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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Six Months and Counting!!!

I'm so sorry for the delay in my posts.  My Dad always knew something was wrong when I didn't call him every week...and I didn't post because I was going through some emotional stuff - I always need time to "process".  One of my special needs kiddo's got hurt very badly due to the neglect of a provider caring for her.  I was angry and sad...completely devastated...I felt like the world was unfair, how could a child that had been through so much abuse and neglect get neglected in my home???  I cried and cried and the wounds have finally healed and we are all moving forward.  I can't go into more detail due to the public nature of this blog, however, everyone is safe and happy, we have found a new provider and are all doing great.  Fantastic, in fact.

What I'm really excited to write about is tomorrow, June 30th!  It happens to be my birthday, but that's not what's so exciting, it is exactly half way through my one year challenge!!!!  I have been gift giving and I haven't missed a day, so this is a huge milestone to me...I'm rounding the corner into the home stretch!  Today, instead of listing all of the little gifts I've come up with here and there, I wanted to tell you about the gifts I have been getting in return!  It's been absolutely unbelievable...I'll never be able to remember them all, but this gift giving mission has turned into a gift getting mission and I feel so blessed.  Some examples include, I went through a Taco Bell...having a really rough day, so rough in fact, I ordered just a Rootbeer, my favorite soda, to keep me going.  As I pulled up to the window scrambling for change, the teen behind the window said, "Don't worry about it, it's on the house!"  I was shocked and so unbelievably grateful.  My dear friend and music therapist, Kelly, who is always giving gifts surprised me two weeks in a row with brand name boys clothes hand me downs....they were in perfect condition, cool clothes, all in Dakota's size which means we will be able to pass them down to Justin too!  Another day, my friend Kristen, our speech therapist, showed up with a huge box of pull ups that a family was getting rid of for Abigail.  Jamie has started calling me "mom"...(tearing up...this is HUGE!)  I've had friends give me rides, call, email / text, I've gotten invited to lots of stuff even though I have to say "no" most the time...a couple friends came to visit me on Sunday, and a new doctor I'm working with is going WAY above and beyond to help me, including checking in through email often...It's just been absolutely amazing!

So, thank you to everyone reading this, supporting me through reading this for the past six months is a blessing in itself.  I will try to be more diligent about posting over the next six months.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Little gifts...

This week has been literally insane with several appointments, end of year parties, and graduations back to back...sigh...plus bootcamp!  My gifts have been super simple this week...one day, after a really hard bootcamp, Tim was home but I decided to get up with the kids in the morning and let him sleep in....another day, I delivered something to a friend that she needed...another day I helped someone close to me through an anxious situation.  I've had so many blessings including the girl I've been tutoring passed her final and saved her years worth of work!

My favorite gift this week was getting the kids a little plastic pool.  I went to Walmart to get one for Abbey and Jamie and sitting next to the itty bitty ones was a large one with a small slide.  I told them that I had to have that as I could envision Abbey going up and down the slide over and over.  However, I only had my van...I hadn't really thought this through.  I got it out to my van and opened it up, it was obvious it was not going to fit in any way, shape or form, but for some reason, I kept going...folded down the seats and proceeded as if it would fit.  The salesperson told me there as no way, but I was fearless...of looking stupid, that is, and I grabbed that huge pool and I shoved and squished and because it was so hot from sitting out in the sun the plastic was actually pliable and that sucker fit!

When I got home, I snuck the pool into the back yard...I had to walk in it to get it to look like a pool again and filled it up with water...then the fun part, getting the kids!!!  They were so excited, they squealed!  Even Dakota was thrilled.  Long story short, literally four hours later, we are trying to convince them to come out!  Even Justin enjoyed it tremendously.  It was so much fun that something as simple as a little pool of water created that much excitement.  I love kids, they are absolutely amazing!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Promotion Ceremony...

The homeschooling program I designed and later handed off to an amazing homeschooling mom/teacher was having a promotion ceremony today.  I made up certificates of appreciation for all the teachers involved in the program and got flowers for the mom who took over the program when I got ill.  I was so excited to recognize their hard work.  What I didn't expect was that they recognized mine!  I was honored with a corsage and great thanks from the parents and teachers alike.  It was wonderful!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Homeschooling trouble...

So on Wednesday, I was having a crazy day...Algebra tutoring for two hours and found out that Jamie had a UTI and needed to go to the doctor and boot camp...yes, I said boot camp.  Let me back up.  I signed Tim and I up for a boot camp class in our town run by a police officer.  Interestingly enough, Tim didn't tell me about it, a couple of my friends had done it and I was able to convince him to do it with me.  I can officially report that I survived the first week.  It is Mon - Thurs from 7-8pm...and it's rough!  The first night was the easiest because it was just testing us...heart rate, blood pressure, how many push ups, sit ups, etc, that you could do.  Well, I've never really done a "military" push up where you are straight and go down to the fist on the ground, so I thought I'd go down and not come back up!  But, I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to do four!!!  Then we did sit ups in one minute...I was about to do 22, which I didn't know was good until my friend told me she still couldn't do 22 after the six week class!  It's taking a lot of guts to do this class...all the people there are triathlon and exercise abnormalities...but I'm doing it!

The second night was the run...yes...the run...sigh.  We had to run 1.5 miles and he timed us as we are going to try and beat our times by the end of the six weeks.  I've never "run" before, so I was a bit worried.  I told Tim to go ahead so that he could get his best time possible.  Everyone else finished between 13 and 18 minutes...My personal goal was to finish in less than 30 minutes and to finish period.  After a while I saw Tim heading back to make sure I was OK, I was still running...slow but running...I had to walk a few times...but I ran more than half of it and finished running in 28 minutes.  Tim was so proud of me he was beaming :-).

Anyway, I'll tell you more about boot camp another time, but this is something I'm doing for myself which doesn't happen often enough.  I have scheduled a massage today to celebrate not dying during my first week!  For my gift on Wednesday, in between all my appointments and craziness my friend tells me she needs me to tutor her daughter on a writing assignment.  I really didn't have time at all to do it, really didn't, but I thought, OK, this will be my gift for the day.  It took about an hour and it really wasn't a writing assignment problem, it's a problem with her set up and pace so we worked on this for a while and she is going to come and observe me homeschooling, so this was nice.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Homeschooling books...

Another close friend of mine and I are both doing the same science curriculum for our homeschools this year...we both school year round, so our new year starts in about two weeks.  I've been really, really busy preparing centers and projects...laminating like crazy and organizing.  I've taken several Homeschool Trainings to update my skills and I know this is going to be our best homeschool year ever!  I know this because every year always gets dramatically better as I learn how to be a more effective teacher, more organized, and have more experience.

I'm using several new curricula this year that I am so excited about, I can't stand it!  The kids are seeing all these new books and activities and can't wait to get started.  For science, we are doing a program called "Christian Kids Explore Science"...I found this curriculum when looking for something that would fit my friends situation and fell in love with it too!  Anyway, the book is like a "relaxed" text book with ton's of activities and experiments.  However, there are not any consumable "workbooks"...so I bought an additional download and I created workbooks for my kids and hers...It took hours!  But, they looked so nice, I printed the covers in color and bought nice binders, I used the label maker to separate the units and I set it up so that literally all her and I have to do is open up the workbook and all the activities, etc, are right there for you!  The text for the program is complete, but you have to make copies from it, literally every lesson, so this is going to be a huge time save.  I gave it to her yesterday and she loved it!

Helping a friend at work...

So a close friend of mine was having some serious chaos at work...through no fault of her own, things had just sort of collapsed.  Due to confidentiality, that is all I can really say, but her work is in education which is where my experience is.  So, I had her come over and we worked late into the night getting things under control, then she came over first thing the next morning and we worked another few hours.  After everything was said and done, she is doing much, much better.  I am going to help her finish things up on Thursday.  I enjoyed every minute of it and she was so grateful for the help. It was completely fun to me and it felt great to see her go from stressed and panicked to back to her normal self.

Tim's Birthday...

So, Tim's birthday was Monday, but I decided to surprise him on Sunday afternoon as Monday is a work day.  I told him that I'd be "taking him out" but he didn't know where or the details, etc.  Tim isn't really "big" on birthdays, he doesn't dread them like some, but he doesn't find them to be a big deal when you are an adult, he just focuses on the kids ones.  Therefore, there were little expectation on his part. 

We have been working so hard on keeping an amazing budget and we are succeeding, so I knew I didn't want to spend much.  Therefore, I needed to do something "meaningful" vs. "expensive".  I got the idea to invite his very best friend out to lunch with us, he is also a police officer and with their crazy jobs and lives, they hadn't seen each other in at least a year...although they talk often.  I knew Tim would be thrilled and asked his friend to recommend a restaurant.  He picked out a really unique place in a cellar with a huge fire place and cozy.  The food was southwest and literally melted in your mouth.  I had made reservations, got the seats we wanted and they made sure to recognize Tim's birthday with a flourless chocolate cake with organic ice cream and berries...oh my, it was good!

Tim had also been wanting to see the movie "Iron Man" but when it first came out, there were lines into the street and people sitting for hours outside the theater to even get a seat...sigh.  Don't these people have anything more important to do?  Anyway, the weekend of his birthday was the second weekend it was out.  I bought tickets way ahead of time online and we got there an hour early and were one of the first ones in.  It was a great movie and day, we had so much fun!  That was my gift :-).

Tutoring...Algebra

I had agreed to tutor a 10th grader in Algebra as she was barely passing the class and if she failed the final, she'd have to take the whole thing over.  So, for the past few weeks, I've been working with her on a regular basis.  We are really enjoying working together and her improvement has been remarkable!  This is a paid position, however, on several days I have stayed much longer than I was being paid for and have also helped her over the phone when she is stuck on homework.  I have put in at least double the time I'm getting paid for and this was one of my gifts :-).

