Goodbye 2nd Trimester

 

I was explaining to the kids that I was in the last trimester or the final third of my pregnancy. I said “It’s like if you were running 3 laps, we already ran two of them! Only one lap out of three left to go!” Z responded in a total serious tone, not being sarcastic at all “Yeah, but it’s more like we walked.”

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Okay, fine. So maybe I didn’t sprint through the first two trimesters, but I really can’t complain about this pregnancy so far. I’ve had some rough moments, but I am grateful about how uneventful it’s been for the most part.

 

Looking back at the past three months there have been some really great memories.

Of course we found out that we are having a GIRL!

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The gender reveal painting was so special and memorable, I can’t thank my brother enough for making this video possible! I will cherish it forever!

We also did our annual dress like a cow tradition for Chick-fil-A cow appreciation day. This was my second year to be a pregnant cow. The last time was with Ezie 3 years ago. I was just one month further along then.

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I know I am such a nerd, but one of the first things I got excited about after finding out we were having a girl was knowing next year she would get to wear SJ’s little Baby Gap cow overall dress for cow appreciation day.

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Our little trip to Michigan was also a very memorable part of the pregnancy

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and lastly, this past weekend we did the Color Dash Bubble Bash 5K and had the best time.

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We did run part of the race, but I’ll admit I am not in running shape! That might be what Z was referring to when he said we walked 2 laps. I am still proud of myself for staying active all summer even if I’m not a runner.

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The funny thing was when we got home I realized my belly (and ONLY my belly) had been stained blue! Of course it washed off, but it definitely caught me off guard because that did not happen last year.

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As far as all the little prego details, my glucose tests came back with good results, other than the anemia. My SPD actually hasn’t been bad at all, so thank the Lord for that. I am starting to feel the acid reflux increase. Last night I went ahead and took one of J’s antacids for the first time because it felt so yucky and the chewable definitely helped. I crave ice the most, but anything crunchy hits the spot- baby carrots, rice krispie treats, ice cream cones, cashews. These are not things I normally eat!

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Everyone wants to know about the baby name and I am going to be a meanie and make you all wait. This is by far the longest we have ever gone without knowing the baby’s name. We are on the brink of finalizing it! In fact we talked about it yesterday, but I was on my way out the door and I said “Well, I am definitely not ready to make it official right now when I’m in a hurry, but that sounds good”. At this point I think we will wait until the birth, but maybe not.


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As you can see by the pictures we are all in love with her already and even though I am not ready for her to be here I am awaiting the day with great anticipation.

We get to tour the birth center and have an orientation in two weeks! It’s all starting to get real and I couldn’t be happier!

By |September 2nd, 2015|Pregnancy & Birth|2 Comments

Keep Your Kids Inside When Mowing the Lawn

Yesterday I mentioned Jude in my post about having a special needs child.

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While Jude has always been special, adorable, and loads of fun he wasn’t born with any disabilities or particular medical issues. However, just over a year ago he lost part of his legs due to a tragic lawn mower accident. I will never forget the day I got the message from my friend Jen last summer. J and I have been friends with this couple for almost 10 years now. Jen even contributed to the Messy Mom blog during my Lots of Hope in a Little Home series by allowing us to peak into her house and catch a glimpse of some of the brilliant strategies she uses to homeschool in a small space.

 

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This was one of the photos posted on my blog. That’s Jude on the far left. Now they have FIVE kids.

 

As I said yesterday, there are so many ways that I can relate to their story. I learned that SJ was deaf just after I had discovered that I was pregnant. When her surgery was scheduled I wasn’t sure if I was going to go into labor! Luckily, Ezie came early. Weeks later SJ got her first cochlear implant. The hospital gave us a little wagon for Ezie to sleep in so that he could stay with us in the hospital room after her surgery.

When Jude had to have his surgery very soon after the incident Jen was VERY pregnant. She even had to switch the hospital that she had originally planned to give birth at so that she could be at the same hospital as Jude. Their story really is a miraculous one. I won’t go into details because she has graciously agreed to do a guest post sometime which would be awesome! This whole family just radiates the love of Christ and their story has impacted so many already!

In fact they traveled across the country not that long ago to be a part of a campaign called Limbs Matter which raises awareness about lawn mower safety.

First of all, the local news station did a really great story last year with a follow up this year and I definitely encourage you to watch the clip.

