Friday, November 18, 2011

On the move!

Bear has done it!

He is army crawling forward!

He figured out backwards crawling a while ago, but with his tone and associated movement forwards just wasn’t happening.  He can get up on all fours, wiggle a little, and just not understand.

Last Thursday (not yesterday) at therapy he army crawled about a food on a mat for a  toy.  He did the same thing a few days later at home on the carpet.

Today, he has been all over the living room getting every toy (and off-limits thing) he wants!

It’s amazing!  We (PT, Physiatrist, Neurology, Hubs and me) all thought crawling just wouldn’t happen.  It takes a lot of work to coordinate all 4 limbs, while fighting gravity and there isn’t any equipment to assist him (like a gait trainer assists walking-more on that in the next post).

But my little boy is proving us all wrong!

Oh happy day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The third piece….

 

So as we left off (1st piece, 2nd piece) I had my blood drawn.  After a gruesome wait that ended up being 4 weeks instead of 2, we received a phone call as we were about to drive 7 hours to a wedding without Bear.

I am a carrier of this rare genetic mutation. 

I only have a 50% chance of making healthy babies.  Add to that my rare genetic bone disorder (which is autosomal dominant and a 50/50 chance) I basically have 0% chance of making healthy babies.

We’re so grateful we are pregnant because had we not been and received all this information we would never have another child.  This baby is a gift from God.  He had plans for our family.

With that said, this is our last baby.  I cannot do this gamble again. 

I’m angry.  I’m sad.  I feel like a disappointment to my husband.  I was never ready to be done at 2.  I’m destroyed that this family planning choice has been taken away from me. 

Most likely international adoption is out because mine and Bear’s disabilities.  I don’t think we can afford domestic adoption.  We’re left with foster to adopt.  I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do it.  To get attached and fall in love and possibly have to give them back.

This is a hard time for our family.  Hence the lack of blog posts. 

I’m struggling with morning sickness, afternoon sickness, evening sickness (call it whatever you want, it stinks) exhaustion, a Bear that doesn’t sleep, and caring for a special needs toddler.

I’m tired.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I plan on buying a turkey for $0.69/lb to put in the freezer and we’re doing a full pantry challenge!

We need to get the freezer emptied for when Baby #2 comes so that we can start restocking it. For now, it’s pretty full.  I won’t specify a veggie in these lists because we have tons of canned or frozen corn, peas, green beans, pumpkin and squash.  I’ll let Hubs pick which he wants that day

This weeks meals

Monday:

Salisbury Steak/Hamburgers, White Rice, Easy Béarnaise Sauce, and a veggie.  My Easy Béarnaise sauce is not super frugal (or low calorie) but it’s a great treat and much cheaper than going to a restaurant.  Because of the calorie factor we only have it a few times a year.

Tuesday:

Roasted Chicken with refrigerated mashed potatoes (I bought these to test them out for when Baby #2 comes because my frozen ones were awful.  Then I realized they can’t be frozen so we just have to eat them.  Oops), carrots and veggie.  I will turn the chicken into broth for soup or pot pie later.

Wednesday:

Bratwurst with collard greens and onions. I saw this recipe in Everyday Food and we have a LOT of Bratwurst I found on sale for $1.50/lb.  It sounded interesting and collard greens are really affordable so I’m excited to try it.  It would be nice to have something other than just brats and French fries for dinner.

Thursday:

Hot Dogs and Ore Ida frozen French fries.  Hey, I need a night off every now and then.

Friday:

Hebrew National Knockwurst (I scored on sale for $0.69) and sauerkraut and potatoes.  I’m craving sauerkraut so I will spend the $0.99 and purchase this.

Saturday:

Chili.  I scored canned beans for about $0.29/can during our local stock up sales and I have a LOT to use.  I’ll probably make my homemade cornbread too.  Yum!

 

Not the most creative, I know Hot Dogs, Brats and Knockwurst, but I’m pregnant and caring for a special needs toddler all day.  Some days I need a break.  Also, I’m suffering major food aversion so whatever sounds good is what I eat.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The second piece…

September 29, 2011

2 days after my birthday, 1 day after my pregnancy test.

It’s about 2PM and I’m getting Bear up from his nap and we’re playing.  Around 3 I check my phone to make sure Hubs hasn’t called to say he’s leaving.  I have a voicemail and a missed call from an area code where all of Bear’s specialists are. 

I listen to my message and it’s the geneticist.  She was apologizing for not getting back to us sooner and was just all about rambling.  I was getting really annoyed.  We had called her about 2 weeks prior because Bear keeps getting fevers about every 2 weeks and she never called us back.  When all of sudden, she ends the voicemail that they have the test results and are pretty sure they have a diagnosis.

WHAT?! A DIAGNOSIS? YES, A DIAGNOSIS!

I call Hubs.  Yes, I’m crazy.  I had to call and tell him about the voicemail BEFORE I called the geneticist to tell him what the geneticist said.  Then I had to hang up and call the geneticist and ask her what is going on.

He has a mutation on his X-Chromosome.  This is called an X-Linked Intellectual Disability.  My son will be mentally retarded, have hypertonia, microcephaly and is at risk for seizures, vision loss and hearing loss.  I call Hubs and relay the message, he calls the geneticist too.  Now the question is, is it hereditary?  We got an order for my blood work and we went right up to a satellite branch and had my blood taken.

I am now looking at my beautiful son with his X-chromosome issues while holding my belly praying that I’m not a carrier and we don’t have the same worry for Baby #2.

This isn’t the end of the story, just wait for the third piece.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The first piece…

 

September 28, 2011

The day after my 27th birthday.

I got a faint positive on a dollar store pregnancy test.  Which followed by Bear and me running to the local store and buying 2 boxes of pregnancy tests.  I really was convinced they would all be as difficult to interpret.

The first two were blaringly positive.

Yes, positive.  No, we weren’t exactly trying.  I’m almost 10 weeks now and it still hasn’t settled in that I’m pregnant again.  You would think the abdominal pressure, morning sickness, vomiting, food aversion and cravings would be enough to convince me, but until I see that heartbeat on our first ultrasound (TOMORROW!) I won’t be convinced.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m petrified.

Absolutely, completely petrified.

Stay tuned for the second installment…

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Product Rave Wednesday

 

I know, I know.  I’m been such a slacker.  There are a lot of things going on in this household and I’m just not ready to share.  In time dear friends, in time.

So instead I’m going to rave about a few of my favorite things right now.

*These are my own thoughts and opinions.  I am not being compensated for my writing.

Skin- since getting pregnant with Bear I have been struggling to control my skin.  It goes in waves.  I’ll find a face soap that works for a few weeks and then it looks like I’ve been attacked.  My whole face, especially chin and upper lip become covered in large, painful pimples.

Until now.

BURT’S BEES (pictures will link you to product webpage)

A peach of a scrub.  Stick it to blemishes.

This scrub keeps my face feeling clean and it’s all natural.  The herbal blemish stick is amazing.  Within 1 day my pimples were less inflamed and less painful.  Within 3-4 days they were almost gone.  My skin has been clear for over a week now.  BUT, it stinks.  The natural tea tree oil and licorice scent are overpowering, but it’s a small price to pay. I  love that it’s natural and the scent fades as the alcohol evaporates.

I bought these both at Target and have fallen head over heels in love.

GLUTEN FREE:  I’ve shared openly on here about my gluten-free journey and I’ll be honest that sometimes a craving for gluten overtakes me.  I’m trying really hard not to cave and to find alternatives.  Breakfast food is one that has beaten me.  I’m not really an egg fan, for me it’s pancakes, french toast and waffles.

Van’s Gluten-Free Waffles

I tried the blueberry ones today, and they are FANTASTIC. I remember trying the plain ones a few years ago and them being alright, but today these hit the spot.  I will warn though, they are a SWEET waffle due to the juice they add.  Thankfully, that’s how I like my waffles.  I bought them at my local grocery store for $3.69.  In the world of gluten-free products they’re relatively inexpensive.

Hope you enjoy all these as much as I do!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fall really is coming

After the teasers of cool fall days followed by Indian Summer scorching heat we’ve finally settled into Autumn.

The trees are giving us small glimpses of the glorious colors to come.

The soybeans are turning into a marbled field of green and yellow.  (Next year it will corn.)

I could not get a good picture of it because all I have is a point and shoot and you really need a good lens to capture light across 100 acres.

I love Fall.  The smell of pumpkins at the entrance to our grocery store, the beautiful colors that trees hint at, apple cider and smells of mulled wine.

