Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Chaos

Merry Christmas...

from our house...

Pop the Pig!!  Thanks, Santa!

to yours!

This guy asked Santa for a hamburger.  :)

Learning how to use a whoopee cushion.

Next on the agenda?

Baking a birthday cake for Jesus and...

cleaning up the chaos.  Yikes.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Eight Years Old!

Just a few sentences about this boy on his 8th birthday...

  • I can't believe he is growing up so quickly.
  • He is so handsome!
  • I'm thankful for his continued good health.
  • He is talking more and more each day.
  • He still loves cake...a lot.
  • And he has an incredible devotion to cheese pizza.  Serious devotion:

  •  He thinks he needs deodorant and sneaks his dad's daily, so he got some Axe-like spray for his birthday.  Look out, ladies!  
     (This is a selfie.)

  • He asked for one thing for his birthday and even though he seemed confident, his facial expression was priceless when he unwrapped that gift.  He said it was "ridiculous."  I think that meant something good.  He's been in his room playing all night.  

(I found this picture on his ipad, too.)  

Happy Birthday, Eli Pumpkin Pie!

This boy is such a delight.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

G is for... Wait for it....


G is for ... GOOD FOOD!

Yes, people.  Good food, as in, holiday favorites.

I bet many of you have Pinterest boards dedicated to good food, or at the very least, a recipe file of family favorites that you can't wait to create every November.   What is it about this time of year that makes us crave certain foods?  I'm not sure, but I do know that Thanksgiving and Christmas would not be the same without my favorite good foods, like...

  • Cornbread dressing
  • Pink Stuff (Don't ask me what it is, but it is delicious.)
  • Green bean casserole
  • Chocolate pie
  • Banana pudding
And that list doesn't even account for the "goodie foods" that make the holidays so special.  You know...goodies like Amish Friendship Bread, Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies, Fudge, Chess squares, and cookies, cookies, and more cookies.

I've got a couple of new recipes I want to try this year:  Candace's Oreo Bark, chocolate drizzled popcorn, and Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake.  


Now that I'm really thinking about it, maybe G stands for Goodies.

Spoken like a true sweet tooth.  :)

F is for Family Memories, Part 2


Now that you've had a chance to read about some of my memories of my dad's family, I am back to share about my mom's family.  (If you missed it, you can Read Part 1 here.)

What is that old saying about daughters and sons?  I can't remember it, but it relates to a son marrying and gravitating to his wife's family, while a daughter stays in the fold.  I think there is some truth to that.  While I have many, many great memories of my dad's family, my memories of my mom's family, especially as a very young child, are stronger. (Not better, mind you.)  That may be based on the fact that my Grandma was my babysitter when my mom worked, or it could be from the many weekends I spent sleeping over at my Grandma's house.

Or...it could be due to the smaller family size--mom had three siblings versus my dad's large family of nine kids.

Maybe it was due to my Grandma spending many years as a single parent--her bond with her children was very tight.  Her kids were (and are) very close, too.

For whatever reason, I have wonderful memories of my great-grandparents, grandparents,  aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My great-grandma was a broad shouldered, soft-spoken, quilting, preserving, God honoring, sweetheart of a homemaker.  She was made of strong faith.  She blessed every meal and ended every prayer with "Blessed be the Jews for Jesus' sake"  and I can hear her soft, strong voice even now.  Granny (or Ma) nearly always wore an apron with tissues tucked into the pocket. (I have one of her aprons!)  She was ready to cook a meal at a moment's notice--fried chicken was her specialty.  Ma had long white hair down past her waist.  She wore it in two braids wrapped around her head.

Ma and Jodie lived in the country in 'the big house', which really isn't as big now as it was back then.  That house was the site of many family gatherings over the years.  There was farmland out back, sunflowers waving in the wind, and warnings to us kids to stay away from the cistern.  When I was really young, I thought Grandma was saying SISTER and wondered why there was a sister down in that well hole.  Heh heh.

