everything is possible... the impossible just takes a little longer

slow and steady wins the race

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'll take a Guanfacine Mocha Latte to go please

On Tuesday we saw Sam's neurologist.  Dr. Shah has been a beacon for us during Sam's dark Infantile Spasm storm and has thrown us more than one life jacket.  He is calm and compassionate and he truly understands what an incredible gift we have been given in Sam's seizure-free status and his progress.  Sam's delays are significant but he knows how hard Sam has had to work to be where he is today.  I joke that Sam has worked so very hard to be THIS delayed... and we are so very proud of him.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Dr. Shah knows that everything that Sam is capable of is icing on the cake... his initial prognosis was grim at best and he told us to prepare for the worst but pray for the best.  And Sam did get the best outcome.  Although is delays are considered moderate to severe now, when he was first diagnosed with IS we were told that being able to maintain eye contact for a 3-4 seconds would be a difficult goal.

Sam is now nearly 8 years old and has been seizure free for almost 7 years and free of HYPS for 6 years and off all seizure meds for 5 years.  AMAZING!!!  Sam is now walking, running, jumping, climbing stairs, matching pictures, making meaningful choices, had definitely likes and dislikes, is naughty, rides a bike and many more things that we never dared hope for him to be able to do.  And many people are completely clueless to how incredible Sam's IS success story is... and how rare.  He truly is Blessed and Lucky.

However, IS has taken a toll.  Sam's brain, in a sense, has had to re-wire itself and find new pathways to send messages.  So for Sam to get from A to B... he must go from A to Z to Q to B.  It is the long way around and sometimes he gets there and sometimes he gets lost along the way.   Unfortunately for Sam, he sometimes gets distracted somewhere between Z and Q.  He has been having some issues at school and sometimes he hits or exhibits other poor choices.... impulsiveness,  lack of focus.  This is nothing new but it is often difficult to assess what is a "problem" and what is developmentally appropriate naughty little boy.

So after much discussion and hand wringing and contemplation, we a started Sam on Guanfacine (or Tenex)
Guanfacine (Tenex) was originally developed as, and is still used as, a mild antihypertensive. Like some other antihypertensive drugs, Guanfacine (Tenex) regulates levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine; in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, it decreases sensitivity to distracting stimuli, and it therefore may help with focus. For this reason, it can be helpful in reducing ADHD symptoms, either alone or in combination with stimulants.

I have mixed feelings about this.  This topic has been discussed and brought up a lot over the past several years... a topic that has never left a good taste in my mouth but one that I knew I would one day have to swallow. On one hand I feel that Infantile Spasms (not to mention everything else) has robbed Sam of so much and if this will help him make those connections faster and help him to be less frustrated and more focused... fabulous.  On the other hand I hate adding another med to Sam's daily routine.  On the upside... the side effects are very minimal (virtually none) so there really is no down side in trying.  Sam is on the cusp of really grasping so many new things and I can't help but wonder... if he had just a wee bit of help could he finally complete some of those loose connections in in brain and unlock a few more doors???

Am I wrong to ask for more?  Considering the gift we have already been given... is it wrong for me to say "Thank you God for the miracle... now may I have another?"  Is it too much for me to hope for that one day Sam might learn to read, or be potty trained, or have a conversation with me about the weather ???  Am I selfish for wanting more than I was ever promised?

Look at those faces and tell me that I am wrong for wanting so much for them.

So we will see how it goes....   

Sunday, October 24, 2010

and then there were TWO!!!!

Please follow the link to my friend  Leah's blog... she is doing something amazing and changing lives forever.  Pop over and read her story and become part of her family's journey by helping Leah and her family bring these two very special children, Axel and Ianna,  home to their forever family (and you could win an iPad).  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I will take "Yummy things from Rae's kitchen for $200" please.

And the answer is... Seriously the best meatloaf recipe ever!

Rae's Fabulously Delicious Meatloaf
Combine at least 2 of the following meats to = 3lbs (ground turkey, lean ground beef, ground venison, jimmy dean sausage (any variety))
*** my favorite combo is 2lbs lean ground beef and 1lb jimmy dean sausage (sage, low-fat, spicy... you choose)
1 cup tomato ketchup (have used salsa in a pinch)
2/3 cup V8 juice (can you spicy if you choose)
4 eggs
1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup bread crumbs (ok to add a bit more if mixture seems a bit to "wet")
4 tsp prepared mustard
1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing mix *dry mix
Mix everything thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.  Seriously, I am pretty sure that you are supposed to beat the eggs first and add all the ingredients slowly... but I just toss them all in and in no particular order and use my hands to mix it all together.  Turns out great every time.
Press meat mixture into 2 loaf pans (yes... that is one for dinner and one for sandwiches tomorrow!)  
Topping (optional)
mix 1/2 cup ketchup OR chunky salsa
1 tsp prepared mustard
4 TBS brown sugar
Mix it all together and spread on top of meat loaf.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 1 hour (check at about 45-50 minutes and drain if needed... my oven sucks so please note that your cooking times may vary... I usually end up cooking it for about 1 hour 10 minutes or so).  The meatloaf will start to pull away from the sides.  The sides and the topping will probably look a bit burnt... but it is not... it is just the sugar carmelizing... YUM!  Drain as needed and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.  

enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Other yummy things I might feed you if you came by my house for dinner

You may have noticed that I have been in a domestic mood lately.  Don't worry... my house is still a mess but it smells really good from all the baking.  A girl has to prioritize!

