Sunday, February 28, 2010

She Speaks!

Jessica has been "talking" since she was about a year old....meaning she has been acquiring a vocabulary. However, she has not really used this vocabulary to communicate thoughts until the last week or so. This has been rather frustrating on multiple levels 1) It is hard to figure out what she is trying to communicate without words 2) I get tired of people thinking she is autistic just because she hasn't been communicating verbally and 3) I am just dying to hear what is going on in that little head of hers!! This week I have heard a couple new words such as peach and keys, and today she saw birds as we were driving and said "Birds." This may not seem like a huge deal to some people, but although she has known the word "birds" for quite a while, she has never told us about seeing birds without any sort of prompting from us.

Jessica's language skills have been developing in a rather interesting fashion. She has an average sized vocabulary for a child her age, but until recently has not really used that vocabulary to communicate thoughts. She has been far too busy exploring the world around her and figuring out how to do things to waste her time talking about them! Also, most children learn lots of nouns, and then they move on to learning lots of verbs. Jessica's vocabulary has always included a wide variety of parts of speech. From what little she does say, it is obvious that she has a great propensity for grammar (much to her mother's pride)! I actually don't find this part too surprising. David and I are both spatially/math oriented, and grammar is more of a spatial/math skill than a verbal skill. Yet another way in which my School Psychology world collides with my new career as Stay-at-Home Mom!!! (I am sure other moms aren't as nerdy about this kind of thing as I am!)

Jessica, at almost 26 months your dad and I are absolutely ecstatic to see you taking these first steps in the direction of verbal communication! What is truly amazing is all you have learned prior to learning to communicating verbally: potty training, please/thank you, unloading the dishwasher, making oatmeal, eating anything and everything like a big girl, picking up your toys, etc. You are an amazing kid and most definitely march to the beat of your own drum! May the music you play always be filled with joy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"His Name Is John."

This is a picture of part of Jessica's room shortly before she was born.

Once John is on a good sleeping schedule, he will be sharing that room with Jessica. Since the room was already appropriate for a boy or a girl, baby or young child, there has been very little to do to get that room ready for a second occupant! However, I am adding a few small touches to make it seem like the room belongs to more than just Jessica. I changed the pink changing pad out with the blue one, set out a stuffed bear specifically for John, and got Jessica situated in her toddler bed (well....actually it appears that she has decided on her own to move to the bottom bunk).

Last night I made plaque with John's name in Hebrew and English with the meaning and Bible verses it comes from to match everyone else's.

I only have one more thing left to do to their room, and then I will be completely done with that portion of the preparations!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cute T-Shirts!

Well, after the success of last night's iron-on transfers onesies, I decided to make more tonight using some t-shirts! The first one is for me using one of my maternity shirts! It says, "I'm so crafty, I make people!" How cute is that?

These next two are kimono-styled shirts Jessica wore in the hospital that I dressed up with some Veggie Tales pocket logos!

Finally, I started working on Jessica's Big Sister t-shirt. I definitely plan to do a little embellishing check back later to see the final product! It says "Don't let this shirt fool you... I'm a... dirt digging, truck pushing, furniture climbing, rough and tumble playing Big Sister." I think it suits her just perfectly!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cute Onesies!

Well, our family has fallen into a better rhythm in which to function over the next week or so while my back is still out of commission, and I am truly thankful that I have only had one case of stage one melanoma and 3 pre-cancerous spots. While it does come with its frustrations, it could be much worse! Over the weekend, I was finally able to finish personalizing some newborn onesies for John with iron-on transfers! I love to sew and do other crafty things because it is one of the few things I do during the day that is not quickly undone!! Below are some pictures of the onesies I made for John.