Also, here is a video from the public service announcement they were a part of. It explains what Limbs Matter is all about.

The message is clear and simple “Keep your kids inside when mowing the lawn”. These kinds of irreversible incidents happen on a DAILY basis. I love Greg’s (Jude’s dad) message that he shared along with this video on Facebook

“Here it is.. Please share this friends! Had you asked me the day before our accident if I would ever back up over one of my children with the mower I might’ve chuckled at you and said, “Of course not I’m safe!” Well here we are with a double amputee. It can and does happen. I’m not a fear monger but I do hope to get the stats of these accidents going in the opposite direction.”

By the way Greg is the one with glasses at the end and you can probably recognize Jude from the shoes.

Greg is totally right. They are not fear driven people. They are also really responsible and cautious. Knowing this family on a close personal level I can say that it could happen to anyone. Accidents can and will happen, but as these families have conveyed if they help one child or one family not to go through this then it’s totally worth it. So spread the word about Limbs Matter. Share the videos and go like their Facebook page.

I am so proud of Greg, Jen, Jude and their whole beautiful family. Jude is such a fighter. He really does NOT quit and he is so strong and active. I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next!

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By |September 1st, 2015|Parenting Tips, Special Needs|2 Comments

Living in Holland (Thoughts From a Special Needs Mom)

If you have a  child diagnosed with some form of special needs then you have probably come across the “Welcome To Holland” essay by Emily Perl Kingsley. Basically it compares the shock of finding out your child has a disability to the feelings you would have if you planned a trip to Italy, but landed in Holland. The idea behind the whole analogy is that Holland isn’t BAD it’s just different and may take time to readjust your original plans and learn your way around.

The comparison applies to my situation well. I thought I was raising a perfectly “normal” (for lack of a better word) child the first two years of her life before I learned that SJ was deaf. I was speaking Italian, bought all the guide books for Italy, and really believed I was in Italy until that point which I consider my crash landing in Holland.

I have known about SJ’s hearing loss for 3 years now. The 2 1/2 year mark was a significant threshold for me because at that point I knew that my daughter was deaf longer than I knew her as (I thought) a hearing child.

It really does get easier. I have an appreciation for Holland. I’ve met lots of new friends here and learned so much. I’ve got the Holland guide books and maps now. I might as well have a tshirt and bumper sticker declaring my loyalty to Holland! There are moments though. There are moments you remember this wasn’t your original destination. I am being candid because I know I am not the only special needs mom going through this.

For example I have never babied or coddled SJ for her disability. She can truly accomplish anything she wants to do. She has been learning to swim this summer and let me tell you she is a champ. She fearlessly tackles this mission with great passion and fervency. She does so without the use of her cochlear implants so she is completely without hearing the whole time. I try to sit by the pool for a little break and she will tug on me and sign  “Practice! Practice! Mom, practice.” I see her going after it with all she’s got and when she comes up for air with the splashes of water blurring her vision I scream “Good job. Take a breath. KICK! KICK! KICK! You’ve got this!” but I know she can’t hear me. She can’t even read my lips or see me with the conditions that we are working with in that moment and I have felt helpless. Similarly, when my three kids are going to sleep (they share a room for now) I lie there in the dark with them for a while and Ezie says he wants to pray. After he finishes he wants his sister to take a turn. I tell him SJ can’t hear us right now because she doesn’t have her implants. If it were light it would be different because she reads lips so well, and with her implants she is just communicating non stop, but the next night we went through the same thing and Ezie said SJ needed to get her implants. He’s two and just starting to verbalize more himself, so it’s kind of heart breaking to hear him process all of it for the first time. Add to some of these emotions that SJ is starting kindergarten and she can’t go to the same school or have the same opportunities as her brother and it’s just another layer of Oh yeah, I was supposed to be in Italy.

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I know I shouldn’t feel guilty sharing some of these stories, but I do because we are so blessed and I love SJ exactly as she is. We are to the point now that if I try to think of what life would be like if she weren’t deaf I absolutely can’t wrap my brain around it because it’s a part of who she is. It’s like trying to picture what she would be like if she had been a boy. That’s just not who she is and I don’t want to change a thing.

As far as the little bumps in the road, we can purchase special gear that she can wear in the water to swim with her cochlear implants on. We can make sure everyone takes a turn praying in bed before SJ takes her implants off. She goes to a phenomenal school, and will have tons of wonderful experiences this year in Kindergarten. These are really minor things, but as in the Holland analogy it’s different and it takes some getting used to.

