Friday, March 28, 2014

5 on Friday

1.
As I said in a recent post, I gave up Facebook. Not gave it up for Lent or something. Just gave it up. And I have to say it's been a great decision. It took a couple days to get past the initial itching-to-log-in-when-bored phase, but now Facebook just doesn't even cross my mind.

It is helpful that Jared still has it. We have quite a few of the same friends so he updates me when something major has been shared online. Other than that, I am glad to be missing out on it all. I never thought I would say that. I always thought it was sort of different when people refused to be a part of the Facebook world, but now I totally get it.

2. 
I departed the Facebook world just to enter the world of tweeting.
I know, I know.
But I spend all of one minute a day on Twitter. Mostly it allows me to blow off parental steam in a social media kind of way.

Plus I have zero idea how to manage it anyway. I followed a couple of people and now I am annoyed by their five bajilion retweets a day, but I have no clue how to unfollow them. And I also have little interest in really figuring it all out, so here I am. With a total of maybe four tweets ever.


3.
I have been in a reading kind of mood lately. I love to read but sometimes just don't make the time. Or I have so many books on my list, I don't even know where to start. Since I take the kids to story time at our library a couple times a month, I have no excuse not to ask our local librarian for her recommendations. We chat about books frequently and we seem to have similar taste. So she has pulled a few of her favorites and basically made me check them out.

Right now I am reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

It's a different kind of book, about a girl/woman that keeps dying and being reborn, living her life over and over until she gets it right. I am maybe a third of the way through it right now and like it so far.


4.
We are all getting a little stir crazy around here. I am tired of snow and temps in the 20s. It's time for some legit spring weather.
So when the temperature cracks 50ยบ we all behave like it's a heat wave. We get out the stroller and bike and head outside for a walk. Bailey started riding her bike at the end of last summer. She does pretty well despite our long pothole-filled driveway.

As a kid I didn't ride bikes much. We lived out in the country on a gravel road so biking wasn't much fun. My sisters and I opted instead for go-carts, 4-wheelers, and mopeds. So the fundamentals of bike safety weren't on the forefront of my mind. Jared took care of that.
Bailey's new bike helmet arrived this week. And while Bailey protested it at first, she quickly gave in when she saw Daddy has one too.
We are hoping the weather warms up and stays that way soon.
 But in the meantime, I am looking forward to...

5.
...Our sister weekend!
Last year I met up with my three sisters, used up a free-stay hotel voucher, and spent 24 hours shopping, eating, and drinking.
This year we thought it would be fun to repeat last year's idea. So I booked a nice hotel suite on Priceline and we are all set to meet up this Sunday.
And as you can see from the picture above:
No kids.
No husband.
No responsibilities....
*Heaven*

Happy Friday!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

bunny love

All three kids, each with their own personal Bun-Bun. 

Their Grandma Cathy gave them all the same bunny lovey when they were born, each in a different color. She was set on buying one for Graham months before his due date, and since she already used up the gender neutral yellow color for Avery, she went with blue. 
Can you tell how confident she was in her gender prediction?  :) 

I love how each bunny gets progressively dirtier and shabbier looking in proportion to the child's increasing age. 
Bailey's Bun-Bun has seen a lot of action: cruises in doll strollers, gurney rides back to surgery, snuggles with Tucker, you name it. He has earned that tan color!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trust me, I know what beautiful is.

I started this blog a few years ago after toying with the idea for months. My goal was to use the blog to post photos and stories of our kids and ourselves - an easy way to help distant friends and family feel involved in our daily lives.

A by-product of that initial vision has been cleft-awareness, even if only on a very small scale. 
I have quite a few people that find my blog through internet searches like "cleft lip and palate" or "expecting a baby with a cleft."
I think every shocked, expectant cleft parent types those words into a search engine.
My heart goes out to them.
I remember doing those searches. 
And I remember some of the results I wish I hadn't found. 


When people stumble upon my blog, I am glad. I hope they can see from my blog that Bailey's cleft is not our primary focus - on the blog or otherwise. I have general information about clefts with a few helpful links in the Cleft Info tab at the top of my blog, along with an overview of Bailey's story, surgery, and future concerns. I write posts from time to time about what is going on in regards to her cleft: her yearly cleft team visits, trips to the dentist, questions she asks as she notices some of her differences. Those posts help explain in detail what exactly we learn at each visit and give a general timeline for what to expect in each next step.

