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


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.

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