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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Sustenance

"I think I can.
I think I can.
I know I can.
I know I can."

- The Little Engine That Could

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Time to get away...

Thanks to grandparents that live relatively close-by, and a free night's stay,
we're headed "out of town".
I don't think I've ever been so excited for dinner and a movie

I have more posting planned for this next week... I promise!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

“Second verse, same as the first…”

I’m attempting to post this tonight using Windows Live Writer… anyone have any experience with it?  We got a new computer for Christmas, and I’m still using it like it’s the old PC.  In fact, I’ve had Photoshop for over a year now, it’s finally installed, but I still use my old scrapbooking software and Picnik.  Sad.

Anywho…Under Construction Graphic

We’re 2 weeks in to Connor’s second band.  Only 10 more to go!!

I’ve mentally committed us to 10-12 weeks on this band…  which means GRADUATION DAY should be around April 13th-27th, depending on how things are going.

Issues with the 2nd band have been minor, compared to the 1st band…  fewer fit issues, fewer skin irritations.  Connor has adjusted to it pretty well.  It’s nearly the same shape as the 1st band, just larger.

IMG_7038.2Cheesy grin – February 11, 2010

The good news is… we can QUIT this at any time.  Tomorrow, even.  And it wouldn’t be considered insurance fraud.  (I was worried that if we gave up too soon, we could be held liable.)

So, we’re hanging in there for now…  any change to his head shape is expected to be slow and less dramatic than the first time around.  We’re trying our best to be even more diligent about the amount of time Connor is wearing it - figuring that we do all we can now, and we’ll either shorten treatment time, or get the maximum benefit from the entire ordeal.

We decorated the band over the weekend.  Same design as last time, just different colors.  Same reasons as last time, too.

IMG_7163.2Moody blues. – February 21, 2010

Yep, kid…  that’s how I feel, too.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Sustenance

"Overcome the notion that you must be regular. 
It robs you of the chance to be extraordinary." 

- Uta Hagen

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Buy Buy Baby

While I know I don't have to have every baby gadget out there, if I'm able to justify that it will make my life easier, and I won't be able to make do without it... well, (within reason) I buy it.

Shopping at Babies R Us/Toys R Us always leaves me a little uninspired, as well as feeling like I need to dip myself in bleach.  I don't know what it is about their stores near us, but they're always junky, germy, and completely disorganized.  To be honest, we only really go there when we absolutely have to (ie. to use up store credit).  Just about everything they carry can be found at friendlier stores like Target or WalMart.  And by friendlier, I mostly mean willing to accept returns.  As we've learned the hard way, returning anything to BRU/TRU means a monumental hassle - your receipt must be in pristine condition, the item must have never left its original packaging, much less the bag it was brought home in (I'm only barely exaggerating here).  And their honoring of coupons and advertised sales is a total joke.  A few weeks ago, we stood in line behind a couple trying to have the $3 taken off their purchase as displayed on the shelf.  It took 20 minutes, 3 employees plus a store manager, to finally verify and apply the discount - this effort cost the store much, much more than a measly $3.  By the time it was our turn, the frazzled cashier refused to apply my 20% off any BABY item coupon towards the BABY toy I had found in the BABY aisle.  Of course, there was no fine print on the coupon stating their definition of a BABY item.  At this point, my time and energy was worth more to me than the $2 I should have rightfully saved.

