Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The last few months

In an effort to get "caught up" with things, I'm going to attempt to quickly note some of the things going on around here. After having so many blog posts that I want to write and just not having the time to sit down and do so...this is what we get.

Let's see.... I don't think I ever updated after the latest allergy-related stuff. After a failed attempt at the egg challenge (which involved Aiden breaking out in hives where the eggs he wouldn't eat on his face and....he did eat two tiny pieces smaller than peas and then broke out in hives all over the very next day). The dr couldn't understand where the hives came from, though he questioned it being from that tiny bit of egg he managed to eat. There's simply no other explanation, though, and he agrees on that. We do think that there are some other environmental allergies going on. After being on Zyrtec for a while and it doing absolutely nothing for hives, we took him off. He immediately came down with a cold. Put him back on the Zyrtec, and he started getting better. He was still a bit sick when we saw the allergist, and he thinks it's dust mites. (Sorry if I've already written this. I didn't check before writing again.) Anyway, we'll do some testing in Feb for all of this when we go in for another attempt at an egg challenge.

In October, we took a quick trip to KY for my mother's graduation ceremony. Her second master's degree. That woman is pretty incredible. Not only am I so proud of her, but I love the lessons we can learn seeing others work hard at things and making such acomplishments. I was younger when my mom was in school, and I know seeing her go to school made quite the impact on me. I can't help but thinking that having Camden see my go to college as a single mom has helped him and shaped his view of working towards our goals and learning. He has also gotten to see his grandmother go back to get another degree. Sometimes I am sad that Aiden and my other future child(ren) will miss out on seeing these things. Maybe I'll need to go back to school after a few more years. ;)

November was Thanksgiving, and we stayed home again. It's nice to be making our own traditions, but we also miss out on being with our family back home. It did work out, though, that my mom's graduation was the weekend before Thanksgiving, so we got to stay at my dad's and have a nice, big Thanksgiving meal with them, as well as some extended family. Yay! At home, we had a big meal with just our little family and then decorated for Christmas the day after. One holiday at a time in our home!

Camden, who totally took off with the clarinet for band at school, decided he would switch to another instrument, so he's now playing the euphonium. He was actually very good at the clarinet, but he thinks the euphonium is so cool, so we'll see how it goes! He wants to play it all the time, which is a good sign...but it's also quite loud, and his mama had already been suffering from too many migraines, so I'm not sure how the combination will work out. Haha!

Hmmm.... Is that it? Oh, there was the pumpkin farm and Halloween in October, too. Meeting a friend's baby for the fist time on our trip to KY. Playdates, family photos, etc. I think it is it for now, at least. I'm not able to post any pics to go along with the post, so just go here to see any of them. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

That Time of Year Again....

While I have at least ten other posts I need/want to write, I'm going with this one first. I get something out of it, so there's a little more motivation to find the time for this one. ;) But if you're a blogger, you can also join in and get something out of it, too... Stay tuned.

So, as you are well aware...if you're ever around me, on facebook, or if you visit our online photo albums...we (I) take plenty of pictures of the kids and just about anything we do as a family.

More than plenty.

And then some.

I would say that most people that use digital cameras don't print most of the pictures they actually take. Same goes for us. But we don't simply leave them on the computer and then do nothing with them. Every year, I make a large photo book of pictures from that year. It's cheaper than printing up tons of pictures and nicer than just putting them into a photo album (and I just don't have the time for all that scrapbooking). The pictures are printed on each page, fitting anywhere from 1 to 16 on each page and up to 1,000 per book. They are high quality and look it! We get lots of compliments on our photo books; a lot of people are quite impressed, but really...it's fairly easy! (Shhhh!) I make our books with pictures from December through November of the next year. That way we have it when we visit family over Christmas, family we don't see all year long. And it's kind of a Christmas gift for ourselves. The first year I did this, I used a different company, but then I got a coupon somehow for a free book from Shutterfly, and I was sold! I've only used them since. I've compared other prices, reviews, background choices, etc from various websites, but Shutterfly photo books fit us just right. We're getting quite the collection, as I've been doing this for four years now, plus a couple other small books. And this year, we're having to stuff everything into TWO books because one isn't enough! I joked that either we really do take a lot of pictures, or we have just done a lot of stuff this year! I think both are correct...

We've also used Shutterfly for a number of Christmas gifts. One year, we made a book for Aiden's first year (that first free book I got, I used to make Camden's first year book from photos I scanned, so I made another just like it for Aiden), and each set of grandparents received one for Christmas. We've also given photo calendars, which seemed to be another big hit. I love that you can even save dates on the website, and they will print them on the calendar for you...so we could give people calendars with everyone's birthdays/anniversaries/etc already on there! I know that if we ever need some new ideas for photo gifts, Shutterfly will provide some great ones.

Around Christmas, Shutterfly usually gets some BIG orders from us, as you can tell...photo books, photo gifts, etc. We also order our Christmas cards from there. This year, I can tell it's going to be hard to narrow down which card we will use. There are so many wonderful ones to choose from! I really like the ones that are actual cards, that open up, so I'm looking at those mostly, though I've also used just flat one-sided cards from them before, too. So far, I'm thinking about something like their With Love card. We just got our family photos taken, and I want a card that will showcase more than one picture...a family one, along with some of just the kids. Even though they have soooo many cards to choose from, it's easy to narrow down the style/type you want by clicking to look at flat cards or folded cards, cards with just 1, 2, 3+ photos (or none), color, size, etc! Be watching for our Shutterfly card, coming your way this Christmas! ;)

Now, bloggers...want some FREE Christmas cards? (Um, yes.) Get 50 free cards here!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Egg Challenge ~ Update

Because of course there has to be an UPDATE... Nothing can ever be too simple, right?

So, if you read the previous post about the egg-challenge, you know that Aiden wouldn't really cooperate. He had some hives where the egg touched his face, but the point was to see if he would react when consuming it. So, we rescheduled for next Feb. Now, while Aiden wasn't going along with the whole "eat the egg" thing, actually spitting out the one real bite he finally put in his mouth...I did manage to get him to eat two tiny pieces. When I say "tiny," I mean they were each smaller than half of a baby pea. Seriously - TINY! But that wasn't enough. He was supposed to really eat the stuff.

This was on Wednesday.

Then Thursday came around. And Aiden had hives. All over. It started out as just a few on his forehead and some on his arm. Maybe 14 total. Throughout the day, they just multiplied, though. I don't know how many times I counted, but I do know that Aiden started out the day reacting one way to the counting: "Let me see how many hives you have, Aiden." "Hives? One, two, three..." He hears the word hives and just starts counting on his own. But by the end of the day, he was fed up with it and wouldn't stand still. I attempted to quickly count before bedtime, while he twisted and turned and tried to get away, and I know there were at least 50, but there were more I couldn't count - not too many more than that, though. They started out on his arms, hands, and forehead. By later in the day, though, there were some on his legs, back, and chest. This was Thursday.

Even on Saturday, he had two bright red ones on his back and some lighter, faded ones still on other spots. It seems that after breaking out in hives, they stick around with him for a while - for at least a few days if not an entire week. Last time we mentioned this to the doctor, he said that isn't really what happens and maybe there was an infection instead. But EVERY time he's broken out in hives lately, that's how it works with him. (And Dr. Google says that can happen. Ok, not just google...I visit reputable sites when I look up this kind of info, folks.) Unfortunately, that Zyrtec he's been on and Benadryl (even combined) seem to do nothing for him. Um, not even make him sleepy. (I mean, come on, if I have to have him on these meds at any time, he could at least experience that side effect and get a good night's rest, right? Nope. Not him.) He also had an allergic reaction while on vacation, and both meds did nothing. And the hives lasted the rest of the week. I feel like I maybe mentioned this in the last post. Vacation post is coming soon. I promise. Sometime being the key word. Soon as I can, though.

The dr that did the egg challenge told us that our regular allergist said just to cancel our follow-up with him scheduled this coming week, since Aiden didn't cooperate with the egg-challenge. But after hearing about this other break-out, the visit is back on. We'll see what he says. We're pretty curious what this really means. Makes me wish the kid had just eaten the stuff so we would know what we're dealing with! Unknowns bug me. Really, I wonder how often this really happens, though, especially with younger children...not wanting to eat the food in question at a challenge. I would imagine it happens pretty regularly. You simply cannot make a toddler eat something he doesn't want to eat!

We'll let you know what we find out.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Egg Challenge

And a challenge it was....

We went to Duke today for Aiden's food challenge, to see if he had outgrown his egg allergy. We were preparing for a long day, as we would have to be there for quite a while. We were concerned he might not even eat the egg, a very good possibility. We were worried he might be grumpy, as the appointment was during naptime (these things are hard to schedule, even months in advance, so you have to take what you can get).

