Friday, May 6, 2016

Finn + Bump Update

It's been a long time since I've updated on Finn so I think we're due. He just turned 4 and I honestly can't believe I have a 4 year old. These last 4 years have gone by quickly yet I look back at his first year of life and it feels like a lifetime ago. I've been dwelling on that first year a lot lately, maybe because we're about to welcome a new baby into the world or maybe because of his birthday, who knows. That first year was hard, really hard. Doctor and specialist visits a few times a week, endless crying (on both our ends), and constant fear and questioning. It seems like once we hit that year mark things started to smooth out and we caught our breath, thank goodness. The crying spells stopped, after countless amounts of tests we didn't find anything out so the testing stopped, and we stopped doubting and living in fear. We decided to let Finn be Finn and just love the heck out of him, and that made all the difference in the world.

At the beginning of this year it seems like the fear started to settle in again. We have been worrying a lot about his weight after a few doctors mentioned he's extremely underweight and there has been a lot of talk of a feeding tube (G tube). The tube would be surgically placed in his belly and he would get liquid supplements a few times a day along with eating orally. We have been going back and forth wondering if this is the right thing for Finn and us. Many parents say it's really not a big deal and it's actually a huge lifesaver but for whatever reason we just haven't felt good about it for Finn and for us. We got so scared we upped his daily calorie intake, pumping him full of high caloric foods. Finn got so sick. He stopped eating and refused anything we gave him. He seemed miserable all the time and started having meltdowns (flashbacks to his first year of life, eek!) He had always been such an incredible eater up until now so this really scared us. Hence, more fear.

After weeks and weeks of this battle I'd had enough. One night at 2 am as I was putting Finn down to bed (ya, still a wacky sleep schedule at this point) I broke down. I had a long, tearful chat with Finn and with God about how we were done. We were done living in fear, it's just not us and it's not what God wants for us. I felt like I wasn't me, I was never fearful when it came to Finn and his "condition", I've always been so accepting of everything. I wanted to feel like myself again and I wanted my good eater, happy boy Finn back. The next morning I felt so much better. I fed him a normal breakfast, free of 500 calories of dairy and peanut butter, and within the next few days things started to get back to normal. I felt like a could breathe again and I got my happy boy back. Sigh of relief.

Finn's weight is still something we are aware of we are just focusing on it in a different way. After visiting multiple nutritionists and dieticians we came to the conclusion with their help that Finn is very much ok. A feeding tube is not necessary at this point and we just need to be thoughtful of the things we put into his body to help him get all the nutrition he needs. Another sigh of relief.

This whole ordeal taught me a lot. First and foremost I need to trust my instincts. Noah and I know what's best for Finn because we are with him everyday. God has instilled in us a special radar so we know what Finn needs and doesn't need (most of the time). And because he's non-verbal this really comes in handy and we NEED TO USE IT. Doctors are wonderful and we have some pretty incredible ones in our corner that we're so grateful for, but we have to use our discernment along with their advice.

Once that was all over we decided to tackle the sleep issue. He hasn't slept well in over three years so I bought a book titled "Sleep and Your Special Needs Child." One thing they stress a lot in the book is routine. So we started enforcing a strict bedtime routine for Finn and let me tell you, he's been sleeping like a dream, knock on wood, please please please don't jinx it. This has been going on for over 2 weeks now so we're crossing our fingers it sticks.  It's been an answer to our prayers, especially with a new baby coming in 2 months. We need our sleeeeeep!

So other than all that Finn has been doing great. We've kicked therapy into overdrive and started taking him to Shriner's Hospital and we have an incredible therapist there who has been teaching us so many wonderful things to help Finn with his strength. He's standing so great, with our help of course and he's loving all his equipment. We also have been taking him to a holistic doctor and they have given us some natural supplements to clean out his gut and keep his brain healthy. He has been a new kid! He's so aware of his surroundings, looking around and taking everything in. He's babbling nonstop and saying new words and sounds like dada. He smiles at us now and is just overall a happy guy. Not everyday is perfect but he has so many more good days than bad at this point.

Also school is going so great. I was so so so scared and almost didn't put him in preschool. But now I'm thinking it's the best thing ever. He goes twice a week for a couple of hours, he gets all his therapies there and they keep him super active. It's a mixed class with special needs kids and regular kids and it brings tears to my eyes when I see the other kids interact with Finn. They just love him and accept him for exactly who he is. And his teachers and therapists are so wonderful with him. It's been such an amazing experience.