I just figured I would take my little coupon to our favorite store instead...
  • They honor any competitor's and manufacturer's coupons, no questions asked. 
  • They accept returns for anything sold in their stores or online, without a receipt, no matter the condition - just based on your satisfaction alone, no questions asked.
  • They frequently mail out 20% off coupons AND accept current 20% off coupons from their sister store, AND help you at the checkout to maximize your savings based on the coupons you have in hand.
  • They sell everything from Munchkin and Graco to Stokke and Phil & Ted's.  (Their stroller department is a must-see, if only to do research.)  Their selection is the best I've seen, hands down.
  • Their inventory is priced just right... typically in line with the prices you'd find at Target.  (And then you use a 20% off coupon on top of that!)
  • Their stores are always clean, well stocked and organized, with friendly, plentiful, and knowledgeable sales staff. 
We found their Downer's Grove store just a few months before I got pregnant with Connor, and with having to visit Cranial Tech every two weeks, it's still a frequent stop.  So far, they only have locations in a few states: Arizona | Florida | Georgia | Illinois | Indiana | Maryland | Michigan | New Jersey | New York |North Carolina | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Texas | Virginia. But if there's one near you, or near an upcoming travel destination you have in mind... and you have or will have little ones soon.  GO.TO.THERE.

Suffice it to say, we've spent a small fortune at Buy Buy Baby, but Connor's totally worth it, right?!?  ;) 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Brief Bits

A quick round-up of what I've found on the web this last while that got my creative juices flowin':

1. From Martha Stewart - Flower/Candy Arrangements
How cute and simple is this idea??  I'm already picturing some spring tulips with jelly beans or candy eggs... or maybe some daffodils with lemon drops...  More details here.

2.  From Make It and Love It - Gathered Pillow Covers
My new bedroom is calling for new pillows...  A duo of these would be nice.  Nice thorough tutorial, looks easy enough.  Will wait to attempt somewhat myself once Grandma Rogers comes to town.

3.  From Noble Pig - Macadamia Nut Chicken with Mango-Pineapple Relish
Every time I look at this recipe, I start salivating!  I don't fry food myself, but I might consider it for this dish... or maybe just bake it a little longer?  YUM.

4.  From Classicly Amber - Finished: Foyer Wall
WOW!  I love this idea, and have seen it many places online.  This might be my favorite iteration of it so far.  Now I'm fantasizing which of the walls in my home might sport this idea as well...

5.  From So You Think You're Crafty - On the Go Book
Click through the link to see the inside pages... it's a perfect, simple activity book for kids.  Too, too cute!

6.  From Beneath My Heart - Ballard-esque Magnet Board Tutorial
One of these days, I'm going to make a magnet board.  (Seriously.)  I really like the simplicity of this design.

7.  From Fahrenheit 350 - Candy Bar Pizza
Brian loves pizza.  Brian loves candy bars.  This easy recipe should be a sure-fire hit at our house.  Doesn't it look divine??

8.  From A Hoot and a Holler - How to Put Some "Heart" into Your Photos
This year, I kept our Valentines simple - just some hearts cut out of craft foam and a wiggly baby.  In the years to come, I'd love to do something along the lines of this idea.

9.  From The Idea Room - Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins
I know, another recipe!  But, Brian is a blueberry boy... and these do look pretty delish.  (Plus, it always helps to already have all the ingredients on hand.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Dip

I made this dip over the weekend...  soooo good!  Definitely a hit with our resident pizza lover!  
(As seen on Noble Pig.)

Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Dip

3/4 c. chopped pepperoni
1 can (15 oz.) pizza sauce
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 can (2-1/4 oz.) sliced black olives, drained (opt. - I left it out)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1-1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) refrigerated breadstick dough
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. minced parsley

In a heavy pot, over medium heat, combine pepperoni, (sliced olives), green onions, oregano and pizza sauce.
Cook until heated through, about 5-7 minutes.
Add cream cheese and mozzarella cheese.
Stir until melted and mixture is well combined.
Turn heat to low while preparing the breadsticks.
Stir occasionally.

Remove breadsticks from tube and cook according to package directions.
When breadsticks are finished baking, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve warm.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day
to my 
two handsome boys!

I love you!!


Sunday Sustenance

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sending love your way...


Brief Bits

Once again, a quick round-up of what I've found on the web this last while that got my creative juices flowin':

1.  From The Anderson Crew - Make Your Own Silhouette Picture
As soon as we're done re-constructing Connor's head, I'm itching to capture all of our hard work by doing a silhouette of him.  This tutorial is just my speed...