You will notice that all of these shirts have non-sexual themes. (Apparently, sexual themes are very popular on baby boy shirts: Chick Magnet, Stud Muffin, Boob Man, etc.) I also tried to select neutral themes. They were very easy to make using a word processing program and clip art I found on the internet. The onesies were Jessica's when she was a baby; however, I bought a 0-3 months package of 5 white onesies at JoAnn's the other day for $5 using a 50% off coupon!! That is a little over $1 a shirt. You really can't beat that unless you made them yourself from an old t-shirt! Stay tuned! There are more fun projects to come, hopefully later this week!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Coping Strategies

For a while now I have wanted to write a post about the myriad of different coping strategies I use to get through the day. You see, I am one of those very, very ADHD-type people who sometimes drive everyone else (including myself at times) nuts because they are so....high energy, distracted, impulsive, etc. I learned a while back that while I can't change who I am, I can change my environment so that I can function more efficiently.

For example, after getting locked out of my car and house multiple times and after having copies of my keys made multiple times (even the expensive computer chip key) because I lost them, I now keep multiple sets and scatter them amongst a variety of friends and neighbors...just in case. I also have a a shelf with hooks under it by the door where my purse, keys, and phone go. Frequently, when I can't find one of these items, they will be there....I just forgot that I put them there! I also have strategies that I use when taking care of Jessica. I have gone through and carefully Jessica-proofed the great room in our house (actually this is a continuing endeavor)! As long as I can control what items are in that room and that all the doors remain shut, I know that she is safe, even if I have an "ADHD moment."

My husband realized very early on that our family functions best when our environment is structured to help me stay organized, stay on top of things, etc. He is also a part of that environment. He is a very calm and logical person, which helps to set a tenor of calm and orderliness to our home. We have a friend who has said on more than one occasion that she never knew a couple that seemed to "complete" each other so well. I believe what she noticed is that while David and I have very different strengths and weaknesses, we are able to bring out the best in each other by sharing those different strengths with each other.

As children have come into our home, I have made an effort to accommodate for their individual differences but without compromising things David and I need to live "sanely." However, as I have particularly noticed this week, there are times where we have less control of our environment, when we have to create new coping strategies (even if only temporary). Recently, for us this has meant: more processed food, more money in the out-to-eat budget, David helping out more around the house, me actually asking for help (this is very hard for me....I have ALWAYS been fiercely independent), putting off addressing some behavioral concerns with Jessica, etc. As much as I love to do everything myself and cook/eat food made from scratch and be a consistent parent, I also have to realize that some days you have to set the bar a little lower.....ok a lot lower!!!

While there are other concerns on my mind, I especially find physical limitations frustrating like, the lack of energy I have during pregnancy, the insane hormones coursing through my body, the low and enormous belly that gets in my way when I bend over, the thumb that is currently incapacitated because of said hormones, the pelvis that feels like it is going to come unglued when I sit down, and the back that I must baby for a week or two until the stitches come out from my precancerous punch. All that being said, I am *trying* to remember to be thankful.....that I am having a healthy second child, a son, that I have such an easy going 2 year old...even if she is very busy, that I have such a calm husband, that we have come to call this place we have lived the last 3 years home with friends that we could call family.....amongst the many "crises" and situations we had limited control over, we have been blessed, not because of destination but because of the journey. May the Creator grant us patience to await the enlightenment that comes to those who open themselves up to learn from the speed bumps, twists, turns, and indeed the journey that life is.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Preschool Weeks 4-6!

Wow...I can't believe it has been 3 weeks since I last posted about how preschool was going! Since the last time I posted we have started a new theme! This month we are studying the 5 senses and introducing colors. Most of our themes for the year are science related, which works out well since you can see, touch, and experience science. History and Social Studies are really too abstract for preschool. At this age, they are still very self-absorbed. It is all about what I can see, what I can touch, how I feel.....get the picture?

We also worked some review weeks into our schedule at the beginning of the year so one of the last 3 weeks was a review of what we have learned so far. The other two weeks we introduced the letters D and E as well as the numbers 1, 2, and 3. We have also been working on colors and the heart shape. Our Focus Wall (or window shade) is really beginning to look more like a learning wall and less like a white vinyl shade!