Catching Up...Strawberry Shortcake

I apologize for the delay and thank you to the people that inform me when they are missing my blog, it helps me refocus.  I have been very busy giving gifts and life has been a bit crazy since Justin came home...Not being his normal happy self, he was requiring to be held and comforted around the clock...literally, he would not tolerate being put down at all.  So with much patience and the help of respite providers relieving us, we got through it and after two weeks, he is almost back to normal!  He is able to play and be put down and is his generally happy self.  However, he is not yet tolerating his many therapy sessions, but this too, will come.

So, I haven't written every gift down, which is unfortunate.  However, I'm going to write about some of the ones I remember off the top of my head.  I do know that I didn't miss a day though and that is very exciting to me considering the recent chaos.  While Justin was still struggling and he had fallen asleep around 7pm that night, I decided I'd make my family strawberry shortcake for my gift.  I was super tired and didn't feel like doing anything but Tim had bought nine packages of strawberries, yes nine, and the kids were eying them and I do make really yummy shortcake.  So I decided it would only take a half hour and that would be my gift.  When my family realized what I was up to, they got really excited.

I've made shortcake lots of different ways, however, Bisquick is our absolute hands down favorite!  So, I pulled out the Bisquick box only to find there was only a small amount left...shoot!  Well, the kids were dancing around the house singing "Yea, yea, strawberry shortcake!" so I sighed as I realized I'd have to do it from scratch...This was going to be more of a gift than I had anticipated.  I pulled out my Betty Crocker book to find their recipe required a pastry blender...a what?  OK, so I definitely don't have one of those.  Then I pulled out the Joy of Cooking, oh boy, this one seemed way to complicated.  Then Tim, seeing my frustration pulled out a Better Homes and Garden book and said, "I think there is a good one in here..."  The only tricky part was cutting  the butter into the flour but I actually knew how to do that as my mom had taught me last year when she showed me the family secret on her world famous apple pie.  So I went to work.  I was happily making my mix when I went to grab the sugar...Crap!  We were out!  We don't use sugar hardly ever so I didn't even notice.  I yelled to Dakota to run to my neighbors house to grab a cup of sugar, OK, problem solved.

I was mixing in my sugar when I went to grab some eggs out of the fridge...No way!  There were no eggs.  Huge sigh.  "Dakota!" I yelled, "I need two eggs."  "Mooooommmmm, it's dark out."  Yes, it was now 8pm, an hour later and not even in the oven.  But, I wasn't giving up.  I told Dakota to go to my OTHER neighbor and ask for two eggs.  Isn't it funny how I couldn't stand my first neighbor knowing that "I didn't have it all together" and so I instructed my Dakota to go to a different one?  I find that interesting.  Anyway, another half hour and we were all enjoying warm Strawberry Shortcake and the kids went to bed happily with full bellies and I collapsed on the couch.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Prayers Needed...

I have decided after much research that I need to get Justin a service dog.  I spent about five hours last night researching all the possibilities after one of the doctors recommended getting one.  Apparently there are "seizure alert" dogs which are specifically trained to get help in the instance of someone having a seizure...just like Justin did in the night.  What's more, these dogs typically learn the change in human smell prior to a seizure and are able to alert you BEFORE the seizure even starts.  This allows you to make sure the child is laying down and not doing anything dangerous (such as bath time).  I feel very strongly after reading all the research that a service dog would bring comfort, companionship, abilities to get toys and play as well as seizure detection for Justin.  Unfortunately, such a dog cost about $22,000 to train because it is quite intensive and is specific to your child's needs.  On top of this, you travel to the facility and work with the program trainer and your child for two weeks for the bonding process.  Tim thinks this would be amazing for Justin...we are allergic to dogs, but they have hypoallergetic service dogs now.  After seeing Justin's reaction to one of these dogs in pet therapy at the hospital and his true love for his weekly horseback riding lessons, I feel God is telling me this is what I need to do for his safety and continued happiness.

We don't have $22,000...please pray as I search for fund raising options.  Tim is very concerned about me taking on another project with my current health status...however, I know God has it all figured out, I just need to find the answer.  Thank you in advance for your prayers, I will be working on this all day today as my gift :-).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Justin's Home!

Since coming home, Justin is back to his old self!   He was having severe anxiety and grinding his teeth horribly at the hospital, but no more!!!  He just needed to be home, I'm thrilled :-).

I just got done my gift, it was super fun!  I wrote very detailed letters to the supervisors of the several professionals that came to visit Justin in the hospital in their free time.  I am so impressed by their love, passion, and dedication that I wanted to make sure their direct supervisors new the level of commitment they have to the special needs children they work with.  I already got a response from one supervisor who was deeply impressed!  I had a lot of fun with this one :-).

Justin's Coming Home!

I don't have time for a normal post, but I wanted to pass on to you all that Justin is coming home in the next several hours!!!  Woo hoo!  His heart is back to normal, as are his seizures, and the paralysis on the left side is improving by the minute :-).  What we are still struggling with is his severe anxiety from being in the hospital, not sleeping well, and grinding his teeth...so badly he broke his front tooth in half.  I'm trying to get the house comfortable and cleaned up before he gets home, he is with Letty, one of his respite providers.

Thanks for your prayers!  When I have my gift figured out for today, you will know :-).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

You're Not Going to Believe...

the past two weeks I've had.  I couldn't make this stuff up!

So, last time I posted, I had my blood transfusion and feeling a bit ill.  The following day for my gift I was making an amazing meal including homemade mashed potato's...something I don't do often, boy are they yummy like my Mama makes :-).  So I put the lid on a casserole dish and got distracted by children running loops around the kitchen and accidentally knocked the entire casserole dish FULL of potato's onto my bare foot.  Ouch!  Unbelievable pain and instantaneous swelling and bruising, I'm totally sure it is broken but I have meals to deliver so I strap some ice on it and go...I know, I'm nuts.  So, I get home just in time for Jamie's counselor to come and at this point my foot is the size of King Kong's and I have to elevate it while trying to manage the house and talk to the counselor...sigh.  Hours later, Tim comes home and I am able to drive myself to Urgent Care where they x-ray and believe it or not, it's NOT broken...thank God!  However, I'm unable to walk on it for a couple days and Dakota has a trip to the science museum tomorrow...sigh.  From Urgent Care, I am able to get Dakota a ride to the science museum and friends for him to hang out with so that I can sit on the couch all day with my foot elevated...doctor's orders.

The following day, I push myself to go grocery shopping and I pick up some items for Tim that he had mentioned in passing for my gift.  He was very surprised and touched that I remembered when they were not on the list and all the craziness of my everyday life being a Home Manager.  That night, however, I was struck with the stomach flu...a bad one, the kind that makes you want to die, pray for the Angel of Death to come release you from the torture.  I spent the evening with my head in the toilet...need I say more?  At least it was clean, Dakota had scrubbed it earlier in the day. As I lay on the couch Saturday, I rehearsed in my head my "final posting"...I was throwing in the towel.  I couldn't and wasn't giving a gift today and I had succumbed to defeat...I told myself how stupid it was to set up this kind of a goal and I was a fool for believing it.  Just then, my neighbor stopped by and although I couldn't pull myself upright on the couch, she said her son didn't want to go out with her and I offered to let him play with Dakota at our house.  I knew it wouldn't be any trouble and I'd be able to give this gift from the couch.  Saved!  Whew!  I did it!  OK, so I'm feeling pretty great and then I throw up...the high is officially over.

So, I'm almost over the stomach flu...almost when Monday morning arises and Tim is getting shoulder surgery.  I drive him to the surgical center...nauseous as I drive...but holding it together.  I support him emotionally as they put him asleep and wheel him away and then sit in the waiting room for hours making phone calls and scheduling appts even with needing many trips to the bathroom...yuck.  His surgery is successful but he is quite sick as he wakes up.  I somehow get his lethargic, 6' 4" frame into our minivan, get his meds, and get him in bed in our guest house where the kids won't jump all over him.  I somehow, in between bathroom trips, wait on him hand and foot and keep the kids fed, changed, and medicated...that was my gift for the day.  I was a super great caretaker and my hubby totally appreciated it.

Sigh...OK, so on Tuesday, for my gift, I drive my hubby an hour to physical therapy and homeschool Dakota in the waiting room...finally my sickness is going away, but the headache and exhaustion is killing me.  We wait two hours in PT office and then drive Tim home, I'm feeling sicker by the second but we make it home.  He's able to drive himself tomorrow, so finally, I get to relax...ha!  As I get home, my respite provider informs me that Justin is throwing up.  I'm distraught, I specifically didn't go anywhere near him, but he still got it.  I sent his provider to the store to get a long list of saltines, oatmeal, ginger ale, pepto bismol, the whole works.  I get him comfortable and taken care of and he falls asleep...he's completely out.  Life is good, I can rest...ha!

I wake up around 6am to Tim screaming that he needs help...I run up stairs and Justin is having a grand mal seizure in his bed, he had thrown up his seizure meds and spiked a temp in the night.  Typically his seizures are easy to spot with a loud panting noise, however, this was completely silent and we had no idea how long it had been going on.  I called 911 and gave him his emergency seizure meds.  Twenty minutes later, with the ambulance team and IV, he finally came out of the seizure.  We ended up in the ICU and he finally woke up two and a half days later.  For my gifts, I have sat tirelessly by his bedside waiting for him to wake up, massaging his muscles, and meeting his every need.  His preschool teachers came and sat with him for hours giving me a break, and his music and speech therapists came to cheer him up once he woke up.  He is now on the pediatric floor, while he is awake and comprehending, his left side is paralyzed and we are doing an MRI on Monday.  I've been sleeping (if you can call it sleeping) in bed with him and trying to keep him comfortable.  Tonight, my respite provider is spending the night and giving me a break.  I haven't posted because I haven't been within three feet of a computer in over two weeks...sigh.

