Thursday, July 21, 2011

I love (summer time edition)...

How perfect he is.

How perfect she is.

Barefeet and grass meet up's.


My fishermen two.

The conductor of the sea.

My white sunglasses.

He makes them cooler.

My $6 walmart watch makes me feel hip.

Chalkboards on the kitchen floor.

Birthday magnets and birthday art.

How grown up he is. Until bedtime.  He's still tiny at bedtime.

Oh hey...

Yeah I just noticed the date on my last post.  Did that say May 24th?  No.  That can't be right.  Looks like ol' Blogger is making mistakes right and left.

Ok so it's possible I have been gone for awhile.  It is possible.  And for those wondering, I'll tell you where I've been - I've been in no more cast, two 20 month old babies, everyone and their mom is in town, trying to keep up, never stop baking, summer time, fun   That's where I've been.

But I sure have missed it around here.

Since I started this blog, in part, because of Charlie and her surgeries and spica casts, let's start there.

June 6th was a really big day for us.  It was the end of the year and a half long journey we started in correcting Charlie's legs.  After being born with her knees being hyper extended (bent in the opposite direction) and having her feet literally at her ears as a result of her legs being dislocated from her hips, Charlie underwent three corrective surgeries.  From those surgeries she was put in a total of five spica casts.  And on June 6th, after cutting tendons and putting in metal plates, the last cast came off.  She was done.  We (SHE) had made it!  It was a day that was about as great as the day my kids were born.  Finally we could start looking forward to first steps and Charlie getting a chance to get her brother back after all those times he took her toys and ran off.  She could go get them back.  And we knew Davey would be glad she did.  He wanted to walk and run with his sister. They were meant to do that together.

Ready for this dirty thing to come off...

Ok so she's a little young to understand that taking a power saw to her leg is actually going to be a good thing.

That bright yellow patch there at the bottom right...yeah, thats cheese.  So...there's that.

I know, I know, this is a sad sight to see, but it's over!  Remember that.  And babies bounce back quick...

Told you!

Every day since June 6th has been remarkable.  I swear.  EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I'd be lying if I said the 18 months we went through to get here were easy.  But none of that matters now.  We're bending those knees, we're smiling, we're laughing, we're having early symptoms of terrible two's, we're eating mac and cheese, and we're living life.  Who cares how we got here?  We're here!

Don't stop belivin', you guys.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My little snickerdoodles

This week, thing one and thing two will be 18 months old. A year and a half! Halfway to two! When did this happen? Was anyone gonna tell me? At the risk of sounding cliche, they really do grow up way too fast. Two weeks from yesterday Charlie will have her cast off and all these surgeries will be behind us. Davey runs like Prefontaine and climbs up on the couch to flip through books. It's too fast. It's just too fast.

Oh but they just keep getting prettier and funnier and prettier and smarter and prettier. They're just these balls of magic and curiosity and emotion and fingers and soft hair all wrapped up in shiny twine. I love them so.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

In honor of my sweet, infuriating, wonderful balls of twine, I wanted to make a tasty half birthday treat. But one I could enjoy as well in the midst of my new 2/3 vegan diet. And then I stumbled upon a vegan blog so heavenly and inspirational. Oh She Glows has amazing recipe after recipe. And I highly recommend reading her background story, especially if your a mommy like me, who has battled weight issues post baby.

I found this awesome vegan recipe for snickerdoodles (an all time favorite) on the blog. The recipe cuts out animal product as well as a lot of sugar. And I can vouch that these cookies are sweet and crunchy and downright delightful. There's nothing about these cookies that tastes vegan. Cook them. I dare you.

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I've adapted the recipe to use natural sugars instead of refined. For the original recipe go here :)


Adapted from Oh She Glows


1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup raw sugar
2 tbsp honey (or molasses or pure maple syrup)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 flax egg (1/2 tbsp ground flax + 1.5 tbsp warm water)
1/4 cup Earth Balance (or butter)
Cinnamon sugar: 1 tbsp raw sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon, mixed together
Preheat oven to 375.

Directions: In a small bowl, mix the 1/2 flax egg. Set aside. In a medium sized bowl cream the sugar, Earth Balance (or butter), and vanilla until incorporated. Add in the flax egg and beat for about 60 seconds. In another bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together (cream of tartar, baking soda, flour, and pinch of cinnamon). Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir well. Use your hands to knead together the dough.