We have continued going through a box of items that start with the letter we are studying as well as creating a page for our Alphabet Book. We have also created a Numbers Book in which we glue, stick, etc the number of items we are studying. We also create patterns by gluing two different colors of paper over the number. Jessica is quite the perfectionist! This last week she had to peel up the stickers because she felt that she had placed them in the wrong place!! She most definitely gets that from her father!!! Who knows she may have the makings of an engineer! However, she also seems to have spark of wild and crazy....definitely from my side... :-)

Obviously, this week we celebrated Mardi Gras!! I learned a lot....for example Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday which basically means "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry for tomorrow is Lent" (ok...I changed the words up a bit from the original)! The kids really enjoyed it!! Obviously...

In case you are wondering why there are never any adults in the pictures.....while we have made a valiant effort to get the kids photo ready and start reasonably close to on time, half the time we actually teach preschool in our pajamas!! This is actually no big change for me as I frequently went to my college classes in my pajamas!! Preschool has further reinforced for me that I am an experiential, edible, and casually dressed learner!!! Thankfully most preschoolers are as well!!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let's Celebrate!

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of this blog. It is hard to believe I have been recording our projects, our activities, and indeed our lives for an entire year! Also, today I found out that while I do not have melanoma again, I do have something that could very well turn into melanoma. Next week I will have a little office procedure where they will punch a small piece out of my skin and stitch me up. The longest part of it is stitching me up because they always make sure to do a good job of it since I have a busy toddler to keep up with!!! I was very pleased with that bit of news. David also took his first visit to the dermatologist today. They were very pleased with what they saw; however, suggested that it would be good for him to use sunblock and a hat whenever going out and to come back once a year just to make sure any changes are caught early.

Sunday is Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day can sometimes seem like a bit of an exclusive holiday, especially if you aren't married or dating anyone at the time. With that exclusiveness often comes certain expectations of how Valentine's Day "should" be celebrated, and sometimes those expectations can also ring up big dollar signs. A few years ago, we decided to start a tradition of having a special meal at home for Valentine's Day as a family. We typically have cheese fondue with bread and such, wine or sparkling grape juice (that's more for me), Dove chocolates (that's more for David), and some type of grilled meat and veggies. It is nice because it gives the entire family something to look forward to, and while we spend a little extra on our special dinner, we don't break the bank like we would if we got a babysitter, went out to eat, etc. This year we are being joined by some friends down the street! Nothing could be better: good food and good company!

Finally, it also looks like in a couple weeks, Jessica and I (and baby John) will be flying to Memphis. I have not gotten to see my parents in 6 months, and they will not be able to travel here until who knows when because of Mom's migraine, neck, head issues (I really don't know what else to call it). I am excited at the prospect of getting to see them! David will have to remain at home as he is in the middle of switching companies, and we are not sure how his acquired off time will be handled. Once we know more we will have to also look into whether or not he will be able to take off time after the baby is born. He plans to be at the hospital the entire time; however, past that is a little up in the air at the moment.

Overall, things seem to be moving along just fine....well except for my thumb. It seems to be getting worse. Unfortunately, all of the doctor's I have seen have pretty much said, "It sucks to be you." They can't do an x-ray because I am pregnant. I can only take tylenol, and that is about it. I find it amazing how much I use my left thumb for! Now off to tidy the house and crochet....those I can do with 1 working thumb!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Toddler Bed

We are still waiting to hear back from the dermatologist on the results of my biopsies. While we are hoping they come back normal, we are realistically planning for the possibility of another surgery in a week or two. As I could potentially not be able to move my back for 6 weeks, we realized we needed to do some thinking on our current nap time situation! Jessica has not started climbing out of her crib, and we had planned originally to let her stay in her crib as long as she was happy there (within reason). It is the safest place for her to be given her penchant for finding danger! However, I will not be able to lift her if I have surgery, and I definitely won't be able to lift her right after John is born. Therefore, we decided to set up the toddler bed.

The pieces for Jessica's toddler quilt all laid out!

I bought a used crib mattress for $15 on Craigslist a while back to use as a trundle under the bunk bed in her room. This way she will be close to the floor on a waterproof mattress until she is ready to move up to the bottom bunk. I also bought a waterproof mattress cover on sale for $7 at Target. I had an extra sheet for the bed from our crib set up. She has some blankets but is getting big enough that she probably needs a quilt. This weekend I cut up 5" squares from fabric scraps leftover from making her dresses and pajamas. I also cut 5" squares from the burp cloths and bibs that had her name embroidered on them (I don't plan to use them with future children). This is how her Toddler Quilt will look.