We held many Sunday dinners, Easter egg hunts, and Christmas get-togethers in that house.  My Uncle Jerry would hide those eggs over and over.  He wanted every kid to have a chance at that prize egg.  Looking back, I think he was a bigger kid than  we realized.  Under his watchful eye, we hunted those eggs, popped firecrackers, swam in the creek, and played family-sized baseball games.  He was hands-on.

My Aunt Jenny always lived far away, it seemed.  It was a treat when they came to visit.  In reality, she never lived more than a few hours away.  I'm not sure why we didn't visit more.  To this day, I have fond memories of her visits.

My Grandma was a dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty.  She was a work horse with a high tolerance for pain, both emotional and physical.  She held tight to many a family secret (this family takes the prize for secrecy!)  Grandma took care of us, all of us, and a little piece of a lot of people died when she passed away in 1998.  What I would give for another day with my grandma...

And that's about all I can say about that.

Christmas was always at Ma's house while she was alive.  The whole family gathered for a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Day we gathered again, all of us cousins bringing our Santa treasures to show and tell.  The silver foil tree glimmered with bright colored glass ornaments.  There were gifts for everyone and every year, Ma and Jodie would have a special bag for each family member.  Those brown paper lunch bags held fruits-apples, oranges, and tangelos; nuts-pecans and walnuts; candies--usually peppermint sticks; and a shiny silver dollar for the kids.  I'm not sure why I loved that bag so.  I think that gift represented what Ma and Jodie saw as a traditional gift, and even though a 'real' present was always under the tree, that annual bag of basic treats is one of my most treasured Christmas memories.

The flood of memories is strong right now:

Buying Jodie chocolate covered cherries every Christmas, breaking the wishbone under the table with Jodie or my Uncle Barry, riding to town every Saturday in my grandparents' Dodge Dart, walking to Mr. Roy's store and buying a 10 cent Coke.  (The store is still there in Edith, TN  Now it is Dave Moore's Grocery.  Dave was a teen-aged stock boy back then!), kicking through the bottle caps in the store parking lot, Granddaddy and his buddies watching wrestling on television, riding bikes with my Uncle Barry who is only 3 years older than me, Sunday dinners at Grandma's with my cousins, Uncle Parks' famous cherry dump cake, Aunt Charlie's chickens, talking with my Aunt Jenny (we could always talk for EVER)...

Mom's family memories are much more 'everyday' events and ordinary happenings.  I miss the way it was and the people who are gone.  Even so, there is nothing ordinary about the love of this family.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

F is for FAMILY MEMORIES, Part 1...

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 

Can you believe it is already mid-November??  I sure wish time moved as slow now as it did when I was a kid.  Alas, 'tis true....the older you get, the faster times moves.  November makes me think about past holidays and family memories.  So many of those memories are good, good memories, yes, but sad thoughts flow because that time of life has ended.  I decided to record some of my family memories to preserve them here.  My parents' families were NOTHING alike.  I'll start with my dad's family.

My daddy had a huge family.  He had eight siblings and I had many, many cousins, but none my age.  The closest to me is about eight years older and five years younger.  My grandmother was a tiny master seamstress and gardener, poodle-loving, snuff-dipping dynamo.  She was a tough little woman and quiet, reserved, I think.  She passed away when I was fifteen, so my memories may be different from those of my older cousins.  

Her house was crowded, rowdy, and loud during family celebrations.  It was drop-dead quiet at other times. She sewed. She made a lot of my clothes. She had a ceramic cookie jar that was white, barrel-shaped, and had all sorts of cookies on the outside of the jar.  I have one just like it that I found at a yard sale.  She crocheted.  She even taught my dad to crochet when he was a boy.  She could plant a stick and make it flourish.  Her yard was filled with flower beds and planters.