I have a friend whose son just crossed the one year mark of being a double amputee and that family has the most incredible testimony.

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I have loved cheering them along as I have watched all that their little man has achieved and I can’t wait to see what comes next. They have a caring bridge site where they post updates about Jude’s progress. Reading some of their experience has been like reliving my own. Even though SJ has artificial hearing and Jude has artificial legs there are just TONS of similarities.

I don’t know it all (that’s for sure) but since I feel like I am a couple years ahead on this journey I shared with my friend what I have come to realize after being thrown into the world of special needs parenting. I wanted to encourage her that just because it’s been a year doesn’t mean that you should be completely adjusted and move on. It’s been 3 years since SJ’s diagnosis and we are still in the transition stage. I look at the timeline like this Old normal, shock, transition (or adjustment, or adaptation), and then new normal.

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We spent just over two years living in the old normal, there was probably a year of living in shock and just doing my best to stay afloat. The last two years have been transition and we’ll be here for a while. I feel pretty darn close to “New Normal” but we still have such a long way to go. I feel like for us that will be when she goes to main stream schooling. I’m sure it looks different for everyone and more experienced moms could give a lot more insight into all this and the multifaceted layers. I am just learning, but this is my message for those in similar situations. Don’t feel like you have to rush into coping or adjusting. It’s going to be uncomfortable at times for some more than others, and somedays you are in Holland with a map from Italy. That’s okay, you will get there. I will get there. Our precious babies will get there and boy will we have stories of all the adventures we’ve had!

By |August 31st, 2015|Motherhood, My Life, Parenting Tips, Special Needs, Uncategorized|4 Comments

Don’t Throw Away That Box Top!

Even though I am a mom blogger the majority of my readers do not have children in public schools.

Many of you homeschool, which I love!

A lot of you are empty nesters.

And I would say the majority of my readers/friends have babies or young children that are not in school yet.

So it’s my guess that since you don’t have children in school you are not participating in school loyalty programs like Box Tops for Education, but I am here to change your mind!

If you are not familiar with Box Tops for Education it is one of the number one ways to earn money for schools.

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There are hundreds of products with the Box Top coupons on them. You simple clip the coupon from the package and turn it into your school. 

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The coupons are worth 10 cents each, which may not seem like much, but it adds up. Z’s school generated over $3,626 last year. The Box Tops program all time grand total in America is over $600 million dollars!

Another popular one is Labels for Education and it is very similar program that allows school to use the points earned through clipping labels toward supplies and equipment that the school needs.

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Another option is by linking your Kroger Plus card with a school so that the school earns money with every purchase you make. Every year non profit organizations earn millions of dollars through this Kroger Community Rewards program.

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I just got out of a parent information night and was informed that you have to renew your Kroger Plus card community rewards enrollment every year! That’s news to me. So if you signed up 5 years ago and left it at that then the last 4 years of groceries have not been helping out any schools, which stinks.

I know how tight things can get financially. It’s hard when you want to help, but you are just too strapped to make monetary contributions. This is a way that you can contribute to a worthy cause by simply cutting out packaging or going online and selecting a school or organization for your rewards card  at stores like KrogerTargetMeijers, and Office DepotIt doesn’t have to cost you anything.

Now I get to the part about why everyone should do this even if they don’t have children in school. Sometimes it’s the smallest schools that need the most help. For example I went to a small private school where I also went to church growing up. The teachers there are practically volunteering, but they believe in what they are doing to give students a quality education that is grounded on Biblical principals. When I lived in Kentucky my Kroger points went there, even though I didn’t have any children at that school.

There are also many special needs schools that you could donate to (like my daughter’s school). All you would need to do is call the school you are interested in supporting and ask if they participate in any of these programs, which they probably do. Then see if they would like you to come by and drop the coupons off or you could even mail them in. I am sure they would be delighted.

You can cut the box tops together with your children and talk to them about how the money is going to a school that teaches blind children, autistic children, deaf children etc. Whatever direction you feel most led to take it. What an awesome opportunity to teach kids about helping others and about how every little bit matters.

I do realize that some people don’t shop at Kroger and only buy organic, but keep your eyes peeled because these labels can be on everything from Hanes underwear to Kleenex’s, to soup or butter, and Hefty trash bags.

