Monday, August 19, 2013

Last Day of Summer Fun

The last day of summer vacation was a day like many others of the summer of 2013, a rainy day!  No one wanted to get out in the rain so they decided to have a super hero show for me.  The kids took turns getting dressed up in various costumes and paraded by me, while dancing to the music in the background.  I think they all had fun and it was nice to do something different from the usual rainy day activities. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's Official

I will head back to school on June 10th!  I will be going to grad school at USC Upstate to get my Masters of Arts in Teaching with a specialization in Visual Impairment.  The first semester will be a summer session at the School for the Deaf and Blind.  It will mean being away from home Monday-Thursday for almost 4 weeks.  Away from Todd and the kids too, as if going back to school wasn't enough of a change.  The kids will be in good hands with their grandparents and Todd.

I can't believe I am going back to school after being away for 15 years.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  I will be interested to see how it is to juggle school while having a husband and 2 kids.  At least I have a great support system: my family!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Seven years ago today, we became parents.  It was one of the happiest days of our lives.  Another year has already gone by.  You are growing up so much faster than we had thought you would.

First grade was a big adjustment for you but you handled it well.  Your teacher this year is a wonderful fit for you and knows just what to do to encourage you.  You have made great strides in your reading and writing, especially over the last few months.  Now we see you reading things when we are out somewhere or to figure out how to do something.  It makes us so happy to see this transformation and can't wait to see you grow even more in your reading.  You and Dad really enjoy reading comic books together now.

You are still a compassionate and sensitive child.  The love that you show other people amazes me.  You love to give others hugs and kisses and I never get tired of seeing that side of you.

Your relationship with Katie has become much more competitive over the past year.  I think a lot of that has to do with both of you getting older and wanting your way.  You have such a special relationship with your sister.  I can see in your eyes how much you really love her, even when you are fighting with her!

This year you joined Cub Scouts and developed a love for camping.  You have even had impromptu camping in the tent in the backyard with Dad and Katie.  Cub Scouts has been a great bonding experience for you and Dad.  It's where he taught you how to play chess.  You also learned archery and how to shoot a BB gun (not really sure how I feel about those two things). 

You still love to play most electronic devices and continue to show us how well you can do that.  Even though I sometimes worry that you spend too much time playing them, I also realize that this is most likely going to be your reality when you grow up. 

I would still say that Legos are your favorite toy and your collection continues to grow.  I am honestly not sure how we have room for all of it.  Joining the Lego Club at school this year was a real treat for you and I think you enjoyed it.

Dad, Katie and I love you so very much.  We can't wait to see what the next year will bring!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Vegetables of our Labor

Over the past few weeks, we have started harvesting some of the vegetables in our garden.  We ate a strawberry spinach salad for Mother's Day using spinach and green onions that were freshly picked.  The broccoli is almost done.  We also noticed that the cabbage heads were ready.  Todd picked one on Sunday and our neighbor grilled it with some sausage and potatoes.  Tonight, Todd let each of the kids take one of the heads that he picked inside.  Here is the finished product:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Second Test

Since Katie just barely failed her hearing test at her 4 year checkup, we had to go back in one month for a follow-up test.  She had a double ear infection at the 4 year checkup, which is why the pediatrician thought she failed the test.  We went in for the retest today.  Unfortunately, Katie still failed the test.  She heard noises at 30db but passing means hearing noises at 20db. 

Her pediatrician recommended taking 1 tsp Zyrtec daily in case it's related to seasonal allergies.  So we will do that and head back again one month from now for another retest.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the third time is a charm!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Every year in early spring, the azalea bushes under the tree in our front yard bloom.  They get bigger and better each year.  Even though the blooms only last for a few weeks, we enjoy them fully.  Here are a few pictures of the bushes.

Monday, April 15, 2013

First Harvest of the Season

Todd planted our vegetable and fruit garden back in mid-March.  There were several close calls with freezing temperatures after planting that required the garden to be covered with a tarp.  While looking at it this weekend, we noticed that the spinach plants were already producing quite a few leaves.  I came inside and looked up when to harvest spinach.  I watched a video on how to do it and what leaves to cut on the plant.  I found out that more leaves will grow after you cut back the plant a little bit.  I plan to freeze some of the spinach for later use and will eat the rest in a salad for lunch tomorrow.  So excited that we are getting something from the garden already!

