Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So Much Love

Nicholas just told me, "I love you so much I'm going to burst!"

He sure knows how to start my morning off with a smile :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Little Green Thumb

Nicholas loves working in the yard. He will help dig up weeds, plant flowers, put down mulch, rake the leaves - pretty much anything that needs to be done. So he was excited when I suggested that we go to a nursery to pick up some tomato plants and a few flowering annuals.

He picked out a bunch of different tomato plants and put them in our cart - big red beefsteak tomatos, roma tomatos, yellow tomatoes, orange tomatos, plum tomatos, and cherry tomatos. I told him he had to narrow it down since we usually only plant 2 tomato plants so we have room to plant a few other goodies too. He narrowed it down but somehow I let him convince me that we needed 4 tomato plants. Yes, I'm a softie, especially when it comes to gardening with my little greent thumb.



While I was supposed to be helping him put back the other tomato plants, he decided it would be more fun to hide under the display tables. This little guy can have fun where ever he goes!



Next thing I know he is putting more plants into our cart. He put a dying pumpkin plant, a potato vine, a peanut plant and then he tried to put this hanging plant in the cart too. I got the other plants but I put my foot down with the hanging plant. I can not keep those things watered enough to survive a hot Texas summer and they always die way before their time.



We went inside the shop for a quick look around. Nicholas found a fountain. And of course you know the standing rule that states that if one finds a running fountain then one is required to put one's hand in it!



Nicholas did a great job planting our plants. Here he is planting our strawberry plants in the strawberry pot. This is a challenging task because you have to wiggle the plant through these little openings in the pot. He did a fantastic job. He took his time and was very gentle with the plants.



We let Rachel lie on her blanket in the grass so she could look up at the clouds above and feel the breeze on her face.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Birthday Wish List

I just can't believe it but Nicholas will turn 5 years old in a little over 2 weeks! Where had the time gone? I can still feel him as a newborn cuddled up asleep in my arms. What an incredibly blessed 5 years these have been.

Hmm, two weeks away! Ugh, I guess I should have started thinking about his birthday party before now. Oopsie!

Nicholas and I started talking about his birthday and he jumped up and grabbed a pen and paper. He started making his birthday wish list. Here's what he gave me...



How Cute!

Dog - Where did that come from? I wasn't expecting it. Sorry, but that's NOT going to happen anytime soon

Super Friends - By this he meant Super Friends action figures. In case you aren't aware, Super Friends is is a conglomeration of all of the classic super heroes such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aqua Man, Green Lantern, etc. There were Super Friends cartoons on when I was growing up and my brother gave Nicholas some of the DVDs from the show. Nicholas just loves them.

Outings All Around The Metroplex

There are always so many fun outings and activities in the area that there are often multiple events happening on the same day. Today was no exception. Stuart was working as the event photographer for an Appaloosa Horse Show in Waco so it was just me and the wee ones.

We started our day by heading up to Denton for the Tejas Storytelling Festival. I can't tell you how excited I was about this. We've heard about this festival in the past but haven't been able to attend until this year. It fits in perfectly with all of the storytelling that Nicholas and I have been doing lately. We takes turns making up stories and telling each other. Sometimes we give each other some guidelines for the story such as who the main character should be or what kind of suspenseful event happens in the story. Other times we just ramble on freely and make it all up as we go along. I love that we spend our drive time in the car this way instead of just putting in a movie on a DVD player to keep him quietly mesmerized. It's a great way to encourage creativity and imagination.



We saw the first storyteller. She was great but Nicholas got bored with her "adult story". So we slipped out the door and went into the next room where there were stories presented by and about Native Americans. We were enjoying it but suddently Rachel decided that she wanted to babble and sing her loud squeaky songs, which really aren't appreciated during storytelling time, so we stepped out for a few moments to let her get her babbling out of her system. By then it was time for the storyteller that I really wanted Nicholas to see. His name was Alex and he was about 10 years old. He got up on stage in front of our large group of people, mostly adults, and told a wonderful story about a 'snot-nosed kid'. He was a great storyteller and his story was really cute. But most importantly, I wanted Nicholas to see that little kids can be great storytellers and entertain kids and adults alike. Nicholas was impressed seeing the little boy on stage and he was excited to get to meet him afterwards.