Next time you go to throw something in the trash or recycling bin stop before you toss that box! You might be able to help some kids have a better education.

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By |August 28th, 2015|Schooling, Special Needs|2 Comments

Ideas for Helping Kids With Daily Routines

“Routines involve repetition.  Repetition involves predictability. Predictability involves stability. Stability involves security.  Kids crave routines because routines make kids feel safe and secure.” – Maci Elkins

When I was a new mom I read “Baby Wise” which is about getting your little bundle on a schedule from the get go. I quickly learned that that approach would NOT work for me. I am the messy mom. Laid back is my middle name. Just call me The Messy Laid Back Mom. Actually, don’t call me that.

The fact is we have had to be flexible because the past 3 years of our life has demanded it. On the other hand, as my babies get older and more independent I realize they require more routine to help them navigate through this unpredictable world. So this week I have been focusing on the topic of routine and structure, but sometimes (or in my case most of the time) that concept is easier said than done.

The other day my friend Tiffany posted this question-

What do you moms do with your kids after school? In my house, there’s just a lot of fussing, boredom, and people complaining about doing homework. Would appreciate your ideas. THANKS.

I already shared our morning and afternoon routine, but that isn’t even half the battle. You can schedule your day down to the minute but how do you get a rowdy bunch of little ones to go along with your plans? In Tiffany’s case this means 4 kids, including 2 year old twins and 4 and 6 year old boys. There is certainly no easy answer to that question, but I can tell you what has worked for me and share some other ideas that I found online.

For my family it’s all about the timer/alarm. I have about a dozen alarms on my phone that go off throughout the day. These alarms are set for everything from just waking up to reminding me to go get the kids from school. All of those things that I listed yesterday are all alarms on my phone.

 

 

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Granted, if my volume is down or my phone is in the other room I may not hear it, but I usually have my phone with me and these are activities I am anticipating anyway so the phone is more of a backup.

Z helped make the system a little more fun last year by adding emojis and special ring tones. This was totally his own doing by the way. He also added more alarms that said “Too late” or “Really really late!!!!” with little screaming emojis… which I deleted. He knows us too well.

Anyway, my favorite alarm sound options on the iPhone are the ducks for bath time and the robot for when it’s time to leave (my mom mentioned that it sounds like it is saying “beep-ba-beep Time To Go” and now we sing along when it goes off. Also the crickets are a great signal that it is time for bed. As a bonus the kids love it when they have a day off school and my alarms are still going off because they are set for every weekday. They love to laugh and joke about it, “Uh-oh. Time to go to school- NOOOO!” It’s a fun reminder of the responsibilities that they are off the hook for on that special day.

So the kids get some visual and auditory queues that times up and we are moving on to the next activity. It’s even sensory in some ways because the phone vibrates and at times I have had to bring it up to SJ before and let her feel and see that the alarm was going off. Last year I wrote a post called The Magic Kitchen Timer . I talked about how the timer is a great alternative to just nagging and screaming because a machine is not an emotional being. It can’t be offended or manipulated.  The routine becomes more about the clock and less about you just being mean. Your kids will still whine and protest, at least mine do. And you will still have to nag at times. For me though, I feel so much more prepared and armed when I have my timer to blame. Hey, the timer said times up, not me!

*I repeat, this has not eliminated all struggles in our home whatsoever. Some days are better than others. Long term results have definitely been positive though or I would not have kept it up for the past year and a half.*

Here are some links to some other schedule incentives that I thought looked promising. 

Pill box reward tool by The Inclusive Church. 

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Having treats for every little thing might be overkill on a daily basis, but this system was designed for special needs kids in a church program and for those situation it was pretty cool.

 

For older kids you could just hang up a list. This printable schedule by Smashed Peas and Carrots reminded me a lot of our routine.

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I don’t know where this pic came from, but it’s a great idea to give kids a visual.


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The fussing, boredom, and complaining that Tiffany mentioned is not in any way unusual and unfortunately somewhat inevitable, but hopefully these ideas can help.

Maybe you have a creative solution of your own. Please feel free to share it in the comments. It might be just the thing another mom needs to hear!

 

By |August 27th, 2015|Parenting Tips, Schooling, Special Needs|5 Comments

Our Obesessive Complulsive After School Schedule

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It’s a big dilemma. Now that school is back in session parents everywhere are struggling with what in the world to do with their circus animals after the show is over. I have gone through different seasons in my life and I am sure there are many, MANY more to come. But for now structure is our friend. At least my own hippy-dippy version of it.

