Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Easter Dress

I got this extra special Easter card early today. It is from my sweet 6 year old. It's my Easter dress, he told me. I only wish I had something so beautiful to wear this Sunday. We were commenting later about my rather big sparkly (glitter glue) eyes and the ribbon in my hair. I asked Evan if this picture is how he sees me. He said, "well, your eyes do sparkle". Oh, what a sweet boy. I love him! Oh, and my husband said, "oh, they sparkle". Ok, I love him, too!



P.S. We got the results of Derek's EEG. It was normal. Praise God!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Update on Little D





Thanks so much to those of you who have been praying for and asking about Derek with his recent seizures. I thought I'd post a little update here.


~


On March 2, we took him to Albany to see a Pediatric Neurologist. Our area does not have pediatric specialists, so unfortunately we have to make the hour plus trip to Albany to a large teaching hospital in order to get that care. But we were very happy with the specialist we saw, and she really helped us to better understand what is going on in a seizure and what we can best do to help him be safe in the event of any more seizures. His last one was at the beginning of February, and he has been doing great since then. His doctor in Albany did not like the fact that the EEG that was done up here after his first seizure was done with sedation. She felt that it could have an adverse effect on the results, and since the sedation really didn't work (he woke up before the technician even finished putting the electrodes on his head, and was awake during the test rather than sleeping), she ordered a sleep-deprived EEG for him to be done in Albany.


~


Now, as any mother could guess, sleep depriving a 3 year old is the last thing you want to do! But we did ok. We kept him up until 12:30 am, and got him up at 6:30 am. He was pretty chipper and didn't try to go to sleep at all before we left at 9am for Albany. In the midst of getting ready, Ben discovered the refrigerator had quit working and was quickly trying to get everything over to my mom's house, in our down stairs freezer, and in a cooler. We got out of the house on time though and I determined I wasn't going to worry about the refrigerator right then. That's big for me, because I'm a worrier! I figured God knew all about it, and I couldn't take anymore stress that morning, especially in my sleep deprived state, so I tried to put it out of my mind.


~


We had only been on the highway or a few minutes when I heard Derek make a snorting noise. I thought he had fallen asleep on me. I was sitting next to him and I turned to tell him to wake up, and my heart jumped out of my chest. His lips were purple and his face was pale. I thought he couldn't breathe. I yelled to Ben and he pulled over. Then I noticed the other signs of a seizure and realized that was what was happening. This was the first time I had seen him convulse, so it was pretty upsetting. It lasted only a few minutes, and being that he was in his car seat he was protected. We got back on the highway, but unfortunately Derek fell into a very deep sleep immediately after the end of the seizure. This post-dictal stage seems to last about an hour for him. I could not get him to wake back up, and we were not supposed to let him sleep until they started the test at 10:45. After many minutes of trying to wake him, I realized it wasn't happening and let him sleep. By the time we got to the hospital (late...we missed an exit and had to back track...we are not city drivers!), he woke up and was slowly getting back to his normal self. I called ahead and told them that he had a seizure and was sleeping, and they understood that, so we went ahead with the test. They were not surprised that he had a seizure, apparently sleep deprivation can trigger them.


~


Thankfully he was tired enough to go back to sleep. In fact he fell asleep while the technician was still putting the electrodes on his head, which is a time-consuming process. We were really pleased with the technician and how he worked with Derek. Instead of laying him on a bed, they had me sit in an easy chair with Derek laying across my lap and his head on a pillow. It made him feel more at ease, allowed me to help keep him still and made him more comfortable and snuggly to go to sleep. He was in pretty deep sleep during the test (so was Daddy!), and we had to work to wake him for the last part when they made him look at a flashing light for several minutes. Once the test was done, he perked right up and was talkative and wanted to go to Friendlys for lunch and ice cream. He did such a good job, I was so proud of him. I'm sure having a test done like that when you're so little can be pretty scary, but he was pretty brave. I saw a big difference in his response to it this time than the previous EEG. I was so thankful for their experience working with kids and making it as "un-scary" as possible. I did enjoy the quiet moments there in the darkened room just watching him sleep so peacefully. Those kind of moments pass so quickly when they become toddlers. His long eyelashes were resting on his pink cheeks and he looked like an angel. Well, except for the wires all attached to him and the gauze wrapped around his head!


