Sunday, January 31, 2010

ClickinMoms: A Giveaway

A couple days ago, I mentioned that one of my favorite places to go to learn about photography is ClickinMoms. I love everything about it ... the style of their website, the fact that they are a community of women and the fact that they make everyone feel welcome -- from amateurs to pros.


Once you click inside the community, you will find a forum, tutorials, galleries, a member directory, contests & prizes, photo help & critique, product reviews, photography business tips, group buys & discounts ... and more!

I know you want to click over and check it all out!

But wait! Stop! Halt!

Kendra ... the owner of the ClickinMoms community ... has offered to give one of you a free one-year membership to ClickinMoms ... a $50 value!

Contest rules ... you have the chance to earn up to five entries --->

Entry #1 -- Leave one comment on this blog post with your name and email address.

Entry #2 -- Leave a second comment on this blog post if you tweeted about this giveaway.

Entry #3 -- Leave a third comment on this blog post if you posted about this giveaway on your facebook page.

Entry #4 -- Leave a fourth comment on this blog post if you posted about this giveaway on your blog.

Entry #5 -- Leave a fifth comment on this blog post if you follow my blog (see left sidebar).

One stipulation -- you cannot be a current or past member of the community to win.

Contest ends Wednesday, February 3, 2010, at midnight PST. The winner will be announced the next day.

Good luck!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Time stood still. But our minds raced.

It was a little after 1 a.m. and we were sound asleep. The kids were all sleeping in their own beds for once ... and Kyle and I in our bed, located right above our two-car garage.

Until we awoke to the sound of one of our garage doors opening.

The loud, unmistakable sound of one of our garage doors. Opening in the middle of the night while we all slept soundly in our bed.

Time stood still. But our minds raced.

Kyle and I both deliriously jumped out of bed ... and said something to the effect of, "What the $%&#?!"

We panicked. Kyle recalls trying to find a pair of pants to put on ... even though he was already wearing a pair of pajama bottoms. Me? I just took off running downstairs after Kyle in my wife beater and underwear.

Meanwhile, the sound of the garage door opening and shutting continued. It was not just opened ... it was opened and closed and opened and closed and ...

Time stood still. But our minds raced.

Kyle ran into our mud room and locked the door that leads to the garage. He then ran out the front door. I thought, what in the hell is he doing?! What if someone is out there?!

I ran into the kitchen ... desperate to find one of our cell phones that had been set down Lord knows where. I turned on every light that I ran past, feeling somewhat confident that nobody had been in the main area of our house since our dog was not barking -- she is crated in that area at night.

Time stood still. But our minds raced.

911. What is your emergency?

As I explained to the dispatcher that our garage door was opening and shutting, I ran to the front door to see what Kyle was doing. He was standing in our driveway ... in a stance that was similar to a basketball player guarding his opponent as he dribbles down the court. The weird thing about watching our garage door go up and down, was that the light attached to the garage door opener was not turning on like it would when in use. Creepy.

Who's in there?!

Get out of the garage!

Who's in there?!

Kyle yelled to me, "Go get me a bat!"

I was thinking ... hell no am I going to find a bat -- I'm going into the kitchen to get the biggest butcher knife we have!

Time stood still. But our minds raced.

I was still on the phone with dispatch as we stood off to the side of our driveway as our garage door continued to go up and down -- just waiting to see someone go running out.

Just as a police cruiser came flying down our street, the garage door stopped -- half way open.

I ran upstairs to get some clothes on, only to find that Payton had woke up. I got dressed, grabbed her and ran outside to find that there were now about five police cruisers outside our home.

During that time, I felt conflicted about leaving Mason and Addison upstairs sleeping. Were they safe? What if there was someone in our house that had snuck upstairs?

Time stood still. But our minds raced.

The police searched our garage. They searched my car, which was parked in the garage. They searched our house -- nothing. Nothing to be found, no indication of what happened.

What in the heck?!

We were completely flustered. The police arrived at our home prepared for a breaking and entering. But there was nothing.

Why was our garage door opening and closing? What caused it to happen?!

No, none of our neighbors have door openers that open our doors. It has never happened before and quite honestly, it was not gonna happen at 1 a.m. in the morning. And even if that had been the case, were they really sitting there hitting the button over and over ... causing our door to open and close and open and close and ... ? No.

Some people that know us well are convinced that our ghost -- click here and here to read more about that -- has made his or her presence known. Some people -- or maybe just me -- try to write it off as a short in a wire.

Really? One too many things have happened here ... yikes. In Kyle's words ... I am so done with this house!

Needless to say, we were wired after this happened. Hello 2 a.m.! As we laid in bed, trying to go back to sleep ... I heard a click. I looked up and realized that our cable box had just turned on. I knew for a fact that it had not been on, because it is exactly where I looked when I awoke earlier to see what time it was. The time was gone ... and the power light was on.

Kyle! Why did our cable box just turn on?!

Seriously -- our house is haunted. Err something.


Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my pact to donate $.25 for every comment left to support Haiti!

128 comments x 25 cents = $32.00

I'm not satisfied, so I am donating $32.00 for every person in my family.