He ended up being well-behaved, despite a grumpy morning at home. He got along well with the nurse and really well with the doctor running the show. He did not, however, eat the eggs. We made them ahead of time and brought other things to eat with them, but none of that helped. When we finally convinced him to put some egg in his mouth, he immediately spit it out. And he can be rather stubborn, so there was no convincing him to keep trying it.

He still ended up with hives on his face, near his lip, where the egg had touched. BUT that's not what was in question. The challenge was to determine if he could safely EAT the eggs. We don't really know the answer to that! Who knows what reaction he might have if he ate eggs. (When he had his big reaction on his first birthday, he didn't actually get any of the food IN his mouth. It all went ON his body.) The doctor kept us there until the hives disappeared, which meant we were still at the hospital for nearly two hours. He wasn't all that interested in the movies they had in the room, and it was a challenge to keep him in the small hallway next to our room. He did his best to trick me once so he could take off running in the other direction; he's rather clever... And fast.

So, the plan is to keep eggs off the list and we will return in February for another try. (They also refunded our specialist co-pay, which was nice, since it's not especially cheap.) We asked about bringing in a muffin or something with egg cooked in it, to see if he could at least tolerate that, in case he wouldn't eat the eggs again (we think it's a texture issue). They have a recipe we can use for that, so we'll make that, along with the regular scrambled eggs they require. They will try just eggs first, because if he can pass that, he's in the clear. If he won't eat it, then we'll resort to the baked good. If he can do ok with that, it will mean he can eat certain baked goods, which will make eating out a bit easier...that would mean pasta, bread, muffins, etc is ok. (Apparently pancakes/waffles would still be off the list b/c of how quickly they are cooked.) Honestly, we've gotten fairly used to not using eggs at home, but eating out is a challenge. You would be surprised at how many places have egg in their bread, dough, and just so much. But really, keeping him off eggs for another four months isn't the biggest challenge, so we can deal with it. We've done it for over a year now. It's not the end of the world.

All in all, this all made for a rather long day with no real answers. (Didn't we just go through something similar...our last visit? Ahhhh...) But it could always be worse, right? Once again, on the way out, we saw another child in much worse condition. (This is easy when you're visiting Duke Children's Hospital, right? That or God is really trying to show me a sign.) Makes me so grateful for how healthy Aiden IS. Things can be challenging and frustrating sometimes, but none of this is really hurting him (heck, in many ways, it's making us much healthier!) and he is still in good health. Many other kids aren't. We'll focus on counting the many blessings we have.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Twenty-four months pictures

Here are the pics. Finally. We waited until all the hives stopped popping up on his face before taking the pictures. And then I just forgot to post them...

Oh, and the nurse totally had Aiden's height wrong at the 2-yr appointment. He is not 36 inches. More like 33. I can't blame her for being so off, though. He totally fought through the measuring, even with me trying to help hold him still.

Aiden trying to show that he is "two years old"

This kid never sits still!

I love close-ups of his eyes...

Somebody looks just a little bit like his daddy in this one...

Allergy Update (If you can call it that...)

So, I've gone from slacker blogger to basically nonexistent blogger, it seems. And it's been brought to my attention that I failed to give an update on the allergy stuff. Wasn't intentional. I keep thinking I need to post it, but I only think about it when I can't sit down at a computer. Sorry about that.

The other day I was talking to Ryan about how it's wild that I'm a stay-at-home mom (who actually spends most of the time at home, plus I watch a little girl a few days a week), and this one day when we were about to sit down for dinner, I realized I hadn't sat down for even five minutes all day long. My feet were killing me! How does that happen? Welcome to my life, right? (I'm sure many other stay-at-home moms feel the same way!) Here I'm at home all day long and don't get to sit for a good meal hardly. And my husband, who works out of the home, sits at a desk all day. (One day he was telling me about something he was reading online and then said, "What? You never get bored and just look around at stuff like that?" What? Bored?? I've forgotten what that feels like...)

Anyway, back to the allergies...

Answers? Um, not really. Not in the way we wanted. Went to the dr. We first saw a different doctor (who was distracted that morning and forgot she had told us to come in first thing and we waited for her for an hour... This was after we drove nearly an hour to get there and had to go through parking and all that jazz at the hospital.) Oh well. It was fun sitting in that little room with a two-year-old for an hour (not really, but they did have some children's videos that helped...good thing we were in the Children's Hospital part). So, she saw us, got the history. We told her what we knew, thought, etc. Let her know we wanted to discuss more allergy testing. The other doctor would be in to see us soon.

Well, instead, a nurse came in and just went ahead doing some skin testing. This annoyed me b/c I had to ASK what they were testing for... Um, hello? You don't just come in and start pricking my child with things and not tell me what the heck they are first. And I had said I wanted to speak with the dr about this first, so this meant I didn't get to voice what I wanted to have tested. They just tested some of the top allergens - various nuts, fish, and eggs. I wanted a more comprehensive test. Two strikes.

The dr did come in, as well as the lady we first saw. Good news is that, while Aiden did react a bit to the egg, they think he might be outgrowing it (we go back in October for a food challenge). And he gave us the go-ahead to gradually introduce nuts and shellfish, since there was no reaction to those.

The rest wasn't all that great. First of all, he didn't get all the history correct (or I guess the first dr that saw us didn't communicate it all correctly). He was telling us he wasn't sure if these hives were caused by an allergic reaction to the food (cinnamon) or if it was caused by an infection. But we later realized he had believed the BIG hive reaction was at the beginning of all of this, which it wasn't - it was at the end. And other stuff that made us believe he didn't get the whole story right. Anyway, he told us there is no skin test for cinnamon. He didn't want to do a blood test. He made it sound like it wasn't very accurate, but he did it b/c he could tell we wanted some answers. He put Aiden on Zyrtec until we go back to see him in late October. After that, we'll discuss doing a food challenge with cinnamon. We're hoping he'll let us do it at home (doubtful, but we'll see). All these specialist visits...well, they're not cheap, and it takes a lot of time (Ryan also takes off work for the big ones or ones that involve testing/food challenges). We left feeling like we just didn't get any answers, like we wasted a lot of time and frustration. Not to mention all the waiting, etc, Aiden is terrified of doctor's offices now after having shots recently, and each time we go to a different room, the screaming starts all over again (we were in three different rooms there).

But as we left the last room, where they drew the blood (this won't help with any future dr visits for Aiden, I'm sure), we quietly walked towards the waiting room to leave. We passed a little girl, maybe 7 or 8 years old, bald, and wearing a protective mask. I don't know what she is dealing with, but doesn't God have a way of putting things in perspective. Anything we're dealing with can't even be close to what she's going through, so I took it as a reminder to be grateful. A reminder I clearly needed.

So, we'll see what the dr says when we visit at the end of October. We do have the egg-challenge in a few weeks, so hopefully Aiden will come home from that able to eat some eggs. That will make life a bit easier. We've pretty much adjusted, but still. There are many things he can't have simply due to possible contamination issues, and it would be nice to not have to avoid so much. We're hoping he won't have to be on the Zyrtec for much longer, too. I've heard so many times (from doctors) that it is often prescribed as a sleep aid for children - even moreso than for allergies. And so many others have told me that it helped their little ones sleep better (or even too much!). We don't like having Aiden take medicine regularly, but we kind of thought, hey...silver lining. Maybe he'll will sleep a little better. Nope. Definitely not. Actually, he started waking more during the night again! We've switched giving him the medicine in the mornings, and it seems to have helped, but still. Would have been nice! Ha! Oh well. We still have some waiting to do before we can know anything. That's the most frustrating part: not knowing for sure. We're the kind of people that like to know. Until we do know more, we're to act as if this is a definite allergy and avoid it. We've gotten used to calling companies. Some aren't that great with giving out (or knowing!) the information, and some are fantastic. I've made a few things with different spices instead of cinnamon (and they've turned out ok, I guess). But hopefully within the next couple months we'll have it all sorted out!

And I'll try to remember to update the ol' blog. ;)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playing Detective... More food allergies!

So, here's the scoop...

We started noticing some hives on Aiden a little over six weeks ago. We first thought we knew exactly what it was, but after taking that away...hives remained, even a week later. Then two weeks later. We made a couple other changes. They still remained. They were small hives...on his chest and back at first, then they started appearing on his face a little bit. Then even more. Sometimes they were small, but they started getting bigger.

(Thinking back now, I remember Ryan commenting that Aiden's back felt kind of bumpy a number of times, but we didn't think much of it at the time. This was back before the hives actually appeared. Now we know this was the beginning of them.)

