Tag Archives: love

Our San Diego Zoo Trip in Photos! #travel

I’m a blogger writer, so on this blog I tend to use words to tell my story and photos to back it up. I figured I would let the photos take the lead this time…

Here is our trip to the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, CA from #lpaSD2014! We had an awesome time and think that if you’re looking at going to this zoo, you should try to hit it up more than one day! It’s a lot of zoo!

#travel #tiger #sandiegozoo #california #sandiego #travel #aisforadelaide

 

#aisforadelaide #travel #sandiego #california #sandiegozoo #elephants #giraphs

 

#Aisforadelaide #travel #hippolife #sandiego #sandiegozoo #zoo #california

 

#aisforadelaide #travel #california #sandiego #sandiegozoo #zoo

 

 

#aisforadelaide #tiger #travel #sandiego #sandiegozoo #zoo #california

 

 

#aisforadelaide #sandiegozoo #zoo #travel #california #family

 

 

#aisforadelaide #gorilla #sandiego #sandiegozoo #zoo #travel #california

 

 

#aisforadelaide #lion #travel #sandiegozoo #sandiego #zoo #california

 

 

#aisforadelaide #nursingmother #sandiego #sandiegozoo #zoo #travel #california

 

 

#aisforadelaide #sandiego #sandiegozoo #momandchild #travel #aisforadelaide

 

 

#aisforadelaide #sandiegozoo #sandiego #travel #naptime

 

 

#aisforadelaide #sandiegozoo #travel #hippo #hippolife #california

 

That was our day! Have you ever been to the San Diego Zoo?

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Filed under Reviews, Travel

Damn it.

I love all the posts about Facebook and social media in general where we are reminded that what people post are just a glimpse into their day. The perfection we see, even the vacation pictures, one after another, where everyone is smiling… those are just a few. There are surely 100 others of grumpy faces, naptimes avoided, drinks spilled, sand eating, falls. You name it.

But what we share are only the best things. Right?

#aisforadelaide #SOMEDAYS #mostdays #parenting #love

Not for us. Of course there are bad days- medically speaking, and recently an integral part of our team, Addie’s PT left for another position and I’m really frustrated, but there are other times throughout our generally awesome days that suck. You know what happens when I drop a glass and it breaks on the floor? I say, “damn it!”

In fact, this happened, then a few days later Addie tapped a key and deleted my work. Another time she drew all over my leg with a marker and then in a library book with a pen she got from my checkbook (yes, I still balance a checkbook). After each assault on our otherwise awesome days, I came out with a “damn it.” Even under my breath, I knew she’d heard. “Darn it,” I would quickly correct myself.

But there she was. As she grabbed for my keyboard, I said, “NO, thank you,” and she spits back at me, “Damn it.”

Clear as day.

Hooray! I’d done it. I’d taught her one of the things I actually hate about myself. My language. It’s colorful, shall  we say. And as the weeks have passed, we’ve worked more on “darn it” (for both of us), as well as just calming down about situations in general. A broken glass isn’t really a big deal, marker happens, Ctrl+Z can undo whatever you just did- including un-deleting what your toddler has just unwritten!

All of this really struck me as it reminded me of an awesome post my friend Wendy wrote HERE about hugging and not yelling. We can’t erase what we’ve done in the past, but we can certainly move forward. I myself am a yeller. Dave is calm, level-headed, and a problem solver. I am reactive and while I usually find my way, it’s easier for me to scream into a pillow before evaluating any situation- my counterpart does not explode, even into a pillow, and sometimes we just confuse each other. But when it comes to our children and how we want to interact with them and each other, we both agree that I need to find some zen and, in turn, perhaps he’ll find a fire under him in some situations.

Parenting is learning something new every day. #aisforadelaide #parenting #huggingnotyelling

So where are we now?

Well, gosh darn it, I can tell you that there are a lot more hugs around here. Between Dave and I and more peppered throughout the day for Addie, too. I love hugging on her, but there are days that I find myself in such frustration, that we both end up yelling at each other. I have found myself looking up from whatever I am doing (cleaning, setting up, cooking, working) seeing her face and realizing she  just wants me. As I hold my hands out, she rushes into my arms and nestles her head into my neck. Her little voice purrs “I love you” and leaves little kisses on me… we’re both immediately calm. I love that moment- feeling anger and frustration physically leaving my body. Hugging her to get a result of calming the storm instead of yelling, creating a bigger storm and then ending in tears (both of us) and inevitably a hug to calm down. Going right for the hug has been the best move.

I feel like a better parent, damn  it!

Taking time out to be a better mom for my family #aisforadelaide #huggingnotyelling

So, are all parenting moments perfect? Surely not. We have tears and nos and pushing (Addie not us!) and falls. There are days where we’re tired, nights where we’re wired, and everything in between. The moments we don’t share, but we embrace, cringe and learn from are becoming different for us. There are more times of saying “OH NO!” when something unexpected happens- there are discussions about solving issues, help cleaning, and hugs after. Taking the time to not only teach our children, but ourselves, better coping skills, is such an important part of growing up- something we’re never done doing, I suppose.

Hug it Out #aisforadelaide #parenting #hugitout

So here’s a glimpse into our life- the not-so-pretty and certainly non-worthy of a Facebook status update, glimpse.

How have you grown with your children? Have you thought about hugging and not yelling? What did you accidentally teach your child?