What’s your favorite part of Fall?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It’s a quarter after one and I’m all alone, and I need you now

This blog has turned heavy toward special needs lately.  I make no apologies.  I really wish it would just settle into the background of our lives instead of being the giant blinking dot on our radar.

Bear has had a major regression as of late.  We don’t know why and it’s eating me alive to figure it out.  He would once bear weight on his legs and now he just collapses and refuses to stand.  He HATES the exerrsaucer with a bloody passion and screams and refuses to participate in the gait trainer at therapy.  He is shaking his head as if saying “No!” but it’s forceful and upsetting to him. However, he is crawling backwards.  His legs are EXTREMELY tight and stiff despite increasing his muscle relaxer.

I’m at a loss.  I bawled my eyes out because of everything that is running through my head.  He has made so much progress that I’m petrified of regression.  I’m scared he’s having seizures, or that some issue in his brain has occurred.  I’m scared that his tone is destroying his hips. 

I feel like I’m grasping at straws with my faith lately.  So I got up, cheeks still wet with tears, and opened my bible. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NIV)

My path right now feels like trying to climb boulders that went through a thunderstorm followed by a freeze.  The way is slippery, there are no handholds and my feet keep sliding out from under me.  I realize now, that I’m taking the wrong path.  I haven’t given it all to the Lord, I’ve tried to find my own way to understanding.  I think it’s time to take a new path.

Laugh if you must, I downloaded Joel Osteen’s new book Every Day A Friday for our Nook.  I looked at it in the store today and decided I wanted to read it.  And of course to be eco friendly and FRUGAL I had to download it (it was $6 cheaper).

I’ll probably attempt to read it during nap tomorrow, or sometime this weekend.  I’ve never read one of Joel’s books, however I have watched him on telecast.  I can’t say I’m a huge fan of him because I don’t agree with everything preaches, mostly his financial views. This book seemed like it veered away from the typical Joel Osteen approach so I’m willing to be open minded.

What do you do when you’re in an emotional funk?  How do you move on/forward?

Oh and Bear decided he had to investigate how his swing works.  (Shortly after this he unplugged it)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back from vacation..

Well sort of.  Although this vacation was more work than fun.  Hubs had a seminary retreat and Bear and I tagged along.  We got to go to a Mennonite Heritage Center and then off to a camp for the retreat.

Big mistake.

We were stuck in one bedroom in the middle of nowhere and I’m exhausted from trying to entertain a toddler.

So we’re back and getting back into a routine. 

My best tip for traveling as a family, pack two suitcases (Bear and I packed in one and Hubs packed in a large one by himself).  When you get there empty the smaller one out and use it for all dirty laundry.  Pack all clean laundry into the other suitcase when you leave.  This makes it so easy that when you get home you take one bag and dump it into laundry baskets.  The other one gets put right back.

I went grocery shopping and spent a whopping $36.87 and managed to really stock up.  I got 20 cans of beans, a small chicken, 6lbs fresh bratwurst, 3 containers of Curly’s' roasted pulled chicken, ingredients for broccoli cheese soup, and a loaf of crusty bread.  There were a few other things too, but I think it was pretty successful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shampoo, Lo Poo or No Poo

Like many women, my hair has changed drastically since having a baby.

It used to be thick with a barely-there wave, and generally on the drier end.  Very rarely did I have to wash my hair because it was so greasy. 

Then Bear came along. 

I tried to find my beloved Pantene Smooth and Sleek shampoo only to find out that they reformulated it.  I trudged ahead with both the Pantene Frizzy to Smooth  shampoo and conditioner.

It just didn’t work the same.  My hair felt greasy and weighed down.  It was just stringier not smoother and definitely not sleeker.  I unfairly assumed that this was because of the reformulation.

I doubt it.  More likely my new changed hair is the culprit.  My hair is now wavy.  In fact I cut off 17 inches to donate to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program and it was so curly/wavy that I was sad to see it go.  My short hair doesn’t curl or wave until it’s long enough.  Unfortunately, that means I’m at the point of my hair just starting to curl so it sticks out every which way.  It’s also greasy.  I’ve tried washing every day, every other day, every few days, twice a day, and nothing works.  Currently, my routine is washing and condition every other day.  If I wait till the following morning my hair looks like it could stay slicked back because it’s so greasy. 

I’ve tried a bunch of different brands and types and have been so dissatisfied.  In fact, I turned to cheap products.  I paid $0.99 for my last bottle of shampoo and it made no difference in the quality of my hair.

So I researched and Google'd and looked for some sort of alternative.  A frugal alternative.  I can’t afford those $20 bottles of shampoo that are supposed to work amazingly. 

And then I found No Poo.  I don’t think I could literally stop washing my hair.  Bear still throws up a lot (and somehow it always finds my hair) and dust and dirt are all around us living in an agricultural area.  Then I found the Baking Soda (BS) and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) routine.

So tonight I washed my hair with 2 T BS dissolved in 1 cup of HOT water and like 1/4 c of ACV to 2 c HOT water.

And it feels weird.  It feels very smooth and clean in spots (like above my ears) but in the center of my head it feels kind of “not clean”.  Maybe grungy?  The apple cider vinegar doesn’t smell at all once dry (and personally I like the pungent scent it has).  I also added a splash of honey to the ACV, maybe to coat the hair but I’ll probably leave that out next time.  We’ll have to see how it works because it will probably end up as the same price, or cheaper than my $0.99 shampoo and conditioner. I’m going to have to get used to it though.  I’m so used to washing my hair twice, once so that the shampoo can clean and once so that it can do it’s “magic”.  And without any type of lather and the odd taste of baking soda running in my mouth, it was just downright weird.

Has anyone else tried to go Lo Poo or No Poo?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why do we need to be frugal?

I know if I was reading this blog I would be kind of confused as to WHY my family needs to be frugal.  We have great health insurance and Early Intervention pays for his therapy.  So here is a little breakdown.

Bear had a fever in January for 4 days.  When it started we went to the pediatrician.  $20
Then he had his checkup with 3 different specialists. $105
Over the weekend it spiked to 104+ so we went to the Emergency Room.  $100
January meds for the month: $30

In February Bear spiked another fever while we were out of state so we went to a local doctor.  (The one my parents used) $20
His fever, again, spiked to 104+ on a Friday evening so we went to the Emergency Room and they drew blood, did a urinalysis and a chest x-ray.  $100 co-pay and $62 coinsurance for the labs.
Sunday his fever climbed to 106+ so we headed to a different Emergency Room at a renowned Children’s Hospital. $100
When we returned home his fever returned at 103.5 so we headed back to the pediatrician. $20
February meds for the month: $30

In March we all caught the plague.  We all headed to the doctors office  $60
March meds for the month: $42 (including antibiotics for all of us)

In April Bear had his appointments with 3 specialists: $105 and we were sent home with another medication
He spikes a fever, so back to the pediatrician.  They think they see an ear infection so we’re sent on our way with antibiotics.  $20
All the doctors are on vacation and we can’t get back in with the pedi for a follow up, so we head to an Ear Nose Throat Specialist (ENT).  $35
ENT says his ear looks great, but they find fluid in the other one, the tympanogram is flat.  So we return in a week to make sure his ear is clear. $35
April meds for the month: $50

In May we have a 6 month follow-up with another specialist.  $35
May meds for the month: $30

In June we have our specialist appointment that we had to cancel in March because of the plague.  Our insurance only covers the doctor visit and not the counseling half.  $35 for the co-pay and $120 for the counseling portion. 
We also have to pay for the testing that this appointment sent out.  The cost of the test is $5500 and we may have to pay up to 40% of that.
June meds for the month: $30

Bear has a follow up with his physiatrist.  He prescribes us AFO’s and a gait trainer.  $35
Early in July we go get Bear fitted for AFO’s.  We still haven’t seen that bill yet, but I’ll post about them below.
Late July he spikes another fever and we head to the pediatrician.  He sort of has a minor rash so they say to wait and see.  $20 
July meds for the month: $30

August 11 Bear spikes another fever.  We choose not to head to the pediatrician.  His fever disappears after 2 days.  We head to a 6 month follow up with a specialist. $35
August 22 we have another 6 month follow up with a specialist $35
August 28 Bear spikes ANOTHER fever.  We head to the pediatrician. $20
Over the weekend it spikes to 105+ and he is constantly screaming, they draw blood and do a urinalysis and administer Motrin. $100 + coinsurance for the labs.
He is still screaming after his fever breaks (4 days) and we take him back to the pediatrician. $20 (this is technically September) 
August meds for the month: $30

Now we’re scheduled to meet with the immunologist on Wednesday.  That will be another $35.  Add to this the amount we pay in gas.  Each specialist is about a 40 mile drive each way.  We used to be able to schedule them all on the same day, however, they’re all assigning different wait times between appointments.  Each time Bear has a fever we go through about 2 bottles of Motrin and 1 bottle of Tylenol.  He is intolerant to corn syrup so we have to buy the expensive brands.

