly ME and my pain - Daddy Mac actually adjusted astoundingly well outside of his fear of her surgery). Remembering our anger at what we were facing, at what SHE was facing. Remembering my guilt, my conviction that I MUST have done something wrong to have caused this. Just remembering.

I read this poem on a friend's Facebook page a while back - they had a child born VERY early and I know this summed things up for them as well.

I have never found anything that put into words quite so well what I felt, and still feel, about Miss Sunshine's cleft. And I'd like to share it with you, too.



Welcome to Holland!
by Emily Pearl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel.

It's like this . . . When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the
Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?" you say. "What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has
Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." The pain of that will never go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Off we go again.

Miss Sunshine and I are headed out to Chicago this afternoon again. Back to Shriner's for another surgery. It's a "minor" surgery (is any surgery really minor, though?) - she's having her ear tubes replaced. I may have mentioned that she lost the right ear tube back in May. Well, the left one came out a few weeks ago. This will be her third tube in the right ear - she had the one originally placed last August, and they replaced that one in January during her cleft repair - and the second tube in her left ear. We will likely be dealing with this at least yearly for another five or so years. Our ENT here in Wichita told us at the time of her initial ear tube placement that studies have shown that it can take 7-8 years for the muscles of a cleft palate to learn how to correctly do their job and keep fluid out of the ears. In that time, a cleft affected child will need ear tubes to reduce fluid in the ear and reduce the chances of hearing loss. When Miss Sunshine's first set were placed, we were told that there was some minor scar tissue buildup from excessive fluid in her right ear that the doctor was able to remove, and we remain hopeful that this has not affected her hearing, although there is that possibility. We really won't have an accurate idea of the hearing in each individual ear until she is much older and can be more easily tested. What we do know for now is that, even with fluid in her ears (which she definitely had at her last hearing test) her overall hearing (hearing combined with both ears) falls within normal range. So she is not considered to have any hearing loss, which is a real possibility with cleft affected children due to the excessive fluid buildup. And also why we are trying to stay right on top of those ear tubes - to keep it from becoming a reality.

I am also hopeful that once this newest set of tubes is placed, her pronunciation in her speech will become more clear. Right now, she can hear, but everything sounds like it is underwater because of all the fluid. So she is hearing, but not clearly. Hopefully once the tubes are placed she will be hearing clearly and will start refining her speech. For instance - she has started saying "yes" but it comes out "yesh" - and I believe that is in large part due to the fluid build up in her ears. We know she can make the S sound correctly, because she says "SSSSSS" when you ask her what sound a snake makes. So I believe she simply is not HEARING it correctly at the end of words - and therefore the incorrect pronunciation.

I do know that the improvement was immediate and astounding when her first set of tubes was replaced, and since she has had fluid build up for several months in both ears at this point, I think we will see the same kind of reaction. Unfortunately, I also remember that she became a much lighter sleeper after the first set of tubes - and I have a feeling it will be a similar experience this time around - which I am not so much looking forward to. But we know that it is in her best interest - so she and I will be making a flight to Chicago today, having surgery in the morning, and flying back tomorrow afternoon. So if you all could say some prayers (or,you know, whatever it is that you do!) that things go well on our trip and during her surgery, and that mommy retains what little sanity she has left, I would greatly appreciate it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Show me yours...

So I had this little mental goal in my head of posting at least one cleft related blog each week during the month of September. I'm not doing such a good job of that, but I'm going to try.

This week I figured I'd give you some pictures.

A lot of times, what people envision in their heads when they think of cleft just isn't the reality, especially in Little Miss Sunshine's case. So I thought I'd post some before and after pictures so you can get an idea of what her cleft palate actually LOOKED like.

Miss Sunshine's formal diagnosis is an Isolated Cleft Soft Palate with Bifid Uvula (meaning her uvula was split as well). To date, we are not aware of any possible genetic contributions, as we are waiting on insurance to kick in so we can have genetic testing done to eliminate any disorders, but she does not have any markers of any of the more common disorders associated with cleft, so our cleft team believes she simply has the isolated cleft. I will go into more detail about what the different clefts are and even touch on some of the possible disorders that can be associated on a later blog. For now, we'll concentrate on the ICSP that she has.