The next storyteller was Michael Parent. He started off playing his guitar while singing a song about a rhinoceros, complete with audience participation. Then he told a cute story called, "Josephine and the King". He made it extra fun by adding juggling tricks throughout the story.



Next we drove down to Dallas to go to the Texas Discovery Gardens for the Conservation in Action fair. It was such an awesome event for kids! We learned about recycling, water conservation and the environment through great educational activities and exhibits. Nicholas recycled his water bottle and turned it into a terrarium and planted native Texas wildflower seeds in it. We made recycled paper, a water cycle bracelet, and a recycled art project out of plastic grocery bags. We got free hot dogs, popcorn, T-shirts and other cool stuff like a magnifying glass on a string necklace, a reuseable shopping bag, a toothbrush holder with a built in hour glass timer, a shower timer, a recyling wheel, and a compass.

Some people like to leave the water running in the sink while they brush their teeth. But we learned that if you turn off that water, you can save 5 gallons of water.



We also learned to take shorter showers. Did you know that a 10 minute shower can use up to 100 gallons of water! Wow, that's a lot of water.



After the event, we spent some time in the gardens. Nicholas loved the fountain the most!



We also spent a lot of time in the butterfly garden which is an official Monarch Waystation. Check out www.monarchwatch.org for more information on becoming a Monarch Waystation.

Nicholas made some new friends and they had fun looking at bugs with their magnifying glasses!





Nicholas even used my Coolpix camera to take some great pictures of his own!



Next we wanted to do some exploring so we drove just a little farther out to Kids Quest playground in Mesquite. It's another big wooden playground like we love so much.







I even let Rachel play some music with her feet on one of the music stations.



We had a great time and Nicholas even made a new friend named Jackson. Jackson just turned 4 years old a few months ago. He stopped to have a snack with his Daddy but, like Nicholas, he wanted to play more than eat. Even though his Daddy told him not to, Jackson shoved his entire grape flavored fruit roll-up into his mouth and ran off to play. It didn't take long for trouble to begin. Jackson started choking and having a hard time breathing. He spit out a little bit of fruit roll-up but it didn't fix the problem. He had panic in his eyes and so did his Dad. I suggested the Heimlich Maneuver and the Dad tried it but seemed to scared that he might hurt his little boy more by doing it. But the boy's face was starting to lose it's color so I called 911. As the ambulance and fire truck were showing up, Jackson finally coughed up the giant chunk of purple goo he had been choking on. Thank goodness this story ended well. But it was a good opportunity for me to talk to Nicholas about obeying us even when he doesn't understand why we tell him not to do something as well as not shoving too much food in his mouth at one time. Of course, the Dad and I also talked about this being a good lesson for us as parents in that we need to be prepared for anything. I think a refresher course in child CPR is in order!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Trying New Things

We always encourage Nicholas to try new things and usually he is adventurous enough to try anything. However, I really thought that sushi might be a bit much for him.



I made an oriental dinner last night and bought some California Roll sushi as an appetizer. Nicholas was intrigued with the way it looked but at first he seemed hesitant to try it. Stuart was excited about it and talked about how good it was. So then Nicholas, always wanting to be like Daddy, just couldn't wait to try it. He made a funny face when he first bit into it but we encouraged him to give it another try. He actually said it was good and finished the entire piece on his own.

Today we also tried something new but it wasn't nearly as much of a challenge as sushi. We checked out Cortdera Park, a newly remodeled park near the post office. It has a nice playground, a pond, and a big open field. The playground had some cool things we haven't seen before. Nicholas loved these climbing disks.



And I don't quite know if these are for walking on or swinging on but Nicholas enjoyed walking back and forth on them.



And the slides at this park were really cool! Wheeeee!



It's fun to try new things! We know of another remodeled park in town that we are going to try out soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ode to Wal-Mart Shopper

.



Oh, dear Wal-Mart shopper.
You went to the store
to put food in your hopper
But stumbled upon something more.

