Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Little Girl's Cupcake Room

I apologize for taking so long to write this post.  I got a little preoccupied with Bear's diagnosis of Primary Immuo-Deficiency aka Immunoglobulin IgG Subclass Deficiency and Lead Poisoning (an update is coming soon!).

The room is pink.  Pink.  As in p.i.n.k.  I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that my little princess is a girly girl.  I gave in and created a room that catered to her tastes because the room is, after all, hers.  Hence the pink walls, BUT only two of them are a diminutive pink that resembles the pale satin of a ballet shoe. The other two walls are a pale bluish color named "sigh".   If I listened to the Bear, her room would be a cross between magenta and bright purple.

There was a lot of DIY craft-tastic fun, but have no fear because this non-creative mama bear actually figured out how to make a few items that did not require a lot of time or effort.  The links in this post either show you where to buy the items or how to make them.

Personalized Art Creations:

Modge Podge Personalized Letters:
I am shouting out to my dear friend Cathy who first gave me the idea.
DIY Personalized Letters

Letters: can be found at Michael's or Hobby Lobby

Photo Memory Board:
DIY Photo Memory Board

Fabric: Hancock Fabrics

Bow Organizer:
This is super easy.  Just follow the beginning directions on the Photo Memory Board tutorial.  Then instead of criss-crossing the ribbon, run the ribbon vertically with about 2.5 inches between each ribbon.  Ta-Da! DIY Bow holder.
Fabric and Ribbon: Hobby Lobby

Wall Art:
Etsy is Your Friend.  As is Pinterest.

Blond Girl Prints:

These four pictures I found from Etsy Seller rkdsign88 by searching for "cupcake".  What I love about her art work is that you can do a grouping of 4 pieces measuring 8x10.  You can choose the hair color too.  I saw this print and thought it was my Ellie.

"Making Cupcakes"

These prints were my inspiration for the rest of the room--Cupcake Meets Princess.  I bought frames for $4 each at IKEA.  A great deal that comes with some issues.  Such as trying to hang them equally and getting them to hang straight.  When I get around to it (i.e. in a year or so), I think that I will attach my own frame mounts to the back of the frames).  All four are hanging in a grouping over Ellie's dresser.

Top Left: Oops More Lovely Cupcakes
Top Right: Adorable
Bottom Left: A Princess
Bottom Right: Making Cupcakes

Scrapbook Cupcake Wall Art:
I am announcing that I actually made something from one of my pins on Pinterest.  Typically, I just pin and pin and well, never do anything after that.  I found the cupcake hole puncher at Joann's.  This piece of art is hanging over Ellie's bookshelf across from her bed.

How-To from Patches of Pink: Cupcake Picture Frame

Shadow Box:

Fabrics and Linen:

The fabric that I used is seen throughout the room--in the Shadow Bow, within the embroidery hoops, on the Bow Holder and Fabric Photo Memory Board, as well as on her bedding.

Embroidery Hoop Wall Art: (aka cheapest wall art ever)
I mainly used Fat Quilting Quarters from Hancock and Joann's, but used ~ 1/3 yard with the flannel cupcake fabric.  Yes, I mixed my fabrics.  Cotton and flannel, together.  I was going to spray paint the flimsy wooden embroidery hoops, but got too lazy so they are hanging out au-natural.  The Bear is able to remove the blue one and the large cupcake one by standing on her bed.  I am not overly concerned because they will not cause an injury (well, maybe a splinter or something equally anticlimactic) nor will it be a huge deal if she breaks the $0.59 hoop.

The Chunky Chicken is not a big fan of a flat sheet, a quilt, a duvet, or even a blanket so I tried to spice things up with pillow cases.  Not that she sleeps with pillows either.  I used the same flannel as the embroidery hoop--from Hancock.  The other cupcake fabric is from Hobby Lobby.  If you can sew a somewhat straight line, then you can do this.  Here is a great youtube Tutorial.

Again, if you can sew a straight line, you can do this.  I purchased 6 yard of this fabric from Hobby Lobby.  Cut it in half--so ~3 yards for each panel.  I double hemmed the sides, top, and bottom of each panel.  I then folded over the top of each panel by about 3-4 inches and sewed a straight line, creating a tunnel for the curtain rod to slide through.  I used the left over fabric for a small envelope-style pillow [not pictured].