$32.00 x 5 = $160.00

I have decided to donate to Plane to Haiti, which is an urgent humanitarian mission through The Wheelchair Foundation. This mission will serve the devastated people of Haiti to provide over three tons of medical supplies, doctors, and medical staff. The main focus thus far has been to send wheelchairs, as the requests have been steady, and rescue efforts and triage of the wounded are revealing a huge need for assistance for those injured in the Haitian Earthquake of January 12th, 2010.

In order to ship and distribute one wheelchair, $150 in donations must be received. So ... we did it ... we have enough to purchase one wheelchair! In fact, the donation has already been made!

Click here for the full story and photos.

Thank you everyone!



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A plea for Haiti. And my pact.

The devastation from the earthquake in Haiti is extreme.

140,000 people were killed.

1,000,000 people are homeless.

I have been reading the blog of a doctor from Minnesota that is in Haiti providing medical care for the injured. She and her medical team are in immediate need of the following:

Emergency medicine/trauma surgery PA (or similar skill set)
Orthopedic PA (or similar skill set)
Physical Therapist

If you know someone that may be qualified, please pass this information on to them immediately. They are looking to have these people flown into Haiti in two days from now.

Click here or here or here to read about their relief efforts.

I promise you will be inspired.

Or click here to see pictures taken by a Minnesota family that is currently living and serving in Haiti.


Or click here to read about the efforts of New Kids on the Block, the Wheelchair Foundation and others to send a plane to Haiti. Yes ... INKOTB.


I have seen a few bloggers make a pact with their readers to donate a certain amount of money for every comment left on their blogs. Wow ... I'm inspired.

I want to do it. It seems so much bigger than little, old me ... but whatever, even a handful of comments are better than nothing.


My pact --->

I will donate 25 cents for every comment left on this post between now and Friday, January 29, 2010, at 12:00 noon EST.

*ahem* Lurkers -- show your face please! *muah*

Spread the word ... Haiti needs our help!

Photography -- Your questions answered. And a feature!

A few weeks ago, I was asked to be one of several photographers featured in the current edition of Serious Life Magazine. The issue is completely geared toward photography ... tutorials, galleries -- all things that would interest a person that wants to learn more about photography.

So go forth and read!



I get a lot of questions about photography ... and awhile ago, I said that I'd do a Q&A ... so here we go.

Kristin said ... Did you self teach yourself, or take classes? How long have you been at it? Thx :)

Indeed ... I taught myself. I spent many hours online ... reading tutorials, reading photography forums and reading blogs of professional photographers that I admire. I also enrolled in an online photography course through MLK Studios ... however I have yet to finish it.

And ... most importantly, I practiced. Practiced, practiced, practiced. I was determined to learn how to shoot in manual mode ... and I was also determined to learn how to use Photoshop.

And I did. I bought my first digital SLR camera a few years ago ... I have always sort of been interested in photography. It wasn't until almost a year ago ... though ... that I really started scouring the internet to read anything I could find on how to become a better photographer.


Charissa said ... You know I have a million questions. What is noiseware? What photo editing software do you recommend? We bought photoshop but I can't even figure out how to use it. And is there an online tutorial you can recommend?

Noise is something that you will produce in your image if your exposure is off ... or if your lighting is not good. And the higher you increase your ISO, the more noise you are going to get. It drives me insane.

Here is an example ... the close up of the ornament on the right ... very grainy ...
That is noise.

Noiseware is a software that can help to remove noise from images, however you need to be careful because it also can blur your image ... it is a fine line.

I upload all my images to Lightroom to do any exposure tweaking that I need to do ... and then I move the image into Photoshop CS4 for processing. I love Photoshop.

I learned to use Photoshop by reading, reading, reading. I read lots of tutorials at ILP and Clickin Moms ... and I participated in a few online workshops through Creative Techs. I have wanted to do a few workshops through MCP Actions, but I haven't done that yet ... they are a great resource though. I also love Coffeeshop ... there are so many really. I have a few other links that need to be updated on my blogroll.


Jeri said ... Can you give any advice for beginners or wannabe beginners?

While it is possible to yield great images using a point and shoot camera, it is hard. If possible, my first advice would be to invest in a digital SLR camera. And then work on learning how to shoot manually. Read your manual, read tutorials ... and practice.

Practice makes perfect.


Heidi said ... I love your pictures - you are an amazing photographer! My question is how did you learn how to use Photoshop and was it difficult to learn?

I posted some links above, but I also wanted to clue you into actions. I have a ton of actions that I have loaded into Photoshop. Some of my favorites that I use in my every day work flow are those from Pioneer Woman ... love her!


Kristin said ... Can you recommend a high quality camera for a beginner (just in case Santa's reading over my shoulder)? I love my $200 point & shoot, but it just can't take a picture in low light. Something $500 or less... is that too cheap?

Since I shoot Canon ... I'll go with that. The bottom-of-the-line digital SLR is the Canon XS. Right now you can get that on Amazon for $459 ... pretty good deal! This camera comes with a kit lens -- and they usually are not that great.

Many photographers who are just starting out will get a 50mm f/1.8 lens ... it will yield you decent results for less than $100. If you can afford to get a nicer lens, I would definitely recommend that. I found that I have a lot of focus issues with my 50mm f/1.8 and I hear that a lot from people when you are aiming to get a tack sharp image.