So, we took dairy out of his diet, since it's a common allergen and can cause eczema, which we've had our fair share of with Aiden. After a week, nothing was changing, and the hives were showing up more and bigger. We were constantly finding them after dinner each night. Then we decided to go a little more drastic. Since we had NO idea what was causing the hives, and they were clearly getting worse, we took him (and me, since Aiden is still nursing) off lots of foods that could be causing the problem...most of the top allergens, any citrus foods, including tomatoes, and just a whole bunch of things. A lot of these foods are Aiden's favorites and many of our staple foods, bu we were starting to feel desperate at this point. We had to find out what was causing these hives that would NOT go away. We have been calling and calling the allergist trying to get in sooner than our already-scheduled follow-up (from last year's egg fiasco) that is at the end of October...too far away.

Well, this past week, the hives continued, despite the special (and not so fun) diet. (Actually, Aiden didn't mind the diet, but it took mama a few days to adjust.) In fact, the hives were just getting worse still. This was starting to get very frustrating. We knew something he was eating was causing this, but we couldn't figure out what in the world it was. We're already so careful with what we feed him, and we haven't given him anything new since the hives began (way too long ago). We kept calling the dr office, to no avail. The dr we see is only in that office so often, and he's at the hospital other days during the week...but he only sees ER patients and current hospital patients when there. BUT a friend of ours works at the hospital, was able to pull some strings to get us an appointment in a week and a half. That's a lot closer than two months!

Of course, right after that, we think we figure it out. One evening, I wondered if it could be cinnamon. He broke out in hives at dinner...a dinner that should be perfectly safe. But I had sprinkled cinnamon on something so he would try it. (He loves cinnamon!) I wasn't sure what else could cause the hives. The next morning, I swiped some cinnamon on his cheek. Nothing. So, moving on... I had also made these super-yummy muffins Ryan's mom had given me the recipe for. Everything was safe for him to eat, and I replaced the eggs with alternatives. Aiden had already eating them with breakfast and after dinner a couple times, and they seemed fine. (But after that dinner, some mystery hives appeared around his mouth.) For snack this day, Aiden ate one or two muffins and nothing else, and then a couple hives appeared on his cheek. He had some muffins the day before with no problems, so I was a bit confused. Swiped some cinnamon on his face again, and his cheek got a little pink. So, maybe something in the muffin was causing the problem after all. The next day, this past Friday, at breakfast, he had another muffin. I also swiped his cheek again with just a little cinnamon. He scratched at it, whined, and said "No cinnamon!" He scratched his tongue a little bit, too. His cheek got really red where the cinnamon touched. But then...the hives.

This is the first time he's had hives anywhere other than the top third of his body. His ENTIRE body had hives. And much bigger and redder than before. I'm very thankful that hives don't irritate Aiden. Any time he's had them, he doesn't really seem to be bothered by or really even aware of them. All this time, the only thing that's bothered him is our constant inspecting.

Now, at first, I kept thinking something else had to be causing the hives, too, b/c we just don't eat a lot of cinnamon. Sometimes when Aiden has sweet potatoes, he asks for cinnamon, but not always - not even most of the time. We don't eat a lot of baked goods, and many of the muffins we make don't have cinnamon. These muffins that really brought out the hives happened to have a lot of cinnamon. BUT after some thinking, it dawned on me....I have been making homemade granola for a while now, at least a couple months. The recipe I make has 1/2 Tbsp of cinnamon, and it makes quite a lot of granola (about two cereal boxes worth). So, not much cinnamon, but he was eating it regularly. He hasn't had it the past week or two because he was eating more of other cereals for some reason - maybe he knew something we didn't; he suddenly hasn't been asking for it! But the granola is likely to be what was causing the smaller hives, with the repeated exposure of even such a small amount of cinnamon.

Then we introduced the larger amount via the muffins, which is how we discovered this was the allergen. We're viewing them as a blessing in disguise since the cinnamon was strong enough that it made the reaction very obvious for us. He ate dinner a few nights not long ago and broke out in hives, too. Looking back, we know he had A1 steak sauce one evening (barely any, but it contains "spices"...not sure if there is cinnamon, but he did break out in hives after eating). Another night, he had some mustard and a little bit of hot dog and ended dinner with more hives. Both have "spices." So, we're not sure, but we suspect they all have cinnamon in them. That or there is another allergy.

So, we know at least cinnamon is an allergen for him. This will not be a fun one. We thought eggs were hard enough... Now I think God was easing us in! The problem with cinnamon? Well, for one, it's not one of the top 8 allergens, which are required by law to be clearly labeled on products...meaning cinnamon is NOT required to be labeled. Cinnamon is often used with other spices, and you will more often see the label "spices" or "natural flavorings" listed in ingredients, rather than the specific spices, such as cinnamon! Another thing...it is in SO much! Not just baked goods. The other day someone was talking to us about the allergy, and they said, "Oh, well that's not a bad one to have. Maybe even a good one!" meaning it would keep someone from eating a lot of baked goods. Um, no. Not the case. Plenty of savory foods contain cinnamon, such as spaghetti sauce and pizza...even ketchup and other common sauces. Oh, this will be fun, right? HA. I've read it's not a very uncommon allergy, actually. But it also seems like for most, the problem is contact dermatitis, so it's mainly a problem if someone has it touch them, and they'll get a little red and irritated where it touched their skin, even in their mouth maybe. For Aiden, it's clear this is way more than that. After consuming the one muffin, the hives covered his entire body. I've also read this is an allergen that easily gets worse over time, not better. We've already seen Aiden's reactions get worse with repeated exposure, but I know it could be much worse, and hopefully that won't happen.

A friend recently asked what about the fact that he's had cinnamon before? Well, up until this summer, he really hasn't had much. We haven't been avoiding it on purpose, he just simply hasn't had much. Blame some of the other allergy stuff and special diets he's been on...with already having eggs out of the picture and then going on a gluten-free diet for however many months, we really didn't bake. When you throw in us not letting him eat many sugary foods, there went any baked goods he might have had. He has had it some on oatmeal or sweet potatoes, but he really doesn't use the spice that often even with those foods. So...his exposure really has been minimal until we started making this granola. And then he was exposed regularly, even if it was just a tiny bit at a time.

We will still be going for testing, of course. We still wonder if he has other food allergies, due to random hives that have appeared over the last year. And we want to be sure we are correct about this allergy. Plus, we're not sure if he's allergic just to cinnamon or if he has tree allergies, in general (cinnamon would be included under that umbrella).

We're learning how many things actually have this spice in them, and we've already spent a good amount of time calling or emailing companies. I have a feeling we're going to be learning how to make a lot more things from scratch. I didn't think that was too possible, but apparently it is. Homemade ketchup anyone?

Aiden's still had some hives pop up over the weekend and this week. Saturday wasn't unexpected, since it was the day after the big reaction, but even today there are still red hives appearing, disappearing, reappearing, etc. The other day, I went to swipe something else on his cheek, and when Aiden saw my finger coming at his face, he screamed, "NO Cinnamon!!" I think he's already terrified of the stuff. :( Maybe that's a good thing? Not fun, though. We'll see what happens with his appointment soon. Until then, we're going to try to relax a little about it all, avoiding cinnamon, of course.

TWO Years Old!

Aiden's big 2nd birthday bash was all about the Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss. Ryan and I agreed we would consider it all to be a success if we didn't end it in the ER, like we did last year. So, based on that, it was successful; even aside from that it went off without a hitch. We had a blast, and everything went just great!

Instead of a long post, simply enjoy the pictures. :)

2010 August - Aiden's Birthday

Twenty-four months

Our baby boy is TWO YEARS OLD! Wow, how time flies...

This month has been a whirlwind with lots of changes, visitors, and the big birthday. And Aiden continues to grow way too quickly.

Weight: 26 pounds, 2 ounces
Height: 36 inches
They didn't bother even trying for the head circumference due to his incessant screaming and freaking out over being back in the dr office. You'll see why towards the end of the post.

He's gained three pounds and five inches since he turned 18 months, so I guess the kid IS growing, after all! I've been wondering... He just seems so small to me!

