Monday, February 28, 2011

Teething, molars, and talking...OH MY!!!!

DYLAN GOT HIS FIRST TOOTH IN!!! And the second one is close behind! After the blog post about Dylan sitting up on his own, he was pretty happy for the following couple weeks, then he started showing a lot of signs of crankiness and displeasure again. Boo. I've learned that Dylan does not like for me to stick my finger in his mouth to feel around for teeth or to massage his gums. Luckily I was able to dip my finger in some juice and that allowed me to feel around for a second or two, just long enough for me to notice a little bit of tooth coming in the bottom front gum. I was so proud of my Dyley! Kaylan didn't get her first tooth until AFTER she was a year old (it was a week or two following her first birthday) so this was pretty cool to see Dylan get his first couple teeth before he turned a year old! So, with that new phase in his life, Eric and I began the phase-out process of the baby food. We started Dylan on vegetables that are easy to mash up, like peas, cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, and now we are totally without baby food! Next to be omitted is formula! I really can't wait for that! Dylan has taken to the finger foods quite well, even though it takes him longer to eat now that he has to "chew". Dylan's first finger food was cinnamon Teddy Grahams! :) He loved them! And now when I pour Kaylan a snack in her snack bowl (picture to follow), I can count on the fact that there will be fighting over it!

These bowls served a great purpose with Kaylan! The rubbery top would prevent spills while still allowing tots the access to reach in and grab a handful of their snack--no more than that.
With that being said, they don't work so well for Dylan, haha. He quickly figured out how to manipulate the top to where he can make an opening and have the snack spill out of it. Little turd. So now that we have snack time for both kids, they will be in their highchairs or the snack will be distributed by Mommy or Daddy. Although, I can trust Kaylan to walk around with her "snacky cup" with out making a huge mess, there's bound to be fighting over it and if Dylan is victorious, there will be a huge mess! I'm still picking up fruit puffs from last week! I'm actually looking forward to trying out the new Gyro Bowls that my dear friend purchased for the babies' birthdays! There's no two better kids to put those through the test so I look forward to trying them out and sharing our experience later on!
We've limited the amount of spoon feedings. Dylan hasn't gotten the pincer grasp down just yet, he grabs his finger foods with his whole hand and gnaws it out of his palm. He'll get it soon enough. But, now when we spoon feed him he (1) clamps down on the spoon while it is in his mouth, making it very difficult for me to get it back (he loves doing this and thinks it's so funny) and (2) tries to grab the spoon or whatever is in it before I'm even able to get to his mouth--it's like an obstacle course sometimes!
Kaylan's molars (yes I said molars with an 's'--as in more than one!) finally came through. Two of them, one on each side at the bottom, poor girl. And, it's just the front molars, not the way-back ones, so we're still in for it. Needless to say she has been quite cranky and temperamental herself lately. I can't tell you how many teething tablets I have given her over the course of this past week. They each broke through the gum last Wednesday or Thursday. Eric and I tried giving her freezer juice pops for the first time to help her with the pain and to treat her at the same time. She didn't quite get it though, she was like, "Why is this so cold?" haha. So, we went to our tried and true teething soother (other than teething tablets--I give those to her before nap or bedtime), a cold, damp, washcloth! She loves to chew on wet washcloths, so I dampen them with really cold water and sometimes stick them in a Ziploc bag and keep them in the fridge.
This method has worked so well for us that it's helped her to express what she wants. She will say "gacla" (we discovered this means "washcloth" through the long process of elimination) whenever her teething pain is bothering her, so I know to get a washcloth ready for her and she's as happy as can be!
She's been going on well learning new words and actually speaking them to the best of their ability! Here's a list of the words that she's able to communicate with us (and how she goes about saying them)
Cat--"gat"
Washcloth--"gacla"
Bird--"ber"
Car--"cawa" (almost sounds like carwash)
Crayon--"cwayon"
Daddy--"Deetee"
Ball--"bah"
Water--"wayo"
Cream (diaper cream)--"cwee"
Mama--"mama" :)
Hot--"ha"
Feet--"Vee" (She's having a hard time with the F sound so it started out sounding like "bee" then went to "vee")
Burger--"burger" :)
Purple--"Perper"
Let's Go!--"Lis goooooo!"
She also says "Oh wow!" (Sounds like oh woooow) and "Oh cool!" (which sounds like oh coooool).
I'm sure there are a couple more but I don't have them at the top of my head right now. She's also been practicing her alphabet well lately. She still doesn't sing it with me but she has been able to identify certain letters like O, P, D, E, B and T! She is awesome! And, as much as it is looked down upon for kids her age to be watching television, Sesame Street has helped her learn these letters too along with practicing them with Mommy and Daddy when the television isn't on.
Eric and I are considering talking to the doctor at Kaylan's 2-year well check and discussing speech therapy. For right now, she is doing as well as a toddler should with verbalizing and using different sounds to make words. The worry that I have in the back of my mind is the fact that I have family members who are hearing impaired, and speech impediments run through Eric's side of the family. It's like a double whammy, so I'd rather take a preventative measure to have her evaluated as opposed to having a bigger problem for us to work through later on down the road.

