Sunday, May 30, 2010

Juliana's Story

Kristy is a good childhood friend of mine from El Paso. In fact, her mom babysat me and my sisters after school for several years (no, this is NOT the scary lady that used to lock us outside!), and I have nothing but fond memories of their home, their family, and all of the fun we used to have. A couple of years ago, Kristy and I found each other again through the power of the blogosphere.

Kristy and her husband Roger have two gorgeous daughters, Juliana and Olivia. Even though I have never gotten to meet them, I can tell from the pictures, the stories, and the videos that they are extraordinary girls. Juliana is vivacious, loves to laugh, and has the sparkliest brown eyes that you will ever see. She also happens to have Rett Syndrome, a degenerative neurological disorder that affects about 8,000 girls every year. Rett Syndrome can rob these girls of their ability to walk, talk, and perform tasks that we take for granted every single day.

Although Juliana has been dealt a hand that no child should have to endure, she is also a very lucky girl. That's because her parents are tireless advocates on her behalf and are involved in a very inspiring and profound way with an organization called Girl Power 2 Cure, which works tirelessly to educate, inform, and fund raise--all in the name of finding a cure for Rett Syndrome. See, that's the crazy thing-this could be the first neurological disease actually cured! Advances in stem cell research are very promising and real results are within reach.

Do me a favor and watch the video on Kristy's blog about Juliana and their family. Juliana deserves a chance to live a life free of this debilitating disease. Donate if you can, and if not, just tell someone about it. Knowledge is power.

Monday, May 24, 2010

All Dirty

For the past few days Norah has announced to me that she is 'Allll Dirty.' This has happened at the end of meals, when she gets pen on her finger, and when she has mud on her shirt. The video is not quite in context, but she says it and that's the funny part (to me at least). The video itself is horrible. She is a hot mess-with snot literally pouring out of her face and my face looks gargantuan for some reason. So you know I think what she says is really, really cute if I am willing to post it.

Dinner with Baby

I am a bonanza of blog posts today. I know, I know, you can buy me a drink next time you see me.

Now that Norah is in a big girl bed I fear the next thing to go is going to be her high chair as it is getting harder and harder to convince her to sit in it for meals. Tonight the only way she even entertained the idea was if Baby was in a high chair too.

Norah has moved past 'all done' when she is finished with a meal and now tells me that her hands are 'all dirty.' I will post a video of her saying it as soon as it uploads because it cracks me up.

Baby wasn't done and didn't get to go anywhere until she ate a leftover waffle and some banana yogurt.

Nothing but a yogurt tear.

This was taken a few days ago, but still funny. Norah insisted on going outside wearing her sun hat and dragging several magazines and an old nursing pillow.

Sunday Afternoon Play Date

Yesterday we had a fun family play date with the B-S and B-DU families. The B-S's live less than a mile away from us so it's actually kind of embarrassing we don't see them more often. They come with Simon, the most gorgeous 16 month old. He has long, lovely, blond locks and gets mistaken for a girl just about as much as Norah gets mistaken (still!) for a boy. Simon's dad had to stay home because of a cold, so we all told mean stories about him.

We had grand plans to have a picnic outside, but the weather was cold and windy and so things haphazardly moved inside. We were not well prepared and the dads ended up without chairs at the table. We made fresh guacamole and grilled cheeseburgers. Angela made an orzo-spinach-feta (I think)-citrus salad that was so delicious.

Michele brought some store bought potato salad. Which, while tasty, does not deserve its own picture. That may sound cruel, but Michele is a member of cooking club and should know better. (She's had a house full of sickies for the past week so she gets a pass, but is not immune from ridicule. I told you we are hard core).

I made a butter shortcake with strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

The kids had a blast.

They were all about tickling.

After dinner and dessert we let them tear around the house burning off their sugar highs. Annmarie and Norah had a good cuddle and then all three kids hung out in Norah's bed reading books and jabbing each other with pinwheels.

It was a great way to spend a Sunday.

For Aunt Amy

No one loves Norah's bed head more than her Aunt Amy, so these pictures are for her....


