Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sambo Morgan and Early Intervention

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Yesterday we had Early Intervention Services come to our house to evaluate Sam. For those that don't know, Early Intervention is a statewide program that allows children to receive all kinds of services - physical/occupational/speech therapy, vision/hearing services, social work, transportation, nursing, nutrition, etc - depending on their needs. The best thing about it is that it is FREE to qualifying kiddos and they come to your home to provide these services! My pediatrician, in addition to referring Sam to outpatient therapy, also gave me a brochure about Early Intervention, and at the suggestion of a good friend, I called them to get an evaluation scheduled. They came out yesterday and we found out that Sam does qualify! A huge blessing! To qualify, as I understand it, you have to be at least 25% delayed in either motor, cognitive, speech, social and/or self help development. Well, Sam qualified in the motor area so we will be receiving Early Intervention services (physical therapy) at our home starting in January! I am really excited. Hopefully we will have him caught up on his motor skills in the next few months. (For those that don't know, Sam is a little behind as far as gross motor skills are concerned - he has yet to roll over, and he doesn't sit up or put weight on his legs and also has a hard time being on his tummy or playing in an upright position!) Maybe by spring I will have a mobile baby boy. (Never thought I'd be wishing for that day!) :)

Anyway, I appreciate all the sweet comments/emails/facebook messages asking about him and offering encouragement. It helps so much to know people who've had the same stuff going on and have bouncing, bubbling babies now!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Transitions.

I can't remember exactly when, but at some point during the plague of sickness we decided to transition Mary Ella to a big girl bed. I had originally planned to let her sleep in her crib until she was able to crawl completely out of it, but when she began waking us up with "Maaaammmaaa Heeellllpp!" and I'd find her straddling the top rail, I figured I better go ahead and transition her before we added another ER visit to our resume. Plus I was sick and tired of washing her crib sheets over and over and over again, because we all know there is no easy way to change a crib sheet, without getting everything out and lifting the mattress out and then having to put everything back in... so, we made the switch.

Now, instead of this...

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Her room looks like this...

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I can hardly take it. Surely this doesn't mean she's a "big girl."
No, she's not. She's still in diapers. YAY! Wait a minute...

Anyway, this was a fun project for us and it's been neat to have a new home improvement project to work on along with our holiday decorating. We had actually painted her walls a while back and we went with "Ballet Pink" Valspar paint from Lowe's. The twin bed was a lucky find; it was sitting outside of an antique store in my hometown and I happened to walk by and admire it, thinking, "Wow, what a cute bed. It's probably $1000." (Because it resembles some of the PB twin beds.) To my surprise, the tag showed $600, which was still wayyy more than I intended to spend. The owner saw me browsing outside the store and came out and told me that her son had found the bed at an estate sale and that he'd had it forever and needed to get it off his hands. So she sold it to me for $100. Score. I already had twin mattresses at home so this was a steal.

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The bedding is a PB Kids quilt (not sure of the exact pattern) that was given to us by our good friends before Mary Ella was born. The pink pillow sham is from the PB Zoey bedding collection (I wish I could afford the entire Zoey set because I love it! It matches her pink walls and it's little chick birds. But the sham will do for now.) I am not a huge theme person when it comes to kids stuff, but I love the birdie/owl themes right now. So I bought the owl pillow and the tree decals at Target. I also bought the large white quilted sham at Target.

I hated to get rid of the wooden letters that reminded me of her nursery, so I removed the ribbons and put adhesive tape on the back of them and just stuck them to the wall, above her "thinkin chair."

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Her room is teeny tiny but she has this cute little window nook that makes the perfect play area. The cross stitched alphabet above her kitchen was in my nursery as a baby.

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Now, as far as her transition has gone, she's done okay. I was definitely not used to her being able to get up and walk to our room, so the first few mornings that I saw a big eyed, afro-headed little person in my doorway as I squinted at the break of dawn, it was a little freaky. As in, The Shining freaky. Then she figured out that she didn't really need to come in our room at all. So for the next few weeks we woke up to our fridge alarm beeping and we'd find her in the pantry or digging through the freezer. One morning she even turned on the TV by herself, and I after hearing the fridge beeping, I got up, walked into the living room and found her watching The Today Show and licking a corn dog. Awesome. We've had to break a few of our own rules to get her to use her bed, such as letting her use our TV in there to watch a movie, and usually she's out in 5 minutes. We've taken the TV out of there and although it's still difficult to get her to settle down and go to sleep, she's been better about it in the last couple weeks. She's yet to fall out of the bed and she really seems to love her room overall. I can't believe she's almost 2 1/2 years old!

The best steak ever.

This recipe is courtesy of Food Network. These are Ina Garten's steakhouse steaks and if you've never been a steak lover, this will certainly turn you into one. And if you are a big steak lover, this will change the way you cook them. Forever. Amen.

