Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Clubfoot Story - Part 1

Clubfoot definition - A congenital deformity of the foot usually marked by a curled shape or twisted position of the ankle and heel and toes.

I haven’t talked much about the fact that my son with born with severe bi-lateral clubfoot, but I know that I probably should. I believe that by telling our story, from learning about the birth defect when I was only 20 weeks along in my pregnancy and all the way through his treatment, can help other parents to know that they are not alone. Because you are not...there are others that have been through the same things...and we made it. It was tough, but we made it!

How our story went…

In the beginning:

I found out that I was pregnant in April of 2006. My husband and I were so happy. We had been married for 6 years at the time and were finally ready to start our family. We had long ago determined that we were only going to have one child. We didn’t care about the sex of the baby…we just knew that being parents was something that we wanted to be and healthy was all that we were hoping for.

Everything went great in the beginning of my pregnancy. I was one of the lucky few women that never had morning sickness. I was able to sleep each night, go to work each morning and other than gaining weight…there really was no change for me. We went to our first doctor’s appointment at 12 weeks. Listened to the baby’s heartbeat and cried. Cried tears of absolutely happiness. We went back to the doctor at 16 weeks and again at 20 weeks. Note that my husband and I went a different route with our doctor…most women choose to go to a ob/gyn, but our family doctor can deliver babies and we LOVE her, so we opted to have her take care of me during my pregnancy. And because of this when it was time for me to get an ultrasound, I was sent to a clinic that specializes in ultrasounds instead of having it done in my doctors office.

The day of the ultrasound my husband and I were on pins and needles with excitement. We couldn’t wait to finally “see” our baby and find out if we were having a boy or a girl! We met up at the clinic and waited in the lobby for our appointment, holding hands & giggling like children. We were called back and the technician began our ultrasound. She walked us through what we were looking at…the heartbeat, the spine, the kidneys, etc. She then told us that we were having a boy!

But I started to notice that she wasn’t showing us anything on the bottom half of my baby’s body. I found myself asking her over and over, “Everything’s just perfect, right?” And with each question all that I got was either no response or she just started talking about something else. Then came the dreaded words from her. She told us that she believed something might be wrong but that she needed to get a second opinion from the physician, a world-renowned perinatologist that owned the clinic. The technician wouldn’t tell us what was wrong…she just left the room. Turns out that the physician that she consulted with was working that day at one of his other clinics and that he could look at our ultrasound from there. My husband and I silently sat in the exam room crying. Both of us were crying because we had no idea what was going on…

When the technician came back into the room she informed us that the perinatologist wanted to talk to us, so she picked up a phone in the exam room and handed it to me. The doctor then informed me that our baby had a birth defect called severe bi-lateral clubfeet. I don’t remember much more from the conversation…he went over statistics, and treatments and other stuff, but I pretty much just kept hearing “birth defect” over and over and over. I handed the phone back to the technician and told my husband what the doctor had told me. And we both cried. I remember the technician telling us that it would be ok and she also went over the statistics of how many babies are born with it, how it is treatable and other stuff. But I didn’t really hear her. I was in a daze. Next thing I knew we were back in the lobby making follow up appointments, being given literature and getting a printout of some photos from the ultrasound along with a disk of the images.

An ultrasound image showing one of my son's clubfeet.

I was just at such a loss…I had never imagined that the appointment would turn out how it did. I just thought we would go in and find out the sex of our baby…I imagined I would shed tears, but tears of joy not of sorrow and uncertainty. I didn’t know anything about clubfeet other than a few photos that I had seen of children in third world countries. I wasn’t something that I was familiar with…no one in my family or my husband’s family had had this, all of my friends had healthy babies. All that I could picture was that my baby boy wouldn’t walk or that he would have to have multiple painful surgeries.

That night I called my doctor, talked to my family & close friends, cried with my husband & started to research exactly what clubfoot was and how it was treated. I was scared and sad but I knew that I needed more information…

To be continued...

Friday, May 27, 2011

What I'm doing this weekend...

For this holiday weekend my time will be spend doing
a little bit of this...


And a lot of time doing this...


