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Life as Usual

24 Feb

Unfortunately, I haven’t posted nearly as much as I had hoped to. Like most families, life has been all over the place.  We are all doing great. There has been karate, play practice, ballet classes, the first time at pre-school for KK, and the usual kid-stuff. Luke has been playing soccer and I went back to school, taking real estate courses, and will be taking my license exam this spring.

We had the good fortune to travel a bit over the past year.  We took the kids to Maui, Disney World & Universal Studios, and then took a VERY long train ride to Oregon for the holidays. Little man’s six-month cardiology check-up went off without a hitch and we are planning to take him to Boston for his next check-up, since it will have been four years since his doctors there have seen him. It’s a bit crazy to realize it has been that long since we’ve seen them, considering how much time we spent with them during Landon’s first four years of life.

In addition to our normal day-to-day, I have been working on my cake decorating.  I thought I would share the cakes I’ve been working on over the past year. The kids especially love it when I “test” cakes, before I actually make them for someone. Enjoy! Bay Area Grad Cake Monsters University Boots! Tropical Cake One tier Hello Kitty cake Present Cake Stormtrooper Puppy Cake Two tier Hello Kitty cake Christmas Desserts

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It’s February already?!

7 Feb

It seems like we were JUST in the midst of all of the holiday fun!  Now…January has breezed by and we are a full week into February!  Where does the time go?

I had plans to make these super cute Valentines  I saw at Dandee, for my sweet boy’s class, but I started to run out of time and to be honest, he didn’t quite understand the play on words.  Maybe we will revisit the idea in a few years for one of the girls.

I wanted to stick with the bracelet idea because I don’t really like to give food items since we have a few allergies in our class and I also don’t like to constantly load the kids up with extra sugar.  I was able to find premade friendship bracelets for a great price on Amazon and VistaPrint was having a sale on their Valentine cards!  I used a hole punch to make slots to hold the bracelets, and we were done in just a few minutes.

V front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VistaPrint always does a great job.  These were on a nice, heavy cardstock and were full-color on both sides.

V back

 

 

 

Little-man was glad to be able to personalize each one with his friends’ names.  I was happy because of the cost!  Each card with bracelet only cost about 30¢!

I hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’d love to know what special projects you are doing to celebrate.

Unintentional Treat for the Kids.

11 Dec

I was recently approached by another mom, from Positively Kids, wanting to do a raw food challenge.  Since I’ve been working on regaining my healthy eating and not grabbing handfuls of fish crackers and the other ‘kid’ snacks that manage to find their way into my house, I accepted.  We (like everyone else!) have been super busy with all of the holiday planning and celebrating, so I really need to head to the grocery store and load up on more items for this raw eating endeavor, but did already have a good amount on hand to start right away.

It does take a bit of prep and planning, but for me, prepping food satisfies part of the craving.  It’s all part of the eating experience.  Taking the time to cut, slice, shred and prepare causes me to think more about my food choices and what I am feeding myself and my family.

I started out really simply with fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds.  The other day I was trying to think of something to prep for the next morning and decided to try these oat cookies.  When the kids saw them, they were begging for them!  Looks like this will find its way into our morning rotation…or even as an after dinner treat – which is what my 3-year-old just requested.oat cookies

This recipe is the amount I would eat for breakfast.  Truth be told, I just eat it by the spoonful out of the mixing bowl, but it will make about 5 cookies.  Feel free to double or triple the batch size to suit your needs.

 

Oat Cookies

1/4 cup oats (I did use rolled oats which are not raw, but need to get to the store for raw oats this week)

2 TBL natural nut butter – use whichever type you prefer

1 tsp raw honey

Mix together, cover and let sit in the refrigerator over night.  If you are planning to make cookies, roll the mix into a tube shape with parchment or plastic wrap before placing into the fridge.  In the morning, use a sharp knife to slice.  Cover any unused portions and store in the refrigerator.

Go Elf Yourself!

26 Nov

1…2…3…4…FOUR!  That is the number of days it took for us to forget to move the elf! 

