Wednesday, July 31, 2013

more to love and all that self worth stuff...

*whew, sorry for the unannounced hiatus. the sun literally hasn't stopped shinning in the pacific northwest and we are taking full advantage, storing up on as much vitamin d as possible before we settle in for our infamous cold and rainy winter. by time i scrape the days dirt of the kids and hopefully remember to feed them dinner, i am ready for bed and don't have a ounce of energy to blog.
when i wrote this post in my head the other day it all made a lot more sense. maybe because then it was more like a pep talk about the outfit i had chosen for the day or maybe just because everything always sounds better in my head, ha. either way i felt like i needed to just word spew these feelings out in a post so bear with me on this one...

today a sweet instagram friend mentioned that she was loving seeing more of me in my feed after i posted two selfies in a row. sure chubby baby knees and awkwardly sleeping toddlers are all the rage, but i'll admit i am always no where to be found when it comes to photos. the truth? i have really been struggling with my self esteem as it relates to my appearance a lot lately. ask my husband, he'll tell you all about the fits of rage i have in my closet before settling on the same thing i have worn all week because it is the only think i think i look ok in. i have mentioned several times that post pregnancy i really struggle to shed the weight. thyroid and eating and energy and being lazy play a part but something wasn't clicking physically and my lower areas held on for dear life to that left over pregnancy weight. to this day i am twenty pounds way over anywhere i should be.

i don't buy myself cute clothes because i don't feel worthy of them, or i buy them and they hang in my closet laughing at me, or i put them on to wear them then change into something more predictable while everyone is loading into the car to leave. my current rectangle shape just doesn't look flattering in anything. my hugest issue being that somewhere along the line i got confused about what was more important, being comfortable or desirable. sure, i'll blame blogging and instagram - it makes the most sense. the constant flood of gorgeous, perfectly angled and cropped photos, everyone looks skinny and amazing and i felt less then that. then i remember i have a husband who thinks i am hot, so who am i being desirable for? i needed to get over myself and feel pretty again. people are probably judging me a lot less then i think...

it also doesn't help that in an experimental fit with short hair i went with the wrong cut and cried myself to sleep while praying for my hair to grow a foot over night, for weeks. round two went much better, i went with a cut i had a little more experience with and made me feel a lot more feminine.

then the other day when i was at a kids concert at the park i was looking around - there were cute, happy, mamas proudly wearing their mama curves and rolls and handles like it was nothing. dressing in cute dresses and tops and not a concern in the world who might be taking note. that was a huge turning point for me, why was i scared of all these cute more form fitting tops in my closet?

since i stopped nursing, the impossible pooch to suck in, has shrunken immensely helping my self esteem recover quite a bit. i have done a hundred to two hundred squats everyday to feel more confident in shorts and bathing suit bottoms and i have been experimenting with out of my comfort zone items from my closet. i let my friend cut my hair and she did an amazing job and sometimes i put on my old reading glasses and snap a photo in the bathroom to feel extra cute. 

i have kind of accepted that this weight isn't going anywhere fast so instead of mourning the things i can't wear i celebrate what i can by rocking it. i am more sensible when i shop - because while i would love to be all sheer tops and skinny leggings and heels i am over here with my boyfriend jeans and v-neck pocket tees because as much as bloggers would like me to feel otherwise, it is ok if that is your style. i am a mom of four and i would be kidding myself if i thought i could get away with anything not machine washable or easy to bend over in, in my day to day wardrobe. amiright?

have you been here? how did you start to feel more confident?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

cloud dough fun!

wow, i am so behind on my pinterest to do list! with everything going on in our lives lately i almost forgot about this one we crossed off in the spring.

this is the perfect rainy day activity! i love to get stuff like this ready before the kids are up for the morning or during nap, that way we can slip seamlessly into an activity before they go stir crazy. i mixed mine up in a rubbermaid tub but choose to have them play in the bath tub for easy clean up. just a little advice if you do the same, scoop up as much extra dough as possible before rinsing the tub out. it clumps and might clog your drain if there is too much.

i really want to fill their little tiny plastic pool or their sand table up with this stuff for a bigegr play space sometime - it is soft and squishy and easily moldable for hours of fun. if it doesn't get wet then you can easily store it for later use too!

we did eight cups of basic flour + one cup of baby oil, we used lavender for a yummy smell!

have fun!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the post, part three.

when encephalitis appears to be the diagnosis, doctors look for causes like lyme disease, cat scratch fever, or even herpes. when rowan first got sick and we were waiting for test results they administered antibiotics for two of these things to be preventive. we knew she was positive for rotavirus but everyone refused for sometime to believe that the encephalitis could possibly have been caused by that. despite the fact i had several people come forward and say they had experienced the exact same thing, despite the fact it couldn't have been anything else. it is so rare that as i googled "encephalitis caused by rotavirus" it didn't send down a list of possible searches like google always does. in fact, i could only find some cases in japan, just like the doctors at mary bridge were able to dig up. encephalitis is already sort of one in a million, but caused by rotavirus...

we were transferred to children's because mary bridge didn't have a intense impatient rehab program and that is what rowan needed. they thought the timing was perfect and wanted to keep up momentum on her progress. there had been talk about us going home for a little while in between but later on changed their minds and wanted to build on how well she had done her her therapy sessions at mary bridge and they wanted her there right away. the number three weeks had been thrown around at this point, it looked like i would be sleeping on a hospital couch for a little longer. moving to children's wasn't like when we headed to mary bridge - it wasn't about tubes, and wires and drugs and the unknown. we actually looked forward to this change that was about progress and the future and getting rowan her life back.

when we got to children's rowan could barely sit up on her own at this point and with newfound, but limited movement, she had begun throwing herself around impulsively which led to the enclosed bed that you became familiar with seeing during our stay there. it was somewhat of a whirlwind when we first got there - adjusting from one hospital to the next quickly became my least favorite thing and i had to hunt down meals and nurses and medications. the first few hours were a revolving door of therapists, doctors, staff, and nurses coming in and dropping off cards to our patient care bible, i mean notebook.