All the while drinking lots of these...



Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone and a I wish to give BIG thank you to all of the men and women in the armed forces that have sacrificed their life protecting me and my family.
Your service is not forgotten!
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Edit Me Challenge - Week 2

So here is my submission for this week's Edit Me challenge over at My Reflection of Something. Let me know what you think! (Hover your mouse over the photo to see the before & after.)

Roll your mouse over the photo to see before and after.


My Edit
Original
My goal with this photo was to make it almost dream-like, so this week I used actions from Totally Rad

1) I used Technicolor Dream World & P.O.S. Lens actions.*

2) Next I adjusted the hue & saturation of blue to make the sky more blue and the green one for the grass.

3) I then added a vignette to the edges so that your eye goes right to the old wagon in the middle of of the photo.

*Don't ask me what my percentages were...I totally forgot to write them down before I flattened the image! (doh!!!) & I used Photoshop CS5 to edit.

 My Reflection of Something

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ps. Isn't that roll over feature that I used on my photo cool? Here is a tutorial on how to do it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pooltime fun

Just a couple of shot of my family having fun in the pool over the weekend! I've really been having fun with getting some great action shots lately...I am so glad that I learned to shoot in manual from my photography class or I never would get to have these photos!




I hope that everyone had as great of a weekend as I did! It's just been busy, busy, busy around here trying to fit everything in lately...I sometimes need more hours in the day to get everything accomplished!

Happy Monday & here's to a great upcoming week!  Cheers!
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blackberry Crumb Bars

One of my favorite flavors of summer is the taste of fresh berries. I really, really love berries...raspberries, strawberries, huckleberries...just about any of them.

Just a little sidenote about my history with berries: I think that my love of berries came from growing up on a raspberry farm in rural southwest Washington state. I remember having to pick berries every summer and that I was absolutely terrible at it! I was definitely under the impression that the way it worked was "one for me, one for the bucket." So, needless to say, I was definitely not going to win any berry picking contests!

Every now and I then I purchase fruits and vegetables from a local co-op and this past distribution they offered the opportunity for participants to purchase flats of blackberries at a really great price. I took them up on it and purchased myself 2 flats of the berries and I have been on a mission to find great blackberry recipes to try out! So I set out on a mission to search the interwebs for recipes that used blackberries. One of them that I came across was a recipe for bars that promised a tender cake topped with fresh blackberries and a crumble. And the recipe was from the great Martha...so I decided to give it a whirl.

These bars turned out to be wonderful! The cake is light and tender. The berries are slightly tart and pop with flavor in your mouth and the crumble has a great sweet, slight crunch to it. I kicked up the original recipe by adding white chocolate chips to it and I couldn't imagine the recipe without them!



Blackberry Crumb Bars
Inspired by Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, and 1/2 cup (1 stick), room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 containers (6 ounces each) blackberries
Instructions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter and flour paper, tapping out excess.
2) Make topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; add 1 cup flour, and mix with a fork until large moist crumbs form. Refrigerate topping until ready to use.
3) In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside.
4) In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture.
5) Spread batter evenly in pan; sprinkle with blackberries, white chocolate chips, then chilled topping.
6) Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes.
7) Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.



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I am linking this recipe up to: Fireflies & Jellybeans, Strut Your Stuff, It's a Keeper Thursday, Recipe Swap Thursday, Frugal Food Thursday, Tip Day Thursday, Catch a Glimpse, Thrilling Thursday, Hookin Up With HoH, Almost Friday Flaunts, Full Plate Thursday, Transformation Thursdays, I'm Loving It, Foodie Friday, Feature Yourself Friday, Friday FavoritesIt's a Hodgepodge Friday, Friday Flair, Made By You Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Just Something I Whipped Up    

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Edit Me Challenge - Week 1

I am participating in the Edit Me challenge over at Reflection of Something this week. This is the first week of the challenge and I am really excited to be a part of this meme. The purpose of it is for anyone that is participating to take the same original image and edit it using anything that you want...actions, textures, text, etc., and make the photo your own. You then also explain how you got your photo to your final image...the step that you took and what you used. It is a really great way to learn a little more about image editing and it also shows some great creativity!

