Wednesday, July 24, 2013

There She Goes! (& Merritt Update)

Mitt is M-O-B-I-L-E now!!!!!  She doesn't do the "normal" crawl, but does what I call the "butt-scoot."  Anyone know what I'm talking about?  I would upload a video, but Blogger hates me when I try to do that.  I was so excited today when I couldn't find her!  I put her in the living room and a few seconds later she was nowhere to be found - snuck around the corner following her big bro into the dining room!  Yay!!  

Cardiology Update:  Her heart is pretty much the same overall.  (Backstory - the first 2 of 3 holes in her heart closed in the NICU, but we have been following her VSD).  The VSD is ALMOST closed.  Usually, the smaller the hole the louder the sound - but our new fave cardiologist said that wasn't even the case for her!  In her case, it was so small he could barely hear it.  The echo showed the tissue almost covering the hole (it has slowly moved down).  Bottom line is that he thinks it will eventually close on its own without ever having any surgery!!!  Praise God, the almighty Healer!  It gives me chills to think she could have had open heart surgery at 6 months old if we hadn't decided to get a second opinion!  If anyone ever needs a pediatric cardiologist in the Jackson area - I can highly recommend one!

Pediatric Update:  We had our 1 year checkup with Dr. "Whistle" the other day.  I love him too.  I had fully prepared myself to hear a lecture about fattening her up, push the physical aspects, push the areas that she's behind in.... but nope!  I got the "keep doing what you're doing!"  what a relief!  She does have constipation issues which is normal for O babies --- but other than that she's great!  Weighed 15 pounds 12 oz with clothes on = not on the growth chart at all (or less than 2% I think he said).  Was 29" long which is in the 50% and head circum. was in the 25%.    So tall but skinny!  lol!  sums up most of our family regardless of any O! ;)

Weaning Update:  ok this is not going well.  for either of us.  but it's going.  I've never had to actually wean a baby before.  My other 2 babies "quit me"  around 11 months but I had pumped so much extra milk that I used that to get me over the 1 year mark with both.  Merritt on the other hand HATES the bottle!  I have been slowly introducing whole milk over the past month and mixing it with breastmilk I pumped while she was in the NICU.  she would rather starve and hold out for the real thing and skip the bottles!  crazy child.  I'm not one of those moms willing to breastfeed til they start Kindergarten.  Plus Mitt is a biter.  I'm over it.  Lets move on to the next phase please.  

Pacifier Update:  yes, theres an update on that too.  I pulled the plug cold turkey on my other 2 at 13 months of age.  Hmmmm........there seems to be a window of opportunity I see the past 2 days where she has not used it.  Do I go ahead and pull the plug knowing she will have surgery next year and needs "more comfort" than a "normal" child - or do I treat her as normal as I would my other two? 

Nursery Room Update:  yes, things are crazy here, right?  We moved her crib into her real room this past weekend.  Her crib had been in our room since we didn't know how we would be bringing her home from the hospital (tubes, trach, dressing changes, etc.)  On an average night this past year, she would start out in her crib ---> sleep ~2-4 hours ---> wake/eat ----> depending on my mood and our level of alertness she would usually end up in my bed.  Now that she is quite mobile it is difficult to sleep with her.  So I began the "let her cry it out" method last night.  Usually I hear her stomach growl in the middle of the night - and with a baby that has weight issues - I couldn't knowingly ignore that...... until now!  

Surgery Update:  we have another appointment with the surgeon in August.

So LOTS of changes around here!  


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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Merritt's Party

Woodland Fairy and Butterflies!
Welcome to Merritt's party post! 


Invitations
Smeared the phone and address for privacy.  

Inspiration!
I started thinking about her first party when she was around 3 months old I think.  Since she couldn't tell me what kind of party she wanted, I tried to come up with something that described her but also something that was meaningful (not a random theme).  The only inspiration I had was her nursery, which is lavender and light green. She is tiny.  She is a miracle.  Hmm..sounds like a little fairy to me!  After browsing the Woodland Fairy theme online, it was sort of a theme for older girls usually so I blended Woodland Fairy meets Secret Garden Party meets Spring Butterflies.  I wanted elements of each.  I didn't want Mid-Summer Nights Dream - I wanted a baby woodland fairy.  There is a fine line for all you party people out there.









