Friday, January 30, 2009

Bayou Wildlife Park

All I can say is, "Wow!" Bayou Wildlife Park really was a great adventure! Their brochure describes the park as "a completely natural setting, where a variety of birds and exotic wildlife roam freely through the prairies and woods." We visited the park with our MOMS Club today, and we saw lots of animals right up close.
Just driving into the park was exciting, as many of the animals come right up to your car to say hello. When we arrived at the parking area, we saw the cows and emu through the fences and then boarded our tram. The tram ride was longer than I anticipated, and we were able to feed many different animals from our buckets of food. Lily was very excited to see the animals. She was wide-eyed and quiet when they were right up close to the tram, but if they were just a few feet back she was talking to them and about them.
The buffalo was probably the most surprising animal we were able to get close to, but the camels were the most fun to see up close. The ostriches were hilarious! We saw both ostrich eggs and emu eggs, and there were two baby zebras (are they called calves?). I haven't even listed half the animals we saw today, and I really think this is a park you have to experience for yourself to appreciate how much fun it was. After the tram ride, we visited the petting zoo and enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading home. Lily fell asleep in the car and woke up saying, "Animals? Animals?" I'm hoping to go back again soon so Daddy can join us; maybe we'll plan a trip with a group of friends.
I took many, many more pictures than this, but I thought from these maybe you can see how the animals were not shy at all! I also haven't included all of the different species in these photos - there are too many!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Swallow Study

Lily and I went to the hospital again today for a repeat Modified Barium Swallow Study. We're old pros at this test, and the staff at the hospital know us. But today might have been Lily's last swallow study! She drank the thin liquid without aspirating at all. There was shallow airway penetration, but nothing alarming. We didn't even try the nectar thickness because Lily did well enough on thin that she didn't need any thickening. The speech pathologist is comfortable with Lily trying thin liquids at home! We'll start with water for a few days and see how it goes. We'll be watching for any changes in vocal quality, choking, gagging, and low-grade fevers that may indicate aspiration. If there are no changes, we'll be able to start giving Lily milk without thickener. All of this is pending the pulmonologist's approval, of course, but these are the plans we've discussed.
I really wasn't expecting this news today. Going to swallow studies had kind of become a routine chore for us, with always the same results; so I wasn't anticipating the great news! The doctors have always insisted that Lily would outgrow her dysphasia, and I had decided not to worry about it anymore. This was a very, very nice surprise!
While we were waiting today, we played in the sunroom. I really love Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. They do a great job of making kids feel at ease, and the doctors have always taken wonderful care of Lily. As much as I hate having to take Lily to the hospital, I always feel at home when we arrive. It's a strangely comforting feeling. Anyway, like I was saying, we played in the sunroom, and I took pictures! I took the camera with us today intending to take a photo during the swallow study, but I didn't get a chance because Lily didn't want to drink the barium and I had to coax her to do it. So we only have playground pictures. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Random Thoughts

I was inspired by Leah's post to look at some recent pictures of Lily and see who she looks like. It depends on the picture! I think she looks like both Dusty and myself. I took these photos yesterday.

In this one, I think she looks like me because of the eyes.In this one, I think she looks like Dusty -- also because of the eyes!
LOL... I obviously can't decide. Especially from these pictures where I couldn't get her to let go of the cup for two seconds for a picture. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

This is what happens to cheeseburger rolls if you leave them on the counter just a smidgen longer than usual before baking:
They all rose up over the top of the muffin pan, so I had to smoosh them down again! I was crossing my fingers at the time, hoping I hadn't screwed up my no-fail roll recipe! This is the only bread recipe I've ever been successful with - I usually have a hard time getting the dough to rise properly, or the bread turns out chewy. But no worries, they turned out just fine. You've gotta try these things. Simple & delicious.

I'm sorry for the crazy links in my recent posts. I recently "upgraded" my Internet Explorer to the IE8 Beta version because I had previously been having problems with IE6 (yes, I was living in the dark ages) and some of the websites I use a lot. Well, IE8 fixed those problems but created new ones with my blog. I was having issues with pictures as well as links, so I hope it's all straightened out now... I switched to an even newer version of IE8, so we'll see how it goes.

We're taking a break from potty training. We're going to be out of town in a couple of weeks, and I don't want to push the issue between now and then. Lily is still telling me when she needs to poop, and we still make it to the potty sometimes. But I'm not putting any pressure on her, and I think we'll just wait until after we return from our little trip. There's no rush.

My legs and hips are killing me. While I've been walking on a fairly regular basis ("regular" being used very loosely here), that is not the same as group exercise classes! I went to a step class and an aerobics class this week, and I'm really feeling it tonight. It's a good thing, though! That just means I got a good workout. The instructor does a great job motivating the class, pushing us to work hard, and giving enough instructions so you feel like you know what you're doing even if you're new to the class. I've had fun, and that's what makes me want to go back to those classes again.