Here is the original image for the week:




And here is my edited photo:



For my photo I used Photoshop CS5 and I also used some actions. The action set that I used comes from MCP Actions - Fusion set for photoshop.

1) I darkened up the mountains to show more detail in them and to help them not be washed out.
2) I used the MCP action One Click Color at 75%
3) I then used the actions Peachy & Slumber Party both at 50%.
4) Finally I added a lens flair in the upper right corner.

Happy Wednesday!

 My Reflection of Something
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Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm a big baby

Ok...it's confession time...

A confession about what a big baby I am...

I have a pool. And, I'm not gonna lie…I absolutely love having one. When my husband and I were originally talking about moving down to Arizona about 7 years ago, I made him promise me that our house would have a pool. I knew, especially since I had never lived anywhere except Washington State, that I would not be able to handle the heat of summer in the desert without one. Also, since I grew up in a climate where it rains 7-8 months of the year, almost no one had a pool and it was such a novelty to even imagine being able to have one...especially one in my own backyard! For us swimming was something that you did in a lake or a river…and that water was COLD!

But now I that I lived in Arizona for over six years, I have completely adjusted to the temperature down here and I get cold so, so easily...I can’t even imagine swimming in anything except a pool that has water that is at least 85 degrees.

I know…what a freakin’ baby I’ve turned out to be! But, at least I can say that I don’t ever complain about the heat anymore. Just the cold…and yes, my idea of cold is completely differernt than most of the country’s idea of it. I don’t like anything under 50 degrees…and even then it’s pushing it for me! When my friends back in Washington talk about swimming, I know that it is in ice cold water and I can't even comtemplate how that water would feel on my Arizona-acclimated tushie!

So, yes...I'm a big baby about the cold...

But I think that I am meant to live in the desert with the heat and I wouldn't have it any other way!

On that note I will leave you with a couple of photos of my son playing in the pool yesterday.

A running jump...

...followed up with a ninja kick!



 Happy, happy Monday!!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Raspberry Beer Cocktail

Now that summer is here down in Arizona (yeah, I know that it is spring everywhere else, but the minute it hits 100 degrees I consider it summer!) I have been on the lookout for some really great cocktail recipes for drinking out by the pool. I love having light refreshing drinks to drink to help me to forget that it is 110+ degrees outside!

So when skimming an old edition of Southern Living magazine at the doctors office a couple of weeks ago I came across a recipe for a cocktail that was made using raspberry lemonade and beer. It really intrigued me....a recipe that involved frozen juice concentrate, light beer, vodka & berries? Sounds strange doesn't it?

But...I was pleasantly surprised with how light & refreshing this drink is! (Even my husband, who never likes fruity drinks, thought it was good)


It was absolutely delicious and I think it has quickly became my go to drink for lounging pool side this summer! (It was also beautiful to look at so I will for sure be using this to serve whenever we entertain over the summer.)




Raspberry Beer Cocktail 
from Southern Living

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 3 1/2 12 oz bottles of beer (light works best)
  • 1 container (12 oz) frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Vodka

Instructions:
1) Using the back of a spoon, mash raspberries in a bowl. Transfer raspberries to a pitcher.
2) Add remaining 3 ingredients to pitcher and stir together.
3) Serve over ice & enjoy!
(I added a few whole raspberries to garnish my drink, lime or lemon slices would also be great as garnish!)

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I am linking this recipe up to: Fireflies & Jellybeans, Strut Your Stuff, It's a Keeper, Thirsty Thursdays, What's Cooking Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Transformation Thursdays, La Bella Vita, Tidy Mom, Foodie Friday, Made By You Monday, Just Something I Whipped Up, Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays, Sugar Bee, Tasty Tuesdays, Tip Me Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, Handmade Tuesdays, Delectable Tuesdays, Toot Your Horn Tuesdays, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Creative Share, Show and Tell         

Friday Favorites

I love, love, love summer! The bright colors of summer...the warmth of summer...lounging by the pool. All of it! Here are some of my favorite summer items that I have found on the web this past week...