It's no secret that what Norah eats (or for that matter, doesn't eat) occupies about 75% of my brain at any given point in time. She likes a lot of things and will almost always try anything, she just doesn't eat very MUCH of anything. She loves good healthy food and she loves cookies, but won't eat a large quantity of either. As a result, I feel as though I need to make every bite count.

She enjoys snacks and especially when we are out and about, I am happy to oblige. These are two of her favorites:

That's Safeway Organics brand apple cereal bars on the left and Earth's Best Organic Smiley Snacks on the right. Sounds healthy, right? I mean, it's organic after all. You would think that until you took a look at the ingredients list. There are 24 ingredients. There is a long list of things I recognize (apples, oats, honey, wheat flour, cream of tarter, etc.), an even longer list of things I don't. This includes such appetizing treats as rice starch, glycerin, pectin, evaporated cane juice, soy lecithin, carrageenan, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrocholoride, thiamin hydrochloride and cyanocobalamine. The smiley snacks read in a similar way. Now, don't get me wrong, there's no high fructose corn syrup or anything and I know that there have to be some chemicals if it is going to survive on a store shelf, but I realized maybe that was the problem. Maybe I didn't need to be feeding Norah anything that is so preserved that it can stay fresh on my kitchen shelf.

It's not convenient, but I am looking for other ways to feed her healthy and delicious snacks that are as chemical free as humanly possible. The other day for a play date I made Cheerio-peanut butter balls, which could not have been easier. Basically, you combine a half cup of creamy peanut butter with half a cup of organic rice syrup over low heat and then pour the mixture over 4 cups of Cheerios. The mixture was thicker than it was supposed to be and didn't pour very well. I ended up basically making peanut butter balls and then rolling them in Cheerios. Here's the final product:

I had a lot of Cheerios left over, further evidence that I did something wrong.

But the most important critic seemed to think they were delicious (please note she is wearing crocs under Dad's flip flops).

I also made a batch of whole wheat flour and oatmeal cookies. There is some hidden good stuff--namely mashed banana and pureed zucchini. The cookies are sweetened with a little bit of brown sugar and raisins. They were not sweet at all. In fact, if someone gave me one and said it was supposed to be my dessert I would be pissed. But Norah LOVES them, so mission accomplished.

Unless we grow our own produce (I wish!) and raise and slaughter our own meat (gross!) we aren't going to be 100% chemical free. But, if I can make little changes like this it will be a huge step in the right direction.

(PS-I just read a disturbing article about BPA-you know, the bad stuff in plastic. Almost all baby bottles, and kid utensils, plates, bowls, etc are now BPA free. But it still exists in the most unlikely of places. Did you know that canned tomatoes have dangerously high levels of BPA? Crap.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

'Tis the Season

Birthday season has begun! Norah is friends with an amazing group of kids who are all turning two in the next couple of months. Yesterday we kicked things off with a fabulous park celebration for Audrey. I didn't get a single picture of Audrey because she was constantly in motion. Actually, I didn't get a single good picture of anyone, including my own kid. Thank goodness for Jennifer (Ava's mom) who has a great camera and an even better eye. All of these pictures are courtesy of my dear friend who is able to chase after a toddler and take fabulous pictures at the same time-clearly I am not that talented.

I love this time of year because it is nice and warm in the sun and still freezing cold in the shade. I like having the option.

When did she grow up?

Audrey's mom and dad had hula hoops and beach balls. The kids had a great time jumping in and out of the hoops and playing soccer with the balls. I never thought of it before, but beach balls are actually a great way to get them used to kicking (it doesn't take much to make the ball go flying). Norah was totally into it.

The best part of the park was the creek. Norah saw that some kids were wading in it so she ripped off her socks and shoes and jumped right in.

See that little blue thing? It was a cute little stuffed toy that was part of the goody bag. I didn't even realize that Norah had it in her hand until Ruby's mom rescued it floating face up in the creek.

The park also had a fun play structure. Norah was filthy from the creek at this point.

Thanks for the fun party, Audrey! We had a great time. Recognize Norah's top? It is the dress from her first birthday. Sometimes it is nice to have visual proof that she actually is growing even when she eats like a bird.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

False Alarm

I am confident that Norah does not in fact have viral croup. This is evidenced, in part, by the fact that she slept in her own bed from 8:00 pm to 7:30 am without a single peep. I, of course, didn't go to bed until almost 1:00 am because I kept waiting for her to wake up wailing. When will I learn?

