Thursday, December 3, 2009

Random Laughs

So, things have been somewhat bleak around here due to the germs. When I feel up to posting about the mess that is Kelly's immune system, I'll share (the info, not the germs!). In the meantime, here are some amusing thoughts from Ally.

*Ally went to her grandma's house and was playing doctor. She likes to give shots, and the location of said shots can be your arm, leg, eye, ear, anywhere. My mom told me what Ally had been doing when I called to check on her. That night, when she came home, Ally told me that grandma called her a duck. Confused, I looked at her and said, "She called you what?" And she looked me straight in the eye and said, "Yeah, a duck. Grandma said I was a quack!" Ha ha ha!!!!

*Several months ago, I was talking to my mom and said that I was losing my mind. Ally was on the phone as well and informed me that she found my mind. Not only did she find it, she told me she squished it for me! Isn't she helpful?

*We were out to dinner last Friday and there was a jazz band playing. Ally really liked the music while we were eating. Halfway through the meal, she leaned over to me and said "I wonder if they will play 'Old McDonald'?"

*This morning, I bundled the girls up to take Ally to school. I put Kelly's little hat on (I'll try and get a pic) which has doggie ears on it and a chinstrap. In the car, Ally shared her thought that Kelly looked like she was ready to go into outer space! What? She said that the hat looked like a helmet and Kelly was ready to fly in a spaceship!

Gotta love preschoolers!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Infection Collection

Sounds disgusting, eh? Disgusting is the word that I would use to describe my house the last 2 months or so. And I'm not even talking about the clutter! Forget the workers of the world, the GERMS of the world have united in my house and refuse to leave. They are staging a nasty and fierce revolution with my family!

Here is a recap of the battles:
*Went on vacation late August. Thought one or both girls might be getting sick, but it was a minor skirmish.
*Middle of September--thought I had the flu, but just sinus infection. Felt like crap, but functional.
*End of September: Kelly hit her head hard and passed out in my arms for 2-3 seconds. Went to the dr. Was told to look for vomiting as a bad side effect. The next day, she started with diarrhea. Day after that, here comes the vomiting. Took her to Childrens (that's a whole 'nother post), and it luckily had nothing to do with the injury. Unfortunately, she had a horrible stomach bug for 10 damn days! Those weak-of-heart need to skip to the next battle!!! I mean, full-on, explosive diarrhea going thru the diaper, outfit and even leaking off of the crib railing. As Mike is cleaning the crib and changing the sheets, Kelly then threw up all over me and the floor. In my almost 5 years as a parent, I have never seen that much vomit at once! Blech. Took every ounce of strength not to add to it!!
*Mid-October: Nasty stomach bug is gone, but both girls have had runny noses, coughing, etc. *End of October: Kelly is diagnosed with an ear infection.
*Early November: I still feel like crap. Diagnosed with sinus and ear infection.
*The very next week: Ally is diagnosed with sinus and ear infection, with lovely goop in her eye.
*This week: Kelly is diagnosed with another ear infection. Feverish, snotty, cranky and not eating. Kelly eats for an hour at a time, so if she's not eating, something is definitely WRONG! Off to the ear, nose and throat dr we go!!!

For those keeping count, that means 4 infections in 4 consecutive weeks. We are on a streak, people!
It just won't end. I finished my antibiotic last week and don't feel much better. This round, I feel even worse--like maybe this IS finally the flu or H1N1 or whatever. Maybe we will go 5 infections for 5 weeks! I haven't felt "good' for months. Every time we go thru this, I wonder IS IT SWINE FLU? And it doesn't seem to be. But dear God, if we haven't had it yet, I am truly terrified!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Off to the doctor (again)

Yep, once again, my house needs to be quarantined. The last 4 days have really sucked around here. I wll detail it all later. Right now, I have to get a hacking 4 year old in the shower so that I can take her to the pediatrician.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NaBloPoMo Fail

Okay, so we all knew it wasn't going to happen. I tried really, really, really hard to post, but the planets were not aligned for naps yesterday afternoon. Ally fought me, even though she had been up since 6:30. She woke up to tell me that she was hungry! I was not a happy mommy, considering she and I battled over her not eating enought dinner the night before. It is just cosmically wrong to have a 4 yr old wake up before the 1 yr old! Kelly refused to take her morning nap and then only napped for 1 hour in the middle of the day. Ugh.

Then I was up late last night cleaning the house. My in-laws were coming to visit today, so can we just blame the fail on them? Just kidding!
I had to make the house look (ahem) presentable. Or at least not as horrible as usual. After cleaning up toys, sweeping floors, and throwing out junk while the kids aren't watching, I stumbled into our room around 11:55 to fall into bed. I saw the computer and thought about posting, but we had already turned it off. I knew that I would never make the deadline if I had to wait for it to boot back up. Being the Type-A personality that I am, I was a little disappointed. However, I was so tired that my eyes rolled back immediately and I crashed! :o)

Oh well. I'll still try to post every day, considering I was using this as motivation. Right now, I am going to take some drugs and go to bed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The LAST baby

Allison Nicole

Poor thing had jaundice!

Kelly Elizabeth

What kind of face is that?!

As you probably know, Mike and I have two beautiful girls, ages 4 and 14 months. We didn't plan for there to be 3 1/2 years between them, but Ally was/is a handful and never slept as an infant. So, we weren't even considering another one until she was 2 years old.

When I was a little girl (3rd grade or so), I wanted to be a teacher and a mommy. And I wanted 6 kids. Now, I am the oldest of 2 kids, so I think I wanted to experience a large family. Especially since my mom is one of 5, and my dad is one of 7. (And if you think that is a lot--my grandpa is one of 14!) Realistically, once I grew up and got married, I knew that 6 kids was not going to happen. Mike and I always said 2 or 3--he leaned more towards two, and I leaned more toward three!

