Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Totally Free Tuesday!

Excuse me while I brag a bit about my thriftiness. Because I am a SAHM, I'm always on the look-out for free things to do with the girls and such, to help stretch Ben's paychecks. Well, awhile ago, I signed the girls up for the birthday clubs at Sonic Drive In and Baskin Robbins. This was back in the spring, so I totally forgot about it. Imagine my surprise, as I'm weeding out the junk mail in my Yahoo inbox, when I find coupons from Sonic for free kid's meals for both girls and free kid's cones from Baskin Robbins. We had some errands to run anyway, so I added them to the list and off we went. The girls got their corn dog wacky pack meals while I got a strawberry limeade & chicken wrap at Sonic for the grand total of...$5! Next, it was down the street to Baskin Robbins where Caitlin enjoyed a scoop of rainbow sherbet in a cone and Cara and I split a scoop of Nutty Coconut. OMGosh, this flavor is the bomb! It totally screams summer to me! Nothing says retreat on a 96 degree day than ice cream.

We came home and then I found a post in a Deals & Steals group I belong to about BOGO coupons for Dairy Queen! Of course, we have signed up. Free food is a wonderful thing!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Physical Therapy Update

Cara had her routine PT appointment today. She sees her therapist in our home once every two weeks. Lisa showed some continuing concern for how Cara's right foot turns in when she walks. We have been hoping that as she became more and more mobile, that her weight bearing on her feet would solve the problem but, that doesn't seem to be happening. So, Lisa talked with me about getting special insoles for Cara's shoes to help correct the curvature problem. Lisa will do the measurement for the inserts and fill out the order form the next time that she comes. We will then have to pay about $60 for them and they will be delivered to us in two weeks. Because the inserts are a bit thick, getting them will also require the purchase of a new pair of shoes. Cara will have to wear a supportive high heeled boot, which her therapist is going to help me pick up. It's going to be tricky to find shoes that will fit the inserts, so I'm glad to have professional help.

With these special inserts, we are hoping that the problem will correct itself within a few months. If not, we may have to move on to more invasive procedures like braces. Only time will tell.

Birthday Recap

Boy am I glad that I can still get away with a low-key combined party for both girls. I know my years are limited and soon, I'll be inviting all of the kids in Caitlin's class, making goody bags and reserving the local indoor play area. I'm counting my blessings!

That said, here is what went down for the girls' birthday celebration last Wednesday.

My parents made the trek over from the western slope to be in town to help us celebrate. We started off the festivities by taking Caitlin shopping for some much needed school supplies. She had fun watching the cart fill up with markers, glue sticks, construction paper and the like. She's so excited for school to start.

As a special treat, Caitlin got to sleep over with my parents at their hotel complete with a swim in the hot tub and continential breakfast in the morning.

Cara & I met up with everyone and we prepared to head to the zoo for the day. One of the girls' gifts from my parents was a family pass to the Denver Zoo. Despite the sorching temperatures, we had a lot of fun looking at the animals and riding the train and carousel. I cannot wait to make many return trips as there were a lot of exhibits that we didn't get to see that day.

After the zoo, we met Ben at Chuck E Cheese for some fun & games. Caitlin and Ben had a blast playing the games together and racked up quite a few (almost 300 tickets). Even my parents got into the fun and played a few games. Cara loved the toddler rides, especially the mini carousel. We ate pizza, sipped on soda and had fun pressing our luck at the wide variety of games. I have to say, that the Aurora Chuck E Cheese was one of the better ones I'd been to in a long time. A lot of new, interactive games and all of them were in working order.

We wrapped up the festivities at Chuck E Cheese and headed home to our place for presents, cake and ice cream. The girls had fun unwrapping their gifts and were thrilled with all of them. Caitlin's favorites being her new bike and the Let's Go Fishing Game. Cara loves her Fisher-Price Gumball Machine and her Duplos.

The party was a hit! I just loved watching their eyes light up with excitement throughout the day. That's what it's all about! You can look at pictures from the day-long adventure here. Feel free to leave comments.