  • Visitors! A couple weeks ago, Mammaw Melly, (Mom's) cousin Michelle, and Michelle's little boy Cody (same age as Aiden) visited for a week. What fun we all had, especially those two little boys! By the end of the week, they were more like brothers! For Aiden's birthday, MaMaw Sharon and David visited, as well. Aiden doesn't take long at all to warm up and loves all the extra attenion. ;)
  • His sprinkler/pool. LOVES it!
  • Dr. Seuss. We didn't have a Cat in the Hat birthday party for no reason! The kid LOVES him some Dr. Seuss. He knows a lot of the parts in the Cat in the Hat, and after we told him he was having a Cat in the Hat party, anytime we would say birthday, he would exclaim "CAT IN THE HAT!!"
  • The big P.F. Chang's horses that are outside of the restaurants.
  • Acting like his stuffed animals do real things...like poop, sleep, nurse, etc. One day he thought both Puppy and Bunny needed diapers. We got some cute pictures out of that!
  • Sports Signing Time video.
  • Lining up throw pillows on the floor and then falling onto them (more like jumping onto them, landing on his tummy).
  • Mama's granola. Mama's fruit "juices" that I make instead of giving him actual juice. Coconut milk. Good thing, too, since he's off dairy for a while. He's into pears right now (we just took him off citrus foods and berries as we try to sort out some possible food allergies, so many of his favorite fruits are off the table, so to speak). Also, he loves frozen blueberries or frozen grapes (grapes are cut before freezing).
  • Tickling us. He's not really into us tickling him, but he likes to tickle us (or his stuffed animals). When he tickles his animals, he bursts out with these high pitched giggles, pretending the animals are laughing.
  • Dancing. He asks for music ALL THE TIME. It's like it's suddenly a crime to not have music playing. And he's very specific about what he wants to hear (usually choosing between Toby Mac, Veggie Tales - he calls them "tomato," Wiggles, and a cd we have with various children's songs - he calls it the animal songs or he'll name certain songs on the cd).
  • Coloring. We've noticed he's becoming more intentional about drawing, too, and is more focused when he does it. (Apparently he doesn't think crayons should have the paper wrapped around them, though. He's been more into pencils until lately, and now that he'll use crayons, he spends more time tearing the paper off than drawing, it seems!)
  • Sports or balls related to sports. He's all boy, that's for sure!
  • The ocean. Still. We went while Cody was visiting so he could see the ocean for the first time, and while Cody loved it, Aiden still was scared of it. At one point, I debated...risking traumatizing him more by bringing him in the water anyway or possibly helping him realize it was calmer once we got past the waves at the shore. I brought him out, and he did end up liking it. He even smiled a bit and splashed the water. It lasted a few minutes. Hopefully next trip won't be as bad, and he'll like it more each time. He still says he likes and wants to see the "big sand" but NOT the ocean or waves...
  • Putting his feet on his high chair seat when we're getting him out. We have him stand up to wipe off any food that got on his clothes, and he now will try not to stand so that his feet won't touch any food that might be on the seat!
  • Anyone but him dancing. He doesn't mind a lot, but when you first put on music, if you start dancing along, too, he'll say "NO!" We simply say "YES! We can dance, too," and continue on. He gets over it. He does, however, love to chase me around in circles while we dance to the music.
  • Bananas. I think he's just gotten tired of eating plain ol' bananas most mornings. He'll still ask for them but will eat the first bite or two and then break and smoosh it all apart, wasting the whole thing. We're finding other ways to eat bananas these days.
  • Knowing he needs his diaper changed. He'll run away and sometimes cry b/c it means he has to stop his playtime or delay getting mama's milk to have his diaper changed. If it means delaying getting the milk, he'll kick and scream and throw the biggest fit the whole time.
  • Meat by itself. Still not a fan. Give him some chicken salad or taco soup, and he's all about it. He sometimes likes bratwurst. A burger by itself, he might eat it or might not. But any other meat by itself, nope.
  • Stairs. Still. He can go up barely using his hands at all, but going down...while I'm sure he can do it just fine, he rarely will. He'll stand at the top, frozen, and insist "Carry, Mommy!" I'm not pushing him to do it himself yet. If I try, he just gets scared, and it's not worth it to scare him. He'll get it.
  • Seeing mama sleeping. Ryan brings him to our bed when Aiden wakes in the morning, so he can nurse while Daddy gets up to shower (or snoozes...), and if I'm still lying there like I'm asleep, he gets pretty upset about it.
New Developments
  • Moved to the TODDLER BED. This was not by choice. Aiden was leaning over the rail and we knew it was just a matter of pushing up on his toes a tiny bit more before he fell out and landed on his head. He wasn't trying to *climb* out yet, but we did not feel it was safe to keep him in any longer. So, we converted the bed to a toddler bed. Way sooner than we wanted...
  • Hives... Ugh. They've been around for too long lately, and we just can't seem to figure out what is causing them. We're still trying, and it means both Aiden and Mommy are on a rather strict diet right now in order to hopefully get rid of the hives and then figure out what the culprit is. Wish us luck.
  • Aiden's getting to be quite the sneaky kid when he wants to get into something he knows is off limits. One day he repeatedly kept getting something out and trying to walk past me with it. He would put it back when I told him to do so, and then take it again...walking past me with his head down as low as possible, almost as if he thought if he couldn't see me, I couldn't see him!
  • Feelings. Not that he's just now aware of different feelings, but we've been working on recognizing them. We make a game out of acting various feelings out. He likes to do sad followed by silly. He'll make the sign for sad, speak with a really slow, sad voice, and make a big frown while he does it. And then he'll make a silly face, shake his head, and say in a really high-pitched voice "silly!" He also likes to bunch up his fists, scrunch his face, and do "angry."
  • Whispering. Sometimes he must think he'll get his way more if he whispers what he wants or the answer to a question, even if he's across the room. For example, when asking if he's ready to go to bed or if he's tired....a whispered "no" is not an uncommon response. It's pretty cute.
  • Rolling the balls in the house. This is actually just an indication he is learning rules and following them. If he is, by chance, caught tossing a ball and is reminded we don't throw (we have a no-throwing-the-ball in the house rule...we only roll them inside), Aiden will say "roll the ball" and proceed to do that. Or sometimes he'll just say it when he rolls it.
  • Repeating what we say or what he hears. Not that this is entirely new, but he'll repeat much longer phrases. If he's listening to music or we're reading a story, it's often the last line he hears. It's funny most of the time and incredible to hear him say such long sentences. Ryan says it's annoying sometimes when he's trying to, say, brush Aiden's teeth. Ryan: "Ok, open your mouth." Aiden: "Ok, open your mouth." Haha!
  • On that note, he's also saying much longer sentences these days. I think we don't give him enough credit sometimes, too. The other day, he was asking for something. He said, "Book please." I told him sooner he would need to ask by saying, "May I have the book please?" to which he responded, "I have the book please?"
  • Memory. Wow, he's remembering so much more these days. Again, nothing too new, but it's growing all the time. I'll mention before bed that we'll be going somewhere the next day, and he'll wake up bright and early asking if it's time already. Or we'll have a friend over one day, and he'll be talking about that person weeks later, asking if they will be coming to play (and apparently, even months later, in some cases!). Another example...He received some shots a little over a month ago. He did not enjoy the experience, and yelled at the nurse, "ALL DONE, ALL DONE!!" and gave her the meanest look. We went for his 2-yr check-up recently, and as soon as the nurse called us back, the screaming began... Since we had some other issues going on, we were not giving him shots at this visit (even the dr agreed to wait), and even constant assurance there would be no shots and "no hurts," the child would not calm down until we left.
  • Tip-toe-ing. I don't know why, but we constantly see Aiden walking around on his tip-toes. He can do it for quite a long time, too! The other day, he was trying to get something from higher up on a shelf, and he was actually standing on the very tips of his toes, with them straight up like a ballerina would do. It was wild to watch!
  • He's gotten rather good at buckling things. He likes to buckle the large chest buckle in his car seat and the buckles in his high chair and booster seat. The last two he can also UNbuckle...
No pictures yet. Again. I was going to take them this morning, but his hives are reappearing on his face and are pretty bright, so we're going to wait until that's not showing for pictures. He broke out in hives the other day, big time, and they're still showing up on and off from that. (More on that soon.) Plus, he woke up super early this morning and has been THE grumpiest kid since. I'm certain any pictures I might succeed in actually taking would not turn out so great. I know he would not smile or cooperate... We'll wait for another more pleasant and hive-free day. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Twenty-three months pictures

While working on Aiden's 24-month post (yes, I'm late - and I still have to TAKE those pictures, so it isn't going up just yet), I remembered that I still hadn't posted his 23-month pictures. Whoops. So, here they are....

He refused to give me a real smile until he decided picture time was over...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Four Years and Counting

Today is our anniversary - four years. I know people say this ALL the time, but Ryan and I even both acknowledged that it feels like we just got married...yet at the same time, it feels like we've been together forever. It goes by quickly, but you easily get to where you are so comfortable with each other and your lives together.

