Category: Photos

Gaming: Seek-A-Boo

My mom is great at finding some fun games for Pip! Because he is still just two, I adapt them a lot so he can be successful. Then I up the difficulty as he is able! This game has a bunch of categories (differentiated by the border color). The game calls for the circles to be face down and for kids to find the ones that match a card. For Pip, I leave them face up. As he has gotten REALLY good at this game, I will often do a few categories together now, so he has a bigger group to search through.

For some of my older work clients I not only put them face down, I also don’t tell them what is on my card. Depending on their goals I may describe it, act it out, etc. So this game can really age up, which is always wonderful!

Dinner done, TV off, games have come out! #Thanksgiving

A photo posted by Tara Nicole (@speechykeenslp) on

Hope you love this game as much as we do!

-Tara

Link to the game on Amazon

Surgery Day: Mommy’s Point of View

Update: Surgery Day - Momm'y Point of View | An update from the frenectomy on http://www.oliverandtara.com

This will be two parts – one factual with everything we’ve learned, one from the mommy point of view. This is my point of view…

Procedures shouldn’t be scheduled for the afternoon. All that waiting, then all of the sudden it is time. Not fun.

We went out to a nice breakfast and took Pip to a park to get some wiggles out. He was in an exceptional mood, which helped. He had a good night sleep and his Nana was there – what else could a boy want?!

Soon it was time to head to Dr. Jesse’s office. We arrive early to fill out paperwork and were greeted by a nice receptionist in a beautiful waiting room.  Soon we were ushered back into a very large procedure room. There was a bit of a wait at that point, and Pip became restless. So we wandered the halls a bit. Everyone was very sweet, greeting him with waves and smiles. It definitely helped us all feel a tad relaxed.

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When Dr. Jesse walked in, he greeted everyone and struck up conversation with me. We “geeked out” for a bit on Liam’s diagnosis, his prognosis, the lack of education on this across professions … It was a conversation that definitely put me at ease.

Diagnosis: Liam’s lip tie was extremely severe – definitely a class 4. He should  have struggled with reflux, been a “failure to thrive” and never should have been able to nurse. His tongue tie was moderate severe with a good chance of impacting lower jaw development and causing sleep apnea.

They had Oliver lay down in the dentist chair with Pip on his chest. His job was to talk to Liam , while using his arms to hold his body still. Two nurses hold his head steady. My mom helped hold his feet and I stayed “out of sight”. We wanted to give him someone “safe” to return to after we were finished.

That was a very long 6 minutes … second only to the length of time for his surgery at 4 weeks old. I could not in good conscience leave the room. If a procedure is being done to my son and I don’t have the stomach to watch, how can I subject him to it?

So I stood. In the corner.

Listening to my baby scream at the top of his lungs.

Crying myself.

Cursing the lactation consultant at his birth.

Praying for it to end quickly.

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Throughout the whole procedure Dr. Jesse was amazing. First they numbed him with and adult dose. Dr. Jesse assured me his older patients all reported not feeling anything with that dose. They gave that a good bit to settle, then they began the procedure. Pip bit Dr. Jesse a few times. VERY hard. And never once did he jump, become loud, etc. His voice stayed calm, soothing and friendly. More than once I heard “That was a good bite! What a strong jaw you have! Can I have my finger back? I need it so we can finish buddy…” Amazing.

In hindsight, it was over quickly. I couldn’t get to my baby quick enough. I scooped him up in my arms as he struggled to catch his breath. My mom assured me she watched his eyes the whole time. It was anger with a little fear, not pain, that had him hysterical. By the time we left he was still working to catch his breath, but waved goodbye to Dr. Jesse and his nurses.

Dr. Jesse was very happy with the outcome, we were given the post-op instructions and took him back to the hotel. I gave him tylenol, teething tabs, rubbed copaiba on his lip, diffused gentle baby and worked to settle him. He couldn’t nurse – partially due to being numb and partially because he couldn’t figure out his new mouth. It was like trying to breastfeed a newborn. He rammed his face into my chest, couldn’t hold a latch and just sobbed. My mom (bless her) was finally able to rock him to sleep.

