Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Banner

For those viewing in Google Reader - please go to my actual blog and check out my new banner. I've been fiddling around during Elyse's nap and created my first real banner. Let me know if it looks funky on your screens. You never know how it will show up on other monitors and our laptop is being worked on.

Thanks - have a great day!

****UPDATE: I updated the banner. I got some great feedback from Allen. He said the progression of photos starts with a drink, then getting married, then the baby and then just me and baby (no husband). I didn't even think of that! I swapped out the last photo with a pic of the three of us! Thanks, for the great feedback, Allen!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Please vote for ELYSE!

Shameless, Shameless... But, can you PLEASE vote for our sweet girl? The photographer who did Elyse's newborn photos chose her favs from 2010 and holding a contest. She chose one of the shots of Elyse (as shown above). It is #3 - Elyse sucking her thumb at three days old in her Daddy's softball mitt. Precious!

Don't forget - NUMBER THREE!
And yes, you can vote more than once (but only once a day!).
Voting is at the bottom after scrolling through all the pics.

Thanks so much!!

Merry, Merry

Miss Elyse's First Christmas
If you are feeling patient - please sit back and watch a slideshow of our holiday celebrations. It is a little long (four minutes), but we had a lot to pack in there!

I hope your Christmas was magical!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Goodness: Special K Bars


Watch out. These are the treats you can't stop eating. They are a great indulgence at Christmastime. I've been making them for years and have been a favorite of family and friends. I've been meaning to post this anyway and when my mother-in-law just called for the recipe, I figured it was just as easy to post here for all! Enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas!

1 c sugar
2 c melted chocolate chips (I like milk chocolate best)
1 c Karo syrup
8 c Special K cereal
1-1/2 c peanut butter (not lowfat)

Melt sugar, syrup and peanut butter over low heat. Mix with cereal and spread onto shallow bar or jelly roll pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over mixture and place in warm oven to melt. Spread chocolate chips to "frost" while still warm. Cool in refrigerator before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When Plans Don't Work

For me, one of the hardest things when we first brought Elyse home was not having a plan. The more time that passed, the more we started to figure things out and it all got easier. We settled into a routine and structure, which made everything so much better!

We have a night-time routine that is pretty down pat. The ultimate goal is to feed baby and be able to get baby right to sleep and ourselves back to sleep.

For easy night-time diaper changes we do everything we can to not wake her up too much. We have a dimmer on her overhead light to let out just enough light to see what we are doing. We always use a velcro cloth diaper so we don't have to mess with snaps. And speaking of snap avoidance, we dress her in a gown with elastic at the bottom with a cozy fleece zipped sleeper to keep her warm. The really important rule - no eye contact, no talking. Sounds cruel, but hey it works! Sleep is important in this house!

Before we even go in her room, we quickly prepare the bottle. To do this, we keep a night light in the bathroom outside of her bedroom where we always have bottles with pre-measured water and a container with pre-measured formula. Except for the night we forgot and the whole plan was ruined.

I had to go down to the kitchen - at the opposite side of the house. I grabbed the can of formula out of the cupboard and...

Of course I had to take a picture before cleaning it up. What you can't see is what was all over me. Yep, there was no going right back to sleep that night. Good times.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Favorite Things 2010

I do love me some Oprah, so I thought it would be fun to do my own "favorite things" although I wish I were wealthy enough to buy everything on the list for my friends. However, my list likely wouldn't be coveted by most. These are not necessarily my favorite things EVER, but things I am enjoying right now, think are super clever or find myself continually reaching for. From hair bands to specialty paper, it is a random list - just like ME!

1. MAC Fluidline eye liner. This stuff is the BEST. You put it on with a little brush and it stays on - NO SMEARS! I like Dipdown (dark brown).

2. BLONDE hair clips, bands and pins. I've never been able to perfect that little-piece-of-hair-around-the-hairband trick. This is my second fav - blonde hair accessories. These match my hair almost perfectly. I find myself always grabbing for these. And, here's to no more black bobby pins for me - hooray!

