Friday, July 29, 2011

A Confession

I have a confession to make.  I'm obsessed with a doll.  It's true.  And not just any doll, and not really a specific doll; a type of doll.  The Waldorf doll.  

The basic premise behind the Waldorf doll is that it's a simple, soft body doll with very basic features.  It's typically made with natural materials (think: no synthetics, typically a cotton body with a wool stuffing and generally hair made of mohair.)  It is intentionally simple in style to encourage imaginative play.  I am a big, big fan of some imaginative play.  Please do not be confused - my children have an abundance of crappy, plastic, Wal Mart toys.  However, time and again, their favorite things to do are play Legos, paint, color, draw, Play Doh, "make movies", play outside, swim, or read books.  All imaginative activities that require almost no toys.  (So I guess another post could be "Why we spend money on a bunch of garbage my kids don't play with".)  I also think this is one of the reasons my boys are so smart - they use their imaginations every single day, and are encouraged to do so.  They would rather make paper angry birds and "play" angry birds with the things they've created then to play the video game.  That makes my heart happy.  Back to my doll. . . 

Apparently I'm not the only person obsessed with these dolls, because they are expensive!  Do you know my friend KJ?  She gets obsessed with things too.  She was obsessed with a Bamboletta Doll for her sweet little girl Paisley.  I'm quite certain I probably sent her a text telling her she was I.N.S.A.N.E. for her lust for the doll.  She should probably text me today and rub that in, because I am so in her shoes.  KJ got P her dolly, and she is absolutely adorable.  I don't even want to know what she paid for that doll.  I'm going to try to make one.  (Stop rolling your eyes.)

There is something about a handmade gift that cannot be replaced.  My mother knows this well.  She made David and Henry each a "Gigi blanket".  And they are probably my boys' favorite possessions.  And I'm sure one will come for Jack.  She likely did not anticipate needing to make so many blankets in such a short period of time when she started that lovely gift idea. . . My mother is much more adept at sewing than I, so if I can't figure out the doll I suspect Gigi will come through.

I really want to be able to give our sweet girl one of these cute dollies to play with.  Which means I better get started, because if she's going to play with it before she turns ten I will need to get on it. . . 


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wilbarger Brushing Protocol

We have started a new regime with David, as a part of his occupational therapy.  We are doing the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol.  The WBP is a very specific technique of brushings using a therapeutic brush or a surgical brush, like the ones in the photo.  We brush David's arms, back, and legs then do joint compressions on his shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees.  We do this regime daily, starting when he wakes up and continuing every 90 minutes - 2 hours until he goes to bed.  I know - my first thought too was that's a whole lot of brushing.  Like, on the same schedule as nursing a baby, brushing.  It takes I would estimate less than 3 minutes from start to finish each time we do it.  On days he has a birthday party, baseball game, or something else that is unusually stimulating or exciting we will brush immediately before and immediately after the event.  

The benefits?  Oh. My. Goodness.  Seriously ya'll, we noticed a difference in his behavior almost immediately.  He has been a better listener, more calm, more obedient, more respectful, and in great control of himself.  I want to brush all of my children.  And I may or may not want to brush my husband sometimes if I could get those results. . .   The Wilbarger protocol is designed to reduce sensory defensiveness, or David's wild reactions to things when he's having too much sensory overload.  I would like to equate it to the feeling that every adult I know gets when you go to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.  That tight chest, I hate my life right now, these kids are driving me insane, my head is going to explode feeling.  Um, I would like to be brushed at that point.  

It is amazing to me that you can physically see David's reaction to the brushing.  It takes 10-15 minutes for the body to benefit from the stimuli provided by the brushing, and it lasts about 90 minutes.  When he's having a bad day, we'll do more.  The hope is that, after a period of time, we will be able to decrease our frequency of "brushing", and eventually likely eliminate it entirely but David will at that point not need it anymore.

