Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh man, I hate Blogger sometimes!!! I still can't get my blog writing program to work, so I have no title bars and can't do the pictures fast or in any sort of order. I have been working on getting the pictures uploaded for an hour now, no kidding!

Anyway, here are pictures from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Gracie in her car seat with a new girly cover!

Spaghetti Boy!
Pictures from the Great Western Stockshow:

Gracie with a cute little Donkey
The fam, minus little old me.
Gracie the cowgirl!
Gracie and Dominik chilling out with a movie.
Horace the box cat.
He can walk now folks!! I love these next pictures, he looks like he's tipping over in every single one!

Yeah, and he does stairs too. This is a picture of his very first solo trip.
And finally, some birthday party pictures!

Ian the mini fireman.

The cake.

So that's what we've been up to.

Also, my mom and Dave were here for a couple days last week, I will get some pictures of that up when my mom e-mails me some. ETA: The pictures came as I was publishing, so here they are:

We also had lunch with James parents and Andy on Saturday and passed James dads truck which he gave to us a couple years ago, on to Andy who needed a car. We're keeping it in the family.

We also got some bad news that pretty much ruins our chances of moving for awhile. Unfortunately KB Homes has been underselling a bunch of the condos here because the market is so crummy. And because of this our property is assessing for $15,000 less than we paid for it. We just found this out yesterday. Anyway, we already knew we were going to have issues because we knew what KB was closing homes at, I looked on the county website. But I was holding out hope that just maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Well, it's about as bad as it can get. So, we are going to sit tight and do some home improvements on this place while hopefully the market comes back and KB gets the rest of this development sold.

That's what's up here in our little world. Ta-ta for now!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Well, we're all still sick.

I am feeling a little better, but now the kids have it, and on top of things Ian has rota-virus. Have you ever had a kid with rota-virus? I can sum it up in two words for you: Toxic Diapers. Seriously. They are the worst, I mean absolutely the worst. He's in pretty good spirits though. He won't eat and has been nursing like a newborn, but otherwise he's acting pretty normal.

Gracie is all sniffily. She had rota-virus last year, right after Ian was born, so I am hoping it won't get her again. I'm not sure if it's the kind of thing you only get once, I need to go look that up.

We've been dosing up on healthy foods, vitamins, and homeopathics. Hopefully this will pass soon, I am really sick of feeling sick. I started feeling cruddy last Sunday. I can't remember the last time I was sick for over a week!!!

In other news, I told Blogger to go ahead and switch me to the new Blogger system and it seems to have made some things weird, like made some commenter's anonymous, and I can't use my other program to write posts, for some reason it's not linking up right. Hopefully I will get that fixed soon.

Oh yeah......and I have to say GO BEARS!!!!!! I grew up in the 'burbs of Chicago and I am so excited they are going to the Superbowl!!! My dad is especially happy but as luck would have it will be in Mexico for the big game. What are the odds that the year the Bears made it to the Superbowl again would just happen to be the same weekend that he goes out of the country for the first time in like........forever. Well, hopefully he will be able to find a nice little Mexican bar where he can watch the game! We're going to Chicago for James grandpas wedding on Feb. 17th, so hopefully we will be able to pick up some fun Superbowl shirts and stuff.

The snow here is killing me, we got another stinking foot of snow yesterday. I am so absolutely sick of it. We have now gotten over 6 feet of snow in the last 5 weeks here at our house. Because our HOA sucks the sidewalks are basically impassable which means I can't even get the kids out for a walk. With the sickness and the snow we have been so housebound, I am beginning to feel like a prisoner. I was seriously begging James to move somewhere warm last night. We were thinking Guam since we know people there. Samantha....let me know if you guys have needs in the technology department. I want to live where there is a beach and sunshine and temperatures no less than 70 degrees most days of the year.

Can you tell I am so very ready for spring?

Have a great day!

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Con of Controlled Crying

I'm sick.  I've been sick most of the week, fighting a low-grade fever and a cough and fatigue so strong I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep.....  So that's why I've been absent.  I seriously feel too tired to think clear enough to type.