We're currently trying to decide on a contractor for repairing the interior hurricane damage to our house. Once the repairs are complete, we'll be redoing some flooring and painting the dining room, foyer, living room, upstairs hallway, and play room. That's all of the open areas in the house, excluding the kitchen. I do not want to paint all those areas the same color, so I'm working on choosing colors and getting ideas for decor. Because of the two-story walls in some of our rooms, we'll probably hire someone to do the painting. Since we're hiring someone to paint, that means I need to be really sure of the colors I choose. So we're considering working with an interior decorator, but no final decision on that yet. Considering that we've lived in this house for 2 1/2 years with the same white walls in all these rooms, it's a little overwhelming to think about painting ALL of this at once. But I'm super excited about it, and I can't wait to get the project underway!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Do you plan your meals and make a list before going grocery shopping? I've been doing this for a long time, and it really makes things easy for the rest of the week. I make a menu plan and grocery list on Sundays, and then we go shopping on Monday. The grocery list is always kept in the same place, so if we run out of things throughout the week, they get added to the list and picked up on the next Monday. We plan our budget according to the number of Mondays in the month, and I try really hard to stick to my list in order to save money. It works!

I know it sounds a little overwhelming or tedious if you're used to going into the store and picking up whatever you usually need. But it's worth it! Planning a menu and grocery list prompts you to think about what's going on in the week ahead, so you plan meals that fit into your schedule. You can also check your pantry to see what ingredients you already have on hand, so you're not buying as many duplicates. Best of all, you're less likely to forget things when you use a list, so you're not running back to the store four times a week. Even if you simply create a meal plan and grocery list from the same recipes you always use, you can save yourself time by doing this.

Now, when I say "meal plan," I don't mean a set-in-stone schedule that has to be strictly followed. Not at all! When I create our meal plan, I come up with enough dinners to get us through the week, enough lunch ideas to keep us fed during the day, and one or maybe two desserts. I write it all down according to when I think we'll use these meals, but we don't always follow it to a T. It's ok to switch days around, and it's ok to go out to eat instead if that's what you feel like on a particular day. The idea is to have food on hand that actually goes together to make a meal when you need to cook it. If you skip one of your meals, that's ok, you have one less meal to plan for next week!

To show that it doesn't have to be complicated, here's our meal plan for this week - these are all really easy meals!

Monday - meat loaf & baked potatoes

Tuesday - cheeseburger rolls & veggie

Wednesday - Taco Potatoes (this might get switched to another day, since we just had potatoes on Monday - see how it's flexible?)

Thursday - Frozen pizza (It definitely doesn't get any easier than that! hhahaha... It does NOT have to be a big fancy meal - the idea is just to plan a meal.)

Friday - Easy cheesy lasagna

Saturday - swiss stuffed chicken w/ a pasta side dish

Sunday - grlled pork chops & baked potatoes; also super bowl sunday, so I'll make crab-stuffed jalapenos and peanut butter bars to share at a get-together

I also got some oatmeal for breakfasts, along with ingredients for apple-chicken quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hot dogs for lunches, and of course we'll have leftovers for lunches on the weekend. I also pick up frozen veggies almost every week, so we have veggies with meals that aren't complete. We're eating a lot of potatoes this week because I bought too many of them last week and I want to use them up. The great thing about potatoes is that they can be prepared lots of ways... So this meal plan is definitely not set in stone!

There are lots of resources online for help with planning meals. My friend Brenda has a blog about meal planning (, and OrgJunkie ( has a huge list of real people's meal plans every week (many of them with links to the recipes).
So I know my post is late for this week's "Menu Plan Monday," but I thought some of you might still be interested. Happy eating!

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Step Stool

Lily loves her new step stool! Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!
I have no idea why, but Lily thinks she is supposed to get inside the step stool. We'll have to fill it up with toys or something so there's no room for her... Otherwise I'm going to be getting her out of it all day long - she gets stuck in there!

I don't think I'm going to keep the stool in the kitchen. There are times when I really don't want her to reach the stuff on the countertops! We'll probably keep it upstairs in the bathroom.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Lily had her two-year check-up with Dr. Dickerson today. She is now at the 10th percentile for both height and weight - hooray! Lily received one immunization today, along with a TB test. No tears at all! It was a great doctor visit, and we are so thankful for an uneventful, positive check-up.

The rule of thumb for a premature baby to "catch up" to her peers is 2 years, and it's about right. Lily hit the growth charts a few months ago and has been on track developmentally for quite awhile... But this was the first real well-check to confirm all of that, and it was awesome to walk out of there with my happy, healthy little girl.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Potty Training Update - And Counting!