Here is what I cut tonight:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Eye Appointments for the Kids

Katie and Michael had appointments at Johns Hopkins this morning for an eye checkup.  It's been about 5 months since Katie's last appt and about 9 months since Michael's last appt.  The appointments were actually rescheduled from a few weeks ago.  It just so happened that I was able to reschedule them during spring break so no school was missed.  Unfortunately, Michael had some sort of stomach bug the morning of the appointments.  Somehow, he managed to get through the appointments without vomiting on anyone.  I am amazed at the control he has when suffering through a stomach bug.  He is my hero!

All that aside, the appointment went really well.  Of course, there was the typical screaming about getting drops put in their eyes.  Katie used to be OK with it but after watching Michael throw the perfect fit, she has now mastered it as well.  This time the nurse went to give her a tissue after putting the drops in her eyes and Katie actually threw the tissue down and screamed at her.  Not her finest moment but I wouldn't want drops in my eyes either.

Michael went first.  He was able to read a good bit of the chart and did well on the depth perception measurement.  When he met with the doctor, he was extremely cooperative.  His lenses have not moved since the last visit.  His vision has gotten just a little bit worse but nothing major.  The doctor did write him a new prescription for glasses that will allow his vision to be corrected to 20/40.  This is great!

Katie was next.  At her last appt, the doctor wanted us to patch her right eye for one hour a day.  We did this and he said that he saw an improvement in her left eye.  He wants us to continue with the patching as he doesn't want to lose what has been gained.  A quantitative measurement of her vision was able to be obtained, which wasn't possible at her last appointment in November.  She is seeing better, although her left eye is still considerably weaker than her right eye.  She is also not showing any further lens dislocation at this time either.  She did not get a new prescription as her vision did not worsen.  This was wonderful news.

The doctor wants to see Katie back in 4 months so we will try to coordinate these appointments with our summer visit to Johns Hopkins.  He said that he could see Michael at that time as well so that's probably what we will do.  A good visit was just what we needed!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Egg Hunt

Today was Katie's Easter Egg Hunt at school.  She couldn't wait to go and has been talking about it all week.  We have several Easter baskets at the house so she picked out the one with pink and polka dots.  I dropped her off at school and planned to return when it was time for the hunt.

Ms. Beth, one of Katie's teachers, gave the ground rules for the egg hunt.  They all walked to the grassy area outside their classroom.  As soon as they heard the word "go", all of the kids started running toward the eggs.  There are 14 or 15 kids in her class.  Katie was off and she was picking up eggs quickly.  She didn't follow the rest of the kids but just went after the eggs.  After all of the eggs were picked up, the kids headed back to the class.  They all left their baskets outside.  The teachers wanted everyone to have the same amount of eggs so a few parents made that happen.

Next up was the party in their class during snack time.  They were having pretzels, an Easter lollipop and ice cream sundaes.  Katie waited in line for her turn very patiently.  When it was finally her turn, she decided that she didn't want any of the ice cream and just wanted to sit with me.  After a few minutes (and when most of the kids were done eating), she wanted to eat her ice cream then.  She enjoyed it and ate some of the lollipop too.  As soon as we got in the car after school, she wanted to eat all of the candy she had gotten at the hunt!  Guess she wanted to have it all to herself.  Looking forward to the next hunt on Easter.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Katie's 4 Year Checkup

Today was Katie's annual well visit.  Todd and I were both able to go to the appointment, which I find is better when there are going to be shots involved.  Luckily, the pediatrician's office has changed the schedule on which they give shots and she only got 2.  I remember Michael getting 4 or 5 shots at the 4 year checkup!

Katie is 44 3/4 inches tall (99%) and weighs 40 lbs (82%).  I was surprised that her weight percentile was so high since she looks so long and lean.  This is the same size that Michael was at his 5 year checkup.  Her BMI was 14 (11%) and her BP was 90/62. 