Angie said ... Didn't you use to use a SLR camera or something??

Yes ... and I still do. I shoot with a Canon xTi ... however I'm dying to upgrade my camera body. Many people might be surprised at the images I get out of this camera, but honestly ... it is because I've been renting a really expensive, super awesome lens.

The glass is more important than the camera body. The camera body helps, but your glass is what really matters.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ms. Melodramatic

We have got a bit of melodrama floating around our house.


Nika seems to have this fear that she is going to be left out. Or forgotten. And she has no problem letting us know her discontent by dropping to her butt, folding herself in half and having a meltdown.

We nipped that in the bud real quick.


The other morning, I was getting the girls ready for the day. Every morning, each of them get yogurt with their Nutrivene mixed in. I always feed it to them so I can make sure they get it all.

Payton was first. She was throwing a fit, because she wanted Goldfish instead of her yogurt. I told her she could have Goldfish after she ate her yogurt and gave her a little baggie of Goldfish to hold onto.

Nika couldn't take it.


She turned around, covered her eyes and shuddered her shoulders as if she were fake crying.

Oh, the melodrama.


She wanted some Goldfish too. And apparently she thought she was going to go forgotten.


You done, Nika? Because that was quite possibly the most hilarious thing I've ever witnessed.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

C25K: Week Two Recap

Life with Bubba, Chicky and Nika
What is C25K? Click here and here to learn more.

W2D1 ---> I increased my running speed to 5.0 today ... still running on the treadmill. Everything went really well ... except when I accidentally knocked the emergency stop thing during my last run ... oops.

W2D2 ---> Maintained my 5.0 running speed with cool down walks between 3.0 and 3.2. I feel like I could do my cool downs a little faster, but I don't want to overdo it and burn myself out ... so I've stuck with no higher than 3.2 for now.

W2D3 ---> I had to take a few days off ... courtesy of strep throat. It was good to get back on the treadmill though. Finding my calves tight about half way through my training today. I have not been stretching before my workout, but I think I need to start. I have been doing the 5 minute warm up walk and then moving right into my run.

Week One Mileage Log: 5.4 miles
Week Two Mileage Log: 5.4 miles

As manageable as it was for me to run these 90 second stints this week, I'm really not sure how I'm going to be able to run a 5K by mid March. Just thinking about next weeks 3 minute runs is enough to make me panic. Yikes!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I give up.

December 8 ... Mason diagnosed with strep.
December 8 ... Addison diagnosed with strep. Vomiting all night.
December 10 ... Payton diagnosed with strep.
December 28 ... Addison diagnosed with strep.
December 28 ... Payton diagnosed with strep. Vomited all night on Christmas Eve.
January 2 ... Kyle diagnosed with strep.
January 18 ... Bethany diagnosed with strep.
January 20 ... Payton diagnosed with strep. No symptoms.

I give up.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

School age kids with DS

Neither of my girls are school age yet ... as in, kindergarten or above. While they do both attend preschools that are in elementary schools, the preschool programs are kept separate and they basically have no interaction with the rest of the school.

Since Mason started kindergarten, I have really begun to wonder how things will go for my girls once they start school. I know things are specific to the child, but my wish is to have my girls mainstreamed into a regular kindergarten classroom with an aide. You might think I'm ignorant to have that wish, but whatever -- it is my wish. However, the more I visit Mason's school ... the more discouraged I get that this will actually happen.

Not sure why, but that is just a general feeling that I get.

If I may, I would like to ask questions of those of you who already have kids with DS in school ... or if not, what your plan is for your child.

1) Will they be mainstreamed into a regular kindergarten classroom?

2) Will it be possible for them to have an aide in said kindergarten classroom?

3) No matter their placement ... and as long as they have an IEP, I assume they will be considered part of the special ed program?

4) Being part of the special ed program, does that mean they will always have to ride a special ed bus? What if they have an older sibling or buddy that will take care of them on the regular bus -- then can they ride it?

5) Where do they sit in the lunchroom? With a kindergarten class or with the self-contained class?

I know some of these things seem silly, but they all matter to me. The #1 thing I struggle with is having them stand out as being different than their peers. So yeah, my #1 goal is to have their peers understand how much they are alike, rather than different.

I think I have a really big battle to fight. Sigh.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nika ... and some of her doctors.

Pediatrician ...

A couple weeks ago, Nika had her three-year well visit with our pediatrician. The visit went well, however there were a few things I wanted to discuss with her.
  • After we received Nika's referral in Russia, we saw that her medical record stated that she had a Grade III brain bleed at birth and semi-compensating hydrocephalus ... those were the translations, anyway. These two things were obviously a concern to us and we needed to know more information before we adopted her and brought her home.

    We were very lucky to be able to have her seen in-country at the American Medical Clinic. They performed an ultrasound that revealed no evidence of calcifications on her brain --
    which may have been there if she really had a brain bleed -- and no evidence of hydrocephalus. Where these diagnoses came from ... I don't know. Heck, I don't even know that an ultrasound was enough to detect what we were looking for, but it was enough for us to bring her home.

