Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Even though I'm a little backblogged, I felt this should take priority (since it's date-based). Today is our anniversary so I wanted to post a wedding photo or two (we bought the copyright from the photographer so it's ok that I'm posting this) in honor of the event. In case anyone is looking for a fantastic wedding photographer in the greater Rochester, NY area -- I highly recommend Dan Paniccia of Photo Emphasis. The entire day was filled with family, friends, and many a memory... good times were had by all -- although I don't think my brother remembers most of them.
Believe it or not but I was not entirely sober in this picture. I do remember exactly what we are talking about: This is some damn good cake. And it was, friends, it was.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


In keeping with my get-out-and-move attitude, I went mall walking, Liv in tow, both yesterday and today despite Rebekah and Avery's absence. The solitude was somewhat of a welcome change given some recent events, but I'll be honest in that we didn't walk nearly as far as when our counterparts join us. And, well, we both missed the company.

There is beauty in the mall just before it opens. We arrived at different times each day. While I'd like to say that this was done intentionally (to stray from routine in case some demented psychopath is stalking me), truth be told, we just couldn't get ourselves out the door. It's interesting how quickly I can get us moving when there is a set meeting time with another person. Even if Liv throws up half her breakfast, we are in the car by a certain time and at the mall within 10 - 15 minutes of the agreed upon hour. Yesterday we had to get there early due to a cable appointment conveniently scheduled for 11am - 1pm, and today there was no rush so when Olivia spit up most of her breakfast, I didn't care that I had to change her nor did I rush.

Seeing the mall at these two times made the walks different. It's intriguing how much difference an hour makes. The stores don't open until 10am, so with an 8:15am arrival, it's much more placid, verging on eerie. Without the friendly discourse, I am forced to pay attention to the subtle nuances -- employees arriving, stores preparing for the day, fellow walkers, and even a retiree social club. I noticed that there are two types of music that pipe through the speakers. In the high end section of the mall, light, classical music plays, but in the more heavily traveled area of the mall, there is an adult contemporary sound. The shift occurs quickly and most likely goes unnoticed by most. I consider this as a bell chimes in the background; I had never noticed that one marked every quarter of the hour. The quiet of the building allowed me to ponder how things had been going: Liv getting her cast off and adjusting to the orthopedic brace, all the things I needed to buy (clothes for work, office supplies, wine, Chick-fil-A -- I didn't say that my purchases were absolutely necessary), which led me to consider my return to work after Labor Day. Olivia will be headed to day care; the transition is both exciting and nerve-wrecking. Being alone with just my thoughts created this refreshing stream of consciousness. After 45 minutes we jetted back to the car, sticking to the original schedule so that we could be home to greet the cable guys.

Today we arrived about 1 hour after yesterday's time, and the atmosphere was a sharp contrast to the day before. The mood was lighter with more electricity in the air. I found myself walking faster without trying. The smells even seemed to be bolder. This proved problematic since I had $3 on me and was trying not to spend it on food. (Chick-fil-A makes these incredible chicken biscuit mini-sandwiches...) The stores are on the verge of opening, and the energy was exciting. I thought more about the clothes I needed to buy, staring at the windows, mentally salivating at the designs, trends, and colors for the season. I consider what I should spend and what fit I should gravitate toward. Just the day before, I flipped through Frank's J. Crew catalogue but set it down exclaiming, "Mmm, these styles just don't look good in fat." There is still so much more weight that I would like to lose, so it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on clothes that I hope will fall off me in the near future. To me it's a conundrum; the more money I spend, the better the variety, fit and/or quality of clothing, but I may only wear the clothes for a month (if all goes as planned). At that point I will need more clothes. It's cyclic until I reach my goal weight and frustrating. For some reason, I am reminded of a woman I met the day before who told me that she named her newborn daughter so that the initials spelled J.E.M. My thought: as in And The Holograms?

This leads me to the pondering that stuck with me as the day went on; it occurred as the Clover Hill Wine Outlet was opening: I wonder how early they do tastings...

Don't worry, I didn't go in. This time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let Freedom Ring!

