Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Wednesday One: Week 17 and a Daisy Update

I got the call this morning, shortly after dropping Ethan off at preschool. I knew we were going to hear the news today about Daisy's aspiration results, yet I somehow still felt unprepared for the bomb that was to be dropped on us. It was confirmed. Daisy has lymphoma. Cancer. A vicious, deadly disease has invaded her poor little, never-hurt-a-fly body and it's making her so sick and miserable. Until today, she would still readily gobble up the boiled chicken we prepare for her, but this morning she must've felt too sick even for that, as it still sits there in her bowl, untouched, as my heart breaks more than I imagined possible. We now have to come to terms with the fact that her time here is limited. It's been devastating watching her in so much visible pain. It's even harder knowing that we can't help her understand what is going on.

Our vet recommended that we get her started on a steroid, prednisone. While it can't cure the cancer, obviously, it will shrink the enlarged lymph nodes for now and allow her to feel better. Her appetite and thirst should return quickly and she'll be more like her sweet, happy self again. Unfortunately, the effects of the prednisone are short-lived. When used alone, the average survival time is just 1-2 months. Given the fact that she's been feeling bad for several weeks now, we will need to act quickly. She has a rare form of lymphoma - the gastrointestinal kind. From what I've read, it accounts for only about 5% of lymphomas in dogs. It does appear that we've caught it fairly early, as it's in Stage 2 (the lymph nodes in just one area of the body are affected), but she is in substage b, though, which means that she is experiencing symptoms (vs no visible symptoms).

The next step is to decide which course of treatment to proceed with for her, if that is the route we want to take. Our vet has personal experience with lymphoma, as she also had a dog that suffered from it. She actually doesn't recommend the full-blown, intensive chemotherapy, but instead to use a single drug therapy. This is what she did for her dog. Full chemotherapy would involve an intense 12 weeks of drugs and has a high percentage of remission, for about 6-8 months. Second remissions are possible, but shorter and harder to achieve. Treatment with this route usually results in an average survival time of 9-12 months, but at a very high price tag. The single drug therapy would involve 5 shorter treatments, and would hopefully result in a survival time of anywhere from 3-8 months. At this time, we have decided to go with the latter. With Josh out of the country for most of May, we want to buy some more time (literally, I guess) with her. We want to ease her pain and give her a few more months to enjoy with us, including one last trip to the beach in June. I'm sure there may be more difficult decisions to make in the near future, but for the time being, we hope that this is the right path to take, especially for her. We thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Click! Take a Pic! {Part 2}

It's that time pictures! Nope, I'm not repeating myself. Well, yes, technically I am. Even though they did school pictures in the fall, I guess they decided to do them again this spring. So yeah, you know me. I'm a sucker for buying pics of my kids!! Teddy Bear Portraits managed to talk me into buying the pictures they take as a fundraiser for the preschool. Even though we'll be getting family pics done at the beach next month, I couldn't say no to these. I mean, really, look how adorable they are. :) So yeah, these will look nice hanging on the wall with the spring decorations. :) So, here's a collage I made of the little cuties to match the collage I did in the fall...

Here's the one from the fall, in case you forgot how they looked at that time. ;) It's kind of amazing how much they change in about 7 months!! They both are looking way too grown up. I know that happens, but sometimes I wish time could just stand still for a bit.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Menu Monday #51 and Daisy Update