**SPOILER ALERT... legume haters... just stop reading now... nothing beyond this point will be of any interest to you.

So on the menu for tonight was Apple Bean Bake, pork chops and corn bread.  Now I will admit that is is not one of the boys favorites (I don't know... something about beans and gagging and how if Aunt Tammy doesn't have to eat beans...LOL) ... but seriously, I did catch Sean up on the table licking Pat's plate while we were cleaning up the dishes.  Sometimes I wonder about that boy.

So in keeping with my simple and easy theme... this dinner ranks 2 on the difficulty scale (10 being difficult and something I would probably never attempt anyway) and an 11 on the yummy scale.

Apple Bean Bake (please keep in mind that I usually double this recipe)
48oz jar Randall's Great Northern Beans... drained
4 tbs butter
3 cups tart cooking apples (peeled/cut)... I have one of those apple peeler/corer things and that works great.  It slices the apples very thin and then I cut them into bite size pieces. and I tend to be pretty generous with the apples too.
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp cinnamon (or nutmeg... or both)
salt to taste (it does not need the salt in my opinion)
melt butter in a large skillet.  add apples and cook for about 10 minutes until apples are tender.  stir in everything else.  brown sugar should be dissolved and everything well mixed.  put drained beans in a 2 quart casserole baker and pour apple mixture over the beans and mix well.  bake in pre-heated oven at 375 for 1 hour.

My cornbread of choice is the .46 cent box of Jiffy cornbread mix in the little blue and white box.  I use 2 boxes and make johnny cake.  The pork chops can be grilled or baked or fixed however you like.  

I love this apple bean bake recipe even better the next day.  That is the reason I usually double the recipe to ensure there are lots of left overs :)

It's the Great Pumpkin (puree that is)

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!  

So we started out the morning with Pumpkin French toast... devoured!  Bacon was a side note but nearly ignored in the shadow of Pumpkin French toast with warm homemade liquid gold (maple syrup).  Now this is another ridiculously simple recipe that has lots of bang for the buck.  

Yummy Pumpkin French Toast
beat together:
6 eggs
1/4 cup pumpkin puree... ok to use a bit more if desired (right from the can)
1 TBS vanilla
1 tsp nutmeg (or cinnamon, cloves or pumpkin pie spice)

* note... no milk is used in this recipe... crazy I know!

Dip bread into mixture and place onto skillet/pan.  Brown both sides and serve! 

Then since I already had an opened can of pumpkin puree... I just had to do something with it... and cheers for Pumpkin Bread erupted from the crowd!!!

This is another yummy recipe that my kids devour.  And note that I substitute applesauce for the oil which gives it a great flavor and significantly cuts down on the fat.  And as always, I am pretty positive that there is a right way and a wrong way to add ingredients.  I am almost certain that there are some things that are supposed to be mixed together in a separate container and then added slowly with care.  Well, that is not how I roll!  I am here to tell you that I just dump it all in a bowl in no particular order, turn my mixer on high and in the end it all turns out great!  

Yummy Pumpkin Bread
mix together:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup applesauce
3 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (from the can)
1 TSP vanilla
(optional... 1 cup chopped pecans)... note that I NEVER add the nuts but have been known to add craisins or raisins or nothing at all

Lightly spray 2 loaf pans with non-stick spray then dust the pans with sugar (yes use sugar... not flour!  The bread will come out easily and make a sweet crust).  Split batter between the two pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (or knife or fork or whatever you poke it with to determine doneness).  Cool completely before removing bread from pans.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

faith, hope and a little bit of pixie dust...

I can hardly believe that a year ago this week we were on Sam's Make-A-Wish trip.  And since then we have gone to Six Flags and Noah's Arc Waterpark on our Give Kids the World Passports... our passports expire this week but I am awed by the generosity of all the organization who participate in the program. 

With a little faith, hope and bit of pixie dust we are making plans to visit Disney and volunteer at Give Kids the World in the future (what better place to celebrate your 40th)!!!  The kids still get excited every time they see anything Disney related.  Sean loves "The Mouse" and Sam still loves his princesses and Andrew is trying hard to grow enough so he can ride on the "really big rides".  

This was an incredible experience that our family will never forget.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What do you see?

There is so much more to this picture than meets the eye... what do you see?

I just love this pic of Sam coming down the big slide.  What I like even more is that he climbed up there all my himself.  AND... he didn't crawl... he stood up, used the hand rail (safety first!) and one by one climbed the steps to the slide.  This is a HUGE accomplishment that Sam has worked on for a very, very long time.  Then of course he had to figure out how to position himself just right so he could balance and then push off.  And finally he got off the slide on his own and then did it all again.  And if you look very very closely you will also notice that he is just wearing sandals (stylish keens to be exact) without his braces (SMOs) on.  You've come a long way baby!  Slow and steady wins the race.  

So while some of you might just see the joy of a little boy going down the slide on a beautiful fall day... I see so much more.  I see all my therapy dollars at work!  I see motor planning and balance and physical strength and desire and and a good healthy happy heart and good lungs most of all I see a little boy who is able to do what other little boys on the playground are doing.  There is so much going on in this picture... and I hope you find it as beautiful  and as inspiring as I do.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TOBI is in the house!

Well we are coming up on nearly 2 years without any hospitalizations!!!  Can I get a "WHOOOO HOOOO"!!!!!!   Now I am not so naive to think that we have put all the midnight runs to the ER and mounds of paper work and sleepless nights on those awful hospital recliners are behind us but I do have to say that our little hiatus has been really nice.  Slow and steady wins the race!

Some of you may remember the days when we spent more time at the hospital than we did at home.  When it required a pack mule to haul all Sam's medical equipment from one place to another.  Well we are traveling much lighter these days and Sam's health has never been better.  