I cannot believe that another year has come to pass. My girls are growing up entirely too fast. It is fun, yet sobering at the same time. Makes me savor each and every moment and memory.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Almost 15 seconds of fame, balloons and cake

Wednesday morning, Cara had two near back-to-back appointments at Children's Hospital. One for the eye clinic (got an Rx for some drops that work like a patch to strengthen her right eye) and one for OT. We had a bit of time to waste in-between appointments, we ventured up the the therapy floor in search of Cara's old PT therapist to show her that Cara was walking. Since it was Karen's hard work (once a week for months) that led to this accomplishment, I promised Karen that we would bring Cara by to show her when it happened. Karen ran to Cara and Cara gave her a big hug. It was such of a cute moment. Afterwards, we went to the cafeteria to snag a quick breakfast. After eating, we noticed a gathering of people in the atrium so we decided to check it out, see what all of the fuss was about. Turns out, a Native American dance demo was taking place. Cara & I sat and watched several dancers perform (I wish I had my camera because they had the most beautifully beaded and feathered costumes!) and then participated in a circle dance at the end. A photojournalist from the Denver Post approached me and took Cara's picture, saying that we might be in the next day's paper, but alas, we weren't...limited coverage space. We had a blast though and it just helped to make Cara's day. Afterward, we headed up to her OT appointment where we worked on feeding techniques--basically getting Cara to learn to take smaller bites.

After the hospital, Cara & I went to pick up Caitlin's cake & the balloons that I ordered. Did I mention that Cara is cuckoo for balloons these days? Every time she sees one, she loudly announces it to everyone. So to say she was excited to see the bunch of balloons was an understatement. The look of excitement on her face was almost worth the cost of the balloons. We picked up Caitlin's cake from Target and this is the part that made my day--the cake was marked down from $21 to $8 because they had run out of butter cream frosting, which I had requested and had to use a whip frosting instead. It was very nice of them, but unnecessary because I could pretty much just buy a tub of frosting, stick a candle in it and present it to Caitlin in lieu of cake and she would be on cloud nine. Still, I love saving money, so I was a happy camper. You can see the girls' cakes here. I think both turned out real cute. Caitlin picked out her cake, and surprised me by not choosing something pink or with princesses or Barbies. I chose Sesame Street for Cara's cake because she loves to watch the show with me in the mornings and seems to have a love of Elmo. I found the Sesame Street gang image online and then King Soopers (Target doesn't have this ability) made it into an edible image.

Next year, I'm going the easy route and doing cupcakes or if we must have cake, I'm ordering an 1/8 of a sheet cake for both girls. Cake leftovers get old after a while!

I will a birthday celebration recap post in a little while.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday Cara!



Cara,

Today, you cross over the threshold between babyhood and all that is yet to come. In the past year, you have come so far. Thanks to wonderful doctors, a skilled neurosurgeon and attentive therapists, you are forging ahead, learning something new every day. In one short year, you have learned how to crawl, cruise the furniture, do the elephant walk, do baby signs and now, walking. You have blossomed from being an immobile baby to such of a colorful little girl. We just love your personality, even when you want to be stubborn and fiercely independent. You love to give hugs and kisses, watch Sesame Street on Mommy's lap and play pretend with your sister. You are a very good sleeper, love to go for car rides and have an obsession with balloons. Milk is a must-have before bed, as is your red chicken from Uncle Matt. You have just learned to say "Momma" and we love the sound of your voice. We cannot wait for you to join in conversations and state your opinion or protests. This has been an amazing year, baby girl, and we know that there are many good times to come. We feel so blessed to have you in our lives, you are a ray of sunshine.

The world awaits you little girl, go & explore. Mommy & Daddy will be right by side to share in your adventures!

We love you LuLu! Happy 2nd Birthday!

Love,

Mommy & Daddy

The Proof is in the Video

As promised, here is a video of Cara WALK-ing!

video

Birthday Flickr Photos

Just a shout-out to my readers to let you know that there are new photos on my Flickr page from the birthday outing to the Denver Zoo and Chuck E Cheese. The batteries in my camera died when it came time to open presents, so my dad stepped in. I will be downloading the photos from his camera in a little bit, so check back. I will also have some birthday posts up later today/tonight.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Kindergarten Baby

I'm going to be the mother of a Kindergartner in less than a month!! Where, oh where, did the time go?

