Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Are Crayons Made

I was a little bummed when we arrived at The Crayola Factory only to find out that they no longer provide tours of the factory.  Apparently they closed the doors of the factory to the public quite some time ago.  But if you do want to learn how crayons are made they do have a live demonstration.

If you are thinking about going and want to know what to expect beforehand you should probably watch the video below.

Not that its a bad place to go but if you are expecting a tour, think again. In my opinion, even at 2 1/2 Nathan is still a little young for The Crayola Factory. I didn't get many good pictures because it was rather dark but he really enjoyed the Crayola Model Magic area.

crayola-3 copy CMS

crayola-10 CMS

crayola-12 copy CMS

This stuff was a big hit with all the toddlers in our group.

And if you really want to know how Crayons are made, in the actually factory setting, then you should watch the original Mister Rogers How People Make Crayons video here.

All in all, it was a good experience.  I will definitely go again when Nathan is a couple of years older.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Visiting The Crayola Factory

I've never been to The Crayola Factory but that's where we are heading today and I am very excited.  I remember watching a segment on Mister Rogers Neighborhood about how people make crayons when I was a little girl so this will be a really awesome experience.

I am hoping that Teagan is not miserable the entire time since her third tooth broke through last week and the fourth tooth is not far behind.

I really should be home cleaning our house and registering a trade name for my photography business but Nathan and I need some fresh air.  Hopefully this little day trip will refresh all three of us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Raffle - Enter to win a whole house air sanitizer

Jen is hosting a raffle tickets to win a UVAIRE Whole House Air Sanitizer (transformer included) valued at over $200!  To learn more and find out how to purchase tickets, click here.  All proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rebuilding my blogroll

I finally figured out how to dedicate an entire page on WordPress to my blogroll.  One thing I really liked about the blogroll widget on Blogger is how it showed a link to the most recent post from each blog.  I am still going to try and find a plugin to make that happen here on WordPress but for now I am just happy to be rebuilding my blogroll.

If I normally read your blog and you don't see your page listed on my blogroll here please leave a comment on this post with a link to your blog so I can add it.  Thank you very much, I look forward to catching up with you all!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning | Where do I start?

You can probably gather from my previous post that I am frantically behind and disorganized on everything.  It all just keeps piling up.  Busy is good, especially when it comes to work.  If I'm not busy, I'm not making money.

Important emails seem to get buried in my inbox in a matter of hours.  I am constantly apologizing for being late and behind.  Not good!  Part of the problem is that our house is so cluttered and disorganized.  It really needs a good Spring Cleaning.  So my question is...Where do I start?  Is it possible to get some semblance of order with two kids, one of whom is constantly destroying all progress that we make?

Every night when the kids go to sleep we clean, the house looks semi decent, and then they wake up and trash it.  Is the only solution to storm through the house with a dumpster?  Throw out all my dishes?  Donate most of the toys?

I feel like I am really in need of order around here and I need to make it happen sooner rather than later.  Oh yea, and the flea problem, we are still working on that.  We haven't actually seen any fleas around the house but from the flea dirt I know they were present and it is unlike fleas to disappear without putting up a fight.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Find time to get things done

I know I'm not alone but I have absolutely zero time to accomplish anything anymore.

It's not that I'm lacking the energy, it's that the kids just won't let me do anything for more than a minute.  The play pen has become my best friend.  This way I can get a load of laundry going or vacuum our flea infested carpets.  Yes, I just noticed flea dirt on our largest indoor cat last night.  So after I work so hard trying to make $60 I have to go and blow it on the advantage flea treatments for our 3 cats.

...and the clean piles of laundry on our bedroom floor, all need to be re-washed because who knows if the cats have been napping on them.  Also, I have to figure out how to vacuum our carpets with a vacuum that is half malfunctioning.

