Friday, August 2, 2013

For this child I prayed. . .

For these children, I prayed. . .

I prayed for happy, healthy kids. I did not pray about their eye color, their sex, their aptitudes or abilities. I just prayed they'd be here, happy and healthy and that I'd be prepared to care for them and love them. Lord, make me a good mom. I did not pray for easy babies or good sleepers or easy eaters or binky haters or any of the other things I've since thought, I should have prayed for that.

I did not think to pray that milestones would be hit on time, that my kid wouldn’t be “different”, that they’d grow to call me “Mom”, or that seizures wouldn’t rock my entire world! I prayed that they would know how to love and be loved and the Lord has given me much of what I asked of him!

After almost a year of trying, I got pregnant with Garrett. The prayers about being a good mom & being prepared all picked up. He came, I fell in love, debated just having one thinking how could I love another human this much?, and then got back on the horse and was pregnant just after Garrett’s first birthday. Two under two and then we’re through; that was our plan. That’s what we got. And at 6 months pregnant with Mikenna, we got more than we ever asked. . .

Garrett had his first seizure. Half an hour into it, we figured out that’s what it was and drove him, ourselves, to the hospital in a town we didn’t know and STILL strapped our nonresponsive babe in the car seat (see, I prayed I’d be a good mom) and flew across town to the voice of our GPS. Without sharing every detail, within a month, we had three hospital stays, 2 flights, 2 ambulance rides and have played trial and error with medication while seeing as many as 5 seizures in a day since March 1st.

There’s no genetic diagnosis or specifically-named syndrome that applies to our boy. So, when you’ve seen Garrett and noticed he’ll twirl your hair but not wave hello or hug your neck but not give a high five, here’s why: He’s epileptic & developmentally delayed; he’s “disabled”. He’s challenging but rewarding. He’s loved, appreciated and loving in return: answers to my prayers! We prefer to say he has unique circumstances. Well, to be honest, for months, we’ve preferred to say next to nothing. So, why now?

Because we’re learning. Because we’re getting help from all over. Literally. Iowa City, Rochester, Hiawatha, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Des Moines, Webster City, Fort Madison, Grundy Center. We’ve connected very little with others in similar situations but have seen the benefit in doing so. He’s teaching me a lot. Patience, acceptance, faith, perseverance: the meaning of Sarah Palin’s stupid Hockey Mom speeches as I battle referrals, docs, second opinions, bills, insurance, personal plans and red tape! He’s teaching me a new sense of accomplishment that may involve being full-time mom and part time PT, OT & ST! Mostly, he’s teaching me that I need help and I’m getting better at accepting it.

I will admit that I often see sharing despair as whining or weakness in a cry for help. I am not whining. As I care for my newborn and tend to the needs of my special tot faced with more questions than answers medically & personally, I still manage to feel blessed. I look at them both and see more excitement than fear. In not asking for help, I am asking this of you: Hug your babes. Don’t ignore the word Mom or Dad said over and over again as I often see. Say the words I love you and value each time you hear them in return. I know not the challenges you face, but I hope you can find blessings among them!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Garrett's First Haircut

Garrett has had three at-home haircuts. I did his first one when he was just 4 months old and the nappy little hair on the back of his head that everyone kept waiting to curl didn't! I couldn't stand it. I've been trimming him up with nose-hair scissors ever since (blunt ends). It was finally time to get the back of his head (shown above) cleaned up and get the front all trimmed because those little flips (shown on the left side of his head below) were not consistent nor forming curls. *Sigh*
So, we put on our superhero capes and bucked up for Garrett's first 
REAL haircut! Daddy came along with the camera and my little baby went from the disarrayed and adorable BABY mess above. . .

I have no idea why his blonde locks look so brown once they hit the floor!

to the well-groomed little BOY you see here! Even after having cut his hair before, I still teared up as his neckline got a straight-across buzz and his hairline (a slight widow's peak we knew was under there) became trimmed and proper. Now, he looks even more like his daddy. . . lucky thing!

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY Gifts: Photo candleholders

These were a steal but the personalization makes them special! These cream-colored distressed wooden cube candleholders were half-off half-ff. Yes, they were already half-off at Gordman's price and then half off that because they were Halloween on one side with three other sides left for craftiness! I took the only three left to make some Christmas gifts:

I got pics of my sisters and their kids right off of facebook and cropped them to size 3x3" printed in sepia on stickers. Then, I cut and placed them for this finished product (3 total):

Big heart; Small cost!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Recipes to Share: Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

This was another one of those times where I just needed to get something in for dinner. I had pre-cooked half a dozen chicken breasts over the weekend to use for weekday dinner fixes to make my life easier with quicker dinner prep. Of course this was pinterest-inspired but I never follow directions. That would mean I would have to go out and buy ingredients I don't already have from the 10-ingredient recipes I find. NOT QUICK.

Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

Lasagna noodles, boiled to al dente (a whole box to make sure you get a dozen useful ones)
Italian Cheese and Herb Philly Cooking Creme (1/2 the tub is all so 5 oz)
15 oz ricotta (reduced fat if you're like that. . . I am)
2 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
8 oz shredded parmesan (split in half)
Italian spices to taste
1 jar alfredo (you can make your own but the cost and gut rot of heavy whipping cream aren't for me)

Preheat oven to 350.

Lay cooked noodles out on parchment paper.

Mix chicken, ricotta, philly cream and half of your shredded parmesan in a bowl. Sprinkle in some other spices to taste. I used Mrs. Dash garlic herb seasoning and omse garlic powder. I wanted desparately to also mix in some chopped veggie but I knew the hubs would scoff!

Spread the chicken cheese mixture on to the noodles and roll.

Place in a lasagna pan and cover with alfredo and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. (I actually baked 6 in an 8x8 and froze the other 6 for an even quicker dinner option later.)

Bake for 30 minutes until heated through and serve with veggies and rolls!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thank You for Baby Steps

I've never been one to easily appreciate "baby steps". Leaps and bounds are more my thing. Now, that's all changing. As a parent, I have found that worry comes with the territory (by leaps and bounds no less). As such, I tried to remain aware of my level of paranoia over every little milestone in baby's first year. I tried hard not to fret and sweat if each objective couldn't be checked off the list as each 3-month phase came to a close. I really didn't want to have my "perfectionist" reputation (up to which, by the way, no one can live) come to light through my parenting ALREADY!

However, this challenge was growing exponentially throughout year one until I'd taken enough brush-offs and all-but-shut-ups from my doctor and others wishing to reassure me that "everything would be fine". After all, it's normal though there really is no normal! After missing the mark at 6 months, 9 months, and getting close to 12 months in age though not in reached milestones, I couldn't shake the feeling anymore. My dismissal of my motherly instinct would hold me back no longer from finding out if something was up.

When I was pregnant, I was baffled by the amount and topics of people's questions as though by body had become fair game. In parenting, the questions continued. . . well-meaning bless-your-heart style friends family and acquaintances would continually ask, "Is he rolling all over the place now? Crawling away from you every diaper change by now, eh? Is that kid up on two feet yet?" While these would normally be seen by Mommy as invitations to boast and bask in the joys of the baby phase, they were anxiety-provoking reminders that my answers were too often "no". Add to that any old man who feels his opinion matters blurting out that perhaps your kid is too fat, lazy, or spoiled to want to do anything for himself, and I was beyond exhausted from playing Pollyanna in sugar-coated responses while choking back tears wondering why I couldn't answer "yes" to all of the above at times that should normally be appropriate.

Luckily, I have a sister in social work that sensed my frustration and downplayed level of concern. She told me that the local AEA would do an assessment without any need for a professional referral. So, I made the call, made the appointment and hoped they'd simply reassure me that my level of worry was normal, that his delays were normal,  and we could continue on with life as normal. However, I still knew there was a possibility that my worries were founded and there could be a bigger issue to tackle. An evaluation, hearing test, physical therapy and educator home visit all took place within the next month. He can hear. He's delayed. There's no physical or neurologiocal ailment to explain why or give us any worry that his progress toward catching up won't be quick. WHEW!

Was I sad to hear things about my kid like "5th percentile" or "siginificant delay"? Of course. Was I happy I'd finally gotten my questions to the right people with answers that might actually help Garrett and help us know how to work with him as parents? A thousand times yes! Can I now tell people that he's making strides by leaps and bounds? . . eh maybe. Will he? Likely. Am I ashamed of him? Heck no. Knowlegde is power and I had exhausted the realms of my knowledge in knowing how to approach G's delays and realized I needed someone else. It takes a village, right? Besides, my own pursuits of further knowledge were pretty scary WebMD search results outlining some worst case scenarios and labels I didn't want to assume upon him without a real evaluation. My kid doesn't have a label. Although if he did have one as in the name of a disability, I'd still be happy to have found out and learn how to work with it too.

Every milestone is important to parents as they watch their baby grow. I'll admit that I imagined Garrett flying through his and documenting on camera and video each new movement and sound. Life moves far too fast and is far too short to dwell on what isn't rather than enjoying what is. So, every little inchworming movement he makes toward a new toy is a joy. Each time he reaches across his body to grasp something is a milestone. Each time he turns in response to his name, holds an item in each hand at the same time, pulls his own weight with help up to the couch or lunges forward to get a fistful of Tucker hair is sheer bliss; not a reminder that these are things other kids would have done 3-6 months ago.

