Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free DIY Christmas Art Print

I saw this adorable Christmas mantle decor today and wanted to share. Head on over to eighteen25.blogspot.com to download the files for the 16x20-inch art print AND the banner for FREE! They suggest having the poster printed at Costco and if you don't want to use up all the ink in your printer for the banner, you can send the file to an office supply store / Kinkos / FedEx and have them print it for you. So darling!

They also have a link to their tutorial for how to make those awesome glitter trees with supplies from the Dollar Store. {Shhh...nobody has to know how cheap it is!} :-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Flashback: October photos

Talk about flashbacks: this photo of James is from today...one of the new cabinets he's discovered houses Keith's Diet Coke stash.

Apparently the fascination runs in the family, because here's Maddie in November 2007...

{Big Cheek grins run in the family...favorite photo of Maddie from Thanksgiving 2007}

And speaking of getting into cabinets, he's getting into ALL of them now! Oh, such treasures to behold! Mommy just loves this game. {Why not just get cabinet locks, you ask? All the normal ones that you have to screw in...they split the wood on our cabinet doors, so they're out of the running. I'm now looking for either adhesive ones or special magnetized ones! Anyone have a brand they like?}

. . . . . . .

Lately Maddie's favorite thing to do is play on our king size bed. Within an hour of me making it in the morning, it's a mess. It becomes a pillow fort, she "rests" under piles of covers, she brings a stash of Polly Pocket dolls or bouncy balls or whatever else and hides them in all the nookes and crannies. Or she sneaks under the covers and watches Disney movies on the iPod Touch. She and James both love to wrestle and be tickled and be silly. {I finally captured some cute pictures of her! She's been in a stinker mood when it comes to photo-ops lately.}

. . . . . .

Getting back to October, we had our friends the Newells over for a playdate and pumpkin painting. We've been going to The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island for the past few years together, but the weather was cruddy on the day we'd planned, so this was Plan B.

{it's always more fun when you can get your own snacks from the fridge!}

The kids always have a great time playing together and its' fun to see all the new things they're able to do independently. James and Henry had the same due date, but as you can see, Henry has a bit of a leg up on James in the growth department! :-)

. . . . . .

Most of the time Maddie just wants to do her own thing when she's playing, but sometimes she'll invite James to join in on whatever she's doing. Seeing them play together just warms my heart, especially since James lights up whenever he's around his big sister.

{this is his "old-man-who-forgot-his-dentures" look...handsome, eh?}
. . . . . . .

A highlight of October was watching Maddie hit a milestone--riding a bike! Her bike had been out at Nana and Papa's house for a long time, so she hardly ever practiced, even though we'd had the bike for probably a year. She'd tried when she was younger, but couldn't get the hang of peddling and would always high-center in the middle of her peddling stroke. So Nana and Papa brought the bike back home for her and, on a whim, she jumped on and tried it again--perfectly! She was able to peddle and look up and steer all at the same time! She was so thrilled. When the weather was nice, I swear we went on 3 bike rides a day. Too bad we'll have to wait until Spring now. It was the perfect activity to get out some of her pent-up energy.

. . . . . .

Our next step with James will be a Feeding Clinic at Emanuel Hospital with a speech therapist an a nutritionist, probably sometime in December. He was doing okay with baby food purees, but then he got a cold for about 10 days and refused all solids and even some of his bottles. Since then his interest in food has gone downhill and I'm worried he's developing aversions to food. His doc said it's common for kids who have had a very delayed introduction to solids to develop a strong gag reflex and food aversions. James used to eat 1-2 Tbsp. of food a couple times a day, but now if you even touch it to his tongue he starts gagging or actually throws up. I'm worried that food is going to be a long, uphill battle with him. Please pray that he'd be able to get back on track and re-learn to tolerate textures and tastes. The one food he does still like is green apples, especially when they're shared with Daddy.

