2012 Peña Style

As I was reading some end of year blog posts, I decided to sum up our year.

In January, we were working on weaning from the feeding tube and slowly introducing oral feeds. We did have one overnight stay in our local hospital after Jack had a pretty yucky cold.

Jack pulled up on his knees for the first time in January!

jack janIndianapolis hosted the Super Bowl , so we took a trip to check things out.

JANUARY SUPER BOWLFebruary  came with some unseasonably warm weather and an overnight stay at Riley when Jack was sick again. We also celebrated Valentine’s Day and  1 year being home from the NICU.

kp FEB

Jack Riley


In March, Jack had his first haircut! Days later came surgery #5 to have tubes placed in his ears.


jack marchIn April, Team Jack’s Pack raised over $4000 for the March of Dimes. We also had a celebration for Jack after the walk!


JACK APRILWith May came baseball and a trip to the zoo!

 In June, Jack moved classrooms and there was plenty of time to play outside!


JACK AND KP JUNEJuly was an exciting month! Jack had his g-tube removed and we took a trip to Florida!



In August,  KP turned 5!!!




September was big. Jack finally walked and we took a trip to see the feeding team at Riley. Jack also wound up in the ER with stitches on our 6th wedding anniversary.


SEPT SCARS JACKWith October came Halloween! We also put a for sale sign in our front yard.

for sale20130101-125241.jpgIn November, we traveled to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving.  The boys also had their Winter program at school.



We wrapped up 2012 in December celebrating Jack’s 2nd birthday and of course Christmas!



We are looking forward to a happy and healthy 2013 and hope the same for you!


Pinterest Christmas

So, I’m a little tardy for the party. But, now that finals are over and grades are entered I have some time to blog about some of the projects I have worked on this season.

A bit of background. In November, my cousin, Kendra, began organizing a fun blog series where friends and family across the states are creating Pinterest inspired projects. Of course this sounded fun, but I am hoping next year I can be a better participant!


So, where to begin? I think I’ll keep it simple and share some yummy treats I made yesterday. 
148478118936614116_HS2Nkk14_cThe original posts can be found here 

These were easy and look so festive! It was hard to get pictures, because it was pretty messy! I crushed some Oreos via a Ziploc and rolling pin. A food processor would be much easier. After the Oreos were crushed, I mixed cream cheese and a few drops of peppermint flavoring and then blended it in with the crushed Oreos. After mixing the cream cheese and Oreos, I formed 1 inch balls and stuck them in the freezer for about 20 minutes. In the mean time, I tried another Pinterest idea. I feel I am somewhat of an expert in melting bark or candy melts for projects, and thought this sounded like a good idea.

crock potI boiled some water and transferred it to the crock pot. My mistake was, I filled it a bit too full. When I put the bowl of dipping chocolate in, water spilled in and if you know much abut melting bark or candy melts, this equals failure.fail

So, I went back to my trusted method of microwave melting. If you have never melted candy melts or bark, find a nice glass bowl and microwave on 50% power for 3o seconds, stir and repeat. Now, I was ready to dip the Oreo balls.

dip ballsAfter I dipped a few balls, I sprinkled some crushed candy canes on top  and voila!

trufflesFrom the same blog, I made some super easy Christmas Crunch!  This again, was very easy. The mix contains popcorn, pretzels, MM’s, Wilton Candy Melts and sprinkles. I was excited to find a good use for this Christmas Sugar I found at TJ Maxx.

christmas sugarSeriously, this is is so easy. First mix popcorn, pretzels and MM’s in a large bowl. I then melted Wilton Candy Melts using the technique described above.. When he melts were ready, I poured them over popcorn mixture and stirred (hands work best). After the mixture was evenly coated, I laid it on parchment paper and SPRINKLED it with the Christmas sugar.  I wish I would have used more sprinkles… Here is the final product and it’s so tasty!

christmas popcornI have some more goodies to finish today and will be making some deliveries to neighbors, the NICU and doctor’s offices.

Hopefully I will have time to blog more about the other holiday projects I’ve worked on. Until then, be sure to check out these cool projects!