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He slept for hours. Still working to catch his breath – even in his sleep.

The next few weeks opened our eyes to how much the lip and tongue tie really impacted him…

Next week: The Facts and an Update

❤ Tara

All Tied Up: Lip Tied & Tongue Tied

Never doubt that “mommy sense”. Fight for what you feel is “wrong” or “off”. Do not let other’s belittle your concerns. You know your baby better than anyone else. I should have fought before, but I’m fighting now. And we’re going to win this curve ball after Liam has “surgery” next week in California..

Back Story

From the day Liam was born I thought something was off about his oral anatomy (and I know a bit about that, being an SLP and all). I asked the lactation consultant in the hospital and was told “it just looks different because he doesn’t have teeth and is so small…” How I wish I had been wrong, or that I’d fought more back then. Recently a few things were really itching that thought in the back of my mind:

  • People kept saying “oh those are the cutest two little teeth! You’ll get more soon” and similar phrases. Except… he has six teeth. Four on top that no one ever seemed to notice.
  • He doesn’t “pucker” his lips very well. I’ll post again this week with a video showing how he “kisses”.
  • When he drinks water, it is through a straw. But he more “pinches” it between his lips than puckers.  Also, it ALL falls out of his mouth if he takes the straw out.
  • When we try to feed him by bottle he always collapses the nipple between his lips.
  • [warning: may be TMI] When he nurses he doesn’t take the whole nipple into his mouth. He stays near the tip – I was constantly told this was just because he had a small mouth
  • He nurses for VERY short stints. A few minutes and then takes a break.

What sealed the deal was his top two front teeth growing in significantly recently. They came in with a big gap. When I was looking closer at the gap I realized it – his lip is attached through his top two teeth and onto his palate! I called Oliver from the airport (I was flying home) and told him “Liam is lip tied…. bad.”

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Facts

What followed was extensive research on my part. The biggest impact for me was realizing the following:

  • Lip ties are very common and mostly genetic
    (go ahead, run to the mirror. We all did…)
  • Most lip ties come with a tongue tie
  • There are two types of lip ties …
    • Frenulum Labii Superioris (inside the upper lip) – this is Liam’s
    • Frenulum Labii Inferioris (inside the lower lip).
  • It causes significant problems in breastfeeding – doesn’t stimulate milk production, damages nipples, bad latch, poor weight gain/failure to thrive, etc.
  • It is EXTREMELY common, but hardly diagnosed!

“Ties” are rated on a scale of “classes”. For lips ties, a class 1 is “normal” and a class “4” is the most severe. For tongues the scale goes the opposite direction. I know Liam has at least a class 3, but possible class 4, lip tie. You can see some great images here:

There are so many myths and “old school” mindsets out there that impact intervention on lip ties:

  • Many doctors/lactation consultants believe medical intervention isn’t needed, thinking children will “grow out of it”.
  • Many professionals will not treat infants/toddlers/etc.
  • Some suggest “waiting to see if it impacts speech, then intervening”

Ug! As an SLP I can say with assurance – NEVER wait to see if something “impacts speech”. By that time you are looking at extensive intervention to correct something rather than being “ahead of the game”. And the more research I did, the more I realized intervention was not only important, but necessary. And fast.

Interventions

When battling a “lip tie”, the individual needs a “frenectomy”. In layman terms, you need to cut the frenulum that attached the lip to the gums or the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This is primarily done one of two ways:

  • Cut with a scalpel then stitched (Z-plasty surgery)
  • Cut and simultaneously cauterized via laser

Stitches and a toddler sounded like a nightmare. And the healing for that was extensive and much slower than a laser. Research into the laser procedure gave us a general “picture” of how the appointment would go:

  • They would put local anesthesia into the frenulum being cut
  • After giving it a few minutes to kick in, they cut the frenulum
  • The procedure lasts approximately 6 minutes start to finish

