Super Bowl 2018 Bingo

This is something I had seen on Pinterest and thought was a good way to keep everyone engaged on game day. I had found one online to use last year and it was a hit with kids and adults alike!

I used this website – ispot.tv to get a list of the advertisers that will be featured during this years game between the Eagles and Patriots. With that and a bit of photo-shopping I was able to make my own version of the Commercial Bingo Game:

Bingo 1.jpgI wanted to share this with you all in case anyone else was interested in using it, there are 20 different game pages to use and (hopefully) they’re totally random ๐Ÿ™‚

ENJOY!

Feel free to download, print and share as you’d like: Super Bowl 2018 Bingo

Genetic Testing: Nuchal Translucency and False Positives

So I’ve been debating for a while whether or not to write this post but the more and more I thought about it, the more and more I figured it’s better to share in hope that I can provide information or insight that can help someone else out there?

I am absolutely convinced that the false positive statistics are far higher than the doctor’s offices claim.

I was told that there was a 5% chance of this happening, and yet…

it happened to me twice?


The general timeline for pregnancy is: 

  1. Get a positive at home test result.
  2. Call your Dr’s office and schedule your first appointment, usually after 8 weeks,  most miscarriages happen very early on so waiting gives them a bit of time to make sure the pregnancy is indeed viable.
  3. Schedule appointments with your OB/Midwife every 4 weeks from weeks 8-28
    1. Generally you’ll have an ultrasound around week 20 to check the anatomy and determine the gender of the baby (if you want to know of course!)
  4. Schedule appointments with your OB/Midwife every 2 weeks from weeks 28-36
    1. Rh Testing is typically done at 28 weeks; this test is to determine your blood type and whether you are Rh Negative (ie: A-, B-, etc.), if you are Rh negative and there is a chance your child could be Rh positive, you will get a Rhogam shot to prevent issues of cross-contamination between your and your baby’s blood. See this link for more information about Rhogam and Rh-Negative Moms on whattoexpect.com
  5. Schedule appointments with your OB/Midwife every week from weeks 36-Birth (Generally 40 weeks but that is not a hard and fast rule).
  6. If the doctor’s have any concerns about your pregnancy you may schedule a C-Section for a number of reasons; one example is if your baby is breech – when the baby has not switched positions to head down in preparation for birth and can no longer move due to their size and how far along you are in the pregnancy. Typically a C-Section is scheduled at 39 weeks to lessen the chance of you going into labor naturally.
  7. You will then either deliver the baby via vaginal birth or C-Section. It’s a fact ladies, best to face it now haha!
  8. YAY! You have a baby!!!!! Let the real fun begin!

Please bear in mind that this is a very rough guideline for pregnancy – each one is different and there may be certain complications and issues that come along the way, and your doctor may do things much differently than mine – but generally speaking this is how your pregnancy will be structured. 

Okay so, back to my point. When I was pregnant with our daughter, I was over the moon and couldn’t wait for my first appointment to make things “real.” Those first few weeks seemed to be the slowest of my life! BUT 8 weeks did indeed come.

I had this vision in my head of how I thought things were going to go:

I’d go in, they’d do an ultrasound, we’d see that beautiful baby and hear the heartbeat and find out what we were having. Okay so maybe I wasn’t quite that naive but the fact is, if you’ve never done this before, you just don’t know!

So imagine my soul being crushed when I found out that that they weren’t going to do an ultrasound until 20 WEEKS?!?!?

  • Part of the reason for this delay is due to my particular doctor’s office, I’ve heard of others where it is common place to do one earlier to check on everything.
  • It is also fairly common to do an early ultrasound if you’re unsure of when you may have conceived, but if you’re fairly certain of your lady dates than this is kind of a moot point and unnecessary.
  • And of course insurance also has many parameters which dictate whether a costly ultrasound is deemed medically necessary so throw that extra wrench in there! Thanks insurance!!!

The next topic of discussion at your 8 week appointment is determining which (if any) types of genetic testing you would like to do. The earliest genetic testing we were offered was Nuchal Translucency which is done sometime between 11-14 weeks. This testing was covered by our insurance and included my hook word – ultrasound. This test is done, in particular, to determine your risk for Down Syndrome in addition to other chromosomal abnormalities.