Alright, that's about as much time I can spare, life slows down for no one.  Pray that I don't experience a melt down in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Waterproof PICC line protector

I really could have used one of these a few weeks ago when Nathan was hospitalized.

picc line cover

Because he had a PICC line he had to go two straight weeks without a bath. Now that I think about it, I am incredibly grateful that he was not admitted to the hospital over the summer. I feel relieved knowing that if he ever does have a PICC line during the summer he will still be able to swim.

This product is actually part of the new and exciting venture I briefly hinted about in a previous post. My friend, also a CF mama, Lisa and I decided to market a few products aimed at improving the quality of life for Cystic Fibrosis families. As you can tell I am super excited about the PICC protector but the other product that I need to get before we take our vacation to Florida next month is the cooling pouch.

The cooling pouch is comprised of two pouched, one inside the other. After the inner pouch gets submerged in water, you insert refrigerated medications {I am thinking Pulmozyme/Tobi} including insulin and insert the "wet pouch" into the larger "dry pouch".  It utilizes the endothermic properties of water to keep the medications 20 degrees below ambient temperature for 4 days.  And the best part is, after those 4 days you just repeat the process for another 4 days.

I love how such simple things can make life so much easier.  Now in my arsenal, I have the PICC protector, the cooling pouch, a portable nebulizer, and a power inverter for the car.  Cystic Fibrosis, you tried to get the best of us but you failed again!

If you want to check out our new website, click here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Out Run CF

Today was the day, Out Run CF Virtual Race Day.  The actual race, Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon & 5K took place today on Grosse Ile, MI but our virtual race took place in Hardyston, NJ.  Jay and I put on our race t-shirts decided that we would run the route he used to run when he needed to lose weight for wrestling.  Nathan and Teagan hung out with Grandma and Grandpa while we gave it our all to help to Out Run CF.

The slightly longer than 3 mile route that my husband used to be able to sprint was quite the challenge for us now that we are very out of shape.  The hills were no walk in the park.  I actually thought I was going to vomit after our cool down at the end.

We contemplated sending out an SOS after mile 2.  Even though I just caught my second wind, my ankle was bothering me and Jay was feeling pretty exhausted but we kept moving.  Wouldn't it be great if a sore ankle was all a CFer had to worry about.  Throw lung capacity/ lung function out the window.  Honestly that's the only reason we kept running.

We kept running for Nathan, and for all the other CFer's past, present, and future.  If 3 miles could bring life back into a set of lungs, I would never stop running no matter how much it hurt.

If only it were that simple.

Out Run CF on Facebook thanks to Cystic Life and Rock CF.

{I'll upload a photo tomorrow}

Friday, March 18, 2011

Up, Up, and Away

Every day Teagan becomes more and more mobile.

She now goes flawlessly from back, to belly, to hands/knees, to butt, and most recently pulls up to knees.

She sits...

teagan sitting CMS

She kneels...

teagan kneeling CMS

Who knows what she will be doing tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Advocare 24 day challenge | Jay's results

Ok, before you all get all "how could she post pictures of her husband not wearing a shirt?!" on me, let me preface by saying I got his permission and I already posted a post baby belly photo of me with pudge, stretch marks and all. Really, he is stoked about his recent weight loss and wanted me to share. Also if you notice the frown before and smile after, that was semi unintentional. I actually just asked him if he did that on purpose and this is what he said:
"The frown was unintentional.  You always say I had frowns on my face in all my wrestling photos growing up so I knew the before photo was most likely a frown.  So I thought it would be funny to make the after photo a smile."

Ha...ha....haaaa!  Isn't he hilarious?  What a goofball.

Anyway, the following photos are front, back, and side photos of Jay before the Advocare 24 Day Challenge and after.  You may not notice a huge difference in all of the photos but if you put the two layers on top of each other, inches have disappeared!

before and after front

before and after side

before and after back

Sorry, for the booty shot but it is one of his best assets.  I am thinking maybe I should have cropped that one.  {grin}

The days and weeks before taking on the 24 Day Challenge Jay was weighing in at 215 pounds.  So even though he was 209.9 pounds at his first official weigh in, he was up to 5 pounds heavier a week prior.  Today he weighed 197 pounds, lighter than he has been in at least 3 years!