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Sleep in Luxury at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego #travel

We went to Dan Diego for the LPA National this year, and though it’s only our second National Conference, like last year, I was blown away by the fantastic hotel that was chosen as the main site. The Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego offered many comforts in the rooms, wonderful on-site food, is within walking distance to all-things awesome, and has gorgeous views from both towers (where guest rooms are located)!

When we pulled up to the hotel, it was about 1am. Eight of us unloaded from a shuttle service we’d all taken for a nominal fee from the airport located just a few miles away. Immediately men were there to take our bags and help us to the front desk where I checked in and asked a bunch of questions pertaining to our reservation. Because we were staying there under the conference rate (unbeatable) and when I’d first booked the night of July 4th was full, I ended up needing to make 2 different reservations to get the dates we wanted. Though understandable, I was bummed to learn that we would have to switch rooms the next day, but not to worry about that- we could stay in the room as long as was necessary to get our other room ready- a HUGE relief when you’re talking toddler, luggage and pregnant mama.

#aisforadelaide #hyatt #sandiego #travel #california #sleep

The beds were, clearly, very comfortable!

We started out in the Harbor Tower, getting to our room, searching through our suitcases stuffed with rolled up clothes until we found our PJs and toothbrushes, then passed out in the comfy bed. I was happy that although it was the 4th of July and there was a lot of celebrating going on, I didn’t hear it through the walls. We were able to get a great night’s sleep, and thanks to the time change and a nap on the plane, we were up pretty early!

We wandered out to get breakfast at  Café 222 (I’ll tell you all about that in another post) and then we headed back to the hotel… on our way stopping at an awesome playground and community garden to swing, walk, and talk about outdoor gardening all-year long! It was SO cool to just happen upon a superbly clean (not even a cigarette butt or graffiti in sight) city play area with such a beautiful garden and maintained path.

#aisforadelaide #sandiego #travel #communitygarden #hyatt #manchestergrandhotel

When we got back to the hotel from our breakfast and walk, we packed up anything that had been unpacked, checked out the view and then got a call that my parents had arrived! Addie was just ready for a nap, so Dave went to meet them and collect their luggage  until their room was ready- awesomely, by the time he got down to the lobby, their room was already ready (3 hours before check-in time!) and he helped them get to their room and settle in before he headed out for some snacks.

When he returned, we moved into the room where we would stay for the remainder of our time with the help of a bellhop and a sleeping toddler perched on my shoulder. This time our room was in the other tower, the Seaport Tower, on the 29th floor. Because we had to switch rooms, they actually gave us a higher floor (better view) without asking! The rooms were almost identical, with the biggest difference being that the bathroom layout was a bit different making the door open as you would expect, where the first room it slid open (which was really cool!).

#aisforadelaide #travel #sandiego #manchestergrandhyatt #hotelviews

We had a room with 2 double beds, thinking Addie would be in her own bed, but because she’s two, she ended up in our bed most nights- which made me wish we’d gotten a king, but the beds were comfy and we made it work! The table by the window was great for sitting and looking out over the city and I loved that we had a comfy chair so that I could sit and read while Addie napped (everyone made use of that chair for the same reason!). We also could relax in the room with the single-serve coffee and teas they provided which were actually good! The desk in the room was perfect for getting the work done that I could without WiFi, which was only free in the lobby, and the large TV in the room got PBS- making everyone happy when the adults wanted an extra 10 minutes of prep time and the Miss wanted to go, go, go on an adventure (from the Cat in the Hat theme song!).

#aisforadelaide #manchestergranhyatt #travel #hotelreview #sandiego #toddlerlife

The biggest drawback of the room was the fridge that was not only really small, but didn’t get cold enough to hold anything that could spoil. At conferences, we like to bring or buy food while we are there to save money on eating out, but not having refrigeration made that hard. Being able to rent a microwave for the room, however, is pretty awesome! The sink in the bathroom also seemed really high- and I’m tall. While the look is clean and modern (which I love), it’s not easy to actually use (I stood on my toes to wash my face over the sink without spilling water everywhere).

Finally, the pool! While we didn’t make it to the pool designated for adults only, we did get to spend some time at the 4th floor pool, which was beautiful! We walked right out from the elevators, to the deck, which is easily accessible from either tower and grabbed as many towels as we needed (no need to steal them from your room!), parked ourselves on some chairs near the steps and enjoyed playing the friends, splashing and sipping water. There is deck-service, which is awesome, for anyone who wants to order something to eat or drink right from their chair! Addie and Dave spent a lot of time in the pool- with Addie playing on the steps and jumping in from the side with the other kids. Me? I lounged my big, pregnant belly in the sun for a dose of vitamin D and a nap! The chairs were so comfortable, I would have stayed there had Dave not reminded me we needed to get dinner before Addie’s bedtime!

#aisforadelaide #travel #sandiego #pool #luxurytravel #hotelreview #manchestergrandhyatt #hyatt

We really loved the hotel and all the grandeur it offered while still being affordable (at the conference rate for us), but wish the lobby had been a bit more conducive to meeting people. Last year at the conference the hotel lobby was built in more of a compact and circular feel, with the lounge closer and lobby seating closer together, as well as the hotel restaurants close-by. This made it easier for people to connect and bump into each other. With the lobby being planned in more of a rectangle with the bar at one end and a café at the other, and minimal seating, it was hard to bump into people- although easy to find a place to meet up if you planned it.