We think he's going to be OK...we are praying for his quick recovery.  We know there will be some regression, but we are so blessed that we have our baby and he's healthy.  In my support group, we lose children to these types of seizures every single month.  I told God that if it was time for Justin to be with Him, I would accept that, but I prayed for Him to bring him back to us and He did.  In addition to all the support we've gotten from friends visiting, our church made us meals and our Pastor is praying with Justin on Monday.  We've had amazing nurses who have gone above and beyond for Justin and everyone who has come in contact with him has been amazing. In addition, Tim's Dad, Tata, took shifts at the hospital and helped Dakota with his science fair project (coming up this week of course!) and to top it all off, we got a letter in the mail saying that the pharmaceutical company is going to waive the $2,000 monthly co-pay for my blood transfusions.   God is good, life is good!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Blood Transfusion...

Today was my first blood transfusion...it was an interesting experience to say the least.  I had to drive into the city for my first one in case I had any negative reactions.  I was feeling pretty horrible on my way there, I am having problems with my thyroid again :-(.  When I arrived, I realized I was being sent to the Cancer Center...I was thankful that I don't have cancer.  I was seated in a recliner that was lined up with several others in front of a large window facing the sky-scape of the city.  All the recliners were full with patients thirty to fifty years my senior.  I was given a blanket and pillow's and set up for my transfusion.  It took about an hour and a half and I was feeling pretty good, especially since I had gotten my high score on Yahtzee on my phone!  I was feeling great when they had me leave...however, driving home, I realized I was quite dizzy and my ears were ringing.  I had to pull over but the symptoms were only getting worse.  Finally, I got myself home, safe and sound, where it took me a couple hours to recover.  Unfortunately, I don't know if it was the infusion or my thyroid...sigh...luckily, from now on I will be getting the infusions at home with a nurse on a weekly basis, so I can just rest following the procedure.  I am very blessed as many insurances don't allow home visits, there are many people that have to go to the clinic on a daily or weekly basis and it isn't somewhere I'd be comfortable being at regularly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Websites that MUST be shared!

Hello!

I just have to share with you two of my favorite finds...EVER!

The first is called Family Mint.  It is FREE and it is a website where you set up each of your kids allowance...it's ALL virtual and there is NO real money involved.  No more running to the bank for one dollar bills!!!  It allows the kids to set up as many goals as they want and you can upload pictures.  As you make deposits into your child's account, they disperse it how they see fit and then it requests your final approval.  This has become a HUGE motivator for Dakota.  We set up three accounts for Dakota (you get to pick or upload a picture for each one)...he has his Tithe of 10%, his Retirement of 40%, and his Spending of 50%.  Remember when I told you if your child put $2,000 in retirement at age 16 and again at age 17, they would have a TON of money at retirement with no additional deposits?  Well, with Family Mint, you can match your child's savings or set an interest rate of return, etc.  So for Dakota's Tithe money, we left it as is, no special return or matching.  For his Retirement, however, we set up a goal of $2,000 with a 100% match by us!  For his Spending account, I set up a 6% return on his money.

Does this sound complicated?  It's NOT!  There is a quick five min tutorial on how to do it and I had all five kids set up in less than 20 minutes.  It's so user friendly, Dakota was transferring money and making decisions in less than three minutes.  Best part is that Dakota is doing a TON of math.  Every time he get's money, he has to figure out the percentages...then there is a "progress bar" underneath the account so he can see exactly how he's doing.  We even uploaded the game he is saving for as the picture for his Spending account. 

Anyway, I could go on all day.  Visit this site, again it's FREE, so awesome!!!

http://www.familymint.com/


OK, my second favorite web find...actually, I love them both equally, is:

www.paperbackswap.com

This is a place where people actually swap books!  For real!  For FREE!  So the curriculum I'm using for homeschooling is based out of classic literature, not text books...meaning I need to buy 75-100 books of all sorts each year for each kid...yes, we are talking $1,000 at least, if I find them used...sigh.  So, I put every book I need...yes, that was a chore and a half, onto Paperback Swap.  Every time another member posts that book, I get notified.  How does it work?  It's so simple really, it's absolute genius!  You post any books that you are done with and if another member wants them, you ship it to them via media mail for a measly $2 and some change.  Then you get a "credit" towards getting a book from another member.  Do you hear spring cleaning bells?  I did!  I sent out over 30 books, cleaned off my shelves, and now I have a bunch of credits sitting in my account to get new curriculum, which have been arriving almost daily!  Woo hoo!  What's more, you don't even have to swap any books.  You can buy credits, seriously, for like $3...that includes the shipping.  When was the last time you got a book for $3.  Anyway, one of my fav's, check it out and ENJOY!!!

Amazing Week!

We have had the most amazing week...I have had so many "Aha" moments that I don't know if I can even remember them all!  It started with me giving the kids a "vacation" day on Monday..."just because".  It was so fun...we all slept in...no school work...and we played all day, including major water fights with the hose.  It was a fabulous day and a much needed break for all of us!

On Tuesday, I took a Homeschooling Seminar on "Managing the Multi-level Family" and "Teaching the "Difficult" Child"...during the seminar I kept thinking, this is common sense.  However, the following days, I found some of the ideas presented have really stuck with me...deeply.  One, in particular, was when she said, "I love you more!"  This was meaningful because my little Abbey, who has a speech delay, quite often says..."I uv ou mer!"  However, the speaker wasn't referring to "I love you more than you love me..."  She was actually referring to..."I love you more than an uninterrupted cup of coffee...I love you more than a full nights sleep...I love you more than going to the bathroom with the door closed"...OK, I added that last one.  But you get the idea.  Everytime the kids are interrupting your phone conversation, your favorite TV show, you moment of peace and quiet, she said remember..."I love you more!"  Then she teared up as she explained when she was getting up all night with one of her many babies that a friend of hers lost her five year old to cancer.  And she had no doubt that her friend would stay up each and every night and do anything else to have her baby back again.  So choose to say, "I love you more!"  My patience has increased by 300% with this internal dialogue.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!!!

On Wednesday when the ice cream truck came (even though it was five minutes before dinner, grrr) I got all the kids ice cream in their favorite action hero shapes :-).  This was their favorite gift for the week!  On Thursday, Tim and I went on our date and we searched high and low for a video game Dakota had been saving up for.  We found it used and by saving him shipping, he was thrilled!

Desiree

Friday, April 9, 2010

Getting Back on the Horse!

Hey Everyone!


I'm so sorry for not posting...I can't believe it's been a month!  My health has been so good that I've been going 100% trying to make up for all the household things that got behind while I was bedridden!  I have so much to write and I've been tearing myself up about not posting, then I'd get anxious about how behind I am, so I decided that I'm just going to start from here and try and fill you in on the past month in small, manageable chunks.

I hope you will accept my apology.  I have been gift giving like crazy, sometimes big, sometimes very small, but I'm having fun.  I have so many things to tell you.  I went to Boston and learned all about Alpha 1 and it was fabulous!  Tim and I helped earn over $20,000 in one night which was matched by a pharmaceutical company making it over $40,000!  We learned all about how to throw our own fund-raising events and met the most amazing people.  What's more, is I got excellent medical advice and was hooked up with THE Alpha 1 doctor in Arizona.  He confirmed everything that I learned and I will be starting weekly blood transfusions to help keep my lungs functioning at their best.  This treatment does not help the liver, but the liver is less likely than the lungs to have major problems.

I am so deeply blessed as I learned that the infusions (the cheapest ones) are over $12,000 per month and I will need them for the rest of my life.  I had to work the numbers, my first co-pay is $2,400 but thank the Lord for His guidance, as Tim and I had invested in the best insurance plan and there is an annual cap of $2,000 out of pocket!!! My doctors were shocked with how much my insurance was going to cover.  We also had to worry about my lifetime max as I will be going through the money quick, we were thrilled to find my policy covers 5 million dollars just for me!!!  That's 50 years of transfusions!  We are so grateful.  I start these in about two weeks and I'm very excited as I know they will help me feel much better.  There is a likely cure going through the FDA process currently, it should be available in 10-15 years.  The transfusions will keep me healthy long enough to see the cure!

My health has been better than in a long time.  I've gained some weight and struggling with that, but I'm exercising and eating great.  I'm can't wait to start sharing with you my gifts as they come.  Thanks for all of your support and prayers!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day Sixty-Four, Reading!

Today Abigail came down the stairs carrying six or seven books.  She said, "Read to a me!"  I was swamped...I was attempting to make all the kids a nice breakfast of pancakes and french toast.  I told her I couldn't right now and she stomped her feet but was persuaded to be nice with all the good food.  After we all ate and got dressed for the day, I saw the pile of books sitting there.  I cuddled up with her on the couch and although my head was pounding, we read each and every one...it took a long time, but she loved it.  I smile as I write this because she was just so happy for the attention and there are few things I love more than sharing a great book with one of my amazing children!

Day Sixty-Three, A Special Presentation!

Kaylee has been asking me for some time to come visit her classroom at school...I've wanted to, but between being sick and getting everything caught up in the past few weeks, it hasn't happened.  I decided I would go and watch her give her presentation on Vermont.  I talked with the teacher to arrange a time...she said that it was going to be very short and that parents don't usually come, but I was more than welcome.  I went in at 830am and she totally lighted up as soon as she saw me.  She gave a fantastic presentation and I was thrilled.  I gave her a big hug and kiss and congratulated her before I left.  It was a really nice treat for both of us!  When she came home, she ran through the door, gave me and hug and kiss and thanked me for coming...awwww...so sweet.

Day Sixty-Two, Gift Certificate!

As I've mentioned before, I'm helping a young teen couple with a baby get back into a high school program.  They are going to be doing all of their work online...they have one working computer and one broken laptop that needs a repair.  When I was at the fundraiser auction the other night I bid on a service for a computer tech to fix a broken computer and I won!  So today, I gave this gift to the young couple.  They will now be able to have two computers in their home and work on school at the same time!  I wanted to help take down any possible barriers to their success and I saw this as being one...they were sooo incredibly thankful!

