Saturday, November 27, 2010

Her First Nomination

Just as I was thinking about closing up shop on this hubby tells me I was nominated for The Top 50 Mom Blogs on  Who? What???

Yep, he found the list on Ellens' can find me here. **Click on the alphabetical tab, its easier to find. 

The Top 50 have already been chosen...but I still feel awesome about being nominated.

It is an odd feeling to put your story out there and not know who, if anyone is reading.  I guess someone (outside my immediate circle) IS.

Thanks Peeps!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Its the Most Emotional Time...Of The Year

This time of year is always rough for Jer and I.  We don't even need to talk about it, we both know how the other is feeling....  This year is no exception.

The beginning of November marked 10 years since Jer's Dad passed.  I'm not sure how that much time has lapsed.  I do know that I am blessed to have a part of him in my life every Jer has his Dad's personality to a "T".  He makes me laugh, even when I don't wanna laugh.  He reminds me not to take all things in life so seriously and that its ok to "piss on it" once in a while.  As I just re-read the last sentence, I realize that you'd have to know Jer or his Dad to really get that sentence and see the humor in it. 

A few days after Thanksgiving 2007 we learned AJ was deaf and my Dad was in the hospital.  Five days into December 2007 we learned AJ had cerebral palsy and we lost my Dad just minutes later. 

This time of year makes me think of all of those things...especially the people we've lost.

Gram had this insane obession with an appetizer I make...bacon-wrapped waterchestnuts.  While she always called it rumaki (which is really bacon-wrapped shrimp), I never corrected her.  She always looked forward to them and it was always the first thing on her appy plate.  Finding whole waterchestnuts this time of year is always a challenge, but I'd go to 4 different stores to get them because I knew she loved them.  I saw a bottle of chili sauce at the store today (an ingredient for this appy) and felt a deep sadness.

{I've shared the recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Waterchestnuts below}

Gram always insisted on yams, not sweet potatoes.  There is a difference, she'd say. She taught me how to make them her way...and after that, it became my job to make them.  She'd laugh at my commentary when I clean and prep a turkey ("Eww", "Gross", "Ahhh!"-when its slippery), "Blech", to mention a few choice words).  She'd watch me closely as I made the cranberry jello mold.  She never did notice I made it with sugar-free jello.  Horrors! :)

She'd insist on a grandiose table setting, which always meant my Mom and I would be running around like chicken's with our heads cut off trying to make it just perfect.  Gram would always tell us girls what a good job we did.  That made it all worth it.  Her famous apple pie was always made the morning of Thankgiving (right, Mom?!) and I swear I 've never tasted a pie like it.  White Zinfandel (she'd call it ZinFondle) was a must, as was the green bean almondine.  No green bean casserole!

When Jeremy came into my life, and it was clear he was staying put, she was determined to make sure he had enough to eat.  It took quite a few years before I broke down and told her he doesn't like turkey all that much.  Dark meat if anything.  She took note and made sure Jer got his dark meat. 

When AJ arrived, her Thankgiving meals were all about watching AJ.  What she ate became less and less, she focused her energy on watching AJ eat and entertain us all.  Nothing else mattered except AJ. 

She'd be disappointed that I'm not hosting Thanksgiving this year.  It was a very difficult decision for me to make.  Although I do hope that in that disappointment, she'd understand why.  While I have no doubt this year's Thankgiving will be wonderful, it will be different.  I miss her every day and find it incredibly odd to talk about her in the past tense. 

It is amazing to think of how well I knew her.  If she was here, she'd ask how AJ is doing on his seizure medication, she'd ask him "When are you going to talk?", and call him handsome a million times.  She'd be making sure I was prepping each meal her way and kindly enduring my constant chatter.  She'd have the conversation with my Mom about the silverware and asking if she could help in anyway, to which the both of us would kindly shout "No!"  She'd ask whether my book was finished.  She'd tell us where to go in Hawaii on our anniversary trip next year.  She'd tell stories of her island doubt throwing in an embarrassing tale or two about me. 

