Find us on Surprisingly Special

As of 2016, this blog, Pancakes in Bed, is no longer active. Please come find us at!!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Funday: Fun with Paint

For Monday Funday, I bring you Calvin and Henry getting messy with some paints in our kitchen! :)

This was the first time I'd given Henry real fingerpaint - until now, I only let him paint with yogurt or jelly or pudding because I was afraid he'd eat the fingerpaint. He didn't eat it (yay!), and it turned out the paper was just as entertaining as the paint.

When Calvin saw what fun Henry was having getting messy, he decided to join in.

These two crack me up. 

Happy Monday! Have a great week :)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Simple but Special Birthday Breakfasts

James' birthday was yesterday and my very favorite birthday tradition is birthday breakfast!! 

It's a tradition that my parents started with my brother and me. Whenever it's someone's birthday, the whole family gets up to have breakfast together and everyone has to be there, so it has to happen before the first person needs to leave for work or school. For many years our dad had a long morning commute so we'd all get up for birthday breakfasts before the crack of dawn and it's pretty much like that for us now! 

It's kind of like saying "We love you so much we'll sacrifice that extra little bit of sleep to get up and sing you Happy Birthday over a plate of pancakes! Except you have to get up too. HAPPY BIRTHDAAAYYY!!" 

It's the greatest. 


Pinterest is full of ideas for fun birthday breakfast treats. Yesterday, when I was up in the dark, early AM before the rest of the family, I eyed the Pinterest recipe for funfetti pancake muffins on my "Birthdays" pin board and I was liiiike... Nah. Probably not.

Not that the recipe was complicated... I am just not really into baking and I like to keep things super simple and familiar (read: lazy), especially at 6 AM. But for birthday breakfast I still want to do something to make it special.

So here are some ideas for some simple (lazy) but still special birthday breakfasts. Most of them involve boxed pancake mix. We're into pancakes around here.

- Toss some sprinkles into box pancake mix. Boom. Funfetti pancakes.

- Put cake icing on pancakes. Bonus points if you put a few drops of food coloring on the icing and swirl it around. You could also add sprinkles. Because sprinkles.

- Make your breakfast look like an animal. This could get complicated, but it doesn't have to be. This birthday pancake bear I made for Calvin was not hard to do.

- Hit the donut drive through. Our favorite is Krispy Kreme. You can even go the night before and reheat them in the morning. Bonus points if you stack them into a donut cake.

- Have cake for breakfast. Go for it. As the saying goes, life is short, eat dessert first!

- Just stick a birthday candle in any breakfast food. Except probably cereal. Once I even did birthday breakfast chicken biscuits for my brother. 

What do you think? Do you prefer whipping up a special recipe? Any other lazy cooks out there? 

What would you want for birthday breakfast?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday for James' Birthday

It's a birthday kind of day around here! Which means, of course, we started the day with my favorite birthday tradition: Birthday Breakfast!

Possibly not the favorite birthday tradition of the birthday Daddy himself, who is in fact not a morning person... 

But I had coffee ready for him, of course! And pancakes with sprinkles and birthday candles.

Help Daddy blow out the candles!

In honor of James' birthday, and because his birthday conveniently falls on a Thursday this year, here's a little #tbt straight from James' childhood scrapbook. (To my brothers and sisters-in-law, I left you guys out. You're welcome.)

Look at that cute fat baby!! And there's newborn James with his dad John.

Toddler James. To me, this looks so much like Henry. 


James visits Disney World! And check out Donald Duck looking totally rad.

What is this newfangled technology? What will they think of next??

Happy Birthday to my love!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wellness Wednesday: No News is Good News

Henry had his 2 year check up this week with his regular pediatrician. She said he looks great! His height and weight haven't changed too much since his last check-up, but he is growing and he's "on the chart" so she said he's doing fine. We went through the list of his medical spcialists, now mostly former medical specialists: 

Gastroenterology - cleared. 

ENT - cleared. 

Opthamology - two thumbs up. 

Pulmonology - got a check up on the calendar in a couple of months, still using the BiPAP. 