What is not found on my blog?
A sense that Bailey's cleft is an overwhelming part of our lives.

And it never will be.
I guarantee it.

Because when it comes down to it, Bailey is more than a cleft-affected kid.  
She is our daughter. 
She is funny.
She is smart.
She is caring.
She is helpful.
She is exuberant.
She is beautiful. 
Oh, and she happens to have a cleft. 

And because of Bailey's cleft we were automatically joined into a small sub-group of people: cleft parents. I've met and formed relationships with people I would have otherwise never known - all because we have a cleft in common. I even email back and forth with an adult woman with a cleft. She gives me the viewpoint that I wouldn't glimpse into otherwise.

I like being a resource or a touch-stone to others experiencing the same things we have already gone through. Clearly I am not an expert, but I have been-there-done-that with a lot of things cleft-parent related.
I like when people - family, friends, strangers on the street, internet strangers - ask me questions and show they are interested in knowing more. I like to share the knowledge I've gleaned from personal experience.

But there is a definite difference between asking questions to learn more and asking questions to challenge the choices we have made for our child. 

Let me be extremely clear: 
I love my daughter. 
I've thought she was beautiful from the second I laid eyes on her in that operating room. 
My heart hurt knowing that we had to lose her sweet "first" smile at 10 weeks old.
And it ached afterward seeing her in pain.
It's ached with each and every surgery.
And I know it will ache thousands of times more in the upcoming years, over all sorts of normal childhood things and a few extra because of issues related to her cleft.

But never have our choices for Bailey been guided by superficial thoughts to "make her prettier" or because we feel she isn't good enough as she is right now. And to say or infer that to me is not only inappropriate, it's offensive.

We don't look at Bailey and notice her cleft. 
Her cleft barely crosses my mind, and it usually only does in fleeting moments, like when I am brushing her "special tooth" or notice she has chocolate pudding hiding out in her right nostril. 
Vanity is not guiding our decisions. 
Just like with our other children, we make decisions for her based on what is best for her. And we make decisions regarding her cleft-related care with her team of specialty doctors, dentists, and orthodontists. Ya know, experts. And I feel very strongly that they have our daughter's best interests in mind as well.

It's okay for people to have questions. I expect that. I don't expect people to understand it all; I knew nothing about clefts before Bailey was diagnosed with one. I am happy to explain why Bailey has to have more surgeries and dental work in the future. 
But suggestions that we "think long and hard about the motivation for her surgeries" and "start embracing Bailey and her differences" are absolute bullshit. 

So I should forgo dental treatments and let her teeth continue to be ground down due to her inappropriate bite?
Should we say screw it and let her breathing be affected due to her nasal shape as she grows older?
Should we just not utilize the AMAZING health care coverage my husband receives as a benefit through his job?

Surgeries aren't being done just for looks. Surgeries are needed for function and to prevent problems with biting, chewing, swallowing, talking, breathing...
So insinuating that Bailey's future surgeries are less about necessity and more about my own tainted view of real beauty is just not even close to reality.

Look at this picture and tell me our daughter isn't beautiful.

Because for those of us who truly know and love Bailey, 
we don't say, "She is beautiful even with her cleft."


We just say, "She is beautiful."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

saying no for the sake of a better yes

I have mentioned it before, but I am really enjoying reading the daily devotional Cathy, my mother-in-law, gave me for Christmas. We aren't regular church-goers right now, and while that is something I am not entirely okay with, that's a topic for another blog post. 

I have always admired those people who can find comfort in scripture because they know where to look for it. 
I remember the day after my miscarriage; I had run out of tears, but still felt miserable and in need of something, anything. There was nothing to say really except this sucks, and I had probably already said and thought that a thousand times. I needed comforting. 
I got my Bible. 
Okay... now what? 
Am I supposed to turn to a random page? 
I don't know how this works exactly. 

I didn't have favorite passages to read. 
I didn't know where to start. 
Jared's aunt had, quite randomly, given us a book "Where to Find it in The Bible" so I grabbed that. Just as I suspected, no "miscarriage" category. So I looked up "loss." That didn't fit the bill either. It was mostly about losing possessions, losing your home. 
I lost a baby - not a car. 
This wasn't turning out quite as I had hoped. As with anything, you can have a great resource, but if don't utilize it or even know how to utilize it, it doesn't do you any good. 