I was off in la-la land, not even remotely considering that there could be a problem with our precious baby, all I heard was “you’re telling me I get to SEE our baby?!?! SIGN ME UP!”

I was virtually skipping out of the appointment being so excited that at our very next appointment we would get to see our baby ๐Ÿ™‚

So there we were, 12 week appointment and we got to see our baby!

Everything looked great, baby looked good and nothing was of any concern to the ultrasound tech while we were there. The actual Nuchal Translucency was within normal range. The Nuchal Translucency Test is done by measuring the fluid at the back of your baby’s neck while their skin is still translucent – or see through. The typical range is below 3mm per our doctor. See this link for more information regarding testing

The NT Testing actually measures 3 separate items to determine your risk factor so you’ll go through the ultrasound in addition to a blood test:

  1. The actual Nuchal Translucency Measurement (done during the ultrasound)
  2. Whether your HCG Levels are elevated – this is the hormone that your body creates when you are pregnant – if it is present you will get a positive at home pregnancy test (side note: there are no false positive pregnancy tests, if that hormone is present you are pregnant, false negatives however, do happen) – elevated results could indicate a higher risk for Down Syndrome. (Measured via blood test)
  3. Whether your PAPP-A levels are low – this is a protein that is also measured and can be an indicator for a higher risk of down syndrome. (Measured via blood test)

Okay so that was A LOT of info, and please, please, please bear in mind that I am not in any way shape or form a medical professional, this is simply what I’ve learned from both my first and second pregnancies. 

After the testing and doctor’s appointment I left with a handful of “pictures” of our kiddo (albeit, no idea about gender yet, from what I’ve read and been told it’s virtually impossible to know the gender via ultrasound until at least like 15 weeks and beyond, even then it’s a guess until you get that money shot!)

Then a few days later, I received a phone call. My risk for Down Syndrome was found to be 1:180, I didn’t care that that left me with a 0.6% chance, I was scared.

Again, the thought that the test would be anything but a photo op was not something that I had entertained for a single second. 

The next step was to schedule an appointment with a perinatologist, they got me in within the next day or so. Of course, in my mind, it was of the utmost importance to get in me ASAP because something was definitely wrong. The perinatologist we were referred to could not have been any nicer, he calmly explained that it is common for these tests to result in false positives. They did an ultrasound in their office and confirmed that NT measurement looked good, that the nasal bone was visible (another good sign) and then talked to us about the next step.

The least invasive of the options we were given was the MaterniT21 TestAmniocentesis was another option but that would require a big needle and has a (slight) chance of causing a miscarriage. The MaterniT21 Test is a non-invasive blood test with virtually no risks to you or the baby so we opted to go that route.

As a heads up, this test is not always covered by insurance and documentation has to be provided to deem it “medically necessary.” Your provider should do everything they can to ensure you don’t get any surprise bills after the testing.  However; if you’re over 35 or considered high risk it is considered common practice do to this testing from the get-go without jumping through the other testing hoops, so insurance may not be as much of an issue. 

They told us the test results would take up to two weeks to get back, I can honestly say those were one-two of the most agonizing weeks of my life, the uncertainty was awful. BUT, we finally got the call.

I was indeed part of the 5% that get a false positive during their NT Testing.

On the plus side, they asked me “Do you want to know the gender of your child?” UM YES!!!!

The fact that you can find out the gender through this test is often why insurance is so picky about whether it is medically necessary or not – some people opt to do it to find out the gender weeks before an accurate ultrasound prediction can be made.

And right then and there, I found out on the phone, by myself, (in retrospect it was extremely anticlimactic but I was SO EXCITED!!!) that we were having a girl.

Seeing as I tend to have the most complicated, un-complicated pregnancies… I also have a negative Rh blood type and said daughter was breech. But those are stories for another day – HA!

Anywho, fast forward to our second pregnancy.