J and I have coordinated in regards to this schedule and there are still a few things left to tweak, but for the most part this is it. The whole shebang. What we do after school, when we do it and why.

4:00- 4:10 Take off shoes, unload back packs/lunch boxes, and get a snack

We don’t get home from school until about 4:00 and the first thing you have to do is unload. Also, most of us are hungry.

4:10-5:00 Watch TV

We have cut the TV down to 90 minutes maximum during school days (30 in the morning and an hour after school). If you knew our “after school taxi routine” you would know why it is completely exhausting! So immediately after we get in the door seems to be the best opportunity to veg. I know not everyone does it this way, but I prefer it and the kids like it too.

5:00-6:00 Go outside weather permitting, otherwise play in the basement

Sometime between school and bed the kids are going to have some energy to burn. This is the hour to play hard and get exercise. Thankfully I don’t have to be as creative in this area as when we lived the apartment, but if that is the case for you hang in there. It can be done.

6:00 -6:30 Do chores

Chores are really important in our house. This is one that I adjust accordingly. They don’t all have to get done in this time slot, but I at least want to know that there is some allotment for them regardless of how it’s distributed.

6:30-7:00  Eat Dinner

I originally scheduled more time for dinner, but we didn’t need it. The kids (ages 2, 5, and 7) won’t stay in their seats for that long.

7:00-7:30 Homework or shower

This slice is kind of flexible because at this age my kids rarely have homework and they rarely shower. I’m joking. Kind of. Anyway, this little sliver of time is negotiable depending on our needs for that day.

7:30-7:40 Brush teeth, go potty, put on PJs

Sometimes they don’t want to use the restroom, but at this age I make them try and I tell them full stomach+empty bladder=good nights sleep. That’s my theory.

7:40-8:00 Read Stories 

I don’t think I really need to go into all the numerous benefits of reading aloud to your children. I haven’t done it every night of my child’s life that’s for sure, but I try to make it a priority. This is our 20 minute block of reading time and the dynamics are really fun right now because sometimes Z reads to the younger siblings, or J will read a more advanced story with Z in another room. It’s worked out really well!

8:00- Lights out 

Can I just say that my children have NEVER had a bedtime this early. They total night owls and I have always been envious of parents that have hours to themselves after tucking their kids in at 7:30. There are many reasons I think this earlier bedtime is going so smoothly right now, but what I attribute it to most of all is not having a movie or tv show before bed. I used to see the TV as a nice way to wind down. I mean, who hasn’t fallen asleep during a movie or a late night show or two? Research shows otherwise though and after the results I’ve seen I have definitely become a little obsessive about no screen time at nighttime during the week. One day during chore time someone turned on the TV and was watching Rescue Bots and when I saw it my eyes got all crazy, my hair turned green, and I started flying around the living room on a broom stick screaming TURN THAT TV OFF!!! NOW!!!!! It wasn’t that bad, but I did overreact a little and I have repented. That’s really how passionate I am though.

There you have it. My schedules are always subject to change and of course stuff coms up, but I really see this one working for us. I hope to keep it up throughout the year.

Do you have an after school routine?

By |August 26th, 2015|Uncategorized|12 Comments

Getting to School on Time

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This is a repost that I wrote a couple years ago, but it’s a great reminder for me and it might be helpful to some of you. I have mentioned that my number one goal for this school year is to get my kids to and from school on time!

Maybe for you it’s get to the bus stop, or get to church, or go to work on time. I don’t claim to be an expert, but when I actually do implement these tips they really work. So here it is my 5 tips to get there on time (originally posted on September 11, 2013).

1. Time yourself

In order to know how much time you need, you need to know how much time you take.
When I had my second child I was shocked by how difficult it was to be even close to on time. So for a while I set a timer each morning and then stopped it when we were leaving. I was shocked to see how much one little newborn changed our routine, but once I was realistic about it I gave myself more time to get to where I needed to go and we were back on track.

Time how long you spend getting ready in the morning then write down your typical schedule. Once you see the pattern you can plan your mornings and set your alarms accordingly.