Caitlin starts full-day (we have to pay a small monthly amount for this privilege) Kindergarten in less than a month, August 5th to be exact. She will be attending Global Village Academy, a public charter school. We chose not to send her to the public school because it is in a bad neighborhood (even Ben got the heebie jeebies) and overcrowded. At Global Village, she will benefit from a bilingual (Spanish) program and smaller classrooms. This school is pretty new (2nd year) so we are hoping that everything goes smoothly.

We have been busy trying to get everything that Caitlin will need for school. Gone are the days of sending your child dressed in Sunday best with a pencil, slate and an apple for the teacher. We have a double-sided list for the classroom and an additional long and very specific list for art class. All I have to say is, my kid better be making some gallery quality artwork with those expensive brushes, oils and pastels! Caitlin also has to have uniforms to attend. Thankfully, they have patches so that we can sew them on to shirts, pants, jumpers, skorts and other items that we purchase (within the schools approved colors and styles, of course) rather than having to buy all of their special-made clothing. I mean, wouldn't you rather risk pricking your finger with a needle to sew a $3 patch onto a $8 shirt than buy a $18 shirt? Frugal-ness is the name of the game around here. Grandma is looking forward to helping Caitlin with her school supply shopping and hopefully, helping Caitlin's mom with the patch sewing!

One of the requirements for attending Global Village is that every family must volunteer 30 hours a year to help the school. I have found a couple of opportunities already and the rest, I'll have to juggle with a terrible two year old in tow. This could be interesting, to say the least.

We will see how this year goes. I'm hoping that Caitlin loves it and will want to go back for 1st grade. If not, we do have another option. Originally, we wanted Caitlin to go here and thought we were in but, do some some miscommunication, we lost our spot and were relegated to the lottery. Needless to say, our name has not been chosen. So, Global Village was our second choice, but a strong second. I had the opportunity to talk with another GVA parent at WalMart a few days ago and she said that both she & her daughter loved the school, despite it being brand new, and were returning this year. So, this gives me hope.

As we prepare to send our baby off to school, I have mixed feelings. I know that Caitlin is ready for school and that she will do wonderfully, but I am going to miss having her bubbly persona around during the day. I want her to learn, grow and make new friends but, I also don't want her to grow up too much. I'm sure I'll be one of those moms who shed tears privately in the car, after their child is safely out of sight then shouts hallelujah!

Total Craziness

I know it's complete chaos when I need lists to keep everything straight in my mind. Here is what is going down at the McLean-Ogoe household.

**We just finished up Bible Sports Camp and the required shuttling back and forth

**We are gearing up for both girls' birthday next week which means cake purchasing, present selection (and subsequent wrapping), crepe paper hanging, balloon arranging...you get the idea. I -think- I have everything under control. Let's just hope that I don't forget to pick up aforementioned cakes or balloons. Tomorrow is present selection and my PTO (Personal Time Out) so, I'm looking forward to it.

**My parents are coming into town on Tuesday to help us celebrate the girls' birthdays so, the house needs to be clean enough to pass the white glove inspection. I doubt they care if my kitchen floor could be eaten off of, but the sad thing is, I do. I love to stress myself out.

**As if my week weren't busy enough, throw in a visit for Cara with the ophthalmologist and occupational therapist, all in a span of 90 minutes.

**Oh, and did I mention that we are throwing in a trip to the Denver Zoo and the local Chuck E Cheese after the appointments? What can I say, I'm glutton for punishment. I just hope that Mother Nature cooperates and that it's not 100 degrees in shade nor pouring rain.

**Caitlin starts school on August 5th. That is another post in and of itself. Since I'm on a blog-post roll here, I'll do that one next.

Here's hoping that things will settle down somewhere around Christmastime!


(Note to my husband, if you read this, thank you so much for the iPod, I'd be lost without it lately. Well, at least more lost than I already am. It helps control the chaos.)

It Works!

I may be behind the ball, but better late than never as the saying goes.

We finally instituted a Goal Chart here at our house. I have thought about doing one for Caitlin for some time, but I didn't want to be a "mean mom". Well, I finally decided that I wanted Caitlin to have good manners and some responsibilities so, I broke out the chart. I found it at the Dollar Tree for the bargain price of, you guessed it, $1.