2.  From Nannygoat - The 30 Meal Plan
I LOVE this idea for meal planning.  It's organized, concise, and removes a lot of the guesswork.  Still working on my repertoire, but one of these days... 

3.  From Ohdeedoh - Reader Tip: Washing Tiny Socks
From here on out, I'm not doing Connor's laundry without all of his tiny socks in a lingerie bag!

4.  From Nap Time Crafts - Baby Info Blocks
Super cute idea for commemorating the new addition.  Would make excellent baby gifts!

5.  From Ali Edwards - Heart Punch Collage
LOVED her idea for the Butterfly Punch Collage awhile back, but (since I don't have any little girls) I think I like this Heart Punch Collage even better.  My Valentine's decor could use a little beefing up.

6.  From MADE - Heart Breaker Valentines
Fun idea for Valentine's... and only requires some colored paper, a printer, a stapler, scissors, and some candy.  (Check.check.check.check.and check.)

7.  From 320 * Sycamore - Easy Scrabble Tile Valentine Craft
Another cute idea for Valentine's decor... or, I'm already imagining other uses year-round...  with other phrases, or peoples' names.

8.  From Shanty2Chic - Large Vintage-Looking Dominoes
One day, I'm going to have a game room.  I really like this idea of game pieces blown up for wall decor. 

9.  From Inchmark - EASY Kids' Valentines
Filing this fun idea away for when Connor's able to hold a pencil and draw.  Just print out a heart with eyes, and let the kids doodle the eyes, arms, & legs... then attach candy.

10.  From Simply Radiant - Valentine's Surprise Balls
I can't wait to make this for Connor in a few years for Valentine's Day!  Looks like a little bit of work, but watching him unwrap all the goodies would be so worth it.

11.  From Lasting Memories - Felt Heart Tutorial
Blogland is full of these felt hearts this year, thanks to The Idea Room.  This has to be my favorite iteration so far.  A little time consuming for sure, but super-easy.

12.  From MADE - Boys' Tie Shirt
Another fun idea from MADE for a "dressier" boys tee.  I definitely see these in Connor's future, and am hoping Grandma Rogers can catch on to my oh-so-subtle hint job.

13.  From Make It and Love It - Fabric Wall Hangings
We're in the process of redecorating our master bedroom.  This idea of "framing" fabric swatches is getting some serious consideration for the blank walls I need to fill.

14.  From How About Orange - 100 FREE Backgrounds for Twitter and Websites
While making my blog background wasn't difficult, if I had seen this list prior to doing so, I certainly would have snagged one of these seamless designs instead.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sunday Sustenance

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, February 05, 2010

A second, a third, and a fourth opinion

 January 7, 2010

In the last 7 weeks, Connor's developmental progress has been evaluated 4 times.  First by his pediatrician, then the NICU Developmental Follow-Up Clinic, then by Early Intervention, and finally by his physical therapist.  As we've learned all too well, that's a lot of opportunity for differing opinions.  (Which pretty much means we get to pick and choose the ones we like.  ;)

December 29, 2009

Back in December, his pediatrician said that everything looked great... he had no concerns.  (We love him!)

Sooo big! - January 8, 2010

We went to the NICU Developmental Follow-Up Clinic at the beginning of January where we were told his clapping skills were sub-par, he was favoring his left too much, his jumperoo was from Satan, he cried through his nose, and his trunk tone was low.  (I know... what?!?  I didn't start to process half of it until after we got home.)  They had great concerns for his gross motor skills, and we were advised to get him to physical therapy STAT.  Yet, there was discussion at the end over whether or not we actually needed to come back in a few months to another clinic, or if we were officially graduated.  And, so... we're supposed to go back in May.  (Disclaimer: While we adore our NICU family, we weren't too fond of their synopsis.)