The Manchester Grand Hyatt made staying in the city such a luxury- close to good food and meet up spots like the The Seaport Village and within walking distance to the Gaslamp Quarter and convention center- this is the place you want to stay, whether business or pleasure, on your next trip to San Diego!

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My Good Life and How I Fuel It!

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When I wake up in the morning, I always look to my nightstand where I leave a list of what needs to be done. It’s usually long and lists times, if necessary, but what’s it’s usually lacking is a place for breakfast.

#aisforadelaide #todolist #shop #MyGoodLife #CollectiveBias #cbias

…it’s been especially hard here with Addie not feeling well and having some pain eating solid foods. Naturally, Dave worries about us, but even more so, he worries about my eating and taking care of myself- especially while pregnant. To help both Addie and myself, Dave went on a mission to find some simple solutions for his ladies.

#aisforadelaide #addieanddaddy #shop #cbias #collectivebias #MyGoodLife

A very concerned daddy!

To fuel our mornings, we need quick, easy and transportable and in the breakfast aisle of Walmart Dave found just want he wanted… an easy to mix breakfast shake that I wouldn’t fight him to drink.

#aisforadelaide #cbias #shop #collectivebias #MyGoodLife Shopping at Walmart to Fuel My Mornings

I LOVE milk, but need more than a glass to sustain me until lunch. Nestle Carnation® Breakfast Essentials™ packets are something I come back to again and again. When I was pregnant with Addie, they served as an afternoon snack at work, and now they are what make breakfast so simple for me. In fact, this is the first whole week in my entire pregnancy that I’ve had breakfast with enough calories and complete nutrition. Seriously… 32 weeks today and I’ve finally accomplished breakfast on a routine basis. Go me!

#aisforadelaide #shop #cbias #CollectiveBias #MyGoodLife Fuel Your Morning with Nestle and Carnation Instant Breakfast


I feel like I had the opportunity to have breakfast because Addie has been under-the-weather and so we’re not rushing to her usual classes… but this also leaves us home all day and my sweet lady still not able to eat like her usual self- leaving her little ribs looking rather exposed. Knowing this, Dave and I have gotten really creative with just getting calories in her, but we don’t want to load her up with junk. What we came up with comes from the same family as my breakfast solution: Nesquick®. While Addie has never had any special milk flavoring (just plain, organic 2%), the need to get more calories in her with some vitamins took over, and as I mixed her a cup and we started our day (with lots of appointments), she gladly took it!

While we won’t use Nesquick a lot, it is nice to have knowing there are a few upcoming procedures she will be going through and some of them will render her hopeless in terms of feeding. Milk is the way we usually go to get energy in our sweet girl to just keep her going through the days of recovery. I am so thankful to have found something to help us boost her vitamin intake in  a tasty way!

It’s hard to get up and take care of everything that needs to get done in 24 hours for the house, your kids and family, while remembering yourself, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day! I try to remember that I am not just helping my family thrive by giving them the best nutrition, but by taking care of me  I am setting a good example, too.

Thank you to #CollectiveBias for helping us make breakfast a regular meal in this house again! This is #MyGoodLife… what’s yours?

#aisforadelaide #MyGoodLife #CollectiveBias #shop Fueling my Family's Morning

How do you make sure that you have breakfast every morning while still getting out of the house on time?

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Celebrating 5 Years with my Creative Card Ideas…

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#aisforadelaide #valuecards #shop #martinkadelux #woodanniversary

The past few weeks have been full of life in all it’s glory, pertaining to everything except my sweet husband and myself. I’ve been feeling a bit better, coming down from the non-stop action, daydreaming about the pending arrival of our second daughter and making plans for upcoming medical events for Addie. But then, as we were doing a little family shopping at Walmart, I walked down the card aisle and remembered: our 5 year wedding anniversary is Saturday!

Walmart Card Aisle #collectivebias #shop #valucards #cbias #aisforadelaide

Let that sink in.

Five years ago I woke up to 4 1/2 inches of rain falling from the hot summer sky, staring out into my parents’ backyard as my wedding arch was being drenched and the yard flooded. A few hours later my bridesmaids and I were on our way in my mom’s minivan to the reception-turned-ceremony location for our nuptials. Just as I turned and walked down the aisle, I noticed the rain had cleared. Roads were closed, the wedding started about an hour later than expected, our antique car ride to the party was canceled and things were going a bit off-plan, but there he was, waiting for me at the end of my white path strewn with petals.

#collectivebias #cbias #valuecards #shop #aisforadelaide Creatively Celebrating 5 Wonderful Years

What I saw as I walked to my future <3

So as I stood in the card aisle, checking out the selection of Hallmark cards (the new Value Cards are priced at 47¢ and 97¢!), my toddler being playfully chased by this amazing dude-turned husband-turned daddy, I chose cards I thought showed my love and our playful relationship. For me, cards mean more than gifts- the words we choose to use with those we love can sometimes be spit out from our mouths before we can really think about them, but for me, writing is such an outlet. Hallmark always gives me the perfect start to what I want to say- with awesome graphics and quality card stock!

