Sunday, August 30, 2009

Before and After Pictures, 3 1/2 Months After Surgery

When I look back to what Ben looked like before, I remember that baby, but I can't believe I never realized how different he looked from most babies. Today I picked up photos from Sears that I had taken a week prior to surgery. I wanted to remember how he looked before, but then kind of forgot about actually going back to Sears and getting the pictures.

Recently I have posted about how I am concerned that his head isn't better than it is. After looking at these pictures, I can more easily acknowledge that we have come a long way. I have written a few surgeons in other hospitals over the past couple of days, sharing these before and after pictures and asking for further opinions. Although we have made great progress, I am still hoping for more improvement. Particularly on the back of his head. From the top view, it is quite narrow too. It's hard to tell from the pictures alone, but looking at my adorable bowling-ball headed nephew that is about the same age, you can really see the differences.

My concern is with Ben being able to wear a bike helmet, play t-ball, or do anything else that he would like to do that involves a regular helmet. There is also the cosmetic factor, and I am just not sure how "normal" his head will look as a teenager, if he doesn't have any further change to his head shape. I also remind myself that we are so fortunate his condition hasn't negatively affected any facial features, only the top and back of his head.

I will be sure to post as I receive opinions from other doctors. We are still waiting to see what happens, and our next appointment is in October. It just seems like such a long wait to find out what will happen next.

The picture at the top of this post is from a week prior to surgery. Below are recent after pictures. For more before pictures, go to this post and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Finding Balance

I've survived my first full week of school, and I am about ready for bed (currently, at 9:21pm). I absolutely love my job. I can't imagine doing anything else. However, I leave at 7:00am and I'm home around 5:00pm. Ben and I play and nurse almost non-stop from the time I get home until bedtime, and Ben's bedtime is 9:00pm; mine is 10:00pm. So that leaves one hour a day for diaper laundry, regular laundry, picking up around the house, lesson plans, grading papers, emailing friends, and so on. That one hour a day goes by pretty quickly.

I had a moment this week where it all came to a head, and I asked Josh to buy us a package of disposable diapers. This would take one thing off my list of so many, and maybe make my life a tiny bit easier. I love so much about cloth diapering, and we'll still be part-time most likely, but it's just too much with being gone 50 hours a week.

It all comes down to priorities, and my family is most important. I'm trying to let things go more. Particularly housework. A friend commented that I seem to see in black and white. Either the house is clean or it isn't. Either everything is great or it's horrible. I know deep down there is mostly grey in the world, but I'm just having a hard time seeing it. It's just fine if the house is sort of clean, and everything isn't perfect. That mindset is really something I need to work on more.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three Month Post-Op Visit

Today we headed back to Dr. Mace's office for our three month visit. Ben's bone has grown back more quickly than what he expected, but he has still improved a lot and has his soft spot in the front still. The appointment wasn't terribly reassuring overall. We are going back in another eight weeks to see how things are progressing and how much more his head will change.


Ben's pajamas say "and he was still hungry" on the front, from the Hungry Caterpillar. I love these pjs.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ben is 6 Months Old

We have hit a milestone this week, and as of three days ago, Ben is 6 months old. Today was his 6 month appointment and he weighs 14 3/4 lbs and is 24 inches long. He is in the 10th percentile for size, but still growing, so the doctor is not concerned. He took his shots like a champ, and only cried briefly, until I picked him up and immediately nursed him to comfort.

The doctor was all in favor of us skipping baby cereal and moving to cooked vegetables. We still aren't feeding him more than once every few days, and he still loves to eat. Dr. McNeal emphasized that eating should not replace any nursing sessions, and it's mainly for developmental purposes.

*Above, he is in an Aristocrat wool diaper cover which has saved us from many overnight diaper leaks.

School started this year and I have an amazing class of only 14 students. I realize how fortunate I am to teach at this school, and I honestly can't imagine sending Ben anywhere else. It is really hard for me to leave him in the morning, but I also really enjoy what I do. Pumping at work is so time consuming, and I'm having a hard time keeping up with how much Ben nurses during the day, but I'm going to keep it up anyway. I'm not yet sure what we will do if we run out of the frozen stockpile I built up over the summer.