    That said, the one thing we did find out during the ultrasound was that her ventricles were measuring a tiny bit large ...
    as in, a couple milimeters larger than the standard for a child her age. Ahh, so many variables there. Anyway, these things have always sort of been kept in the back of my mind ... not knowing whether or not they really meant anything -- or if they were even true.

    A few weeks ago, I was reading an article that showed a link between enlarged ventricles and balance.
    Imagine that. So then the question comes in -- is Nika's lack of balance just a low muscle tone thing or is it something more?

    I asked our pediatrician about this and she feels that Nika would be showing more external symptoms if she really had something serious going on. And given the fact that she seems to be doing just fine, it isn't worth sedating her for a CAT scan to see if something really is going on.

    All I can do is trust her.
    And for now, I do.

  • Over the summer, we realized that Nika does not sweat. I discussed this with our pediatrician and we agreed that I need to pursue it further at our local Children's Hospital.

  • We discussed the fact that Nika does not get any one-on-one therapy at school -- and that is a battle I've already fought. She does ... however ... get private speech and physical therapy through our insurance and her Medicaid -- thank the Lord for that. Our pediatrician and I discussed also getting her occupational therapy, as it is clear she would benefit from it. I told her I have chosen my battles thus far, but agreed that I have been thinking about getting her an OT evaluation and so that is what I am going to do.

  • Nika is almost caught up on her immunizations. She still needs a couple booster shots, but enough time has not lapsed yet for her to be able to get those. Oh ... and we still have a year to go before she will be getting any MMR vaccines.

  • We discussed Nika's two bouts of strep throat over the past month. Just to be sure that this last round of antibiotics got it all out of her system, we tested her again and sent it to the lab ---> negative, finally!
Geneticist ...

Last week, Nika saw our geneticist. A few people have asked us
why we see a geneticist and I guess the answer is that our geneticist basically serves as a developmental pediatrician for us. I discussed all of the same concerns with our geneticist and came to all the same conclusions. I got scripts for our annual bloodwork and got Nika's stats ...

Weight -- 26 pounds, 10 ounces
Height -- 35 1/4 inches

Down syndrome growth chart -- Weight: 25th percentile, Height: 75th percentile
Typical growth chart -- Weight and Height: 10th percentile
across the board

So yeah, that is why everyone is so surprised when I tell them she is three years old.
Oh, she is so tiny! Yes, I know this people. She is in the bottom 10% amongst her peers for size.

Sleep lab ...

This past week, I had a follow up appointment with our sleep lab to discuss Nika's second sleep study.
The first one was inconclusive.

So the bottom line is that Nika does have obstructive sleep apnea. The specialist that we saw told me that textbooks do not give guidelines to classify children Nika's age in a category --
be it mild, moderate, etc. This sort of confused me, since we have previously been given a diagnosis of moderate sleep apnea for Payton, but whatever. The specialist basically told me that he believes Payton was classified using adult guidelines, which clearly you cannot do for young children. Sigh.

At the end of the day, Nika had approximately
four episodes per hour that she stopped breathing while asleep. The specialist said that if he had to classify her into a category, for a child her age he would say moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Being as though Payton had way more than four episodes, I guess he would have diagnosed her with severe.

Who knows.

Beyond that, during each episode, Nika's oxygen is dropping to 89% ... while she is maintaining 98% the remainder of the time. That was quite concerning to the specialist.

His recommendation is that she have her tonsils and adenoids removed. Given her extremely high and narrow palate, he also told me that I might want to consider a palate expander for her --
and for Payton, actually. He told me that expanding their palates would allow for air to move more properly and blah blah blah.

Next step --> meet with our ENT to discuss the sleep study and the specialist's recommendations.
I guess surgery is looming.

ENT ...

While we were at the sleep lab, I stopped into the ENT's office since it is right next door. Nika's nose has been a junky mess, even after being on antibiotics for two rounds of strep in the past month. They agreed to squeeze us in ... thank God they did. Our pediatrician can't really see in her ears ... although they try to claim they can. Riiight.

Our ENT took Nika under the microscope -- double ear infection. That ... in addition to her junky nose = one round of Omnicef. And if the nose is not clear after the 10 day round, refill it for another 10 days. Oook then.

When is it summer again?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Persistence pays off ...

If at first you don't succeed ...


... try ...


... try again.


Don't give up too easily ...


... persistence pays off ...


... in the end.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

She has come so far.

It has been 1 year, 3 months and 3 days since Nika left her baby home in Russia ... forever. Sometimes I forget how far she has come. Until I look back on the memories.

Like a video I have of her greeting us when we were there visiting her on trip one. She was such a baby.

Or a video I have of her taking her first steps at age two when we were there visiting her on trip one. She had so far to go, but was also doing so well given her circumstances.

Although she was walking regularly soon after we brought her home, her low muscle tone has always left a lot to be desired. We often ever-so-lovingly referred to her as the drunken sailor, because that is pretty much what she looked like when she walked.

And she still looks like that when she runs. Hands flailing, body swaying, feet all over the place.

We have been working hard in physical therapy and at home on strengthening her core ... basically to help her with balance. She used to think that jumping consisted of throwing her hands up and then falling to her butt. I honestly didn't think she would ever grasp the concept of how to jump.