The big girl bed continues to be a big hit and she even took a 3 hour nap in it yesterday. It might have something to do with the fact that I bought her an awesome pair of pink crocs and each night I tell her that if she sleeps in her own bed she can wear the crocs the next day.

She is mildly obsessed with crocs. She had a pair that Ruby gave her (black mary janes) and a hand-me down pair from Caleb (red), which she wore into the ground. I still stuff her feet into the red ones because she begs for them but they were leaving indentations all over her poor little feet. I don't know how long the threat of non-croc wearing will keep her in her bed, but for now we are definitely going with it.

Even though I am certain she doesn't have croup, she certainly has a lot of snot. So much that while drinking her milk this morning it made her cough and then puke all.over.BVZ.twice. She wasn't much of a spitter uper as a baby and has had only a handful of puking episodes all of which have been directly on me (or my pillow). I was very proud of her.

In other news, we went to Target yesterday to return a bunch of medication that was involved in the current recall. Because we are lucky like that, we had a bottle of Tylenol, a bottle of Zyrtec, and a bottle of Motrin-all on the recall list (really, what are the odds?) Of course, these were the bottles of medications that we were giving Norah during the Great Rash Incident of 2010. Of course. Anyway, the Target returns employee tried to tell me that we couldn't return the medications without their original boxes because they wouldn't be able to scan the bar code. I very calmly told her that was idiotic because no one keeps the boxes. She reiterated that there was nothing she could do and wasn't taking them back. I reiterated that she was in fact taking them back and could she please do it now and stop wasting my time. I told her that I would be happy to show her pictures of how sick my kid was and that it was the PRINCIPLE of the matter that I was going to get my money back because I was in good faith sold a product that was then determined not to be safe. Besides, they were going to get reimbursed from the manufacturer anyway. She continued to fight me and so I broke out 'lawyer voice' (also known by BVZ as 'the tone') and she refunded all of my money.

Norah and I celebrated by buying Curious George band-aids.

I think we are going to have to establish that only injuries with actual blood get band-aids.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Doing Something Right

Norah might have croup. I say might have because she has that tell-tale seal bark cough, but she doesn't cough very often and doesn't have even a hint of a fever. She is super grumpy though and doesn't seem to have much of an appetite. I suppose we'll find out tonight because croup is supposed to get way worse at night.

Anyway, I took the day off because we didn't want to risk infecting Ruby if it is indeed croup (it's viral, so contagious) and after Norah's nap we went to the grocery store to get soup and a few other things (like jello) that will be easy on the throat. Norah sat in the front of the grocery cart like usual, buckled the seat belt thing and said 'safety fist!' (which I assume was meant to be first). As we walked into the store I asked her if she might like to pick out a little treat. She said yes. I said, 'how about some ice cream?' She said, 'no, Mommy, apples!'

It's very nice to know that someone is paying attention!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Big Girl Update

We didn't hear a peep out of Norah last night until about 3:00 am. At 3:00 am there was blood-curdling screaming, screaming, SCREAMING. BVZ thinks he heard a big thud but no one can say for sure. I flew out of bed and immediately landed right on my ass (I was very much asleep and very disoriented). I then started to run like crazy and slipped on my shirt from the night before which I had carelessly thrown on the floor-BVZ would lecture me about this later-and landed square on my left knee. Despite my two roadblocks I still made it to Norah's room before BVZ did (and he was in a hurry as well). That's superhuman mom strength for you.

She was standing in the middle of the room screaming for us and when I asked her what happened she could only say owie, owie, owie, owie. I asked her what she hit and she said 'wood floor.' HA. Our best guess is that she rolled out of bed. There is no way she could have fallen if she was trying to get down, so she must have tumbled out. I think it scared her more than anything, especially considering the fact that when it happened her room was completely dark (apparently the multiple night lights I set up around the room go off at some point-not my intention). She refused to get back into bed until I told her that she could watch the Elmo Sleepy video on my phone (Andrea Bocelli sings Elmo a lullaby-it's a big hit), and then she snuggled in, watched the video, I gave her a million kisses and left.