#1 ~ I seriously love this bag! I think that it would be perfect for summer...pool parties, picnics, swim lessons. It is so much fun!
kate spade tropical jezibel
#2 - I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these sandals! Especially since they would go with just about anything!
Mark & James by Badgley Mischka Maiko sandal
#3 - These little piggies are awesome!
Piggy Platters, Servers & Bowls from Napa Style
#4 - This kate spade purse is so bright and fun. Just perfect for carrying around all my crap this summer!
kate spade verandah place small small coal

#5 - I need these. (Yes...need!) We love having friends & family over for BBQ's & pool parties in the summer and I think these would be great to use when they come!
BBQ Condiment Set from Pottery Barn


 You can tell that I love it all...from handbags, to totes, to shoes and serving pieces! Happy Friday!


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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Being 1300 miles away sucks

Caleb with Grandpa this past fall


Dear Dad,

I just wanted to say that I love you!

I know that you are currently in the hospital after having surgery and I really wish that I could be there with you. It's times like this that I wish that I didn't live so far away from you and the rest of my family! The 1300 miles are just killing me...but I just want you to know that I am thinking about you and sending out prayers, positive thoughts and good juju to you for quick healing! We will be seeing you in just a few short months when we come to visit, but Caleb sends his love and lots & lots of hugs in the mean time!

Get well soon...

Luv ya!
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Monday, May 9, 2011

Harding Girls Photo Session

I was lucky last week to have one of my friends and her girls let me take their photos so that I could practice with my new camera and work on an assignment for my photography class. I had so much fun and they were so very, very patient with me...which is great because I'm pretty slow at getting my setting right!

The photos are going to be a Father's Day gift for their dad/husband & I think he's going to be pretty happy with his gift! Here are the best shots from the afternoon...


I am so happy, happy, happy with the results. The lighting was perfect. The girls were easy to work with. Their clothes were just adorable. And Grandma even got in on the action. (Which was really a special thing because the girls don't have very many photos with their Grandma!)

Aren't they a beautiful family?

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy

Not me...but it shows how I feel! Photo via Thinkstock


I am happy!

I can’t believe how very happy I am in this moment. It fills me all the way to my core. It’s my Mother’s Day gift to myself…peace, contentment and happiness.

It’s been such a long time coming. I have been dealt some pretty heavy blows over the past 5 years and with each and every one I have lost a little bit of myself. I forgot who I was and how to feel happy. I forgot how to enjoy life and those around me. But through dedication…dedication to myself, my son & my marriage I have found my way back to myself.

I have learned how to love myself again…who I am, what I look like, what I do and how I act. I accept my faults and try not to dwell on them. I accept others around me for who they are and do my best not the try to change them. I love the people that I have chosen to surround myself with and look forward to what the future may bring me.

I laugh. Man, do I laugh. And it feels good. Uplifting & freeing. I find myself laughing and enjoying what is around me on a daily basis.

I also allow myself to cry, but I don’t sink down into the depths of sadness that I used to. I use crying as a release. A way for me to release tension & sadness. And then I move on. I don’t let the sadness linger. I had to learn how to do this because I allowed my depression to live for so long…but I did learn it. And I am changed because of this.

So all in all, I am happy. I love my life and the place that I am in. I feel joy everyday from both the little and the big things. This is the place that I was meant to be...the place that I had thought that I would never find again, but I did. I found it and I want to stay here.

I. Am. Happy.



Two of the reasons that I am so happy!



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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Busy, Busy...but still time for photos!

This has been just a crazy busy month for me so far...but since I am taking a photography class I find myself taking photos any spare moment that I can find! Earlier this week I was lucky enough to have one of my friends and her daughters let me take their photos and I had so much fun doing it! Here is a little preview of the photos...




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Monday, May 2, 2011

A very special moment

I just wanted to share a special moment that I caught between my husband and son this weekend when I was practicing with my camera. It's one of those photos that I had no idea that I had even taken until we got home and I uploaded my photos.

And now, every time I look at this photograph it just takes my breath away...


I hope that everyone had a fabulous weekend! Happy Monday!
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