Thursday, May 21, 2015

Family Matters - Netflix #StreamTeam

When Liam was born, and we heard the words, "It's a BOY!" the vision of a picture perfect family flashed through my mind.  A mom and dad, 2 girls, 2 boys, a cat, and a dog.  Pretty much perfect.

What I didn't envision was having a child with Down Syndrome.  A child society would label not so perfect.  Truth be told, his birth diagnosis felt like a prison sentence.

Thankfully, that feeling of dread only lasted a few hours.  It didn't take long for Liam to capture our hearts, and we were able to see him as a beautiful person, not just a diagnosis. 

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My family is not the traditional family people envision having.  The "special needs" aspect is unappealing to many.  But we can't picture a more perfect family than the one we have.  Liam made us stronger.

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As parents, Grant and I really focus on teaching our kids just how important family is.  We teach them that it's important to love each other despite any flaws, cheer each other on, and stand up for each other.  I do believe our lessons are sinking in, because they all have an incredible bond.  Their love for each other is evident in every picture I take.

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Grant and I believe in making family time a priority.  Of course we do the mandatory eat dinner together at least 5 nights a week thing, and discuss our days while doing so.  We also go on many fun adventures with our family and friends.  All the time we spend together makes our family bond even stronger.

This year, we added to our family time by having Family Movie Night once a week.  Each week, one family member got to choose a movie, and we all curled up on the couch after dinner to watch it.  We rotated through our family, so each person got a chance to pick.

We often turned to Netflix for inspiration!

We laughed our way through Night at the Museum, rediscovered old favorites from Grant's and my childhood (Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, The Dark Crystal, The NeverEnding Story), and discovered why Lily loves Tangled and Frozen so much!

Eventually, we moved on to watching series.  We recently flew through the Harry Potter series and the Back to the Future Trilogy.  What started out as a weekly event, turned into a twice a week event!

Tonight, for Family Movie Night, we're taking a break from our traditional family movies and streaming the Planet Earth Collection on Netflix.  Grant and I watched these when they first came out. This documentary covers all of Planet Earth, from the oceans to the mountains and everything in between. The footage is absolutely breathtaking!  I know the kids will learn so much just by watching this series!

While raising our family is incredibly important, it's just as important for Grant and I to strengthen our relationship.  Enter Netflix Date Nights!  These occur 3-4 nights a week after we tuck our four kids into bed!

We grab snacks, curl up next to each other, and work our way through TV series that are no longer on the air. Some of our favorites, which featured some awesome families (and some framilies!), were Cheers, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond, and The Office.  We're currently working our way through the Gilmore Girls for the third (or is it fourth?!?) time.  Rory and Lorelai are not your typical family, but their love for each other can't be beat.  We're nearing the end of the series, and just like each time before, I know I'm going to feel sad about it being over!

Here are a few more Family Friendly titles to stream on Netflix:

For your little kids:

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1. Lily's Driftwood Bay
2. The Tigger Movie
3. Guess How Much I Love You: S1E5 Big Like You
4. Angelina Ballerina: Superstar Sisters


For your big kids:

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1. Crash & Bernstein
2. Life with Boys
3. Spy Kids
4. Russell Madness 


For teens and adults:

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1. Raising Hope
2. The Fosters
3. Gilmore Girls
4. Life Unexpected


New on Netflix for Kids and Families:

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1. All Hail King Julien (new episodes 4/3)
2. Littlest Pet Shop: Season 3 (4/21)
3. Lalaloopsy: Festival of Sugary Sweets (5/2)
4. Puss in Boots (new episodes 5/8)
5. H20 Mermaid Adventures (5/22)
6. Richie Rich: Season 2 (5/22)
7. Mako Mermaids: Season 3 (5/29)







What are your favorite movies/shows to watch with your family? 

There is no such thing as the perfect family.  I happily embrace the family I was given, and feel nothing but pride and overwhelming love when I think of them!


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*I'm a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam.  All opinions are my own. I was given a free year of Netflix Streaming and promotional items in exchange for my monthly review.





Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bubble Painting

Bubbles + Food Coloring + Paper = A fun activity for kids!

When Lexie was in preschool and Kindergarten, she LOVED to paint with bubbles.  At that time, Lily was too young to join in, but she's at the perfect age now.  Yesterday was rainy and boring, so I introduced Lily to the fun of painting with bubbles!

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The supply list is small, and if you have kids, you most likely have these items already!

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  • Straws
  • Cups
  • Food Coloring
  • Bubbles
  • Paper
  • Bubble Wands

To keep the mess to a minimum, I highly recommend using a reusable plastic tablecloth and a smock! I  chose to do the activity on our sunporch, but outdoors is a great option, too!