~


We got out of Albany about 1pm, and we drove up the highway a bit before stopping at Friendlys for lunch. Ben and I decided this was the first time we had ever been out to a meal just the two of us with Derek. We had fun, and he was soaking up the time with just mom and dad. He got the ice cream we promised him and that made his day. I think he wants to go back to the hospital again. :-) On the way out of Friendly's he stopped by the doorway to the kitchen and told one of the ladies, "Thanks for the hot dog and ice cream. It was good!"


~


We are awaiting a call from the doctor to tell us the results of the test. We'll keep you posted. Thanks again for all the concerns and prayers on his behalf. It is a frightening thing to see your child in the middle of a seizure and to not know what is causing them, and to know that you can't do anything for them, other than try to keep them safe. His seizures do not surprise God though, and for that I am grateful. God does not panic and fret and fear (unlike me). He calmy controls the situation and calms His daughter (if I will just allow Him to). And besides these few seizures in the last few months, Derek is a very healthy normal little boy, so we have much to be thankful to God for.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

3 Year Olds Say the Funniest Things

It seems like most of the funny material my boys come up with lately is during our Bible class time in the morning before Evan does his school work and the boys head across the driveway to Nana's house for Preschool. Lately, Bible class seems more like a comedy of errors, and I feel exhausted afterwards, and the day has just begun. (I think my boys all have spring fever anyway. I feel lately like I'm stuck in a cage with the monkeys at the zoo! For instance, I caught a certain someone walking across the top of their dresser. They've been loud and silly and disobedient and yes, even funny.) This morning, we were talking about the crucifixion and about how sad it must have been for all of the people who had loved and believed Jesus. Carter then went into a list of all the people that Jesus had helped that had believed on him. He said, "He made people who couldn't see...see, and people who couldn't walk...walk, and people who couldn't hear...hear, and the people who were dead....dead." Oh, boy.
My Mom has been teaching the boys a new song. They came over the other day with the visual and sang it for me. Owen was even doing it really well. I was able to get Carter on video. He's such a performer. :-)

video

Friday, March 19, 2010

Frugal Friday - Finding Deals!

I filled a prescription for my son today. It has 2 doses, which we may or may not need. It came to more than my normal co-pay and when I asked about that, I was told that it's because there is no generic for the drug. Ok, so as I'm paying, the pharmacist about knocked me over with, "Actually, the retail for this is $536.99." That' right...there are no extra digits typed in there. That is the actual price! I figured at that price, I wouldn't complain about my $30 copay. So, I guess you can say by using my insurance card, I saved my family a whopping $506.99, just by making a trip to our pharmacist!

Now for the real, and much more exciting deals:

I caught the Bon-Ton clearance sale this week. (extra 80% off!) I got (for my boys for next winter) a
Ruff Hewn hooded sweatshit, Reg $30 for $4.40
3 Ruff Hewn long-sleeved casual shirts, Reg $20 each for $3 each
Calvin Klein dress shirt, Reg $32 for $4.80. (actually Carter can wear this now!)
That was 5 items worth $122 for $18.20! That's a savings of $103.80!

If you can spare it in your budget, now is the time to go shopping for winter items! You can get some unbelievable deals, put them away for next season, and when you get your kids' clothes out of storage, you'll be delighted to find those new clothes awaiting them! I always love pulling out the totes of clothes and finding those great bargains I got on the off season. Saves you alot of money from running out and buying new then at regular price!

At Target:
For 2 Gillette Men's deodorant and 2 Gillette Men's body wash, Retail $16.56, I paid $2.58! That's a savings of $13.98! I love coupons! Does that make me weird? :-)

Spending a little time to cut out coupons, print on-line coupons, look for the best deals, and organize coupons can really pay off! Even here, where we don't have any stores that double coupons, I saved $35 yesterday just with using coupons, not to mention the sales I got.