For I had been at that Wal-Mart too
Just about 10 minutes prior to you.
It was dark and drizzly and cold
And I lugged all the groceries I could hold
From out of the cart and into my car
But I missed the last cookie in the cookie jar.

For once I got home I realized my folly
And this I am sure has made you quite jolly.
For I noticed I didn't have one large box
And this is the part that really knocks.

I left that case of diapers under the cart
For I was tired and shopping too late at Wal-Mart.
I grabbed my keys and rushed back to the store
Only to find my cart empty once more.

I talked to the guy collecting the carts.
I talked to the greeter that's at all the Wal-Marts.
I talked to customer service too
But realized my diapers must be in Kalamazoo.

I needed those diapers, well at least Rachel did.
They cost $19.99, not quite a cheap bid.
I hope they serve you well, Wal-Mart guest
May you feel extra specially blessed.
But I can feel good that the case you stumbled upon
Was at least purchased with a $1.50 off coupon!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Update on Rachel


Rachel had a follow up appointment with the pediatrician this morning regarding her RSV and bronchiolitis infection. The nurse weighed her and she is 16 lbs, 8.5 oz! I'm not surprised. She can already wear some clothes for a 9 month old and she's only 5 months old! The pediatrician was pleased that her lungs sounded clear but she does have an ear infection in her right ear - which explains why she hasn't been nursing as much. She will continue the breathing treatments for another week and then we'll stop and see how she does. She also has to start a round of antibiotics to fight the ear infection. I have to use a little syringe to squirt it in her mouth and half the time the pink goo drools right back out of the corners of her mouth. I only have to deal with that fun event twice a day for 10 days. Ugh!

She is getting a little more tolerant of the breathing treatments. She will fuss and squirm a little at first but she usually calms down when I sing softly to her. Sometimes she will even drift off to sleep during the treatment if I sing to her. She likes to hold the nebulizer piece and mask that are up against her face. Sometimes I catch her slowly trying to pull it away from her face. Sneaky little girl! Other times she tries to chew on the mask while it is still spraying her medicine out. I tell you, she will chew on anything if it's close enough to her.

We are supposed to follow up with the doctor regarding the shape of her head at the 6 month well exam. But since I was meeting with him anyway, I mentioned to him that the ridge on the top of her head seems to be unchanged from her 4 month visit. The doctor still seems to think that it will fix itself over time. However, we don't want to wait too long in getting another opinion because if she does need treatment it is optimal to do that around the 6-7 month time frame. He gave us a referral to see a cranio-facial surgeon in Dallas named Dr. Jeffrey Fearon, not necessarily because he thinks she needs surgery but because this doctor is a specialist in treating cranial issues like this.

I called his office and spoke with the receptionist. Of course, he is in such a specialized field that he doesn't have to be on any insurance plan so he would be out of network for us. I also spoke with his nurse and explained a little about Rachel's condition. The little ridge on her head starts at the hairline in the middle of her forehead and extends back just an inch or two to the soft spot. She explained that this ridge is the metopic suture where the two front plates of the skull come together. The plates aren't fully connected at birth to allow the baby's head to adjust some as it goes through the birth canal. Over time though the plates do fuse together. Sometimes if the plates fuse together a little too soon, these ridges will form. In more extreme cases, the soft spot closes too soon and the entire shape of the skull can become deformed. If the sutures close too soon, it could cause pressure on the brain as it grows and that can obviously cause serious problems.

We aren't concerned about this with Rachel since her case doesn't appear to be severe. Her ridge is not visible when looking at her. You can't see it on the front of her forehead and her head seems to be shaped normally. You have to feel on the top of her head to know that it's there at all. Her soft spot is open which is good because it should be at this age. The pediatrician has been checking her head size and it is still growing at a healthy rate. The nurse at Dr. Fearon's office gave me their website address where I could see a picture of a child with a much more severe case than what Rachel has. You can click HERE to see it. The most obvious feature with these cases is that the forehead starts to form a triangle and from the top-down view it looks like the bow of a boat. So I looked at Rachel's forehead from above and it seems to be normal.



