Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A doll house fit for a princess

This year one of my best friends Lindsey, her husband Joe, and I were talking about what I was thinking about getting the kids for Christmas. I mentioned to Lindsey that I really wanted to get Avagrace a doll house that would accommodate her Only hearts Club Dolls. They are 9" dolls that are made to look like real children. They have poseable cloth bodies and are all different complexions and hair types. We love them! They even have a club and books to go along with them.

So I was telling them about this really cool house at the "red-bulls-eye" super store that was on display and seemed to be perfect, but boring. There was a house similar to it at Costco but it was huge and had rooms all around it and not just on one side, but it was like $350.00! With five kids there is no way we would ever spend that much on one present.

A few days later Joe said he could build it. "It won't be perfect like a store bought one but I can do it, it's simple enough" he said. SOLD! "perfect" I thought, who needs perfect HAND MADE IS SOOO MUCH BETTER! So Lindsey and Joe made the structure and a bed to go along. And they made it better than the other one. It had stairs on the side of the house, not taking up the middle, they put a roof, and three floors in...it was awesome and the supplies for building it only ran $80 something.

So for several weeks Lindsey and I personalized it with wall paper, tile floors, paint, and furniture. It is awesome! And on Christmas morning Avagrace and every other child in this house was ecstatic! We (yes we meaning me too) have played with it every single day! There is nothing like a professionally done HOME MADE doll house! Thank you my dear sweet Lindsey and Joe! We miss you guys terribly!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:18

This scripture is such an inspiration to me. It is one that I want my children to know well.

One of the most played games in my home is 'dress-up'. The kids love to act, dance, perform, and put on all kinds of shows. There is not a day that goes by that they do not put on a costume of some sort. The scripture verse above inspired me to give them a very special 'dress-up-toy' for Christmas this year.

In October (our costume celebration month-our version of Halloween) Aidan was a King. I had begun the search then for royal robes and king attire. It was then that I stumbled upon Baby Be Blessed dolls. It is an amazing Christian company that makes cloth dolls with scripture patches on them. The scripture patches are specific to the child receiving them or a favorite scripture of the on making the doll. Their lamb dolls are adorable and perhaps an Easter wish for the baskets this year??? Anyway, they also make scripture crowns. I got Aidan one for his King costume in October and it was a huge hit. I have a scripture for each of my children that is fitting to them and one that I want them to memorize.

Now, back to the verse title of the blog. This scripture reminds me that I am daughter of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. I am in fact a princess and responsible for much. It is my duty to act like royalty and to display the image of my Heavenly Father in all that I do. It is a huge responsibility and at times, very difficult to accomplish. However, it is always deserving of much deliberation and choice. I love this responsibility and I want my children to know of it and be led by it.

Think about it, if you were royalty wouldn't you want to display your manners at all times. What about your choice of words and reactions to difficult situations. It's an awesome responsibility but one that I want to take on!

To encourage my children in this I got each of them crowns with their individual scriptures. That way their scripture is bound to their foreheads reminding them of their role.

I also found Starvisions on Etsy. A maker of professional skating attire and costumes. She made these gorgeous royal robes in my children's colors.
{For those of you that do not know, I have color-coded my children. It started off because they each got a lovey (a silky blanket to cuddle) as a baby and they needed to be different colors so they did not get them confused. This spread to their scrapbooks, and now to everything. They love it and they have each adopted those colors as their favorite. It is so cute}
So Starvisions made a royal robe in each of their royal colors; Aidan's blue, Avagrace's pink, Violet's purple, Breya's red, and Liam's green. They turned out better than I could have imagined, they are gorgeous.

Now here is my part. I got iron-on fabric from the fabric store and in scripted it with a special paragraph that Brendan and I created to really get the point across as to why we were giving them these robes. Brendan suggested I put it on their heart so it is a physical reminder that Jesus is in their heart and so they can imagine it to be a 'bullet-proof-shield'. And so that is exactly where it is.

The kids absolutely loved them and will have them forever, playing with them for years to come. This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories ever!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bamboletta Dolls

Oh how we love these sweet little dolls. They are made with such love and artistry it tickles my soul to know that my children are blessed with their very own Bamboletta.
A few months back I sheepishly took the "buy handmade" pledge. I affirmed that I would in fact buy handmade, local, or from family owned business whenever possible. So over the next few days I am going to share some of our wonderful gifts this Christmas.

The first is from Bamboletta Dolls. Over the past several months we have been collecting Bamboletta Dolls. Not only are they handmade and breathtakingly gorgeous but they are eco-friendly and all natural! The dolls can go anywhere with my kids, and yes I mean anywhere. We have taken them into the OR, EEG's, EKG's, X-Ray's of all kinds, Ambulances, backyards, grocery stores, secure areas on a military base, etc....etc....etc.... The dolls are stuffed with naturally anti-microbial wool and therefore retain the smells of their surroundings. When Bren took a 5 week TDY this year he slept with a Bamboletta for a week prior and for the duration of the trip there was a faint smell of daddy for the kiddos to inhale.

Avagrace was the first to get a Bamboletta doll back for her birthday. It was for the soul purpose of giving her a friend that could go through all of her tests with her. It worked. Mari has had more EEG's than any doll I know! Well all the kids fell in love and now everyone but Liam has a Bamboletta!
Here is the pics from Christmas morning! Enjoy!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I have been out of touch with my blog for a bit because I left my laptop at one of my best friends house that is an hour away. Thanks so much for your emails, we are doing well! Felicity had her puppies and we are having a blast this lovely Christmas Night! I will be back to writing full time again very soon!

God Bless!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Addicted to...

Right now I am addicted to sermons, books, and Bible studies. I can't get enough of God's word and I am so thankful for that. I have prayed that He would renew that thirst in me, to hunger after His words and to live more effectively and joyously through Him. Like any relationship, my relationship with Christ has it's ebbs and flows. Although He never leaves me, I struggle with consistency as it pertains to my uninterrupted commitment to time with Him. I have prayed and asked Him to reignite my flame so that all the world will see Him through me. I want to be a servant to Him, living according to the way He created me to live. The best way to get to know Him and his plan for you is the same way you would get to know anyone else. To be in conversation with them and to listen to their words. To hear their heart. Thankfully God has shown that to us in His word, the Bible.

That being said I cannot believe how much I have learned in this short amount of time. It is fantastic! My favorite place to get sermons and teachings is from Providence and Perseverance's Vision Forum. This store is a great ministry. They do a lot with what they have and they offer fabulous scriptural sound materials. They also have great toys, music, books, and more! On top of that their customer service is phenomenal!

The second place I like to go is a digital store. You can download the sermons, books, and music all immediately. They have many of the lessons from Vision Forum but also many more. They offer two free downloads per day too! Sometimes it is one track, other times it is an entire book. What is better than free? Well the fact that once you pay for it the item stays in your cart and you can re download it if you loose it due to switching computers etc. So I can download it on my laptop and Brendan's laptop so we can listen to it anywhere. They are also cheaper here because you don't have to wait for the CD to come in the mail etc. This site is called Blue Behemoth. Check it out, I am sure you will love it!

Do you have a favorite sermon site?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Pinny Kig

For some reason my children LOVE Charlie and Lola along with any other Lauren Child masterpieces. (I have know idea why, wink wink!) However, Violet seems to love it the most.

Today my baby sitter was telling me about Violet getting very upset on Monday, because she could not find Gracie's "Pinny Kig." She was frantically searching about and Cassie was trying so hard to help her but could not figure out what she wanted.

"Mrs. Cassie you know, the Pinny Kig, like Lola loves and loosed it in the show" Violet explained to her. And then it dawned on her. Violet loves Pinny Kigs and now wants a real one. She was looking for Avagrace's Webkinz...a Guinea Pig.

