Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Newest Family Member and a Bad Dog Mom Confession

Introducing Kyra (pronounced K ear rah).

Before this new addition, our family consisted of Q, me, the three girls, two dogs (Ally - 14 1/2 and Suki - 9 1/2), and four cats (Jasmine - 13, Misty - 12, Kit Kat - 11, Snickers - 11).  We have a full house, but Ally is a golden retriever and I've always said that I wanted to get a puppy well before it was her time to go.  I was still planning on waiting until December (after a trip) to get a new dog and I wasn't planning on such a young puppy.  However, a friend was caring for a stray that had puppies that needed homes fairly quickly and so Q agreed to up our schedule.  

Kyra is quite smart.  Today is day three at our house and she's already learned her name and is taking really well to crate training.  She has got a great temperament and is great around her new siblings, both human and feline.  My two dogs haven't been that friendly.  Ally avoids her and gets up and moves whenever the puppy comes near her.  Suki isn't that bad, but after spending even a little time with Kyra, she will get up and start loving on Ally, licking her face and nuzzling her.  It is still early in their relationship so we'll see.    I picked up Kyra from my friend's house and took her straight to the vet to be checked out before I brought her home.  She was 3 pounds almost exactly (the runt by far of the litter) and has a heart murmur and intestinal parasites.   They were going to run more tests on the fecal sample, but I don't know when I'll get that info back.  

My friend told me the mother was a rott mix, but the vet says she is a shepherd mix and the puppy is a shepherd boxer mix.  Here is the picture I have of her mom. 
Like my Ally and Suki, Kyra has a white spot on her chest and that just makes me happy.  We call Suki's her floppy dog spot because if you scratch her white spot, she relaxes all her muscles completely and becomes floppy.  

Darth Baby and Kyra have fallen hard for each other and they never seem to be more than 3 feet apart unless Kyra is in her crate.  You'll notice that Darth Baby will even ditch her favorite stuffed animal Pooh Bear for the puppy.  Darth Baby also likes to strip her clothing and shoes off at the first opportunity.  I don't let the girls go outside unless they have shoes on and because she doesn't want to not be able to go out with me when I take Kyra out to potty, Darth Baby's shoes no longer voluntarily come off.  The first thing she did this morning was to yell for 'Ally', which is what she is calling Kyra.  When she found her, she immediately started yelling, "Shoe! Shoe!"  We even caught her stark naked with just her shoes on shortly after returning to the house after mass this morning.

The nerdlet and the bear cub also seem really pleased with her, though the bear cub is a little jealous and comes to Q and I to get more hugs when Kyra is near us.  She has said 'Kyra' which is a hugedeal because she is still mostly non-verbal.

On the confession side, Ally has always had an issue with hair loss.  When my mom was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, we joked that that Ally must have gotten it from her grandma.  Over the past couple of years, she has lost more and more hair and more and more weight.  This has coincided with slowing down, too.  I assumed it was old age and didn't much worry about it.  This past week she got some sores on her head and I was worried that she was hurting herself, so I took her in.  The sores turned out to be pressure spots, similar to bed sores, from where she leans against the sliding glass door, but that isn't what this is about.  When they weighed her I was shocked, she was under 40 pounds (at her heaviest she was 78 pounds and ideally around 65).  Her bones stick out and I assumed that it was because of the arthritis and age;  I had no idea that she had lost that much weight.  The techs treated me like I was intentionally starving her and I don't blame them, but if anything I have been feeding her more than I ever had, in both dog food and human snacks.  The vet told me that it was obvious that she has a metabolic disorder.  They are doing a chemical work up to see what is going on, but I feel just horrible.  I left the vet and burst into tears when I started the car and bawled the whole way home.  I've doubled her food intake (giving her the same amount in the morning and evening, adding two additional meals, and giving her daily snacks) and I should hear the results this coming week.  

On the plus side, I had asked for some pain meds for her on the bad days where she has a hard time moving around or is acting grouchy with Suki.  The vet prescribed Rimadyl and gave her one there.  When we arrived home, Ally leaped out of the van.  Ally stopped taking stairs before Darth Baby was born and I've been lifting her in and out of the van since we got it.  Talk about a great pain killer.  I think I'll be giving it to her in halves because I'm afraid she'll actually hurt herself.  

I'm not going to post a current picture of Ally because I'm truly ashamed at what she looks like now, but I have a picture of her when I first got Jasmine and she mothered her, giving her tongue baths and carrying her around in her mouth like she was her puppy that I found recently.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

One of my fellow mommies of a child with Ds posted a recipe for a pizza crust made of cauliflower.  My niece is super picky and loves pizza so I thought that maybe I would use this to get her to eat something without a hassle during her weekly visit.  I also was super curious about how you could possibly make something like cauliflower into a pizza crust.

First, I took a fresh head of cauliflower and shoved as much of it as I could into my microwave vegetable steamer for 5 minutes on full power.  This resulted in fully cooked cauliflower that wasn't mushy at all.  I put that in the food processor and pulsed it until it was uniform and small.  I used 2 cups worth (double the recipe).

 Then I added 2 cups of shredded cheese and 2 eggs and mixed them together in the food processor.  I only had a colby jack mix in the house so that is what I went with.

I spread it in my 14 inch deep dish pan and sprinkled italian seasoning and garlic powder on it and baked it for 15 minutes in my oven that was preheated to 450 degrees.

This is what is looked like when it came out.  It actually looks pretty solid.

I spread pizza sauce on the crust and sprinkled cheese and toppings.  Because my niece is super picky, this is what I went with, but when I make this in the future, it will have a lot more toppings.
 I put it back in the oven at 450 degrees until the cheese was melted and bubbly.  I might try and leave it a little longer next time.

The verdict?  It smells great and all four of the little girls here loved it.  The drama princess, my niece, told me that I could make it for her every week when she visits.  Darth Baby ate two servings.  I think it was a little weird for me but edible.  The crust wasn't a real crust and was more like squished together couscous in texture and taste, but it held together on a fork even if you couldn't lift it and eat it like a pizza.  Considering the difference in healthiness I will definitely be making it for them again (even if not the once a week requested.

A picture of the happy four at the zoo this morning.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Starting School Followup

One of the first things you realize when you have a child with Down syndrome, is that the Ds isn't a big deal.  Your child will laugh, cry, sleep, love, learn, grow, and do everything else than all children do.  What is the big deal about having a child with Ds?  Other people and their prejudices are the real issue.  They are the so-called friends and family that don't realize that a person with Ds is a person and deserves to be treated like any other person.  They are the people who use the 'r' word and refuse to put themselves in the shoes of those they are maligning and put a stop to that hate language claiming that they can use any word they wish and that other people are being just too sensitive and all those same arguments you would hear a member of the KKK use to defend their use of the 'n' word. They are the people in the school system that believe that your child doesn't deserve to learn and be educated with other children.

I've said that I was going to post about the bear cub starting school, but I kept putting it off.  Her actual month-and-a-half of school was great and helped her a lot, but the getting to that point was enormously stressful and I thought that writing about it would bring it all back to mind so I've been avoiding it a little.  I had written about the somewhat painful meetings with the school prior to the evaluation here.

The bear cub with her daddy at the time of her evaluation waiting to schedule her first eye surgery.

The evaluation was interesting.  We went in to the district office and they again didn't have any notice that I was going to be there, but they gave me a name tag anyway and called the therapists who apparently did know I was coming.  The therapist came and I was holding the bear cub's hand so that she would not dawdle or run off.  They asked me if she could walk unassisted.  I have a friend who said she would have been offended already, but I understand that this is a reasonable question since a lot of our kids aren't walking well at three and they also deal with a lot of disabilities and not just Ds.  I let go of our hand and the bear cub kept the speed and walked all the way down the long hall without getting distracted.  When we entered the testing room, they immediately went to work on her.  One of the therapists started testing her while the speech therapist asked me questions about her abilities.  The bear surprised me immensely by showing off.  She showed that she knew things that we hadn't even worked on like opposites and matching.  She stacked the blocks high like she did it all the time (at home she would stack maybe three before pushing them down).  She also used a lot of signs like asking them to dance and then getting up to do so.  She also didn't have an accident and went potty on the little one that they had there (at that point she was just getting to the point of being fairly consistent and I was a little worried about this).  She also came and hugged me around the neck from behind when moving around.  After about an hour of working with them, she was done.  She signed 'all done', hid her head behind a book case, and wouldn't look the therapists in the eyes.  The therapist finished with the questions and we left and I actually felt pretty pleased with how it went.

I tried to contact them two weeks later and the receptionist would not even considering putting me through and told me that they would contact me.  I verified that they had my cell number and that they would call me there.  The next day they apparently called the message number (Q's mostly unused cell number) that I specifically told them not to use and left a message telling me that the eval was done and that they would email it to me.  I didn't listen to this message until later and I never received an email from them.  After another week I called our home school and the phones were all down.  Later that same day, I got a phone call from the speech therapist and special needs coordinator for our home school, Valerie (possibly not her actual name).  Valerie told me that she was calling to remind me of the IEP meeting that I supposedly agreed to the next week.  I explained that I knew nothing of this meeting and that I hadn't even received the evaluation report.  She told me that she would call me back.  She called me back in less than an hour and told me that she had a copy of the evaluation report and would make me one and she could email it to me or I could pick it up at the school.  I told her that I would be more than happy to pick it up and that I was taking the girls to the park and would do so on the way.  She told me to call her in the parking lot and that she would bring it to me so that I wouldn't have to unload the girls.  This amazing woman came to the parking lot and asked to meet my girls and was so nice about it all.  She even asked about having the nerdlet diagnosed (she may have shown a few spectrum type symptoms to her when Valerie tried to talk to her).

The bear cub and her sisters playing around the time of this conversation.

I read through the review while the girls played at the park.  The report was full of errors.  It referred to the bear cub by the name Julia at one point (that isn't her name).  At other points it referred to her as a he.  Throughout the entire report, it was filled with descriptions of a child or children that were clearly not my bear cub.  For example, it said that she was antisocial, violent, prone to fits, and didn't sleep well, none of which is true for the bear cub.  I showed the report to one of  the bear cub's therapists and she stated that it didn't look like any of it was right and joked that for once, it would be the school system that looked like idiots instead of the parents.  I considered using it as leverage for getting her what she needed since they couldn't argue on the basis of a completely untrue report, but when Valerie called me again to make sure that everything was set and asked if I needed anything else, I decided to mention it.  She said she would call the district and let them know and have the report changed.  The district speech therapist called me to ask me what the errors I found were, and I was busy and not feeling particularly inclined to help her, I mentioned a few of the errors and told her that I didn't have it in front of me but that the whole thing needed revision.  She stated that she would do so and email it to me, but again I received nothing.  I actually received the revised document from the bear cub's teacher the day before the meeting and most everything had been changed and was mostly correct.

The IEP meeting went well and I was fairly please with the goals and how they were to be addressed, though with only a short time before school let out, we wouldn't see any measurement of these goals.  Also, the teacher of her class that I liked retired when school let out so next year might be a whole different ball game. I did get a dirty look from my home school's principal when I pulled out the recorder, but I told her that I was under the impression that recording these meetings was standard and they scrambled to find the 8-track recorder so that they could record the meeting also (I exaggerate a little, but the cassette recorder they used was likely the first version and was for sale simultaneously with the 8 track recorders I think).  I was talked out of the school I wanted the bear cub to go to, but mostly because Michelle (actual name), the coordinator for that school, seemed completely uninterested in having anything to do with the bear cub and practically scoffed at my concern to keep her potty trained and not back in diapers.

The bear cub's first school bus ride.

School went well for her.  She brought some new pathogen home from school to enjoy and share with her sister each week and pretty consistently missed Tuesdays due to either diarrhea or fever.  She also seemed to have an accident each week at school.  When I confronted the teachers about this, they explained that because she needed a special potty that it had to be kept in the handicapped bathroom and about once a week it was occupied and they had to wait resulting in an accident.  Since this did not result in more accidents at home, I didn't really worry about it.  The only other big thing that I didn't care for was that they could only have a backwards facing car seat one way because the school bus used going the other way didn't have the seats far enough apart to accommodate the backwards facing seat.  I did like that they had a dedicated assistant (the lady in the picture above) that strapped the bear cub into the car seat and sat with her each day.  

I have the option of having therapy services over the summer through our insurance.  The school won't provide summer school or services until the bear cub shows significant lapsing so she's not getting anything through them this summer.  I've decided to take the summer off in regards to therapy.  I have had appointments two or more times a week pretty much since she was born and I've decided to give all of us a break.  I'm a little worried about the stress of school when it resumes in the fall, but I'm trying not to dwell on it for the time being.
The bear cub a few days ago.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ottobre 4/2010-19 Again

Just sharing the pictures of the nerdlet in her new outfit, which was much easier to get on her than I thought.  She is still wearing it an hour plus later while she moves around, which is a great sign.  I thought she'd be demanding to be changed into a dress right away.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ottobre 4/2010-19

The nerdlet likes to wear dresses.  She pretty much has refused to put anything else except a bathing suit on since she could point and grunt.  When I received my first set of back issues of the Ottobre magazine, the nerdlet asked me to make her a jumper.  It was pink and I thought she was asking for it because of that, but when we went fabric shopping, she pointed to a burnt orange and asked for the jumper in that color.  I've made it first in this black linen print because I didn't want to mess up the orange.  I'm sort of regretting this because this is a complicated pattern.  Not that it was difficult to make, but there are a LOT of intricate steps.  I sort of love it and sort of dread making it again.

My first time shirring.  It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, though I did think it would shirr and stretch more than it does.  I'm also worried about it bothering the nerdlet's skin.

The front.  There are eight pleats at the top, a second button placket, and four pleats on each pocket.  The pocket bows are much more complicated than I feel is necessary for a four-year-old.  And the pockets are gathered to shape before being sewn down.  I don't think that you can really see any of those details in the picture, but I think it looks kind of impressive in person.

The back is shirred at the bodice and the legs are shirred all around.  

I'll try to get pictures of the nerdlet in it tomorrow if she's actually willing to put it on.  I may offer to put it on the bear cub first so that she'll volunteer and be eager to wear it.

X-large Bib

Last June I experimented with the free bib patterns out there because Darth Baby spit up all the time and was always soaked in baby puke.  None of them were quite right so I ended up making my own.  I know it was a good pattern because people would take them when I left Darth Baby at the gym wearing one.  I mean really, who would still a bib unless it was just fantastic, right? When I visited my aunt this past November, I left a couple with her for my cousin's granddaughter.  When we went to El Paso again a few weeks ago, my aunt asked me to make her some more since she has outgrown the previous set (which were probably newborn to 6 month size).  I tried to get my cousin's son to send me the baby's chest measurements, but he just told me she was wearing 24 months, which the bear cub wears, but the bear cub still can wear the first set of bibs, so it wasn't really helpful.  I ended up having to guess.

This is what the finished bib looks like:
I was going to make more, but I've decided to wait until she tries them on before making more because they seem kind of big to me.  The one on the right I made slightly smaller by taking 1/4 inch off each side of each sleeve and by changing the angle of the cut of the sleeve of the towel.

The pattern I drew out to start.  Basically the sleeve is a trapezoid with the long ends curved out.  I tried to make the picture clear enough that you can see the inch measurements if your interested.

Because I didn't have measurements, I made it long enough to fit four sleeves on the 42 inch length of fabric.

 Cut the hand towel in two.

 I was thinking to use 12 inches in length, but the towel was 15 so I went with it so I wouldn't have to sew bias tape all the way around.  The half towel is folded over in the picture.  It's easy to fudge this.  Cut a rounded curve for the neckline and line as a slant for the sleeve with just a curve at the end.

 Sew both right sides to the top edge of the sleeve cut of the towel so that when they are pressed, the right sides show on both the inside and outside of the bib.

Sew bias tape around the sleeve area.

Sew the sleeve shut by tacking the corner to the bottom of the sleeve.

Sew the tie to the neckline.

I used 30 inches for the tie across.  I start by sewing in the middle and going outward twice.

When I mail, I tend to just turn boxes inside out.  By the way, these potatoes are delicious.

The finished package ready for me to label and ship.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Burda 06-2011-111 Last Take for now

Four pairs of shorts made today, three of which will definitely get heavy rotation.  The last may get use if I'm out of laundry or lose some weight.
Take 4 has larger darts and a dipped front and ended up too small.  I love the fabric, but there is no stretch and so slightly uncomfortable for now.

Take 5 is back to being a straight size 48 that has been lengthened.  Very comfortable and will get heavy wear.

Take 6 has a dipped front.  Snug and comfy, though my mother might make comments about it being too fitted.  The fabric is a very thin stretch denim that is this blue on one side and the tan below on the other.  I'm not sure which is the right and wrong side, but I liked both.  I got it off the discount table at Hancock's.

Take 7 also has a dipped front and is from the same fabric as above.  I made the waistband from the other side, but I'm sort of glad that no one will see it since I'm not sure I like it as much as I thought I would when I did it.  These last two pairs went much faster since I decided to skip the pockets after all, weighing the need for shorts over the need for pockets.

Tomorrow, I work on a pattern for a larger size bib of this version for my cousin's granddaughter.

Burda 06-2011-111 Take 5

Back to the pattern used for take 3.  Can you tell that Q took the girls to my mom's for the weekend?  I love that Q has a good relationship with his in-laws so that I can have a weekend off every now and then.  I'm debating over spitting takes 6 and 7 out quickly or trying another shorts pattern.  This is a medium weight, non-stretch denim with tiny multi-colored sequins randomly sewn on in a meandering pattern.  These are my favorite pair yet, though I don't think you can see the glory of these shorts in the picture.

Burda 06-2011-111 Take 4

Too many changes to a pattern that works already wasn't really the best idea.  I took the four darts in 1/4 inch on each side for a total of 2 inches out of the waist, cut the an inch off the center front seam, and added 3 1/2 inches to the length (this is after grading them up to a size 48).  The original shorts are uber comfortable but are too short and they ride a little and gape in the back.  The new shorts fit great in the back, but are tight and bunch in the front and because of this, the pocket gapes open.  They are wearable but not really that comfortable.  I think they may fit great if I were to lose at least five pounds, but as I'm not the best at losing weight, I think I may return to the original pattern for the time being.

Anyway, on to the pictures.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Burda 06-2011-111 Take 3

You may get tired of posts on this particular pattern, but I love these Burda shorts and I'm in severe need of more shorts.  I currently have the two versions of this pattern than I made this year, a ratty pair that I've worn through all three pregnancies that really needs to be retired and a pair of Thai fisherman shorts that I made to wear during the pregnancies that really are too big and I have pinned smaller.  The first pair of these shorts I made with this pattern I feel are too short and my mom and aunt are embarrassed to be around me in.  I lengthened the second pair and will for all future pairs.

These are made out of a deep, rich blue-green corduroy that I had started to make a dress out of but found that I didn't care for the style of the dress, so I butchered the dress to make these shorts.  The pictures are poor so I don't know how much you can see.  I actually added the pockets this time, but took the one out on the side with the zipper because at the curve of my hip, the pocket was opening wide and I had used a highly contrasting quilting cotton for the pockets.

I plan on making at least four more pairs of shorts.  I drew the pattern out again this time changing a few things.  I made the shorts 3 1/2 inches longer, the darts all 1/2 inch bigger (1/4 inch on each side for a total of 2 inches out of the waist, and cut the an inch off the center front seam.  I'm a little worries about the center front seam change as my intention isn't to have it dip in the front, but have less ease in front.  I'll be making the next pair fairly soon so we'll see how my changes pan out.  I'm a little worried about over fitting because truthfully, I love these shorts already and even the really short first pair I made is super comfortable.  I figure I'll make a pair and if it doesn't work go back to the original pattern.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ottobre 4/2001-1 part 2

The shirt was made for the bear cub, but my nerdlet believes anything that I make should be hers.  When I tried to coax the bear cub into trying it on, the nerdlet was right there offering to let me try it on her.

I asked her if it was a bit warm and she said no and that they were perfect for pajamas for her.  It looks like it fits her pretty well, but it was difficult to get over the nerdlet's rather large head  and she had a hard time getting her arms in and out, but neither one of those issues should be a problem for the bear cub.  The shirt has got to be one of the easiest shirts to make so if I need a quick three quarter sleeve shirt for any of the girls in the near future I might go with this one.  Also, I ordered a bunch of FOE so I'm excited to have more to play with.