I took his measurements using a usb cable and then comparing that to a metal tape measure.  Wouldn't you think, as a person who loves to sew, I would have a proper cloth tape measure lying around? At the end of  the 24 Day Challenge, he lost a total of 9 inches.  4 1/4 of those 9 came directly off his waist measurement, which would partially explain how he dropped 2 pants sizes.

I am really proud of him and slightly jealous of his weight loss, in a good way.

I wish I could have done the challenge with him but since I am still nursing, I have to be really careful about what I put into my body and how quickly I lose weight.  I started the challenge with him, minus the Herbal Cleanse supplements, and lost 3 pounds in less than a week.  But I quickly realized that I needed to consume more calories to make sure the milk supply met the demand.  As long as I opt for the MNS Max 3, which has less caffeine than the MNS Max E and Max C, the only thing in the 24 Day Challenge Bundle that I cannot take as a nursing mom is the 10 day Herbal Cleanse since the supplements rid your body of toxins which could leach into your milk supply.

What did he eat during the 24 Day Challenge?

First of all, the way you gain weight is by consuming more calories than you expend so it only makes sense that the only way to lose weight is by consuming less calories than you burn throughout the day.  That being said, Jay definitely did not starve himself.  He had 3 meals and 2 snacks every single day with the focus being on eliminating certain foods, like dairy and sugar, and eating more whole grain foods, lean protein, fruits and vegetables.  Common sense, although for me I will definitely need detox to break my sugar addiction.

We woke up in the morning, replaced our coffee and flavored creamer with a Spark and some other supplements (Catalyst, Probiotic Restore, Omega Plex) and then a half hour later blended up a Meal Replacement Shake {yummy}.  Then throughout the day we continued to eat every 2 to 2.5 hours.  My husband said the first 3 days were the most difficult because he was used to constant snacking, tons of cheese, Ritz crackers, and peanut butter.

I give him a lot of credit because at first I was trying not to eat a tub of Nutella right in front of his face but after a week or two I started saying "I have to eat this, so I can feed Teagan".  I then found myself sneaking Girl Scout Cookies.

Did he exercise during the 24 Day Challenge?

Unfortunately, no. If he had incorporated exercise I am certain he would have lost even more weight/inches.  It didn't help that 7 out of the 24 days were spent in the hospital while Nathan was admitted.  The two weeks of IV antibiotics added alot of extra work and stress on both my husband and myself.  If it were my 24 Day Challenge, I would have been doomed as soon as we stepped foot into the hospital.

Neither one of us have felt healthier in several years.  I still have a lot of extra weight to lose, but it is slowly coming off.  The Spark is really helping me get that extra bit of energy I need to accomplish what I need to during the day and even begin exercising/running again.  PS.  Rock CF Race Day is this Sunday, and I am pumped to Out Run CF!

Wordless Wednesday | Brother and sister love

We are making progress:

nathan and teagan-CMS

I promise, no composite photography here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

post-iv antiobiotic sputum culture

Nathan's doctor called me this afternoon to inform us that his sputum culture did not show any growth of pseudomonas.  I forgot to ask if the growth of staph was reduced in any way by the antibiotics and am going to check in on that tomorrow.

We are happy that the IV's "cleared" his lungs of pseudomonas for now.  It will be back I am sure but hopefully not for quite some time.  For now, I feel relieved that our decision to admit him to the hospital for IV antibiotics yielded good results.  Even if the culture didn't capture a "good sample", I feel pretty confident that the antibiotics reduced the level of pseudomonas to the point where it is unreadable on the culture.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

CF related thoughts

Most of the time we go through daily life without much thought to CF.  Nathan really is just a normal boy.  He is a feisty toddler with a big personality and an even bigger smile.  We don't eat, sleep, and breathe CF all day long.  The disease is ever present but we like to forget about it as much as possible and live as close to a normal life as we can.  Doing this is much easier now that he has finished the two weeks of IV antibiotics and his PICC line is removed.