Sorry Violet we considered adopting Guinea Pigs when Aidan and Avagrace were very small and we realized that they are a lot more work than one would thing.  No matter how cute those "Pinny Kig's" are, the stuffed animal will have to suffice for now.

She is just too cute, I know....:)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our new favorite place...

Last year Brendan and I were out on a date and stumbled upon Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World. We wandered the store looking at the live fish, four wheelers, boats, clothing, gear, etc. The whole time I just kept thinking about my childhood in Orrtanna PA. The country, hunting(this was not my thing), fishing, hiking, and spending every waking hour out of doors. We had a wooden swing set that my parents built.  It has a climbing rope, rings, a trapeze swing, a fire pole, slide and swings, we would play on this as well as a 2X4 beam held up by two cinder blocks (it was our balance beam).  We were a gymnastics crew you see!  There was also the most beautiful creek about a mile from our house that had vines hanging from the trees.  We would jump from the bridge into the water or swing from the vines and then jump in.  Yes of course there were dangers.  One time my friend S and I were at the creek and had just waded in when a very long water moccasin swam between our legs.  We FROZE and as soon as it was by we got out and decided to wait to swim another day.  Thankfully that snake was shedding so it could not exactly see that our legs were threats, at least that is my thoughts-it could have very well been a complete God moment!  The other "magical" thing about our beautiful little neighborhood was a forest behind our house.  My sister, S, A, H, and I would generally go there together.  It was funny how each of our houses had their own unique ways to play.  Our house was right in front of the thicket that we dared ourselves and each other to venture into.  There were vines and swamp areas in it (aka mud holes that never dried due to the dense forest and lack of sunlight).  We also lived in front of the corn fields that we would play hide and seek in.  Finally our house had a huge unfinished basement.  We had a "stage" made from palettes, that we would sing on.  We would roller skate around and around as if it was our own personal roller rink.  And we even turned that basement into a "haunted basement" for our neighbors to come through on halloween.  H lived in a beautiful victorian farm house with a small barn.  Her mom was in to all things natural and her house always smelled like fresh plants and baked goods.  I remember crashing my bike in front of her house one day so she brought me in, put aloe right from the plant on my knee and sent me on my way.  I had never seen a plant heal before.  I was amazed!  S's loved music, board games, and making the best salads.  She always had beauty tips and ideas as a kid.  We would make facial masks from different refrigerated goods (think mayo and eggs, lol).  When we were very small her mom would "babysit" our dolls when we went to school.  A's house had a basement full of toys that was so incredible, it felt like we had the go ahead to play in a toy store.  Anyway, back to the "magical" part, the creek that I mentioned before, ran behind our house too, many parts of it were rather shallow.  There were trees all around and a perfect clearing that allowed the sun to shine on the water and rocks in the shallows.  The rocks would sparkle and just out of reach from the suns rays there was a small "island" in the middle of a deeper area with faster paced waters.  The bull frogs the size of dinner plates would hang out on the island and jump into the water with the snapping turtles when they would spy us.  Why I loved exploring the fields, thicket, and woods around my house, the most magical part of my childhood took place on the train tracks that were about 1/4 to a 1/2 a mile in the opposite direction of the creek bridge, but I am afraid that I must save that story for another post.

This trip also reminded me of a time in my life when I was much older.  I was in middle school when one of my very best friends (J) that I had known since Daisy Girl Scouts (age 4) and was living just a few streets away from the home my mom purchased after my parents divorce.  It was a really great coincidence that my mom purchased the house near to hers.  About two years later we were assigned to sit next to each other in math class.  Everyone had tables made from three desks pushed together.  It was J, myself, and our good friend (a boy this time lol) B.  One day the two of them came in to math class clearly disgruntled.  They wouldn't talk the entire time and afterwards I usually walked with "B" to our next class.  He went storming out.  I caught up with him and he just said that he didn't want to talk about it.  I turned around risking being late and caught up with "J".  I hated when there was any unrest or hurt feelings.  So when I caught up to "J" she shared with me that her mom and his dad were getting married and that they were going to live together and be step-siblings!  Oh my!  The tension quickly past and their home became a playground for there six kids; three girls and three boys.  Because they resembled the "Brady Bunch" and I was there so often my nickname quickly became Alice.  Ironically, the boys had a cousin "L" and he also lived in my neighborhood.  He was also a regular fixture at their home.  Their parents welcomed all of the kids friends into their home.  After a year or so it was the place for all of us teens to hang out.  And I loved it there.  There was always something happening!  I had always wanted a big family, so hanging out with her family was amazing (and helpful now that I am a mom of five).  It also gave me so many grand adventures.  Her step brothers who were also some very great friends of mine, were always doing CRAZY things.  They were dare devils for sure and I loved every minute of it.  They lived  in the woods just on the border of a different school district but thankfully they came to ours.  I would not be who I am today without all of these experiences.  They had acres and acres of land full of fun outdoor excitement.  From a pool and trampoline to the pond, four wheelers and Swiss Family Robinson Style tree community that they had built, and no I am not exaggerating, I really wish I had pictures of it.  There were multiple tree houses made from branches etc, in multiple trees with rope bridges connecting them to each other.  We would do all kinds of stuff and I was determined to do all that the boys could do. So if they dared me to jump from the 'highway bridge' into 5, 6 or 7 feet of water I would, especially if it was dangerous. We played paint ball and went tree skipping (climbing trees and jumping from one to the other-I did this once and only once because I nearly fell from the tree!  It was crazy and it was a blast.  Like I said NEVER a dull moment!

When I became a mom I lost my courage because after all, I had a little one depending on me.  I also became a mom before many of my friends.  Many of them are still not parents but want to be one someday.  But as a teen I also struggled because I also grew up around the city, visiting family and I also was blessed to be an exchange student and travel to foreign countries.  It was very odd for me to find my place so to speak.  I felt that I could not be a country girl and a city girl and that I had to choose just one. Kind of silly now but I think for teens, especially girls, it is very real that 'this group wears this type of shoe' and 'that group likes that kind of music'.  Being at Bass Pro really reinstated my desire to teach my children to grow, learn, and love all of the many many aspects of society and our world around us.

Brendan on the other hand has always been interested in engineering, computers, video games, and electronics. He never appeared to be the 'type of person' who liked camping or fishing. This impression that I have always had of him bothers him because apparently he loves the out of doors. I had no clue.

So our trip to outdoor world was followed up with several conversations about "what we would do if we won a shopping spree to Bass Pro" and "how we have to take the kids there, they will LOVE it."

Now a little less than a year later and we finally made it, and yes our kids had a blast. Brendan had so much fun he actually ventured off from the kids and I for over 30 minutes to educate himself on all things 'firearms' [yes my husband is very technical with an engineer's mind, afterall he is a stellar airman :)] He also enjoyed the paint ball and camping gear. We would love to have a paint ball fight and play airsoft together, although I doubt Bren would shoot me with an air soft gun because he doesn't want to hurt me (he is quite the gentleman too). I loved the bows and fishing stuff along with the camping gear. The kids went crazy over the pop guns and every single one of us wants a marshmallow shooter of one kind or another to have a marshmallow fight. Another favorite was a four wheeler!

This past weekend they had free pictures with santa and crafts for the kids so we stopped in and really had a blast. It was like visiting an amusement park even though it was a store!

All in all I desperately miss nature, trees, rivers, and mountains. Even more I am so sad that my kids do not know what it is like to just go outside and play and explore the world that our wonderful Creator has made for us. They always have to have someone to play with. I pray that we will have some land sometime soon, with trees and room to run!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far...