 Food

  • Chicken salad sandwiches cut with butterfly cookie cutter
  • Pretzel butterflies.  Saw these on Pinterest - and they are right up my alley
  • "Dew Drops" White chocolate stuffed raspberries.  Big hit at the party!
  • Fairy Fruit Wands
  • Meringue Mushrooms
  • Cupcakes (and Smash cake)
  • "Nectar" (purple Gatorade and sweet tea) served in Mason jars with daisy lids!
  • Brownie Violets
  • Cheese and "Nuts and Twigs" aka pretzels and nuts




Backdrops and Decorations
1.  Ribbon backdrop.  Lawd.help.me.  WHY did I decide to do this??? Saw it on Pinterest in another color scheme - and thought - "wow, ribbons would be pretty."  Yeah, pretty darn expensive.  Won't do that again, but I was happy with it overall.

-------While I was making it in the hallway of my house, Mattox came out of another room carrying a little pink ribbon.  I had never seen the ribbon before and I have no idea where it came from (purple being the theme here).  He insisted that I attach it to the rope with the others, which is weird because he usually doesn't care about that kind of stuff.  So I did and as I was tying it - I immediately thought of sweet baby Ava Grace whose was a neighbor and friend of Merritt's in the NICU.  Ava Grace's signature color is pink.  I would love to see that baby girl now and I know she is looking down on her mommy today.  Ava Grace was about 3 weeks older than Mitt, and would be turning 1 too.  In remembrance of Merritt's first friend, the pink ribbon stayed. -------



2.  Chalkboard Art.  I loved it.  Highly recommend! one of my favorite things at her party!
The sun QUICKLY bleached the brownie icing to blue from purple!  Lessons learned.
3.  Fairy Garden.  

4.  Merritt's "First Year" table. Pictures of all her "firsts" (first bath, first holidays, etc) and her monthly pictures.

5.  Toad stools were set out for people to sit on.  

6.  Giant balloons.  These were a hit.   See below in More pics!  



Activities
I've always struggled with what to do at a 1 year old birthday party.   Most of the time, the star of the party can't walk yet.  Can't talk, can't/won't really eat much, can't play any games (except peek-a-boo!).  Merritt LOVES to watch her older siblings.  So I tried to come up with ideas of things that she could watch!  Painting fairy houses is pretty popular, but I decided Merritt couldn't really do any of that.  Trying to keep it simpler instead of pulling out paint supplies.  


  • Butterfly Release.  I thought this was a good activity for someone who can't walk yet.  She would enjoy watching tons of butterflies (I hoped) and after reading about how to do live butterfly releases - it really symbolized her in a way (Miracle Merritt)!  I am by no means calling her a caterpillar - but just referring to the change, the miracle, and delicate nature of a butterfly is amazing.  You should read up on your metamorphosis.  ;)
  • NO GIFTS PLEASE!  Merritt accepted donations in a moss covered purse to give to the NICU at UMC.  She "raised" $320.00!!!!!!!!   If you could see the babies in the NICU that don't get visitors every day, or don't have even a single balloon attached to their isolette, or their parents live too far away to visit everyday.... you will want to give them your entire heart and everything you own!  Some babies had no one to talk to them, no personal blankets or toys to look at... donate to the NICU please!
  • Wishing tree.  I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was the cutest idea ever.  So pretty!  Since Merritt has gone through so much, I wanted everyone to write down their thoughts, happy birthday wishes, dreams, and anything else for her to keep in her baby book!  Make her a birthday "wish" and she will keep it forever!  I wanted her to know later how much everyone prayed for her!  And the tree went with the theme!
    Before all the tags were hung


  • And of course singing to the birthday girl!  I think I cried.  How I love babies and parties.  Be.still.my.heart.
Party Favors
























Plantable paper containing seeds with a bag of soil in a chalkboard painted pot that read "and 1 to grow on"  attached with "Merritt's Miracle Dust" or pixie dust glitter for fun.  

Misc. Pictures
Mitt's party dress only lasted long enough to take a few pics.  Can't blame her - it was scratchy and hot!