#aisforadelaide #shop #collectivebias #cbias #valuecards Hallmark's Value Cards at Walmart

There was a beautiful selection of cards, but mostly, at the point where we are in life, it’s more than just an anniversary- it’s the friendship we’ve cultivated. A marriage of trusting one another to make the right decisions in places where the other person is practically blind. For me, I have to trust our finances to Dave, and for me, everything related to Addie’s health is relayed through me to him. Our marriage amazes me because for years, I was not a trusting person… Dave brings out the best in me and for that reason, there isn’t a gift to convey how much these past 5 years have meant, but plenty of things I could say.

Perfect for any day to show your love Hallmark #ValueCards #aisforadelaide #shop #collectiveBias #Cbias #love

I chose 5 different cards to write in- one for each year of marriage. In each one I wrote something about that year of our life together- where we were, what we were doing, any memorable trips (year one we went camping then 6 months after the wedding on our honeymoon, while I was pregnant with Addie we spent Christmas in Florida and went to a wedding in Hawaii, this year we went to Cali…), big projects (hello year one basement renovation!), and so on.

My Hallmark Card Choices to Celebrate 5 Years of Marriage! #aisforadelaide #shop #collectivebias #cbias #valuecards

I am in the midst of saving up to get Dave a fun gift, and I dream of having the kind of lifestyle where I could surprise him with a trip to New Zealand (we both want to g0), but went with a simple, classic offering. The fifth year of marriage is traditionally celebrated with wood, and my friend, who is in the process of adopting three (yes, three) beautiful kids from Ukraine happened to be making family plaques to raise money. There was no more perfect gift for us.

#aisforadelaide #wedding #anniversary #shop #cbias #collectivebias #valuecards Celebrate Love


While there are a million things in this world we want, what we need, as a couple, is to keep the lines of communication open and always remind each other how much we love and appreciate what the other does. Hallmark helps me do this year after year in different life events and celebrations. But besides loving the care put into their cards, my all-time favorite part about buying Hallmark… the Hallmark Rewards program! You can earn rewards for the Hallmark cards you buy at Walmart. For every 5 cards you buy, you’ll earn a reward- I just reached my 5th and got a $5 gift card to one of my favorite stores! Be sure to check out Connections from Hallmark to sign up for Hallmark Rewards, and to see great content from other #CollectiveBias members and bloggers. Join in the #ValueCards conversation on Twitter and check for more card greeting ideas!

Celebrating 5 Years with Creative Crd Ideas #Valuecards #aisforadelaide #shop #weddinganniversary #collectivebias #cbias

Do you have creative card ideas to celebrate your life events?

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All day, overnight and in between… 10 Must-haves

A friend of mine wrote THIS awesome guest post about 10 things you need in your bag when you’re admitted… but what about those all day and overnight stays?

For us, we just went through a morning admission to Hasbro Children’s as Addie underwent her second ear tube placement and adenoid removal. I’d spent the wee hours of the morning working, and knew that I would need to get work done, unless there was an emergency. Being at 30 weeks, I needed comfort, too. So… my child is in surgery and I need to work, be comfortable and somehow not lose it every time she pain cries (because besides breaking my heart, I’m already lactating when I hear a child cry). How does one accomplish this in one bag? First… make the bag big. Check out these other tips:

What's in the bag for overnight hopitals stays with a toddler #aisforadelaide #hospitalbag #toddler

1. Big bag with long shoulder straps
I used a beautiful silver tote we just got from a friend… it fit everything I needed PLUS the wide open top made it easy to rest my wallet just inside- this gave me access to Addie’s insurance cards, my ID, money… all the good stuff I needed to pull out a million times. The long straps means it can fit over my shoulder and the stroller handles, and it has no pockets, either. I just throw it all in and go- no searching in different compartments for what I need.

2. Stroller
Even if you don’t use it for your child- all of your stuff will have a home-base! For me this meant a place for my bag, diaper bag and a place to throw whatever little things I needed to throw down in the basket- like flip flips, or my just-in-case sweater. Having a place where all of your stuff goes is invaluable. It may all get jumbled- but you’ll sort that out later.

3. Extra clothes/Flips flops for you and your child
I always pack a just-in-case sweater… it’s for if I get cold, need to wrap up as a pillow, to swaddle my girl in her darkest moments. It’s for just-in-case. I wear sneakers when we are at the hospital- keeps my feet warm and clean and I don’t have to worry about tripping, but I pack flip flops just in case, too. I may need to get up in the middle of the night, or shower. Whatever the case, I slide them in the bag so they’re there. I also pack clothes so that I can feel fresh- a new t-shirt and underwear can bring more comfort than one can imagine in stressful times… and for the babe, I always make sure to have an easily accessible outfit (nightgown or loose top and pants) so that she can be in her own clothes, but still work with the docs and nurses. Extra clothes also means that if your child gets sick post-surgery, you won’t end up covered in it for the rest of your stay.

4. Your own washcloth, socks, pillow
I bring extra thick socks so I don’t have to wear shoes in the hospital room- SO much more comfortable. If you’re a picky sleeper (I really need to become one), your own pillow is a must at the hospital. And towels can be really scratchy and thin. Although an overnight stay doesn’t warrant a shower in the room (at least not for me- I wait til I’m home), sometimes vomiting after a procedure happens and trying to towel off with their linens is bad enough- not to mention washing your face at night. While I don’t pack a whole towel, I bring a wash cloth (color so they don’t get confused), so I can wash my face and sponge bath Addie comfortably.