When we decided to try for a baby, I went into it expecting fertility problems. It took my parents YEARS to conceive me, and that included all kinds of fertility treatment and shots. So Mike and I tried to conceive for a while, and then had to stop because I was having stomach problems and horrible migraines. Being overly cautious, I didn't want to take the meds on the chance that I was pregnant, and my dr was not happy with me. We focused on getting me healthy for a while, and then tried again later that year. After just a few months, we were thrilled to learn that we were expecting! I had a lot of morning (well, all-day) sickness and the hour commute did not help. But once that subsided, it was pretty easy for the next few months. The worst part of my pregnancy with Ally was the gestational diabetes--having to watch my diet like a hawk, but thankfully not having to take insulin. In the last month, I wound up with sciatica, which is excruciating pain in your lower back/hip area, so it hurt every time I took a step. However, I loved being able to talk to her while she was in my belly, and once I felt her move, it was amazing. Loved, loved, loved it! And of course, it is always totally worth the inconvenience in the end!

When we decided to try for number 2, I again expected problems, but conceived within 3 months of trying. This second pregnancy was much harder, for multiple reasons. 3 days after I took a positive pregnancy test, Ally shared the flu with me. I was sick for two months between the flu, subsequent ear and sinus infections, and I think I ultimately cracked a rib from coughing. One of the hardest things was not being able to take a nap when I needed to. All of my aches and pains started earlier as well. On the plus side, I first felt Kelly move around 3 months! She was an Olympic soccer player in the womb!

Once Kelly was here, Mike felt that our family was complete. He (his words) didn't want to put me through all that again. He also knows that I am stretched pretty thin and have a quickly diminishing supply of patience at home. So, for reasons of sanity, space, health and money, we agreed that we were done having kids. My mind understands that, but my heart doesn't. It is hard for me to accept that I will never be pregnant again, never go through the agony/amazing experience of birth again, and never see another beautiful little person that we created. Sometimes I wish that an "oops" would happen that would take it completely out of our hands. I agree that two kids is enough (and sometimes more!) than I can handle. Every time I hear that a friend or family member is expecting a baby, I am thrilled for them. I also feel a little pang of envy--I miss that fleeting newborn phase. It goes by too quickly. I guess that is why people have more babies!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The ballerina and the ladybug

Since the last two posts have been long and depressing, this will be short with cute pics!

We have had the girls' costumes for months. Ally wanted to be a ballerina, so I found a beautiful dress in a catalog and it has been hanging in her closet since. Ally helped Mike and I pick out Kelly's outfit, though she argued with us for a while! She liked the one we liked least, of course, it was more expensive.
It took forever for us to get out the door, since we wound up eating dinner later than planned. We didn't leave until almost 7 pm, and actually handed out candy to about 10-15 kids while still at the house. The outfits took forever to dry. I had to find pants and shirts to go under the costumes since it was so cold. Then I needed to "do" Ally's hair.

My beautiful ballerina! You can't see the pretty curls in back.

My ladybug all ready to go!

My girlies!

Kelly is just like her sister, in that she hates hats!

We snapped this pic as soon as we put the hat on, because we knew she would take it off immediately!

We took Kelly in her stroller and she did great. We only took her up to half of the houses, because she can't have the candy anyway. She only has two teeth, so that makes it difficult too. Of course, the main thing is the dairy allergy, so no chocolate for her. I felt bad, so I made her special "Kelly-friendly" treats. Ally wanted to come home after about 45 minutes and hand out candy. I had to tell her that we didn't usually see a lot of kids on our street, so she decided to rake in more loot! When we got home, we were all cold and the girls were TIRED! Ally didn't even want to play. She wanted to look at her candy, eat some and go to bed! So we did! :o)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Seven years ago today, our family suffered a huge shock with the loss of Mattie. Even after all this time, it impacts me immensely, but I will try to express my thoughts.

M (Mike's sister) and her husband W were pregnant with their first baby. We were extremely excited. Mike and I had a pregnancy scare earlier in the year, and it turned out to be a false alarm. We were nowhere near ready to be parents, since we were only 24, had lots of student loans and were still in an apartment. But I will admit to being a little disappointed. When we found out that M was pregnant, we thought that it would be great practice! We anticipated spoiling that little baby like crazy, learning how to do diapers (neither of us had any experience with babies), and years down the road, babysitting to give them a night off.

M had an incredibly easy pregnancy for the most part, with no complications, and was due November 3rd. She is a very tiny woman, so she looked like she had a basketball under her shirt! We enjoyed all the baby news updates. In October, Mike and I were on vacation in Kentucky and called to check in on them. We had a discussion full of laughter, as we placed our "bets" in the pool as to when the baby would be born. M and W had determined the name, Martha Michelle, or Mattie, early on in the pregnancy.

I remember the phone call on November 3rd vividly. Most of that day is etched permanently in my memory, even though I wish otherwise. Mike and I were joking around and watching a taped episode of West Wing when the phone rang. I jumped up, laughing, and grabbed the phone. My MIL was on the other end and I could tell that she was upset. She said "the baby is dead." My heart dropped into my stomach and I thought I was going to throw up. I thought that maybe there had been an accident and both M and the baby were dead. I asked "how is M?" and she said that M felt guilty, that she must have done something wrong. When I clarified my question, she said that M was physically fine. They were waiting to see if M would go into labor; otherwise they would induce her.