Form cookie balls from the dough, roll them around in the cinnamon sugar mixture, and place them on a cookie sheet. Use a fork to flatten each ball.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. (If you want chewy cookies bake for 10 minutes and if you want crispy cookies bake for 12 minutes.) Cool for about 10 minutes. Makes 10 - 15 cookies.

Note: I have heard that you might be able to get away with substituting the cream of tartar and baking soda with baking powder. However, I have not tested this out myself. If you try this leave a comment and let me know how it worked out.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Blog the stress away"

I've been beyond overwhelmed lately. And truthfully, a large majority of that feeling comes from trying to keep all these plates spinning per usual in an effort to give the illusion that I am just as strong as the next gal. What's funny about that is that so often I find myself frustrated with the lack of honesty amoung moms. So unwilling to admit, for most of us (ya know the ones of us who aren't vacuuming in pearls), to be a B- mom is sometimes (usually) the best week can do. It's not for a lack of trying for that A+. Although there are days where we haven't slept for a week, we haven't gotten past the shampoo part of our shower routine and the lack of conditioner is taking it's toll, we're covered in a drool/chewed up food/baby poop mixture that has made itself stain remover resistant...and the need to try for an A+ is nonexistent. But generally speaking, of all the moms I know personally, we're all trying our friggin hardest.

So let me be honest. Let me tell you that I'm completely in over my head these days. Let me share with you this neurotic, control freak personality that has taken over. My friend Sarah recommended that I blog the stress out. I figure by doing so at least one of three things will happen: 1. I will quite literally blog my stress away and feel immediate relief when I hit the "post" button, 2. I will have at least made myself relatable to other moms and we can collectively give ourselves a break, or 3. Someone will read this and send me a fat check to pay for some top notch therapy because I am a certified looney tune.

I feel like I wake up every morning with a good attitude. I'm a morning person. Getting up early and having a full day is something I enjoy. So having a sunny disposition each morning is something I'm totally capable of. But within an hour of the kids and I being up, two little faces are crying at me, needing me to do...something...I should know their cues better by now...and all this loud crying has made me forget my plan already. And it's only 7am. I spend the rest of my day grabbing for slippery limbs while I'm falling out of the impossible goal tree. By the end of most days I sigh and say to myself "well they went to bed with fingers and toes. I guess that's something."

But with Charlie in a cast there's this new stress. There's the stress of this third element. There's no room in our inn for it. But it's here regardless. After 18 months of our lives revolving around spica cast care and medical jargon and specialists, I'm over it. And then I'm greated with my old faithful friend guilt. All this me, me, me stuff. Am I in a cast? Have I had to relearn how to stand or sit up three different times? Have I undergone surgery 3 times in 12 months? Sure haven't. This BABY is showing me up in strength. And then sweet Davey takes a spill at my parents house this week and scuffs up that button nose I love. Because I wasn't looking. And I know accidents happen. And I am that mom that just wants their kids to be kids. And that means scrapes and bruises sometimes. But I guess I'm giving myself a hard time about it because I already fear that all this time weve spent focusing on Charlie and all this time we've sent him over to the grandparents house through all of this, is the beginning of a complex. I worry he won't know his value to me. What if he cries when one of his grandmothers hands him to me? I haven't been able to give him my full attention. And because if my lack of attention, he fell.

The good news is, I know I'm being irrational. The other good news is I obviously am over the top in love with my children.

But it's a lot right now. And today I just looked at them both and cried. I looked at that cast and that banged up face and thought, "I'm failing." Maybe that's too harsh. I'm not failing. It hardly seems like I'm doing great though. I keep joking to people that I can't go to the grocery store with both kids any time soon. If people already give me weird looks about one child in a cast, what will they think when the see two kids with ailments? We'll be Herman's hermits for the next couple weeks.

Ya know what EVERYBODY (not just moms -all of you)? Maybe there's something to be said for how hard we try. The amount of effort we put forth. Actions speaking louder. Maybe Davey won't have a complex about my lack of attention because when I DO see him, he is smothered to smithereens in hugs and kisses and "I love you"'s. Maybe Charlie will never care about her scars. Maybe she'll be a track star because she knows what it took to get her walking. Maybe all this B- work will still result in amazing, wonderful people. Judging by results from the last 18 months, they're gonna be awesome whether or not I condition my frizzball head.

I'm gonna always shoot for an A+. My kids deserve that effort. But I'm gonna work on accepting the fact that a B- is still above average. And that ain't bad.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sugar, aw honey honey...

