About Me

Name:
Sue

Location:
Southern New Jersey

I am a Mom to 2 amazing and fun daughters and wife to a great guy and a wonderful father!

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Kayla
Kayla, my oldest. She is 4 1/2 and is a sweet, loving and silly little girl. She took us 2 ½ years and 3 IVF’s to conceive. Kayla is allergic to dairy. We manage her allergy and work to balance her safety with giving her a normal childhood. Kayla loves to read books and play games - she amazes me every day.


Alysa
Alysa, my youngest. She is 3 years old and is a silly little spitfire. She’s our monkey and loves to climb on everything. She was a “natural” baby, but it was only b/c of my wonderful doctors that we were able to stop an impending miscarriage. Alysa suffers from Acid Reflux Disease and sleep apnea. She may be little, but she has a big personality. She adores her big sister and is so much fun to be around. She keeps me laughing every day.


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Mothers Day 2009

Thursday, August 30, 2007
Blogiversary & Other Stuff
Well, it kind of snuck up on me. About a week ago, it entered my mind that hey - isn't my blogiversary coming up soon? I looked at my post history and wow! Today, Aug 30th. How did THAT happen?

I can't say that I have some brilliant post today. Especially with the last couple weeks [Kayla's testing; Alysa's arm; preschool preparation] I'm seriously unprepared. But I couldn't let the day go by unnoticed.

I entered the Bloggy World 1 year ago as a result of my Sister's Blog. I won't say it was like a competition thing, although I'll joke that I couldn't have her, my technologically-challenged Big Sister beat me out on something, and something on the computer no less. But it peaked my interest. I had never even read a blog before hers. I will also admit, I almost quit before it really got started. Computers and anything associated with them have always come easy to me. So when Blogger gave me nothing but problems with so many technical difficulties - I almost gave up. But I stuck with it and it's now 1 year later.

I can't say I'm surprised at all the wonderful people I've met and become friends with in the Bloggie world. During Infertitity, I had found my salvation on the internet. An infertitity support bulletin board (no longer exists). I not only came away from infertitity with 2 beautiful daughters, but with many wonderful, amazing and lifelong friends. So I knew the relationships that could blossom over the internet. I am greatful for the wonderful women I have met during my blogging adventure.

It is also because of blogging that I found my new hobby of digital scrapbooking. I may not have a ton of time to devote to it, but I am having a lot of fun with it, as I'm sure you've noticed from some of the pages I've posted.

I love having a place to share my experiences with my girls. The fun, the tears and the oh-so-many pictures I take. It has been a good outlet for me to share my experiences of infertility and food allergies. Both of these medical conditions are not well understood by many. I have found it a good release and helpful to share my experiences and to educate people.

So I thank those that read my blog - both those I know and those I don't know. If you read, please leave me a comment so I can come visit you as well.




Speaking of food allergies - I needed to share some very frustrating experiences I had this past week. You all know I took Alysa Monday to get her cast on Monday. I walk in the room with the girls and there are some kind of cake crumbs all over the floor and the chairs. So you can picture me - holding Alysa with the broken arm, making Kayla stand in the once safe corner of the floor, which I'm taking out baby wipes to clean the chairs AND the floor. It was truly the highlight of my day.

Then...I go out and get these potato stick snacks for Kayla. She's never had them and I get them thinking she'll like them, plus they come in individual packages which would be good for preschool. There is no dairy in the ingredients, but they have the warning that they are made on equipment that processes foods with milk. Now these warnings are ambiguous and not ragulated, so you really don't know what they mean. Some I stay away from, others after calling, I feel comfortable giving the product to Kayla and have with no issues. So I call the company. I got two different "not so bright people". With the first, I told her Kayla's allegy is to dairy and I explained that I needed to know their cleaning practices in between products. She basically says we follow the standards of law. Then she asks me what I want to hear. Um...hello? Then she says, "Your daughter has Celiac disease?" What? So then I asked for her supervisor. Again she tells me to tell her what I want to hear. Um - I want to know how you clean between batches? Some companies do batch testing, etc. She then tells me that they can't guarantee that there are no traces of dairy, that is why they HAVE to have that statement on the product. Let me say I don't expect food allergy experts - but the company NEEDS to have people who discuss the labels at least have some knowledge of the actual labeling laws. I had to explain to her that no, they don't HAVE to. They HAVE to list the Top 8 in the ingredients or as a separate line, but the additional warnings that have to due with possible cross-contamination are NOT required by law. In the end she said she'll contact the plant and get back to me. Yeah - right. No return call yet. I'll call again and give someone 1 more shot, but if I can't get a satisfactory answer, I'll return the potato sticks. It's just so frustrating to not be able to get an answer from an intelligent person.




In some lighter news. Kayla saw her teacher again yesterday and she remembered her. She was given all my instructions and paperwork, so she's good to go for next week. I will do a separate post on all that I did to prepare the school for Kayla. Last night Kayla started her Big Girl gymnastics class. She is in the 3 year old class now which means she will have a "show" the last week of class. It's exciting and sad to watch her get so big.

Tomorrow, the girls and I head to Ohio with my parents. So we'll have a nice weekend visiting with my Sister and her family. The girls are excited to see their cousins. So if I'm not around for the long weekend, you'll know why. I'll try to get on-line a bit when I'm there, but I never seem to have too much time. I hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll be checking in when I can.


posted at 3:06 PM  
  6 comments



Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Wordless Wednesday
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*Alysa took her splint off Sunday night while in bed. When I went to check on her, she held her little arm up and said "Fix it Mommy."*

Hop on over to WW to see more great photos.


posted at 9:06 AM  
  9 comments



Monday, August 27, 2007
Gimpy's Update
Well, Alysa is finally in a cast - 1 week after her injury. She had a much better weekend than this past week - I could see a huge difference in her once the splint was on. The splint was loosening quite a bit yesterday and she actually took it off last night. So I'm glad she's in a cast that won't budge.

