Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our little budding....MckMama??

Josie has always loved taking pictures, ever since mommy starting taking them almost non-stop when she was born! We officially have more pictures that I can scrapbook!

Over the holidays, she has become obsessed with our tripod! We let her use our old sony camera, and she has begun to flash away! She learned to use the timer, and even set up self portraits. Her favorite things to photograph are her new dollhouse, family & randomness....Hmmmmm wonder if she will grow up to be a great photographer like Mckmama? A girl can only hope!

You can click Here to see some of her recent work. This will link you to snapfish. Here are a few sneak peaks!

setting up her shot

Her doll house
(thanks santa)

close up of the living room for her dollhouse

Not sure what are artistic edge was here, any insight mckmama?

family portraits

catching daddy in the act of napping...

All this and only 1 month shy of 4 years old? and to think when she was born her fingers were all fused together? and now, she has 10 beautiful fingers and enough dexterity to use them to shoot these awesome photos! I hope she has as much confidence when she is a teenager that she has now!

What do you think?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The stockings were hung....

by the tree with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there....

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh christmas time....

The countdown is on, it is official, christmas is a mere few days away! Presents are wrapped, shopping is done, baking is done (not that i do much baking) and Josie is sick, YEP folks, we got some viral cold bug. It all started thursday evening. She got home from daycare and complained of a belly ache. She did not eat dinner (that was sign enough, if you know josie, she LOVES food), and had a mild clear runny nose, no fever. She threw up in Brendan's room, and seemed ok after, went to bed and woke with fever & hoarse cough. My morning, there were boogers everywhere!

Luckily friday was a grandma Diane day, so mommy & daddy did not have to take a sick day. She was mellow all day friday and by friday night was a bit back to crazy. Still have boogers everywhere. clear to yellow, and I mean EVERYWHERE. She is back to crazy, silly, food eating self, so we must be on the mend. In the mean time it is EMERGEN-C for everyone else in the house, hope nobody else gets it!

BTW, hop on over to Mckmamas site for an AWESOME giveaway! Lightroom & photoshop! YIKES.

Find out how : Here

Merry Chrismtas!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like HO HO...

Josie has taken to call christmas and anything associated with it "HO HO" even our tree is a "HO HO" tree. So HO HO it is this year. The tree and the kids trees are up, now for the rest of the house. That is more of a chore but will hopefully be done soon.

The Dowd household has been very busy! Not sure where all the time has gone, but since I last blogged about it, we have had conferences for both kids. Josie's conference was great! Her teachers say she is ahead of her goals, so that is great. Brendan is doing well, just a few areas to focus in on, but second grade brings a lot of new things for him to learn. They are writing stories, so he has to get the sentence structure of paragraphs and story theme mastered. They are also working more with money, double digit adding and subtracting. And of course reading, which is always an area of struggle. But he is NOT a trouble maker, so that is good!

Turkey day was good. We celebrated as usual with Mark's family (we do easter with my family). And now the race to christmas....Started out with a little Black Friday shopping (never go to walmart! unorganized chaos).

*brendan reading josie the night before christmas*

I guess we are just settling in to a normal life. It has been 9 months since a surgery, and with no surgery on the near horizon, we are living day to day being THANKFUL at how far Josie has come and just how "NORMAL" she is. As I type I am watching her secure a bib on her baby and feed her a bottle. Most definently in a few minutes after she burps her, she will change her diaper because she will be "poopy" and then we may repeat that a few hundred more times until I tell her time for bed and she throws a major FIT! You see when you have a child born with a "rare syndrome" your future of normacly in unsure. So we are going to settle into our normal little life and enjoy us some HO HO time, heck maybe we will even get daddy to not be a scrooge this year....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

Inevitebly christmas is coming...sooner rather than later. How can we deny it when it is shoved in our faces everywhere we go? Take for instance this weekend. It was a beautiful weekend her in Michigan (for november) so mark was fishing on saturday to "clear his head" so i decided to take the kids to Henry Ford Museum to see the Lego Castle Adventure. Being that is was the first weekend of the month, and I had my Bank of America Debit card...I got in free, Josie was free (under 5) and brendan was 25% of b/c of my card, and parking was free! So for 8.25 we got to enjoy the whole museum and the LEGO adventure! What a deal.