Our elf was purchased by a very well-meaning grandfather, who trudged out in the pouring rain to be one of the first to procure the Elf on the Shelf when he learned the author would be at a local book store.   The kids were so young at the time; we didn’t even open the box until the following year.  This is our third year “hosting” the elf in our home, and we still can’t get used to the nightly ritual of moving the elf around the house. 

Now, because of the elf, we have become big, fat liars!  On nights when we have forgotten to make the move, one or the other of us will remember in the morning and move the elf before the kids get downstairs…but not this morning!  Our tiny tornado (the middle-little) made it downstairs first and pointed out that the elf was still in the same spot.  Quick thinking Daddy reminded her that she was especially naughty the day before, and perhaps our elf was giving her another chance before he reports back to Santa.  Thankfully, Mommy and Daddy are on the same page with these white lies even without conversing, because my oldest came to report on the non-movement of the elf, and I fed him the exact story.  Kids believed it…crisis averted.

I often speak of the craziness that occurs on Pinterest, and the elf is no different!  People seem to go to all lengths to find new things to do with their elf.  Not us.  We are lucky just to remember to move the darn thing!  We did, however, start this tradition, the kids love it and we are stuck with it.  So, in the interest of the craziness with all things elf…here is what we’ve got!  I fully admit our inspiration was Dr. Seuss.  For whatever reason, when I think of the elf, all conversation happens as though it is part of Green Eggs & Ham!

Little-Shelf-Elf

I am Mom
Dad is He
Together we made three mini-MEs

Those mini-MEs
Those little selves
They sure do love those silly elves…
Those elves made to perch up on the shelf

For one whole month we join the craze
It seems to go on and on for days

We wrack our brains to hide this elf
But more often than not just use the shelf

We cannot, will not make you fly
On a zip-line way up high

The neighbor’s elf might bake a pie
While we’re content just placing you high…
High on a shelf, by your little elf self
That is enough!
Just on a shelf!

We will not pretend you know how to cook
We are lucky just to remember to dangle you from a hook!

No powdered sugar snow angels for you
Or cracker fishing in a toilet turned blue

We will not let you drink syrup or honey
You couldn’t possibly pay us enough money!

Some people really go to town
Isn’t it time they dial this down?
Isn’t he supposed to be Santa’s eyes?
A lookout… a scout…a spy…
How do they explain his reports to Santa?
“Had tea today with a toy panda…”
“Fishing was great…tasted kind of funny”
“Wanted to bake Baklava…forgot I already drank all the honey!”

Sometimes we think you are more trouble than you’re worth
A glorified snitch from birth
Late night and early morning relocation thoughts
Half asleep and in a haze, that shelf looks like a good spot!

Little elf!
Little elf!
For 30 days you keep us busy
Dizzy, really, keeping up

We’ll find simple hide-outs
Perhaps in a cup
But that’s all we’ve got
We give up!
We give up!

Little elf!
Little elf!
When did the shelf lose its luster?
We’ve given all the effort we can muster

Little elf!
Little elf!
You’re pushing us to the brink

You’re driving us crazy
And to drink, we think!

Cookies…It’s what’s for breakfast!

20 Nov

Don’t get me wrong, my kids are great eaters, but sometimes it’s helpful to make something sound more exciting than it really is.  I discovered this when my middle-little was about a year or so old.  That is when I started serving waffle cookies.  What are these little treats?  Absolutely nothing more than plain and simple, regular whole wheat waffles.  Because she heard cookie, she was hooked!  She will often eat them without syrup or any other topping, just holding and eating it…like a cookie.

Now, I have fallen victim to a few Pinterest-fails.  When I tried the individual baked oatmeal, it wasn’t a total disaster, but I had a heck of a time peeling them out of the muffin papers.  The other day my niece said she was eating 2-ingredient cookies; just quick oats and bananas.  I thought – c-o-o-k-i-e-s!  I won’t have to peel the wrappers off and what kid wouldn’t like breakfast cookies?!

