Monday, July 27, 2015

Chopped at Home






I feel like by now, most everyone has heard about the show chopped. It's the show where they give the chefs mystery baskets of ingredients for each round, and at the end of the round one chef is eliminated from the competition until there is one winner.

Well, since we had a vacation a couple weeks ago -- we're a little bit short on funding until John gets paid this week... so our culinary adventures this week will look a bit like an episode of Chopped. We are shopping from our pantry, and hoping that we can make it until this weekend before we need to stock up. It'll be crazy though because we not only need groceries, but it's time for a Costco run too! Keepin' it real folks...keepin' it real.

It's interesting how our pantry still seems full, and our fridge/freezer seems full too... but we are out of almost all meat -- and I'll be scraping things together to make them work. Thankfully the boys mostly just want hot dogs, and John is gone most of the week -- so I'm just scraping it together for myself. I can do this!

Maybe I'll even come up with something new that I can work into the meal plans. It's hard to imagine though because I so enjoy trying new recipes -- Pinterest is my meal planning friend. Most work out well, but there are a few flops. I tried a recipe for a honey lemon chicken that was just disgusting! I mean John and I were so grossed out. We clearly just don't like our savory meals to have a major sweet element.

I should have known when the sauce called for 1/2 a cup of honey... but I thought the lemon would balance it out, not.so.much. Oh well, it gives us something to laugh about when the kids to go bed. I can only imagine if I'd tried to feed that to them too! "Mommy dis not good!"

Happy Monday folks! I hope your meals are all planned and that they come out tasty!
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Friday, July 24, 2015

James Update


You see this guy with the cape? Whew, he is a whirlwind! He is always happy and has a great time everywhere he goes... he has never met a stranger. He is a bit impulsive, and struggles to stay focused. When he was 2, he was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1.

Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) -- Neurofibromatosis type I (NF-1) is a tumor disorder that is caused by the mutation of a gene on chromosome 17 that is responsible for control of cell division. NF-1 causes tumors along the nervous system. Common symptoms of NF-1 include scoliosis (curvature of the spine), learning disabilities, vision disorders, and epilepsy.

To be clear, at this time, James has none of these tumors, and all of his MRIs have come back clear. He does have the spots, and definitely has ADHD - fairly severe ADHD actually. He struggles with what they call motor planning, as well as being able to be still to do anything for more than 15ish seconds depending on the activity. He can hyperfocus on certain games and videos on his iPad, but most other things he can't stick with.

He has been in therapy for a year and a half now, and some things have started to click a bit for him. His fine motor planning has been the biggest delay for him, and he still struggles with pinching and gripping things properly, but we still work with him. We've had to stop therapy because private therapy was just too expensive even with insurance coverage.

We did have him tested earlier this year for a special program within the public school system, and he tested out of that - so he wasn't able to get any extra help there. I was amazed that they felt like he was on par to start Kindergarten in the fall, but we're thankfully going to homeschool him and keep working on things at home.

He has seen a developmental specialist twice, and while I don't completely think she gets a good picture by sitting with him for an hour -- we've gotten some insight there as well. She was the one that suggested testing him for the special preschool program within the public schools - she was really the one that made me decide 100% to school him at home. She said that with the way schools here are designed - they are open concept so that all of the classrooms are in blocks of 4 that are basically only separated by bookshelves and things that leave the area open - he would really suffer with all of the distractions.

I'm not willing to let that happen to him, and I think the older he gets the more we can talk through ways for him to cope with these types of issues. There are absolutely things that interest him though - washing machines, vacuums, mechanical, and medical things seem to be things that he hyper-focuses on.

He goes to see his neurologist for a check up in a week, and it's always nice to get her input and advice. We've also got him set to start our Kindergarten program in about a month, which will be exciting to get us into a routine. James thrives on routine the most - he loves knowing what is coming next.

He sure is a sweet little guy, still wearing size 2t-3t most of the time - he has the smallest waist so we have to stay in that size for his pjs... but they look like capri pants. Otherwise we have to really cinch up his pants to get the length correct. He is still wearing the same size shoe as he was 2 years ago too. He is getting taller though, so that is good. His weight is still hanging in there at 35 pounds too. James is a precious little man, and we love him with all of our hearts!
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Family & Memories



About a month ago, my Dad's brothers and families got together -- at least a good number of us that were able to attend. It was the first time I'd seen most of these folks since before the boys were born. Isn't that strange -- to think that it had been since before 2010 since I had seen these folks... and I'm thinking it hadn't been since our reunion in 2004.

It's amazing how lives scatter, and truthfully -- they've always been scattered. My Dad is the youngest of 4 boys, and I'm the youngest of the original cousins. There were 9 of us before my little brother and sister were added to the family when I was 25. Some of my cousins are so much older than I am -- their kids are only 5 years younger than me.

