Meet a Small Fry: Aiden

So honored to have Michelle Gilbert, mother of Aiden here talking about Angelman’s Syndrome! Salt Lake City has a walk this next month check it out here:  Angelman Syndrome Foundation’s National Walk. Welcome, Michelle!

My husband and I started a family in 1997 with the birth of my oldest son, Shawn. Working in Kansas City, I balanced my time between work and family. But when my youngest son, Aiden, was born in 2004, I had to put everything on hold due to his unexpected medical obstacles.

During the first year of Aiden’s life, he was always sick and was frequently hospitalized for lung infections. He also missed several developmental milestones and NEVER slept. When he was a year old, my husband and I decided to leave our life in Kansas City for a fresh start in Salt Lake City. Not long after we moved, he developed viral pneumonia and was hospitalized on Christmas Day. He spent three days in an oxygen tent and hardly moved. I was terrified he was going to die. Angelmans Syndrome

Aiden was almost 2 years old and he continued to miss major developmental milestones like sitting up, rolling over, talking, crawling and walking. He had been ill most of his life with lung infections and he rarely slept more than 3 hours a night. When we finally met with a geneticist, it took him all of 10 minutes to recognize the symptoms and give us a diagnosis, Angelman syndrome (AS). When Aiden was diagnosed with AS, I was devastated. I had never heard of this syndrome and had no idea what to expect. However, we were blessed with an amazing physician who has and continues to help our family through some tough times.

I was told not to look on the Internet because the information could be discouraging. Of course, the first thing I did was look online. Luckily, in my search, I found the Angelman Syndrome Foundation website. There were answers, support and an entire community of families just like mine. The next year, we attended our first Angelman Syndrome Foundation National Walk and felt so fortunate to meet other individuals with AS and their families. Having a community of other families that understand exactly what we are going through has been so important.Angelmans SyndromeServing as a Walk coordinator for the Angelman Syndrome Foundation National Walk has become an important annual volunteer commitment for me. This event raises awareness for AS and funding for research that we hope will ultimately lead to a treatment and cure. It brings me so much joy to see the other individuals with AS grow and surpass the milestones we thought they would never come close to reaching.

Six years ago I didn’t think we would see a cure for AS in my son’s lifetime. There just didn’t seem to be much interest in research for AS. Aiden is now 11-years-old and although he requires constant care and supervision, he walks with assistance, understands directions, and communicates with sign language, gestures and is learning to use a communication app on his iPad. Aiden is a remarkably happy kid with an infectious laugh, and our connection with the Angelman Syndrome Foundation has given us hope that one day, Aiden will see a cure. Angelmans Syndrome

Q:  Tell us about your background?

I was raised on a farm in rural Missouri and graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, with the hope of becoming a medical researcher. Instead, I discovered my passion in the field of organ donation and transplantation. I spent the first 10 years of my career procuring donated tissues like corneas, heart valves, musculoskeletal tissue and skin which were instrumental in saving the lives of so many people. In the last 10 years, I’ve worked to advance electronic documentation and data sharing for donated organs and tissues. Being able to help save and heal the lives of others has been rewarding for me and enhanced my outlook on life as a whole.

Q: What was the most unexpected surprise (hard or wonderful or both) about motherhood?

A:  From the first time I held Shawn and even when I think about him and Aiden, I am still surprised at how much love I have for them. I thought I knew about love before – but I discovered a whole new level of love that you have for your children that I don’t think you can have for anyone else.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: I hit snooze at least twice, then get the kids off to school and go to work. When I come home I workout, have dinner, and then have family time. After I tuck in Aiden, I try to have me time for hobbies, movies, or reading and then get ready to do it again the next day.

Q: How do you balance motherhood, family life and work? 

A: That’s tricky and I can’t say that I am always successful. Maximizing productivity while at work is key so that I don’t have to take work home. I set boundaries for my work hours and keep talk about work to a minimum during family time.  Planning time with my husband can be difficult with all of life’s demands but it is important for maintaining our relationship.