3. Stay With Me Socks. Actually, I have a love/hate with these socks. My neighbor graciously gave me a bunch of clothes her two daughters had outgrown. She had this Ziploc bag full of socks and pointed out this pair that had little velcro ties on the back. She said they were the best socks, as they didn't fall off baby's feet, but didn't know where to buy more. I found myself falling in love with them too. I was always searching for them in the sock drawer. Well, I found them. They definitely suckered me in. They are $6.00 a piece though! Not listed on Ebates and I couldn't find any type of coupon code. Grrr.. I bought three pairs in the largest size. Crazy price, but they do stay on!

4. Cloches. So, I don't even know how to pronounce this word, but I love them. Call them what you want (i.e., belljar), I think they are so beautiful and timeless. I don't actually have one (I don't actually see them very often). I figure it could be the only way to ever have a plant in my house Wilson wouldn't eat. I could serve cheese under them at a party or even put a candle in it. Love.

5. Acorn slippers. I love these slippers. They are well loved and yes, dear Libby did chew the back of one when she was a puppy. Being home on leave and in my slippers most every day - these are very comfortable!

6. Weatherproof paper. I think this is the coolest stuff. I bought a package in September to make Mom's ALS Walk race bibs. Allen did the design (so awesome!) and I printed it on this paper. It is so amazing. Even after printing on an inkjet, it doesn't rub off even after pouring water directly on it. Amazing stuff. Expensive ($20+ for just 50 sheets), but I clearly labeled the package so we make sure not to use it accidentally.

7. Ikea frames. I am loving Ikea frames. They are super cheap and have been a wonderful way to to beautifully frame newborn photos of our sweet daughter. I love photo collages and for that cohesive look it really helps to have them in the same frame color, often the same frame. My friend Allen hung our pictures at home and in my new office. LOVE HIM.

8. Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green Tea. Bill and I drink a lot, I mean a LOT of decaf iced tea at home. We brew all different kinds of flavored teas and then drink 'em iced. I love, love this tea. Bill doesn't like it so well and when Alyson was here I offered her some and she said it sounded disgusting. Maybe it is an acquired taste?

9. Nikon remote control. Seriously, the best $14 I have ever spent. I love this thing. This plus my new tripod makes me so happy. Of course, I still love my camera (Nikon D90) and getting new accessories makes me SUPER excited!

10. DeMarle Magnetic Measuring Trio. So, I'm not really an in-home party kind of girl for the most part. However, I was at a friend's house who was hosting a DeMarle party. I'd never heard of it, but evidently they are the original creators of the Silpat. She showed me these measuring cups and spoons. They are brilliant. The spoons have two sides (one for dry and one for wet) so you don't have to dirty two spoons mid-recipe. Plus, they are magnetized so they all stay together! And, they are a cute color. Love!

That's all I've got for my super random list. Until next time!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

THREE Months

Dearest Elyse,

You came into this world three months ago. What a blessing you are each and every single day.

Your first Christmas ornament - from Grandma Deanie.

You are drinking about 4 ounces at a time, and usually six ounces to start your day. You are still sleeping great - last night was from 8 p.m. to 7:45 a.m.! Sometimes you wake one or two times, but it happens, right? There was one day you slept from 7:30 to 4 a.m., drank four ounces, slept until 7 a.m., drank four ounces, went back down AGAIN and slept until 10 a.m. where you took SIX ounces. Wow, our growing girl.

Hanging with Grandma Betty.

You have always loved sucking on your thumb, but now it is thumb plus as many other fingers as you can smash in there. Boy, you are a talker. Everyone comments on it. You have conversations with yourself, Mom and Dad, people in the grocery store and yes, your best buddy - Ceiling Fan.

Uncle Jordan on his birthday.

You still LOVE your diaper being changed. You squeal with delight and even when you wake up sadly crying, just a short time on your changing pad can bring out a smile!

The Stuff That Will Embarrass You One Day. You love bath time and our newest addition. Sorry, sweetie, but you love Naked Time. You aren't a big fan of Tummy Time and Jessica recommended trying it in the buff. You LOVE it. We get the fire going and put you on a nice blanket with a waterproof changing pad underneath and you are in seventh heaven! You kick and talk away and often Mama will even do a little baby massage with baby oil. You just love it! You also enjoy taking a bath with Mama! You squeal with delight kicking in the water and really loved when I put your Bumbo in the bath so you could sit up and play.