She still tells me to be gentle whenever I'm getting her dressed. It's very sweet. But I will say, I will be having quite the fight on my hands coming up. The doc she saw today took one glance at her ORIGINAL x-rays and saw the break instantaneously. So...the break was evident - clearly if I do say so myself, as I noticed the spot myself but just thought since the other doc didn't say it was a break, that it was nothing. So poor Alysa went around with a broken arm for 5 days w/o any help all b/c of the negligence of a moronic doctor. I'm fuming to say the least. I've got a call into the billing office to start. I will not be paying them one penny towards that ER visit. I won't pay the ER or doctor bill. I will however incur the costs of the original x-rays since they were actually fine. I'm sure the hospital will not be taking too kindly to my stance but I don't care. The doc she saw today definitely seemed unhappy that she went without the splint or cast for the 5 days. So wish me luck in this upcoming battle.

She will have the cast on for 2 1/2 weeks. She goes back Sep 12th to get it off, then she'll go for x-rays and then be seen by the doctor again to determine if she's all healed or not.

Now as much as I don't like the fact that my little one has a broken arm. I have to admit that she looks quite adorable in her hot pink cast! But don't take my word for it...

Here is Alysa yesterday not letting her splint stop her:
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Alysa showing off her shiny new cast:
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Kayla helping me make banana bread:
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Kayla's bed after her "rest":
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posted at 7:49 PM  
  2 comments



Sunday, August 26, 2007
Saturday Scraps
*You can find Kayla's update here.*

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I'm a day late, but I took some really fast time to do a page last night. I think I have somewhere a kit I wanted to use, but I couldn't locate it. I couldn't pass up scrapping Alysa in all her Gimpy-Glory. I used the kit Christine suggested - Little Miss Merissa by Banner Woman Designs. The tags are from Miss Mint - they are her Say Anything Tags v.1.


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Hop on over to Christine's to see her page and others who have joined.


posted at 10:05 AM  
  1 comments



Saturday, August 25, 2007
Not Good News
First I want to start out by introducing my friend Donna. We met while going through infertility on an infertility support bulletin board (which no longer exists). Her oldest and Kayla are 3 weeks apart in age (both IVF) and her 2nd is about a month and a half older than Alysa. Her third is the odd girl out, as we don't have a 3rd. :) She's been an amazing friend and luckily we live within 2 hours of each other, so we do get to see each other - not often, but our kids love playing together when we are able to meet up - actually Kayla and Petey were holding hands the last time we saw them in June. Anyway, she just entered the blogging world, so please stop over and say "Hi."




Unfortunately, Kayla did NOT pass her skin test today. She reacted to the milk - actually, her reaction to the milk was stronger than her reaction to the control. But...her doctor said he is not surprised nor is he concerned. He said that as children outgrow a food allergy, the blood test is the first to go negative - which it was with a level of <0.35. The actually reaction goes next. So, it's perfectly "normal" for her to still react with a negative blood test, especially since her blood test was positive 3 months ago. So...we go back in 3 months for a repeat skin test. He is hopeful that she will pass the skin test then. Me? Not so much. But we shall see.

So things stay status quo. Not the end of the world, but I just need to absorb and process it all and then I will be ok, as nothing has really changed. Hopefully November will bring better news.

I got the forms filled out for preschool by him, so we are set on that front. I just need to put together all her snacks and make sure I have her emergency action plan finalized.



In other not-so-good news - Alysa does indeed have a fractured arm. She had improved earlier in the week since her ER visit on Monday. But Friday morning I noticed that her arm was swollen AND bruised. J actually noticed the bruising on Thursday but thought I knew about it so he didn't mention it. Plus she was majorly cranky and miserable. But that's not necessarily unusual since she's working on 4 molars. So I spent the day yesterday calling around a million orthopedics trying to get her seen. I kept getting - September, October... etc. Um...if it was fractured, she couldn't wait. Finally, the duPont Children's Hospital office that is near us was very helpful. Their doctor was not there, but she suggested I call CHOPP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) or their Children's Hospital in the state of Delaware. The women I spoke to said flat out - she NEEDS to be seen - sounds like a fracture. I called CHOPP first b/c they're closer - no dice - sorry you can't be seen today. So I called duPont in Wilmington and the nurse said b/c it was so late on a Friday (3pm), she recommended we go to their ER (yay another $100 copay as opposed to $30 or the doctor's office) and then one of their Orthopedics on call would see her. So I had to run out, get her x-ray films, pick up J and the 4 of us headed down to Delaware in rush hour. W/o traffic, you're talking 45 minutes - with traffic, over 1 1/2 hours. J really wanted to be there so we took both girls. Sure enough, it's fractured - so she is in a splint and a sling. She has to be seen again Monday or Tuesday - which will most likely mean more x-rays. They then will decide based on how she's healing whether to cast or keep her splinted. I'll say - just having it stabilized has made a world of difference. She is a happy, non-cranky child. Amazing.

Both girls, considering we were in the ER from 5:30 to 10:30pm were amazingly well behaved. I am so proud of both of them. I think J and I were more cranky b/c we were both tired AND hungry. I packed food for the girls but didn't have time for us. LOL The nurses took pity on J and let him share some of their hoagie platter though.

So now we have the next 4-6 weeks of Alysa's arm in a sling. She's doing great with it. But that means no more swimming for her this season - so that is sad. For the first time Alysa freaked when she was the Allergist this morning. I think she's had enough of doctors. Then my Mom and I took the girls out to get them a little treat for being so good and since they've both been put through the ringer the past few days. Then I realized later - Alysa, is being rewarded for disobeying me since if she listened when I said to stay out of the window, then she never would have broken her arm. ;) Oh well, what are you going to do?

So we'll deal with the rest of her arm business and I'll work on getting Kayla all ready for school in a week and a half. And did I mention I have to pack to go to Ohio? We're visiting my Sister for Labor Day weekend.

I hope everyone is having a better weekend than we are. :) I'm off to cuddle with my Gimpy as Kayla is still napping.

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posted at 3:07 PM  
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Saturday Photo Hunt
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This week's theme is Happy.

Here is Kayla very Happy to be playing at Storybook Land.
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To view other Saturday Photo Hunts go here.


posted at 2:57 PM  
  6 comments



Thursday, August 23, 2007
What Will Saturday Bring
Yesterday, I was telling Kayla that she would be seeing her doctor on Saturday. She remembers him as the one who "took her itchies" away when she had the viral hives. I told her that he was going to test her to see if she could eat dairy. I also told her that he may want her to drink some cow's milk. This resulted in this exchange:

Kayla: Does Cow's milk have dairy?