Now, time to enjoy what's left of nap time! I laid them both down at 1:00, Dylan fell asleep quickly, but at almost an hour later, Kaylan hasn't nodded off yet. :-P



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Make your own invitations

If you're anything like me, you may get tired of the typical generic invitations you may find on some websites. Don't get me wrong a lot of them can be nice, but aside from adding a picture or two, you can't really add your own personal touch to them the way you would like. It's hard for me to find the *exact* thing I may want because I have it all in my head how I want something to look, but I cannot find it anywhere. For me, I had a difficult time finding just the right invitations I wanted for the kids' birthday parties.
I finally caught on to this cool new (new to me anyway) website that offers user friendly photo editing, it's called Picnik. After all, not everybody is a talented graphic artist like my dear friend, Jacy ;) I found myself playing with the site and the editing features one day and became hooked. It is so fun and easy! I was able to create the photo header for my blog and at just over $3.30 a month for a 6 month subscription I am able to use ALL of the premium features, not just the basic. You don't HAVE to subscribe to the website in order to use the basic editing features, I simply didn't mind paying a little bit for the extra options that met my needs.
Picnik.com also offers a help center and a forum for questions and tutorials. After I created the designs I wanted for the kids' birthday invitations, I simply saved them to my computer, uploaded them to Walgreens.com and they were printed and ready to be picked up within an hour. When it comes to envelopes, I saved myself from running all over town to stationary stores and just ordered 4x6 photo envelopes online through Envelopesexpress. They offer photo envelopes in an array of colors and I didn't have to order a minimum of 100 in order to make a purchase. I ordered 25 envelopes for just over $15 and FREE shipping! Turns out by way of do-it-yourself invitations, I was able to save money instead of shopping for add-your-photo type invitations on other sites.

Here's a breakdown of everything:
Picnik premium subscription: $3.32 (for the month of February, $19.95 for the entire 6 month subscription previously purchased)
Walgreens, photo printing: $5.35 (with coupon, 50 4x6 prints for $5, 25 prints of Kaylan's invite, 25 prints of Dylan's invite)
Envelopes, envelopesexpress.com: $16.42 (25 envelopes, free shipping)

Total cost for DIY birthday invitations for two kids (50 invitations total): $25.09
Not so bad compared to other options. The envelopes were the largest expense of the entire project, there may be better, cheaper options available. And, since the parties are only one month apart, we decided to mail the invitations together, saving us money on envelopes and stamps! Saving a little paper for our Mother Earth as well, hehe :)

And here are the finished products. I blocked out parts of information on each. Don't want any creepers coming to my kids' birthday parties!


