Wednesday, February 29, 2012

That's What Chloe Said - February

Chloe loves it when she burps. Every time she burps she says, "Q Me, Mommy!" And I have to tell her "You're excused." If I don't respond right away she'll keep repeating herself until I do. And if anyone else is around they also have to excuse her.
"Q me Mommy!"
"You're excused Chloe."
"Q me Daddy!"
"You're excused Chloe."
"Q me aNana!" silence "Q me aNana!" silence "Q me aNana!"
"You're excused Chloe."

After she's properly excused. She chuckles. "Da Bunny!" (That's funny.) And that's repeated until someone agrees with her. It's actually pretty hilarious.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cynthia's Birthday

I turned 37 this year and had a great birthday. I love baking cakes and decided I wanted to bake my own cake this year. Dave usually picks one up for me but I like my own cakes better so I called him at work and warned him. I'd been fantasizing about a couple of cakes for several months. First, the coconut cake from Bobby Flay's Coconut Cake Throwdown but also this cake that my friend, Melissa, blogged about a few months back. The Chocolate Pumpkin Cake sounded easier so decided to go for that one. I baked it while Chloe napped and it smelled divine.

When Dave got home from work he and the girls took me to my absolute favorite restaurant, Rue Dumaine. The food was amazing. Just a few short weeks after this dinner Chef Anne Kierney was announced to be a top 5 finalist for the James Beard Best Chef Great Lakes region award. We're lucky her restaurant is 5 minutes from our house! She's the only chef outside of Chicago selected. I suppose that means I have really good taste. ;-) Check out the menu!

They don't have booster seats at Rue Dumaine and we brought one but then decided we'd be ok without it. Chloe disagreed. She was sort of a handful and didn't want to sit in the booth. I finally let Dave take over and he had her taking a pretend nap and then flipping through pictures on his phone.

Hi Mommy! Here's the plan. I'm going to try and look cute so I can then act like a little stinker. What do you think?

We ordered lentils and spinach ragout for the girls but they were so good Dave and I wanted to eat them all!
After dinner we returned home, smiled for a picture, and then chowed down on cake. Dave served ridiculously enormous pieces. But did we leave any on our plates? No. Thanks Mel for the awesome recipe. I just might make that again!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Honey Caramel Sticky Nut Buns

After 9 months of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day I finally made the Whole Wheat Brioche. It's one of their Enriched Breads (uses eggs) and has a fair amount of butter in the recipe. While eating healthy is a priority for our family I definitely love indulgences. The thing I try to do is make our indulgences myself. If I'm willing to make it from scratch I figure at least I know we're not eating a bunch of chemicals, preservatives, and highly processed foods.

But I was afraid that, after trying the Brioche, we'd have a hard time going back to the other breads. Turns out the brioche is, well, AMAZING! I first made a sandwich loaf using the dough and it's soft, light, and fluffy - different from the more firm and dense sandwich loaves I've been making. Drat! We'll have to finish off this loaf and forget we ever had it. That's the ticket! Dave had lunch provided at work twice this week so he hasn't actually had a sandwich with the brioche. I'm considering finishing it off without his every trying it just so he won't ask me to make it regularly.

I decided to use the rest of the dough from that batch to make something sweet. There are a number of pastry recipes toward the back of the book that I haven't yet tried. Honey Caramel Sticky Nut Buns being one of them.

Ummmm. Yum?

I made them the night before and let them rest in the fridge overnight. This is a trick I read about in the book. It's nice for breakfast pastries because preparation and rest time make it impractical for the morning unless I want to be cooking at 6am. I would also be really handy for someone who works all day but wants to have fresh bread with dinner. You pull off a chunk of dough in the morning and form it into a loaf (1 minute process), place it in the fridge and cover loosely with plastic wrap. When you get home take it out, uncover, and let it rest at room temp as the oven pre-heats. Then it's good to go! I was shocked to see how my buns filled out and rose significantly overnight in the fridge.

Coming out of the oven. I used a Pampered Chef stone version of a cake pan. You can barely see the stone under the buns because they rose so much they're practically laying over the edges of the stone!

When you make Sticky Nut Buns you smear some of the creamed butter, brown sugar, spices mixture on the bottom of the pan and place the rolls on top. Here's what it looks like after flipping them out of the pan. Sticky yummy goodness!

Dave was a good sport. He waited for me to take a picture before digging in...barely.