Sweet Brooke with a monarch
"I'M FINISHED WITH BIRTHDAY PARTIES FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR!!!!!"
My sister called this the "Pic of the Party"....good times.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due! (click on names for website links)
  • Photographer:  Heather Bowser.  I hired a photographer for Mati Claire's 1st party, and I regret that I didn't with Mattox.  It takes SUCH a load off.  And allows me to just enjoy the party!  And videotape it.    Thank you!  
  • Florist:  Meredith Young at AuCourant. I knew when I picked Woodland Fairy that I would need help.  This party could.not.have.been.possible. without Meredith.  Blow me away with flowers!!! Loved it!
  • Merritt's Dress:  Enchanted Fairy and Kellys Kids.  I found a GroupOn coupon so that saved me a TON on the dress.  Otherwise it never would have happened.  But it was impossible to find anything to fit her, so they tried to make it adjustable.  We found out early on that tulle is scratchy so she got a 2nd outfit to feel more comfortable.  
  • Mati Claire's Dress:  Chasing Fireflies
  • Party Favor Chalkboard-painted Pots:  KnoxProPhotography on Etsy.  There is a very simple DIY way to make chalkboard painted pots, but after reading how many coats it took...I decided I didn't have time to paint that many pots that many times.  
  • Party Favor Plantable Paper Seeds:  PulpArt on Etsy.  I actually got this idea from Danielle (thank you, D!) who I think is a long-lost sister of mine, but also an O mom.  You can read about McKinley's first party HERE... and I must say its one of the cutest parties I've ever seen!  But wonderful idea to incorporate the idea of GROWTH into the party, being that growth is such an issue with O babies!   
  • Chalkboard Art:  Bonnie Dickerson at Southern Sprout.  I will sound old and cheesy when I say this, but this.is.the.bomb!  I loved it!  can we say 'my splurge'?
  • HighChair Tutu:  TutuLand on Etsy
  • Cupcake wrappers:  Etsy - Back to Zero and PaperPartyParade
  • Miracle Merritt's Dust (pixie dust party favor):  EnchantedbyFae on Etsy
  • Plates, Chargers, napkins, utensils, etc...:  Michaels Craft Stores, Hobby Lobby, Party City
  • Smash cake and cupcakes:  my best friend, Tyanne McCoy, offered to make these for her party.  I have tried many different bakeries...but NONE compare to Tyanne's cupcakes.  They are my favorite.  I decided I didn't have time (as much as I wanted to) to make the smash cake when I had to make so many other food items.  Thank you Tyanne! We will always remember it!
  • Mason jars with daisy lids, striped paper straws: The TomKat Studio
  • Invitations, buffet tags, and wish tags:  Unink.   Joanna Keith is amazing!  But contact her at least 6 months in advance if you want to use her - she is in high demand and super busy! Love.
  • Wishing Tree:  MadeAtTheLake on Etsy.  Thank you, John, for making this extra special for an extra special little girl!
  • Cupcake stand:  postscripts on Etsy
  • Smash cake stand/cheese plate:  the GypsyBird on Etsy
  • the 12 wooden place card holders/picture holders: OMYMOMMADETHIS on Etsy
  • Giant balloons:  Martha Stewart party line collection found at JCPenney. Thanks to Party City for blowing them up.
  • AND last but not least.... the BIGGEST THANK YOU to my mom and sister for helping me put everything together!  Would NOT have happened without them! They gave 110% in the mid-summer Mississippi heat to help me.  I love you!

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Merritt - 1 year!

A little late on this post, but I've been SO busy working on her party this weekend!  Merritt turned 1 on Tuesday!  Just a quick rundown on her "stats":

  • Weighs 15 lbs 10 oz!  
  • Wears size 2 diapers, and mostly 9-12 month clothes 
  • Wakes up 1-3 times per night still :(
  • Has 5 teeth 
  • Loves to dance, loves her big siblings, loves music, and loves to nurse....
  • Having trouble weaning off mommy but is up to 2 bottles a day of 1/2 breastmilk + 1/2 whole milk (right now its 2 oz of each for a 4 oz bottle).  
I've been having a few sad moments lately...I get discouraged when I realize she's still not a "normal" baby.  I can't turn her car seat around.  She doesn't eat real food really.  She doesn't have any words (she does babble "mama" "dada" and "bubye").  She doesn't crawl or walk at all.  

BUT I have to remind myself on a daily basis ---- that she is here.  that she is doing well.  slow progress is better than none at all I guess.   Stay positive.  

Her small physique doesn't put any pressure on me to pull the pacifier or the bottle anytime soon.  I don't think a single stranger would ever question her age vs. the normal time to start sippy cups, etc.  I was strict on my other 2 but I am lenient on her when it comes to the pacifier.  The other 2 went cold turkey the month of their birthday. 