You will need:

Filet Mignon steaks, about 2 1/2 inches thick (try to get them the same size if you can!)
*You can use any steak you want, just make sure it's THICK.
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Pepper
Kosher Salt (*Kosher, key word)
Butter
Vegetable Oil
A meat thermometer

Now, for the instructions...

Take your steaks out of the fridge and let them sit about 20 minutes before doing anything to them.
Then, heat your nonstick skillet on medium high heat and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

After they've been sitting, pat your steaks dry and then brush them with a small amount of vegetable oil on all sides.

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Then cover, and I mean cover them with kosher salt and pepper. Rub it in, people. Be generous. (Oh, you must have kosher salt because it is more forgiving than regular salt and you can add a LOT of it and it won't be overly salty and gross.)

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Add just enough oil to your pan to barely cover the bottom. You can also use spray if you want. Just a light coating is all you need. See... you can barely see the oil...

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Sear your steaks on all sides for about 2 minutes per side (including outside edges), for a total of 8-10 minutes.

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Remove from skillet and put on a baking sheet covered with foil. Insert meat thermometer into the center of your thickest steak. Put a tablespoon (or three) of butter on top of each one and then pop them into your 400 degree oven.

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Watch the thermometer.

When the temperature gets to about 125 degrees, this means your steaks are medium rare. You can remove them at this point if you want. I usually let them creep up to 130 or 135, then I get them out. But note: 125 degrees in the OVEN means that after resting they will be MEDIUM. So if you like your steak medium, go ahead and take them out at 125 degrees. If you like a medium rare steak, take them out at 120 degrees. I let mine creep to somewhere between medium and well, and it's still juicy and tender and not the least bit dry. But you HAVE to let them rest. See below...

After you get them out, do not cut them. Instead, let them rest; cover them with foil and they will continue cooking a bit. Trust me, they will.

Please let them rest! This is important for a good, juicy steak! Resting takes about 10 minutes, that's all. Just be patient.

Then... indulge. No steak sauce needed, people. These are THE. BEST. STEAKS. EVER. I'm telling you, they are soooo good, and juicy, and tender, and melty and flavorful. Yum.

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Ladies, if you wanna impress the man in your life, this is a sure fire way to do it. It worked for me.

You can find the official recipe here!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sam vs. Gumby

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Gumby didn't stand a chance.


Who wants to take a bath???

Me! Me! Pick me! I do! I do!
raise your hand

Nope. Not any more.

My child hates the bath tub. I don't know if she thinks it interferes with her day, or if she is scared of it, or if she likes to be dirty and greasy, or what. But she HATES it. She screams and throws fits when we tell her it's time to take a bath.

Tonight I was bathing Sam and I said, "Come on, Mary Ella, it's your turn!"

And she said, "No thanks, Mom. I'm sick of it."

I thought I'd heard her wrong and I said, "You're SCARED of it?"

"No... I'm SICK of it."

Alllllrighty then.

I am looking for ways to make bath time more fun. Maybe Santa just needs to bring all new bath toys. Maybe Santa needs to pony up and buy those crazy bathtub crayons that they sell for $5 a pop. Any suggestions are welcomed.

Some recipes...

Here is a GREAT sandwich for a cold night! I found this recipe in a magazine.

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French Dip Hoagies

1 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef
1 can French onion soup
1 tbsp Worcestercire (sp?) sauce
Hoagie rolls
Provolone cheese (or your favorite cheese, doesn't matter)
Banana Peppers

Heat soup and worcestercire sauce in small saucepan until hot. Add roast beef and stir. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using tongs, remove meat and pile onto hoagie rolls. Top with provolone cheese and bake on a cookie sheet for about 5-8 minutes until they are toasted and cheese is melted. Remove from oven, top with hot soup mixture and banana peppers and enjoy!

These really are great sandwiches!

And on a sweet note, we made Pioneer Woman's toffee the other day, and let me tell, you, it is DIVINE! We had a great time making it and here are some tips and tweaks...

-You MUST have a candy thermometer, cookie sheets, and parchment paper (or silicone baking mats.)
-It also helps to have a helper. And by helper I mean an adult helper. This is not really a kid-friendly project but as you can see Mary Ella did have fun sprinkling on the toppings and licking the utensils and her fingers. Other than that, there's not too much a kid can do.

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-I did not double or triple the recipe, just made it as it tells you to, and this made 2 cookie sheets full of toffee, which is a LOT.

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-As you are heating your butter/sugar/water it will take a long while before it reaches 298 degrees. Mine seemed to creep and creep until it reached about 230 degrees then it went rather fast, so just watch it and keep stirring!
-After you pour the toffee onto the cookie sheet you will NOT have long to spread it, so spread right away or it will get hard!
-I used semi-sweet baker's chocolate and it turned out perfect.