We haven't done much more testing at this point. We thought about doing some genetic testing last year but decided to hold off since insurance wouldn't cover it. Finn's auntie Ruth raised some money for him last year when she ran the Boston Marathon and we were thinking of using that money to do the testing but decided against it since we could use it for much more important things like equipment, a wheelchair and specialists that aren't covered under insurance. Also a huge thank you to everyone who donated last year, we are truly grateful.

This is already a very long post but I figure it doesn't happen often and I should get it all down now. If you're still reading you're seriously a trooper, hats off to you!

So, baby number two. Yes it finally happened and unplanned too by the way. But now that it's happened I'm really happy about it, it's just time you know? I've been so much more in tune with this baby and pregnancy for some reason. Maybe because he's the second so I kind of know what I'm getting myself into and I can relax a little more. But I've just really felt a connection with him and I've been thinking a lot about how I want to bring him into the world. I'm really excited to give birth to him and see him for the first time.

I hate to say this but I feel like we were somewhat robbed of the new baby experience with Finn. We had a lot of issues from the get go and I really struggled with baby blues and coming off of the epidural and pain meds. We're shooting for no meds or interventions this time around (for my sanity) and hopefully it pans out. We loved Finn obviously but he was our first child and he had special needs unbeknownst to us at the time. It was just a real struggle and took a while to bond with him. Now we can't get enough of him and feel like we might eat him at times, he's just so darn sweet and amazing.

The thought of having another child with special needs like Finn has come up. Because Finn doesn't have a diagnosis we don't really know if his condition is genetic. But if it is we have a 1 in 4 chance of having another like him. To be honest we don't dwell on it a lot. Whatever happens will happen and I really feel at peace with it. From the beginning of my pregnancy I was never really worried about it so that must be a good sign right?

It's probably about time I wrap this up, hopefully I'm better at updating especially once the baby comes. Mostly for my sake, to have these experiences and thoughts in a place where I can go back to read and dwell on them. My pregnancy hormones have made me very contemplative and deep. It's funny actually, and so unlike me. But we'll roll with it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Loretta: Travel Trailer Reno

A few months back Noah and I were discussing things we can and can't do with Finn. Because of his disabilities, we are limited with the kinds of activities we can do with him. As he gets older it will probably become even more difficult. One thing we can and love to do with Finn is travel. But because traveling can get expensive we thought a little camper might be a good investment so we can take Finn on adventures without spending all the money on hotels and lodging. After a few weeks of stalking Craigslist we finally found the perfect little 13 foot Scotsman trailer from 1975. The moment I saw her I was in love. We named her Loretta after the sweet little old lady we bought her from. I wasn't there for the trailer purchase but she told Noah story after story about her family's adventures in this little trailer. We can't wait to add to those adventures.

She was in rough shape when we first got her. The exterior isn't terrible so we will probably wait until next spring to dive into sprucing that up. The interior was super outdated and dingy but her bones were strong and in pretty decent shape. And I might add, the whole trailer had a sunflower theme, clearly 70's right? It all had to go. Here's the low down of the updates and renovations:

  • We started out with replacing the ceiling. It had some water damage and was old and brittle. 
  • We then repainted the walls and ceiling white (Great White Way at Lowe's) to give it a nice clean feeling.
  • We also repainted the kitchen and storage cabinets white.
  • The floors were a greenish vinyl and we covered them with a vinyl wood plank flooring from Home Depot, it's inexpensive but looks like laminate and is super resilient, perfect for a camper! We used Traffic master allure in Dark Walnut
  • For the front walls we wanted to add some wood paneling as an accent wall, we threw around a lot of ideas to do this but ended up using the same vinyl plank flooring we used on the floors except did a lighter wood color, called Pacific Pine. I am super happy with how it turned out. Real wood would have been super bulky and heavy but these thin planks went up super easy and it looks real and natural.
  • For the kitchen we wanted to keep it simple and clean. We used peel and stick subway wall tile (Smart Tiles purchased from for the backsplash which was super easy and looks like real subway tiles. 
  • We replaced the drawer knobs in the kitchen with some simple mid-century brass pull handles, purchased from Etsy.
  • The sink, stove and hood were a dark green and we spray painted them with Rustoleum High Heat enamel spray in copper, I absolutely love the copper look.
  • We kept putting off the counters because we didn't know what to do with them. We finally decided to do a cement overlay. We followed this tutorial and I love how it turned out, super clean, modern and industrial. 
  • The seat cushions I was totally dreading. I was not feeling sewing all those covers so I didn't. We bought new pads from Home Depot and I recovered them with an upholstery fabric from (got a great deal). We got a thin board backing to put behind the foam pad then wrapped the fabric around (kinda like wrapping a present) and then stapled the fabric to the wood backing. I don't think it will last forever but by the time they're worn out I'll probably be ready to change the fabric anyway. 
  • For the final details: southwest pillows were purchased on Ebay, Squirrel pillow from Ikea, and skull head pillow from Home Depot. The long body pillow I made from a southwest style saddle blanket. I made the furry seat pads on the two ends of the couch from fur fabric and cushions from Ikea. We put up pull shades purchased from Ikea. The wall shelves are actually Ikea's spice racks we stained and then put in faux greenery. The rug on the back wall is from Urban Outfitters. The floor rug is from Ikea ($3.99!!!) We purchased the deer head, vintage first aid kit and Pendleton hat from Ebay. Lighting is from Home Depot.

It took us about 2 months to renovate little Loretta. We (mostly Noah) put so much time and effort into updating her in a way that felt like us. We mixed a lot of different styles but we love how it turned out and it feels like our mini home. We can't wait to take her out and make many memories with our little family. And most of all we hope this is something we will be able to share with Finn for many years to come.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Finn's Third

It's funny how three years can seem so long and so short at the same time. Giving birth to Finn in the hospital seems like it was foooorever ago. Yet it seems like just yesterday we were mastering the art of nursing.

For Finn's third we kept it simple with a little fiesta the Sunday before his big day. Tacos, cacti, and cake. Who could ask for more, right? It was a dreamy afternoon spending time with a few family members and celebrating our big almost 3 year old.

On the day of his actual birthday we had some plans but those plans got squashed because the birthday boy was such a grouch. We did end up taking him to Ruth's Diner, the cutest little diner up Emigration Canyon, where we also took him last year. Then we came home and finished up the rest of the delicious City Cakes birthday cake. I'm thinking 3 is going to be a good year with lots of progress and growth for Finn. We love you big 3 year old!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Balsamic Chicken Panini Sandwich with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Sometimes I make an attempt to copycat recipes from my favorite restaurants. They usually don't end up well. I hate to toot my own horn but this one turned out pretty good. There's a restaurant near us called The Blue Lemon, they serve "clean food with a twist." It's one of my favorite places to eat and I always get the same dish. The Balsamic Chicken sandwich with a side of fingerling potatoes. Tonight I decided to recreate the recipe off the top of my head. It doesn't taste exactly like The Blue Lemon's but it's super tasty. Here's the recipe, let me know what you think!

Balsamic Chicken Panini Sandwich w/ Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

chicken sandwich:
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast- cut into bite sizes pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 medium onion cut into strips
1 red pepper cut into strips
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
slices of fontina cheese
whole wheat artisan bread

balsamic ailoi
1 garlic clove minced
4 tbsp mayonaise
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
pinch salt

fingerling potatoes
1.5 lbs fingerling potatoes
1 tbsp salt + 1 tsp salt divided
1 sprig of fresh thyme minced
1 sprig of fresh rosemary minced
1 tbsp olive oil

1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, red pepper and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and saute until no longer pink. Turn down heat to medium low and add salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Cook until chicken and veggies start to brown and onions begin to carmelize. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. If you have a panini press, now would be the time to plug it in. Assemble the sandwiches, add a couple spoonfuls of chicken mixture to bread slice, spread aioli sauce on top then top with fontina cheese slices. Add top of bread and spread butter on top and bottom bread slices. Place in panini press until cheese is melted and bread is browned. Or you can place the panini in a skillet over medium heat and brown both sides and melt cheese. Press down frequently throughout cooking with a spatula.