5. Snacks and cash
Packing a few favorites that are OK to have post-surgery and need no refrigeration (pudding, applesauce, toddler food pouches) is great for your child, especially when first getting them to eat. For me… some crackers with peanut butter, fruit, and something sweet (chocolate!) are musts. I am thankful we have family close so I can get something more substantial to eat, but to have a few things to nibble on when there is nothing else there is key to keeping my mind, stomach and blood sugars as even as they can be. Cash is king, too. I bring it so I can tip the coffee cart or run to the vending machine if I can’t get away to get myself real sustenance for a long time.

6. Wipes… face, hands, diaper
I love wipes. I use them to clean my face when I’m stuck under a sleeping baby, or too tired to move. Cleaning your skin at night is so important… but so are recovery snuggles. To make sure I don’t skip me while caring for her, I keep a pile of wipes next to our hospital bed. Along with those are diaper wipes, pacifier wipes (those are life savers for when the bink drops to the floor), and Mustela Wipes for Addie’s hands and face- these are gentle and smell SO good! Sometimes it is hard to get up and do- to rinse in the sink or wash hands. Wipes make it easy to stay clean and fresh without too much movement- especially important for someone coming off of heavy medication.

Inside the bag for an overnight hospital stay for #baby and #mom #aisforaldelaide #hospitalstay #overnightbag

7. Lotion and chapstick (plus essentials)
While I pack our toothbrushes, a hair brush with an extra ponytail holder always on the handle, there are two other things I don’t enter the hospital without. Hospitals are dry. End of story. I always carry lotion of some sort in my diaper bag, but throw in hotel bottles of lotion (thanks to Dave’s business trips) to the hospital bag and keep one next to the bed. Dry hands are the worst, and sometimes Addie likes a back rub… why not give her a little spa treatment while she’s feeling so down? I feel the same way about my lips. My mouth always gets dry, so I keep a balm or stick close by so my lips don’t crack- and for Addie, too. When she’s only on IV and won’t take fluids, I like to keep her lips moisturized, too. We also bring our own…

8. Water bottle
I bring a big 24oz Tervis water bottle with me everywhere. Dave got it for me in San Diego- our one souvenir!- and it’s my favorite. It’s double-walled insulation means that it doesn’t sweat everywhere and make a mess, the lid locks closed and the space means I have more than just one sip of water at a time. Addie’s water bottle is Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie and is great because it keeps fluids chilled, it’s easy to clean no matter where we are, and the straw portion gives her easy access. Knowing that we both have water in our own containers that won’t spill or sweat everywhere is great for us. I love not having to deal with plastic cups (that Addie spills from and create lots of trash) and a plastic pitcher that sweats everywhere makes the night easier… especially with my history of open containers next to my bed.

9. A recovery bag (gift)
Addie has some awesome uncles and auntie in Philadelphia and they sent her (and me) some goodies that we received in the mail the day before surgery. I packed them all up and gave them to her post procedure (with a hospital gift shop Elmo balloon). Picking through the bag and exploring new books gave us something to pass the time and enjoy when we got home, too!

10. 3 items from home
For Addie, I made sure to pack Elmo, her blanket and her [current] favorite book. A few things from home make for comfort and a sense of calm. For Addie, her blanket and Elmo are needed for sleep (and easily washed at home), and reading is one of the things that both capture her attention and put her to sleep. We love that our hospital has lots of great movies for her, but for downtime, books and a bit of home really help us settle in. For me, I bring my phone charger, Day-Timer, and cell phone. The phone and charger are no-brainers, but the planner has numbers, names, schedules, business cards with addresses to Addie’s medical team, and photos of family. This all encompassing book is my life being dragged around and helps me plan anything that we may need to without hesitation- it’s old and ragged, but it’s been  my lifeline for over 10 years and the most important thing I carry.

Though it sounds like a lot, all of this fit right into my bag!

What do you bring on overnight hospital stays?

This post is not sponsored!

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Highlights… better than when we were kids!

In exchange for a blog post, we received multiple issues of Highlights magazine. All opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources.

Years ago, I was a Highlights kid. I circled all the differences between pictures, stuck stickers to everything insight, enjoyed reading articles with content designed just for me, and loved doing puzzle after puzzle of different mediums (I’ve always enjoyed word puzzles more than any!)… so naturally, as an adult, I am drawn to the brand again.

When Addie was under a year, I ordered her a subscription to Hello! Highlights magazine for the youngest of babes, from 0-2. They’re awesome- AND impossible to tear. We’ve collected them all to share with Millie!

#aisforadelaide #HighlightsHello #HighlightsMagazine #shop

I was so enamored with how much Addie loves getting her own mail and magazines, that I contacted Highlights to learn more about High Five!, their magazine printed up just for toddlers ages 2-6! I was delighted to get a few free copies so I could share them with Addie… who I knew would love them- I didn’t anticipate how much, however.

On a rainy day, we pulled  out the issues we were sent to try and Addie got right to work.

#Aisforadelaide #shop #highlights ##highlightsmagazine #highfive #highlightshighfive

What strikes you first is the beautiful, full size magazine itself. The covers are all beautiful illustrated and just like mine- with some of the feature articles on the inside. Addie felt pretty cool with her own mag.