Now, I'm embarrassed too! We are sporting owl hats made by Jonnita!

You still have a good amount of hair. It is light brown and super soft. It is barely long enough for me to get a barrette in it. Only problem is the part I can clip into is on the top/back of your head, so it just doesn't look right. Your eyes are still dark, dark blue and we keep watching them to see if they will turn. Who knows? Whatever the case, you are absolutely beautiful. People joke, "Everyone thinks they have the cutest baby." I don't have tell the Mamas out there. To us, we KNOW we have the most precious baby ever. You are no exception.

You still aren't a fantastic napper, but it doesn't really bother us since you sleep so well at night. Your best (i.e., longest) naps are often after being in the car. We'll leave you in your car seat and you will generally take a good, long nap then. Sometimes, you sleep so long we have to wake you up so you don't sleep too long and affect your night-time sleep.

You have great head control and you love being carried around on my hip (facing out). We get so many things done this way - one-handed of course. But, to you even the most mundane tasks are quite interesting whether feeding the dog, pulling out diaper laundry or making you a bottle.

So precious. I adore this photo, even if it is out of focus.

You spend some time in your swing, but most of your sleeping time is still in your crib. Sometimes we put you in your swing for a nap, but I'm not noticing much difference between the two anymore. Because you now enjoy sleeping flat on your back so much, sometimes you'll take a nap on Mommy and Daddy's bed. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I even took a quick napster with you. It was so cute because you were half asleep, woke a bit when I laid down, got a big smile on your face and went back to sleep.

With your Aunt Talea.

Speaking of big smiles, you made your Dad's day a couple of weeks ago. Daddy was at work all day and we met him at the mechanic after work. I opened up the back seat door and your Daddy peered in at you and you gave him the biggest, brightest smile.

Smiles for Dad.

Your Aunt Talea and cousin Colton were here the other day. You two got tired at the same time and we thought we were SO SMART to put you both down for a nap at the same time in your room - Colton in your swing and you in your crib. Well, 20 minutes later Colton woke up crying and you soon joined him. God Bless mothers of twins is all we have to say about that!

Cousin Colton - just eight days older than you!

Yes, sweet pea, Lysey Girl - we love you. Thanks for another special month. I have 22 days left of maternity leave with you. I cannot even explain the pit in my stomach when I think about that. So, I try to keep it out of my mind and just enjoy my time with you.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birth Story: PART TWO. Don't Say You Weren't Warned.

Thia heading is a bit more cautionary than necessary. However, I know I have a mixed audience and I want to prepare my male readers, family, co-workers, etc. who may not want to read these type of stories about anyone, let alone me!

However, I know some of you are curious and I know I appreciated reading others' stories before my big day arrived.

If you missed it, read how this all began at Birth Story: PART ONE.

Get ready, this is a long one. We arrive at the hospital and check in at Labor and Delivery. I remember being thankful that the chair I sat in to fill out the paperwork was plastic. However, I am sure this is purposeful as I can guarantee I wasn't the first to sit in this chair with a soggy bottom (gross, right?). Well, that is only the beginning.

They took Bill and I back to the exam room and a very nice nurse named Beth checked us in. She got me into a gown, brought a bag for my clothes, and hooked me up to monitors. She immediately told me I was having regular contractions. She was a little concerned about my blood pressure, but said it was probably because I was nervous.

She did a swab to see if the fluid was indeed my water breaking and also checked my cervix. She said I was dilated to a two, but my cervix still hadn't come forward (PS: OUCH!). She said we'd have to wait 30 minutes to find the results of the test, but she was quite sure that is what it was (considering we had some gushes as she was examining me). Shortly afterward, my Aunt Sue arrived and we also made a call to Marcie.

About 45 minutes later, it was confirmed my water was breaking and they would move me to a delivery room. Here we go!

As soon as we got back to the room, Marcie arrived and she notified Corey -Bill called his family and then the updates began. Marcie had a list of folks to notify as did Corey. On Marcie's list was Jessica, who had my blogger password to start updates to Jahjong. And yes, I had a chart to keep track of all of this. Does that surprise you? (smile).

Pitocin was started. At first, it wasn't bad. We joked about how I arrived to the hospital in a SCRUNCHIE. How did that happen? Marcie came to the rescue and we made a switch. Funny, how I would NOT be caring about this for too long!