rowan was still not talking other then a few sporadic "hi!" and a lot of mumbling. she was on a pureed and honey thick liquid diet that she was barely tolerating. right away her pt shannon discovered her positive response to deep pressure and started using a phrase that i came to love, "quiet body." her first schedule was posted and it was long days of physical therapy (pt), speech therapy (st), occupation therapy (ot, fine motor like eating, writing, etc), recreation therapy (rt, fun things like music therapy), visits with the physiologist, doctors, social workers, etc. days were busy to say the least. she had half a schedule on saturdays and sundays totally off.

on our second day there she was finally clear of the rotavirus and given the ok to explore the fun the hospital had to offer and we celebrated by taking a wheelchair ride out in the sprinkling rain as the sun was setting. it was perfection. after that we became regulars in the playroom, borrowing movies and books, doing crafts, watching whatever "talent" they had their that day, meeting people like seattle storm, the husky football players, etc.

before we knew it rowan had progressed to a mix of walking with the gait belt (a belt that someone holds onto to assist rowan walking and catch her if she falls) and using her wheel chair. speech was progressing as quickly but she could get out some important base sounds like ah and ha. ot had her eating on her own, working on getting dressed etc. closer to when we went home we had a play visit at the university village shopping center. there it was even more apparent how unaware of her safely and impulsive rowan was - while toy shopping if she wanted a toy low tot he ground she would drop suddenly versus lowering herself slowly and safely and etc.

rowan quickly befriended a little girl name miyah who like rowan was totally healthy, then got strep throat, a run of the mill childhood illness that long story short led to a brain injury. she was so sweet and they had so much fun playing in the playroom or making their moms chase them around the playground. she also got to know austin, another five year old, who had been in a terrible accident that left him completely paralyzed and on a trach. austin was too sweet for words - it is amazing how much a little boy can say with just his smile and eyes!

over the next two and a half weeks rowan continued to blow her doctors and therapist away with how well she was doing. we learned to kind of ignore half of what they said though because they always seem to err on the side of caution and make you feel like rowan could do half of what she really could just to be safe. i will talk more about that when i get to our first few weeks home. after a fluoroscopy study where they watched rowan eat and drink on x-ray, she was able to move up to soft mechanical food mixed with some puree. the concern was that it was still taking her a bit to chew and swallow and all caloric value is lost if it takes you forever to finish your meal. there was no change on liquids because she was still almost totally aspirating any when she drank, it was a little better when she drank through a straw with a tilted down head though.

toward the end of her stay we started getting day passes on the weekend to take her out of the hospital. it was the best feeling in the world for everyone. the first one we had gotten passes to the zoo from the hospital and amanda and ellie joined us. it was warm and we ended up spending more time eating cotton candy and getting our face painted then we did hunting down animals. the next day we took rowan home for a visit and to gage how she did around the house and what we needed to change for her to come home. we stopped at costco first and it really felt so great to be doing normal things again. neighbors stopped by to say hi as they missed seeing rowan zoom around the neighborhood on her scooter or out playing chalk. we were a little worried about how she would do going back to the hospital but she did great, excited to get back to her friends and tent bed and being a only child, ha!

finally it was time for rowan to go home! she had met all of the goals they set for her upon arrival like being continent, being safe, eating and drinking the right amount, doing self care with minimal assistance, having a stable mood, etc etc. we had to acquire a five point harness for her again as she had recently outgrown one and had been sitting in a tall back booster with car seatbelt. her room was set up with a mattress on the floor, a clear and easy path to the bathroom, and gates at the top and bottom of the stairs so she wouldn't be tempted to use them on her own. in the days leading up to her discharge i had her pt work with her on safe choices at home like crawling when i couldn't help her walk and using the stairs on her bottom. we bought her a pottery barn anywhere chair for a safe seating option low to the floor and as a special treat to use in the hospital when she could safely be out of her bed more.

the idea for her discharge gift was tricky to plan out. pinterest was not helping me at all so i had to really get the creative juices flowing. after scouring etsy i knew i wanted cookies so i went to the internets for shop suggestions - people all over the country were suggesting flour-de-lis who ended up being very local to seattle. i instantly came up with the idea for the brain and bow cookie - rowan had become famouse at all the hospitals for her bow collection and since she was in for a brain injury it seemed so fitting to have little brains wearing bows like hers. i can't even begin to tell you how awesome it was working with samantha! she totally put my vision into a reality with the perfect cookie. she was even super excited to work with us as her and her husband had done a lot of work with ronald mcdonald house and children's. the cookies came wrapped up and ready for handing out. before we did that though i added a little card that said, "what did the hippocampus say during its retirement speech? thanks for the memories! thanks for helping our girl, nurturing her neurons, and loving her lobes. enjoy a cookie with us to celebrate how far rowan has come! xoxo, the rohr-devine family."

next week i will wrap up our whole journey! rowan is doing so so good and like i keep saying, blows her therapists and doctors away daily. we got good news after some testing this week and providence is already cutting back her therapies. the first week home really surprised us as it was nothing like we expected and i can't wait to share it with you!

Monday, July 22, 2013

rowan's speech three months later + she answers your questions!

on instagram last week i asked everyone to send us some questions for rowan - she always has so much fun recording the fifteen second instagram videos, showing off her talking, that she was really excited about this idea. we got tons of really fun questions and finally got around to filming her answers this morning. she says water park no less then four times and it is hilarious to watch her not understand a question and to just make up a random answer.

i thought about writing out a narrative but i think it would be more fun to see if you can understand what she is saying! she has come so far since may ninth and continues to get beter everyday. she blows away her speech therapist weekly, everyone was sure it could be more like a year before we heard any intelligible talking. we knew from day one it would take the longest to come back so our expectations were adjusted but i can't tell you how much of a blessing it is to be able to have our normal conversations with her just three months later.

this means so much for starting school in september, my guess is she will not need any sort of aid in class, and might not even need to leave class for speech. this is so huge! when you ask her why she thinks her talking is hard sometimes or doesn't sound right, her answer is, "because i was throwing up so much." breaks your heart a little right?

we'll do another one in a month or so to compare and it is fun to hear her answers to your questions so feel free to leave more. if you have any questions about what she says i am happy to answer them in the comments. enjoy!

things we love: deco mod walls on etsy and chalk paint fun!

is it seriously the strangest thing ever to have room envy of your son? because i do big time! he may only be nine months old but i can already picture the fun and ruckus that will happen in their as he grows and starts having little friends over. i know, i am killing you with this little sneaks of robin's room, but the whole thing isn't finished so i can't show it off just yet. however, it is well on its way and i just couldn't wait any longer to share one of my favorite parts - his chalkboard wall.