I basically went into shock and said goodbye, without finding out what hospital they were at. I had to turn to Mike and tell him the hideous news. Then I bawled hysterically. We had been anticipating the call with joyous news, nothing like this had ever crossed our minds. Mike called his mom's cell and we went to find them. We wanted to be there for support during this time. We met at the hospital and I distinctly remember us walking into her hospital room. Mike saw the incubator and immediately starting sobbing. I think M was in shock as well, because she joked about his tears. I followed him out in the hall and just held him.

When we went back in the room, we found out that M had woken up and questioned the last time she felt the baby move. As anyone who has been pregnant knows, you can go hours without feeling movement, especially overnight and if the baby is getting into position for labor. I saw that they had their hospital bag packed as well as the cord blood registry kit with them. They might have even had the car seat there as well. It broke my heart. They raced to the dr/hospital once they thought something was wrong, but it was too late. There was no heartbeat. Mattie was gone.

We spent the rest of the day there, waiting for her to give birth. I don't remember if they wound up inducing. Mike and I went out for food that evening, which tasted like sawdust, but we had to eat. I remember having the headache from hell all day. We checked on them and found out she was in labor. We went back to the hospital and were able to see that beautiful baby. She was gorgeous, and had the family cleft in her chin, just like my girls do now.

The simple reason for Mattie being stillborn was a cord accident. The dr said as Mattie moved, the cord wrapped around her neck. Since Mattie's death (and I never know whether to say birth or death since it is all wrapped in one), I have heard statistics and read stories. It happens more than you think. It doesn't change the horrible sadness that permeates a family. I couldn't sleep that night--I kept thinking of what happened, what could have changed things, and kept seeing Mattie's little face.

It has been seven years, and every November 3rd, I remember. I am crying as I finish this post. It still makes me nauseous, sad, and heartbroken to think of what happened. The emotions have different shades now that I have experienced both pregnancy and motherhood. My girls should have a 7 year old big cousin bossing them around.

The loss of Mattie shadowed my pregnancies with extra stress, worrying every time I didn't feel the baby move. The loss of Mattie splintered Mike's family for several years due to grief and miscommunication, which is an entirely different story, but it compounded the sadness and heartbreak. The loss of Mattie makes me pray even more every time a friend or family member is pregnant.

Life is short and precious--don't take it for granted.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Got Milk part 2 (belated)

So, months and months ago, I wrote about our discovery that Kelly was allergic to milk. She had been cranky and crying, unable to sleep, etc. I mentioned that she was doing much better after the diagnosis, and she was indeed. What I didn't feel like delving into at that point was a discussion of the continued weight issues.

Kelly was a "chunky monkey", weighing about 8 lbs at birth, which was 1 1/2 lbs heavier than Ally. She was a barracuda of a nurser at first, which was excruciating for me, but she gained great! We were thrilled, because we had all kinds of weight gain issues with Ally. I was so thankful that we didn't have that problem this time around. Umm, maybe I said that too soon! She had not gained much weight (about 8 ounces) between the allergy diagnosis and her next checkup (maybe 2-3 weeks), but the allergist wasn't concerned. He said that the milk was still working its way out of her system, and that my milk supply was adjusting. For reference, at that age she should have been gaining 1/2 to 1 ounce a day.

We still had a lot of crying, and it wasn't just Kelly! I was starving! Not literally of course, because I was eating and trying to eat well. But watching two kids and dealing with a limited amount of time and food options was quickly wearing on me, both physically and emotionally. I was becoming cranky from the deprivation of "good" food, and was constantly trying to find something filling to eat. No offense to any vegetarians/vegans, but the soy stuff just doesn't cut it for me. Adding to that was the very unhappy baby who would not sleep anyway but with Mike or I.

I finally took her back to the doctor February 3rd because of the increased fussiness (OMG--I couldn't take it anymore!!!!) and lack of sleep. At that visit, she weighed only 13 lbs 5oz, which was a gain of only 14 ounces since December 19th. I was terrified by that number. I was afraid that they were to have to hospitalize her to "pump her up"!

I pretty much lost it with the dr. I explained that I was at my wits end and didn't know what else to do. I felt that I had done all that I could with regards to breastfeeding her a milk-free diet and since she would not take a bottle, that I didn't know what else to do. The dr informed me that some babies can still be irritated by breastmilk from a milk-free diet just by the fact that human milk has lactose in it. So she suggested that I completely wean Kelly to formula. We decided on Alimentum, since many babies who are allergic to milk are also allergic to soy. She also suggested that we have a RAST performed--basically a blood test for food allergies.

I feared the next few days, since she had always fought the bottle. I nursed her at lunch, and then planned a bottle for the evening. Mike and I decided to run out and get the bloodwork done after picking up Ally from preschool. We knew they were forecasting a little bit of snow, but not a big deal. Boy, were the forecasters wrong on that one! It was a holy mess. Accidents, stop-and-go traffic, insanity. We sat at a light trying to get to the hospital for 30 minutes! We honestly thought about walking--it would have been faster except for the possible falls! It took well over an hour to get there (should have taken 20 minutes) and those scenarios are why I keep nutrigrain bars and fruit snacks in the diaper bag. We were all hungry, so they came in handy! We actually were thankful for the hospital cafeteria, so we didn't have to go back out in the snow to eat. You know things are bad when you are looking forward to hospital food! :o)
Kelly handled the bloodwork as well as could be expected, and Ally was a great help in distracting her. I wound up nursing her that night in the cafeteria, since I hadn't had a chance to buy new bottles or formula. It was not the sweet bonding moment that I wanted for my last nursing session with Kelly. I was trying to be discreet while 2 teenage boys were at a booth right near us! Horribly uncomfortable and worried about getting home safely.