Q: In fifty years what do you want your kids to remember you for? 

A: I want my kids to remember me for my faith. My faith is how I find the strength to continue day after day.

whole wheat pancakes

Lisa Samuel is a full-time mama and non-practicing Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She writes about marriage, motherhood, food, travel and design on her blog, Simmstown.

Whole Grain Pancake Mix

As a new mama, breakfast seems to be the hardest meal of the day to prepare. There’s so much going on in the morning, I joke that I should rename breakfast “things on toast.” Egg, avocado, almond butter…But sometimes, especially on the weekend, I crave a real breakfast, and pancakes have always been a favorite.

Whole Grain Pancake MixIf you like fluffy pancakes with crispy edges and a tender center, you will love these! It took me a full year of experimenting with the ingredients to get the ratios exactly right. Now, I keep this pancake mix in my pantry so I can have pancakes any day of the week, in a matter of minutes. I can make a small batch, just enough for me, or a large batch, enough to feed a crowd. Even better, these pancakes are filled with fiber and protein from the whole grains, yogurt, milk and eggs, so you won’t feel like you need a nap afterwards.Whole Grain Pancake Mix

One batch makes four medium-sized pancakes, but if you want to make breakfast even easier, make your own toaster pancakes. Make a large batch of pancakes (use three cups of the mix and adjust the other ingredients accordingly). When the pancakes have cooled, layer them between pieces of parchment paper and place them in an airtight plastic bag and store them in the freezer. Then, any time you want a pancake, just take one out of the freezer and pop it in the toaster until it is hot all the way through. These make a great afterschool snack for the kids!Whole Grain Pancake Mix-6

My little one is only four months old, but one of the things I am most looking forward to as he gets older is being able to cook with him. In fact, I already have a little apron ready for the day he’s old enough to stand at the counter with me and pour and stir. These pancakes will be one of the first things we make together.

RECIPE AFTER THE JUMP! Read more

new baby favorites

By Emily.

Now that I am about a month in with Raleigh – and hindsight as they say is 20/20 – I wanted to share the items that are actually saving my bacon on a day to day basis. It can be so different for every baby, and that is what I love about reading these types of posts! I think as parents we learn very quickly to adapt. It’s a survival method, right? We adapt so well that we often forget that certain aspects of taking care of a baby don’t need to be so hard. So many times reading what works for other mothers gives me ideas for ways to make my life easier and to make my baby more comfortable and happy. I hope this post does that for one of you, too!new baby favorites

