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One Month into Early Intervention

Sweet P started Early Intervention a month ago, and it has been such a positive experience so far! We started with a developmental therapist/early childhood specialist who comes to our house once a week. Even thought Sweet P has been notorious about going to or even smiling at new people, she has loved Ms. Jen from the first day she came and even stuck out her arms to be picked up! Sweet P must have sensed that Ms. Jen was an expert in kids her age.

I will admit that the developmental therapy is totally different than I had expected. I thought that she would spend time working one-on-one with Sweet P and working specifically on speech while I watched their interactions. But instead it’s more of her teaching me how to implement strategies to use with Sweet P throughout our everyday activities, routines, and play time. Each week Ms. Jen asks if there is anything specific I would like to work on with Sweet P and how she is progressing, and that guides our time together. We also follow Sweet P’s lead with what she’s interested in playing with during her time here. Since Little Piñata is at preschool during our scheduled times, I think Sweet P is mostly just really excited about the focused attention of two adults and no big brother to take her toys away, so she is usually all smiles through the whole hour.

Some of the things I’ve learned in the few weeks that Ms. Jen has been coming include being more intentional about literacy and simplifying how we read to her. I had never thought about it before, but since she has so few words (just one when we got started), she recommended we make books simpler by pointing out picture on each page and identifying it. It’s such a simple tip that I just hadn’t thought of before! She also recommended that we sing more simple kids’ songs with actions for Sweet P to connect words and motions together. So we have been singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” around the house more.

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Stop Doing These Things for Your Toddler

As Jackson gets older, it can be hard for me to remember that I need to back off a bit and start letting him do things for himself. Over the last two years I’ve gotten into such a habit of doing everything for him, and now I’m having to reprogram my brain and learn that he’s able to do a lot of these things for himself now. It’s helpful to both me and him if I let him practice his independence and do some things without help, and it makes him really happy, too!

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I’ve been working over the last few weeks on paying attention to the specific activities where I’m most tempted to jump in and help Jackson – and trying to sort out which ones he actually needs help on versus things that I’m providing unnecessary help on. Jackson’s daycare teacher often jokingly refers to him as Mr. Independent because he’s so insistent on doing things for himself, so there’s no reason for me not to be working to foster that and help him do things more independently! Here are seven things that I’m working on NOT doing for my toddler anymore:

1) Opening his food packets. It’s so easy to get in the habit of quickly opening yogurt and snack pouches for our kids to make things move more quickly, but that’s great fine motor and hand strengthening practice for them! Plus, how much easier would it be on you if your toddler could open their own food?

2) Putting him in the car. I know it’s hard. I know it’s so slow to let them climb in. But not only are they building up independence when they’re allowed to climb up in the car by themselves, they’re also getting some great exercise and working some muscles they may not work at other times of the day!

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The Results are In!

This is an anonymous post series following one of our blogger’s ivf journey in real time. You can read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 here.

I woke up Wednesday morning with a feeling of dread. I knew it was the day I was getting the blood test done to see if our IVF cycle had worked or not. After so long with only negative pregnancy tests, I felt like there was no way there could be good news and prepared myself for an evening of bath taking, sushi and chocolate eating, and wine drinking as a consolation.

I hadn’t taken a single home pregnancy test ahead of time because I absolutely hate them. There have been so many months along our journey that my period was late, or I was just convinced I would be pregnant and saw that one lonely line reminding me how not pregnant I was. I just couldn’t handle staring at another negative pregnancy test. The only symptoms I had were cramping, feeling extra tired, and sore breasts. And all of those are also symptoms of the hormone supplements I have been on (progesterone and estrogen), and PMS, so I readied myself for a negative result.

Thankfully I just went to my OB/GYN’s office to get blood results instead of having to drive 2 hours away to our fertility clinic. They would call our clinic with the results and then our IVF nurse would call us to tell us whether I was pregnant or not. I knew if it was bad news I would rather hear it from my husband than the nurse, so the plan was that she would call him. He told me that he wanted to tell me in person either way, so we would wait until the end of the day when he came home from work to share.

The nerve wracking thing is that in the middle of the afternoon I got a phone call and voicemail from our clinic! So, I knew the results were on my phone! Right when I was about to call my husband to see if he had the news too, he texted me to say to not listen to the message and wait until he got home. It was so tempting not to listen to that message! I tried to busy myself in things totally unrelated to fertility or IVF so that I wouldn’t think about it, but I was so so sweaty and nervous and of course still thinking about it! My focus was on preparing myself for bad news.