On a "thank goodness" note, Kelly didn't fight the abrupt change to bottles at all. She took them pretty well for me, right away. Maybe the formula settled better in her belly and she was grateful! And of course, I appreciated not being the only meal ticket in town at night--ha!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Posting Plethora

NaBloPoMo--National Blog Posting Month--you post once a day. Yep, I'm going to try. Yes, it HAS been almost 3 months since I have posted, thanks for noticing. I thought that forcing myself to post every day might actually get me in the routine of posting at all!

Right now, Mike is taking the girls out for a nice walk in the way-too-cool air while I blog and pillage the kids' candy. I consider the pillaging a perk of motherhood! :o) The weather here has been insane--it dropped to 32 degrees last night! Not to mention, we froze our butts off during trick-or-treating. We didn't get out until almost 7pm, so the sun had already set and the temperature had dropped immensely. Being the genius mom that I am, I didn't want to impede the look of the costumes, so we didn't wear coats or hats. Poor Kelly's hands were bright red when we got home! Probably not the smartest thing since she is getting over an ear infection. In my defense, they both had long sleeve shirts on under their costumes and Kelly had pants as well. But let's be realistic. Kelly immediately took off the hat to her costume, so I don't think winter hats will fly here either!

I will add pics later, but I'm off to find more candy!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Well, not about the "real" housecleaning. Which, of course, I should be doing instead of typing on the computer. Ha! I'm not very good at keeping up with housekeeping or blogging...oh well.

Thanks to those who commented on the donation post. It was a 5-1 vote for St. Jude's. That check has been sent, and I was feeling generous so I sent a little bit to some other charities as well. Honestly, the letters they sent me made me feel guilty. Their ploys worked and I sent them money! I hate just saying no to these charities, but you can't send money to all of them. Sometimes my hubby wants me to stop sending money so that the barrage of requests will end, but I can't do that.

Regarding speech therapy, thank you Kelsey for your comment. We have gone around and around with calling different agencies and talking to different pediatricians, and have gotten absolutely nowhere. I went thru a certain agency and filled out paperwork, and it took forever to receive a response. I got an approval that expired 2-3 days after I received it. When I called, I was told that approval was only for an evaluation anyway. Which, obviously, we had already done. It was just a huge headache. We are blessed that we can take the financial hit and just use the funds in our FSA to reimburse for the therapy. Definitely hurts our finances, but we will still be able to make ends meet.

On the good side, therapy seems to be going well. We go every other week with Ms. L, and Ally aced her first lesson. She listened well, and tried hard. It did surprise me a little that Ms. L didn't understand her very well. I mean, I understand other people not comprehending her words. But this person works with kids with speech delays, so I thought she would be used to it. Anyway, we have "homework" and after working for just 2-3 days, she finally got the right pronounciation of "f", both at the beginning and end of words, ie wolf, elf, fire, four, five.

She was so proud of herself and we were thrilled! Ms. L was happy too! Our new sounds are "s" and "sh" and Ally is having a much harder time. There hasn't been an epiphany yet. The other problem is that she might focus so much on one sound that she forgets the rest of what she is saying! For instance, she had her 4 yr checkup and one of the questions was "What are on your feet?". She focused on the "sh" part of shoes, and forgot to make it plural, which is the skill that the question was looking for. I am praying that the therapy continues to go well, and that we can just get her to a point where she is mostly understood. Then when she enters the public school system, we can work with their programs. At least I think (and hope) so!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ride On Fun…Eco-Style!

Ride On Fun…Eco-Style!

Shared via AddThis

Rockin' Mama just posted this giveaway and it looks like an awesome outdoor toy for Ally. I really hope I win it, because I doubt Mike will let me buy it! :o) This seems fun, and the website even says that adults can try it! Hee hee hee...

I have had some luck winning a few online contests for DVDs--thanks to Sarah at psmomreviews and The Mom Jen . So keep your fingers crossed that we win this! I know, I know...I'm greedy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Doing good

Want to help me help someone else? I am totally stealing this idea from Pseudostoops. Last years, she solicited help in her charitable donations around the holidays. I recently received some requests from a few of the charities that I helped in the past. I try to give small donations to different charities throughout the year.

Well, for some reason, they all sent out requests at the same time and I am inundated! I can't donate THAT much money, especially with money being somewhat tight. I have decided to make a $25 donation to one of these charities. I have whittled it down to my top contenders and want your opinion on who should be the lucky winner. Please check out the worthy charities and leave a comment with your choice.

If I receive 25 comments, I will then send a check for $50 to the top vote-getter. I know it isn't a lot of money, but even a little bit can help! :o)
In no particular order, here are the charities:
International Rescue Committee:
From their website: "We are the International Rescue Committee – a critical global network of first responders, humanitarian relief workers, healthcare providers, educators, community leaders, activists, and volunteers. Working together, we provide access to safety, sanctuary, and sustainable change for millions of people whose lives have been shattered by violence and oppression.
Our mission
Founded in 1933, the IRC is a global leader in emergency relief, rehabilitation, protection of human rights, post-conflict development, resettlement services and advocacy for those uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression.
Learn more about what we do>
Our work
The IRC is on the ground in 42 countries, providing emergency relief, relocating refugees, and rebuilding lives in the wake of disaster. Through 24 regional offices in cities across the United States, we help refugees resettle in the U.S. and become self-sufficient."

Doctors Without Borders
From their website: "Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971.

Today, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. MSF reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, to challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols."

