Introducing apertOWL

For many months I have been hard at work cultivating a passion that has been growing deep in my heart. When Aiden was born, Ricky and I scoured the internet and sat with trepidation as we clicked from image to image, site to site reading about the grim future that was in store for our brand new baby boy. Our hearts broke. And yet, from the moment we were thrust into this new life of raising a child with a craniofacial condition I was determined to make the most of it.

I started this blog to provide info about Aiden's condition, updates about his surgeries and recoveries and to show everyone that in spite of it all? We were going to be okay. Life was going to be different than what we expected. But okay.

I wish someone was there to tell me just how fulfilling and wonderful our lives would be.

Over the years, I began receiving emails from families across the United States who happened upon More Skees Please as they were doing research about Apert syndrome. Either they had a child who was just diagnosed or someone they knew did. Aunts, moms, grandparents - they'd email and say that this site gave them hope. That they finally felt like they could breathe again since the first time they heard the words Apert syndrome.

All because of Aiden.

The more emails and messages I got from other families, the more I knew that others were seeking a positive outlook just as we hoped to find amid our despair in those first few weeks. With every family that reached out to me the desire grew to create something more significant than my family blog.

Chris and Kerry Lynch live in Chicago and have a daughter with Apert syndrome. They found our blog when Mary Cate was a few months old and from the moment we first connected it was clear that they too were going to share the same positive outlook as us. Together with the Lynch's, the idea for apertOWL grew.

We are currently hard at work to bring this idea alive. We will be applying for our 501c3 status to make apertOWL a full-fledged nonprofit organization.

Our mission is to be a beacon of hope for families affected by Apert syndrome by providing support, resources and inspiration throughout their journey. 

We have a million ideas - everything from becoming a strong online presence with accurate information to special ways to show support for these amazing kids...and so. much. more.

And  apertOWL will not only benefit those who have a child with Apert syndrome. There will also be resources for family members, friends, and medical professionals as well!

The plan is to "officially" launch in September of this year. But in the meantime, we are building the apertOWL community on Facebook (already more than 1500 and going strong!) and we have a teaser page up and running at with a progress bar showing how close we are to launching the full site.

We would love for you to help get the word out - so PLEASE like apertOWL on Facebook and share with your friends and family. Everyone can benefit from learning about Apert syndrome even if it doesn't touch your life directly. Empowering the general public with accurate information will help ensure that kids (and adults) living with this condition get the support and acceptance they deserve!

PS -- The final part in my Love Story series will be coming, I promise! But I was too excited to share this first :) If you missed it, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Our Love Story, continued: The Proposal

In honor of our 8 year wedding anniversary (TODAY!), I wanted to share how it all began...You can read the first part here.

Okay I'll be the first to admit that the way we met doesn't exactly make for the most romantic story, but the proposal definitely makes up for on and you'll see...

From the moment Ricky returned my flip-flops outside the campus fitness center, it was full speed ahead. He was a Junior, lived at home and went from class straight to work every day (which explains why we never crossed paths at school). I was a Senior with only 6 weeks left of classes and a lot of decisions ahead of me.

I graduated with a degree in Communications in May 2003. My parents wanted me to move back near them (about 1.5 hours from where my school was) but I wasn't so sure. Instead, I spent a few weeks soul-searching and job hunting where I was, finally deciding to chase a childhood dream while I had the chance. I found a film school in Burbank, California that had a 6-week acting course and that fall, after dating Ricky throughout the summer, I packed my things and drove cross-country with my dad without any clue what my next steps would be.

Ricky flew out to visit - even ran from my apartment to a nearby store while I was in class to grab what was needed to surprise me with a nice romantic homemade dinner. He must have sensed that I was debating on whether I would stay in LA to pursue acting or if I would venture home to the familiar. (A man who made the effort and spent the money to fly across the US? And one that cooks? He sure scored points in my book!)

When the 6 weeks was up, I was at a crossroads. I stared at my list of acting contacts, my recently taken head-shots and my ID card that granted access to the Universal Studios lot where we had filmed several student-led short films. I'd be lying if I said the acting bug hadn't bitten me hard. I wanted to stay. But I honestly felt that either way I would be taking a risk and chasing something with no sure outcome - whether it be an acting career in LA or love back home.

In the end, I left California and I never looked back.

-- In our "dating" days --

Fast forward to the next spring. Ricky and I had been dating for a little over a year and half at that point and as things progressed I knew I had made the right choice - coming home for love.

One beautiful spring morning, we made plans to go to the zoo and I had a feeling. A feeling that perhaps this outing would bring something special. We arrived at the front entrance and "happened" to be met by a zoo employee who asked if there were any certain exhibits I wanted to be sure to visit. I mentioned I loved butterflies. He said the exhibit wasn't open quite yet, but he'd sneak us in ahead of the crowd.