Neurology - only needs to see him once a year, we're good until spring.

He's all caught up on his immunizations, and that was it! See ya in 6 months! And while it's not nothing -  He is still followed by pulmonology and neurology, he still needs a BiPAP at night, and most kids see their pediatricians once a year, not twice - it is so much less medical stuff than we've dealt with in the past. 

Whew! How nice to have doctors appointments that end with, "You're good! Peace!" 
(OK, not her exact words :)) 

It was a good reminder to me to be grateful for those months when we were having medical appointments once or twice a week between the two kiddos and those days spent in the PICU after surgery, because that's how we got to be here at "You're good! Peace!" 

It's not to say that things are exactly quiet around here for Henry. He has a very full therapy schedule - 5 sessions a week, sometimes 6 - and it can feel exhausting to always have our days revolve around therapy times and doing what I can to make sure Henry is happy and ready to participate (ha.). But I will certainly take that kind of busy over a calendar full of medical appointments and hearing doctors tell us over and over again "try this" and "we'll see" and "come back in two weeks."

So with a grateful heart, I am happy to report that there is no news from Henry's 2 year check up :) 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tot Play Tuesday: Solar System Exploration!

This was probably my favorite Tot School theme! We did this space/solar system theme for a couple of weeks back in June. We did a lot of sensory play and pretend play and we worked on learning the names of the planets (plus Pluto!), and a bit about our sun and moon, other stars, comets, and asteroids. I quizzed him today out of curiosity and he can still pick out each planet/dwarf planet (Hi Pluto) correctly when I say the names using his little planet models in the picture above. I was impressed! 

We only have one kids' book about space, and now the literacy teacher in me is thinking Why didn't I get more books?! But this one covers the basics and has pretty pictures.

We also watched this little clip from an old Blue's Clues episode (remember Blue's Clues?? It was awesome!) with the song about the planets in our solar system. 

Here are the lyrics (*with my own edit to the last line about Pluto):

Well the sun's a hot star
And Mercury's hot too.
Venus is the brightest planet,
And Earth's home to me and you.
Mars is the red one,
And Jupiter's the most wide.
Saturn's got those icy rings
and Uranus spins on it's side.
Neptune's really windy.
And Pluto's really small!
*In fact, Pluto's a dwarf planet - 
It's not a real planet at all! 

The song really helped him learn the names of the planets. 

James also showed Calvin some videos of space shuttle launches and different rocket launches. Calvin had fun counting down with each launch. 

Here are some other ways we played around with our space theme and explored our solar system!

Solar System Sensory Bins

For this space sensory bin I ordered these small 3-D Planets and glow-in-the-dark stars on Amazon and found black lentils at Whole Foods. I love love love this sensory bin! I like the smooth feel of the lentils and they're perfect for this solar system scene. And the planets and stars all glow in the dark! 

I also had this crazy idea to make an edible space sensory bin... don't ask me why. I can't really remember. Maybe it was the cheddar rockets from Trader Joe's that gave me the idea. Or the solar system cupcakes I made for Calvin's first birthday. Whatever my inspiration was, the result was a little weird, but kind of pretty and it smelled like blueberries.

The blue goo is Duff Blue Suede Cake Mix, which I bought at Target. See, I thought the cake mix would look like blue powder. Silly me. I had to wet it to make the color show. Which is why it's all lumpy and sticky and weird. But it sure smelled nice! Like blueberry cake!

I still had those little white pearl candies left from Calvin's 1st birthday cupcakes, so those were the stars. For the planets, I used Fruit Loops Bloopers cereal, and some small fruits like cherries and blueberries. I couldn't figure out what to use for rings around Saturn, so I wrapped a strip of string cheese around a cherry... ew. I happened to have some green rock candy sprinkles so those were perfect for the asteroid belt, and we also happened to have Saturn peaches at the time so I used one for the sun. Then Calvin played around with making the little cheddar rocket crackers blast off from Earth and fly around to the different planets. He also enjoyed snacking on cheddar rockets and tasting the sugary cereal bits, and I even let him taste the cake mix, which was a big mistake because then all he wanted to do was eat it!! 