My mother can attest that I was in the emergency room quite a bit as a child. Maybe not as much as my brother, but that is a whole blog in and of itself! Well the apple doesn't fall far from the tree they say and my poor accident prone Liam has proven it time and time again.

Saturday night the kids went to a parent's night out at a daycare center and chipped his tooth. LONG story and I was quite upset but his tooth is ok now...oh and this is Liam saying 'cheese' hahaha, he is quite a bit like Uncle Freddy!!!

Then Sunday morning we were getting ready for church, all of us were in the girls room putting dresses on them, and Liam fell into the bookshelf as he walked into Bren's leg while Bren was holding Breya. The side of his ear hit the edge of the shelf and cut through the cartilage. It looked like we took scissors to his ear except his hit hard enough to cut his head just behind the ear wound as well. So instead of church and the Sunday School Christmas party we spent the morning in the ER getting 6 stitches.

Now today, during dinner Liam toppled forehead first into the wall and looks like this!

My poor little tough-guy! He is going to keep us busy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


As I wind down from the Thanksgiving holiday I am finishing up classes, finishing up our epilepsy awareness month and preparing for our adventure through Advent. I am making the little slips of paper to stuff into our advent house. Each one has a thing to do such as baking cookies, making Christmas cards, making a craft etc. We will do one for each day of the month and so I need to make sure that I coordinate the right activity for the right day based on our current schedule.

Today we started off our Christmas traditions with the first ornament placements on our tree. Each year each member of our family gets a special ornament that reflects something that they loved, or said, or did from that year. We write the owner's name on it and the year that they receive it so that when my children leave my nest, they will take with them a treasure box full of ornaments to place on their very own tree.

I got all hand-blown ornaments. These ornaments are so much fun and usually so expensive but (insert the name of the famous mid-west craft store here) had 75% off of their ornaments and so I mulled over the rows and rows of ornaments until I found the very perfect one for each family member! Usually we pick them out together but this year I did it alone and gave them as gifts to commence the festivities. They family actually liked this more as did I. I think we have found a new tradition! So here is a description of what each person got, I will put up pictures of each one holding their ornament tomorrow. Without further adieu ...drum roll please....

Aidan got a rooster. He loves chickens and would love to keep chickens and take care of them, collecting their eggs each morning. He first fell in love with this idea at my dear friend Deanna's house. I hope to own some chickens for him when we own our first home!

Avagrace got a precious blue bird. Dainty, beautiful, and so glittery. However, the bluebird was our one casualty from store to home and so I will need to replace her ornament. Perhaps I will allow her to pick hers out now? Not sure. She is my bird, Ava means bird.

Violet (whose ornament was picked first this year so she got to place the first ornament onto the tree!) was a purple fish that was "all sparkly and purple!" She loves fishies and purple.

Breya got this adorable red (of course) octopus with a boa and a 'bow-tie" she loves anything red and loves bow-ties (aka hair bows).

Liam got a green alligator with a red bow rapped around it. He loves his Animalz alligator and gorilla but since green is his favorite color I went with an alligator. He loved it and tried to eat it, hahaha.

Daddy got a Black Hawk helicopter. He loves helicopters, the Apache is his favorite but his favorite movie is Black Hawk Down, so it works!

I got a lovely peacock. Bet you didn't know I love peacocks did you! :)

I will post pics tomorrow, what traditions do you carry out over the Christmas holiday?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

and THE pie!!

Last week Violet got to go with Daddy to get the pumpkin pie at Sam's Club. I know what you are thinking, "you bbbuuuuyyy, your pie???" I know I am horrible, but I am not a baker and I use my fresh pumpkin for pumpkin dip, pumpkin bread, pumpkin scones, and pumpkin mousse. So yes, I do buy my non-vegan pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving :)

So the second Violet, Breya, Liam and Bren got back from Sam's with The Pie, Violet immediately wanted some. It was like tortured to her to have to wait two whole days to eat THE Pie.

On top of that the kids were anxiously awaiting Wednesday evening when we would take an hour long drive over the river (I wish there was a river nearby) and through the woods to "Ashalee's house" for Thanksgiving. One of my best and dearest friends has just moved into a house in the country south of Norman Ok. We were going to spend the night at her house so that Bren and I could play games with Ashley and Bryan that night and so Ashley and I could wake up and cook our hearts out.

We were so excited. I could not wait for a weekend with Ashley and in the midst of nature and trees. A retreat for a restful Thanksgiving full of four adults and seven children ages 7 and under! Every few hours a time check would occur from Sunday onward. "How many more days, hours, minutes, and seconds until we can go to Ashaleee's" and quickly Violet would add to whomever asked "and eat THE Pie for Thanksgivin dinner."

Oh that girl, so sweet and so in to sweets! She just loves pie and The pumpkin Pie was the total consumption of each and every thought from Monday night till Wednesday night.

So we went and had a marvelous time. It was one of the best Thanksgiving's to date and yes Violet had her pie.

Friday, November 27, 2009

One Med and a great Thanksgiving!

We are on day four with only one medication and NOT ONE SINGLE SEIZURE!!! HALLELUAH!

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving and I will share more lata, for now, enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend! God Bless you all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Avagrace's new med plan, Violet's kidney's and Christmas is coming, and more of course!

SUDEP is sudden unexplained death in epilepsy. The likely hood of this affecting a person increases with several factors. One is age. The younger and the older a person is the more likely they are to experience it; that is patients under age 10 and patients over the age of 40. Another factor is the number of medications used to control their epilepsy. If a patient is on more than one the statistics go up exponentially. Another indicator is the type of epilepsy that the patient suffers with. If they have more than one type of seizure the chances go up even more as well.

Other than that, there is no rhyme or reason, nor understanding as to why this occurs. It is much like SIDS in babies although SIDS affects any baby no matter their health, age, race, gender. Therefore SUDEP is a bit more common in those with epilepsy than SIDS is to the general population.

That being said Avagrace is five, she has advanced generalized epilepsy, she has had each type of seizure and she has only ever been controlled on more than one medication. However, when on two medications her regression and mood changes are so severe that she has forgotten her name, colors, and other well-known to her facts. She has also been a terror and if any of you know Avagrace you know that she is a true gem and especially for me, never acts up.

SO, today is her first day on one medication for quite some time. Please keep her in your prayers. She has been going through the transition for ten weeks now.

On another note our Violet continues to have troubles with her kidneys. She will be undergoing some pretty extensive testing to see if her kidneys are working properly and to try to figure out where the scar tissue is coming from on her kidneys. She has been on antibiotics for several months to try to kill the current UTI, bladder, kidney infection but it just won't give up. She is in a lot of pain so please keep her in your prayers as well.

Lastly, I want to share with you something that has blessed my family and helped Aidan when he misses his daddy, and has helped these little girls get through all of their doctors visits this year. They are beautiful handcrafted dolls made of all natural products, including being stuffed with all-natural wool. They are called Bamboletta Dolls and they are gorgeous, durable, and the wool takes on the smells of our family. It is really neat to get Bren to sleep with the dolls before he heads out for a TDY or deployment because the dolls smell like him for weeks (NO JOKE!) I will take a picture next time he is cuddled up with a multitude of dolls (he may get me just for writing this but I think he is an amazing Daddy). I will show more pictures after Christmas of my kids with their dollies but the girls are getting dollies that look like them for Christmas so it has to be a secret for now. Avagrace got a mermaid for her birthday and that is what has started this little family of dolls. I am sure that Violet's baby from Bamboletta will quickly replace "Big Baby" and as you all know "Big Baby" even made it into our church directory picture this year. So why the change? Plastic is poisonous and Liam is highly allergic to continuous contact with plastic. His blisters are getting worse and so we have to be more and more careful. Secondly, all natural family made is the best thing for our economy and I have gotten to "know" the owner and maker of Bamboletta dolls and she has been a God send. I pray that she is blessed even more than she has blessed me! And one last thing, children with epilepsy do not need anything harsh nearby when they have a seizure. If Gracie was to have a seizure while she was sleeping (and this does happen often) her doll will not injure her. Moreover, my kiddos can take their doll with them in any test that they have because there is no metal, no plastic, and no dangerous substance to react to the machines. When Gracie had her EEG she took Marie (her mermaid doll) with her and we were able to put nodes on her head, actually Marie has had a sleep study, an EEG, an X-ray and an ultra-sound of her heart! Violet has had to leave Big Baby on the sidelines but after Christmas she will have a dolly with her during all of her procedures and her upcoming Kidney surgery if it does in fact happen. Please check out the site. You can custom order dolls or you can pick a doll that she has to sell but be warned they sell out in hours, sometimes minutes, when she uploads the new dolls on Friday! Enjoy!