Me: Yes honey it does.

Kayla: Then I can't drink cow's milk.

Me: I know honey, but that is what Dr. Wach's is going to tell us.

Kayla: Pointing to her cup of soy milk. My milk doesn't have dairy.

Me: No honey, it doesn't.

There are so many unknowns hanging over my head. The future beyond Saturday is a huge unknown. And in these days leading up to find out what Kayla's future holds, I can't help but see the parallels to my battle with infertility. In infertility, the time between ovulation and the day you take that pregnancy test is called the "2ww" (2 week wait). It's infamous among us infertiles. It's that time where you try oh so hard to convince yourself that you are indeed NOT pregnant b/c in some warped way you think it will make the negative test easier to bear, when in reality, nothing makes it easier. But in the 2ww, you can't help but let your mind run away with you - imagining every twinge to be a baby settling in for 9 months, imagine all sorts of ways of sharing the news with your hubby and your family, only to have that crushing reality of yet another failed cycle crash down around you burying you in grief. During the IVF cycle in which Kayla was conceived, I was convinced that pregnancy and motherhood was something so wonderful - that it was something too wonderful to happen to me. I was convinced I would never be a mother. I find myself doing that now. I keep telling myself that there is NO WAY Kayla could really have outgrown her allergy. That is something that is just too good to happen to us. It's a defense mechanism of sorts, to make that crushing reality, should it occur, easier to bear. I know it won't work, but still I find myself doing it. Then I can't stop myself from imagining doing "ordinary" things with her. Taking her to the zoo or the amusement park w/o packing a single food and just buying whatever she feels like eating at the time. Taking her out for real pizza and ice cream on a hot day.

Infertility consumes your life. It's a state of living - the doctor's visits sometimes every day - the tests, the monitoring, the surgeries, the needles and hormones and the financial strain. For years, I took my temperature first thing when I woke up and charted my temps so I could monitor my fertility. This was no easy habit to break. Even while pregnant, I was constantly monitoring my body and before Alysa, I didn't need to temp b/c I KNEW my body so well. But again, it meant paying close attention to everything. After Alysa was born was the first time I could let that go. No charting, no doctor's visits, no worrying about fertility or tests. It was such a strange feeling. I didn't know how to "be". It took me a long time to get out of the baby-making mindset. I know that is how it would be if Kayla really does outgrow her allergy. Will I ever be able to look at a goldfish cracker w/o it sending chills down my spine? Will I ever be able to go to a party w/o feeling the need to carry extra wipes, a bright green epi pen pouch and their own personal cupcakes? I know that eventually, I would "settle" into some state of normalcy. But I also know that just as infertility irrevocably changed me, Kayla's allergy has done the same.

Infertility made me more compassionate. Although I may not understand someones crisis, I feel that I can be a better friend. I may not know what to say, but I know much better what NOT to say. Kayla's allergy has made me more aware as well. I like to think that even if Kayla had never been allergic to dairy, that I would have been as understanding as possible for a non-food allergic Mom to those parents of food allergic children. But I know now, that when my gf with a newly diagnosed peanut/tree nut allergic child comes over - I will not be offended when her eyes constantly dart around my house looking for that one peanut/tree nut morsel that my vacuum may have missed. That when I make a cake that is made with a dedicated peanut/tree nut free cake mix and other safe ingredients from my house and she still won't let her daughter eat it b/c she doesn't trust anyone but herself to cook for her daughter, that I will not be offended. I'll understand b/c I am that person now.

Both infertility and Kayla's food allergy brought some really wonderful friends into my life. And as sad as it may sound, both made family and friends alike leave my life. With this I know that those that would turn their backs on family and friends in need were never truly a part of your life to begin with. Although I would never have chosen to battle infertility or live with Kayla's food allergy, I would not trade her or the friends I've made through these journeys for anything.

I sit here trying to tell myself that the worst case scenario really just means that things stay as they are (well, technically it could get worse if her reaction were to escalate, but I won't let my mind go there). But it's never that simple. Not when you're faced with your child's life getting insurmountably better. So much is riding on these tests. And just as the end of the 2ww can't come soon enough, I am dreading the tests that have the ability to take away the hope that is keeping me going these last few days.


posted at 12:50 PM  
  10 comments



Wednesday, August 22, 2007
A Touching Tribute
I came across the story of Gabi through Michelle. My heart breaks for this family and for what they are going through. So I am lighting a candle for Gabi and her family and hope that you will take a moment to read her story and add her family to your prayers.

For Gabi
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Then, I saw that Shannon at Gabi's World thought it would be nice to post pics of our kids in pigtails to honor baby Gabi. Here is one of Kayla from last January - she's sleeping now - I don't think she'd appreciate me waking her up to take a pic of her in pigtails. :)

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posted at 9:39 PM  
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On the Mend
Alysa has been getting better each day thankfully, so it looks like she just had a bruised bone or some kind of strain. She's using it more and more and as long as she doesn't try to crawl around, she's pretty much ok.

I knew she was feeling better today when I turned my back for a minute to clean something up in the playroom and I turned around to find them both in the windowsill AGAIN! So, I decided this morning to plop them in front of the tv long enough so I could do some room re-arranging.

Here is the room b4:
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Here is the room after:
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At least now, they won't break any bones from climbing in the window. So far they haven't reacted much. Just looked around - then went on playing. J doesn't know yet, so we'll see what his reaction is tonight. The biggest downfall is the couch is a bit in the way of the bookshelf. But...tighter fit to get to the books or broken bones? I'll take the books... :)

*Update:*
Kayla is one HAPPY girl!!!
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posted at 11:56 AM  
  4 comments



Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Wordless Wednesday - Video Version


Hop on over to WW to see more great photos.


posted at 5:03 PM  
  15 comments



Never a Dull Moment
Well, it happened. It took her 20 months, but Alysa "finally" did it. The Monkey climbed and paid the price. I worked yesterday instead of Wednesday this week b/c J has his store inventory tomorrow. So I get home last night and when I happened to be pulling in the driveway, J was working on dinner in the kitchen - yup, he cooks too! :) What do I see as I pull up? My two girls STANDING in the windowsill in the playroom (aka living room). Now we don't let them climb up there. They refuse to accept that rule. I will admit that it was cute though. So I come in the house and within a minute, Alysa is crying. She fell trying to get out of the window and landed somehow on her arm.