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DIY Wooden Toy Phone

DIY Wooden Toy Phone

I’ve been a fan of wooden toys for as long as I can remember. I’m sure it’s the result of growing up with wooden toys and good ones at that. Now, I’m not a woodworker, so I probably won’t be making anything too fancy, but this play phone is so easy that your kids can help make it!

Make a Wood iPhone

It helps to have a friend or family member with a power saw to get you started, but after that, this project is just plain fun! It’s also VERY inexpensive. I used wood scraps, which cost me nothing. But if you had to go and buy a full piece of wood that would make enough phones for a classroom of kids, it would still be less than $5.00. That’s a pretty cheap project, which means if you child wants to make a whole bunch of phones (or other imaginative toys), you can let them create to their hearts content!

I’m showing two ways to decorate the phone. One is a little brighter and more like the wooden toys you might buy on Etsy. The other is more kid-friendly. Go with what is the better fit for you!

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40 Party Balloon Ideas

Balloons are one of the most inexpensive ways to make a big visual impact at a party, especially if you don’t use helium. They’re so versatile and with a little diy, you can completely transform them. Here are some of the best, most creative, and easy ways to use balloons for your next party!

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Yay Balloon via Northstar Balloons

animal balloons
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, Panda, Unicorn, Dragon via Northstar Balloons

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Under the Microscope

I’m immensely grateful for the quality and access to care our little guy has received for his congenital heart defect. It has saved his life and allowed him to thrive. I know without a doubt, if he had been born in a country with poor healthcare, he would not have this chance at life. However, there are some aspects of his medical experience I’m adjusting to. One of them is having his health, development, and our parenting watched closely by a team of specialists and therapists.

Six months after our little guy’s heart repair surgery was completed, the doctors discovered another issue with his heart. A flap of tissue on his heart that had not grown closed. This is a common, benign, heart condition for many babies and closes on its own. However, because of our little guy’s heart defect, his risks are much higher for it to be problematic. While his doctors are optimistic it will close as he grows, his heart needs to be monitored closely along with his development through Neurocardiac Clinic and pediatrician appointments.

We have an amazing, professional, and knowledgeable medical team providing excellent care, but there is a side effect to all this attention. Every single developmental delay or health problem is scrutinized, noted, monitored, and treatment possibilities are discussed at length. We speculate as a team, if these delays and ailments are due to his experience with a CHD or something more. We’ve worked through sensory issues, feeding issues, and yet the list still looms with concerns about constipation, hand preference at a young age, a left foot turn out, and markers for speech problems to highlight a few.

The clinic days are draining. I find myself near tears at the end of each one, thinking of all the problems he is going to face. It’s only the next day when I’m able to have a clear perspective and focus on the good news; his heart continues to heal well! I had imagined we would be carefree about his heart by now, but instead the worries continue to gather. Even if a medical or developmental concern disappears, we have spent months worrying. I’m so grateful his health and development improves and progresses, but wish I had never know about these developmental red flags in the first place.

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Being your own advocate

This being National Infertilty Awareness Week, I thought I would share my thoughts on one of the greatest lessons I learned through my infertility journey: the importance of being your own advocate. Being aware of your treatment plan, educating yourself on it, asking informed questions about what is happening and why, and pushing back on things that you disagree with – this is being your own advocate.

While learning to advocate for yourself if not necessary for all infertility patients (for instance, those who find success on their very first cycle, or those who use a smaller boutique fertility clinic that can provide more personalized attention), I found that most of my infertility friends eventually became experts in personal advocacy if their time in the infertility trenches exceeded one year.

For me personally, the first six months of infertility treatment were ones in which I was definitely a passive bystander to my treatment. I went for appointments when told and I took my prescriptions exactly as instructed. When a nurse called me with results or instructions, I was usually confused and overwhelmed by all of the strange words and measurements that she threw at me. I would take in the information, make sure I understood what to do next, but didn’t bother myself with understanding why I was taking a certain medication, what the doctor was looking for in terms of my body’s response, or how things could be improved or changed.

Oh my, how this changed over time! By the time my very last IVF cycle rolled around, after three years of treatment, three different doctors and eleven different nurses, I was the biggest personal advocate I could possibly be. At my last consult with my doctor, I had a list of three new treatment options that I had researched and my doctor and I extensively discussed the pros and cons of these options together. When I went in for ultrasound scans of my ovaries and uterus, I knew exactly the millimeter of thickness that we were looking for and I wouldn’t leave the room until I had the measurements accurately recorded in my personal notes. And for those very familiar with my story and last cycle, you may recall that I was instructed by my doctor and nurse to cancel the cycle due to poor response. Importantly (and thankfully!), I refused to cancel the cycle and we proceeded to an IVF transfer that resulted in a positive pregnancy result.

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