I was hoping to have these up earlier, but my computer kept freezing... aaah, modern technology. Anyway, the visit was a success and after 11 weeks, 2 days and three-ish hours, Olivia is now cast free! Frank and I were far more excited than she was as you will soon see. The Livster was once again a champ. Her hips look fantastic, according to Dr. B and the x-rays. She is currently in a brace, which I'll try to photograph a little better later, and we go back in 7 weeks. At the next visit, she may be able to live brace-free for a good portion of the day, but we won't count our chickens yet. As of right now, it's brace livin' 24/7 except diapers, bathing and the car seat (but not to exceed 3 - 4 hours). It was quite a momentous occasion for our family, though I'm sure Liv will not remember a thing about it. I'm posting pictures from the day in story format. :-) Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and prayers.

By the way, we ran into Caroline and Baby Taylor at DuPont, which was wonderful. I wish I had taken a picture of Taylor and Olivia -- instant friends, laughing and smiling at each other. We are happy to announce that Taylor is harness-free and doing great! I think a visit in the works.

And now the day through photos...

We were on our way to Delaware, and Olivia had this "daddy face" on. She was generally happy throughout the first part of the ride, so this face made me laugh. It was like she knew...

Here is Olivia and I before the old cast came off. This is the last picture of the her in the spica cast (*single tear*). Notice how happy I am and how bored she is... and apparently my hair was bigger than I thought.

And this is the outside of the spica cast immediately after the tech sawed it off Olivia. By the way, she was hysterical throughout most of the de-casting.

Mmmm, this was the inside of the cast. I guess we didn't clear out the poop as well as we thought we did. Saying that it smelled bad doesn't even begin to describe it.

Here is Olivia completely cast free!! Frank and I were the only ones smiling as you can see.

Poor thing -- she screamed throughout most of the event. We had to clean her (you saw the inside of the cast, right?) after the cast came off and before the diaper and brace went on. The amount of caked on poop was mind-blowing. At one point, Frank had to pick her up so I could clean off her bum and back, and he said the image of my face is burned into his mind for all eternity. Lol.

And here is the full-body, cast-free, new brace picture of Olivia! Clearly still not happy...

And we traded in our loaner car seat (no cash for clunkers deal but still) and were finally able to use our own. We are both amazed at how big she now is in it!!

That's it. Olivia is doing much better now in her brace. Again, I thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, August 24, 2009


It's official, according to the Wii Fit, I've lost ten pounds since June 11th! That puts me at 30 pounds lost since delivering Liv. Thanks to Rebekah for meeting at the mall about 3 times per week to walk around. I encourage anyone with a stroller to try it. It's usually pretty empty since the stores don't open until 10am, it's air conditioned, and we easily hit 4 miles most days (unless one or more of the li'l ones deems otherwise). Also, I find a lot of comfort in the Change One book (see link under "Places to Go" at right). BTW, for any breastfeeding moms, Nordstroms at the King of Prussia mall has a women's lounge on the 3rd floor which also has a nursing mother's room. Very helpful!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tummy Time!

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but I needed Frank to be home to take the picture. I finally figured out how to do tummy time with Olivia! Whoo hoo! As anyone close to me or reading this blog will tell you, this has been really tough for us with Olivia in the spica cast. I tried many different positions and "props," but she had such a tough time with all of it. Her neck muscles just couldn't comfortably support her head in many of the trials. It only took me about 9 weeks, about a thousand tries, and the stinkin' cast comes off on Wednesday, but I did it! Hopefully this information will help someone else. And, to be truthful, we've already seen a difference in her behavior with only about a week and a half of doing this. Initially, she fatigued after a minute or two, but tonight she stayed upright for a good 5+ minutes. I try to do this about 3 times per day for a good 5 minutes; this depends on her temperament because I don't make her continue if she's crying. As my behavior analyst coworkers know, if we end before she starts crying, she'll associate the time with fun not tears.

We use my exercise ball (which is sitting out because I use it all the time... ha. ha.); it works well because it sinks a bit, molding around her, and doesn't push her legs into the cast (her feet/legs dangle a little). I have to put it in a "corner" -- between the wall and the end table -- so that the ball doesn't roll away from me. Because I can't hold up any toys while she's on the ball, I sing to her. This actually also reinforces her looking at me (which gets a smile or "good job" from me for further reinforcement). She's doing great with this -- much happier and is even starting to push up on her arms. The pictures are a little fuzzy, but you get the idea. PS. If you have a cat as playful as our Monty, be on the lookout for paws tapping at little feet.