This seemed like the best decision to us. The hardest part will be having to restrain Liam while they cut. So, now that we had decided we were going to allow someone with a laser into our child’s mouth, we needed to find out who does this procedure…

Specialists

I first assumed it would be a medical doctor or ENT who would specialize in this. But it is actually cosmetic dentistry! We searched and found the names of the leading specialists. If someone was going to be in my child’s mouth (an SPL’s kid!) with a LASER, they had better know what they are doing! We found one of the leading specialists (and researchers!) in the nation is Dr. Kotlow in Albany, New York. And his very first suggestion, if you can’t go to him, is Dr. James Jesse in Loma Linda, California. We did find some dentists who do the laser in our area, but we prayed about it and only really felt peace about going to California.  So I called his office, stated immediately that I was an SLP with a child with a class 3/suspected class 4 lip tie and probable tongue tie. They had an opening the following week.

What Can I Do?

Honestly, go check your little one. Talk to your friends about checking their little ones! Do you know someone struggling to latch/breastfeed? Or someone who is ready to give up due to pain/cracked nipples/etc? Share this post! Get them help – help that friend rid themselves of “mommy guilt” and raise awareness that this is common and FIXABLE! Be the answer someone else needs to much and keep more kids off the SLPs caseload by giving them a great start to their breastfeeding AND speech development!

Our Plan

We fly out Wednesday night to LA where we will meet up with my mom (she is flying in from San Jose). We then pick up our rental car and drive to our hotel in Loma Linda. Thursday as 2pm PST we have our appointment with Dr. James Jesse to correct Liam’s “ties”. We are cleared to fly home the very next day, but instead chose to stay until Saturday afternoon and give Liam some “chill time”.

Over the next week or so I will post what we packed for our trip, what helped with the surgery/recovery process and a less “informative” and much more “personal” peek into what we are all thinking and feeling through this process. Keeping it real!

❤ Tara

Some great blogs and websites:

Scrunchy: Toy Cleaner

Continuing on my “scrunchy trend”, I made some toy cleaner from my essential oils! I got this idea over the weekend from my friend Anna who had made some for her diaper bag. Between our day trips around Colorado and flights back to California, this stuff will come in handy! And the best part? It’s the easiest recipe you’ll ever have to follow!

Scrunchy: Toy cleaner made from essential oils like doTerra and Young Living! | found on oliverandtara.com

Toy Cleaner

  • 3 oz spray bottle (< $1 at Target)
  • Thieves (Young Living) or OnGuard (doTerra)
  • Water

Just fill the bottle up with water and drop in 3-6 drops of OnGuard or Thieves and give it a shake. Keep it in a Ziplock in your bag (in case of spills) with a cloth and you are ready for whatever hits the ground! And, because doTerra and Young Living are of the highest quality, you can feel confident in your little one putting that toy back in their mouth!

❤ Tara

The Next Two Months…

The Next Two Months | oliverandtara.com
Image Source

Wow – I had a lot of fun writing about breastfeeding last month. And I still didn’t have time to hit everything! You’ll still see the topic popping up time and time again. It’s a major part of my life as  breastfeeding mommy. But here will be the upcoming focus…

September

This month I want to hit My Favorite Things. A lot of you have asked “what are your top 5 things for…” – here are some answers for you! There is no way I will hit EVERYTHING in one month, so this will actually be kicking off a regular series. These posts will be more “summaries” than in depth Tried and True (T&T) posts. But, have no fear, a lot of these items will show up again in upcoming T&Ts!

October

October 7-13 is International Babywearing Week! If you know me, you know I *love* babywearing! So October will be dedicated to everything babywearing. I’ll be starting a regular series discussing why we wear, as well as giving you the in and outs of babywearing. What carriers get thumbs up, what get thumbs DOWN? What to look for, what to try, where to start – we’ll be talking about it here! I’ll be giving you a peek into my own stash, as well as others I have tried/borrowed/drooled heavily over. All the T&Ts will be focused on wearing as well. There may even be a few tutorials about some customizing I’ve done for my own carriers. I’m excited!