My Bible and scripture knowledge hasn't increased dramatically since then. I have read more of it than ever before in my life, but I can't profess to be that regular at it. I admit I sometimes get lost in the language and miss the point.
That is why I love this Daily Guideposts devotional. 
It's like a starting block for me, helping me pick up beloved verses as I go.
The authors are cherry-picking passages one at a time and applying them to their daily lives. 
That is what I have always liked about great sermons - that I can see how that message is still relevant thousands of years later. That I can see the logic in it. I love that I can see a particular passage as a way for God to show me a different way or give me encouragement or just provide some peace.

Obviously some days in the devotional aren't as helpful or as meaningful as others, but I always take away something.

I wanted to share one I recently read (and in case anyone else reads this particular version, yes, I confess that I skipped ahead and landed on this one).


All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.  - Psalm 38:9

It was a rough start to the day. Spiritually I was feeling flat. There were a few things that I really wanted for my family and my career. My prayers had turned repetitive. I felt like a broken record as I laid them before the Lord once again. And just like every other morning, I came up against a deafening silence that made me want to scream. 

Not only that, but my son woke up at 5:30 AM - much too early. It didn't take long for my sweet little boy to turn into a monster, the kind that whines and throws temper tantrums and makes messes everywhere he goes. The kid was tired.

With expiring patience, I carried him to his room and made him lie down while he screamed and cried and did everything humanly possible to get out of that bed. I sat outside his room, resting my head against the wall, and heard every single one of his heartbreaking cries for Mama. He wanted to get up, go to the park, play. But that's not what was best for him. He needed sleep.

After a thirty-minute battle, he finally gave in. The house was quiet. As I sat there in the silence, I couldn't help but think how similar I was to my son, crying out to my Abba, mistaking His silence for absence, unable to see that He was right there. God knows what's best and He knows what He's doing.


Thank You, Lord, for the promise that You hear every single one of our sighs, for being a God Who says no for the sake of saying yes.                   
       - Katie Ganshert
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
This message struck a chord.

And let's be real, as a huge Garth Brooks fan, I can't help but think of "Unanswered Prayers." 
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

It's a pretty big message. A message my 7 year-old self was singing around the house on a regular basis. (Garth and I go way back.) As I got older, I understood the meaning within those words. Sometimes it is a good thing when we don't get what we want or what we pray for. 

Think about how different your life would be if God would have granted your every wish and prayer. 
Think back to your younger self, probably praying prayers about wanting things to work out with your high school boyfriend or getting into that specific college. 
There is a big possibility that you wouldn't actually, truly want that life you were praying so hard for. And it's possible that God wasn't answering you because he was saying no for the sake of a better yes.



Allow me to share an example from my own life.
It was the summer after my freshman year of college at Briar Cliff. 
Briar Cliff is a Catholic university. And not being Catholic myself, some of the things they worked in to the curriculum in some classes irritated me. And it was small, which I'd thought I would like. But it turned out to be just like a bigger version of high school. 
I wanted out. 

But I had an amazing scholarship that was paying all of my tuition. 
And I didn't have anywhere else I was dying to go. 
The more I tried to make the pieces fit with other schools, the more it didn't work out. I prayed about it, begging God to show me the path I was supposed to be on, to help get me into another school -any other school!- for the upcoming year.
*Crickets*

So fall arrived and off I went back to Briar Cliff. I got a good roommate. I had friends. I did well in my classes. I was having fun. It still wasn't the right fit for me, and I could feel that, but I kept moving forward. And then in April of 2005 it became obvious why it never worked out for me to transfer schools: I met Jared

Pieces fell in to place. And we both ended up leaving Briar Cliff. 
I transferred to Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas - 7 hours from home and I LOVED it. It was a whirlwind decision and shocked those around me, but I was happy. 
It felt right. 
It was right.
And it is a decision I don't ever regret making - not even for one single second.
I would have never ended up there on my own. God's silence wasn't indifference; a better "yes" was coming for me.


So now I try to remember this in my daily life. 
God saying no can bring us greater happiness.
But God saying no can also mean pain. 
It can mean hardship. 

I've experienced this in my own life, especially my childhood. 
Pain and hurt and a big emotional toll I wouldn't wish on anyone.
But I came out on the other side a better person.