I didn’t use quick oats and I also like to add flax seed meal to these types of recipes, so I fiddled around and came up with these, which turned out to be VERY kid-approved!

Keep in mind, these are not going to taste like the oatmeal cookie recipe that comes on the oatmeal container, but you can eat these knowing they are a guilt-free, healthy breakfast and are even good on-the-go.

Please don’t hate on my ingredients; in a perfect world everything would be organic, maybe even grown at home, free of any controversy, totally perfect for the world brands.  I don’t know if there are any specific issues with these brands, but feel free to use whatever brands you care to.  The only thing I would say is, make sure not to use quick oats, in my opinion, things turn out a little too gummy with them. 

Breakfast Cookies

1 cup oats

2 very ripe bananas, smashed

¼ cup flax seed meal

A big handful of raisins

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup milk (I use regular, but use almond, soy, etc., if that’s what you use)

Mix all ingredients together and spoon out on a cookie sheet.  Because there is no oil in the cookies, I placed them on a piece of parchment that I spritzed with vegetable oil.  Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, flip the cookies and bake for an additional 7 minutes.   

Makes 12 cookies

Note:  If you need to hide veggies in order to get your kids (or you) to eat them, I would add shredded carrot or zucchini to this recipe.  I’ll update this page once I try it.  My guess at this point would be to add about ¾ cup of either shredded carrot or shredded zucchini.

Wear Your Scar with Pride!

8 Nov

When I was 15, I had surgery on my left wrist, via the top of my hand.  For whatever reason, I was always very self-conscious of this s-shaped, two inch scar.  I remember worrying (years before I was ever even engaged, mind you), what my wedding pictures would look like with this scar on the hand that would one day carry my wedding ring.  I look back now and realize what a waste of time and energy it was to worry about such a trivial thing!  I must admit, I was made to feel even sillier, as I tried to take a picture to display here, and couldn’t even get a shot that showed this thing that bothered me for so many years.

I thought about my scar today, when I watched the video of Brooke Burke-Charvet on her ModernMom blog, as she relayed that she has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and described where her scar would be.  I’ve always admired her as a mother and a businesswoman, and think she is doing a tremendous job meeting this challenge head on.  In my opinion, no matter what scar she is left with, she will still be just as beautiful as she is today!

I thought about the ‘vanity of a scar’ and when my ideals changed.  Yes, vanity; you should celebrate your scars!  There is a story behind every single one.

van-i-ty  Noun: Excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.

I honestly have to say, my view changed when I became a mother.  Don’t get me wrong, I can still be vain from time to time, but being a mom has literally caused me to lay my own life on the line.  Just prior to being 23 weeks pregnant with my first baby, my sweet boy, I flew to Boston for him to have fetal surgery on his tiny heart.  After the surgery I was left with three small scars, but had given the doctors permission to make a large incision, similar to a cesarean section, if they could not adequately access him during the procedure.  I could write an entire book with just that time in my life, but that is not the reason for my post; this post is about scars.  I have since learned to embrace and even celebrate scars.

My sweet boy has had 16 surgeries so far; seven of those surgeries have cut into his tiny chest.  These scars have always been a reminder of what he’s been through and proof of how truly strong he is!  He laughs when I tell him he is stronger than I will ever be.  His reply, with his big smile, is always “you’re joking me!”  One day he will understand!  In the meantime, we remind him that his scar is cool and “chicks dig scars” and that we are so proud to watch him with each new day and every new experience.

When I told him that there was a lady that I heard about who was going to have surgery and was a little worried about the scar she would be left with, he jumped right at the chance to share his scar and to show, yet again, that scars are cool!  I don’t know Brooke, and she may never see this, but if it helps even one person – then what we are doing does make a difference!

My Happy Little Heart-Hero!