i have never been shy to share my love for chalkboards, i mean we painted a whole bathroom into one and the girls have a giant vintage one in their room. trying to be careful not to over do it in our home, i just did a small space in robin's room and gave it some extra flare with some fun decals! i knew i wanted buildings incorporated somehow and was over the moon excited when i stumbled across this fun scribble city decal set from deco mod. it was absolutely perfect for the space and made well that it is sure to stand up against rambunctious little boys.

i decided to just paint the two little walls that wrap the closet to give the chalkboard a little more dimension and before i even got started was picturing the fun taxidermy that we could sketch over the top of the doors. since the wall was already dark blue it only took me a couple of coats of rust-oleum paint.we were in the process of replacing the trim already so it made it super easy to paint without worrying about cutting in. on the ceiling i just used my favorite secret technique.

i am on the hunt for a fun hook, maybe something like this, to hang a little bucket of chalk from. robin's room is so so close to being done, i just procured and painted a tiny little dresser that is awaiting the perfect knobs. i am hunting down globes of all shapes and sizes, some art needs frames, and i need to pick up this lamp from target and fill it up with something fun, like tim's old childhood matchbox cars. so, stay tuned for the final unveiling by the end of summer - that is if the vinatge globe gods cooperate.

in the meantime make sure to check out deco mod for all your wall covering and pillow needs! they do a little bit of it all - pillows, digital prints and tons of decals like monograms, vehicles, cityscapes, quotes etc etc. look at these arrows, so popular right now and you can even create a custom wallpaper look! make sure and visit deco mod's etsy shop, you won't be sorry.

have you done anything with chalkboard paint in your home? i want to see it!

Friday, July 19, 2013

little treasures

do you ever get lost for hours, pouring through old photos? coming across ones you had kind of forgotten about, like finding hidden treasures? i am all about printing our photos and stowing them away for safe keeping in albums. i have many, many, costco, leather bound albums that store thousands of priceless memories and moments. i literally burst at the seams thinking about the kids one day sitting down with their kids or their grandkids and getting the same lovely feelings back like they just stirred up some of the most precious moments of their childhood.

even at this age the girls love to thumb through the albums, it can induce giggling for hours as they discover pictures of themselves as babies or in funny costumes or with cherrios stuck to their faces. tim doesn't like it when i bring my camera everywhere, he thinks i am not enough in the present when i am always worried and a photo opportunity, i think it is just because he hates when i ask him to hold my camera. to a degree he is right, but i think i balance both just fine, because as important as it is to be present, i know my children will appreciate that i documented all of these moments later in life.

i stil have hundreds of photos from my younger years and even when zoë was a baby that i would love to organize some day but it is hard to remember the order of some things. that is why i love that today, with digital files, it is so easy to sort and store and backup your photos on the computer. 

what do you do with your photos? do they get held hostage by your hard drive or do you meticulously organize, print, and chronicle them in books? 

happy friday!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

nightstand turned kitchen!

ok, so we can all agree i am a little crazy, in fact my husband may argue i am a lot crazy... 

i have been pinning "ordinary furniture turned child's kitchen" pins for a year now, secretly wishing that we didn't own an amazing and expensive and flashy and in perfect condition plastic one. then, these last few months i have been on a mission to simplify and live in the moment and make some major memories for my kids - i mean, i have always done these things but somewhere between apple tv and rainy days we have lost track of the bigger picture. being in love, like really in love, with a few special toys, ones that they'll remember when they are older and tell their kids about, is what i want. like the memories i have of helping my dad build my dollhouse before i knew it was a dollhouse or the ones i have of playing house with my prized doll "big baby" that the girls actually play with now.

i skim craigslist weekly anyway with a mental list of furniture i would love to own, make over, etc if i came across it at a good price. so when i came across the exact nightstand to the one of my dream "night stand turned kitchen" pin i had to email the person right away. the price was a little more then i wanted to spend, (and once tim got it home a lot more to what it was worth, but i had to have it. to justify spending the money on this project, i had to sell the girls existing kitchen first. that part was easy, a sweet lady nought it for her daycare, and i was surprised how much money i got for it. although tim argues that he hates how i am always buying and selling things, doing and redoing, he loves any opportunity to create and use power tools so he was secretly on board with this project (and i totally notice him silently gloat in the corner every time we get a compliment on it). here is a run down of what we did...

the top: our night stand had a huge hole in the top, hidden under some sort of plastic layer, that i obviously didn't see in the photos before i sent tim off to retrieve it. so, instead of trying to work around it we pulled the whole top off and replaced it with a piece of project pine, that i picked up in a appropriate size, for six dollars at lowes. this allowed me to make the surface on top bigger anyway so it was a win. we somewhat eyeballed the shape of the original top and tim used a saw and sander at work to cut and shape it. then he stained it with whatever leftover stain we had laying around - it didn't look "finished" to me so i went over the edges and top with a palm sander giving it a rustic worn down look. for the burners, i traced and painted two black circles and then using some soft wire i had from michael's, wound that around to create the spiral, and finally secured it with some u-shaped upholstery nails. for the sink, i had a huge collection of those metal mixing bowls so i just went through eyeing different ones before i found a good fit - we went with a deep smaller one. for a while i was on the hunt for a faucet, maybe i still am, but i wasn't willing to pay crazy prices for a new one so for now it stays simple with a faucet-less sink.

the nightstand: once the top was off, the drawers were out, i sanded and primed the nightstand. i had already purchased my curtain fabric when i fell in love with it at the store, so i went with a soft yellow for all over paint color. it probably took about one and a half cans of spray paint because i really like to give it good coverage.

the drawers: we took out the bottom drawer and dismantled the top down to just the face and wood glued that into place after adding a eclectic knob i picked up at hobby lobby. i didn't want to mess with hinges or anything so that i could keep it simple. for the bottom, i picked up half a yard of fun fabric, some trim, and a smallish dowel at joann's for the curtain. after the curtain was cut and hemmed we fastened it on the dowel, to the front of the bigger opening with screws. i didn't do anything with the inside of the drawer as of yet - it works fine as storage for all their wood food and pots + pans for now.