Here is what her palate looked like before surgery: (Bear with me - it's darn near impossible to get a clear picture of the inside of an infants mouth, much less the roof of their mouth... so these aren't the highest quality, I know)









It's kind of hard to see from these pictures, but you could see straight into her nasal cavities (which always made for fun eating time)

And this is what her palate looked like one week post op...



Again, sorry for the quality. When you look at these pictures, you can see where they cut on the sides of the roof of her mouth to release the tension in order to sew the cleft together. There is a lot more involved in cleft palate repair, including recreating the nasal lining, rearranging the musculature of the roof of the mouth, as well as the closing of the roof of the mouth. I'm working on some diagrams, etc, to help explain all of these and will post it on a future blog.

For now, I hope these pictures were able to make it a little bit more clear to you what a cleft soft palate looks like and what we have been through with our Little Miss Sunshine...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September is...

one of my favorite months. The weather (sometimes) starts to cool down from the summer heat, but isn't chilly or cold yet... the leaves slowly start to turn on the trees to pretty colors around this time... school is back in session... and it's Craniofacial Acceptance Month!

It's amazing all the misconceptions you can have about a condition until you actually have to deal with it yourself. Frankly, I never really gave a thought to what caused clefts. Until Miss Sunshine was born with one. And then I went through the most typical reaction of any parent who has a child with a birth defect - GUILT. Guilt is such an ugly word. But I blamed myself. What did I do wrong? I must have done something to cause this. Why else would she have it? Did I eat something I shouldn't have? Drink too much caffeine? Not take enough vitamins? Not enough exercise? Was it all the morning, noon and night sickness I had the first six months? It HAD to be my fault.

The reality is - it wasn't my fault. I didn't do anything wrong. Sometimes there is a reason for cleft - genetics can play a part. But many times, most often, really, there is no rhyme or reason. It just happens. The doctors don't know why. They know it's a formational defect. They know roughly when, during the development process it happens. But they don't know WHY. Some studies have shown that increased folic acid before and during pregnancy (above what your typical prenatal vitamin has) can lessen the chances of cleft. But it's no guarantee. There are other medical conditions that are related to cleft, meaning that if someone has this condition, they typically also have a cleft. But they are another one of those no rhyme or reason things.

The way I see it, God gives us these children for a reason. To teach us something. To make us stronger parents, to learn, to educate ourselves and others around us about the realities of having a child with a birth defect. Whether it's severe or not, it still affects you as a person, deeply.

I would give anything to not have to watch my daughter have struggled with eating, to have to go through the pain of surgery and recovery, to face other potential procedures, to have to deal with speech therapy and other therapy down the road... but at the same time, I don't think I'd change anything about this journey. As hard as it has been for us to deal with all of this, as hard as it is to watch her go through all of this, as much as I have blamed myself and struggled with depression over it - so too have we grown. As parents. As partners. As people. As a family. And I don't think I would trade that for anything.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reflection

We made a drive to Springfield (I'll let you guess which state - I know, I'm such a tease) this weekend for my cousin's wedding.

First, I can't believe my cousins are old enough to be getting married - I am by far the oldest (my sister is closest in age to me, and then it's at least five years down the line) of the third generation in my family, and realizing that my cousins are now old enough to be getting married makes me feel even older than that whole "in my 30's" milestone I hit week before last.

And then I realized that it has been four years that Daddy Mac and I have been together. Some days it feels like it's been a lifetime, and some days it feels like it was just yesterday.

Maybe it was the wedding, or the timing, or really, who knows what. But I've just been thinking the last few days how very very lucky I am to have met a man like him when I did. Well, maybe not met. I really met him nearly five years before we started dating, and I'll be honest, I didn't like him much when I met him. My husband is very self-assured, and that can sometimes come across as arrogant. He is really not like that at all - in fact, very much the opposite, but he can easily come across that way from time to time. And that was indeed my first impression of him. He'll freely admit he wasn't much of a fan of mine, either. I admit to my faults - I know I have them! Somewhere along the line, though, he decided to ask me out. I don't know (and I don't really think he does either) if it was a whim, or what, but I was unable to go out with him the first time he asked because of my son. At that point, I think it became a matter of pride - you know, that whole male, I can't believe she turned me down, now I have to get her to go out with me type of thing. So I agreed to go out with him, and it turned out we had so much in common, it was almost eerie. And things progressed (rather quickly, honestly) from there. We were engaged six months after we started dating, although it was over a year later that we got married. But honestly, he was 30 and I was 27 and we were just at that point in our lives - we didn't need a lot of time to know. He has been an AMAZING father, both to Monster Boy and to Miss Sunshine. He truly considers Monster Boy his son - he never refers to him as anything but "my son". Monster Boy has never been "my wife's son" or "her son". He's always been OUR son or HIS son. Even before we were engaged, he called him his son. That was when I knew. You don't find that very often. And I count myself lucky in so many ways that we both decided to give each other a try even when we didn't think we liked each other very much - because I never would have found the man I was meant to spend the rest of my life with if we hadn't.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nearly that time again...