He had the PICC line removed on Thursday right in his clinic.  It was no big deal, no sedation required.  The worst part was removing the dressing.  The home care nurse  did an excellent job getting his final dressing to stay put with the help of skin prep.  Once the dressing was removed the nurse clipped the stitches, applied pressure, and pulled the catheter right out.  Once it was measured to make sure it all came out she asked if I wanted to save the PICC line as a memory of his first hospitalization.  For the record, I did not.

I probably would have saved it but I didn't because I don't want to be saving things to clutter our house.  I'm trying really hard not to become a hoarder.  I have a photograph of Nathan and his first PICC line and I also have the memories {in my head} of him and his boo boo.

I knew he would get upset when they removed his line, not because it hurt but because he became attached to his boo boo over the two weeks.  He asked, "where my boo boo go? give me my boo boo back!".

After that appointment we went to the mall where he picked out Mickey Mouse Clubhouse figurines as his coming home present, or more like his PICC line removal present.  Nathan told us Mickey wanted an apple pie from McDonald's and Nathan wanted a cheese hamburger, french fries, orange soda, and a vanilla milkshake.  Selfish boy didn't even let Mickey have any of the apple pie.  {chuckle}.

When we initially decided to go the route of IV antibiotics versus inhaled, I was really bummed that it would interfere with the CFLC Continuum of Care Conference in Jersey City, NJ.  My husband and I had a tremendous time at the conference last year and it didn't look promising that we would be able to attend this year.  Fortunately we did make it one out of the three days.

My in laws were able to watch Nathan Friday during the conference.   It was nice to see familiar faces and make new connections at the same time.  Everyone has different experiences and it is nice to gain new perspectives from CF parents, social workers, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, and pulmonologists.  I even had the opportunity to very briefly introduce myself to a blog reader and CF mom from North Carolina.  Gretchen, it was so nice to meet you, email me or friend me on facebook so we can chat more.

I really look forward to next years conference when we can hopefully stay for the duration, sans children.  It will be a great learning experience where we can connect with CF friends, and also have a nice weekend getaway not too far from home.

***I have another new venture to be unveiled soon, like I'm not busy enough with blogging, photography, and AdvoCare...a friend and I found some great products that can really improve the quality of life for CF parents and CFer's.  I am so excited!***

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What babies eat and should not

Generally it is not recommended for babies to eat peanut butter before they are at least one year old.  Peanut butter is one of those foods that can trigger a food allergy not to mention the thick sticky consistency can be difficult for a baby to swallow.

Although I intended to wait, and still intend to wait, for that one year mark before knowingly introducing Teagan to peanut butter , she helped herself to Nathan's leftover bag of Ritz Bits Peanut Butter Cracker Sandwiches yesterday.

Luckily she did not have an allergic reaction but we will make sure Nathan doesn't leave anything on the floor where she can reach from now on.

She's a little trouble maker, a cute little trouble maker.

teagan peanut butter-1

teagan peanut butter-2

teagan peanut butter-3

Nathan gets his PICC line removed this afternoon!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Super Mario Cupcakes | A surprise treat for Nathan

Nathan had quite the surprise during one of his afternoon iv's today.  The home care nurse had just left after doing a blood draw to check the tobramycin levels and while he was cozied up on the sofa there was a knock on the door.  It was none other than a visit from our amazingly talented local cake lady, Maria, with a surprise treat for Nathan!

super mario cupcakes-2

Nathan was so excited to see his Super Mario cupcakes.

the flour basket - super mario cupcakes
Photo credit: Maria Frick The Flour Basket

It is fair to say that these cupcakes made his day. Thank you, Maria!

super mario cupcakes-1

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Out of the hospital | boring is good

Life is pretty boring right now, but I guess boring is good.