With all of this in mind, we certainly aren't expecting that she'll need surgery and the nurse on the phone said that she probably wouldn't need any treatment at all as it will likely improve on its own. However, we will probably still meet with the doctor and let him examine her, just to be sure.

Stuart happened to overhear a co-worker talking about his son's similar condition. However, this boy's condition was worse because the soft spot had closed and he had to have surgery. The dad said that they sought out the best treatment for their son and even travelled up to Chicago for a consult with a specialist in the field. But the doc in Chicago said that Dr. Fearon in Dallas is a top specialist and he would take his child to him if needed. So at least we know we've found a great doctor to evaluate her.

Rachel is really doing great. She is such a happy baby. She smiles and laughs all the time, especially when Nicholas is talking to her or playing with her. Just this week she has started making new babbling sounds - more vowels and two or more sounds strung together. She also seems to mimic the rhythm of my voice. Today I put her down for a nap and in a sing-song type voice I said, "Love you". She replied in babble but with the same sing-song rhythm that I had used. It was so sweet. She has also been doing lots of raspberries and trying to make different sounds with her tongue.

Ladybugs!

Grandmother gave Nicholas a ladybug habitat last year and somehow we never got around to ordering the ladybugs for it. So this spring we got it out and ordered our buggies. They finally arrived! I think we should have received ladybug eggs but ours had already hatched and were little larvae. Nicholas was so excited about his ladybugs that he got out this little ladybug craft that he had made out of a styrofoam bowl and colored paper and decided it was his ladybug hat.



And Rachel was sporting her own ladybug outfit to go with the occasion.





He had fun putting water in the habitat and emptying the larvae into the habitat. It was hard for him to put the lid on because he kept wanting to play with the little larvae.



We can't wait to see them develop into pupas and then the cute little ladybugs!



It is very interesting to see what a ladybug larvae looks like. Sadly, Stuart and I both realized that we have seen these critters on some of our trees in the backyard and have killed quite a few of them. Now we know. Sorry little ladybugs :(

After our ladybug fun, we spent some time playing outside. Nicholas filled up a bucket with water and had fun adding grass, berries, leaves, and sticks to make an interesting concoction. Then, for some reason, he decided to sit in the bucket! If there's a bucket, it must be sat in! That's my little guy!



While we were playing in the yard, Rachel was playing in the Pack N Play. She has rediscovered the little purple flower that Granddad brought to her in the hospital right after her delivery. She loves to look at the bright colors and hear the sweet music it plays when you press on the bee but her most favorite thing about the flower? She can put it in her mouth, of course!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Remember Shrinky Dinks?

Do you remember Shrinky Dinks? I loved those things back in the 70's. You color this special paper, put them in the over and they shrink up and harden into bright little plastic figures. It was so much fun. Well, when I ran across them at Teacher's Tools I just had to get some for Nicholas to try. Ok, I confess, I really just wanted them for myself but I did pick out the robot/alien Shrinky Dinks with Nicholas in mind!

Nicholas isn't always excited about craft projects but the thought of this project shrinking made it irresistable. He couldn't wait to tear into the package. The package came with about 20 pre-drawn and pre-cut images ready for coloring. Nicholas, Stuart, and I all had fun coloring a few of them.

We put them in a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil and put them in the oven on a low temperature.



In just a matter of minutes they started to curl up and shrink. It was fun to watch!



When they are almost done they flatten back down. The final product are little miniatures of our original art work. They are hard and the colors are much brighter than when we originally colored them. It's just amazing how these things work. The kit we bought has some key chains, magnets, and stands to give you options on what to do with your shrunken dinks.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Breakfast Chatter

For breakfast this morning, I made pancakes, sausage links, and scrambled eggs. Nicholas announced to Daddy that Uncle Steve cooked breakfast for us while he was visiting and he made the best scrambled eggs EVER. He said, "They are the best. Just wait until you taste them. You'll see that they are better than Mommy's!" Thanks, Lil' Buddy!