I know I said that there were 2 pink walls and now you can finally see the pink wall in this pick.

For all my griping about the pink, I really need to embrace the girly-ness of my awesomely sassy daughter.  After all, my husband thinks nothing of walking out of a Walmart with a bright pink plastic swimming pool because he "thought she would like the pink over the blue".  I should be more like my husband.  Andrew, if you are reading this post, ignore the previous sentence.  Like, erase it from your mind completely.


DIY Personalized Wooden Letters with Modge Podge and Scrapbook Paper

This may be the easiest DIY craft and this is coming from a non-crafty mama bear.


  • Wooden letters [you can purchase these at any craft store such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby]
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Scrapbook stickers
  • Ribbon and other sewing notions
  • Scissors
  • Modge Podge [matte or shiny]
  • Paint brush

  1. Select a sheet of scrapbook paper that you would like on top of your letter.

  2. Trace the letter on the scrapbook paper and cut out paper.
    1. I placed the letter on top of the scrapbook paper to trace.
    2. If you choose to trace on the back of the paper, be sure to reverse the letter.

  3. Using the paint brush, apply Modge Podge liberally to the wooden letter.

  4. Carefully, apply scrapbook paper to the letter.  Allow to dry.

  5. Paint Modge Podge over the scrapbooked letter.

  6. After the scrapbooked letter has dried, attach various scrapbook stickers and ribbons/rick-rack to the letter.

  7. In the Letter E below, I hot-glued a jeweled bracket to the letter for extra bling.  


DIY Photo Memory Board and Hair Bow Holder

I wanted to create a unique Fabric Memory Board for my daughter's room that could display photos of the family as well as small pieces of artwork. In less than 30 minutes, I created the Photo Board below:


  • Canvas [I used 11x14 but you can use any size]
  • Fabric [2/3 yard, less or more depending on the canvas size]
  • Batting
  • Ribbon [I used one spool of ribbon]
  • Brackets
  • Scissors
  • Thumb Tacks or Staple Gun
  • Ruler 

Overlaying fabric with batting over a piece of canvas is an easy way to achieve the store-bought memory board look.  It is also a cinch to hang onto the wall--no wall mounts or fancy picture-frame hardware needed.   I chose an 11 x 14 canvas, but you can go larger or smaller.

I recommend a layer of batting between the overlaying fabric and the canvas to create a nicer look, but is not absolutely necessary.  

1. Lay canvas on top of fabric and batting.  Cut the fabric and batting to two inches wider on each side of the canvas [my piece measured ~15 x 18]  You want to make sure that your fabric and batting will wrap around to the underside of the canvas.  

2. I really wanted to use a staple gun for this part, but my husband refused to reveal its location because he thinks that I am not careful with sharp objects.  He is probably right and therefore I used thumb tacks.  I believe that the stapling would be more sturdier and quicker, but thumb tacks give you more room to mess up and try again.

3. Staple or Tack both the fabric and the batting to the underside of the canvas.  Be sure to pull it taught and that the design of the fabric is not cock-eyed.  Corners can be tricky.  Here is how I did mine:

4. You want to lay out the ribbon so that it creates a diamond pattern on the front.  I laid stripes of ribbon about 5.5 inches apart.  You can space it further apart to accommodate larger photos.  Staple or tack the ribbons snuggly on the back of the canvas.  You want theses ribbons to be very taught so that the photos do not slip down to the bottom of the board.  

This is actually the back of the bow-holder, but you can see how I used tacks for the ribbon.

5. I had this marvelous idea that I would use these jeweled brads where the ribbons criss-cross.  It was brilliant except of the part where they wouldn't poke through the two layers of ribbon, the fabric, and the batting.  In the end, I just hot-glued them to where the ribbons intersected.

DIY Bow Holder:

The same supplies as above, minus the brackets.

Follow steps 1-3.  

Choose a slightly wider type of ribbon. Again, I only used one spool of satin ribbon.  Instead of criss-crossing into a diamond-shape, lay the ribbon vertically.  I spaced mine 2.5 inches apart to accommodate the larger bows.   

Tack or staple the ribbon onto the back of the canvas [see above].  Make sure it is taught so that the hairbows do not slide down to the bottom.

You are done!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

My daughter has been poisoned

"Anna, we thought that we had gotten all her labs back last week, but this one just came in.  It is her lead level and it is high."