You may remember my blog post from LAST year about September being Craniofacial Acceptance Month. Maybe you weren't yet reading my blog at that point. If you weren't or you want a refresher you can head here and read up.

Miss Sunshine's cleft palate is only one of MANY craniofacial defects. While cleft lip and cleft palate are certainly the most common, (in fact, they are one of the most common birth defects PERIOD, occuring in roughly 1 in every 500 births) they are by no means the only. All of these defects affect a child's face and head. Most of them will endure numerous surgeries in attempts to correct problems that may arise from the defects, and many of them will have visible scarring or abnormalities long after surgery is completed.

The time to educate ourselves about these things is now. More than ever I have come to realize that you just truly never know what can happen. Miss Sunshine's cleft certainly threw us for a considerable loop as we had no prior family history and no indications on any of the (many) ultrasounds I had during my pregnancy that she had a defect. (And again, a post for another time on how I hate that term...) These things just happen. Doctors don't know why, parents don't know why. Only God (or whatever you happen to believe in) knows why our children are born the way they are, be they "normal" or not. It certainly doesn't make them any less of a person or less important or just less. If anything, I think it makes them MORE. The bonds that are developed when you go through surgery with a child are so much stronger than I ever imagined they could be.

I can tell you that if we had it to do over, I don't think we'd change a thing about Miss Sunshine being born with a cleft palate. Granted, we certainly wouldn't want her to have to endure the pain of surgery like she has, but beyond that, I don't know that we'd change it. This whole experience has made us stronger as people, stronger as parents, stronger as a couple, and most importantly, stronger as a family. It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Randomness

Miss Sunshine had a WONDERFUL evaluation with her speech therapist on Tuesday. Really, I was so happy with what she said I could have cried. Her therapist came all prepared to start working on all those areas we had been so concerned about at her last visit. And I will have you know that she didn't do ANY of it - because Miss Sunshine had already surpassed anything she was going to work on with her! Music to my ears, literally. So we have a new game plan. We are to start working on phrases with her. Getting her to combine words she already says into phrases.

And Miss Sunshine randomly started saying "Elmo" today. Since we don't have television in our home, I don't know where exactly she learned about Elmo, but she sure the heck knows who he is and knows his name! She is picking things up so quickly these days. I sat down to list as many of her words as I could before the speech therapist came so I could show her where we were at - and she has over 60 words that she says clearly or at least understandably! A pretty vast improvement, considering last month she had roughly 13 understandable words.

Speaking of television (nice segue, no?), I find I am kind of missing it lately. Since Monster Boy is in school and Miss Sunshine takes a three hour or so nap in the afternoons, once I finish up my chore for the day, I find myself at a loss of what to do, and think to myself that at that point it would be nice to have TV so I could catch up on my shows... but until things get on more solid footing, we'll have to settle for watching DVD's already in our possession... It's okay though, because I know that we really don't need TV, and honestly, up until Monster Boy started school, I haven't even missed it!

And speaking of school - Monster Boy is doing great so far! I am so very proud of how well he is doing in school. Now, if only I could get him to do so well at HOME. I know he is tired, which is the majority of the problem. Between getting up so early for school, having a full day of activity at school, and then three days a week coming with me to work where he essentially runs non-stop for 3-4 hours, he HAS to be exhausted. If only I could get him to go to bed earlier. The problem is, he goes to bed at 8 now. If I put him to bed any earlier, with my work schedule, he doesn't really have time to eat dinner! We will have to figure something out. By the weekend, I am sure he will crash hardcore. And this is only the first full week of school! And soccer starts next week! Yipes. I am going to have one very tired little boy on my hands. We will have to figure something out. I don't know what, yet, but something.