Rockin the Dinners

Ok, so I had to post this because I'm really proud of Frank and myself. We've eaten healthy, prepared at home meals for the 3rd night in a row (and on Friday/Saturday no less!). Tonight we made steamer bag veggies (an amazing, easy item at the grocery store where the veggies come in a bag that steams them in the microwave -- btw, the store brand is just as good as the name brand), store prepped catfish, and ziti & zucchini. The last side dish is a Change One recipe that was incredibly easy to make and delicious. The recipe serves 4, so we cut it in half and added some tomatoes for a wonderful and complementary side. One serving is 1.5 cups (or two tennis balls), but we actually still had enough left over for one small lunch-size serving. I'm listing the recipe as it is written, but we eyeballed the measurements, added chopped, sweet tangerine tomatoes [from the Bryn Mawr Farmer's Market], and flavored with a little bit of salt because we didn't have fresh basil. Enjoy!

Ziti & Zucchini (serves 4)
6 oz. ziti
2 medium zucchinis
2 tsp olive oil
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP fresh basil, slivered

1. Prepare the ziti as directed, drain.
2. Slice each zucchini in half crosswise, then slice each half into eighths lengthwise. Place in a medium bowl and microwave just until softened, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the ziti, oil, basil, and cheese and toss to combine.
4. Divide into 4 equal portions (refrigerate any extra portions). One serving is 1.5 cups (2 tennis balls).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Livie's Social Views

We sat down tonight to ask Olivia what she thought of a few current events. Here's what she had to say.

First Topic: Michael Vick -- Bad newz or bird newz?

Second Topic: Universal Healthcare -- Death panel or panel of hope?

Third Topic: Sarah Palin -- 15 minutes are up or future GOP presidential nom?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Crunchy Tilapia

Okay so I've been sticking to this week's dinner plan of 1 starch, 1 protein, and unlimited veggies all while maintaining breakfast, lunch and snacks. I discovered a wonderful recipe for tilapia (a very nice, mild, white-flesh fish) in one of the baby magazines we've been receiving. Not only does it utilize panko (a fantastic Japanese breadcrumb that once you try you'll never go back to regular breadcrumbs again), but it's super easy to make! I'm including the recipe as I found it (with a tartar sauce), but I don't serve it with the tartar sauce. I choose to serve it over salad with craisins, walnuts and goat cheese in a light, one calorie balsamic dressing spray. I prefer this because I think it tastes delicious, but it also creates a nice double protein serving (according to the Change One diet). We usually throw in some sort of starch that we dug up; tonight it was the leftover focaccia bread from the Bryn Mawr Farmer's Market. It's becoming a favorite in our house; even Frank has good things to say about this. Forgive the amateur photo -- lol, I'm definitely NOT a photographer!

Crunchy Tilapia with Tartar Sauce (serves 4)
Lemon Tartar Sauce
1/4 C light mayo
1/3 C light sour cream
2 TBSP sweet relish
1 tsp lemon zest
salt to taste

Stir all ingredients together and set aside. **You can also use 1 tsp lemon zest to perk up a bottled sauce.**

1 lb. tilapia fillets halved lengthwise
3/4 C panko bread crumbs
1/4 C parsley, chopped
1 lg. egg, lightly beaten
1 TBSP milk
3/4 tsp. salt
2 TBSP canola oil

Combine panko + parsley on 1 plate. Mix egg + milk in bowl. Working one at a time, dip the fish fillets in the egg/milk mixture. Shake off the excess. Dredge lightly in crumb mixture. Sprinkle with salt.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add fillets + cook until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn, + cook until fish is no longer translucent in the center, about another 4 minutes. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven.

Nutrition Info (with sauce)
301 cals.
16 g. fat (3 g. sat. fat)
711 mg. sodium
113 mg. cholesterol

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Week 5: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back ... or One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

Hmmm, so week 5 is Dinner: 1 starch, 1 protein, unlimited veggies. Very straightforward. Aim for about 450 calories. According to the book, if you are a part of the Change One 1600 Club, you can double either the protein or the starch here. I decided that I need to repeat Week 5 due to starting it on a Friday, leaving Sunday for a 3 day mini-vacation, and because I haven't actually re-read the chapter yet. This was so much easier to do the first go-round when I didn't have a baby.