Space Bed

To turn Calvin's bed into a "space bed," I hung a dark blue sheet over his bed and used a flashlight and a colander to make stars. It was Calvin's idea to use his light-up clock as the sun. He and Henry had fun playing in there with their rocket ship and astronaut toys, and Calvin also wanted Mickey and Donald to go into space with them. 

Space Play Dough

I gave Calvin some blue play dough and a bunch of sparkly stuff that in my imagination could be planets and stars and comets and moons, and I let him at it. 

Sparkly Space Art

Glitter glue + construction paper + big circle sequins = one of the prettiest art projects Calvin and I have ever made! I'm still obsessed with this sparkly space-inspired art. We just swirled the glitter glue around, stuck the sequins on, and Voila! Masterpiece. Couldn't be easier or prettier!

We did this Tot School theme around the time we went camping at Fremont Peak State Park where we got to visit the observatory and see some gorgeous starry views of the night sky. 

I always try to tie our Tot School themes in with real life experiences one way or another, whether it's a trip to the zoo or the Academy of Sciences, or in this case a camping trip with some stargazing. 

And now I want to do space week all over again! Let me go get the glitter glue! 
Note to self: Get more books on space!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Funday: The Giant Race 10k!

Mondays are not generally known for being fun. I realize that. And I get that "Monday Funday" is kind of an oxymoron. But that's exactly why I'm trying to brighten up my Mondays - and yours! - by sharing something super fun and super un-Monday ;) 

Something like the Giant Race we ran this past weekend!!

This was my first 10k race, and I've been (sorta) training all summer. It was James' first 10k race, too. He's more of a cyclist than a runner, and he's spent the summer training for the Marin Century cycling race which he did a couple of weeks ago.

Finding time (and motivation) for running has been hard with the two kiddos. Early mornings before anyone else is up, naptime runs with the jogging stroller (Blech! I hate running with the stroller!), and occasional babysitting help when I could get it is how I managed. It was great while my mom was in town because that made it easy for me to slip out for a run and leave the boys with her. James is able to go for occasional runs during his lunch break at work. We rarely get to run together, but the few times we've been able to get away for a run, just the two of us, have been really nice. For the race, my cousin Pam came over very very early to stay with Calvin and Henry while we were out killin' the 10k ;)

7 AM start with our fellow runner Giants fans!

I love the Giant Race because it has the big bonus of giving us a chance to show our team spirit and hang out at AT&T Park, home of our World Champion San Francisco Giants!! And we get sweet Giants running jerseys and race swag. This year we each got a Hunter Pence Bobblehead and the race medals were in the shape of the World Series Championship rings! Some seriously sweet bling!

Anybody going for a run today? Not me!! Taking a rest day after race day for sure. 

How about upcoming races? Anybody in training for one? What race should I sign up for next??

Go Giants! And Happy Monday :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Favorite: Coffee O'Clock

Mmmm. Coffee.

Coffee is one of my favorite things in life. 

James and I are both big coffee drinkers. You might remember our morning nicknames "Chirpy" and "Grumpy." Grumpy (James) is one of those people who really doesn't function well in the morning until he has had at least one cup of coffee. He loves coffee, and he also kind of needs it because he is SO NOT a morning person! 

This is so him:

I, on the other hand, am the chirpy one. I am totally a morning person. I don't need coffee to wake me up, I just LOVE IT. I like the ritual of a morning cup of coffee. I like the comfort of a nice hot mug on a cool morning. (Mornings are always cool where I live.) And if it's warm outside, I like a glass of iced coffee just as much!

I'm a simple kind of coffee drinker. I like it black. I don't have a favorite brand or roast. I usually buy the Wake Up blend from Trader Joe's. But I do have a favorite coffee mug! It's a Hawaii mug that was a gift from one of my sweetest students ever. A girl named Nyssa brought it back for me from her Hawaiian vacation. I love it because it reminds me of the trip James and I took to Kauai in 2011, just before I got pregnant with Calvin. I remember drinking yummy Hawaiian coffee there, spending days at the beach in the hot sun, and hiking the Napali coast with James. 