It was great getting together with the ones that could make it, and thankfully -- we have Facebook to help keep us all fairly close. We are able to pray for each other through trials, and cheer for amazing blessings. One group of our family wasn't able to come because their daughter was out of the country dealing with a nasty illness, and I'm grateful that we were able to pray through that with them even though they weren't able to be with us.

Others were missing because of their school/work/travel schedules, but we hope that next year will bring a few more that we haven't seen in a while. We had a lovely pot luck lunch, which there was WAY too much communication about -- seriously -- you'd be amazed at the over thinking and over planning that went into it, and the volume of food present would have served an entire army!



We had the blessing of a great location where our picnic was right next to a catch and release fishing pond... so a love of fishing was born for several of our family members. My brother, Josh, and Tyler in particular had a blast just reeling in fish all.day.long.





Other family members enjoyed their new selfie stick... maybe a little too much, right Megan & Brittany? They took selfies with every single family member...



Two of my Dad's three brothers were in attendance, and it was fun to listen to them sit around and tell stories about our grandparents. Some old favorites were remembered, and some new stories were told as well. My grandparents were amazing people, and are greatly missed. When my Dad was just 6 weeks old, my grandparents and the brothers moved from Chicago to Mineral Wells, TX... driving by car back then took them 10 days to make that trip. I can't even imagine! I'm pretty sure my Gammie was a saint!



That's my Dad in the middle, and his oldest brother on the left -- and the brother closest in age to him on the right. Both of his brothers had heart surgeries last summer while I was having my brain surgeries, and my Dad had his hip replaced in December of last year... they are all doing GREAT now!

Two ladies in the photo below have MoyaMoya disease, and have had brain surgeries. One of course, being me... but another cousin of mine has also had it -- and even though the doctors say there is no genetic link that can be found to prove that it runs in families... but I have to believe that there is some sort of link. I'm so grateful for the blessings of shared stories, and a family that doesn't let distance or time get too far away from them.





Until next year, Baileys! I can't wait to get to spend another afternoon of laughing and enjoying your company!
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Worst Mom in the World






I swear that every time we walk into a store -- it's like the whole world comes apart for these two boys. Like suddenly they forget every bit of sense their little bodies had and they become two of the biggest hyenas I've ever witnessed.

I feel people looking at me like I haven't taught them any better, which I can assure them... I have. I continue to tell them that people aren't going to want to be around them if they continue acting like this, but it really falls on deaf ears. Am I alone? Is it their age? Is it the fact that they are only 6 months apart?

I have no idea. We can be at home, with them acting completely civil -- go out for a quick errand, and they act like they can't hold it together. Running around the grocery cart, smacking each other, trying to squish their brother inside the carts that have the "driving car" on the front... then finally they are not even riding IN the stupid driving car that they desperately had to have. It's my favorite to be pushing those impossible to steer carts with no children inside.

It's a problem, and I'm not sure what to do about it. Should I ignore them, and have confidence that it'll stop? It's the same thing at restaurants... so I feel like I've got to train them somehow, but then there is the deaf ear problem. Oiy! Boys!

Help a momma out... why are my children crazy in public? Are yours? Can you at least tell me yours are so that I'll feel better? I know most of you have angelic children because I see them in the grocery store and wonder why mine are doing doughnuts around the cart which everyone else has their kids sitting still in their cart.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Compassion






I want to introduce everyone to a new member of our family - Isai! He is the sweetest little 4 year old that I have ever seen... besides the two that I've raised. I wanted the boys to be able to learn a little lesson about how other children live around the world as they grow up. They need to learn that other people out there can be extremely happy with much less.

I want them to know that this little guy is blessed by a little bit from us every month -- just $38.00 a month does so much for him, and enriches his life in so many ways. He gets bible lessons and healthcare... snacks, and nutrition enrichment... his parents will benefit from his sponsorship as well. I hope that we are able to go and meet him one day, but that's of course me dreaming out loud.

We sponsored Isai with Compassion International - you can go there and look through their online catalog of children waiting to be sponsored from all over the world. I personally wanted a little boy roughly James and Tyler's age... and this face just grabbed me from the screen. If you have girls, maybe you'd like to sponsor a little girl that is your kids' age. It really doesn't matter that much who you choose - just get in there and help these kids.

Another thing I love is that we can send him letters through the Compassion website - which I feel like gets there faster as well as it's easier to send photos that way... just upload and then it's able to be translated for him. We've received our first letter back from Isai and got a sweet little picture from him since he is so little - he doesn't write yet.

Additionally, I love that at his birthday we can send him a gift - which they recommend $10 for him... or at Christmas we can send his family $25. They do have maximums for the kids of $100 over the course of a year... and $1,000 for the family. That's a lot for us, but I imagine that even sending the small amounts would bless them greatly. I can't wait to learn more about his family...

So far, he is an only child and lives with his parents in the country. His parents both are employed, which is wonderful! I hope that our relationship grows and that he is truly blessed by getting to know us too.

I'm so proud to be a part of this journey with him, and I hope that the boys learn a lot through the experience as well. Maybe one day the three of the boys can be pen-pals as well! 
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