I will be forever grateful for the time I was given with Gram.  While she won't be joining us for Thankgiving this year, I'm sure she'll be having her favorite appy and a glass of Zinfondle.  Yep, I'm sure of it.

Bacon-Wrapped Waterchestnuts
2-4oz cans WHOLE waterchestnuts
1 lb bacon-uncooked
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
Cut bacon strips in half.  Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each waterchestnut and secure with a toothpick. Place in a shallow baking dish  Mix mayo, chili sauce, and brown sugar.  Pour over bacon wraps.
Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some New Things

AJ blew raspberries on Saturday. 

I know, to most, not monumental.  But to is.  I actually had to physically stop, listen to the sound, and then look at his mouth to realize what he was doing...because he's never done it before.  He continued down the hall, sputtering sweet raspberries out of his mouth all the way into the living room. 

I heard them again yesterday, and today in the car.

One of his very first goals for speech @ school was to blow raspberries.  At first, I thought it was such an 'odd' goal to have.  I mean, really, who thinks blowing raspberries is essential to life?  I knew why it was a goal, although it is a little funny to see the word raspberries written in regards to your child's education. It is a huge step in oral motor strength and a whole bunch of other things having to do with his mouth that I won't explain...but trust me, this is awesome.

He's responding to more and more verbal prompts...close the door, sit down, no (followed by putting the forbidden object back before I even motion for him to do so), climb up in your chair, put it down, bye-bye, turn it on, turn it off, I could go on. 

He's decided that bathtub (sans water) is his new play area.  Which rocks, because it means he's crawling in and out of the tub all.on.his.own multiple times a day and my PT brain is doing a happy dance all the while he's collecting toys in his new sanctuary.

AJ's breakthroughs are momentus.  I mean, its almost as if Zeus is calling down to us with lightening and thunderbolts to get our attention-HEY! This kid is making progress.  It is a gentle reminder of how sweet it is to not take anything AJ does for granted. 

As we were heading home from feeding therapy tonight, I heard a sound from the backseat that made me slam on my brakes and turn around (no worries, there were no cars around me). 


Yeah.  How awesome is that. 

All of these new things, combined with an "AJ had a good day" report from school and a nice long hot shower have made this wicked crazy day end on a good note.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Family Match Game

One of the first theme for AJ's preschool class was Families.  I picked up this at Walmart one day (because Daddy likes Curious George and it was cheap):

And ended up making our very own Family Match Game!

I made a simple two column/three row table in Microsoft Word.  I cropped as needed, then copied and pasted family photos into each space, sizing each to 2.5x 2.5 inches.  Easy Peasy. 

I printed each sheet twice...
Then cut them out...
 Then matched everyone up to double check I had everyone present...
Then  laminated them and cut them out.  I place them face down, with the white side of the paper facing up, and AJ has to match his family and friends.  We are working on a set of 4 right now (which means 2 people), but I made this with the intent to make it more challenging as we go along.  I plan to add our pets and his school staff to this game too.


School Experience Book

I asked AJ's school staff to take pictures for this school experience book.  They took pictures of each part of his day along with photos of themselves (thank you!).  You'll have to use your imagination on this one, folks. The book chronicles our day with a story flow like this: We drive up to school...walk in the doors...there's Mrs. X...and there's Mrs. Y, and there's Z......then its snack time...then we eat lunch...then we have gym...then rest time...then Mommy picks you get the picture.  This book was extremely helpful when AJ returned to school after being out a week for Intensives.  I also use it on Sunday nights a lot, to prep for the new school week.

I found a "school" themed pack of scrapbook paper in the $1 bin at Target last year and held on to it, knowing I would use it somehow in the future. I made the cover with scrap cardstock, scrap crayon printed paper, and a sticker I got on clearance (last year) for 25 cents. 

Pumpkin Spice Scented Play Dough

I found this recipe for homemade play dough.  As if that wasn't exciting enough, the recipe included ideas as to how make your play dough scented.  We've made the pumpkin spice scented one, I'm anxious to try the apple pie one too.