At Christmas, even when we drew names for gift giving, there were always tons of gifts.  There were always crazy gag gifts, too.  Those gifts brought roars of laughter.  I never really saw most of these gifts because I was usually hiding in my grandmother's bedroom with my mom.  I was terrified I would get one of those embarrassing gifts and I think my mom was, too.  

I can hear my daddy laughing...

I know we had lots of food; there were lots of us.  For some reason, I don't remember food at all.  I think my grandmother was a good cook and a good baker, making lots of cakes and pies.  I honestly don't remember, though.  Food was not the focus.  I remember the tiny tree, a million presents, and lots of loud talk and laughter.  I remember people, faces of those I still love deeply, who have long been gone from this earth.  I see smiles and bright, mischievous eyes so clearly that it is hard to believe so much time has past without them.  

One year, Santa came to Mama Barham's Christmas.  I sat on his lap, mesmerized, so proud to know that Santa wore the same after shave as my daddy.  My daddy must have been a smart man, right?  

I was not only shy, but also....naive.

My Aunt Ruby sat front and center every year with her pocket book and baby doll clutched tightly to her chest.  She always received a new pocketbook and baby doll for Christmas and made much ado when her siblings offered her old things back once the new was firmly in place.  Aunt Ruby was what you would call 'special needs'.  She lived in a home away from her family for most of her life.  Her siblings loved her dearly and made sure she remained ingrained in the family fold until her death.  I remember traveling with my daddy and my Aunt Tiny to bring Aunt Ruby home for visits.  To be honest, I was scared of her as a child.  I was afraid I would do something wrong and upset her.  I guess a part of me was afraid for her, too.  Funny that I would have children with 'special needs'. I thank God that my children have the benefit of medical technology and treatments that Aunt Ruby never acquired.  I can't imagine being separated from my children due to their special needs.  

That must have been torture for my daddy's family.

When I write about family, it opens a floodgate of random memories that take me back in time:

The KC & The Sunshine Band album I received from cousin Ricky one Christmas, Uncle Harry Lee's auction barn, piggy back rides from Dianne because I was afraid of the ditch, the outhouse, dodging chicken poo in the back yard, climbing the mimosa tree, tiger lilies by the back porch, cousin Charlotte's floppy hippie hat, sleepovers with Aunt Nelle (watching Midnight Special), Texas with Aunt JoAnn and LeighAnn (guppies in the kitchen aquarium and peanut butter and onion sandwiches!), watching my parents play Rook with Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Martha, hanging out with Aunt Tiny and Chad (baby blue Pinto, coffee for the adults--lots of coffee and talk)...

See what I mean??

A virtual flood of family memories.  

Stay tuned for Part 2-Mom's family. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

D and E are for...Diapers and....Ewww!

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 

I totally forgot to post my D post last week!  So...genius that I am, I've combined my D and E posts this week and as you will soon see, my D and E go hand-in-hand.  (Better than on your hands, and trust me.  That happens waayyy too often!)

D and E stand for DIAPERS AND...EWW.

Lots and lots of diapers!  Lots and lots of Eww!

Having given birth to six amazing kids, I have seen more than my fair share of diapers (and eww).   With the exception of the first two who were just 19 months apart, all of my kids are 3 to nearly five years apart.  I spread my diapering days over a period of twenty years, one at a time and back-to-back, if you include my late trainers and Pull Ups.  That's a lot of Eww!

I never had two in diapers at the same time.

Until now.

My girl and her three young sons are a part of our household.  When I say young sons, I mean really young.  Three boys under 18 months, two being twin infants.  I change diapers (and eww), dodging wriggly bodies, kicking legs, and unexpected pee fountains all. day. long.

Bob and weave is my mantra.

I could probably line my small town's Main Street with the dirty diapers (and eww) these three boys produce on a daily basis.  I'm certain one whiff of that diaper pail dumpster would deter any bad man or varmint.

Seriously, managing the diaper eww is another story.

But... Aren't they sweet??