To quote my sister Felicia's favorite Bible verse:
...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  -- Romans 5: 3-4

I know of some of her sufferings, as she does of mine, and I know that perseverance and character and hope did come of them. Good things come of God saying no, even if we don't understand it at the time. 
And just like the mother standing outside the door, her heart breaking as she hears every one of her baby's cries and pleas, God's silence isn't from a lack of love. It's about wanting a better yes for us in the end.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

toddler paparazzi



This is the farewell send-off every visitor leaving our house receives, along with their daddy, who had to go in to work early tonight for an extra-long shift. 

And while the kisses and hugs they demand at the door suffice, it's the goodbye wave from the car that they are truly interested in.
Just some ecstatic, over-the-top waving and maybe even a honk for good measure. 
It's basically required.

Forget fingerprint smudges on the glass, we have dirty toeprints on our windowsills.

Monday, March 10, 2014

my kid's got me pegged

So you all remember when I took a tumble down an entire flight of stairs a couple months ago, right?
If not, please refresh your memory:

My sister Justy likes to reread this particular post whenever she needs a good laugh at my expense.

Anyway, just the other day it became fairly obvious that Bailey remembers this day very, very well.

I was sitting on the couch in the living room and watched as Bailey threw her stuffed pig down the staircase. It tumbled down each step and she calmly walked down to where it was resting on the landing. 

Then, in a high-pitched voice, she said as the pig, "Jared, No! I don't need an ambulance! That costs money!"

Then she replied, as Jared, "I don't care. I am calling right now!"

She proceeded to end her phone call with the ambulance, load the paralyzed pig onto a stretcher (aka a folded blanket), and carry it to the waiting ambulance (aka the toy box). 

I hate to even admit how extremely accurate her reenactment was...
But damn was it hilarious.
I love how my 4 year-old captured just how much of a tight-ass her mother is. 
Bravo Bailey.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Five

1. 
I quit Facebook.
And the obvious question to this statement is why?
And I thought the answer to that was complex, but really it is pretty simple:
I have slowly come to realize over the past few weeks what I have known all along: Facebook isn't making me happier.

I have had a couple conversations with friends recently where the honest-to-God actual answer to their discontent/anxiety/you-name-it is "Stop getting on Facebook."
And it applies to me too.
I am happy with my life. There are obviously things I would love to be different (bye bye 20+ pounds, hello Jamaica, etc) but I am definitely a content person. Yet sometimes I log on to Facebook wanting to return a message or post a picture of my kid being cute and I leave with a bad taste in my mouth.
Sometimes that taste is jealousy. 
I am done having kids. I don't want any more babies. Why am I jealous of this acquaintance and their new baby?
Sometimes it's frustration.
Seriously, so-and-so keeps f*ing up her life royally and our family member just keeps rewarding her bad behavior!
Sometimes it's mommy guilt.
Look at those DisneyLand photos. I hope my kids like camping. In tents. For free. 
And other times it is just the inadequacy you feel from seeing the "perfect" picture painted by all your Facebook friends. 

We live in a keepin'-up with the Joneses society and Facebook feeds into that. Even if I am happy with myself and my life, some of those feelings creep in even when I log on quickly. And I don't think it is just me. Study after study gets play on the news, correlating feelings of unhappiness with social media such as Facebook. 

I am happy to hear from my friends and family about their happy news - engagements and babies and new homes and promotions and awesome vacations - all that.
Because we are friends. And I am actually happy for them.
It's all the extra. The stuff I wouldn't hear about if there weren't Facebook.
I want to hear about the real stuff, not read the picture-perfect airbrushed version that gets posted online.

What finally solidified my choice was talking to a friend who had to give up Facebook awhile ago for legal reasons. When I asked her how she felt about it, she replied that it was hard at first and family members gave her grief about how they needed Facebook to stay in touch and keep up with her family.
But then a great thing happened:
People sent handwritten letters.
They sent cards.
They emailed.
They picked up the phone and called.
She started having real interaction with people again.

In essence, the people who actually care about you are going to make the effort. And the rest? The rest were just your Facebook "friends." And in my case, I write this blog for family and friends so that they can see photos and read little stories and hear about what is going on in our lives. I'm not dropping off the face of the earth.
And who knows how long my deactivated status will last?
All those cat memes are pretty great - I might be back...