  1. Baby Nes: who sponsored this post – pulled through in an amazing way for me the past month. I will go in depth on this later as it needs a little back story first, but sponsored or not, I have been so glad to have this system on hand. Raleigh happily takes a bottle when needed and it’s such a weight off my shoulders! Not even factoring all the amazing time-saving features – perfect temperature every time! A capsule for every stage and age! All things that you can do easily one-handed (huge selling feature for me!) but it actually helped me get back a couple weeks with Raleigh that I didn’t have with my other two boys due to the worst word in the english language in my opinion: jaundice. More on this later!
  2. Mustela Dermo-Soothing Wipes: Between the handful of days Raleigh was on the bili-bed and waiting for his umbilical cord to detach, traditional baths were off the table. (Lotions of any kind aren’t allowed while they are under the UV lights so I hate to dry his skin out anymore than I have to with soap!) These wipes are amazing. You can get them nice and clean in a pinch and they have that yummy Mustela smell.
  3. MAM: True to Frame form, Raleigh loves his Mam binky. I love that they have a newborn size that is perfect for their tiny mouths. My boys have never had trouble keeping their pacifier in and I think thats due to having the right size from the get-go. I love these soft braided pacifier clips from Braided Lovelies on Etsy. The slip right over the pacifier and are so minimal, so much better than the plastic ones!IMG_9369
  4. Bloom Wipes: I love these wipes for being sensitive on skin, hypoallergenic, 98% natural ingredients, but what I really go for is the size. They’re huge and one wipe does the job of 3-4 regular ones.
  5. Windi: I can’t get over this genius little invention. Raleigh is pretty gassy and it of course only irritates him in the middle of the night. The Windi literally takes the wind out of him. Everyone needs a box of these on hand, absolutely amazing! In tandem with this we use our local pharmacy’s freshly compounded Gripe Water (something about them making it in house recently versus in a warehouse years ago feels like it works better? In my head?) Gripe Water comforts him a lot as well!
  6. Newman’s Ointment: Nicole got this for me when I delivered Hayes and it is an absolute STAPLE. It’s a prescription and you need to find a pharmacy that compounds it on site (get some fresh made Gripe Water while you’re at it), so make sure and ask your doctor for it the second you deliver! It is a life saver for breastfeeding. It has an antibiotic in it to prevent mastitis, it has an anti-inflammatory which lessens pain and swelling, anti-fungal which prevents candida which causes thrush and then a little more ibuprophen powder for good measure. Even my third kid in, I needed this stuff and never cracked or bled which is all due to Newman’s.
  7. Kickee Sheets: Raleigh is basically a baby prince because all I put him in is Kickee Pants pajamas. They’re so soft and comfortable and when I learned they made crib sheets I stocked up on those, too!
  8. Uppa Vista: One element of a stroller system I hadn’t tried thus far is the bassinet attachment. I am using Uppa’s whole system that comes with a bassinet and LOVING it. I love that he can chill out by the pool with us, in the shade while we garden or BBQ, and it easily comes off so I can carry him in the house without disturbing his nap. He looks so comfortable and peaceful in it!
  9. Ergo’s Nursing Pillow has been another awesome addition to my arsenal this time. I get the worst posture while I am nursing, especially in the middle of the night. The pillow helps keep him in the right spot and takes the pressure of my back so I can keep things aligned. Find it here!
  10. Tap-On Light: This might seem silly but Russ thought of it and I wish I had before my third kid! We are getting better everyday but I still need to see what I am doing during  night feedings. Turning on a whole lamp, shining that crazy bright phone light, or turning the room light on is a little aggressive. I want to wake myself and Raleigh (okay, you too Russ) up as little as possible. Feed, burp and get back to bed is the motto, so disturbing with the least amount of light necessary became the solution and this light is so nice! I tap it on and tap it off and I can move it around easily but it’s not so crazy bright! Find them here or in any hardware store.
  11. Mamaroo! I have been looking forward to using this for years. I love that its compact, can’t tip over, that the rocking is so natural and smooth, that I can use my own music or a white noise they provide. I love that its minimal and well-designed. Buy it here!

Chocolate Almond Protein Shake

My friend Jess posted a recipe like this and I thought it was a GENIUS one to recreate in our partnership with Similac.  There’s TONS of flexibility with a recipe like this so use what you have and let’s trick these kiddos in to eating something healthy 😉kellyfondots_jennasimilac1-5182

You’ll need:

1 pouch Similac Go & Grow

1/4 c Almond Milk

1/2 c Vanilla Yoghurt

1 spoonful Chocolate Protejn Powder (I’m most comfortable using a Paleo, Vegan version with my children)

1 T Coconut Cream, Whipped

Sprinkles!

kellyfondots_jennasimilac1-5186

In your Yoghurt mix Almond Milk and Protein Powder.kellyfondots_jennasimilac1-5204

Then add your packet of flavorless Similac Go & Grow. Top your shake with whipped cream and sprinkles of course!kellyfondots_jennasimilac1-5215 kellyfondots_jennasimilac1-5217

I love finding new ways to make old time children favorites, healthier! And this definitely succeeded!kellyfondots_jennasimilac1-5231

You can find out more about Similac Go & Grow here.