Now onto the AFO’s.  AFO is an acronym for an ankle-foot-orthotic.  Basically they’re ankle braces.  Some children with low-tone need them to stabilize the ankle.  Bear needs them because of his high tone.  His toes are always pointed downwards and his heel cord is in danger of shortening.  These make it so he cannot point his toes downward.  He must wear them all waking hours.  The fun thing, you get to pick cool patterns.  His are cars, planes and trucks.  However, because his are so little there are very few whole pictures.

His AFO’s are custom made.  We went in once and they casted his feet and then they formed the material around them.  The second time they check the fit and send you on your way.

I didn’t realize how expensive they are.  $1740. 

Thank goodness for insurance.  Our coinsurance is $293.

So there you have an estimate of our extra medical costs in 2011 alone.  Don’t forget, there are still well-visits, immunizations, Hubs’ and I’s physicals, and other things that are trivial.   These are only the amounts that we have to pay.  The amount insurance has had to pay is astronomical.

.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Extreme Exhaustion

Ugh.  Bear is sick as I mentioned before.

Since Friday night he has been up ALL night.  SCREAMING.  It seems to be getting better.  However, I’m beat.

I got up at 5AM (after having gone to bed at 1AM.  How come when you have to get up you can never fall asleep?) and rocked him.  We laid together in the recliner and watched the early morning news. 

And about every 10 minutes they rotated through and kept repeating that there was no traffic on the highways.  Who woulda thunk? Finally at 8 I dozed on and off until about 8:45 when Bear started thrashing and crying.

We were up for the day.  He’s been doing much better today, eating an entire container of baby food and almost a whole yogurt.  For the past week he’s only managed half a container of food. He’s just irritable now, hopefully the writhing and thrashing and screaming has passed.

But this makes for a very tired Mama.

No frugalness here.  No craftiness either.  Hopefully I have more to contribute as I catch up on sleep.

Oh and showering.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

To All You Parents…

I stare.  When you feel someone’s eyes on you when you’re out and about, it’s most likely me.

To all the pregnant women…I stare at you.  I stare with envy and longing for the days of simplicity.  Days when all I had was a perfect, little baby safe in my belly.  When no matter what I did, I wasn’t alone.  I stare and long for those moments of joy and expectations of the future.  I long for the day before my emotional crash.  I stare because of my “typical pregnancy” fever.  I long to feel a baby kick every time I lay down to sleep, I long to go into labor naturally, I long for easy, simple ultrasounds.  I long for all this, knowing that even if we choose to have another biological child, I will never have that simple carefree pregnancy.  I don’t stare in judgment, I stare because of what you’re belly represents in my life.

To all the moms of typical children…I stare at you.  I stare because your children represent the grief I’m constantly in, dipping under and resurfacing.  I had those same dreams and expectations of my child. I had the perfect visions of whom my child would be.  I’m still tested and challenged every day with the realization of who my child actually is, the doctors appointments, the therapy, the challenges, the fear of the unknown.  I don’t stare because your child is having a tantrum in the grocery store, I stare because who knows if my son will ever have the skills to have a tantrum.  I don’t stare because your toddler repeated something inappropriate, I stare because I don’t know if my child will ever speak, much less repeat something.  I don’t stare because you’re breastfeeding in public, I stare because of my jealousy that Bear couldn’t breastfeed, and all the challenges we faced introducing formula.

To all the moms of special needs children…I stare at you.  I stare in longing, because I’m there too.  I stare because I want to say “Hi”.  But I’m shy in the 13-year-old-boy way and I’m scared of rejection.  I stare because I want to ask if you use our therapy center, if you feel the same exhaustion I do, if you are sometimes crippled by the fear and grief.  But I’m too scared to say a word.  So I stare.  I stare because your children are beautiful, in their  own special way.  I stare because I see myself in you.

The next time you find someone staring at you, please don’t be put off.  Maybe they’re in my shoes and staring is the only way of communicating. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bear is sick once again.

Sorry for the lack of posting.  I’ve got a feverish baby on my hands.  This is the 3rd time in 6 weeks so we’re going to be adding an immunologist to our repertoire. 

Weigh-in Wednesday (a few days late)

Weight Loss-3.5 lbs

Total Loss- 6  lbs

Woohoo!!!

Setbacks:  Having guests.  I’m prone to eat more junk including gluten-free chocolate cake.  I highly recommend Pamela’s Chocolate Cake Mix.  It was fantastic.  Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker frostings are gluten-free, but always check the labels.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 1

Ladies and Gentlemen (this is pretty optimistic, I’m sure there is probably only one person reading this blog)

I have decided to lose weight.  This gluten-free (here and here) diet has been a work-in-progress.  I’ve had a few slip-ups (all accidental) but I think I’m on the road to doing this forever.

I have begun to experiment in the kitchen.  I tried gluten-free cornbread and gluten-free chicken pot pie.  I loved that both recipes called for easy (read CHEAP) ingredients.  The cornbread was phenomenal although I did add 1/2 can of creamed corn to it and almost 1/4 cup of sugar (we like our cornbread sweet).

Now it’s time to lose weight.  I will say that while I am overweight I have not gained weight in over a year.  I weigh lass than I did when I gave birth to Bear.  When I started last week, I weighed in at my typical amount as I have for the past year.  So as long as I can lose the weight, I think I can successfully keep it off.

Starting Weight:  0lbs.  Yes, you read that right, I’m weightless.  No, just too ashamed to admit my weight in front of the world.  I’ll give you a hint, it has 3 digits.

Todays Weight: –2.5 lbs.  I actually reweighed myself and I’m down 3.5 lbs, but I’ll use the morning weigh to keep things accurate.

I did well this past week.  I have not changed my eating habits, simply portions.  I’m trying to use the 0-5 rule.  Eat when you are hungry, when you’re tummy feels empty like a 0.  Stop when you are halfway full, about a 5 on a 0-10 scale.  Obviously you could eat a ton more and stuff your face and be at a 10+, but that won’t fly.  I eat one plate full and drink water only with meals.  30-40 minutes later if I’m still hungry, I’ll have a snack.

So far, it hasn’t been too fun.  It seems every smell and sight trigger cravings.  But I figured if I can make it through the first two weeks, it will get easier. (It WILL get easier).

My goals, hmm…I hope to lose 2 lbs a week.  That is a healthy target.  I need to start exercising and getting out, but the weather is back to being miserable for the time being.

Sept 17 we are going on a family vacation (well for 2 days but it will be fun).  That is 3.5 weeks away,  I’m hoping to be down another 6-7 lbs.

October 29 we have a wedding to attend. That is 9.5 weeks away.  I think that will be my goal for the 20 lb mark (I’m already 2.5 lbs in)

I’ll reward myself with a fancy new dress (I need one desperately).  I’ll start daydreaming about one I can get, but most likely I will buy it off the rack.  Whatever strikes my mood that day.

What are your tips, tricks, advice, or warnings as for losing weight?

I know, focus on health and not the number on the scale (or my pants size).

Monday, August 22, 2011

What is it about those box mixes

 

that always seem so intriguing?

I’ll be the first to admit they could be a frugal DOWNFALL for me.  I cannot seem to pass one of those fun boxes without saying “Oh look honey, _______ bread mix”.  (Insert pumpkin, banana, chocolate chip, or any other type of quick bread mix).

I did buy one that makes two loaves of pumpkin bread at a Bent N Dent for $1.00.


                           source

Before I went gluten-free.

It’s been sitting in our pantry, hanging out for quite a while.  We did a basement clean-up on Saturday.  We had our house insulated in July (Our home was built in 1952 and did not have newer insulation.  It made for very cold winters and very hot summers) and they had us move all our stuff away from the basement walls so they could insulate the foundation.  Our basement is our storage area so we had a lot of stuff all in the middle of one room.

So we organized, decided what to donate and purged the pantry of expired items.  Most stuff in my pantry is canned goods, but there were a few things from my gluten days ($0.50 boxes of Hamburger Helper, Regular Pasta, and some baking mixes).  I purged what was expired, maybe only 2 boxes, gave other stuff to family members and decided to bake the mixes for Hubs to take to work.