Work is going well. I'm finally starting to settle in and am not quite so exhausted when I get home. Watching upwards of 40 kids at a time can be rather exhausting, even when there is four adults there to share the load! Those kids are LOUD! And of course, Monster Boy is always right in the thick of it all. Miss Sunshine has also developed quite the clingy pattern of behavior, but only when I am IN the daycare area. If I take her there while I work out, she runs and plays. And usually while I am working, she'll run and play periodically, until she remembers I am there, and then she wants me to hold her. I know she will get past this - sharing Mommy is still very new to her, and for the most part she does very well. But every once in a while... This too shall pass.

I shall save more of the randomness for another post (because I just know how much you all love to hear me ramble on about things that really don't matter to you! It's why you read my blog, right?)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

School Daze


Monster Boy started Kindergarten last week. (And yes, I had intended to write a post ON his first day of school. Unfortunately, that, like so much of my life, got left behind... so I write it now. Oh well. At least I am writing it!)


How in the heck did THAT happen?




When did my baby boy get big enough to go to SCHOOL? Like, all day, eight hours a day, five days a week, school?




I'm not ready for him to be big enough for school yet.



On the other hand, I am SOOOOO ready for him to GO to school.




Makes no sense, does it? But see, the thing is, when he is at school, my day suddenly becomes much more free. Instead of begging him to pick up his messes, chasing around after two kids, keeping him from annoying Miss Sunshine or Miss Sunshine from annoying him, picking up a room only to have it trashed by the kids 30 seconds later - I am only dealing with one component of that equation. And she's a lot less destructive than he is at this point.




But I still miss him while he is gone all day.




And am glad to see him when I pick him up - even if he is lagging 20 feet behind the rest of his class... (That's him, leagues behind the other kids. Solidly bringing up the rear.)




And even if he has to stop to give his girl friend (note the space - she is a friend who is a girl, NOT a girl friend) a hug since she is in the OTHER Kindergarten class so he only sees her at lunch and after school... (and I missed the hug - it was the first day and they were both a bit cranky - hugging was NOT going to happen in front of the camera).




And I am still trying to figure out how he got SOOO big. (This photo was taken in the parking lot, BEFORE we left the school - he rides in the backseat in a high backed booster - for all my carseat mommies out there!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm tired again.

Seems like a running theme in my posts these days! Although today I have a legitimate excuse. I am tired in many different ways.

We (Monster Boy and I) woke up bright and early this morning - getting ourselves used to being up for school which starts on Thursday! So, I was up nearly three hours earlier than I had been getting up most of the summer. Then, we had a busy morning of cleaning, followed by a dentist appointment for myself, Daddy Mac and Monster Boy, then more cleaning, then work until 7:30, then dinner, then TRYING to make a new fitted diaper (which has been trial and error - sewing for the first time with cotton velour, while trying to conceal a panel of PUL which is already not easy to sew with, plus elastic. SIGH. I'll try again tomorrow!), then having to go to the airport to pick up my mom, whose flight was delayed two hours... and now back home again and headed to bed... so I am physically exhausted.

I am also tired of my blog layout. So sometime, perhaps next week when Monster Boy is in school and Miss Sunshine is napping, I will be playing around with things and hopefully getting a new set up going...

I am also tired of not having a working dishwasher, although not much I can do about that at this point!

And there are many more things, but really, I'm too tired to list them all right now... (sometimes I just can't resist that whole tongue-in-cheek thing, I admit...)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Some kind of routine

I have always done better with routine. I am not a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of person - I like to have PLANS. I have learned, with two small children, that most PLANS never actually happen the way you plan them to, but I still need that structure in my life.

My son thrives on structure. He has been a schedule baby from day one. I never got that whole "put the kid on a schedule" mentality until he was born. He put HIMSELF on a schedule when he was about 3 months old, and I swear he never looked back. Even now, if there is a major disruption to his general schedule, it causes havoc in our home.

Miss Sunshine, on the other hand, could care less. As long as she eats when she is hungry, and gets a nap at some point in the day - the only thing consistent in her life is when she wakes up and when she is ready for bed. And she's perfectly fine with that. I struggle to keep some semblance of a schedule for her because I know she does function better if I keep things the "same" but she's much more adaptable than her brother ever has been. If we are half an hour late getting down for nap, or eating dinner, it's not an issue in her world. With him, you'd swear the entire Earth just fell off it's axis.