All in all, I think it was a pretty frugal week!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Frugal Friday

Since becoming a mom 6 years ago, I have increasingly become more frugal. Having 4 mouths to feed and bodies to dress on one income has necessitated it! I am a bargain hunter by nature, anyway. In fact, my husband laughs at me because I book-it right to the clearance racks when I enter a store. I never pay full price for anything if I don't have to! And I love to shop, not to spend lots of money and accumulate "things", but to see what things that we need that I can get for the least amount of money. It's a challenge for me, and I love saving my family $. But, sometimes I have found I've just been too busy and worn out to really focus on being frugal....like the years of 2006 and 2007 in particular when we added our twins and then our youngest son to our family. :-) And now with 4 very active little boys and homeschooling, I have to make a concerted effort to be frugal.
When I was growing up, I always thought that "frugal" was a bad term, like being cheap, but now I'm proud of that label! And I think I come by it rightly. As I look back, my mom has always been very frugal. She was a good example of how to take care of your family, put their needs ahead of your own, and do without all the fine things so that you had the means to do more for your family and to do for others. She has always been a good steward of what she has....in fact, she keeps birthday money in her wallet for a year, just waiting for something really worthy to spend it on. And I have even known her to spend it on her children before. (I'll admit I'm unlike her in that way. Birthday money burns a hole in my wallet!) Growing up in the home of a pastor, we didn't have as much as others many times. I always had less toys than my friends, and I never went to Disney World. But my needs were always met, even if it meant that Mom handmade my clothes (and even my "Cabbage Patch" doll). Thanks, Mom! If you also had a Mom who showed you the value of frugality, be thankful!
******************************************************
To help keep me on that track to being a really frugal mom, and to share ideas that might help you as well, I'm going to make Fridays on my blog, Frugal Friday, and share my frugal tip, bargain excitement, and even frugal failure of the week.
Today was a good day of bargains!
I found winter boots for my twin boys for next winter at JCPenney. They were originally $50 each. I got them today for $2.97 each. The total I paid was $6.12! Unheard of, huh? And the boys were thrilled because they had Spiderman on them. (They've never watched Spiderman, but instinctively know he is someone they love because he's a super hero!) I personally could do without shoes with characters on them, but at that price, I won't complain. They will keep my precious boys' feet warm and dry next winter when they play out in the snow. And they'll be happy. That is all that matters, after all.
*****
I got a Leap Frog Tag Jr. at Target for a great deal. They are $34.96. Target had them for $29.96 with their in store coupon. I had a manufacturers coupon I found on the web for $5 off, which brought the total down to $24.96. And I had received a Target sale magazine in the mail yesterday with a coupon to receive a $5 gift card with purchase. So, I redeemed the coupon, and put the gift card in my budgeted "Gifts" envelope. (We're using the envelope system now, and I am loving it!) So, the net price of the Tag Jr. was $19.96 plus tax. (a $15 savings). I'm putting it away for my little guy's birthday this summer.
*****
Yesterday, I ordered printing of 225 of my digital photos...for FREE! All I payed was shipping! How do I get them free? I sign up with online printing companies. I use whichever one is offering a deal at the time to order my prints. One company was giving me 100 free prints, I submitted a photo to a contest and got 25 more free. Than I signed up with a new site, got 50 free prints for signing up, and 50 more free for a current promotion. Awesome deal!
Most of them offer free prints when you start an account. Then occasionally they will have deals for free prints, free shipping, and also discounted photo gifts and books. I wait until I get an email with an offer before ordering more prints. This has saved me a boat load of money, because I love taking photos of my boys, and it can get pretty expensive printing them all. If you're not already taking advantage of these great sites, check them out! I'm sure there are more sites out there as well. These are the ones I am currently using. And they are simple to use.
shutterfly.com
seehere.com
snapfish.com
kodakgallery.com
I was actually able to order all of our photo Christmas cards from seehere.com this past season. I got 50 cards FREE, only paid $3.19 for shipping!
*****
And my last frugal deal...
Ben built a swingset and slide for the twins for their birthday last summer (saving us a whole lot of money, as well as family members chipping in for the supplies). At the time, Owen was still in the baby/toddler swing. He has since outgrown his desire to use it. By the time we put the swings away for the winter, he was refusing to get in it. He insists on using the big boy swings like his brothers. He has become so independent lately. So, we gave the swing away and planned to buy another "big boy" swing to put in it's place, come Spring. Ben got the swings back out the other evening, and put the slide back on (Yes, we are banking on Spring arriving on time!). So while I was out running errands and bargain shopping, I stopped at Lowes to get another swing. To my disappointment, they no longer carry them. My only option was a different colored swing (which is ok), but at a price of $35. Ouch! So, what's my frugal deal?
Tonight, Amazon.com found me a matching swing to our swings for $15.99 at a 3rd party seller. Adding shipping of $5.63 and tax of $1.52, the total came to $23.14. That was a savings of $14.27 off of what it would have cost for the non-matching swing with tax. And it didn't take much research...a few clicks of the mouse.
****
What's your favorite frugal tip? Do tell! (comment to this post).....I am always looking for more ways to be cheap, umm, I mean, frugal!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

He's Already Been There

I was blessed to hear this encouraging thought on part of a radio show today while making lunch for my munchkins.

