Thursday, December 31, 2009


It's that time of year when we all look back, take stock, make resolutions, and move forward. 2009 had its ups and downs, and overall I feel very lucky in many ways. I am curious about 2010... I have a sense that big changes will be coming.

2009 brought Jenny to her senior year of high school. It's hard to believe that this time next year she will be away at college. Wow. She has been accepted at all three of her top college choices and I think she'll be attending A&M at Corpus Christi to study marine biology. I am so proud of her and the choices she has made. She doesn't drink, do drugs, or stay out late. Jenny and Chris wear promise rings indicating their choice to wait until marriage to take that next, big step in their relationship. She has chosen such a nice, young man in Chris. He is wonderful and treats her with respect.

Anna has had a very good year. Her seizures are more and more infrequent and she's even made it through a few fevers without seizing. She continues to make steady progress in 2nd grade and really responds well to the smaller educational setting offered to her in Resource. She is currently battling anxiety and weight gain (from the Risperdal) and we are making healthier food choices and getting more activity into her daily routine.

This year Dominic started kindergarten. After a rocky start, he has settled nicely into the routine of school though he struggles with impulse control and hyperactivity. He was diagnosed with ADHD in the summer but after a failed attempt with medication and seeing a child psychologist, it is apparent that he is incredibly bright and probably bored. As he gets more challenging material at school, he should settle down some (we hope!).

Curtis and I hit a pretty major rough patch in our marriage but we are working on it, one day at a time. His capacity for love and change is amazing and I hope we can figure things out so that we can both be happy.

2009 brought us Charlie, our Labradoodle donated by Cheyenne Valley Labradoodles. He has turned into such a good dog. He is eight months old now and has completed intermediate dog training. We're going to take a refresher course in January since we took December off and our goal is to have him certified as a service dog for Anna though it may take us another 12-18 months. We don't know yet if he will alert us to Anna's seizures since she hasn't had one since we got him (that is a very good thing!). Here is a picture of Charlie when we first got him and another from around Thanksgiving.

2009 also introduced me to digital scrapbooking and being a creative team member for AnnaBV Designs and By Becca. They are wonderful ladies with whom to work and I've so enjoyed expanding my creativity and love for digital art. I became an Admin at CrumbSnatchers and really became a prolific siggy-maker there. I have so much fun working with other people's pictures and feel very honored to be allowed to little pieces of art with them. I also had the pleasure of doing my very first photo shoot with an adorable 3-month old baby girl. Now that was fun!

I didn't get to retreat this year with my Exceptional Women friends from the iVillage support boards due to financial reasons, but we are all committed to getting together in 2010. I can't wait! We've become so close over the years and it's nice to spend time with other moms who get it.

2010 will be a year of changes. I will be attempting to re-enter the workforce in some capacity... hopefully working with digital photography and Photoshop. I'm taking an Illustrator class in January and I'm studying restoration and retouching techniques. I love love love what I'm doing now and would be thrilled to find a way to earn money doing what I love.

I hope that each of you who reads this reflects back on 2009 with fondness and no regrets, treasure your blessings, learn from your mistakes, forgive, and love. That is what it is all about. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Neuro and endo visits

I first want to start off by giving a big WOOT to Jenny for getting accepted into A&M Corpus Christi as an Undergraduate Environmental Science major in the College of Science and Technology. And she got a second letter just hours later with an acceptance to UT in San Antonio! I am so proud of you, angel!

Last week, Anna had a checkup with her neurologist. Since she takes Risperdal, we have to monitor her prolactin levels and weight since this medication affects both of those. I've also wanted to talk about options for her anxiety. We actually had a prescription filled for Zoloft before she started kindergarten 2 years ago to treat anxiety but within a few weeks of school starting and having an awesome kindergarten teacher, she did not need it. Anxiety has been a constant presence in her life, sometimes manifesting as aggression, sometimes as sadness, and often you will see her rubbing her upper lip, like in this picture when she was just four years old.