Whew. It was a tough weekend for us. We've been trying to come to terms with the news we received at the vet's office on Wednesday. Daisy has not been feeling well lately. She's suffered a loss of appetite, lots of vomiting and diarrhea. So, it was time for a visit to the doctor. After performing x-rays, the doctor was concerned with a mass she saw in Daisy's belly, where she should've been visualizing her kidneys. She suspected an enlarged lymph node and a probable lymphoma diagnosis (due to the high incidence - 1 in 4 - of this disease in boxers). Because she couldn't see it well enough on x-ray, she referred us to a specialist in Asheville who has extensive ultrasound training for these sorts of things. Despite nearly reaching the average life span for a boxer, and the fact that we should be prepared for this, of course we're not. Daisy has been our baby girl for the past 8 years. She has been as much a part of our family as our children. We've taken her everywhere we can with us - she's probably more traveled than our children! She's eaten dinner with us at at a restaurant in downtown Chicago, enjoyed a plush personal doggy bed at the downtown Westin in Cincinnati, and has commanded quite the presence in our king-sized bed (as in, took up over 1/2 the bed) the past 7+ years (though we swore we'd never have a dog that slept in our bed! Haha!). We've made several dog-friendly beach vacations just so that she could join us and enjoy herself, too. Though she's more of a people-person than a dog-person, she loved her friendship in Kentucky with a miniature Australian shepherd, Penny, and currently with her cousin, Pickle. We've made countless beautiful memories with her and we'll soon most likely face some difficult decisions. She hasn't been feeling well for weeks now, not interested in eating her food or playing. She has been very sick and you can tell that she doesn't feel well. It's heartbreaking. We just want her to not be in pain anymore.

She had a really rough day Friday, so we stayed in that night to be with her. On Saturday, she seemed to be feeling better, gobbling up some boiled chicken, so we wanted to do something fun with her, especially since it was such a beautiful day. We decided to take her to Warrior's Path park for a walk and some pictures with the boys, followed by a cool ice cream treat. We got some great shots of them that I know we'll treasure forever.

Her appointment with the specialist went well. She was a real trooper and didn't require any sedation for the procedures. The vet even commented that he needed to employ her in the office to show the other doggies how to behave. We wouldn't expect anything less of her. We've always joked that she's our best-behaved child, but really we're only half joking because she is so perfect. We couldn't have asked for a better doggy all of these years. We used to joke about cloning her back in the day, too, because we wanted more dogs just like her. Oh how I wish we could now. So, they shaved her little side, and did the ultrasound. They found 2 masses. One was near the liver, so they stayed away from that one, but aspirated the other one. We'll receive the results of the aspiration in 24-48 hours and at that time we'll know what we're dealing with for sure. We're preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. I think it'll be easier that way. Until then, we need to try to get her to eat some canned food, as she is only interested in boiled chicken. :/

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Sunday: Blackened salmon, brown rice, roasted asparagus
We had our favorite fish meal and Daisy got to enjoy some salmon skin - her favorite treat!

Monday: Flour tortilla tacos
With Josh off work for the day, it'll be easier to get these made. The boys gobble them up!

TuesdaySpiced chipotle honey chicken with sweet potatoes
I wanted to try some new meals this week and this one looked easy and delicious. Sweet and spicy is always a great combo, so I'm sure this will be delicious!

Wednesday: Skillet lasagna
Another new recipe, it sounds fairly quick and easy, too! Annie's Eats is one of my favorite food blogs and her recipes never disappoint. The boys love pasta and cheese, so I don't think we can go wrong with this one.

Thursday: Parmesan ranch chicken with pasta and roasted cauliflower
Yet another new one to try, I don't think this one could be bad when you combine ranch and panko crumbs to coat the chicken! Pasta is always a hit and we've been loving the cauliflower.

Friday: Out to eat
We'll probably go out, or order something in.

Saturday: TBD
We'll see how things are doing. Ethan will be attending a birthday party at a park for another preschool friend that afternoon, so we may make it another picnic dinner if the weather is nice!

What's on your menu this week?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Menu Monday #50

Back to the real world. It was nice having a long weekend, spending time with Josh, the boys, and my parents, as they arrived Thursday evening. On Friday morning, everyone was home from work/school, so I made my whole wheat banana bread pancakes with vanilla maple glaze. I've had a lot of bananas leftover at the end of the week lately it seems! Haha! For lunch, we introduced my parents to Bagel Exchange. With Ethan in school every day, he doesn't get the chance to go very often, so he was quite pleased with our lunch choice. :) For dinner, we took them to Main Street Pizza Company, another of our new favorites. It was definitely a delicious day!