No matter what lies ahead of me today, Jesus, my Shepherd, has already gone ahead and prepared the way for me.

When Christ described himself as our Shepherd, the shepherding that the Israelites would have understood was this: The shepherd walks ahead of his sheep, clearing the way, looking for danger; not walking behind them as we would picture someone herding sheep. He would keep watch of his flock, and if they were struggling, he would pick up the youngest sheep, and carry it, and the flock would follow.

So, whatever lies ahead of me today, Jesus has already gone ahead of me and prepared the way. I do not need to fear the unkown, because it is known to Him. He's already been there. And if the path should get steep, or if I stumble and fall, I know He'll reach down, pick me up, and carry me through. All He asks is that I TRUST Him.
The author who was sharing these thoughts said that "we think that love is the most important thing that we can give to our Shepherd, but Trust is what Love looks like."
That got me to thinking...
how many times do I say I love Christ, but then don't really live like I'm trusting Him? And what does it really look like to trust? It's obedience without the whole picture in view. If I obey Him, regardless of circumstances, feelings, other people, then I am trusting God. I don't see what God is doing in the big picture, and I may not understand it at all. Trusting is doing what He asks of me regardless of my view.
It's the sheep following the shepherd and obeying his voice, even though they can't see what lies ahead.
It's being kind even though it looks like I've been offended.
It's serving even though it looks like I am unappreciated.
It's praying even though I feel like sleeping.
It's giving even though I feel poor.
It's lovingly interacting with my husband and children even though I'm worn out.
It's speaking even though I feel like being silent.
It's being silent even though I feel like speaking.
It's doing even though I'm pretty sure I'm insufficient for the task.
It's remaining calm even though I feel like blowing up.
It's being joyful even though I'm in pain.
It's going even though I want to stay.
It's staying even though I want to go.
It's teaching and training my children even though I don't see the results today.
The list could go on and on.
What would it look like for you to trust? Obedience, Trust, and Love go together and it's what our Shepherd wants from us.

Friday, March 5, 2010

3 Phantoms and an Angel

My husband was given 4 free tickets to an Adirondack vs. Rochester hockey game tonight. Since I am not a fan of hockey, I was fine with not being able to go. O-Man and I had a nice, quiet, fun night together here at home. The other 3 boys went with their daddy to the game.


After they left, I sat O-Man down to eat his supper, and he started to pray:

"Dear Jesus, the brothers went to a game, thank you for the food, I love Mommy, Jesus' name, Amen."

No, I did not add that in there. He prayed that all by himself. Sweet little boy. I think I said an audible "Awwwe!"

Then dessert: Girl Scout thin mint cookies, Samoas (which he calls "donuts") and "doreos" (his word for Oreos). Why do I have so many cookies in my house at the same time? No, I don't usually feed him more than one cookie for dessert, but did you read what he prayed?


Ok, then he told me that his cookie loves mommy. Wow, how did I get so lucky to get all the love?

Our special mommy and son night was off to a good start! After we did a load of laundry (Owen loves our new front loaders with the electronic control panel and insists he be the one to push the buttons.) We cuddled in the recliner and read books like Good Night Gorilla, The Monster at the End of this Book, This is the Way We Go to School and Corduroy. He picked out an interesting variety of subjet matter. Then "we" put together a Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle. I say we in parentheses, because he decided he'd rather just watch me do it, and then he insisted in putting in the last piece, so he could "do" the puzzle. And then he made me do it all over again.




We spent some time cuddling and chatting.