I started thinking about it thought.  I paid $1.00 for this mix, it included a can of pumpkin and the dry ingredients.  I had to add 4 eggs, 1/2 c oil and 1 c water.  I’m sure it was a bargain compared to buying 2 loaves of pumpkin bread from a bakery or restaurant, but it was a waste for me.  We grow our own pumpkins most seasons (we took this year off because Bear was going through a rough time) so I have TONS of frozen pumpkin.  I can’t imagine that flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder would equal $1.00 for me.  

Also, I ALMOST let it expire.  Because that’s what happens for me.  It draws me in to to the ease and convenience, then sits in my pantry out of sight, out of mind.

Do you have any items that could be a frugal downfall?

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Wish List of a Special Needs Mom

1) To see my son take a step, even if it’s assisted in a gait trainer.

2) To hear the word “Mama” even if it’s not directed at me.

3) To be able to pack cute Bento lunches for him because he still hasn’t figured out chewing.

4) To have him develop separation anxiety because sometimes it feels like he doesn’t know I’m Mama.

5) The only needles my son will endure are vaccines.

6) To be able to use a restaurant high chair, because he still cannot sit unsupported.

7) To not have tears at the scariness of the unknown future.

I know that Wish 7 could be applied to all children, however my fears are founded.  Parents fear their children being bullied in school, marrying the wrong person, getting caught up in the wrong crowd.  I fear my child never being able to attend school because of his cognitive skills, I fear him never having a friend much less a spouse. 

I’m having a rough go today.  It’s a hard journey to trek when test results are up in the air.  95% of the time, I’m okay.  4% of the time it ekes into my thoughts, and I push it out.  And then 1% of the time I bawl my eyes out.  I have a good soul-cleansing cry and still doesn’t help the future seem less scary.

Am I enough?  Do I have the skills to advocate for my child?  I am strong enough to push him to his limits?  Am I organized enough to coordinate all the therapy, doctors visits and other things that go along with it?  Do we have the financial resources to supply Bear with all the equipment assistance he will need?  What about if he can never be independent?  Do we have the finances and patience to care for him forever?

Today is a day that tests my faith.  It’s a day when I have to do extra devotions, read more bible passages (including a bunch of upbeat Psalms) to keep chanting “God will provide”.  He gave us this situation and he will gives us the map to this journey.  It’s just really hard not having a legend or a compass to help navigate this map.

Sometimes it seems so peaceful, passing beside still water and green pastures, and then comes the valley of the shadow of death.  His word is a light unto our path, but sometimes that light is only a firefly and it’s difficult to keep track of, flashing on and off.

It’s like when you’re power goes out and you’re patiently awaiting the lights to return.  Sitting by candlelight makes you realize how much you appreciated the light.  You cannot simply picture reading my the flicker of a candle or cooking dinner this way.  And when the light comes back you are overjoyed and gracious.  I know the light will come back.  I know we will find our way through this, but sometimes I swear I pass the same tree over and over again and feel like I’m going in circles.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

4 years ago…

I married my best friend.

It sounds so cliché, but he is truly my best friend.  He is the only person I can share absolutely everything with.  He is my support when I am stumbling, he is my best critic, and my best encourager.

He has been through the sleepless nights and the heart shattering sorrows and amazing joys. 

He is the love of my life.

I can’t wait for what’s coming next.

Mountains baby, mountains!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Life is moving

at an alarming pace!

My Mom is on her way here right now.  I should be overjoyed, yet there’s a feeling of trepidation.  Why you ask?

She’s on her way for a babysitting job.  Hubs and I are heading out tomorrow afternoon for our first vacation WITHOUT Bear.  I’m thrilled and nervous at the same time.

We’re heading about 40 minutes away to a Bed and Breakfast for some quality adult time.  We’ll cook dinner together and eat (hopefully not in awkward-we-don’t-know-what-to-talk-about-besides-Bear silence) and just relax.  We have a few visits planned for Saturday and just some relaxing downtime.

Yesterday was a rough day.  Bear refused to nap and the only thing I needed was one hour to lay down.  I hadn’t slept much the night before (my knee was bugging me, stupid humidity) and all I wanted was to lay down.

I finally called Hubs and cried/vented to him, made myself a cup of coffee and dusted myself off.

We started over.  We went to the bank and I had to sing scream “Skinnamarink” and “This Old Man” to keep him awake on the 4 mile drive.  We abandoned our trip to Target because of his heavy eyes, came home and got ready for bed.  I pajama’d him, gave him a bottle and medicine, rocked him, and laid him down.  45 minutes later he was still awake.

I surrendered.  Hubs came home and I went and finished mowing the lawn.  He played with Bear until about 7 (2 hours after I put him down, 13 hours since he awoke for the day) and he finally went to bed.

Pictures to come after this weekend.  I need it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The future is a bright place.

I will be the first person to admit that I have struggled since Bear was born.  I’ve struggled with the past, present and future. While I think I will always struggle to look back on my birth story (and the following weeks) with any type of joy,  I’m coming into my own about today and tomorrow. 

I’ve always seen Bear’s accomplishments and successes as nothing short of a miracle.  However, there was always a nagging thought in the back of my mind about what he SHOULD be doing.

These past few days.  I see a miracle.  A true example of the blessings God bestows upon us.  Nothing else.  Nothing less.

This doesn’t meant that it won’t be difficult. It simply means it will be beautiful.  Some of the biggest challenges in life have the most amazing outcomes.

My son is a sight to behold.  With an amazing dimple deep in his right cheek and amazing spot deep in the center of my heart.

Cheers to today and tomorrow.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What’s the best part of naptime?

When the UPS man shows up!                                                    
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A quick inspection by the cat…all appears well            
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Kudos to Macy’s for no packing peanuts!                                   
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Yay for toaster ovens!
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I have a toaster oven.

I thought it was a great idea, it’s extra large capacity means that I can fit more in and use our oven less. That logic failed. We’ve been in this house since November 2009 and I think I’ve used it two, maybe three times.

It is the worst toaster oven I have ever used.  If I use the bottom rack the food burns on the bottom, if I use the top rack the food burns on the top.  I have to flip the bottom rack upside down so that it’s close to the middle.  I received it as a wedding gift off of our registry. 

In an effort to consume less electric (and produce less indoor heat in the summer) we have a new toaster oven.  It is small and hopefully will work well.  Oh and big thanks to my Mom for the generous gift.


Disclaimer- There were other items in that shipping box.  Macy’s did well with filling it and having very little excess space.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Content

Today was a good day.  Monday and Tuesday I forgot to take my vitamin.  I take St. John’s Wort and it really helps with my anxiety.  Of course Bear had a terrible day on Thursday and it did not help that my vitamin hadn’t fully kicked in, so I just was on edge all day.  I’m glad to say I’m back to my easy going self today and it feels good.

Back to my topic.

Contentedness. 

It’s a hard concept in our materialistic society.  I could easily start listing the millions of things we don’t have that I certainly ogle at sometimes…

BMW X5, new technology, central air, 5 burner gas stove, tractor, etc.

The challenge in life is defining what we want versus what we need.  I may want a BMW X5, but I most certainly know that I would never waste the money buying a BMW.  It’s a vehicle, merely a tool to get from point A to point B and gas mileage and reliability are more important than pretty white pain, huge sunroofs and sleek leathery interior.  We have a newer 4 door sedan that gets 35 miles to the gallon.  It’s efficient and easy to maintain.  Having a new vehicle is something we see as a need now that we have a child.  I don’t want the constant fear of breaking down when I take Bear somewhere.  DH has a 1 hour commute each way, it is hellacious on vehicles.  His car is 9 years old and has almost 200,000 miles on it.  He will drive it till it dies (and even then possibly breathe life back into it). 

We do have a flat screen TV on our wall, and a Wii.  Why?  The TV was a gift and the Wii was a present to myself with Wii Fit about 3 years ago now.  Hubs and I have spent a lot of time playing it during the cold, harsh Midwestern winters. 

I have a flat surface stove.  When we moved in we bought new appliances.  Her refrigerator was too small for us, she had no washer and the stove was old.  There was no dishwasher.  I have a disability as a result of a major surgery 4.5 years ago and bending and reaching is very difficult for me. We chose to buy a side by side refrigerator for my comfort.  We also bought a front loader energy-efficient washer and dryer.  For my comfort we bought the pedestals for underneath (and they provide great storage!).  We got a flat surface self-cleaning stove (it was on sale as a display model) and we received a hand-me-down dishwasher free.  We shopped around quite a bit and ended up a store that sells leftover models from the previous year.  Everything was brand new and came with a warranty but we saved a lot of money by not buying the newest ones.  Also, because we bought more than 3 appliances  they gave us an additional 10% off and threw in the new power cords.  In this case we did pay a little more (for a side-by-side refrigerator and front loading appliances with pedestals) but we both deemed the value was in my comfort.  I was going to be using them everyday and if I was uncomfortable I would me less inclined.