finally, i added a little rustic hook on the side for hanging their tiny vintage aprons on!

in the end i probably spent about sixty-five dollars or so. i'll admit that my biggest mistake was falling hard for the first nightstand i came across and not giving something like free-cycle more of a chance. in the end i am glad that i kept the overall kitchen simple looking to inspire more creativity. i am seriously over the moon with the finished product! tim and i had a lot of fun working on this too, we even have been toying with the idea of whipping up a couple to sell since they seem to be popular right now. to be able to sell one for a decent price though, we need to find a screamin' deal on night stands, so i have been on the hunt. stay tuned for more designs!

what do you think? would you give this diy a try? it was so fun and easy!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

great ipad apps for special needs!

one thing that i got a lot of questions and feedback on when we were in the hospital with rowan, was ipad apps. a friend had purchased her a ipad mini to get her though the long boring days spent cooped up in a bed, especially before she got off isolation. at first i went to the internets for advice and suggestions and was met with a ton of really good information. one thing i didn't find? good solid posts or articles with lists of apps for her specific type of handicap. it was my friends on social networks that provided the most insight. the ipad became such a huge part of our day to day - not just for games, but education opportunities and even a way to communicate when rowan couldn't.

when we got to children's we were lucky enough to be paired with a ipad expert who lent rowan a full size ipad, easier for her limited motor control, through the bungie foundation. she checked in with us a couple times a week to see if we needed any apps added or had questions on the ones we were playing or show us some new ones she thought would be good for rowans new state of recovery. she was such a blessing and even gave rowan a itunes gift card so that she could download some of the more expensive apps and books that she loved onto her own ipad. at one point toca boca even saw a picture on instagram of rowan playing one of their apps, tea party, and offered to send her some fun treats from their company in sweden! i'll go ahed a preface this whole post with the statement that toca boca is hands down our favorite app developer for the kids!

really these apps are great for all kids! i just wanted to breakdown what has worked best for us to limit frustration, engage rowan when she is antsy and distracted, and bring her joy when she is limited on the physical activity she can do from day to day. one of the biggest things for us was when her ipad starting engaging her to talk back to some apps and we started to hear clear, intelligible talking. rowan is five and stella is three and they both can play all the games listed below easily and have tons of fun!

*assume that everything listed below involves very little precise movement and large fields of play. rowan had very little control of the direction of her finger movement let alone much spacial recognition. apps that required exact touching and a strong hold on items as you moved them had to be deleted because they were very frustrating for her. as she progressed some of those apps were reintroduced, but i will make sure to mention when i am talking about a slightly more "involved" app. these also are all played on the ipad, however many work on my iphone as well.

little red riding hood by nosy crow - tons of interactive touch points, animated characters, a non-linear story where you decide from many paths/outcomes. games and activities all through out that require limited motor control. this app wasn't super picky about rowan's finger control and she could operate it fully when she was still very limited.

fancy nancy and the late, late, LATE night - one of our favorite fancy nancy books in an interactive app app! this was great for when rowan needed to settle down, she could have the app read the book to her while she was in control of turning the pages. $2.99

the monster at the end of this book - this app has me so excited! this was my favorite book growing up so it has been a fav since we found it. it is the classic story but you do all of the work - breaking down grover's barriers, turning the pages, and some other fun interactive things from page to page. this was another app that rowan could operate at her least mobile. in fact before she could use her arms again, she could interact with this book using her toe and heel! $4.99

sounding board - a communication board. totally customizable using your own photos or ones provided, then you record your voice saying the work so when pushed that is what the user hears. perfect for children in special education, kids on the autism spectrum, and kids or adults with disabilities. for rowan we we took photos of everything we could think of like bathroom, bed, art supplies, ipad, tv, etc. she was able to flip through her boards to find what she needed easily.

visual timer - a large and colorful countdown timer for kids. this was imperative for rowan when she was faced with a rehab activity that she wasn't fond of. it was a fun and very visual way to show her how long she had left so that she was in more control of the activity.

my playhome - " even a two year old could use it, yet detailed enough to entertain an 8 year old." one of the most fun and detailed apps i have seen for kids. you are in control of hundreds of items all through out several rooms of your house. switch out the family member, have them jump on the bed, or drop toilet paper rolls into the toilet like rowan likes to do. some of the tinier items were more difficult for rowan at first but this app is forgiving, when she would "drop" a item it would fall where it stood, not go back to the start, which could be very frustrating to rowan. $3.99

toca doctor - treat ailments, play doctor, and solve problems with this eye catching app. again, a sucker for toca apps this one was fun for the "patient" to play doctor while cooped up at the hospital. easy to use with limited fine motor control with easy to understand and follow directions. $2.99

*pepi tree - this is hands down one of the cutest apps ever! it is a fun way to discover animals in their natural habitat. rowan was limited on this game till she had better fine motor back, some of the parts of the tree were a little more difficult if you don't have a quick or steady hand. $1.99

pepi bath - get ready to giggle when they use the potty! a role-play game where you can learn about hygiene in a fun way. wash their hands, give them a bath, and do their laundry. rowan had no problem navigating this app with limited control and pointer direction. it even gave her a good laugh! $1.99

*disney: all of these apps got easier when rowan was doing a lot better. she had better directional control of her pointer and could hold it much steadier. these are some of our favorites just becasue they are fun!
doc mcstuffins - "based on the hit disney Junior show doc mcstuffins, join doc, along with hallie, lambie and the rest of her friends for a fun-filled time fixing, sorting, exploring and caring for toys, dolls and more. inside doc’s clinic you can choose from four entertaining and engaging developmental activities." $3.99

sofia the first - "meet sofia and get ready to play with her and her friends. an official app from disney!read the story and tap on the images to discover beautiful animations, play with the royal theater and record your own stories" $1.99

jake and the neverland's pirate school - "ahoy and welcome to Pirate School, matey! join jake and crew for four fun-filled pirate themed classes and earn badges of honor and an official never land pirate certificate." free

toy story - a read along! free

my penguin - "the popular virtual world of Club Penguin comes alive on the go!" free

music and creativity:
little fox music box by fox & sheep - very visially rewarding and fun! a sing-a-long apps with hundreds of interactive touch points. tons of options, this app keeps you entertained for a while. music was huge in rowan's speech recovery, anything that spurred spontaneous talking, like easy songs she recognized was huge for her. $2.99

toca band - create a band by playing with different sounds that you like. this app is very visually stimulating as well as a creative outlet. rowan had no issues operating this app and it brought her a ton of joy! $2.99

sequencing or multiple step directions:
hair salon - you get to run your own hair salon and come up with some wacky style! rowan was almost always able to play this app, even with limited control and direction with her finger she could create some laughable styles of her own. $2.99