This last year has been a tough one for us. Not for our relationship, necessarily. (So nobody start worrying! Haha!) It's just been a tough year in general. We've had less sleep (less than during Aiden's first year, if you can believe that!) and are learning how so little sleep can affect just about every other facet in our lives, more financial stress, and just all kinds of other things going on to cause stress and make life busier. We've had to learn how to connect and rely on each other in different ways. We've had to learn how to balance things we didn't before. Just all kinds of things have made this year more difficult than others. It's part of life and being a family. Nobody's complaining (though an easy year this go-round wouldn't be so terrible). ;)

We're big Michael Buble fans, and, like just about everyone else, I'm sure, it seems like there is always one love song on each of his cds that we feel is one of "our" songs. You know what I mean. On his "Call Me Irresponsible" cd, I'm pretty sure it's "Everything" for most folks, and on his newest cd, it's probably "Crazy Love" (which I especially love because it's in one of my favorite older movies - She's Having a Baby, but I'm getting off track). BUT there is another song from his Crazy Love cd that really speaks to me and makes me think more about me and Ryan, especially after this past year. I think some people that know us, especially those that have known as before getting married and shortly after, think that we're this perfect couple, always so polite with each other and respectful, and that we're "lucky." I don't buy being lucky. We are what we make ourselves to be. It's not about luck, it's about choices we make every single day. If you rely on luck, you will only get so far...and not very far, at that. So many things we have talked or planned have turned out differently than we expected. But through it all, we're still holding on. And neither of us are going to let go. :) We are a strong couple not because we got lucky but because of how we handle things together and how we treat one another.

And yes, we're still crazy in love with each other.

Hold On

Didn't they always say we were the lucky ones?
I guess that we were once
Babe, we were once

But luck will leave you cause
It is a faithless friend
And in the end when life has got you down
You've got someone here that you can wrap your arms around

So hold on to me tight
Hold on to me tonight
We are stronger here together
Than we could ever be alone
So hold on to me
Don't you ever let me go

There's a thousand ways for things to fall apart
But it's no one's fault
No it's not my fault

Maybe all the plans we made would not work out
But I have no doubt even though it's hard to see
I've got faith in us and I believe in you and me

So hold on to me tight
Hold on, I promise it'll be alright
Cause it's you and me together
And baby all we've got is time
So hold on to me, hold on to me tonight

There's so many dreams that we have given up
Take a look at all we've got
And with this kind of love
What we've got here is enough

So hold on to me tight
Hold on, I promise it'll be alright
Cause we are stronger here together
Then we could ever be alone
Just hold on to me
Don't you ever let me go
Hold on to me, it's gonna be alright
Hold on to me tonight
They always say we were the lucky ones

Sorry if it's not showing up right. I even clicked to use the smallest sized video, and it's just not posting right.... Sorry 'bout that! It's just the lyrics and sound anyway. ;)

Basically, if I were to say a certain line applied to us or that I would say it just like it is in the song...well, it's just the ENTIRE thing. All of it is exactly what I would say. (Thanks, Micheal. You summed it up pretty well!)

I love you, babe. I love that we're stronger together than apart. I love that even though some plans don't work out the way we first thought, that what we have is enough and is right for us in the end. I love that we're always there for each other. I love that others might look at our relationship and think we are lucky...but that we know it's more than that, which means it will remain. I love that you support me fully in every single way possible. I love that you give your all to me without me having to ask, even when it means giving more than you have. (And I love that you want to give me even more than that.) I love the husband that you are to me, the father you are to my children. I love every little thing about you. (Well, most things.) ;) And I love that even when we are going through difficult times, we know we will be holding on to one another through it all, no matter what.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Twenty-three months

Welcome to toddler-hood, where every day brings something new....independence, constant mind-changing, can't-do-it-myself-but-don't-want-your-help, let me have it MY way, learning something new every single day. Life is FULL of surprises and changes these days! It's SUCH a fun age, but there are more challenging days lately, too.

  • Stuffed animals. It started out with Aiden deciding he liked this huge pink puppy one day. It suddenly replaced Bunny, and he took Puppy EVERYwhere for a few days. Then he moved on to another stuffed animal. And another. He mostly keeps coming back to Puppy, and Bunny still has his place at bedtimes, but each day there's no telling which animal will be his favorite.
  • The color pink. He really LOVES pink. He does. (And for those of you that think...boys and pink don't go together... We're fine with it in our family.) It's actually pretty cute.
  • Laughing about something and then exclaiming "Funny!" ESPECIALLY when it's something that he knows is wrong or isn't funny.
  • Foods... Bell peppers (yes, really), salad (one week, he ASKED for salad every day!), peaches, black and blue berries, homemade granola. Ice cream... I made some without eggs, and he loves it. (Of course, he loves it! He's hardly ever given anything that contains sugar, and ice cream definitely contains sugar, even homemade!)
  • Music. For a week, I guess, he was obsessed with the Wiggles. Every second music was not playing he would ask for the Wiggles. He'll dance and dance and sing some of the parts, too. Then suddenly he dropped the Wiggles for Toby Mac. Now, anytime there is no music, it's "Mac? Mac?" (Kind of funny going straight from the Wiggles to Toby Mac, but I'll take it. It's nice to have regular music playing in my head instead of the Wiggles or Veggie Tales...) ;) Who knows what he'll like tomorrow, though. Nothing sticks around for too long at this age, it seems!
  • His necklace. We got him a hazelwood necklace that is supposed to help with teething (and eczema), and he just thinks it is so cool.
  • Saying "cool!"
  • Soft diapers. I'll post more about this once we get through our new-diaper-trial, but we're trying some new diapers - mostly pocket diapers (diapers that have a pocket that holds the insert, and usually has a softer material against the baby's skin) because they are so soft and don't have tags and other things that can irritate skin. We've been having all sorts of issues trying to get Aiden's eczema on his lower back under control, and we think a change in diapers is helping. Aiden will even talk about the "soft diapers" and, when asked, will say he likes the softer ones better. He won't always verbally complain about others, but he will pull on them, and, when asked, say it is bothering him and that he wants a different one.
  • Coloring. He loves to draw with colored pencils now! So much fun, and we have an assortment of pictures to send out to some lucky grandparents soon. ;)
  • Talking with grandparents on Skype. He's really figuring this stuff out, and when I'm on the computer, he'll often ask about his grandparents now! (He talks about grandparents all the time, actually, but he knows he can "see" them on the computer.)
  • Giving kisses (to people, things, etc) and then immediately saying "awww." I guess he gets that reaction a lot when we see him kissing.
  • Washing with soap. He used to hate having soap suds on him, now he loves it and asks for it the whole time we're in the shower.
  • Girls. Well, I think it's more that he likes friends and playdates, but there must be more girls than boys... After one playdate (we actually were able to attend b/c we hosted, so Aiden slept through some of it), Aiden was trying to put on his shoes. When asked where he was going, he said to see a "GIRL!" Haha! And he constantly asks about certain girls he remembers seeing at our house, even months ago(!!).
  • CitiBlocs. You CAN get a joint gift for an 11-year-old and (almost) 2-year-old that they will both equally LOVE. You really can! We got the largest set when we found a great deal on-line, and it's been a great gift!

  • Not getting enough sleep. Now that he's getting more, the days he DOESN'T get enough, he is beyond grumpy!! Before, he wasn't like that, and missing some sleep didn't seem to affect his mood all that much. We think maybe he was just used to it and then he started getting more sleep, which was better for him...and maybe now that he's used to getting more sleep, missing some affects him more than before, if that makes sense. Either way, a short nap (meaning two hours) leads to a very, VERY cranky kid.
  • Mommy not joining in with bedtime routine. I've been nursing Aiden downstairs before any sleep routine. He's done fine, but lately he's gotten to where he gets really upset when Daddy takes him up to get him ready for bed. He screams for me. For a while, he wouldn't even let Ryan brush his teeth, which is odd for a couple reasons... Ryan's the main one that does that job, and Aiden normally doesn't want me doing it. Also, I'm all business about it, while Ryan tries to work with him more if he fights. But still, he wanted me. He's gotten better, and now Ryan can usually get through changing, teeth-brushing, and story-time without me having to join in. I still sometimes have to come up after Aiden's in bed, though, to re-tuck him in because he gets so upset if I don't do it. Not sure where this came from, and it does seem to be getting better. He just wants his mama sometimes, I guess!
  • Not being able to go outside... It's just been way too hot here lately. We sometimes can go out about 8am - for a few minutes. But when the forecast is for 100 degrees, it's pretty hot even by 8 or 9 in the morning.
  • Not being able to do something just the way he wants it right away. Hello impatience! And forget letting us help - until he's already gotten angry, probably thrown what it was he was trying to work with, and then calmed down a bit to even hear our offers to help.
  • Not getting his way right away with certain things. Sometimes "no" is easy to hear, sometimes it sends him into his own "no, no, no"s.