Febreze is my best friend.

Friday, October 25, 2013

C is for Change

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 


Some people love it.  They relish it.  They grab it up, shake it and toss it over their shoulder, pushing it behind them with not much more than a ripple of disruption.  But most people hate change.  They fear it, rage against it, fight it with all of their strength, then stumble forward, soul stripped and dripping with defeat.

The truth is...change is inevitable. 

How often have you heard that?  Let me guess. All of your life, right?  To live life to the fullest, we have to not only accept change, but embrace it. Embrace change and live!  I'm sounding preachy this morning, I know.  I'm preaching to myself, I think.  I need to hear this and to truly embrace this, and maybe....just maybe....so do you.

Change is the tide of life, ebbing and flowing, crashing against the higher, more vulnerable outer parts of our souls. Just when we think we can't take it any longer, we surrender and accept it.  We lie on the higher ground of our battered minds, drenched and spent and better than we were before.  

The process can be messy and painful.  Change can really hurt.  Change can cause anger. Change can bring grief.  But always, always, change brings growth, even when we think we are already good enough, smart enough.  And that makes it worth the effort.

Life has a way of throwing a few loops.  Just when you think you have a plan, everything changes and you are tumbling head-over-heels, gasping for air.  When that happens....hang on tight! It won't be long before the tide subsides.

Despite the mess, the anger, the fear, and the pain...

Change is good.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

B is for BREAK...

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 

Fall Break, that is.  The kids were home this week for their Fall Break and it. was. GLORIOUS.  So nice.  We have done a whole lot of nothing and we've all enjoyed it immensely.  

Have I ever said how much I like having my kids at home?

I really do.  

I like letting them stay up late and sleep in.  I like sleeping in, too.  

Yes, it's loud and crazy, but that's okay.  

I had a list of things I planned to do (Remember last week when I posted about writing lists?  Well, I've been doing just that!)  My Fall Break list included deep cleaning the boys' bathroom (YUCK.  Wish I had a Haz-Mat suit.  Seriously.  If you have boys, you understand.  If you don't have boys....you don't even want to know.)  

I also started working on my chest of drawers.  It is old and the finish is looking bad.  I decided to paint it sky blue with a umber wash.  I'm painting the bedroom seafoam.  Oh, and I made a headboard out of an old door.  It looks pretty good.  I can't wait to finish installing everything. I will share photos when I'm done!  

I cleaned out the little boys' bedroom and split their bunk beds apart.  Even though it takes up more room, they are very happy with it and have been keeping it clean all week.  (Score!)

I took one boy to the local children's hospital for cardiac testing to follow up on our genetic testing.  No answers yet, but we don't expect any surprises.  Feel free to say a prayer that his heart is free of defects.  

Now it's Saturday.  Already.  

Fall Break is winding down.  

The countdown to Thanksgiving Break begins....tomorrow.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Blogging the Alphabet--The Letter A Stands for...

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 


It has been a very long time! I really did not intend to take the summer off, but that is exactly what happened.  It was a wild, hard, crazy summer (what else could it be?) and I will blog about that another time.  I will tell you all about our beach trip, our money woes, the weight I gained while my daughter was pregnant--well, maybe I wont blog about the negative stuff.    I admit it; I've been mopey...

But, remember I posted about the twins?  Well....they are here!  What an adventure!

Anyway....more about that another day.  Today I am joining a blog buddy in an attempt to blog through the alphabet.  (You can click on the photo at the top of this blog post to meet Marcy and learn more about #abcblogging.) This week is "A" week and for me, the letter "A" stands for...


Surprise, again!

I bet you thought I was going to say...Autism.  Truthfully, I could blog something new about Autism every week for a year, but that's not the word that came to me this morning.  So, ACTION, it is, possibly because of my lack thereof this summer.  I mean, seriously.  I've been as active as a fungus-coated sloth and boy, do I feel it.