Day Sixty-One, Vermont State Report!

I'm in awe that I made it through the first sixty days!  Wow, my life has changed soooo much, it's thrilling!  I'm a bit overwhelmed at trying to get through the rest of the year, but I'm just focusing on one day at a time.  The gift giving has become quite natural...the hard part is keeping up with writing the posts about them...hence, you are getting a weeks worth in one day!  Sorry about that!  I'm going to try and focus on keeping this a top priority in the morning before all the kids are up.

Kaylee was doing a State Report in her first grade classroom, she had three choices, her first was Texas as her maternal Grandmother lives there...her second was Hawaii, as that is where her Dad and I got married, and her third was Vermont because I am from there and she didn't have any other ideas...lol.  So, she came home with Vermont!  I was excited, she said oddly enough no one else in the class wanted it!  I laughed and told her I've met several adults who have asked me "What country is Vermont in?" So I wasn't surprised that a classroom of first graders were not fighting over it! 

For my gift for today I spent hours working on her presentation poster.  We had a month to work on the project and we had written to the Chamber of Commerce...finally, she got this huge package in the mail full of brochures, maps,  and other information.  It was very exciting for her.  We went through everything, cutting up stuff, then I pulled out my scrapbooking materials to add some pizazz and we went to work.  She had so much fun learning about maple syrup, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, Ethan Allen, and of course the sea monster in Lake Champlain...

It exhausted me, as I get very tired in the evening, but I hung in there and we plugged away at it for two and a half hours and had an amazing project to show for it!  I gave her suggestions, but she did the actual project work on her own!

Day Sixty, Science, the Magic Way!

Today was crazy!!!  I had to make the meals for my meal group but I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments the past few days.  I've been getting a little tired, but completely enjoying life!  I'm excited every time I change a diaper, clean the floors, or anything like that...I can do it myself!  I'm honestly scared of being bed ridden again, but I won't ever wonder if I had done all I could do...I really am enjoying every second!!!

Dakota had gotten a Magic Science Kit from my mom for his birthday...a couple of weeks later, we still hadn't opened it and he was dying of excitement.  So, today we not only did one, but plowed through five science experiments.  It is so difficult for me to give him my undivided attention...Abbey and Justin were gone for a few hours to preschool and we did science, cooking, science, cooking, science, you get the picture!  Once Abbey got home she was mesmerized by the magic wand and the crystal ball we made.  We had to hide the kit from her as she was going nuts!

Dakota had so much fun and somehow we got all the meals made, delivered and our other subjects done...sigh...how exhausting!

Day Fifty-Nine, A Sleepy Sunday!

This Sunday, I slept in a little late...as did the rest of the family...Tim hadn't made it to bed until around 5am.  I decided for my gift, I'd try and give him as relaxing day as possible with five young children.  So, I let him sleep while I quietly got Dakota and the other kids up and going and called our respite provider.  I asked her to watch the babies while Dakota and I went to church, as I was sure I couldn't possibly get them all ready in time by myself.  When we got home, I cleaned up the house and let Tim sleep.  He came down rested and happy and the house was spotless!

Day Fifty-Eight, A Fun Fundraiser!

Today's gift was a challenge...lol...I told myself that I would bring ALL the kids by myself to a fundraiser at the local church...it was a country themed fun dance and auction with hot dogs, cotton candy, etc.  We went and the kids had a great time, I had difficulty keeping track of every one...sigh.  Jamie kept jumping in strangers laps and Abbey was busy chasing other toddlers.  Dakota was off with his friend and said they were "talking to girls"...sigh...and Justin was having difficulty with all the noise.  But, I was so glad that we went, we had a lot of fun and stayed for over two hours.  Tim was working a DUI task force that night so I was completely on my own.  I got them all unloaded and in bed and actually got Abbey to go to sleep in her bed (something only Tim seems to be able to do!)...

We bought several extra tickets for food to help the cause and I bought a couple things in the auction, which was very fun!  A woman came up to me from the church and said that she wanted to give away some tickets as a gift and that our family stood out...this was funny, considering it was at a church where everyone has four, fix, six, or more kids...we still apparently stood out!  I accepted the tickets graciously and thanked her and gave them to kids to get extra cotton candy or other sweets.  This was one of my most ambitious gifts...I honestly can't remember that last time I took everyone out by myself...more than a year, at least!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day Fifty-Seven, Identity Theft!

One of my respite providers found out that she is a victim of identity theft :-(...unfortunately, she doesn't use the computer at all...no email address, nothing.  When they told her to go online to get it straightened out, she had no idea what to do.  Today for my gift, we downloaded all three of her credit reports.  We went through found any discrepancies and filed the appropriate paperwork to dispute it.  We also filed a claim with the Social Security Administration and put a freeze on her accounts so no new credit could be taken out.  Thank God that the damage wasn't too bad and we caught it.

This would have taken days to accomplish over the phone and through snail mail when it only took an hour online...that was my gift for today.  She gave me a huge hug in appreciation.  I'm loving this!

Day Fifty-Six, Cleaning Solution!

Today was my fourth day taking care of the kids on my own.  I'm enjoying brushing teeth, changing diapers, getting them dressed...I'm finding myself humming as I vacuum and just thrilled to be able to function as a CEO of my home.  I've been able to keep the house clean and the laundry somewhat under control.  Dakota had his homeschooling program today and he wanted to do a play, so we loaded up our puppet theater in the car and I dropped him off.  He was considerably less sad today to go than usual which was encouraging.

I did not sleep well the night before for some reason, I'm not sure why, and I headed off to grocery shop.  I was doing great filling up the cart...I didn't leave much for anyone else and then headed off to the cashier.  As I reached in to grab my wallet, I realized it wasn't there!  How embarrassing!  The cashier was so gracious and told me that at least one person a day forgets their wallet...I remember taking it out to fill out insurance card information on a form and I didn't put it back.  I had to drive back home, grab my wallet and then go back down to pay...sigh. 

I spent quite a bit of time tying up lose ends with the principal to get the two teens going for Monday...but while I was at the grocery store, I picked up some Murphy Oil Soap for my friend.  She absolutely loves the smell of it in my house and I explained to her how natural it is and it is one of the only cleaners that is safe for my lungs.  She ranted about how much she loved it but I knew it was pretty pricey for cleaner and she has food stamps, which doesn't cover cleaners.  I noticed it on sale and grabbed her a huge bottle...she was so excited and thankful that I got it for it.  I also got her "Motivated Mom's" cleaning schedule and printed it out for her.  She loves mine!  That was my gift for today.

Day Fifty-Five, High School Education!

Today was a really rewarding gift...I worked with a teen couple who have a one year old on a plan to get them back into high school and graduated, all while working around the needs of taking care of their baby.  They thought it was impossible, but with a bit of creativity and being familiar with different program options we were able to get the signed up with the paperwork in.  I worked closely with the principal and they are both starting on Monday!  They will be studying from home and doing their classes online...they will take turns studying and taking care of the baby.  I did the enrollment forms for them, got all their documents to the principal, and helped them with picking out classes.  That was my gift for today :-).  They were so grateful and are really excited to start!

Day Fifty-Four, Ice Cream!

I had such a bad day yesterday, I felt defeated all day.  I was weepy and overwhelmed...for some reason, the kids decided to be angels all day.  We had a behavior specialist come and observe several hours into the evening (we were suppose to pretend he wasn't there...are you imagining "Super Nanny"...it was this type of deal).  Now, Tim and I did a pretty great job at pretending he wasn't there...however, the kids...they were perfect.  They did their chores, they were pleasant, things that would have normally set them off were not an issue...sigh.

He explained to us afterwords that he didn't need to see them misbehave to understand the dynamics.  He thought we had the behavior modification down packed but he felt we needed to allow ourselves to "grieve"...my diagnosis is traumatic and needs to be given it's due sadness.  He feels the kids are angry at how unfair the world is and we are going to work with a family counselor to help explain to them the situation.  They know something is wrong but they don't know what...kids can imagine all kinds of things, so we have a lot of work to do.

I was feeling pretty bad about my day yesterday and how frustrated I'd been.  I also felt bad that a behavior specialist couldn't just swoop in a "fix" our anger issues...but it was good, all in all.  I was standing at the end of my driveway when the ice cream truck came by.  Abbey and I flagged him down and we proceeded to buy ice cream for my five kids and Tim and our neighbor and her five kids...That was my gift for today!

Day Fifty-Three, Outing with a Friend!

Hello All!

I know you may be panicked as I haven't written on my blog...so sorry!  It's not because I'm sick, it's actually because I am doing so well that I haven't had time...too busy with life!!! Woo hoo!!! So, I'm too busy taking care of my kids, cleaning the house, and homeschooling to blog...that's a great thing!  I will keep my posts short to get caught up and then we'll go from there.

Today was my meal day so I spent the day with the kids and getting the meals ready for the families in the co-op...Abigail had been up a lot of the night, so she slept in and I was totally exhausted...but not doing too bad.  For my gift today, I had invited several friends to go to a book store outing with me...it was a "Mom's night out" type thing about financial investments, etc.  I had a horrible day with the kids...I felt like throwing in the towel...they were so negative and mean all day I didn't know what I was going to do.  I was totally exhausted but because one of my friends accepted my invitation, I decided to go...I'm glad I did, we had fun.  I drove us there and bought the books that were recommended reading and lent one to my friend.  While I was grumpy and overwhelmed...it was a nice outing!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day Fifty-Two, Pregnancy Test!

Don't worry, the test wasn't for me!  Now that we have that cleared up...one of my friends little sister thought she may be pregnant.  I asked her about it today and she said that her sister couldn't afford a pregnancy test but when she got paid Tuesday, she was going to get one for her.  I was concerned.  I know that when I've thought I was pregnant in the past, the anxiety of each day and night is excruciating.  In my case, I wanted to be pregnant...I couldn't even imagine what this poor girl was going through with this being a possible unwanted and unplanned pregnancy.