But.....I can read.  I read this article today and I love it.  I want to pass it on because it is a subject that always makes me feel guilty.  I feel I have learned a ton as a parent.  This is one topic I use to preach like gospel when I was a nanny.  Cry it out.  Let your kids cry and they will learn to sleep.  Ignore them.  Get over it.  I actually encouraged parents to ignore their gut feelings and their children!  *smacks head repeatedly*

Man, I was so so wrong.  I didn't know I was wrong because a) I didn't research it, I just went on conventional information and b) I wasn't a parent and I didn't have the gut instincts and hormonal responses that God and nature intended we as parents to have.  So basically I was talking out my butt.

Anyway, I don't want to talk anymore.  Just read the article.  And pass it on if you want to. 

The Con of Controlled Crying
by Pinky McKay

When controlled crying ("graduated extinction") was first advocated around twenty years ago, it was recommended for infants over six months old, not newborns. While there are still professionals who feel comfortable with variations of controlled crying for older babies, many of these people would see any such methods as inappropriate for younger babies. However, popular advice by various authors and even some baby sleep centers now commonly includes leaving babies as young as a couple of weeks old to cry in order to teach them to sleep, much like advice offered in the 1850s. Sometimes modern sleep-training methods are couched in euphemistic labels like “controlled comforting” or even “controlled soothing” and within each definition there can be different recommendations about how long to leave babies to cry and how often or how long to "comfort". Others simply advise leaving the baby to cry until he falls asleep.

Although many baby sleep trainers claim there is no evidence of harm from practices such as controlled crying, it is worth noting that there is a vast difference between "no evidence of harm" and "evidence of no harm". In fact, a growing number of health professionals are now claiming that training infants to sleep too deeply, too soon, is not in babies’ best psychological or physiological interests. A policy statement on controlled crying issued by the Australian Association of Infant Mental Health (AAIMHI) advises, "Controlled crying is not consistent with what infants need for their optimal emotional and psychological health, and may have unintended negative consequences." According to AAIMHI, "There have been no studies, such as sleep laboratory studies, to our knowledge, that assess the physiological stress levels of infants who undergo controlled crying, or its emotional or psychological impact on the developing child." Controlled crying is not consistent with what infants need.

Despite the popularity of controlled crying, it is not an evidence-based practice. Professor James McKenna, director of the Mother–Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame and acclaimed SIDS expert, described controlled crying as "social ideology masquerading as science". What this means is that despite a plethora of opinions on how long you should leave your baby to cry in order to train her to sleep, nobody has studied exactly how long it is safe to leave a baby to cry, if at all. Babies who are forced to sleep alone (or cry, because many do not sleep) for hours may miss out on both adequate nutrition and sensory stimulation such as touch, which is as important as food for infant development. Leaving a baby to "cry it out" in order to enforce a strict routine when the baby may, in fact, be hungry, is similar to expecting an adult to adopt a strenuous exercise program accompanied by a reduced food intake. The result of expending energy through crying while being deprived of food is likely to be weight loss and failure to thrive. Pediatrician William Sears has claimed that "babies who are 'trained' not to express their needs may appear to be docile, compliant or "good" babies. Yet, these babies could be depressed babies who are shutting down the expression of their needs."

Often the predisposing conditions for depression in infants are beyond our control, such as trauma due to early hospitalization and medical treatments. However, if we consider the baby’s perspective, it is easy to understand how extremely rigid regimes can also be associated with infant depression and why it isn’t worth risking, especially if your child has already experienced early separation. You too would withdraw and become sad if the people you loved avoided eye contact, as some sleep training techniques advise, and repeatedly ignored your cries.
Crying infants experience an increase in heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. Leaving a baby to cry evokes physiological responses that increase stress hormones. Crying infants experience an increase in heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. These reactions are likely to result in overheating and, along with vomiting due to extreme distress, could pose a potential risk of SIDS in vulnerable infants. There may also be longer-term emotional effects. There is compelling evidence that increased levels of stress hormones may cause permanent changes in the stress responses of the infant’s developing brain. These changes then affect memory, attention, and emotion, and can trigger an elevated response to stress throughout life, including a predisposition to later anxiety and depressive disorders. English psychotherapist, Sue Gerhardt, author of Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain, explains that when a baby is upset, the hypothalamus produces cortisol. In normal amounts cortisol is fine, but if a baby is exposed for too long or too often to stressful situations (such as being left to cry) its brain becomes flooded with cortisol and it will then either over- or under-produce cortisol whenever the child is exposed to stress. Too much cortisol is linked to depression and fearfulness; too little to emotional detachment and aggression.