New Developments
  • It seems we've recently been able to go back to one nap, BUT we have to get it in earlier than before. He has to eat lunch at 11 and be down by around noon. If that happens, he can get a good three hours in (yes, my son! Can you believe it?!). He might wake up a few times, but if I go right in and lie him back down, he goes back to sleep. I do have to make sure he gets down on time, though, because if he doesn't...the longer nap doesn't happen, and (as mentioned already), it SHOWS! Get three hours in, and he's one happy toddler, though.
  • Time-out... Aiden has become pretty familiar with time-out recently. The other day, he hit me and immediately said "time-out!" He doesn't always like it. Sometimes a warning that time-out will be the consequence gets him to change his behavior before he does something wrong. And sometimes he says he wants time-out and laughs all the way through it. If he stands, which he does sometimes, I reset the timer, too. And he'll even say "beep!" to show he understands he's supposed to sit until the timer beeps. But it works more than it doesn't, which is nice because it never worked for Camden. And at the end of time-out, he always says he's going to be nice and acknowledges what he did was wrong (e.g. "hitting's a big no-no!"). I've been warning him that soon he'll have to sit for two minutes instead of one. I wonder how that will go.
  • The ever-changing mind of a toddler... This happens with everything it seems. One day he wants one specific blanket for naptime (or he asks for all of them), or he wants a certain animal (usually has four in the bed, but he'll say he doesn't want one and adds a different one), he wants a specific book one day but doesn't want it the next. Sometimes his mind changes before you can even give him what he wants. Sometimes he is stuck on a certain thing for a week, and then he switches to another obsession (such as songs) the next week. You never know! For one week or so, anytime we took a shower, he would say "Mommy sing ACD (the ABCs). Goooo!" Actually, for that week he wanted me to sing the ABCs CONSTANTLY! Now we get in, and he says "No ACD."
  • Books are not safe lately. Not sure what's gotten into him! He has always been great about handling books, and lately he just tears whatever he gets his hands on some days. Very frustrating. It seems like he's just a bit destructive lately in general.
  • Memory. He could remember stuff for quite a while before, but it seems now that he just remembers every little thing - and for the longest time, too!
  • Church = Success!! He didn't even fuss when Ryan dropped him off a couple weeks ago, and I even got to walk back with them when taking him to his room recently! There are some Elmo toys...and apparently that really helps! One day at home, he kept asking for "Elmo Church?" and saying he wanted to go there. Now, he will be moving to the next room when he turns two in less than a month, and we're really hoping they have some Elmo toys in there!! It's taken a while to get him adjusted and happy to go in the room while we...don't, but it's also been really nice to sit through and hear the message uninterrupted.

And blogger isn't uploading pictures tonight, so I'll have to post those later.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Experiment of the Day

Camden sat down to watch a movie while Aiden napped today...and immediately asked for a snack. I almost said what I normally would say when we just finish a meal and he asks for more food...We JUST ate. If you're still hungry, you should have eaten more at lunch. But I stopped myself and thought it would be a good chance to experiment.

We all know they say we eat more when we're sitting in front of the tv, watching a show or playing video games. We don't think about what we're doing; we mindlessly put the food into our mouths, not even paying attention to how much we're eating. Nobody needs to tell us that. We know it's true. SO...what if those foods are healthy foods? Even foods we might not really love? Or even like??

Camden and I both read something recently that was about this very topic and there was mention of putting a plate of healthy veggies out for kids when this situation, among others, arises. Here was my moment.

"Sure, Camden. I'll get you a snack." (Mwahahahahaha...)

I got out a few carrot sticks. He will eat those usually, though. Zucchini. HA. That he does NOT like. So, I cut up quite a few zucchini sticks, at least more than twice the amount of carrots. "What do you want to dip your carrots in, Camden?" He usually uses nothing, but I knew he might want something with the zucchini. Yet I didn't want to SAY zucchini. He thought he would go for some honey mustard dressing. That's what Aiden usually uses to dip some veggies - that or my homemade dressing. (Camden does NOT like ranch for some reason, so...) I even got cute and made a smiley face...dressing was the smile, two blackberries made eyes, carrot sticks and zucchini made the hair. Ok, it really wasn't anything too cool, but still. (Why no more berries? Because the kid will ASK to eat those. The whole point is to see if he'll eat the stuff he DOESN'T like!)

I put the plate next to him on the couch (which is also usually off limits, but I'm experimenting here). "No thanks," he says politely. I walk away.

Five minutes later, he returns to me with an empty plate and a smile. "I know what the trick is," he reminds me. I smile, too.

Yes, child. But you still ate it. ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Camden!

This has been a big birthday for us this year. It's one more year older, yes, but this is also the year Camden goes from being a little boy in elementary school to a big kid in middle school! I think I've been a bit in denial about it... But it's happening, regardless. Camden turned *11* on Monday, June 28th (he was also born on a Monday).

This year, Camden had a birthday party at home, and his short list of friends to have over for a cookout and cake somehow kept growing. By Saturday, we had 11 10/11-year-olds in our small living room. At one point there were more people, but this is what it was at most of the afternoon. Man, boys are wild. And LOUD. The girls kept trying to escape to either inside or the patio, whichever place the boys were NOT, saying they were looking for quiet. A couple boys stayed for a sleep-over, and I think we learned to keep that limited to one at a time for a while. Ha.

So....let's see. This year, Camden has continued to play soccer. His team won the soccer championship and had an undefeated season, the only team in any of the leagues for the town to be undefeated. they were pretty proud of that. Camden has been taking guitar lessons and is getting pretty good, though he isn't really a fan of practicing. He loves living in our new house and having lots of friends that live nearby - and living off a cul-de-sac where he can play soccer and football with all the boys nearby. (There are a lot of boys, but hardly any girls! Not that I'm complaining...) He's all about sports, and I've discovered that he would be happy to wear a white undershirt and basketball shorts every single day. He's still very big on reading, which is awesome. He's always been an advanced reader, so he likes carting big, huge novels around - series are always a hit, and he'll read things over and over. Legos - do they ever go out of style? He loves getting big sets of them, but then he makes them once and doesn't want to take them apart! (We've had to create a limit so that his room doesn't get taken over...)

Camden's really gotten better with his food pickiness lately. Not that he's overly picky, but there's plenty that he didn't like a year or two ago and now will eat happily. He always has to try something, even if he claims he hates it, and after so many tries, he usually ends up liking it. With each food this occurs, he'll proclaim "you were right again!" Ha. He will tell you that his mom is very smart - and that I'm usually right about things. Not when he's mad at me about something, but otherwise, this is the case. ;) Examples about foods he recently did not like and will now eat without complaining are....beans, rice, salad, a dish I make that mostly includes beef and lentils, broccoli, and some others I'm not remembering at the moment. He admits he can't really argue when I make him eat some of the foods he doesn't like since he knows what the outcome will eventually be (though he does try to argue anyway sometimes).

He's getting a bit of an attitude lately...the attitude where he thinks he can talk back or just not follow through and there shouldn't be a problem with that. The attitude where he knows something isn't allowed but we're not looking, so what's wrong with what he did? We've had to become zero-tolerance about this kind of thing, and I think that makes a difference. Give him an inch... Right? He needs that immediate consequence, we've learned. Thankfully it's not every day, and most of the time he is quite pleasant. But I'm sure my mother is thinking, Oh you just wait. Do you remember what you were like as a teenager? What goes around comes around, honey... Right, mom? (That does worry me. I'll be honest!)

Camden is soooo very excited about middle school. I don't think he's nervous at all! He knows there will be more work and less tolerating inappropriate behavior, but he also is excited about many of the other things he will get to do. He's signed up to be in band to play the clarinet. First choice was the sax, but his hands are too small for now, so he'll start with the clarinet. He's looking forward to trying out for the soccer team in 7th grade, and until then, he'll play baseball and soccer outside of school on other teams. He's also quite excited about having lockers at school; I think just about all of the 5th graders are! It seems to be a huge deal. The school is a brand new one that was just finished in the last couple months. It's right next to the elementary school (and high school) and is right next to our neighborhood, which is nice b/c he just walks. He just got a new bike for his birthday (thanks to all the grandparents that sent money to go toward it), so he's looking forward to riding his bike to school now. He's been in a year-round school for the past year, and the new middle school is also year-round. I think he likes that schedule (I know the rest of us do), especially having long breaks throughout the year instead of just one big one in the summer. He's always bored before it's time for school to start back with the long break, and a few weeks at a time seems to be just right.