My Ellie is suffering from lead toxicity.

This lead is poisoning my baby.

This lead is what has been making her so tired.

This lead is what zapped her energy and made her very agitated.

My mama gut did not fail me.  Her pediatrician did.  I brushed off.  Ignored.  Nearly 3 weeks ago I brought Ellie into her PCP's office for cellulitis.  I mentioned that she was extremely tired and had no energy over the past 2 weeks.  A child with ADHD and the hyperactivity was entirely gone.  The doc brushed it off as a growth spurt.  I knew it wasn't "just a growth spurt".  I assumed thyroid (thyroid disorders are common in people with Down syndrome) or virus as did the Developmental Pediatrician that I contacted after the brush-off from the PCP.  Dr. F also threw in a lead level just for fun.  I am glad that she did.

Is our water contaminated?

What are the sign's of lead toxicity and is it serious?

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Poor growth or weight loss
  • Learning disability
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

For those of you who have children with Ds, you can see why it is easy to miss lead poisoning as poor growth, developmental delays, and constipation can all be attributed to that extra chromosome.  Yes, lead toxicity is serious.  High lead levels can lead to learning difficulties and mental problems.  Seriously high levels can lead to seizures, coma, and death.

Testing 101:

All children are screened for lead, but not all children have blood levels drawn at their well child check.  What that means is parents are asked "does your child live in a house that was built before 1978?"  That is the screening.  If the answer is yes or don't know, blood is drawn to measure the amount of lead present.  If the answer is no, typically nothing is done.  Our answer has always been no.

Many older homes contain lead paint and lead in the water pipe soldering.  Flaking paint and home renovations that release lead into house dust can lead to lead toxicity.  Children under the age of 6 years are especially vulnerable to high blood lead levels.

Certain hobbies such as welding and stain glass making as well as certain jobs such as auto repair put people at higher risk because they are working with lead.  Even many home remedies, certain make-ups containing kohl and Surma, and various types of pottery contain lead.

The thing is, none of the above applies to Ellie.

No lead in the donuts!

The question is where did she get it?

After receiving that horrifying phone call, Andrew and I have been staring bug-eyed at all of her toys.  Every toy she touches could be poison.  We are paranoid.  Every eating utensil, sippy cup, and plate.  Even her books and puzzles.

In the last few years there have been recalled toys due to the presence of lead paint.  Most of these toys are imported from China (isn't nearly everything?).  A list of recalls can be found at:


The items are listed from new to old.  Go back.  Way back.  Is your child playing with your old toys?  Or toys from a consignment shop?  Chalk.  I have read that unless it is the Crayola brand, chalk could be contaminated by this poisonous metal.  Maybe even the same with crayons as I saw a Toys R Us recall from 2007 related to the box housing the crayons.  Did you know that  books printed before 1986 could contain lead in the ink?  That libraries have actually been discouraged from possessing such books?  The risk is minimal and yet, if you have a child who mouths everything, it doesn't seem so minimal.

What about her school? Her therapy clinic? The CDC recommends looking into places that your child resides in more than 6 hours a week--buildings constructed before 1978.  Sleuthing on the internet suggests that her school was built in 1977.  Do they have lead paint?  What about soldering on the pipes?  What about the playground?

Yes, there could be lead there, but many construction companies ceased using lead prior to the 1978 ban.  Still, it warrants being looked into.

Is it lurking in our house?

How long has this been going on?
Lead can take from months-to-years to accumulate in the blood.  Is this something that has been building up in the past few months or has she had high lead levels since she could first crawl?

Back in 2012, the Center for Disease Control [CDC] updated their lead protocol by lowering the acceptable amount of lead in the blood from 10 mcg/dl to 5 mcg/dl.  If Ellie had her lead levels checked last year, it would have been deemed normal.


The thing is, I don't care.  A lead level of 7 mcg/dl is still too high.  A lead level of 5 mcg/dl, too high.

So now what do we do?

Texas Department of State Health

At this point, Ellie's lead level is not high enough to warrant chelation therapy (a level >45 mcg/dl).  We need to  uncover the offending toy/utensil/agent and remove it from our house/school.  Eventually, over time, her lead levels should return to normal.  Andrew purchased the 3M Lead Test Kit off of Amazon.  I have contacted the Department of Health to inquire about soil, paint and pipe soldering testing around our house and her school.