The hardest part about going back to work is how tired I am at the end of the day. I could easily go to bed at 9:00 and be fine, but I would never get anything done.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ben's Nursery

When looking at pictures of the curtains, I decided I should snap a few pictures of Ben's room to preserve the memory of how neat and clean things stay when he's too little to crawl or walk. His room is my favorite in the house because it has so much light from the two big windows. I've tried to keep it very simple, because too much going on in the way of colors or decorating is really overwhelming to me.

I love having the bookshelf and nightstand in the closet. His clothes are short enough, that the bottom half was wasted, and now we have space in his small room for his books, baskets containing his toys, and some of the older kid toys are stored in the nightstand. Instead of the pinch-y bi-fold doors, we used a tension rod and tab-top curtains to close up the closet if needed.

We found the crib at a Just Between Friends sale, and then found a close to matching nightstand, dresser, and chest of drawers at Furniture Factory Outlet. They are all adult-sized, because they can hold so much more and might even last a little longer. This caused the room to end up wall-to-wall furniture, but Ben doesn't seem to mind. Instead of a changing table, we found a dresser-top changing pad that is attatched, but removable for when Ben needs the dresser alone. All of the cloth diapering and bathing things are kept in the dresser, and the clothes, sheets and blankets are in the closet and chest. It has been so important to us, to not let the baby stuff take over and get more than is reasonable. This has helped us have room for everything, and has helped us keep everything organized.

The rocking chair has been in my family for generations. My mother made the quilt draped across the back. I wanted to paint the walls, but I couldn't decide on a color and then it was too late and he was here. I'm thinking a light green would balance out the light blue, but I have no idea when that would happen. I can't really imagine moving everything around and keeping Ben out of there long enough right now.

Ben is in the excer-saucer, if you're looking for the picture of Ben today. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pajama Pants From Sheets

A little over a week ago I went to the end of the nearby Catholic church yard sale. I was handed a large brown paper grocery bag and was told I could fill it for three dollars. I piled the bag full of sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths for all kinds of repurposing and sewing projects. The first that came to mind was the pajama pants pattern from Weekend Sewing. The sheets were a soft, old and broken in muslin, perfect for pajamas. I took a strip off a pink tablecloth to make the drawstring (sewing then turning with my bobkin), and using the same pink for the cuffs. For a gift, I made a second pair and plan on making a matching drawstring bag out of the remnants as the gift bag. I have big plans for the rest of the sheets and tablecloths as well. My goal is to set aside (at least) two hours per week to create, sew and craft during the school year. We will see how that goes.


There is no way Ben will still fit in this Halloween costume in October, so I figured we'd put it on and take some pictures now, while the pants barely squeeze on.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Handmade Gifts

I absolutely love giving and receiving handmade gifts. I recently gifted a pair of wool dryer balls and a sandwich wrap for a friend's birthday. Ben has received some awesome handmade gifts as well, including felt blocks, a beautiful quilt from my mother, my grandmother and great-aunt crocheted him baby blankets, and he recently received some very cute silk screened and hand-painted shirts.

Those of you who know me can probably guess which crafty friend's mom made the shirt in the top picture. My mind is already spinning with ideas for Christmas presents this year.

I am still reading Weekend Sewing, but I haven't made anything yet. I have also checked out Sewing Green by Betz White from the library. The library book includes all of the patterns in an envelope that says we are welcome to make copies, but please don't cut these patterns. Sewing Green is all about repurposing clothes and recycling fabric and thrift store finds. I should soon be recieving the newly released book Handmade Home with many more ideas. I will be sure to post with any of my creations from any of these books. Hopefully sooner than later.


Josh spotted our fox friend out in the field one day. We were a little worried about seeing him during the daytime, but he took off just after I snapped this photo.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Learners of Tomorrow

I'm sure several of you have seen this video before, but as I am planning and designing my curriculum for the school year, technology is always on my mind. I am even starting a class blog this year!