She did not get the vision test, which they typically do at the 4 year checkup, since she already wears glasses.  Unfortunately, she failed the hearing test.  The doctor would like for her hearing to be at 20 decibels and the lowest she could hear was 30 decibels.  He would like to see her back in one month for a hearing recheck.  The reason that she failed the hearing test probably had to do with the fact that she had a double ear infection!  She didn't complain about her ears hurting at all and wasn't running a fever. 

Since we have a water filtration system in our house, the doctor also gave us a prescription for a vitamin with fluoride in it.  This will help her to get the fluoride that she needs without getting too much and damaging her teeth. 

Everything else looked good with Katie.  She is on track for her developmental milestones and we talked a little bit about her sleep issues.  We told him about the sticker chart and getting a reward for going to sleep by herself in her own bed.  So far, so good.  Once we get the bedtime down, we will work on keeping her in her bed all night.

Even though there was a little bad news with the hearing and the ear infection, it was a good appointment overall.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Today Katie turns 4!  I did really well with this birthday.  I think it's because it's not a milestone, like 3, where she turns into a preschool from a toddler, or 5, where she will be starting kindergarten in a few months. 

The past year has been a whirlwind of excitement as she experienced her share of firsts.  First day of preschool, first night away from home without Mom or Dad, first time writing her name by herself.  Katie's vocabulary is ridiculous and it's easy for me to forget that I am talking to a 4 year old.  She uses words like stylish and ingredients in everyday conversation.  Katie does a lot of listening and chooses her words carefully.  Even if you think she is not listening, she is.  She just takes her world in and gives it back when you least expect it.

Katie loves Hello Kitty, Max and Ruby, reading books to herself, Legos, coloring, playing dress-up (whether it be princesses or Batman), and spending time outside riding her scooter or bicycle.  She can get dressed by herself and loves to pick out her clothes.  She has quite a fashion sense, often pairing lavender rain boots with a pink outfit.  The only shoes she will wear to school are her sneakers, unless she knows that they are not going outside because she doesn't like to get sand in her shoes.

Preschool has been a wonderful learning experience for Katie, even if she wasn't so crazy about it at first.  I think she has made a few new friends and gets to play with the friends that she already has.   She still loves learning new things and we practice writing letters at home, as well as reading books to her.  She really likes to get some of Michael's books from school and "read" them to herself.

One of the things that Katie is still working on is sleeping by herself.  Ever since she moved out of the crib, sleeping through the night has been pretty elusive.  Someone has been laying down with her to sleep since shortly after she turned 3.  We have been preparing her for turning 4, when she is going to fall asleep by herself.  Keeping our fingers crossed that this transition goes smoothly.

The relationship between Katie and Michael is one of typical siblings.  She wants to be near him and do what he does.  I think it's hard for her at times to understand that she isn't the same age as him.  When they are not at each other's throats, they can be found playing nicely together.  Michael is very protective of Katie and will go out of his way to make sure that no one does anything to her that he doesn't like.  Of course, it's OK if he does the same thing.

Katie is the daughter we always wanted and makes our family complete!  Happy 4th birthday Katie....Mommy, Daddy and Michael all love you very much.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hello Kitty Cupcakes

Today was the day that Katie was going to celebrate her birthday at school.  I asked her if she wanted me to make cookies or cupcakes for the big day.  She asked for cupcakes with icing.  I had already bought Hello Kitty icing decorations.  I did vanilla cupcakes with pink icing and put the Hello Kitty in the middle.  She was so excited to take the cupcakes to school to show her friends and teachers.

When I picked her up from school, one of her teachers told me that she did not want to blow out the candle after everyone sang Happy Birthday.  Apparently, Katie told them that it wasn't her real birthday on Friday (it's actually tomorrow) so she wasn't going to blow the candle out.  This kid is a trip.  I mean, how many kids do you know who don't love more than one birthday celebration?