Mmmmm. Honey Caramel Sticky Nut Buns. I need to hurry up and toss the rest in the freezer before I pick on them all day.
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Vestibular System

Vestibular is a word I never heard of until Chloe's Vision Therapist, Linda, brought it up a few months ago. It involves the inner ear, which sends signals to our neural structures that control eye movements. It affects our balance and ability to stay upright. A much better and thorough explanation can be found here.

The whole concept is little fuzzy to me but Linda has always been adamant that Vestibular Activities are very important for Chloe. I know that she loves them but didn't really comprehend the importance until recently.

  • A little background on Chloe's vision: It's inconsistent. We never know what it's going to be from day to day. Some days she's great and others she' The thing is that Chloe adapts amazingly well so sometimes we don't notice. She could run around the house blind-folded and, unless we looked to see the blindfold we wouldn't even notice. For example, a few days ago I made a horrible mistake. I put her contacts in the wrong eyes. One eye is severely far-sighted and the other is extremely near-sighted. You can imagine that I basically made her blind for the two hours that she wore them that way. We played in the living room for a while. She ran around picking up and playing with toys like nothing was wrong. In fact, I think she even watched a little Dora while I got dressed. Then we went out to breakfast with my friend, Angela. I handed Chloe some paper and crayons and she put her face right into the paper to color and then lost interest pretty quickly. It wasn't until then that I noticed anything was wrong. If I hadn't handed her something that absolutely required vision - something she hadn't already memorized - I might have let her go all day like that without knowing.

We spent a week in Houston around Christmastime and returned to Dayton shortly after. Texas was sunny and wonderful. Chloe's vision is actually better on sunny clear days. When we returned to Dayton it was cloudy and gray. After a day or so, all the good vision energy she'd built up in Texas wore off and she started stumbling around like she'd just stepped off a boat. It was disconcerting to me. I thought about vestibular and put Chloe in the "Bubble." Chloe previously hated the Bubble but I had her lay in it this time to feel more secure helped. It actually helped! And she loved it!

I talked to Linda about it and she wasn't surprised to hear that Chloe's vision went downhill after returning from sunny Texas. She's planning a move to Florida and, being visually impaired herself, is thrilled at the idea living somewhere that's always sunny. It's like a new world opens up for her when she's there and I can see her eyes twinkle when she describes the crispness of her vision in Florida. She said that she needs vestibular exercises every day and has 4 swings at her house. A while back she had to have neck surgery because she injured her neck after years of tilting her head. For six weeks she was miserable because she couldn't do any swinging. She couldn't sleep. A little light started flashing in my head when she said that. "Vestibular exercises help you sleep better," I asked. Absolutely. I thought about the fact that Chloe's been skipping some naps and taking longer to fall asleep - tossing and turning a lot. It didn't seem unusual to me until Linda's comment.

The next day I put Chloe in the bubble before her nap. She normally naps 1.5 hours. She napped for 4 hours that day! We've been focusing more on the bubble and other vestibular activities since them. Some others Linda recommended are:
  1. Swinging in a blanket - Two adults hold the ends of the blanket and swing side to side and even up and down.
  2. Log Rolling - rolling across the floor or a mat
  3. Crawling - and rocking back and forth while on hands and knees (something Chloe used to do a lot when she was a crawler).
  4. Swinging - Chloe could swing for hours. We're considering installing a swing in our house but aren't sure about the bolting system required and expense. And with Spring on its way we'll probably be getting outside more. We'll see...
  5. Therapy Ball - These are those huge balls that you see people sitting on instead of chairs. Kids can sit on it and bounce (with adult support) or gently roll back and forth.
  6. Sit and Spin - Chloe loves any type of spinning. She'll stand in the living room (usually close to the entertainment system) and spin and spin and spin.
  7. Mini Tramp - We're still trying to teach Chloe to jump but she's getting closer every day and loves practicing on her mini trampoline. Sometimes I carry her while jumping on it.
  8. Stroller - Chloe's OT and PT mentioned that riding in a wagon or stroller also provide vestibular input. It got up into the 50's outside yesterday so I bundled Chloe up and we went for a jog. 40 minutes at jogging speed must have done the body good. She slept in an hour and a half this morning.
A little non-traditional bubble play
Solana is spinning Chloe by placing her finger in one of the holes and then spinning her. Solana doesn't normally do the spinning but she loves showing off and being in front of the camera so we let her this time.
Sometimes dollies, stuffed animals, and blankies get the honor of joining Chloe in the bubble.
When I spin Chloe I spin her FAST and for minutes at a time. Every time I stop she says, "More pinning bubble?" I swear that, were I to spin like that, I would literally be throwing up. Chloe barely gets dizzy. I'm sure that has to do with our vision/balance connection being so different.