On a HUGELY GREAT note, James' doctor said that if his labs continue to look good and if he keeps similar pace with his TPN and formula rates, he could be completely off his TPN IV's within 6 months to a year! That would be AMAZING progress! We'll keep praying for that, as it would be a big benefit to his whole system, especially in terms of minimizing long-term liver damage that's common with TPN.

. . . . . .

I'll wrap up this October flashback post with one of my new favorite recipes. Ever had the pumpkin cream cheese muffins at Starbucks? I wait for them to arrive every year and love every bite. But you know what? These blow them out of the water! They are absolutely delicious! I've been stockpiling canned pumpkin so that I can make them whenever the mood strikes...like how about tomorrow?! Truly, they are heavenly.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Streusel from Annie's Eats.
{click here for the recipe...
and check out the rest of her recipes, too--they're all delicious!}

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Warning: Mass Update Ahead

Oh, you poor, poor neglected blog! I can't believe it's already been a month since my last post. How lame is that?! Having a very active 1 year old and (now) 4 year old + loooooong hours of basement construction makes for very hectic days around here, so when 9:00pm rolls around and the kids are finally in bed, I finish the dishes and put away some laundry and tidy up the house, if I have an ounce of energy left it's usually a choice: upload photos and think of something clever to put on my blog OR lay on the heating pad and watch TV for 20 minutes / work on something crafty? Guess which choice has been winning out for the last month! :-) Add to that the fact that I've been pretty pathetic about taking photos and, well, there you go. I'll try to do a series of posts over the next week or so to "catch up"...since I have Halloween, my birthday, Maddie's birthday, then Thanksgiving and Keith's birthday this week! Whew! For Keith's birthday, he gets to travel down to Eugene with my dad and go to the Ducks game, relax, have a beer, go out to dinner, stay overnight, and then watch the never-to-be-missed Ohio State vs Michigan game on Saturday before heading back home. I bet the part he's looking forward to most is a full nights sleep! He deserves this break BIG TIME.

After dinner tonight, Keith realized something we need to celebrate...today marks the 1-year-anniversary of bringing James home from the hospital! ONE YEAR! Can you believe it?! Last year on this day I was about 30% thrilled and excited + 70% panic-stricken and totally overwhelmed. I remember it took us a couple extra hours to get out of the NICU, then literally about 10 minutes after we walked in our front door at home, our home health nurse showed up with an IV pole and about 6 big boxes of medical supplies for our training session! I can't remember if it was an hour or two hours long, all I know is it felt like we were cramming days worth of training into a speed-crash-course. I felt like someone had just read me "How to Become a Doctor in One Afternoon" Cliff Notes and then shoved me into the middle of an Emergency Room. Looking back, I'm actually quite proud of Keith and I and how far we have come. Injecting meds into IV bags, hooking up machines, performing sterile bandage changes, drawing blood, administering IV antibiotics...these have all become second nature by now. We have now become "that family" who is the exception to the rule when we head to the hospital--we push hard to get out as early as we can, assuring them that we can do the needed medical procedures at home. And our docs have enough confidence in us that now they listen when we "push" and they argue with our home health services on our behalf to change the usual protocol. Lord knows I've never wanted to be a nurse {I've always hated going to the doctor!}, but somehow when it's for the good of your child, nothing else matters and you do whatever it takes.
{Coming home from NICU: November 23, 2009...look how tiny!}

{Thanksgiving Day 2009}

And look at our little buddy now! 19+ pounds and getting bigger every week. Happy as always.

{One year later: November 23, 2010}

My mom has called him the Human Tornado because he never stops moving! He literally never sits and plays. He's getting so confident with cruising walls and furniture that now he's doing it 1-handed and practically running at the same time. He's taken some steps and walked a few feet between objects, so now it's just a matter of time. He'll probably go straight from cruising to jogging! :-) Oh, another bit of good news...James' lab results continue to look great and his doctors just approved him to be off his IV nutrition for 8 hours a day instead of just 6...two extra free hours! Yahoo! That makes life sooooo much easier!

