Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thicker Than Blood

This rings so true for me! This certainly isn't to discourage my blood relatives, because I don't know what I would do without them! But the family that isn't blood is just as important, and sometimes even more important than the blood who won't accept you for who you are. :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

An Apple A Day

Well, this is my second apple post in a row. Our home hasn't been without apples in stock for weeks. My kids LOVE apples!

The apple eaters. I think they're pretty good, too!  :) 

Anyone have some awesome apple recipes?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Apple Shake Ups

This is a hit with Vincent! Then again, why wouldn't it be? It's certainly a very sweet snack!

What you'll need:

Ziploc bag

Peel an apple and cut it into toddler-size pieces, or cut it into larger slices and have your older toddler use a plastic knife to cut it into smaller pieces. Place 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon into a Ziploc bag. Add a few apple pieces, seal the bag, and shake to coat the apples. Remove the coated apples from the bag and eat!

Credit for this idea goes to "The Toddler's Busy Book," by Trish Kuffner.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Absolute BEST, Most Divine, Decadent, Warm & Chewy Cookies on the Face of This Planet

My afternoon has been pretty awesome. The neighbor is on his riding lawn mower. There's no television playing. It has been a peaceful day.

This is what Marley is doing:

And, this is what Vincent is doing:

And, these are what I'm chowing down on:

I admit, I really didn't think these cookies were going to turn out as divine as they did. However, I think I could eat an entire batch in one sitting!! I found the recipe on the back of a dried cranberry package and I was inspired when I realized I had all of the ingredients needed. So, if anyone else wants to experience The Absolute BEST, Most Divine, Decadent, Warm & Chewy Cookies on the Face of This Planet, here's the recipe.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies


  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups old fashioned oats  (I used rolled oats.)
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 5 oz. package of Craisins Dried Cranberries (I used the cherry infused ones.)
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips (All I had on hand was dark chocolate and they're still awesome!) 

Preheat oven to 375° F. Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes approximately 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

All credit for this recipe goes to Craisins, from the back of the bag! 

Tip: After the first cookie sheet was finished and I realized the cookies didn't flatten out a bit, I mashed them down with a fork to give them more of a cookie look. Hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I did!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Walk This Way

I am so happy to report that Miss Marley is a certified walker!! She's walking everywhere now, all across the house! There's no stopping this chick! Today her daddy was vacuuming the family room when she unexpectedly walked up behind him and he nailed her with the vacuum cleaner. Doh! We'll need to get used to this! :)  It's very surreal, but in a very good way. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Amazing Almond Milk

Ever since I have taken cow's milk out of my household, and replaced it with almond milk, my son's appetite has been absolutely amazing. We've been working on his eating problems for a while now, and I'm pretty sure cow's milk was one of the biggest culprits. He actually asked for an after dinner snack tonight!

Furthermore, for a kid who I could NEVER get to drink water, MiO has done wonders!!   Sorry if this is a little TMI, but he used to poop hard, round balls and he was always constipated.  Not anymore!  He has healthy poops now and they aren't strained at all.  I feel like I'm finally getting a grip on my child's diet!!! It's a wonderful feeling. And to think, cow's milk was the evil culprit behind it all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Word & Sound Part II

I've recently compiled a better list of Marley's words. She has really taken off! Mama Dada Mommy Ssshhhhhhew!! Love you Pup pup Baby Duck Stand up Thank you No Uh oh Bye-bye Hat Here Stop it Peek-a-boo! Eat More She'll also blow kisses and give kisses a lot lately. :) She crawls around the house saying "Mommy" all day, these last few days. It melts me every time. :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Words & Sounds

I'm going to try to keep an updated list of Marley's words. She has far more than I thought she did once I sat down and thought about them. She doesn't always articulate them anywhere close to being understood- they sound more like sounds, but I know what she's trying to convey- and the fact that she's communicating with sounds and words is AWESOME, right!?

No, no, no!
Shhhhhheeeew! (As she waves her hand in front of her nose because she's stinky!)
Thank you

I'm so thrilled!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

More Awareness, Please?

You know how we don't have as much awareness about hydrocephalus as we'd like to have? How many people just don't understand what we're talking about? Well, each and every older lady in my town knows what it is. If you say, "hydrocephalus," they have no clue. But if you say, "water head baby," then they know exactly what you're dealing with. In modern times, if you say any term, people don't know what you're talking about at all.

I was in Wal-mart yesterday with Marley and Vincent, and in the check-out line behind me, and elderly lady was telling Marley how pretty and precious she was, getting little smiles. She asked me about Marley's helmet and why she had to wear it. So, I told her that basically her head was shaped differently and it was caused by her hydrocephalus. She said, Oh I'm sorry I've never heard of that. Then, surely enough, I repeated myself, "water head baby." And she nodded and said, "Oh bless her poor heart." I told her that Marley has a shunt to help drain the fluid, and she said, "Thank goodness they've come up with a way to treat it." She looked very sad, as if she'd had past experience with it. I'm thinking that people are now less aware because it is treatable, and the fact that people back then never had abortion as an option. I think most congenital cases are aborted before they're ever even given a chance.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vincent's Third Birthday, Brake Failure, & First-person Chiari Encounter

Today was Vincent's THIRD birthday!!! My, how time flies. We had his party on Saturday, and I will blog about that day another day, when I have better time. Today was a little awkward, so here it is.