I'm glad to finally be on the vestibular activities band wagon. I think it's good for her and can tell she really enjoys it. Linda says that, as Chloe gets older, she'll recognize when she needs vestibular activities and do them herself or ask for them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cincinnati Mini Vacation

Dave had a four-day weekend so we took a mini-vacation to Cincinnati to check out their Children's Museum and the Newport Aquarium. Dave booked the pet sitter and hotel, loaded the van, and we headed out Saturday morning.

We bought a membership to the museum a few months ago. With it, we also get admission to museums in Dayton and Columbus. We've been to Boonshaft, the one in Dayton, a couple of times but never Cincinnati so we didn't know what to expect. Turns out it's a really great museum and only 45 minutes away from our house. We'll definitely be back.

Dave dropped us off and parked so we hung out in the atrium for a few minutes. We found one of these little machines that makes souvenir pennies. I hate buying souvenirs but I used to collect these pennies in Europe and was happy to drop 51 cents for this one. Solana loved it! Chloe watched in admiration, just like a little sister should, as Solana cranked the wheel.

Museum highlights
Chloe loved the water play area.
They both loved the ball room. Solana's catching balls in her sack as the dropped from a bucket. There were thousands of those little balls in there. Chloe wandered around a sea of balls kicking them. I'm not sure how she managed not to fall.
Chloe enjoyed the toddler area. She's really into imaginary play right now. These lego farm animals were perfect. "Mommy, cow widing! Moo!" Chloe yells most of her sentences. I anticipate we'll need to work on her "inside voice."
"Mommy! Dinadoor eating a twee! Mmm mm mm Yuuuuummmmy twee!"
Time to fill up! We should have bought a hybrid.
Bus driver Solana is making her final stop of the day.
There are three museums in the same building. After the Children's museum we went back up to the atrium at ate our packed lunch. I looked around at everyone else eating pizza and nachos and was glad to have brought tuna/egg salad sandwiches, bananas, prunes, and cheetos. Fortunately for me, the girls aren't old enough to care that our tuna/egg salad probably stunk up the place. After lunch we entered the Natural History Museum. Dave and I worked on the scavenger hunt and Solana amazed us with her dinosaur knowledge. We sort of breezed through because it was already well past Chloe's nap time and she was getting impatient.

Here's our only family photo of the whole trip.

After we checked in at the Hilton and enjoyed listening to the girls freaking out over the room we headed out for dinner. We walked about 2 minutes to a place called Local 127. The atmosphere wasn't exactly kid friendly and the girls were "starving" but we managed. The food was divine.
Back at the hotel the girls curled up on their very own pull-out bed. That was soooo cool! This was their first time sleeping together and they couldn't have been happier about it! Dave and I thought they'd pass out watching TV but that never happened. We finally turned out their light some time during the 9 o'clock hour. And yes, that's a pacifier in Chloe's mouth. Sigh.

They magically slept through the night and everyone woke up in good spirits Sunday morning. We ordered breakfast room service and then headed down to the pool. Dave went first and enjoyed some steam room time. And I took a dip in the hot tub at the end our pool time. Finally, we got everyone bathed, packed up, and headed out to the aquarium. The aquarium is just across the bridge into Kentucky - a 7 minute trip from our hotel. It was PACKED. We enjoyed it as best as we could but the crowd was a bit much. I was glad to see Solana zipping around the crowd to find empty spots in front of the aquariums. When I was a kid I think I was too timid to do that and would have missed out on everything. We'll need to go back during the week some time.

Check out those crabs! Wow!
I think I look pretty in this picture and that rarely happens so I'm posting it! Ha.

I was worried that Chloe wouldn't be able to see anything and be bored but she could see a few things. There were some jellyfish that glowed and a few of those glass tunnels that you walk through and are surrounded by water and fish. She loved it when the really big fish swam by. The movement helped.

Solana especially enjoyed the glass floors.