Our home was built in 1952.  We have just over 5 acres.  Space was more important to us than a new house.  For the same money I’m sure we could have gotten a similar size house (1500sq ft) that is much newer, but on a much smaller lot.

Outside of groceries we don’t buy much.  Baby clothes are bought a season before on clearance, as are our clothes when we need it. 

Sure we all have wants, but they aren’t what bring happiness and fulfillment.  In fact when I have too many wants, I get overwhelmed.  Only having the needs (and a few wants-can we say KitchenAid ice cream maker?) is stream-lined.  It keeps our home balanced and uncluttered.

How is your home balanced wants versus needs?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Windows Live Writer

Why didn’t anyone tell me about this before?

Man this makes blogging so much easier… I was so sick of going back and forth between editing HTML and then the text itself.  This is much better!  It makes uploading pictures a snap too!  Hopefully I’ll be more inclined to put some up.

Oh, I forgot!  I was being crafty last month and decided to donate 2 quilts to the “Just Relax” fundraiser for Jen Knepper and her family.  They live close to us and are doing time in the same NICU so I felt it fitting.

Now that the fundraiser has passed it’s time to show the quilts!  I made two quilts out of the same material in honor of Evelyn and Ainsley.
Quilt AQuilt B



















I used the same backing for both quilts.  I found this adorable, fun polka dot and it seemed to work perfectly with the pinks and purples.DSCN0638

I also made two sets of cloth wipes to go to the fundraiser also.  I know they were paired with other things and I thought they were a good way to introduce people to the fun of cloth diapering.  Had I known CottonBabies was going to have BumGenius AIO’s on sale I may have included 2 of those.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When did tomorrow become last week?

I can’t even say that tomorrow became yesterday because time is flying so fast.   We had house guests this past weekend and we spent some time down in Amish Country.

Mama got a new toy!  I’ve had a garage sale drying rack that I took to college with me (in 2002, and it wasn’t new then) that’s been slowly falling apart.  The plastic has dry-rotted, the legs are bent and it wobbles like crazy!  These were on special for July and we got an extra 10% off…Now I wish we had gotten 2!
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Life goes so quickly lately.  Between working and therapy and the beautiful weather it seems like before I know it, it’s Monday again.

We’ve got a little Bear trying to be mobile.  His new “trick” is rolling himself up in the blanket he’s laying on and scooting/wiggling across the floor. 

Now that someone (named Bear) is finally starting to get eating (we’re on thick purees now) I’ve given up buying baby food.  I used to just buy it, he would only go through a jar or two a week and I really didn’t have the energy to make it.  Now he goes through 2-4 jars A DAY so I hated all the waste.  We went to our local grocery store and I got ripe bananas (on the last chance cart) for $0.39/lb!  I also bought him some sweet potatoes and carrots.  My biggest task is going to be getting him to try new foods.  So far MOST fruits are a go, while anything green must be poison.

Bear has adjusted well to working.  I think he naps better there than at home.  Yesterday, I baked 4 loaves of break and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (if you’re wondering, Yes, I’m still gluten-free) which was such a learning experience.  I have never kneaded bread by hand, and I haven’t made cookies without the use of a KitchenAid mixer in more than 5 years, so it was a great workout!  I received the stamp of approval and was pleased that all my effort didn’t have to go into the trash.

After days of 100* weather and higher (with the heat index, humidity was in the upper 70%) the Lord has indeed promised good.  I was treated to this beautiful sky while hanging laundry out earlier.
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I was listening to the radio the other day and Gary Allan’s “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” came on.  And while it usually has me clenching my teeth at the use of “ain’t” and changing the channel as fast as I can, this time I listened.
Life ain't always beautiful
Sometimes it's just plain hard
Life can knock you down, it can break your heart
Life ain't always beautiful
You think you're on your way
And it's just a dead end road at the end of the day
But the struggles makes you stronger
And the changes make you wise
And happiness has its own way of takin' it sweet time
And I cried.  Writing it now brings a tear to my eye.  Because for me some of the most beautiful moments in my life has been the hardest, the most gut-wrenching.  I brought a beautiful baby boy into this world and he was ripped apart from me.  We were about to go home and the next thing we know we’re rushing to a NICU. 

There were days I thought of adoption because he screamed so much.  I thought that surely it meant I was a horrible, horrible mother and that someone else could be doing a much better job for him.  Then I was reassured by lots and lots of other (multiple time) parents that some babies cry no matter what we try to do for them.  And now I have this beautiful HAPPY baby boy.  The happiness took it’s own 9 months to grow, but man did it deliver.  I have struggled with becoming a mother, I have struggled with my own accomplishments and my own abilities.  I have changed my WHOLE life for one little boy.  And at the end of the day?  I’m happier.  Happier than I ever dreamed was possible.

I pray that everyone in the midst of whatever their personal struggles be, can hold onto hope that happiness WILL come.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fear. F-E.A-R. Fear.

A fun four letter word.  Fear.

It's a strange concept. Our society gives off the opinion that fear is bad.  We are supposed to be "strong women", Franklin D Roosevelt said in his inaugural speech that "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself".  Fear is equated with being cowardly. 

I do not fear fear.  I embrace fear.

Fear changes my life.  Fear motivates me to move.  Fear of the unknown, fear of complacency, fear of being closed-minded, fear of failing.

I fear for my son's future.  It keeps me going when I'm trying to work 18 hours a week, attend hours of therapy, and drive 40 minutes to the hospital for his appointments.  Also add in trying to manage insurance issues, medical bills, scheduling medical procedures, and running a home. Add in there the daily therapy stretches we do, and the responsibility of our church requirements, and there isn't much time in the day.  There are days that I'm tired.  I want nothing more than hide under the covers and forget about it all.

But I can't.  So, I think of the fearful future that could possibly lay before Bear and I jump up and get to it.

I fear being complacent. I fear never growing, changing, learning or challenging my beliefs.  It gets me motivated to volunteer, to teach Sunday School, to question my beliefs, to read, to educate myself on a new subject, to fight my for rights.  And most importantly to reevaluate myself and to become the person I dream of.

I fear being closed-minded.  I try to get to know everyone.  My life is in a difficult stage so I try to lend an ear, reach out a hand and help someone going through difficult times also.  I learn others' stories.  I want to know people with different backgrounds than my own. I want to learn so that I can receive others that way God and Jesus receive them. 

There is a fear of failing.  This is not personal failure, that could be considered hochmut (personal pride).  I fear failing my God, my husband, my son, my friends, my church, my family, my neighbours, my community, my world.  This makes me volunteer. To do better for everyone.  To be a better Christian, a better wife, a better mother, a better friend, a better neighbour and so on.  I want to spread my joy.  I want to volunteer to help make someones life easier, I want to give and share all the blessings that have been bestowed upon my family.

Fear can be the greatest gift God gives to us and yet our post-modern society is trying to snuff it out.

Do you embrace or fear FEAR?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fun, Fun, Fun

I'm becoming a lot more okay with this whole working thing.  I think it was just so shocking to my decision to stay at home that I needed time to adjust.  With that being said, we're struggling with finding the time for therapy and doctor's so I may go down to 2 or 2.5 days/week.

I got a lot of negative feedback for my choice.  My son is 13 months old and he is physically and cognitively delayed.  He plays at about the skills of a 6-9 month old.  He can push up on all fours and roll over, but he cannot sit up, crawl, pull up to stand, stand, or cruise.  He likes to play with objects that spin or make noise and his exersaucer (speaking of which, does anyone have that peapod fold up stander? is it worth it?). 

I get Bear up around 8/8:30 and he has his medicine which has to be taken on an empty stomach.  We get in the car and drive the 20 minutes down to this woman's house.  I have the back room set up for Bear to nap.  When we get there, I buckle him into his infant-toddler rocker and he plays with the toys while I pop up his pack n play and get his toys in there.  Then I come and set blankets up on the floor and set out toys.  Bear has his breakfast in the rocker and then a diaper change and a bottle.  Then he and I play on the floor. 