On a positive note, there has been some success! My biggest goal was to come back from the 3 day outing weighing the same. Either the cookies that I feasted on whilest away were superfoods in disguise or the weight hasn't caught up with the Wii balance board yet. Why? I've lost 1.5 pounds since my last "official" weigh-in on Saturday. Either way, I'm down almost 10 pounds since I first started weighing myself on June 11th. Personally, I think the SOB who designed the comments that the Wii Fit Balance Board Cartoon makes should be shot. OR the next version should be interactive. If the darn thing is going to harass me, I should at least be allowed to comment back. Here's how it would go:

Wii Fit Cartoon: Feeling lazy these days? It's been 4 days since your last body test, Baby Mama. For best results, you should check in everyday.
Me: I was away, a**h@!#. What did you do? Oh, that's right, nothing because you sat on my living room floor. And start telling me how awesome I'm doing; I've lost almost 10 pounds in just over 2 months. Lazy?! Plastic POS. I hope they recycle you someday and turn you into a fast food countertop.
Publish Post

I digress. Back to being positive. Due to all the eating out that occurred over the vacation (ironically, week 6 is Dining Out), I took some advice from "Eat This, Not That" and ordered as much as I could grilled or sauce on the side. When the hummus I had added to my salad turned out to be a baseball size serving of hummus, I actually scooped 80% of it off. Difficult because I love hummus but certainly not the correct portion. I didn't order dessert once (the aforementioned cookies were a snack), and I mostly drank water. The other thing that I'm adding to my repetition of Week 5 is exercising more. The Livster and I are walking with Rebekah and Avery in the style of 70 year old power walking retirees at the mall. We get about 3 miles in on a good day. And finally (this one is my favorite), I've determined that the only way my waist is going to shrink back to the adorable size 6 that it once was is to do ab exercises. Since I don't have time to pull out the yoga mat and crunch it up, I'm adding "core moves" to my teeth brushing regiment. What is that, you may ask? Well, this means that while I brush away, I am doing some sort of movement that will tone up either my abs or my backside. Believe it. It's pretty hot. Me, in my glasses and often pjs, shaking what the good Lord gave me. It's like the mommy version of Carmen Electra's workout DVDs. It's part of my Make-Every-Moment-Count mentality (aka: my attempt to lose as much weight before the first day of work and I'm running out of time mentality). The way I see it is even though this accounts for only 2 minutes per day or so, it's more than I was doing before. As time goes on, hopefully I can get more creative (read, as Liv becomes less bulky and cast-free or we finally buck up and get me the gym membership) with how I do this but for now, it is what it is.

Lastly, as I re-do Week 5, I'll be trying out recipes from the Change One book for dinner. I'll pass along the good ones.

Where's Livie?

Here are two recent videos of Liv. In one, we are playing a game entitled "Where's Livie?" She's been covering her face with whatever she can grab, and then, pulling it down and looking at whomever she is playing with a big smile. In the other, Mom Mom was making Liv laugh... or was it the other way around? ;-) You may need to turn your volume up. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Bushel and a Peck and a Hug Around the Neck

She was born 90 years ago today to Italian, excuse me "I-talian," immigrants. She was the first American born child, as her older brother Jerry, actually came over on the boat." They lived in the Little House on Henry Street, where she remained until a couple of years ago. She grew up speaking both Italian and English, translating for her parents when necessary. By the time I knew her, Grandma did not speak in Italian much. Although I did hear a few phrases yelled out while she was cooking in the kitchen. She told me the words didn't really have a meaning in English but loosely translated to "You silly fool." I'm pretty sure she may have been lying.

At the age of 17 she quit school to begin working, the third in her family (after her father and older brother Jerry) to bring home money. When she shared this story with me, she smiled devilishly and said, "I had to lie about my age so they would let me work." She worked in a pants factory and made around $5.88 per week. With three people in her family working, she explained that they weren't rich but they weren't poor. They had what they needed. After the Depression, their family was the first on the block to have a radio, and she remembered other kids from the neighborhood sitting under their window listening to the shows.

She told me something she learned from her family, especially growing up during the Depression. She said that people took care of each other and looked out for their neighbors. She told me, "My mother raised us to give. If someone asked for some bread, and you only had one slice left, then you gave them half." Neighbors and friends who knew you were sick would visit you and help you out by cooking and sometimes cleaning for you. This is what I remembered most of my grandmother. She was always looking out for everyone. Growing up, she would go from house to house, making sure the occupants had what they needed. She volunteered at the Greeman Center in Binghamton, NY until she moved to Auburn. One day I asked what she did at the Center, and she said, "Honey, I help the OLD people."