Sitting in the office, discussing the options for genetic testing, my head said – don’t do it. I asked my doctor if a previous false positive gave me a higher chance of having a another and he said no, he’d never heard of that. We discussed that the NT testing was still one of the best screening methods and the least invasive, etc. etc. etc. And while I’d done my best to convince my doctor he should let me, I was told I couldn’t just do the MaterniT21 Test from the get-go and that insurance would consider it an elective procedure due to my age and lack of high risk status (don’t get me wrong, it is an absolute blessing to not be considered high risk!).

And yet, I decided to go through with it again?!?

That darn ultrasound!

Was I really that desperate to confirm that there was actually a baby in there – YES!!! And I truly figured, well I guess I’ve already gone through a false positive and that sucked but we were okay. And if there was a real positive, we’d like to know in advance. But the fact was, the numbers were in our favor that everything would come back hunky dory and we would get to see our little nugget.

So I went in for the scan and the blood test, again – everything initially looked good.

And then I got the phone call.

This time our risk was 1:115 based on the testing. (0.9%) Again, still scary. 

But this time I wasn’t scared.

I was angry.

I was so incredibly upset with our doctor for telling me this wasn’t going to happen again, at insurance for not considering the blood test necessary, at myself for going through with the testing in the first place…. I could go on for days about all the reasons I was upset. But I was going to take this in stride to the best of my abilities. (Still shed some tears but who wouldn’t? Especially when pregnant and extra hormonal HA!)

My husband and I got in the next day for testing, the same perinatologist saw us and was suprised to see us come through his door, again, but was still just as accommodating and comforting as the first time. He even told us he wouldn’t require the same follow up with him should we find out this was a false positive again. And he went through the spiel all over, again, about options and we settled on the MaterniT21, again.

We got the phone call after 1 week, more accurately, on a Saturday night – this was my first indicator that everything was good – no way would they call on a Saturday night and tell us bad news!

And…. I WAS RIGHT! YAY, YAY, YAY!!!! FALSE POSITIVE #2! I had beaten the odds twice by becoming part of the (so-called) 5%!

This time, when they asked if I wanted to know the gender I requested that they write it down and I could pick up the envelope when we were ready and together. Um yeah…. that lasted until Monday when they opened…. But more importantly, my husband and I could open it together. A BOY!!! YAY!

I guess my hope of this post is to give others out there a bit of insight into the general pregnancy timeline, and to talk about genetic testing and the risk and results of false positives. And also, if you’re ever wondering why someone was able to find out the gender or their baby before you could find out the gender of yours, it’s often because they’re going through more than they might be telling you. Gender is just simply a bonus to all of that heart-wrenching extra testing.

I know that this story could have taken a much different turn if we had gotten an actual positive result and although we would have embraced any outcome in stride, we were blessed with a healthy daughter and are praying for another healthy baby at the end of this pregnancy.

And while I feel like it may be overly dramatic to focus on what happens when you find out everything is okay (and you may be thinking the same thing, I wouldn’t blame you one little bit), any way you spin it – it was scary going through that, especially twice.

And if this post eases the mind of just one other lady out there going through the same thing, it was worth writing.

Love,

Niki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Tips for a Toddler Easter Basket

First off, I must admit, I am no expert as this is the first Easter I’ve put together a basket for my daughter….last year I decided my daughter was too little to get into it – we’d just go to my parent’s house and enjoy dinner and the day together!

Yay!!! Sounded great!

…..Until I got to my parents and sure enough -my mom had assembled a basket for her darling granddaughter…. Honestly, it was so sweet but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad about it. I had convinced myself the Easter basket was unnecessary and decided to wait until she was older, probably a totally rational thought but one I ended up regretting.

A little background on me…. I LOVE EASTER!!!!

It has always been my favorite holiday!

I’m not necessarily a religious person. The big draw has always been the beautiful spring setting, the more low-key family vibe without the hustle and bustle of Christmas and Thanksgiving, and duh, Easter Baskets! As I got older the family joke became the underwear my mom always put in our plastic Easter eggs, you knew you could count on stocking up for the year!

Anywho, did I mention I love Easter?

And I was bound and determined to design the best Easter basket I could come up with for my daughter!

However, I’m also an extremely frugal (let me clarify, I like coupons… but not so frugal I can’t go overboard – HAHA!) and functional so of course I had to pragmatically develop my game plan and here’s what I came up with….