#aisforadelaide #shop #highlights #highlightsmagazine #highlightshighfive #jointhefun

She loved reading the short stories, identifying hidden images and actions,  but became engrossed in the Read Aloud in English and Spanish section. The stories are really vivid, and offer lines in Spanish- which Addie repeats often and usually in context (she speaks more Spanish than I do now!), which integrate well into the story. Not only is she using another language, but she’s learning to identify different objects and emotions in Spanish.

#aisforadelaide #spanish #highlights #highlightsmagazine #shop #highlightshighfive

Each magazine is also packed with puzzles (“That’s Silly”, a find it game) and step-by-step images (with captions) showing different activities, like sitting crisscross applesauce, crouch, jump and jog (like a frog!), action rhyming with movement- different each month! And our favorite, a recipe or craft at the end!

#aisforaldeiade #HighlightsHighFive #shop #highlightsmagazine That's Silly

A super cool one we want to make for Daddy is a painted paintbrush! Taking a plain paintbrush with a wooden handle, you turn it into a colorful, polka-dot brush, perfect for spreading sauce over your favorite BBQ! Or in our April issue, where we learned how to make our own play-dough. And in May, we made some delicious Crunchy, Nutty Muffins- perfect because the ingredients were so basic- we already had them on hand, and it was simple for Addie to help me measure and mix! These mags are perfect because they offer SO much in each issue that we can come back to them time and time again and learn something new- plus, Addie loves to try and find things by herself and tell me stories about the pictures each time she revisits!

#aisforadelaide #highlightsmagazine #highfive #learning #toddlers

Addie helping me make Crunchy Nut Muffins- a Highlights High Five recipe!

I am so excited to order Addie her own yearly subscription so the fun can last all year- and every time we pull out the magazines! From rainy day activity, to a magazine to read during quiet times that will surely be needed after Millie’s arrival, High Five! is the perfect addition to our mailbox as a special treat for Miss A!

Also on my radar? Some NEW projects to be released for all ages! Highlights is working on releasing something for us parents, as well as a new magazine series sure to excite… don’t worry- I’ll share more info soon!

What’s your favorite memory of Highlights? Mine is the doctor’s offices that carried them so I could read a magazine in the waiting room, just like my parents!

 

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Keep Pushing

I was unable to find anyone who recorded (or even took a picture!) of the LPA Speakers’ Night, but I wanted to share my piece with you. I plan on recording me speaking it, but wanted to share it with you (written) in the meantime. So, without further stalling, here is my LPA Speakers’ Night Piece entitled: Keep Pushing.

#lpaSD2014 #LPA Speakers Night

As I embark upon the birth of my second child, I find the title of my piece ironic.

Keep pushing.

While that’s not my birthing mantra- that one is just breathe- Keep pushing is my mission in life.

Letting ourselves be defined by anything, even things that are so apparent, like our gender, sexual preference, race or disability is no way to live. It’s no way I will let myself or my children live, so why do other people expect me to allow such behaviors from them?

The answer is simple. The answer points a finger. The answer stings. The answer is me.

People treat others as they are allowed to. Sad? Pathetic? Lame? You bet. But it’s the truth. We love to take advantage of life- be lazy where we can be. We often, as humans, forget the implications of our language.

We let people call us homo, fat, crazy, midget, whore. Because as a culture stopping these things is too “politically correct”. We fear that we are being “too sensitive”, we aren’t raising tough kids, or we ourselves do not have thick skin.

“Good luck this time!”
“Good for you- trying again.”
“Sucks you didn’t know before she was born.”
“Is there anything they can do for her when she’s older to make her taller?”

Fellow humans have said these things to me. Why does the world view dwarfism as something to be cured, rather than embraced as a difference?

We don’t want to question what others say. We give up our right to know about ourselves when we don’t ask the hard questions.

“I don’t know.”
“We will learn together.”
“Let’s come back to that.”
“This is my first one.”

Doctors have said these things to me. Why is the education about dwarfism so slim that many medical professionals fear the diagnosis of dwarfism- offering patients little education and less options.

My mantra, Keep pushing. For respect, for knowledge.

Do you see it yet? Do you feel the need to push?

There is change that can be made. There is change that needs to be made. There are generations coming up behind you and me, behind the children being born today and the children following them. There are millions of people yet to be born, and thousands will have a form of dwarfism.

But they will not be dwarfs.

They will be painters and doctors. They will be writers and scientists. They will be political leaders and dreamers and veterinarians. Those born with a form of dwarfism will love and be loved. They will change lives and shape the world for future generations. The way we need to now.

There is a need to define ourselves by what we want as a community and let the masses, not the few, lead the way. Television shows that pigeonhole this community, media misconceptions, movies and comedians are things of the past when we push- and keep pushing- to be defined not as little people, but as people. Height doesn’t make someone smart, or happy, or better than. Average height just makes you average.

Be spectacular regardless. Keep pushing.

When a doctor tells me they do not know, I ask, “how will you find the answer?” When I am given news about a health concern and then that same medical professional attempts to leave the room, I ask for further explanation. I ask what our course of action is. I ask what their medical opinion and experience are. What is the timeline. How do we proceed? I push to know more. I push to make them answer. To make them accountable for their diagnosis. I refuse to let Google do my doctoring. I refuse to leave not knowing.

Too many parents email me with the same story. It goes like this: The doctors told me my baby would be a dwarf. They gave me a packet of papers and told me to make appointments for these things. They told me to be prepared, but not for what.