In the past Sam was hospitalized with horrendous sinus infections.  Sam would stop breathing and turn gray... it was vary scary and no one could figure out why. After a battery of tests the docs felt it best to do an MRI to look for brain tumors or bleeds on his brain stem because they had ruled out everything else... or so they thought.  After we got the MRI's back you have never seen a happier mom who got the "your child has mastoiditis and a severe sinus infection" diagnosis.  Believe me, as serious as it was, I would gladly take a sinus infection over a brain tumor any day!  With Sam's extensive medical history, whenever we hear hoof beats everyone wants to look for zebras (something rare)... but in this case it was just a horse (something common)!  

Since then Sam has been on antibiotics EVERYDAY... but that didn't solve the problem completely.  About a year and half ago his pulmonologist (I love this man... Dr. Gabriel Aljadeff, Director of Peds. Pulmonology at Lutheran General Hospital) suggested we put Sam on TOBI (inhaled Tobramycin). TOBI is an inhaled antibiotic administered via a nebulizer.  Sam takes a dose of TOBI 2 x a day for 28 days and then he is off it for 28 days before starting another round.  This medication is typically prescribed for people who have Cystic Fibrosis or chronic issues with the pseudomonas bacteria.  TOBI is VERY expensive and because Sam does not have CF we had to jump through some hoops to prove his pseudomonas connection, but his near death experiences with horrible sinus infections was enough for our insurance company to agree to it.  So when I get my "your insurance company saved you $4,355.00" sticker every other month on Sam's TOBI medication I say a little thank you.  

Right now I can hear the fuzzy hum of Sam's nebulizer machine behind me.  

I truly believe that it is the TOBI that has kept all the bad infections at bay,  kept him healthy and out of the hospital and has reduced Sam's need for IV antibiotics.  And not only have his sinus infections, or at least the ones requiring hospitalizations, nearly disappeared but his ears have not had the fluid build up that he has had in the past.  His ENT is thrilled with the way things look "in there".   AND because TOBI is inhaled it gives his sensitive GI track (or what is left of it) a break from having to ingest 2-4 antibiotics at a time. And because Sam had nearly his entire large intestine removed due to  Hirschsprung's Disease  anytime you can cut back anything that messes with what little natural intestinal flora he has is a good thing!  So systematically TOBI has improved Sam's health in a number of areas and we couldn't be happier. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

there's a chill in the air...

ahhh it is that time of year again... the geese start gathering in impressive numbers in the pond behind our house, the spiders are spinning webs like crazy all over the deck (note to self... avoid the deck), my allergies are horrendous and I don't have to argue much with the boys to put on a light jacket before they head out to the bus.  

This also marks the beginning of my baking season.  Believe me, Martha Steward does not quake one little bit in her shoes when I fire up my oven but I will say that my neighbors appreciate my efforts.  I will let you in a on a little secret... do enjoy devouring home baked goods as much as the next girl but even more I enjoy a warm toasty house and the amazing smell that you can only get from backing goodies in the oven.  I will admit that because my husband likes to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees (a bit too chilly for me) I bake to sustain the level of warmth in my house that I desire.  So although he might complain if he sees that I jacked the temp up and somehow he will manage to slip into nearly every conversation that he just cannot understand why the heating bill was sooooo high this month... he NEVER complains when he comes home to a new freshly baked delight.  So this girl just knows how to play the game and in the end everyone is happy!  Com'on... bakers KNEED love too!!! 

The 2 loaves of banana bread that I made yesterday were devoured in record time... the Oatmeal Cranberry white chocolate cookies... well it is as if they never existed.  So thinking a little bit ahead I started pulling out the recipes for some of my holiday favorites.  Now although I think it is entirely too early to whip up a batch (or 2 or 3) of these gems but I thought I would share the recipe with you all the same.  These are one of my all time favorite Christmas cookies and therefor I refuse to make them until after Thanksgiving.  

So here goes... My Mitten Cookies (mittens because I use a mitten cookie cutter but you can make them any shape you want) BTW this is seriously the simplest recipe ever!!! enjoy.

Mitten Cookies
Cream together:
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar

Beat in:
1 egg

1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour

Mix together until ingredients are well blended, Chill dough 3-4 hours before rolling.  Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out and cut.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until barely colored.  Cookies can be frosted and decorated with sprinkles, edible glitters, colored sugars or just eaten plain.

3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 TB butter
1 TB milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp lemon juice
a few drops of food coloring of your choice

melt butter and combine all ingredients... beat until smooth.  frost cookies when they are cool.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Notes from the Deep End

Hello there cyber-space friends.  It has been a long time since my last post... I have no good excuse except life in general...LOL.  However, October is Down syndrome Awareness month and October 1st is as good a day as any to come out from hiding and show my support for Down syndrome Awareness (and also share some of the crazy shenanigans cooked up by those Collins boys).

I know I have posted this before... but I love this analogy written by a mother of a son who has Down syndrome.  Definitely worth another look...

So to all my Sistas out there... I will see you all in the Deep End.

