Thursday, December 29, 2011

Baby update: 28 Weeks and some unexpected news

We’ve had a tough 3 weeks which is why I haven’t posted a baby update in a while.  We had a 3rd follow-up ultrasound on December 13th which was basically our last chance to see baby girl’s face.  In our previous ultrasound appointments our tech was able to take Gracie’s measurements and check her organs, brain development and heartbeat, all of which looked perfect.  While we were able to learn a great deal about how Grace was doing in these appointments, our little one just didn’t want to show us her face.  Our doc allowed us to have one final ultrasound in hopes of catching a glimpse of Gracie’s face and more specifically her mouth area to check for a cleft lip.  Well, in this last appointment our beautiful girl decided to cooperate. 

We had a different tech in this appointment which was a relief because she took much more time with us and the whole experience felt less rushed.  Grace still had her little arms up but this time they were spread apart just enough for us to see her mouth.  Georgia was laying flat on her back so she couldn’t really see anything but I noticed a little something right away.  There seemed to be a small dark area on Gracie’s top lip on the left side.  I could tell that our tech noticed something as well but she didn’t say anything at first.  Georgia still didn’t know that anything was going on but as the tech continued to work my heart began to sink and my eyes filled with tears.  The technician spent about 10 more minutes taking pictures of baby’s face from all different angles.  When she was done I told her that I had noticed something and asked if it was a cleft lip.  She said that she too noticed something “abnormal” but that she would need to show the pictures to a doctor before confirming anything.  She then left the room.

Its times like these that I’m thankful that I married someone as calm natured and level headed as Georgia.  While my thoughts went to the worst possible scenario, she remained calm for the two of us.  After what felt like a million years our technician returned with a doctor that we had never met before.  The doctor proceeded to tell us that she was pretty certain that Gracie had a cleft lip and that we would need to see a Perinatologist.  This news was heartbreaking to hear and left us both speechless.  The doctor continued to tell us more about what the next steps would be but I honestly don’t remember much about that conversation.  I think we were both confused and just too upset to take in information.  Thankfully we were able to get an appointment with a Perinatologist that Thursday which was such a blessing because we didn’t get much sleep those few days following the ultrasound.

In the perinatal appointment we were in a larger room with what was clearly much more advanced machinery.  Our technician was AMAZING.  I honestly believe that God had something to do with her being the one to help us on that day.  She was just so friendly and loving that it made the experience a little less difficult.  Over the next several hours we met with a medical counselor, two specialized ultrasound technicians, the Perinatologist and his physician’s assistant.  The team did confirm that Gracie has what is called a unilateral cleft lip.  This means that during early development the two sides of her lip that should have connected didn’t quite meet.  We still do not know if she has a complete or incomplete cleft lip, meaning does the opening go mid-way up the lip or all the way into the nostril.  They are also unsure as to whether she has a cleft lip and a cleft palate, or if it’s just the lip.  These are things that we will hopefully find out in future visits. 

While it was devastating to learn that our little baby will now have to undergo several surgeries in her first year, it was a relief to confirm that she only has the one cleft and that it’s not bilateral.  We are also still holding onto the hope that she doesn’t have a cleft palate in addition to the lip.  There is much that is still unknown and I would be lying if I said that we left the office that evening feeling ok.  We were both very upset and angry.  Georgia and I cried and talked the entire drive home and decided that we would allow ourselves one evening to be sad – so that’s what we did.  We cried, we cursed, we felt sorry for ourselves and envious of our friends who have been blessed with seamless pregnancies.  I think that this is something that we needed to do and I’m glad that we allowed ourselves some time to grieve. 

Since that night we’ve grown stronger and more positive.  We have reached out to our families and have found comfort in our friends.  We have thanked God that our daughter is strong and healthy and we’ve enjoyed looking at the pictures that were taken on that day of our beautiful baby girl.  I know that we still have a ways to go and that it’s not always going to be easy.  I also know that we have been through worse and that together we can get through anything.

Here are a few pictures of our little lady ~

She is sticking her tongue out at us in this one :)

What a stinker – always covering her little face!