I surprised my friend later in the day with a pregnancy test.  She was so incredibly grateful.  After I gave her my gift for the day, I took a long hot bath, did my nails, and totally pampered myself with a "spa hour"...at home and free.  Tim was still sick with a sinus infection and I just needed some down time.  I was saddened to receive a text message that the pregnancy test was positive.  My friend told her sister that she would help her and if she couldn't do it, that she would take the baby...Every baby is a blessing from God, a miracle in His image...as heavy as my heart is for this very young girl to be experiencing this, I can't help but be overjoyed at the miracle of life...yet again.

Day Fifty-One, Movie for a Friend!

Wow, I'm so excited I survived my first fifty days!  Many days I gave several gifts, so I'm excited as I look back and think of everything I've worked on...it's been amazing.  Today, I was invited by a friend to her church's annual "Women's Conference."  The topic discussed was how to do God's work in your life and they talked a lot about going on a mission.  Going on a mission is something that I would love to do someday when the kids are a bit older and some of them can come with me.  One of the main points of the speaker was to do missions within your community, within your family and church, if you are not able to physically go away on a mission at this time.

As he talked about donating an hour a week or so to a mission and then more often, my friend nudged me and said "You are already doing this!"  It was a great feeling to know that I have been working on a mission bigger than myself and my daily problems.  However, at the same time, I was inspired and imagining all the ways I could give back more...do more...love more.  We truly enjoyed the speakers and then had a wonderful lunch.  This is when I updated my friends about this crazy, amazing opportunity to go to Boston and help Alpha-1 research.  One of my friends jaws actually dropped to the floor and she said, "Who are you?  We don't just meet people like you!"  I'm thinking...yea...crazy people, lol!

I came home quite refreshed to Tim laying on the couch with a serious sinus headache...the kids were sprawled about, still in jammies but I was pleasantly surprised that everyone was fed, medicated, and changed considering how awful Tim appeared.  I cleaned up quite a bit, got the kids dressed and was feeling pretty great about myself for the moment.  I had actually taken care of the kids a lot myself this week, gone to the conference, and still had enough energy left over to let Tim be sick...sigh...life is good.

The night before, we had watched a movie that was called "The Illusionist"...I wasn't expecting it to be anything special, many movies disappoint me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.  I thought of my neighbor...we swap movies sometimes and I decided to bring it over to her house to let her borrow it.  Her and her husband were thankful and seemed excited to watch it...that was my gift for today :-).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day Fifty - Another Miracle!

God had been blessing me left and right as I work on my service mission to give 365 Gifts in 365 Days, but I could have never even imagined the abundance of blessings He is showering on me, my family, friends, etc.  As you know, He has solved many financial problems with those around me and I am overwhelmed with that blessing...but yet again, He has shocked me!

The genetic illness that I have is called Alpha One, it is very rare only affecting about 100,000 people in the entire United States. This past week, I had spent a lot of time researching my different health options.  Through this research, I was able to find two doctors in my state that are familiar with and treat Alpha One patients all over the country.  I had called one of them when I was first diagnosed and he was no longer accepting patients.  When I called this week, I was thrilled he was willing to see me, however, the co-pay on his services was going to be $250 per visit.  This concerned me, but I had faith that God would take care of the expenses and I went ahead and made appointment.  Later in the week, I was able to find an equally experienced doctor...a couple hours a way that does accept my insurance.  God blessed me and I was able to get the process started to see this new doctor and my co-pay will only be $25 per visit!

There is a huge Alpha One foundation that amazes me considering the disease is so rare.   I was completely engrossed in reading all about experimental treatments that they are trying and research studies, informational days, supports, and events going on.  I realized that my best defense was to get really pro-active and involved in my diagnosis.  The Alpha One foundation offers so many resources to those of us with the disease, the list went on and on.  I noticed as I was scouring the website that they were offering a training in Boston, Massachusetts to learn how to do fundraising for Alpha One research.  My heart immediately started to pound excitedly as our community is very responsive to fundraising and I knew that doing a silent auction/dinner/dance, etc, would be something I could really get excited about!

I sent off an email stating that I was interested, however, the spots were very limited and the event was next month...so I wasn't getting my hopes up.  Well, today, I called the director of the Foundation to get put on the subscription list, etc, and we talked for two hours.  He is an Alpha One with a double lung transplant...the Foundation hires Alpha's to help other Alpha's...and it was just amazing to talk with him.  I mentioned the training for fundraising and he said he'd have the person in charge give me a call.  Well, she did!  She thought I would be wonderful "young leader in the community" and asked if I could get away from the kids on such short notice...I explained how much help I have and she was thrilled.  She also asked if Tim could come too, and I thought, sure, he could come!  She believes that my efforts would be intensified with his support and I totally agreed!

Now, as if that wasn't enough good news, I started to ask her about the cost.  Tim and I had been saving money to get away during our anniversary and the training was the weekend of our anniversary.  That's when she told me it was FREE!!!  Completely...she was going to take care of air fare, hotel, food, everything!  I was dumbfounded...then I asked, would it be possible to stay a few extra days?  Tim has never been to Boston and it's our anniversary and she said we could absolutely stay!!!  Then she gave me the travel agents information and told me to get the dates to them on Monday so they could get our tickets and hotel...wow...praise God!

I was completely overwhelmed and called my mom immediately.  "Mom, I've been chosen to do a training and help set up a charity even in Boston!!!  Next month!!!"  My mom couldn't believe it either...we had been so disappointed that we were going to go so long without seeing each other.  My mom lives just four hours from Boston and I asked if she could come to the event.  It's a Celtic event...Irish dinner, dancing, and silent auction.  Tim and I are going to fly in on Thursday evening, doing training all day Friday, set up for the event Saturday, go to the event, then Sunday more wrap up training.  Then we are going to stay until Wednesday and totally check out Boston!

I then called my Grammy, who is my Dad's mother, and asked her if there was anyway she could come to the event too...she was so excited and said she would come!!!  I still have several family members I'm trying to get a hold of to let them know about it...but I am so excited.  So, Tim and I are going to be in Boston on March 13th for the Celtic Connection Alpha One fundraiser.  If anyone is interested in going, please let me know and I'll see if I can get you tickets.

For my gift for today, I made a donation directly to the Alpha One Foundation...they are just amazing...here are a couple important websites:  Alpha One Foundation and Alpha Net...to see the flyer for the charity event click on "Celtic Connection".

Day Forty-Nine, Teacher Appreciation!

Thursdays are my day of solitude after a really rough start...I have to get four of the children out the door by 730am and then Dakota off and going to the homeschooling program around 8am.  I did not sleep well at all the night before because Abigail woke up complaining about both of her ears hurting...luckily, she is getting the speech skills needed to explain things to me.  She asked for medicine and explained both ears hurt...double ear infection...yikes!

So we did what any mother and daughter do in the middle of the night, pain killers, yummy food, and a good movie.  We cuddled and talked until she was finally, hours later, comfortable enough to go to sleep.  This made me less than 100% when the alarm rang at 6am the next morning.  I was on almost two hours of sleep when I asked Tim if he could handle getting all the kids ready.  I felt horrible as I heard him running around, unable to find uniforms, getting everyone fed and medicated, etc.  But I could not possibly move.  I didn't go back to sleep but rested until around 730am.  At this point, Tim had to leave for work.

Abigail was still sleeping on the couch as I encouraged Dakota to go to his homeschooling program (he cries every morning as he misses me going with him).  Just before I left to drop him off, I was able to call and get Abigail into see the doctor mid-morning, but we had another problem...literally, no food!  Thursdays after everyone is gone, I've been going grocery shopping so we were in dire need.  I usually get back and everything unloaded just in time to get Abigail and Justin off of the bus from preschool.  I had already decided that I was going to try and do Thursday by myself...no help.  I felt strong and determined that I could take care of my own children for one day...it happened to be a tough day, lol!

I took Dakota to the homeschooling program and Abigail strapped in the car seat still in her pajama's.  I asked her if she wanted to go to the grocery store and she squealed in excitement...the idea of going out with me by herself is exciting...I hope that someday this becomes the norm rather than a treat.  We went to the grocery store and she was smiling ear to ear...she loaded the cart, unloaded it, helped me pick out items, carried a bag.  The cashier kept commenting on how sweet and helpful she was...and this was a girl with a double ear infection!  She just loves to be out of the house!  She tries to leave with the UPS man every time he comes to the door...she runs down the driveway to try and catch a ride!!!

We came home and feverishly unloaded the groceries that were frozen and hopped back in the car.  Abigail thought she had won the lottery or something...going out again?  With mom?  No other kids???  We got to the doctors office and they very, very quickly got us in and she had a whammy of an ear infection.  Our doctor gave us medication, a plan, and a follow up appointment.  We ran to the car, drove through the pharmacy, where our pharmacist, Patrick, knows me all too well...sigh...then we sped home just in time to get Justin off of the bus.  Whew...deep breath.

I got them inside and fed and we had a relatively quiet afternoon...then I loaded Justin and Abbey up in the van to go pick up Dakota from his program.  He was smiling ear to ear and had had a wonderful day.  This is where my gift comes in...I had gotten the teacher at the program a set of wooden rubber stamps.  When I held the position, I remember that the kids loved my stamped remarks on their papers and it's such a time saver when you have so many students.  So, for my gift, we gave his teacher some "must have" rubber stamps and pads.

Then we jetted home, got everyone unloaded just in time for Justin to start physical therapy...then Jamie got off the bus and Kaylee came in and we got through homework and chores.  Sigh...I'm getting tired just writing about it.  Tim came through the door around 6pm and I told him..."I did it by myself!!!"  He raised his eyebrows...he was totally impressed. 

Day Forty-Eight, Much Needed Massage!