Maddie is doing great as well and I can't believe she turned FOUR at the beginning of this month. She's even beginning to act older most of the time. I do have to say, though, I feel really guilty for the lack of attention that gets paid to her on most days. When James is hooked up, you have no choice but to literally follow him around, since he has about 2 feet of slack on his lines. {It's funny, he now knows when his lines are pulling tight and he'll turn around and yank on them and then whine at you like, "Ahem, you are slacking on your job, here! I want to MOVE!"} Even when he's unhooked, he's a typical 1-year-old, getting into trouble at breakneck speed, and can't be trusted on his own for more than a few minutes. So Maddie definitely gets the short end of the stick. You know how verbal she is, so it breaks my heart when she comes to me teary-eyed and says, "Mom, I'm feeling really left out. Nobody is paying any attention to me!" Oh, if I could just clone myself, I could be such a better mother! Thank goodness for Nana, who comes over to help me once a week and also takes Maddie on dates every week and sleepovers at her house at least twice a month--she's our saving grace!

Now on to some random photos, the only kind I seem to take lately: One gift Maddie got for her birthday was cute socks with designs on the top. And apparently she is bringing the 80's back as a trend-setter...

{"...because Mom, if I didn't tuck my pants in, then you couldn't see how cute my socks are!"}

{also notice the super-cool glitter shoes from Aunt Dana!}

Today we had an exciting delivery...Maddie's new "big girl" carseat/booster! TWO cupholders and armrests and everything! {Actually, this was WAY more thrilling for Mommy, since it means that James can upgrade to Maddie's smaller forward-facing carseat! He hates his infant carseat and can literally make it about 5 minutes in the car content...then it's screaming for the whole rest of the drive. Fun for all, I tell ya!}

But you know how it is with kids...the actual gift is never what ends up being exciting. It's all about the BOX! Here's how Maddie spent most of her day...

The basement remodeling job is speeding along and an end is in sight! Sooo exciting. Keith has worked tirelessly down there and has done all the plumbing and electrical himself {with a few bonus Saturdays with help from my dad--Thanks Dad!}. The heating/cooling system is done--with an AC unit! Awesome!} The furnace / hot water tank /washer & dryer have been moved into one central room. Insulation has been started. Drywall is scheduled to begin on Friday. When that is done, the concrete floors will be smoothed and stained chocolate brown with a glossy sealer on top. Hopefully within the next 3 weeks I'll have a paintbrush in my hand! It's going to be amazing to have that whole lower floor of our house finished--definitely a dream we've had for a long time. The space will include a media room, storage room, playroom/craft studio, Keith's office, laundry room and full bathroom. So awesome. We'll probably live down there. :-)

Whew, okay, I think I'm out of steam for now. Sorry for my long absence...hopefully look forward to more regular posts! :-)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting back to normal

Sheesh, things sure have gotten away from me lately! Sorry for my absence...apparently getting back in the swing of things after a week in the hospital and my recurring back pain have taken a toll. :-)

James got to come home last Saturday afternoon and, other than crankiness from breaking in two top teeth, he's back to his happy, active little self. Walking around the house with his car walker, climbing everything, crawling like a speed racer, cracking up at his funny sister. He's still on antibiotics and will continue to be for another week or two, until he can get his new central line placed in his chest. For now he has a PICC line in his arm, which seems to be working fine and doesn't bother him much. He's such a brave little guy. Probably the worst part of being hospitalized for him was that he couldn't get down and crawl and play like he usually does 24/7.