2.
A slightly-sad/slightly-amazing thing happened this week:
Graham's off the boob.
He turned 15 months old and decided enough was enough.
His sippy cup has officially taken over my position.

I have mixed emotions.
I was ready to have my body back to myself, but it's a little odd. Like, what shirt do I wear now?
(I kid, I kid. Sort of...)
I have been pregnant or breastfeeding nonstop since June of 2009. It's no wonder I have a non-existent wardrobe.

The transition was easy, for which I am glad. He is happy and doesn't seem to miss it.
The part I am going to miss the most is the fact that while he was nursing it was easy to pretend he was still my little baby.
But he isn't.
The first year of his life flew by faster than it seemed to with our others. Probably because he is the baby. And because he is our last.

I can honestly say that breastfeeding my kids has been one of the best parts of being a mom. It sounds crazy to some, but for me it's true.
Those quiet moments, snuggling your baby, providing something only you can provide... there is nothing like it.
There is no way to describe it to someone.
I have no plans to nurse another child, so that makes those particular memories just a little bit more special. So it is with a sadness/happiness mixture that I bid a big farewell to the Boppy and my used-and-abused nursing camis. You were all so very good to me.
But now I can drink a delicious cocktail whenever I want with zero guilt.  Win for me.


3.
This past week we held our 2nd Annual Shrimp Fest at our home.
Okay, just kidding, it's really not that cool.
Last year my parents were in Louisiana and Mississippi on vacation and brought back fresh shrimp. Since my mom hates seafood, my dad asked Jared to cook it up for him. There was a large amount so we invited over my grandparents and Justy too. We made some fettuccine alfredo along with the shrimp so that those who can't/won't eat shrimp had something to eat as well.
No one went south this winter, so we had to settle with shrimp from Hy-Vee. Whatevs. It was still delicious.

And afterward we ended up watching the movie Uncle Buck in its entirety.
So random.
Because that is how we roll apparently.
I hadn't seen that movie in a long, long time and enjoyed quite a few laughs. Particularly the part about Felix, because I am a perv.

4.
I read this blog last night about giving up something for Lent. Wow, this is me.
It is a humorous blog and the author was writing that what she should really give up for Lent is the last hour of the day that she is awake. That last hour when she does nothing beneficial, just sits around watching House Hunters or other worthless TV while browsing the internet and laying on the couch thinking about how she should be in bed already.
Me.
Right here.
I do that all the time.
And every day when I wake up tired and slightly cranky, I tell myself, "I am going to go to bed at a decent hour tonight. I am going to get in bed early!" and it never happens. I like my personal time too much.
Jared leaves for work at 10 pm and "me time" truly begins.
No kids, no husband.
And clearly no time management.
Before I know it it is 11:30. How did that happen? Oh well, it doesn't matter because I am totally going to bed early tonight.

5.
I have been stumbling across a lot of quotes this week.
I have a daily devotional my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas that eerily seems to apply to my life daily. I will turn to the designated day and then so many times the story and verse correspond to exactly what I was needing to hear.

I also was reading a blog (actually the same one I mentioned in #4) and it quoted someone named Terry Pratchett, and while I have no idea who that dude is, I like the quote:
"Poison goes where poison's welcome." 
And really, it's just so true. 
So many times in life we experience negative things and wonder why it's happening. And while it doesn't explain everything, it explains a lot of the drama we have in our own lives. Because drama goes where drama is welcome. This probably ties in to #1 on this list, because without Facebook, I have exposure to so much less drama. And quite honestly, I think that is a good thing. 


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cleft Team Visit 2014

This past Monday we loaded up the car and the kids and drove to Omaha. Tuesday was Bailey's yearly cleft team visit. Just like last year we decided to go down the day before and make a small trip out of it. 

We hadn't even reached the outskirts of Omaha yet when Graham blessed us all with the sounds (and smells) of his apparent motion sickness. This hasn't ever been a problem we have had to deal with in the past, but he proceeded to get sick not only once, but twice - vomiting again on Tuesday morning. Do they make motion sickness medication for one year-olds? 
We might be needing some.

After cleaning up the vom as best as I possibly could using Casey's napkins and a cup of water from Pepperjax, we found a Target and bought some Febreze and some upholstery cleaner. Total waste of money as it did nothing for the smell or stains whatsoever. Hey, we tried. But it was clear that the Vomit Van title was here to stay.

