Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baby Coraline Photos *5 Weeks Old*

Coraline is now 7 weeks old, but these are my favorite photos of her so far, from when she was 5 weeks old (taken on 1/17/13). 
I've got a lot of blogging to catch up on, but for today - just some beautiful photos of our baby girl.

(click on photos to see them larger)

Coraline Laurel, 5 weeks old

 ^^ This one above is my favorite photo of her yet!

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Thanks for reading, would love your comments!!!!!

Guest Blog: Disguised Changes: Helping Kids Learn Healthy Eating

 As a mom, I am always trying to educate myself on raising healthy children.  I was contacted and asked if I'd host this guest blog post about Children and Diabetes, and I always appreciate a reminder on why it's important for our whole family to try to live more healthy lifestyles.

-- Dana, Lil Family Blog

Disguised Changes: Helping Kids Learn Healthy Eating
Last month, thousands of people walked, danced, spoke out and donated for causes
related to diabetes in honor of American Diabetes Month in November. This is an
ongoing personal challenge for me; just recently my little cousin's weight became a
serious – so much so that she was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.

One in three children is overweight or obese in America, and according to St.
Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, 215,000 people under the age of 20 have been
diagnosed with this disease (an astonishing number seeing as how this used to be a
disease that was only attributed to adults!) With that in mind, and because I myself
am trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I have found ways to make eating healthy and
exercising fun for all of my cousins.

Where to Begin
Some kids are really resistant to change, but most adults are too. We feel a lack of
control, a vulnerability and unfairness when we are forced to change. However, kids
can feel those emotions on a larger scale because they are still so small and not fully
aware of the world around them. For that reason, changing eating and exercising
habits has to be a process. It doesn't start with just one day. It starts with one meal
or 20 minutes of the day, doing something together that is healthy and fun. The right
diet plan can really help prevent the onset of Type II Diabetes, so that's where we'll

But They Love Mac and Cheese
So, it's no secret. Kids love sweets, treats and fried meats. Why not? A cheeseburger
sounds better than asparagus. The key difference is that a cheeseburger is only
going to help kids along the path to obesity and Type II Diabetes. Just knowing that
should be a factor in the way we plan what kids eat.

Here's the deal. Kids still need some sugar, carbohydrates and starches, and not all
of it is bad. When you start to plan healthier meals, however, the largest part of the
plate must contain something non-starchy, preferably a leafy green vegetable like
broccoli -- but green beans, carrots, peas, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers
and cucumbers are also a good place to start. How do you get kids eat that stuff?
There are tons of creative recipes out there for turning cauliflower into faux mashed
potatoes, or The Sneaky Chef's brainy brownies, which actually contain spinach!

Saying Goodbye to Ronald McDonald
Honestly, who would have thought the golden arches, could have so much power?
One thing I had to realize was that my cousin wasn't going to get better by eating
junk food, which included meals from fast food places. As fun as the toys might be,
clogged arteries under the age of 10 aren't. Parents can assist kids in eating better
by reading labels, looking for low carb foods that don't contain glucose or high
amounts of gluten. While kids should have some starches and carbohydrates, the treats need to be limited.

Don't Call It 'Exercise’
Parents can start kids down a road of healthy and fun exercise by considering what
kids love to do. We all know that kids don’t jump for joy at the sound of "exercise,"
but they do like to play games, dance and compete.

Why not challenge your kid to an animal pose-off? In fact, you can use yoga poses
like Warrior 3 to show your kids how to pose like a flamingo or the downward dog
to do a puppy pose. Yoga poses for kids are low impact and can be done indoors or
outside, as long as there is a flat surface.

Zumba is another group exercise for families to do together that is low impact and
“silly”, and something that overweight kids can do with parents. In addition, Zumba
combines pop music with high-energy dance that works the whole body. Just doing
15 to 20 minutes of this exercise can burns tons of calories and really build up your
endurance level!

Just Get Out and Play!
Many of the games that kids like to play already include lots of running around and
activity. We got together a big bunch of the kids in the neighborhood and played
games like Frisbee, kickball, capture the flag, tag, etc. for hours, which was a lot of
fun for the kids and was a great source of exercise! It’s all about being creative!