She baby-sat nieces, nephews, grandchildren, whomever. She ruled over us, her grandchildren, with a crack of the hand (or at least the threat of one). When grandma came to visit, it meant cleaning. I remember during one visit, I called my mom at work and said, "Mom, you have to come home. She's making Matt scrub the floors!" PS. Matt was only around 8 years old. Grandma fed us, bathed us, taught us to clean (and man, did we clean and scrub and clean some more), and taught us all how to do needlepoint.

But going to Grandma's House -- well that was all fun and no cleaning. The Little House on Henry Street was where we spent holidays and many Sundays. It would be packed full of people. I'm pretty sure that we've gotten at least 40 people in that house at once, more if you count the people we would put outside. During big celebrations, if someone in the front room needed something from the kitchen, it was fastest to go out the front door, around the side, and enter the kitchen through the back door. During lesser events, we would sit 10 people around the kitchen table. Those of us who were smart (or lazy, take your pick) sat in the middle, near the windows. Those seats meant never having to get your own food, clear your plate, or generally move. Of course, it also meant not being able to use the bathroom or stretch your legs until dinner was over. And at grandma's house, eating meals was the event and would last for hours. First the dinner, then the dessert and coffee or tea, and then just sitting and talking.

And there was always left-overs for us to take home. Up until around 5 years ago, Grandma was still making her sauce, pizza, and cookies. If you called before you visited, you could put in a "take-out" order with her. She would have whatever you requested ready to go. In fact, even if you didn't order it, she would pack it up and send it home with you. Constantly I remember telling Grandma how much I loved her homemade chocolate chip cookies or Italian chocolate balls. And constantly during my visits Grandma would hand me a garment box full of vanilla pizzelles. Now, I'm admitting to all of you today that I don't actually like pizzelles. I know, I know, I'm Italian and I don't like pizzelles. But no matter how much I protested, Grandma refused to believe me. She would say, "Honey, you eat these all the time." Despite my honest negation of this statement, and the support of most of my family, she would say, "No, you like Grandma's pizzelles. Take them with you. Someone will eat them." And I knew I had lost the battle. It's a good thing that 90% of my roommates have all enjoyed vanilla pizzelles.

After she had stopped cooking, she would bring home baked goods from The Center. We would visit, and she would say, "Oh honey, I brought you home some desserts from The Center. Take what you'd like." Unfortunately because our visits were not as frequent, the baked goods were usually a week or so old and a little unappetizing. It was apparent then how much the Depression had impacted her, no food could go uneaten... even if it was a week past expiration, in Grandma's mind, someone somewhere could eat it and would be grateful.

I think what I liked most about my Grandma was her sense of humor and sharp wit. She tolerated most of our teasing and once allowed us to take a picture of her holding a few empty wine bottles and an empty glass. She had a huge smile on her face, even though she didn't drink a drop. In fact, most of the time, when you thought she wasn't paying attention or wasn't following the conversation, she would come out with a doozy of a one-liner. A couple of years ago when my brother and I were visiting her in the hospital, Matt began poking fun at me. Grandma was a little tired from all the medicine, and Matt had pointed out that I was preoccupied with work for monetary reasons. Without missing a beat, Grandma looked him straight in the eye and said, "Matthew, dear, why did you move to Baltimore? It's the money honey."
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a
thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not
just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real."
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You
become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who
break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally,
by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes
drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things
don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to
people who don't understand." ~The Velveteen Rabbit

Friday, August 14, 2009

3 Out of 7 Ain't Bad

Well, today marked the 3rd day this week that Olivia has napped for longer than 45 minutes. I'm hoping this becomes trend and not a coincidence. In honor of this, I'm posting a picture I snapped of her sleeping recently in which she struck this rather dramatic sleep pose. She is her mother's child sometimes. Enjoy!

Erin Cooks & the Gastrokid

Ok, so Rebekah and I have been talking about cooking and cooking for kids lately. She posted a link to a blog called Erin Cooks which I've been following ever since. The blog includes many recipes and tips as well as yummy looking pictures. Sometimes I enjoy just looking at the delicious pictures... lol, I do love food!