We are so, so fortunate to have found Dana, our occupational therapist.  She had David have such a lovely relationship, and she really has been able to tap into what is most helpful for David.  We will not do the brushing at school initially, but will brush before and after.  We had a great meeting with David's new teacher, the principal, vice principal, and special education department head for our school district on Tuesday.  Chris and I are both very satisfied with the meeting, and have at this point decided not to do anything through the school.  We discussed some things that worked in his classroom last year, and his new teacher is very open to doing things in the classroom to help if David needs accommodations, as opposed to doing some sort of pull-out services.  We just really don't feel like he needs that, and want to keep things as non-intrusive for him as possible.  If we get to the point where we need a 504 or IEP, we will roll with it at that point.  However, we felt very satisfied and comfortable with the support team that he has available, and I think he's going to have a great school year.  

And all of the professionals at that meeting kept talking about how great they thought it was that we had independently sought out help for David, that he had speech therapy and OT, that I did research, and said that it sounded like I had taken a class on all of D's diagnoses.  Um, do most parents suck?  I do not feel like we've done anything above and beyond.  We have taken the steps we felt necessary to get available treatments and therapies for our child to make sure we are setting him up for success in the future.  Why is that exceptional parenting now?!  That's called being responsible parents - I would have been so embarrassed if we went to that meeting and they asked us what we had done to help D and the answer was nothing.  He is our child, not the school's child.  It is our responsibility to make sure his medical needs are addressed.  And, let's be honest here people, if we ignored the issues with David we would have been divorced a long time ago.  Parenting a child with special needs is not easy a lot of the time, and if we just ignored the things that were going on we would have been in a world of hurt.  I am so thankful that Chris and I have, thus far, always been on the same page about what we want to do for David to help him and afford him every opportunity to thrive.  We are very hopeful for this school year and excited to see everything he can do in his new, more academically challenging environment!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jennifer's Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes With Dulce de Leche Filling

This is my beautiful friend Jennifer.
Yes, this is what she really looks like.
And she's had two children.

Jennifer is smart, funny, gorgeous (duh) and hard working.
Like, hard working as in put yourself through college while working two jobs and raising two children as a single mother, hardworking.
Like, I want more for my children than I had and I'm going to make sure that happens, hardworking.
Like, bought an adorable house on her own before she graduated from college so her children would have a great place to live, hardworking.  And literally wrapped it up with a bow and gave it to them for Christmas.

She's one of the most positive people I have ever met, sensitive, funny, loyal, empathetic, smart.  And clearly photogenic.  Yes, I will again tell you this is what she really looks like.  And, as if that's not unfair enough, she's a freaking twin! 
(And she's single if you know someone who is NOT A LOSER who would be interested!)
And this is how she normally is. . .

Jennifer graduated from college in May, and her birthday was last week.
Her cupcake request for each celebration was Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes.
At first I thought she was crazy. 
Now?  Brilliant.
They're the perfect combination of spicy and sweet.
With a surprise in the middle!

Image via

For the cake:

  • 1 box (18.25 oz.) Devil’s Food cake mix or favorite chocolate cake mix
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon New Mexico red chile powder
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
Pour the dry cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the cinnamon, chile powder, salt, pepper, and flour. Add the water, oil, and eggs and mix with an electric mixer at low speed until moistened. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350 for 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.

For the Dulce de Leche Filling:
  • 1 cup of high quality caramel ice cream topping
Using a spoon, knife, or small scoop, remove a small portion of the top center of each cupcake. Spoon caramel sauce (the thickerthe better) into this center part of the cupcake.

For the Icing:
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add the brown sugar (make sure you use fresh, soft brown sugar or else the cream will come out grainy), mixing until the cream is thick enough to pipe on top of cupcakes. Stir in the cayenne. Spoon cream into a large pastry bag (or ziploc bag), then pipe it on top of cupcakes, over the caramel filling. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate and red chili peppers for garnish.

Note:  These are not as spicy as you think they will be.  You control the spice with the level of red chili flakes you use for garnish.  They are not as difficult as you think they will be to make either - really a pretty quick, fancy cupcake.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What a Week

We have had a busy week!  I thought that summer was supposed to be relaxed and slow?  Um, notsomuch.

Here's a little recap of our week in review:

Sunday:  Seriously?  I don't even remember.  I think we stayed home because we were so sunburned, tired, and grumpy from our big boat adventure the day before. 