Physical Therapy for the CHD Kid

20 Oct

For the past 25+ years, doctors have been honing the techniques that are saving the lives of children born with heart defects that are similar to my son’s.  The oldest person I know with his condition, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), is 27 years old.  In addition to being a wonderful inspiration to our family; allowing us to see all that these kids are capable of, our dear friend,  Jeni Busta, has also answered the many questions we have asked and has offered great advice for living well with this condition.  One of the things she recommended we do with Landon is to get him into physical therapy.  Many of these kids end up with back issues, flexibility issues and trouble with scar tissue.  As these kids live longer lives, it is necessary to not merely make sure their hearts keep beating, but also make sure to take a whole body approach.  While we do allow Landon treats and sweets, we have built a foundation for him with healthy eating.  We are ensuring that his physical strength and flexibility are addressed, as well.   I checked with Landon’s pediatrician and cardiologist and received the go-ahead and prescription necessary to receive physical therapy.

We found a wonderful Physical Therapist (DPT) at San Diego Sports Medicine Physical Therapy Center.  Dean works so well with Landon and really makes things fun for him, while keeping his attention during a one hour session.  Landon really looks forward to his PT sessions!  For him, it is a fun time, not just ANOTHER doctor’s appointment!  In the few months Landon has been receiving PT, I have really noticed his balance, jumping and strength have greatly improved.

I took a few photos of our latest session to provide an idea of the types of things they work on.

Scar Massage

Not all doctors think this method is necessary.  Our cardiologist didn’t seem to think there would be a benefit, but gave the OK for us to do it.  Landon’s scar does seem much less lumpy and thick than before.

Rolling the Fitness Ball

Stretching on the Fitness Ball

The first time Landon did this stretch on the fitness ball, it really showed that it was such a relief for him.  He was so relaxed!  The look on his face was priceless; he almost looked shocked that he was able to get such relief from a stretch.

Assisted Pull-ups

Over-hand and Under-hand Medicine Ball Throw

This is just a sample of what occurs during one of Landon’s PT sessions.

Considering that during Landon’s first 5 1/2 years of life, he cumulatively spent an entire year recovering from his five open-heart surgeries, pacemaker surgery and numerous heart caths, the benefits he is receiving from physical therapy are beyond measure!

*Our many thanks to Dean Makredes, DPT, for allowing us to publish our experience with him and for the wonderful care he provides Landon!

**DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way providing medical advice.  Before participating in any of the mentioned techniques, I would advise you to check with your physician, just as we did prior to starting our program.

The Best of Intentions

9 Oct

Prep, clean, quiet, blah, blah, blah…

While I was downstairs getting things ready for our dinner tonight, a tornado was at work upstairs.  Introducing our beautiful, middle child…our tiny tornado!  THIS, is the reality of how our anniversary evening is starting.

Tiny tornado

In Their Tummies

1 Oct

I have been wanting to add a section for cooking with the kiddos, and have also been very intrigued by all of the prep your meals for a week/month/slow cooker recipes that have been posted around the internet.  Since the little-ones who will be cooking with me are 3 and 6, I don’t want anything too elaborate and think starting them with food prep for a slow cooker will be a great introduction.  Another consideration is that my 6-year-old has a congenital heart defect (CHD), so I don’t necessarily want to resort to old-school slow cooker recipes that seem to be higher in fat and salt.  I have been preaching healthy eating from the beginning; healthy fats versus unhealthy, not too much salt, not too much sugar, everything in moderation.  I was so excited today, when I learned that the American Heart Association had just released their latest version of their Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook!

I jumped right on Amazon and ordered a copy with my Amazon Prime membership!  Be on the lookout for our review of the recipes and track my progress cooking with the littles!

How They Learn

27 Sep

And sometimes, what they teach us!

Reminder from Landon was to literally “stop and smell the roses!” I was stuck on a project and frustrated. Two huge roses had bloomed in our yard and he asked me to “come smell the roses, mommy?” I paused as I thought of the meaning of his request, but still said “I can’t right now.” He picked one of the roses, ran over to me and said “you REALLY need to smell these, they smell so pretty!” He was right; it was the best smelling rose I have ever encountered, and he made me laugh at myself for overlooking the simplicity! I love that boy!!

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