Teeth! - January 12, 2010

Our Early Intervention team came to visit at the end of January.  Overall, they seemed impressed by his development, and many of the therapists had no concerns whatsoever for him.  The speech therapist even commented that many of his skills were in line with or ahead of his chronological age (because he's recognizing and responding to so many words).  The physical therapist was the only one to issue demerits... but only because at an adjusted age of 10 months, he's not yet crawling.  This means he has at least a 30% deficit, qualifying us for their services - in home, bi-monthly therapy sessions.  However, they all concurred that there was no immediate need for action... that he might start crawling all on his own, without any PT... or we can try to catch it now, to guarantee there is no further delay.  (Again, here comes Mommy Guilt.)

Fees for their services are based on family income, so because we're not on welfare, we have to pay for everyone else who is (isn't that what our taxes are for??).  EI won't even bother billing insurance until the cost for our services exceed our paid family fee.  And it doesn't matter that our insurance will pay 100%.  They want our family fee FIRST.  Previously, I had already figured out a way to massage the system a bit... go delinquent on our family fee, so that they were forced to bill our insurance... and had even been told off the record by EI staff that it was doable.  But, I've been labeled as THAT mom, and they're on to me.  So, I kinda don't feel it's even worth it anymore.

Bathing in the big boy tub for the 1st time! 
(a blow-up tub that sits inside the grown-up tub) - December 31, 2009

This week, we were able to get him in with our favorite physical therapist so far (the only one that generally doesn't incite meltdowns) for another evaluation.  Previously, I had halted physical therapy due to flu season at the end of September.  Taking him to a public place, where children congregate, just wasn't a good idea, when I felt I could work with him at home.  Since he was starting to fall a little behind, Mommy Guilt made me take him in for an evaluation.  Much to my pleasant surprise, his PT didn't feel that Connor was really falling behind at all.  She reminded me that crawling isn't even considered a milestone anymore... because some kids go straight from sitting to walking.  Refreshingly, she didn't think it was necessary for Connor to even start PT right now... that waiting a little longer for flu season to end was better.  She also wants him to be fully adjusted to the new helmet... so, we go back in March for another evaluation.  No biggie.  AND... she's willing to do home sessions (provided insurance will cover it).  (I love her!)

January 8, 2010

Since Connor's physical therapy will be administered by his former PT, we're going to take her advice and sit and wait.  Connor has plenty going on this month... with a new helmet to get used to, lab work & ultrasounds, and follow-up visits with his nephrologist & surgeon.

January 11, 2010

At 13.5 months of age, Connor is:
  • Busy learning new "tricks" every day!  On "command", he can clap, wave, hit his belly (when we encourage him with the phrase "get in my belly"), cough, find his binky, go "crazy" in his jumperoo, play peekaboo, mimic sounds, and sit for hours.  He's trying to dance, say "uh-oh", and shake his head yes and no.  I've caught him a few times nearly on all fours, but I don't think he understands that his arms and legs are supposed to move too.  Once or twice, he's even army-crawled for a bit.
  • Feeding is going well...  he would be perfectly content to lose the bottle in the middle of the day, but I hang on to it for the calories.  He's on Stage 2 foods (including meats) and plenty of self-fed baby snacks.  We're slowly incorporating small bits of table food, but mostly just trying to find the magic combination that won't constipate him (our biggest struggle right now).
  • Connor's also graduated to the big boy car seat, facing forward (because the behemoth convertible car seat we bought won't fit in our car rear-facing), and the umbrella stroller.  
  • He loves to push any kind of button he can find and does a good job of remembering their location on the object.  
  • He's starting to exhibit stranger anxiety, and always has to make sure mom or dad is close by.  Meltdowns are more frequent in strange situations, but he's easily consolable once he's being held. 
  • He's just about whittled himself down to 2 naps a day, and I'm working hard to lengthen the duration of those naps for sanity's sake.  He's still sleeping a good 12-hour stretch at night, with minimal disturbances.

Brian and I consider ourselves very lucky to have such an easy-going, mild-mannered little boy!