The Smile Train
From their website: "Unlike many charities that do many different things, The Smile Train is focused on solving a single problem: cleft lip and palate.
Clefts are a major problem in developing countries where there are millions of children who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Most cannot eat or speak properly. Aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. And face very difficult lives filled with shame and isolation, pain and heartache.
The good news is every single child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes.
This is our mission:
-To provide free cleft surgery for millions of poor children in developing countries.
-To provide free cleft-related training for doctors and medical professionals.
Until there are no more children who need help and we have completely
eradicated the problem of clefts."
**The Smile Train is matching all donations, so it would double.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
From their website: "St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today's most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly. St. Jude researchers are published and cited more often in high impact publications than any other private pediatric oncology research institution in America. St. Jude is a place where many doctors send some of their sickest patients and toughest cases. A place where cutting-edge research and revolutionary discoveries happen every day. We've built America's second-largest health-care charity so the science never stops.
All patients accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family's ability to pay."

Ronald McDonald House (Cincinnati)
From their website: "Vision Statement: To offer all the comforts of home to every family with a hospitalized child.
Mission Statement: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati provides a supportive "home away from home" for families and their children receiving medical treatment at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, regardless of their ability to pay. Ronald McDonald House Charities also awards grants to local not-for-profit organizations serving children through a portion of donations from McDonald's customers and Global Ronald McDonald House Charities' matching funds."

Southern Poverty Law Center
From their website: "The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 as a small civil rights law firm. Today, SPLC is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.
Located in Montgomery, Alabama – the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement – the Southern Poverty Law Center was founded by Morris Dees and Joe Levin, two local lawyers who shared a commitment to racial equality. Its first president was civil rights activist Julian Bond.
Throughout its history, SPLC has worked to make the nation's Constitutional ideals a reality. The SPLC legal department fights all forms of discrimination and works to protect society's most vulnerable members, handling innovative cases that few lawyers are willing to take. Over three decades, it has achieved significant legal victories, including landmark Supreme Court decisions and crushing jury verdicts against hate groups.
In 1981, the Southern Poverty Law Center began investigating hate activity in response to a resurgence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Today the SPLC Intelligence Project monitors hate groups and tracks extremist activity throughout the U.S. It provides comprehensive updates to law enforcement, the media and the public through its quarterly magazine, Intelligence Report. Staff members regularly conduct training sessions for police, schools, and civil rights and community groups, and they often serve as experts at hearings and conferences."

Personal notes: I have given to all of these charities before, except for Doctors without Borders. The Ronald McDonald house is something I never would have thought of before my (then) 3 week-old baby was hospitalized for 2-3 days. I can only imagine how important that house is for families of children undergoing cancer treatment. Lastly, the SPLC holds a special place in my heart because Morris Dees is one of my role models. In light of what recently happened at the Holocaust Museum, the work of the SPLC is vitally important.

So, what do you think? Leave a comment--I will write the check on July 10th!
Edited: Due to Swistle's help, I have finally received some comments. I will extend this poll until July 13th!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bite the bullet

Today I made a phone call to nail down some information that I have needed for a while. Needless to say, I am not pleased with the information that I received. My oldest, Allison, has a speech delay. We first had her evaluated at the tender age of 15 months, because it seemed as if we were regressing. We heard "mama" and "dada", and then those slowly disappeared. She would point and say "uh" to make her wishes known. No matter how much we tried to encourage her, we got nowhere. So, the pathologist suggested therapy. We wondered how the heck that was going to work with an 18 month old (several months had passed with us on the waiting list).

We went, we tried, we thought it was lame. No offense to speech pathologists out there, but it was the same stuff I was doing at home. Plus, she freaked out for the first ten minutes of each session even with me in the room. We originally received a denial from our insurance, which meant we were looking at $150 a session. Guess how long a session is? 50 minutes or so. Outrageous! And to go once a week for who knows how long??? Children's sent the paperwork in, and the insurance company actually covered it, and we only paid our $30 copay for the 3 sessions we went to. But even $30 a week seemed like a lot for one hour of "therapy", that was similar to the activities I did with Ally.

We evaluated our options, and Ally being an only child at that point, we thought that social interaction would prove helpful. We enrolled Ally in a local daycare for 2 mornings a week, so that she could see, play with and hear other kids. It took a while to hear any differences, but I'm sure that the socialization helped immensely. Over the past few years, her speech has taken off, with huge gains. However, there are still major problems. We wound up having her evaluated last spring. Again, therapy was recommended because she tested well below her age range. I was 5 months pregnant or so, and knew that whenever the spot would become available, I would have a newborn to tote as well.

We pursued the whole insurance thing AGAIN, to be told, AGAIN, that it was denied. Here is the kicker: our insurance will only cover speech therapy if it something that you had and then lost. For instance, if I had an accident or stroke, then it would cover rehabilitative speech therapy for me. But it will NOT cover my child to get the (IMO) necessary help. We pulled out Mike's policy and began to examine it thoroughly. Want to know what our insurance will cover? Abortion. I don't want to get into the Roe v. Wade debate, but it surprises and angers me that the policy covers such a procedure for an office co-pay (and I believe it makes no restrictions on it) while denying my child therapy that could dramatically help her in school. I'm not asking to send her to special "intelligence enhancing" classes or anything else.

But I'm her mom, and I still don't understand all that she says. Strangers understand maybe half of what she says. It is far beyond the normal toddler/preschooler speech issues.

With the birth of Kelly, we never found the time to take Ally for therapy. Once things settled down, I called to schedule. Big surprise--it had been a year, so we had to have her evaluated for a third time. Yet another big surprise--she still needed therapy, even though she is so much better than she was before. In fact, she scored above average in intelligence; but well below in actual articulation. The report says she has a "severe articulation disorder".

But once again, insurance has denied it. The therapist had mentioned a grant that Children's had received, to help in situations like ours. When I called to see where we were on the waiting list, I was informed that money was used immediately and the therapist should never have mentioned it. I was pretty upset, because we were really hopeful that could help with the cost. I don't know if we are looking at 5, 10 or more sessions at today's price of $170-180 a session. With Mike having to take a pay cut and the added expense of another child, it is going to be a huge hit to our budget. Don't get me wrong, we will do whatever we need to for her well-being and education. But I think that insurance should cover at least part of it. We are calling today to pay and schedule her therapy. I just hope it works!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Too much to handle

I have lots of topics that I want to blog about, but honestly, don't have the energy. I know, its my typical lament.