There are many areas of my life that are begging for ACTION:  health, wealth, spirituality, relationships....   I tend to let everything slide if  I can't control these areas.  And in this economy, with five kids at home and now, three grand kids, well....it has been tough.  In the midst of the chaos it is easy to forget just how blessed we are and how much we truly have.  I need to rewind and repeat,  and give thanks to the One in control.  Life worth living is sometimes messy and hard and packed with lessons full of strength and meaning.  We must embrace it all-the good and the bad-and learn the lessons we are meant to learn.

 Ah...but it isn't easy, is it?  Free will and all that...

With those words etched on this digital journal, I hope to make some mental and physical changes-to take ACTION-today.

I know this sounds overly simple, but the first two things I plan to do (not counting this post, of course) are to-do lists and gratitude lists.  I am a list person.  I make lists for everything, or, I should say I used to make lists.  I've even been known to add items to my list after-the-fact just so I can cross them off again!  When life overwhelms, I quit making lists.  Weird, huh?

Starting today I am taking ACTION.  I've already added several items to my to-do list and I'm amazed at what I have been able to add to my gratitude list just from today.  (Wow!)

And guess what!  I can cross one item off my to-do list....

this blog post. :)

If you want to learn more about blogging the alphabet, visit Marcy by clicking her button at the top of this post and watch for the hash tag #ABCblogging on social media sites.

For those of you "old timers" reading this, thank you for hanging around during my silence.  I truly appreciate the support. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Living with Autism...The day I Railed at God

I've hesitated about sharing this story for a full month.  It doesn't show off my best personality traits, parenting skills or faith.  However, it will give you a glimpse of life with Autism.  Plus, it has a pretty cool ending.  And since Autism Awareness Month is over for another year, I should post something about Autism...right?  I've had a nice, way too long break from my blog.

(Call it twin shock, if you will.)

So this is me, posting late, again....for the win.

A little background...

My two youngest boys have Autism.  Thankfully, they are both considered high-functioning.  The older of the two has Asperger's Syndrome and my little one has classic Autism/PDD-NOS.   My little one is laid back and a bit more social than his brother.  He is not the least bit anxious about anything except bugs.  My older boy, on the other hand, struggles with anxiety every single day.  Transitions of all kinds cause him, and often those around him, great suffering.  Most days, transitioning from sleeping to waking starts a cycle of anxiety and resistance that just will. not. quit.

After completing three quarters of the school year, I was exhausted and that's without a single day in the classroom.  The months of our daily routine had worn me out.  On top of my boy's anxiety, we had a terribly long, hard winter filled with illnesses of all kinds. I was SO ready for SpRiNg BrEaK.  MORE than ready.  Those daily morning struggles had worn me down to a nub.  Add the same transition anxiety and resistance at bedtime (and the occasional breakdown at school) and you can probably understand why I so desperately needed that break.  My life had taken on the feeling of "Groundhog Day" and every day was the same.  Heck, most mornings we even heard the same songs on the radio.   I had become a female Bill Murray, trudging through my days.  Not good.  Spring Break could NOT come quickly enough!  Notice a theme here?  Yep, this has nothing to do with how Autism affects my boys' daily lives.  This is all about me.

Early in the week before Spring Break, our local weatherman added the possibility of snow late in the week. Snow!  Could we possibly get Friday off as a snow day??  An EXTRA day off??  Seriously, the idea of an extra day settled within my weary soul and even as the forecast wavered, I began to pray earnestly for that extra day.  I told God how badly I needed that extra day.  I never once gave thought to anyone else. I was so selfish.  Even so, as we trudged through that week before Spring Break, I prayed for an extra day.

Wednesday night my teenager fell ill.  He felt bad Thursday morning, but went to school anyway.  He was worse by Thursday night.  Since he had to have a doctor's note for any absences, I upped my prayers for that extra day off on Friday.  No school meant no doctor's note, no hassle.  It was probably just a cold and he could recover with an extra day off.