Seriously, at first, it wasn't so bad.

Everyone just kind of hung out.

I was super hot and Aunt Sue - she used my robe to snuggle in. She was COLD.

Nurse Kelly came in and said we were having WAY too much fun. She could hear us laughing. She kicked up the Pitocin. Here I'm still smiling, but it is getting weaker. I'm starting to really feel it.

Kelly was fabulous by the way. She explained everything and was very supportive, during my entire stay at the hospital. LOVE HER!

At about 6 p.m., I received my epidural. My nurse (Kelly) and Bill stayed with me. The epidural did NOT go well. From the time Dr. F entered the room, he did not seem confident. He had difficulty with the insertion and it took longer than normal, as commented on by both my nurse and Dr F. The insertion took approximately 30-40 minutes.

Upon completion of the procedure, Marcie and Sue were allowed back into the room. Dr. F seemed to second guess himself on the effectiveness of the procedure. It didn’t appear he was comfortable or knowledgeable about using the equipment. It was obvious something wasn’t right. He kept saying, “It will get better in 15 minutes.” Kelly had increased my Pitocin levels at this point and I started feeling increasingly worse. I shared this with Dr. F and he repeated, “It will get better in 15 minutes.” Frustrating to say the least!

He started poking me to test the effectiveness of the procedure, wondering if I had a “window” causing my discomfort. Even when I told him I felt something that he didn’t expect, he seemed to just make an excuse repeating, “Give it another 15 minutes.” I told him I was present for my nephew’s birth and with her epidural she had no pain and we had to tell her when she was having a contraction. He told me that not all epidurals work and that, “It will get better in 15 minutes.”

Shortly afterward, he left the room. Kelly worked to get me as comfortable as possible. She gave me some Tylenol and said if my pain continued she would page another anesthesiologist. She left to check on another patient and said she would return shortly. My pain continued to elevate and my husband went to find Kelly. She notified us she had paged another anesthesiologist and said he would be there shortly.

At approximately 8 p.m., Dr. C arrived and administered a bolus. The bolus took effect quickly and soon I experienced much awaited relief. While I am thankful for the assistance from the bolus, I know this is only required if an epidural block is inadequate.

My Pitocin was increased and Baby and I were not responding well. Her heart rate was dropping and my blood pressure was rising. It is a good thing at the time that I didn't know how serious things were. The staff were very good about using phrases like, "Baby is mis-behaving" so as not to cause alarm for me. They wanted me on my side. This sounds easy until you realize you can't feel half of your body. They helped me shift to my left side. No improvement. They shifted me to my right. Still not working. They repeated this a couple more times and then said, "Courtney, we are going to get you on your hands and knees". Marcie said I just kept saying, "Good Lord! Good Lord!" I really didn't think it would be possible to get me in this position. With a lot of help, somehow we got me on my hands and knees facing the wall of the delivery room. Fortunately, I couldn't see that the room had filled up with concerned nurses as well as Dr. Burtner. I thank God, Baby's heart rate came back up and my blood pressure settled down. I was taken off the Pitocin and Dr. B described what was happening, her concern for me and the baby and discussed the possibility of a c-section if things continued as they had.

Fortunately, without the Pitocin I continued to progress and my contractions became stronger and more regular. Unfortunately, at approximately 12:30 a.m., the bolus began wearing off. I was having severe back labor and abdominal contractions. I couldn’t feel anything in my pelvic region or my legs, but my stomach and back felt like they were in flames with each contraction. The nurses were concerned that my epidural had numbed my legs more than normal and they had asked that I stop pressing my button for the epidural for some time. I asked if another bolus could be administered and they said, “No” because I needed to feel the pressure to push. I was shaking and shivering and the contractions burned in my lower stomach as well as in a tight ball in my lower back.

This. This is what real labor looks like.

Between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. the pain was at its most significant. I was crying and started vomiting. The nurses had continually asked me if I felt pressure to push and I repeatedly told them I was in too much pain to know. My husband notified the nurses that I was vomiting and they returned to my room and said it was time to push. This is the beautiful nurse, Stephanie, who coached me through pushing. She was gorgeous and I told her so.