Notes from the Deep End
I was thirty-seven years old when my husband and I decided it was time to have a baby. We had been married nine years, together for sixteen. We had put it off for all this time in order to focus on careers, travel, fun, ourselves. My job was pretty glamorous: vice-president of a big publishing company in New York City. My life was filled with interesting writers, fascinating trips, sparkling conversation, fine wine, speaking engagements. I saw having a baby as something to “check off a list.” Something to do. And besides, a baby would go so well with my new black suit. So I signed up for the Gwyneth Paltrow version of motherhood. The Kelly Ripa woman-on-the-go scenario. The version of motherhood that gets glamorized in People magazine. But in my heart of hearts, I was scared. Terrified. I didn’t want my life to change that much. Still, I had the anticipation of regret and I thought having a baby would be “good for me.” So picture this: parenthood, to me, was like a giant swimming pool. I saw other people in the pool and they looked okay. But I was hesitant to even stick a toe in. I didn’t want to get wet. Other parents said to me, “going into the pool can be really scary. But it’s all worth it.” I thought to myself, “if they can do it, so can I.” And, tentatively, I put my foot in the water. Suddenly someone grabbed me from behind and threw me in the deep end. In the deep end! How unfair! You don’t take the person most frightened of the water and throw them in the deep end! Throw another person in the deep end, someone who’s used to the pool! Someone who knows how to swim! “I’m going to die,” I thought. I railed against the unfairness of it all, the shock of the cold water. But instinct kicked in and clumsily I moved my arms and legs. And I did not drown. Gagging and coughing and choking and sputtering I had a question: “Who did this to me,” I wanted to know. “How did this happen?!” My head went under and panic set in. I moved my arms and legs more and I did not drown. Now I was treading water. I noticed there were other people in the deep end with me, and they were offering to help. But I didn’t want to be in their Deep End Club. And besides, I didn’t think I even belonged here, it was only a matter of time before someone told me it was all a mistake and I’d be pulled out of the pool to safety. “I should have left well enough alone. I should never have tried to go into the pool,” I thought. And as I continued to tread water I noticed something else: I did not drown. Soon I started to float. I felt pretty much alone but the panic had subsided and I knew I could survive although it wouldn’t be pleasant. And I did not drown. But then I noticed there was a little boy in the deep end with me, a little boy named Nicholas with eyes that crinkle up like half moons when he smiles. A little boy named Nicholas who loves Bruce Springsteen and Puccini’s “La Boheme” and 1940s Big Band Music. And Nicholas could swim. Looking at him, I began to realize that I might be able to do more than float someday. I might be able to swim. And I might even enjoy it. Perhaps I’d even love it. I realized that the deep end allows for underwater somersaults and in the deep end, it’s possible to dive. You can’t do that in the shallow end. And perhaps someday, with Nicholas at my side, we’d both wave to the parents at the shallow end of the pool and say, “you don’t know what you’re missing, here in the deep end.”
mother to Nicholas (3/31/05)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I will take 1 banana grove to go, please!

I have put considerable thought into planting my own banana grove in order to maintain my children's banana bread addiction.  Seriously... is is like smack for my kids!  Alright... I will admit I am an enabler but this recipe is really that good!  

I almost feel guilty calling it "bread", because although it is deliciously disguised as bread  it hangs more with the yummy dessert crowd.  I mean really... do my kids sit down and beg for "moooorrrrrrrre whole-wheeeeeeeeeat bread pleeeeeeeeeeeease..".  No, they don't.  However they jump around like they have ants in their pants and do the "happy dance" throughout the prep and baking process and then are overcome with the NEED to consume several slices while it is still so hot that it burns their tongues.  And then the little masochists plead for more.  

Banana bread has magical bargaining properties.... just sayin'

It is absolutely amazing how quickly rooms get cleaned, clothes get put away and other dreadful requests are completed... with smiles no less... when the promised reward is a slice (or 2) of warm banana bread.  ****epiphany alert****  Seriously... can it be that easy????   

Well, as luck would have it I am not a recipe hoarder and I am prepared to share with you my magical banana bread recipe.  I cannot take full credit, as I stole it years ago from the Collins Family Reunion cookbook... but in my defense I have made changes to the original recipe... hence giving it it's magical and slightly more nutritional qualities.

so here goes... enjoy

Magic (disappearing) Banana Bread

Mix thoroughly: on medium speed

3 eggs
1c. sugar
1c. applesauce
Add 2 cups mashed bananas (a little more never hurt) 
2c. flour
1tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1tsp cinnamon... or nutmeg... or cardamon ... or a bit  of all three (I use whatever I have around at the time)

**optional... 1 cup of the following or a combination:
Chopped nuts
Craisins. Raisins
Chopped apples.  
(I typically just play it straight but sometimes it is fun to change it up a bit... and as long as we are being completely honest here... I usually don't measure this step.  I just throw a handful in and go with it)

 (ok seriously... just so there are no delusions here... I do not sift and fold!  I just dump everything in together and mix it all (medium speed) up but if you feel so inclined... do what you need to do... I promise it will taste the same in the end)

Decide if you want  1 big loaf or 2 smaller loaves (I usually do 2 small-medium loaves ... 2 smaller loaves allow for pacing. One for now ... and one for later).

Using either butter or non-stick spray, coat the inside of your pans (bottom and sides)... I do this step even when using non-stick pans or baking stone loaf pans where this step is not needed.... but do it... yummy things will happen.  Ok to use disposable metal pans too... great to give one to your neighbors who will no doubt comment on the incredible new smell wafting from your house!

Then dust the pans with sugar... yes... sugar... NOT flour!  Just dump in a bit of sugar, tap and tilt the pan until the sugar sticks to the sides and bottom of the pan.   

Pour in your batter.  sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and sugar on the top of the batter before putting into the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes***... about 15 minutes more for one large loaf.  The bread should begin to pull away from the sides of the pan a bit and if you poke the center with a fork (or other sharp implement) it should come out clean.

***Now for those of you who have ovens that really work and really bake at the temperature they say they do and actually have a pre-heat feature...please keep in mind that I do not.  So please note that baking times may vary.

Eat and enjoy.  

