Friday, October 28, 2011

more from the big day!



Here are some (many!) pictures, mainly from Wednesday, beginning with a family pic before leaving for the hospital! Mixture of camera and phone pics...


Waiting room fun!

Grandpa and GG waiting by the door Charlotte was about to come through with Stan. I was able to watch all of this on a tv in the operating room...so neat.

Charlotte showed off her strong lungs right off the bat.

As soon as I talked to her right here, she stopped crying...pretty neat :).

And she's here! Meeting the fam for the first time :). I love how Anniston is looking at Stan...


With his girls...I love these pictures of them...


SO sad when daddy and the baby went into the nursery :(... Kind of makes me laugh...

Big girl!

With my wonderful doctor!


With GG! (My dad had a cold so couldn't hold her :(...will have to share that picture when the time comes :).


With my friend, Chloe, who brought the sweet birthday cookie cake for Charlotte!

Loving Pops!

Now Janjan!

Big Sis played and played!

With Aunt Meg!

This is what Anniston does when we ask her to "Praise Jesus!" ha.

Sleepy girl...LOVE having another girl with great cheeks :).


From yesterday...wide awake!


Sorry, not sure why I had to write commentary under almost every picture when it is pretty evident what you are looking at in these :).

We are doing great! I CANNOT believe how awesome I feel this time. I thought it was great last time, but seriously, this is such a blessing. Going home tomorrow!




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

it's a baby!!!







Charlotte Adeline is here!!!

7 lb, 15 oz
20.5 inches long
born at 12:13pm!


She is beautiful with chubby cheeks like her sister, and, not like her sister, she has lots of dark hair!! Love her!!


Everything went SO smoothly, and she is the picture of health! Thank you so much for your prayers!! They were felt and answered!


I have lots of other pictures that I will share asap!



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

randoms via the day before :)


I cannot believe tomorrow is the day! I just wanted to document what we have been up to these last few days as a family of three and to share more prego stuff for my memory!

So, it kind of feels like we are about to be first time parents to a brand newborn baby...does that phrasing make sense? Stan and I have been talking about how we didn't really fully take care of Anniston for the first month. I know that happens to a lot of people, so maybe some of you have been there, too, if your baby didn't come home right away? The nurses took care of her, for sure and especially at night, so we pretty well got some good sleep (minus waking to pump every few hours but no big deal...tmi?) Anniston even came home from the hospital on a schedule, so that was a plus, too! Don't get me wrong, I am so so so glad that this should be different with a completely healthy baby and that we don't have to sit anxiously by the phone at night hoping that the nurse won't call (wouldn't trade that for the world!)...it just all feels very new still! Pray we will know what to do! ha

Oh, and not to mention the delivery! It is so different anticipating the delivery this time. I don't think I have ever shared many details of how Anniston got here, and it is because it was kind of not the best time (could have been much worse though, so still thankful), and I didn't want to scare anyone away since what happened to me is not very common. I will just share one part because it is the main aspect that seems so strange/exciting to me right now. When I was in labor, my epidural only worked on half of my body (really not fun, especially with all the fun pitocin...), so when I had to go in for the section, they could not get me numb all the way and had to put me to sleep without Stan in the room. It was SO weird not seeing my baby come out of me! I had always anticipated that and never thought of any other option that would prevent me from at least seeing her. She kind of didn't feel like she was mine when I saw her a few hours later, but that is a whole other post ha. I was just SO thankful she was okay, so none of that mattered at all at the time. ANYWAY, I am excited to see Charlotte this time! So many new things!

And, after my pre-op appointment at the hospital today, I am a teeny bit nervous, so you can pray for that, too :).


Okay, I have to document this because these have probably been my biggest craving. Yes you heard me...craving. Stan makes fun of me all the time because I think I could just eat the whole bottle in one sitting. And, no I have not done that! Pretty sure that's not advisable. Anyway, I do chew a few, ahem, a day. Listen, I just never knew they had Wintergreen flavor! I thought they were always just those nasty, chalky fruity kind, but these are SO good. And, I guess I need my calcium too, so plusses all around!