I thought that she was flippin us the bird when I first looked at this one… he, he! 
I’m pretty sure it’s her pointer finger ;)

When they adjusted the angle of this 2D pic it distorted her cheek a bit.  This is one of my favorites because you can clearly see her beautiful little face.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thank you auntie Jackie!

Georgia’s best friend gave us the most amazing Christmas gift today – her entire stock of Bum Genus cloth diapers!!  When G came home with the box full of literally 40+ diapers I felt like we won the lottery.  Thank you so much auntie Jackie, Gracie is such a lucky little gal :)

Thanks for thinking of baby girl (and for saving us like $800)!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cookie Mix

Merry Christmas Eve!  I’m writing in bed right now while watching Horton Hears a Who and enjoying some yummy coffee!  Guess what G is doing… she’s sleeping – shocker ;)  I decided I would be nice and let her sleep in for as long as she wants today.  It is Christmas Eve after all and I have a cookie recipe to share!

In past years my family has always gotten together to make about a million cookies for Christmas but as I mentioned last week, Christmas came out of nowhere this year so we didn’t have time to get to have our annual cookie fest.  I still really wanted to make something to share with our loved ones and came across this recipe in an old holiday baking magazine my ma-in-law gave me.  The recipe is easy to put together and much less messy than making a ton of cookies!  

Here’s what you’ll need: some mason jars

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup each packed brown sugar and sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Additional ingredients: 
(Be sure to include this info on your tags!)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

What to do:
1. In a small bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients.

2. In a 1-qt. glass jar, layer the flour mixture, brown sugar, sugar, oats, chips and coconut, packing well between each layer.

3. When finished, tag your jars and add a little ribbon!

4. Be sure to include cooking time in your instructions: bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes and enjoy!

After finishing our Christmas cookie mix I joined some Kappa friends for a long overdue girls night!  It was so great to see everyone!

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Operation Santa’s Child

About 17 years ago my mom started a community philanthropy called Operation Santa’s Child.  She put the event together in response to a growing need she saw in the community to make Christmas possible for families in need.  The philanthropy started very small with one family that we adopted from Garfield Middle School.  In the 17 years since, my ma has had to move the event to a community center because the amount of people that participate each year continues to grow.  We now adopt 5-6 families every December and together with friends and family provide Christmas gifts and groceries to those in need.  It’s crazy to think that we’re approaching the 20-year mark.  I really have to hand it to my mom – this event is a lot of work but she loves it and we think it’s pretty great too! 

Here are pictures of this years Operation Santa’s Child :)    

Mia’s first Operation Santa’s Child

Auntie Georgia and the boys getting the gift bags ready

Our little family :)

We told Nick that Gracie was about the size of an ear of corn… he then said, “We should take a picture of me acting like I’m eating corn.”  He’s such a goofball!

Apparently goofballs run in the family – lol!

I love Mia’s face in this picture

Happy aunties!

Auntie G and baby girl :)

The holidays can be busy and stressful but even the smallest act of goodwill makes a difference.  Spread the joy and have a very merry Christmas!

DIY Wall Art

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we have the most amazing friends and they sure do love to spoil Gracie :)  A couple of weeks ago our friend Becca gave us the cutest little owl wall decal for the nursery.  I wasn’t sure where we would put it but as the nursery started to come together we found the perfect spot.  The decal says Grow Wise Little Owl, so we thought what better place than over her bookshelf.  Once the decal was up, it looked so much smaller and like it needed a little something.  After many trips to Hobby Lobby and Michael’s I had an idea.  I decided to frame the decal using a backless farm wood rectangular frame.  The project was SUPER easy and it came out just as I envisioned! 

How to:  

Barn wood frame - Martha Stewart acrylic craft paint - sponge

Before painting the frame I cleaned the surface with warm water and a little soap to remove any oils.  It only took about five minutes to paint! 

This frame didn’t have any brackets for mounting so I added a few.

Because I was placing the glass back in the frame without the back piece I used rubber cement to secure it in place.

