Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Pink Christmas Tree

If you read my previous post you know that I'm not able to put up my big Christmas tree and it is making me so sad.  Mostly because I can see sitting there naked and so I get reminded of this unfinished task every time I go past the room.  I hate unfinished tasks.  The other thing making me so sad is this flooring project is also keeping me from putting up my carolers.  I have a huge collection of Byers Choice Carolers and they are always the first thing I put up after Thanksgiving.  But not this year - the only place in my house big enough to hold them is the mantel which is currently in an empty room with no carpet which is waiting for the flooring to even arrive much less be "cured" and put down. 
At least I am ahead of the game on two fronts.  I got 1 of my 3 photo projects done before the sale was over, it was delivered and is beautiful.  I also got my Christmas photo shoot done and have the cards ordered as well.  Since they didn't make the card I'll post a couple shots of Cate decorating her pink Christmas tree.  I know years ago I would have laughed at a pink Christmas tree and thought "how tacky" but it is seriously cute in her room.  The girls love decorating their little trees and I try very hard to let them do it their own ways and not move too may ornaments after they finish - that restraint is much harder than is should be!

check out Cate in the mirror - she took this picture (it was my bribe to get her to pose but as you can see I set her in the middle of the bed for maximum safety for my camera)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The joy of empty space

What is it about kids and empty rooms?  We have one right now and my kids love it more than the toy room it used to be.  I kind of lost my mind again and decided to push forward a project to replace our awful TV room carpet with hardwoods.  Seemed like a good idea at the time because I have excellent free labor right now.  The mess it created at the exact time I'm trying to decorate for Christmas is definitely a downside.  Instead of decorating my big Christmas tree with our family memories - I'm climbing over boxes and furniture that doesn't belong in the library/office.  The good things are the tree is up and the decorations are all waiting upstairs, the bad part is that ornament boxes are buried under toys and pillows.  The wood is now on order and hopefully will arrive tomorrow and I'm guessing as I write this my old nasty carpet is being pulled up and thrown far far away.  That is a very good thing!  Then to add to my insanity I couldn't stand to put back the off-white leather couch I bought in 1996 which is now a dingy grey with marker and ink decorations.  So my awesome parents watched the girls on Saturday while Ric and I made a 3 hours shopping excursion which resulted in a new couch and chair for Christmas - no Coach purse for me but I'll take that trade.

The girls on the other hand are loving this development.  Somehow the empty room is much more fun then the room full of toys.  Two nights in a row the girls have run, chased, danced and laughed in the room.  They have even been going out on the chilly back porch to play with the kitchen we were thinking about getting rid of since they mostly ignore it these day.  Everything is more fun when it is different I guess.  They aren't going to be happy when they aren't allowed in there tonight but I'm guessing the first few days of a new room configuration will be pretty exciting.  Those days are two weeks away since I'm donating the couch ASAP and the new furniture won't be in for two weeks.  At least they will have a few more days of an empty room after the hardwoods are in!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

So many mom's can't be wrong - A Perfect Lily

One of my favorite posts of the year is the Thanksgiving post on the "A Perfect Lily" blog.  Patti request pictures and a sentence of why we are thankful for our kids in October then puts them together in her post.  This year she has 30+ pictures of children with DS, quite a few of which this year where chosen and brought home from far away.  Every mom's accompanying thought echos something we all feel for our kids but somehow seems harder won and possibly therefore more cherished when your child has DS.

Please visit and check out this lovely post - maybe you'll even see a familiar face!

Friday, November 23, 2012

So many things to be thankful for this year

I am amazingly thankful for so many things in my life -
a warm cozy house
an amazing family
an awesome school with great teachers for Cate
therapists who help Cate achieve her potential
great friends
the ability to buy our kids the things they want for Christmas (except that pesky Doc McStuffins doll that is sold out everywhere)
a loving husband who is a great father

There are so many more that would take up pages to list but no surprise to anyone the blessing I am so thankful for I can't put it into words are Cate & Lucy - so I won't even try, I'll just let you see the joy of these two little girls playing in the leaves:



We had a great Thanksgiving dinner with family and I hope you did as well!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Most dreaded doctor's appointment of the year

Sorry for the few posts this month - I'm afraid it will be sparse until after the holidays since things are already turning to pure chaos in our house.