She wouldn't STOP crying. She wouldn't use her arm. We handed her toys, she used her right arm (her left was hurting). Finally, J got a can of unopened beer. They love the cold. She reached for it with both hands, grabbed it and it fell to the left as she couldn't hold it with her left hand. Her Ped's office told us to take her to the ER for x-rays. So, she had her first trip to the ER.

Thankfully nothing is broken - her teeny tiny little bones are just fine. But it hurts her. Even the x-ray tech could tell when she held her arm a couple ways she screamed even harder. But while at the hospital she had some pleasant, non screaming moments and started to use her arm a bit. She would hold my medical id card, but not her cup of "milk" (aka soy formula). Even with her crying, she was the hit of the hospital. One woman even told me "She's awesome" with all her talking - "Card please Mommy". "Thank you Mommy". "Milk Mommy." "Thank you Mommy." "All done card. Another card. Thank you Mommy." "It's raining Mommy." etc. etc.

I felt bad though that within all our rushing to get her arm immobilized and out of the house, I never thought to bring her comfort - Baby and Taggie. But Kayla, who was an amazing Big Sister to Alysa last night (bringing me the ice pack, comforting Alysa, etc) told J that Alysa was hungry and needed dinner. So J called me to offer to bring her a sandwich. He did and I told him to bring Baby and Taggie (she was asking for them over and over). Her little tear-stained face lit up when she saw them.

So although her arm is not broken and the doctor said her arm should be ok today - it's not. She's still in pain. She's babying it a lot and anytime she puts any weight on it or bumps it, she cries, holds it up to me and says "Arm. Kiss it." or "Fingers. Kiss it Mommy." She spend a lot of this morning crying. So I now have a call in to her Ped's office so they can tell me what they think.

So here's my question - Since Kayla has been in the ER 3 times in her short life (for reflux and her stomach viruses) and now Alysa has been there once for her arm - do you think they'll give a bulk discount on my $100 ER copay?


posted at 8:35 AM  
  3 comments



Monday, August 20, 2007
Speechless!
I'm in major shock at the moment. I just got off the phone with Kayla's allergist. Her dairy allergy blood test results are in. NEGATIVE!!!!!!!!!!!! I am in complete shock right now. I could not let my mind dream that she may actually outgrow it.

Granted - we have a long way to go. Saturday, she will have her skin test and then if that goes well, she'll have her food challenge that day too. Even if that goes well, it will be a slow introduction of dairy into her diet. So that we don't overload her system, PLUS in the past month she's really learned that certain foods can make her sick. So we now would have to overcome her knowing she's eating something that used to make her sick.

I'm still trying to stay realistic in that we may not be out of the woods yet. But things are looking really positive! Please send tons of good thoughts and prayers her way!


posted at 1:50 PM  
  8 comments



Friday, August 17, 2007
I'm Honored
When I posted Kayla's party happenings along with the dairy-free menu, I did so to show people how you can have a great party with good food that is dairy-free. I get a lot of questions from people about it and so many wonder "how I do it". I never thought it would get me "5 minutes of fame", but I was then contacted by Alisa, the founder of Go Dairy Free, an informational website on living dairy-free. She had seen my post and asked if she could post my recipes on her site. She will be putting it on her Milk-Free Blog and as a front page feature on Saturday. I'm pretty excited and honored. She told me she's always approached by Moms of babies approaching their first birthdays who are recently diagnosed. They don't know what to have at their parties. I remember all too clearly being there only 2 years ago. I'm always glad to help anyone adjust to food allergy living.




A week or so ago (maybe longer?), Janeen bestowed on me the
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Janeen had some wonderful things to say about me.
"Sue is my food allergy buddy in crime. We met on the BabyCenter food allergy board and she has supported me many a time during a "food allergy" melt down that I've had. That alone makes her courageous. But she has a little girl with a dairy allergy (not only will she react if she eats it, but also she is contact sensitive and can't even touch dairy) who she takes care of like Wondermom."

I can't say I have ever considered myself courageous. I'm a Mom who loves her daughter and would do anything to keep her safe. I don't see myself doing anything more or less than any Mom in my position would do. Thank you Janeen. You made my day. You have been a wonderful support to me and I appreciate everything you've done for me.

I am going to pass this award on to my Sister. We've all had our trials in life, but not many are more painful or hard to live through as giving birth to a Micro-Preemie. My niece, Maddy was born at 25 weeks and weighed 1lb, 11oz. Christine and her family lived day-to-day not knowing if Maddy would survive and if she did survive, they did not know the extent of any problems she might encounter. My Sister spent 3 months splitting herself between my niece in the hospital and my 2 year old nephew at home, as well as the normal life things that won't go away during a crisis. It takes a lot of courage to make it through a crisis, let alone a crisis that involves the your child's life hanging in the balance. Thankfully Maddy is now an almost 5 year old Spitfire who is perfectly healthy.

*Chris - I know you have your hands full with Zachary - so I don't expect you to respond to this anytime soon! Love you!*


posted at 3:21 PM  
  5 comments



Thursday, August 16, 2007
Kayla's Nightmare
She woke up at 12:30am last night crying. I rushed into her room and put my arms around her. Then I hear her through her talking to me through her tears - her is our middle of the night conversation.

Kayla - "I don't want to see the animals."

Me - "Oh honey, you don't have to see the animals."

Kayla - "But Alysa wants to see the animals. I don't want to."

Me - "Kayla. Alysa can see the animals if she wants to but you don't have to. OK?"

Kayla - "OK." (as she lays her head on my shoulder and sucks her thumb)

There is nothing more powerful for a Mom than chasing the monsters animals away.


posted at 9:45 AM  
  4 comments



Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Wordless Wednesday - In trouble again!
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Hop on over to WW to see more great photos.


posted at 9:06 PM  
  12 comments



Monday, August 13, 2007
Marriage Monday
Before I get into Marriage Monday, I'd like to introduce a new blog. My Father has been talking about blogging for months. Actually a year ago, he had never used a computer before, let alone the internet. But with my blog and my Sister's it got him intrigued. He finally published his blog over the weekend wtih 3 entries at once. Overachiever? His blog is one to share his political ideas and bring thought and discussion to current events. He's very intelligent and I think he has a lot of good ideas and thoughts, even if you don't agree. You can check it out here.