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

rare sighting: 14 years in the making

I feel inclined to post this picture due the rarity of its nature.  Here you will see both Pat and I in the same picture... actually touching, both smiling, both with our eyes open, both looking remarkably un-constipated and sober and no one is holding rabbit ears behind our heads!!!  

Now just sit back and take it all in... 

On August 10th we celebrated 14 years of wedded bliss and in that 14 years I can probably show with one hand the number of pictures that meet the above criteria.   So enjoy this rare treasure and please do your best to refrain from photoshopping in pirate mustaches and goatees... (which is a bit more our style I will admit)... and just stare in wide-eye wonder at this oddity before you....LOL.  

I love you honey... can't wait to see what the next 14 years has to bring!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

and one month later...

OMG... so I just realized that is has been over a month since my last post...  Seriously... where does the time go???  

It has been a crazy month full of laughs and tears, hellos (welcome to the family baby "Muddus") and good-byes (love you always Grandma Powell), a broken bone, family, friends, baseball, a cub scout camp out,  skateboarding, swim lessons, we got new phones... finally, therapies, 2 trips to Michigan and I am now noticing... several blog drafts that never made it to posting.  

Just know that we are all alive and well and have found these things to be true...  Coffee is good.  Wine is good-er.  Coffee or wine with good friends is good-er-er. My children have NOT perfected the fine art of sleeping in and their names have officially been changed to Button Pusher, Instigator and Naughty... Patrick now answers to  Enabler.  Yes, seriously!  Food cooked on the grill always tastes better.  Kittens don't need to walk when they have a 2 year old who carries them everywhere.  Legos, even really small ones, can tear the skin off a calloused heal when stepped upon.  Sponge Bob Squarepants has an unholy grip on my children (I am not proud of this).  iphones ROCK (comparatively speaking, any phone that was replacing my 7 year old dinosaur of a phone would have been awesome... but I LOVE my iphone).  It is possible to work a  30 hour day.  AND... it is inevitable that when applying spray on sunscreen to yourself you will miss at least one spot... especially if it is windy.

The next week is going to fly by as I am getting prepared for the UL Convention... OMG I am so excited.  I just need to fine-tune my presentation just a bit and avoid the urge to over pack.  But once I return our normally scheduled program will return (with pictures)!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

uppercase living convention teaser...

OMG...OMG... OMG... Look what arrived this morning... wouldn't you all like to know what's inside... tee hee hee  [insert evil laugh here] Well, I will tell you... it is full of goodies from Uppercase Living that I will be using to create some fabulous and creative displays for the Uppercase Living convention in July (and fingers crossed I think there is another box yet to arrive??? Jaron... call me!!!).  

I am so excited to have been selected as one of the Creativity Segment Presenters for convention this year.  This is such an incredible honor and opportunity!  Along with my fancy new title comes top secret information about some new Uppercase Living products that will be revealed at Convention and appear in the new Fall/Winter Uppercase Living catalog... (and some of them are inside those boxes!!!)

So let your imaginations run wild thinking about what is inside those boxes.... go on... think big... think fabulous... think amazing... because Uppercase Living did!!! 

Convention goers... prepare yourselves to be wowed!  All lovers of Uppercase Living... be prepared for some amazing new expressions and accessories that are sure to blow you away... book your parties now to be the first kids on the block to get your hands on the new catalog!!

And also don't forget that the Summer Splash incentive is running now through July 12th... BUY ONE GET ONE FREE!  You can contact me or check out my website for more info. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

gotcha day

The boys are beyond excited that the kitties are finally home to stay.  I picked them up yesterday afternoon and they are so adorable.  They play together and with us and they sleep in a heap of orange and white fluff.  There have been lessons on holding and lifting and so far so good.  Sean does not think that kitties should be allowed to walk anywhere and Sam likes to point out their eyes and noses and Andrew likes to play with them.   Andrew was up (far from stealth) at zero-dark hundred hours this morning to play with the kitties but they had a good night and appear to be adjusting well to their new home.  

You can barely tell them apart, but if you look real close you can tell that one is every so slightly darker than the other and the "M" on his forehead is more prominent.  The darker one is Cooper and the lighter one is Kitty 2.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

and this is the bow that Patrick made...

OK... if you don't hear from me in awhile it will be because Patrick has confiscated my computer or worse...tossed it out the window... to avoid the humiliation resulting from future posts of a similar nature.  

For starters (I will start with the really-super-cool-awesome reason that brought me to this post and slowly lead into the more embarrassing stuff) I have been selected as a Creative Segment presenter at the upcoming Uppercase Living Convention in July.  OMG!!! I am sooo excited.  This is such an honor, however after signing the non-disclosure agreement my lips are sealed!

However... that brings me to the stuff I CAN talk about.  Long story short... before even being selected to present at convention, I told a fellow Uppercase Living demonstrator and convention roommate that I would help her with her bow-tying woes.  (BTW... I will not be presenting about bows...LOL) Well one thing led to another and now there seems to be a cult movement of sorts and a little one-on-one demo has turned into a room full of women and few pitchers of margaritas.  I think it is great that so many people want to exchange ideas and I am really looking forward to it.  I have several different ways to tie bows and knots but with such a crowd I want to make sure that I could teach this to the masses.  The techniques are quite simple and the results can be pretty dramatic.  I could do this in my sleep, but in a room full of women armed with scissors I wanted to make sure that this seemingly easy task does not get out of hand...LOL.

Then a bit of panic set in... but only for a moment... and then I got an idea.... I will teach Patrick to tie a bow.  Yes, Patrick, my husband who does not have a creative bone in his body and would rather dig ditches naked in manure than be caught tying bows (so as to keep manliness  intact I will mention that he was threatened into this and he was made to conform under duress).