Oh and that speach Bren was going to share? He delivered his speach and it went very well, but now he has doubts about sharing it! He is shy what can I say! I think he will share it soon though!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Place your oders! Team Avagrace apparel!

Team Avagrace apparel is now on sale! The back says "Spoons are useful, but not during a seizure!" During a seizure: Keep mouth clear, Protect Head, Call 911, Time it!" The front says "Eliminate Epilepsy, Team Avagrace"

The best part of these shirts are that they raise awareness. The second is that they raise money! All proceeds will go to one of two places.

The first is for a swing that is safe and accessible for children with epilepsy, autism, limited mobility etc to be placed right here on base! There are many children on base with health limitations and yet no accessible playgrounds or equipment! If the base will allow us to donate on in Avagrace's name this will happen!

The second place would be the National Epilepsy Foundation for research so that we can find a cure. If you have a preference as to which fund you want your money to go to please let me know, otherwise we will divide the money equally.

So here are the pictures. Hoodies are $25.00 and T-shirts are $15.00. They come in all sizes and were designed by me and Avagrace. Order now!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Update on Gracie

For my regular readers, you already know that Avagrace has been going through another medicine switch. To date this is the first medicine switch that has not had major adverse affects! PRAISE GOD! She is improving and is not regressing quite as much! She is more like her typical self than ever before!

She has gone to 25 mg of Zonisamide and 5 mg of Melatonin at night and 750 MG of Keppra XR with a B6 in the morning. in 2 weeks she will be on just the Keppra XR.

I am very optimistic about the single medication plan with Keppra XR. She has never been able to be seizure free with just one medication, however, Keppra XR is an extended release so that means it will maintain it's levels in her bloodstream longer.

Please keep this switch in your prayers. It is always best to be on the least amount of medications. This means fewer side effects and a healthier brain. With the Gluten and Dairy (almost 100%) free we have seen significant improvements as well! Now if only we could find an athletic program that will allow her to join and that the doctors will approve of! Come on Dance!!

On a side note I have an article published on Divine Caroline for National Epilepsy Awareness Month, please take a moment to check it out! Just click on the Divine Caroline Link above!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Epilepsy Awareness Month...What Now?

I am a researcher. It is in the core of who I am. I love it. I love to find the facts on products, services, options. I even love to help other people make decisions even though at times, I can be very indecisive. However, once I am confident in a decision I rarely waiver from it.

When Avagrace was diagnosed with Epilepsy I immediately wanted to know what I could do to make things better/easier/'normal'. One thing that changed very quickly was our regular rides on ambulances and dealing with the aftermath of a seizure. Epilepsy Awareness month is all about research and knowledge so I hope what we have found may help you or someone you know.

When Avagrace experiences a Grand-Mal or Chronic Tonic seizure a few things happen aside from the tensing/jerking that bystanders see. Sometimes she may loose control of her bladder during that seizure. That means that when she is responsive again she will feel wet and be embarrassed. She is five and has been potty trained for some time now. This is not ok in her mind, even though we all know that she had no control over it. The first time this happened we knew we needed to have a change of clothes ready at all moments, to be carried with Avagrace so that they will be ready for her to minimize her sadness about her condition.

The next thing that was consistent was that after every Grand-Mal seizure she would have an insatiable appetite and be very very cold.

Lastly, following her 37 minute-long seizure we were given a prescription for a rectally inserted dose of Dia-stat Acu-dial (vallium) to relax her body during a seizure so they will not continue after five minutes. So now we had a medication that could save her life during a seizure and we needed it at our disposal at every minute and every second of every day!

Now the mama in me thought that Gracie needed a really cool bag to carry all of this in. And so we went out on a date and purchased a backpack that was the perfect size to carry a blanket, her healthy snacks, a bottle of water, her medicine, some baby wipes to clean her up, extra socks, and a some distractionary tools like a sticker book (great for fine motor skills but not too exhausting following a seizure) and a story book that I can read to her.

Not every seizure requires a trip to the hospital or an ambulance ride. Just the Chronic Tonic Grand Mal seizures that last longer than a few minutes. These are the seizures that limit oxygen intake. So our trip always entails oxygen on the ambulance and sometimes in the ER. Usually in the ER they adjust her meds and document her stats in her file. That way they are official and not just self-recorded from home. This helps with insurance companies, doctors, and helping agencies.

The other benefit of her safety bag is that it gives her empowerment over her seizures that she is not truly aware of. She only knows the aftermath. The waking up in a strange, noisy environment with an IV being placed and bright lights being shone into your eyes despite the fact that you have a massive headache. Now she has a few more constants than mommy.

The safety bag has also opened the door for questions from the kids she interacts with at our home school group, church, and neighborhood. They have asked why we always have it and why we call it a safety bag.

Epilepsy Awareness Month Continues and I would love to know if anyone else has some routines or practices that they have put into place for the safety of their epileptic?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Side Note

As my regular readers know, I am preparing for my masters and working on getting some of my books into print! This week a lot has happened in my writing life.

First I have been invited to a writing conference in February, in Colorado! Max Lucado is going to be there and I would love to go! It is an intensive weekend where I can meet with authors, publishers, and agents. I will also take classes and learn from the best in the business. The only downfall is that even with the scholarship that was awarded with the invitation, I would need about 1500.00 to go! OI!

The second thing is that I have been nudged to work more on my Children's book about epilepsy! I have been working on it, very loosely, for about four months. What I would like to know from you fabulous folks is....what do you think children who do not have epilepsy, would like to read that would interest them and make them want to read it over and over again?

My other question is this, do any of you subscribe to Publishers Weekly? It is a weekly magazine that shares the best of the best when it comes to publishing. However, it is a 250.00 subscription! I would love to have it as a resource but...WOW! I will buy used copies if anyone has them, thanks!

Please let me know, discussion is open!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am back!

After a long weekend, spending time with God and my fellow PWOC ladies in Missouri I am back and ready to share some more! This weekend was spend at Windermere Lodge/camping area. It is a beautiful valley nestled in the Ozarks mountains of Missouri. Every other year the PWOC central region meets together here to get away, rejuvenate, study, and fellowship with the PWOC's on all the bases in the central region. That is women connected to the Air Foce, Army, Marines, Navy etc. Though, it is primarily Army and Air Force. The women are either retirees, wives of retirees, enlisted, or dependents. I really can't say enough about PWOC I love them and the whole experiences is priceless.

On another note I had a conversation with a lady that has seen seizures before. I was sharing with her about Gracie's epilepsy and how Gracie could not play soccer this year because the organization could not be liable for her epilepsy. Even if we signed a waiver she was not allowed. The lady was shocked because her children played for this organization with asthma and in her words "asthma is way worse than epilepsy." I was surprised and sheepishly said "you know people die from epilepsy, as many as die from breast cancer each year." Her reply was "people die from asthma too." I did not continue because I didn't want to be a "poor my daughter" type of lady. However, I was so surprised.