Also, you can read about Kayla's party her.




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This week's Marriage Monday topic is Share a time of worse, sickness, or poorer in our marriages up till now, and then share a time of better, health, or richer.

Unfortunately this is an “easy” one. J and I of course have our moments as all married couples do. But so far our worse was soon after we were married. Our infertility took us by surprise and it ended in a 2 ½ year emotional, physical, financial and marital struggle. Infertility attacks every aspect of your life.

At first, J would say I’m seeing things and over-reacting. Luckily once we got a doctor to back me up and say I had a problem, he never once tried to back out of treatment. He left most of those decisions up to me in the sense that I was the one being poked and prodded every day.

Infertility had a huge emotional toll on me especially – as I was in a pretty serious depression by the time I got pregnant. I’ll say J always stood by me, but I think in some ways he didn’t know how to help me. This struggle was different for us both. I could not see life without a child and although he wanted children, it would not have been a life “deal-breaker” so to speak. It was hard for us to put ourselves in the other’s shoes even though we were both dealing with the same situation. Our emotions and thoughts were each our own.

I had read articles about infertility and marriage and saw so much that infertility would do one of two things – make or break your marriage. Studies have shown that couples who come out of infertility together tend to be stronger. We both learned what constitutes devastation and we learned what to let go and what to hold onto.

In line with our worst, I’d definitely have to say our best was the birth of our daughters. Of course, this in and of itself is a major life-change and had its own stresses on us as individuals and on our marriage. J went into this with virtually no experience with babies. He has always been a hands-on Dad and helps me tremendously. With Kayla, early in the pregnancy, it was just not real. I could see the connection between him and Kayla start when we found out the gender and named her. He was protective of her through being protective of me. And after she was born, she was your typical newborn blob who developed severed acid reflux disease, which meant she screamed most of the time. NOT easy. I could see the love he had for her, but I have enjoyed seeing his love and bond between him and the girls grow as they got older. It grows every day. With Alysa, I could see he was connected from day one. He knew what to expect this time around, so that bond came faster.

We are parents now, so it takes more effort to maintain our relationship – more attention to time, etc. But we see each other as individuals and also as parents of our children.


posted at 9:56 AM  
  2 comments



Sunday, August 12, 2007
Kayla's 3rd Birthday Party


Kayla's party was yesterday and today, J is at work and this house is filled with 3 exhausted females. The party was a great success and although the sun was strong, it was in the low 80's with no humidity. We have tents and trees, so in the shade it was perfect. Kayla loved having her friends over and all the kids appeared to have a good time. It was a Backyardigans theme and I got all the stuff for it and then Friday, Kayla tells me how excited she is to have her Backyardigans party hat. Um...I hadn't gotten hats b/c the kids really don't wear them. So out to the store we went Saturday morning to get them. It was the only thing she asked for at her party and she wouldn't stop talking about wanting her hat. She actually did wear it. :)

At one point I came outside and Kayla ran up to me all dramatic with her hands and arms spread out to her sides and said, "Mommy, EVERYONE is here." She was SO excited!

I got a lot of compliments on the food and we have a TON of leftovers. I'm thankful for having two freezers. My parents also took some home. It's pretty ironic too, that although Kayla has only one food allergy, I actually juggled 4 food allergens at her party. I have a girlfriend who's daughter has a peanut and chocolate allergy and another friend who I just found out her son is allergic to strawberries. Peanuts are "easy", as we avoid them anyway and the cake mix I use is dedicated peanut, egg and dairy free. I actually had originally planned on doing a chocolate cake filling because Kayla loves chocolate. But when possible, I would rather have all my food safe for all my guests. It's not always possible, obviously, but chocolate is easily avoided. I am also leaving strawberries out of the fruit salad.

This year's dairy-free menu is as follows...
Entrees:
Sausage, Peppers & Onions
Slow Cooker Sweet & Tangy Chicken (this was a new dish I found and it got rave reviews!)

Side Dishes/Appetizers:
Kielbasa wrapped in Crescent Rolls
Herb Roasted Potatoes
Antipasto Rice Salad
Baked Beans
Fruit Salad

We also had chips, pretzels and onion dip. And for the kids, I make Chicken Fries. They are dairy free and both my girls LOVE them. I get them through Market day.

Here are the recipes for the above menu...
Sausage, Peppers & Onions:
This is being made by my Mom - so I don't have the specifics besides the obvious, Sausage, Peppers & Onions.

Slow Cooker Sweet & Tangy Chicken:
INGREDIENTS
2 (18 ounce) bottles barbecue sauce
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
DIRECTIONS
1. In a large bowl, mix together barbecue sauce, pineapple with juice, green bell pepper, onion, and garlic.
2. Arrange 4 of the chicken breasts in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour half of the barbecue sauce over the chicken. Place remaining chicken in slow cooker, and pour remaining sauce over the top.
3. Cover, and cook on Low for 8 to 9 hours.

Kielbasa Wrapped in Crescent Rolls:
I simply take Kielbasa and wrap them in rolled out Pillsbury Crescent rolls (which are dairy-free). I then bake them in the oven until the rolls are cooked. then I slice them up and serve. Delicious!

Herb Roasted Potatoes:
INGREDIENTS:
6 large potatoes, cut in quarters
6 medium onions, quartered
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried leaf basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 375°.
Place potatoes and onions in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle the vegetable oil over vegetables and sprinkle with pepper, parsley, basil, and thyme. Lightly stir vegetables to coat all sides with oil and seasonings; bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour, or until fork-tender, turning occasionally to keep the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Antipasto Rice Salad:
2 c. cooked rice
1/3 c. Italian salad dressing
1 1/2 c. assorted meats (ham, turkey, salami)
1/4 c. diced cheese
1/4 c. black olives
1 c. sliced vegetables (green peppers, green onions)
2/3 c. chopped tomatoes

Toss rice with Italian salad dressing. Stir in meats, cheese, black olives and vegetables. Chill, then stir in tomatoes before serving. Makes 4 servings.