The weatherman had us under a winter weather advisory for Thursday into Friday morning with little accumulation, but hey...

it could happen...

That night I  prayed for just enough snow to cancel school.  I petitioned God, "Please, we only need enough for an extra day off and a day for my teen to rest and feel better."  How thoughtful of me, right?  Or maybe I thought God might listen if I wasn't so selfish...


I will just be honest and tell you that I was BEYOND angry when I saw wet grass and walkways that Friday morning.  I was livid.  I felt wronged and forgotten and unworthy.  I felt unloved by the One who loves me most.

Needless to say, my boy went beyond his normal resistance that Friday morning--it was a bad, bad morning.  Even my little one was a struggle and that is very rare.  And on top of that, my teen was ill with a high fever and asthma troubles.

My anger grew and grew as I stomped around trying to get the little boys ready for school and a doctor's appointment for the teen. And once I dropped the little boys off at the school entrance, (with a fight, I might add) I turned that anger toward the God of the Universe.

I let Him have it. (By the way, you can be honest with God about your feelings.  He already knows your heart, so hiding it won't change a thing.)  I told him how disappointed I was that He didn't give me that extra day I felt I needed so desperately.  That He didn't care enough about me to even acknowledge my request.  Not only did He not acknowledge it, He allowed the morning to be so much worse than normal.  Of course, I didn't take any credit for my bad attitude all morning--that was His fault, too, as far as I was concerned.

I railed at Him just as hard as I had begged my teen to go to school and 'tough it out' for one day.  So sad.

I felt justified.  I needed a break.  Now.


I returned home that morning just long enough to get the teen and head out to the local minor med clinic.  We had visited this clinic all winter and it was always packed.  If you didn't get there at 8:00 am, you were in for a wait.  We both knew what we were up against that day.  It was 8:30 already.  I made sure to let God know what I thought about that, too.

The drive to the clinic was silent.  I fumed.  My teen was in a feverish stupor.  He was probably worried about my mental health. Who knows?  He certainly wasn't talking to me.  We turned into the clinic parking lot.  It was empty.  Great, I thought.  It is probably closed due to an emergency or something.  But, no.  It was open...and empty.  We walked right in and straight back to the exam room and the awaiting doctor.

The clinic was still empty when we left about thirty-five minutes later.  Odd.  It was the fastest and easiest visit ever.  Even the doctor remarked about the oddity of that morning.  We were back home in no time with much-needed medication in hand.

Later that day, I picked up two happy little boys who both had great reports that day and smiles on their faces.  Weird.  Especially after our horrible morning.

And it was officially Spring Break.  Hallelujah!!

That night I grudgingly apologized and thanked God for how the day ended.  His response was loud and clear.  It could not have been clearer if He had sat with me in the flesh and spoke to me face-to-face.  This is what He said:

I know you wanted an extra day.  I know you wanted snow to fall, but I did not.
I calmed your little boys this morning.  You did not notice in your anger at me. Your attitude caused both boys to react to your negativity.
I protected you on your way to the clinic.  No snow meant less danger and a safer drive for you and your teen.
I cleared the clinic for you--you did not have to wait at all. Your teen had the doctor's full attention and he got the medicine he so desperately needed.
I allowed a safe drive home and an easy day of rest.
Your boys were happy to see  you after school despite your terrible attitude. And by the way...You really need to take time to talk to me when you are stressed and not just when you want something.  I gave you these special boys for a reason--I have faith that you can parent them successfully.  Do not let yourself get weary.  I will carry your burdens.
I care for you more than you will ever comprehend, dear one, but I also care for your teen.  You did not need an extra day...not this time.  Not more than your teen needed a doctor.  And you really needed this lesson.


Thank you, Jesus, for taking my anger and calling me out when I try to take control and do things my own way and in my own strength. 