Wednesdays are literally insane around my house...after getting Jamie and Kaylee off to school, Abigail has dance class, Justin has a massage, I have a massage, then Jamie and Kaylee have a half day and come home early, just in time for piano and chores...we quickly shove dinner down their throats in time to make it to their youth church program...sigh...then they plow in the door around 830pm and the whole bedtime routine starts. 

So, needless to say, we don't really look forward to Wednesdays all that much, however, we have gotten used to the chaos.  This particular Wednesday I was not feeling well at all and I could tell by the way Tim was moving he wasn't either.  The hard thing about being the spouse of a chronically ill person, is you don't ever get the chance to be sick!  I watched him take pain medication and rub his head feeling completely helpless when he said to me, "I need to get a massage, I'm having muscle tension headaches," (which are the worse!).

Normally, he would have to wait a day or two to get into a massage and with his work schedule, it probably wouldn't have happened at all.  So I got really excited and said, "You can have my massage appointment today!"  He was a little surprised because missing a massage appointment even for one week can have pretty devastating consequences on my back.  However, I felt certain that this was my gift for today and he accepted it.  I had hoped to possibly get in later in the week...ultimately I didn't, but I was really excited to give him my massage appointment when he needed it.  My back pain will still be there next week and he got to be sick for the day.

By the time the kids started tumbling in the door that evening, I was feeling considerably better.  I was able to get up and help them get their stuff put away.  Suddenly Abigail pulled off one of her shoes and poured a bucket load of sand on the floor.  Oh my!  Under usual circumstances I would have asked my respite provider bathe her, but I was feeling remarkably well.  I grabbed Abbey and put her in the tub with lots and lots of bubbles when Jamie decided she needed a bath too.  I had both girls in the tub and scrubbed their hair as they splashed and squealed loudly.  Both Tim and my respite provider stood outside the bathroom door and told me to go lay down, they'd finish up but I said "no, I'm good!"

I felt a deep joy as I bathed them, brushed their teeth, did their hair and put on their jammies.  I realized, I hadn't bathed and brushed my girls teeth in at least six months.  I then even had the energy to rock Abigail for a long time and we read books and laughed and laughed so loud I thought we were going to wake up the other kids.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day Forty-Six & Forty-Seven, Taxes, Oh My!

OK, do you remember my friend whose boyfriend unexpectedly got laid off?  If you recall, I helped her sister (who lives with her) quickly find a job and helped her create a new budget?  Well, this gal was talking to me about her taxes.  I quickly discovered that the agency she had gone through cost way too much and didn't do a very good job.  So, for my gift day Forty-Six was to do her taxes and my gift for day Forty-Seven was to do her boyfriends taxes.

She was thrilled  as I showed her how they both could claim dependents...while I don't know anything about taxes, I am resourceful and determined and with that, you can accomplish anything!  I did them several different ways until I found the most money possible.  Last year, she paid $400 to get her taxes done and she got about $2,000 back.  Because I took the time to know her situation, I was able to do her taxes for $60 (the cost of the software) and she is getting back $9,000!!!!

Yes, you read that correct!  I'm also helping her amend last years taxes to give her the highest return possible because the tax agency didn't take the time to find out anything about her situation.  Mind you, I have NEVER done taxes before.  But, with Turbo Tax, it is virtually done for you.  Tim, who has done taxes for the past decade on his own double checked my work and I had done it correctly!

I was beaming when I called to tell her.  She was speechless!!!  I feel like God is just pouring his blessings on me in my mission to give.  I thank Him for this wonderful tax return and the unexpected check to one of my other readers.  He is leading my work and what a blessing it has been to me and my life...now both ladies have a huge burden lifted off of them and I know I was a small part of it.  It is very humbling and I'm in awe as I watch God at work in the lives of His children.

Day Forty-Five, Valentines Treat!

Today was Valentines Day and Tim and I hadn't planned anything other than to go out on a date.  We had discussed going dancing, but both of us were fighting sinus infections and the idea of music and dancing was just a headache.  Tim started scouring the Internet for dining ideas when I asked, "Do you want to drive in the city so that Justin can visit his birth mom?"  Who would be a better Valentine than our little casa nova?

I called a family member to see if they were willing to supervise the visit...not expecting a "yes" on Valentines Day, I was pleasantly surprised when he did say "yes".  I called Justin's birth mom and asked if we could drop him off for a visit for a few hours while we went out to eat.  She squealed in excitement.  Tim picked out a five star little Italian restaurant near her house and made a reservation for 4pm...one of the only times left.  I had an hour before we had to leave and I had some extra ingredients from my cooking co-op so I decided to whip up a homemade meal for Justin's birth family for my gift for today.  I quickly made up a baked ziti and garlic bread with corn.

When we got there, I popped the food in the oven and gave her directions on when to take it out.  I gave Justin huge kisses and we went on our way.  We really enjoyed dinner...we got there with all the senior citizens but I enjoyed watching the elderly couples walk in hand in hand all dressed up.  The owners daughter gave me a pink rose which I loved.  The owner came and shook our hand and played a little Italian Bingo with us and thanked us for coming.  We wanted to give Justin and his birth mom some more time so we went to a book store.  Tim and I could spend the night in a book store!  We spent two hours perusing in different sections...him in the business and me in the kids and parenting sections.  I found three treasures...the first was a book called "Our Love Story," it is a book where you answer questions and write all about how you met and fell in love with your spouse and your life together.  The second treasure I found was for Dakota.  It is a book called, "Conversations with My Mother."  In this book, the child interviews the mom (that's me) about her childhood, her feelings, how she met her husband, etc.  It is suppose to facilitate wonderful discussion between mother and child.  I also found a book called, "Heartstrings for My Daughter."  This book is for Abigail...it is where I can journal all my advice to her.  Everything from how to handle finances to a broken heart.  

I want my family to have these journals and keepsakes to remind them of everything I love about them.  As I miss my father, I wish I had asked him to write me a letter...anything to see his handwriting and his thoughts...so, in my writing adventures, I've got three more projects!  I'm busier and happier than ever!

Day Forty-Four, Lunch for Four!

Today was the AWANA Grand Prix!  All five of the kids worked hard on designing and building their cars...not!  Poor Tata worked on them all by himself for an entire day...well, actually, Abigail was his right hand gal.  She followed him back and forth, checking on the paint drying status, adding stickers and wheels, etc...they working from morning till night and she was nothing less than a little doll.  Then Tata got up early to go down to the races and make sure the cars met the regulation weight while we stayed home and got all the kids ready.

We got there two minutes late with the five kids and the five cars.  The stopped the races and checked us in...sigh.  They allowed Justin to sit at the end of the track so that he could see.  We got comments about how good our chances of winning were with five racers and Tim and I split up taking head counts every other minute to make sure we didn't lose anyone in the commotion.

The races were a lot of fun...Jamie and Justin really enjoyed all the sound effects of the race cars.  Abbey and Justin made it to the semi-finals and Jamie made it to the finals...she was just one spot behind getting a trophy.  As the finalist continued to compete, Tim and I took shifts bringing kids up for lunch.  We took up a whole table by ourselves and tried to keep everyone's food and drinks under control.  After I got everyone up and eating, I realized that I had some money left over...cash...I never have cash.  I decided that I should do my gift for the day.  I went up to the lunch line and asked them to pay for the next four people's lunch.  They asked, "Which four people?"  I replied, "Any four people!"

They were so excited and man who looked very poor jumped in line and went back again getting two free lunches.  He stared at our family as he ate.  It made me happy that he got to enjoy his lunch for free.  Then the kids went to play on the playground while the races finished up and I scrubbed down all the chairs and tables from the lunches.  I had several people thank me and I was just so happy that I had the energy to clean up and help out...it was a really great feeling.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day Forty-Three, Flowers!

Day Forty-Three was a pretty great day.  I woke up feeling pretty good even though I had pushed myself so much all week.  I was really excited about today's gift!  My former boss, who helped me in creating the homeschooling program and I were talking last year and she expressed her sheer hatred for Valentines Day.  I can't remember how the details of the conversation went, but I just remember assuring her that I would send her flowers on Valentines to help her get through the most depressing day of the year for a single person.

We only email a couple times a month now, but I was really excited to send her flowers and I wanted to send them to work because I didn't know her home address and didn't want to give away the surprise by asking.  I had a small Valentines bouquet send to the office on the Friday before Valentines (which fell on a Sunday this year).  On the card I wrote, "Last year I promised to send you flowers for Valentines, I bet you forgot!"  She was totally shocked, which made the gift all that more fun.  I don't think she reads my blog, so it was probably even more unexpected.  I ordered the flowers from my close friends flower shop to help support her work, so it was a very fun gift.

I got an email shortly after the delivery...she was so pleasantly surprised and thanked me for not sending red flowers and she couldn't believe I remembered!  She still hates Valentines day, but she said the flowers made her day and that made me so happy.

I was going to start the Love Dare again today but realized while I was still half asleep I told Tim he "was slower than death" as he stumbled around getting ready.  I decided that qualified as a negative statement...darn it!  The first day of the dare is not to say anything negative...geesh...I've gone three days in a row where my mouth said something and it was hanging out there...and I couldn't shove it back in my mouth.  Oh well...I'll try again tomorrow!

Today was also the day of Dakota's Lego Party.  We had booked the party for 430 at the mall in the Lego Store.  He was giddy with excitement.  Jordan, our former foster son, came for the occassion, as well as, three of Dakota's close friends, a neighbor and two other homeschooled kiddos.  We all went to the Lego Store where they started with a scavenger hunt, followed by team building of a castle, and then the fun part, buying Lego's!  Each of the boys got a lego set for coming to the party and Dakota...well, let's just say he made out!  His guests had gotten him gift cards, we had gotten him a gift card, and his birth father and grandmother surprised him with a gift card waiting for him at the store.  So, $250 later and a lego bag so large it took all five boys to lift, we left.  Dakota was on Cloud Nine!