One thing in particular is weighing me down right now. These are just random thoughts, so bear with me. I came back from a nice dinner with the fam last Sunday and checked my Facebook page (see earlier post about addiction). Anyway, a really good friend of mine from high school had posted some shocking news. She is undergoing her first round of chemo for breast cancer this week. The plan is 4 rounds of chemo and then a mastectomy. She had the first round of chemo yesterday and it made her "tired, woozy and nauseous".

J is my age, almost 32, and only been married for 2 years. No kids yet. I don't know if that will ever happen now, because of the chemo and drugs. She is a vet, so she has knowledge in the medical field, which I think might make things worse. She knows what all of this means; she knows the true stats; she knows how horrible some of the meds can be. However, she also has the avenues to get the most up-to-date information and options.

J was a really good friend in jr high and high school. We have been sporadic about keeping in touch since (a couple of emails a year) and I haven't seen her in several years--she lives several states away.

J is hands-down the smartest person I know. Absolute genius. Graduated either first or second in our class of 400+ students. Was told sophomore year by our chemistry teacher that she should be teaching the class, not taking it!

I hoped that the next surprising news that she would be posting would be that she and B were expecting a baby. Certainly wasn't expecting this news, as I'm sure J wasn't either. Her journal states that all of this has happened since she woke up on May 9th with a swollen breast.

She has always been fit, and taken really good care of herself. Not that cancer gives a crap about that, but it leads my thoughts down the road..."if it can happen to her, well, what about me." Me--overweight, sugar overloading, no veggie eating, no exercising me. I think that whenever someone in your family or circle of friends is facing something like this, it causes you to evaluate your own life and mortality. It doesn't seem possible that this can be happening to her. I know the stats, and I know that women younger than us are diagnosed as well. While I have had family members diagnosed with cancer, J is my first friend to face it. And she is the first person in my life (I think) to deal with breast cancer specifically.

It also reminds me of something I dealt with in 2002. I found a small lump in my breast in the fall, and immediately went to the dr. She sent me for a mammogram (lovely experience at the age of 25) and ultimately an ultrasound. I remember going on a trip with my hubby while waiting for the results, and wondering if I would ever travel again. We made a specific trip to Disneyland because I had never been there, and I wasn't sure if I ever would again. I wondered if I would have children. What else would I miss? Luckily, it turned out to be a fibroid and nothing cancerous. But to even start down that road is terrifying.

I don't know what stage J's cancer is, and I don't know what her rates of survival are. My God, that feels macabre to put that in writing. I have never met her husband, but I'm sure she picked a good one and I hope that he is taking incredible care of her. All I know is that she is one of the strongest people that I know and I am praying for her every day. If you are the praying sort, please include J in your prayers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


At Christmas time, my high school friends were over for pizza. Two of them started talking about Facebook, and I rolled my eyes. My husband and I are very technologically "behind" or delayed. We got a cell phone only for emergencies; we don't text; we have no clue how to operate an ipod or mp3 player. So, the whole idea of myspace or facebook seemed like something we would not be interested in. I was curious, so I signed up a few days later. And the trouble began...

I first friended my best friend Kia, who was the one who originally mentioned the site. I was able to "cyberstalk" some of the people that I went to high school with! Umm...if that is creepy, I'm just joking! :o) It was neat to see what people are up to, what they look like now, who they married, and all kinds of good stuff. I found old boyfriends/crushes--which was weird. Let's just say that its a good thing life turned out the way it did! I found people that I haven't seen in 10-14 years. And the status updates are lots of fun--you just post important (or mundane) information about your day. It is kind of like a high school reunion without all the pressure. One of the exciting things for me has been that several of my hs friends have had babies in the last 2 months, so I get to see BRAND NEW BABY pics! Yay!

Lots of games to play. You have the academic ones, like "word challenge" and "twirl". I am all about the spelling games. You also have the infamous "mafia wars" and a new one for me--"farm town"--which seemed lame but sucked me in regardless. The quizzes are hysterical as well. Anything from "what muppet character are you" to "what famous literary character are you" to "what your birth number says about you". I saw one today--"what star trek character are you"--I will have to share that one with Mike. On an ordinary day, I login to my email and then facebook. I am constantly checking for new updates and/or new messages. I wish I had time to actually visit these people. It has definitely helped with the feeling of isolation that I have being a SAHM. might be getting a little out of hand.

Mike thinks that I am addicted to the internet--reading blogs, facebook, ebay and even twitter. Hey--if you are on twitter, find me at sarylynn. Though to be completely honest with you, I don't quite get twitter. I joined during the Ashton Kutcher/CNN battle. Since I am a dork, who wants to guess which one I follow????

Well, I think I have to go check my updates and tend to my farm. Just kidding--Kelly is awake and wanting her mama!

Friday, April 24, 2009

TV time

So, the television. Sometimes I really hate the damn thing. I will fully admit that Ally probably saw more tv as an infant than she should have. Considering she would wake up at 5:45, not nap but for a few minutes in my arms, and not go to sleep until 9 at night, the tv was necessary to keep me awake. As she got older, I made a conscious effort for her NOT to watch tv. She would watch Sesame Street and that would be it. As she turned 2 or a little older, she liked Dora the Explorer with a passion. Formulaic, but cute and educational. I could deal with that. We sometimes watched Clifford as well. But the limit was only 1 or 2 shows, and they were always educational.