This is me, living and dealing with the reality of Autism, sometimes gracefully, often times, notsomuch...one day at a time.
***I'm thinking about making this a regular monthly feature.  Glimpses of life with Autism or Living with Autism--a Parent's Perspective.   Parenting Asperger's and Autism can be exhausting.  It can be joyous. It can be fun, exciting, scary, crazy....It helps to hear from others experiencing similar struggles and joys.  Thoughts?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday--TWIN Grandbabies?!?!


I'm definitely too young for this....

(ETA:  Sept 2013)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

VeggieTales: The Little House That Stood DVD Review and Giveaway...just in time for Easter!

I've watched my fair share of VeggieTales movies over the years, and yes, sang those silly songs, too.  It is impossible not to love those veggies and the positive messages they teach through animation.

A little over a week ago, my friends at Propeller and Flyby Promotions sent us a copy of the new VeggieTales movie pictured above that was just released on March 5th.  My little one has watched it at least once every. single. day.  (He's watching it right now!)

It is a great story that starts with the Veggies talking about parables and how Jesus used them to teach difficult concepts to every day people.  I really liked that.  Here is the promotional blurb about the movie taken from the official VeggieTales website:

The music is entertaining, the characters are funny without that awkward 'over the kids' heads' humor you find in many animated movies.  I think our favorite part of the DVD is during the Humpty Dumpty story when his crack gets repaired, but we also enjoyed the two clown builders who helped the pigs build their less than stellar homes.  Favorite song?  "Solid Stuff" sang by the builder choosing to use bricks and  a 'solid foundation'.  So cute!  But don't take my word for it.  Check out the video trailer here:

(Sorry, the YouTube video portal is a little big for my blog setup. )

Now, wouldn't this make a great Easter gift?

Well, you can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a brand new DVD of your very own!

Thanks to Fly By Promotions for supplying my DVD for review purposes, along with a second copy to give to one of my readers.

Rules are simple:  US residents only, starts NOW, and ends March 15th. Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And finally....the legal stuff:

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255:  "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, February 28, 2013

CHD Month Ends with a Book Review...

Before My Heart Stops is the memoir of Paul Cardall, a Congenital Heart Disease survivor.  As a husband, father and talented musician, Paul shared his deepest thoughts on his blog while waiting for a heart transplant.  Many of us in the CHD community hung on every post, amazed by Paul's faith and fearful as his health obviously declined.  The good news is...Paul received the ultimate gift of a new heart and recovered quickly. He began living, really living, almost immediately.    He had lived more than 30 years with a heart similar to my oldest son's, who only managed to survive 9 weeks.  Now he has energy and strength.  What a testimony of faith!  And even though I have never met Paul, it was such a blessing to watch.

Not long after his transplant, Paul compiled his memoir, including much of the inspiring content from that blog.  The result is the book I just finished reading.  It is beautiful.  It is a front row seat of heart-wrenching, scary, sad, maddening, joyous, and faith-filled experiences as Paul and his family waited.  It was as much a blessing to read now as it was to witness on his blog in 2009.

Thanks to Deseret Book for supplying a free copy of this book for my review.  If you'd like to read it, you can get it today at a greatly reduced price.  Today only.... $5.99 for a beautiful hardcover memoir.

This was a wonderful way to end CHD awareness month, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday--The Toothless Edition...

Not to mention....EXTREME close-up...

Just look at my big boy missing both top teeth!  

Speaking of extreme...

This is his toothless version of an extreme bubble bath. 

That's his idea of mega fun.

And he even cleaned up the mess.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's Not Just Valentine's Day...

I've never been much of a fan of Valentine's Day.  Shouldn't you show your love every day?  It's nice to get candy and flowers and cards, but it doesn't have to be today.

I am more than happy to focus my attention in a more meaningful direction--the 'other' Heart Day.  Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Day.  That's also today.  Today is CHD Day!