But she has. She is getting it. And not only that, but she now has enough strength and balance to stand on one foot.

She has come so far.

When we brought her home from Russia, she obviously did not know a lick of English. She is still learning but she has come so far. She follows direction well and she is learning to say more and more words ... or approximations, thereof. She chatters all day long ... I often wonder what she and Chicky are saying to each other ... they have the most adorable conversations with each other.

So yeah, Nika has come so far. She still has so far to go, but we love progress!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Gingerbread Village.

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She concocted a grand scheme to build a gingerbread village.


She had enough money for lumber and nails. Oh ... and someone donated a bit of decor.


But half way through the build ... her workers went on strike. And the village was left deserted ... never to be finished.


Sigh. Maybe next year she can find some workers that won't go on strike.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

6 years.

6 years. Whew.


How is it even possible that six years ago I went into labor with my first born. Six years ago I went to sit down on my couch and felt a gush. Six years ago I held the baby I had tried so hard to conceive.

6 years. Yikes!

Dear Mason ...

I can't believe it has already been six years since you entered my life. You have taught me so many things and you have made me so incredibly proud. You have achieved so much ... and worked so hard to accomplish your goals.

You are the best big brother we could ask for. Even though your sisters push your buttons at times, your compassion for them is like no other. My heart swells to watch you do what you do best ---> be a great big brother.

You are a miniature version of your father ... it is a good thing you are obsessed with him. To say you are a Daddy's boy would be an understatement. Your Daddy loves you very much and he will always be 50% of your #1 fan.

Daddy's boy or not ... you and I have a special relationship as mother and son. I'm not quite sure how to put it into words, but the love I have for you ... my only son ... is incredible. It is a bond that will never be broken ... and I will always be the other 50% of your #1 fan.

Happy birthday Bubs! You deserve the world and I feel confident that you will get everything you want out of your life.

Loads of love ...
Your Mama


On a side note, Mason did not go to school today because he can barely move his arms. In addition to everything else that happened with the dermatologist last night, she applied Canthacur to places in Mason's armpits that there was no Molluscum.

When you apply Canthacur to the skin, it causes it to blister. When you apply Canthacur to a Molluscum spot, it gets covered with a piece of tape. Within a couple hours, you remove the tape and the spot is left looking like you see in this picture of Mason's armpit.


Do you see the recklessness here? This is what Mason's armpit looked like this morning. None of those blisters should be there. That is where the Canthacur was placed on his skin and not removed ... even though the doctor know it would cause his skin to blister.

Maybe they were more worried about not having to pay $1 per minute since someone had a kid in daycare past closing.

Mason woke up this morning in tears ... unable to lower his arms to his sides. I sterilized a needle and popped the blisters in an effort to drain them and relieve some of the pain.

He wailed.

In an effort to calm him, I said, "See ... look at the water coming out of the blisters. That will help them deflate."

Through his tears, he said, "Water is a form of matter."

Why yes ... son ... it is. I am so happy to see that you have been learning great things at school ... and that it is in the forefront of your mind as I prick you with a needle.

Love that kid.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My poor baby.


It is a nasty little thing. In addition to strep, it has overcome our world.

This picture was taken when Mason was home sick with strep ... poor kid looks out of it.

Back in October, Mason was diagnosed with Molluscum. Our dermatologist applied Canthacur to each of the spots he had at the time and sent us on our way. Each of the spots blistered, scabbed and left nice little scars all over his body.

My poor baby.

While we were trying to kill the spots he had, new ones appeared. And they keep appearing.

We were given a topical cream to put on any new spots, but insurance limits the amount of cream we can have in a certain time period and the teeny, tiny packets it comes in are not nearly enough to cover all the spots he has. Our hands have been tied and we have applied cream as we can get it.

It sucks. And it frustrates me.

This evening we went back to the dermatologist ... only our old one has left and a new one replaced her. A new one with a really snotty, holier than thou attitude ... not to mention her complete lack of bedside manner.

Poor Mason ended up in tears after they applied Canthacur to a few spots that had busted open. Really -- was that a good idea? And ... she refused to treat more than 10 of his spots -- so I guess we leave the rest to keep growing? Pff.

I was so furious with this dermatologist -- I am not sure why I didn't walk out in the very beginning like I started to do. That was after she lectured me for being 10 minutes late, thanks to a car accident that closed two of three lanes of traffic.*

*I'm sorry lady, but you didn't have to see me if it really was putting you out. And considering I typically wait an hour to be seen in this office, I'm pretty sure you have no room to talk. And I could care less that your nurse is having to pay $1 per minute right now for her daycare -- hardly my problem that she did not make childcare arrangements when she knew she needed to be at work. And I also don't care that it wasn't you that has made me wait in the past -- the point is you work for this practice, and I'm sorry if you don't like all that comes with it.


Mason also has a bit of a yeast infection in his underwear area. He has never had anything like this before, but I assume it came after he was on Augmentin for a few days after Christmas. I had the dermatologist look at it, however she was convinced that it was Eczema.