School starts for Monster Boy this week, and I am SO ready to get on with that schedule. But the first few days of this week are still at home, and I am struggling with what to do during the day. I have to get him up at 6:30 in the morning, to make sure he is used to that by the time classes actually start. But what to do with him during that time before Miss Sunshine wakes up? Because I don't plan to change her routine until I absolutely have to - since she is more adaptable than he is. And I need to get him used to eating lunch at a much earlier time as well, since they will be eating lunch at school EXTREMELY early in the day. I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be a VERY long week...

Friday, August 13, 2010

A word explosion

I have been stressed to the max about Miss Sunshine's speech progress ever since our trip to Shriner's last month where they started bringing up the possibility of another surgery if her speech didn't start catching up. I tried to not worry about it, but let's be honest here - if some doctor told you your child would have to have surgery if they didn't start talking more, wouldn't you freak out too? Yep - that's what I thought.

So I discussed it further with our speech therapist here at home, and while I could tell she was trying very carefully to word it so that she didn't freak me out, she basically told me the same thing that I was told in Chicago. If Miss Sunshine didn't start progressing SOON, there was a good chance we were looking at another surgery... Well, that did nothing to calm me down. She did tell me, however, that between about 18-20 months is what they consider "make or break" time for kids in speech therapy - kids who were borderline delayed, like Miss Sunshine, would either catch up, or fall significantly further behind during those few months - because this is when most normal speech development "explodes" as well.

I suppose a little background might help - Miss Sunshine has been very slow to add sounds to her vocabulary. Typically (or so I am told) a child who undergoes palate repair will add a lot of new consonant sounds almost immediately. Miss Sunshine's has been much more gradual - she has been adding new sounds, but not at the pace or number they want. And she was hardly doing any "imitative" speech at all. You know, when you pattern a word for your child and they attempt to repeat it (whether or not it comes out sounding anything like what you said)? Well, she just wouldn't repeat things. These were the big concerns that they had as far as her speech. And again, at this age, it's hard for them to judge whether these are issues relating to her palate repair, meaning it was not successful and she's not doing them because she's not physically capable of doing them, or if it was just her being stubborn.

Well, apparently Miss Sunshine took the speech therapist's words about 18-20 month olds to heart - because ever since she turned 18 months a week ago - it's been an explosion of words at our house. The imitative speech has FINALLY shown up and it is amazing what words she can say. In the last week alone we have added (in some fairly recognizable form even if it isn't perfect pronunciation) thank you, bubble, purple, blue, bird, cow, moo, dog, brother, daddy, mommy. grandma, hi, bye-bye, down, up, cup, pop, poop, milk, yay and yeah. She also randomly says there, that, mine and no. And ironically the words that come out the clearest are thank you, bubble and purple. Go figure - out of all the easy words she COULD say, she says thank you, bubble and purple the best. This is definitely my kid. But at least I can breathe a sigh of relief that she is FINALLY doing what she is supposed to be doing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reflection

Today has been a melancholy sort of day for me. I don't really know why - nothing has happened to stimulate this. Except maybe the realization that Miss Sunshine is no longer a baby. I looked at her today, playing with all the other children at my new job, and realized, she is a little girl!




Yes, you read that right. I have a job. It's only part-time, it's only minimum wage, but it's better than nothing. And the best part is - the kids can come with me! Yes, free childcare. So no need for daycare and that lovely expense. Daddy Mac had positive news on the job front as well, and we are very hopeful that a significant raise is headed his way (hopefully sooner rather than later) so things can start to get back on track for us.




Life is settling down. Bills are starting to get under control, slowly but surely. There still isn't enough money left at the end of the day (or week, or month, or however you look at it) but the gap isn't as huge as it was six months ago... we are catching up on things slowly but surely, and I am confident that within the year, things will be back to where they should be. Life has handed us a lot of very tart lemons, but I'm starting to stock up on sugar for that lemonade we'll be making!




Monster Boy starts school in a week. A WEEK! How did that happen? How did my sweet little boy go from this:





To this?





It just doesn't seem possible somehow... maybe that's where the melancholy is coming from.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The scoop (or poop) on cloth diapering...