The woman I care for is on hospice.  She keeps having strokes and the doctors have agreed that there will be no more treatment just management.  However, she has plenty of good days where she is very cognitively alert and basically just enjoys watching Bear.  She asks lots of questions about him and asks to hold him (she lays back in a recliner so I just tuck him in the corner).  If she says she has to go the bathroom I buckle Bear in his rocker and help her in her wheelchair.  I help her stand up in the bathroom and sit back down in the wheelchair, then I push her back and help her back into her chair.  Basically, she has some dementia and at times forgets she cannot walk so she will stand up and fall.  Hence, the need of supervision.  Around 11:30 I make a quick lunch, help her into the wheelchair, push her to the table.  After lunch I push her back and help her into the chair.  She dozes on and off all day.

At some point Bear decides he wants to nap. The first day it was 1:30 PM, the second day is 1PM, and the 3rd day it was 12PM. If we're eating I just leave her in the wheelchair at the table, put him in his pack and play, turn on the sound machine and his toys and leave.  Or I wait till after she's back in her chair. 

Bear usually naps until 3 (or later) so I mop the floors, wash dishes, change bed linens, etc.  The other day I cooked a supper and cake to leave for the husband to prepare when he got home.  Basically, I just keep busy.  Sometimes I take breaks while the floors are drying and we talk, or I read a book, knit, etc.  And when Bear wakes we head home.  Sometimes I end up staying till 3:30 to let Bear sleep a bit more.  So there is very little time that Bear is strapped down and probably gets more one-on-one time with me because the lack of other toys or things to do.

So far I'm enjoying it and feel like I'm really helping the family.  It's not a forever position, as hospice is only used for people with terminal diagnoses.  And it can't be more than 20hours/week or the grant from hospice won't cover my paycheck.

We'll see how my second week goes.  My biggest problem is my piece-of-junk crockpot that shut off on Monday, and the huge thunderstorm that blew through after I decided that my laundry should hang out on the line all day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm a working mama!

I've received the offer of a part-time job taking care of an elderly woman at church.  It's more supervision than actual care and I can bring Bear to their home three days a week for 6 hours.

Then why am I feeling so guilty?  Is it because he's fighting a fever/ear infection, doesn't nap well at their home and I had to wake him up to leave yesterday, they have hardwood floors so he's not able to move around much, and I feel like I'm missing on out things with him?

I'm struggling balancing therapy and doctors appointments with this schedule, but I need to try to make it work before I throw the towel in.  I feel awful that we'll miss out on the music programs we signed up for and that we don't to go on our daily walks (she has a history of falling so she cannot be left alone).  I'm scared he's going to suffer for it.

I'm sure everyone else is out there reading this thinking that I'm overreacting and that a child won't suffer.  But, it's different.  To watch my son be delayed and trying to offer him the world to counter that, I feel like I'm making him miss out on something.  I'm really struggling with all this, to the point I haven't really slept in 2 nights now.  Hopefully as the week progress I'll feel more comfortable.

Would you do it?  We don't NEED the money, of course it would help but we're making it okay.  I did it more to help a family at church out and to get to know them better, but now part of me is regretting it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Holiday Weekend

I got a new computer!!! I'm looking foward to all the fun and fabulous posts I can make now.

Have a happy and SAFE Fourth of July!

Our plans are pretty low-key.  Just maybe trying to swim at the lake tomorrow, and staying cool.  It's supposed to be hot and very humid.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Guys!!!

I've got so much to share and of course my computer is dieing.  I thought it had officially needed a death certificate the other night, but alas, it's back up and slowly working.  I've managed to get all my pictures and files off of it at least. 

I've even been super crafty lately but I'm too scared to overload the computer by trying to put pictures up, they will have to wait.

But for another shopping trip!
Hubs put $50 in the joint account for me to go grocery shopping with.  This is one way that we watch our spending.  If that's all I have to spend, that's it.  We blocked our overdrafting services, so if I go over, the card is declined.
I bought a few convenience foods this week because it's supposed to be beautiful out.  I don't want to waste too much time chopping, cutting, etc., when we could be outside playing.

Yo-Baby Yogurt - $2.49 (I have everything needed to make yogurt, I just keep forgetting to do it)
Corn Chex - $2.67  (This is one of the only Gluten-Free cereals and it's normally $4.25/box)
Hefty Fresh Extend Ziplock Bags - $2.32 (I've been buying so much produce and some of the lettuce just isn't making it a week.  I was going to try to the Tupperware but they were so expensive.  I figured I would try the ziplock backs and just keep washing them out if they work well)
2-1.75 qt Ruggles Ice Cream (Black Raspberry Chip and Moose Tracks Yogurt)- $4.00 (These were 2/$5 and if you bought 2 then you got an extra $1 off, so they ended up being 2/$4)
Smith's Sour Cream - $1.34 (This was on sale, I prefer it to store brand, it seems creamier and lasts longer)
2 Sunbelt Granola Bar Boxes (Oatmeal Raisin and Honey Oat) - $1.79/ea (These are for Hubs.  He loves them and I can't make them much cheaper than that, especially if I had to buy raisins)
2 All Natural Chorizo Sausage- $0.99/ea (These are meat department specials.  They're close to their freeze by dates.  I love them in Black Eyed Pea Stew in the crockpot).
Hickory Farms Turkey Sausage Link- $2.99  (Again, a meat department special)
4-Softsoap Hand Soaps- $1.00/ea  (I'm picky on my hand soap, these are also great for gifts)
V05 Shampoo and Conditioner- $0.99/ea  (I'm trying to find cheap shampoo and conditioner that work.  I'm almost out of the Suave so I figured I would try this one)
2 lb Baby Carrots - $1.99 (I said convenience food.  But let's face it, when I want a healthy snack and Bear is awake, I know I won't peel carrots and eat them)
2.79 lb Red Cabbage - $2.20
3 ears of bi color sweet corn - $1.00
3 cucumbers - $0.99
1.19lb Green leaf lettuce (I did myself in, I wasn't paying attention.  This should have been Boston lettuce at 2/$1.00) - $1.54 (I'm annoyed that I wasn't paying attention.  Being careless costs money. Thankfully it was only $0.54 as I had 2 heads of lettuce).
.83 lb Red Leaf Lettuce - $1.07
.27 lb Radicchio - $1.62 (Don't be daunted by the price/lb.  Radicchio is $5.99/lb, but a head of it is only about .25lb.  It's got great nutrients and I love the taste.  I think it adds so much when we have it with grilled chicken in a salad)
2 Bunches Radish - $1.00
2.51 lb Baby Red Potatoes -  $1.73 (I wasn't paying attention here either, but it worked in my favor.  These are sold in a container by weight.  I though the sticker was the sale price, it said $2.54.  Which is great.  I buy these as a treat every once in a while.  They're so sweet.  Then when I checked my receipt, I realized they were even cheaper, only $0.39/lb)
1 bunch Spinach - $1.29 (I don't usually buy spinach because for some reason I only think it comes in that bag pre-cut which is really expensive.  So when I saw the bunch for this price (it's a large amount) I was super excited!)
.89lb Roma Tomatoes - $1.15
Grand Total = $44.47 and I only had one coupon for $0.15 off my ziplock bags.
According to my receipt, I saved $14.34.  You don't need to be an Extreme Couponer to save great.  Besides, who needs 57 bottles of yellow mustard, or 34 containers of Instant Noodles. Now I have enough left to go to the other grocery store and get chicken breast if I feel like it.
I do not use a list to grocery shop.  I am really good at mental math and I'm able to keep track of prices in my head really well.  I also don't KNOW what I want. It all depends on the quality and price of produce.  Also what is on sale.  I managed to take Bear with me on this trip and it still only took us about 45 minutes. 

The one plus about our grocery store? They bag the groceries and put them on a conveyor belt with takes them outside.  You then drive up and they put them in the car for you.   A HUGE help when you're trying to wrangle a stroller into the trunk and a baby into the carseat

And this is our local grocery store (a small chain).  Remember this post?  Well I can't say I've officially stayed away from Wal-Mart 100% but I've only been there maybe 2 or 3 times in a few months now.  It feels great.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just when you think you're starting to climb out the other side

Grief comes back in full swing.
I KNOW it takes a while but with this new round of genetic testing the reality of the situation is very scary.
They're testing for a lot of very scary disorders.  By very scary, I mean fatal. 

The worst part?

Results can take up to 4 months.  4 months?! Yes, 4 months.  4 months of not focusing on my little guy who could be very sick, but instead focusing on my little guy who is moving mountains.  He's rolling with enthusiasm and has figured out how to move on his back by shimming and pushing with his feet.  Granted, it's not the RIGHT way, but it's something.

I feel like I have two file cabinets in my brain.  One filled of all the information I learned PRE-Bear.  Calculus, Statistics, Statics, Machine Design, PLC, Thermodynamics (I majored in engineering), how long to cook a chicken, best way to clean a microwave, etc.