Saturday, we had a fun day just the three of us. We needed to pick up a few last minute things at the grocery store, and our new store has grocery carts for the kids! Anniston LOVED pushing it, and for a little while, Stan pushed her in it and won all kinds of daddy points from the other ladies in the store :). Oh, and then he took her to the playground without me that afternoon and won even more points. He's doing gooood :).



Like mother like daughter...notice here that she is going after my tums :).



That morning, we also went to the farmer's market to pick up a few things and took a few quick pictures of her with the pumpkins!



She kept looking at Stan :).

Almost fell off the pumpkin prop...

Sweet smile, sweet girl. I must point out that she has just been the sweetest little girl lately. Not that she wasn't sweet before, but I think she is just growing up. Maybe she knows something is changing? Although she is nice to everyone else, she does seem to show me lots of extra love lately, which I will gladly accept and soak up :). She actually just jumped all over my stomach trying to give me love a few minutes ago, so pray that she gently loves me (and Charlotte) over the next few weeks, ha.


Okay, I will try to post pictures asap tomorrow afternoon! Thank you so much for praying for us!


***OH, also, Anniston has been doing SO much better walking the last week!! I know it is because of you guys praying! Thank you!!





Saturday, October 22, 2011

progress, part 2: OT and speech



I am sharing this picture not only because of the season but also because Anniston's OT actually made her this dress! Isn't that so sweet?? Her OT has been so kind and very relatable/understanding with me...totally priceless with a therapist. She has even cried when telling me how much she sees in Anniston and how she knows she will be just fine. Love her. She asked me a couple of weeks ago if she could sew Anniston a fall dress, and I said sure! To which she replied: "Ok, I already took her measurements last week" ha. Too nice.

Well, in trying to be positive, I will just say that Anniston's right arm was pretty affected by the stroke, but it is definitely getting better! On one hand, I could almost say that I haven't seen a ton of progress, but on the other: if we sit back and look at where she has come from, all of these baby steps really are huge. There is a good bit of neglect when it comes to her right arm/hand...she doesn't hold a book or a ball with both hands, but when we are reading a book, we can say "turn the page with your right hand", and she will do it :). We lift the page, and she turns it with her fist...the movement is slow, and you can tell she is thinking so hard about it while she does it, but this is for sure an improvement. She will stand at the piano, playing away with her left hand, and when we say "play with your right hand", she will lift it up and bang the keys.

For a while, we did constraint therapy at home (where we tie down her good arm...I know, seems aweful), but now that she is older, it is a bit harder, so we try to present things to her on her right side to show her that it would be "easier" to use the arm that is closer. I try to sit to her right at restaurants, and we have always positioned her carseat (whether rear-facing or forward) to where the window she looks out of is to her right to help prevent any favoring with looking to the left. Her eyes look equally in both directions (you would never know how severe the stroke was by looking at her face...such a praise), but her arm is the main form of neglect with her right side. I know as she gets older and sees the importance of using it, there will be much improvement.


She wears this little soft thumb splint on her right hand most of the time when she is awake...mainly at home and at therapy. I think she had just spilled applesauce on it in the pic if you were wondering :). This splint has really done wonders with helping her hand to be relaxed while holding her thumb out. She had another thumb-loop splint before this that was great, too, but she learned how to take it off :).

The hard splint from last year was great, but it did not last very long because she was to wear it at night, and it began to interrupt her sleep :(...

All in all, her right arm is getting better! I think I have mentioned this before, but the return of movement after an injury like this usually starts at the shoulder and moves down to the elbow and then to the fingers. We have to resist the urge to focus on her fingers because that can be discouraging, but if we look at all that she is doing with her arm as a whole (pulling up, crawling, bringing it to mid-line more), we can see so many improvements!