One of the arguments for using controlled crying is that it "works", but perhaps the definition of success needs to be examined more closely. A recent Australian baby magazine survey revealed that although 57 per cent of mothers who responded to the survey had tried controlled crying, 27 per cent reported no success, 27 per cent found it worked for one or two nights, and only 8 per cent found that controlled crying worked for longer than a week. To me, this suggests that even if harsher regimes work initially, babies are likely to start waking again as they reach new developmental stages or conversely, they may become more settled and sleep (without any intervention) as they reach appropriate developmental levels.

I am so glad that I didn’t cave and do controlled crying. My baby is now fifteen months old and even my husband has thanked me for standing my ground on this one. Learning to listen to what is in my heart when it comes to parenting has been the greatest gift. I know myself better now and I think it has helped me in every area of my life. Just knowing that my instinctive responses are the right ones give me so much confidence as a mother. - Michelle

Controlled crying and other similar regimes may indeed work to produce a self-soothing, solitary sleeping infant. However, the trade-off could be an anxious, clingy or hyper-vigilant child or even worse, a child whose trust is broken. Unfortunately, we can’t measure attributes such as trust and empathy which are the basic skills for forming all relationships. We can’t, for instance, give a child a trust quotient like we can give him an intelligence quotient. One of the saddest emails I have received was from a mother who did controlled crying with her one-year-old toddler.
After a week of controlled crying he slept, but he stopped talking (he was saying single words). For the past year, he has refused all physical contact from me. If he hurts himself, he goes to his older brother (a preschooler) for comfort. I feel devastated that I have betrayed my child. - Sonia

It is the very principle that makes controlled crying “work” that is of greatest concern: when controlled crying “succeeds” in teaching a baby to fall asleep alone, it is due to a process that neurobiologist Bruce Perry calls the “defeat response”. Normally, when humans feel threatened, our bodies flood with stress hormones and we go into “fight” or “flight”. However, babies can’t fight and they can’t flee, so they communicate their distress by crying. When infant cries are ignored, this trauma elicits a “freeze” or “defeat” response. Babies eventually abandon their crying as the nervous system shuts down the emotional pain and the striving to reach out. Whether sleep "success" is due to behavioral principles (that is, a lack of "rewards" when baby wakes) or whether the baby is overwhelmed by a stress reaction, the saddest risk of all is that as he tries to communicate in the only way available to him, the baby who is left to cry in order to teach him to sleep will learn a much crueler lesson – that he cannot make a difference, so what is the point of reaching out. This is learned helplessness.

Secure attachments in infancy are the foundation for good adult mental health.

Neuroscientists and clinicians have documented that loving interactions that are sensitive to a child’s needs influence the way the brain grows and can increase the number of connections between nerve cells. The Australian Association of Infant Mental Health advises: “Infants are more likely to form secure attachments when their distress is responded to promptly, consistently and appropriately. Secure attachments in infancy are the foundation for good adult mental health.” So, when you adopt the perspective that your baby’s night howls are the expression of a need, and she is not trying to “manipulate” you, and you respond appropriately (this will vary depending on your baby’s age and needs), you are not only making her smarter, but you will be hardwiring her brain for future mental health.

Excerpted with permission of the author from Sleeping Like a Baby.
Pinky McKay is the mother of five, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a Certified Infant Massage Instructor based in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to Sleeping Like a Baby, she is the author of Parenting By Heart, 100 Ways to Calm the Crying, and How do we Tell the Kids?. For more information, visit the author's website at Pinky My Child.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I'm alive, just in hiding!