On Saturday morning, I made my delicious coffee cake to get our day started. Earlier in the week, Josh had ordered a piece of coffee cake from Starbucks for a sweet pick-me-up. Sadly, it was so bad, he didn't even want to eat it. That is the only downside to eating coffee cake as good as the one I make. It makes all other coffee cakes taste horrible! So, I made this for everyone at his request. That afternoon we had an egg hunt here at the house for the boys and Daisy. :)

Hmm, can you tell they're brothers?!?

For dinner, I tried a new recipe for Orange Dijon Pork Tenderloin. It was amazing. This is definitely a keeper. So simple, but so much flavor!! On the side, I made a Chipotle-copycat cilantro lime rice (it was perfect, and tasted just like Chipotle's!!) and roasted balsamic parmesan Brussels sprouts and mushrooms with pine nuts. It was a delicious meal! And I figured the pork could count as our Easter ham. ;) That's as close as I get to making ham! Haha!

On Sunday morning, Josh made our usual egg bagel sandwiches for breakfast before the Easter church service. It was a beautiful service, the choir sounded great, and the brass ensemble was amazing! And the boys looked super cute, of course. ;)

Easter 2014

Sunday: Grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, grilled corn on the cob, dark chocolate pudding with strawberries (see recipe below)
Again, it's no Easter ham, but it was a yummy, comfort meal for us to enjoy! I marinate the chicken in Zesty Italian dressing before grilling it. For dessert, I made my first ever pudding. Oh what I've been missing for the last 30+ years! Haha!

Monday: Chicken nuggets, mac 'n cheese
With Josh out of town again, this is an easy meal that the boys are guaranteed to eat! Haha!

Tuesday: Crispy shrimp pasta, roasted broccoli with parmesan
We love this easy shrimp dish, and the boys do, too.

Wednesday: Spaghetti squash "pasta" with sauce and meatballs
I'm finally going to try this out. I'm hoping the boys will be ok with the idea of squash, in place of the pasta. We shall see! To those who make this, do you prepare your squash by roasting it?

ThursdayBlackened chicken with avocado cream sauce over savory quinoa, roasted Brussels sprouts
I'm excited to try this new recipe. I'll use Josh's Cajun seasoning on the chicken. The avocado cream sauce sounds awesome, so I hope we all love it. I'll make my usual savory quinoa (cooked with chicken broth, adding some seasoning, onion and garlic) and roast some Brussels sprouts. I may try a new recipe, but the one with parmesan cheese and pine nuts is delicious!

Friday: Girls night out
I will be enjoying a night out with the ladies at a new local restaurant. The boys will enjoy the night in together and some pizza!

Saturday: TBD
Josh's parents will be visiting, so I'm not sure whether I'll cook, or we'll go out.

What's on your menu this week?

For some reason, I've always thought that I didn't like pudding. I tried a "snack pack" a couple weeks ago and it surprisingly wasn't bad. So, I figured homemade pudding would be pretty amazing. I was right. It literally took 10 minutes to make. Between the amazing taste and the fact that it had no added junk to it, it is the perfect sweet ending to a meal, especially when topped with some fresh strawberries! I found a recipe here that I altered a bit.

Dark Chocolate Pudding
(serves 4)


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups reduced-fat milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional

In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Stir in the milk and whisk until the mixture is well-blended. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes as the chocolate melts. Stir until smooth. Let it cool for about 15-20 minutes and serve warm, or refrigerate for 1-2 hours and serve cold.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Menu Monday #49

So, I'm a little behind this week, but we've been busy! On Friday night, we stayed in for dinner. We can't seem to keep everyone healthy around here (Daisy appears to be feeling somewhat better, but unfortunately isn't wanting to eat much but boiled chicken, not dog food. Sigh.), as Noah came down with a really high fever on Thursday after waking from his nap. Paired with a runny nose and cough, he was pretty miserable. So, while I was out enjoying a little "me time" while the boys napped, I picked up some Chick-Fil-A to bring home for dinner. We cashed in our "buy once, get it twice" receipt, so dinner was absolutely free! Score! Despite not feeling well, Noah still had a healthy appetite through it all, so he was happy to enjoy his nuggets. :)

On Saturday morning, I made my whole wheat banana bread pancakes with vanilla maple glaze again. They are so good! After that, Ethan and I headed out to a birthday party for one of his preschool friends. It was hot, hot, hot outside in the 80s, but it was nice to soak up the sunshine! After naps later that day, Noah was feeling good and his temperature was back to normal, so we went out to Carrabba's for dinner. I really love their Tag Pic Pac dish, so I indulged in that. :) For dessert, we made our way to Menchie's for some frozen yogurt to treat the boys. Unfortunately, Noah's fever returned later that evening, so it was early to bed for the boys.