I had no trouble thinking up the "goals" that Caitlin would have to meet--
*Listening (read: no arguing, whining or having to be told to do something more than once.
*Being kind (mostly to Cara as she can, at times, be a bit rough and mean)
*Brushing her teeth every day
*Picking up her toys when done playing
*Cleaning up after meals (taking her plate to the sink, wiping up any crumbs)
*Going to bed on time (a biggie because of the newly implemented earlier bedtimes)
*Making her bed in the morning

We decided that if she did 5 out of 7 goals all week, she would get a special prize (something under a dollar, that I would pick out).

I cannot believe that it's actually working. I am not the biggest advocate of bribing children in order to get them to behave but, well, I'm desperate. Plus, I don't even really have to remind Caitlin to do her chores...she just does them! I barely even have to warn her when her behavior is heading south before she realizes her error. She wants those goofy little stamps on her chart. She is craving the chocolate bar (which she thinks is the perfect reward)!

Excuse me, I need to wipe this shocked look off of my face.

Bible Sports Camp

We just wrapped up a week of Bible Sports Camp for Caitlin. Our church (a total of three campuses) puts on quite the VBS program with actual VBS, sports camps and fine art camps. We chose sports camp because we really wanted Caitlin to get some physical activity in this summer. She had a total of 8 activities to chose from, one in the morning and one in afternoon. She chose to do dance in the mornings and soccer in the afternoons.

We had to institute earlier bedtimes, both girls are night owls, in order for Caitlin to get enough sleep and be pleasant when I woke her up at 8 o'clock so that we could be out the door at 8:30am. Sports camp was from 9am-2pm, so it gave me some precious one-on-one time with Cara, which we savored.


Caitlin had a total blast! She came home every day and showed me the dance moves that she had learned from "her summer school teacher" and is pretty quick on her feet with a soccer ball. Mixed in there amongst jazz moves and scrimmage were simple Bible lessons and stories. A very wholesome program.

Caitlin came away with some new skills, both in sports and socially. She has learned a little of what it is going to be like being in a class or activity with other children--turn taking, raising her hand, being polite, following directions and things of that nature. We have tried to teach her those things at home, but this was a much more appropriate and productive setting for her. Sports camp has also given her a sample of what it's going to be like being at school all day. We really wanted to figure out a way to introduce her to this concept, thankfully, Circle J Summer Camp came to the rescue! I hope that we can continue to participate for years to come.

I almost forgot the best part, at least in my opinion. We found the sweetest college student to babysit the girls when Ben & I want a date night. She was one of Caitlin's "teachers" and they both took a liking to each other from the start. We plan to put Aubrey "to work" very soon.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Big Bang!

We were pretty uncoordinated (yes, I know, a shocker for those that know me) in terms of our 4th of July plans this year. It has been a semi-tradition to go to Ouray, CO for the 4th because they have one of the coolest fireworks shows. The fireworks echo off of the canyon walls...trust me, it's a one-of-a-kind experience. For several years, my side of the family has gathered in the city park with a picnic and waited until dusk for the display to start. We'd wander the streets of the touristy town, get some delicious ice cream and watch the water fight in the middle of main street. Good times were had.

This year however, gas & lodging prices (and out-of-control medical bills) forced us to stay local. We found out that Aurora's city fireworks were shot off just down the road from our house, so we packed up the car with a blanket and set out to find the perfect spot. We found a vacant field across from the local library branch and found a spot. Unfortunately, it wasn't grass that we sat on, but some of the local prickly-type weed. So we sat amongst this and dirt. Poor Cara was coughing a lot because we were sitting right in one of the weeds that she is allergic to, poor thing.

All that aside, we had fun watching the display. Aurora puts on a good show, with a fantastic big bang at the end. Because we were up on a little bit of a hill, we could also see several displays for neighboring suburbs, which was really neat. Watching the girls' expression to the colorful explosions was priceless. I wish I had thought to bring the video camera. This is the first year that Cara has really been into watching and exclaiming. She kept tapping me and Ben and saying, "Ooohh" or "Ahhh!". Next year, we hope to find some place a bit better to go and also take in a parade or other celebrations.

Here are a few pictures--



I just thought this looked cool. It's the street light, lights from the concert by the municipal center and the municipal center itself, using a funky mode on my camera.

Caitlin & Ben making '08 with their hands.

A few of the better shots that I got of the fireworks. The shutter reload speed on my Freecycle camera is so slow!

Friday, July 04, 2008

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