Multi-talented - January 9, 2010

Just in the last week, we know at least 3 of Connor's former NICU buddies have been hospitalized for bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and RSV.  Oh, how our hearts go out to their families!  All of them have commented how much harder this hospitalization has been compared to the NICU experience... and I can only imagine.  At our first NICU Developmental Follow-Up Clinic, back in August, the neonatologist commented that he was very surprised, given Connor's medical history, that he hadn't had any hospitalizations since his NICU discharge.  This makes me so grateful that Connor's bout with bronchiolitis and pneumonia earlier this year was minor, and motivates me to continue our house arrest.  Other than medical appointments, and the occasional family excursion, Connor stays home.  I do know how fortunate we are to be able to keep him home as much as we do!  Here's hoping we can stave off cabin fever a few more weeks until it's warm enough for walks outside.  :) 

Kisses! - January 12, 2010


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Brief Bits

A quick round-up of what I've found on the web this last while that got my creative juices flowin':

1. From So You Think You're Crafty - Craft #2: Family Resolutions Subway Art
I keep seeing subway art all over the place lately - in magazines, cataogs, TV, online.  Love this clever way to remind you what you want your family to be all about in the coming year.  Wondering if I could work this up in Photoshop and send it off to be printed on a canvas, since I'm not a painter.  Tutorial can be found here.

2.  Once Wed's  - DIY Fabric Poms
I bet these would store real nice for use over and over again...  so cute!

3.  V and Co.'s - No-Sew Fabric Wreath
This was a winner a few weeks back on So You Think You're Crafty.  I can see all sorts of possibilities with different colors and seasons...  Would make a nice housewarming gift, too.

4.  Make It and Love It's - Gathered Flannel Scarf
I am so not a sewer.  Just ask my mother.  I'm not really a scarf-wearer, either.  But this little project makes me think I could start doing both!  So cute and inexpensive, too.

5.  Robbie G. Photography's - What to Wear, What to Wear
One of these years, I want to get professional photos done... casual style (ie. not in a photo studio).  Of the whole family (extended - you're on notice!).  Love this list of ideas on what to wear...  coordinating, but NOT matchy-matchy!

6.  The Idea Room's - Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Bears
I've actually had these chocolate cinnamon bears make an appearance in my dreams lately.  (Pathetic, but true.)  Now if I could just find cinnamon bears somewhere in Chicagoland (Locals, any ideas??)... because I've looked off and on over the past 5 years, to no avail.

7.  Made By Rae's - Easiest Heart Garland. Evar.
Love the simplicity of this little garland!  And will definitely be picking up some felt on my next venture to the craft store.  Hoping it really is as simple as it looks to make.

8.  Smart Mama Love's - 101 Ways to Say I Love You
So many good ideas listed here!  (hint. hint.)

9.  MADE & Made By Rae's - Celebrate the Boy Month
Finally, some good, crafty ideas for boys!  If I see one more tutu or hair bow tutorial, I'll cry (and forward it to my sister who has 2 girls of her own).  Can't wait to see everything they come up with!  MADE posts here and Made By Rae posts here.


DOC Band Blues

February 10th marks the 15-week anniversary of the day Connor was first fitted for his DOC band.

February 10th should be the day Connor graduates from his DOC band.

February 10th will be the day Connor is fitted for his 2nd DOC band.

That's right... the day that should mark THE END of Life With A Helmet, is now going to only be THE HALFWAY POINT.

We're ecstatic, can't you tell??

So, after 15 weeks of helmet wearing, Connor still meets 2 of the 3 criteria that insurance deems necessary to justify treatment.

How far has he come? Two-dimensional photos don't really do his cranium justice. The photo study is an alright comparison of his current before and after.

Honestly, if we stopped this whole train right now, I think we could live with his current head shape just fine. His head looks better than it did 15 weeks ago, and my untrained and subjective eye really doesn't see anything wrong with his current shape.

Enter in Mommy Guilt.

That's the part I can't get over.
What if we stopped after the 1st band?
What's another 3 months (tops, or so they tell us) of helmet wearing?
What if his head was still so misshapen that it caused him grief later on in life... all because we couldn't make more sacrifices?

