Friday, March 25, 2011

The Before Picture

My How We Have Grown!



This "little" dress was a birthday gift for Anna last summer from her Uncle Matt. I thought I had a picture of her in it, but I can't find it (mom, do you have it??). It used to come to her knees and hang off her shoulders. Now it doesn't even cover her tush! Amazing!

BTW I forgot to mention the other day that Anna's biosies came back fine. So she no longer has any underlying GI issues (except from some residual motility issues) for not wanting to eat. So we stick with the assumption that it is now just behavioral and we move ahead towards her therapy! Onward and upward!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Impromptu Picnic

We have been having a lot of beautiful sunshiny days here! So the other afternoon we grabbed some lunch and took it outside to enjoy the day.


Mmmm, turkey, blueberries, potato chips, and apple juice.

After lunch there was digging, and sliding, and exploring. Unfortunately Annabella is terrified of bugs. No idea when or why it started, but if she hears them buzz by or sees the bug OR its shadow she just gets all upset, "b-bug b-bug mommy!!!" So lately she spends a good portion of her outdoor time in my lap!! This is the girl who pulled an IV from her own arm!! Totally not like her, so I hope it is a passing issue.

We let Bunny come into the yard with us. He is an indoor cat, but he will stay in the yard or sit on the steps to our porch.



Totally unrelated to picnicking, but I know a lot of people are working on organizing their homes during Lent...me included! I had worked out a pretty good schedule and I was just using a notebook to jot down the "To Dos" by hand each day. I was thinking I would need to create some sort of calendar/to do/agenda on the computer when lo and behold this post came up on my feed today: customizable household management planner. A free download at Money Saving Mom!! It is perfect and exactly what I needed. There are a few different templates and just figured if I was looking for one that others might be also!! I made up one page per day of the week and I am going to copy them and put them in a binder so I have my own homemade dayplanner. These are the things that excite me LOL

Monday, March 21, 2011

This is For Uncle Matt



They worked great Matt! :)

FOR TODAY...

Outside my window... The sun is poking through after a gray and dreary morning. Lots of stuff is starting to grow and bud. Birds have returned.

I am thinking...about my Lenten goals. Doing fine with accomplishing the "things", but not so great in changing the "habits" or behaviors. Luckily there is still plenty of time left in Lent!

I am thankful for...Poopies in the potty

From the learning rooms... Not much these days. Just our lenten calendar.

From the kitchen...bolognese sauce for dinner tonight. Not much baking going on since I am not doing sweets during Lent.

I am wearing... red shirt, blue velour pants, brown Crocs

I am going... to try to make the most of my days!

I am reading... The Children's Blizzard. It is about a blizzard (can't remember the year) that took place in the prairie (think Laura Ingalls time). It came on so suddenly after a mild morning and was such a vicious storm that many lives were lost. It is referred to as the children's blizzard because when the storm began rolling in in early afternoon most local schools dismissed students to go home and many of teh children got lost in the storm and perished. So far the book is a bit of a snooze because it is discussing Norwegian immigration to the area. I just want to get to the weather which is the part I was interested in. I am also reading a book about discipline by Ray Guarendi. And if anyone is interested: these talks by Dr. Guarendi are also very good.

I am hoping... that the next house we buy has self cleaning floors.

I am hearing...Ben make strange sounds as he jumps on my lap. He is asking me if his pillow is dry (I just washed it).

Around the house...seeds and dirt and sprouts and dirt and dirt and dirt LOL...Cla is starting a lot of seeds so they are all over the house in windows and shelves etc..

One of my favorite things... Holztiger figures. We love these wooden figures here. We have a nativity scene, a kangaroo, and a deer. I just got an owl for Anna and a rabbit for Ben to put into their Easter baskets this year. My kids bang them around quite a bit and they are really sturdy. And one of them accidentally got ink on one of them and I thought for sure that was the end of that figure, but it shockingly washed right off with just water! I was amazed.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Nice quiet week. We have been chockful of doctor appointments lately, but since Anna's scopes/biopsies last week I think we are basically done except a few followups in a few weeks with Nutrition for both Ben and Anna. So that is great news. This is of course until Anna's therapy starts and then we will have a super intense 4 weeks.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing: I finished coloring and laminating (with contact paper) a set of Stations of the Cross to hang in the dining room. Someday hopefully we can purchase a nice set and/or the kids will color their own. But for now these are nice and I am not embarrassed to admit that I really enjoyed the coloring!