I'm sure you think this post is going to be about Cate but its not, its about Lucy.  Since Cate was born I have been to more specialist doctor appointments then I knew existed.  The cardiologist, pulmonologist, geneticist, dermatologist, and the ENT all require appointments at least annually for her.  Sometimes it can be inconvenient to take her out of school but I never dread the appointments.  That is not the case with Lucy's annual appointment with the allergist.  We found out about Lucy's allergy to dairy and eggs on her first Thanksgiving day - so she was about 8.5 months old.  She had been exclusively breast milk and finger foods up to that point.  On that day I decided to feed her some of the pumpkin pie that I had made myself - she tried a couple little bites but did not like it, thank goodness.  Within a few minutes I could see her face was getting pink, within 15 minutes her lips were puffy but she never had breathing issues.  I called the doctor's help line and was sent for benedryl.  We gave her that and within the hour she was looking much better.  I thought it was the spices or pumpkin and the next day gave her a yogurt puff with the same results.  I was pretty sure by then she was allergic to milk and a blood test the pediatrician did confirmed that plus added egg to the allergy.  We were sent to an allergist for a more comprehensive skin test (skin tests are believed to be more accurate) since they didn't have enough blood to test for every many things.  The first allergist appointment wasn't too bad.  They did four panels I think - each one testing for ten items and we got big hits on egg and dairy with nothing else of concern.  She recovered fast and although the appointment took a long time she was really good and it went smoothly.  The worst part of that first appointment was the laundry list of things she couldn't eat and the fact they could not give me any indication if this was a lifelong condition or she would grow out of it.  So they sent us home with lots of info and prescription med for moderate reactions and an epipen in case of serious reactions involving breathing difficulty.  I was so nervous I wouldn't be able to feed the poor child!  But in the years since I've figured out lots of things she can eat with no problem and either special recipes or acceptable substitutes for the foods she can't eat.  I do have to take a cupcake to birthday parties and make her special dishes during family dinners but its all doable with a little time and preparation.  The other thing they sent us home with was a reminder card to come back in a year.  That is the worst part!!  Every year the appointment has gotten hard to deal with as she becomes more aware and anticipates what is going to happen.  This year was horrible.  She didn't even want to let them take her blood pressure.  We got through the prelims and I told them that I felt we were missing something, that she was often puffy and had itchy eyes even when we know she hasn't had any exposure to milk or eggs.  So the doctor added two panels with the most common environmental allergy triggers - a couple types of trees, a couple types of grasses, cats, dogs, mold, 2 types of dust mites, and roaches (ewwww!) - in addition to the dairy and egg tests.  So what a panel entails is a 8 or 10 pronged grid about the size of a credit card with tips that are like a sharp pencil.  Each one has been dipped in a liquid version of the allergen.  They write with a marker on Lucy's back for identification then make her lay down on her tummy.  She was totally non-compliant but eventually I convinced (read bribed) her to do it.  They then press the panel onto her back with enough force to make a dent but not to really pierce the skin - so uncomfortable but not really painful.  Lucy came off the table crying like we'd cut her.  But of course we weren't done - the milk and egg had to be done separately so I had to hold her down while the nurse put drops on her back then pressed another tool into them.  Now Lucy is crying so hard she is hiccuping - still not done.  Now I have to make her lie relatively still without touching her back which is getting itchier by the minutes for 15 minutes.  She cried some, was almost distracted by a show on the ipad and was very unhappy - she kept saying "wipe it off, wipe it off".  But we finally made it and the nurse came back in to evaluate.  Each allergen that caused a reaction had a mosquito bite like bump - the worse the reaction the bigger the bump.  The only environmental allergens that Lucy reacted seriously to were both dust mites and those spots were at least as big as a nickel each.  She had moderate reactions to dogs and roaches but nothing on the most common grasses and trees.  Her milk and eggs were still serious but to me they looked a little smaller than last year - last year they were almost quarter size if I'm remembering correctly, this year more like dime size.  So we have to encase Lucy's mattress and pillow in a dust mite barrier, get rid of the carpet in the playroom, and vacuum her room more often.  Those little things should temper this allergy quite a bit.  The milk and eggs remains the same - don't eat them!  Actually he said we can continue to experiment with its that have a small amount dairy or eggs in a cooked form - so muffins or cupcakes maybe.  We already know she does well with fried things like chicken nuggets plus most bread (unless it has an egg wash) and munchkin donuts which have some milk/egg in them.
I'm off the hook until next year which will probably be even worse yet because she will actually remember the process not just be wary of the office.
She looked cute though -