2. Boil fingerling potatoes and tbsp of salt (preferably while chicken and veggie mixture is cooking)  in large saucepan until knife is easily inserted. Drain potatoes then cut in half. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat then add potatoes, 1 tsp salt, thyme and rosemary. Let sit so the potatoes brown then give a quick mix to let other sides brown. Once they start to char lightly remove from heat. Serve alongside chicken panini and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Our Trip to the Pacific Northwest

About 6 months ago Noah and I had a thought. "We should totally take a road trip to Seattle then drive down the coast to Portland." We aren't sure why we chose those places but it's just somewhere we've always wanted to visit. We aren't beach people, if we had our choice between Hawaii or Alaska, we'd choose Alaska hands down. We are mountainous, tree dwelling king of people. Oh and we love the rain. So now I guess it makes sense why we wanted to visit the rainiest of all rainy places. 

We loaded up the car on a warm Friday and hit the road for the PNW. I was worried, super worried. The longest drive Finn has been on was 4 hours, and that seemed like A LONG TIME. But he did so amazing! He was happy, he napped in his seat when he got tired and he kept busy playing with his beads and listening to Siri's navigation. 


Our first stop was in Yakima, Washington. We'd been driving for almost 9 hours at this point and we decided we'd bunk there for the night. It was dark so I can't really tell you what the town was like. The next morning we packed up and took off for Seattle. We made a pit stop in Snoqualmie to visit the falls, which were incredible! We then went to lunch in Issaquah. Issaquah holds a special place in my heart because my dad lived there as a kid, it was a cute town.

We made it to Seattle! The first item of business was the Ballard Locks. The locks are basically the divide between the salt water of the Puget Sound and the freshwater of the Lakes. It was cool to see the Salmon jumping up the ladders. We then went to Archie McPhee's which is a toy and novelty store, we dinked around in there for a while then headed downtown.

For the rest of the evening we bummed around the waterfront. We got Finn a corn dog, took a ride on The Great Wheel, and watched the boats come in and out.


On our second day we got up bright and early and hopped on a ferry to Bainbridge Island. We loved Bainbridge! We stopped at a little coffee shop for a drink and pastry while Finn took a snoozer in his stroller. Then we walked up and down the main street, in and out of shops. We hopped back in the car and drove to the next island, looped around and stopped in Bremerton. The highlight of Bremerton was that it had some naval ships you could tour. It was a Sunday so most of the shops were closed, we didn't stay long. We took the ferry back to Seattle, which was a beautiful ride.

Food was always on our minds during the trip so we jumped off the ferry and decided where our next meal would be. We decided on a little BBQ joint called Bitterroot BBQ that we read had good reviews. We loved this place, if you're in the Seattle area we definitely recommend it. They're pulled chicken was to die for and Finn's macaroni and cheese was the best I've ever had. This little restaurant was in a part of Seattle named Ballard. We instantly fell in love with Ballard, it was quaint with an old city vibe.


Up again bright and early and off to the Space Needle. I just have to say one thing about these touristy spots. You kind of have to do them just because, when in Rome, right? If I could go back I'd probably not go to the Space Needle, it was expensive and super packed. Also, heights are not my friend. After the Space Needle we went to Pike Place Market. I wish we would have went earlier in the morning to see more of the fish throwing business but we had fun walking around and looking at all the different shops, vendors and yum yum food. We grabbed some pastries from Piroshky Piroshky, a little Russian bakery in Pike Place. They had the most delicious savory and sweet pastries. I'd definitely recommend trying a few. After Pike Place we had to stop by the Post Alley gum wall. It was seriously gross and mind boggling but you just gotta do it.

We had decided at this point we were kind of tired of crowds and tourists so we looked up some parks to visit. We first went to Golden Gardens Park which is actually a beach. It was so beautiful and we had fun finishing our pastries and playing in the sand. Then we went to Kerry Park which is a quaint little park nestled in a neighborhood. The great thing about his park is the amazing view of the city! That night we met up with my sweet friend Dani who was my roommate in college, it was fun to see her and we ate at an awesome diner, Lost Lake Cafe.

That concluded our stay in Seattle, we absolutely loved this city. We got lucky and barely had any rain while we were there and the scenery is just beautiful. So quick recap, here are the things we loved seeing and places we ate at.