We are blessed and love her so much!  Happy 1st birthday, Mitt!   


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Monday, July 8, 2013

Princess and the Pea

Mati Claire is 6!  I love this girl "more than peanut butter!"  She has grown up so much over the past year, and its bittersweet.  I miss that she's not a baby anymore, but I am loving the new stage of being independent and self-sufficient to a degree.  She keeps us laughing with her insanely funny sense of humor.  I love that she is an awesome big sister (but thinks she is their mommy as well).  She tries to please everyone all the time and gets very upset when that doesn't happen.  Bless her - she tries SO hard to be perfect all the time.  I love it, but I also wish she would relax sometimes.  I love that MOST of the time she is very cooperative and helpful.  She loves all things girly:  arts/crafts, clothes, dolls, makeup, shoes, and glitter.  Yep, she asks me to spray her hair with glitter almost everyday.  lol!  
She had a dramatic entrance into this world 6 years ago today, and she is still full of drama! love her and all her drama though!  She wants hair like Rapunzel, so she won't let me cut it... but she's about to sit on it soon and I worry how she will go to the bathroom if we don't cut it soon ;)  Happy Birthday to the one who teaches me the first time.  Happy Birthday to the one who changed my world and taught me what unconditional love is about.  Happy Birthday to my sweet Matilyn Claire!   I love you!



Princess and the Pea Party
Mati Claire wanted a slumber party this year...... ugh.  No offense to other kids and mommas out there (more power to ya) - but MC just doesn't handle sleeping away from home as well as other kids.  I told her we could do the nighttime pajama party and they could even come back the next morning for pancakes if they wanted - but could we please skip the "slumber" part?  So I came across this theme while browsing pajama party ideas.  And Mati Claire loved the idea!  

I told her she was turning 6 so she could invite around 6 friends this year.  Merritt is having a bigger party so I needed to tame one of them.  After counting the chairs in my dining room, that number ended up being 9 but I still consider that small (3 cousins + 7 friends + 1 birthday girl).  If I can contain it to my dining room then its small by my definition!! ;) 

Inspiration
Most of the ideas and DIY kits came from SnowyBliss.  I only dream of being that original and creative... and a mom at the same time.  Her kids must be so cool.  

Invitations
Mati Claire has never had a photo invitation before...and I thought "how often can you stack several mattresses on each other and lay on top like a princess???"  Can't say I've ever done that!  Jeanelle shot the invites for me.  fun times!

Cake
Her actual birthday is on a Monday night in the middle of the summer - and everyone invited was ok with a Monday night party.  However...all of the cake bakeries/shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays!  :/  So I enlisted the help of a friend at church, Mrs. S. Prather!  Awesome job.  Mati Claire liked the cake from SnowyBliss, but tweaked it a little and incorporated the crown and pillow.

Food
  • "Pea"-zza  (pizza)
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Cake
  • DippinDots Ice Cream (Pic below are my nieces enjoying theirs!)

Decorations
  • I made the table cloths myself.  Not easy when you have a large dining room table.  
  • The headboard and pillows are from SnowyBliss designs that you can purchase from her Etsy site 
  • All of the chargers, bowls, glasses, string lights came from Hobby Lobby and Party City
  • Heart shaped plates are from Kroger during the Valentine season. (yes I'm a planner months in advance)
  • Thank you tags, gift tags, buffet tags, and signs all from Etsy's myPaperLily

Party Favors
  • Princess and the Pea book - from Amazon.
  • "Beauty Rest" Slee-Pea Eye Masks - custom made from Etsy's Verboloza
  • Slippers - from Amazon.



Her Outfit
I've learned to give her some control in making decisions - after all it is HER party and not mine.  I know yall probably think I don't know that.  But I really do let her make her own choices (after I've narrowed the list down).  SHE picked her own outfit and Merritt's bubble. They came from Castles & Crowns' Princess and the Pea Collection.  And then just for fun - I let her go through my closet and pick out my outfit...anything at all.  And luckily she chose one of my new summer jumpsuits!  Ah - she does have good taste after all! ;)  She also chose her own tiara/crown from Etsy's MoniquesCrafts.  I figured we would definitely get good use out of that...I foresee many princess parties in our future. :)

A Few More Pics...
Mattox is smart and stayed away from all the girls....in the kitchen eating his DippinDots!

The girls minus 3 of them.
MC and her "twin"

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