On Sunday morning, Josh made our usual egg bagel sandwiches for breakfast. We decided to stay home from church in case Noah was contagious. We didn't want him passing any germs to all of the other little ones at the kids' worship! We spent the day at home, cleaning, and later enjoying the warm temps again. Fortunately, Noah's fever finally went away for good and he is feeling like himself again!

Sunday: Blackened salmon, brown rice, roasted asparagus
A delicious meal for a gorgeous, hot spring day! It was the perfect evening for grilling out, so we enjoyed this yummy meal! The boys had grilled tilapia, while we had the salmon. For dessert, we had fresh strawberries in chocolate pudding. I'm not sure why I had never had chocolate pudding before, but I actually really liked it! Who knew?

Monday: Cheeseburgers, sweet potato tots
Ethan and I attended another fun birthday party (an awesome pool party!), so Josh got dinner ready while we were on our way back home. Normally I'd make baked sweet potato fries, but since I wasn't there, Josh was able to throw some frozen tots in the oven. :)

Tuesday: Out to eat
Tonight we will be attending Ethan's kindergarten orientation (!!!!), so we'll make things easy by grabbing a bite to eat while we're out.

Wednesday: Out to eat
My aunt, uncle and cousin are coming to town to check out a local college campus, so we'll show them around the area, then enjoy some local fare for dinner!

Thursday: Roasted cauliflower and mushroom carbonara
I'm excited to try this new recipe. I have no idea why I stopped roasting cauliflower, but I was reminded last week how incredibly delicious it is! This dish sounds, and looks, amazing. I can't wait!

Friday: TBD
My parents will be in town, so I'm not sure if I'll cook or if we'll go out. After all of the eating out during the week, I should probably get back into the kitchen though! Haha!

Saturday: TBD

What's on your menu this week?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Luscious Lips with Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick

So, I don't normally wear a lot of makeup, especially lipstick. But, I recently received a sample of Rimmel's Moisture Renew lipstick from Influenster to try out. I'll admit, when I first put it on, it was a bit shocking seeing my lips so bright! Haha! I kept checking them out every so often though, and it actually really grew on me. Who knew I'd like lipstick so much?

Here I am wearing their shade "As You Want Victoria."

As you can see, my normally non-existent lips are really highlighted here!! I normally don't like wearing lipstick because it makes my lips feel sticky, but that wasn't the case with this tube. The color is so vibrant, too. Simply amazing! Not only does this lipstick not leave my lips feeling sticky, it actually felt like it moisturized them, like a chapstick. Awesome!

The only problem I can find, which I'm sure is common with most lipsticks, is that it does transfer pretty easily onto things. If I give my babies a kiss, it leaves a little pink behind. ;) The good news though, the color still remains on my lips, too!

I'm excited to buy another tube that's a bit more muted for daytime wear, but I'll definitely be wearing this shade for my next girls night out! :) Who knows, maybe I'll become more of a lipstick-wearing gal now, too.

I received this product from Rimmel London via Influenster for testing purposes. This post is not sponsored and the opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Menu Monday #48

On Friday night, after the boys got haircuts, we went to a local Italian restaurant, Giovanni's. I've loved everything I've tried there. We started with their garlic knots and I decided to get their Chicken Alfredo calzone. Not the most diet-friendly, but it's absolutely delicious. I enjoyed every calorie! Haha! After dinner, we made our way home so that we could finally watch Frozen!! The boys absolutely loved it, especially Olaf and Sven. :) I also loved it and its great soundtrack. It will be a nice change from Cars 2 in the van. Haha! I can't stop humming/singing "Let it Go!" We'll see how long that lasts, huh? ;) Ask me again after we've seen it for the 50th time?