For the cake - I use Cherry Brook Kitchens yellow cake mix. The company makes cake mixes that are dedicated peanut, egg and dairy free and they are delicious. I got a Pablo cake pan (from the Backyardigans)and will be putting a lemon cake filling in the cake.

Lemon Cake Filling (I got a lot of compliments on this as well)
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Juice of medium lemon
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small saucepan. Gradually add water and whisk until well blended. Whisk in egg yolks, lemon peel and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thick and bubbly. Boil one minute; remove from heat. Stir in butter. Cool to room temperature, without stirring.

YIELD: 1 cup; fills one 8" layer

For my onion dip, I will use Tofuti's Better than Sour Cream. You really can't taste the difference between that and "real" sour cream.

Today I will slowly work on getting our house back in order. No easy task after a party. I have a feeling my tired girls will get a wee bit of extra tv today to give me the time to clean and recuperate. (I actually put all the recipes together for this post a few days ago, so don't think I had all morning to type this - LOL.) Any bets on whether I get any rest time today?


posted at 11:33 AM  
  5 comments



Friday, August 10, 2007
Food Allergy Article
My father found this article online recently and I wanted to share it here. Recently we had some issues within our family where Kayla was not welcome because of her food allergy. I will not be getting into that here, but it shows how important it is to get as much information on food allergies out there as we can.

Although Kayla does not have a peanut allergy (as far as we know), you could replace peanut everywhere in this article and put dairy in it's place. And regardless, it is a good article about food allergies and most importantly, it states in it that parents of non allergic kids are those that need to be reached. Some of the examples of parental ignorance is quite scary. These are excellent examples of why I am terrified to send Kayla to preschool in a few weeks.

I am always happy to see articles giving attention to the dangers of food allergies. I'm copying the article below, but you can also view it on-line here.

***
Trivializing Peanut Allergies Could Mean Tragedy
Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ezra started talking in sentences right around his second birthday.

And not a moment too soon, considering complete sentences are essential for him to convey critical information that everyone he meets needs to know.

Last weekend, for example, during a family gathering at his grandparents' home, he made a point of visiting each adult to say, "I'm al lergic to peanuts and peanut butter and everything with nuts."

I don't have to tell you this is hardly a sentence that trips readily off the tongue of a 2-year-old. Quite obviously, Ezra has been coached to provide this information by his mother.

It became an essential sentence, however, after a visit to the emergency room where his allergy was discovered.

Ezra had been enjoying a play date and lunch at a friend's home, where the main course was a pea nut butter sandwich -- Ezra's first, it turned out.

Mercifully, his reaction was mild. But that's frequently the case with an initial allergic reaction. Testing revealed Ezra's allergy is extreme, which means repeated ex posure to peanuts would result in increasingly severe reactions. Even one more exposure could send him into anaphylactic shock in which breathing is severely impaired. Without immediate treatment, he could die.

I am not relating this, by the way, to provide information to parents of kids with food allergies, who know far more than the rest of us will ever know about this subject.

No, the people who need to know this message are parents whose kids don't have food aller gies, and teachers who think parents who demand a peanut-free environment in the classroom are being overly protective. Unfortunately, a wealth of anecdotal evi dence suggests a lot of people still don't realize the seriousness of pea nut allergies.

Many day care centers have declared their premises "peanut free," which means no child is permitted to bring a peanut butter sandwich. Given that PB&J is a childhood staple, that may seem harsh -- until you realize that for many pea nut-allergic children, merely touching a lunchbox that was handled by someone who made a peanut butter sandwich could trigger a se rious reaction.

That's why parents of peanut-allergic children are so relentless in their efforts to spread the word.

Yet many parents and teachers, even after hearing this, remain cavalier toward peanut-allergic children and their parents.

One illustrative anecdote involves a peanut-free day care center where an aide spotted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the hands of a 4-year-old. Turns out the mother had been making her child's sandwiches with a 2-inch circle of peanut butter in the middle, then surrounding it with jelly to hide the peanut butter.

When told her child could not remain in the program if she didn't abide by the school's rules, she re plied that her child's rights were being subverted by "this peanut al lergy nonsense."

Unfortunately, parents with such attitudes can convey them to their children, thus fostering a ten dency to tease the allergic child. In another few years, the smiles and compliance that Ezra encounters today when he announces his al lergy may change to peer scoffing, teasing and harassment ("Ha, ha, you're the peanut kid!").

Exaggeration? Tell that to the 7-year-old St. Louis girl who had to be hospitalized for two days after having crumbled peanut butter crackers dumped on her head by a boy on her school bus who was harassing her about her allergy.

A peanut allergy goes beyond being a mere nuisance. Not only does it require a family to be relentlessly vigilant, but it requires that parents look everywhere for traces of peanuts. At least one fast-food chain uses peanut oil for its fried foods. Some skin creams and oils contain peanut oil.

Even reading labels is no guarantee, as a list of ingredients may say "arachis oil," the botanical name for the genus that includes peanuts.

Researchers have spent years trying to neutralize peanut allergies or at least mitigate their impact. Vaccines are being tested, a Duke Medical Center study is exploring the reliability of desensitization and early results of tests involving Chinese herbal formulas are said to be promising.

But meanwhile, peanut allergies continue to affect 3 million Americans, or 1 percent of the population -- and 3 percent of the preschool population.

So until science cracks the code, Ezra and his fellow peanut-allergic children must depend on the understanding and cooperation of all the adults in their lives.
***


posted at 10:06 PM  
  2 comments



Saturday Photo Hunt
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This week's theme is Row (lining things up).

Kayla leaves me no shortage of pictures of things lined up. She used to be quite fanatical about this. I'm leaving it at 3 pictures.

April 2006 - 20 Months
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September 2006 - 2 Yrs, 1 Month
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March 2007 - 2 1/2 Yrs
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To view other Saturday Photo Hunts go here.

*I will most likely do my visiting late Saturday/Sunday since Kayla's birthday party is Saturday.*


posted at 10:05 PM  
  11 comments



Thursday, August 09, 2007
The Wonders of Daddy
As my girls get bigger, it gets a bit easier to understand the workings of their little complicated minds. Or at least, you know what they're thinking, even if you don't know how those thoughts come about.