With the collage feature, Dylan's invitations printed larger than Kaylan's because Kaylan's invitation was considered a 'true digital print'.


When designing an item to be printed, keep in mind to leave some insurance around the edges. Don't place text right up against the edge of the photo because part of it could get cut off during printing. I cut it pretty close with Kaylan's but it came out okay after printing, thank goodness!



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Turtle Fudge Cake



This recipe can be made as two 9" single layer cakes or one 13x9 single layer cake.

Ingredients:
1 box devil's food cake mix (plus ingredients to make cake according to box)
3-4 1oz. baking chocolate squares
3-4 oz caramel ice cream topping
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, which ever you prefer or have on hand (I used walnuts)

Directions:
Mix and bake cake according to box directions. Place cake layer(s) on cooling rack. With serrated knife or wire cake leveler, torte off the rounded top creating an even, level cake layer. In large bowl or measuring cup, combine caramel ice cream topping and chocolate squares (it's best to cut the chocolate squares into about four pieces so they melt easier). Microwave caramel and chocolate 30 to 40 seconds at a time until chocolate is completely melted, stir well. Evenly pour caramel fudge topping over cake and spread if needed. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts on top. Enjoy! This dessert is especially decadent served a la mode!



Thursday, February 17, 2011

AFTER!!!

I've declared this mission accomplished!

Sorry to make this post so short. We've had very limited internet access for the past couple days so I want to make sure I get this picture posted instead of typing up a huge blog post then have the internet go out on me again.

I got it accomplished! It took a few rounds, I had to toss about half of the food b/c it was expired. No more buying groceries unless I know they will be used that same week for meals or snacks. I even ventured out and started organizing my baking cabinet, it's a much smaller cabinet I have next to the stove that has all of my flours, sugars, nuts, and it even houses my recipe box! I haven't gotten it completely finished yet, but after one more trip to Wal-Mart for a couple more storage containers, it will be complete. I wish I was able to get a before and after picture of my baking cabinet. Guess I was so much in the zone of cleaning and reorganizing, I just kinda worked that in!

Hopefully our internet access won't be so limited tonight or later on because I'd really like to do another blog post soon! I've got the kids watching Blue's Clues right now just so I would have five minutes for me to get this done! Haha!

Everybody have a great day! Almost Friday! Woohoo!



Monday, February 14, 2011

Mission: Somewhat Possible




As embarrassing as this is: this is part of my kitchen, and it has been driving me crazy for quite sometime now. My mission, if I choose to accept: have this little corner of my teeny tiny kitchen clean within the next 24 hours.
A couple things needed for me to do in order to keep this area clean and organized? (a) quit buying groceries that DON'T get used/eaten, and (b) for all of the non-grocery counter-cluttering items: if they serve no purpose other than sentimental value, toss it up in the attic. I have a kitty cat cookie jar tucked away in there somewhere that doesn't even have cookies in it, nor has it EVER had cookies in it! I just keep it there because that was one of the first ceramic pieces that I had made by hand way back in high school.
It would be so cool if I had a pantry like most houses built after the new millennium have. But, sadly I don't and it is not an option to get one at anytime in my future until we move into a larger home...if that day will ever come.
It's time for me to get back in touch with my organizational skills. I don't think it's possible for me to be full OCD like I used to be with two small children scooting around, but I definitely crave that little bit of control over SOMETHING in my life/home. If I have to clean and organize this house by a couple square feet at a time, so be it.
So...If I don't have an "after" picture on this blog by this time tomorrow? Shame on me!

I'm making a few changes to the blog here and there. You may have already noticed the TopMommyBlogs.com buttons to the right. The top button, if you simply click it, it will take you to the TopMommyBlogs.com homepage and it will automatically count as a vote for my blog--you can vote daily. Right now, I am ranked #57 out of over 200 in the SAHM (stay-at-home moms) blog category! Also, underneath the kids' pictures is a "rate my blog" button. If you click on that, it won't count as a vote, but you will be able to rate my blog and even leave a comment on what you like about my blog and suggest things/topics that you would like to see. Sometime this week I will be adding pages so there will be pages to navigate for recipes, quotes and a few "gems" that I've accumulated over the course of mommyhood.