*****

Okay, on to speech. Hmmm...where to begin. Basically, since the stroke affected the left side of Anniston's brain (where speech is), it appears that some of her expressive language (talking) has been impaired. The huge praise is that her receptive language (comprehension...what she understands) is testing within the normal range! I know that is such a praise. Yes, it can be hard sometimes when I focus on her not talking well, and yes, there are names for the disorder, but we are choosing to be positive and praise God for how far she has come. We are choosing to believe that He is healing her and that we will see more fruit of that healing eventually...we have already seen so much! Such a blessing, too, that she is so young and that her brain is so plastic.

Basically, Anniston is verbal...she tries to say things and grunts some (not preferable), using a few consonants and vowels. She understands SO much, so considering that fact, her temperament is VERY good seeing that she does not seem to get too frustrated when we cannot understand what she is trying to tell us. (Don't get me wrong, we have our moments though.) She will try to mimic us, but it doesn't usually sound like what we are saying. She uses a few spontaneous words that we can pretty well decipher ("out", "up", "on"). She might repeat "mama" or "dada", but she has not intentionally called us "mama" or "dada". There are many animal sounds that she will say/try to say, and really usually she will at least attempt most words if we ask her...just not so much when we don't prompt her. It seems she knows what she wants to say, but getting it from her brain to her mouth is hard. Didn't even know there was such a thing before all of this.

Sometimes it overwhelms me thinking about the future. School. Reading. Writing. BUT, we just have to take it one day at a time and realize that she is God's child, and He has done and will do so much through her.

Sometimes I get frustrated when other people say things like "oh, speech will come", and then they usually try to relate by saying that their child didn't talk much until they were two or three. I understand and really am grateful for people trying to reach out, but part of me wants to be like: "no, you really don't get it." (And, I totally would be that person if not for going through this myself, so I really do understand where those comments come from.) Oh, and then there was this time that I was calling to talk to someone about getting swimming lessons for Anniston, and the lady thought it would make me feel better by saying that they have a 15 year old girl taking lessons who had a stroke as an infant and says one to two word phrases...it was all I could do to make it through the rest of that conversation. There are also some stories of children doing so much better after similar strokes. I have to work really hard at not comparing because it really does NO good, and above everything, I KNOW that God is doing some big stuff in her! (And, like I said in the last post, it is NOT the MOST important thing. He is. And, my goodness, she is ALIVE and so beautiful and growing and learning new things every day. Such a blessing!)

We just changed speech therapists and have seen SO much more improvement. This is all gradually getting better, and her therapist is very hopeful, seeing how smart Anniston is and how motivated she is. Her therapist also believes that once Anniston masters more of these gross motor hurdles (when she is walking better), the speech will come more quickly.

Oh, and Anniston does have other ways of communicating. She uses several signs still and we also have incorporated the use of pictures some, too. We use visual cues to prompt her, and we are working on strengthening some of her facial muscles...also trying to get her to keep her tongue in her mouth more. We use bubbles and whistles at home to try to get her to blow and just recognize/use her lips more. We read tons of books, point at pictures, try to get her to initiate verbalizations, work on our vocabulary words, use flash cards, etc. All of this is helping, and we appreciate your prayers!

Like I said, she is doing SO well. I just want to remember all of this so that we can have a reference to look back on when she is doing even more! Love you so much and appreciated your encouraging words on the last post more than you know!

*****

PS: Charlotte is coming Wednesday! Yikes! Or, I guess it could be before! Yikes!

I still have fall decorations, nursery pics, and all other kinds of random things to share, so maybe I can cram it all in before she comes. OR maybe I will find some time after! :)




Friday, October 14, 2011

progress, part 1: PT


Anniston's progress, that is...it has been a little bit heavy on me lately...maybe having to do with pregnancy and what not, but it is pretty typical for me to have "moments" about every 6 months or so. It's okay, though, because those "moments" always bring me back to reality that we have such a healthy, precious little girl who is such a miracle and gift from God.