We are taking it pretty easy, except Nathan who has full energy (thanks, albuterol). I've been extra busy making sure that all Nathan's iv antibiotics get started at the right time and that he gets some good chest pt sessions throughout the day.

He is being so much more cooperative at home and has ended his hospital hunger strike. That 2.2 lbs he lost in the first 3 days of his hospital admission he already put back on.

I've got two photo sessions scheduled this week that I am looking forward to.

Here is a video of me doing part of Nathan's breathing treatment. Not the best position for my back but he's happy and that's important.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Half Birthday to Teagan!

Two days late, ahh I am always late.

teagan 6 months calendar-1

Her hair is out of control but that's because I've been too busy to bathe her today.

teagan 6 months calendar-2

We are pretty sure she was babbling "mama" today, more like "ma ma ma ma".

teagan 6 months calendar-3

And as far as Nathan, he is happy to be home. It took him not even an hour before he was back to his regular routine. His hunger strike ended almost as soon as we walked in the door. I don't really feel like talking about "hospital stuff" right now, but the home iv infusions are not too difficult but they (and 4 manual chest pt sessions) sure are keeping me busy. I set a bunch of alarms on my phone just in case I am not at the top of my game.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hospital Day 7 | Waiting

Nathan seems to have finally adjusted to life in the hospital.  My husband and I on the other hand have made up our minds that we would like to complete the IV infusions at home.

So now we are waiting for the word on when we can be discharged.

Ideally the two week admission should feel like a vacation for the parents, time off from having to do airway clearance round the clock.  Since we don't feel like we've been given a huge reprieve from doing the treatments, we still have to sit with him and position him and coax him to cooperate for a respiratory therapist, we may as well just do it at home in his own environment.

I am sure the next week of iv antibiotics won't be much easier than this week, I know it will entail a lot more work on my part but at least my husband and I can cut 4 hours of driving time and money spent on gas out of our already complicated daily routine.

Not sure if the discharge will be today or tomorrow but I am relieved to be bringing him home.  When I kissed him goodbye last night I promised him that I would be back to save him and bring him home today.

Thank you again for all the encouragement, prayers, cards, meals, listening ears, and get well gifts.  You guys have truly made this a much easier experience to deal with.  We are on the home stretch.

I finally have my portable card reader with me so I will be posting a few photos from the last few days a little later.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hospital Day 5 | Can I be done now?

Let me first say, thank you for the supportive comments you guys have been leaving.  Life is a bit hectic right now for me even to answer my phone or respond to a text message so I just wanted to make sure you all know that I am reading the comments and I appreciate the encouragement you have shown for our family.

Now that being said, I really want to be done with this hospital admission immediately.  I mean like right now.  Even though I have driven 160 miles today back and forth from the hospital, twice, I would drive another 40 this instant just to go pick up my two boys.  I want our family unit back to the way it should be.

I am so completely done with the hospital, and not just because it is an inconvenience but because it is not accomplishing what it should be.

Each day that goes by I find one more thing wrong that absolutely pisses me off and makes my blood boil.

"There is a higher success rate for patients who complete their treatment as an inpatient".  Please excuse my language, I really am holding back the words I would really like to use.

A blood filled syringe left in a toddler's hospital bed, an innatentive nurse, lackadaisical attitudes towards the weight loss situation, nebulizer cups improperly cleaned out and air dried to prevent growth of bacteria.  So does the higher success rate of a hospital admission count the possible introduction of unecessary bacteria directly into my son's airway?

I now feel there is nothing that I can't do at home as well if not better than what is currently being done in the hospital.  So that is my goal, to bring Nathan home.

They are not dealing with a non compliant set of parents here.  I want Nathan home, I feel confident that this would end his hunger strike.  I also feel confident that I can administer his IV antibiotics on schedule and flush his line as needed.

I know I can perform his breathing therapies four times a day, we are pretty much doing them at the hospital anyway.  At least I know his nebulizer cups will be sterilized between each session and I know the quality of his chest percussions will not have to vary depending on the respiratory therapist.