We went to Camden's 5th grade graduation ceremony today. I always thought those were a little silly... They're not graduating really until they're graduating from high school! But now that we're here, it's not quite as silly as I always thought. I did tear up some, especially when they played Canon in D during the processional, and then the kids all sang "Heal the World." Seriously, I think they were TRYING to make the moms cry! My baby boy is growing up. Some days I just can't deny it. I'm a bit nervous about some aspects of middle school, too. I know what kind of stuff happens there - good and bad. Yikes. He's also getting at an age where it's time for me to let go more, let him make his own decisions (and mistakes), etc. Yikes again...mostly because it can be hard to do that when you know it will sometimes result in them making poor choices or getting hurt. One thing that helps, as I'm learning to back off and let go some, is that other trustworthy adults are entering into Camden's life as he is now in the middle school group at church. Another thing he is super excited about. And I'm thankful to know there will be other good influences in his life (even if they give them poptarts and other junk food sometimes) and another reason for him to be exited about going to church and learning about and growing in God.

I asked Camden what his favorite part of the last year was...his answer was simply the soccer tournament. That was pretty exciting for him! I think in comparison, the rest of the year just didn't match up! I think he's also just really looking forward to some of the things ABOUT to happen when he starts middle school in a few weeks!

Like I said, this has been an emotional birthday for me, mostly because it happens right as he's about to enter middle school and there are all these reminders that he is getting older and I'm having to let go more and more. But it's been a good birthday, nonetheless. We didn't get to go to Kentucky and have the big party we usually have (which is mostly just an excuse to get a bunch of our family and close friends together, since we see them so little), but it was also kind of nice to have a relaxed time (other than that wild birthday party night!!) and just be here together, just our little family.

And I'll leave with a little birthday picture. Since this has been a big year, where he's obviously growing up, I'm including his BIRTH day picture. Because no matter how old he is, he is always, always my baby.

My baby boy, Camden Lee. Born Monday June 28th, 1999 at 12:13pm, coming in at a whopping 11lbs, 21 1/2 inches - by far, the *biggest* blessing I've ever received. ;) The picture was taken in the hospital; Christening gown was made by my mother (and had to be altered b/c he was too big to button it on the arms or neck!). He was literally twice the size as the other babies in the hospital when he was born!

Happy 11th birthday!!

Go here for pics from the month, including birthday party pics, school presentation and school play pics, as well as pics from the 5th grade graduation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day

Just now getting to post this b/c Father's Day was quite busy, and I haven't had the time since. Aiden just went down for his morning nap...later than usual meaning we don't get to meet our friends for a pool playdate that I was so looking forward to, but such is life. Guess I'll find something productive to do at home...

So, we started the day off early, heading to church. Our wonderful church that I wish every single person in the world could attend. I didn't want to get up and going so early in the morning (we go to the early service b/c it's less packed than the others...though still very packed...and we have to drive close to 30 minutes to get there), but once I'm there, I am so thankful I am. Aiden is still adjusting to the nursery. After a two weeks of staying in there with one of us and then two weeks without us, we were out of town and last week they had to turn some kids away when a worker was ill, leaving them with not enough hands for all the kids that showed up...so he hadn't been for four weeks. Daddy always drops him off with Mommy out of sight, but Aiden still cried some. While it hurts to hear that, we know he does calm down and has fun (and they have instructions to call for us if he doesn't calm down within a short amount of time - we don't want to leave him crying for long!), and man...we can actually pay attention during the service when he's not there. When we picked him up, he was playing happily with an Elmo toy, not missing us at all, which was nice to see.

After church we took a trip to the Farmer's Market. We're hoping to make it our after-church routine, especially now that we have found some great vendors. We left with some yummy foods and quite pleased, not only about the food being yummy...but about the food being the kind healthy we were wanting. I'll post more about this later.

The afternoon consisted of me potting some herbs and plants I had purchased at the Farmer's Market while Aiden napped and Ryan and Camden tossed a baseball. When Aiden woke, I took him to the grocery store (because we can't get EVERYthing at the Farmer's Market), and Ryan and Camden headed to the park for some more time together. The plan was to go to the driving range, but Ryan said it was just too hot for that. Dinner consisted of some roasted tomatoes and grilled brats. Everyone loved the brats. Camden didn't want to try them at the Farmer's Market because he said the ones he had before were awful. When he tried these, he said it must just be that he doesn't like store-bought ones and that local ones really are better. ;) Whether that's true or not, at least he's totally on board with this buying local stuff and seeing some benefits. Even Aiden couldn't get enough of the brats, and he's not normally a huge fan of things like hot dogs. And then we had homemade ice cream with grilled pineapple for dessert. (And let me tell you, homemade ice cream is so incredibly easy and delicious! We made vanilla on Sunday, and I mixed up some coffee ice cream this morning that is now in the freezing stage...can't wait! To the person that gave us the ice cream attachment for our wedding: I am beyond sorry that I haven't used it until now! I feel so guilty, especially now that I know how easy it is! Every summer, I've said "This year, I will use that thing!" I finally have. And I will not stop.) Since we made the ice cream egg-free, Aiden was actually able to have some. Of course, he LOVED it.

I hope all the Daddy's out there had a great Father's Day. Although we were doing something all day long, it was actually a fairly relaxed day, which was not the norm and was quite nice. Here is the Father's Day pic of the boys and Ryan.

Happy Father's Day, baby!
You are such an incredible Daddy to our kids.
I am so very thankful we all have you in our lives,
and I look forward to seeing the kind of men you help our boys to one day become.

And also a picture of me and my Daddy. :)

And lastly, maybe the best part of the day... Aiden wore a shirt that says "My dad is a Super Hero." When getting him dressed for church (meaning before 8am), I told Aiden what the shirt said. After he woke from his nap in the afternoon (meaning after 4pm), he pointed to his shirt and said "Super!!!" Um...he was told once what the shirt said and totally remembered it so much later! We were very impressed. After that, he kept saying it. And then he started saying "Super Daddy!" and was saying that until he went to bed. I'm pretty sure that put a smile or two on Daddy's face. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meatless Meals: Stir-Fry

We've been trying to cut back on how much meat we use...for various reasons. One is the cost, but we won't really be saving any money the way we're going about this. We'll be buying better quality meat, which costs more, so using less will allow us to buy the better meat that we want and that is important to us (hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range, grass-fed) without it hurting our budget. Then there are health reasons. Less meat, more veggies, beans, etc, etc.

I recently asked on facebook for some meat-free meal ideas, and I got a few good suggestions and recipes from friends. I also decided to flip through my cookbooks to see what I could find. And I flipped through my recipe binders to see what meat-including recipes I could make and just exclude the meat. One of those recipes ended up being a simple stir-fry.

We've been making stir-fry a lot lately. I know it's supposed to be quick and easy, but the recipe I use isn't all that quick. Sure, the actual cooking part is, but I buy the veggies whole and make the sauces from scratch, so the prep work takes some time. But the results are sooooo worth it.

This came from my Food Network magazine. The "recipe" is actually a mix-and-match guide...and according to the magazine, you could come up with 11,375 different stir-fries. Pick one of several proteins, make a marinade for it, prep 3 cups of a mix of veggies, make one of the five sauces, and then off you go to actually stir frying. I've made it with shrimp and with chicken, with the clear sauce and the sweet and sour. This time, we went meatless, which also meant skipping some steps, cutting off a bit of the time. For our veggies, we just added more - carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms are our typical veggies, sometimes snap peas are thrown in. This time I had some spinach in the fridge that needed to be used up, so I tossed that in, as well. If you're interested, here is the recipe we used.

Veggie Stir-Fry

I used more than 3-cups. I never measure and think the more veggies, the better.
  • Sliced carrots
  • Sliced red, yellow, green bell peppers
  • Quartered mushrooms
  • Small handful of spinach (cut into small pieces b/c I don't like big chunks of cooked spinach)

Sweet & Sour Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth,
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch,
  • 1/4 cup ketchup,
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce,
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar,
  • 1/4 cup sugar,
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, and
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Heat wok over high heat, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil, then 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons minced ginger (or 1 if you're not a huge fan - I discovered that I AM a fan when it's fresh ginger!), 2 minced scallions, and a pinch each of salt and sugar; stir-fry about 30 seconds.

I love how it looks when I'm cooking the ginger and garlic
(we sometimes leave the scallions out, if we don't have them
on hand - tastes fine with or without them!). So very pretty!
Add the vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest to cook; stir-fry until crisp-tender.

Add sauce and stir until sauce is thick and the vegetables are cooked through (won't take long - couple minutes at most). Thin with chicken broth if needed (you shouldn't need to).

Serve over rice. We like to use brown basmati.

Ta-da! Yummy meatless, made-completely-from-scratch stir-fry.

Fresh pineapple is a great addition to this stir-fry!