Let's see...I think I will just focus on PT and OT for this post because speech is probably heavier on my heart and might take a separate post :).

I never thought I would have a 28 month old who is still struggling to walk. It kind of breaks my heart sometimes. I know it is not the most important thing, but I'm just ready for that to be her primary mode of mobility. It's hard work. For all of us but especially for her. You might remember that Anniston took her first steps at 21 months when we were at IMOT. Well, she has pretty much been taking steps since then, and her walking and endurance have improved, but she still has some fear and weakness that we battle. But, we KNOW God is working in her and that the fear is subsiding while her strength is increasing. So thankful!

I told her PT the other day that it's just hard sometimes seeing that yes, there is progress, but my goodness, it just feels so slow. She was sweet to say that with a child NOT in her shoes who just has a delay with walking, it seems so fast when they start walking and things just escalate from there, but for a child like Anniston who has some paralysis on one side, ANY progress is SO huge, even if it seems slow. I am trying to be thankful :). She really is doing so very well, and this is not a "health" thing, so wow, what a blessing in itself!



She just got this new brace. Now she has an AFO instead of the SMO that we started out with a year ago. (Still wearing an SMO on her left foot though.) Basically, an SMO is more for ankle support, correcting the turning-in of the foot, and an AFO will do the same but will also keep her heel on the ground (she has had pretty tight heel cords that we have really had to work at stretching since she began walking, which is due to more tone on her right side because of the stroke; thus she walks flat on her left/good foot and up on her right toes...this makes her more unsteady and more likely to fall...which praise the Lord, He is watching over her and protecting her.) Imagine walking flat on your left foot and up on your right toes at the same time...you would be off balance, most likely, and you might be a little afraid you were going to fall. Now, imagine you are two :). She is pretty careful, which I am grateful for, but this can also be a struggle.

Stan and I were talking the other night about how any little setback with her sometimes means months before she is back where she needs to be. Let me clarify. For example, the braces: Anniston had just started pulling up to standing last year right before we got her first set of braces. Immediately after receiving her new orthotics, she stopped pulling up, and it took MONTHS before we could get her to do it again. Her feet were bigger with them on, and everything was just clunky...maybe that was why, I don't know. We would try to go back barefoot to get her to pull up, but it just wasn't happening. Now, we just had her casted for AFO's. I called the end of July to set up the appointment. They could not see her until the end of August. Once we got in, she had to get her foot casted so that the brace is made especially for her. We made an appointment for "2 weeks later" which turned into a month later because insurance had not approved and the brace cannot be made until then. And, now that we have the braces, they were hurting her, so we had to get them adjusted, which set us back another few weeks, and we go back on November 7th to hopefully do one last adjustment and then cast her LEFT foot for her other brace (doing it at a separate time because we needed to make sure she needs another SMO instead of switching to AFO with left foot too) which would probably take another month to get...much less the adjusting part.

I'm sorry....that sounded like I was really upset and complaining, but I truly am not...I just wanted to show how some of these things (which will in the end be good things) wind up seemingly prolonging her progress...and can be frustrating. Oh, and the AFO hurts her foot at times to where she is laying down on the ground because she cannot bear to put weight on it. I know this is because the brace is doing what it is supposed to be doing (helping to flatten her foot), but it still feels like: where is my little girl who was taking so many steps just a few weeks ago?? Okay, I'm done with the vent, and I kind of wish I wouldn't have written all of that ha.

I have had my moments of feeling guilty, but God is teaching me that those thoughts are not of Him. I felt like maybe we were doing something wrong or not working with her enough. I have felt guilty going to the grocery store after picking her up from MDO because I really needed to be at home with her and her feet on the ground. I have felt guilty not getting my shower before she is awake because I could be using that time to work with her. I have even felt guilty pulling her in her wagon outside of all things, not to mention the opposite end of the spectrum: feeling guilty for not letting her just be a kid more. ...I'm really in a VERY good place right now, but I just wanted to share some of the feelings that I have had over the last couple of years from time to time...