I showed Nicholas how to make Pigs in a Blanket by rolling a sausage link in a pancake. I explained the reason for the name - that sausage comes from pigs and they are wrapped in a blanket of pancake. He thought it was a cool idea. But a few minutes later he asked, "Why did this pig have to die?" Ugh! Not one of THOSE questions! I tried to explain it as best as I could but I had to hand it over to Stuart. He did a pretty good job of it but we were both glad when Nicholas got bored with the discussion and changed the subject for us!

The other day we were at the grocery store and I was getting some cream cheese because we sometimes have bagels with cream cheese for breakfast. Nicholas saw the strawberry cream cheese and insisted that we get some. Someone at his school brought bagels and cream cheese for the class snack and he said that he loved the strawberry cream cheese. Hesitantly I bought it. As we were walking away, Nicholas ran back and picked up a second container of strawberry cream cheese. He said that we needed to go ahead and get the second container so we would have more when we ran out. I convinced him to put it back. When we got home, he said he wanted a snack. Of course, he wanted a bagel with strawberry cream cheese. I fixed the bagel for him. He took one bite and said that he didn't like it. He said, "Oh, I forgot that I don't like strawberry cream cheese. Now I want a bagel that just has plain cream cheese on it." Glad we didn't get stuck with two containers of this stuff! He later told Stuart, "You've GOT to try a bagel with strawberry cream cheese!" as if it was the greatest thing in the world! Silly little guy!

Dallas Blooms at the Arboretum



What a wonderful time we had at the Dallas Arboretum today! Spring is so beautiful there. They have over 450,000 blooming bulbs and 3,000 azaleas. MSN named it one of the top ten places to visit this spring!



Right now is an even more exciting time to visit because of the Storybook Playhouse exhibits. Scattered throughout the Arboretum, there are incredible children's playhouses built to represent 14 classic works of children's literature. We were at the Arboretum for about 4 hours but never even saw all of the playhouses. Here are a few that we did see:

Treasure Island - Jim Hawkins is a young boy who lives at his parents' inn, the Admiral Benbow, near Bristol, England, in the eighteenth century. An old sea captain named Billy Bones dies in the inn after being presented with a black spot, or official pirate verdict of guilt or judgment. Jim is stirred to action by the spot and its mysterious, accurate portent of Billy's death. Hastily, Jim and his mother unlock Billy's sea chest, finding a logbook and map inside.




Eragon - The Kingdom of Alagaesia is ruled by the evil King Galbatorix, a former dragon rider that betrayed his mates and his people in his quest for power. When the orphan farm boy Eragon finds a blue stone sent by Princess Arya, he sooner realizes that it is a dragon egg.



The Little Prince - Published in 1943, The Little Prince is a fantasy about a pilot, stranded in the Sahara, who meets a small boy from another planet. The boy, who refers to himself as a prince, is on a quest for knowledge.



Teremok - A Russian folk tale about the house and animals who take shelter under it’s ever expanding roof. So the playhouse represents the Teremok itself with animal cut-outs in the walls.





Peter Pan - In stifling Edwardian London, Wendy Darling mesmerizes her brothers nightly with bedtime tales of swordplay, swashbuckling and the fearsome Hook.



The Owl and the Pussycat - The “Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear is represented as an underwater environment with the sandy sea bed below and the “pea green boat” on the surface above. The boat’s sail is the story’s moon and ring from the poem is in the table above the stone bench.



In addition to the Storybook Playhouses, we also got a special treat because this is the week that the Cherry Blossoms are blooming. The blossoms only last for about a week so we made sure to see them. They are so delicate looking and have such a sweet fragrance.







We toured the gardens and took lots of pictures among the beautiful flowers.

























Of course, we had to play a little too. The open grounds lended itself well to lots of running and rolling in the grass, as well as a few silly attempts at cartwheels.





Nicholas presented us with this bowl of chocolate...actually it was a dried magnolia leaf full of little mulch chips. Yum!



If there is a hole, then something should be put in it. Nicholas found this hole in a tree and he reached up to put a rock, sticks, and mulch in it. Then he asked me to pick him up so he could see the booty he had stashed. I let him see and then we cleaned the treasure out of the hole in case others felt the need to stash things there as well.



We all had a fun day and I guess we wore Nicholas out (didn't think it was possibly, did you?). He fell asleep as soon as we got in the car.