Kids can really benefit from early-on habits of exercise and healthy eating plans, and
even while disguised at first, they can really turn into healthy habits that prevent
Type II Diabetes and lead to a well-balanced lifestyle that they can carry with them
well into adulthood!

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-
being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has known to bust some serious moves on the
dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

One Month Old (photos)

Coraline is one month old...

So I took some photos!

(Click on any of these to see larger.)

Lilian in November 2008, Coraline in January 2013

And because I'm a big fan of the side-by-side photo collage...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

28 Days Later

Coraline is 4 weeks old today.

Time has definitely flown, and she's such an easy baby, there wasn't much adjusting for any of us to do.  By Day 3 home, we had our routine down.  (Though it definitely takes an extra 45 minutes to get out of the house and actually be ON TIME for anything.)

She still mostly sleeps her life away.  She sleeps 22+ hours a day (which is down a little from 23+ hours a day.)  In the past week, her awake time has increased from about 10 minute bursts to maybe 30-40 minute bursts, about 3x a day.  Mostly, she's sleepy though.  She sleeps in 4-5 hour stretches during the day, and 2-3 hour stretches at night (yes, I wish those were reversed.)  But, since I discovered that she likes swaddling (Lily hated/fought it), she is sleeping IN her crib from about 11PM or 12am until 7am or so.  She wakes around 2am, 4 or 5am, and 6 or 7am to eat, but luckily she gets drowsy again while eating and goes right back to sleep, so my sleep interruptions only last about 10 minutes, and I can fall back asleep.  So for a "new" mom, I'm pretty un-zombie like.  I actually am sleeping, which did not happen at ALL with Lily.  so THANK YOU to whoever invented the baby straight jacket (which is what I call the velcro swaddles)... I don't know WHY babies like them, but they do, and I get to sleep more.

We do an on-demand eating schedule, she eats whenever she feels like it, as much as she wants, and it is working out.  I don't know how much she weighs, we have an appointment for her 1 month check up tomorrow, but she has definitely filled out her Newborn size clothes and diapers.  She eats like a champ, but we're still trying to find a bottle she loves.  I wanted to love the Tommy Tippee bottles because they look/sound awesome (and weren't around when Lily was a baby), but they are just too big for her preemie/newborn mouth (and I'm wondering if she's not tongue-tied for a few reasons) and they are awkward for her to drink out of.  Hopefully when she's a little bigger, they'll work better (since we have a set of 6).  We have one Similac brand bottle that seems to work well, the Medela bottles (that match the breast pump) work well, but we're not in love with one.  

Breastfeeding is still a no-go over here.  She has successfully breastfed exactly once in her life (last week), but I haven't pushed it since then because I'm in horrible/immense breast/nipple pain this week (more on this later.)  I'm still pumping for her, so she's getting the milk, and hopefully in the future I can try the breast again.    I'm excited to "check off" the milestone of one month of breast milk for her, because I'm truly hating pumping this time around (where it wasn't that big of a deal for me with Lilian.)  I wish it wasn't the case, but it is.  

We had professional photos done of the girls last week, but I'm still waiting on the photographer to edit them and get back to us.  I'm hoping for a few good shots to use on birth announcements, because I'm a little late on those!  But in her first two weeks, she was bruised, swollen, and rash-y from the NICU and not ready for photos.  I'm super anxious to see how they came out!

Not much else to say about her.  She's pretty easy.  She also smells good and likes to cuddle, and those are some pretty awesome traits in a baby.  We just love her to pieces.

*EDITED to add  1/10/13*  Coraline had her 1 month pediatrician visit today.
She was 8 lb, 3 ounces and 21 inches long (which is 24% for weight, 50% for height.)
She got one shot and hated it.  Everything is healthy and awesome.

Some photos (she is 2-4 weeks old in these pics):

You can see how her hair always sticks up!

Sleeping in her crib... which her big sis never did.

Thank GOD for swaddles (with velcro)!!!  We all get some sleep.

Napping in her Rock N Play.

One of my favorite baby outfits (it was Lily's first.)

I LOVE when baby outfits have animal feet ON the feet.  So cute!

One day we'll have photos of her awake.  But not yet!