I am in a Bible study right now called "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter. I went into it thinking that I didn't really have another god or that maybe it was technology or something?, but on the first night of our study, it hit me: my god was Anniston's success. I think many parents can relate. I want Anniston to do so well, and the fact that we have to work harder than some (not all by any means) makes it almost consume me that much more sometimes, I think. It is hard not to compare milestones at times or want your child to be "the best". I have pushed her so hard at times to achieve certain things, and then it hits me: why am I doing this? Really, why? In eternity, what does this matter? Don't get me wrong, I believe wholeheartedly in giving everything your best for the glory of the Lord, but I just think in light of eternity, whether or not my child could stack a certain number of blocks at so many months or could clap or sing or say her ABC's by a certain point does NOT matter! It finally hit me (sometimes it takes me a while:)) that I would so much rather her love the Lord and be loving and kind to others than to achieve anything that this world merits. I am not saying that I still don't struggle with these worldly feelings, but I am just saying that I am trying to make HIM number one instead of Anniston's success.

"But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." Luke 12:31 God spoke this verse to my heart a couple of months ago, and it has changed everything for me. None of the above milestones are bad. It is okay for me to desire those things for Anniston, but when they become bigger to me than HIM, and when those thoughts consume me, it is completely wrong. I cannot tell you how much this scripture has meant to me and how much I have seen God do in Anniston as I focus on Him. I am so not perfect, and I still have my moments, but I do see that as I look at Him more, she is taken care of and progressing more and more, even at a quicker rate. He is her Heavenly Father. She is His child foremost, and it is not all on me or Stan. What a relief.

She is seriously the most precious little girl ever, and I do not know what we did to deserve having her as our child...I am just so in love.


Okay, OT might have to be a separate post, too :).


*****

Wow, just realized that it was two years ago today that we brought Anniston home from the hospital after her stroke...my mind just hasn't acknowledged what day it is lately, ha. He has brought her SO far since then. She couldn't even look to the right, much less straight ahead on October 14, 2009, but now she gives me the sweetest love with those same blue eyes. SO thankful.




Thursday, October 6, 2011

favorite new fall recipes


I have a couple of fall recipes to share! My friend, Kristen, is inspiring me...these are for you, girl!

This pasta salad was labeled a "harvest salad" in the September issue of Southern Living Magazine, so of course that caught my eye :)...anything resembling fall catches my eye, by the way. Just a tid-bit. Well, this pasta salad really hit the spot with me, and I cannot stop thinking about it! It definitely needs to be eaten within the first couple of days after being made because the dressing can become pretty strong after that. It is SO good...you need to try :). Oh, and even though it says to use half of the box of bow tie pasta, don't let that fool you...this makes a ton! Don't make it just for yourself...or do. Yes, do.



Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 (16-oz.) package farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  • Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  • Cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems.
  • Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, and grapes. Stir to coat. Cover and chill 3 hours. Stir bacon and pecans into salad just before serving...can be done ahead of time, though.
*****

Okay, the next recipe (from allrecipes.com) I have made a couple of times now to pass out and for company, and they have been pretty popular. They are SO soft. I am a big pumpkin flavor fan, so if you're not, these may not be the cookies for you...but if so, bake on!




Iced Pumpkin Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cups white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • For drizzle:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together 1/2 cup of butter and sugars. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla...beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. You can immediately drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheet, but I like to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour or so (or even overnight)...just cleaner that way. Drop on cookie sheet and flatten slightly.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool cookies then drizzle glaze with fork.

To make glaze: combine the last four ingredients well. Add milk as needed to achieve drizzling consistency. Makes 3 dozen. Enjoy!

*****

Also, I went to the doctor this week and have not progressed at all yet...odd because it was not at all that way with Anniston by this point, but I guess these girls are proving to be different already! 36 weeks today :).