So with much grumbling... this is the bow that Patrick made.

Not too shabby!  Of course to make it even more painful I made him use the sparkly ribbon... of course.  Now don't go pegging me for a sadist... there a method behind my madness.  My thought was that if I could get Patrick to tie a decent bow in 10 minutes or less then I would have no problems with a room full of eager bow-challenged women.  Seriously... if Patrick can tie a bow like this just imagine the bow-tying frenzy that will follow!

...and here is proof (and might I add wearing his marine corps tee shirt no less)!  Real men do tie bows!

(thank you honey for being such a good sport xxoo)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

#5 in your program... #1 in your heart!

 Today was Sam's first Challenger baseball game of the year.  At first I think he was a bit disappointed because there was no mud on the field (there is usually more mud than field)... but he found a way to get dirty anyway.  Sam still does not want to wear his hat, batting helmet and will only occasionally agree to wear his mitt but I am pleased to say that he stayed on the field the entire game.  Pat got a work out but Sam didn't escape once and he didn't throw any balls into the road... the 8 foot fence worked to our advantage.  

I think Sam gets bored in the field and would rather play in the dirt but he seems to have caught on to base running.  In his own round-about way he makes it to first base and eventually all the way around... he even slid into home plate!  

WTG Challengers!!!! Great game today!

checking out the field

play ball

choosing a bat

keep your eye on the ball


look at that form!

running... bases

safe on first

Monday, May 10, 2010

a busy weekend in three short chapters...

Chapater 1

Mother's Day program at Andrew's school.  There was singing and poems read and fabulous art work and all the mothers were all served cookies and lemonade.  

Chapter 2

Andrew's First Communion at Prince of Peace Catholic Church.  Andrew was chosen to be one of the children to bring up the host for the mass.  He did a wonderful job and he looked so very handsome in his suit.  After the Mass we went to the Olive Garden for lunch (Andrew's choice) and had a really nice afternoon with family.

Chapter 3

Mother's Day.  Since Grandma Moore (and Papa Moore too) and Grandma Mema were here for Andrew's First Communion I was able to take my mom and MIL to get pedicures.  Now we all have pretty feet and painted toes.  ***OK... we will use the term "pretty" loosely LOL but they are painted all the same***  Pat cooked ribs on the grill, we went for a walk and the boys went fishing and everyone had a nice day.  

It was a very nice weekend.   

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

take me out to the ballpark...

So let me set the scene...

It is a warm summer evening and there is a nice breeze.  The baseball field is full of kids of all abilities playing catch and getting serious about their sport....Challenger baseball!

Sam is at baseball practice and his Dad is his buddy and is coaxing him to participate.  I am standing some distance away at a small playground area with Andrew, Sean and a few other kids.  All the Challenger baseball kids,  of all abilities, have partnered up and are throwing balls back and forth.  Sam is running in the grass and has more interest in making Pat run after balls than an actual game of catch.

From a distance I am watching Sam run bases... his way (which is just another way of saying that Sam was running around a lot with no real direction). He is stealing other kids balls and throwing them in every direction.  I really think that the idea of playing catch completely escapes him... either that or he just likes to watch people run after balls.  Pat has no doubt broken a sweat at this point.  Sam (AKA The Grounds Keeper) is all over the field.  At one point I hear the coach yell "WE HAVE A RUNNER" as I turn to look and see that Sam has gotten out of the fenced area and is running full tilt towards the road.

This has become a game of sorts.

He waits until he thinks no one is paying attention and then he bolts.  His giggles are that of a child who wants to get caught... but not before he lets you know that the score is Sam 1, parent-unaware 0.  I am sure this was much more comical from a distance where I got to see the whole scene unfold.

Sam started making his way toward the gate.  Bigger kids moved out of the way and actually assisted him to navigate the bats and helmets that slowed his progress a bit.  And then he shifted into 4th gear.  I hear the coach yell.  I see Pat who was helping another kid bat, spring up and scan the field only to realize that Sam was gone.  Just as Sam reached the street Pat scooped him up and brought him back inside the fence.  

Now Sam has a mission.  He is now determined that he will make it to the street.  And now another idea occurs to him.... if I can't go into the street I can make others go into the street.

So now I see Sam pick up a ball and throw it.  Not to anyone in particular but a good throw all the same.  He then walks over to his ball, picks it up and throws it again.  Good job Sam, I am thinking.  Slowly but surely he is making his way across the field... until he reaches the fence.  He then tosses the ball over the fence and into the road.  Cars are breaking, adults are running and Sam is quite pleased with himself.  Over the course of the practice Sam threw 2 balls into the street and escaped 3 times. 

About 3/4 of the way through practice Sam is DONE.  He is exhausted from all the "base running".  He makes another break for it and starts to head over towards the small playground, takes a brief break at the swings and then takes off towards a concrete area that is behind the school.  I try to coax him back to the game but he is... done.  Sam is a master of the famous "stop, drop and flop" and he executes this perfectly making it impossible for me to lift him.  As if to tell me that he is not moving another inch... he rolls to his back and puts his hands behind his head and just lounges there on the hard cement.   He has had a good day, a fun practice and now he is pooped out.  

Briefly he joins the team again but under protest.  With very little cooperation from Sam we get him, Andrew and Sean loaded into the van.  With practice over we are headed home for baths and bed.  

Another great practice.

Friday, April 30, 2010

you can't take just one!

OK... seriously... I can hardly stand how cute these babies are.  Sadly, Garth's passing has left a hole in our family.  And like Garth,  all our cats have sort of found us.  However, in this case I have been on the hunt but I knew that the right cat would find its way to us.  

