November 11, 2013

Two peas in a pod

Here are some adorable shots of the two Annas together. In case you haven't read in my previous posts, this is the daughter of our now-good-friends who we connected with through a fibular hemimelia support group. As unbelievable as it sounds, these two girls share the same name and were born within two weeks of each other.... and live only 90 minutes away. Both are beautiful inside and out. Oh yes, and they both have a prosthetic leg :)

I can't even tell you how much it warms my heart to see these two giggling and being silly together. There is nothing else quite like it.

September 18, 2013


I haven't used shampoo in over two months. Can you believe that? And no, my hair is not disgusting. It's cleaner and healthier than ever.

I've always had schizophrenic hair: oily at the scalp, dry at the ends, and prone to dandruff. Recently I developed some sort of eczema on my scalp. I was constantly itching.  I could never get my scalp clean because the products I used kept building up. It didn't matter what kind or what "hair type" they were made for.

When I read this post on one of my favorite blogs about the negatives of shampoo, what they do to your hair, and how to switch to something non-chemical I was interested. It sounded a little granola and extreme to me, but what if it really worked? If so, it seemed like a good idea to try switching to something safer, more gentle, and (hopefully) more effective. I sat on it for months because it was just a little intimidating. I wasn't sure how it would go and it made me nervous. I thought I would look like a cavewoman.

Finally I got the nerve and tried the switch. The "non-shampoo" is a mixture of water and baking soda. The "non-conditioner" is apple cider vinegar and water.

It worked so well. They say there is a transition period when your hair has to get adjusted to not being stripped of all its natural oils from shampoo chemicals. The first few weeks it didn't look or feel that great: kind of straw-like. But then it adapted wonderfully. My hair has never felt so CLEAN. No itching. No flaky scalp. No buildup. Just clean, fresh hair. The only disappointment was that I was hoping I wouldn't have to wash my hair as often like Tsh (from Simple Mom) but that hasn't been the case. I still have to wash it at least every other day.

Not only is it easy and much more inexpensive than shampoo but my hair and scalp feel so good that I don't plan on going back to chemical-laden shampoo anytime soon!

You can read more about it on the above website. They give more helpful information and explain it better than I can. Basically I fill a bunch of 16oz bottles with 2 cups of warm water and 2 T of baking soda, shaking it up well so that it mixes and dissolves. If you miss the smell of shampoo you can add a few drops of essential oil like lavender or citrus. I fill another bottle up with one-third apple cider vinegar and two-thirds warm water (no your hair will not smell like vinegar; it rinses out without a smell). I fill up 5 bottles at a time (takes a few minutes) and keep them in the bathroom. The five bottles last me about a month.

I also made two smaller bottles for Anna. I love that I am not using any chemicals on her little body and not stripping it of its natural oil.

If we are travelling I have no problem using regular shampoo for a few days, but I always go back to the baking soda/vinegar stuff as soon as I get home.

It sounded like a crazy idea, but I'm so glad I tried it!

August 16, 2013

Prosthetics, Potty training, and Pictures

We haven't been swimming much this summer, but knowing the best way to handle the pool with a prosthesis has been a struggle for me. I know different people who do different things. Some use an old leg. Some use a special liner to go over their leg and protect it. Some don't use a leg at all. The downside to keeping the leg on is that it gets water in it and weighs down the body. The downside to not using a prosthesis is not being able to walk around the pool or balance on two feet in the pool. Right now we don't have any special liners to go over the leg so I have no experience with that option.

We used to take Anna's leg off but found it wasn't working well because at this age she wants to get in, get out, get in, etc. Crawling around on the concrete was not comfortable, so we started keeping her leg on and found that it worked well for us. Since she's not swimming at this time, it hasn't been much of an issue with it weighing her down. She does have to be extra careful because the leg is a lot harder to control underwater. Imagine something long and heavy attached to your leg in a pool that you have to pull along as you swim; it doesn't move as easily as it would normally. It can also be slippery on the bottom of a pool. Water can eventually wear down a prosthesis. There is metal in the bottom of the foot that can rust. However, since Anna needs a new leg on average every 7 months, we decided that was not an issue for us. For adults who keep their prosthesis until it wears out, keeping it on in the water might not be the best option.

It has been really nice to see Anna able to walk around the pool and be able to go in and out! I'm not sure what we will do once she gets to swimming age. I think swimming with a prosthesis would be hard, but there are people who do it. Then again, I'm not sure how easy it would be to swim with only one foot to propel yourself. I guess we will see what works best for her when the time comes. I suspect she will do better without the prosthesis.

This is one my favorite pictures. I think it captures how amazing and beautiful she is!