As I sat there enjoying him and feeling strange in such a quiet house and with only one child, it took me back to the days when Evan was our only child.....the quietness of our house then compared to now with 4 active boys....the "easiness" of having just 1 toddler. Seeing how angelic and quiet and well behaved Owen was tonight, reminded me of my little Evan. And I thought that each of our boys need more of this, time alone without their brothers occasionally. Owen was soaking it up. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet and the time alone with my baby. But, at the same time, the house was too quiet. I missed my other little men, their laughter, their ability to fill a home with constant activity and make sure that no moment is ever boring.

And then before we knew it, there was a knock at the door. And there they were....

the 3 little Phantoms.

They love their new hockey jerseys that they got free at the game. I thought they were just too cute, and they can probably wear them for years to come! Evan asked me if he can wear it every day...he was serious. Daddy warmed them up with some promised hot cocoa, and then changed into their pjs, they were marching around the living room chanting, "Let's go Phantoms!" So, I guess the game was a hit, although their father said they didn't spend that much time watching. But, at their age their attention span is kind of limited. I asked Ben if he's going back next Friday, and he didn't hesitate when he said, "No." Apparently, it was enough adventure for a little while. But, I give him a lot of credit for doing it, for braving the crowds with 3 little kids, and attempting to sit through a game with them. He gets the SuperDad award! They had fun on their game night with Daddy. But next time, "maybe just one boy" he said. :-)


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Most Unusual Drive-Thru Order

How many times have we, since moving to the area 8 years ago, driven through Albany on the interstate, but have never made the trek into the city? It is the state capitol after all, but we never really had reason to go there.
Following Derek's recent seizures, his doctor and a panel of pediatricians suggested he see a pediatric neurologist. And to see one you must travel an hour south to the city of Albany. Not knowing where I was going, I took Ben (and his GPS) with me. I didn't feel confident venturing into the city and finding my way through the large medical complex by myself with Derek. And I really wanted Ben to be able to be involved in this appointment with me. So, he took the afternoon off and the three of us braved an adventure. (Note to self....do not trust GPS 100%.)
We are so thankful for the physician that we met yesterday. She had a great "bedside manner" with Derek, and was very helpful to Ben and I in understanding seizures and how to care for a child who has them. I know I felt better and more at peace about it after consulting with her. She did a complete neurological exam on Derek (which was completely normal), but I don't think he even knew he was being "tested". She made it fun, and even let him spend quite a bit of time playing with her "flashlight". And I was very appreciative for her hesitancy to prescribe medicine for a 3 year old little boy. I was concerned about that. She wants to do more testing before deciding if meds are necessary, and reassured us that most childhood seizures are outgrown by adulthood.
He was a very good boy there, and actually had fun. On the way out the door, Derek said he was hungry for a snack. "I think we should go to McDonalds, " he stated. I think children instintively know to go for the fun stuff when they have a rare moment of mom and dad all to themselves! After the GPS took us a very long way out of our way and into rush hour traffic (next time I'm going to MapQuest the way back from the hospital!), we finally got to a McDonalds. Well, don't you know this very hungry boy who refused to nap on the way to the hospital was now asleep. I tried to wake him and ask him what he wanted. He was really out. "Do you want chicken nuggets, a strawberry shake, a pie?" He mumbled "yes". Great. "Which one would you like?" He mumbled again, and as I started giving him options again, he said, "Maybe some trash."
Good thing our drive thru attendant (who didn't seem to speak English very well) didn't over-hear that request, I wonder what we would have gotten!
I know many of you who read this blog have been asking about and praying for Derek since this began. Thank you for praying for him! We truly appreciate it! We're thankful to know that God is in control and that no detail of our son's life and development is unknown to him. The next step in diagnosis and care is to have a Sleep Deprived EEG later this month. Sounds like fun, huh? Depriving a 3 year old boy of sleep....who ever came up with that idea? :-)

Monday, March 1, 2010

and Percy, too!

If you are also a mom of a little boy who's obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, you'll like this one.
********************
Today we were having Bible Class after lunch, sitting around the kitchen table. We are learning about the life of Christ, and today's lesson was on Jesus calling his disciples. We were reviewing, and I asked them to tell me one of the names of Jesus's disciples.
Evan says, "Thomas".
Carter's turn...."James",
and I should have seen it coming....
"Derek," I said, "can you name one?"
He shouts out very confidently, "Percy!"
We all burst out laughing. Apparently, I had lost Derek's attention during the lesson, and he thought we were naming steam engines! I'll have to thumb through my Bible, and see if I can find that disciple. :-)