Similac partnered with influencers such as us for its Go & Grow by Similac Food Mix-Ins Launch Program. As part of this Program, we received compensation for our time. Similac believes that consumers and influencers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

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First Forty Days

I have had this book recommended to me several times since being pregnant and so I am so happy to have them here sharing their tips for nurturing your post-partum self.

They open the conversation about important the first 40 days are. I know of so many cultures that truly take care of the mother like you would the newborn. I don’t know if its just the culture here, or maybe a pressure I put on myself but it seems like life just goes on when you have a baby and I love all this book’s concepts of truly taking care of yourself!

Welcome to them! xo – Emily

FullSizeRender-6 5 things pregnant moms can do now to prepare for the First Forty Days postpartum:Bone Broth | Postpartum RecipeAn easeful, restorative postpartum period begins before the baby even arrives. Taking some simple steps in the third trimester will give you the space and assurance to sink into The First Forty Days with a light heart and a calm mind.

Here are five easy things you can do to prepare before you’re swept into a vortex of baby bliss and sleep deprivation. Bone Broth | Postpartum Recipe

1) Ask four relationship-saving questions
A new baby is one of the greatest stressors on a relationship. Beat the statistics—two-thirds of couples experience a negative shift in their relationship within three years of having a child—by asking some key questions before your new addition joins the family.

1. How will we divvy up baby-caring responsibilities?
2. How will our finances be influenced by baby’s arrival? (This includes the time, if any, that the mother will be taking off from work and any professionals that will be hired to help.)
3. How will our sex life be affected by the addition of a newborn?
4. How will our social lives change once baby is here?

Bone Broth | Postpartum Recipe2) Create a System of Help
Whether you receive assistance in the form of food dropped off to your door, or have someone take your older child to and from school, or get regular help with laundry, dishes and general housecleaning, asking folks to commit to supporting you and your family during the First Forty Days is essential postpartum preparation. You can pass a sign up sheet around at your Blessingway (see #4, below) or email friends and family a spreadsheet with the areas of your life that will need attention while you’re busy recovering from birth and bonding with your baby. Don’t be shy to ask for help! People want to support you. Help them help you.

3) Design Your Postpartum Nest
Spend less time worrying about the color of the nursery and more time considering your postpartum landing pad. You will be spending the majority of the First Forty Days lying or sitting down, resting and breastfeeding, so be sure that you’ve got a super comfy, incredibly supportive spot in which to do so. Your arms and breasts are a newborn’s entire universe so turn your nesting attention to the pillows that will be holding you up and the view that you’ll be taking in while you remain perched for hours. If you don’t have a pretty vista to take in consider hanging an inspiring piece of art or bringing in a striking plant. Lighting’s important, too. You should be able to reach a lamp without getting up and ideally it will have a dimmer to keep things nice and cozy when baby is dozing.

Bone Broth | Postpartum Recipe

4) Honor Yourself with a Blessingway
In most cultures, the transition to motherhood is a significant rite of passage in a woman’s life. Taking some time to honor your own journey to motherhood—or motherhood again—influences the ease you will experience on the other side. Tell a close friend that you’d like to have a small ceremony or gathering (it doesn’t have to be a big party) or simply take some time to consider all your body has accomplished in pregnancy, pampering yourself with a prenatal massage. It doesn’t matter how you choose to do it, just be sure to honor yourself in some way.

5) Make and Freeze Rejuvenating Broth
In China soup is revered as a preventative and curative elixir. During the First Forty Days new mothers are encouraged to sip healing bone broths to enhance warmth throughout the body, a key step in rebuilding the blood that was lost during childbirth. During the third trimester make vats of broth and freeze for easy cooking after baby arrives. Revitalizing broth can be sipped alone (try it instead of coffee or tea in the morning) or used in soups and stews. Get a simple, delicious bone broth recipe at the Mother Bees site!Bone Broth | Postpartum Recipe