We had a great time at the museum. Saw the HUGE locamotives, old cars & campers and brendan could not believe that at some point in time McD's burgers were only 15 cents! I mean WOW mom. We headed over to see "Abraham Lincoln's Chair" This is a must everytime we come. Brendan has been so interested in it, since he learned about his assassination in kindergarden. This lead to a talk on equality and slavery. Pretty deep for a saturday and a 7 year old.

The lego's were amazing! bigger than life and I could not imagine how long they took to build....

Before we left brendan was made into a:

hot dog courtesy of the oscar meier weiner mobile!
And the kids made their "pennies"

Josie chose Rosa Parks Bus and Brendan chose the wiener mobile this time!

To get back on track....we stopped by the mall to use a free certificate i got from chilrens place, and to my amazement SANTA was there already! Have to admit it was a cool exhibit. Polar express & snow globes fused together. You even walk through a snow globe and get snowed on! Of course it was free *unless you want a picture of course. so we walked through. Josie a bit aprehensive of santa himself. To my wonderment, when we rounded the corner to santa, and jolly old santa himself asked josie what she would like for christmas, she simply said "a pack and play for my baby" no crying..nothing. And josie NEVER talks to strangers! But hey, a girl wants a pack and play, she will do whatever it takes. Brendan asked for a Nintendo DS.....

So to the root of my post, how do you "BRIBE" your kids at christmas? I told brendan that santa would not even consider such an expensive gift if he does not look through his toys and books and donate some to kids less fortunate and to mommies mom to mom boxes for the spring ($$$ in mommies eyes!) So we will see how he is able to weed through some of the discarded toys that he will most likely say "its my favorite mom" and "i was going to play with it tomorrow"

Josie on the other hand is EASY. We were going through some toys in her room and I asked if I could sell a few things and she said yes! and proceeded to tell me where her pack and play would reside in her room on christmas

Of course after we seen santa and told him our wishes, I told them that since they already told santa what they wanted they better start being EXTRA good, because santa, mrs. clause and all the elves would be closely watching them!

Rest of the day was spent letting brendan pick out some clothes (since I usually do it for him, this was a treat for him) and hanging out outside. We had such a nice day, no yelling, no fighting....and no it was not a dream!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Heads

Due to overwhelming demand....well the demand of one anyways! Our friends at
All access to Jack asked me to post our pumpkin carving fun!

If you are a FB friend you can go here to see the fun, if not....enjoy the pics

So this year, we chose these four pumpkins!
One XL, one LARGE, one MEDIUM & one SMALL

WHEW, We know we had our work cut out for us:

It sure took a lot of elbow grease! Brendan did great this year, He took charge of his pumpkin, Max's pumpkin & even helped with josies! Luckily daddy stepped in to help him with the harder parts .

At last but not least....

One big happy family & one big happy
PUMPKIN family!!

I for one and pretty geeked that my "doggy" pumpkin turned out so well. I can only take credit for the drawing, brendan & daddy did the  rest.

For the first year josie was more into helping up carve pumpkins, which is great for her dexterity, she even helped a bit. But of course mommy took over, not wanting her pumpkin to look bad. Isn't that crazy?!? someday i will reliquish control over the little things, until then, yes our pumpkins need to look cute and the kids need to match when they leave the house. That my friends is a nother post all together!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Horse love and CPR

Josie has fallen in LOVE....

With a Horse.....

At costco.....

Yes it is cute.....

very BIG....


she "could" sit on it.....

will it be under the tree?

HMMMMmmmmmm In a perfect world yes, but in our imperfect world, no. She has been talking about it for 3 days! At least we know she has a good memory right?  At costco on saturday, when i told her to ask santa for it, she told me to get my money out of my purse! So now i am off to find her a small comparison of a horsey....... 

Kids are too funny!  

Speaking of funny, Brendan came into my room on saturday (maybe there was something silly about saturday?) proclaiming he needed to give me CPR! and attempted to give my stomach CPR. After asking him where he learned about it (hello is mother is a nurse and I haven't even mentioned it...) and never getting an answer. I did go over the basics the best a 7 year old can comprehend. 