 

 

2. Dress to the shoes


This is a Fly Lady thing, but it’s helpful. She will tell you to get fully dressed including your lace up shoes. She even advises you to do your hair and makeup so you feel motivated and in the zone. When you are in your pjs and socks you feel comfy and lazy. This doesn’t mean you have to get all dolled up. Trust me. I usually look like a bad tabloid photo most days, but I do like to get myself ready first and have some solitude while the little ones are still in bed. Then I wake the kids up. I think of it like securing my life jacket before assisting a minor.

3. Set everything out the night before


Last year before SJ started school I posted a question on Facebook for advice on the matter of getting up early and getting to school on time. “Have everything ready and laid out the night before” was the most popular suggestion I received. I am going to work on it.

 

4. Give yourself extra time


Something unexpected always happens. You may have to go back to the house because your child forgot their backpack. Or maybe you can’t find your keys at the last minute because the lining of your purse has a hole in it and your keys slipped in there to become a part of some secret society. Or who knows you could even arrive at school to find that your child took both shoelaces out of her shoes and retied them into a the most intricate of knots that not even a high ranking boy scout could undo. These are real life examples here. When you have done #1 and timed yourself add 10 minutes to whatever amount of time you have concluded you need for each task.

5. DO NOT HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON!!! 


When I asked for advice on Facebook last year the best tip I received was in all caps it said “DO NOT HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON”. This is critical!

Comedian  Jim Gaffigan jokes

“The snooze bar is a wonderful invention. Nothing like starting the day off with a little procrastination! As my first decision of the day I will go back to bed.”

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*The snooze bar bit begins at 3:54*

Not to get all serious, but his snooze bar joke did get me thinking. Do I really want to spend the first 30 minute of my day in a groggy debate with myself about whether or not I have more time to sleep? Maybe you can’t think of a better gift to yourself than hitting snooze and that’s cool. I like to think of the snooze bar like a real bar. Some people can go to the bar and have a drink and it’s a delightful little treat. Other people go to the bar to have a drink and wake up the next day with an enormous headache and a hideous pair of celtic boots they paid a gypsy $700 for (true story from my neighbor). I think I am a snoozaholic and saying no to the snooze last year made all the difference in getting to school on time.

 

 

Alright ladies, or should I say “late-ies”, he he. That’s all the tips I’ve got for you today, but feel free to share your own. I’m still a work in progress myself.

By |August 25th, 2015|Uncategorized|5 Comments

Carter’s Size 8 and More!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Carter’s. I received a complimentary gift card to facilitate my review and thank me for my participation.

When I mentioned that I was doing our back-to-school clothes shopping at Carter’s you all responded with “I love Carter’s” “Carter’s is the best!” or “Us too!”

So maybe I’m not going to tell you anything that you don’t already know, which is that Carter’s clothes are adorable, affordable, convenient, and comfy. But did you know that they now offer a size 8?!

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This is really exciting for my family because Z turns 8 in like a week and he’s starting to wear size 8. So when I went to the Carter’s store a couple of weeks ago it was so convenient. I was able to shop for all 4 of my kids at Carter’s and left with a bag full of bargains.

That’s right, I said all FOUR of my kids because this pregnant mama stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the baby clothes at the front of the store. I couldn’t resist doing a little shopping for the little one coming in 3 months!

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Then I moved onto the size 5 girl clothes because SJ needed some new leggings and a first day of school outfit. There were so many options and I get nervous with this cutie pie because she is by far my pickiest dresser. She came with me though to choose what she liked. Carter’s makes shopping with little ones so easy thanks to their helpful employees, a nice clean layout, and even a little play table to keep the tiny shoppers entertained.

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We both fell in love with the “Shine Like a Star” ensemble.

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I loved how easy they make it to mix and match. I got the whole outfit for 50% off and even stocked up on some cute accessories. SJ rocked this look on her first day of Kindergarten.

Z was due for new shoes, new jeans, some back-to-school tops…the works!

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I found everything I was looking for at Carter’s thanks to the new size 8 and size 3Y shoe options. The adjustable jeans are the best thing ever because growth spurts do happen! He looked stylin’ in his back-to-school clothes and he entered the 2nd grade with confidence.

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Lastly, I also had to pick up a matching outfit for Ezie.Ezie

He really looks up to his big brother and they are still at an age where they love to match so how could I resist.

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I scored all of these items and more at such a great price and I even got $20 worth of coupons at the end (which I already spent by the way).