Now, I have to fill you in on some background information before I tell you the next part...which is amazing.  My dad died last year from the same diagnosis I have.  It was only after he got diagnosed in the end stages (due to it being so rare) that my brother and I got tested.  We both have it and in the worst form possible.  However, my Dad was obsessed with the grandkids...he didn't meet all of them because he had a fear of flying and I couldn't bring six children under six on a plane, etc.  He was very close to Dakota and I did fly Abigail up there once before he passed away.  Anyway, the good part of the story is coming, just hang in there!  He had this thing for penguins...it started when he got the kids the movie "Happy Feet" and they loved it...I'm talking we watched it several times a day for two years!  He never saw the movie himself, but I would describe it as Abbey, Dakota, and Kaylee stomped their feet trying to tap dance like the main character and Justin was laugh so hysterically that he couldn't breath.  Something else extremely important to my Dad was birthdays...they were huge!  He had a three day bash every year for his birthday and the kids birthdays were everything to him.  While on his death bed, going in and out of consciousness, he would sit up and ask if it was Abbey's birthday...he waited until the day after her birthday before he went to heaven.  He fought to hang on to make sure he did not die on her birthday.

I did not handle his death well and had to do significant counseling.  I was having anxiety attacks and health complications.  I was struggling getting going and cried all day throughout the day, every day.  I was pretty miserable.  Then my birthday came in June and to my surprise my Grandmother sent me a very large penguin birthday card.  It looked like the Happy Feet penguin and I thought, "This is an odd gift for someone turning 29?"  Could it be a sign that my father could still see us?  My grandmother was sure it wasn't and that she hadn't been "led" to pick out that card, but I wanted to believe he was still with us.  So I prayed to God to only bring me penguins if they were a sign from my Dad.

In the months of July, Aug, and Sept, almost every time I was hysterically upset a Happy Feet penguin would appear.  One day I was sobbing and Dakota ran up to me with a National Geographic Magazine with the Happy Feet penguin on the front and said, "Mom, look it's Happy Feet"...he knew nothing about my belief, as I hadn't told anyone but Tim and later my Grandmother.  Another time I was crying all the way into town for me and Tim's date and we had to run into a store and sitting at the checkout line was a punch of Happy Feet penguin toys.  Mind you, Happy Feet is no longer a new movie!  Another time I was crying over my Dad and opened a parenting book to find the same Bible verse he had picked out for his funeral.  It seemed every time I cried over him, there was something.  Still thinking I was a bit crazy, the week of the anniversary of his death came.  I was having anxiety attacks all day long and one day I laid on my bathroom floor sobbing to God and my Dad.  I cried and told him everything I felt and to please give me some hope that he was OK, that he was still part of our lives.

I got through the anniversary of his death and was hanging in there when I had Abigail's and Justin's birthday party.  Their birthdays are both in November so we had a combo party the weekend after.  I was helping Justin with something when they started opening gifts.  I heard Nana exclaim, "It's a penguin!"  I teared up...no way...no way, I thought, it can't be.  I slowly turned around to see Abigail holding a stuffed Happy Feet penguin as large as she was.  My eyes instantly flooded with alligator tears, they dropped down my cheeks.  I couldn't believe it as Tata opened Justin's bag and again a huge Happy Feet stuffed penguin.  Who were these from?  Come to find out they were from a friend a Nana and Tata's (Tim's parents) who just adores our kids.  No one knew about my belief of the penguins and Tim's parents were quite confused.  I went in my back yard and cried for an hour.  They were perplexed, but I finally was able to compose myself and go back in and explain.  I told my grandmother but she told me I was very "creative" which is true, but I think there is more to it.  Even Tim, who doesn't believe in anything like that, was starting to wonder if there was something to this.

That night was a huge turning point.  I slept with one of the penguins every single night for weeks.  I prayed to God and thanked Him, I prayed to my Dad and said if this is really you please send Dakota a penguin on his birthday in February...then there would be no doubt whatsoever.  The months came and went and I felt such a spiritual healing and I no longer cried every day, all day.  I just felt true happiness that my Dad was OK and he was with us still.  At this point I told my brother, sister, and my mom about the penguins.  They totally thought it was my Dad...I insisted that they don't send Dakota a penguin for his birthday, that if it was Dad, he would find another way.  They agreed.

OK, this is the part you've been waiting for...did Dakota get a penguin for his birthday???  Well, when Jordan got dropped off for the party, Abigail grabbed the gift bag and pulled out the card and opened it.  It was covered with cartoon penguins!  I just smiled...no crying...I had no doubt Dakota would get his penguin for his birthday...and from someone who had no idea about the penguins!  I was totally happy and satisfied with this...but my Dad had more in store for us!  Following the Lego party, I had planned to take the boys out to pizza.  However, Dakota insisted that it would be more fun to eat at the Food Court in the mall...and who I am to argue with the birthday boy?  All the boys wanted to go to McDonalds...surprise, surprise :-).  Tim took them to McDonalds while I headed over to Subway to get a healthy sandwich.  When I came back Tim said excitedly, "Look at their Happy Meal toys!"  I didn't think anything of it as I glanced over and all three boys were Kung Fu fighting with little cartoon penguin toys...the Happy Meal bags were covered with penguins...there must have been over 50 of them.  Oh my!  I took a picture of all the penguins and the boys and told Dakota they were from Grumpa Bill in heaven.  He didn't pay much attention and continued to play.  Someday he'll realize how special it was.  The card and toy penguin are going in our birthday penguin collection :-).

Here's the picture:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day Forty-Two, Valentines Party!

As you have read, I've had a very busy and exhausting week!  Unfortunately, I'm having some trouble sleeping as well.  I do fall asleep, however, when one of the kids wake up (and someone always does!) I am unable to fall back asleep :-(.

This happened last night.  Abbey woke up around 12:30pm and I could not fall back asleep until almost 5am and I had to get up a 630am to get ALL five off to school by 730am.  Thursday is the only day that that all the kids are gone for three hours at the same time, Tim is gone too, so I have the house to myself.  It was so exhausting but I got all of the kids off to their programs and went and took a shower.  I debated about whether to go back to bed or not...I finally decided that I had enough energy to stay up and I was going to go to the grocery store.  I hadn't been to the grocery store in weeks because I was too sick, but I really do enjoy grocery shopping, so I was excited.

I got a huge cart of groceries, which was great, because we were totally out of everything!  I was so proud when I got home and unloaded the car by myself.  Tired...but proud.  I had everything put away just in time for Justin and Abbey to come around the corner on the bus from preschool.  They had their very first Valentines party and both had bags of cards and candy.  You could tell that they had a great time.  I gave Justin his tube feeding while Abbey pulled out every candy, licked it once, and then put it down throwing the wrappers on the floor.  It was hilarious when she brought the fruit roll up to me to help her open.  She had never had one before and she had no idea what it was.  She was perplexed as I pulled the thin plastic sheet off of it.  When I handed it to her, she shook it and inspected it and had no idea what to do with it, lol!  I kept telling her, you bite it, you eat it, laughing and she just looked at me even more confused.  Finally, I said, "It's candy!"  "Oooohhhhhh!" she said and shoved it in her mouth :-).

My gift for today was to attend Dakota's Valentines party at the Homeschooling Program.  I created the Homeschooling Program from scratch and ran it until my doctors did not feel I could work any longer...even part time.  Dakota cries every Thursday morning sobbing that he wishes I was still teaching it and he misses me, etc.  I always feel horrible but I'm trying not to let the guilt get to me.  By one o'clock I was a complete zombie and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed.  But I pushed myself and drove down just in time for the start of the homeschool Valentines party.  Dakota was just so surprised.  "I can't believe you made it!" he exclaimed and he hugged me and had snacks with me.  He was kind enough to share my attention with all the other kiddo's, my former students.  A few of the Jr High kids told me they were quite upset with me for "quitting"...guilt again.  I don't really consider it "quitting"...I felt God asked me to start the program and get it running, but then to lovingly hand it off to another homeschooling mom...who is wonderful!

So my gift for today was to surprise Dakota and spend some more quality time with him :-).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day Forty-One, One of a Kind Meeting!

I decided to stop the 500 calorie diet since I met the minimum of 20 days.  So far, I have lost 15 pounds and almost 30 inches over my body.  I was able to fit in my jeans that I bought just before I went on bed rest, but no longer fit!  I am not slacking now though, however, I'm moving up to a modest 1200 calorie diet and I will keep you posted on how it is going.  I'm sooo enjoying food right now, even if it's smaller amounts but my ulcer pain came back with the first meal.  I may have to reschedule the appointment with the GI surgeon after all, but I'm hoping it will heal itself.

I sat down to do my Love Dare today and realized that I only did it for three days and then took a week off.  The Dare really builds upon the previous day.  So, I've decided I'm going to start it over and give it another shot from Day One.

I was so excited for today's gift!!!  I found out one of Dakota's favorite authors was coming close to us for a book signing.  We worked really hard on our school work all day so that we could leave early afternoon to get there in time to get a great seat.  We brought the book Dakota already owns of his and bought his newest release at the store.  It is a series called "39 Clues" the author is one of many in the series...including R.L. Stein and Marc Brown and many others.  Here's a brief description:


Books 1-7 of the #1 bestselling series are available now! Read The 39 Clues books to follow Amy Cahill and her brother Dan as they travel the world to hunt for the Clues. Each of the ten books comes with 6 game cards, reveals important information about the Cahills, and most importantly, unlocks one Clue!

The author was the most passionate and funny author I have ever met!  He had an amazing presentation on what it is like in the life of a writer on a daily basis.  He had the kids rolling on the floor laughing.  He expressed how he writes three, four, five times and then realizes it's "junk" and starts over.  What a boost for the kids self esteem!  He showed copies of what his manuscript looks like after the editor has gotten a hold of it...I was shocked, every other word was marked up!  Then he told us how he comes up with ideas, outlines, builds the chapters, etc.