Then I got pregnant with Kelly. I was soooo tired that by the afternoon, I would sometimes let her watch a movie just so I could catch a nap. Not my finest parenting, but it was survival.

Now, the minute she wakes up, it is all about "Can I watch a show or movie?" Oy. I still limit it to 3 shows, or about an hour to 90 minutes. I am so tired of having to argue with her about how much she can watch a day. I have even threatened to get rid of it, but that would never realistically happen. With two kids, tv time (which usually overlaps with Kelly's naptime) is my only time to get anything done. Even if we discuss, "okay, this is the last show for the day", she usually asks again by that afternoon. And that just infuriates me when we have to have the same discussion. Again. Ugh.

But to make it worse, I just abhor kids television for the most part. It hurts my head to watch some of this crap. Dora, Diego, Little Einsteins--that's all fine. But I can't stand Wonder Pets or Backyardigans, and Yo Gabba Gabba looks like you need to be stoned to watch it. She is totally fickle about her likes/dislikes. She hated Clifford for months and then wanted to watch it nonstop. Ally despises Sesame Street and absolutely refuses to watch it--its been that way for months.

However, Ally recently has started liking Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears, which is a total retro kick to me! Speaking of Strawberry Shortcake, there is a great giveaway of the new movie at PS Mom Reviews: Strawberry Shortcake Berry Big Journeys. Be sure to enter tonight! I am entering of course--I need to expand the variety available so I don't lose my mind!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 last?

Alone. What do you think of when you read the word "alone"? To me, it signifies peace and quiet. Unfortunately, more often that not, it is time to do housework while Mike corrals the kids. But other times, being alone allows me to touch base with friends, scrapbook, read, or just to think.

To my oldest, Allison, alone is a bad thing. If I am in the bedroom folding laundry, she will run in and say, "Mommy, you are alone! I'll keep you company." Cute, but certainly not necessary. I have tried to explain to her that being alone is okay sometimes. One important place to be alone is the bathroom! Then again, since she was 15 months old, she would walk in on me in the bathroom, since I don't feel comfortable closing/locking the door.

If Kelly is happily playing in her bouncer, and Allison is playing in her room, then I might wash a few dishes or check my email. But, more often that not, here comes Allison saying, "Oh no, Kelly is alone!". How many times can I say that she is okay for a few minutes in a contained area? Or that Mommy isn't going to cry if she is alone for a few minutes? In fact, I might cheer if I have a few minutes alone! :o) Anybody else feel this way?

It has proved most problematic at nighttime. Allison has always been in our bed for at least part of the night. That is a whole post in and of itself. As it currently stands, she comes in our bed anywhere from 12-3 in the morning. I asked her why she didn't want to stay in her room, and she told me that she didn't want to be alone. She also didn't want Mommy to be alone--ignoring the fact that I have Daddy with me until 5:30! I told her that she wasn't alone, since she has her dolls and bears and whatnot. And even being in our bed doesn't solve the problem. Since I wake up when Kelly wakes up, I let Allison sleep. But when she wakes up, she is mad because she is ALONE...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Zoo trip

I have lots of important posts to write, but am sick (again) and don't have the energy to write. So, instead, I will share our zoo trip! Our membership ends this month, so we decided to take both girls to the zoo. I wasn't feeling well, so I wasn't sure if Kelly and I would go. Ally was very disappointed, because she wanted all 4 of us to go. That was adorable that she wanted the whole family to go together! She was so sad that I sucked it up and went, and we had a great time.

Mommy and Ally

The flowers were beautiful, and Ally loved all of them. She especially loved the purple and pink ones, since she is definitely a "girly-girl"!

Ally had a good time roaming around and looking at all the animals. We went inside the insect world and I expected her to say "yuck" and want to leave. Nope. She liked looking at all the beetles, ants, snakes and grasshoppers

I would rather be sleeping too!

This bear kept pacing back and forth, putting on a great show for all the kids!

This lion woke up just as we were walking by, so we were able to get a good picture.
Our plan was to find the lions, zebras, giraffes and hippos. Do you know why? Because Ally is addicted to the "move it move it" movie, aka Madagascar. If you haven't seen this movie, you should check it out. I find it amusing, even after seeing it 5 times (so far). We didn't see all of the animals, but that was because Ally was tired and hungry and CRANKY!

This picture was a joke! I thought she would like to climb on it and take a picture. Oh no. For some reason, she freaked out! Mike and I told her it wasn't real--he even put his head in the mouth of the alligator/crocodile (I don't know which it is). She still wouldn't stay on it, and even cried. We said it was okay, and walked away. Then she cried again, because we DIDN'T take a picture. So we went back (luckily only a few steps), waited again for our turn, and as you can tell, she was so thrilled to take her picture. That was as close to it as she was going to get!

My cuties on the way out of the zoo
Everybody had a good time, even Kelly. She enjoyed watching all of the people! I think we will try to take Ally one more time...she wanted to go again the next weekend!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Got milk?

So, it has been several months since I updated...oops. For the one or two people who read this, I am going to try to post once a week. We will see how that goes!