Seattle, must see attractions:
  • Ballard Locks
  • Archie McPhee's
  • Great Wheel
  • Waterfront
  • Ferry to Bainbridge Island (Bremerton was ok, but we liked Bainbridge best.)
  • Shopping in Ballard
  • Space Needle (eh, you just have to do it cause it's the Space Needle, am I right?)
  • Pike Place Market
  • Post Alley Gum Wall
  • Golden Gardens Park
  • Kerry Park
Seattle, places to eat:
  • Bitterroot BBQ
  • Piroshky Piroshky Russian Bakery
  • Daily Dozen Donuts
  • Lost Lake Cafe


The fourth day consisted of a lot of driving. Instead of heading straight south to Portland we decided to take the long way, driving around the peninsula along Highway 101. We are glad we did because it was a beautiful drive along the coast. We stopped in Port Angeles for lunch and a quick walk around to stretch our legs then it was off to Forks! Ok, I'm not like a die hard Twilight fan, but the 18 year old inner me was pretty stoked! Forks is a sleepy little town, nothing really like the book/movie but it did own up to it's reputation of overcast and rainy. Oh and we didn't stumble upon any vampires. Before we got settled in our hotel we wanted to stop by the Hoh National Rain Forest. I'd heard incredible things about this forest and it did not disappoint. It was insanely beautiful! Green and moss everywhere! I felt like I was in a fairy forest. Wildlife all over, this sweet little deer I named Ip, followed us around the whole time. Then as we came out of the forest we stumbled upon an elk, he was just chilling on the grass, we walked right up to him and he couldn't have cared less. This may have been one of our favorites parts of the trip, you know us, nature people. When we got back to Forks it was dark so we had dinner across the street from our motel (Forks Motel... so authentic). We attempted to watch Twilight that night, how legit would that have been? But the wifi wasn't working. Wah wah wah.


This was another long day of driving. We really wanted to stop in Astoria, Oregon. We've heard great things about this little town, plus a few movies have been filmed there. Kindergarten Cop and Goonies anyone? We had lunch at little restaurant called Baked Alaska, you can imagine why we chose this place (Alaska fanatics). Such yummy food, Finn had grilled salmon like an adult. We then walked around downtown and peeked our head in at all the shops. We then went to the Astoria Column. 260 stairs up... Noah held Finn. Our last stop in Astoria was the Goonies house. The house has residents so you can't go in or anything but just being there was good enough for me. Goonies never say die! Then it was back on the road. We made it to Portland that evening, had some pizza and hit the hay.


Portland! The city of breweries, beards and food trucks. First stop, Japanese Garden. It was really beautiful and we got some great ideas for landscaping our backyard. Next up, Voodoo Doughnuts. You can't not go to Voodoo when in Portland. They have the most bizarro doughnuts, some a bit scary. But all delicious. Next up we walked around downtown. I had to stop at the Ace Hotel, I'd seen pictures of the lobby and fell madly in love. Its rustic decor is charming. Then we took a ride on the Aerial Tram. It's a sky tram that takes you from the Waterfront up to Marquam Hill. Then we headed back to the hotel. This was the best hotel experience we've ever had. Every night they served soup and warm cookies. Talk about service! 


Our last day. This was the first day we weren't out of our hotel room by 9 am. We slept in, ate the delicious continental breakfast and then we were out the door to explore more of Portland. We had lunch at a yummy food truck that serves nothing but grilled cheese. But these aren't your average grilled cheese, they're fancy. And the best part is the eating area is an old remodeled bus. After lunch we hit up the local Goodwill, Goodwills are expensive in Portland unfortunately. Then we took Noah to get a barber cut at a cool shop called Bart's Barber Shop. For dinner we met up with my aunt and uncle who live near Portland. We ate at a yummy Latin American restaurant called Sabor Savadoreno. This was our last night in the Pacific Northwest. The next day we got up packed the car and headed east. We stayed the night in Boise and then drove the last 4 hours on Sunday. By the time we made it home we were beat and so grateful to be back.

Portland attractions:

  • Japanese Garden
  • Aerial Tram
  • Ace Hotel
Places to eat:

  • Voodoo Doughnuts
  • Grilled Cheese Grill
  • Twilight Pizza Bistro
  • Sabor Savadoreno

Our trip was seriously amazing. Finn was incredible the entire time, not one single meltdown. The kid was a trooper. We loved being in the Pacific Northwest. The rain, cool weather and lush trees are right up our alley and we enjoyed every place we visited. We're already thinking about our next family trip. Where to, where to?