Anyway, Erin, the blogger, has posted a contest for a cookbook called The Gastrokid Cookbook. Essentially, she writes that the goal of the cookbook is to encourage cooking sophisticated and nutritious meals that are also appealing to kids. You can read more about it by clicking here. I'm totally in love with this idea because I'd like to raise Olivia to appreciate food the way Frank and I do (well-portioned, healthy, complex flavors, yummy and easy to do!). So, if you post a reply on her blog post (can you follow that?), you are "entered" to win a free copy of the book. Check it out and check out the rest of her blog... unless you're hungry. You may want to eat a snack first. ;-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Michael Vick?

I couldn't help it; I know I don't normally post about this but I'm really irked that the Eagles signed Michael Vick. Really?! Vick?! The man who was convicted of dogfighting and conspiracy charges?!

I can't cheer for them this season. I love dogs. And justice. But mostly dogs.

Letter to the Editor

The August 2009 issue of Parents magazine contained an article entitled, "It's Pottytime!" (pp 117 - 118) by Suzanne Schlosberg. In this article was advice from "experts" (only 3 were mentioned, a Ph.D., an M.D., and an author... sounds like a bad joke, I know) on effectively toilet training a toddler. As a behavior analyst, I try to shy away from articles like these. I find the advice to be eye roll worthy or watered-down. Unfortunately, with this topic, I couldn't resist. Of the many things in the article that upset me, when I read the small box on pg. 118, I became infuriated. You can ask any of my co-workers who received 3 minute long rants on their voicemails. The box contained the following statements:
The Bottom Line of Bathroom Bribery
Though countless parents have lured their kids to the potty
with the promise of a few small candy-coated chocolates, the experts I talked to
hated the idea. "It may work in the short run, but using food to reward your
child for a natural physical event is a slippery slope," says Dr. Peter
Stavinoha. "Ask yourself: Would you give your child candy for walking or
bathing?" he says. Parents may swear by it. "But giving prizes means taking away
the opportunity for kids to feel proud about what they've achieved,"says Deb
Lonzer, M.D., a pediatrician in Cleveland.
After about a month of talking to my peers in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (and well, let's be honest, living a life with a 4 month old in a spica cast), I wrote a letter to the editor. I have to thank Rebekah for her honest and helpful information on writing a letter to the editor. While there were many things that I felt needed to be addressed (parents do reward bathing -- with bath toys, bubbles, and other fun things!!!), here is what I wrote to them (fyi, if anyone else feels compelled to contact them regarding this after reading the article of course, emails go to
To the Editor,
As a parent and professional working in the field of Applied
Behavior Analysis, I wanted to express my displeasure over your August 2009
article, "It's Pottytime!," by Suzanne Schlosberg. She called the use of
"candy-coated chocolates" bribery; in fact, this is reinforcement, more
specifically positive reinforcement. By definition reinforcement increases the future likelihood that a behavior will occur; it
is vital in teaching new behaviors (toileting included). In the article, the
expert suggested that praise and high-fives may be all a parent needs for a
people-pleasing child; this is also reinforcement. Additionally, on page 140 of
the same issue, in "The Give-It-Up Guide," the magazine suggests, "Do use
rewards... they [kids] do want to ... get prizes!" The type (candy, praise,
tickles, etc.) of reinforcement used depends on the learner. Just as with
adults, children enjoy different things. In order to effectively teach any
behavior, we need to identify what those items are and use them. This concept is
based on science and research and has been discussed in such forums for over 50
years. Additionally, Ms. Schlosberg mentioned that it takes 4 - 6 months to
toilet train a child. I invite her to read "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day"
by Drs. Azrin and Foxx. Again, the techniques identified in the book are based
on science and research. As distributors of a magazine read by many parents,
methods based on research should be a priority when recommending something as difficult as a toilet training program(s). I noted that Dr. Stavinoha, the
expert interviewed in the article, did not reference any research when
suggesting "Naked Time" and would be interested in viewing the data showing its
Thank you for your time,
Alicia Richards, M.S., Ed., BCBA

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Visit from Uncle Paul and Aunt Ashley

Uncle Paul and Aunt Ashley came back east for a quick visit a couple of weekends ago. We were all very excited to see them (but let's be honest, Mom Mom was probably most excited to have EVERYONE home again!). Here are some pictures from our adventure... I think Frank and I are going to have a rough road ahead trying to undo all the things Olivia learns from her aunts and uncles. :-)

Here she is learning how to ride the dog...