I have gotten some e-mails and I want you to know I'm fine!  It's been a weird and busy week and everytime I want to put something together I don't have the time.  I will try to do something later tonight or tomorrow with some pictures and things.  I have lots from Ians birthday and other things that have been going on.

Talk to ya later!!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Uncle Bill the Greek

I got a call yesterday morning that my uncle Bill passed away in his sleep early Saturday morning. He was only 60. I am so sad for my aunt and my cousins. My one cousin and his wife just had their first baby 6 months ago so Bill was newly a grandpa. He would have been an awesome grandpa too, because he was such an awesome uncle.

He lived far away from us growing up, but whenever we visited them or they came into town we always had such a great time. Uncle Bill was Greek to the core. My  family actually refers to him as Bill the Greek because I have another uncle Bill as well, so that was the way to define who you were talking about!  He was very talkative and funny, the type that you almost can't get to ever shut up. He was always very active with us kids. I have a huge family on that side, there are now 24 (soon to be 25) grandchildren, and him and another of my uncles were always the ones to round up the kids and keep us occupied when we would start to get bored at  family events. He took us to baseball games when we visited with them in Seattle.  I remember one tim in the late 80's when the Mariners were horrible. Uncle Bill had brought paper bags with the eyes cut out and when the Mariners started losing he made us kids wear them. So there we sat, this long row of kids all wearing paper bags over their faces!!

When I was 16 and my cousin was learning to drive Uncle Bill let the two of us take his pick-up out around their neighborhood to practice driving stick-shift. He was the first person to really show me how to do it. I absolutely love driving standard vehicles, thanks to his letting me practically destroy the clutch on his truck!

5 years ago I met up with my Uncle Bill and my aunt at my moms winter home. We decided to go down to Mexico for the day. On our way back accross the boarder Bill was detained because he had let his green card expire. It was the first I knew he had never become a US citizen. Anyway...my poor aunt. We were all standing around the fence back in the US waiting for him and wondering what kind of sweet talking and run around he was giving the boarder partrol. After almost an hour he came trotting towards us, huge smile on his face, telling us what a nice talk he had with the boarder patrol. My aunt looked ready to kill him!!!


When we bought our car last week the sales guy had an accent really similar to Bill's.  He reminded me of him and I told him so.  The sales guy was from North Africa, but he was joking around saying "We're all related over there, really.  We're all brothers and cousins!"   He reminded me so much of uncle Bill telling us a story and then saying, "No, really!!!" 

He was always the life of the party at family reunions and gatherings. His life and presence will be keenly missed. He always told me I was his favorite niece, and although I think he said that to all of us, it really made me feel special.

I love you Uncle Bill. Thanks for so many great memories.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ian's Pictures

If this isn't the most adorable boy in the world than I just don't know who possibly could be!!

He can work the camera ladies and gentlemen.  Be prepared to be overcome with cuteness!




Monday, January 01, 2007

It's been a busy week!!

Wow, can't believe it's been a week since I posted!!  We've had lots going on, here's a recap:

Tuesday night we picked up April at the airport.  Gracie was very happy to see her and her enthusiasm did not wear off for Aprils entire visit! 

Wednesday there were warnings all over the news about another snow storm hitting, starting on Thursday afternoon and lasting until Saturday.  So, we hit the grocery store and the party store to gather everything we needed to survive the next couple of days and celebrate Ian's birthday on Saturday.  I wasn't sure if we would be able to have Ian's party or not, but I wanted to be prepared.  James got off work a couple hours early and April graciously offered to watch the kids so we could get out alone and go..........car shopping!  We have been planning to get a new vehicle for a few months and we were waiting for his bonus to come before we went shopping.  So Wednesday evening I hobbled and rode and James drove 3 cars at two different dealers.  Nothing really struck us though, so we went and grabbed dinner at this delicious little noodle place and then headed home.  We spent the rest of the night on the internet car shopping and by bedtime had a list of 3 more cars at 3 dealerships we wanted to drive. 

