Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Friday

Yes, I am one of the crazies who is out at 4 AM.

No, you will not catch me waiting in line overnight at Target, Best Buy or Toys R Us.

I love the Black Friday deals, but I am not a huge fan of the cutting, stampedes or long lines. There is no deal at Target worth standing in line for 2+ hours outside the store only to stand in line INSIDE for another hour to pay for those deals. I had to wait in line at Gap for 20 minutes and thought I was going to pass out from the hot flashes I was having (Note to self: Do not wear hooded sweatshirt in Mall on Black Friday EVER AGAIN!)

That being said, I do like to shop the smaller sales early to get the best selection and I would have to say it was a success. This was only my second year shopping on Black Friday, but I love Black Friday for a number of reasons:

1.) Being able to shop BY MYSELF without having to listen to two screaming children or balance an armful of bags while pushing a stroller.

2.) Having some alone time even if it means having to deal with two obnoxious women fighting over one DVD that they most likely were only saving a few dollars on.

3.) Breakfast sandwich from Dunkin Donuts and a Starbucks Chai. 'Nuff said.

This year Gap was offering 50% off everything until 10 AM ::squeal:: and since we all know I am a huge fan of all things babyGap (and Gap!) I was in line waiting when the doors opened at 5 AM at South Shore Plaza. I was the first one in line at babyGap (there were only 8 of us waiting in line....my kind of BF sale) and I walked out with a winter coat for Jacob, a dress I have been eyeing for Grace for the Spring and a beautiful, red trench coat for Grace for next Fall (my favorite find of the day at only $9.97!!!).

I wandered up to Gap and spent a small fortune there, but was able to buy myself two cardigans, three sweaters, one top and a pair of jeans. I managed to score two mock half-zip pullovers, four waffle knit long-sleeve tees, one sweater, two pairs of boxers and a pair of pajama pants for Ian.

After I made my way home, we loaded the kids in the car and headed for the in-laws to celebrate Thanksgiving with them since we spent Thanksgiving at my Aunt's house. Ian's family has a huge Thanksgiving extravaganza tradition at their house which includes brunch and exchanging gifts. It currently looks like Toys R Us threw up in my Living Room and I am already pulling new toys to put away for future use and bagging up old toys for Goodwill because we just have nowhere to put them all!

Jacob's gift from his Papa and Gaga was Toy Story 3 on DVD and we wrapped up our Black Friday with a movie night on the couch. As soon as I get around to uploading all of my pictures I will update this post with a few! I have another post coming this week with some of our family portraits from the fabulous Black Thumb Studio. They are amazing!!! They are the best pictures we have ever had taken and I am working on finding new frames for them because they are that unbelieveable. My old frames aren't worthy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is my favorite day of the entire year!

There is nothing better than family, friends and good food! I have so much to be thankful for today and every day.

As usual, I will start my Thanksgivings post off with Jacob. I am so blessed to have him here with us and I know I always mention this, but there is something about having a child with a 39% chance of survival that makes you always count that blessing first. We are so blessed to be sharing this day with him and we are so thankful to God for our miracle.

We are also blessed to be spending our second Thanksgiving with Grace! We love our baby girl so much and cannot imagine our little family without her!

I am blessed to have an amazing husband who works extremely hard each and every day so that I can stay home with our babies which is another incredible blessing. I love being home with them and watching them grow and learn new things every day. I couldn't imagine being away from them all day and I am very blessed that I am able to be home with them.

It is important to remember to count our blessing not only today, but every day! I hope you all have a wonderful and very happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prematurity Awareness Day

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day!

Jacob was born at 24w5d weighing 1 lb 7 oz and 11.5 inches long. At his lowest, he weighed only 1 lb 4 oz which is the equivalent of a 20 oz bottle of soda or water.

He has come so far the past three years and is proof that miracles do happen!

Unfortunately, not all babies are as lucky as Jacob. According to the National Center of Health Statistics, the US earned a D for their efforts in preventing premature birth. The state of Massachusetts scored a C which is the highest grade ANY state in the US received. This is unacceptable! The rate of premature birth in the US is higher than that of most other developed nations!

Tonight the Empire State Building was lit up purple in honor of Prematurity Awareness Day. You can check it out here.

What can we do about this? A good place to start is the March of Dimes and their annual March for Babies! Every year my family walks to honor Jacob and all babies born too soon. If you want to help go here to make a monetary contribution to the March of Dimes.

If you would rather help by donating your time go here to learn about volunteer opportunities within the March of Dimes.

If you are interested in joining Team Chicken Wing and walking with us in May of 2011, send me a message and I will keep you posted with all the details!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

15 Months

Grace was 15 months on October 22nd, but she just had her 15 month well visit this afternoon.

I was 99.9999999% positive that she was going to weigh more than Jacob at her appointment today. I know the day is coming and at the rate she is going she will definitely pass him by her 18 month appointment in January, but for the time being Jacob has a slight margin on her.

Here are Grace's stats from today:

Weight: 24 lb 12 oz (74%)
Height: 31.5 inches (75%)
Head: 48.0 cm (93%) ?!?!

I know. My kids have huge heads. I blame Ian's side of the family.

Here are Jacob's numbers:

Weight: 25 lb 5 oz (5%)
Height: 34.3 inches (5%)

Can you believe it?! This is the closest they have ever been and Grace is only 9 oz shy of Jacob. He still has a good three inches on her though so there is a significant difference in their height. People still ask me on a daily basis if they are twins.