There were actually 2 or 3 pictures in a row that made this even funnier as Olivia grew increasingly tired, but they didn't all come out. Still, Liv's face is perfect here.

In this fun sequence of events, Uncle Paul first shows Olivia how to pull Aunt Ashley's hair and then Olivia does. Thanks, Uncle Paul!

You know, I think Olivia just may look a lot like Frank's side of the family...

All in all a fun weekend! Thanks for visiting and spicing up our life. Now hurry up and come back!

Speedbumps ( or: Halfway through Week 3)

Hmm, snacks may be harder than I realized. Mom Mom brought us a dozen, fresh Hope's cookies yesterday to celebrate the good news. As of 11pm last night, there were none left... Frank didn't eat them all... Mom Mom only had one. However, I was still down .4 pounds when I weighed in this morning (I'm so getting reinforced for bad behavior).

I've been trying this thing where I ask myself: Do I want to eat this more than I want to be fat? The problem isn't my answer, which is always no (unless it's Chick-fil-A -- I mean come on, who can say no to Chick-fil-A?). The problem is that I don't remember to ask myself until I've already taken a bite (or had the last bite). The book recommends putting sweet items that are high in calories out of reach or in hard-to-get places. This often works, but a dozen cookies from Hope's Cookies is tough to store away because they lose their freshness so easily. I think I may need to ban sweets that aren't bought by us again. I did that last time until I built up the strength to not impulsively eat. Stay tuned.

In other news, Frank and I ate Chinese food tonight. I justified this by telling myself that I don't get to "Dinner" until Week 4. I just have to make sure I don't eat the leftovers for lunch (since I'm still maintaining a healthy lunch and breakfast)... looks like Chinese food for dinner again tomorrow night.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Save the Date


Bad news: Olivia's cast did not come off today.
Good news: Olivia's cast comes off August 26th.
Bad news: Instead of a cast, she'll have to wear a brace.
Good new: The brace can come OFF for bathing and diapering!

Olivia can take a bath! Yaaaaayyyyyy!

(In future news, Frank and I will be partying like an old married couple pretending to be rock stars on the evening of August 26th.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

4 Months!

Olivia turned 4 months old today, so we had our monthly "photo shoot." She was a peach throughout the whole thing. I put her in the bean bag again as a comparison for growth from last month, but I tried other positions, too. Unfortunately for us the bean bag has lost its allure, especially as Olivia becomes more active! I don't know what I'm going to do next month when I go back to work and won't be able to take pictures in the wonderful upstairs mid-day light!

She was getting distracted by the trees outside during the short time I took pictures.

I discovered the sure-fire way to make her smile: stand on the bed looking down at her and sing color songs... I only know 3 color songs. Lol.

Peek-a-boo! Olivia is getting great at holding her head up while on her tummy, especially now that Mommy has figured out a way to do tummy time (another day, another post...).

But at the end of the day, what intrigues my girl most is her own clothing. I'm raising a fashionista.

At 4 months old, she is still cast-bound but thankfully (as you can see), she is free from the knees down. It is fun to watch her kick away. We've also noticed a lot of drooling and mouthing things, so we expect her teeth will be right on time. Here are some things that Olivia can do really well!
hold my head up in an upright position
hold my head still (so it doesn't fall backward) when being picked up after laying down
raise my head up while on my tummy
look for Mommy and Daddy when I hear their voices
look at people who are talking
smile when others smile at me (even strangers!)
giggle at funny things
babble all the time, with different pitches and tones
follow small objects with my eyes
look at books with Mommy
hold on to things (toys, shirts, hair...)
if I concentrate really hard, I can reach for and grasp something
kick my feet!
use my hands and feet to push off something
bring my hands together in front of me
put stuff in my mouth

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Olivia and Her Little Furry Friend

I took this quick video while Olivia was playing on her playmat. The first 10 seconds are pretty rocky as I try to adjust how I'm sitting to get a better view. This was when the playmat was on the floor -- before Frank put it in the bassinet level of the pack 'n' play. Of our two cats, Monty has always seen Olivia as more of a toy but this one occassion was actually quite cute.