Anna has been showing signs of early puberty, so in addition to talking to the neuro about the anxiety, I wanted to talk about the puberty stuff also. We ended up with the nurse practioner even though I specifically asked for the neuro and even rescheduled a prior appointment just to see him. But I was pleasantly surprised... the NP was wonderful. She noticed Anna's anxiety right off and talked about different medication options. A couple of months ago, we went ahead and tried the Zoloft but Anna developed a tic with it... she would blink her eyes shut really tight and do it frequently. This child always has such a weird reaction to medications. So we took her off of it, waited a week, then tried it again. The tic returned. So that med is out. The NP suggested Lexapro so we got that filled last week. When I picked it up, the pharmacist said that since Anna is allergic to Keppra (an antiepileptic drug), she might have an allergic reaction to Lexapro too. But so far, it's going well. It takes 4-6 weeks to build up enough in the system to notice a difference and she is at less than half a dose, so the change may be subtle.

While we were there, I also mentioned the signs I was seeing of puberty in Anna. Having gone through this with Jenny, I was realizing that Anna was about 2 years ahead of where Jenny was. The Risperdal (by the way, this med is for behavior and mood if you don't know, helping with aggression, agitation, and mood swings) can cause prolactin levels to increase which can lead to early breast development. So we've been watching that for a while. Anna's been on Risperdal for over 3.5 years. The NP referred us to see a pediatric endocrinologist who we met yesterday to talk about the early puberty concerns.

The endo was wonderful, I really liked her. I knew that Anna had gained a lot of weight this year but since the neuro's scale is in kilograms, I haven't really been paying attention. I will admit that I have been overeating and making bad food choices in dealing with my marriage problems and that has trickled down to the kids. Sigh. Still, I was SHOCKED to discover that Anna weighed 66 pounds in May and now weighs 92 pounds. She's also shot up several inches. She's at the high end of the chart for both height and weight but the endo was very, very concerned about her weight. The Risperdal causes weight gain. Actually, for Anna, it causes her to be hungry all the time, and all she wants to eat are goldfish crackers, peanut butter, and orange juice. We have to make some drastic diet changes for her and for the whole family beginning immediately. The endo also ordered a bone density scan to see Anna's skeletal age. She suspects that Anna's bone growth will be a couple of years ahead of normal to compensate for the weight gain. That in turn can cause puberty to start early. So Anna got an x-ray of her hand this morning to see how "old" her bones are. The endo also ordered 18 blood tests. Yes, you read that right, 18 tests. It was 10 or 11 vials of blood and of course they couldn't get the vein in the first arm. After several minutes of poking around in there, they got the other arm to work. Anna coped so well until the blood finally started flowing and then she lost it. It was this wailing weeping sound that tore through me... poor baby. The endo is checking her thyroid levels, lipids, blood sugars (she said that Anna was primed for diabetes if we don't get this under control asap), prolactin, and lots of other stuff too. We should have results in about a week or so.

So I am going to register with Weight Watchers online. I made lifetime membership years and years ago (and 50 pounds ago, lol) so I know what I need to do to help her eat better. But I need recipe ideas. This will be such a hard adjustment for her and I feel awful for allowing her weight to creep up so rapidly. She battles so much already!

I almost forgot... I have a funny story from the neuro visit. I had to take Dominic with us which does lead to a more stressful appointment but I really had no choice. The NP was very kind in dealing with our chaos, our noise, Anna's anxiety, and overall disruption. As we were leaving, Dominic started hanging onto the back of my shirt so I pretended to not know where he was. I kept asking Anna, "Where's Dominic? Where did he go?" And Anna kept saying, "Right there, mommy. He's right behind you!" And I would spin around with Dominic still hanging on and hear lots of little giggles. We made it down one hallway and were at the checkout desk and I was still playing this little game with them. We even got the grumpy checkout clerk to laugh because Dominic's laugh was so infectious. The NP had given them lollipops so they were enjoying those while I was attempting to set up the next appointment (oh shoot, I still need to do that!) and while I was doing the "where is Dominic?" game. Just as another family came up behind us (one with a baby, I might add so Anna starts perseverating on will the baby cry while she is pinching me arm and while I've still got Dominic on the back of my shirt), Dominic chokes a little on his laughter and lollipop. I hear Anna say "Uh-oh" and I turn to see that Dominic has barfed all over the floor and the backs of my shoes. Lovely! The family behind us who was a moment ago just beginning to giggle along with us is staring at the pile of puke and is frozen in their tracks. Anna is loudly proclaiming, "Ewww, Dominic puked. Why did he puke, Mommy?" I ask the checkout girl if they have maintenance or housekeeping in the building to call to help (after all, it's a children's specialty center right beside our children's hospital and I'm sure they've had some messes before, right?), and she says no. Can you believe that? So I begin this sojourn of trips to the bathroom to clean up my son, clean up my shoes, and clean up the floor. Everyone just watches me, no one offers to help, and by the time we were finally cleaned up and checked out, I felt like hours had passed. Wouldn't you know that we ended up on the elevator with that same family? Groan. Anway, now I can laugh about it because it was pretty ridiculous.