The biggest thing that has happened is that the realization that Kelly has a milk allergy. It has been so overwhelming that I haven't been able to talk (or write) about it much. It all started back in November at her 2 month checkup. She was given an antibiotic for an ear infection, and also had her standard shots. Well, she wound up with diarrhea. We are talking about 6-8 times a day; her normal pattern was 2-3 times every other day. She was also very unhappy--cranky, not sleeping well, crying unconsolably. However, we had been suspecting reflux, just like Ally had as a baby. After 4-5 days, I called the pediatrician, because the paperwork for the rotateq vaccine said that it could cause diarrhea. The nurses said it was because of the antibiotic. After a week of her being miserable, we took her to the pediatrician who said that the bacteria in her belly were out of balance and to give her yogurt to restore the good bacteria. Fine. In retrospect, WTH did I do to her? In an act that was either parenting genius or a new low in my parenting career, I stuck Kelly's fingers in the yogurt and let her suck it off. Because, let me tell you, trying to get a 2 month old to eat from a spoon works as well as giving a 1 day old Ally formula from a medicine cup! I guess the yogurt worked, since the poopy diapers decreased a little. But she was still going 3-4 times a day. We wound up back at the pediatrician because she was still unhappy and in pain, and we wound up with a diagnosis of reflux, though she said the pooping didn't make sense. Tried the zantac, no huge difference. The pediatrician had mentioned that we might want to bring in a diaper and have the stool tested for blood, which would indicate a milk allergy. We blew that off, because we figured we would have known already. Kelly is my chunky monkey, at least compared to Ally! She gained 2 lbs in one month!

However, after a month of increased pooping and increased crankiness, I took a diaper in, fully expecting them to say "nope" and send me home. The nurse came out and said that the dr wanted to see me since it was positive for blood. I was all along in the waiting room with Kelly, and my heart just sank. How could this be? Wouldn't that have been evident early on? I was nursing her, but eating plenty of dairy, so I would think that would have led to her not gaining at all. The dr said the good side of it was that she did gain well, but her gut was so irritated that there was blood in her stool. So, the edict was no more dairy for Mommy, effective immediately. And immediately was 3 days before Christmas. I came home and cried while Kelly slept in her car seat, and then called my hubby and mom. I had a little pity party for myself. It is hard enough to find time to eat anything with 2 kids, but now that we had to cut out dairy, it was impossible. No more lean cuisine entrees, grilled cheese, pasta with parmesan, even just cereal with milk. You don't realize how many things have dairy until you look at the ingredients--nutrigrain bars for instance. And chocolate is a no-no, which killed me. So no Christmas cookies or over-the-top desserts for me this year. No mashed potatoes. No veggie dip, or any other kinda yummy dip. No cheese plate. No garlic bread. Nada. Now, obviously, the most important thing was that Kelly get well, and she did. But it was definitely a hard thing to change, especially since (IMO) soy milk sucks and soy cheese still has whey (a dairy byproduct) in it. However, I was SO HUNGRY. I was eating and eating enough to keep up my supply, but nothing was satisfying me. I wanted pizza. Skyline chili. Ice cream. Ranch dressing. Lasagna. Cheese on my tacos--ever had a taco without cheese? Its just wrong. And I didn't make Ally or Mike cut out dairy, so I had to watch them eat it, which was torture.

Kelly seemed to improve; her eczema got better; she wasn't crying as much and was starting to sleep better. And that was all that mattered!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sleep--the holy grail for parents

So, here we are...sleep-deprived again. The biggest issue that we worried about before Kelly's arrival has come to fruition. Maybe it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. All I know is that at the age of 4 months, she is refusing to sleep in her crib at all. It was bad enough when she wouldn't nap in her bed, but now she acts scared of the damn thing. We did change her out of the pack-n-play to an actual crib, but that night she put herself to sleep (with us in the room ) and slept all night!

I am at my wits end. Mike and I don't have any time to do anything around the house or even spend time together. Basically, he comes home, we cook and eat dinner--whichever one isn't holding the baby cooks! Then play a little with the kids while the other adult cleans up or does laundry. Put Ally to bed, usually while I am nursing Kelly. Depending on how the night goes, Kelly might go to sleep while nursing, but more likely I have to rock her to sleep. During which time, she screams bloody murder. Then I try to put her in her bed and she wakes up immediately. It doesn't matter if she has slept in my arms for 2 minutes or 2 hours--it just won't happen. It also doesn't matter if we try the pack and play, the swing, the bouncy or the car seat. The only place she will sleep is in somebody's arms. So Mike and I take shifts in the recliner in the living room.

Might I add that this is EXACTLY what Ally did 4 years ago. And Mike and I wound up discussing divorce a lot because we were so tired, tense and irritable. Not that we actually pursued it, but it felt like the only thing we could hurl at each other to hurt. Not our finest moment in life. So, for this to be happening again worries me.

Before you suggest we let her cry it out, let me give you some background with our fam and sleeping. Ally did the same thing--sleep issues exacerbated by gas and reflux. At the age of 5-6 months, we were exhausted and let her cry it out in the middle of the night. We checked on her every 5 or 10 minutes. She screamed for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and then once we finally picked her up it took another 45 minutes to an hour to calm her back to sleep. Some of the baby books say that crying it out with a high-need baby turns into a battle of wills. Hell yeah it did! So, I don't know that crying it out works and it broke my heart anyway. A lot of the sleep suggestions have to do with getting her to sleep through the night. That's not the problem at all. If she went to sleep in her bed, I would happily get up once or twice to feed her.

Kelly also has gas and reflux, but recently we discovered she has a milk allergy. So, we hoped that once we addressed that issue, she would sleep better. Funny. Not at all. That complicates it as well, because I don't want to force the issue in her bed if she is crying because her belly hurts. We have tried music, patting, shushing, and sitting next to her bed, and nothing works.

I don't know why my children do this, but is it taking a huge toll on me. If I have to nurse and hold my baby all day (have I mentioned that she won't take a bottle either?) then sleep with them at night, Mommy gets absolutely no break. So I am tired and super cranky--so unfortunately, Ally is getting the brunt of my irritability. This is also why I don't get any time to do anything--clean the house, talk to my husband, or get on the computer to update the stinking blog! I spend my days wracking my brain for solutions and come up with nothing. Any sympathy or suggestions?