More often than not, I offer my telephone number. I spend hours each week calming mothers-to-be and new parents. Not giving medical advice, but offering an ear and listening to questions that are left unanswered. Unanswered concerns from a doctor who left their patients with a handout and maybe a few people to call.

This is not OK. This is not how patients should be treated. Dwarfism is not unknown. Specialists exist!

In my hours on the phone I’ve looked up local hospitals with clinics, referred many to our own team in Delaware, and always given out the LPA’s website. Hours spent giving the same basic information that needs to be readily available to all patients with a diagnosis of dwarfism. Support, love and most importantly, knowledge.

Keep pushing.

Keep pushing so that when someone sees a person of short stature they smile, the same smile they offer any other human on the street. Why? Because a person of short stature is any other human.

Keep pushing to make changes, because if there is such an uprising about a professional football team name change, then there should be a change across the nation of high school sports teams named The Midgets. Because other people do not decide what offends you. Because other people don’t control our emotions. Because being sensitive, caring, respectful people is what defines a civilized culture. That is what humanity means. Because even doctors need to learn something new every day. Because bedside manner isn’t dead (and neither is chivalry, if you were wondering).

There isn’t a facet of our culture that doesn’t need advocacy from our community, so be that voice. Never stop pushing because it doesn’t bother you anymore, or because you think one person can’t make a difference. One voice. One community. One change at a time.

Keep pushing because letting ourselves be defined by anything, even things that are so apparent, like our gender, sexual preference, race or disability is no way to live. It’s no way I will let myself or my children live, and I won’t being defined by anyone but myself.

 

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Filed under Achondroplasia, Community, Educate/Adovocate/Make Change

Marvelous Monday

So much to say about what’s been going on, but I keep reflecting on our wonderful experience in California.

If you followed my social media pages, you may have noticed #lpaSD2014 making it’s way around with pictures, quotes, and events… all leading to the LPA National Conference in San Diego. It was amazing.

It is also something that we could not have participated in without the help and support of our parents and my aunt and uncle. Both my parents and Dave’s helped us get there (via flyer miles, rewards, food, and accommodations). I am also extremely grateful for my dearest, who works his tail off at work and then each weekend doing repairs to save up for the cost of eating away from home (yes, a BLT in San Diego is $10!). But it is more than the money. It’s the understanding. My mother-in-law was initially going to come with us (she will be attending workshops with us in Boston in 2017!), but decided that it was just too much for her… however, she still supported us going, which means the world to our family. San Diego is an awesome vacation spot, but the conference, the LPA organization and the knowledge and friendships we gain each year are invaluable to us.

#Aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 #family #friends #dwarfism

Addie was blessed this year with a gift from a family who lost their child to a rare(r) form of dwarfism with a Lifetime Membership to Little People of America, and we could not be more thankful. Knowing  that Addie will always have access to the best advocacy, community and medical advice, even after Dave and I are not here to guide her, eases my heart. There are so many lesser known facets to the LPA organization that I hope she explores- including scholarships and a deep-rooted community- that having this membership offers her access to all this and so much more- forever! #aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 #LPANationalConference #SanDiego

With that, the opportunity to go to as many regional (local) and national events as we can gives us all opportunity to learn, play, educate and be educated. Last year, I was a part of a panel that focused on social media and how we present ourselves as a community, and this year I spoke about why I keep pushing (advocating) for more education and awareness. Dave got to learn about different home adaptations and how he can make our house more comfortable for Addie without making it difficult for us. Even the grandparents got to go to some workshops and learn a bit more about what it’s like to grow up as someone with dwarfism, the things they can help Addie with, and just take part in the community.

#aisforadelaide #lpaSD2014 #expo #travel #sandiego

All-in-all… this was an amazing experience. Made that much better by our trip a few hours north to see my Aunt Donna and Uncle Ted. While I am forever grateful to the LPA and being able to experience national events, being able to see my Uncle Ted meant more to me than I can express. My Mom did not find her brother until she was in her 20′s. Adopted at birth, she was able to reconnect years later with a lot of research… and I am so glad she did. My Uncle is amazing- traveling to see us a lot in my youth- and coming to stay with us for much longer than he anticipated, when my Dad passed. We often joke in my family that I was a wild child, but that didn’t really happen until my Dad died. My Uncle saw firsthand how out of control I became and how quickly I down-spiraled. But still, he stayed. Day after day he supported my Mom and did everything he could to help with the daily running of the house, and the big things that my Dad had been too sick to do in his last months of life. Going out to see him, hug him, talk to him and see the spark in his eye was more than I could ask for.

#aisforadelaide #lpasd2014 #family #vacation #travel

He’s sick. I hate that. I hate seeing a man who has rocked the world, serving our country, playing a major role in aerospace development, advancing the programs that offer guide and service dogs to those who need, and most of all being an amazing family man- he’s diminishing in body… but never spirit. I was afraid he would be fragile and was instead surprised to see him, stout as ever, never batting an eye when he needed oxygen or apologizing for needing a break. Quite simply, as Ted has always been, he just is. Maybe that’s where I get my no apologies life-view from… I am who I am, be damned if it upsets you or makes you uncomfortable. And my Aunt Donna, his rock, she’s kind of amazing, too. Her love, support and drive are inspiring. A teacher for years, she set Addie up with all the fun stuff while accepting oxygen deliveries, getting towels for Addie and I to swim, her beaming smile never fading.