Other than that, we're getting back to normal...starting to cook some favorite fall foods with apples and pumpkin, making decorations and plans for Maddie's birthday party in November, planning the next steps of remodeling the basement. So far we've put in a new front door, two new huge picture windows in the living room, and have framed in all the walls in the basement! We now have the shell of an open media room, laundry room, craft studio/playroom, Keith's office, full bathroom and storage room down there. The space is the full footprint of our house, so gaining all that living space will be HUGE! {I'd post pictures, but there's not much light down there aside from a glaring construction light.}

My back is, well, let's just say it's "sensitive". About 2 weeks ago it was feeling great...no pain at all, I was cleared to lift James again, and I was feeling really good! But I think I overdid it and it was too much too soon. Especially after spending a week in the hospital with too much sitting and rocking, my pain came back and I relapsed. So now my therapist said no lifting again {we'll try a week like that and then slowly ease back into it}. When I felt the pain again, I was so deeply disappointed. Eight weeks of constant therapy and progress, gone in a week. Dang it! I'm still better than I was back in July, so I'm not back at square one, but it's still defeating. I know that I'll have lots of relapses, since that's just the way this injury works, but I was hoping to go longer than just a week! :-(

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hospital Time Again

Well, we lasted about 3 months...we haven't had a long hospital visit since June, until this week. Around 4:30am Wednesday morning James started throwing up and had a fever. We waited until about 8:30am, called his doctor when his fever hit over 101.5, and then went to the ER. They got him hooked up to IV fluids and started him on antibiotics after they got some blood samples. His central line has been having problems not drawing out blood, so they actually had to poke him this time. :-( His central line has been showing some wear-and-tear damage and the plastic was starting to peel off, so when the lab results came back that he had another line infection, the decision was made to remove it. I got to the ER with Maddie in the afternoon and about 10 minutes later the call came in that he was being taken down to surgery right then. Spent a few hours entertaining Maddie in the waiting room until James was out of surgery and we were taken up to a room. He did great, but now has a PICC line {long IV} in his arm, which gets in his way a bit. He'll have that for a couple weeks until we can clear his infection with antibiotics and then go back in to surgery to have a new central line placed. Aside from infection, part of the problem with his old line was that it was put in when he was only 3 months old and about 8-9 pounds. Fast forward to 13 months old and now 18 pounds and the line was no longer in the right place...it had moved from a large vein in the heart into a smaller jugular vein.

For the last few days he's been on antibiotics and we've been playing a waiting game with his labs. After surgery, his platelet levels dropped and so did his white blood cell count. His white blood cells have now stabilized, but his platelets are still low. We may get to go home tomorrow, but only if his labs show that the antibiotics have killed off the line infection. The docs were concerned today that there might have been a blood clot left over from where his line had been, but the ultrasound looked clear, which is a blessing.

We'd love your prayers for James' health, but I also want to ask for prayer for my amazing husband, Keith. He is Superman...and super-tired man! Since my back is still sore and I just got cleared last week to do a *little* lifting of James {yep, it's been over 2 loooong months!}, Keith has been stuck doing hospital duty overnight and mornings + getting up with James during the night at home for months. The poor guy never gets a full night sleep! Sleep deprivation is literally a form of torture and he's holding up really well considering it all, but still. I need to regain my health soon so that I can be a better helper!

We'll try to keep you posted. Hopefully James will come home this weekend and we can start getting back to normal again! For now he's content roaming the halls in his little red wagon with the IV pole tied on the back, waving to strangers and making them all crank their necks as they walk by, checking out all his cuteness and adorable curly hair! :-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Look Ma, No Hands!

Yep, another milestone today for our Little Man. He's now comfortable enough to let go and stand alone while playing for up to 20 seconds at a time. Woo hoo! He's not stable enough yet to start taking steps, but just give him a couple weeks and I'm sure that'll be next! He's a super-fast crawler now, pulls himself up on everything and loves to climb the stairs. We're so proud of him! He lets nothing slow him down. :-)

{oh, and he claps for himself--how cute is that?!}

{Are you checking me out?}

{Hello, all my fans!}

{James also loves to play sword fight with Daddy and Maddie!}

Randomness...these pictures crack me up. Our beagle Lucy is just the best dog. She's so patient with the kids and {sometimes} lets them do funny stuff to her...like the other day when Maddie wanted to "make Lucy more comfortable" by piling about 5 layers of blankets on top of her AND giving her a doggie stuffed animal to sleep with. Lucy just rolled her eyes and put up with it all. What a good dog! :-)