New Adventures in the Second Spica Cast

Inspired by Kirsten and Baby Emory's recent adventures, we decided to try some new positioning for Olivia to get her off her back! She's been unhappy with the bean bag of late so we tried putting the boppy around her for support. She really enjoys it! We've discovered that with this new cast, we can move her legs so that there isn't much weight on her knees. We also thought it would be cute to showcase her recent love of TV shows like Yo Gabba Gabba!, Wonder Pets, and Sesame Street. Don't worry, these are only watched in those tough moments when she seems unsoothable or when we'd like to eat with both hands.

This second cast has been lovely because it ends just above Olivia's knees. We've enjoyed seeing her chubby little legs and watching her kick away. There were some new problems managing this cast; specifically, with her legs being exposed, we were afraid that she would get cold at night (especially now that she is in her own bedroom with working air conditioning). We ended up buying the Circo Bobby Socks aged 6 - 12 months at Target because we were able to pull them up almost all the way to her knee. Then we discovered the best product: (also at Target) the baby legwarmer! Incredibly overpriced at $10 for just one pair, we sucked it up and bought what has been a lifesaver. They are just perfect for keeping her thick little legs warm (hence the name, right?). We only wear them at night or when the room seems particularly cold so as to prevent wear and tear (who can afford spending another ten bucks??). They had some adorably trendy designs, and Olivia just looks super cute in them!

At Long Last

Today, for the first time in a long time, Olivia has taken a nap lasting longer than 45 minutes. In fact, she has slept for 2 1/2 hours and is still asleep! I've been able to actually do something productive. In honor of this momentous occasion, I'm posting some pictures of Olivia's last nap in her cradle. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Celebration & Week 3... Snacks

Friday marked the start of Week 3 in Change One: Snacks. It also marked the 3rd consecutive day of something huge in my weight loss journey. My BMI went below 30! This means that I am no longer classified as "obese," just "overweight." I will say this -- the Wii still has that tiny Ralph Wiggam voice that yells out "That's overweight!" after measuring your weight & making the calculations. Still, it was a huge victory for me. Of course, we concluded the week with some Famous Dave's for dinner, so this morning my BMI went back up over 30. Two steps forward, one step back but it's still an overall downward trend. We were at a Phillies game tonight that included a BBQ competition beforehand so I'm dreading tomorrow's weigh-in. On a different note, is it weird that I love how the Wii graphs your progress and data? I love graphs.

So I'm working on eating better snacks as well as maintaining breakfast and lunch as of yesterday. I've been doing really well maintaining breakfast and lunch. Snacks are tough, not because I want to eat poorly but more because I need to eat more than what this plan suggests due to breastfeeding Olivia. This plan recommends 2 snacks that are no more than 100 calories each. Unfortunately, I need to get an extra 500 calories in my diet to ensure that Olivia gets enough milk. So, instead of limiting myself to two snacks, I'm paying attention to when I'm hungry and eating a healthy snack that is between 100 and 200 calories. I try really hard to make sure the snack contains protein and fiber and more often than not has a dairy/calcium component. It's going well... except today. I do love pulled pork and other BBQ eats. Of course I was rewarded with a stomachache.

Monday is Olivia's 4 month birthday!! We will definitely be having a photo shoot so be on the lookout. I also will be posting some other pictures of her and some of the babies from the prenatal yoga class I took in my first and second trimesters. It's fun to see all the ladies again and the babies that we only knew as "bumps." Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Strawberry Muffins

So tonight I continued my cooking quest and made some strawberry muffins which turned out quite nice! I found the recipe on the back of my Stonyfield Farms yogurt foil cover. I had many of the ingredients and strawberries were on sale [since the season is almost over], so I decided to give it a go. The recipe substitutes yogurt for oil and is super easy. Frank gives it the thumbs up.

Strawberry Muffins
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt**
1/4 cup butter melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and baking soda. In another bowl, mix eggs, yogurt, butter, and vanilla. Toss strawberries nto flour mixture. Pour yogurt mixture into flour mixture and stir. Spoon batter into greased muffin tin. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Makes 12.

**When using Stonyfield Farms lowfat plain yogurt:
150 cal, 45 from fat
Tot Fat: 5g
Carbs: 24g
Fiber: 2g
Protein: 4g

I used Stonyfield Farms Fat Free French Vanilla yogurt in order to give it more vanilla flavor [plus I can only find this plain in the larger container, which I won't use all of]. This does increase the calories by about 5 per muffin and the carbs by about 2g per muffin. Enjoy!
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