Every single time a person has a seizure they have damage to their brain, brain cells, and all body systems. Seizures are not ok. They are not mild, minor or no big deal. Epilepsy needs people to be aware and to help! Join me in getting the word out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Treatment for Epilepsy

The goal of epilepsy treatment is to stop seizures from occurring. Sounds simple enough right? If only that were true. Unfortunately there are several types of seizure, several types of epilepsy, and with epilepsy being an 'unknown', treatment can be rather difficult.

When two people take the same antibiotic for the same infection those two people will metabolize the medication differently and therefore get different results. Sure, the infection will most likely be eradicated by the medication, but the speed in which that occurs and the side effects experienced by either individual will likely be different.

The same is true for an epileptic. Fortunately there are various types of medications that work on the different chemical pathways in the brain. Each medicine controls one or more pathway. Therefore each medication will attempt to control a specific type of seizure or a few types of seizures. Of course, I am not a doctor and this is not proper medical descriptions!

Other than medication there is a natural way to help control seizures. That is through diet and behavior modification. From the diet stand point there are two diets that help reduce the likely hood of seizures. One is the Ketogenic diet. This is a very specific diet that must be controlled by an epileptologist and a dietitian. It must be followed to the T. No fudging, no mix ups, no last minute 'forgot to pack lunch let's swing through a drive-through'. Very controlled. We have not tried this as we do not have an epileptologist available to us in Oklahoma City. The other one is the gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan diet. This is where we fall in. We are 90% accurate on this diet. Meaning, when we are away from home. Out and about, visiting friends/family, in a restaurant, or at a church dinner we do not strictly follow this diet. I have not figured that part out yet. The rest of the time, in my home, we are following this diet. That is not to say that on occasion we will have an old time favorite. However, we have noticed a difference in Avagrace's alertness, color, spark, and general quality of life when we follow this diet.

Research has shown that any neurological disorder will benefit from the gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian diet. This is because the gluten, dairy, and animal product is not something that we can easily or effectively digest. Your immune system is in your gut and so when you have stuff in there that can't be digested easily or at all it just sits there until something else can sweep it out. When you have a neurological disorder, or any issue that requires your body systems to work extra hard for, your immune system must be at it's optimum state. If your brain does not have the proper nutrients or the best fuel it isn't going to function well. For someone with a neurological issue they are going to be even more sensitive to this. And if your gut is trying to digest something for multiple days it is going to get tired, slow down because it hasn't had a break, and it won't be able to properly absorb the good stuff.

Other than diet and medications it helps if you know what your triggers are. We still do not know all of Avagrace's triggers are. We do know two. One is when she breathes incorrectly. Like if she is crying and can't catch her breathe, or she has been running and is having a harder time breathing. Her other known trigger is when she is tired. So the world stops for Avagrace to sleep and nap. One down fall for her is that she has always had trouble sleeping. She will sometimes wake up for a few hours in the middle of the night and just not be able to fall back asleep. So she just lays there with her eyes closed, trying to sleep. Some people are light sensitive. Some people will have a seizure from a flashing light. Some people can have a seizure because of music. As wide and varied as are humans, so is epilepsy and its triggers. Keeping a seizure journal can really help you learn your triggers.

The plan for tomorrow is to talk about medication more in depth. I am heading out of town for a few days so if for some chance their is no Internet connection where I am I will post and be back Sunday night. God Bless and please tell one person each day all that you can about epilepsy! Together we can make a difference!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What is a seizure?

The best definition that I can find on the web is located HERE if you don't want a full out explanation basically it is when your brain misfires.

Every second your brain is sending electrical messages back and forth throughout your brain. When someone has a seizure it misfires or jumbles signals. As if your brain were one of the old telephones, like in Little House on the Prairie where you shared a line. All day the switch board would ring and the operator would connect you to an open line. It would go smoothly until something made every housewife in the prairie pick up their phone all at once and then lots of anxious women were excitedly talking on the same line trying to connect to someone else. The operator lady would go crazy...

In our household we explain it to our little kids as a brain being silly. Her brain is so active that it just gets silly sometimes. She can't control it and so she has to take medicine to help the brain do what it is suppose to do. Right now she is on her 7th try of medicine combinations/dosages. The downfall is that she is a slave to her meds. She must take them every day at the same time or it will not work. The medicines are also very strong and they control your pathways in your brain. Dramatic stuff. The side effects are what is so trying. Her current meds have made her forget and regress. One day she actually forgot her name for 45 minutes! She knows she is not remembering stuff that she once knew and to her that is the most difficult. To my mama's heart, seeing her struggle is also difficult. She will not be in remission until she has been seizure free and medication free for one or more years (it differs by state/hospital/doctor/epilepsy group). She will not be considered in control until she has been seizure free on meds for at least 6 months and up to two years depending on the 'group.'

For now we take it one day at a time. Tomorrow I will tell you about different seizures and in a few days I will tell you about lifestyle changes. If there is anything you want to know please leave a message and I will gladly add it to my list of topics! I will also have some special guest interviews later in the month so check back and check back often.

Now for my story as to why knowing the protocol is so important!

I was in an off base nationally known pharmacy picking up meds for Avagrace when a gentleman taller and much larger than me fell backwards into a seizure. A man sitting in the chairs behind us jumped up and grabbed something from his pocket and started to shove it into the guys mouth. At which point myself and the pharmacist were yelling "no, stop!" Fortunately the pharmacist jumped over the counter and stopped the man from inserting his...get this....'un-opened pocket knife' into the guys mouth. The man thought he was doing a good thing. He thought he was controlling his tongue so he wouldn't choke on it. He was so embarrassed. The man's seizure lasted 8 long minutes and when he came out of the seizure and saw the medics he was so mad. "I am fine" he insisted. "I have been dealing with this my whole life, I am here to pick up my medication. I couldn't afford it last week!" At which point the police then became involved and the man lost his license to drive and now he probably won't be able to afford his medicine again because he will now loose his job. He was yelling that at the chops because he has been fired from several jobs because of his epilepsy and is now in construction. He said without his car and without his job he had nothing. The cops offered him a ride home as they towed his car away and he cried. He told them that he had been turned down for Social Security and had spent the maximum amount of time on food stamps and TANF (welfare). He was at a total loss and so was I. Hearing him, a grown man old enough to be my dad, sob as he sat in the middle of the pharmacy floor, over the same issue that was facing us in a very different way, broke me. So many people will say "epilepsy doesn't change your life, you can live a normal life with epilepsy" this frustrates me. Yes, of course this is the goal and yes of course it is possible. However, it is rarely the norm. Epilepsy needs your help. People suffering from this silent terror need your help too!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A spoon is great, but not for seizures! Epilepsy Awareness Month

Many, many people, still to this day, tell me to "always carry a spoon with me and Avagrace will be fine! It shocks me to know that this is such a common-knowledge thing, because it is so very-very wrong! Read on and I will explain!

First let me share Avagrace's first seizure. We were at my in-laws house enjoying family time and wrapping up our last day on the East coast. We were blessed with a two week trip in February of this year. Brendan and the kids were downstairs in their living room-style basement. The kids were playing and dancing and the TV was on in the background. Brendan saw Avagrace fall while spinning and dancing. It wasn’t a hard fall, it didn’t even make him cringe or jump. She just fell backwards and bumped her head on the round coffee table, she then came forward onto all fours as Bren waited for a cry or a giggle. Instead she fell to the side and began to visibly seiz.