So I posted a little plea on facebook and literally seconds later I got a response that there were some available kittens in need of a good home.  You will notice that we are going in a new direction this time... as all our past cats (Nikki, Krammer and Garth) were all black.  In the beginning that was a stipulation enforced by Pat... "the cat must be all black"... as if he thought there was a shortage of black cats, therefore reducing the likelihood of us getting one.  Obviously his plan backfired as I never had any problems finding black cats.  However, these yellow-delightful balls of fluff are going to do just fine.  So I went over today to take a peek.  It was an done deal!

We will be adopting 2... the one Sean is holding and another one of the same sex (whatever that may be).  But don't tell Pat... he as agreed to 1 but I am sure that he will soon realize the logic of having two.  Of course it will have been his idea all along (to adopt 2 kittens) and we will all acknowledge his keen foresight, generosity and humanitarian obligation.  LOL.  

As of right now Sean has named his cat "Kitty 2" (gonna have to work on that)... they won't be ready to leave their mother for a few more weeks so that will give us some time.  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good-Kitty Garth

Last night I made a hard decision that I know was for the best but my heart is still breaking.  For the past several weeks our cat has been vomiting and has been getting slowly worse.  Changing his diet and other interventions didn't help any but the last straw was when I saw him struggling to get up the steps.  My heart sank and I knew what had to be done but it is such a hard call to make.

Garth has been with us since I was 6 months pregnant with Andrew.  He used to sleep on my hip every night and purr.  He only did this when I was pregnant and we actually joked about this when Garth started sleeping on my chest before I found out I was pregnant with Sean.  He knew before we did.

Garth was a stray that used to hang around my parent's house and sleep on my uncle's roof.  Pat did NOT want another cat but he said that if the cat was around when we were ready to leave we could take him back home with us.  I know he was thinking that we would never see that cat again... well almost on cue Garth came out from under a car and started figure eights around Pat's legs.  And he has been with us ever since.

He was such a good cat with a silky black coat and crazy yellow eyes.  He had all of his claws and never once lashed out at my boys with his claws out.  Now that is saying a lot if you know how they toted him around and "loved" him.  If they got to rough he would come over and bite me!  He was gentle and playful and a really wonderful part of our family.

So as I hunt around for more kleenex I can tell you that although it was so very hard to make the final decision to put him to rest I think it would have been so much harder to watch him get any worse.  The boys all got their chance to say good-bye and even Sam and Sean realized the gravity of the situation.  Sam gave him kisses and rubbed his ear and Sean pointed out his eyes and nose and Andrew told him how much he loved him and would never forget him.

So may you rest in peace good-kitty Garth we love you and miss you.  

RIP 4/21/10

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beauty in the eye of a special needs mom

Wow... It seems like forever since my last post... maybe because it has been! Several things have happened since my last post including the passing of a friend (ELE), a wedding, set a date to have the crappy windows replaced (and out those crappy windows also went any hopes of getting an iphone anytime soon),   a trip to Michigan, cat vomit and more cat vomit, Easter x2, the kick off of soccer season and much more.

Needless to say we have been busy.  That statement could be followed up with "well when are you not busy" but busy is good and it means that everyone is healthy and active.  

In vain I have tried to keep up with the house work.  You would be hard pressed to walk into my house and fine a tidy area.  It is not that I have not tried but when you are followed by tornadoes all day what is left in the wake is destruction and chaos and a faint unpleasant scent.  There is however, a roughly sketched plan that in the end will leave me with a tidy space and a place to hide chaos rather than put it on display.  This plan involves a few built ins, a very large garage sale, a few bottles of wine and patience!

Piles of laundry are currently heaped on the couch waiting to be folded and put away... secretly I like to think of it as a staging area for all the clothes that fit.  I am gearing up for the mother of all garage sales and most of the clothes that are actually still in the boys drawers don't fit (otherwise they would have been worn and washed and in a heap on the couch)... so slowly I am trying to remove those clothes, reshuffle closets and get organized for the garage sale.  So you see there is some logic to my madness.  

Amidst all this chaos that has become our norm... something wonderful has taken place.  Something that to the naked eye may seem common place and insignificant.  Something that in a moment of distraction would have been missed.  Something that despite its incredible beauty is under appreciated by most.  

Yesterday as effortlessly as you please, Sam walked up 2 steps on our front porch, reached the door and rang the door bell.  Then stood there waiting patiently to enter the house.  

Now why is this such a big deal you might ask... well it is because Sam did it!  This quite, unassuming moment is a big-black-sharpie-marker-line in Sam's developmental time line. Sam has never, without dropping to all fours or without holding someone's hand climbed these stairs on his own.  There is no handrail for support or balance.  He didn't even break his stride... he just marched right up those steps like he had been doing it all along and then he didn't drop to his knees... he stood patiently and waited.  We have been working on stair climbing (up and down) with Sam for a very long time but this was an unexpected surprise.  

It was only 2 steps.... 2 beautiful steps taken with such mastery that I had to stop and pinch myself to make sure that I actually saw what I just saw.  When Sam learns a new skill it is not without first enduring months and years of repetitive practice.  Rarely does Sam let on that this new skill is sinking in or even that he is any closer to mastering it then he was 6 months or even 2 years ago.   I have learned with Sam that "nothing is impossible... the impossible just takes a little longer" but even then I sometimes get wrapped up in a wet blanket of possibility that there are things that he will never "get".  Yet, like a shock wave of clarity he nails a new and unexpected skill all at once... and that is just how he rolls.  There is no pre-warning, there is no almost there... there is only ON and OFF with Sam.  The switch will remain off until Sam is ready to turn it on and then a new bright light shines where there was only darkness before.  It is truly a thing of beauty to behold the birth of a new light.