*toca tailor - create any kind of look using tons of fabrics, accessories, and styles. you can even take photos of something to you as a fabric. while rowan could do this app still pretty limited she wasn't able to fully use it's features and fun until she was a little steadier with her finger. $2.99

*ultimate easy bake oven - this app is great for your little baker and creator. rowan tried this when she was still early in her recovery and it was very picky and precise on where you put your finger. we had to delete it till she was a little more exact with her touch because it became very frustrating. free

letters, reading, vocabulary, and writing:
endless alphabet - spelling lessons, puzzles, and fun monsters helping with word definitions. $4.99

interactive alphabet - this was one of the first games rowan could easily on her own when she was at her most limited state. you control the app with simple, un specific, touching of a few items per letter. it brought her a lot of joy to be able to operate a app she was familiar with when her body wasn't quit doing what she wanted. $2.99

martha speaks word spinner - "gather the family for the ultimate party game – with a distinctly martha twist! up to four players can join in the fun, with six interactive mini-games that both kids and parents can enjoy together. players select their game piece from their favorite dog characters from the martha speaks television series and then the adventure begins. along the way to the finish, players will encounter more than 100 vocabulary words like colorful, scientist, and nutritious while building their storytelling and oral vocabulary skills." we loved this game because it forced rowan to be social outside of having her face buried in the ipad. it helped her practice some basic preschool activities that she was missing out on being in the hospital. $1.99

monkey math school - in a beach setting do simple counting, sequencing, and recognition. this was a great app for rowan to keep her sharp and gage her mental abilities when she was first coming back to us. she had no problem operating this app and following the simple and clear commands. $1.99

monkey lunchbox - $0.99

grandma's kitchen - have some creative play or bake up compound words, watch real videos and help grandma in the kitchen. motor wise this game was fine for rowan, however since she can't read or really understand compound words at first, i had to play this app with her. $1.99

grandma's garden - practice numbers, letters, shapes, and colors while playing mini games in the garden. $1.99 

grandpa's workshop - earn parts to build your own playhouse by helping complete some tasks in the workshop. rowan struggled with some puzzle like games, getting the pieces to go where she wanted. $1.99

agnitus - more then twenty-two education games based on core standards ad mom and dad even get to see a report card of progress in the app. rowan managed this app fine from the beginning  i liked it because it challenged her to refresh on everything she learned in school that year and helped us gage where she was intellegence wise once she started to come back to us. Free

disney appisodes - full length episodes of your favorite disney junior shows that are totally interactive! this app wasn't necessarily made for "talking" but there are parts that involve telling the characters directions or rotting them on or repeating what they say and etc. it wasn't picky about rowan being exact since obviously her speech is hard to understand at this point so it wasn't frustrating when she couldn't get the exact word out. comes with one appisode free, other appisodes are available as in-app purchases for $$

talking ginger - ginger repeats what you say to her! give her a bath, take her potty, brush her teeth or have fun unrolling the toilet paper with her. this app was great to entice rowan to talk, she loved hearing her voice repeated by ginger. free

play with a friend:
toca tea party - host your own tea party by picking everything from the table cloth to the cakes. invite a friend to play along while you listen to tunes, sip coffee, and then help do the dishes. then do it all over again! very simple motions  involved. this was a great games because while rowan wanted her face buried in the ipad it gave us a chance to talk and giggle and interact while doing it. she loved taking it to her friends rooms and asking them to join in too! $2.99

toca birthday party - similar to the tea party but this time you even get to pick a gift. rowan likes to grab her dollies and help them stuff their faces with cake then open the suprise gift she picked for them! $2.99

toca store - this is probably one of hands down favorite toca apps. first you choose from a huge catalog what you want to sell in your store then you invite a friend over to the ipad to go shopping. they fill up their basket then place the items at checkout telling you how many they want. it give you and them plenty of counting opportunities as well as getting to know money. they put the stuff in their bag and are on their way! $2.99

magic fingers - this was probably the least involved app and it brought rowan tons of joy and creativity. it was developed by a friend of the family so it was fun when we would see other kids around the hospital playing it! with just the simple touch of of the finger, you choose from tons of options to decorate your screen with animations like fire, sparkles, etc all the while classical music plays in the background. $1.99

Monday, July 15, 2013

this too shall pass

*after sitting in my drafts folder for months, this is updated to our present state of sleep but still had to share! sometimes as mamas we need to tell the internet to shut the hell up and go with our gut. amiright?

earlier last week i had a great conversation with my friend about sleep. because, robin hates when i get good solid sleep i guess. i was asking for advice and she kept telling me what i already knew - no book was going to solve my problems, i just needed to listen to my baby and those darn motherly instincts...

somewhere between four months and minnesota we got stuck in a routine of waking up at two and five. the rest of this story is all my fault, but i have to spill my heart out on this post anyway. i like sleep, so the second i hear robin stir, i am in his room with a boob in his face. he eats for half a minute and then he is back asleep, always at two and at five. then we are up for the day around six-thrity. in robin's defense, he is sleeping a solid eight hours before waking up at two, the bad news? i am obviously not on the same sleep schedule.

we thought we could battle this by changing his sleep routine as far as when he goes down - for awhile now, set in place by robin himself, he is in bed and asleep at six. recently we have tried everything to keep him up later - changing his nap schedule, holding him, bouncing him, feeding him, anything to distract from sleep. nothing works, he is out like a light at six where he stands. this notion isn't working.

i would feel more confident about his bedtime being the issue if at two he was wanting to play, or even again at five, but he isn't, he is quickly back asleep. so, obviously he is needing the full length of sleep, he has just gotten stuck in the routine of also needing those quick feedings in the dark of the night. i've tried sending tim in with no luck, i have tried having robin sleep in our room, then in our bed, hoping to provide him with a different level of comfort to solve this and nothing. a lot of babies, most babies, are creatures of routine. as parents part of our job is taking cues and from our little ones and teaching them when to go to sleep, when to eat, when to wake up, and even eventually things like when to go to the bathroom.