I was upstairs preparing lunch as Aidan came running upstairs to tell me something for the umpteenth time. Yet even before he spoke I could tell that this time was different. He is our 'always dramatic child' and so I took a moment to wash my hands and then followed him downstairs. Halfway down the stair case I heard Bren yelling and so I ran to him. He was on his knees with his fingers in Gracie's mouth trying to open her airway because she wasn't breathing, as I got closer I could tell that she was seizing. I started yelling call 911 as Bren's dad came out of the office to see what all the comotion was about. He called immediately and I told Brendan to stop doing what he was doing because you aren't supposed to put anything in a seizing persons mouth. He said that he had to keep his fingers in her mouth to keep her airway open. She was biting down on his fingers very hard but he thought he was saving her life. I didn't argue because he has had more recent training than I so I figured that he knew something I didn't. The 911 lady confirmed to my father in-law that he was suppose to remove his hands from her mouth but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He said that "next to Jesus himself" telling him to stop, he wouldn't have been able to. All I could do was pray loudly and continually tell Gracie to stay with us and that I loved her and that she was going to be ok! When she relaxed she was in and out of consciousness and she was so ashen and blue in the face. The paramedics had arrived just moments after the seizure stopped. They boarded her up in a neck brace and all and off we went to the Washington DC children's hospital. When we got there they did a CT scan and showed no damage to her brain and no fracture to her skull or neck. Because there was no damage, no bruising, and not even a mark on her, they were not confident that the fall happened before the seizure. They released us to fly home as long as we followed up with a neurologist as soon as we got back to Oklahoma.

I am going to end there to point a few things out. First, seizures can happen anytime anywhere. Epilepsy can start at anytime in life although it often happens before the age of five, and after the age of fifteen. Seizures can happen from head injury, high fevers, or unknown factors such as genetics. Epilepsy is actually a symptom more than a disease. It is a symptom of an unknown disease/condition and so it is the condition at this point. More research is needed to understand why people have these unknown recurrent seizures and what is causing their brain to misfire. A person does not have the diagnosis of epilepsy until they have had multiple seizures that were not a result of fever or head injury.

The second thing that I want to point out the reactions of Brendan and I to her first seizure. Brendan had never seen a seizure before. He has had training as have I in first aid/CPR and emergency response. Yet, when you see your own child in a situation it is very difficult to remember what to do. Since her first seizure Brendan has never put anything in her mouth and he has followed protocol during seizures, but knowing what to do is not always easy to follow. Me on the other hand, I am the loud one. "Breathe Gracie, Mommy's here, Lord please help my baby" I am talking to her during the seizure even though all the Dr's say she cannot hear me. When she comes out of the seizure though, she is exhausted, sore, and cold and wants to hear my voice. I will talk more about all of this as the month goes on but today I just want all of you to know the protocol of what to do during a seizure.

If someone is having a seizure here is what you do.

Make sure the person is lying flat on their back or on their side in a safe place. Stay with them and if you can cradle their head in your lap so as to raise the neck up a bit to assist in opening their airway as soon as they can breathe. When the seizure stops roll them to their side so if they vomit they will not choke.

Call 911. Some people say you should not call 911 unless the seizure lasts longer than 2 minutes. However, if someone has a seizure their brain will benefit from oxygen being given as soon as possible. Some epileptics may be embarrassed or mad that a fuss was made over them. However, a seizure is life threatening no matter how short it is. The greater care the better. Besides you never know how long it will last. I couldn't believe it when Gracie had one that was 37 minutes long. I thought it was never going to end!

NEVER PUT ANYTHING IN THEIR MOUTH! A person cannot swallow their tongue. They may bite it and bite it very badly, but they cannot swallow it. Someone asked me if they could bite it off, well I will double check before I answer that but if that would happen they would not likely swallow it, especially if they were lying on their side as soon as the seizure stopped. When the person is seizing their muscles are completely locked up. Swallowing cannot occur until the seizure stops. When the seizure stops people generally cough, spit, or throw-up. Then take in a big breathe. If a person is biting their tongue during the seizure, and you will know from the great amount of blood, rolling them onto their side will protect them as much as possible. Avagrace had a seizure during breakfast one morning, just as she took a bite of oatmeal. She dropped the spoon but had oatmeal in her mouth during the entire seizure. We laid her on her side and she spit the oatmeal out when she stopped seizing.

Spoons in the mouth have broken teeth, damaged jaws, and choked individuals when they did come out of the seizure. Tongue depressors have been broken off and have also choked people.

Restraining a person damages their muscles that are already locked and tense. A person needs to be left alone during the seizure unless they have a special medication that needs to be given like Avagrace. However, unless you have been trained to administer said medication do not attempt it. The medics will take care of that when they arrive.

Lastly, try to time it. I know that is very hard when you are in the midst of such turmoil. But it is very beneficial for the patient and doctor to have thorough notes on each seizure. I will explain more on this later as well.

So let it all soak in and please pass the word on.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tomorrow begins Epilepsy Awareness Month

Tomorrow is our first year experiencing Epilepsy Awareness Month. It has been a Nationally recognized Campaign since 1968 but until we got the diagnosis of epilepsy for our beautiful four year old back in March, epilepsy was not something that we ever thought about. This needs to change. There are so many myths about epilepsy and a lot of confusion about what to do, what it is, and how to deal with it. In partnering with the Epilepsy Foundation I am going to be sharing facts here all month long. On top of that Brendan and I are going to be raising money for Epilepsy Research and for families experiencing the financial burden of Epilepsy. Now many of you may be thinking, "it's just a seizure, no big deal right?" Wrong! You couldn't be more wrong. My first fact is very sobering! The same number of people die each year from epilepsy as do people from breast cancer and people from car accidents! Pretty crazy when you think about it. On top of that more than 60% of those who die from epilepsy are children under the age of 15! So, now do you see why we need to get the word out? If you would like to donate to the Epilepsy Foundation in Avagrace's name please email me at virginia.spencer@yahoo.com. Thank you so much!

I will still be sharing my normal blog stuff but this is my focus this month! But for a cute Halloween add-on. Avagrace has a lot of difficulty remembering words, names, etc...it is a major side effect from her meds. Sometimes it is very dramatic like forgetting her own name for an hour or more. Other times, like tonight, we all get a good laugh out of it! Tonight while trick-or-treating she saw a child dressed as Sponge Bob and she thought it was very cute. It was made out of a box and was very creative! She squealed, "Look Mommy! It's Sponge Bob Squirt Pants!" Oh how we laughed, it was great!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Breya Bug

My highlight of a very dreary, very frustrating day with children who want to go out and play and a mom that wants to take them out to play was a bathroom scene. That is right, a bathroom scene. This coming from a mom who does not enjoy potty humor and who is disgusted at even the thought of the bathroom that my children spend sooooooooo much time in each day! Well today, during lunch Breya used a common stall tactic in our house. "Mommy I have to go poo-poo" well it surprised me because Breya is not yet potty trained. I knew it was a stall tactic because she is the queen of not eating and Violet is the queen of needing to go potty during a meal, unfortunately she has given Breya more excuses to not eat and so today it started...or so I thought. I gladly got up and guided her to the potty. She sat on it and immediately started to pee. "YEAH BREYA!!!"" I screamed in delight. She really did have to go to the bathroom. So she looks at me and says "mommy can you get me paper" "Well love, why don't you try to go poo-poo you said you had to go poo-poo. Try to push the poo-poo out." (I know graphic sorry but I am getting to the point). So she looks at me, grunts a little trying to please her mommy. She thinks for a minute in a classic Winnie the pooh sort of way, you know with great expression and all. She then says "I can't mommy my hiney isn't workin, it's broken!" Oh that girl! I just love how she thinks!!!