Now is a great time to stock up on awesome fall fashion sets for your kiddos because the deals are so amazing! First of all you can use this printable coupon or promo code to shop at your local Carter’s store or online and get 25% off your purchase of $40 or more.

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On top of that right now and through the end of August they are running the #CountMeIn Sale with many items up to 50% off and doorbuster savings like $6 leggings, long sleeve tees, or boys terry pants when you buy 2 or more. Then get ready because Labor Day weekend the entire store is 50% off! That’s my kind of a sale.

I already loved Carter’s , but some of these latest improvements have just made me love them that much more.

onthegoAre your kids closets ready for fall? Head on over to Carters.com or the Carter’s store to stock up on the styles you and your on-the-go-gang are sure to love!

By |August 24th, 2015|Babies & Toddlers, Frugal Living, Schooling|7 Comments

First Week of School 2015

I have felt really optimistic about this first week of school until it all came crashing down today. J has had to take over car pooling/kid watching due to me having a fever and barely being able to breath or sleep. So I went to the doc and everyone agreed I need to be on antibiotics now. Even though I don’t love having to take meds (especially when pregnant), I am grateful for the relief I should soon be feeling.

We started this week off with a practice run complete with our first day of school clothes (brought to you by Carter’s) and then took off for a photo shoot of the snazzy ensembles.IMG_9243

I will be posting more next week for the Carter’s Count Me In campaign. I have some sale information and a coupon that I know you are going to love so be on the look out for that. 
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Tuesday we did another dry run because I have become really militant about our schedule now that school is back in session so all week long we pretended to go to school. I’m talkin’ wake up, get school clothes on, and get out the door on time. We even drove to the school itself to see how we did on time.

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Then we went to a park before the fog had lifted and most children were at home with their sane mothers enjoying their final day of sleeping in.

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We even practiced packing a lunch and carrying our backpacks.

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Sometimes I think I have lost my marbles with how hard core I have been. Then other times I realize how much it has paid off. More on that later. I’ll plan to spill all of the details of my latests OCD school schedule next week because although it’s only been one week, I am a believer.

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Wednesday was the real deal for SJ. She is officially a Kindergartener.

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Photo courtesy of Ohio Valley Voices

She was so excited. When I dropped her off and picked her up all I saw was a gigantic grin from ear to ear. She has two main teachers. One focuses on speech while the other is more of the academics teacher. Both of them are amazing and she has worked with them before so it should all be smooth sailing.


The best part about SJ’s first day was how talkative she was afterwards! She told us about her school bus craft. She told me she ate all of her lunch (naming each item) and said she liked her food.

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Photo courtesy of Ohio Valley Voices

She said she played with all her friends (and named each one).

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Photo curtesy of Ohio Valley Voices

This time last year we would have been limited to yes or no questions. She really couldn’t articulate any of the days events at all, so now I’m the one grinning from ear to ear. I am just thrilled with the progress she has made. This is going to be the best school year yet!

Z had Meet The Teacher on Monday.

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So far it’s all been great. I’m already extremely happy with his teacher. This guy is passionate about reading, challenging the students, and also working on good character. I have loved Z’s female teachers, but I’m pretty excited about him having a male influence to say that learning is cool and fun!

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Z has a new cast, new glasses, new shoes, new supplies, even a new haircut. We are in a tight spot right now, but the Lord has provided all of the things that we need. Every. Single. Thing. I am so grateful for His many blessings!

As for Ezie, he is feeling the effects of being the little guy. He wants to wear a back pack so we let him carry Z’s old one.

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He even has Z’s old lunch box inside it. He talks about school and asks about his brother and sister frequently. He’s a trooper though. Only three more months and then he won’t be the only child at home anymore.

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I’ll admit I am having a little too much fun getting that fluttery back-to-school feeling. I guess it reminds me of my childhood and the fact that my kids are still  really interested and happy about school certainly helps. There are so many things I love about this season, especially knowing that fall is right around the corner!

Do you have any school age children? Have they started school yet?

By |August 21st, 2015|Lifestyle, My Life, Schooling, Uncategorized|5 Comments

The Deaf Elephant in the Room

All of my pregnancies and deliveries have been just about textbook, but there is one aspect of my pregnancy that is unusual.

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It’s not something I want to make a big deal out of all, but I feel like it should be okay to acknowledge and talk about openly. The proverbial elephant in the room if you will.