1. NO CANDY;

Not because I’m that insanely concerned about the tot having candy, but I am concerned about her scarfing down a few m&ms too fast and choking or getting too hyped up and skipping naps. First rule of motherhood, avoid anything possible that could interfere with nap time/bed time!ย 

2. NO EASTER GRASS;

We’ve all seen that stuff – the plastic, stringy, colorful filler. Well all I see is a mess. Enough said haha!

3. INCLUDE SOMETHING SENTIMENTAL;

When I was little there wasn’t another Charlie Brown Movie that I loved more than theย Easter Beagle. I cannot wait to watch this with my daughter, to hear her giggle and (hopefully) love it as much as I did, priceless!

4. KEEP THE ITEMS NEUTRAL;

Having a bunch of specifically Easter items puts a shelf life on items – ie: Pick out items that have a rabbit or eggs, etc. instead of Happy Easter plastered all over them. This ensures you’ll get better use of the items in the long run, yay! Gotta suck as much life as you can out of every item for your kiddos, goodness knows they outgrow things fast enough on their own! Which brings me to my next topic….

5. CLOTHES;

Kiddos need clothes. Kiddos wear clothes for like two weeks before jumping sizes. So adding clothes is like killing two birds with one stone! Win, win!!!

6. LEARNING TOYS;

Again something that you could feel good about giving your precious little toddler. In my case an egg puzzle that teaches colors in both English and Spanish!

7. LOCALLY SOURCED ITEMS;

This would help your basket be a bit more unique. I ended up finding that adorable little puzzleย and realizing it was made locally, so not only did I find an awesome toy, I can feel good knowing I supported a neighbor by picking it up.

8. LARGER PLASTIC EGGS;

My daughter puts everything, and when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING in her mouth! Rocks are a favorite delicacy much to my chagrin. GRRRR! So…

The bigger the eggs the better haha!

SIDE NOTE: I will watch my daughter with the necklaces! Although she hasn’t shown as much interest in putting those in her mouth as her beloved rocks thankfully!

9. FUN PACKAGING;

I specifically used clear cellophane not only because I had it already but it is noisy and fun to play with, almost another gift in itself! I also tied the clothes up to give her more things to open and play with.

10. A REUSABLE BASKET;

A coworker and I were talking about this…the baskets you pick up, use once and toss. So wasteful and honestly I’m not a huge fan of baskets that look like the rainbow threw up on them. Instead I picked up a chicken wire basketย (with a 40% off coupon of course) that I could use as a decorative item in my home after the holiday is over. And then as an Easter basket next year, and the next year, and the next year, etc.

Hope the tot likes it as much as I do ๐Ÿ˜

…..I also threw in the Hedgehog with Bunny Ears because honestly, who wouldn’t want a Hedgehog with Bunny Ears?!?! No one, that’s who. Haha!!!

SIDE NOTE: I was also a bit worried about the bunny on a stick but figure as soon as she gets to the cellophane she’ll forget all about the skewer…Plus it was so cute I couldn’t resist and (OCD side speaking here) tied all of my colors together of course!

While I spent WAY too much time planning and shopping and assembling with just this cute little basket to show for it, I hope all of that effort will help you design an awesome basket in just a fraction of the time!

Wishing you and yours the very best this weekend and HAPPY EASTER!!!

Saving Money – No More Searching for Coupons!

Just thought I’d do a quick intro to a website I absolutely love, love, love!

If you’re like me you LOVE coupons! I will not purchase anything, and I do mean anything, without doing a quick coupon search – ย in particular – online. I even pester my husband about this whenever I see him about to press the “confirm” button on orders…..

Anywho, I came across this sweet app called Honey, it’s actually an extension for your browser that you can use whenever you are ordering items online. The best part about it is the icon lights up in the right hand corner of your screen anytime there are coupons that might work. It’s also a forum for people to enter new codes to be used by other members. You don’t have to pay anything to sign up and you will undoubtedly save money!

Requires little to no effort and you can start saving money immediately. My favorite part of the whole thing is that you can literally watch it test all of the codes, meaning you don’t have to enter them one by one = HUGE TIME SAVER!