And, yes, it's been a little while since I have shared a recipe lately! There will be a very tasty cake recipe coming soon, I guarantee it! I'm also considering adding a few savory recipes as well. Baking is my passion, but I don't mind extending a helpful, easy dinner or appetizer recipe when I come across one that I absolutely love! I've been in quite the dinner rut lately, so maybe this will spark some creativity and get me groovin' in the kitchen again. I'm sure cleaning up the counters would help too! Who wants to cook when it seems like everything is going to collapse on them?! See ya tomorrow!



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Boom Boom Pow!

That was the name of the number one song, by the Black Eyed Peas, during the week of Kaylan's birth back in 2009. And today, Super Bowl Sunday 2011, I sat on the living room floor and watched her dance to that same song performed during the half time show! She was getting down! Even Dylan was jumping up and down and swaying to the music as I held him up! Oh, the moments when we wish we had the video camera sitting idly by, fully charged and ready to go. Nope, not us, I couldn't even tell you where the charger was for the video camera. As a matter of fact...where is the video camera? The last time I used it I was catching the first moments of Dylan getting himself on all fours and rocking back and forth. Since then, I don't know what happened to it, but...it's got to be somewhere. I know, BAD MOMMY!
The mid to latter part of January had been a little rough on this mommy. For a good week or so during the month, Dylan was simply NOT a happy fella. I was at my wits end on what to do for this boy. I'm sure I'm not the only one that considers those moments that can't be explained to be "a phase". That is exactly what we were all getting through, a phase. I racked my brain: Is he going through a growth spurt? Teething? Is something seriously wrong for me to simply not know what the heck to do?! I finally called my mom and asked her if she wanted a live-in grandson for a couple weeks (jokingly of course, but hey, it never hurts to ask). She told me that he's at that point now to where he's wanting to move more and get a different perspective on everything but he can't quite do it...yet! It got me thinking, he must be trying to do something. Kinda like he must be about to walk or about to get ready to do SOMETHING that he wants so bad to do but can't. Meanwhile he gets where he can and watches Kaylan and I walk around, climb up on the couch, feed ourselves. Could he be getting aggravated with the fact that he wants to do those things himself, but can't? And that's when it happened! During that weekend, he started showing us how he could sit up on his own! And, boy, is he proud of himself for that little accomplishment! It seemed like he even made a point to show me that he could finally sit up on his own. I was on the couch with Kaylan while she was looking out the window, and he crawls right up to the couch where I'm sitting, and does his little twist and pushes his upper body up with his arms, and there it is! He had a look on his face like "Ta-Da! I did it Mommy!". Kaylan and I both clapped and cheered for him and he started waving his arms up and down in the air while laughing (there are some lucky action shots of this moment on the Shutterfly site). Not only has he managed to sit himself, but he also managed to pull himself up to his knees. That accomplishment was a bit scary because I had talked to Eric that day about lowering the crib mattress now that he is able to sit up from a lying position. After mentioning that to Eric, there he was in his crib (I was viewing him with our video monitor), I heard him playing around and talking to himself, rolling around. He then sat himself up, and I walked back to his room to get him. By the time I got down the hallway and opened the door to his room, he had used the crib rail to pull himself up to his knees. I'm sure he would have been able to pull himself up to standing, but I'm glad he didn't get a chance to in that particular situation because he would have gone overboard. But, now that he's been able to sit himself up whenever he wants, that little weight has been lifted, a less crabby little man! I want to encourage him to pull himself up to his knees or to a standing position, but there is not much furniture around here that he can grab a hold of, lots of flat surface type furniture. He tried it on the activity cube one day, while I was teaching Kaylan how to make car sounds, and he fell back and the cube fell right along with him, all thirteen pounds of solid wood! I felt horrible! He was right there in front of me, and all it took was those 