After an exhausting weekend of museums we finally headed home. As we passed the IKEA Dave mentioned a shelving unit he'd been wanting to get me. Chloe was asleep and Solana was watching a movie. I suggested he go in for it while I wait in the van with the girls. We turned off the engine but kept the power on for Solana's movie. Dave knew just what he wanted so he wouldn't be too long. After a while it started to get cold so I texted him and he suggested I start the engine since he'd be a little while yet. It...wouldn't...start. We'd killed the battery! Then, as I was freaking out about the dead battery and trying furiously to call Dave the people parked next to us set off their car alarm in order to find their car. Guess who woke up screaming? Not exactly how we'd envisioned that particular 10 minutes of our weekend to go. Dave found someone to jump the van and pushed it out of the parking spot to do so. I'm glad he's strong! We left without the shelves and sort of wishing we hadn't stopped. Dave went out to replace the battery after we got home and that was the end to our mini vacation.


Friday, February 17, 2012

2010 Blog Book done!

I've discovered the secret to motivating myself to get blog books printed. Buy a Groupon for an online photo book website. A Groupon is a coupon that you purchase. For example, I paid $15 for $50 worth of photo books from Mixbook. (FYI - That buys half of a 51 page 12x12 hard cover photo album.) Not too bad, I think. The catch is that they expire. I procrastinate the project until a week before the Groupon expires and then force myself to finish it. I just finished the 2nd part of Our Young Shoot Chloe. The first book was her first five months - birth through the day she came home from the NICU. That was 1/18/10. This second book is the rest of 2010.

I really want these blogs to become cherished collections of memories for the girls. Plus, I think it'll be cool for them to read my thoughts years later when they're older. I'm recently interested in genealogy and can only dream of how cool it would be to have something like this from my grandmother or great-grandmother. Hopefully, they'll hang on to these and pass them on to their kids. I'm thrilled to have printed the first two books. I've already purchased two more Groupons that expire this year. I should get caught up on printing blog books before the year ends. Yay!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

We were all about hearts for Valentine's Day this year.

The morning started with heart-shaped bacon, heart-shaped eggs, and a great big heart-shaped toast (quinoa bread). I couldn't figure out how to make the grapefruit heart-shaped so it just added pretty color. :-) Dave takes Solana to the Centerville Esther Price every year to pick out chocolates for me (and try samples from the store). He presented each of us special chocolates on Valentine's Day morning. I have a love/hate relationship with my annual Esther Price box of chocolates. I love eating them. I hate the guilt and pimples that inevitably follow.

Solana's hair was heart-shaped, too!
In the afternoon Chloe and I went to Solana's school. I offered to do the game for her Valentine's day party and it went ok. I was running on 4 hours of sleep so I probably wasn't very well prepared for wrangling Chloe while running a game for sugared up first graders. I think they got the best of me. I thought the game was fun but it got mixed reviews from the kids. The ones who would actually listen to me give instructions did really well and enjoyed it.

Cupid's Arrow. This game is super simple and prepared cheaply.
Tools: straws, Q-tips, heart-shaped bowls or tin foil pans.
Object: Load Q-tips into your straw and try to shoot them into your bowl. The team with the most Q-tips in their bowl at the end of a minute (or when their Q-tips run out) wins. Note: The Q-tips tended to get stuck if loaded at the same end from which you blow. Blow from one end and load into the other end. I found this idea on Pinterest.

For dinner we had Swiss Cheese Fondue with veggies and bread. The baguette was made from the Quinoa Bread in my HBI5 book. In addition to a great meal we also had an exciting eating moment when both girls declared they like cheese fondue and then Chloe proceeded to eat several bites of broccoli and cauliflower dipped in the ooey gooey stuff. (We still puree most veggies for her.) I guess we'll just need to have cheese fondue on hand at all times. Yes?
Still going strong with our healthy bread. I've been waiting to do this one for months. It's Red Beet bread that I shaped into a heart. You should have seen me shredding 3 cups of beets at midnight the night before. If Solana had walked in on me she would have been terrified at all the "blood." Beets. What a mess!
For dessert I made yellow cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese icing. Yum! And you can sort of tell that the strawberries on top are cut to look like hearts. :-)
Happy Valentines Day!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Want To Shake Her

My friend, Melissa, is having a rough month. February's not a good time for her. A little bit like my August. Her post today touched me.

I wish I could go back and shake my old self, too. I was so different back then. If only I could erase some of the things I said and thought when I found out I was having twins, when I went on bed rest... And then sometimes I wish I could go back to being that old naive person who felt sorry for other people with sad stories. Sometimes I'm mad at all the happy go-lucky people who don't know...who have never lost...who underestimate what Chloe has overcome and what she overcomes every single day. It sucks to think those things and be in that place. I try not to be but sometimes it can't be helped. Melissa suspects that others expect her to be 'over it' but it's part of what made us who we are today.