Homemade Play Dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 TBSP cooking oil
1 TBSP cream of tartar
1 cup water
Food coloring
Add-Ins: spices, glitters, etc.1 tsp or more
(add to your liking-I used about 2 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice)

Measure ingredients into medium sized pot-mix them well before heating.  Over medium heat, cook the dough, stirring constantly until it forms a ball.  Turn the dough onto a board and knead until very smooth.  It will be warm to the touch, but try to knead it until it becomes a nice, smooth ball.  Cool. Store in a ziploc bag or plastic container.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

JDRF Walk 2010

This year, Jeremy formed a team for the 2010 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.  The walk was held at the zoo with the theme "Follow The Yellow Brick Road".   Our team name was "Dr. Jain's Crew". We had quite a team, and despite it raining the first 10 minutes of the walk (literally, we crossed the start and it started to rain) it was a great day! Thank you to all of the walkers on our team, to everyone who donated, and to all of those who, like Jeremy, continue to thrive while living with diabetes!

Dr. Jain & Jeremy

 Dr. Jain's Crew
JDRF Walk To Cure Diabetes 2010

To check out some awesome stuff JDRF has going on (like the artifical pancreas project!), click HERE.
To see a really cool timeline of how far treatment of diabetes has come and more milestones, click HERE.

Make-Your-Own Mud Pudding

As I've mentioned before, AJ's preschool class has themes throughout the year.  This last Spring (I said I was behind in posting, this is like way behind) one of the themes was The Farm.  They also used the book Mrs. Wishy Washy.  I did some searching on one of my favorite websites and found this:
Pudding in Baby Food Jar Recipe-Great to Use the book Mrs. Wishy Washy

1 box SUGAR FREE chocolate pudding
You must use sugar free or it won't turn out
Baby food jars (emptied/washed/dried)
*Optional: animal crackers

Measure 1TBSP AND 1 TSP of pudding
Place into jar.

Add 1/4 cup milk

Place lid on tight and SHAKE!

It will darken as it thickens...

Add some animal crackers...


For the original recipe and a printout of the directions, click HERE.

Condensed Mommy

I have about a hundred or so things to blog about.  Instead, I'm going to try this bulletin point style.

Here goes:

-AJ finished the Intensive Therapy week like the rockstar he is.  Jeremy was able to take off work and was there with us for his last day.  I can't say it enough, I'm SO GLAD we did this.  I'm working on a montage of AJ's therapy journey (its been 3 years), ending with the intensives.  I'll post it soon.

-The Intensive experience led to the possibility of me becoming a Parent Mentor.  I cannot explain how exciting I am about this.  While I have connected with many, many CI families, the Intensives was the first time I saw other children with brain injuries...and their parents.  I received some information via email last night, so I am very excited to pursue it.

-AJ eased back into the school routine with a bit of trouble.  Not too much, but enough to make me anxious.  By Wednesday he was back into the routine, and we were all relieved. 

-I won the Flaky Mom of the Year award on Wednesday.  I scheduled 3 appointments following his day at school.  Didn't I say I would never do that again? That was a horrible day.  Why?  Because I totally forgot about the last appointment until we were finishing his therapy appointment and I screamed, "OMG he has CP clinic today."  The day, unfortunately, deserves its own post, which will come soon.

-Our sitter is officially our sitter no more.

-We went to the pumpkin farm twice this year.  Once on his school field trip and once as a family.  Another post coming soon.

-I am thanking my lucky stars that the weather forecast predicts 50s this week.  We are back to having me paint the house (the outside), so hopefully I can finish.  I was really discouraged when I could see my breath and had to scrap the car windows last week.

-We have slowed down (not by choice) on getting the house ready.  As always, AJ runs the show around here.  I haven't had the motivation to do much of anything.  Our plan is to list the house in January.  Wish us luck.

-The dogs got baths.  They weren't happy.  I think we are the only people who go through multiple dog beds a year.  I'm anal about washing them-constantly.