Once inside I was overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. There were trees dripping across the walkway and hundreds of butterflies flitting about. As I was taking it all in, I barely noticed a song softly humming in the background. Our song.

I turned to find Ricky down on one knee with a little box in his hand. His voice shook as he asked me to be his wife (with a few sweet sentiments mixed in as well). He slid a beautiful princess cut diamond ring on my equally shaky hand as I said "YES!" over and over.

[Sidenote - Later I found out that he had written my mom a letter asking her for her mother's engagement ring that my mom had kept for more than 20 years after she died. He kept the vintage platinum band with 6 small diamonds in tact and designed a custom setting with a new center stone. The original diamond was then incorporated into a piece of jewelry for my sister.]

-- Just after he popped the question :) --

-- Me showing off my custom ring --

Outside the exhibit we called a few family members to tell them the news. We were planning on going to a family barbecue later that day and I was so excited to show off my bling. First, he said, we needed to grab something from my condo. When we walked in the entire place was covered in rose petals and candles. Later on, we ended the evening with dinner reservations at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

To Be Continued...

Our Cinderella Love Story (or, How I Found My Prince Charming With A Dirty Old Rubber Flip-Flop Instead of a Glass Slipper)

In honor of our approaching 8 year wedding anniversary on Monday, I wanted to share how it all began...

Ricky and I met by chance the spring before I graduated. After ending a serious relationship prior to my senior year in college, I was single, carefree and loving every minute of those last few months of freedom before reality strikes and you are officially thrown out into the world.

A group of girlfriends and I planned a trip to Miami for spring break. We packed suitcases of carefully planned outfits to hit the town in and looked forward to sipping fruity drinks and people watching on the soft-sand beaches of one of the hottest vacation spots around.

We had a blast -- too much fun some might say. {My parents were totally shocked to see a shiny little stud adorning my nose when I returned from the trip. Yep, I got my nose pierced. And I loved it.} About halfway through the trip, a few of my friends said they wanted to drive over to Daytona - about 4 hours away - to meet up with their boyfriends who were there with our school's tennis team. Most of the group had boyfriends, but one of my friend's who didn't said she knew of a few guy friends that were in Daytona too that we could hang out with so she and I decided to tag along. It turned out that I knew one from a mutual group of friends and she knew the other, a guy named Ricky, who she kind of had a crush on. How fun!

When we got to the hotel where the guys were staying we were a hot mess. We rented a car early one morning after a particularly fun night and let's just say we were not in any shape to get up and shower for a 4 hour car-ride. Had I known I was about to meet the man I was going to marry, perhaps I would have made a bit more of an effort ;)

I knew my friend had a crush on this Ricky guy so I had told myself ahead of time that even if I ended up thinking he was cute, I was not going to get in her way, as any good friend would do. Unfortunately for me, I did find him attractive. And funny. And sweet. But, nope, wasn't going to flirt at all. This was her crush. We hung out all day, walked up and down the beach, played cards outside on the hotel deck and the 4 of us had a wonderful time.

Later on, we went to a nightclub where I brushed off some of Ricky's innocent flirting so as not to upset my friend (although I could tell there was no "connection" between her and him). As we were shuttled back to our hotel in a large passenger van, Ricky and I ended up seated next to each other. We were all exhausted and squished in the van with about 8 or 9 other people headed to various locations and his hand gently rested on my leg - nothing more than an accident.

Suddenly, drama erupted. Once back at our hotel, my friend stormed off the van and took off down the beach in a tizzy. One of the guys went after her to find out what she was upset about. She eventually came back, shouting about how I was a bad friend and that I knew she had a crush on Ricky but I just didn't seem to care. Huh??? I just had to laugh and thought, is she serious right now??? It kind of went downhill from there. The combination of emotions and alcohol inevitably had us both in tears. Ricky pulled me aside to ask me politely what in the world was going on.

"I guess she thinks (sob sob sob) she thinks (sob) I might like you or something (sob sob sob)."

No matter how flattered he might have been about what seemed to be two girls "fighting" over him, the drama that marked the end of our stay there probably made him wish we would both just head back to Miami as quickly as we came.

The next morning, my friend and I never really discussed it the entire drive back. I think we were both embarrassed. When we arrived back to our hotel in Miami, I realized I left a pair of flip-flops back in Daytona. I got Ricky's number from my friend (which I'm sure she was not thrilled about giving me) and asked him to bring them back to Louisville with him.

I guess you could liken it to Cinderella's glass slipper (except in this case it was a dirty old pair of rubber flip-flops). We met up in a parking lot on campus the following week and much to my surprise, when he returned my shoes, he asked for my number.

To Be Continued...