A Glimpse into the heart and mind of a parent of an epileptic

In one of my current classes we needed to write using literary devices. Something I love! I am enjoying these classes and haven't been writing about anything in particular, just writing. However, a recent assignment lead me down a path that I have not taken. I have not talked much about the experience of epilepsy. I have shared facts and a bit of emotion and that is it. Epilepsy awareness month is in November and we plan on raising awareness and funds in a big, big way! In preparation I thought that I should share this with all of you.

The ER buzzes like a hive of a thousand bees. People buzz by looking for the honey, their sweet moment of exhale. When they find what they seek; a positive test result, a family member arriving to stay by the lonesome patients side. For me my honey would be an answer to prayer, a permanent fix, a cure. Regularly I sit, staring at the reflection of lights on the speckled tile floor. I imagine spot lights honing down from an alien space ship just waiting to take us away. Take us away to a new place, one without this torment. But no, they are not, they are our reality. It is a reality that grips us like the plague of centuries past. Although this plaque is not contagious and it is not bold, it grabs us secretly like a thief in the night. Too afraid to make itself known to all, it cowers and creeps exploding like a firework that nobody was expecting to explode. Why can't it be me? Why my Gracie? She is only four years old and far too young to have a connection with any fireworks. But the fireworks have found her, she has been chosen. They have made a home inside of her head. Without any warning they think that it is the fourth of July, without any warning they think it is a celebration that should occur every few days. And so she falls and shakes. It cripples her tiny body. She squirms like the crabs that we boil each summer. It steals my breath and I cry. Call 911 and call them now. My other children look to me for comfort. My smile quivers, "She is ok" I say. Her brain is just being silly and so she is dancing and sleeping all at the same time. I give her the medicine and wait. My heart beats like the drums of Africa, bold and in rhythm with the Earths clock. Finally she gasps. "Breathe baby, rest now, it is ok, mama's here!" We all pray and Thank God for being right there with us. Our house is flooded with people. The EMT's have arrived. The Fireman have arrived. The Security Forces have arrived. Oxygen, sweet oxygen, given to my baby girl, "breathe baby, rest now, it's ok, mama's here!" It happens this way each time. Each time we end up back in the bee hive. Praying that this drug will stop them, praying that our honey will be seizure free!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A camera mishap

Today we went to the OKC Haunt the Zoo. It is this fabulous event where they set up "photo ops" every so many feet. At these photo ops you get a piece of candy or a bag of chips/cookies. It is great fun! We dress up and know that our kids are getting safe and sometimes healthy halloween stuff. It is also not a scary event and we even get to peak at some of the animals at night. This year was the first year that Bren did not have to work so we all got to go together. And, we all dressed up!! That is right, Bren dressed up too. He was a clown with me and it was so great! He looked awesome! I had Lindsey take our family pic before we left and there were people at the zoo that were kind enough to take pics for us here and there. It was great! UNTIL...the last photo op of the night....

You see the zoo has people to take your pic (kind of like at the beach/amusement parks), they give you a ticket number, and then they put the pics online for us to buy later. Well we were getting our last picture taken in front of the main display that has the "haunt the zoo" banner in the background. Breya even smiled and that is a feat in itself! I asked another lady to take a pic for us and she says "it says no SD Card" YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME???!!!! I had left the SD card in my laptop! I wanted to share a few pics with all of you and my facebook friends and was transferring some pics...and I never put the card back in the camera. All those great shots...never saved................I am so sad! Thank God for those shots that the roaming photographers took! I will have to take more on trick or treat night I suppose, so until then go check your own camera so you aren't stuck without a battery/SD card/flash or whatever it is that you need to get your camera working!

Be Blessed!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat....

That song rings in my ears right now. My kids are loving the leaves changing, yes they are actually changing this year as oppose to blowing off the trees to turn brown and crispy instantly! I took the two big girls to the zoo on Saturday to get some good photos and I am just loving the cool weather too!

The other thing that fall brings is the incredible influx of bulk rate mail to our door step. I get about 1-3 catalogs PER DAY now and it is so daunting! However, one company in particular has captured the hearts and eyes of both myself and my kiddos. With a plastic allergy in the house we have to be pretty choosy nowadays when it comes to play things. I also like to try to be as earth friendly as I can. Finally I love to buy from families versus corporations. And so I have fallen in love with Nova natural Toys and Crafts. Their catalog came this week and the kids asked to look at it. They too love to window shop. So I gave it to them and for at least 30 minutes the four oldest sat around a circle oohing and aahing over what they saw. In the end they each had their favorite and a request for Christmas!

If you get a chance to look at the company's site you won't be disappointed, that is until you realize you can't buy everything that you want because you want it all! Their website is HERE.

Their toys are very friendly for those with special needs as well! I am looking at the modeling wax, the child's size mop, and a few other things especially for Avagrace for her muscle strength...she loves to mop, adores it actually. I am not running a child labor camp :), it is a reward for her and it uses her little muscles that her medicines seem to weaken so much! There are also wooden stacking bowels and rings that Liam can play with that won't cause him hives and anaphylaxis. Violet is in love with their doll highchair that is also safe to be around Liam, and Breya wants a kitchen...after all she plays with toy food more than any other toy! We just got her wooden and fabric toy food for her birthday! Aidan would do just about anything for the cash register and more than anything I would love to buy each and every member of our 7 Swans Family one of their beautiful wooden recorders! Recorders are a fabulous introduction to music and it is something that we would all love to do together!

Here are a few pics of the items that we just love! Enjoy and be sure to check out their store!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2nd grade redemption!

So in second grade my teacher taught me that A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y and W too!, were the vowels! My whole life I have been taking slack for this because my mom and sister, among others, say that I remember it wrong or that the teacher made a joke that I wasn't paying attention too etc. So just a minute ago I was going to check my email before I head to bed and the top news story is "A,E,I,O,U,Y...English words without a vowel or a sneaky sometimes vowel like y..." Many times I have been asked, "well if 'W' is a vowel like 'Y' then what word can you show that does that...I was always baffled. UNTIL NOW!!!

Meet cwn.....Yup CWM is a word, legit in scrabble, in the miriam websters dictionary... a noun derived from Welsh meaning valley and pronounced \ˈküm\ or KOOM......So there you go!

Yes, I am doing my happy dance!

On another note, I have taken the week off because the microbes were not totally gone and I came down with the flu and pneumonia on top of it! And Liam had it right along with me, my poor baby. However, we are doing very well and I will be back writing now. Thanks for your prayers, they were surely felt!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Race to kill the microbes

That title is just for you frosty! So the flu is subsiding! We have drank our way through three CASES of Gatorade, 1 CASE of vitamin water and copious amounts of water! Only one fever left and it is due to break at any moment! It couldn't have come at a better time really. We have church directory pics tomorrow and we all know or can imagine how I get at picture time (CRAZY!) I will promise to behave and share as soon as we can! Other than that, I will be spending my weekend killing every single microbe that I can reach. This house is on overhaul...again!

In other news. I start classes this week. YUP I am crazy, but again we already knew that! I am preparing for life as a masters student. Not quite enrolled in my program yet, but getting my feet wet with three quick online semesters. Priming the pump so-to-speak! I am excited. They are professional development class in writing, with authors! I also signed up for a few photography, web design, and GRE prep courses. Oh and there are a few business ones in there too! A well-rounded attempt at school as a mom of five! Only two more than when I graduated...it should be a breeze right? Although, never have I home schooled and been a military wife while a mom in school...so again we will see. Have a lovely weekend all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

National Day of Miscarriage and Infant Loss

Today is a somber day that many do not even know about. It is a day of remembrance of those must unknown. It is marked for all those who have experienced the uncertainty and pain of loosing a baby that you have only been able to carry/hear/see/know of for such a short amount of time. Some of you may have seen the second line on a pregnancy test and within hours you started bleeding. Others may have been able to hold, nurse, care for a babe for several months before it was their time to go home to the Lord. I have experienced miscarriage three times and it is never easier. Some people minimize the feelings of a miscarriage by saying "at least you have all those healthy ones" They are very right. Some do not get to be so blessed when they struggle with miscarriage. However, the loss of a child is always sad, difficult, and never easy. Today is one day, one day to remember. It is a great thought and I know that this one day is not the only day in which you keep the thought of your child on your mind. Recently my kids and I were at the table for lunch and Aidan asked what Gracie's twin's name was. From that we ended up discussing the names of all three siblings that they have in heaven waiting for them.