Of course he continued to challenge me asking about mouth to mouth resuscitation....Whom he could give it to and whom he could not. Strangers are a NO but his friends?? I assured him his 7 year old friends would most likely not need it, but yes if they did....I told him if it is a stranger the best thing he could do what give chest compressions between their "breasts" 

So hope I do not get a call from school that he is practicing......

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sneak Peak

Here is a little sneak peak of the fun FREE stuff I got from briare.claire.etsy! Can you believe I won something? I almost never win anything! That includes wedding/baby shower games, raffles, nothing. So it was such a great surprise to win one of Mckmama's contests here.  Ok, so I am seriously impressed i just figured out how to "link" you to the contest...(((pat on back))) . 

I got to choose a BUNCH of fun stuff. some for gifts, some for us, some for Mckmama's pediatric cancer hat collection. And I still have money left over! woohoo.

cute orange head band! cute! silly face and all!

and of course i could not resist to post a picture of josie in an outfit that i think Mckmama would approve of....

Not the  best pic, but polkadot footless tights & limey green shrug? what is not to love?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

10 Beauties....

Not so long ago, my baby girl had hands shaped like mittens, only one small little thumb free to explore the world

(josies hand prints about a week after birth)

Believe it or not, she figured out how to palm just about anything, infact she still can, kinda like spidey....

Then when Josie was 1 she stared having hand surgeries to seperate her fingers. Now we always knew Josies fingers would and will never function like yours and ours....She has NO Joints, so her fingers do not bed, only at the knuckle. We traveled all the way to Kentucky to have the very best hand surgeon we could find. You can find him here: His name is Dr. Luis Scheker and he performs miracles

It took 3 surgeries to separate her fingers, 1 to straighten her index fingers, 9 weeks of casts to give us the precious ability to hold her hand, to be able to feel her stroke our faces, to intertwine our fingers and it is awesome. Still every time she rubs my arms or holds my hands I get the chills. 

We never doubted our choice in going to Dr. Scheker, and this is proof why. We have seen and met many kids with apert syndrome and seen all types of hands. We are so very lucky that Josie's hands (which had a lot of bone fusion and no promise of 5 fingers) are so AWESOME.

How can you not smile when she brings home her "han-ints" from preschool??
She is so proud her work, and she does not even understand why she should be so proud! So precious and so innocent. So thankful we have such great doctors!!

Josie is just so thankful she can change her babies "oppey diaper" Is she amazing or what??

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The reason for hair dye....

On our recent weekend trip to my cousin danielles wedding, i earned at least 100 more grey hairs! We traveled to Indiana and stayed in a hotel (which by the way was the highlight to the kids weekend). For some reason my kids LOVE hotels. And I mean LOVE, when we pulled into the parking lot, Josie was clapping and chanting "hotel hotel hotel".

Boy did I feel sorry for the other people on our floor, our kids are not exactly quiet... Not only did we stay there, so did all my kids grandparents, greatgrandma & aunt and uncle. So my kids thought this was free rain to run around from room to room.

Onto the big grey hair event.....Us girls decided to walk to the store next to the hotel. On the way back, Brendan who was hanging with the papa's and daddy was looking out the window and waving to us...Then he crawled up onto the window ledge/sill/airconditioner.....Then he tried to unlock and pull up to open the window......You can imagine our fear (no screens, 6th floor--you can do the math).

As you can imagine a whole lotta screaming took place, fumbling for our cell phones, fumbling to dial our cell phones, rushing up the elevator, then a bit of mommy scolding. Seriously I think he took 10 years off my life. I never imagined that hotel windows would open like a regular window, or would not have a screen?? Yes, my darling husband did remind me they only opened a few inches...but you never know. What if the window just fell out of the wall. Yes a bit far fetched, but I tell you the worrying us moms have to do is exhausting!!

How could you not love him??

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beyond the face.....

On this last day of september, which is also craniofacial awareness month, I thought I would share part of our journey. We found out while we were pregnant that Josie would be different, that she would requires surgery, no one surgery but many surgeries. We found out she may have breathing problems, feeding problems, speech problems, vision problems, basically many problems. As you can imagine grief and anger quickly ensued us. We found all this out just before christmas 2005. Actually we knew in september of 2005 something "may" be wrong. So my pregnancy was not a happy one....