We ended up spending a few hours in the afternoon at BounceU. Not only did they have tons of inflatables, there were also little cars for Graham to ride in and balls for him to throw. That's kind of his favorite thing right now, besides climbing on tables/desks/windowsills of course. Aunt Fe took the afternoon off and hung out with us.

Unfortunately I think Jared and I were more exhausted from this afternoon outing than any of the kids were. I loved these things as a kid. I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven to have a whole afternoon of unrestricted bouncing. In that spirit, I was in there jumping around like crazy with the kids. After nearly peeing my pants three separate times, I realized that small jumps are the key. Moms, I know you're feelin' me. Damn you, childbirth, and your random long-lasting side effects!

That afternoon we checked into our hotel and swam with the kids. We ordered some pizza for supper and hung out in the room. All three of the kids and Jared were passed out by 8 pm. Talk about a rowdy party crowd... geesh.

Our cleft team appointment was at 8:15 the next morning. She sees a ton of people at these visits and it takes the entire morning. In the meantime, Graham and Avery went and made sure their handprints were on every single window in the place.

Since Bailey had surgery last August, that is likely to be her last surgery until the cleft in her gumline is filled around age 7. So most of our visit this time involved finding out info regarding the next steps in the cleft process. She gets a break from any procedures for the next 2-3 years, but decisions will need to be made in order to prepare for that surgery. 

A cleft of the palate also makes a cleft in the child's gumline, usually resulting in some change to their teeth - either giving them too many teeth (weird I know) or not enough (which is Bailey's case.) And as they start getting in their permanent adult teeth, cleft kids lack healthy bone for the teeth to erupt in to. This is why she will need a bone graft to fill in that site. With healthy bone filling in this gap, her adult teeth stand a good chance of remaining in place. She doesn't have an adult tooth in the cleft space, so that will be addressed much later on down the line. (Very likely she will need a dental implant, but that isn't usually possible until she is around 18 years old.)

When the time comes, there are two options to fill in the gumline cleft: 
Option 1 - Harvested bone from her hip bone. 
This is what was originally explained to us when she was born. We have been told from many different doctors that this will be the most painful surgery she will likely ever have.
Option 2 - Synthetic bone that is made in a lab.
When Bailey had her first cleft visit, this was mentioned in passing as "a new technology some doctors are utilizing." Now four years later, Bailey's dental surgeon used synthetic bone in roughly 50% of these procedures this past year. The technology is improving, so we can only imagine it will continue to do so in the next few years until it is Bailey's turn.
So obviously synthetic bone is far easier as far as patient involvement and pain, but we will only know when the times comes which option is the better choice for Bailey's particular cleft. 

In the meantime - about a year before the surgery - Bailey will need to utilize a palate expander. It will help shape her mouth into the correct shape. (Cleft kids' mouths essentially cave in on themselves due to the incomplete palate, resulting in an incorrect shape and problems with overbite/underbite.) The expansion itself only takes a month or two, but she will need to wear it for approximately a year to maintain the correct shape. She will also need braces somewhere in this mess of mouth/teeth procedures. Likely she will have braces for many many years and maybe even multiple times. 

And while on the subject of teeth, the dentist portion of the afternoon went off without a hitch. Both girls were in outstanding moods. They did great while getting their teeth cleaned and the dentist praised their efforts at tooth brushing. It helps that they can zone out and watch some 'toons on the ceiling throughout all of it.
It also helps that we love their dentist. I got the recommendation from a fellow cleft mom in Omaha a few years back, and I am so glad I did! I can't speak highly enough of the place. 
(Click on the "Cleft info" tab at the top to check out all of Bailey's cleft related care providers.)

The take-away from our visit is that we have some downtime now
Before next year's visit, I will need to contact orthodontists in our area and determine who will be the best fit for us. It will be extremely important that they can work closely together with our dentist and cleft team to follow her plan of care exactly. The next step is all about timing: monitoring the permanent teeth, monitoring the palate expansion, choosing the right time to perform the bone graft. 

But before all that craziness starts, we are grateful for a year or two of surgery-free time. I am not looking forward to those very frequent trips to the orthodontist. I have a feeling that I will all-too-soon know just how my mom felt all those years driving over an hour round-trip for a five minute appointment.... (Thanks, Mom!)