i brought up the idea of cio to my pediatrician. i wasn't wanting to by any means but i wanted to gage what she thought about our situation. she wondered about how it was when i laid him down at his bedtime, i of course assured her he puts himself right to sleep. her response was that if that was an issue for us, that he was fighting sleep and having to be rocked, nursed, etc that then she might suggest letting him fuss for a few minutes before caving but since he is sleeping eight hours that i should continue to go in and nurse him back to sleep at two am. ok.

i was hoping for more direction on how to go about training him out of the pattern, calmly and stress free but it looks like i'll just keep up our normal routine till he hopefully grows out of this.

fast forward...

i was so nervous when i sent robin off to the first set of relatives that would be watching him and stella while we stayed with rowan in the hospital. he put all my nerves to rest when he seamlessly slept through the night for everyone, maybe with a five am wake up to eat, then back to sleep again. i guess in a way i was able to catch up on the last seven months of lost sleep while i was hospital hopping with rowan but it was never good sleep so i looked forward to when we were home and in my own bed with robin sleeping through the night.

robin got a bad cold just before we came home so without question i kept him in our room for a bit and after the second or third night was back to waking up, a ton. i blamed it on the cold and did everything preventative i could to help his breathing through the night. we had stopped breastfeeding and i wasn't down with sleep-walking through bottle prep. eventually the cold subsided and i had just about enough of this waking up all night business and he moved back to his room. that night when he woke up at about one am i let him fuss. he never really cried or tossed or seamed upset, he just fussed. less then five minutes later he was back asleep and stayed that way till morning. then same things the next night and after that? sleeping all night again...

i guess moral of the story is, go with your gut. i am not a supporter of cio but i also don't see the harm in testing the waters of self soothing. robin never cried, i was just always so quick to throw a boob in his face before that i never learned this about his needs. for about a month now he has continully slept through the night, with the occasional fuss in the night, but i stick to my guns and wait at least five minutes, without him really crying, to go in and sooth him and it has worked like a charm.

i have been a parent for almost ten years now and i have probably dabbled in a different parenting style with every kid but i have always been a little more tough love. my kids are sweet and secure and nurturing and healthy and lovely so i can pat myself on the back for a job well done. sometimes you just have to tell the internets to shut the hell up and let you be a mom. 

i'll happily be the one to tell you that you're doing a good job, so cheers to you!

Friday, July 12, 2013

some instagram for you!

doeen't any body do a weekly link-up for instagram anymore? it's where i host some of my most priced moments and i miss sharing them with you guys. do you follow me on instagram? i am @_melissarohr now and i can promise you daily photos of nonsense, like stella asleep under the bed or robin in some sort of cute little man outfit.

when i am bored i troll back through my own feed and some of my recent photos really crack me up or put a smile on my face. even when rowan was in the hospital we had a lot of good special memory making moments that were fun to capture and share with everyone.
what do you do with your instgram photos? i'll admit i am terrible at doing anything fun with them. but here are some good ideas to get you started:

i would love to hear your ideas too!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

things to eat: summer pulled pork!

we have subscribed to bon appetit magazine for as long as i can remember - there is a whole shelf, deep in a ignored cupboard, full of them. some still in the plastic. if a title or picture on the front catches my eye then i will flip through it but will almost always argue that most of the recipes or ingredients are over our head. it is still fun to feel fancy when it shows up every month though.

sometime during the spring a issue showed up that was about the perfect sandwich. we try and stay as gluten-free as possible around here, but bread man, just so yummy, and good a sandwich follows closely. this particular issue and the makings of a perfectly photographed to make your mouth water concotion inside had caught my eye and we had a family lunch coming up so we decided to give it a whirl. now, i am pretty positive that we didn't follow the exact recipe but it was pretty close and delicious either way. the article also called for it to be paired with a piece of fried chicken on the sandwich, but since we already had pulled pork marinating in the slow cooker we went with that instead.

how to:
pulled pork, cooked and marinated to your liking
cibatta rolls

1 garlic clove,m finely grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1/2 cup of bread-and-butter pickle slices, + 1/2 cup of pickle juice

mix garlic, mayo, and hot sauce in small bowl and chill (the mix not you). toss rest of ingredients in pickle juice. combine everything, cover and chill.

build your sandwich with roll, pork, and slaw and then enjoy.

what is your favorite summer time recipe? i am always looking for new ones!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

scenes from the weekend

last week when i mentioned our perfect weekend, clearly i did not know what was in store for us. i have learned that jam packed memory making weekends are my spirit animal. sure a relaxing weekend is great here and there but me and these kids always have energy to burn off and why not do it while we can! everything that has happened these last couple months has really enabled me to seize the day, i mean, you only live once right? the memories we are making for these kids are worth it.

sure, the fourth didn't technically mark the start of the weekend but tim took friday off so we're going with it. we got to spend the day with rowan and then she headed off to spend the evening with her dad. the rest of us were invited to spend the fourth with my aunt and uncle and their long time best friends who have become like family to us over the years. their only daughter paige is just a month or so older then zoe so they have always been good buddies. we spend the evening bbq'ing, swimming, zip-lining (yes, they have a zip-line in their yard), jumping on the trampoline, and watching a bunch of teenagers be goofy. speaking of teenagers, they wanted to eat robin up as usual, i guess no one can resist that squishy baby charm. when it got dark we lit of the obligatory fireworks and stella was inducted into the independence day injury hall of fame when she took a firework to the eye, she has the cut to prove it. robin slept soundlessly throughout he whole thing and we finally headed home around eleven and the kids slept like logs through the neighborhood antics.

i got rowan and zoe back friday morning and the real fun began. while we waited for tim to finish up some roof work at my aunts, the girls and i ventured to our favorite spray park. it was dinner time so we practically had the place to ourselves and i even scored a shaved ice from the market happening in the park, it was a major win on my part. that night we bbq'd open faced burgers and laughed a ton. wrapping up the night with a family skate sesh and antics in the street.