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-We used all 3 of her suggested toppings (nuts, peppermint candy and sea salt) and all 3 are wonderful! I couldn't even pick a favorite!

This would be a great teacher gift! And here is how you can give it...



Take a canned good that has a pop top (the top that you can peel back to open.) Turn the can over to the opposite end, the end without the pop top, and have your husband or another brave individual remove that end of the can around the outside rim with an industrial knife or some other manly tool. A safety can opener is your best bet. Fill your can from the bottom end up with your goodies. Then, use a hot glue gun (surprise!) to re-seal the can, careful not to get glue on any of your candy. Have fun decorating your can by putting scrapbook paper around the outside. Turn the can back over and attach a cute little label to the top (the pop top end). That way the teachers can open the pop top end and it'll look like the can had never been opened. They'll be like, "How'd you do that?" And you can be like, "I don't know, I'm just awesome."

Here's a fabulous link to this fun little project!

OR you can just save your other cans - formula cans, coffee cans, rice cereal cans, and decorate them just the same way. No industrial tools or sharp blades or glue guns required. Yay for giving! And yay for giving scrumptious gifts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

6 Month Checkup Stats

Sam's 6 month checkup was today and he weighs 18 pounds, 2 ounces (70th %) and is 28 inches long. (97th %).

Dr. A has set us up with a physical therapy referral because Sam should really be putting weight on his legs at this point! We will go to an initial appointment at Children's and then I am hoping that we can have a PT come to our house. That would be such a blessing, rather than have to get out in the cold 2-3 times per week. But we'll do what we need to do!

He has a lot going against him, in that he is a boy and that he is a BIG boy, both of which make for later-than-normal milestones. But I have noticed that he doesn't have very good "core" strength either. Sitting in a bumbo or exersaucer is a large challenge for him and he usually begins leaning to the side or forward after a few minutes and can't pull himself back up. (If he'd put weight on his legs, it would help him tremendously) So that is what we will be doing over the next couple months! Here's hoping to some progress!

Friday, December 10, 2010

My name is Haley, and I'm a hoarder.

A hoarder of GERMS, that is.

What? My house smells like Lysol?

What? You notice my hands are flaking to pieces from being so dry because they've been wiping things with Clorox wipes for the last 2 months?

What? You saw me drinking GermX yesterday?

Well that stuff can't possibly be true, because, CLEARLY, I am hoarding all the germs. CLEARLY.

Seriously, do those products even work? Sometimes I wonder.

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We're at it, again, folks. That's right. After 12 glorious days of no one being sick in our house, I came down with a horrible stomach/fever virus. It literally knocked.me.down. Normally I do not "get" stomach viruses. I've had a weird, unheard-of immunity to them since I was a little girl. Never threw up until I got to college. Neither did my brother or sister. Just one of those weird things we never seemed to be susceptible to. Well, Tuesday morning around 5am I woke up suddenly to a nervous tummy, and knew that I needed to throw up. And I did, but just a little bit. And following that episode was 18 hours of fever/aches/yuckyness/can't-get-up-because-I'm-so-nauseated HELL. It was so bad that Chad had to take off work the next day to let me recoup. And after 24 hours total I was fine and dandy. And Mary Ella went to school today, fine and dandy, but when she got home she came out of her room and told me she'd "spit up" on her baby doll. Well, "spit up" apparently meant "throw up" and she didn't inherit my immunity to vomiting so she "spit up" quite a bit. So I bathed her, shampooed her, put her to bed because she was wimpy and sleepy. She slept an hour, woke up screaming, commenced to vomiting again, this time even MORE, all over her bed, sheets, blankie, clean PJ's. Another bath, another shampoo, and then 2 hours of washing everything she'd ever touched in her entire LIFE. She watched TV during those 2 hours I was scrubbing and praying off all demons.

Then suddenly she got up off her pallet I'd made her, came to me, and requested Spaghetti-O's.

Seriously?

Because that's probably the LAST thing I want to see/smell in someone's throw up.

But she wanted them, so I fixed them. She ate them ALL. I waited and watched.

And she's been fine ever since. She's played, watched a movie, eaten peanut butter crackers and popcorn and even snuck a few sips of her Daddy's Diet Mountain Dew while he was busy at work.

I am hoping, praying, crossing fingers and toes that Sam and Chad steer clear of this one. I have also withdrawn Mary Ella from MDO for the rest of December (As in, next week. Ha.) As much as I want her to go to school, it is just not worth it right now, especially with Christmas right around the corner. We need everyone to be HEALTHY for the holidays!! So good bye for now, Mother's Day Out! See ya next year!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Decorating the Tree

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We put up our tree almost a week ago. Chad took Mary Ella for a daddy-daughter date of sorts, to pick out the perfect tree from the "Christmas tree patch" as she called it, and then they went to TCBY for ice cream. I would've gone but it was super cold and I am doing everything I can to avoid sickness these days! So me and Sambo stayed home and waited patiently for them to return.