February is Heart Disease Month; I think everyone knows this.  Everyone has seen the "Wear Red for Women" and "Wear Red for Heart" campaigns.  Most people are aware of the risks of high blood pressure, stroke, and acquired heart disease.  However, people are woefully uneducated about CHD.

In honor of CHD Awareness Day (today) and CHD Awareness Week (February 7-14) I have been posting a CHD fact on my Facebook timeline every day. (Special thanks to fellow heart parent Jim Ferritti for supplying concise, yet meaningful information every single day this month.)

I will share a few facts with you here:

  • Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth.
  • Common examples include holes in the inside walls of the heart and narrowed or leaky valves. In more severe forms of CHDs, blood vessels or heart chambers may be missing, poorly formed, and/or in the wrong place.
  • CHDs are the most common birth defects. CHDs occur in almost 1% of births.
  • An approximate 100-200 deaths are due to unrecognized heart disease in newborns each year. These numbers exclude those dying before diagnosis.
  • Nearly 40,000 infants in the U.S. are born each year with CHDs.
  • Over 85% of babies born with a CHD now live to at least age 18. However, children born with more severe forms of CHDs are less likely to reach adulthood.

Many people believe heart defects can be "fixed", never again to be considered an issue.  In truth, this is extremely rare.   They are not really fixed, but adjusted to better compensate.  Most people born with CHD who need surgical intervention will be followed by a CHD specialist their entire lives.  If they live, that is...

Thankfully, medical technology continues to make advances despite the lack of awareness and research funding.  The chances of a normal life for a child born in 2013 are better than ever.  There are great cardiac programs at hospitals all over the country and around the world and they are working hard to develop and perfect procedures which result in better outcomes.  It is exciting and scary to think that babies born with CHD are now living into adulthood.  Fifty years ago, that was extremely rare.

Even so, babies, children, and adults still die every day from CHD.

These pediatric cardiac programs treat the CHD child's medical issues, that's true, but many also cater to the general well being of the entire family.  Just this past weekend we attended the annual Heart Institute Reunion at our Children's Hospital.  It was pretty sobering to see so many people affected by CHD gathered in one place.  I was not prepared for the emotional intensity in that moment.  So many adults, teens, children, and infants strung together across race, geographics, and social status, held together by a disease so common yet so unknown...

I met some amazing families in person for the first time at the reunion, which was pretty incredible. I chatted and reminisced with medical staff and doctors, and brought home a nasty case of the Norovirus. (but we won't talk about that!)  All in all, it was a great day.  My little one really enjoyed it.  Plus, he got a goodie bag and this great t-shirt:

(And no Norovirus...knock on wood.)

One more really cool thing happened last week.

This is the main entrance of my boys' school.  See the AED sign?  I'm not sure how long it has been up, but not long.  I just noticed it last week.

Four years ago, I felt a strong calling to do something to get AEDs in our schools.  My little one started preschool and I was shocked (no pun intended) to learn that the special needs preschool did not have an AED.  With my little one's history of arrhythmia and his increased risk of future arrhythmia, it became important to me.  I had no idea what to do, or how to even begin, but the calling was strong.

In 2011, I learned that Cathy Schweinberg and The Jason Schweinberg Memorial Classic could help me. The Classic raises funds to support the CHD Awareness Quilt Project, wishes for CHD kids, and AEDs for schools.  All of this is done in the loving memory of Cathy's son, Jason, who passed away at 17 due to CHD.

 I was able to secure a donated AED for my little one's school in 2011.  I was very excited! In 2012, I was able to secure another AED through the Classic.  Because of these AED donations, our school system had to create a committee to write policy and training plans for the entire system.  I am proud to say that because of these donations (at least, in part), all of our county schools now have (or will soon have) AEDs on site.  It really thrilled my heart (ahem) to see that sign on the school's front entrance!  I am so thankful, not so much that I think my son will need an AED at school--I pray not.  But someone in our community will, someday.  And now we are prepared.

Happy Heart Day, friends~

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