Sunday, January 31, 2016

Avery turns 8

We celebrated Avery's eighth birthday this weekend in beautiful 70 degree Houston-Texas-in-January weather! We had a rocky start Friday night/Saturday morning with some pretty intense, longish seizures, but lil'bub managed to bounce back and enjoy her birthday festivities.

We did a small family gathering for the second year in a row. I went back and forth about what to do and finally realized that I just honestly didn't have a big party in me right now. And lord knows I never know if Avery will be up for it. I think if you are long time reader of this blog, you probably know that typically my stress runs high, my brain is well scrambled, and I really have to take things one day at a time. Without getting into novel length explanation, I am just barely hanging on lately. THE THREADS ARE BARE. So I decided you know what? Lets keep this simple. Does that mean I didn't feel guilt about it? Hell no. But we did have a leisurely weekend where we just focused on making Avery as happy as we possibly could. As it should be.

Maddie helped me make her birthday banner

I invested an extraordinary amount of money into ingredients for 
a super low carb cupcake recipe.

Thankfully, they did bake up well and Avery seemed to really enjoy. Cupcake connoisseurs might have felt they were not quite up to par... but they got the job done!

We had a lot of swinging, laughing, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, singing and music. And cuddles! Everything she loves most in the world. We even had a nice swim...

AVERY ELISE you are beautiful and strong and OH SO brave and I can't believe it was 8 years ago that you came into our lives. It feels like a lifetime ago and like yesterday at the same time. All mommy and daddy want is for you to be happy, and we work day and night for it to be so. We know there is so much going on in that special brain of yours and we will keep working to help you share it. Keep fighting, my love. We are so, so thankful that you are here with us. 


Monday, January 25, 2016

Up All Night

Twenty five days since my last post and still I don't have a lot of good news. The new year has not been as pleasant as I was hoping for. Avery continues to have nightly seizures that vary in severity, but sure do keep us all from getting good sleep. All except Maddie Brynn. Baby Bub is a great sleeper who luckily isn't affected by this craziness. She's still my bright and bouncy little lovebug that keeps all of our spirits up.

Avery had an especially long and terrible cluster of seizures this past Monday that lasted more than an hour. We ended up in the ER when it seemed like her emergency medicine was not going to stop them. They finally stopped as soon as the nurse took us back in to the ER, but it was too late to turn around and leave. They gave her an I.V. and watched her for about three hours until we were finally able to go home.

The following early morning she had another cluster lasting about 30 minutes, but somehow they stopped on their own. She was actually back to herself and fine to go to school. Thankfully, she had a great day at school and we didn't see any seizures for the rest of the day. She even got her Botox injections that same afternoon and recovered beautifully! She's such a fighter.

We've been in and out of doctor's appointments all month. But tonight takes the cake---for tomorrow, she is scheduled to have an MRI and a new test we've never done before. Earlier today I got a call from a nurse who informed me that Avery will need to be intensely sleep deprived in order for them to perform the test.  I had figured that we would just need to get her up a lot earlier than usual.... yea not even close. The lady tells me that I will need to keep her up from 7pm to midnight, let her sleep until 2am and then wake her up again until her test starts somewhere around 7:30-8am. So two hours total sleep tonight. My mouth was just gaping open when she told me this. I said no, no way in hell. This is not a typical child that might think staying up is fun. Or one that can run around and play and get hyper. This is my child that goes to sleep at 7pm on the dot because she is crazy tired. My child who still needs a nap every day to function!

The nurse told me this was the only way to get the test done. I told her it was totally insane and there was no way Avery would be able to do it. And yet, here I am at 10:30ish and miraculously, this little girl is sitting next to me, yawning like I've never seen before but somehow still awake. I mean, not somehow... awake with the help of a lot of bouncing, playing, clapping, singing and laughing at her very favorite episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Her eyes want to close pretty badly but I am trying my darndest. 

Here she is at almost 9pm, watching Minnierella and taking selfies with mommy.

She was at the peak of her Mickey high then, but it's getting harder with every passing minute. I'm pretty shocked we've made it this far. Bub the hub has got the 2am-6am shift though, so that should be fun! 

Hopefully I'll have time to post a success story tomorrow while I chill in one of those super comfy hospital chairs during her tests. Don't be jealous!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015

GOODBYE 2015! I will not miss you at all! You started with so much promise and then crashed into the hardest year for my family since Avery was born, when we literally just walked around in shock all of the time. It was just one blow after another, and I'm pretty stinkin' tired of it.

I'm not a big one for lectures, but I have learned something this year. There is no true justice, and karma is just a fun idea. All we have is MERCY, because that's what we can give to each other. It's not just some idea that can never be proven. It's compassion, and it has meant a lot to me in a year full of heartbreak. And extending it towards others helps us all.

Maddie Brynn and I are always talking about kindness, towards those that show it to us and those who do not. It's something I continue to work on myself, and hope I can instill deep inside of her. I don't have any resolutions this year and I'm honestly too scared to make any plans, but I'll keep my dreams for my children. Happy New Year from The Bubs, xoxo


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bubs Love... HELLO FRESH!