Many of the jobs my students will have, have not yet been created! This generation will need to be unintemedated by technology and able to process so much information so quickly, that it is overwhelming for many parents (and teachers) to even imagine. I believe that even ten years from now, when Ben is a fifth grader, technology and how I teach will look nothing like what it looks like today.

Josh snapped a picture while Ben and I were snoozing on the couch.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Ozark Empire Fair

I am having a tough time keeping up with work, life and blogging, so postings are going to start getting a little more sporadic. On the opening day of the Ozark Empire Fair, we took Ben. We only stayed a couple of hours, long enough to see the animals and exhibits and eat some terribly unhealthy food. Ben did very well and watched the animals and people from the security of my sling.

Ben is finally taking a bottle really well, but he prefers to hold it himself.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Weekend Sewing

It's finally here! I very, very rarely purchase books for myself, but after reading about it on SouleMama's blog, I had to buy Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. It has over 40 different sewing projects with step-by-step directions and patterns included. The book features everything from household linens, women's and children's clothing, purses, and even a section on sewing basics. I am so excited to dive in and make some new things for myself and for Ben. I only hope this weekend will provide me some relaxing, sewing time somewhere in our busy schedule.

This week has been a tough one. I started back to work and even went all day Thursday without a visit from Ben during the work day. I pumped every day at work, which took a little getting used to. Today Ben stayed with me at work all day and I feel like I got nothing done. Parent night is this coming Tuesday and I don't feel ready, but I'm sure I'll pull it all together between now and then.

Ben has been sleeping on his stomach with his butt up in the air as of lately. I think it so adorable!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Make Your Own Baby Food

Ben has only really played around with food and we haven't been feeding him every day, but he absolutely loves it. For several weeks he has been grabbing spoons, cups, and any other dishes or food he can get his hands on. We used our good friend Darby's yellow squash to make Ben's first baby food. I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds with a spoon, then placed it on a cookie sheet with about 1/4 inch of water. I baked it for about an hour at 400 degrees and it was total mush by the time that hour was up. I probably could have taken it out sooner, but it was so easy to scoop out into the food processer once it cooled. While pureeing it I added enough breastmilk to make it very runny, then I poured the mix into ice cube trays and froze.

I did the same process with green beans a week later, except I used the steamer to cook them. I put wax paper (left over from my cereal boxes - thanks Alma :) over the ice cube trays to prevent freezer burn, and then I poped them all out the next day and dumped them in a big tub that used to hold animal crackers. We have plenty of room in our deep freeze, and now we have about 40 baby food ice cubes.

We got the green beans from a friend that sells at the farmer's market. I'm determined (for now at least) to only feed Ben locally grown, fresh vegetables. We haven't really grown anything that's baby food friendly just yet, so I'm relying on our farmer's market for now. I even bought some of those purple beans, (like green beans) and steamed some of those for Ben's baby food. They taste just like green beans and even turn green when cooked, but they looked neat.

Ben absolutely loves green beans and bananas. He's fine with the squash and avacado, and he hated the peaches. I think they were too tart. I might thaw one squash cube with a green bean cube and mix them in order to use up the squash. I mixed some squished banana with the peaches and that went better too. So much food ends up all over him and the chair (and the floor), but at least he's enjoying himself.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back to Work, Back to School

Today was my first day back at work since Ben was born. It was bittersweet, but I made it through. I love teaching, I love the school where I teach, and I'm very excited about teaching a great group of fourth and fifth graders. However, I've only been away from Ben a small handful of times and today was tough. Josh brought Ben up for lunch, which made the day easier. Ben took a bottle just fine for Josh! He had been refusing bottles for the past couple of weeks, so this made me feel better about the week. Josh is an amazing dad and I'm so happy he will be staying with Ben during the school year. Ben was eager and nursing all evening when I got home and I was happy to have the cuddle time with him. Josh and Ben will be visiting me for lunch every day this week and I hope the transition continues easily.

Ben also got his first tooth over the past couple of days!