There's No Place old Kentucky Home

We've been in Texas for 2.5 years now which doesn't seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, but to think that when we moved here, Ethan was just 3.5 years old, Aiden only 2.5 and Hudson didn't even exist...well that makes it seem like eons ago!

This was taken the day before we moved to Texas in 2010. The boys look like babies!

We made the decision to pack up and move our family of 4 to Texas from Indiana on a whim. There was a position open with Ricky's employer that sounded like a good opportunity and a good change of pace. Even though we knew we'd be leaving our extended families behind, we felt like this was going to ultimately be a good decision for us.

When we finally sold our home in Indiana (after 18 LONG months on the market), we were excited to see what adventures this journey across the country would bring. Amidst the excitement, however, there were fears. We worried we would regret leaving our support system and wondered if we would make new friends and build a new one. And of course, we were scared about how the move would impact the boys.

Thankfully, we found an awesome neighborhood that we fell in love with quickly, were greeted by fresh baked goods and introductions the first week we were here, and in true Taryn fashion, I began volunteering my time with various organizations while we were still unpacking. We made many friends - including some of the most amazing neighbors who have been like our "family away from home" (Abbi, Kelly...I'm talking about YOU!)

The boys have had nothing but positive experiences in the private preschool and public elementary school. We've immersed ourselves in the Austin culture. We have enjoyed the mild winters - and aside from being 8 months pregnant in the hot Texas summer last year, the heat has been much more tolerable than the ice and snow back home.

It is safe to say that this HAS indeed been a good move for us. So why are we moving back, you ask? Well - it's simple really. Family.

While we've been so lucky to be included in our friends celebrations - birthday parties, special events, holidays - and have come to know their extended families as if they were our own, I have to admit I'd always leave wishing it was my family I was sharing those moments with. I've watched our friends kids grow and change in the smallest ways, all while I watch my own nieces and nephews grow up through pictures online. It's all begun to seem a bit backwards.

So, we've decided that our temporary gig here in Texas is up and have officially started the ball rolling on plans for moving our family of FIVE back to the Midwest (more specifically Kentucky this time). We will be here until around this time next year, so the boys will finish up 1st grade (Ethan) and Kindergarten (Aiden) here in Texas. We feel like moving back sooner rather than later will help them establish a new group of friends in Kentucky while they are still young.

I'm sure there will be a string of very emotional posts in about a year: happy ones, filled with excitement for starting another new chapter in our lives - and sad ones, where we have to say good-bye to the many people who have made us feel so at home here in Texas.

But until's business as usual!

See Mommy Run: Week 5 training update

--- > You can read all my running updates by clicking here: See Mommy Run < ---

See Mommy Run

I just started week 5 of my 5k training using the FREE C25K app on my iphone. I have found this to be the PERFECT way to slowly build up my running endurance and I'm so happy to say that starting in the middle of week 4 I FINALLY feel pretty good while running.

These are the inserts I use.
I bought them at Academy.
A few weeks in I was having issues with my knees and discovered I have something called plantar fasciitis (bascially my heels hurt like crazy all the time) - but with some helpful suggestions from fellow runners, I am finding that my knees and heels hurt less and less. Some mentioned it could be my shoes, which I was thinking to be the case. The shoes I wear are New Balance and while I did not have a full "running analysis" done when I purchased them, they did use some computer thingy to see my foot's pressure points to match me with a good pair. Before I splurged on a new pair of shoes, I decided to treat the plantar fascitis by adding a cushiony insert. So far, that has done the trick. No more knee pain and the heel pain is significantly less.

Along with the running, Ricky and I have been putting our YMCA membership to good use (and taking advantage of the 3 hour childcare as well!) by adding some weight training to our routine. Even despite my overall fatigue from my thyroid issues, when I'm able to get these workouts in I feel great afterwards. I definitely think that toning up my muscles is going to benefit my running endurance as well.

So while I'm still not a running fanatic by any means - I am starting to enjoy tolerate it more than before. I am halfway through my 5k training and hope to meet my first goal this summer -- to run a 5k with my sister!

Stay tuned...

It turns out there's more to it than just being a tired busy mom

At 31 I know I am not a spring chicken, but I also know that I should not feel like I am an old lady. For many weeks I've chalked it up to having 3 kids and assumed that childbirth and child rearing have taken their toll on my mind and body. After all, being exhausted every day goes hand-in-hand with motherhood, right?

But then again, I have not always felt this way. I'm usually on top of my to-do list and ready to take on each day. I can usually focus on the task at hand and plan ahead to make the most of my daily schedule. It is not normal for me to stick Aiden in front of the tv when I put Hudson down for a nap so that I can take a nap myself (except when I was pregnant) (which I'm not). And that's when I knew something was up.