My entire life I have been a carrier of a genetic mutation called connexin 26 and so has my husband, but we never knew it until three years ago. You may be a carrier of some kind of genetic abnormalities too. The thing about being a carrier is that it doesn’t affect you. From what I understand we all have genetic abnormalities. I believe it is approximately 1 in 50 people that have Cx26, if I remember correctly. I can’t seem to verify this information online so don’t quote me on that statistic. Anyway, it’s not all that uncommon, but like I said carrying only one copy of the gene doesn’t effect you, however if you have a child with someone else that has a copy of that gene you have a chance that you will pass one gene from each of you to that child. If the child has two copies of the mutated gene then they will be deaf. There are a lot of diseases and genetic abnormalities that work this way, so you may be familiar with the science behind it already.

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Here is how it works when you have Connexin 26.

We have a 1 in 4 chance of having a child that gets two copies of the normal genes which means no genetic hearing loss at all, not even carriers (as shown in blue). 

There is a 2 in 4 chance of having a child that receives 1 copy of the genetic mutation (shown in purple).

Lastly we have a 1 in 4 chance that the child will receive 2 copies of the genetic mutation and be deaf (shown in red). 

I wrote all about it here on the blog when I first found out.

We never suspected that SJ’s hearing loss was genetic because we had no history of deafness in either of our families. She had testing done just before my due date when I was pregnant with Ezie. I remember talking to our speech therapist saying that I didn’t know if I wanted the results before the baby came because if it was genetic then I would be worried. They assured me that I did not have to hear what the results were until I was ready and it could wait. My response to that was, yeah right I am not going to have the patience to wait one extra second for an answer! I was just too curious about how all of this happened. In the end the problem took care of itself. Ezie was born passing the hearing test and then about a week later I learned of our genetics so I didn’t have to worry.

I say all of that because this is the first pregnancy where I am well aware of my odds. This child could be deaf and I know it. In fact I know lots of families from SJ’s school that have proven that it doesn’t really matter what the statistics are. The chips will fall where they may (if that’s how you want to look at it). I know a Cx26 family where 2 of their 3 children are deaf, one where 2 of 2 are deaf, another that has 3 of 4 even! So even though J likes to joke that we have our 1 out of 4 so we’re done, it obviously doesn’t really work that way.

It’s nice to have other families in the school that I can talk to because they’ve been in my shoes. I know one mom whose first two children were deaf and the last one was not. She tried to make nothing of it, but she distinctly remembers her last baby going berserk in her belly when the fireworks were going off on the 4th of July and she felt like the baby must be able to hear. She was right. I know another mom who said that with her 2nd (out of 3) who was deaf she didn’t have any clues until after the baby was born, but she could tell almost immediately after knowing what to look for with her other two.

Honestly, it’s not something I think about too often. I am going to be fine with it either way, but of course we would love it if the extra challenge of hearing loss was not something that this child or our family has to face. I was reading recently in the updates about the baby that her hearing is fully developed now. The book encourages you to talk to your baby and play music for your baby. It says that the baby will be able to recognize our voices when she is born. I paused in that moment and just allowed the emotion to well up into tears.

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We do talk to our baby girl, and again I want to stress that Connexin 26 is not something I focus on, but the fact is- it’s a possibility. It’s information I never had to face when I was pregnant with the other three.

Who knows what will happen. The irony of all this is when SJ was a baby we had her vision tested because Z had such totally unexpected vision and eye problems when he was a baby that he actually had to have surgery. There we were. worried about her eye sight when it turns out that she had hearing loss the whole time! So the moment I think I prepare myself for one thing a completely different issue arises. All I know is that each one of our children are hand crafted by God. They are fearfully and wonderfully designed and he knows each of us in the womb. I put all of my trust in the Lord and I have a peace about it. I really do.

We will have the standard newborn screening at the hospital just like we did with Ezie. I probably won’t announce it right off the bat if there are any concerns. I just want the initial focus to be on the baby and all the fun aspects of birth announcements. If we do have anything that needs to be addressed medically, we’ll tell everyone soon enough after our family has had time to process things privately.

So that’s about it. I know that was a lot of info and this is quite a personal update, but I did want to get it out in the open. As far what we can tell so far the sweet little baby girl is healthy and the perfect measurements for my due date (which is 99 days away). I am 26 weeks and almost done with the 2nd trimester. She will be here before you know it. We are overjoyed.


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By |August 17th, 2015|Special Needs|6 Comments