Saturday, January 31, 2009

A dream come true!

Today is truly a milestone. Today I got something that I have wanted for a long, long time. It may not seem like much, but today I got an honest-to-goodness mailbox!

In Arizona we had to go down the street to get the mail. Here in Kansas we lived only a block away from the post office. If you live that close, they do not deliver. You have to get a PO box. When we moved to our new home we just kept the PO box for awhile.

Two little things I've wanted for years are a mailbox and a doorbell. Apparently the drywall guys cut the wires that power my doorbell, so I got gypped out of that. But I do have a mailbox now and I'm so happy! When hubby is travelling I don't always get a chance to drive up to the post office to get the mail. Now I can just skip out to the street.

Thanks James!

This is Peter

Last week was an amazing week for commitments at Reece's Rainbow. Several of the most at-risk children that I had been praying for had families commit to them. While I was looking at their sweet faces this morning I noticed a new face. This is Peter.

I noticed that he is only a couple of months older than Ralphie. He was born in February 2007. Then I noticed this in his description:

"congenital heart disease (ventricular septal defect with high degree of
pulmonary hypertension"

and my heart skipped a beat or two. High degree of pulmonary hypertension? This little guy needs a family to love him and access to excellent medical care right away!! Ralph has pulmonary hypertension, and let me tell you this - untreated it is a killer. Forget about the institution he will be sent to when he turns 4 or 5 years old. This sweet little guy may not live that long!

I just donated $10 that I don't have to his adoption grant fund. I challenge to you do the same thing. And please pray that the family God has chosen for him will step up to the plate soon and rescue him. God bless you.

Donate to Peter's adoption grant fund on this page.


This Christmas theme is starting to bug me! As much as I love Christmas it is time to go. Bear with me and I'll get around to this soon. I'm a litte scared because last time I changed the look of the blog I lost all my gadgets. :(

Friday, January 30, 2009


I'm hoping that we have seen a breakthrough with Ralph in the area of walking! Wesley and I worked with him this morning, helping him walk to each other. He really seemed to enjoy this for once. All giggles and crack-ups, no rubber chicken today!

Wesley inched away from me a bit at a time. Pretty soon we were about 5 feet apart. Thomas and Rose stood in front of the glass doors on the TV stand and giggled, laughed and clapped. Ralph likes to look at himself and would end up trying to walk sideways so that he could see himself in the glass!

Ralph tends to lunge forward and forget to take steps. Then he falls on his face if no one catches him. I TRY to get him to stand still for a moment while leaning against me until he's ready to take a step. He does best when he's going slow. But balancing is still an issue. I doubt I'll see more progress in walking until his balance improves a lot. I'm thinking of looking at some new shoes and perhaps some SureSteps.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lesson learned

Lesson learned today? Do not blog about not having puke stories to tell.

You guessed it! Ralph threw up this morning. I'm thankful it was nearly all contained in the tray of his bouncy jumper. He seemed to be fine the rest of the day. I hope it is over because I have another group of kids going to the dentist tomorrow and he's coming along, too.

I don't have pukey kids. You know those people that always seem to have kids throwing up? Not mine. They all pretty much have inherited my stomach of steel! Oops - I shouldn't have said that!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oh! I've been meaning to share this...

I consider Ralph to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me and to my family. As surprised as I was that he was born with Down Syndrome, it never crossed my mind to do anything but love him and teach him and help him any other child.

This brings me to a little boy in Eastern Europe. His name is Ilya. He was given up at birth by his parents because he shares the diagnosis of Down syndrome. His parents did what they knew to do, they left him at the hospital, probably told family and friends that he had died. His birth would be considered a curse on the family and services for disabled children just don't exist there. This thinking baffles me as a mother.

I thank God for the organization Reece's Rainbow and the wonderful people who support it's mission. Take Meredith, for example. Check out her blog sometime...amazing story. Amazing family! She is hosting a chip-in fund raiser for Ilya over the next three weeks. The money raised will go straight into his adoption grant fund and will be available to his forever family to help with the cost of his adoption.

Right now, this handsome little boy's future doesn't look good. He's small, under-stimulated, under-nourished, and frankly he needs someone to put a smile on his face! Ilya was born in November of 2004 and just turned four years old. He's now just 10 months from being transferred to a mental institution.
This year, though we cannot go bring home a child ourselves, I will continue to advocate for those waiting for a family. I'll also have the chip-in widget on Ralph's page for the next three right-hand side of the page. For much more information click HERE.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Random stuff.

I've been so lazy lately! I get caught up in reading my favorite blogs and then I'm either too tired to write anymore or my life just doesn't seem interesting enough to share! I'm also sad that I can't share any pictures until I get my computer back. No, no news on the computer yet.

It is nice to be boring. No emergency trips to the hospital. No puke stories to share, thank goodness! Just life.

Ralph is more solid on his feet than ever. He is still reluctant to take steps with a firm handhold. His PT is really intent on getting him walking. Part of me agrees...but another part of me is thinking that in 10 years who is going to care if he walked at 20 months or 24 month? Ya know?