I was totally impressed by this guys background...author of over 150 books and Harvard grad, I learned so much from him.  He was a ghost writer for the "Hardy Boys" and "Babysitter Clubs" series.  His 39 Clues series has just been undertaken by Steven Spielberg to make into a series of movies!  We got there an hour early to make sure we got front row seats and we enjoyed treats in the coffee shop while we waited.  Dakota asked the author questions about the foreign languages in the books and the author admitted that he really does bad with the grammar and has to consult a native speaker.  He talked about how much he has to research because the books take place in different countries and that from the start to the finish, the process takes about a year.  He asked who wanted to be a writer when they grew up and I was the first to pop up my hand, he was impressed :-).

He asked for one more final question and he called on Dakota.  Then my cutie said, "Well, it's not really a question, but a comment."  The author said, "OK".  Then Dakota said, "I've read most the books and yours is my favorite one!"  The author was thrilled and the crowd clapped at his comment.  It was just a wonderful experience.  Here is a picture of Dakota getting his books signed.

Day Forty, Chili for Lunch!

I am so worried about getting behind on my blog this week!  I have a huge event each and every day and I usually pace myself with only something once a week...sigh...but I have no choice in the matter.  Today my gift was very small and simple.  I had to cancel on my music therapist yesterday due to visiting Justin's mom in the city.  Therefore, she agreed to make a special trip to see Jamie and Justin on Tuesday morning.  I knew that because of this, she was going to have a very long day with nine clients in a row and I wanted to feed her lunch :-).

When she came on Tuesday morning, I realized I had double booked Justin.  This happens to me more often than I'd like to admit...sigh again.  I feel like my only job right now is to keep everyone's schedule straight, however, I'm averaging 12-20 appointments a day between all the kids, myself, the therapists, school schedules, etc.  I had to even buy a special phone to help me keep track of everything and it beeps at me fifteen minutes before each thing and honestly, it's beeping at me all day.  So, when she came I asked her if she could do a double session with Jamie (who was available) and stay for lunch following and I was thrilled she accepted :-).

I served her chili with corn and saltine crackers, I couldn't eat with her but we sat and chatted.  Dakota really enjoyed talking with her about homeschooling and all of our crazy adventures planned for the week.  I have not been able to do my Love Dare at all in the past week...sigh a third time.  I've been so bombarded with that cold that I'm just barely making it through my gift giving challenge and my daily Bible readings.  One things I wanted to share was a great website I found for helping me keep track of my daily scriptures.  The website is One Year Bible Online, and it has been perfect for me.  You can either print off a daily reading list to read the entire Bible in one year or you can have the daily reading sent to your email (which is what I do).  You also have the choice of reading the Bible in order to have them break up different scriptures.  I found the first time I read the Bible I really struggled with certain books that were very slow, so I opted to get the "variety" this time around.  They send you about fifteen minutes of reading per day and you get through the entire Bible in just one year.  You can start on any day of the year...I have found it to be wonderful and it's FREE.

Since I stayed up the whole night before crying to Tim, I was like a zombie today.  As soon as our therapist left, I went and took a nap.  This helped immensely. After dinner, I painted Abbey's and Kaylee's fingers and toes in alternating colors.  They loved it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day Thirty-Nine, A Special Visit!

Day Thirty-nine was a very busy, crazy day, as I knew it would be.  It started out with a doctors appointment in the city for Justin with his Neurologist.  We spent one hour waiting for the doctor, but we really enjoyed the time, playing peek a boo and singing songs, and then we spent a little over an hour with the doctor.  We made a lot of progress and we are going to try a few new things to help Justin be more comfortable.  She was impressed with the changes he is displaying with all the massage therapy.

After our appointment, we went to visit Justin's birth mother.  We haven't been able to visit before because she hasn't kept contact with us and was homeless so I couldn't find her.  However, she had a baby about six weeks ago and the State put her on a strict plan and program to clean up her life.  I was delighted when she started calling me and since she doesn't have transportation I offered to bring Justin out to see her.  He has only seen her three times in the past two and a half years and he always seemed uncomfortable.  He won't babble or make eye contact and his expression is so serious...very unlike him.  I got him really excited and told him where we were going and he did so well!

She has a modest studio apartment that is very small but so comfortable.  The baby looks great and we kept telling Justin that it was "his baby" and he laughed and squealed.  He made great eye contact and cuddled with his birth mom, it was by far the best visit they've had since he's been with me.  I was his first placement, I picked him and his older brother up at the hospital.  She handed Justin to me while trying not to cry but she was shaking uncontrollably.  I promised her I would take good care of both of them.  Today, she kept repeating, "He looks so good, you are doing such a good job!"  He does look good and he's so happy and so does the baby.  She kept saying, "You have such a good Mom..."  I could tell she was uncomfortable as to what she should call herself when talking to him.  I told her, "Justin has two mom's, he needs us both."  She was thrilled and started referring to herself as Mommy which was most natural for both of us.

I found out she didn't have a swing yet...the swing is a necessity with an infant in my humble opinion, so I got her a used one, washed the covering, and put new batteries in it.  It is a very small "travel" type swing which was a blessing because her whole apartment is smaller than our bedroom.  It fit nicely in the corner and wasn't in the way, but if she had a normal size swing, I don't know where it would have fit.  The baby loved the swing and I got to cuddle with him while she played with Justin.  We stayed the afternoon until she had to go to her rehab program...she couldn't tear herself away from him and cried as we put him in the car.  I promised her she could see him as much as she wanted and she told me that when she finished rehab she was going to be allowed to visit her oldest son too.  I gave her a coaster with Justin's picture and she cried and hugged me.  She said she was going to bring it to her group and brag about him.  I realized that she only has one picture of Justin, so I'm going to make sure to change that :-) (a gift for another day).

My gift for today was bringing Justin to see her and of course, I wanted to get something for the baby cakes too!  I'm very excited for her and Justin to have a strong relationship.  I've done everything in my power to get her to see him but it never worked out.  I was certain that she wouldn't be able to change for the new baby but I prayed for her anyway.  God again delivered the support and resources she needed.  She is doing wonderful.  She has a great heart and I know that she will always be a wonderful part of all the kids lives as long as she can keep herself healthy.

When I came home I was exhausted, I'd been out all day.  Dakota started making me feel guilty about how I'm not doing what I used to do and Kaylee was fighting me on every little detail of her day.  I just crumbled...as soon as they went to bed I cried to Tim...till one in the morning about how badly I am failing as a mother and a wife.  How I don't provide any financial support to the family, yet my medical bills and student loans take a huge toll, I can't take care of the kids myself or the home.  I feel like a burden right now to my family and it is the worse feeling ever.  We decided to call to get some family supports in place in the morning.  There is a program when you adopted such special needs kids that help your stress management, behavior plans, bonding, and family counseling.  I don't know what or how much to share with Dakota, I don't know how to deal with the guilt, and I'm terrified of Jamie and Justin's future as I become unable to care for them.  I do feel hopeful though that getting supports in place will help us all deal with the stress.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day Thirty-Eight, Late Night Treat!

I wasn't able to fall asleep until 430 in the morning last night.  I actually took this as a good sign because when I sleep all day and night, I know my body is trying to heal.  Being awake all night meant my body had gotten enough sleep.  So I tried not to get frustrated, watched a movie, and worked on paperwork until I finally was able to fall asleep.

I woke up around 830am on Sunday and was able to get everyone up and going.  I knew Tim was planning on working on a project for work until our date.  I realized quickly that the lack of sleep was taking its toll.  I was too tired to do anything but not tired enough to go back to sleep.  So I called my respite provider and asked her to come in early before our date to help with the kids and she got here around 1030am.  I was able to sit and read books with the kids and do a load of laundry, but I was pretty exhausted.  I went to lay down after lunch, still I had no luck falling asleep.

Around 3pm Tim was ready to go on the date.  There was literally no food in the house and Tim hadn't eaten and neither had I so we decided to go to a salad bar.  I was sure I'd be able to get a piece of grilled chicken and veggies without dressing.  I was wrong.  There was no chicken so I put some tomatoes on my plate and grabbed a bottle of water.  We sat down to eat and I was miserable.  I got up and went to the dessert section and came back with a frozen yogurt sundae...it was huge and it looked delicious!  I sat down with it and Tim started laughing.  He let me take one bite and then proceeded to sprinkle pepper all over it.  We both started laughing and I thanked him for helping me avoid temptation.

When we came home that evening after the movie, I realized I hadn't done my gift for the day.  After the kids were in bed I grabbed Dakota and said, "We are going to get Valentines..."  He has a Valentine party at his homeschooling program this week and I thought it would be fun to go out just the two of us for my gift.  He was thrilled and kept repeating how much he loves "our dates alone".  We found some Valentines and candies that he loved and then he informed me he didn't eat dinner.  I asked him why and he said our respite provider had mixed the veggies in the mac and cheese and proceeded to make gagging noises.

There was a McDonalds right in the Walmart and he said, "I know you are going to say 'no' because it's not healthy, but can we get something to eat at McDonalds?"  And then I said "sure".  He was shocked...I then told him, "I like to surprise you."  He replied that I surprise him quite often and we both laughed.  It's not that I never let them go to McDonalds, but it is less than once a month for sure.  I realized I was an abnormal parent when Abigail at three years old couldn't identify "french fries" for her teacher and I informed the teacher Abigail had never seen french fries before.  You could say, she displayed a look of shock.  Don't feel bad for Abbey...she has now been to McDonalds a couple of times and is no longer a french fries virgin!

We chit chatted while Dakota enjoyed his "Mighty Kids Meal" (as he is too big for "Happy Meals")...this happened in the past six months.  I told Dakota how my mom, his Yaiya, used to take me out really late to McDonalds and I loved it.  She worked a lot and really late into the night, so sometimes, way after bedtime, she just grabbed me and my brother and we went.  McDonalds was the only place open that late at night in our small town.  She always got a Big Mac w/ fries, Diet Pepsi, and an apple pie for dessert.  Dakota really enjoyed hearing that story :-).