I have (kind of absentmindedly) taken synthroid for almost 2 years now due to an underactive thyroid. At the time it was prescribed by my fertility doctor, I was so focused on getting pregnant that I didn't really understand the other ways my under-active thyroid could be effecting my well-being. I just knew that it was part of the plan to help me get pregnant so I was on board. When I got pregnant my levels were checked periodically and my meds were bumped up a few times -- all explained as normal during pregnancy. So when I finally got pregnant I thought my problem had been solved and I could stop taking the thyroid medicine. Much to my surprise, I was told that this was now going to be a life-long issue. It wasn't until then that I started looking into what exactly was wrong.

Even with all my recent symptoms that clearly point to my thyroid being out of whack, it never occurred to me that something could be amiss until the other day. Rather than go through my OB to manage it, I scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist so that I could be sure I was addressing things with a specialist.

For a full 5 minutes I complained and whined to this poor doctor. "I'm tired. Sooo tired. All.the.time. I feel like everything in my head is a little foggy. Like I can't think straight. I'm forgetful. I have no desire to tackle my normal everyday stuff around the house. I am working out regularly, running for the past 5 weeks, strength training and have made drastic changes in my diet...and the scale is not budging. I get dizzy all the time - whether I'm standing up or sitting down. My contacts bug me and my eyes hurt." Rather than glaze over from boredom, this doctor shook his head as if to agree and furiously wrote everything down, looking like he couldn't wait to tell me he had an answer.

Lo and behold, he confirmed that there is in fact a clinical reason I've felt like crap lately. All signs point to my thyroid...and a need to adjust my thyroid medications yet again. He sent me for labwork the next morning and we will dig into my specific hormone levels to see where we need to go from here.

While it sucks to know that this will be something I will have to monitor and manage forever, I'm also relieved that there are ways to treat this and medicines that will help me feel better. I can't believe I have spent the past few months feeling like crap, feeling guilty for not having energy to do things with my kids all the time and telling myself to "suck it up". I wish I would have listened to my body and realized it had something to do with my thyroid a long time ago.

Ladies -- if you aren't feeling like yourself and have any of the symptoms I listed above, go get your thyroid checked!!!

--- > More information about hypothyroidism can be found here:

*Disclaimer - I have no affiliation with the above website or organization, I simply found the site to be a helpful source of information. This is my personal experience with hypothyroidism and in no way am I attempting to diagnose this disease. Treatment of hypothyroidism should be discussed with a medical professional.

Nothing says "It's almost summer" like some baseball

While the predictably unpredictable weather here in Round Rock might not be the best indicator that summer is right around the corner (88 degrees one day and record lows the next!?!?), there is one thing that reminds us that it is indeed the time of year that parents are equally excited for (no more alarm clocks and hurried mornings) and terrified of (my kids home all day? yikes!)

T-ball is in full swing - the boys are on the same team this year...the Mudcats. And it is the first year they seem to equally enjoy it. They have managed to make it through several weeks of games without complaining about the early spring heat. And there is no talks of quitting (like Aiden did with indoor soccer this past winter). Success! And with every crack of the bat and sweat stained uniform, it becomes increasingly is almost summer :)

A few weeks ago our family was invited to spend the day at a Round Rock Express game. We were treated to the best party experience you can get at the Dell Diamond, enjoying food and beverages all while lounging around the private pool located on the upper deck. It was Hudson's first sports outing (besides the boys t-ball of course) and he was excitedly taking it all in. The big boys - Ethan and Aiden - were less interested in watching the game, and more interested in climbing on the massive play structure, scaling the rock wall and bouncing into the sky on the bungee trampolines. There is definitely something for everyone there!

We were able to pry them away from the play area to walk over to the grassy spot behind the outfield just above the bull pen so that we could watch the relief pitchers practicing. The boys got really close and the pitchers tossed them a few packs of sunflower seeds and some Double Bubble bubble gum, which they thought was pretty much the coolest thing ever. "Real seeds like real baseball players daddy!" :)

Although it was supposed to be cloudy and cool that afternoon, the clouds parted and it warmed up quite nicely. This was both good and bad. Good, obviously, because we were able to soak up the sun and not freeze our tushies off. Bad, because I decided last minute that it would not be a good idea to bring our swimsuits...and when the boys saw other families getting in the pool and hot tub, let's just say it took all the restraint they had not to jump in with their clothes on.

Aside from a few uncalled for remarks from some insensitive kiddos (something we deal with pretty often, unfortunately), the outing was an extremely enjoyable one for our family. If I could afford to host my own party in the pool area, I'd definitely consider it. Lucky for me they do have some very reasonable Birthday Bash packages outside the pool area that incorporate some awesome things for kiddos. Click here to learn more about how you can host a party at the Round Rock Express games!