Pretty much since I found out I was pregnant two years ago (wow, I just realized I found out I was pregnant almost exactly two years ago today!), I've been, I guess, obsessed with having a better understanding of what's in my food. Ive had a greater desire for whole grain foods with natural ingredients and fresh...everything! While I did have the occasional moment of weakness during my pregnancy and since (ok I've been weak A LOT), I really made an effort to consider what I was eating and think about how it affected my body and the little birds in my tummy.

Now I'm not some extremist who wants to cut out all saturated, sugary, doughy goodness. I'm a girl born and raised in the south. Butter pretty much makes up it's own section on my personalized food pyramid. That being said, while I love the finer (fattier) things in life, it doesn't take much to realize how processed everything is. In a fast paced world convenient = processed, hydrogenated, chemicals. Am I even tasting real ingredients anymore? I guess it boils down to this: I want to taste real food. And I want to do my part in realizing my impact on the world and it's resources when I pick what I'm going to eat. I've taken on a 2/3 vegan diet for this reason, as well as trying to get those recommended 6 servings of fruits and vegetables. And most importantly, educating myself on food will help me enable my kiddos to make better food choices.

I'm also trying to cut out refined sugar. I'm a sugar addict. I could eat it all day. But being addicted could be the fault of refined sugar. So I'm replacing the processed white stuff with natural sweeteners like honey, molasses, and raw sugar. Again, I'm not an over the top extremist, so I will be using refined sugar when I make my grandma's sugar cookies at Christmas.

This morning I got up and I knew I wanted to bake. I came across this recipe for Whole Wheat Apple Muffins on one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. Perfect! The recipe calls for sugar, which I replaced with honey, and brown sugar, which I replaced with raw sugar. The outcome was moist,sweet but not too sweet, and so yummy. Plus it left my house smelling like apple cinnamon, which was the perfect cover up for those not so savory surprises my kids made me this morning.

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Whole Wheat Apple Muffins (the unrefined version)

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 12 muffins, or in my case, 10 grown up muffins and 8 mini muffins for the wee ones.

1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup honey
1/2 raw sugar, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the honey and 1/4 cup of the raw sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.Mix in the buttermilk gently. (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

That's the way we get by...

Charlie finally started crawling in her cast today! I honestly thought a couple of times that she might not do it in this cast. Charlie is one of the most determined baby I've ever seen, but this cast is considerably different from the others. And I guess we've been pretty lucky so far. In the first cast, she was taking off after 2 days home from the hospital. After the second surgery, it took about 5 days. The surgery was more extensive so we were prepared for that. Both casts from the previous surgeries had her legs somewhat in front of her with her knee slightly bent and one leg out from the knee down. Honestly it didn't change much about her crawling. She's never had full use of her legs. But this cast is more similar to the ones seen on babies with hip dysplasia. Her legs pulled out to the side. And she has a stabilizing bar to make sure her hip stays where it should. I may have mentioned before that she can't fit in her high chair or jumper. She can't stand in this cast either. So what do we do with her???

We throw her in the backyard!

Ok no we don't. I've been fortunate to find other spica cast blogs and have adopted some of their tips as well as coming up with things for us.

1. Yous about to get cut, Bumbo:
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

With a bread knife, I carved up this expensive piece of foam and adapted it to fit charlies cast. Works as a high chair, a snack chair, a way to sit up and play with toys or play in the yard. We even put it in the wagon to pull her around outside.

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2. The Princess throne:

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We've found that the best consolation to having to be limited in movement, is allowing Charlie to finally sit on the couch by herself like a big girl. With pillows surrounding her so she can reach her toys, we've found that she'll stay a princess for upwards of two hours.

3. An activity table:

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Now if you can, get a simple first drawing table and it can serve as a table for everything. But we are limited to stores in our hood so this was what I could get. Still, Charlie can sit at it in her Bumbo and if she's playing on the floor the legs easily pop off and she can play with it on the floor.

4. Some other tips:
-A box or book that's about 2-3" tall to put under the crib mattress. It makes the spica cast much more cOmfortable to sleep in.
-Rolled up blankets. They will be your super best friend.
-I lay Charlie across my lap with her head pointed down other the bathtub during bath time. I run the water high enough that she can splash her arms in it while I wash her hair with a cup. I stuff a towel around the edge of the cast to protect it from any water that runs off.
-I mentioned this with the last cast, but a diaper cover will make you (and the earth!) much happier. Stuff one diaper in the cast and use the diaper cover to hold it in place.