-Jeremy was in Indiana this weekend on a business trip.  I'm so happy to have him home...even though he thinks he has strep throat and will be gracing urgent care with his presence this morning. 

-AJ's doing well with his seizure medication.  He was out of it on Friday, and school was concerned.  After a panicked call to his neurologists nurse, I calmed and collected myself.  He's had a heck of a week and he was probably just tired.  Exhausted is more like it.  AJ is allowed to be inconsistent, heck, he's been consistent a lot lately, so I guess I can see how that was concerning when he just didn't wanna.  I up'ed his medication on Thursday, so I thought maybe he was overmedicated, but we'll see.  We have a plan of action. 

-I was thankful to return to the school routine and have a bit of time to myself.  I met a friend for coffee and it was heavenly.  I probably should have stayed home and gotten things done, but I treated myself instead.  I'm looking into yoga classes near AJ's school, and am very excited to begin volunteering again for his preschool program.

-I'm still debating on whether or not to make our Christmas cards again.  Seriously, this is quite a debate in my head.  If I don't, that means another normal thing I used to do, out the window.  If I do, I will spend hours picking the right design and hours making them, and do I really have time to do that?  I should make the time. Seriously.

-From the Intensives we learned AJ could benefit from quite a few items of different equipment.  We are working on purchasing what he needs: SPIO vest, treadmill, bolster, arm constraint, leukotape, I'll stop there.  Merry Christmas AJ, here's your bolster.  He has regressed a bit being a week out from intensives, but we are doing are best to keep up with the carryover.  That darn foot is just my nemesis. 

-AJ and I made and played with pumpkin spice scented playdough this weekend.  SO easy to make and he loved it!

-AJ's on a typical toddler diet lately: chicken nuggets and grapes.  Thats all he wants.  So either he's going to be a spokesperson for a frozen nugget company, or he's going to become a grape.  Oh!  Then he could do the Fruit of the Loom commercials...

-We participated in the JDRF Walk to Cure To Diabetes.  It was a huge success, despite the rain!  Big surprise-a post coming soon.

-I've been driving around looking at houses near AJ's school.  I fell in love with a Victorian near the college.  Oh my.  I parked and sat and admired it for 10 minutes. Sigh.  As I drove down the street, its a street of all larger older homes, including other Victorians, and GASP, the park is at the end of the road.  Can you imagine?  At the end of the road!  Not at last 10 minutes by car.  I can't even imagine that.  AJ and I could walk to the park. Yesterday my anxiety over moving took over my excitement, but today I'm back to dreaming of that house. 

-I'm sick, just sick that there is Christmas stuff in the stores already.  Ugh.  Come on people, Thanksgiving is a great holiday.  You need to sell more than an endcap of berry wreaths and turkey printed paper plates/cups. Lets not skip what we are Thankful for.  Annoying.

-AJ is making great progress with his PECS. He's on Phase 3, choosing from 3 pictures.   Another post to come.  I made him his own book, so I'm anxious to show everyone how we did that.  Someone introduced the phrase "Bridging the Frustration" to me.  I love it.  It is a bridge.  I love seem him and and less frustrated.  But I still want him to learn to speak.  Just have to say that.

-Did I mention AJ has apraxia?  Oh yeah.  That's making it more difficult for his to develop spoken language too. 

-We are looking into therapeutic riding for AJ.  Hippotherapy (riding) and Aquatic Therapy were both suggested for AJ at the Intensives. AJ rode a pony this summer and absolutely loved it.  It would be GREAT for his pelvis, hips, and TRUNK.  Some of them charge, and of course most close for winter, but I've got the information so we'll be doing more research.  We're also considering getting a pass to the waterpark we went to during Intensives.  He had a blast and did so well.  Its close to his school, and when we move, a few minute drive at most.  So exciting.

-I have projects we did over the summer I still have not posted.  Make your own mud pudding, Floyd our Fish, all sorts of exciting stuff. 

Like I said, lots to post about.

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