5 seconds when I looked over to Kaylan, then baboom! Thankfully he is okay, he didn't get bruised or broken in any way. It simply scared the crap out of both of us. I don't know what else we have around this house for him to use to pull himself up. Maybe it would be up to him to use what's given and find a way to do it. Honestly, these past few days, whenever he goes to get in a seated position all it would take for him is that little bit of extra confidence and balance and he could probably stand up on his own without using anything to hold onto. Kaylan did that a lot when she was starting to stand up on her own. She would get in a seated position, put her feet up under her butt, straighten her legs, all while she still had both hands on the floor. I think my friend, Jacy, called it the downward dog position, haha, baby yoga! Kaylan found herself with her butt up in the air a few times before she miraculously started standing straight up without any hesitation. It seemed like she stood up and started walking on her own overnight. Much like how Dylan suddenly started sitting himself in a seated position, like he'd been doing it all his life. It's interesting how something so simple is such a big deal at the same time!
Kaylan has been a little chatterbox lately! At one time I was worried that she was having delayed speech development because she was hardly using any words. She gets plenty of verbal stimulation throughout the day, so what am I doing wrong? Interesting, how we moms instantly blame ourselves even when nothing is really wrong, each kid is different and takes his or her own amount of time to take certain things in. One trick of the trade I have used is R&R (that's what I call it anyway, I don't know if it is an actual learning tool, but it's something I came up with and it works well). R&R meaning Repetition and Rhythm. I repeat everything a certain amount of times for as long as I have her attention (while making eye contact--very important too), and when I'm pronouncing a word I'll clap out the syllables, or if I'm singing the alphabet or a song, I'll clap along. It seems to have made a difference since I have started doing this with her, though she's not saying full sentences (with actual words), she's been chattering a lot more and going into a story telling mode of jibber-jabber mixed with words that she's learned! I don't know if other kids her age are more verbal in expressing their needs, emotions, etc. I don't know what the expectation is for a child her age as to how much she should be saying compared to how much she communicates actual words that we can understand. I've tried to not worry myself about what other kids are doing only because there's always someone else who has a kid that can recite the Gettysburg Address, count to one thousand, perform open heart surgery, and dance the Macarena by the time that child is two years old. You know "those" types of parents. I'm not saying that some kids don't catch onto things quicker than other kids do, because I know some kids do in fact learn at a faster rate, but who's to say that these "advanced" children should set the standard of: "Your child should be doing this/saying this by this age and not a day later than that exact age"?
With that being said, I am so very proud of Kaylan and her accomplishments just within the past couple weeks. She seems to be in sponge-mode lately and has been taking a lot in--and USING it. Even when you don't think toddlers are listening, they are in fact listening. Toddlers observe so much! Kaylan learned the word "hot" simply because whenever we are in the kitchen (she loves to be in the kitchen with me--yay), I'll take dinner or a baked treat out of the oven and tell her to step back because the oven is hot. Each day during playtime, I'll sing her the alphabet while pointing out each letter of the alphabet as I'm singing. And to my surprise, just the other day, Kaylan went up to her alphabet blocks, pointed at them and said, "O! P!" and I was floored, totally speechless! She went on and said, "A!... B!... D!" I clapped and cheered, called Eric, and I picked her up and gave her the biggest hug and told her how proud I was of her. I really think she knew that she had done something incredible. No, it may have not been the full alphabet, but I did not expect that from her at all, especially for her to start saying those letters on her own. I gave her a yummy M&M cookie as a reward for her accomplishment and she was walking on air with pride!
It wasn't until I became a mother that I knew what it was like to have so much pride in my heart! Speaking of hearts, everyone have a Happy Valentine's Day and fill your heart and your arms with the ones you love!