A close up of the squares

I plan to use a neutral backing so that when John is ready for a toddler bed, I can take Jessica's apart and use the backing for his quilt. I plan to enlarge Jessica's quilt at that point so that she will have a twin sized quilt with one side being made of scraps from things I have made her and the other side being a more neutral print so she can reverse it as she gets older, if the patchwork seems too childish to her at the time! There are plenty of uses for a twin sized quilt: your bed at college, curling up on the couch when it is cold or you don't feel good, and of course you will always have something practical that your mother made especially for you!

The burp cloth scraps awaiting serging!

And what did I decide to do with the leftover pieces of burp cloths? I decided to trim them, serge them, and use them as newborn pre-folds to go in John's diaper covers! Very practical and frugal if I do say so myself! How is the transition to the toddler bed going? Well, we tried one day of it, and it went really well. She was quiet, napped some, played with the socks in her sock drawer, etc. However, she did not get as good of a nap as usual. She would probably adjust over time; however, I do get nervous at the prospect of loosing any part of her 3 hours nap!! Therefore, we decided to use the same approach for transitioning her to the toddler bed as we did for potty training her: a practice day here, a practice day there, with plenty of "back to business as usual" days in between! We also realized that if she is not completely transitioned by the time I have surgery or have the baby (whichever comes first) we can move her crib close to the bunk bed so that when I let her rail down, she can climb out on her own.

Dilemma solved, a cute quilt in the works, and only out about $25! And did I mention I am already putting fabric scraps in a bag for John's toddler quilt? ;-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Applying the Science of Cloth a new way!

Wow! It is going to take me all week to tell you about what has been going on around our house this past week!! We've gotten a lot done; unfortunately, that didn't really include dishes, laundry, etc... Recently, a friend of mine (who lives out of town) broke her foot, and she has been having trouble getting out and about because her toes get cold and she can't risk getting her cast wet! So....this weekend I took all I had learned from the cloth diapering industry and made her some "cast covers!" From what I have been able to tell, the only things available are little sock footies (which do not insulate well from the cold) and some plastic bag looking things that can be submerged a few times before wearing out. (There was also one that looked kind of like rubber gloves, but it didn't last very long either.) The ones I made are pink (She loves pink), washable, and adorable (in my opinion)!

The footies

First up we have the double lined fleece footies! As we know from cloth diapering, fleece is warm and repels moisture to an extent!! I made two of them so they don't have to be washed every day! I just cut out four semi-circles, sewed them together, turned them inside out so the seam was on the inside with two piece on each side, and sewed a casing for the elastic. I knotted the elastic very loosely and left it hanging out so that it could be adjusted since I didn't actually have her here to try them on!

See the water pooling on the cloth after being treated with waterproof spray?

Next up we have the waterproof cover. I had wanted to use PUL fabric like is used by many of the cloth diapering companies, but you have to mail order it. Instead, I bought cotton knit fabric, shrunk it in the wash and dryer, and had my husband spray it with Silicone Water-Guard. (The can didn't say whether or not it was safe during pregnancy.) He did on application on each side, hung it up to dry outside for the afternoon, and it worked great!!!! I poured water on top of the fabric and watched it roll around on top of the fabric as my hand moved! The fabric did not even get damp and still felt like regular cotton knit fabric! I think the fabric can still be put in the washer and dryer, but I haven't tested it.

The waterproof cover...adorable fabric if I do say so myself.....way better than the mauve that was also available!!!

I cut out a very loose "Christmas stocking" because I wanted to make sure it fit over the entire cast. I then "sewed" it together using Sewing In a Tube. It is basically fabric glue. It works really well, survives both washing and drying, and allowed me to avoid poking tiny needle holes in the fabric! After turning it right side out, I applied the soft side of velcro, again using Sewing In a Tube. There is a detachable piece of the rough side of velcro so the closure can be adjusted to as tight as necessary. This should keep water completely away from the cast no matter what the weather! However, as a back-up we have....