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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's Going on at the Salvucci House?

Just the usual stuff. We finally pinned Ben down and cut his hair. This is one of my least favorite chores because he screams, cries, and carries on. This is the worst thing in the world to do when little bits of hair or flying all over. So then he gets hair in his mouth and starts screaming,crying, carrying on, and gagging. But now it is done and we won't have to do it again for a few more months. I love how he looks with freshly cut hair. He reminds me of a little turtle LOL


Annabella saw the Nutritionist last week for her official weigh in and she was 20lbs on the nose!! That is 3lbs since Christmas!!! She will likely weigh enough to qualify for her therapy by next month! Anna also had an endoscopy and a sigmoidoscopy on Tuesday. She did great with the sedation this time. Woke up calmly and peacefully thank goodness!

The doctor said that the scopes looked good. There was an area of her esophagus that was inflamed and they will know more once the biopsy results come back. It could just be from her feeding tube, or the cold she had last week, or any number of random things. We should hear by Friday if the biopsies showed any further issues. This will hopefully be Anna's last major medical hurdle!! She is such a resilient, feisty, happy little ball of energy. She amazes me.



These are the typical sort of shenanigans you might see going on in our house on any given evening.



Benjamin absolutely LOVES to dance. So I asked him the other day if he would like to take a dance class. He responded a bit puzzled, "No...I can dance in my house!" Duh!! And another homebody is born!



And just a note. The stations of the cross with the votive candles worked even better than I had hoped. Benjamin paid attention through the entire thing. Listening to the prayers so he would know when to put out his next candle. It made the prayers even more beautiful. We were so happy with this idea!! We highly recommend it for any family with preschoolers that you want to pay attention throughout stations! Not to mention that Claudio and I really loved the effect as well.

Hope everyone is having a fruitful Lent!

At Long Last!!!!!

Some of you know that we have been working on potty training for a very very long time (if for no other reason than because Ben is almost always pictures without pants!). He is improving with the pee pee part of the equation. We can even go out in underpants depending on how long the trip is and to where. But poops.....OY!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wondered if the boy would ever make a poop in the potty. And we tried EVERYTHING!!! With underwear, without, candy rewards, punishments, to sit with him, to leave him alone, to read stories, to rub his back, to take him to the moon, to purchase him beach front property in Arizona, etc etc etc. Nothing seemed to make ANY difference.

The other day I was at Target and I picked up the Thomas "Take Play" Tidmouth Tunnel (pictures above in the center). I placed it on top of the toilet and explained he could have it once he pooped in the potty. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth by Benjamin.

Then today. Out of nowhere. I was upstairs putting away laundry and Ben was playing around me. He disappeared and I didn't think anything of it. A few minutes later, amidst much excitement Benjamin announced, "I DID IT!!!!" Yes indeed folks. He had finally done it. All by himself he got up on the potty and DID IT!!!!!

He is now happily being indulged with as much Shaun The Sheep as a boy could stomach and playing playing playing with the latest addition to his Thomas "Take and Play" set!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Benjamin Update

It has been a while since I updated about Ben and his weight gaining issues. So thought I would give a quick update.

I don't remember dates etc, but this was all in the last month or two. He saw the pediatric GI that Anna sees. The GI ordered a whole bunch of tests (blood, stool, urine, and an Upper GI) all of which thankfully came back as normal. The only thing slightly off was his zinc was a bit low. Interestingly, low zinc can cause small stature, lack of appetite, and a lack of a sense of taste. So he is taking a zinc supplement daily. He was also prescribed Prevacid. I was never of the "give a med even though nothing indicates this is an issue" sort of person, but after our experience with Anna I jumped at the chance to try the prevacid. Anna was taking almost NOTHING by mouth, her three Upper GIs showed no indication of reflux, but the difference once she started the Prevacid was STAGGERING!!!! Her eating by mouth has improved so much! I haven't seen any change for Ben yet but it has only been a week for him (we had a big fight with the insurance, which we lost btw, to get it covered. Apparently they feel a child over 2 should be able to swallow the OTC caplets. I have to assume none of these people have had children, let alone children with food aversions and eating problems! I can't get the kid to eat a cookie I am not going to get him to swallow a caplet, but I digress).