saturday we headed to lake roesiger with my aunt and the changes (the family we spent the fourth with) for a day int he sun on the boat! it was so fun, my aunt and uncle are buying a house/property on this lake and i can't wait! the water was so warm, the vibe was awesome, and it was some of the friendliest people ever. when we weren't tubing or speeding around we were anchored to the changes boat while we swam, ate, and lounged. zoe and paige swam and floated and paddled every second they could, and me? well, i got burnt to a crisp, whoops.

sunday we wrapped up the weekend with a trip to the local children's museum, then after dropping tim and robin at home, the girls and i headed out to finally see despicable me two. it was a great cap on the weekend, burnt skin and all it was epically fun and i can't wait to do it again and again all summer!

it has been so fun really playing with my dslr again. i had become way to reliant on my iphone camera, which takes good, but not the best photos. i live for a bright crisp photo to put in the albums i have spent years making for the girls to keep forever. so, i'm sorry, not sorry for the flood of photos that follows this post. this weekend was too good not to document with a million photos and it helps that i have such fun little people to take photos of!

what did you do this weekend?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

the post, part two

Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain tissue, is rare, affecting about one in 200,000 people each year in the US. When it strikes, it can be very serious, causing personality changes, seizures, weakness, and other symptoms depending on the part of the brain affected. Children, the elderly, and those with a weak immune system are most vulnerable. The disease is usually caused by one of several viral infections, so it's sometimes referred to as viral encephalitis.

before our feet had barely touched the ground at mary bridge, i was being pulled into a conference room with the new doctor to talk about what was going on and the plan of action. immediately the word encephalitis started getting thrown around, no one we had come into contact with had ever experienced a case of rotavirus turned encephalitis before, so while totally puzzling it was their best diagnosis at the time. my only saving grace through the last twenty-four hours was that every doctor we had worked with thus far was never anything but confident that she would make a full to almost full recovery. however, this type of infection can be very unpredictable and only the next few days would tell.

it was going to be a lot of "only time will tell..." from here on out but the plan was to have her off the vent in the morning and there was a lot of wishful thinking from the doctors that she would be sitting up and talking immediately following. switching hospitals and having to wait while a new team learns your child's case, becomes familiar and can act appropriately can be so frustrating. you begin to feel like you know more of what is going on then the phd's. throw in the fact that the picu had just opened the day before and the staff's heads were spinning trying to find everything from equipment to the linens waste basket...

there were floods of family and friends waiting for us in tacoma when we arrived, so i did not turn down the opportunity to walk outside and let some of rowan's favorite people hold her hand and sit with her while i took a deep breath and tied up some arrangements that needed to be made for us and the other kids, who were now on their way to my aunts with tim. my sister arranged for rowan to have the american girl doll she had been begging for, waiting for her when she woke up, i had food and coffee placed in from of me, my sister started a emergency fund, i borrowed some of my sister in laws underwear and then we waited.

that first night at mary bridge was horrible, i won't even sugar coat it. they kept rowan pretty heavily sedated to avoid her panicking and hurting the tube, she was even tied down with restraints. when ever the sedation would wear off, on the cusp of another dose, she would try and sit up and cry out and yank at her restraints and be sad. then there was the beeping, oh the beeping - when this would drop to low or this would go to high or that would be done administering. we had good nurses and we had not great ones, one that couldn't have been more annoyed every time i sprung out of bed when rowan's heart rate would drop causing a alarm. nothing was wrong, but being so on edge and unfamiliar with what means what, it is so traumatizing. at one point a nurse seemed to be scolding me for being so frantic, and i said, "listen. you are used to this. i am not, so cut me some slack." another nurse in the room helping her sensed that nurse a had obviously misplaced her bedside manner and walked me through what was happening and apologized.

throughout the next early morning rowan began to wake more and appear more aware - this prompted them to start lowering the amount of work the machine was doing and see if she picked up the slack in her breathing. she did, and we began to talk about what was going to happen as we prepared to pull her vent. that all seemed complicated and lengthy and a story about waiting for the right window, then she suddenly seamed over it and next thing i know they pulled it and she was breathing on her own. then, rowan had to be bugged by the RT several times following the removal, by her sticking a thin tube down rowans throat a bit to stimulate a cough and clear all the mucus so that she wouldn't get pneumonia. it had been four days now since she had eaten and talk started to surface about a feeding tube. i pleaded to hold off and they seamed ok with that for now. her doctor started to speculate again that he hoped to see her talking and sitting shortly. i really wished he would stop saying that. although small, one of the saddest moments for me thus far was when i showed rowan her american girl doll - she instantly tried to talk and reach for it and neither did what she wanted and you could literally watch the defeat wash over her face. she was lost and confused and my heart was broken again.

long story short, rowan wasn't bouncing back. really at all right away. while everyone remained positive that she would recover to a degree, it was back to waiting to see if there were any lasting effects of whatever was happening and there was more talk of whether or not it really was encephalitis. it was friday now, she had another eeg that showed some slowing that was in line with the seizures and sedation and loss of motor function. they decided to keep her in the icu longer due to the fact that she still had some stiffening, or residual seizure activity that would make the pediatric floor panic. then saturday we moved out of the icu and she finally got to drink some juice, honey thick. we were met by a cheerful but hard to track down team of nurses and settled into another unit that had just opened. i kept joking that rowans room had nothing but good juju since she was it's first patient. on sunday, all of her tests had finally come back ruling out other possible infections and she was able to stop the unnecessary antibiotics that were put in place just in case. one of which was terrible on the tissue and causing rowan to blow through her veins and ivs. i fought like hell to keep them from doing a new "just in case" port when she wasn't needing it really and at this point a quick blood draw here and there seamed far more glamorous then keeping the iv in for easy access. today was the day we also saw our first smile, rowan's best friend megan came to visit and rowan immediately cracked a grin. it was a unfamiliar one, but one all the same. by monday she was a giggly mess, a lot due to stress, over stimulation, and the brain injury and some just because she was plain ole' happy at times.

on the pediatric floor, we settled into a new normal. it was days full of therapy, advocating for rowan and her needs, swallow tests, a revolving door of visitors, sneaking in showers and meals, shift changes, pureed meats, etc etc. my heart was so full of the love we were receiving from all over the world, i could literally feel all of the prayers that were on rowan at any giving time. it was you, who healed her, through Him. her walls were covered with cards and pictures from friends and strangers. every surface was full of flowers and bears and candy and fun treats that you were all so thoughtful to send her. i can't even begin to describe to you the joy that spread across rowans face each time i showed her something that had come for her.