She often rocks the "one fist pump" sleep/stretch position.

As for me...

Emotionally, I'm doing well.  I am happy and loving life as a family of four.

Physically, not so great.  I'm 4 weeks out from her birth, and I'm still not feeling myself or well.  I haven't felt well/comfortable/pain-free since the summer, and that can be pretty exhausting.  And I'm pretty fed up with doctors and the medical field as a whole, because I feel like doctors never listen.  I don't see doctors often, only when I really NEED to, but every time I do, I feel like they don't listen to me, and I get "dismissed" with no solutions.  
So this week, I've seen 3 different doctors for different things, and got 3 big unhelpful answers.
Monday I went to see a GP because I've been sick (flu?) with fever/chills, body ache, fatigue, etc.   I haven't felt well or had energy in months, and I suspect there is some underlying reason (thyroid? still anemic?) and I was pretty much told "you're just tired because you have a newborn."  But I know the difference between just being tired (and i take a nap every day) and feeling fatigue, where all your bones feel heavy.  I've also been unable to regulate my body temperature and feel frozen to the bone ALL the time (which is SO unlike me).  So they ran a full blood panel (with lots of specific blood tests looking for vitamin deficiencies and the whatnot), but they expect the answer will be "take more naps."  Not helpful.  
Then yesterday I went back to the OB regarding the golf ball-like lump that now lives inside my abdomen.  I had an ultrasound, and they basically said "we see nothing abnormal".  But I said "but you can FEEL that in me, right?"  And the doctor said yes, but we don't know what it is, and we see nothing on the sonogram.   So maybe it'll go away one day, maybe it won't.  Maybe it'll stop hurting one day, maybe not.  Who knows. And that seems to be my answer.  (Similar to when I discovered that the titanium rod put in my broken femur was slightly too long and rubs the underside of my kneecap and inside my hip joint, wearing away bone and cartilage, and that one leg healed longer than the other, I was basically told "oops, sorry, that's just how you are now.)  
And today I saw a different doctor because my nipples/breasts are in unbearable pain.  I hate driving, because the seatbelt is excruciating.  It hurts to wear a bra, it hurts not to.  If i brush against something, I jump back like I got burned.  It sucks, I'm in pain all the time.   I pumped milk for 8 months for Lilian, and it was NOT like this - if it was, I'd never have made it 8 months.  Sure, there were times when my breasts were tender, or nipples would chap/crack (awful, I know) but they'd heal back up.  This isn't my skin that hurts, it's the whole thing (inside too), and nothing works/helps.  I also had a horrible case of mastitis with Lilian which landed me in the hospital because it got septic (in my bloodstream), and that was horrible pain (I had to pull over my car on the side of the road and was throwing up from the pain), and this definitely isn't that either.  (I also had a hard, red, hot spot on my breast then, which I don't have now.)   And pumping all that time for Lily, I tried out many different parts/sizes for my breast pump and figured out what works, so I know that isn't the problem.  Well, the doctor said today they were "just sore" from pumping and that I'd get used to it... take some ibuprofen and gave me a steroid cream for the skin.   I wanted to/planned to pump for 6 months for Coraline, but at this rate, I won't make 2.  And I can forget trying to get her to breastfeed, it's just TOO painful, there's no way I can do that now.  Not until I get this figured out.
It's super frustrating because I'm not someone who goes to doctors often (before getting pregnant, it had been years), and I'm not one to complain about little things, or run to the doctor for something minor.  So when I go and say "hey look, this thing is pretty awful and I need help fixing it", and they basically tell me "no, it's normal" or "it can't be that bad, suck it up and deal" it drives me nuts.  Because if it was manageable, I wouldn't BE there in the first place wasting either of our time.  I don't know what it is about me, but my entire life, I've been dismissed by the medical profession, to the point where I rarely even bother.
So now I have the energy of a 90 year old, a golf ball of pain in my belly, and nipples that are on fire... and I've been told to take some aspirin and a nap.  Thanks, guys.
So that's been my week... and it's exhausting and frustrating and depressing.
I'm totally ready to feel like myself again.  And feel comfortable, and painless, and energetic and like a normal human.  It's been too long.
For now, I'm gonna go pop some (more) Motrin and go to sleep... that seems to be the cure.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year!!!