Here's a little #FlashbackFriday of that trip to Kauai. Feels like a lifetime ago!

On the Kalalau Trail, Napali Coast. 2011

Touring the Kauai Coffee Company Koloa Estate in 2011

Coffee tasting at the Koloa Estate, 2011

What's your favorite morning beverage? How do you feel about coffee? Love it or hate it?

P.S. The "Coffee O'Clock" sign and the "Now you may speak" mug are both products on Etsy! Click on the pics to check them out. I have no affiliation with either of these Etsy sellers or their products, but I thought these two were perfect for this post :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday Thoughts: Speech and Preschool Worries

I know I originally said my Thursday theme would be thankfulness, but I wanted to do something more open-ended. I need a day when I can just write about whatever is on my mind. 

And Calvin's speech problems are heavy on my mind this week. 

He talks a lot at home now. He knows that, for the most part, I understand him and sometimes he uses sign language or just gestures to help clarify what he's saying. He can have a conversation with me, tell me what he is thinking about, ask for things he wants. He has opinions, he has complaints, like any other 3-year-old. He says funny things, he even sings songs. And I can figure out what he's saying or singing. I understand him because I spend the most time with him by far. 

Good news is that we do think the surgery he had last March to repair his submucous cleft palate has made a difference. He sounds less nasal and he seems able to create the pressure he needs to produce sounds. But his articulation problems are severe. It's like his brain and his mouth muscles have the hardest time figuring out how to make certain sounds. He has to concentrate so hard to put his lips together and say "mmm" or "ba" and there are some sounds he can't figure out how to make at all. 

Sometimes I forget how problematic his articulation is because I'm so used to the way he talks. Other people cannot understand him like I can. Especially other kids. In fact, he doesn't even try to talk much to other people besides myself and James. I think he knows they won't understand him. But it doesn't stop him from being social and friendly! He just relies a lot on nonverbal communication, which he has become really good at - body language, gestures, facial expressions... and it always helps if the person he's trying to communicate with knows a few ASL signs. 

This is why I'm so worried about him going to preschool. He's so clever and capable. He's independent and social. He's even careful and thoughtful. But what is he going to do when no one understands what he says? How far is that nonverbal communication going to get him in a school setting?? How will he show his teachers and classmates how much he knows, how much he can learn, if they can't understand him like I can?

He will still get speech therapy. In fact, his speech therapist will be right there at the school, and his speech doctor at Stanford is going to try to get him increased therapy sessions. 

Learning to communicate without me there to translate could push him to make progress out of necessity. 

And we can get him language boards or let him use his talker app if it seems like he needs that kind of thing. 

But I am afraid it will break his little heart. 

I'm afraid he'll get frustrated and feel hurt. I'm afraid that the frustration will diminish his outgoing spirit. 

I know that kids are resilient and I believe that Calvin is resilient. My hope is that the benefits of a preschool experience will outweigh the difficulties. My prayer is that the challenges will help him discover that he is able to work hard to overcome them. That's how people learn, right? That's how we become strong and capable - by facing challenges and finding ways to work through them. 

In a way, I'll be right there with him doing my own learning and growing as I work through the challenges of figuring out how and how much to support him, and coping with letting go and giving him the chance to get out there, be himself, and learn for himself. 

It's so scary, y'all. I have so much worry and I'm trying so hard to let go of that worry and hold on instead to the hopes, the goals, and the good possibilities. Is it this hard for every parent to send their kid to preschool?? 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bye Bye Binky

If you have seen many photos of Henry, and especially if you have been around Henry in person, you may have noticed a certain accessory that he has very rarely been seen without...

Oh yes. I'm talking about the precious pacifier. 