I'm tired of the 50-mile round trip drive to Cranial Tech every other day in the beginning, then once a week, then once very other week for the duration.  I'm tired of Connor's head smelling worse than a dirty bum.  I'm tired of fat lips and sore chests because he doesn't understand it hurts when he thrashes around.  I'm tired of worrying about the red spots on his head - are they serious pressure points or just his sensitive skin?  I'm tired of watching him struggle to get comfortable while he's wearing it.  I'm tired of scrubbing the helmet down every night.  I'm tired of worrying that helmet wearing is slowing down his gross motor development (because it is).  I'm tired of the tactless stares strangers give us.  I'm tired of dealing with it, period.

Enter in Mommy Guilt.

...{ pity party over }...

So, we're really happy to announce that Connor will be fitted for his SECOND DOC BAND on February 10th!

Last week, we were at Cranial Tech for Connor's 2nd DSi Scan.  If you remember, the 1st one went smashingly well.  Connor's a bit older now, so things didn't run as smoothly... (AKA total meltdown during the scan - as evidenced if you look closely at the pictures).  But, apparently it's more rare for kids NOT to cry during the scan.  It's always good to hear Connor's up to speed with everyone else.  ;)

Waiting for the scan to commence - January 27, 2010

The images that the scan ultimately creates are very cool.  They become a life-size version of your child in 3-D (so you're seeing a 2-D version of Connor in 3-D on the left).  They then take this image and create a mold (to be pictured on the blog at a later date), from which they create the helmet. 

See, the creation process is cool... the actual helmet wearing is not.  :)

A brief MSNBC spot on plagiocephaly and the process at Cranial Tech:

So, here's to a speedy process the next time around!

We're hoping that the next 3 months will fly by, and since we know what we're doing this time, the whole experience might prove to be a little less painful!
(fingers and toes crossed.)

Wish us luck!

Monday, February 01, 2010

All done.

Blog Re-Do 2010 is ALL DONE.  


I've let it marinate for about a week or so, and I think I've got everything in proper working order.

This was a much bigger task than I thought it would be, but only because I didn't know what I was doing.  

And honestly, what was I thinking?!?  
Now I get why people will pay money to have someone redesign it for them... totally.worth.it.  

All I can say is... I'd better not get sick of this look anytime soon!

I really hope you like it... I hope it's a little fresher-looking, a lot less cluttered, easier to read, and simpler to find the things you want.

I'd like to thank the internet for having a plethora of tutorials available... without them, this blog would be all about the blah.  (In fact, I've listed the ones I found most helpful, for the features I chose to modify, at the bottom of my sidebar.)

If you happen to find any broken links, or other things that aren't working or looking right, please let me know.

Now, let's get back to blogging!

Christmas was 38 days ago...

but, it's still definitely worth posting about!

This year was big for us... while it wasn't Connor's First Christmas,

Connor's First Christmas - 10 days old, holding Mommy's hand - December 25, 2008

it was Connor's First Christmas AT HOME!

Anticipating presents - December 25, 2009

What a difference a year makes!  
This Christmas, we had so much to celebrate as a family, and so much to be thankful for!

Santa left some new pajamas for Connor on Christmas Eve.

Company arrived later that evening - this year we were able to celebrate the holiday with the Sprik side of the family.

When we woke up Christmas morning, there was ice all over everything.  (Our White Christmas arrived later that afternoon.)

Connor still very much has a "routine" in the mornings, so once we were done with eating and early morning naps, we moved on to presents...


This was Connor's second foray into the opening of gifts, the first happening when we celebrated with the Rogers side in Arizona.  Poor little guy was all tuckered out and ready for another nap by the end!

We spent the rest of the day just lazing around, watching Connor enjoy his new toys.

Later that evening, we enjoyed a delicious ham dinner with all the fixins.  (Some of them included this, this, this, and that.)

Hands down, 2009 was the best Christmas we've ever had!

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