rowan was stuck on isolation for the duration of her stay. she was still positive for rotavirus and we all went stir-crazy right along with her.

when it was settled on that she had encephalitis, her doctors finally accepted that it was caused by the rotavirus, they started digging deeper and found some case studies out of japan. they noted that the cerebellum was specifically affected - which made total sense if you had seen how she walked and how it sounded if she tried to talk and so on. when you drink alcohol it is your cerebellum that is affected- you slur, you can't walk in a straight line, etc. if it helps to think of it that way.

it was finally monday, after a few therapy sessions, that we learned that rowan would be transferring to children's hospital for their inpatient therapy. this was hard to hear after talk of her going home for a bit, but they felt, and we agreed, that we needed to keep up the momentum of progress. she was walking, with a lot of assistance, but walking. she could somewhat feed herself, unscrew a cap, sit on the toilet herself, etc. at this point we were begging in our prayers for speech to come back and after many nights of clear and unclear talking in her sleep i was sure it was coming soon, but it didn't. so now the plan was to get her physically ready to withstand the pressure and demand of the therapy program at children's. this meant being able to continue therapy for around three hours total in a day without getting too tired and sitting for even a short period on her own. all the while rowan continued to blow away the doctors with her progress she quickly became a favorite on the floor, the famous girl with the bow collection. the next monday was the decided day for the transfer so the rest of the week became a waiting game. she kept up with very simple therapy and then monday rolled around.

we had gotten up early and started packing wagon full after wagon full of rowan's new stuff down to the car. we made arrangements, informed our families, prepared with her team, and so on when a nurse after just telling us we would leave soon, told us we were possibly not going and to sit tight. then we were not going till tuesday, then we were going again and transport would be there soon. i can't promise that i stayed cool-headed and nice through that ordeal. rowan loved her ambulance ride, watching out the window the whole ride, smiling at a motorcycle that passed, bummed there were no sirens this time. the transport team filled the time by talking with me about how in our area, there had been a major rise in hospitalizations with rotavirus.

our arrival to children's was interesting, it is really quite the experience having to adjust from hospital to the next. up next i will share the final part of rowan's hospitalization and talk more about where we are today, a month later!

Monday, July 8, 2013

things my kids say v.2

rowan: when i am queen all of the granola bars will be candy bars.

stella: (helping me fold laundry, finds a bra) when i be a mommy i wear these and eat treats all day like you mommy.

month eight

month eight is here and i can't even believe it. as i type robin is down stairs laughing and playing and interacting like a real person, holy crap i can't believe he will be one soon. i just can not. i can't believe how time has flown by, but yet feels like it was just yesterday that he came into our world, between a full moon and just a hour and a half shy of my most favorite holiday. this boy sits up and holds his cup/bottle and waves and plays peek-a-boo. he has toy preferences and habits and patterns and is good on a schedule and off one too. he is constantly praised for being "the best baby ever" the "happiest baby someone has ever met" and i love it! he is so happy and content and easy going about...everything, that is makes being his mama that much more great. 

last month we put up the super yard, in hopes of saving the carpet from all the spit up. now that little man is mobile he was leaving a trail everywhere he went. he now has a large space to hang out in when i can't be right there, with all of his toys right in reach, it is genius really. speaking of being mobile, he is so so close to crawling. all  day  long  he gets up on his hands and knees and tries to lunge himself around, it sort of works but isn't called crawling yet, so for now he rolls and rolls and rolls all over the place.

although we still love our happy tots pouches we have ventured into mostly table food. he loves gluten free noodles and pretty much every baby safe fruit and vegetable under the sun. last week he got his first taste of meatloaf and ate helping after helping along with some steamed carrots and the next morning gobbled up waffles and eggs. eggs? somehow my aunt got him to try and love eggs finally! i think the poor guy had allergies like his mama, he has had a hoarse voice and the absence of a runny nose leads me to believe that is what is going on, so sad.

now that we have had weeks of warm weather, we drug out all of the pools and water toys, that is where this baby wants to be all the time. he literally lunges for pool if you walk by it, even if it is chilly, he loves to be splashing the day away. last week i took him to the spray pad and parked him in front of a low pressure spray spot and he loved it! he was so content for awhile and i got some fun photos and video. then later that week he got his first boat ride and swam in the lake with mama and lounged on a inter-tube for hours then took a long nap on daddy in the sun.

i got to say that eight months has got to be one of my favorite times - so much learning and discovering and exploring. so many new things like crawling and eating and words like mama and dada. this boy is so so sweet on his sisters and i think they feel the same way - no one can snap him out of a mood like stella can, i could listen to those two giggle for hours. you can tell tim loves this age a lot too, he is a lot more interactive with dada and isn't just focused on the boobs and mama.

i am already dreaming up his super hero birthday on my pinterest boards and him and stella will go as batman and robin for halloween. so cliche i know but how can i resist? nine months is just around the corner and i can't wait! as sad as it is that times passes us by so fast - this family of six is having so much fun these days that i soak up all of these memories happily. so until then, happy eight months little dude.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

things we love: passive juice motel + a giveaway! (CLOSED)

happy fourth of july! i hope everyone has some super fun plans for tonight and stay safe! i couldn't let this holiday slip by without letting you guys in on a awesome etsy shop and giveing you a chance to win a prize. have you checked out passive juice motel yet?

"made with genuine human hands", passive juice motel is hands down my favorite etsy shop right now! when robin was born i was determined to give little man some serious unique little man style and somewhere along the way the girls lucked out too. from their tees to their tanks to their pillows to their bags, i could seriously buy it all!

printed on american apparel tees, the images are crisp and fresh and stand up to washing and drying so well! the dominant theme in their shop seems to be fun pop culture when it and awesome rappers. everywhere we go we get stopped by people who want to know more about their shirts - or give a little giggle, cause it is pretty funny seeing my tiny blonde lady representing jay-z and his big lips.

i am so in love with this shop and their products, that we have teamed up to give away a $25 credit passive juice motel! you can pick out a tee for you, or your little one, or to give as a birthday gift - whatever you want. 
to win, just follow the rafflecopter steps below! the giveaway will run until next thursday at midnight pst. good luck and have fun!