Then there is filing cabinet #2.  It's one of those big monstrous ugly gray office ones.  Not the pretty wood, blend into your decor ones.  And it's filled with files of Bear. Microcephaly, Sandifer's Syndrome, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, GERD, Failure to Thrive, Lumbar Puncture, Neurotransmitter Diseases, Lysosomal Enzyme Screens, Metabolic Disorders, Mitochondrial Disorders, X-Linked Genetic Disorder, Prevacid (generic Lansoprazole), Baclofen, Valium (generic Diazepam), Propofol, Versed, MRI's, CT Scans, unknown etiology, NICU, and the list goes on.

These aren't files that I ever thought I would need.

And ya know what that bottom drawer is filled with?
One file folder.  Labeled : Fatal Disorders.  And you know what's in that file folder?  NOTHING.
Because I can't imagine my life without my son.  I can't imagine the moment of receiving that diagnosis.  Heck I can't even type it without tears rolling down my cheeks much less actually think or learn about it.

I have a rare genetic orthopaedic disorder.  I've known about it for 4.5 years now (despite having it my whole life) and I can still barely grasp the concept.  Thinking that my little guy may not be permanently mine is just unbearable.

It makes me want to pack him up and run.  Run somewhere safe, somewhere that I can't be reached.  Because, surely, if you cannot receive test results then they don't exist.
You'd find us here, marveling at the view. 

Life has given me lemons.  I'm not quite sure I'm able to make lemonade just yet.  I might need to find some raspberries.  Mmmm...then I'd be able to make raspberry lemonade.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back with my latest frugal mission.

I'm not quite ready to write my story about what I've been going through lately.  It will come, in time.  Patience, dear readers, patience.

I spent a few weeks visiting my parents halfway across the country with Bear and had a great time.  However, more than once I was asked how I could possible feed my family HEALTHY meals while sticking to a budget.  Coupons and sales are only for over processed junk and THEY like to feed their family healthy meals.

This is downright insulting.  I would say 80% of the time I shop the outside of the grocery story with cereal and pasta added to it.  We live in an agricultural area so our seasonal local produce is usually ridiculously cheap and very fresh and ripe.  Our milk products are usually inexpensive, but meat is through the roof.  Finding protein for around $2.00/lb is quite the bargain here.

After getting home yesterday, my mom kindly accompanied me to the grocery store so I could stock up.
Here's what I got all for under $25.  (Some of these are approximations because I think my mom took my receipt home).
1 head red leaf lettuce - $0.89
1 head romaine lettuce - $0.89
2 cucumbers - $0.33/each
1 bunch of radishes - $0.33
1 box (24ct) of quart sized tea bags - $1.69
1 pack of fresh stuffed mushrooms -$2.99 after a $2.00 coupon on the package (these are in the produce department)
2 mushroom burgers made with lean ground beef - $2.04
rainbow sherbet - $1.99 (ice cream was too expensive)
1.5 lbs peaches - $0.99/lb
2 lbs grapes - $0.99/lb
1.75 lbs organic bananas - $0.39/lb (these are perfectly ripe so they were on the sell fast cart in the produce section marked down)
1 seedless watermelon - $2.98
2 cantaloupe - $0.98/each
2 lb baby carrots - $1.99
1 dozen brown eggs - $2.29 (I am picky about eggs, you can buy grocery store eggs for as cheap as $1/dozen)
11 cups of dannon yogurt - $0.32/each
3 half gal of milk (1%, skim, whole) - $1.25 each
1 lb tomatoes -$0.99/lb

plus a $10 rewards coupon from my grocery store.

Somehow I'm failing to find the over processed junk food or exorbitant spending.  I even managed organic bananas.

Meal plan for the week (Bear and I didn't get home till Monday afternoon)

Monday
Dinner: Restaurant treat for my mom because she drove us home

Tuesday
Lunch: chicken salad over lettuce
Dinner: stuffed mushrooms, burgers and Gingered Baby Carrots

Wednesday
Lunch: I don't know what Hubs had, but I had a late breakfast of cereal so I didn't eat lunch
Dinner: Baked Corndogs for the Hubs (we only use all beef hot dogs (Nathans or Hebrew National) and it was a homemade cornbread mix.  I have a frozen TV dinner from Amy's Organic line.  They're all organic and some are even gluten free.  I love their Tortilla Bowl and Mac and Cheese.   They've also got new light and lean meals which are fabulous.  We both had a salad with dinner.

Thursday
Lunch: Leftover corndogs and turkey salad over lettuce (I had frozen cooked turkey leftover from the last time we had a turkey, added mayo, celery and onion)
Dinner: Crockpot ribs, frozen corn and watermelon

Friday
Lunch: Salad
Dinner:  Mexican restaurant.  My Dad is out here on business so he wants to take us to dinner, yes my Mom was just here Monday and part of Tuesday.  She had to leave Tuesday by lunchtime to get home so she could drive my Dad to the airport on Wednesday morning.

I don't usually plan Saturday or Sunday meals because we usually decide together in the morning what we're having.

I do know we have a carry-in at church on Sunday for the annual meeting.  I plan to make gluten-free chocolate cupcakes and maybe corn pudding. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The other side of the double-eged sword.

A genetic condition means Bear will only improve to a certain point.  His body cannot "recover" from a genetic condition. 

I think I need a break from blogging.  I need time to focus and accept and grieve this diagnosis.  I will be back.  There are lots of things that have been going on within my family that could use some thoughts and prayers.

My thoughts are so jumbled lately, I sit here staring at the screen unable to form a useable sentence.

See you soon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Home from the hiatus.

It has been a chaotic week and a half.  My parents came out Memorial Day, Hubs took his ATV out, other family and friends came and visited, Bear turned one and Saturday we had his big blow out birthday party!

It was a fantastic day.  Beautiful weather (I have no pictures boo!!!) and a great turnout.  The kids played games, ran through the sprinkler and Bear was generously given clothes and toys.

What a year it's been.

Followed by the most amazing day of my life today.  We visited the geneticist up at the Children's Hospital.  She has pretty much told us that this is definitely a "conception" issue (meaning it's genetic).  All those moments of blame.  The what-if's that I did something wrong.  The could-I-have's.  All over.  This is an issue that occurred without any one's fault.  This is exactly how he is intended to be.

I am amazingly happy.  I know it probably seems weird.  I had "gotten over" the feeling that I had caused this for the most part.  But it my darkest times I would still cry over the fact that I could have done something wrong while pregnant and damaged my child.  As mother's we always feel guilty for our child's suffering.  It does not mean I am excited that my child will have a more difficult life than a typical one, or that my child will be different.  I am relieved of the burden of guilt that I caused this.

In more Bear news, He showed up that Baby Book milestone (how many teeth I had for my first birthday) by getting his first tooth Tuesday night!!! Bear turned One on Wednesday.  The top two are coming in at the same time now too.  We had a teeth explosion. 

We relaxed at the Beach on Sunday and had some lovely swimming.  Wednesday Bear and I will be flying to visit family all by ourselves.  What an exciting time!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Savings #2

Eat out of your home.  This includes home cooking all meals. Also, eat up any food you may have stored.

I'm a store-er.  Not a hoarder.  I keep emergency easy make meals such as hamburger helper, pasta and sauce and frozen meatloaf/meatballs.  They're easy to store and don't perish quickly (precooked food in a deep freeze can last a year!).  They're go to meals when I run out of time, or have doctor's appointments and we don't want to eat out.  Being gluten-free makes it harder to eat out at restaurants, especially if I try to keep it inexpensive.

Start with consuming any food you have in your freezer and pantry.  I always keep a well stocked pantry for emergency and a lot of my cooking comes from there.  I usually just supplement with produce.

By doing this you'll use food you already owned, you can become more creative in the kitchen and you'll save money and time.  Restaurant meals are at about 3 times more expensive than the same meal home cooked.  Although I find pasta dishes are maked up much more than that.  Olive Garden sells their marinara sauce and pasta for $7.95 (well the last time I was there they did).  A pound of pasta is $1 and a jar of Ragu can be found for $1.66 (neither of these is sale prices) and that can feed 4 people!

When we get a medical bill we didn't foresee or we just want to put some money in savings we do a pantry challenge and eat as much out of our freezers and pantry  before going shopping.

The best part of pantry challenges is the thrill of replacing it at the cheapest price possible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Denial.

My little baby boy is turning 1 in 1 week. This surely cannot be true.  I cannot believe that we survived this first year.  I cannot believe what it has turned into.  I cannot believe the human capability for love.  I mean, I love my husband, but I cannot even begin to express the love I have for my son.  It is extraordinary.