Umm no. He has never had Eczema before ... and knowing how easily he sweats and how moisture is probably having a hay day in that area, it is so a yeast infection. She even agreed that Eczema typically does not present like this, but she decided she needed to disagree with me and treat it as Eczema.


I disagreed and already had it in my mind that I'd take him to the pediatrician to see what they think. I also knew I already had some Lotrimin to treat it with -- hoping that would help.

So ... just for curiosity sake, I asked the dermatologist if the product she wanted to use for treatment would treat both Eczema and a yeast infection -- ya know, kill two birds with one stone. She told me that no, it would not, and in fact it would make a yeast infection worse.

Oook. That went in one ear and out the other ... I'll take this matter into my own hands.

Seriously ... this entire experience made me so mad. I honestly have never come across a doctor as rude and hoity toity as she was. Blech.

I'll be finding a new dermatologist ... quickly. I let them know I would not be returning and the dermatologist said, "Well, you need to follow up with someone."

Ya think?!

Seriously lady. I do plan to complain to the head of the practice ... it is a shame that they hired someone like this to take the place of what was a wonderful dermatologist. I can only imagine how many patients they are going to lose.

Vent over.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Something is wrong with this picture ...


Snack time ...

Nutrition ... rather ... will be the death of me. Specifically when it comes to my middle child ... namely, Ms. Payton.

Considering the road she has had with food and oral aversions, I feel like I should be happy she will eat at all. However, I'm not sure that a whole lotta salty foods do much for her health.

She is obsessed.

No fruit -- well, except mandarine oranges. No vegetables -- unless you count those salty veggie straws you can get at Costco.

On the other hand ...

My youngest child ... namely, Ms. Addison ... loves fruits and vegetables and meats and soups and pretty much anything that is sold at the grocery store.

So for snack ... this is how it looks at our house.


Payton eats salty chips.

Addison eats tomatoes.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

C25K: Week One Recap

Life with Bubba, Chicky and Nika
What is C25K? Click here and here to learn more.

W1D1 ---> After my five minute warm up, I ran my first 60 second interval at 6.0 on the treadmill. I did fine, but I quickly realized I was going to burn out quickly at that pace. I walked my cool downs at 3.5 and then continued the rest of my runs between 4.5 and 4.7. It felt good to finish, however it left me feeling like I needed to do more.

W1D2 ---> I did my training on the treadmill again ... with these cold temperatures, I was too scared to go outside. I have read that training on the treadmill is definitely not the same as running outside, so I am going to get outside as soon as I can. My runs were between 4.7 and 4.8 and for my cool down walks, I went down between 3.0 and 3.2.

W1D3 ---> On the treadmill again, although I contemplated going outside. Didn't get far. I'm such a mouth breather, that I was really nervous I'd hurt my throat. I increased my runs to 4.9, which right now is a great pace for me. I think 4.7 is too slow and I find myself running goofy because I'm trying to maintain that slower pace, which is awkward for me. I left my cool down walks between 3.0 and 3.2.

Week One Mileage Log: 5.4 miles

My biggest question right now is how to achieve proper breathing. I have read so many people talking about their breathing leveling out after about 10 minutes into their run. What do they mean by that ... and what is proper breathing form?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner -- Take Two

Winner winner, chicken dinner -- Take Two. Ha ... love it.

Words from Kristen ... the winner of the contest -->

I'm so thrilled to have won, but I was blessed enough at Christmas to be able to purchase my own running shoes. I only entered this contest because I really wanted the iPod Shuffle. That said ... I know there are so many other people who have committed to Operation C25K that do not have good running shoes ... so I want to have Bethany draw another name for the $100 gift certificate. Good luck!

So ... Nika, her exhausted/sick/camera shy self, Kristen (via telephone) and I just sat down to draw winner #2 ... drum roll please ...

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Disclaimer: I accidentally said iPod Touch in the video, but it is for an iPod Shuffle. Oops.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy, happy birthday!

Four years ago today, Payton entered the world looking a tid bit dusky.


Well, she actually was more than a tid bit dusky, but we'll keep it at that. The poor thing ... it breaks my heart to see this picture of her just after she was born. I remember saying, "I don't think she is supposed to be this color."

Ya think?!

Seconds later, a NICU team came flying through the doors and whisked Payton over to the side of the room. They were giving her blow by oxygen, which was less than sufficient. They took her away and the next thing I remember is being wheeled into the NICU to see my baby girl. They rolled me up next to her isolette ... and there she lay under an oxy hood with cords everywhere.

Uh ... things were not supposed to happen this way.

A nurse removed Payton's oxy hood so that I could see her face and that is when it hit me. She has Down syndrome. Look at her eyes. It is so obvious.

I didn't say anything to anyone about my suspicions. Not even my husband. And nobody had said anything to me about their suspicions.

Not yet, anyway.

It turned out our baby girl had to stay in the NICU, as she could not breathe on her own. Her red blood cell count was also through the roof and she had two small heart defects ... among other things. The doctors finally let us in on their suspicions and that is when our world came crashing down.

I wasn't sure that I even wanted to see my baby. The hospital social worker had brought me some out dated information on Down syndrome ... one of which was titled How to Breastfeed the Down Syndrome Child.