The wool stocking...formerly a dance legging!

The wool stocking! As we know from the cloth diapering industry, wool is also good about repelling moisture and can be quite warm. This outer layer will serve to reinforce both of the previous two layers. For this layer, I took an old dance legging, cut off one end, and sewed it closed. It will also help to hold everything together in the event that the waterproof cover is a little loose.

Not only are the covers pink and adorable, but they are also machine washable, light weight, breathable, adjustable, and flexible (meaning you don't have to wear all three layers at once).....all things I have come to love about the cloth diapering industry! I just hope they work as well as the cloth diapers do!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2nd Trimester

Well, we are currently about a month from the end of the 2nd trimester of this pregnancy and that much closer to meeting John David! I became a vegetarian during the first trimester due to major sensitivity to smells and food aversions! David is very thankful that has passed. However, I do seem to have developed a strange craving for refined sugar and chocolate! I am also not sleeping 24/7 anymore, but I do find that I have significantly less energy that normal, which is challenging with a busy toddler. Although my doctor has encouraged me to go about my normal activities (which I have as evidenced by the picture of me below in my dance clothes), I do try to cut myself a little more slack when it comes to food preparation, cleaning, etc. Some people seem to have tons of energy for much of their pregnancy. I am not one of those people!!

Big things going on: Rh negative shot coming up in a few weeks, Glucose test coming up in a few weeks, and spotting may be the norm for the rest of this pregnancy just because I carry so very low...yippee. On the bright side I have discovered the best way to sleep while pregnant..... on a ROPE bed!!!! When I was pregnant with Jessica, I could never get comfortable at night because my belly always hung slightly to the side, but with a rope bed, the bed conforms somewhat to your shape providing support for all of me in just the right places!!! I love my bed!!

I am also beginning to do some planning in preparation for the weeks following John's delivery as I will probably have less help than when Jessica was born. I am not concerned about it, but I do need to think through what all needs to be done: meals in the freezer, Jessica in a toddler bed at least for naps (so I don't have to lift her), etc. I have already arranged for Jessica a place to stay while we are in the hospital, transportation the weeks following, and have several people I can call on during the day and the important stuff is in place! Once the baby stuff is finished, the freezer is stocked, and Jessica is transitioned to a toddler bed, all we will have to do is wait to meet this new little life!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Skin Check

Today, I had my bi-yearly skin check with the dermatologist. As many of you know, I am a melanoma survivor (hence the skin checks every 6 months). I enjoyed having some friends along with us for the ride today 1) to watch Jessica and 2) to distract me. I still get a little nervous when I go for skin checks. I have vivid memories of when I got the call telling me I had melanoma and I just sunk to the floor, staring at my 9 month old daughter, wondering if I would live to watch her grow-up. Thankfully, I had a wonderful outcome, and my doctors watch me very closely now. Today they biopsied two moles. One of them was on my back, which is where the melanoma was. Absolutely worst likely scenario is that I have an early stage of melanoma again that would require a visit to the plastic surgeon for another several inch gash that could be done under local anesthesia while pregnant and possibly not be able to pick anything up for 6 weeks. More likely, it will prove normal or pre-cancerous and require only a second visit to the dermatologist to remove edges. Overall, I feel good about the visit; however, it would have been nice to get a clean skin check instead!

That being said, skin protection is very important to me. Although I like to shoot for a frugal/self-sufficient lifestyle, skin care is not something I mess around with!! We currently use Lavera sunscreen. It is 100% mineral based and organic sunscreen. Of course that was not nearly as important to me as the fact that it doesn't make my skin sting like most sunblocks and it is safe for use on infants! I really like their company a lot!!! It is expensive and does not last long in the water with out reapplying it, but it works instantly and is very gentle on the skin! I am also beginning to look into "sun friendly water apparel" aka UVA/UVB protective fabric for a water baby wrap and UVA/UVB protective swimsuits. We spend a lot of our summers outdoors, and we have moved progressively closer to the equator. Expensive Sensitive Skin Sunscreen = $$, UVA/UVB protective swimwear = $$$, Being there to watch your children grow up = Priceless!!!!!