Once we turned our attention to the internet to figure out just exactly we were dealing with, we found which has been a godsend. We joined the listserve and met many wonderful people that gave us much encouragement before josie was born and even more once she was here. Imagine your child being diagnosed with a RARE craniofacial syndrome (1:160,000 or 1:60,000 depending on what you read), no one has ever heard of it, where would you find the answers? Luckily the internet steared us to Don, Cat & Teeter sears and the rest is history.

We were lucky enough to meet Josie's craniofacial surgeon while she was still in the womb. He is world renouned and better live for at least 15 more years, I would trust her to no other. Even more amazing, he opened the craniofacial clinic at the hospital I work at. His name is Dr. Ian Jackson, along with Dr. Pieper (neurosurgery) they performed josie's first surgery at just 3 months, giving her head a more "normal" shape. But that is getting ahead of things.

We had no idea what to expect when Josie arrived. Because her sutures in ther head were already fused, my doctor had me scheduled for a c-section, since her head would not be able to mold to come out. My OB was a godsend in himself. He was so compassionate and caring and made sure everything was taken care of. To tell you the truth, I think he as a mighty bit scared. You see he is about my age, so I am sure this was a first for him- dealing with the "unkown". Josie arrived February 3, 2006 (Superbowl weekend--detroit was hosting!!), she spent 24 hours in NICU and only 9 hours on oxygen. I did not get to see her for the first 24 hours, which is another long story of complications. Josie's NICU nurse was amazing and called me with updates, and even came to see me (since my temp was low and I was pretty much in shock (medically not mentally) in my room.

This is where I became the expert. You see, since we found out prior to birth (which is rare), we had plenty of time to research, so we had to educate the medical staff at the hospital. And it has been that way ever since, us educating the public, doctors, teachers, strangers & hopefully YOU!

You see we have been pretty darn lucky. Yes, josie has been through 9 surgeries in her short life, but she is doing AWESOME! She is coming into her own and getting a might bit sassy and stuborn (taking after daddy....) We are lucky she is pretty "mild" as we have been told by the many doctors taking care of her. While we do get stares and silly kid questions about her hands/face/eyes, we are lucky that she does not have the major issues. No tracheostomy, no feeding tube, no major vision issues. Of course this is just the beginning of her story. Check back to learn more of what Josie has been up to the last 3 1/2 years!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My very own fisherman

Have I told you about my husband? probably not since I tend to ramble on about the kiddos. I met the man of my dreams in april of 2000. You will never guess where I found him.....The internet, yes ladies I know that can by "dangerous" but back then it was a pretty new fad.

We were engaged march 01 and married October 20 2001, just over a month after september 11th. We had a beautiful fall wedding, the leaves were brilliant colors of oranges and reds, mums were in full bloom and the sun peaked out from behind the clouds long enough to illuminate the stained glass of the BARN CHURCH that we were married in.

He is an awesome father, even though he would never admit it. He is such a great father because he is still a kid himself...hehe. 

My husband is a controls engineer by trade, but tournament bass fishing is his life! My husband has been fishing for more years than i can imagine, and can fish for hours on end (without even a radio on his boat), now that is dedication. He is considered semi-pro i believe. He has won some and lost some, but that is the name of the game.

I guess you could call me a "bass widow" in the summer. The kids and I will travel to some of his fishing weigh ins, sometimes he even gets "Big checks"

Yep girls he is all MINE...
and boy do i love the fisherman so!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Let the craziness begin

It is official, school is here and so are the birthday party invite, parent night invites, skating parties, PTA, fundraisers, homework....

All in all kids are adjusting well. Brendan is learning that in the second grade HE is responsible for his work and completion and parent checking his work, not US. He is also excited that his teacher has therapy dogs that she brings to school and he even got to "adopt" a dog for the year. He thinks his teacher is so nice she will never yell at them, and that she knows they are all so smart. He is a goofball!! And for the first time tonight Mark let him ride his bike to his friend Marky's house for his birthday party. He is only a couple of blocks, but he is MY baby! I can remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. I remember being so scared when my water broke, that I was having a baby?, who me?? that couldn't be. But now I can barely remember my life without him, he is one silly kid!