On Saturday morning, I made my whole wheat banana bread pancakes with vanilla maple glaze. We gobbled those up! After that, we headed out to check out the first local farmers market of the season! It was a little slim this first week, but we're excited to head back again soon. We made our way to Home Depot to pick up some items (including some seeds, so we can start our own garden soon!) after that and discovered that it was the kids workshop weekend. So, the boys were able to make some Rio 2 bird feeders while we were there! They had a great time getting to use hammers (as you can see by Ethan's ornery face in the first pic) and nails to build them, then paint them, too. :)

Unfortunately, Daisy became ill while we were gone that morning, so we stayed home with her for the rest of the weekend. So, that night, we stayed in and grilled our dinner. A visit to the vet this morning revealed that she may have a viral or bacterial infection. We'll have to wait a couple days to see what happens. We're hoping the poor girl feels better soon!

On Sunday morning, Josh made our usual egg bagel sandwiches for breakfast. We purchased more bagels from The Bagel Exchange for these. I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to a store-bought bagel again!

Sunday: Mellow Mushroom pizza
Since we didn't go out Saturday night, Josh picked up some pizza to bring back to the house to eat. We got their Holy Shitake Pie. It is so delicious, with its olive oil and garlic base, caramelized onions, 3 kinds of mushrooms, cheese, and garlic aioli. Yuuuuummmm.

Monday: Chicken nuggets, mac 'n cheese
With Josh out of town again for the day, the boys and I will be living it up with some nuggets and mac. Haha! I use Perdue's Simply Smart frozen lightly breaded chicken chunks and Annie's classic mac 'n cheese. I love that they both use just a few, good ingredients.

TuesdayBrown butter chicken and crispy sage, vegetable risotto, roasted cauliflower
I haven't made this dish in a few weeks, but it's easy and yummy, so it's back on the menu. I'm trying a new mix for a vegetable risotto, so I hope it's good! I've made their butternut squash variety and it was very tasty, so I expect this one will be as well. I haven't fixed cauliflower in years now for some reason, but I've been wanting to again, so I will roast some up! When I made it in the past, I seasoned it with Indian spices (garam masala and cumin) and it was delicious, so I'll be doing that again.

Wednesday: Flour tortilla tacos
This is Ethan's favorite. He loves helping me roll out the tortillas. :) We fill our tacos with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese and sriracha sauce. Delicious!

Thursday: Chicken capri over brown rice, sautéed green beans
This dish is another yummy, easy one. The chicken is sprinkled with garlic powder, and sautéed on the stovetop for a few minutes. Then you put the pieces in a dish, top with ricotta cheese (seasoned with oregano, garlic powder, salt & pepper), some crushed tomatoes, and slices of provolone cheese, and bake until cooked through completely and cheese is melted. It is really good over brown rice, spooning some of the extra sauce on top, with green beans (sautéed in a little EVOO and seasoned with minced garlic) on the side.

Friday: Out to eat
We'll go somewhere!

Saturday: TBD
We'll probably go out, unless I decide to make some pizza at home.

What's on your menu this week?

Amos is Seven Months Old!

Age of Baby: 7 months
Even though he's tiny, he doesn't look it! Haha!

Size of Baby:
  • Weight: 15 lbs 0 oz (down to the 3rd percentile), +3 oz from last month
  • Length: 27 inches (down to the 49th percentile), +0.25 inches from last month
  • Head circumference: not measured
  • Height-to-Weight ratio: down to < 3rd percentile
Amos is still wearing a size 2 diaper and 3-6 month clothes when it's cold, but is starting to wear quite a bit more 6-9/6-12 month clothes, especially if they are for spring. He still wears a size 2 shoe.


None this month.

Doctor's Visit Summary:

No visit this month.

Picture of Baby:

Here is Amos's 7-month picture in the 12-month onesie. He's definitely getting more hair now, even though it's still not much, and hard to see here! Haha! All of my babies have been bald like me!

And here is a comparison of all three of the boys at seven months, just for fun. Ethan and Noah were still significantly bigger at this point (Ethan was 28 inches long and weighed 17 lbs and Noah was 27 inches long and weighed 17 lbs 3 oz).