So, after all those tests Ben saw a nutritionist who basically said, "Yup, he is tiny!" She recommended the Boost shakes for him (which he is already taking) and that he be referred to the feeding team at CHOP to be evaluated for therapy. His height was below the 5th percentile and his weight was right at the 5th. It used to be reversed...his height was always well onto the chart with his weight hovering around the 5th. The nutritionist said the only way to improve "linear growth" is to increase calories. The more weight they gain the more they grow. period. end. of. story. This has certainly been the case with Anna who is growing out of all of her clothes and shoes by leaps and bounds, but apparently that is what happens when you gain 3lbs since Christmas!

The pictures below are of Ben enjoying his promised McDonalds treat after his Upper GI. He was SOOO nervous about the Upper GI, but he did extraordinarily well!! I was truly amazed! He did exactly what they told him and had no problems drinking the barium.....he almost seemed to LIKE it! They would say, "take three big sips Ben!" and he would just go "GULLP GULLLP GULLP" without flinching LOL....So he more than earned his "hamburgerder" and french fries!




While we were sitting there eating our lunch in teh CHOP cafeteria a woman came over to tell Ben that he was so handsome and lovely that he should be on television LOL!

And here is just a little silly video of Ben during lunch. At the end he is referring to the lights on the ceiling. He noticed they change colors every few minutes. It is amazing what children notice that adults never do. I have sat in that cafeteria an endless number of times and never noticed.



And after a stressful day for a little guy....that is what he looked like on the drive home from CHOP.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Rice Maker That Changed My Life....

When Sharyn was here I was telling her how I had JUST started making REAL rice. Before then I had either used boil in a bag or instant type rice. I had recently decided in the name of saving a few bucks that I should learn how to just make rice like a real grownup!

Sharyn told me that if I was committed to being a grownup that made real rice that I simple HAD TO get myself a rice cooker. She was not the first to tell me this. She was the THIRD person to tell me this.

I always poo pooed the rice cooker idea because it seemed ridiculous to have an appliance just to prepare a side dish. But when making real rice I always hated those last several minutes of cooking the rice when you were juggling the rest of dinner, cranky kids, setting the table, and worrying if you rice was sticking to the pot, burning, not cooked enough etc etc. It was like a dance...LOL So when the ever practical Sharyn praised the rice cooker as life changing I finally listened.
That is right....we now have a rice cooker....that Sharyn generously bought for us!!!!!!! You see now that Ben has an egg allergy and noodles as a side dish are out. We do actually make rice fairly often. AND it is something Ben will eat!

My canister of real life grownup rice!

Put the rice in, flicked the button, walked away....and the rice cooked itself!!!!! INCREDIBLE!!!

YUM!! LIFE CHANGING!!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lent Is Here....

And we have a few plans for the family and specifically for the children in the hopes that at minimum Ben will understand that this is an important part of the liturgical year and to bring it to life a little. And if none of that happens this year at least we are starting some family traditions :)

I must be honest and say that I don't have a creative bone in my body and all of my plans comes from other bloggers or from posts at the 4Real forums. One of the beautiful things about the internet.....I don't NEED to have a creative bone in my body. And that makes me very happy!!

Below are 14 small votive candles to be used while praying the Stations of the Cross on Friday. As each station is completed Benjamin can blow out the corresponding candle. Hopefully keeping his attention and bringing a little mystery to the prayer as the room gets dimmer and dimmer as we progress.

Our rice bowl jar....which basically just means Mommy forgot to grab a rice bowl at church....twice....and so had to make her own LOL! Ahhh, whatever it all works the same.

The rice bowl will go with the Lent calendar below. Thank you so much Jessica for this wonderful idea.