I am sure I have mentioned on here before that we cloth diaper Little Miss Sunshine. When we found out I was getting laid off, I looked into it as an alternative to pricey disposables. And the more info I found, the more I felt it was 100% the right decision for us.

I LOVE Cloth Diapering. I love everything about it. The diapers are ADORABLE, it really isn't much more work than using disposables, and I feel like I'm doing some small part to help the environment, and my baby's behind at the same time.

The reality is - these aren't our mom's cloth diapers. I have yet to use a diaper pin or a pair of rubber pants. My current favorite style of cloth diapers are my pocket diapers - diapers that are already waterproofed, you simply put some kind of absorbent insert in, put the diaper on the baby, and go... with fitteds (cloth diapers that do require a cover of some kind) a close second. I have yet to try wool covers, although I hear great things about them.

I've made many forays into the cloth diapering world, trying out many different types of diapers, and even making my own (which are pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself...). I have learned many tricks and tips along the way.

One thing about cloth diapering that nobody prepared me for was washing them. You can't wash cloth diapers with regular detergent. Well, you can, but then you are going to be doing a million clean water rinses to get detergent residue out. Because detergent residue affects your diapers. Reduces their absorbency, causes diaper rash, etc... Lucky for us, there are some great mommies out there, who, through trial and error, have developed cloth diaper safe detergents! these are clean rinsing detergents who get your diapers nice and bright, soft and most importantly CLEAN, without leaving residue behind. There are a tons of brands out there. I have used Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper Detergent personally myself since I discovered cloth detergents. Another brand I'd like to try out is Clean B Detergent. And, in fact, they are having a little giveaway right now, in celebration of reaching 750 fans on Facebook. (Did you like how I segued that giveaway in there? Talent, huh?) You should go check them out. Tell them I sent you. And maybe, just maybe, if you don't already, give some thought to cloth diapering yourself...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Okay, Okay...

I am REALLY bad about posting pictures. I realize this. My excuse these days is lack of a working camera other than the one in my cell phone. Not much of an excuse, I know. But it's the one I'm working with.

I know I promised pics of Little Miss Sunshine a few days ago. I'm finally getting around to getting them up for you - aren't you happy now?








Miss Sunshine LOVES to climb on things. The, well, whatever it was, in our hotel room was no exception... I don't know how many times I took her down off that thing during our stay... I did mention that while she likes to climb UP on things, she hasn't quite gotten the getting DOWN part yet, didn't I?







Another love of ours these days is Mommy's purse. I cannot leave that thing anywhere CLOSE to within her reach, or the contents will be scattered near and far. I even had to go get a new wallet because she figured out how to open mine, and I spent the better part of a day searching for where she hid my Driver's License.








And let's not forget cell phones. I mean, really, what toddler DOESN'T love cell phones? Miss Sunshine is drawn to them like... well, that metaphor isn't really appropriate for this post... but she's drawn to them. This is an old phone I had in my purse which she helped herself to. On the bright side, she kept putting it up to her ear and saying "ah-oh", which I believe was "Hello" in Sunshine speak. Because it wasn't "Uh-oh" which she says perfectly... So technically she has a new word in her vocabulary. Along with down, which is a necessity, since, as I previously mentioned, she can't get herself down off of things she climbs on. Well, she could, she just hasn't realized that yet, so she won't...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Me time.

I'm hoping to get some "me time" in this weekend. Feels like forever since I've had "me time" and I NEED it. Expecially after this week. I hate traveling alone with a small child. I find it so incredibly stressful, even though Miss Sunshine is well on her way to becoming a seasoned traveler and does amazingly well on planes and in airports.

I have a gift certificate to a day spa my lovely sister sent me for my 30th birthday... Did I mention I turn 31 in a month? Yeah - a whole year has nearly passed and I have yet to find the time to use my gift card. Sad, isn't it? But I'm going to try valiantly to sneak away after Daddy Mac gets home from work on Saturday and get that massage I've been thinking about for the last 11 months.

I will update with some (rather poor quality) pictures of Miss Sunshine later today - she has been happily wreaking havoc on my purse this morning, and I have a few shots of that, as well as an exhibition of her climbing skills courtesy of the desk in our hotel room this week. Bear in mind, these were all taken with my cell phone as our camera is STILL out of commission...