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday Thanks #2

Today I'm still thankful for an awesome husband who made my girls trip to NYC last weekend possible.  Ric and the girls had movie nights and went shopping at Costco among other things - Friday night Lucy even told me "I don't miss you at all mommy!!!".  She was pretty excited about that because she was very worried the night before I left that she would miss me too much.  I am also thankful that I have adventurous and girlfriends to take trip with - my mom, Brandie my sister in law, and Lisa R my best friend.  Our trip to NYC was awesome and my friend Lisa R actually had some pictures (I didn't take a single one) for me to share of some of highlights. 

Broadway - my favorite thing to do in NYC is to go see a couple shows.  We waited in the half price ticket line on Friday and got second row seats for the previews of Scandalous a new musical written by Kathie Lee Gifford.  It was a good musical, the story was interesting, and the lead had a great voice.  The story is the life story of a 1920s female Evangelist who started a huge church in LA.  I wasn't a huge fan of the preaching style of much of the dialogue and songs but they were very fitting for the show.  Saturday night we saw "Nice Work If You Can Get It" which is a romantic comedy of Gershwin music set in prohibition starring Matthew Broderick.  I recognized a lot of the music like "I say tomato, you say tomato".  It was funny and high energy, which I enjoyed a lot.
Other than walking a million blocks (its just a couple blocks from here girls!), we also ventured into the subways to check out some more distance attractions like China town.

We did some shopping other than our quick trip to Chinatown, Macy's of course, in and out of some other shops on 5th avenue.  Shopping is not really my thing, but I do like to shop the local artist.  My only purchase other than my Christmas ornament to remember the trip was a very cool stainless steel ring.  We also found a great outdoor shopping area with a lot of character in Bryant Park.  There we had lunch from stands and were able to watch the ice skaters and people in the park.  It was an excellent unexpected outing.
My absolute favorite part of this trip was the food tour we took of Nolita (North of Little Italy) and Noho (north of Houston Street).  We went with Foods of NY - - which we have done before and it is always excellent.  The guide, Anny, was awesome, the neighborhood is adorable and the food was great!
roman style pizza at Emporio Restaurant

watermelon juice and some yummy corn dish at Arron Sanchez's restaurant Fonda Nolita


Monday, November 12, 2012


I am feeling very refreshed after my girls weekend in New York City.  My mother, my sister-in-law, and my best friend traveled to the city early Friday morning and didn't return home until Sunday at 10:30 pm.  So I didn't see my girls from Thursday at bedtime until Monday at 4:30 am (Lucy) and 5:15 am (Cate) when they decided to come look and see if I was home yet.  I won't see Cate fully awake until after school today but I did go have lunch with Lucy today for her Thanksgiving feast (pics tomorrow).   So it was a solid 3+ days of kid free time - I ate food hot without having to cut anyone else's food up, I didn't have to get up to go potty in the middle of any meals, I walked with full strides (for a hundred miles I swear) pulling no little hands behind me, and I slept without getting out of bed until morning.  In other words for 3 days I was in heaven for a mom of small kids or the normal world for a person without them.  In the past leaving for this much time brought on guilt that manifested itself in 100 instructions for my husband, along with planning their meals, laying out clothes and otherwise being over bearing until the days leading up to the trip.  Then during the trip I would feel selfish and sleep poorly because I kept thinking about all the things I'll have to do like laundry or school work when I get home to make up for the "time off".  Now this guilt is completely my own doing - my husband is very supportive of a girls weekend now and again even though the weekend ends up being stressful for him.  I don't know what causes mom's to develop this guilt because at least in my situation most people I know encourage me to do things for myself and tell me I deserve it.  I guess as much as I want to believe it sometimes I can only thing of the mistakes I make on a daily basis - forgetting to dress Cate in a red shirt for drug awareness day or not sending Lucy-friendly cheese on the day her class made their own pizzas.  Its so much easier to remember those little mistakes that the girls barely notice then to remember the positive things I did do for the girls.  I am also good at feeling guilty for asking Ric to do things that he is perfectly happy to do.  I guess that is the super mom complex - I want to prove I can take care of two kids, work full time, manage my house (notice I didn't say clean my house - I'm not that crazy), make healthy home cooked meals, decorate for every holiday and have perfectly dressed kids.  So not going to happen without help but it doesn't stop me from feeling like it should be able something I handle.