I recently took Anna to her regular check-up to at the prosthetic clinic. She is getting such good care now that we are taking her somewhere close to us where she can get regular check-ups! Just two months ago her leg was fitting great. This time he noticed right away that her fit was off. I hadn't noticed anything unusual whatsoever. Clearly I'm clueless. He adjusted the leg by the screw at the bottom of the foot which allows it to be lengthened. He covered up the metal rod with some foam so it looks kind of strange but since it's only a temporary fix, it's no big deal.

He said in a few more months she will need a new leg! It's crazy how one minute they are fitting great and the next they need a new one. Her current leg will probably last her a total of 8-9 months, a few months longer than her first leg.

I'm been considering getting her a patterned leg for her third leg. I think she would enjoy having a special design on her leg like butterflies or flowers. I posted this question in our Facebook group because I'm not sure if I should get a patterned leg at this age or wait until she's older. I don't think she understands exactly what it means. Different people have different things to say about it. The majority of parents seemed to get patterned legs for their children when they were young; they said it was fun for them.  I'm only hesitant because I don't know if Anna will like the extra attention she might get with a patterned leg. My inclination is that she will be proud of it, but there are a few kids who  choose to stick with flesh colored legs throughout their late childhood and teens, so I'm not sure whether I should go ahead or wait until she can verbalize her thoughts on it.

On another note, we started potty training! It has been going SO well! Anna only showed some of the recommended signs of readiness but I had a feeling she could still do it. She wasn't interested but I helped to develop at least a neutral attitude towards it: I read her lots of books and occasionally had her sit on the potty to sing songs or watch a short video clip. The first day of actual potty training we went straight from diapers to underwear and she was about 50/50 with accidents. The second day was more like 70/30, and the third day she had no accidents! It's been a week now and we've gone out multiple times with no accidents. I'm so proud of her! She can do the whole process by herself. Usually I go behind her but if I'm feeding Kimmie she can still do it alone!

Here are a few recent pictures. I love these girls!


Anna takes this stool around the house and uses it for everything- including getting into a little mischief.

This is Kimberly's eight month shot. For both girls I took monthly pictures of them in the rocking chair. I love to see the changes.

August 7, 2013

Tea Time

I haven't posted in forever. I've been mulling over a few things that I will hopefully write about at some point. Until then, why not share a rare, crafty moment.  Let me preface this by saying that I do NOT do this kind of thing on a regular basis. It is pretty out of character for me. In our household, Anna usually fends for herself in terms of entertainment ideas. I'm working on that. However, I got the crafting itch today.

Ben's aunt came over on Monday and gave Anna a few gifts. She also gave me a big floppy hat, stating that it was for tea parties. That got me thinking how Anna would most likely be all about tea parties. So I hunted online and ordered a simple little tea set (also uncommon for me. Ordering a new toy? Gasp! Good thing it was less than $20 yet still quality. Thanks, Melissa and Doug). I went with something unbreakable for obvious reasons.

I loved the tea set but wished it came with a few more things like plates for food, napkins, and a tablecloth. Then I had the epiphany that she already had plates from her kitchen and wooden cookies she received as a birthday gift (duh Lisa). All that was left were the linens. I decided it would be super easy to make my own. So while Anna was busy playing tea, I hunted up some old receiving blankets (while I'm always getting rid of as much as possible, I do save things that I suspect could have future crafty use left in them). I decided which blanket I wanted to use as the tablecloth- I liked the one with the pink edge- and which patterns complimented it. Then I pulled out my pinking shears. 

Pinking shears are great for fabric if you don't feel like sewing. They protect the edges from unraveling much better than scissors. They won't last forever like hemmed fabric, but they get the job done. I cut four squares for napkins. 

Then I used another patterned blanket, some ribbon, and super glue to make two-sided tea bags. 

Kimmie was more interested in the fabric than playing tea party.

It was all done before Anna had even finished playing, so super easy. Happy tea time!

July 11, 2013

Home makeover: Living room, one-hour valences, and the end of the story.

I am finally ready to post the last room in the house that suffered through a makeover! Good thing because I'm getting burnt out on these posts. Here is the living room. Nothing much about this room but it's comfortable and cozy.

(I blacked our name out in these pictures for privacy's sake)

I don't love this beigey-yellow color but we weren't about to tackle twenty-foot ceilings so it had to stay. If I could paint the room it would probably be a cream or cream-gray. The color isn't too bad.
I know gliders are typically reserved for baby rooms but they are more comfortable to me than armchairs so I figured, why not put it in the living room? Almost all of our furniture is hand-me-down or consigned, so we don't sweat if things get spilled or dropped since we have zero attachment to this furniture.  I'm not the kind of person to get frustrated at Anna when she has an accident anyway: my mom used to label me as the dog's personal chef because of all the food I dropped on the floor.

This is my favorite thing in the house. I wanted the main focus of the room to be something that emphasized our family's priorities, but I'm old fashioned and didn't want to put a big picture of us on the wall as the focal point. This wood sign is a constant reminder of the things we hold most important in life. Each word was carefully thought out. We got this idea from a fellow blogger.