I just can't end the year with one post for this entire month! I have about 10 posts that I've started this year without finishing (..imagine that..) SO I chose the one that caught my eye first... because it's about FOOD.  For more than 5 months now, Bub the hub and I have been using a weekly meal ingredient delivery service that has truly made life SO much easier. I saw a recommendation for Hello Fresh this past summer when the week days were especially long with both girls home, and mommy's brain power and energy was also at an especially low ebb. The promise of 3 weekly meals that I did not have to brainstorm or go to the store for correct ingredients (and inevitably forget something) appealed to me greatly.

It was also exciting to me to be able to try some new recipes because it's literally been the same 5 things for dinner around here for a long, long time. And 80% of those involved chicken. Poor Bub the hub. Anyhoo, we started with a very reasonably priced trial to make sure it was right for us. We chose the option that was 3 meals a week for 2 people. We knew Avery would not be able to eat most of the choices because of her special diet, but had heard that the meals for 2 usually had some leftovers. Perfect if Maddie Brynn wanted to try something new with us.

I was really excited to get my first shipment! It contained 3 very smartly packed ingredient boxes plus recipe cards. I poured some wine and opened the box with the shortest cooking time: 30 minutes. Granted, the longer ones are only 45 minutes, but I wanted to start slow. The first recipe we ever tried was Eastern Carolina Pulled Chicken Sliders with Tangy Cabbage Slaw.

It was not super fancy or hard at all, but it was something I would never think to make, and I appreciated that. The fresh ingredients impressed me, and continue to do so. I have even found some new brands of food I like. And what continues to happen is that I end up making things- usually side dishes-that I do not think will be my cup of tea, and then it's totally delicious and I am converted. In this first case it was the slaw. I am not a cabbage or coleslaw person. Like, probably hadn't passed my lips in a decade. After making the slaw side dish on the first night, I have since made it twice more. Yum!

As far as cooking difficulty, I consider myself a B+ cook if I have a recipe, probably a D cook if I do not! But I can chop and simmer and saute, and do enjoy it. Each Hello Fresh recipe has a difficulty level, so you know what you are dealing with. I have not found any that were too difficult, although sometimes chop and prep do take me awhile. Bub the hub and I have started really sharing that though, so it goes by a little quicker :).

With the example of this slider recipe, the only prep I had to do was slice the scallions and halve the buns. The rest involved combining a mix to simmer the chicken in, mixing the slaw together and then shredding the chicken at the end. Voila!

I can't say that my finished product ever really looks as nice as the recipe visuals but omg did it taste good! It was definitely filling as well.

The next two recipes of our trial week got progressively harder with longer cook times and more ingredients, but it really wasn't bad at all. We had a Thai-style Beef dish that again, I would never have organized on my own.

The only mildly difficult part of this one was all the chopping.

This recipe was another win and had plenty of leftovers.

The last recipe of the week was something that was pretty far out of my comfort zone and even after enjoying the first two meals so much, I still had my doubts. It was Poached Cod in Chorizo-Fennel Broth with Sweet Potato Crisps. I had never cooked cod before and certainly never poached a fish. It totally blew me away. Having now tried 60+ Hello Fresh recipes, I still think  it was probably the most difficult one we've done, but worth it. Everything I did was totally new to me and I loved learning it all.

Look, I'm poaching cod in a fennel broth!

Again, the end result was not the prettiest, but totally the tastiest.
And baked sweet potato crisps are definitely a new fav side dish!

Soooooo, I'm not going to share every single thing we have cooked, but I am going to mention some more of the ones that were pretty new to me and we ended up loving. We've really loved them all, though.

Lemony Basil Chicken with Artichokes Hearts

Honey Dijon Pork Chops with Squash/Lima Bean/Corn Hash

Roasted Pork Chops with Balsamic-Fig Sauce, 
Arugula Salad and Rosemary Potatoes

The simple arugula salad is one of those side dishes I have made again 
and again on my own. So easy and yummy.

Autumn Risotto with Butternut Squash, Sage and Pepitas

I am a big risotto fan and this one was AHmazing.

One thing I have not photographed (shocker!) but we have especially loved are the recipes for "flatbread" which is basically a fancy pizza. Our favorite has been the Fig & Brie Flatbread with Thyme-Caramelized Onions. The flatbreads are so easy to put together and the flavors are always delish.  That reminds me there was also a Fig & Brie Grilled Cheese recipe that I could basically eat every day. Am I making you hungry yet?

Tonight we actually made one of the most simple recipes but also one that Maddie could easily enjoy with us.
Stovetop Shells & Cheddar with Crispy Breadcrumbs!!
and Roasted Carrots

In conclusion, I am relieved by the stress that these deliveries take off my shoulders while still allowing me to make home made meals and try new things. And learn new things! Hello Fresh is not even paying me to say these things!! Seriously though, we go to the grocery store less and I am almost never stressing about dinner. Can you say that?? 

If you are interested in trying your own week of boxes, you can use my referral code RXL2BU for $40 off your first delivery, which is exactly how we started. Or at least go on the site and check out their recipes: You only pay for a week at a time, can cancel at any time, or skip random weeks like we do when we are out of town/out of money or the fridge is especially full.  If you do give it a chance, please let me know how you like it! Hopefully it's as big of a success as it is for our family.

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