Anyway, she did eat a cupcake and we had a few left over to enjoy at home as well.  Here they are:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Katie's Birthday Party

Yesterday we had Katie's 4th birthday party.  We had it this weekend even though her actual birthday isn't until next Saturday because we are going camping with the Cub Scouts next weekend.

Katie has been anxiously awaiting her birthday party for a few months now.  She was really excited about getting to celebrate with family and a few close friends.  Every week she would give me a verbal list of who she wanted to invite.  After she told me the list, then she would ask who was coming.  It ended up being a low-key event, which I now prefer for the birthday parties.

The theme that Katie wanted was Hello Kitty and she had asked for a pinata too.  I decided to make a 3d Hello Kitty cake on top of a half sheet cake.  This was far more ambitious than anything I had done in the past but I felt like it was time to broader my horizons.  Katie loved the finished product.

We set up the bounce house outside.  The weather was perfect for a party.  It was sunny and warm but not hot.  March's weather has really been unpredictable this year so we were thankful for a beautiful day.  The kids played in the bounce house, sandbox and out in the yard while everyone ate lunch

It was time for the pinata next.  All of the kids lined up to get a chance to hit it.  After several rounds of hitting Hello Kitty, she started to break apart.  Surprisingly the kids did not run to get the candy when it fell to the ground.  I guess that's the difference between mostly girls hitting the pinata and mostly boys hitting it.  When it was done, all of the kids calmly collected candy into bags.

We did the cake after that.  Katie was so ready to eat her cake after she blew out the candles.  She had quite a few different kinds of candles on the cake.  She requested a piece of Hello Kitty's body.  After cake, she opened her presents.  Her excitement at opening her gifts was so cute.  She really enjoyed seeing what she had gotten and couldn't wait to open everything. 

After the party, she wanted to know how long until her next birthday party!  I would say it was a success.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Treats

One of the things I love most about holidays are all of the baked goods.  I read magazines, look at Pinterest and just get ideas from other people on things to make.  This year I made 3 things.  The kids helped with 2 of them and I did the 3rd one on my own. 

We made heart shaped red velvet crinkles to give out to Katie's classmates.  The kids had fun using the cookie cutters to make the heart shape.  And almost as much fun eating the scraps from cutting them into hearts. 

For Michael and Katie's teachers, I did white chocolate covered strawberries.  I put Valentine sprinkles on some of them but left a few plain.  I used Valentine cupcake wrappers to put the bigger strawberries in and small cupcake wrappers for the smaller ones.  I forgot to take a picture of the strawberries before I gave them to the teachers so this one will have to do. 

On Valentine's Day, we baked a heart shaped cake.  It was snickerdoodle with cinnamon buttercream icing.  It was the first time we ever had it and I must say it was as delicious as I hoped it would be.  I also did cupcakes with the leftover batter and the kids enjoyed those.  I love holiday treats!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Katie had her Valentine's Day party at school today since she doesn't go to school on Tuesday or Thursday.  She had several different outfits that she could wear but finally decided on this one (and did not want her picture taken).  She couldn't wait to get to school to celebrate!

We made goody bags with heart shaped cookies and red Tootsie pops.  Katie wrote out all of her Valentines herself and was pretty proud of it.  When she got home from school, we went through her whole bag of Valentines.  She was excited to see who she got cards from and what treats they gave out.  As far as she is concerned, this is one of her favorite holidays!

Heart shaped sunglasses were in one of the goody bags and Katie loved them.  Her teacher painted a heart on her cheek and hand.  She told me it looked so stylish.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

100 Days

Today was the 100th day of school for Michael.  Last week he was assigned a small project to celebrate this day.  I don't ever remember celebrating this day when I was in school but I like things having to do with numbers. 

Michael had to gather 100 of an item and put it in a bottle with a lid.  I liked this idea because then the items were contained.  He picked jelly beans.  He also had to write a sheet with 3 clues to guess what was in his bottle.  Then he filled the bottle and put it in a white bag that was folded over at the top.  His 3 clues were: 1) they are chewy; 2) they are different colors; and 3) you get them at Easter.  He said that most of his classmates guessed what they were.