The New Year …

Oliver and I are really praying about where God is leading us. We believe we went through infertility for a purpose. We believe we’re beginning to figure that out. And this blog will play a part. But we are still really praying about the how, when, and what of this venture we are exploring. Please pray with us, and keep an eye out here for new about our new adventure!


On a more personal note …

I’ve been a bit MIA from blogging because this weekend was a BIG deal. We travelled to Cincinnati, Ohio to celebrate my great grandmother’s birthday.

Let that sink in for a minute. *My* great grandmother. That makes her Liam’s great great grandmother. TWO greats in there folks, not a typo. And before you begin asking if we all sat around her bed in the nursing home, watching her being spoon fed pudding – you’ve got the WRONG idea. My great grandma is a spit fire lady with her mind still about her and her body only just beginning to fail her. It is only in the last year that she has begun needing a cane to steady herself. This lady has lived through the depression, the deaths of two husbands, 2 children, a daughter-in-law and one grandchild. She’s seen her legacy grow through 3 children, 5 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and now 2 great great grandchildren. And she still carries her head high, has a smile on her face, and doesn’t let anyone boss her around. Can you tell I love this lady?

So, for her 97th birthday, all she really wanted from Oliver and me was to meet Liam. We were getting regular calls, asking when we’d bring her great great grandson out. We began planning a trip, and my mom jumped into the planning as well. Soon we had it arranged so my sister would meet us there with my niece, and my brother would meet us there from LA.

I’m not going to lie. When we rounded the corner to see her walking towards Liam, smiling, I cried. I lost my grandparents (her son and daughter-in-law) when I was a freshman in college. I was VERY close to them, they lived with us for many years leading up to their passings. It was so very important to me that she meet my first child. But, as we spent years battling infertility, I was really worried that she wouldn’t be here. To see her walk up to Liam, pat his face, talk sweetly to him – and to see him smile back at her. I’m crying again typing this. I could do nothing less that praise the Lord.

Some pictures from our whirlwind weekend…

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❤ Tara

WBW: My view

My View [while nursing] | oliverandtara.com

When nursing, your view is sometimes pretty limited. Since learning how to breastfeed Liam in the baby carrier (read: STEEP learning curve) my view has improved. But with a bad back, sometimes I just need to sit and rest myself. Here are some of my views …

My view at home
My view at home

99% of the time, when I nurse at home, I am sitting in my chair. My beloved chair was a gift from my Mother-in-law when we announced our pregnancy. I spent a LOT of time picking it out, and it is my FAVORITE place to sit. Sometimes I have to remember that I can sit OTHER places when I’m not nursing! We set it in the living room at the condo, so we are a part of everything while nursing. This is important to me. No one should have to eat “alone” – including Liam!

The view in Colorado
The view in Colorado

When we move to Colorado, we will spend a couple of months at my parents’ house while we place offers on homes. We went out to visit for Mother’s Day/Memorial Day and this was my view while nursing. Ohemwow – I could get VERY used to this! It is very special early in the morning, when it is just the two of us. I can sit, nurse and praise the Lord for all our blessings … most specifically, Liam. 

This past weekend we took Liam to the aquarium for the first time. To say I got teary eyed watching him in awe is an understatement. But the best part was when he got hungry. Oliver led us to the “Open Ocean” exhibit to grab a bench. I think this is one of the BEST views I’ve ever had while nursing!

 

❤ Tara

 

Link Party Button #milkingit

WBW: A Day of Nursing

A Day of Nursing | oliverandtara.com

Today, for World Breastfeeding Week, I documented my nursing relationship with Liam. I can’t really capture all of the warm fuzzies, but I can show you how *our* day looks. Everyone’s nursing relationship with their child is different. It’s different because you are unique, and your child is/will be unique. I am writing this to give you an example of what it *might* look like to nurse your 6 month old. But please, don’t compare your breastfeeding relationship to mine. Compare it to nothing, because nothing compares. It is your special relationship, love every minute of it! Accept that trials, successes, frustrations and celebrations. Sit back, enjoy and watch your body do something miraculous!