I remember feeling so empty when I read that. I mean ... the Down Syndrome Child? Was my baby girl not even a person? My emotions were all over the place.

If only I knew then what I know now.

Thank God it did not take me long to realize that Down syndrome or not, this was my child. This was my gift from God and dangnabbit, I wanted to see her.

I would later come to find out that the exact feelings I initially had are very common. Is it hard for me to admit now? Sure it is. But I just didn't know. I was not educated and I had no idea what sort of gift had just fallen in my lap.

A gift that has taught me more things in her four years of life than I have learned my entire life. A gift that has allowed me to appreciate the small things in life. A gift that has given me more compassion than I know what to do with. A gift that I am so deeply in love with, that I am not sure I could live without.

Happy 4th Birthday, Payton. Happy, happy birthday!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Little Brownie Bites


Other than wearing pull ups at night for any potential accidents, Payton is completely potty trained. She is now taking herself to the potty, wiping herself and washing her hands.

One problem.

She often forgets to flush. Which is fine, really.

Except ... when she goes #2, I really prefer that she flush. And I really, really prefer that she flush after going #2 when we have guests.

Because having guests announce that they found something similar to little brownie bites floating in the toilet ... well, ya know.

But I still can't help but be so proud of her.

Even when I find a pot full of #2 ... with an entire roll of toilet paper laying on top of it.


Dear Baby Girl ...

Do you see that little, silver knob on the side of the toilet? Use it next time, kay? I appreciate that you want to save your little brownie bites to show me, but really ... I'm good. And I really appreciate that you are wiping yourself ... but please believe me when I say you do not need an entire roll of toilet paper to accomplish that. Kay?

Your Mama

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A little of what I have learned.

Life with Bubba, Chicky and Nika

Today is day two of my training for C25K -- otherwise written as W1D2 ... week one, day two. I plan to post weekly updates, so more on my training later.

For now, I wanted to post all of the information for the training program in one place. Right here.

The premise behind C25K is that it is a program designed to get just about anyone from the couch to running 5 kilometers -- or 30 minutes -- in 9 weeks. There are several different C25K training programs out there, however I am using the program designed by the people who first came up with it ---> Cool Running.

You can find the training program here.

You will see that as you go through the weeks, you increase your intervals of running and walking. Week one starts you off running 60 seconds and walking 90 seconds for 20 minutes ... which I believe ends up being about eight reps.

Instead of using your watch to time your intervals ... you can download a podcast. The podcast has music to get you in the mood ... and a voice over to tell you when it is time to run and when it is time to walk.


You can find Ullrey's podcast here.

And here is a sample of Ullrey's podcast ...

I found that I was not a fan of the music on Ullrey's podcast ... so I found an alternate that uses hip hop music. I am not necessarily a hip hop fan, but it gets me in the mood to run more than Ullrey's music does.

You can find the hip hop podcast here.

And here is a sample of the hip hop podcast ...

The one most important thing I have learned through all of this is that your shoes matter. They matter! I understand that some people do not have it in their budget to get fitted for a proper pair of running shoes, but I encourage you to do it as soon as you can. Wearing the wrong shoe can cause injury ... and we do not want that because you are going to cross that finish line with us.

When I went to be fitted for my shoes, I first ran on a treadmill while they videotaped the back of my foot to see if -- or how much -- I was pronating. I did pronate slightly and needed a shoe with a little help. After being videotaped with the proper shoe on my foot, I had no pronation and my feet were a perfect 90 degree angle to the ground.

It matters.

Two more important things regarding your feet ...

1) Your running shoe be a half to a full size larger than your normal shoe size. Yup ... that means my amazon shoe is a 10 1/2. Ha. Your feet sweat, swell and move around when you run ... you have to give them room to do so.

2) Wear dry fit running socks. The socks that they sell in running stores are there for a reason. You will notice an incredible difference ... so just know they are worth the investment!

You can find more tips for beginning runners here.

And the Lord knows I still have a lot to learn about running. So feel free to share what you have learned so that everyone can benefit. We will do this!

Don't forget to link up on Mr. Linky below if you will be blogging about your training. I have also created a facebook group so that we all have a mutual place to share our stories, ask questions and support one another.

You can find the Operation C25K facebook group here.

And don't forget to enter for your chance to win a $100 gift certificate and an iPod Shuffle ... the contest ends tomorrow!

Oh ... whenever you need an extra boost to get up off that couch, then watch this.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Plagued by strep.

I have quickly come to realize how pesky strep can be. It has plagued our family over the past month ... it is time for it to move on. Swiftly.

December 8 ... Mason diagnosed with strep.
December 8 ... Addison diagnosed with strep. Vomiting all night.
December 10 ... Payton diagnosed with strep.

Three kids with strep leads to a fridge full of antibiotics.


On Christmas Eve, Payton started vomiting and spiked a fever. No signs of a sore throat, but later in the week Addison started showing signs. So off to the doctor we went.

December 28 ... Addison diagnosed with strep.
December 28 ... Payton diagnosed with strep.

Mason was also tested on December 28, but his quick test was negative. We decided to treat him anyway, at least until we got the official results back. Those ended up being negative, so we stopped his antibiotic.