Chad actually let Mary Ella pick the tree and he said it was the first one she saw, but it actually is the perfect tree for our house! It's about 12 feet tall and it leans a little like the Who-ville tree, but it has yet to fall over and is holding our ornaments so I think it's perfect.

Mary Ella just ooohed and aahhhed at all the ornaments and then she went and got one of her baby dolls to "show her" the tree. She put the doll's face up to every ornament and said "See this one? It's a ball" or "See this one? It's a dog!" Sam seemed to like the Christmas lights the most. And the football game that was on TV. :)

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A little flashback from last year...
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Happy tree decorating!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tis the season...

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For all things Christmas! I love decorating for both fall and Christmas; I wish my house could be decorated for one or the other year round. We've had fun dragging out our boxes of ornaments and garland and putting everything in its place. I have posted some of these ideas before, but holiday decor never gets old; I enjoy looking at different blogs for new ideas each year and hopefully these ideas will inspire some of you! I'd love to hear some of your ideas, too, so get crafting! And then blog about it!

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Have you seen these countdown to Christmas charts in Pottery Barn and Land of Nod? They run anywhere from $50-100.



Well, you can make one yourself with ... you guessed it... felt and a glue gun! (Pretty sure I could solve all the world's problems with felt and a glue gun.) Just cut out your Christmas tree, 25 3x5" squares for the pockets, and numbers. I free-handed the numbers so that it would look more home made, but you can use a stencil if you want. It'll just take more time. Glue it all together (make sure you only glue 3 sides of the squares down, leaving the top open like a pocket. Add a candy cane counter to jump from square to square and your kids will have fun counting down the days until Santa arrives!

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Felt costs $5.99/yd just about anywhere and you can make this with 1 yard of felt and a bunch of felt 8x10 squares (in the craft section at Hobby Lobby, 25 cents a sheet). All in all it costs about $10 + labor. (Normally I wouldn't add in the "plus labor" part, but hey, its a glue gun and you will get burnt and probably say some ugly words in the process. Just keeping it real, here.)

For Halloween I painted these "BOO" canvases and so for Christmas I wanted something similar to sit on top of our piano. JOY!

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Our mantle is topped with lit garland, a glass hurricane full of red and green apples, and some metal present boxes (red ones are from Big Lots, green one from Hobby Lobby.) And of course our stockings; they are from PB Kids and we decided on the train stocking for Sam. Still need to get it monogrammed. Down by the fireplace is another felt project - remember our ghosts from Halloween? This is the same concept - a metal floral stand from Hobby Lobby, and the felt Christmas tree is over it.

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A metal bucket full of ornament balls! This is last year's craft but still so cute! A metal bucket from Lowe's, ribbon, and a letter to go on the front. My letter is made out of a scrap of linoleum floor but a cheap flat wooden letter from a craft store would do the trick. Just paint it, polka dot it, and hot glue it! Fill your bucket with ornament balls for a cute table decoration. (Might wanna set this one up high, out of the reach of little fingers.)

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A gingerbread house is a fun activity for your kids that can also double as a Christmas decoration. They look cute sitting anywhere! Ours is on top of our dining room buffet. I bought the kit 2 years ago at Target after Christmas and forgot about it last year, so it was a fun surprise to pull it out of the box last week. I did the icing and let Mary Ella put the candy wherever she wanted. These kits are pretty easy to use and they really aren't as messy as I thought they'd be.

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Need a way to display your Christmas cards without things looking cluttered? Or are you like me and you save ALL of your previous years' cards from your friends and then need a way to display them year after year? Well, here's an idea (thanks to my Mom, of course). Punch holes in all of them and slide a metal ring through; add a bow with some cute ribbon and then you can put them on your coffee table, on your countertop, wherever! I keep all of them from the same year on one ring; 2008, 2009 and so on... (I bought the metal rings at Target in the paper supplies section; they are called "binder rings" and my only complaint is that they are multicolored instead of just plain silver. They work GREAT though!)

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You can also display your own family's previous years' cards by punching a hole in them, adding some ribbon, and turning them into an ornament for your Christmas tree...
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If you already have a plate rack in your kitchen, switch your plates to some Christmas ones. This is an easy switcheroo and will bring in the Christmas cheer!
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Just a few more shots of things around the house...

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(Yes, that's a table runner. And yes it's made of felt. Don't hate. Appreciate.)

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(plates from Big Lots, last year)

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"Ho Ho Ho" banner, made from scrapbook paper

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Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! More posts to come!

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