I catch my breath and stop to be thankful for all the wonderful things in my life. Dave, Solana, Chloe, and angel Leila. I remember how well Chloe's doing despite all her obstacles and think of how it could be worse. Much worse. I'll be back to that place soon enough. For now, I'll send some love to my friend who needs it right now. Then I'll go spin Chloe in her bubble and marvel at how it helps her.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Solana's First Loose Tooth

Solana's really enjoying the excitement of her first loose tooth. She didn't break her first tooth until her first birthday and then it took forever to come in. She's a late tooth bloomer so it makes sense that she's one of the last kids in her class to lose a tooth. (She turns 7 in 2 months.) We're constantly hearing reports about who's lost a tooth this week in her class. One kid lost his tooth during snack time. Gross. Now that Solana has her first loose tooth she's constantly wiggling it and declares almost every day that she's pretty sure this is the day it will fall out. I don't remember loose teeth being such a big topic of conversation when I was losing them. But it's a BIG DEAL! Even I'm getting anxious for it to fall out!

100th Day of School

Solana's class celebrated the 100th day of school with a field trip to a nursing home to sing. It was a nice experience for her - the kids are experiencing the joy helping others. They took gifts and she presented hers to a woman who couldn't see so she got to help the lady open hers. She was pretty proud of that. Then she came home and sang all the songs for me.

We decided to have a little 100 celebration at home, too. Great after-school snack!

Fortunately for Solana and Chloe, I forgot that Dave was coming home with S'more supplies. He'd promised S'mores to Solana the day before so we got double treats on her 100th day!

It was 38 degrees outside so we bundled up before heading to our little fire pit. It's on our deck. Not much of a trek.
The s'mores were yummy. They always are.
Chloe got deconstructed s'mores minus the chocolate (since it was right before bed time).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Few Notes on Addition

Mommy + Poopie Treats* = Chloe + Poopie Diaper
Chloe + Poopie Diaper = (Mommy - Poopie Treats) + (Chloe + Poopie Treats)

Warm Milk + Bottle = Guzzling Chloe
Warm Milk + Sippy Cup = Gagging Chloe
Cold Milk + Cinnamon + Sippy Cup = Guzzling Chloe

Solana + her first loose tooth = fingers constantly in mouth
Fingers constantly in mouth + cold/flu season = a really grossed out Mommy

Poopie Treats = Chocolate Chips

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Solana and Chloe both took a pacifier to get to sleep. I kept a strict rule that the pacifier may only be used at bed time. But they really loved it at bed time. When Solana turned two I explained to her that she was a big girl and big girls don't use pacifiers. She agreed that she was a big girl! We then collected up all the pacifiers, marched downstairs, and threw them in the outside garbage can. (I wanted to make sure I wasn't tempted to sneak one out in case of emergency.) I was working full-time and woke her up at 6:30 every morning. We were out the door to daycare a few minutes before 7:00. I was filled with dread and just knew that the first few days/nights would be awful. Solana never asked for her pacifier again. Not one single time. It was the craziest thing!

Chloe went to the dentist last week and he talked about her narrow bite. It's partially because of her super-duper high arch. The shape of the roof of her mouth was actually affected by the breathing tube she had down her throat for 80 days. The tube went into her mouth and pressed up against the roof of her tiny soft still-forming mouth. Poor thing. But, he said, we need to get rid of the pacifier asap because it can exacerbate the problem. Like, immediately. I mentally put my fingers in my ears and started singing. I physically smiled and nodded appearing appropriately embarrassed.

I knew it was coming. I knew I should have taken it away long ago. I should be able to use the experience with Solana as encouragement but I find myself terrified again. Chloe is most certainly NOT Solana. The other day she wanted to get into the coat closet and I told her "no." She laid on her stomach on the floor and kicked her feet into the ground while crying. Seriously! She literally did that. Chloe has WAY more of a temper and, in my opinion, a lot more fight than Solana ever displayed. Solana was ridiculously obedient. True I don't have to go to work anymore so a few bad nights should be easier on both of us but I still find myself dreading the removal of the pacifier. She asks for it, you know. Every time I lay her down, "Pahupier?" How can I say "no" to that?

I told the dentist that we just took away her bottle. Maybe I'll give her another week or so before taking away her pacifier. Am I just stalling? Totally. Am I weak and a coward. Yes. But I suppose I can live with least for another week or so. Then I'll find my courage. In a week or so. I'll do it. I!