My big boy on his third birthday!

So today started out like most Tuesdays. I got up, fed the kids breakfast and prepared to leave the house around 1 PM to have them at therapy and Josh to work by 2PM.

On the way down the highway, I noticed the brakes felt "off." They just felt weird and sort of delayed. Josh told me he thought it was all in my head, then about 10 seconds later the brake light turned on. So when we got to his work, we bought some more brake fluid and filled it up. All was seemingly better, the brakes no longer felt funny to me.

So off to therapy we went. Both Marley and Vincent had great Tuesday sessions. After therapy, I went to Marley's SMO appointment and she was fitted. Upon leaving the appointment, the brakes started acting up again. This time, I would have the brake pedal to the floor, and the car was NOT stopping. It was very scary! Lo and behold, to my right was a building that read, "AUTO REPAIR." How lovely.

So I pulled in, and was wonderfully greeted by a smiling face. The auto repair place I was at was Griffin Brothers, which I will simply add right here, if you ever need car help, you're in great hands there in the Pineville, NC location. They have free fountain sodas, free canned sodas, and free fresh popcorn. They have a children's play room which includes toys, a train table with tracks and trains, coloring books & crayons, books, and a TV playing cartoons with comfy chairs and a bean bag chair. In the adult area they also carry fresh coffee, comfy chairs and a TV playing the news. I can't stress enough about how friendly the guys are there. It's really a great place. The man at the counter took my car back and got us fixed up. We had a busted wheel cylinder, so the fluid we put in earlier drained out again. If I had kept on going towards home, my car likely eventually wouldn't have stopped at all. I am thankful to say, it is completely fixed now.

So in the waiting room, I met a woman. She asked me about Marley's helmet, so I explained hydrocephalus to her, and she instantly looked interested. Then, she stood up and showed me her surgery scar from 2006 and said, "I'm a zipper head, as you can see. I just had a chiari decompression surgery a few years ago." As it turns out, she sees a neurosurgeon from the same practice Marley goes to. Small world? Always seems that way. She went on to explain her symptoms... she had a migraine that lasted for 3 weeks, constantly had body tremors, ringing in her ears (which has never gone away,) and severe balance issues. She said her cerebellum was 13 mm into her spinal canal, so I'm not sure which level of severity that equates to. After hearing the success of her surgery, it really inspires so much hope for my little buddies Owen and Kadyn, who are undergoing this same surgery in the not so far future.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Helmet Chick

Marley got her awesome new orthotic band to help with her head shape and slight facial asymmetries. Of course we got plain white so we could decorate it!! Her eye follow up lasted about 5 minutes... and we were told they're perfect! So many blessings. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The meaning of the name Adohi is "From The Woods."

I decided today that I would name my red-tailed hawk Adohi. This is when I thought she was a he. It turns out Adohi is actually a girl, but I'm known for naming animals opposite of their appropriate gender. The day I rescued Adohi, I wrote about what happened. I want to keep a reminder here of what happened that day.

I just had a huge emotional breakdown after watching a semi knock this full grown hawk for a loop. He was sprawled out on his back in the middle of the highway. I stopped my car, put on the emergency lights and walked over to it. It wasn't moving, but it I could see its huge chest move up and down. By this time I've infuriated at least 50 people with the entire highway backed up. I am so scared of the talons. I touch its tail to see if it will move. It doesn't. I touch its sharp talons, maybe to prepare for what I could be on the receiving end of. I take a deep breath and scoop him into my hands, holding firmly, but away from my body. In the few feet it took to put him in the grass from the pavement of the highway, he jolted awake and started cocking his head, looking at me curiously. I said out loud, "Please don't bite me, please don't bite me, please don't bite me." I put him down in the grass safely. A man walks up to me, introduces himself as Mike, a fireman from Lancaster. He gets the Carolina Raptor Center  on the phone. Mike wrapped up the hawk in his coat and is now transporting the hawk to Huntersville. We traded numbers, so he will be in touch with me and I will know if the bird makes it or not. Call me stupid, I'm a softy for wildlife.

This is Adohi on that day. February 21, 2012.

I was able to keep up with Adohi's progress at a website where the Carolina Raptor Center keeps track of all their daily care. You can view that website here and a list of their current patients here:

Adohi did remarkably well during her five night stay at CRC. Yes, you read that right, she recovered well enough in just five days. These birds are resilient.

Adohi was brought to my home this morning and released to 300 acres of dense forest with many creeks and a nearby cow pasture with a big pond. She will have a good life here.