I feel as though we are looking for a needle in a haystack.

Center for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/

Consumer Product Safety Commission: www.cpsc.gov

Mayo Clinic (2011): Lead Poisoning www.mayoclinic.com/health/lead-poisoning/

Fox News (2009): Lead feared in children's books. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,509614,00.html

Snopes.com (2007): Chalk Talk

CNN Money (2007): Toys R Us recalls crayon boxes for lead paint


Monday, July 22, 2013

"I want mama"

It was a bit garbled and a bit rushed.  Yet, I heard it.  I understood it.  I swear to you that I did.

"I want mama" exclaims my four year-old daughter Ellie.  Her little arms stretched up and her bright blue eyes pleading for me to lift her high into my arms.

In the past 4 years, Ellie has only uttered a handful of words.  Of those words, only seven of them can be understood by someone other than me or Andrew.

mama [clearly the greatest sound in the world!]
yeah [yes]

Everything else is more like a jumble of consonants and vowels--eeeee, buh, hard K.

"I want mama"

I heard it. As did Miss Leslie. Meaning that I didn't imagine it or construe Ellie's jargon into what I wanted to hear. I struggled hard not to cry so as not to alarm Ellie Bear.  Yet, I sit here now, barely able to see the screen, as I cry those tears of happiness and amazement.  I don't know when or if I will hear that sweet, beautiful sentence again, but I am so happy to have been there during her therapy session to witness it.

This mama is proud of you little Bear.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Bear is Back

After nearly two months of strange random fevers followed by a round of abnormal fatigue, the Ellie Bellie Bear is back in action.  Full of Bear-i-tude.  Full of energy.  Full of life.  Up to her usual sassy antics.

Seriously, Bear?  The green chalk?
This is what happens when Ellie doesn't sport her totally groovy chewelry.

Let's do the happy dance and make sure that the first aid kit is fully stocked.

The act of scheduling an appointment with Infectious Disease seemed to have cured Ellie of her random fevers in that she has not had febrile episode since the end of June.  However, one day after her visit with the folks in white coats toting big needles, Ellie started to sleep.  A lot.  Those of you who know me, frequently hear me lament "it all depends on if Bear naps".  Not when, but IF. As in my precocious little 3.75 year-old Bearity Bear was attempting to drop her nap.

In this photo: Ellie is modeling the "bendy pretzel" sleep position

I watched my typically hyperactive spider monkey lose energy for no apparent reason.  Her naps ballooned into 3+ sleep marathons with the occasional 2nd nap.  For the first time ever, my daughter "slept in" until 7am (as opposed to the usual 5:30/6:00am) . . . and went to bed earlier than usual.

At first, I did what any mother would do--I rejoiced!  And finally caught up on much-needed sleep.  And started contemplating her new wardrobe because surely this child was growing several inches with that much sleeping.

Until the sleeping cycles happened every day.  For 2.5 weeks.  My daughter has been in my life for nearly 4 years and I have never ever witnessed a growth spurt like this.  Not to mention she didn't grow during those 2.5 weeks.

Sleeping 12 hours at night.  Going down for a 3 hour nap sometime between 10:30am and noon.  Falling asleep in the car.  Wanting to be carried from the car to the curb--and I am not talking Boneless Toddler Syndrome.  I am talking exhausted-please-carry-me-or-I-will-take-a-nap on the asphalt needing to be carried.

Perhaps the most alarming: no climbing.

Yes, you read that correctly, no. climbing.  Ellie Bear seemed normal if she was watching TV or sitting quietly (yeah, I said quietly), but anything that required physical exertion was too much for her.  I would take Bear to a play scape and she would just sit on the ground with her baby dolls.  If she mustered the energy to climb, she would then lay down for a minute before going down the slide.

Preschool and Therapy both reported that she seemed really draggy and would "lie around".

Top Left: attempting to take a nap on the floor of Quiznos.  In front of the door  because that is the safest place to just nod off.
Top Right: attempting to take a nap at Speech Therapy.  This is after she took a 3 hour nap and at the beginning of therapy.  We were still in the waiting room.
Bottom Left: The pre-zonked out car nap
Bottom Right: attempting to take a nap at Target. You know, the place that Ellie usually screams at and wants to run like a wild-banshee-child at.  The handle bar of the cart = pillow

What. Happened. To. My. Little. Girl????