So for now my messy house and chaotic schedule are here to stay.  And as I slowly try to remedy my clutter situation I will remember those 2 beautiful little steps that lead the way... slow and steady wins the race.  

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mommy needs a break... or maybe just a happier ending.

Not that this hasn't crossed my mind before, but our recent movie marathon really got me thinking.  Have you ever really thought about  all the kids movies that seem to have this underlying dysfunctional-family format that does not include a Mother?  Just sit and think a moment about all the movies in which the Mom is dead or out of the picture or dies in the first 5 minutes of the movie... Bambi, Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid, Harry Potter, Astro Boy, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Chicken Little, Kung Fu Panda, Barnyard, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Dumbo just to name a few.

Now there are occasions when a mother figure is interjected after the apparent demise of the original loving mother... but that does not always work out well as in the case of Cinderella and Snow White for example.  Occasionally you will see a picture of "Mom" on the wall or in a book or a dream or there may be a brief mention that alludes to the fact that the main character's current problem would have been alleviated or the blow somewhat softened or even avoided all together if only "Mom were here"... "she would know what to do...".

Sometimes mom makes a brief cameo appearance in the beginning of the film but then is absent as a result of a horrible illness, forest fire, or maybe she sacrificed herself to save her family and sometimes she is not mentioned at all.  In any case Dad is left to carry on raising a small soul on his own.  And in most cases Dad rises to the occasion (as distant or strict as he may be at times before that one defining moment when father and child unite) and in the end the child(ren) tend to end up pretty well and find themselves wed into the royal family, or star of the baseball team, or save the world and ultimately live happily ever after... just what every parent wants for their child.  Kudos to Dad.  

There are few films in which mom survives.  The Incredibles, for instance, keeps both parents alive throughout the film.  But I can remember watching it for the first time just waiting for them to off Elasti-Girl (AKA Mom) and then being surprised that she "made it".  It just seems more common for the hero (or heroine) to loose one or both parents than it is for them to grow up in a "perfect" family.  Maybe this makes the main character more relatable or "real" or  builds compassion for his plight???  Perhaps the element of the missing parent is meant to punctuate the perseverance and ability to overcome great obstacles and succeed against all odds or just a poorly dealt hand in life???  

But why the need for the single parent family?  Is it too much work for the writers to spare Moms life?  Did it take the death of the person closest to the hero to catapult them to a higher level of greatness?   Really,  how significant to the plot is the fact that the Mother is dead and gone?  Could the hero of the story not succeed in a two parent household?  And how do we find entertainment in the loss of others and subject our children to such themes at such an early age... death, sadness and loss are present in all these films.  We laugh, we cry we by the action figures but do we ever really address these life issues with our children?  Granted there is usually a good moral to the story and everything turns out fine in the end but the road the heros and heroines travel is dark and difficult and full of pot holes and we seem to conveniently glaze over that part.  I was an adult before I realized just how gruesome fairytales really are and perhaps more true to life than we care to acknowledge.  I for one hope that my children continue to blindly enjoy their movies and are also well into adulthood before they fully grasp the underlying evils of their favorite classics. Fairytale heros, it would appear, are not spared from difficult families, loss and death, evil and misfortune... but perhaps that is the real moral of the story... What doesn't kill you makes you stronger... and then (if you are lucky) you marry the prince and live happily ever after.

Sometimes I want to think of Mom as a raving bitch that just ran off in a fit of drunken rage or as just a horrible person instead of someone who selflessly gave up their life to save that of her child... that way at least I am glad to see her gone and I don't feel so sad for this poor beautiful motherless child who must endure years of pain before ultimately full filling their destiny.  Even in fairytales life is never easy.  Happily Ever After does not come without a price it would appear. 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Let them eat cake...

Andrew had to bake a cake for the Father-Son cake auction for the Cub Scout Blue and Gold banquet.  Of course Andrew didn't just want to make any cake... NO... he wanted to make a dinosaur cake.  A meat-eater standing on 2 legs or a Spinosauras to be exact.   

So I searched the internet to get ideas and 2 boxes of confetti cake mix, 3 cans of frosting, 2 cans of spray frosting (aerosol food coloring), several skewers, fruit roll ups, candy corns, a few lady finger cookies, gummy rings and a few smashed up gram crackers later... this is what we came up with.  There is even a "rock" made from a left over piece of cake a  few gummy frogs were thrown in for food. 

Now if we can get it to the banquet in one piece that will be a miracle

Friday, February 26, 2010

OMG... BTGO is back!

March 1st (begins at Noon MT) to April 5th

Celery... enter stage right!

Last night was Andrew's second grade musical.  The Fruit of a Loom guys can eat their hearts out... they don't have anything on the fruits and veggies (dairy, protein, grains and junk food too) that stole the show.  Andrew was celery and who knew that celery could talk or should I stay stalk... at night when the grocery store is closed... well that is exactly what 4 kids found out when they were accidentally locked in a grocery store one night.  The kids did a great job and the songs were so cute and all kids did such a great job with their singing and speaking parts. 

Of course my camera battery died just as Andrew was taking the stage for his speaking part... and of course the back up batteries that I scrambled to replace were also old too {note to self... remove old batteries from camera case right now and put new ones in the camera}  But he did an excellent job and we were so very proud of him.  

CELERY:  YEAH!  When you are brimming with vitamins and minerals, then you can talk.... until then pardon me if I just stalk on by!