I was kind of surprised when Jacob weighed in at only 25 pounds because this is the first time he has been weighed since he broke his leg in July. He was in a cast for 7 weeks and completely immobile so I was sure he would gain more than that, but seeing as he grew OVER AN INCH (in 3 months) I guess it makes sense.

Two weeks and counting until Thanksgiving!! Can you believe it?!


Not in the come-in-take-off-your-jacket-stay-awhile way, but more in the appropriate-response-to-thank-you sort of way.

Currently, Jacob's biggest delay due to his prematurity is in the speech category. At his last assessment, he was measuring at 26 months for gross motor, fine motor and cognition. His receptive language was 19 months and his expressive language was 20 months.

We have been working feverishly for what seems like FOREVER to try and get this kid to talk. He started talking around 2, but when I say talk I mean repeating certain words we nagged him about on a daily basis. Like "say hi", "say please", "say Grace", etc. Usually he was pretty good about responding to us and repeating what we asked of him even if it wasn't very coherent in the beginning. He picked up on single words pretty quickly and learned the entire cast of Sesame Street in a day so he must have a good memory.

Although Jacob has been saying hundreds of individual words for months and months, our latest struggle has been two word phrases. Most kids his age are speaking in broken sentences (think caveman), but we haven't been able to get Jacob to say two words together, that is until about a month and a half ago. Whenever it is time to eat, or change a diaper I say "come on" to Jacob and wave him over to the gate so I can let him out of the play area. He comes running, we do what we have to do and go about our day. One day, when I said, "Jacob, let's change your diaper" his response was "come on, come on". I almost fell over! It came out of nowhere and I had been trying so desperately hard for him to say ANY two word phrase and I had never even thought about "come on". We had been working really hard, but on things like Hi Mama, let's go or thank you, (which usually comes out as one word and sounds more like "tanktoo").

Since that day, he has now started saying thank you, turn around, oh no, oh man, excuse me and go away. He has really started trying to imitate whatever it is he hears. The other day, while watching Jack's Big Music Show, the Schwartzman Quartet (for those of you familiar with this wonderful show) was singing Rain, Rain Go Away and when they got to the line "come again another day" Jacob yelled "COME-AH!" when they said come again and he was so proud of himself!

About a week ago, we were cleaning up in the play room and Jacob came over to hand me something. I said "thank you, Jacob" and he responded "welcome". I was floored! It is the first word he has said on his own without us prompting him to say it. We have been working so hard on him grasping the concept of please and thank you that we hadn't even attempted to make him say you're welcome. The kid is already confused enough! Every time he asks for something and I say, "what do you say?" He goes, "pleasethankyou'scuse me" to cover all his bases. He really has a hard time grasping which phrase and situation are appropriate.

Yesterday, in the car, we drove by a big truck and Jacob said "Awesome!" which is the second word he has said, in the correct context, that we have never prompted him for. Apparently, he is really starting to listen to our conversations and picking up on language. Looks like it is time for me to start phasing the word "crap" out of my vocabulary. It is a good thing I don't swear. I am having enough trouble trying to phase stupid and crap out of my vocabulary.......

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prematurity Awareness Month

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.

Did you know that 1 out of every 8 babies will be born premature and that premature birth increased 20% between 1990 and 2006? How about the fact that 50% of all neurological disorders in children are related to premature birth?

Many of these premature babies will remain hospitalized, fighting for their lives, for weeks or months before they are able to go home. Even then, some of these babies will be sent home with countless medications, apnea monitors and oxygen. Some will have life long disability and disease. Some will die.

Here is the link to Jacob's story if you want to familiarize yourself with my son's struggle for survival and his miraculous journey to that of a healthy and thriving 2.5 year old. Jacob is my miracle baby. Born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 lb 7 oz and just 11.5 inches long, Jacob had less than a 50% chance of survival and an 80% chance of physical or mental disability. Today he is healthy, thriving and free of all physical and mental disabilities. We were lucky.

I thank God every day for Jacob and the fact that he is still here with us, but unfortunately not all babies are as lucky as Jacob and not all parents are as lucky as we are. For every ailment that Jacob overcame another baby succumbed to it. For every baby that lost their battle while we were in the NICU, eventually another premature baby arrived to take his/her place.

Fortunately, there is help for premature babies and that help has a name. The March of Dimes. If it weren't for the generous donations to the March of Dimes, or the organization itself, Jacob may very well not be here today.

Thanks to a research grant in the 1980's, a scientist by the name of T. Allen Merritt was able to develop artificial surfactant, a soapy substance that helps the alveoli in the lungs inflate and keep from collapsing. Since artificial surfactant was developed in the 80's the number of babies born each year that die due to Respiratory Distress Syndrome has dropped from 10,000 to fewer than 1,000! Jacob is alive today because of artificial surfactant.

Because of these strides in the fight against prematurity, we enrolled Jacob in a study for premature infants, born between 24 and 28 weeks, on the day he was born. He will be followed until he is 7 years old so that Neonatologists can follow his progress and learn new ways to save the lives of those born too soon. You can help too!

I will be blogging all month long about Prematurity and ways that YOU can help make a difference and fight against prematurity. Stay tuned for more information later this month on The March for Babies!
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