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Preparation is EASY!

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  1. Pour bubble solution into cups.
  2. Put several drops of food coloring into each cup.
  3. Put a straw into each cup and stir!

Now, you're ready to paint!  This is the fun part! Get your paper, choose a cup, and blow into the straw until the "paint" bubbles over the top. If your child is old enough to blow into the straw to make bubbles, they will love to do this.  If you think your child will accidentally drink the bubble solution, do it for them!

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Once it bubbles over, quickly remove the straw and set it aside, grab your paper, and POP!

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Lily's favorite part, obviously, was making the "paint" bubble over the top of the cup!

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Repeat the process with each color until the paper is filled up!

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After Lily finished her painting, we moved on to blowing the bubbles onto the paper. Just swap the straws for bubble wands!

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Grab a new piece of paper, dip the wand, and blow the bubbles down onto the paper! It's fun to watch the bubbles pop on the paper and see the different colors emerge!

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Blowing bubbles onto the paper was Lily's favorite.  She happily created picture after picture!

It was a rainy day success! 

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And, of course, when Lexie got home, she had to join in!

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Simple, inexpensive, and fun!

Happy painting!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Liam at 20 Months

Liam is only 20 months old for 16 more hours!  I'm getting this post up just in the nick of time!!!

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Liam Dayne 
20 Months
19 lbs 4 oz
29.5 inches

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Milestones: Climbing onto furniture, pointing at things in books, standing without holding on for longer periods of time, and taking more unassisted steps between pieces of furniture.

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Tooth Count: 8, including 4 molars!

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Eating:  3 self-fed meals a day, plus 2 snacks.  His breastfeeding days are dwindling. Most days it's just once a day for a few minutes.  I never expected to make it this long, and he's weaning himself. We were told repeatedly that he wouldn't be able to successfully breastfeed, just because of his diagnosis.  What do I say to that?  HA!

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Favorite Foods:  Bananas, Cereal Bars, Yogurt, Yogurt Melts, Oranges, Pineapples, Macaroni and Cheese, Noodle Soup, Cornbread, Tapioca Pudding, Applesauce, and Pasta with Sauce.

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Sleeping:  Liam is still a great sleeper!  12-14 hours through the night and a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon.

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Words/Signs:  Mama, Dada, Papa, Dyl (Dylan), Up, Down, Hi, ByeBye, Baby, Pop, All Done, Hat, Bed, and Bubbles. A lot of his words are repeated when we say them, so his Speech Therapist and I are working on getting him to incorporate them more into everyday speech. He regularly signs eat and more, waves hi and bye, claps, and he loves to sing!

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Likes:  Spinning in circles on his bum, pushing furniture through the house, singing, waving hi, clapping, playing outside, splashing in his baby pool, taking baths, eating, snuggling, giving hugs and kisses, looking through books, playing at the library, speech therapy sessions, pulling stuff out of kitchen cabinets, playing with the edge pieces on his foam mat, and hanging out with family and friends.

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Dislikes:  Waiting for food, getting his face wiped, being cold, and getting water in his eyes.

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Favorite Toys and Games: {links provided on most} This hasn't changed much since last month!   Cars/Trucks, baby pool, Leapfrog Cook and Play Potsy, Play Kitchen and accessories, Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Puppy's Activity Home, books, Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Crawl Around Car, bristle blocks, vtech sit-to-stand learning walker, and his foam letter playmat.  He loves playing with Lily's mini baby dolls that are in a mini bunkbed, and loves to play peek-a-boo!

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Favorite Gear: {links provided}  Ergo baby carrier, Halo SleepSack, Ikea Bibs, Infantino shopping cart/highchair coverMunchkin Click Lock Weighted Flexi-Straw Cup, and Nuby No-Spill Easy Grip Cup with Super Straw.

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Nicknames:  Miam, SuperLiam, Little Dude, and buddy.

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Health:  Liam had an upper respiratory infection a few weeks ago.  Just as he was starting to feel better, he fell and injured his nose.  Everything would have been okay, but bacteria got into one of the cuts inside his nose and he developed a serious case of Cellulitis, which he was hospitalized for.  It was a freak incident, and we've had our fill of hospitals for the year!!!

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Early Intervention:  Liam receives one hour each of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy in our home every week.

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Wearing:  Liam mostly wears 6-9 month clothing, but is starting to fit into some 9-12 month items.  Some 0-3 month onesies and some 3-6 month items still fit, thanks to his short torso and small waist/hips/bum!  He wears size 2 shoes and size 3 diapers.

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Personality:  Just look at the pictures.  They sum up his personality quite well!

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SHIRT/BOW TIE

Isn't he the sweetest?!?