On December 29, Kyle and I both went to be tested, since we both had sore throats and headaches. It was late in the day, so we had to wait for our official results to come back.

On January 2, the results showed that Kyle was positive for strep. My test had not come back yet, but they decided to just treat both of us with antibiotics.

So once again our house is full of antibiotics ... of a little different variety.

The girls will return to the doctor once they complete their antibiotics for another strep test. We want to make sure it is completely gone this time. It has really affected Addison the worst ... poor thing.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Operation C25K. And a giveaway!

The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.
~ John Bingham

Isn't it funny how certain things continue to touch your life ... over and over again? And the more those things appear, the more inspired you become?


I hate it.

I have always hated it.

I have never understood why people would want to run.

But I continued to be inspired by those very people. People around me who run for pure enjoyment. People around me who are completing marathons. People around me who are a part of the camaraderie that comes with those who run.

You might remember Liz. I have sort of been able to vicariously live her journey through my good friend, McKenna. And if something like this does not smack you in the head, then I'm not sure what does.

McKenna runs. Shortly after Liz was diagnosed with bone cancer, McKenna ran a half marathon. She called me to tell me the camaraderie that she experienced during the race ... and I cried. And I told another friend ... and she cried.

McKenna's story from her blog ...

So ... I ran a half-marathon last Sunday. And ... this post is soooooo not about accomplishing this goal. I did it and am happy I did it ... but to be honest ... with everything going on with Liz, it really was the last thing I wanted to be doing on Sunday ... and the last thing I want a pat on the back about right now.

Knowing that I was very unmotivated to be there, I decided to make my run all about Liz and ironed the words "Pray for Liz" on the back of my shirt. I seriously cannot count the number of people who asked me, "Who's Liz?", or told me, "I'm praying for Liz!", while we were running the 13.1 miles.

I was motivated to run faster because I knew the faster I ran ... the more people would be behind me to see my shirt and pray for Liz. A man at mile 13 told me that I was pacing him between miles 11 and 13 and he had been praying nonstop for two miles for Liz (and I'm not fast, so that's a good 25 minutes of prayer! LOL!). It was awesome to know that hundreds of people were praying for sweet Liz during that looooong run.

Right before the start of the race, a woman came up to me and asked me about my shirt. I told her Liz's story and she prayed with me right there, while we waited to start the race.

{Ok, here's the WOW part.......} I just got a facebook message from this person asking me if I was the person she prayed with before the start of the race! We never exchanged names and I am guessing she found me by my bib number? However she found me, she had to do some digging ... what a blessing!

Seriously. How awesome is that? If McKenna's story is any indication of what goes on at these races, then I am so in.

I am going to learn to love to run.

Starting ... um, tomorrow.

Life with Bubba, Chicky and Nika

A few days ago, I visited my local running store to be fitted with running shoes. They are awful looking, but man are they ever comfortable! And that is all I need to accomplish my goal.


I would like to challenge you to join me.

We shall call it ... Operation C25K (Couch to 5K).

We will train for nine weeks and then run 5K races all around the nation ... each in our own area. I've been looking at doing a Shamrock run ... let's aim for right around St. Patrick's Day.

Am I biting off more than I can chew? Nah. I don't think so.

We are going to support each other and blog about our progress. Link up below and grab the button for your blog.

Let's get this!

* * * * * *

Need a little boost?

How about the chance to win a $100 gift certificate to your local running store so you can snag some shoes? And a 2GB iPod Shuffle to get you in your groove? Use it to upload C25K Training Podcasts, of course.

Yup. I'm giving away this prize package right here, right now.

1) Leave a comment on this blog post telling me why you want to win.

2) Blog, tweet, follow me and/or post this contest on facebook for additional chances at winning -- be sure to leave a comment here for each additional chance at winning, telling me how you earned your additional chance.

That is a total of five chances per person!

3) Contest ends Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at midnight EST. Training for a St. Patrick's Day run must start next week!

Good luck!

Looking all defunktified.


Nika is reckless.

I gotta give the girl credit though ... she is a go getter. When she first started walking ... heck, even still ... we refer to her as the drunken sailor. She is all over the place ... and when she runs, it is so funny. Cute, but funny.

She tries to keep up with her brother and sister the best she can. But physically ... she can't always do that. Although I think someone needs to clue her into that ... because as far as she is concerned, she can do everything they can do.

And I give her credit for that.

But it leads to injury. And I'm not sure she cares ... as long as she can follow her brother and sister around.


See that top left tooth? It didn't always look defunktified like that.

That is courtesy of Nika jumping from the ottoman to the couch ... just like her brother and sister. The problem is she can't really jump. She sort of walks ... and falls forward.

Which is totally fine. If you fall onto cushions.

But the back frame of our couch is hard. And so is the console table behind it.

Common knowledge would tell you that when an open-mouthed-toothy-grin hits a hard surface ... you are gonna end up with a defunktified tooth.


The dentist says it is fine. The tooth has been pushed up into the gum ... who knew that was possible? The tooth may move back into position ... or ... the tooth may die ... or ... the tooth may stay right where it is.

Looking all defunktified.

So we wait and see. And we hope for no more injuries.