All done!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

All I want for Christmas…

Is for someone to decorate my house!  Seriously, the holiday spirit appears to have skipped our casa this year.  I honestly don’t know where the weeks went.  The weekend of Thanksgiving we planned to decorate but spent our days off painting and shopping for baby furniture instead.  The next weekend the furniture that was supposed to take 3-4 weeks to ship, arrived 6 days after we ordered it – surprise!  This was followed by 2 weeks of baby furniture assembly and let me just tell you, it’s a much more complicated project than one would think.  We then had a week of unexpected news (which I’ll post about on another day) and here we are.  Christmas eve is in 5 days and all we’ve done is put up the mini tree lot and the Christmas tree, which has one ornament on it ;)

Considering how crazy we went last year with decorating, Christmas lights, pre-Christmas baking and sending out about a hundred Christmas cards (still on my current to-do list by the way) I would have to say that this year we win the Bah-humbug award for 2011!  Looking on the brightside, I did get Gracie’s baby girl tree to add to my lot and that was so much fun to put together.  Here’s a picture of our little lady’s girly tree and some cell phone pics of our 6th annual Girls Christmas party.  

Merry Christmas week everyone! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Baby update: 25 weeks

This past Wednesday we had an OB appointment and it went great!  Baby girl’s heartbeat was 143 and sounded beautiful.  This was our 25-week check-up so the doc and his physicians assistant performed an abdominal exam on G to measure the baby’s growth rate and she measured exactly 25 weeks!  Georgia lost another pound, which the doctor said is actually a good thing and her blood pressure was exactly where it should be.  The calendar for baby classes was finally available at this visit so we’ve since picked our dates for child birthing classes, breast feeding classes and the tour of the hospital all to take place in January and February. 

Hmmm what else… Baby girl already has a wardrobe and she isn’t even here yet!  We found adorable little hangers so I hung her clothes the other day.  So cute! 

We’re also going to start some ASL (American Sign Language) lessons next week!  I tore the garage apart looking for my ASL level 1 tape from college and I found it!  It’s perfect for G because it has all the basic intro level signs like poop!  I taught Devin the sign for poop the other day and he thought it was just the coolest thing ever lol!  He was walking around the house signing poop to anyone that would pay attention ;)   

Gotta love VHS tapes :)

How your baby’s growing: 25 Weeks

Head to heels, your baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches.  Her weight – a pound and a half – isn’t much more than an average rutabaga, but she’s beginning to exchange her long, lean look for some baby fat.  As she does, her wrinkled skin will begin to smooth out and she’ll start to look more and more like a newborn.  She’s also growing more hair – and if you could see it, you’d now be able to discern its color and texture.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I’m bringing crafty back

Once upon a time I was a crafter!  I scrapbooked, I modge podged, I did ceramics, stitching, photography; I made cards and jewelry… you get it.  Well, it’s been a good 7 years since I’ve done any of this (shocking, I know.)  It’s amazing how growing up and starting a career has a way of killing a persons craftiness.  With this in mind and with my little gal on the way, I’ve decided that I’m bringing crafty back! 

I started my first project last month with Gracie’s pregnancy scrapbook.  My friend Catherine was right – scrapbooking is like riding a bike, you never forget how!  I planned to do a page or two each month but that’s totally not what happened.  3 days and one very messy living room later I had nearly completed Gracie’s entire scrapbook.  I forgot how fun it was :)

My most recent project came about after putting the nursery bookcase together.  The bookcase came with some cute but somewhat boring pink bins for toys and such.  In my attempts to girly them up I headed to Hobby Lobby (otherwise know as the mothership!)  A few hair bows, some scissors, a needle and a little thread later and TADA --- super cute girly baby bins!!

Here’s what you’ll need: baby bins, hair bows, scissors, needle & thread  

Remove flowers from hair clips by hand or with scissors

Decide your flower placement and get stitching!

All 3 bins took only took about 45 minutes!  I love the way they turned out :)

The best part is that those little flowers are sewn on tight!  Gracie can pull on those suckers and they’re not going anywhere.  Happy crafting! 

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