Our Day [today]

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4am – swaddled in the dark!
Liam wakes up partially around 4 or 5 every morning. He isn’t fully awake yet, really just hungry. The rule in our home is no eye contact! Scoop him up, place him in bed. He eats for about 10-20 minutes and then falls asleep in bed with us

 

Once he is in bed, each wake-up is quick and easy. It took some time for me to master breastfeeding without switching sides. Liam always stays on the same side, and I contort to feed him from both sides. This morning we had three of these feeds before he was up and ready to take on the day. IMG_20130803_235910
6:30 am, 7:15 am and 7:45 am

 

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9:45 am
After our morning routine, and some play time, Liam starts to get hungry again. He usually isn’t ready for a nap yet – just thirsty from all the activity!

 

The morning nap feed is one of his longest all day. During this feed he usually falls asleep for his 2 hour nap. This usually hits 2-3 hours after he is out of bed in the morning. Today he ate for a whopping 45 minutes! (at one point I may have moo’d…. just saying… ) IMG_20130804_101400
10:30 am

 

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3:15 pm
The afternoon he is actually pretty sparse in his “snacks”. He began to show signs of hunger (read: hitting head against boob) while we were out running errands. I didn’t have a cover with me, but I did have him in my Tula. So I just left him in there to snack! In less than 5 minutes he was done and wanted to go back to smiling at the other shoppers!

 

While walking around the complex, we got hungry again. So I sat on a bench to give him a snack. He popped on and off a few times, mesmerized by the trees above the bench. IMG_20130805_111926
5:30

 

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6:30 pm, 7 pm, 7:30 pm, 9 pm
The evenings are usually full of short “snacking” around playing and other excitement. Tonight he munched 4x before his bedtime feed – none lasting more than 10 minutes!

 

His last meal of the night is as he nurses to sleep. This one, much like his morning nap, is a long one. I usually put on a TV show to watch while he eats, since I am stuck sitting for quite some time. His milk coma always makes me giggle! Goodnight sweetheart! See you in 6-8 hours! IMG_20130803_235636
10pm

 

I really enjoyed documenting our day today – I had no idea he nurses THAT much. I mean, I knew it was a lot. But WOW! I guess it takes a lot of calories to keep up those cheeks *smile*

I also didn’t realize how efficient he has gotten at eating. As a newborn he ate at least 30 minutes – 1 hour at each feeding. I thought I was stuck in my chair forever. Now it sometimes feels like he is simply going through the Breastfeeding Drive-Thru! Snack and go. My favorite times are those long feeds now. The ones where I can just smile at him as he drinks and sleeps.

What does your breastfeeding day look like?

❤ Tara

 

Link Party Button #milkingit

Happy 6 Months!

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Dear Baby Liam

You are 6 months old today. I can’t believe it’s been half a year since the day we met you. We waited so very long for you, the whole day was surreal. I still remember the little things about that day. The music playing in the OR. Daddy’s smile. The look on Papa’s face when we told him your name. Mommy’s friends taking turns holding you. Since then there have been so many wonderful firsts for both of us. The first time you latched, smiled, laughed, reached for me, slept through the night… rolled over, sat up, woke daddy up by tapping him.  Just this past week we went to a library lapsit. As I sat on the rug, singing and listening to stories with you, I looked around at the other moms and started to cry. At one time, I had convinced myself I would never be able to attend something like this. But there I was, being a “mommy”. At the end of the song and story time we sat, chatting with other mommies and babies. I was even given my first mommy playdate card.

Each night, as you sleep in your bed, I say a prayer for you. As each of these firsts happen, I find my prayers get longer. I find I have to add a new item. When you were first born I prayed against SIDS. Then I began praying for physical, emotional and mental health. Soon I added your wife, your developmental milestones … all along always praying that daddy and I will be the parents you deserve, and that we can raise you to be an amazing man of God.