Monday:  The boys first day of camp at Camp Widjiwagan.  This camp is absolutely amazing.  I want to go there.  The facility is incredible.  It's immaculate, impecably groomed grounds, and beautifully constructed.  They have swimming, boating, horseback riding, crafts, every sport you can imagine.  The boys are so fortunate to be able to attend.  And it's a YMCA camp, so there's some God business snuck in there too, and my boys don't even notice.  It is also all outside - every minute of it, rain or 114 degree heat index shine, which was the weather on Monday.  I asked the boys if the heat bothered them.  David said, "Well, I just really tried to ignore the sun and I was fine."  Henry said, "IGNORE the sun?  Are you kidding me?  I thought I was going to meet the baby Jesus.  You're lucky I didn't."  Their bus drops them at 4:45, and I don't get out of work until 5.  They had to wait for me until 5:30.  In the blazing sun, outside, sitting on the sidewalk with a counselor.  My parents graciously offered to pick them up at their bus location after that, and I quickly took them up on it.

Tuesday:  More Camp Widji.  I love that they're going to this camp, but it's a lot of driving for me.  I'm trying not to be a whiner about it, but my gas budget has been screaming!  We have to be out the door by 6:40, I drive them 45 minutes to the bus in Smyrna.  Then drive 20 minutes from their bus back in the opposite direction to my office.  At the end of the day I drive 20 minutes back to Smyrna to pick them up, then 45 minutes home.  We've been getting home at close to 7:00, so they basically have to bathe and go to bed.  I also had lunch with my sweet friend Brandi Tuesday.  She's so much fun, and we always laugh our way through lunch.  I also had to go to Kinko's to copy some fundraising stuff for our adoption fundraiser

Wednesday:  Camp Widji, day three.  Aaaand, a trip to the Social Security Office for me during lunch at work.  I have putting this trip off for literally almost a year.  That is entirely ridiculous.  I somehow managed to lose all of the social security cards for everyone in our family but David.  The only thing I can think of is that I had them in an envelope and brought them all to a school registration or something, and then mistakenly threw the envelope away.  Chris and I need them to get our passports, and I had put it off long enough.  I just knew my wait would take forever.  Um no.  There was not one single other person there.  I also dropped some fundraiser information off for my friend Nicole who is running on our Run for Katie team.  After work I went to Nashville to snuggle two sweet newborns.  My boss and his wife had this sweet little muffin on Tuesday, and I want to keep him!

He was the most precious little snuggle bug.  He smelled delicious and made the best little noises.  And I just love his parents so much.  We had a great time just chatting, laughing, and snuggling their little MJ.  My sweet friend Kelly had a baby on Monday, and was at the hospital about a block from MJ.  I snuck down to see pretty little Ava Rose for a few minutes too.  I didn't get any pictures of her, but she is absolutely beautiful.  I didn't get home until 10:00 that night, but it was so worth it to see those sweet babies.

Thursday:  We had a pretty quiet day, just camp and work.  I found someone to do the psychological evaluations Chris and I have to have.  The first place I called said they would cost between $900 and $1,200.  PER PERSON.  Um, no thank you.  A psychologist we refer people to at my office is going to do it for considerably less that that.  I pickup up our pre-evaluation packages for us to complete.  Chris whined about filling out 15 pages of information, and I pointed out to him that I've completed all of our paperwork so far.  I estimate that to put me approximately 476 pages of paperwork ahead of him. 

Friday:  Chris' turn at the Social Security Office!  With Jack!  And, a full waiting room.  Oops.  He said Jack kept the entire waiting room entertained with his tales of Yoda and trips to "WalMarks", and his karate demonstrations.  Chris then got to take that fun bus to the pediatrician's office to have them look at Jack's "bumpies".  What the hell - they're viral warts.  WARTS PEOPLE!  That is so nasty.  He gave us a prescription to try but told us that it might not work and that they will eventually go away on their own, but that they can take up to two years for that to happen.  I can assure you this child will not have WARTS for two years.  I'll have those suckers removed if I have to.  David and Henry spent the night with my parents after camp.  I called to see how camp was and David said, "Great.  Can I sleep here for two nights?"  He clearly misses me.  I also stopped on my way home from work to pick up some yard sale stuff that friends had cleaned out for me to sell in our adoption yard sale next month.  We have the best friends!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Boat Boys

We had an amazing day on the boat with my parents yesterday.  They've recently gotten a new (to them) pontoon boat, and I admit I was skeptical at first.  You know, because old people have pontoon boats.  Well I must be 70, because I loved it.  It is perfect for us.  They're last boat was great, but not the best for the boys.  The pontoon boat is p.e.r.f.e.c.t. 