#aisforadelaide #family #LPAsd2014 #sandiego #losangeles #travel

There are some days that are really hard. For everyone. I have a family who has taught me, and continues to do so, that there are way more rainbows than rain if we look for them. I am thankful that we got to Cali this summer… for the sun, sand, friendships, education, family.

Have you done a big summer vacation this year? What was your favorite part?

Happy Marvelous Monday, Reader! I hope you have a beautiful week!

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Filed under Community, Marvelous Monday, Travel

On being a special needs parent…

I read THIS yesterday as parent after parent on my Facebook feed shared the article. At the time, I was scanning the web from my phone from beneath my dearest Adelaide, softly crying.

Although I’ve posted a few updates on her, it’s been a whirlwind since we’ve returned from the LPA National Conference in San Diego… we landed late Saturday night, spent the day jet lagged, but as a family, on Sunday, then had an incredibly busy Monday running from Addie’s physical therapy, the OB and chiropractor for me, and fielding calls from 4 different doctors (have I mentioned that when an actual doctor calls, it’s usually not good?). On Tuesday morning I said goodbye to Dave as he headed to work, and he kissed me extra hard. The look in his eye told me what I needed to know; it pained him that I would be going through a surgery without him and he had no words. Neither did I. He carried our still-sleeping girl to the car for me and kissed her face and head as he hesitantly closed the car door.

I didn’t even cry. After she was under sedation, I calmly left the room, my head spinning as I attempted to control my breathing. I gathered our belongings for our overnight stay and meandered around the corner to the waiting room where, after spending  a solid 15 minutes staring at the surgical board, called my mom. Then I tried on one long-sleeve shirt, but then I was wearing too much gray, so I took it off and put on the blue one- it was from the 5k I did a few weeks ago. You’re strong enough for this, Chelley. I sat down and got out my work. I use 3 different spreadsheets to track my work, sponsored posts, links, blog posts and the like. I took out a pen and started to cross things off and move things around. I planned for a few days of recovery where I could do some work, but not a lot. I took out my highlighter and crossed off everything I’d done. I felt grateful that I have the option to push work aside when I need to because Dave takes care of us.

#aisforadelaide #specialneedsparenting #motherhood #specialneeds

So back to the article. It’s a few days post-tubes (second set) and adenoidectomy and Addie was on top of me, where she’s been a lot since her surgery. Perched on my chest, or curled up around my belly inciting kicks from her baby sister, inside. She was running about 100º and shaking, her little body clad in nothing but a Bumgenius diaper, snoring and sweating through my own tank top. Every now and again, she would stir and cry in her slumber. So I read, and I softly cried, too. If you follow along with the article, I cried because:

1. Sometimes lonely doesn’t describe it. Even when I have a moment to connect with friends and family I cannot express the fear I feel. The fact that everyone in the world could be there to hold my hand, and I would still feel like I was standing alone- especially when I am there without Dave. Because when we do have time to talk, I want to talk about Addie every moment and not at all, and not knowing how to process your own emotions is a lonely place to be.

2. Dave and I are a power couple. We aren’t changing the world, but we’re shaping our own. And we have to work at it everyday. We discuss a lot of medical things, we sleep very little large chunks… but we do it all together. Sometimes we snap and bite, but the lines of communication don’t close. Sleep, fancy cars, and, yes, even intimacy can wait… but not forever. We fight for that. For this. For us.

3. Enough said. I can go mama bear in 1.4 seconds flat, however.

4. All the time. This is also due to my losing a brother, young cousin and father before I was 13. But even more so, as we look deeper into Addie’s spine and decompression and blackouts and sleep… I feel relief when she wakes up. I hate that feeling. I just want to wake up and not have my heart leap and stop until I see her ribs expand and contract with the sweet sound of her breath. I hope this fear won’t last forever.

She is #aisforadelaide #strength #courage #laughter

5. Sometimes I know that my voice means less than my body. The length of my reach engulfing her body as she cringes in pain or fear at an appointment. The way she melts into my shoulder or tucks into my chest as they try to take another set of vitals, insert an IV, measure another limb. The way she won’t wear a mask unless I gently place it over her face. There are no words… just the touch of mom. Recently I learned skin-to-skin is important past infancy, as Addie craves feeling my heart beat and holding my necklace. She reaches into my shirt just to feel my skin, and I crave comforting her. Touch is so healing and speaks louder than words. When I ask her if she’s ok and she grabs my face into her own kisses me and settles into my arms. Words seemingly, in that moment, mean nothing.

6. While Addie doesn’t have speech issues, hearing your child come out of sedation like a lion screaming for you or waking in an apnea episode startled wanting only you… those are the times I cherish her communication most.

So, in light of her adenoids being removed, which gives off the most horrible breath, and my heightened sense of smell, her small shaking body, feverish and gripping, the hours we’ve spent in the same position (painful for me)… this is just what we do. And after the hours. The physical ache and mental exhaustion… the moments left in between. There’s still a light inside.

#aisforadelaide #sarifices #parenthood #specialneedsparenting

…been laying here for hours. Wouldn’t trade a minute.

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Filed under Achondroplasia, Educate/Adovocate/Make Change, Parenting/Family/Lifestyle