Ethan, Noah, and Amos (each at 7 months)

Accomplishments this Month:
  • Drags himself around the room
  • Pushes himself up on hands
  • Sits forward in his high chair
  • Sits up on the floor with little assistance
  • Sitting at the table when we go out to eat & in the stroller (instead of in carseat) for walks
  • Found his thumb
  • Takes a pacifier
  • Picks up and grasps small toys
Amos is all over the place now! I think this is the reason for the small weight gain this past month. He has to be burning more calories than he is consuming most days! I seriously can't sit him on the ground without him immediately rolling over and he's off and dragging his little body all over the place to get what he wants! He puts one forearm out in front of himself, then drags his body up to it, and keeps going that way all the way across a room in mere seconds. He can push his entire body up into a push-up position, but then doesn't put his knees down to crawl that way though. He either drags himself that way, or with his body laying on the ground. It's pretty funny to watch. And it means it is time to think about baby-proofing a bit better again. He hasn't tried to climb any stairs yet, but I do make sure the gate at the top is closed so that he doesn't tumble down them when he gets to them!

When it's time to eat, he is definitely excited about it. He sits forward in his chair and starts making chewing motions with his mouth in anticipation. Haha! He can really gobble it up! He's also starting to sit up on the floor some by himself, but usually he needs a bit of assistance from his arm to hold himself there. He doesn't quite have the balance yet. Because he wants to eat, we've started putting him in our clip-on chair when we go out to eat. He likes being at the table with the rest of us and eating his dinner, too. :)

So, the little guy managed to find his thumb. And he really, really liked it. Sigh. So, in an effort to curb the thumb-sucking, despite how incredibly cute it is, we tried to introduce the pacifier instead. We know we can take that away from him at some point, but his thumb, not so much! So far, that's working pretty well, but he still likes to sneak his thumb in there sometimes. ;)

He has also really started playing with a lot of his little teething toys. He can grasp them with no problem, and keep hold of them while chewing away with those little gums!

New Foods tried this Month:
  • Carrots (March 9th)
  • Oatmeal (March 13th)
  • Green beans (March 16th)
  • Bananas (March 21st)
  • Pears (March 24th)
  • Sweet potatoes (March 26th)
We've moved ahead pretty quickly with more new foods for Amos, as he hasn't appeared to have any problems with any of them. I've also continued to nurse him every 3-4 hours during the day for 10-20 minutes. He normally gets breakfast when we get back home, after we've dropped one or both of the boys off at school, around 9:30 or 10. Then, he gets his dinner with the rest of us in the evenings. I'm going to hold off on a lunch for a bit longer, to be sure he still has room for breastmilk. We've completely stopped the reflux medicine now, and he had been doing really well, but now it seems like some of his solid food is coming back up, but not regularly, and not in huge amounts. So, I think maybe he's just eating a bit too much? We stop feeding him when he loses interest in the meal, but that is rare! Haha! He is kind of a bottomless pit - especially when it comes to his pears, mixed with cinnamon and oatmeal, and sweet potatoes and squash. Those are definitely the favorites right now! His bottom two teeth are in the process of breaking through right now, so more solid foods may not be too far in the future. For now, we're sticking to chunky purées. He seems to be doing well with those, and I like that they have some texture, so hopefully he won't have texture issues with food, like I do! Haha!

Amos has had another good month in the sleep department. He is still averaging around 13-14 hours of sleep a day (10-11 hours at night, including a new record almost 12-hr stretch!, and 3 hours during the day). He normally goes to bed between 9 and 10 pm, then sleeps until between 8 and 8:30 am. He has still had some night waking on occasion, especially recently, but I think it may be due to teething or trying to crawl this past month. He sometimes wants a morning nap again now, but not regularly. He is still usually taking a nice long afternoon nap, unless he gets a long one in during the morning/early afternoon.

It's been another good month for the little guy. It should be a busy upcoming month for him with teeth and maybe some cruising? I'd be happy to have one of the boys not want to move so early though! Haha!