After all, 3-6 months from now, this could all be a blur. With bi-weekly visits that are basically play therapy from a PT and an Early Education Specialist, a change to a new daycare center for some increased interaction with kids his own age, and some intentional homework where we know how to work with him, we're doing all we can and taking it in stride. So, the nest will still be blessed though much more of a mess because spending our time with this little guy is soooooo much more important! How could you not love this face whether he's  laying, rolling, sitting, walking, talking, or running?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Little Man's Birthday Continued: Decor & Games

1) Birthday Tree
What kid wouldn't love to have their own birthday tree? I love my skinny prim Christmas tree and it doesn't tak eup much room and has lights pre-strung so it's not a huge hassle. It's only a month early to put the tree up in October so. . . why not?!?! I deocrated the tree for around $10. I got the wooden number 1 at Hobby Lobby 1/2 off for $3.50 and another 1/2-off purchase was the big aqua bow it's hanging on. The rest was a $1 clearance purchase for the aqua stringy paper and another $3 for 3 6-packs of aqua bottle caps with white polka dots that I just taped white ribbon on and hung. This left room for birthday cards to be displayed and he had fun looking at the twinkling lights in teh evenings leading up to the big shabang!

2) Pin the Mustache on Garrett
I really got magnets; set of 6 for $7 and printed an 11 x 17 and laminated it. No one actually played this. I put it down at kid-level but they were all more interested in eating or opening G's presents for him!

3) The Photo Booth
I already had this blanket to use as a backdrop. It's Mommy's blankey. Have you ever felt a THRO brand blanket? I got Garrett one and then sought one out for myself. Ahhhmazing! Then, I painted an open frame with some leftover paint I had from a mis-tint I bought at Lowe's a few months ago. So, the whole cost was maybe $5 I guess. And we didn't get as many pictures as I'd hope but they were all good ones:
4) Name that Stache
This was fun and easy and I only spent $2 on the poster board which I had previously used for another project so it was almost free in that regard. As you can see, I printed out the mustaches of some well-known men, added some clues, and then numbered them and left out cards for guessing. A few people took the time to fill them out but it was mostly a conversation piece. I was happy with that because it got people talking that otherwise may have sat in silence or conversed about nothing more than the weather. . .

5) The favor station
Everyone got a mustache tattoo for their finger. However, many kids put them right on their lip! It was kind of a messy favor since their was water involved in the application but still fun. I handed out a few of the leftovers for Halloween trick-or-treaters and they thought they were pretty sweet. I still have over a hundred left. . . any ideas?

Below shows you the cakes. I already did a tutorial on the bow tie cake and the mustache cake was even easier (though neither were perfect)! Here, you can see the menu, food labels, 12-month photo display and the streaming video playing of his 1-year photo shots! So much time and energy. . . he's going to kave to skip his second birthday at this rate! :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recipes to Share: Pork Chop Parmesan

Yum and then some! We eat lots of white meat. I make pork chops in just a couple simple ways over and over and was looking to try something different. Breading chops can take a lot of time and that's not a resource I have in excess. So, I did this a totally easy and lazy way. Don't judge until you try it and see it didn't make a huge difference in the end.

You'll need:
A glass or ceramic baking dish
6-8 chops (or 3-4 butterfly chops)
bread crumbs
olive oil
garlic powder
Mrs. Dash garlic herb seasoning
(You wouldn't need the extra seasoning if you have Italian bread crumbs)
spaghetti sauce
shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat baking dish with olive oil. Sprinkle with bread crumbs to lightly cover. Lay pork chops on top and repeat drizzling a light amount on olive oil over the chops and then sprinkling with bread crumbs. Then season each chop with a couple dashes of each of your preferred Italian seasonings.

Place dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. You can flip after 10 if you'd prefer and check for progress toward doneness. At 20 minutes, top each chop with sauce and sprinkle with the shredded parmesan. Place back in the over to heat through and melt cheese before serving.

Beccause these weren't breaded the traditional way, I scooped up some of the bread crumbs that were cooked in the oil in the pan and crumbled them on top of each chop when serving for some extra goodness. For 1/2 an hour or so of work, these were delish!

I also paired it with this pinterest find.

As you can imagine, I didn't follow her directions to a T. I put all the biscuit pieces in a sprayed round cake pan and poured the melted butter and seasonings over the top of all of it. Then, I sprinkled some of the remaining shredded parmesan cheese from the pork chops and served it with some excess spaghetti sauce. This baked up in about 10-12 minutes.