You think I would have learned from the last Googling incident.  Child + Fatigue = scary things

Physical exam, normal.  No other symptoms.  No fever.  Normal appetite.  Just exhausted.

Clearly it was the thyroid or a funky virus like mono but without the swollen lymph nodes.

After our pediatrician brushed me off, I went all Mama Bear and contacted her Developmental Pediatrician who nearly had a heart attack when I described what was going on with Ellie.
Here is what we found out with the labs she ordered:

This is very anticlimactic.

Normal thyroid function.
Normal CBC--no virus, no anemia, or the big L
Normal electrolytes
Normal blood sugar
No Lead Poisoning.


Yesterday, Ellie woke up at 7am and lasted until 7:45pm.  She took ONE nap.  That nap lasted only 2 hours and 20 minutes.  She asked to play.  She climbed up and went down the slide twice without taking a little snooze in-between.  She walked from the car to the curb and then back to the car without needing to be carried.  She was not tired at preschool.  She was My Ellie!!!!!

Now, I need to go wake The Bear so we can head to speech therapy.  I expect that she will be 4 inches taller when I wake her!

*For all you medical folds or immuno-compromised people out there: could her low IgG subclass deficiency make her sleep 15+ hours a day?

Right: the correct way to eat honeydew melon.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Beautiful Week

There is a lot going on in the world of Ellie Bellie Bear.  A lot of stress.  A lot of anxiety.  A lot of sleeping--for Ellie, not for m as I could really use some sleep--I fall into the stress and anxiety categories.  Rather than focusing on the chaos occurring within our household, I am appreciating the beauty. Here are a few snapshots from our week:

Ellie Bear Fashion Statements.

faux soccer socks are all the rage amongst preschoolers.  To get this fashionable look, steal a pair of Daddy's ankle socks.  Throw on a pair of winter boots to complete this sassy look.  These socks and boots go great with a knit sun dress or with a neon tutu.

Splashing Fun.

The most photogenic kitty ever--Amelie.

Reading to Pete the Cat

Preschool Love--Jack & Ellie

Selfie Photos.

Happy Weekend, everyone!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Gave In

I gave in and bought Ellie the stuffed Minnie Mouse doll. . . and the Sofia the First dress.

In my defense, it was my own fault for taking Ellie into the Disney Store.  Why did I do it?  I don't know.  Maybe it is because I like Disney.  Maybe it is because I never ever been to Disney World or even Disney Land and the mall's Disney Store is the closest I will ever get.  Or maybe I am just a glutton for punishment.  Seriously, who takes a kid into the Disney store and not buy anything?!?!?! Clearly not me.

Never the less, I brought my 3 year-old daughter into the Disney Store where she grabbed the stuffed Minnie Mouse toy right off the shelf.

And promptly shoved Minnie's glove into her mouth all while signing "Monkey Mouse".  Oh you didn't know?  Mickey and Minnie are actually monkeys according to Ellie Bear.

How could I not buy Minnie?  I mean, she got chewed on. Of course I had to buy it for her.

As for the dress. . . . well, Bear doesn't know The Princesses, but she does know the little Sofia from the Disney channel.  They sing and there is a bunny that talks.  The dress was purple and sparkly and over-priced.

There was a tantrum.  A huge tantrum.  I did not give in.  Well, not exactly.  We left the store with only Minnie Mouse yesterday evening.  Just Minnie even though The Bear was crying and signing "dress" and I didn't even know Ellie knew the sign for "dress".

Only today, I went back to the Disney store and bought the ridiculously, overpriced, purple, sparkle dress while she was in preschool.

I had to, you see.  It was first time my girl ever showed interest in dress up which is a huge developmental milestone (right?) and I walked right out the store.  Plus, Ellie Bear got stabbed with a needle and had 4 huge vials of blood taken this morning.  She cried and broke out in petechiae all of her face and arm.  How could I not buy the dress?

Ellie = Most Spoiled Child Ever

Mom = Push-Over who secretly wants a sparkly dress and tiara . . . and matching sparkly shoes, with a wand.

Guess what she is watching?

Clearly every princess needs to wear Converse sneakers with skulls and pink laces.


Happy Holidays

May you all have a wonderful, safe, healthy, and relaxing Holiday season full of laughter, love, and copious amounts of coffee!