2012 was a really incredible year for me/us.  Overall, 2012 showered us with good luck and happy memories.  I feel really grateful for everything that 2012 brought us, and I hope for more happiness in 2013.

Last year, I was (secretly) pregnant on Christmas (and the weeks before) and miscarried a pregnancy on December 26, 2011.  I brought in the New Year last year still grieving that loss, and hoping to add to our family in 2012.  I got pregnant again Easter weekend, and we got our 2012 baby (with not much time to spare!)  So I spent most of 2012 pregnant, and on 12/12/12 we added another beautiful baby girl to our family, Coraline.  I feel so lucky that we were able to make this dream come true.

In May, we took a vacation to Disney World; it was our biggest vacation in years.  Lilian truly had the time of her life (and for those who say "little kids don't even remember it", you're wrong!  She was only 3.5 years old, and she remembers ALL of it and talks about it all the time.)  Most of the trip (Disney hotel & Disney passes) was a Christmas gift from my dad & step-mother for Lilian and our family, and it was one of the best gifts ever.  Experiencing Disney through Lily's eyes was truly spectacular and something we'll never forget.

In April, the same week I found out I was pregnant, I also got laid off from my job.  But... in July, Missy got an awesome new job that she loves.  She's been doing fantastic and is really happy there - and that makes all of us happy!

In October, we went on an awesome cabin getaway weekend with our friends and spend 2 days relaxing in the woods, eating fantasy foods, and spending time with people we love.  Later in the month,  Hurricane Sandy hit, and although we were without power for 3 days, we were all uninjured, our property/car suffered no damage, and Lilian was still able to enjoy Halloween.  Again, we were all extremely fortunate, and as much as it was completely a hassle, it was probably a good learning/growing experience for Lily.

In November, we went on our annual trip to Lancaster, PA for Thanksgiving with some of our best friends.  We had a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner - and no one had to cook OR clean up!  We spent a few days in the hotel pool (Lily's favorite part) and I got some rest & relaxation in.  Also in November, our friends thew us a suprise baby shower.  We felt so loved that everyone came out to celebrate the new addition to our family.

And of course, December was all about getting ready for the new baby, and welcoming Coraline into our lives.

2012 brought us all good health, no major illnesses or injuries for any of us.  It was also a good year for our dogs - they too, had a year of health and happiness, and in the coming months, they'll be turning 8, 9, and 10 years old!  (I can't believe that Ruby will soon be celebrating a decade!)

I just counted a tally, and I read 209 books this year - which I think is a personal record for me.  

I look forward to 2013, Lily will be starting kindergarten and Coraline will have a year of "firsts."

I do make resolutions, and rarely stick to them, but I still make them.  I haven't quite decided what it will be this year, I need to think about it a little bit more.

For New Year's Eve, we stayed in and had some special activities planned for Lily.  We made homemade pizzas (at Lilian's request - she loves to cook/bake and had been asking for some time to learn how to make pizza) and then we built gingerbread houses.  Missy and I actually had a tradition back when we lived in Hoboken, dating back to our first New Year's (2003-2004) of building gingerbread houses on New Year's Eve, but we hadn't done it in years.  So we decided to bring the tradition back, and Lily had a really good time decorating the house.  At midnight, all 4 of us were actually awake, and we turned on the TV at 2 minutes to midnight and watched the ball drop (which Lily didn't quite understand the excitement of.)  I got 2 New Year's kisses and gave out 3 (since Coraline doesn't kiss back yet!) and we got to start our first year as a family of 4.  How much more perfect can it get?   Some photos:

Making pizza, and eating olives out of the bowl!

Coraline slept through pizza making.

Mmmmm.... pizza #1

And pizza #2

Coraline still sleeping....

Gingerbread House supplies (yes, I bought the kit at Halloween time.)

5 houses, waiting to be decorated.

Decorating her houses.

Lily's first masterpiece.  She designed it with no help from us.

Me & my 2 girls.

Gingerbread Houses... all decorated by Lily with a little help from us.

Watching the ball drop on TV - Happy New Year!

Everyone is asleep now but me.

So, Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope everyone has a happy & healthy 2013.
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