I’ve documented so much of your life. I’m sure I’m driving people crazy by filling up their social media feeds. But it’s just too much joy to keep to myself. To keep bottled up. You are such a blessing, and you bring so much joy to so many people. You are loved, prayed for, kissed and snuggled by so many. Daddy used this “snap happiness” to create a very special gift for us.

For the past few weeks, daddy has been working VERY late. Tonight, when I got home, daddy sat me down. I was afraid he was going to tell me some bad news. He turned his computer towards me, and showed me this…. I cried…

(thank you Uncle Ryan for helping daddy!)

Happy half birthday little man. Happy happy birthday. You didn’t get a cake tonight, but instead some water from your new cup and your current favorite – avocado!

 

❤ Tara

Pimp Your Pictures

I have always been "snap happy". I’ve been a picture person since I was young! Having Liam has sent that into overdrive. Like, 50-100 photos on an average day isn’t rare. One of my requirements  for my phone is that it has a GREAT camera. So many friends were getting blurry photos with their iPhones and other smartphones, I knew it would just drive me crazy. And, because my photos are taken on my phone, they are uploaded to Intagram and FB from my phone. Instagram offers a little "fun", but I wanted to do a LOT more with my photos. So I began searching and playing. Since I started doing more with my photos, a TON of people have asked me what apps I use. I figured it would be easier to direct them here than continue to retype my answers again and again.

NOTE: I am an Android user. Some of the apps are available on both Android and iOS, and I’ll try to note when it is. But keep in mind, I have never used the iOS versions of these apps!

Labels

"Labels" are the colored strips with text. They often look like something that has come out of a real label maker or text written on masking tape, washi tape, etc. I am picky with these, I don’t like it to look "junky". Some of my favorite apps are…

Labelbox labelbox

  • 15 different labels
  • Ability to undo – but only to clear EVERYTHING you’ve done, and you have to shake your phone. (which, quite frankly, leaves you looking ridiculous in public)
  • [Available on iOS]

maskingtapemaskingtape

  • I couldn’t even begin to count the number of tapes
  • Divided by colors, then patterns (you scroll for miles)
  • All are semi see-though – meant to look like Japanese Washi Tape
  • [Available on iOS]

Collages

This is the trick to putting a bunch of related photos into one image for sharing via social media. I prefer ones that create square collages. Then I can quickly plug it into Instagram, which then shoots it out to Facebook and Twitter. I’ve tried quite a few, but it really comes down to two for me.

  • photoframePhotoFrame
    • Super clean and quick
    • All the frames are divided by number of images
    • Can change the thickness and color of the frame around the collage
    • You can save to your gallery or send it straight to another app (Instagram, Facebook, editors, etc)

 

  • photogridPhoto Grid
    • Some cool collage options (not all square/rectangle)
    • Funky borders available as well (patterns, etc)
    • Add text right in the app
    • [Available on iOS]

 

Editors

Sometimes you want to do just a bit MORE. Maybe add some clip art, some "chalk drawing-like" text or images. A photo needs "touch-up" or even "blacked out" . Maybe even some silly arrows or talking bubbles? That’s when I go to my editor for the extra "ooph". Now, I have a LOT of editors, and I use them all for different things. But I have one I use more frequently for "common" edits, and one for a really specialized feature …

  • picsartPicsArt
    • A little chalk-like clip art in the library
    • Some great fonts – sometimes I’ll leave my labels plank and add text from this app!
    • You can add stickers, frames, borders, layer photos, masks, draw and other effects
    • [Available on iOS]

 

  • realbokehReal Bokeh
    • This adds a little "magical aura" to your images – it looks like light reflections
    • It also lets you pick shapes, colors and placement!
    • [Available on iOS]

 

  • beautifulmessBeautiful Mess
  • This one is a great one for cutesy borders, fonts, clips art, etc. It’s become my go-to and probably yours friends’ too!
  • It also lets you create images without a picture – use a blank background or one of the many patterns available!

Examples

Here are some examples of these apps in use!

4months 

 

label: labelbox

 

collage: photo frames 

 

heart lights: real brokeh

 

clipart: picsart 

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Happy Editing!

❤ Tara