The calendar helps us to focus on the three main Lenten practices to PRAY, FAST, and GIVE ALMS.

Each day of the week has a special area to focus on in prayer such as for an end to abortion, for our families, for Pope Benedict and priests. Under prayer we will also be praying a decade of the rosary each evening and stations of the cross on Fridays of Lent.

Instead of fasting for the little children who are too young to be obligated to fast and to young to understand what fasting is or means we will be focusing on giving food to the poor daily. I set up a shelf in the pantry with foods that Ben and Anna can pick each day to put into a special box we made up and when Lent is over we will donate the food to St. Vincent de Paul society.


The rice bowl will be our focus for giving alms. On the calendar there is something listed each day that Benjamin can count. Such as number of chairs in the house, number of shoes, number of pillows. Each day he will have something to count and he will receive a pennies for each thing counted to put in his rice bowl. At the end of Lent this money will be donated.

The calendar will be marked off each day so we can see the time passing as we get closer to Easter. It also has special feastdays we will be celebrating such as St. Patrick and St. Joseph.

WE hope you all have a fruitful Lent.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

I Think I Can I Think I Can

Ben got this floor puzzle from Grandma Joanne and Grandpa Aug for Christmas. I hadn't had a chance to take it out and work on it with Ben and it was just sitting on one of the shelves in the toy room.

While Sharyn was visiting and we were trying to squeeze in a few card games of our own Ben asked me if we could play "Flip Flop" with him when we were done (flip flop is the Charlie and Lola name for Memory game). So I suggested he go downstairs and get the game and practice it a little and that we would play Flip Flop later.

He scampered back into the dining room a few minutes later with this big puzzle and he proceeded to sit on the floor and put the whole thing together unassisted! Once or twice he would hold up a puzzle piece and ask me where it goes and I would remind him that you have to match up the pictures and to look for things that match. And he would diligently get back to work at it.

We were barely paying attention to him or noticing that he was actually getting it all together! I was so proud and happy for him! Before this he had limited success with puzzles if you weren't helping him piece by piece.

Don't let the stoic face below fool you. He just won't smile for the camera. He was very excited and loved pointing out all of the fish and sea life that he could identify.





Friday, March 04, 2011

Birthdays and Aquariums

Saturday was Claudio's 40th birthday!! I am just chuckling to myself at the first picture below...which probably should be a beautiful picture of Cla with his family or something and not a wallowing hippo, but I am a bit of a blogger dunce and that is just how it worked out LOL.

Either way I wish my dear husband a blessed birthday and another 40 (++++) filled with joy, health, happiness, and God's never ending blessings. I am so grateful for you and know that your little family loves you endlessly.

To celebrate Cla's birthday and Ben's birthday with the Salvucci side of the family Cla decided he really wanted to go to the Camden Adventure Aquarium.

I am for some reason mesmerized by the hippos. They are so much larger than I imagined and their eyes are almost human. And just a note, Sharyn took all of these pictures as my camera battery died.

My little daredevil pixie was actually quite anxious about the entire aquarium. She spent the entire day either being held or in the stroller. She would not stand or walk and she would only let you get within 3 feet of any tank. She loves fish. "Fishy" was one of her first words and she was excited at times to see the fish, but as long as she was at a safe distance.

Benjamin on the other hand was possibly at the most perfect age/stage to visit the aquarium. He watched the fish with such interest and delight. I think he could have spent much longer at each exhibit just observing every little thing and pointing out the things he knew and asking about the things he didn't know.

Look at those creepy hippo eyes!

















I absolutely love and cherish these pictures of Benjamin. Really capturing his personality and interest. And the ones where you can see his reflection in the glass........just beyond precious!!!




There are several exhibits where you can interact with the fish and feel them. This is the stingray exhibit and if you put your finger in the water they will swim by and brush against your fingers! There was also an exhibit to pet a shark and one to pet starfish, sea cucumbers, and anemones.









After the aquarium everyone came back to our house for pizza and a birthday cake for Ben and a birthday pie for Claudio.

One of Ben's favorite gifts was this stuffed kagaroo (with a little joey in its pouch) that he got from his aunt and uncle and cousins. He has been toting it around with him.