I'll keep you all posted about Anna's test results and if the Lexapro works for her anxiety. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

November 2009 Siggies Slideshow

Oops, I just realized that it's mid-December and I forgot to show my November siggies!

Ugh, it looks like the png files are showing up with a gray or black background, I'll have to change that! So if some of these look odd, that is why.

Thanks for looking!

Brightest Star of Christmas by AnnaBV Designs

Anna has a new kit out today at ScrapMatters called Brightest Star of Christmas to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. There is a coordinating alpha and free wordart pack too!

Brightest Star

Brightest Star Alpha

Brightest Star Wordart

Brightest Star Bundle

My layout

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Christmas Tree

Things have changed so much since Anna was a baby 8 years ago. During Anna's first Christmas, she was only 9 months old and couldn't crawl yet, but she liked to sit in her exersaucer. Imagine my surprise one day when I found her right next to the tree (still in her exersaucer and quite a way from where I left her!)

She had figured out how to rock the exersaucer back and forth to move it inch by inch and she made her way over to the tree. This was just before she started wearing her glasses so it probably looked like a giant, colorful blob. She also put everything into her mouth so those pesky tree lights were just too tempting. This was the first of many Christmases where we had to watch her like a hawk. By the time she was three, we almost didn't even put up a tree. She would take all the ornaments off, put them in her mouth, throw them on the floor, etc. We tried putting a gate around the tree, we moved all the breakable ornaments to the top, but still it was a battle and almost not worth the hassle.

That was the year I got smart. We got a pre-lit tree (my mom's brilliant idea and MUCH easier to deal with) and I found unbreakable plastic ornaments at Walmart that looked like real glass ones. We bought loads of them and we found plastic hooks too. Safe!!! She could have at it and we didn't have to worry about her hurting herself. I also found some red bows that had twist ties and those added a nice touch. I did feel sad that I couldn't have the tree *I* wanted, but when you have a child with special needs, you find ways to adapt and be happy.

This year, I went back to my artificial tree without lights and lit it myself. There are 1400 white lights! We put breakable ornaments back on the tree this year too. Anna understands the danger now, she doesn't put everything in her mouth anymore, and she appreciates the beauty of the finished tree. She was so helpful in decorating it, as was Dominic. I had to make sure they had an even amount of duties since Mr. Pickle is quite aware of equal shares right now. But they were charming and we really did have a lot of fun.

Here is our Christmas tree for the 2009 holiday season! Since I'm staying with my mom right now, we combined some of our ornaments and some of hers to make a silver, gold, and red tree. I think it turned out beautiful! It is just a magical feeling to plug it in that first time with all the ornaments on and see their faces light up with wonder.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Late start

The holiday season is in full swing but I'm getting quite a late start. We got the tree up yesterday and only had to do two extra runs to Walgreen's for more lights, lol. It only has 1400 lights, that's not too many, right? I'll post pictures after we get the ornaments on it. Dominic was such a little helper. He studied the legend and would tell us what color of tag to look for on the next set of branches (we have a gorgeous artificial tree) and he also helped me with the lights. It was a really nice afternoon yesterday... though I can hardly walk today, I am so sore!

I have not purchased a single gift, nor put together photo books or anything. The kids are only in school this week then they are out until January 5th. I need to do something for the teachers... perhaps a small Target gift card and some homemade brownies. I have sold lots more Christmas cards this year and have been very busy working on those and other things. Life is still in limbo, in transition, in confusion... so blogging (everything) has been difficult. Our marriage counselor will be having a nice Christmas! We've been seeing her quite a bit.