I don't know what has changed but this trip did not bring on the normal guilt complex before, during or after.  I think I was just so mentally and physically exhausted from the constant demands of a 6 and 3 year old that I didn't have the energy to feel guilt.  I didn't make Ric lists of things the girls could do or figure out their hour by hour schedule or menu - which would just get thrown away even it I was there.  I did put outfits in their closets for a couple days but that is a normal activity for me these days so they can get dressed on their own over the weekends.  That was the extent of it.  I didn't even pack until the night before which is really late for me since packing is usually a process of selecting and deselecting items until I can get the perfect amount in the suitcase.

New York City was awesome - we had great travel and perfect weather for late fall, chilly but not freezing.  We saw two Broadway shows that were great, did an awesome food tour in Little Italy, ate great food and most of all had a fun easy weekend with no conflict or stress attached.  I hope my companions had as much fun as I did because I am so grateful they were there with me.  Today even though I haven't seen Cate yet, I feel awesome.  Rested even with a shortened, interrupted night, like I left some of the load that I'd been carrying around far away.  I'm sure it will come back eventually but I'm happy to feel lighter for even a little while.  Ric and the girls did great and they seem to have a fun weekend too.  I'm sure I'll get more of the story after pickup today.  I know I'm so lucky to have a guy like him!  Sorry no picture I didn't even take my camera and my 3 phone pictures are terrible!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday Thanks #1

I see on Facebook all these people posting things they are thankful for everyday and I love the idea.  But I'm just not feeling the commitment after finishing the 31/21 challenge.  So as a compromise to myself, I'm going to do blog posts every Thursday in November about things I'm thankful for this year - I promise it won't just say CATE & LUCY every week either :-)!!!

The posts on Facebook also inspired me to again try to make the "what you are thankful for" discussion a normal dinner time habit in our house.  I do think it is valuable to remember how lucky we are and to make sure the girls realize the things Ric and I are thankful for every day.  Here is the recap of last nights discussion:

Lucy:  My toys (obviously our discussion from Monday night is still fresh in her mind!)
Cate:  Taking pictures of my family (not exactly sure where this is coming from but I'm pretty sure Santa is listening to the need to for a kid camera in that statement)
Lisa:  My awesome mother
Ric:  The right to vote

The others are pretty obvious but mine is much more than it sounds.  People frequently tell me how great I am doing with Cate.  Truthfully most of the time I am pretty sure its more that Cate is just awesome then anything I'm doing but I appreciate the acknowledgements.  The thing is without my mother, I would not be doing nearly so well.  My mother is one of the two bolts that hold my sanity together (the other being my husband whom I'm also thankful for but that is a blog for another day).  My mom is the listening board that allows me to bounce ideas off without making commitments while getting just the right amount of advice.  She has an amazing ability to say "I'm going to drop some soup off I just made" or "Why don't you come over for dinner I have too much" on those nights when I'm about to guiltily head to the McDonald's drive thru for the second time in a week.  She goes above and beyond the grandma responsibility so often - not just offering up babysitting for a date night or picking up the kids for me but actually reducing my stress by just being there so I know I can call her when I get overwhelmed.  Yesterday was the perfect example.  You might remember my post in August about Cate's trip to the DS clinic.  One of the things we try to do during that annual visit is to take Cate's blood so that the DS specialist pediatrician can review the results to make sure there are no thyroid issues.  This year it was a disaster.  Cate tried so hard to be brave, she keep talking about it with me and saying she could do it but when then prick actually came she lost it and had an accident plus they didn't get the vein.  It is now three months later and I haven't been able to make time to get a new blood draw.  Cate didn't have school yesterday and my mom not only offered to keep her the whole day but she took her to a Children's Healthcare Center to get the blood draw for me.  So even with a risk of personal wetness and an hour long wait she stepped up and handled it for me.  Cate was great and with the numbing cream they use at Children's she was more intrigued then scared.  Then after a fun day with Grandma, my mom even delivered Cate to her OT handwriting appointment which gave me an hour to go shopping.  Which means that I will not freeze in NYC this weekend because I now own a warm coat that was made in this decade and a couple cute sweaters. 
I know I'm an adult and when push comes to shove I can do it without her, because that is how she raised me - to be well organized, proactive, and strong - but I am so thankful that I have my mom to help me raise my girls, there is just nothing better.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A telling conversation