I've learned some interesting things about red-tails. The first thing is that they're monogamous, which means they only mate with one other hawk for their entire lives, unless one dies. Hopefully, Adohi should have enough time to find a mate before this Spring. He will be her forever, companion.

The other thing is that a red-tailed hawk's call is exactly that of which you may think a bald eagle's is. If you search on youtube, a bald eagle actually has a cackling call. Red-tails have the super awesome majestic sounding scream.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

19 degrees!

It is just now getting cold here! Last night the wind could really bite right through bones. I was browsing through some Winter jackets yesterday when I came across this little gem for Marley. It's double layered on the inside, so it's super warm! And the best part? It was on clearance, 50% off, so I only paid $12!!!

Marley's coat was way too small at this point and is ready to be donated.

I bought it a size too big in hopes we'll be able to use it next Winter, too!

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Suck At Blog Posting

I really need to get better at this!! Wow! Lol. :)

Vincent started pre-school!!! He loves it and I know it's the perfect fit for him!

V at his Thanksgiving party.

So a lot has happened since my last blog post. Marley is now 14 months old! She had a wonderful "Winter One-derland" themed party. We had so much fun!

Sylvia makes beeeautiful cakes!!! 

My beautiful birthday girl!

Cream cheese, olive, carrot penguins!
Penguin and snowman oreos!

Chocolate covered marshmallows!
A boy and girl version of little penguin balloons I made, using black helium balloons, construction paper, markers, and tape!

We also had an awesome Christmas morning. My mom cooked breakfast at my house that morning and we spent the evening with all of our extended family and ate dinner. A lot of our family members were able to meet Marley for the first time. Great fun and cheer was had by all. :) 

Dr. K, myself, and Marley with red cheeks from fighting being restrained.
On Jan. 3rd, 2012, Marley had her THIRD cord blood infusion at Duke University Hospital. It was so awesome! We met a news crew from Charlotte there at Duke and they did a full story which I expect to air soon. Hooray for more awareness! We were also able to meet some other hydro families there, which to me, was the highlight of the trip! Next to the creamed corn breath, of course. :) We learned of some awesome news! Marley has enough blood left to do a FOURTH infusion!!!! Woohoo!!! So exciting!!!!


Our new hydro friends!!!! We had such an AWESOME time together!!

Shortly after we were home from Duke, Vincent came down with a stomach bug. He didn't eat one solid thing for four days. It was quite scary! He got so dehydrated, that he was admitted to the hospital overnight for fluids and observation. He kept diarrhea for a long time, but only vomited for about 8 hours. Then, myself, Marley, my husband, my mom, dad, and brother all proceeded to get the virus, too. It was rough! I've never seen so much puke and poop in my life and I really don't care to ever again!

Marley had her strabismus surgery on Jan. 10th, 2012. She was in surgery for a little over an hour and everything went smoothly. The point of this surgery is to weaken the eye muscles in the corners of Marley's eyes so that her eyes will be straightened, and to also avoid double vision. We've had GREAT success with this surgery. The benefits are just astounding. We are very pleased with our results so far, but understand that it takes 3 months for a full surgical result. The after care is very simple. All we had to do was put one droplet of ointment in each eye until the follow-up appointment, which was just a few days later. And that was it! So simple! Marley was back to herself quickly after she woke up from anesthesia.

After Marley's strabismus surgery, she got the stomach bug. It was pretty rough on her, but she only vomited Wednesday morning after her surgery and then she was still eating and drinking just fine over the next few days, but still had the diarrhea part of it going on. Friday morning, Marley had a really bad diaper. She started shaking really bad and she turned blue. I took her to the pediatrician, and she checked out fine. She was fairly irritable all day, but still ate and drank just fine. Friday night, I am so thankful that Josh had just come in the door when Marley vomited all over me. Projectile vomited. And she vomited every single thing she had taken in that day. It was nuts. She started shaking uncontrollably, I think from the force of the vomit. So off to the E.R. we went.

At the E.R. they did a CT scan which revealed a lot more than we bargained for. Marley's ventricles were collapsed because her shunt overdrained, which also resulted in a subdural hemorrhage, which is another word for "brain bleed." We were transported by ambulance to LCH  and ended up needing to stay for four nights to monitor the bleed, to make sure it didn't get worse. If it had gotten worse quickly, the bleed would need to be surgically drained. There's still a chance that it could need to be, but we're going for another scan in a few weeks to check up on it. Marley's shunt was adjusted to 100 to enable her ventricles to poof out a bit and give her brain some cushioning. She tolerated the adjustment very well and she was feeling much better in no time.

Waiting to be transported from our local hospital.

Going into the ambulance. She tolerated the ride well, but was inconsolable once we got to LCH.

Getting some rest as her new shunt adjustment got to work.

Back to her happy self in her LCH jail crib. :)

We've since had an ophthalmologist follow up, everything checked out great, and another neurosurgery follow up, everything checked out great there as well and pending a scheduled scan to check on the bleed. :)  

Now we're ready for some Valentine's day fun and planning Vincent's next birthday! I think that covers it! :)