Misha & Amanda’s Paper Tree Forests

Kendra & Michelle’s Yarn Trees

Sally’s Stocking

Maggi’s Random Crafts

Prematurity Awareness Month

Another month almost gone, another month where I had great intentions of blogging more. Life  is busy and I don’t see signs of it slowing down.

This was an important month for us.  Not only did Jack turn 23 months, but November  marked Prematurity Awareness Month.

November 17, was World Prematurity Day. This was a day celebrated around the world to bring attention the the issue of premature birth.  I love this video, it brings such hope.


In honor of World Prematurity Day and the month of November, we have some important news to share!  Jack’s Pack, our March of Dimes Team, won several awards from our fundraising efforts.


Our awards included Top Family Team, Top New Team, and we also received an award for raising $4000. THANK YOU to all who helped raise this incredible amount!

In October, our family was chosen to be the ambassador family for the March of Dime’s Signature Chef’s Auction. We made this video for the event. In addition to being the ambassador for the auction, Jack will be the ambassador for the 2013 March for Babies in Lafayette! We are very excited and hope to start building our team soon. We know the walk will take place Saturday, April 27. So, mark your calendars now and we will start hoping for a dry and warm day. As soon as I am able to register our team, I will pass the information along. It’s never early to start fundraising!

We hope you will join us in fundraising and walking on April 27. The March of Dimes does many great things for all babies and we are so grateful for the work they have done.

Next up- Jack turns 2! It’s a bittersweet birthday. I remember hearing early on, most preemies catch up by the age of 2. While this may be true, I don’t see anything magical happening on the eve of December 20th. But, we are so grateful for all of the progress he has made!

Halloween Through The Years…

Halloween this year was fun. Jack really got in to trick or treating and totally got the concept! We didn’t visit many houses, Jack was home sick with a fever the day before, so we just made a few quick stops. Henry was in class and I could not find his camera ANYWHERE. So, I got a few shots with my phone of the boys.Image


Kendrick was lucky enough to have 2 costumes this year. We went to Boo at the Zoo and Kendrick dressed as a DJ. Then, over the weekend, he visited Pappy and YaYa and they planned on attending a Halloween party. The turntable didn’t make the trip to Frankton, so Kendrick ended up with a ninja costume. He was thrilled with this and said he had always wanted to be a ninja his whole life! So, on Halloween night, he chose the ninja attire. He says he will be a DJ next year…Image

Doesn’t Jack looked thrilled to be a lumberjack?

I got looking through pictures of Halloween over the years. I can’t believe how much they have grown!



Look for more updates soon as we remember November as Prematurity Awareness Month!

Bye Bye G-tube!

Jack’s G-Tube was removed this morning.  He will have to wear a dressing over the site for a few weeks. It should heal on it’s own within a few days. The surgeon said 8/10 times, the site heals on it’s own completely. If the site does not completely heal (meaning it continues to leak), he will have to have it surgically repaired. Let’s hope Jack is one of the 8/10 this time! I know those things usually don’t go in his favor, but maybe this time? He keeps rubbing his belly, I’m sure he’s wondering where the tube went!

He did well during the procedure and we were told not to let him eat for a few hours.  By the time we got home, he was hungry and asking to eat,  so I let him have some formula. Luckily I don’t see any leaking. Let’s hope this is a good sign!

Thanks for your thoughts today!



Growth Charts and G-Tubes

Jack had his 18 month well child visit last week. He weighed 17lbs 1.9oz and was 29 inches long. He is still not on the adjusted preemie curve, but he’s getting closer! I take that back… His head is on the chart! Thank goodness for big brains!