Last night on our way to my mom's house for dinner, the girls and I had a very telling conversation.  Lucy was discussing a new stuffed dolphin her Nana had gotten her - which she was calling "lady marshmallow head" (I have no idea).  She said "what if I didn't have this dolphin, what if our neighbors came and took all our toys and we didn't get to play with stuffed animals anymore?".  Now although Lucy is a paranoid child in general, she wasn't worried about this just talking out loud (I think).  Cate's perfect big sister response was "Lucy, don't worry our neighborhood is safe".  I decided to take the opportunity to discuss how fortunate they are, so I told them Cate was right and our neighborhood was safe but that in other parts of the country there were children who didn't have a lot of toys or food.  Cate's immediate response was "Mommy, I can share my toys with them".  Awwwww - gotta love that girl.  To which Lucy got very upset saying that she didn't want to share their toys.  After I calmed her down by saying she didn't have too share them but that Cate was being very sweet, she said "Mommy can we buy some different toys for those kids".  I told both girls for Christmas maybe we could buy some toys for kids who didn't have any.  Cate's response was "Mommy, I have a real plan.  I will share my toys, Lucy can buy some toys, and you can buy some food for them."  I know that part of it is an age thing - Lucy is only 3 and its a hard concept to grasp but I think it is also very telling that Cate immediately is ready to help and developing a plan.  I can see that in her all the time, she is always concerned about the child crying on the playground or the baby wailing in the store.  She is going to help people in some fashion in her life - how exactly I don't know but I have no doubt it is going to be a life mission for her.

Sorry no pictures this week, its been a busy one since we were out of town for a baby shower last weekend, my house is a wreck and I'm getting ready for a girls trip this weekend!   Hard to keep my mind on blogging while I"m packing in my head for a trip to NYC to see some Broadway shows and eat some good food in Little Italy with my mom, sister-in-law & my best friend! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Pics

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!
The girls had a great time this year.  Lucy woke up at 4:50 am to ask me if it was Halloween yet and then really didn't go back to sleep so I figured she wouldn't make it though the evening but she did.  Our neighborhood had a pizza party so the girls ran wild with the other neighborhood kids then packs of kids left and started trick or treating.  It was awesome to me - I love that nostalgic feeling of kids running from house and parents milling in the streets chatting.  I can remember my childhood Halloweens feeling just like that.  Cate and Lucy stayed with us for the most part given their aversion to packs of kids but they still ran to many of the houses.  We trick or treated our way home and both girls ended up with full pumpkin buckets.

It was pretty funny this year because Lucy is so aware of her milk allergy now, at the first couple houses when someone tried to put a chocolate candy in her bucket she yanked it back!  So I told her that I would trade her Lucy friendly candy for any of her chocolate candy.  For the next two houses, she allowed it to go into her bucket then promptly took it out and handed it to me.  Always the literal child, I had to amended my promise to "any chocolate candy in your bucket when we get home".  As soon as we got home she was holding me to my promise and sorting her candy!

the camera battery died after Ric took these shots so no trick or treat pics this year

my adorable panda and beautiful cowgirl

Cate was loving the lasso that grandpa made her

can you see the thought "wonder if I can lasso a panda" in Cate's expression?

she probably should have lasso'd this kissing panda!