Jonah was Avagrace's twin. I did not know that I was carrying twins. One day I thought I was miscarrying. I went to the ER where they too thought that I was loosing the baby. I took a pregnancy test and my HCG levels were still very high. So I was sent to Ultra Sound where we saw the little babe without a beating heart, still and tiny. Upon further look we found Gracie. Hiding behind her 'brother' (I am not sure what the sex was but I my heart says boy and they were not identical twins) so because of where I was in my personal life I decided that Jonah was the perfect name for 'him'. I will never forget the bitter sweet feeling that day. Such sorrow that I was blessed to carry twins and then in fact lost one. Gracie was such a surprise, such a blessing, such a balm for the sadness. I can't imagine if I would have twins at that point in my life. I know I would have done what was needed but I know that God always has a bigger and better plan.

Shortly after we were married my mom took me, the kids, my sis and brother on our final 'family vacation with just her kids'. It was planned before our wedding and it was too late to add Bren on. It worked out well. I just found out I was prego just before the vacation and unfortunately lost the baby as soon as I got back. It was a devastating time for me. I was so excited and so incredibly excited to have a third baby so soon after we got married. Being the only baby in this miscarriage and the fact that we were married and both very excited about the baby, this miscarriage was so hard. We ended up naming her Leighanni Mildred. Leighanni was after my sister and my middle names put together. Mildred after both of Bren's grandma's. I would have loved to have met this little bundle! Fortunately we did not struggle with miscarriages for a while after this one. I got prego with Violet immediately and she was such a trooper.

Breya was our "welcome back from 7 months of military training" baby. She too was a twin and man was I excited that I actually had a second chance of having a long time dream of twins! Breya's twin was identical so she was definitely a she. Her name is Jane (Janie) Virginia. I love this name. I can't imagine having a twin of Breya, she is our tiny little sass. So full of vim and vigor. She is so teeny and so cute. I often wonder if they would have had the same dimples or if they were mirrored. I wonder if they would have been even earlier since there were two and with just one Breya was 6 weeks early.

I think about these babies often. Sometimes I feel like I am leaving someone behind and have to do a head count. This was a feeling that Bren and I got when we were newly pregnant, before we even knew that we were. Now, I know why I feel that way and each time I say a quick prayer for my little babes.

I have several friends that have lost their babies to SIDS, miscarriages, etc. I ask all of you to leave a note if you have lost a little one. I am going to be spending time in prayer for them and you! I think this year I will get ornaments for our tree for these little ones. After all, they are my children, my babies siblings, and worthy of remembrance no matter how short their life was. Life begins at conception!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Closet Creative

There is something I have been hiding from my whole life. It has always been in the essence of who I am and yet it is something that I do alone, almost in secret. I do not often share it with others and I rarely talked about it until a few years ago. Even then it was only an add on to casual conversation, a glimpse, an aside. Never my purpose, goal, or desire. It would happen here and there and I would be so pleased. I remember Mrs. Robertson and my sculpture. I remember the smell of her room and feeling of Christmas morning as I saw all of the masterpieces on her pail teal drying racks. The room was a mess and yet it was so beautiful and so organized. So warm and inviting! I remember the 'super color-ers' and the kids that made projects and wrote stories that caused classmates jaws to drop. I ALWAYS wanted to be one of them and was always scared. Too scared to try, failure was just too real. And so I did the minimum, afraid to be drawn in because when I was it was only met by criticism or a brush off. There were the occasional few things that I was responsible for that brought the ooo's and aaaa's that I always hoped for. Then there were the miraculous times when I didn't care what response was earned, I dove right in and had the internal pleasure of a standing ovation all of my own. In case you haven't caught on yet I am, in fact a "closet creative" Afraid of what the world would say. This blog has been one of my first attempts at finally trying to make my ultimate dreams a reality. The second attempt is why I am rambling on this post about the inner workings of who "I" am!

You see, I have five kids! I bet you didn't know that hahaha! I need to be able to have a career that is portable, flexible, and totally mind blowingly and awesomely me! I am going back for my masters and have two programs nailed down. Both are online and both from fabulous schools. One is a Masters in Education concentrating in Children's literature. The second is a Masters in Education concentrating in Fine Arts. So here is where it gets tricky. I LOVE children's books. I love books. I am quite obsessed in fact. I read constantly! I want little more than to be a published author and I have a thousand stories swimming in my head just waiting to catch the bait! I would love to teach college students the amazingness that is a picture book! I would love to be a professor! I would love that I could write while teaching and have time with amazing young adults learning from them and sharing with them my passion for great Children's literature! I love Academia and I love books! I would be a lifelong student if I could but school tuition is outrageous!

The Children's Literature Masters is awesome, but so very specific. What if I can't find work and I have this monstorous school debt! Not to mention that the part of me that wants to do more than just write, that inside painter/photographer/fabric artist. That person- would LOVE to teach students art, to be able to help through art therapy, to be able to spend my days up to my elbows in color. My other career goal is to own a studio of art that is open to the public of all ages! Like a Jump Zone but for artists.

So what do I do? Do I go for the Literature and keep art as my hobby? Do I dive into the art, stretch myself and possibly fail? I could easily do art while writing and teaching but could I easily do writing while teaching and making art? Just writing this all out makes me lean towards one over the other but then I change my mind and think otherwise. What to do what to do? I would LOVE and appreciate any insight/encouragement/warning etc...I love both schools. They are comparable in cost and time spent obtaining the degree. They have very different entrance requirements and one may be easier to get into over the other because of my undergrad background. However, the one that I am more prepared for does require the GRE which I am so not ready for since I have been out of college for almost four years now!

I start some online writing courses to prime my brain in the next few weeks. I also start a GRE study group. I am so serious about this and am so ready and soooooooooooooo excited. I just don't know which fork in the road to take!

All this being said it is a miracle that I have come this far. I have been wondering what to do for FOUR years. When I married Bren I turned down a full scholarship to get my Masters/PHD in Sociology so that we could focus on his career and so that I could stay home and be a mommy. I don't regret it one bit. But since that day I have never known what exactly I wanted to do. I knew that being a social psychologist researching my way through cultures would not mesh with my new family dynamics, but I had no clue about what else to do. I love ministry and wanted to work in ministry but did not feel like God was calling me to seminary. I have thought many things, but nothing was me. My sister was right, the age of 26 (last year) was an amazing 'ah-ha' year. I realized who I was when I was little, how I let life change me, and how I needed to merge those two worlds to be the authentic me! It was amazing, GOD is amazing! Now I have two programs that I would love to learn through, and yet, I cannot choose which one is really perfect.

I think my biggest fear of the Literature one is that I will not have a successful or high paying job that is portable. Then again. How is Art portable? With all the cuts in education art is a rarity! In fact, it wasn't even taught at Tinker Elementary! Literature is becoming the foundation of our education, but I am not wanting to work with young ones, I want to teach at the college level and become a published author.

So what do you think I should do? ADVISE ME! :)

DISCLAIMER: I invented three new words to add to the "Ginnish" dictionary in this post. Can you find them?