This is the Stephanie who was about to coach me through pushing. She was gorgeous and I told her so.

I started pushing at 2:10 a.m. Pitocin was started back up. Fortunately, I felt some relief with the contractions during pushing. I had worried so much about pushing, but it turned out to be easier than the contractions I had just been feeling. Things got a little worrisome. I was making good progress in getting baby out, but her heart rate kept dropping significantly and my blood pressure continued to elevate. For this reason, they had me push every other contraction. I was making excellent progress and everyone exclaimed that Baby had a lot of dark hair! I was crying with happiness at this point. Dr. Burtner arrived. At about 2:40 a.m., things became more serious. Dr. B reminded me of how we had discussed a c-section. She said we wouldn't need to do that, but it was very important we get Baby out - and quickly. She said she was going to need to use a vacuum extraction. She quickly set things up and next thing you know, Dr. B said, "Courtney, you are going to have your baby in the next push!" Next push and Marcie told me later, the suction cup came off her head. She said everything was really bloody and she looked in fright at the doctor, but Dr. B seemed very calm. She put the suction back on baby's head, told me to push... and at 2:49 a.m. my sweet baby girl was laid on my chest.

Poor little head from the suction cup...

All of those scary things happening at once were suddenly over. She cried a bit at first, but as they cleaned her off and checked her out, she was amazingly calm and alert with her eyes glued on me.

We didn't get a good picture of her looking at me, so I captured this from the video, so please excuse the poor quality.
It was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced and the whole room laughed when I said, "I can't believe that just came out of me." It was so crazy to be pushing and pushing and then have her come out all at once. My life changed in that instant.

12 hours later we named her. Elyse Kaylee. Our most precious gift.

Sittin' in My Bumbo

Little baby bubbles.

Little baby funny faces.

Little baby serious faces and kissable feet.

Love her.

Elyse is twelve weeks old. She is wearing a dress that her cousin Maggie adoringly gave to her.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happiness is...Bacon With Alyson

Alyson was here for the weekend and it was another very fun time. We have had lots of good times over the years - some of which you can read about here (October 2008)here (July 2009)here (January 2010) and here (May 2010).

More good times were had this weekend. We had a lot of laughs...it all started with me singing a little song from my childhood to Elyse. Alyson heard me singing it: "Happiness is...two kinds of ice cream, finding your skate key, telling the time..." It is from, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". Do you know it? She was laughing at me, "What is a skate key? You made that song up!" Next thing you know, we are on the computer watching the most ridiculous video and who knew, they changed the words - "finding a skate key is now" is now "pizza with sausage." I'm sure I've already lost you, but I have to tell you we found this QUITE FUNNY. Everything that weekend was either "Happiness is...pizza with sausage" or just about anything sung to that tune. So, just keep that little song in your head as you look through the pictures.

Alyson and I had good visits, but she needed a little snooze.

While she slept, I made her a little treat with one of her favorite ingredients: BACON!

Yes, I found this recipe and had to try it out on Al. I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised. It is like breakfast in a cookie!

The next morning, we ventured out for Elyse's first Christmas tree outing.

I had the baby, so Al held the tree while Bill about sawed her leg off. Just kidding, sort of.

That night, we went to Alisha's wedding reception and Miss Lysey stayed home with Dad.

I got some great photography tips from Marcie's friend, Mark. I was very excited to be shooting without a flash in low light and no blur!

Alyson was such a good subject!

Until she started crying.

And then of course, she wanted me to start crying.

Mad face.

My mad face.

Ryan made fun drinks.

My first alcohol in a year! Yummmmy mai tai!

Then, we got Marcie in on the photo shoot.

The three of us and my very large hair.

Alyson was quite the photographer herself.

Taryn was really enjoying herself!

Did I mention Ryan's tasty concoctions?


Brother and sister.

Love this one.

Oh yes, we were at a wedding reception. Check out the beautiful bride!

The happy couple.

Alyson left the following morning, but before she did, she and Elyse had some good conversations.

Lysey was shocked by some of what Al had to say!

Then, it was time to chill.

Yeah, I think she likes her Auntie Alyson.

But, seriously. Who doesn't?

She's pretty hard not to love.

Thanks, Alyson for another great visit. You are a dear friend. WE LOVE YOU!


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