It's very well known that Mommies have that "magic touch". We can calm tears and fears with a simple hug. We can heal a booboo with a kiss. When children are sick, they gravitate to Mommy. This is readily apparent with my girls. Even for things like brushing her tangled mop of knotty curls, Kayla demands me with the comb instead of J. I have to help her brush her teeth (most of the time). For a long, long time, she would accept no one but me to put her to bed. Alysa tends to ask me for help before asking others.

For all that Mommies do "best", I have also noticed that there are things that Daddies do "best". Daddy plays certain things with the girls that I just can't match. He makes them a super slide with their gymnastics mat and pillows. He "eats" their limbs and flies them around the house. He is the one they beg to help when he fixes things around the house. And in their little minds, their Daddy can fix anything and everything. If a toy needs batteries, I hear "Daddy has to fix it." If a sticker is ripped, I hear "Daddy will fix it." Tuesday, Kayla broke the tip of her crayon off and announced that "Daddy can fix it." She also snapped the rod from her window shade in half and told me ever so confidently, "Daddy will fix it."

So as much as both my girls can both be called "Mommy's Girls", in their eyes their Daddy holds a special kind of magic that not even Mommy can match!


posted at 9:11 AM  
  4 comments



Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Alysa's Ice Cream Adventure
As planned on Sunday, I took the girls up to my parents’ house so we could take Alysa out for her first “real” ice cream cone. We went up there in the morning, I dropped them off for lunch and naps and took advantage of the situation and ran out to meet my gf for lunch.

After Alysa’s nap, my Mom and I took Alysa. My Mom also had found safe ice cream cones for Kayla, so my Dad was able to give Kayla soy ice cream in a cone which she devoured. She had a total of 3 scoops of soy ice cream and the cone. Then he took her over the playground by their house to work off the soy ice cream.

I packed up the car with a change of clothes for both Alysa and myself and plenty of wipes. I also brought Alysa’s old robeez for her to wear so she wouldn’t get ice cream on her sandals. We also took my Mom’s car so just in case, my car would not get dairy contaminated. We got Alysa a baby vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles. Although she wouldn’t hold the cone until the ice cream was all gone (she hates getting messy), she devoured all the ice cream – mind you, the whole time, in between bites, she was cleaning up the mess with napkin after napkin. After her cone, she shared my ice cream and my Mom’s. The girl had a TON of ice cream. She was adorable and she apparently impressed some of the other people there as my Mom got comments when I left to clean her up how much she talked, etc. Like any Mom I’m all for hearing how wonderful and adorable my daughter is.

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Then came the cleaning – we stripped her down (if we had a hose, I would have hosed her down), but we cleaned her thoroughly and got her dressed. We then took her to meet Kayla and Gramps at the playground. The girls played for a while and at one point, not thinking anything of it, noticed she was playing with some pine cones. I did comment about her allergy to pine trees to my Dad. But it really didn’t register, as plenty of times when we’re outside; she gets a runny nose from her environmental allergies. Also note she was holding it for only a short amount of time.

Back at my Mom’s, we had dinner – of which Alysa refused to eat, of course – which is par for the course with all 4 of her molars coming through. What we didn’t expect was her to throw up during dinner. And I don’t just mean a little. So my food allergy mind goes right to the darn ice cream. She had no other symptoms – no hives, etc. Not that it means anything. I was hoping she just had TOO much ice cream. No such luck since she threw up a total of 5 times in about an hour and a half. My Mom was nice enough to drive my car home with my Dad following us so I could sit with Alysa in case she threw up on the way home. Luckily she only did once but it was her last time. But…on the way home, I remembered the pine cones. Not just the pine cones but the fact that Christmas morning, after sitting practically under the tree and playing with presents that had pine needles all over them, that she threw up 3 times that morning b4 we got rid of the tree and all the evidence of one. Plus, she didn’t seem to be sick since in between throwing up, she was happy and playing – no fever, etc. I hope for Kayla’s sake (her party is Saturday) that it’s not a virus. Not that I want her to react that badly to pine trees and cones, but since she has, I’m hoping it was that and NOT a virus. But of course, I’m hoping if it’s not the pine cones, it had BETTER be a virus and NOT a milk reaction. So far, no one else has gotten sick, but…it can take time. With Kayla being so susceptible to stomach bugs, I’m thinking if she’s going to get anything, it would have been by now or by the end of the week. Only time will tell… Luckily they both see their allergist on the 25th.

Then yesterday, it clicked – my Mom and I were SO focused on Alysa being sick and trying to take care of her. NEITHER of use registered that she was throwing up DAIRY right next to Kayla. Now of course we took great care in keeping Kayla way from it for obvious reasons, but NOT for the dairy reason. I’m just not used to Alysa eating dairy – especially in those quantities. I’m a horrible Mommy!




J took Kayla this morning to get her blood drawn for her newest dairy allergy testing. She did really well. As soon as she realized where she was, she told J “I don’t want to be here. I want to go home.” When he said they had to be there, she asked “Are we here for Alysa?” She’s a trooper though. So now it’s onto a nerve-wracking wait for the results. I can’t say I’m expecting her levels to have dropped to normal in the past 3 months. But we shall see. Her allergist obviously thinks there’s a chance, otherwise he wouldn’t be having her tested again already. I’m also trying hard not to let my hopes get too high so I won’t be too disappointed if the results are not as we want them to be.

I’m working this week on finalizing Kayla’s party. I have to complete my shopping list and then actually shop. I’ll be doing some tonight and J will do the rest tomorrow night. Currently the forecast is for isolated thunderstorms. I’m hoping that goes away or they’re isolated AWAY from our house. On Sunday I was telling Kayla everyone who would be at her party. When I was done, she said, “Can Kayla come?” Apparently she thinks it will be a happening party!

I hope everyone is having a great week.


posted at 11:41 AM  
  4 comments



Wordless Wednesday (sort of)
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Alysa is SO busted

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"Oh no, coins!" (her words)

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She thinks she's too cute to get in trouble

Hop on over to WW to see more great photos.


posted at 8:15 AM  
  6 comments



Monday, August 06, 2007
Happy Birthday Kayla
My baby turns 3 today. I can't believe it has been 3 years since I first held her. She has given us a run for our money - literally. She took 2 1/2 years to conceive. She was conceived on our 3rd IVF on November 15, 2003. My pregnancy was confirmed on December 1, 2003 and she was born full term (2 days early) on August 6th.