Potty training started off with great success the first two days. Then there was a dry spell (or rather, a wet spell) for two days, and back into diapers while Lily was sick for three days. I had very mixed emotions about potty training when we started the day today. I was almost considering holding off for a couple of weeks or maybe months, wondering if maybe Lily wasn't really ready (or maybe I needed to work on building endurance for my patience?).

But then... She asked for underwear while I was getting her dressed this morning, and she was excited about using the potty. Can't really say no to that! She had a few accidents, but she also pooped on the potty THREE times today! I've read that some kids get the hang of pooping on the potty before peeing, but everyone I've talked to has said their kids peed on the potty well before they pooped on it consistently. It doesn't matter to me which comes first, I'm just happy she's interested in learning.

I'm going to have to get more marshmallows! Oh, and speaking of marshmallows - Lily counted her marshmallows when I handed them to her today! Seriously. I held out my hand with four marshmallows in it, and she took the first one and said, "marshmallow." Then for the remaining three marshmallows, she said, "one, two, three," as she took them. And she did it again later on when she used the potty again, so I wasn't just hearing things. Smarty pants.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


We've had a bit of a rough weekend around here... I had a fever Saturday morning; once that went away, I was left with a stuffy head cold. Lily also woke up with a fever on Saturday morning, but hers hasn't gone away yet. It hit 103.8 today, but it comes down below 100 when we give her Motrin. It's probably a virus, but I suppose we'll go to doctor tomorrow to be sure. And now today, Dusty's throat hurts. I think we'll all go to bed early tonight and hopefully sleep the worst of this off by morning!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Birthday Party

Happy Birthday 2 Lily!
I really, really cannot believe my baby is two years old. Yes, I know, she's not really a baby anymore... But she's MY baby, and I'll call her that if I want to! In any case, our big girl had a wonderful birthday party on Saturday, with lots of friends, cake and ice cream, and balloons! I made her a strawberry birthday cake, and I was surprised that she didn't blow out the candles. She usually says her food is hot and blows on it, so I thought we could get her to blow them out, but I was wrong. She loved the cake, she had fun playing with her friends, and she still hasn't stopped playing with her new toys. Thank you all for celebrating with us!

Potty Training

Lily started potty training on Tuesday. We're not using pull-ups; I just put her in underwear instead of a diaper. Sometimes tells me she needs to go potty, but most of the time she has accidents and then tells me afterward that she went potty. Sometimes we make it to the potty in time to finish up in the potty. I take her to the bathroom every half hour so she can at least try to go, but it seems like she has a fairly good grasp of whether she needs to go or not. So sometimes I help her sit on the potty and she immediately says that she's all done.

So far she has peed in the potty once and pooped in the potty once. She gets miniature marshmallows when she goes in the potty, so I think overall she's enjoying the whole potty training experience! Meanwhile, I'm realizing that I'm going to need a lot of patience throughout this process. I think we're on the right track, though.

I know it's not like me, but I haven't taken any potty chair pictures. I've been too busy helping Lily to think about the camera, but I'll try to remember. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Little Helper

Lily is a very good helper! She spent a lot of time outside while the back fence was being built, and she wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty (unlike Mommy who really feels like a fish out of water when it comes to stuff like this!).


Our backyard fence project is underway... Hiring someone to build this fence would have been twice as costly and not even half as well-built. The back section of the fence is complete, and several posts have been set for one of the side sections. Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa Corning, for all your help!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Our roof was damaged by Hurricane Ike, and we had it replaced last week. Can you believe a crew of seven replaced our entire roof, including the garage, in just one day? I was very surprised. They did a great job!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Wow, it's 2009... Hard to believe!
We rung in the new year with our 2nd annual New Year's Eve bash. It would be the 3rd annual, but two years ago doesn't really count as a "bash" because three of us girls were pregnant and Natalie actually called David during the pre-bash board games to let him know that her water had broken! Michael was born around 10pm that night, still in 2006. New Year's Eve is always interesting around here! This year's party did not disappoint - a good time was had by all, with serious gaming early on, followed by Taboo. Dancing in the kitchen, good food, and good friends.

I hope you all have a very happy, healthy new year!

Now on a more boring note, I have to get my new calendar up to date so I won't lose my mind this year! I've been using Amy Knapp's Family Organizer for about a year and a half now, and I love it. It's a unique style of planner with menu planning and grocery lists built right into the weekly calendar. I need all the help I can get to keep myself on track - I am sidetracked very easily! This year I chose the Christian version of the Family Organizer, which has scripture instead of secular inspirational messages, as well as a weekly section to record prayers and praise. If you're looking for a calendar for the new year, check these out!

Sad News

I couldn't contain my excitement, so I'm not sorry to have shared our pregnancy news so soon... But I am sorry to have to tell you all that we're not having a baby anymore - I had a miscarriage earlier this week. While I am certainly not happy that this happened, I know that it happened for a reason. For some reason God didn't want us to have this baby, and I trust that He has the perfect plan for us.