He didn't always have it in his mouth, but we always kept it clipped to him so that he could have it on hand whenever he needed help calming down, or if he was having an oral sensory moment and needed something safe to chew on. Because of Henry's cognitive and sensory differences, we felt like he really needed that paci - not that he needed it constantly, but that when he did need it, he really really needed it. To be perfectly honest, I was often really friggin' thankful for that pacifier because I could not imagine how to get a hysterical Henry to calm down without it. And sometimes, the paci wasn't even enough calm him down. 

When we weaned Henry off of his baby bottles, I leaned heavily on using his pacifier to replace the comfort sucking from the bottle. It made bottle-weaning go really smoothly. When I started thinking about weaning Henry from his pacifier my first thought was something like, Heck No. Never. He can take it with him to Kindergarten. He can take it with him to high school!! Don't take my paci away!

Because of Henry's cognitive delay, I knew that we weren't going to be able to do anything like the "Binky Fairy" or passing down the pacis to a younger baby or anything that involved reasoning or explanation. I also knew that Henry would likely still have oral sensory needs and difficulty self-soothing well beyond a reasonable age of using a pacifier. So I figured the best thing would be to swap out the paci for another, more age-appropriate, source of comfort. There's another mom of a Dup15q kiddo who I follow on Instagram. I often see pics of her son, a couple of years older than Henry, wearing a necklace with a teething pendant. I've also seen older kids who wear "chewy" necklaces or carry small "chewy" toys around with them to help them deal with sensory or anxiety issues. So I thought, Brilliant! I'll just swap out the paci for a chewy and it'll be totally fine!

Over the past few months I started taking away Henry's pacifier little by little, trying to get to the point where he would only have it for naptime and bedtime. That never really happened because inevitably, at some point during the day he'd have a big fit and I'd give him the paci to try to calm him down (even though it didn't always work).

As summer started to wind down, I started feeling more serious about moving past the pacifier. So last week I went for it and finally made him go a full day without it. Instead of the paci on his little clip and ribbon, I replaced it with a teething pendant, per my brilliant plan.

Here's the thing. He hated it.

At first he ripped it off and threw it on the floor. A few times.

Then he basically ignored it until he was upset or tired, and when he would reach for what he thought was his paci and came up with the pendant instead, he would get even more upset and try to rip it off again. It was like that for about two days. I kept on clipping it to him in the hopes that he'd warm up to it, but instead he eventually started ignoring it entirely like it didn't exist.

So my attempt at replacing the paci was a bust. I even tried putting together a basket with a variety of toys and materials with different textures to see if there was anything that he really enjoyed biting or sucking on.

He had a lot of fun with it, but there was no clear winner. 

Those first two days were the hardest. The first No Binky Day also happened to be a day when we were out at a big picnic with Henry's speech therapy school and yes, of course he had a meltdown while we were there for all the other teachers and parents and kids to see. It wasn't the worst meltdown he's had, but he was pretty inconsolable and I was trying everything I could think of to calm him down. In the ergo, with the hood up, with the hood down, bouncing, walking, singing, swaying, offering him the stupid teething pendant, offering him water, offering him food... finally I put him in the stroller and walked around and that worked as long as he couldn't see me! I'm sure it was quite the show, but luckily Calvin was off playing and of all the audiences for a meltdown I can't really think of a better one than a bunch of therapists and other special needs parents with their kids!

I was really terrified that night to put him to bed without the pacifier, but it actually went miraculously fine. It has been a full week now and I have stopped making him wear the teething pendant, since it's clear he has no interest in it! He's sleeping fine without his pacifier and during most of the day he's perfectly happy without it. 

When he starts to feel upset and it's hard to console him, I do miss having the pacifier as a quick fix - or at least the illusion of a quick fix. But it wasn't truly reliable anyway, which kind of proves that he didn't need it anymore. I think it'll just be a learning process for us all as we get used to finding ways to help Henry calm himself without his pacifier. He is getting to be such a big boy after all!

I was so scared to take away his pacifier, especially when I saw that there was clearly not going to be an easy replacement for it! But I think we're past the hardest part, and I'm feeling relieved. One more hurdle crossed. One more milestone reached. This counts as a milestone right? I say yes. 

Anybody else want to share about the Bye Bye Binky Blues? What worked for your kids?