She changed our world even before she was born. She had her Daddy wrapped around her little finger before he was able to hold her.

And now, at the age of 3, she is no longer a baby or a Toddler. She is a little kid. One who is smart and funny. She looks out for her little Sister - hugs her when she's sad, comforts her when she is hurt and just adores her.

She is potty trained and sleeps in a big girl bed. She loves being around other kids and although she can still be shy, she does amazingly well with new people - especially considering that she used to cry and cling to me.

She has gone from a child who has no clue about her food allergy to one that asks if food is dairy or if it "will make her sick" (she has done this with new foods). It amazes me how much they can grasp at such a young age. She's leaving all the baby toys behind and is really into bigger girl toys - my little ponies, bigger kid puzzles, tea parties, etc.

She loves to go to the store with me and every night she asks to sleep with J and me instead of sleeping by herself.

I have enjoyed every moment of the past 3 years with her. And although we've had our share of worries with her, it's made her the child she is today and I wouldn't trade any of it.

Our plan was to take her to her favorite amusement park today with all 4 of us. But...we would have fought high chances of thunder storms. So we took her to the Children's Museum in Philadelphia and we owe her a trip to Storybook Land.

I've put together some pics of Kayla over the past 3 years. Amazing how much they change.



posted at 9:10 AM  
  7 comments



Saturday, August 04, 2007
Saturday Scraps #7

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I was able to steal some time throughout the morning to use the kit suggested by Christine this week. Which is great, b/c I had downloaded it a couple days ago and loved it. It's the Foxy Lady kit by Peppermint Creative. The star mat is also from Miss Mint - it's one of her new items. The frames are from the Freebie Vault.

I thought this kit was perfect to scrap one of their favorite pass-times...Dress Up. I have so many pics of them looking so cute, that I decided to make this a 2-page spread. My first of those.

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Hop on over to Christine's to see her page and others who have joined.


posted at 12:30 PM  
  4 comments



Friday, August 03, 2007
Who Wants a 37" Flat Panel TV?
I know I sure do and if I do, J DEFINITELY does. 5 Minutes for Mom, with the help of Best Buy is giving one away!

All you have to do is post about it on your blog and then leave a comment.

You can check out the details on the TV here.

Good luck!




Not too much going on around here. I'm up way past my bedtime tonight. But I've been working on organizing the 770 pictures I just got from Snapfish. Yup, you read that - 770. I haven't ordered pictures since February - I'm a wee bit behind. And I'm still waiting on 204 more. Yes, I'm insane. Once organized, I have to put them in the photo albums. I feel like I need to have them updated by Kayla's party on the 11th.

Other than that, I'm finalizing my shopping lists for her party. I'll post the menu at a later day. I picked up the favors today. Kayla and Alysa already got theirs. I got echo microphones that have their names on them. They LOVE them. Kayla was cute - talking into it and then she stopped, looked in it and said "Who's in there?"

But, I must stop this now and head up to bed before I collapse. It's past 10, which is WAY past my bedtime.

Have a great night.


posted at 10:09 PM  
  0 comments



Saturday Photo Hunt
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This week's theme is Funky.

With her tight curls, Kayla's hair can get quite funky when you take it out of a pony tail... Sorry it's the best I could come up with this late at night.

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To view other Saturday Photo Hunts go here.

*I've been super busy and will get on later today/early tomorrow to catch up a bit.*


posted at 10:00 PM  
  10 comments



Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Kayla's 3 Year Chek Up
Kayla had her 3 year old check-up yesterday. I can’t believe she’ll be 3 on Monday, but more on that next week.

Kayla weighed in at a whopping 27 ½ pounds, which puts in the just under 50% (she gained over 4 pounds in a year). Now for many this may just seem like she’s an average 3 year old. But for us, it’s amazing! Kayla was born at 8lb, 3oz in the 90% for weight and height and by 15 months of age was down under the 3% mark. Approx a year and a half ago, she was almost hospitalized due to her diagnosis of Failure to Thrive to get a feeding tube. All of this being direct result from poor eating due to her dairy allergy and her reflux disease. But now, a year and a half later, after tons of food allergy research, hard work on feeding therapy and Prevacid, she is a healthy weight and in a percentile we never thought she’d see. It was great to be able to answer her doc’s question of “How does she eat?” with “Super – no problems with her eating.”!

The rest of her check up went really well too. She did everything her doc asked of her and never cried. She did ask for eye drops though. Lately, she is into asking for eye drops, which I’m not sure why – but I know the day she gets them, she’ll stop asking.

I was able to get Kayla’s paperwork for school filled out as well as a prescription for the school’s epi pens. So now I just have to organize all my information for the meeting with the director and her next week. Miss Danielle – That’s her teacher. I can’t believer she has a teacher.

It’s been a much lower key week here. I actually got my whole office tackled yesterday. It feels so good to have finally accomplished that. I have to work on finalizing the shopping lists for Kayla’s party so that next week I can get all my shopping done as well as start cooking. Sunday, I plan on taking the girls up to my parent’s house. I’m going to have some fun time with Kayla while my parents take Alysa to THE ice cream place by them to have her very first REAL ice cream cone. Alysa is obsessed with ice cream cones. Even when she’s eating her little soy ice cream sandwiches, she calls it an ice cream cone. So I’m excited for her to experience the real thing. Of course, she’ll need to be hosed down b4 getting into my dairy-free car. But it will be worth it for her. I’ve told my Mom that I’ll let them take her if she takes my camera and takes TONS of pictures.

Monday, we’ll be heading to either Storybook Land or Sesame Place for Kayla’s birthday. She keeps changing her mind, so we’ll see what she decides on by Monday.

And we’ve had a breakthrough regarding Halloween. Kayla was not a big fan last year. She’s not into characters or other people in costume. So she is still scared of Halloween. The last few weeks, every time I’ve asked her what she wants to be, she’ll either respond with, “No I’m the Kayla” or “I not to do Halloween”. But…yesterday, she told me that she wants to be a Mermaid. And she told me this multiple times. So now I have to figure out how to make her into a Mermaid. Any suggestions?


posted at 3:03 PM  
  4 comments



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