And as a side note, Davey is pretty ok with all the new cast toys too...

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

We're one month from life without a cast! We're literally counting down the days!

Monday, May 2, 2011

No place like home

Well it's done. Charlie's third and final surgery is over. And while having a child in a cast for the next 6 weeks is going to suuuuuuuck, we're all so unbelievably happy we're nearing the end.

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The hospital stay was only 2 nights this time. We were so happy the fever she got after her last surgery didn't reappear. I put her in the car and we made a peaceful drive home on Thursday. Davey was staying with my parents and Joe was working so it was just me and Charlie. This of course meant a long nap in our quiet house and then some Gilmore Girls. But of course nothing ever goes according to plan...

Not 20 minutes into being home did Charlie develop a 102 fever which caused her to immediately throw up the milk she'd had on her way home. Parents, if you don't know this or are without common sense like myself, milk essential cooks in your kids stomach if they have a fever that high. The result is something out of a horror movie. Luckily with some pedialyte and good rest, the fever was nonexistent by Saturday. She's gone back to eating somewhat normally and every day she gets a little more coherent. Those were some serious drugs they used to put her under! It's taken 5 days to wear off! Her throat is still a little sore from the breathing tube but it's getting better also.

This new cast is what's really hard to get used to. With previous casts she could still fit into things like her high chair or her jumper. She could wear pants or leg warmest (which I always liked in order to avoid people seeing her in the cast and automatically assuming I pushed her down some stairs. Seriously, people have asked what I did to her. Nice.). She thankfully fits in the car seat we have, but I can see we're going to have to get creative. Part of the problem is that this cast has a bar across it in order to provide extra reinforcement. This leg was a lot more stiff and took a lot more work to get into the hip socket so it needed the extra help of the bar.

So far she enjoys her bouncy seat, the baby swing, and the beanbag chair. I highly recommend a beanbag chair to anyone who has to deal with a spica cast. It allows great support and lots of comfortable positions. We're looking into an activity table we can pull up to the beanbag chair. She could eat there, snack there, play with her blocks there. Joe went to the store today to try and find one. Maybe having a table will create the ideal opportunity to get Charlie drawing! I can tell she's going to be creative one way or another.

Today's the first day I'm home alone with both kids post surgery. I always tell people a spica cast is like another kid. It's a whole other being you have to take care of and work around. But so far, day one hasn't been too out of the ordinary. I think Davey enjoys being able to run free without Charlie in his way, and Charlie's still grogy enough that she enjoys sitting in her beanbag and just watching and playing with a few toys. Who knows how long this will last but I'm thankful for today. One day at a time is hands down the best way to do things.

Having beer is also a good way to do things.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Surgery Numero Three


So here we are.  Surgery number three.  I kinda hoped by this point we'd be pros at this.  Our skins would be thicker, we'd be braver.  More prepared for the stress.  But I guess, when it comes to surgery on your child, it is NEVER easy. For some reason this third surgery is bothering me more.  I guess I'm just drained at this point.  I've tried to hold it together each time (I don't know that I've been great at it, but I've tried!), and I guess I'm officially tired of trying.  Im just stressed, dangit.

Last night, of course, our power went out around 1am from a crazy storm outside.  So Charlie was up and I brought her to bed with me.  That was actually kind of a plus.  But the power never came back on and we found ourselves rushing to get all of our stuff packed and together in the dark, by candlelight.  Awesome.  Parking was a nightmare when we got here.  It took Joe an hour and a half to find a spot.  We had to wait 3 hours for Charlie to finally go back for surgery.  We're already fried and it's just the beginning.

But she's back in surgery now.  It's the beginning of the last (fingers crossed) major surgery for her.  And all of the craziness leading up to it will be a funny story years from now.  It's always those stories with bad thing after bad thing happening, that make the best stories to tell over Thanksgiving dinner: "...and just when it couldnt get any more stressful, the power goes out..."

Charlie bird is one brave toaster:

They're currently putting her right leg into her hip socket.  This will require them to shorten her femur, shave down the ball joint so that it will fit in the socket, and then attach a metal plate to help keep it in place.  Essentially the same process as last time.  This leg is a little more stubborn in movement so the doctor estimates that it will be well into the evening before he's done.  We're thinking about 8 hours.  Could be less, could be more.  Hopefully she won't have a fever like she did last time and we'll be heading home on Thursday.  Crossing all fingers and toes for that.