The month before his checkup, the feeding team decided to cut down on Jack’s formula intake in order to make him more hungry for table foods. This did not work well and he actually lost almost a pound. So, it’s back to formula for now. We knew he had his 18 month appointment coming up, so the goal of the feeding team was for him to weigh 17lbs 2oz. He was just made it, thank goodness! We have an infant scale at home. I try not to obsess, but I have been weighing him fairly often. He was back up to 17lbs 6.5 oz as of yesterday. Thursday, Jack has an appointment with his surgeon at Riley. We are hoping to have his G-Tube removed. His surgeon has two criteria for removal:

1. Jack must take everything by mouth for three months. Check. We have not used the tube since March.

2. Jack must be gaining weight well. Hmm…

I’m nervous for #2 and I’m not sure how Thursday will go.  I would love the get the tube out. It has been leaking lately and his poor skin has been irritated. I also would love to have him shirtless in this hot weather! However, what if he needs the tube down the road? Jack has the capability to take everything by mouth. He has made huge progress trying new foods. Some might wonder why not just use the tube to help him gain weight? When we use the tube, Jack is less hungry. He also gets very gaggy and sometimes vomits. Using the tube would also most likely hinder our progress with eating.

So, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we see the surgeon Thursday. This is definitely a tough decision for all of us.

In other Jack news, he is climbing and cruising, but still not walking. It’s tough seeing younger babies taking their first steps. I know Jack will walk someday, it’s just frustrating in the mean time. He is terrified to stand by himself and we all know how stubborn he is! He is talking up a storm. He will repeat about anything on a good day and is starting to put words together. Last night,  Leela, our dog, came in his room. He looked at her and pointed and said “Go Leela!” I guess he didn’t want her to play in his room!  Jack will start OT with First steps next week. He had his yearly evaluation a few weeks ago and we requested OT to help him with some sensory issues that are leading to him not wanting to stand and walk. Speaking of the evaluation, Jack did very well. He scored at or above his age in every category except gross motor skills. If it wasn’t for not walking, he would not even qualify for services! The therapist who came to evaluate him had not seen him since he was about 6 months old. They were amazed at how well he was doing. Keep up the good work buddy!

Now to leave you with a picture…. Henry attempted to take some pictures of the boys and their cousins this past weekend. Do you know how hard it is to get a decent picture of these two??

We hope you have a happy and safe 4th!

Team Tuesday and An Eventful Easter

It’s Team Tuesday and there are only 18 days until the March for Babies Walk! We are getting very excited. Yesterday, our shirts came in.  They turned out amazing, and we are pretty sure Jack approves! A big thank you to John Zarse at Underground Printing for helping with the shirts!

Last week our team was in the top ten teams in the state! If we remain in the top ten, we win a free trip to Florida for the March of Dimes National Volunteer Leadership Conference. The conference is in Orlando in October. How awesome would that be? Speaking of Orlando, my cousin Kendra, will be walking in the Central Florida March for Babies for Jack’s Pack! So, thank you Greg, Kendra and Kenley for your support in Florida!

Remember, it’s not too late to join or donate! You can do so here http://www.marchforbabies.org/team/t1762905

Holidays always seem to be eventful for our family! We made the trip to Frankton for the Easter weekend. We forgot our nice camera, so unfortunately there are not many nice pictures. They boys loved being outside and playing with Pappy and YaYa! They also got to play with cousins Sami and Karmyn! Can you believe there are only 6 months between these two?

Sunday was eventful. We woke up early and got ready for church after checking out what the Easter Bunny left. When we got home, Kendrick was playing in the hot tub with Pappy. He wanted to try out his new swim shirt and swim shorts the Easter Bunny left. I was called outside to find blood dripping from his chin. Kendrick was calm, in fact he didn’t even cry until I told him we were going to have to go see a doctor! He said “I just did too big of a cannon ball and I bumped my chin!” So, we headed to urgent care where they were able to glue the cut, which was much easier than stitches for all involved!

He was a very brave boy and is not liking that mom said he had to take it easy this week with the glued chin and all!

Jack has an appointment with the feeding team tomorrow. We have not used his G Tube for almost a month! He is eating like a champ! We will have to wait until June to have the tube removed.  The surgeon’s policy is to leave it in for 3 months after he is taking everything orally. Our next step will be to transition to more solids and get him switched to pediasure instead of formula. Keep us in your thoughts as we make this transition, as our initial attempts with pediasure have not gone so well.

Have a great rest of the week!