She was good again until about 5:30 am when I opened my eyes to her at my side of the bed. I was actually really glad to see her. We snuggled for about a half hour until she decided it was time to start the day (we are lucky-she usually sleeps until at least 7:00). BVZ decided to be a saint and got up with her and took a walk around the neighborhood to check out the fog.

All things considered I am still calling it a big success.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big Girl

For the past month or so Norah has been in serious hate with her crib. Like, kicking, screaming, howling, hate. I love how verbal she is, but I hate that she can yell, 'Mommy come Nanor now. PLEASE.' I can't deal, she's been sick, and so she's just been sleeping with us. Don't get me wrong, I loooooove it when she sleeps with us (seriously). She's totally cute and cuddly and sweet and gazes into my eyes and says 'Hi Mommy' and peppers my face with kisses. I mean, really. I love it. But, our bed is not that big and she's killing my back and my neck and I am waking up multiple times a night to remove her elbows and knees from my ribcage.

I stayed home with Norah this morning to make sure she was fully recovered and then worked from home this afternoon while she went to Ruby's. I took advantage of being alone and ran to Target for a few things. I checked out the toddler bedding, found a set I liked, and on a whim decided I would convert her crib ASAP. Of course I can't do anything half-way and so in the space of a very short amount of time I flipped her room from a nursery into a big girl's room. I am an idiot and didn't take before pictures, but here's the after:

I picked up this little step-stool with the idea that it would be a night table of sorts for her water, night-light lady bug, etc. But she likes to climb into bed using it and has already moved it all around the room climbing on other things. It might need to go.

I moved the heavy chest out and put her bookcase by the glider with the books she likes me to read to her (she's a book maniac, and I can't resist. Books rule).

On the other side is her reading chair with the books that she prefers reading to herself (like the flap books). Like how crooked that picture is? Don't worry, I fixed it.

The best vantage point I could get of the whole room, but you obviously can't see her little library area.

When she got home I told her I had a big surprise for her (I video'd it and will post later). She went right for the bed-after taking her shoes off, of course.

She loved it.

I gave her these cool sunglasses I got for her and told her that they were hers to keep if she stays in her new bed all night. We'll see. After bath and pj's she wanted to get into bed and we read her bedtime books there. Then she gave me a giant hug and kiss, told me bye-bye, talked to herself for about 20 minutes and went to sleep. It's been about 3 hours and I haven't heard a peep.

She's my shining star.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Before Norah was born we decided we would do an alternate vaccination schedule. She would get all of her vaxes (well, except for Hep B which is just silly to give babies who don't have a family member with Hep B), but she would only get one at a time and it would take us longer to get her caught up. This proved to be the right approach to take because she's always been pretty sensitive to vaxes. When she was a baby she would always run a fever, have a stomach ache, etc. When she was about a year old she had a more serious reaction to one and her leg became inflamed and swollen.

I knew we would delay MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) past the recommended time at 12 months old. I was never convinced there was a real connection between the vax and autism (and recent studies have discredited the link completely), but I knew it was a big shot and I wanted to wait until her neurological system was a little more developed. Since she's not in daycare I would have liked to wait until she was about 3, but there have been 6 reported cases of measles in our area and after her crazy rash crisis of April 2010, there was no way we were taking the chance that she would come into contact with the virus.

I took Norah in to get vaxed on Friday. Here she is in the big vax chair. Doesn't it look menacing?

It suuuuucked. She had to sit in my lap with her legs between mine and I had to wrap my arms around her in a bear hug so she couldn't move. As soon as she got the injection she effing lost it and screamed the scream where no sound comes out. As soon as she caught her breath she yelled.screamed.cried. And then cried some more. I was just about to join her when the nurse brought out the basket of stickers and asked her if she wanted one. In between sobs she choked out, 'yes.' The nurse asked her if she wanted the princess one and she said, 'noooooooo, nanor want dinosaur.'

I couldn't have been more proud.