My older child who doesn't like mushrooms or cooked carrots LOVES this meal, with or without the meat. My toddler eats it like nobody's business. The night I made this with no meat, nobody noticed or said anything about it. Everyone loved it just as much as when I added meat. I loved it more because it shaved off some prep time! My only complaint is that we never have left-overs with this meal! I like to cook large dishes so I can be lazy another night or two (or more!), though it never leads to me having downtime with all the other stuff we have going on. But this dish is always a one-nighter. Maybe I could make more, but even when I think I have enough...nope. I think we have gotten a small lunch for me and Aiden out of it before.

The other night I also made a mushroom stroganoff. Camden, who really claims to not like mushrooms, really liked it! Aiden...he could take it or leave it. Of course, part of the problem was he saw an orange and then just wanted that. Ryan and I really liked it. And again, did not miss the meat. I think it would be even better if we could use regular fettuccine noodles, instead of gluten-free ones (because of Aiden's egg allergy, we need to use gluten-free noodles).

Any favorite meat-less dishes you make? Please feel free to share (comment, email, etc - if you comment, others may find a new recipe to try, too!).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What We're Missing

So, tonight I had a nice dinner (breakfast for dinner) planned. Camden helped when we made the menu this week, and one request was breakfast one night. I thought I would try a new pancake recipe that looked good and healthy all at once. I also had to use an egg replacer, of course. Now that I think about it, I really haven't done much of that lately... I tried a gluten-free, egg-free pancake once, and it turned out to be pretty awful, but we mostly blamed that on the flours used in the mix. Anyway...this turned out to be a flop.

Out to dinner we went. It was already late, and we could have gotten something quick, but I felt bad and wanted to give Camden his breakfast for dinner, so...we went to IHOP about 15 or so minutes away, which meant it took at least a half an hour because we had to deal with diaper changes and packing some food in case there was nothing Aiden could/would eat, etc. Dinner was fine, but while there, I got a bit of a reminder of what we are missing being where we are...

Right next to our table sat a huge family, three tables pushed together to fit them (basically I was facing them...looking down the entire length of the tables). There were three generations - but more than just grandparents, parents, and kids...some aunts/uncles/cousins perhaps, too. I couldn't help but keep looking over at them. I noticed some of the older kids (teenagers) joking around a lot with the grandparents, and it really stuck out how close they must have been to be talking and laughing the way they were.

I'm not typically one to get "home-sick"...but man, it sure made me wish we were with our families back in KY and WV. It made me think, we could have that. We could live near our families and be able to go out to eat with them on a weeknight and laugh and carry on like that. It would be nice to see our families so much that it wasn't considered a special occasion. I guess it did make me a bit home-sick. And there we were, our little family of four, quietly eating our dinner.

And might I just add, on a sweeter note....our little Aiden is such a blessing when eating out! We've had a couple times lately where he wasn't his normal self when out (b/c of teething or being overtired when traveling), and while he wasn't terrible and probably nobody else thought he was bad at all, it was quite stressful for us. But he was back to his angelic self tonight. I never take that for granted and am always amazed at how well-behaved he is when eating out! Thank you, baby boy! At one point, I couldn't help but thinking (and I might just have said it out loud) that he was behaving better than the ten-year-old...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another EcoMom Giveaway!!

So...as I mentioned in my last post, I get to do TWO giveaways for EcoMom! Which means you have two chances to win! :)

This time, instead of trying out some new yummy foods, I got some awesome lotion. I happened to already know this lotion was awesome, but a free bottle and opportunity to share a review with you...and then have a giveaway of some sort (you'll have to read on to find out what the giveaway is) makes it even better.

If you've been following my blog, you know that our littlest guy, Aiden, has some very sensitive skin. He's pretty much had issues since he was born almost two years ago. We've become very careful with what we put on his skin, and that means paying close attention to what lotion we use daily. For the longest time, we just used what the dermatologist recommended. It was a great lotion, and you know the saying...if it's not broken... But as I kept learning about all the chemicals put into lotions and other products, I kept wondering if we should look into using something else. While the cream we were using on Aiden might have worked really well, it was not the best in regards to being free of chemicals and fragrances.

You might be familiar with the EWG (Environmental Working Group) Cosmetic Database. If you're not...you really should be! Go here and learn more about it. They score products on a rating system of 0-10...0 being the best in regards to chemical-free and "safe" and 10 being the worst and pumped full of chemicals. This is based on scientific information, which I really appreciate. If you look up a product, you will get information about the score and why it rates that way, what ingredients are in the product, what each individual ingredient scores, what problems the ingredients are linked with, etc. There is also information about a data gap, b/c they cannot have all the information about every single product out there, so they realize that not every product will have a completely accurate score - and from that you can decide how much faith to put into that score. Check out the site for more information. Go on and type in some of your favorite products and see how they score (and then read why!). Anyway.....

CeraVe, the cream we were using, scored a 4. While this isn't the worst, it's also not the best. We like to keep things in the 0-2 "low hazard" range when we can. So, we started looking for another lotion to try, considering the score, availability, cost, etc. We tried one lotion and Aiden ended up with a rash on his body...I still think it's coincidence, but Ryan doesn't want to try the lotion again. I get it. We might be pretty hypervigilant about what we use on him, but we also have good reasons and feel more than justified, based on past experiences (and some current). So, we then tried one that I have often heard to be great. It scores a big fat ZERO on the database, which is excellent but hard to find. It has no toxic chemicals. Whoo-hoo! The downside is it isn't cheap. But....since we're using it on a person with a small body, it does last quite a while.

We tried it, and...we had a winner! Angel Baby Lotion, made by Earth Mama Angel Baby.

One thing that worried me before trying the lotion was the scent. It's all natural (and 95% organic), but I kept reading that it smelled kind of like an orange Creamsicle. I might be the only one out there...but I'm really not a fan of those. Blech! (Don't hate me.) The smell, though, turned out to be really light and hasn't bothered us at all. Ryan thought it was a little thin, but we are comparing it to a rather thick cream instead of regular lotions. This is just like any other lotion, not thinner. This lotion not only works well (great for eczema!) and is free of toxins, but it's also pthalate free (which you really want..yet many personal care products contain them!), free of parabens, artificial fragrances or dyes, is certified vegan, and is cruelty free. They left out all the bad stuff! :) I even sneak to use this lotion on my hands after diaper changes! It's really great stuff. And knowing I can use it worry-free on my little fella...definitely makes this stuff a winner.

So when EcoMom said they were sending me a bottle of this lotion (and I just happened to be nearing the end of the bottle we purchased), I was pretty thrilled. They sell this lotion, along with other Earth Mama Angel Baby products....on top of a ton of other products found on their website.

EcoMom has been generous enough to not only supply the products for the other giveaway I have going on, but they are also going to give away a $20 gift certificate to one of you. Entering the giveaway is easy. Details below.

If you recall from the other giveaway, EcoMom has a program called EcoPass. You can purchase a $99 annual membership that gives you 15% off of every order and free shipping with no minimum order. (Without the membership, you can only get free shipping once your order hits $75.) Pretty nice! On top of that, they are running a special. They are giving you a $50 gift certificate with your purchase of an EcoPass right now. I'm not sure how long this is going on, so you might want to jump on the opportunity. Or heck...win the gift certificate and apply it to the EcoPass (if that's allowed...I haven't actually checked, but I'm not sure why not!).

Here's how you enter the giveaway...

1. Mandatory entry: Go to EcoMom...look around and post which products you would want to purchase with your $20 gift certificate. Eco-friendly Baby Products - EcoMom. You must do this before you can do any of the extra entries.

Extra entries (one comment per entry):
2. Follow EcoMomCEO on Twitter
3. Like EcoMom on facebook. Leave a comment on the fan page that I sent you!
4. Sign up to receive EcoMom's newsletter
5. Blog/tweet/fb post about this giveaway, link to the giveaway in your post, and leave a comment here linking to your post
6. Email your friends a link to the giveaway (be sure to include me in the email so I can see it); comment here to get your entry.
7. Buy your EcoPass and get 5 extra entries! (Comment 5 times to get them all in.) Remember, they are currently giving you a $50 gift certificate with your purchase of an EcoPass. That's an awesome deal!

PS - If you're reading this on facebook...you need to click to go to the actual blog in order to comment and enter. Comments on facebook will not count toward the giveaway.

Please note, while I did receive products from EcoMom to review, I was not in any way compensated for reviewing the products, and my opinions are entirely my own.

Can't wait for the giveaway? Go on and order...and save 15%! Use this code: SBBL354. Offer good through June 30th, 2010.

Ok, get to it! :) Winner will be selected this Monday, the 21st at 3pm (because that's when I might just get a minute to myself due to one little boy's naptime...). I'll choose the winner randomly and will email to let you know you've won! (Be sure to include your email in each entry!)

Giveaway is now closed.
Winner has been announced via email.
Thanks everyone!