Thursday morning we jumped up and again April watched the kids while we drove all around south Denver trying to beat the snow storm and test some cars.  It was the first time I went out of the house without my cast as well, I wanted to be able to drive something at least a little before we decided to buy it.  Well, long story short we decided on the very last car we drove.  We told the sales guy what our offer was, they countered with something two thousand dollars higher, we held our guns and ended up paying only $100 more than our initial offer, which ended up being less than NADA and blue book value!!!  It pays to shop for a car at the end of the year when the dealerships have been closed due to snowstorms and another storm literally brewing!  So, we are now the proud owners of a 2000 Honda CRV.   This picture isn't our exact one because I don't have a picture and don't want to go outside!  You get the idea though!

It's a great little truck, green with leather interior, fully loaded and well taken care of.  We are pleased as punch!  We were home just a little after noon, which was a good thing cause the snow was definitely falling by then.  Now we just need to sell the pick-up.  Anyone out there looking for a 1990 Mitsubishi Mighty Max?  We know just the one for you!

We spent the rest of Thursday and all day Friday inside watching the snow fall.  Luckily it wasn't as much as they initially predicted, but we still ended up with a good foot here at our house.  Thursday evening I decided that to be on the safe side we would postpone Ian's birthday party to next weekend.  Also because of the snow my mom and Dave didn't end up making it into town.  In fact last I heard they were stranded outside Albuquerque because of the storm.  I'm gonna call them as soon as I get this posted. 

Saturday was Ian's birthday!!!!!  It dawned with blue skies and fairly clear roads.  We decided it was safe enough to travel a bit to bring April to my in-laws.  We ended up meeting at the Denver Aquarium and having a very good time.  We ate lunch in the restaurant there which was really fantastic and so cool, we were sitting right next to the huge coral reef tank! The Aquarium was also very nice.  When it was time to go and we had to break it to Gracie that auntie April was leaving she was completely beside herself.  It was so sad, she was crying, April was crying, I was getting all choked up.....what a mess we were!  The kids had such a great time with April.  She is a wonderful aunt and has the energy to keep up with Gracie who honestly does not ever stop.  It was so nice for James and I to be able to get away a bit and know the kids were in the best hands possible.  I sure wish she lived close!


After we got back home I baked a cake and made some frosting.  After dinner we had Ian's little birthday celebration.  He had a good time tearing up his piece of cake!  After that we went upstairs and gave him his presents and after the kids played with them for awhile we called it a night.  It had been a really long day!


Then yesterday I had two goals for the day.  One, to get Ian's pictures taken, and two, to get Gracie's hair cut.  Another busy day.  We did get both done, Ian's pictures turned out so adorable, I am thrilled with them.  I will post a few tomorrow, James should be able to pick them up tomorrow.  And Gracie's hair cut came out so great.  I really didn't want much done, just a little trim.  I especially wanted some layers done to shorten a few pieces of her hair that haven't started to curl yet.  It turned out so cute.  We did the whole shebang, took her to a kids salon, and got the first haircut special!  (Yes, she's two and a half and it was her first haircut.  I'm not a big believer in styling children's hair, I prefer the natural look!)  So she got her picture taken and a little certificate.  The salon was great, we will definitely go back!  She was so cute and brave.  On the way there she was saying she was afraid the lady would cut her chin and make her bones fall out!!  Where do kids come up with this stuff?  Anyway, we convinced her it wouldn't hurt and would be fun and I think by the end she believed us.  She also got a special ticket that went into a machine and spit out a prize.  She was very impressed by that "magic".

So....today we didn't do much of anything, a little cleaning, a little transfer of car stuff, and a lot of laying around.  Tomorrow starts my new schedule with Dominik.  I now have him every Tuesday-Thursday all day long.  It will be a bit of a change, but it will be nice to have him one day less a week and almost double the hours.  Gracie is excited.  We haven't seen him in two weeks!!

Oh, I almost forgot....Ian is now walking.  Mostly anyway!  He is getting more and more confident by the minute, I suppose he will be running by the end of the month!

Well, there you have it!  The mother of all updates.  Hope all is well with you, my cyberspace friends!