We had to hang out in the waiting room for a while (her record is flagged as someone who reacts) and she alternated between crying and being stoked that she got to drink water from a water cooler out of a little paper cup. She didn't want to walk and cried anytime anything bumped into her leg. We got taken back so the nurse could check her again and her poor little leg was red and swollen from thigh to knee. It looked like she had a really bad, puffy sunburn. The area where the actual injection was (about a half dollar size) was really hard to the touch. Her pediatrician came in to look at her and said it looked like a typical allergic reaction to the vaccine and the hard part was a nodule and would go away in about a day. They gave her some Benadryl right there which seemed to calm her down a lot. We had to wait for another 30 minutes or so and she got checked again and her leg was still red, but way better than before. We got to go home with the heads up that she would be much more likely to develop the classic MMR reaction, which is a rash and fever 7 to 10 days after the injection. Given the ordeal we just went through last month we were also told that at the first sign of anything abnormal we had to bring her back in.

It was BVZ's birthday so we went home and made him a chocolate cake. Norah enjoyed helping. She especially enjoyed coating the kitchen in a fine layer of cocoa powder.

She favored her left leg for the rest of the evening, but was back to normal, torturing the cat and catching up on Sudoku.

The next morning BVZ left for a Giants game with some friends (because I am the best wife ever-okay, maybe the best wife on this particular Saturday-for his birthday I got tickets to the game for BVZ and 3 of his friends and then coordinated with them so it would be a surprise for him). I took advantage of the chance to catch up with the Hsu girls (Poppa Hsu was going to the game) and we went to the Coyote Point Museum in San Mateo. It's super cute, I highly recommend it. I didn't get but a very few pictures, but the best discovery of the day was that Norah loves caves and has no interest in snakes.

We all went back to our house and after a short nap the girls had a grand time with the sand and water table, making its first debut of the season. (As an aside, when I first got Norah the table last year I spent a small fortune on 'safe sand'. Apparently regular sand box sand from Home Depot might as well be called Cancer Sand. We never ended up using the sand last year and rather kept it as a water-water table since I didn't think one year olds could handle the awesome responsibility of keeping sand and water separate. I busted the sand out on Saturday, and man, Non-Cancer Sand rules! It is sparkly and white and awesome even when wet because as it turns out an almost four year old and two almost two year olds can't handle the awesome responsibility of keeping sand and water separate either).

Anyway, we had a great afternoon and I didn't think twice when Norah slowed way down and became more and more grumpy as the day wore on. She refused dinner and a bath and asked to go to bed. Which is when I figured I ought to take her temperature. 102. Crap. Dosed her up with Tylenol and then Motrin a few hours later when she was still burning up. Had a restless night and she woke up this morning at 6:30 with a 103 temp. Crap. Norah wasn't all that fussy but kept telling me that her tummy and neck hurt. Crap, crap. Called the doctor as soon as they opened to ask what they wanted us to do and we had to come in right away.

At this point I was starting to worry that the doctor was going to think I have Munchausen by Proxy (which is my favorite psychological disease, by the way, I never miss a Lifetime Movie that deals with it), since by this point we are spending more on co-pays than on her college fund. We actually saw one of the doctors that misdiagnosed her rash so I think he was intent on doing as thorough as a job as possible. She checked out fine and her joints seem to be unaffected (which is the big fear with her) and her ears and nose were clear, ie they have no idea what is causing her fever. While an MMR fever doesn't happen this close to the injection time, everyone was in agreement that it seemed logical that the two are connected. It may just be how her body reacts to anything foreign that's put into it. Which is so effing frustrating because we may never know if the medication we give her is going to be worse than the illness. It all seems like a big crap shoot.

Since she was complaining that her neck hurt and strep throat is going around he went ahead and did a throat culture, which of course involves sticking a giant q-tip down her throat. You can imagine she loved that. She was pretty quick to recover and the doctor started to offer her a lollipop before I gave him the 'don't you dare look' with my eyes and he instead pulled out the sticker basket. She picked a truck.

We took it easy the rest of the day and she was more than happy to take a long nap, but again woke with a 102 temp. She was sad and didn't want to eat or drink a thing.

But, motrin works wonders on her and soon we were reading 97 books in the tent and playing monster chase throughout the entire house.

She found the video camera.

And decided the cat might like to cuddle with it. She's generous like that.

Cross your fingers that this crazy fever is just a fluke and it passes quickly. The poor kid needs a break.