It's stressful and it's sad and we're on edge and are completely beside ourselves knowing we just sent our little girl off to have this painful procedure done...but...and there is a really great "but" here...this is the surgery that should get her up and walking.  Running, even.

As parents, we just do what it takes.  It's not about us anymore.  If its hard, if its tiring, if it feels like its just too much - oh well.  Suck it up.  Do what it takes. 

We'll always do what it takes for our little babies. 
Anything for a baby like this:


Last Easter was so tense for me.  The kids were still pretty young, Charlie still had colic, it was cold and rainy and we were still in that waking up to eat in the middle of the night phase. And while the kids are older, bigger, more balanced, I still had my apprehension about a big family Easter.  Would it be overwhelming?  How would we squeeze a nap in with all these people around?  What if we get there, they immediately have a melt down, and we have to leave? 

One of my favorite things about having kids is how much they surprise you.  Everyday with the surprises.  And Easter was one of the best surprise days.  They were perfection.  Played nicely, ate nicely, were super low maintanence.  Just enjoyed the back yard and the family time.  I couldn't have asked for a better day with my kids and my family.  And after the hard week my husband had the week before, it was nice the he had a day to just play  bag-o with my cousins in the backyard, without stress or concern.  I could see the tension in his shoulders start to release.  It was great.

I've always loved that I have the big, loving family that I do.  But I love it even more now that I know my kids will have that too.  The traditions will continue.  New life on Easter.  That's pretty perfect.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Can we talk?

Let's talk. I was watching the today show this morning while I ate breakfast. They were doing a story on a recent J. Crew ad. This is what it looks like:

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It's sweet right? A mother and her child just laughing while they spend time together. Except apparently there's a problem because that child is a boy and the mother is painting his toes. WHAT?! Have things gotten this bad? I honestly wouldve never noticed anything "weird" about this ad at all had they not run this story this morning. The Today show had a child specialist on and a mother of a 7 year old boy who likes to wear dresses. I really appreciated what the mother said about how at first she didn't want her son to wear dresses because she didn't want him to be teased. But then she said she realized it's not about her. Man, that's it, isn't it? I have been trying to focus on this fact for some time now. I want my kids to be happy and healthy. And I want them to be who they want to be.

But that's giving J. Crew a lot of credit isn't it. I love that they ran this ad. But I love it because it's just a cute family picture. I dont think it was an intentional social message. When did things get this way? I remember on one of my first dates with Joe he pointed out that his toes were painted because his 6 year old niece asked if she could paint them. It wasn't a social message Joe was trying to make by letting her do that. He was just having a fun moment with a 6 year old.

It's out of control. We're so worried about bullying (and rightfully so) that we're letting the pendulum swing the other way to this other extreme. Kids, stay still, don't move, and no one will notice you to pick on you. Those bully kids out there are being bullies because they are so uncomfortable with themselves and differences they have withother kids that they're actually angry. That's what they're pushed to.

Just focusing on the reasonable perameters of right and wrong seems to be a better way to go about it. It's simple. It leaves more time for enjoying things. Like painting your kids toes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Let the sun shine

Despite the looming sadness that's hanging over us right now, I can't help but truly enjoy this day. I wish you were all at my house right now, drinking peach tea on our front porch and listening to the peace that surrounds our house. I think that's the word that encompasses this day the best - peace.

It's definitely spring around here and despite all those April showers we've already had, there have been some sunny days like you wouldn't believe. I finally cleaned our porch off really well so that the kids could get outside and play. Our pediatrician said we should start letting the babies work with crayons and chalk because they developmentally have the dexterity. As an artist, this excites me no end. I don't want to wish that time would speed up, but I'd be lying if I said I'm not at the absolute edge of my seat, waiting for the days when Charlie wants to make fairy wands and draw cards for her grandmothers. I can't wait for Davey to make treasure maps of the holes he dug in the yard to bury goodies and to make him super hero capes to fly around the house in. My parents were so generous in sharing their love of creating and exploring. I'm just so thankful I'll get to do the same with these little ankle bitters.

In the meantime, we're just making little scribbles on the porch and running with wobbly knees through the grass. I enjoy every grass stained pair of pants and every scraped knee. They're evidence that my kids are just living a kids life. They're right on track. Just let the sun shine in.

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos