Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grandma's Cherry Slices

Last weekend, back in Iowa, my dad's side gathered for a family reunion. Melancholy and miles away I've been lost in my thoughts about my childhood, my family, and my late Grandma Pat. So, I decided to try my hand at her signature dessert, cherry slices. Just one bite and if I close my eyes, I'm a kid again.
Grandma Pat's Cherry Slices
1 can cherry pie filling
1 cup butter or oley
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
4 eggs
1 & 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Cream the butter, vanilla, & sugar. Beat well, add eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients and add gradually to the creamed mixture. Beating thoroughly, spread in 11 x 17 jelly roll pan. Pan greased. Reserving 1 & 1/2 cup of batter, spread cherry pie filling within 1 inch of edge of pan. Place the remaining batter over top by small spoonfuls. Bake 45 minutes at 350. When cool, sprinkle top with powdered sugar and cut into bars or you can make a thin powdered sugar frosting and dribble on while warm.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Grosser than Gross & other random stuff

What's grosser than gross? Helena's umbilical cord stump fell off a month ago and I never could find it. Then Mark announced that he discovered it stuck to the bottom of his sock. As best as we can tell, it was stuck either in the baby towel or sleeper that we used. This means, the cord went through the laundry and fell out on the floor a month later. That's pretty gross. What's more gross? I'll probably keep it in her baby book.

I've become quite addicted to blueberry pommegranate juice. Really, it's yummy.

Have you discovered the Redbox? It's a DVD rental vending machine. The movies are good new ones (that I missed in the theater) that rent for $1 a day. You can even reserve them online! I've seen them around but have been leery that it was some sort of credit card scam. So far I've rented "He's Just Not That Into You," which I highly recommend and "Taken." This is another really good one. I can watch them late at night on my computer with head phones on the cheap.

I've got 20 hours of Respite to use by July 1st. Yesterday I was able to do some chores and escape the house. This afternoon Mark and I are catching a matinee of the "Hangover." I'm giddy!

Tomorrow my new and super talented friend Donita is doing a photo shoot with my family. Sophie turns 2 on July 2nd (her golden birthday) and Helena is 6 weeks old, plus I just wanted new shots. Thank you Grandma Betty for the timeless gift! Check out Donita's work here. I'll post up as soon as they are ready. She was my inspiration for the flower shots in the last post, but as you will see, I've got nothing on her.

I'm happy to update that after 6 weeks, Helena is starting to really come to life. I'm still limiting my dairy intake as that seems to help her gas problems as a nursing baby. That and simply growing and her system maturing has helped tremendously. She no longer is in constant pain in her belly. Two nights ago she even slept from midnight till 5am! I'm doing better about putting her in her own bed instead of letting her sleep next to me, which will be better for everyone in the long run. The biggest news is that she's begun smiling at least once a day. We've even heard a few coos. By far and away this child has been the hardest and it has been a shock to the system. This is especially after being spoiled by Miss Sophie who has been a 5 tiered cake comparatively, despite her feeding issues and surgery early on. So, I'm happy to report that Mom and baby are falling madly in love and that she's becoming more alert and gorgeous by the hour.

What else? Sophie's wonderful PT relocated and we are so so very sad to see her go. She has been brilliant with Soph and will be hard to replace. Fortunately, we were able to slip in another PTs schedule and will pick up again without missing a beat in July. Thank you so much Cory for your kindness, patience, skill, and passion for my daughter.

OK, enough stalling. I've got to get back to the laundry. JRS - Out!

Monday, June 22, 2009

To Contemplate a Flower

It started out as an urge to photograph some of the flowers in my own yard after the rain. Quickly I decided I needed more. I stripped the girls down to just onsies as it was a humid 82 degrees already by 10am. We headed out through our lovely neighborhood on a photo walk to feed our inner artists. This is what we saw.
As always, you can click the pics to enlarge.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sea of Red

As Mark was working today, it was up to me to get all 3 kids ready for the press conference (see previous post) with Gov. Quinn on the cuts proposed for Human Services in IL. It just so happened to fall during a previously scheduled developmental therapy (DT) with the amazing Ms. Judy. She stopped by just before we headed out to give me an extra hand. As both Soph and Alexander have colds, and it was over lunch time, her help was a blessing.

We loaded the CRoutan and made it on time, even riding a shuttle from the parking lot to the site. The place was packed with a sea of red supporters. The kids were AWESOME the whole time. Judy was an angel, hanging out with us and our friends Bethany and her son Jeffrey from Sophie's DSC developmental playgroup and his big brother Mark. We had a concrete floor picnic for the oldest kids while the youngest kids rode in style in their strollers. Helena slept through the whole thing. I think the roaring crowd was a bit much for her.

The turnout was amazing and the speakers were great, as usual. This is a wonderful community and I believe we made an impact on the governor. I guess we'll know soon enough as there is a special session next week.

Below should be local tv coverage of the press conference. If the embedded video doesn't work, click here.

Here's a short video of the energized crowd before the press conference started.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday (Park, 3D, Helena is 1 Month Old)

3D glasses from the movie Up (Mark & Alexander give it 2 buttery thumbs Up)

This shot idea is ripped off from RK and Kinlee. Helena gives me this 'what the heck are you doing?' look all the time. And yes, I realize that it is not really a wordless post. Since I'm at it, big news from Jelly Bean is that she heartily took a bottle of milk for me and then another for Mark! Freedom and sweet relief in bottle form for Mama people! So, I guess I'll be doing more pumping and just maybe get out of the house without an appendage from time to time.

See Red Post Updated

(for Google Readers) Updates have been made to the previous post to include details on tomorrow's press conference with Gov. Pat Quinn here.

See Red Then Wear Red (Updated: Press Conference Tomorrow with Gov. Pat Quinn)

If the State of Illinois proceeds with the proposed budget, there will be a 50% reduction in funding to human services. That means 50% of the special needs population will not receive services. I've just spoken to our Respite Services coordinator and as of this moment, my family along with all families receiving Respite services through DSC, will be out of luck there are now ZERO dollars allocated to fund it. Zero, none, the program is gone and if plans continue, many desperately needed staff and services will be gone with the wind.

A press conference will take place tomorrow at 3102 W. Clark in Champaign. Please, please plan to come if you can and wear red. Arrive by 11 to be ready for the 11:30 press conference. Gov. Pat Quinn and DSC CEO Dale Morrissey will be speaking. Then, plan to attend the rally on Saturday. (click the flier to enlarge)



1. Attend the press conference with Gov. Quinn and Dale Morrissey, DSC-CEO on Thursday, June 18th at 11:30, arrive by 11 at 3102 W Clark, Champaign.
2. Attend face to face meetings with legislators: Friday, June 19th at 1:00 –Representative Shane Cultra—Savoy Municipal Building—Tomaras Ave., Savoy Monday, June 22nd at 10:00—Senator Dale Righter—88 Broadway, Mattoon
3. Attend Community Rally on Saturday, June 20th at 11:30. Please send this on to family, friends, and coworkers!
4. Send out our very own DSN flier to all of our friends and family urging them to make phone calls and write letters (email me for a copy in Word)
5. Listen to the radio show Midwatch which airs from 6-8pm on WEFT 90.1 FM following the show Disability Beat that will host Dale Morissey of DSC and Mark Klaus of Charleston Transition Group for an extended conversation about the potential impact of the Human Services Cuts. Call in and have your voice heard!

Please also consider contacting:
Senator Mike Frerichs, 45 E. University Suite 206, Champaign, IL 61820, 217-355-5252,

Representative Naomi Jakobsson, 206 N. Randolph Suite 120, Champaign, IL 61820, 217-373 – 5000,

Representative Chapin Rose, 240-W Stratton Office Building, Springfield, IL 62706, (217) 558-1006, (217)348-7673,

For more information, read the following letter from Dale Morrissey, DSC CEO, below:

Last year, Developmental Services Center (DSC) served over 1,400 children and adults with developmental disabilities and/or delays, despite an 11.65% budget cut in state funding. If the proposed state budget is enacted on July 1st, DSC will experience an additional 50% cut in state funding, resulting in up to $3.9 million dollars. These proposed cuts will be catastrophic for families who rely on daily services for their loved one, and even more so for individuals receiving services that have no family to turn to when the state turns their backs on them.

All DSC services are at risk for either reduction or elimination, which include: Early Intervention, Adult Day Program, Employment Services, Respite, Clinical Support, Home-Based Support and Residential Services including group home and apartment services support. Champaign County’s most vulnerable citizens are now at greater risk of homelessness, vulnerability/victimization and for some, institutionalization.

Individuals with developmental disabilities and their families deserve a state budget that PUTS PEOPLE FIRST! For years, lack of funding has led Illinois to its rank of “51st and Failing”; despite this already gross negligence, Human Services is being targeted again.

DSC has the passion and energy to fight for Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens. We are contacting legislators, media, parents and guardians. We are asking the community to join our campaign. Please join us in these efforts and let our voices be heard! We are a community in crisis and we need your help now, more than ever!

Dale Morrissey
Chief Executive Officer
Developmental Services Center

Sunday, June 14, 2009


On the day she was born, Sophie had surgery to correct her duodenal atresia. That day I began pumping and didn't stop for many months. At 6 weeks old, she finally got the hang of nursing and we said goodbye to the bottle. Unfortunately, she stubbornly refused from that point onward to take a single bottle. My supply was much greater than her demand and it took a while to balance out (plus 2 rounds of mastitis). We ended up with an entire freezer full of milk that she didn't use. After they expired, I made Mark throw it all away as I couldn't bring myself to do it.

As any Lactivist can testify, pumping is work. Yes, the new pumps are wonderful and work quite well. However, it takes time to set up, pump, store, clean, and sterilize. Going to all that work for 9+ months only to have it thrown away is a crying shame.

I've been avoiding the pump so far with Helena. She's 4 weeks old now and feeding is well established, so today I pumped for the first time. aWOosh aWOosh an old familiar sound. Hopefully Helena will take a bottle from her dad or sitter and then perhaps I can catch a break or (gasp) leave the overlord behind to go out once in a while.

Despite feeling like a dairy cow, it is a pretty cool superpower.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Celebrating a Milestone, Silly Sophie Standing

This was shot after feeding Sophie 5 Mt. Dews and a snickers bar. She's almost 2 and I swear, just about ready to take off running! And yes, her favorite word (besides baby) is Daddy.

By watching this, you agree to not notice the toy bomb.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Overlord is Not Amused

I have a 9 lb. 6 oz. overlord. She's demanding, picky, unyielding, and gorgeous. She cannot be rationalized with and she's nocturnal. There have been grumblings of a mutiny among her minions. OK, so maybe that's just coming from me. I've begun to look like Nick Nolte's mugshot.

Still, I've been around the block a few times. I know the drill. And somehow this tiny person has shaken my confidence and I am past weary and confused. It doesn't help that the experts are at odds.

Helena has serious gas issues. Serious. The little one is more often in pain and uncomfortable than not, and its caused by gas in the belly. Lots of gas that has surprised a few people who have held her when her bottom explodes. I know the different positions to hold and burp her. She sleeps with her head elevated. I keep her upright for a while after each feeding. I've given up eating anything that might be somewhat spicy and by suggestion of a lactation consultant - dairy as well.

The experts at the breastfeeding clinic thought she had thrush due to a white spot in her mouth and a touch of diaper rash. Based on this, her ped prescribed Nystatin for baby and Lotrimin for me, even though I had no symptoms. Helena has a great suck - powerful even. But, she loses her seal after a brief time of nursing and I can hear the air she's sucking in. We stop frequently to correct the seal and burp, but I'm sure that's the cause of lots of the gas in her belly. Thrush can cause mouth pain which would have explained her losing her seal and sucking air. We use a nipple shield sometimes, but I don't think that's made a difference on her seal.

However, today her ped gave me a lesson on ph balance in the belly and thousands of years of human development to get the GI tract just right. I heard about the over prescribed meds for infant reflux and resulting polyps in their bellies. He says she doesn't have thrush and to stop the meds. He says that dairy in my diet isn't the cause, nor is my milk causing any problems regardless of what I eat as she's gaining weight quite nicely. He says I'm doing everything right, that he respects the breastfeeding experts, but that I've been given more work to do than I should. He's a great doc, married to another great ped dr. and they have 6 kids. He's no quack.

Bottom line, he says reflux meds are not needed, she's colicy and will outgrow it in weeks or months, Mylicon drops and gripe water is fine if I want to continue to use them, and take her on walks in a baby carrier or drives in the car.

So, I'm back to square one, unsure about the thrush meds and dairy. She's still not sleeping well and prefers to be held upright at ALL times. This is more of a comfort thing than an overlord's demands. She can be in a deep sleep when vertical, but often gets the hiccups or wakes up as soon as she's horizontal.

At least Mark is Superman. We're like 2 single parents in the same home. He's raising the 2 oldest (and feeding me) and I'm at every whim of our tiny overlord. Thank God he's so good at taking care of us all. I hope this faze passes quickly.

Monday, June 1, 2009

(Sexy Red) Van, or Stimulating the Economy

Its official. We're a minivan family. Yes, I know. We've been driving a green minivan for 4 years already. We were in desperate need of a new car as our (Under)Achieva was nearly dead. Mark's parents were getting a new car and offered us their van for a song. As I was working at a non-profit and Mark was in grad school, we were not in the position to be choosy. Still, we were not minivan people, yet.

Helena came home Monday night (5/18) and Mark's parents were up the next day. In an attempt to get them all out of the house so that I could have DT with Sophie on 5/19, I sent the guys car shopping. Just to look. We had just started talking about maybe getting a new car with all of the deals and with the green van nickeling and diming us. By nickel and dime I mean $600-700 for each repair that seemed to happen every few months.

A few hours later, Mark's dad, Mark and Alexander pulled in the driveway with a brand new VW Routan. Its 'sexy' red or 'lipstick' red. It has features that are supposed to make it look sporty. It made me laugh.

We were used to a van that had bucket seats in the middle row and dual air control. It also collected rain water under the hood which would spill in on the passenger side (yes the interior!) as soon as you started driving the van after it rained. The VW did not have bucket seats in the middle row and the air control has something to be desired. However, the price was right. Seriously. The amount they gave us for trade in, ridiculous. 0.0% financing, awesome.

Then there were other features that won me over. It has stow and go seating and the seats are actually comfortable. The back bench can be fully up to seat 3, or you can fold down 2 seats leaving 1 up, or fold down just 1 leaving 2 up. Stow and go is in the middle row as well. The middle row windows roll down and it has a CD player (upgrades from old green). Although it was a bare bones package, it has a lot to offer and I am not willing to upgrade for another $5,000 for bucket seats.

In a deliberate, but surprisingly non-painful act of giving up control (yes, I have control issues) and a leap of faith, I trusted the guys and their negotiation skills. I test drove the CRoutan (yes CRoutan, I mean really, it came with a built in nickname) and said yes. Our choices were silver or pomegranate red. Duh, had to be red. 'Convertible sports car' red. Not 'primary' red. 'Sexy' red. Its a 'I'm in denial that I'm driving a minivan' red. A red that has no earthly business on a MINIVAN! Why? Because it makes me laugh.

This is our first ever brand new vehicle. Its not exactly the kind of new car Mark imagined he'd buy (a Fiero was his dream as a kid). So, bare with me as I embrace our new life as an official minivan party of five.

Goodbye old green. You served us well

He-llo CRoutan!

Especially at night, the van looks like she's smirking an evil grin. She looks mean.
Inside the center of the headlights is small VW
The gear shift is on the dash, which reminds Mark of go carts
Odometer before hitting 100 miles
Back bench with stow and go showing and just Alexanders seat up
Middle row stow and go and girls' new seats

Yes, this is the actual key. The panic button end goes in the key hole. Its all digital and stuff.
Seriously? You made it this far? Well, thanks!