Josie is loving school and finally the BUS! She really seems to be flourishing. She is not talking a ton at school, but i am sure in time they will not be able to shut her up. Everyday when we ask what she did at school she says "nuttin" yep, the typical kid answer, too funny!

Max (the dog) still tries to test me, but I am learning how to train him and have him respect me, thanks to my hubby (and cesar milan--the dog wishperer).

Hockey started, so that means mark is gone a few nights a week and the motrin bottle will be half empty all winter. Hope he does not have such a rough season this year, but boys will be boys!

I for one am gearing up for scrapbooking this fall and winter! I am in desperate need of getting some work done and look forward to girl talk. I am hoping to get a handle on my weight/diet this winter. I just do not have the motiviation and I do not know why. Now that things with josie have slowed down, and not so stressful with all the surgeries I would have thought it would be easier, but not so much. Not sure what my deal is, I guess I am in some kind of funk. I will be 36 on tuesday, which means i will officially be closer to 40 than 30 and that is so crazy/scary to me. When my mom turned 40 I was in college. My kids will be 11 and 7! I do not feel almost 40, athough my grey hair looks it, but thanks to sally's hair suppy and good hair dye, no one has to know that.

In october Mark and I will be married 8 years, I guess maybe I am a grown up, scary isn't it??

I will leaving you with some pics from our recent girls trip to the apple orchard! Josie had a blast and loved posing for pictures!

Here she is licking the cinnamon/sugar from her donut off her fingers!

Enjoying conversation with nene sue and mommy

Asking me to take a picture of her feet

Smelling the sunflowers

Playing in the hay maze

What a fun day!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The wheels on the bus....

Go round and round, round and round....

Our first day of school went great! Kids got up and in "ok" moods. Josie was super excited & once brendan was "awake" he was excited as well. Brendan was excited that Josh & Christian would ride the bus with him, since he says Julianna is "crazy" now. Josie was so excited, she wore her backpack all morning!

After brendan was on the bus, off to preschool we went! She squeeled with delight as we entered the parking lot! Demanded her picture be taken in front of the school, but once we entered the doors: her lips were SEALED! We found her locker, put her bag away and met her teacher and para-pros. She also has a student teacher this year. We filled out the necessary paperwork and then played for the remainder of the hour! 

While josie is still playing with goodies her teacher gave to her, brendan is "resting" in front of the TV not giving school a second thought! 
Gotta love 7 year olds!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor of love

Our first camping trip is in the history books and we all survived, or that is mark survived us! The kids were a bit high-strung demanding, I was getting over my sinus infection, and marks allergies were in high gear! But we had a good time, great weather, and max was GREAT! (maybe even better than the kids).

We arrived at sterling state park about 520pm on friday and were all set up and ready to go by 6pm! Tent was a breeze, we had a great spot-right near the bathroom, yeah for me, bad for josie (she wanted to go every five seconds just to see what was going on). We got dinner, bike ride, bon-fire & hobo pizza's all in on the first night. Whew will we do rest of the weekend??

Let's see: more bike riding, beach time, more bonfires, smores, playground, listen to kids argue, whine & cry. All in all good family fun! Packed up on sunday and headed home to hang out with family, have a bonfire in backyard and chill before the first day of school!

Yep folks, it is now monday evening 830pm and kids are in bed asleep, backpacks packed and we are T-minus 10 hours till we get up and ready for school! Even Josie is starting preschool tomorrow! She will go Monday thru Thursday from 9a-1130a. The school bus will pick her up and drop her off at daycare, how cool is that! She is in a program through early intervention, so we are pretty confident she will be ready for kindergarden at the "normal" age. We are so incredible proud of her!

Josie has come so far for such a young age, of course she has the biggest cheering crowd around! One of them being Brendan! Who will be entering 2nd grade with Mrs. Masnari @ Coolidge elementary. He is a bit bummed his "friend" emma is not in his class, but has assured us they will meet on the playground after lunch. He is truly a funny soul, a bit trying at times, but who is suprised? Mark is his father, and brendan is his mini-me!

I am off to bed, gotta get my rest so I can get those two kiddos up and ready in the AM!