Oh, one other thing I've been working on is Jenny's senior page. Jenny's yearbook offers a full page dedicated to your child (for an outrageous price, of course) so I had to create something myself to submit... I couldn't just turn my photos over to someone else! Oh the horror! Here is what I came up with (image is linked... select All Sizes, then select Large to see it bigger... credits are on Flickr also):

Jenny's Senior Page for Yearbook (8.25x11)

I'll be back tomorrow with some Christmas tree pictures and a story about Anna and Christmases past.

Friday, December 11, 2009

And Then Santa Came by AnnaBV Designs

Just in time for Christmas, AnnaBV Designs has a beautiful new kit out today at ScrapMatters called And Then Santa Came. It has so many adorable elements and is perfect for scrapping Christmas memories of your little ones. There is also a free add-on, and a coordinating alpha, wordart, and quickpages. The whole set is also bundled for even bigger savings!

And Then Santa Came

And Then Santa Came Add-on

And Then Santa Came Wordart

And Then Santa Came Alpha

And Then Santa Came Quickpages

And Then Santa Came Bundle

My Layout

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy 18th Birthday to my little angel!!!

I have to say it is completely surreal to think that my baby girl turns 18 years old today. It has happened so quickly... time is slippery.

When Jenny was born, I sobbed and laughed. She was tiny and perfect. I remember my then MIL telling me how Jenny wrapped her little fingers around her dad's pinky when they were giving Jenny her the first bath in the nursery. I was pretty sick when I was pregnant with her (I had pre-eclampsia) and I got very close to my OB. I remember him coming into my room when he was doing rounds the next morning, very early... maybe 5 am? And he leaned down and whispered next to my ear, "So, do you like her?" And I sleepily looked up at him and cried, "Oh yes!" Then he gave me a tender kiss on the forehead and left. When the nurse came in later, I asked her, "Am I allowed to kiss her?" So silly! I was only 22.

So now my little angel turns 18 today. I could not be more proud of her! She is smart, self-assured, and kind. She loves music, all things book-related and computer-related (lol, see the middle photo below... it started early!), and her wonderful boyfriend, Chris. Oh, and did I mention that she is smart? As a whip! She is one of those rare gems of a daughter, a good girl; one who does not compromise her values to fit in, who does not party or stay out late. She takes care of her little brother, they have such a special bond. She talks to me, really talks. I am so lucky.

I am really looking forward to sharing in the next years of her life and watch her grow into a young adult. It's been an amazing journey so far!

I love you so much, my little angel on earth. Happy Birthday!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

AnnaBV Designs Black Friday sale!

Happy Black Friday everyone! I'm not brave enough to actually go out in public today... really why bother? All the sales are honored online, right? Speaking of online deals, AnnaBV Designs is having a sale at ScrapMatters today and throughout the weekend. She is also releasing a new kit today called "It's Your Big Day," a perfect kit to scrap those birthday photos! It has a coordinating alpha and there other new releases too. Come check it out!

It's Your Big Day

It's Your Big Day Alpha

My Layout

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Though I am going through a difficult time in my personal life, I want to take a moment to express gratitude for all that I have. I am a very lucky person. I have a wonderful mother who loves me unconditionally and would give me anything if she could. I have a father with whom I am coming closer to every day and I am so happy about that. I have three beautiful children whom I adore more than I could ever express. I have a husband who wants what is best for us even though we are separated. I have so many incredible friends who have really stepped up this last week and generously offered me words of encouragement and support... to the point of bringing me to tears. I have many loyal clients, whose photos they give me to turn into little pieces of art and feed my soul. I am grateful for every single person that I know. Thank you for being part of my life.

My mom and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year and she set a beautiful table. I had to share a few photos. I hope each of you feel equally blessed this holiday season.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wishes by Becca

Becca has the most gorgeous new holiday kit out today at Enchanted Studio Scraps called "Wishes." The color palette is so soft and pretty and it has such stunning elements. She also has a matching photo mask set! I scrapped three pages for her and used the wish mask on the second layout. Isn't this so pretty?

My Beautiful Boy

My Wish For You

Christmas Love

Thanks for looking!
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