We ditched our coffee table because I like the extra open space and it wasn't a necessary piece of furniture.

I chose to use the bookcase to display favorite family photos instead of the wall. Our wedding album and family albums are also kept here, plus some of Anna's toys. In the three bins are books, and the basket holds Legos.

I found this ottoman at a consignment store. I love it because it is solid wood with a ton of storage space. It holds all our games and cards.

The house has this random corner nook-thing that I couldn't figure out. My mom gave us this corner shelf to make some sense of it.

I did move some of Anna's toys to take these pictures. I know many people like to keep certain rooms toy-free, but I prefer to have some toys throughout the house. Not a million toys but a few special things in each room for the girls to enjoy. We keep it minimal. I don't mind that toys are around because they are a sign that life is being lived. It helps that we choose toys that are quality and nice to look at rather than piles of plastic. 
How to make a one-hour valence

I wanted some sort of curtain on these windows but long curtains didn't make sense in the space. I did not want to block any natural light with shades or valences that hung down. I decided to try my hand at making some pseudo-valences that would hit at the very top of the window without blocking any of the window itself. It was fairly easy and inexpensive.

First I used masking tape to mark off the section of the window I wanted the valence to cover. Then I measured it:

I purchased one sheet of drywall insulation from Lowes which we cut to size with an exacto knife. I cut my fabric about three inches longer on each side, and staple-gunned the fabric to the insulation:

The corners are the trickiest:

I put two pieces of heavy-duty Velcro strips from Lowes on either side of the board.

I placed the boards on the wall using the Velcro and voila! Done. They don't block any light whatsoever, but the windows still look finished. I would recommend using an upholstery fabric for this rather than a light cotton. I used a less expensive fabric myself because I wanted to get 'er done and didn't have the time to peruse, but a more expensive, dimensional fabric would look better, and I can always change the fabric up down the line.


July 5, 2013

Two-and-a-quarter. Six months. Pictures, and the sweet spot.

It seems I've finally reached the sweet spot as a mother of two. These girls are so much fun, and I am absolutely loving this season. Babies are adorable and cuddly and cute, but to be perfectly honest, the first six months are not my favorite. Now that Kimberly has passed the six month mark life has been easier, more enjoyable for everyone, and full of great memories. People always talk about how terrible the twos are, but I love them! They are so much fun as everything is new and exciting and language is developing. Thankfully Anna only had a period of a handful of tantrums, and she now (for the most part) seems to have moved past that stage; she is learning how to deal with her emotions and use language to communicate her needs. 

Yes, there are tedious days, a lot of tiredness keeping up with the two of them, and times where it seems all I do is feed and clothe and wash kids. But I know that someday Anna will not need me to comb her hair, put on her clothes, or strap her into the carseat. Someday dancing around the room with Mommy will not be the coolest thing in the world. Someday she will not want to be attached to my heels. Someday a favorite nursery rhyme will not fill her with utter excitement. So I really delight in this time. I try to be fully present and let it all soak into my memory: the sweet feel of Kimberly's skin against mine when she falls asleep in my arms; the giggles from Anna when I tickle her; the way she pops up out of bed when I get her up; the excited shouts of "Mommy!" when I return home from even a short errand.

My mantra has always been that I don’t want to look back and wish I had experienced and appreciated the special moments more. This was important to me way before kids: during my college days dancing for the Georgia Bulldogs, my internship at Wesley, performing ballroom at UGA, mission trips, and India. I knew all of these wonderful, special times only happened once, and I can honestly say that I don’t look back and think “I wish I had known how great those times were. I wish I had appreciated and enjoyed them more." Instead I look back and say, “I’m so glad I realized that those were special times, that I enjoyed them to the fullest, and that I tried to soak in the memories as much as I could.” For this reason I am not a big picture taker because it tends to distract my attention away from being in the moment. However, I know I will want these adorable ages captured so I make myself take them!!

Our yearly trip to the Riverbanks Zoo has become a Father's Day tradition:

I fell asleep on the couch for about ten minutes and woke up to find this:

My parents were able to come visit, something I never thought would happen again. It was tough on my mom who had to stop and get chemo on the way back, but the time was encouraging for them both and special for all of us. She had been working on restoring my old dollhouse and dollhouse pieces that I built with my grandfather to give to Anna when she was older. She decided to go ahead and bring it now. 

Here's my Grandfather and I with the dollhouse back in the day:

Putting Anna down for the occasional nap in our bed:

I lied about not owning anything monogrammed. My friend recently gave me these bloomers. I have to admit, they are super cute!

I think it's pretty funny how Kimberly is rivaling Anna in size. These pictures highlight how tall and thin Anna is, and how round Kimberly is. It's hard to believe they are almost two years apart in age.

My mom's neighbor sent these dresses for the girls. I typically rely on hand-me-downs for clothing so the girls have never had matching outfits.

*Sigh. Someday...