I’ve used it quite a few times and even if I haven’t gotten a code that works they typically have some form of cash back. Win, win, win!

Have Fun Saving!!!!

HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN?!?

Designing2Day Website Logo

Okay so let me just start by saying I know this is a silly topic…. and after seeing the image I’ve posted you’re probably already thinking, why the heck is this girl talking about a stain on her shirt?!?! But the truth is, this stain is so much more than a simple stain! It is a gentle reminder of the many, many ways in which my life has changed as the result of becoming a mother.

If I’m starting to lose you already, bear with me here for a bit!

This evening, as I was taking off my button down shirt I found this on my undershirt – what it is exactly, I truly couldn’t tell you – seems like the story of my life these days. But let me back up a couple of a days though to where my story begins (haha)!

I recently went to a concert with my family out of town (PS if you’re wondering if Elton John still has it, he does indeed!!!!). I am notorious for over-packing for anything, in particular a single overnight trip. I was bound and determined that this would not happen again and much to the surprise of my younger sister and parents, I arrived ready for departure with, count it, ONE bag!! Not only did I have but a single bag, it was even a small backpack, in direct contrast to my sister’s giant duffel which contained “a big pair of boots” (yeah, yeah, sure…whatever you say!).

Much to my dismay, within minutes of getting in the car and on the road, I managed to stain my shirt. And of course, I had packed but one measly sweatshirt to toss on the next day. I know you’re probably thinking “The horror! Can’t believe such an awful thing would happen! Talk about a 1st world problem!!!!” and I wouldn’t blame you, but again, I promise I’ve got a point….

After arriving at our hotel before the concert I managed to get my hands on a Tide To-Go Pen from my Dad, talk about a lifesaver! All was right in the world, the shirt I had painstakingly selected was salvaged. But as I was using the pen, I looked down only to realize that I also had toothpaste on my shirt, that info would have been good to know! Thanks Fam!!!

Okay so now for the point I promised. Before I had my daughter I was extremely tidy, maybe not always in my home (I’ve described myself as a walking tornado in the past), but always in my appearance. From a very young age I was always well put together. I was so concerned with matching that I actually wore two pairs of socks at all times that would color coordinate with my outfits! Pretty ridiculous really but the point is, I cared about how I looked. And I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a stained shirt out in public.

And now, here I am, with a stain, again. Turns out once you have a kid you will inexplicably have schmutz on you at all times. Could have been from you, could have been from the kiddo – honestly, who knows!!! You’re so busy running around chasing a baby or toddler that you don’t even notice. Maybe in the past I had more time to look in a mirror so even though the stains were always there I was able to address them before I left the house? Beats me.

BUT, something in my life has shifted and the tidiness in my appearance has gone by the wayside.

I remember walking past those ladies back before I became a mom, you know, the ones wearing yesterdays clothing looking like they hadn’t showered in days with screaming children clinging to their legs. I have to admit, I didn’t get it, I didn’t understand how this could happen to mothers. I didn’t understand just how utterly time consuming your child would be and how much it would alter your core values, in my case, tidiness!

The truth is, my life has has changed. In so many ways. More than I could ever count. But I can honestly say that in addition to gaining a wonderful daughter I have gained a higher level of empathy for those around me. I have also gained more confidence in myself, and I have learned that what others think is not the most important thing in the world (well, I’m still working on this one)!

Most importantly, I have learned that no ones cares about that stain on your shirt except you! And if they do, just wait until they have kids…..And then they’ll be standing there, at night, trying to recall how something like this could have possibly happened, and realize…..

I’m tired, my kid is alseep, why am I still awake?!?

Goodnight ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Busy Board – BOOM!

Our daughter has the attention span of a flea, I think that’s mostly just due to her age but she’s definitely not gaining any favors by being born into my gene pool…

I’ve seen lots and lots of the ever popular busy boards but was trying to figure out how to make it look nice and still be a blast for the kiddo, I think we “nailed” – pun intended ๐Ÿ˜‰

Almost everything I found at Walmart but a few things came from Home Depot…that I should have bought from Walmart! Definitely could have saved some money there but it turned out great so I keep trying to forget about the investment, funny how that always happens with DIY projects!