Speaking of little boys, there is one in this house that I thought fell back to sleep just now.  I turn on the video monitor and what do I see?  Him playing with the stuffed toys we have in there so he stops banging his head into the crib rails. Apparently, they are much more fun than sleeping.

We have a semi-crazy week here.  More therapy in an hour and then cleaning.  We have a graduation party this weekend, and then guests will  start arriving for the week.  Today is our last day of therapy until the 9th.  I planned it this way because of having house guests and his party, then a major doctors appointment, I felt we just needed a break.

Where did this little baby go?  There's no way this was almost a YEAR ago.  This was his second day in the NICU.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Savings #1

I'm a stay at home Mom.  This means that my husband and I share one income.  (Obviously you all KNOW what this means, I'm trying to explain what it means in MY household).  Hubs works during the day to full our cash flow in and I work all day to try to minimize our cash flow out.  If your cash flow out is greater than in, then you've got some serious problems that need fixing.

Generally, I keep things about my marriage exactly where they belong, in my marriage.  However, I will elaborate that for the first year Hubs and I struggled.  We could barely afford our house after the market tanked and I couldn't find a job, I was recovering and we just were not in a good place.  Obviously we made it through but I always cringe at the thought of ever being in that position again.

But if it ever DOES happen again I am READY!  I've got my emergency escape plan set.

1)  Stay home.  This is so difficult in our day and age. We are all on the go from the moment we wake up till our heads hit those pillows.  But when you need to save money the first thing that is a huge money guzzler is our vehicles!  Gas is almost $4 per gallon.  One gallon of gas gets me about 30 miles.  That's only a one way to trip to Bear's doctors.  It costs us $8 to go to his doctors.  So we try to lump as many providers into one day as possible.  I also try to stop on the way home if we need anything. 

Condense all your grocery shopping into one trip.  It uses less gas to drive to one location. We're lucky because we have two grocery stores RIGHT next to each other.  So when I go by myself I park in between the two and shop both sales.   Also, only going out one time is a lot less tempting to overbuy.

Look into local parks or libraries, try to stay within 2 miles of home.  By doing this you can get 6 trips to a park from 1 gallon of gas.  If you went to the park 2 times a week that's 3 weeks of trips!  I also know that the day's Bear has therapy the Bookmobile shows up to the school.  We could easily stop in (it's open to the public not just the students) and avoid a separate trip to the library.

Thankfully living on a large lot (a little over 5 acres) gives us plenty of space to roam.  We have this swing hanging in our yard

(It's great for children with special needs because it's high enough to support a child that cannot sit and the harness makes me feel he's secure)
2-in-1 Snug 'n Secure™ Swing

and Bear loves it.  We usually spend about 30 minutes out there of me pushing and playing with him.  Sometimes I put him in the wagon and pull him around.  If we lived in a development with sidewalks I would happily take him on walks down the street, but alas, we live on a well traveled road with no sidewalks or shoulders.  Sometimes we just go outside and lay on a blanket and play with the grass.  Lately this has been almost never because of our abominable weather.

All these things are free and give Bear a chance to explore things other than our four walls.  They also give me a chance to breathe and get some much needed Vitamin D.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gluten - You Fiend!

So, I was doing well on my gluten-free diet (here and here) and had a CRAVING for some cake.  Of course it was amazing bakery cake that my neighbor dropped off and was sitting there taunting me.  TAUNTING ME I TELL YOU!.

So I've slipped a couple bites of gluten in the past few weeks with no ill side effects.  So I stupidly convince myself to eat the cake with Hubs.

Fast forward to today.  I have a serious headache, I feel hungover.  I am angry, irritable, depressed, moody.  I yelled at Bear and then left the room to bawl my eyes out.

Methinks gluten is no good!  So for now I'm going to take a relaxing bath while Bear naps in his crib and just try to keep my cool for the rest of today.

So far my breakfast has been gluten free and I've got dinner in the crockpot.

CrockPot Pot Roast
1 Large Vidalia Onion
about 2 lbs potatoes (I used about 5 medium potatoes)
3 lb chuck roast, top round, bottom round (whatever cut of meat you prefer, just make sure it has some fat, it will help keep your meat moist)
Carrots - I actually didn't put any in because I was positive I had a whole bag, and yep they're not there
McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning (If you're GF read the labels!  This is one of the only premixed seasonings I buy.  And this time I got a huge low sodium one from the dented can store for $1!)

I used a 6qt crockpot

1) Peel and quarter vidalia onion, lay in bottom of crock pot.
2) Slice each potato into 3 or 4 pieces and lay in with onion in crock pot.
3) Peel and quarter carrots and add to crockpot
4) Lay meat on top of vegetables and pour 3/4 c of water in
5) Sprinkle seasoning all over the top of meat and sprinkle a little bit over the veggies.  I put it on the veggies to so it mixes with the water.
6) Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours, or high 3-4.  I prefer on low, it is a slow cooker after all.  If your meat is frozen just cook on low 8-10 hours, it helps to start on low so the meat can thaw before it starts to cook.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming...

And eventually you'll find the other side!

Bear finally had a great doctor's visit and we don't have to go back for two years!  Yes, this was a pretty insignificant specialist in the grade of Bear's issues however one less doctor is still ONE LESS DOCTOR!

Rain again.  Rain tomorrow.  Blech.  I am so over it. 

More frugal fun though!

Our edition of our library newspaper came out today and I signed us up for two music classes and one storytime.  The other story time has it's registration closed for another month.  So I will call back and schedule then.

The good thing about being "on the in" this time is that we can go to our local library only a few minutes away and the county library.  We don't have to make the twenty minute drive to the one where did our last music class. 

Hubs and I also joined the lake.  Unfortunately we're out of county so it cost $5 more, but $30/person for the entire summer is well worth it.  It costs $4/person each time to go.  So we would have to go 8 times to make it worth it.  Bear is still free.  I don't know how much we will go but I figured having a pass would make me more likely to use it.  We're already planning on going the day after Bear's party, obviously weather permitting.  The good news is that there are two lakes and we can choose to go to either with our passes.  And Bear has been in a few pools already and LOVES the water!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Same old, same old

Same weather, different day.  Actually Thursday night we had such terrible thunderstorms that we had a flash flood.  Hubs, Bear and I were headed to Toys R Us to get Bear his birthday present...shHH don't tell
Smart Trike 3-in-1 Tricycle - Lady Bug -  Smart Trike - Toys"R"UsI'm just a little bit excited about giving it to him!!!...So back to the story...
We headed North on our road to find that both drainage ditches on the sides of the road were flowing over, it actually took out the end of our driveway.  We get about 200 feet up the road and see that the water has covered the road.  A man is walking around in galoshes and the water comes up to within 2 inches of the top of his boots. 

No way we were going through that.

So we head South.  We go about 1/4 mile and see the road is once again covered but it's not too deep, maybe 6 inches.  So we head South, and then head back North on the next road over (our roads here are pretty much a grid).  At one point there is a farm on the right hand side that's about 4feet about the roadway with an embankment.  The water is bubbling out from the bottom of the embankment from this field.  It was so surreal. 

So we make our quick trip and by the time we return the water has receded. 

Come Friday at lunchtime I see a state trooper (we live in a rural area, state troopers are unusual in these parts) with lights and sirens on, then I see the firetrucks go by.

I think nothing of it and go on with the day.  Hubs comes home and says "Why is the road closed?" Turns out a township truck was driving down the road and it collapsed under him.  The same part that we drove through the other night.  Apparently the water ran over the road so hard, and it has a drainage pipe under it, that it pulled all the rocks and dirt out from under it till it collapsed.

We are so lucky and grateful that we made it safely through.

We are also so thankful that we've been so fortunate.  All of our neighbor's basements have flooded.  We've been very lucky with the grade of our land and our drainage that only our barn flooded.  Thankfully the barn is equipped with a drain (that couldn't keep up) and it only made it about 2 inches deep in half the barn before it ran out. 

The Lord has spared us from these trials in our own home, but it means that we, more than ever, must serve our neighbors.  We have been lending our dehumidifier out, Hubs has helped clean up, and we're always willing to come clean.

The rain has been so bad here that the RV dealership down the road is having a "Noah's Ark Sale".  Hubs has joked about building an ark. 

Praying for sunshine...

But I have been crafty again!!! To help a foundation for a family struggling in the NICU.  I'm making two quilts and two sets of cloth wipes. 

I love having Bear napping in his crib, I have so much free time.
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