Everyone got a turn behind the wheel.

Everyone, for the most part, followed Grampy's directions.

We did a lot of jumping, cannon balls, and swimming.

We stopped at an island and played.
We decided next time we will bring the ingredients for S'mores, 
because there is a little grill we could use.

We all got tired.

But not quite this tired.

I mean, that's tired.
He slept on the boat for two hours.

Needless to say, we all slept well last night.

Off to camp for David and Henry!

Farmer's Market Fruit Cobbler

Can you say delicious??  We got the fruit for this cobbler at the farmer's market yesterday morning.  It doesn't get much better than this folks.  I used peaches and blueberries, but you could easily substitute pretty much any fresh fruit or berry combo.  And I'm pretty sure this is the first time I used these ramekins since I got them. . . as a wedding gift eight years ago.  At least the first time I've used them for their actual real purpose. (I'm linking to Sweet As Sugar's link for sweet recipes!)


For the fruit:

  • 2 pounds firm, ripe peaches (6 to 8 peaches)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint) [I doubled this, FYI.]

For the crumble:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.
For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it's in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles in the refrigerator and bake before dinner.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Next on the Remodel List

What's up next on the remodel list?  The guest room.  This room will eventually be our new girl's room, assuming all goes as planned with our adoption.  I chose a Martha Stewart paint from Home Depot.  I love Martha, and her colors are all delicious. 

You may note this color is different from the choices I told you about here.  Oops.  I changed my mind.  And you would know that if you went into the bedroom. . . there are eight samples painted on the walls!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Urn't You In Love?!

I am obsessed with urns.  OBSESSED.  I look at every house I drive past to see if they have urns and, if they do, what they have in them.  I think they look so classic and pretty.  I snagged some old, old concrete urns from the farm at my in-laws' house, and they're beautiful.  They're on our patio right now.

My sweet mother-in-law also gave me this planter.  Right now it's full of a tomato plant that is a bit of an experiment for us, and a flower that David planted from a seed he got at Boy Scouts in the spring.  He's very proud to see it has actually grown!  In the fall I will plant some marigolds in it, and in the winter I'll do some small evergreen.

I was thrilled to get these old urns, but I really wanted two that matched for my front porch.  I've moved the planters we had by the back door to the steps of our porch on the front of the house.  I'm pretty sure this porch is one of my absolute favorite parts of our house.

I wanted some big matching urns for the front porch to put out when it's too cold to leave my palms out anymore.  Have you ever priced urns?  They are ridiculously expensive.  I really didn't care if they were concrete or plastic, and planned to search for some at yard sales.  Thanks to the internet, I found some at Kmart.  Yes folks, Kmart.  I love the blog 320 Sycamore, and she posted several weeks ago about the urns she found at Kmart.  I sort of forgot about them, but headed in last week to check it out.  Oh. My. Goodness.  They are great!  They're the perfect shape, and come in two sizes.  I bought a large set and a small set.  The large will go on the front porch, the small by the back door.  I've already got my small set out.  

Aren't they great?  I love them!  And guess how much they cost. . . the small size was $6.49 each.  I'm going to get some of the smaller size for inside I love them so much.  I'm also thinking about getting another larger set for inside at Christmas to put some of my trees in.  The large size?  $11.49.  Eleven dollars people!  If it chips?  Not a problem - spray paint it.  I realize I have a slight obsession with these, but I am in love with some plastic urns.

Something else I'm in love with?  How much our flowers and plants have grown this summer.  It is amazing what some water and plant food will do.  It makes me so happy to sit on my porch with all of our plants or sit on the patio and see them.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Blog!

I have a new blog.  I will still absolutely be posting on TRH of BC, but please visit me at The Simpson Six and sign up as a follower so you can follow our adventure to bring this little sweet face home to join our family.