Busy Board Website

Here’s what I used:

1. Tap Light

2. Different sized castors that turn and spin

3. A variety of locks; sliding, chain and gate locks were what I used

4. Buttons on a string that can slide and turn

5. Zipper to practice on – I wasn’t quite sure how to attach that on but we ended up just screwing it directly to the board, easy peezy!

6. Pulls and Knobs, I hung some keys on a ring off a knob so they’d stay put and also some different clips on the pulls to play with

7. A hinge to open and close

8. A springy door stopper that makes an awesome boingy noise – whole minutes of entertainment haha!

9. Some number and letter stickers to put numbers 1 thru 10 and spell my daughter’s name

10. A few odds and ends….an old ducky keychain that lights up and quacks, a padlock, and these awesome mirrored stickers that I used as filler on the board after I put everything else on, may have gotten a bit squirrley with the mirrors….

Anywho, I wish I could tell you that she plays for at least an hour and loves, loves, loves it but from what I can tell she likes it a lot? HA!

In all seriousness it definitely keeps her attention and helps with those fine motor skills and she absolutely loves banging everything around and causing a ruckus – her favorite pastime!!!

Other things I thought could be fun; door knockers, door knobs that turn, raised address numbers, different fabrics to touch and feel. Really all you need to do is look around your house, you’ll probably find a bunch of random things lying around.

Hope you have as much fun with yours as we have at our house!

The Most Useful Baby Shower Gift You’ll Ever Give/Receive

The other day I went to a baby shower for a close friend, while filtering through her registry I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a stuffed animal or more cute clothes, regardless of how much I may have wanted to and especially since they’re having a little girl!

Instead I started brainstorming everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, I could think of that she would need but not know it, by the time I was finished I knew I’d spent way too much but I was positive that each and every item would be used.

Here is the list of what I’ve deemed the most important items you’d ever need in a “baby starter pack,” I’m no expert but with a 1 year old daughter, this last year has been a crash course in baby 101 to say the least!!

1. Aquaphor; I mentioned to a friend of mine that if I were on My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this would be like my Windex!!! You can use it on everything but primarily diaper rash and wounds. I even used some on my hands when they were excessively dry after washing them constantly during the newborn stage and beyond.

2. Infant Tylenol; for after shots, colds, teething…everything.

3. Baby Gas Drops; you won’t know how much you need these until your baby is crying with no relief in sight, gripe water seems to work well too if you’re looking for a more natural solution.

4. Baby Aspirator/Saline Solution; the big bulb ones work best, we got a free one from the hospital that worked better than anything I ever bought.

5. Baby Soap/Shampoo; my favorite is Johnson’s Head to Toe – that was what they used in the hospital and immediately connected with how my baby should smell, I’ve heard awesome things about the nighttime one as well but haven’t had much experience with that yet myself.

6. Baby lotion; Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moistureย is awesome, I use it after every bath on the tot, wish I took that great of care of my own skin!

7…. If you’re breastfeeding or know someone who is, I’d recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Cream. Use it BEFORE you really need it…just trust me on this one!

8. Grooming Kit; Mostly just the combs and nail clippers will come in really handy but the kits are nice since it all comes together.

9. Exergen Thermometer; pricey but way easier!

10. Baby Toothbrush and Toothpaste; our daughter mostly just chews on it but she’ll let me help too. The ones in the kits aren’t that great so you’re better off buying it separately.

11. Bath Items; Shampoo Rinse Cup for in the tub came in really, really handy. Some have silicone so they contour to the baby’s head for easier use. Munchkin also makes a rubber ducky equipped with a “HOT” sensor on the bottom so the new parents know if the bath is too hot, this came in especially handy when we had just brought our daughter home and were still nervous, once you get the hang of things it’s still a cute toy for the bath.

I’m sure there are a million other things you could put in there but that’s definitely a good start for any new parents, just toss it in a cute basket or bag and you’re all set!

And while they may not give you the standing ovation you’ll be hoping for ….you will, without a doubt, get a huge thank you down the road ๐Ÿ˜Š

Baby Shower Website