Ralph's speech, or lack of, is really starting to get me down. Signing is going great, but I'm really hoping to hear some words soon. His receptive language is great and he can follow simple directions. He can communicate what he wants as far as food, drink, bedtime and such through signs. He even learned to sign "thank you" over the weekend. But, I've always said that what I want most for him is impeccably clear speech. Frustrating.

I gotta plan a garden. Soon. No idea where to start.

I was trying to think of an excuse to snag a trip to Kansas City today. I really LOVE Kansas City! A few minutes later the phone rang. It was Children's Mercy Hospital. They were calling to schedule an appointment for Ralph at the DS clinic. How funny! I got my excuse! Well...sorta. His appointment is in MAY?! Not sure I can wait that long. Besides, I'll have a new baby then, God willing. I'm not sure I can see myself hanging at the hospital all day with a baby and a 2 year old. I get exhausted just thinking about it!

The new baby (girl?) is due in mid-March, which is coming up fast! I'm starting to feel really big and sort of uncomfortable. The worst thing, by far, is my hands. I have carpal tunnel syndrome when I'm pregnant...usually only bothering me at night. This time I have tingly, prickly fingers all day long and dead arms at night. I'd be interested to know of anyone else in the world who has dealt with this!

It should be a fun week here. Dad is back to travelling regularly again and I've got 3 kids with doctor appointments tomorrow and 1 with his first wrestling tournament. Oh yeah, we are having an ice storm tonight. Thursday is dentists and water therapy AND my birthday. On Friday there is a fiesta night at church. A mission group that has been working regularly at an orphanage in Mexico will be sharing testimonies and pictures. Can't miss that!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not-so-Wordless Wednesday

I can't upload any new pictures on the computer I'm using right now. :( But, since I've been writing about Ralph's early days lately, I thought I'd show one of his early pictures.

Here he is at a couple of days old. He was so sensitive to noise that he needed these cute little baby ear muffs! The nurse threw them away later. But I was able to save the ones he used during his transport to Kansas City.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Yesterday was our anniversary! Yep, 17 years. Now I can say that I've lived with my husband as long as I lived with my mother.

If my oldest son would return my old desktop computer, I would scan some wedding pics to post. You would get a kick out of hubby's mullet!!

We went out for a quick dinner to a local Italian restaurant. The service was poor. The food was bland. The prices were high. All around disappointing. We should have just gone to Olive Garden, but I wanted to try something different.

After dinner, we went to council meeting. Can you think of a more romantic evening? I know, but there is a rezoning issue in our neighborhood that we needed to speak out on. The rezoning passed...I knew it would. Most of the people in the neighborhood don't care enough to even keep up with what is going on, even though their property taxes will be going up. That's the way it goes.

My birthday is next week. January is my favorite month.

Monday, January 19, 2009

First days.

When I learned about Kelly and Jenna over the weekend it really brought me back to those first days after Ralphie was born. I REALLY wish I had the presence of mind to blog or at least journal during those first days. It would be nice to have a record what all was happening. Plus, it would have cut down on phone time! I'm sure these girls will be glad that they have their blogs to look back on.

I guess I'm backing up a bit today. I'm really writing this for myself, so I hope you don't mind. I rode to the hospital with Ralph the night he was born. I hurried to get dressed before the paramedics arrived. I suppose that the folks at the hospital figured that they would be admitting me as well, but I refused. Apparently this didn't make me any friends. After being interrogated by the neonatologist about prenatal screenings and immunizations and other irrelevant crap, Ralph was taken to the NICU and I was turned out and given directions where to wait.

So started my so-called recovery. After an hour or so we were allowed to come into the NICU to see Ralph and get acquainted with the rules. While we were there the cardiologist showed up and we watched as Ralph got his first echo. It was about midnight and I was starting to get shaky.

One of the nurses kindly offered to let me rest in the isolation room. I tried to stand, but couldn't. I was just too weak. The nurse tracked down a wheelchair and wondered why I didn't already have one. Good question. While I was resting the cardiologist came to talk to us. He had drawn a full page diagram of the heart, labeled everything, and explained everything in great detail. I was so impressed and comforted by his warmth and the fact that he didn't assume that we were not smart enough to understand. It was after midnight.

The strange thing is that I cannot remember if Ralph was on a ventilator yet or not. I think not, but I can't remember when he was put on. He DID have meconium aspiration syndrome. These are some of the sickest babies you'll see outside of super-preemies, according to our nurses.

James wheeled me down to the car sometime after 2am. We went home and tried to sleep, but I think I was up again at 6:30am. We had kids to get ready and drive to school. We both went back up to see Ralph then.

Even though the hospital was only a 20 minute drive from the house I did not leave the hospital hardly at all after that first night. I found out from a nurse that the hospital had rooms for nursing moms. Actually it was like an apartment with a kitchen, living area, bathroom and four locking bedrooms. This would be my home for nearly the next month. I couldn't have done this without James and a ton of other people helping out with meals and caring for the other kids.

I was the only mom in residence, which was good. I went back to my room to catch some sleep and to sob and cry, rather loudly. I spent my days sitting by Ralph, reading a Bible, talking with the nurses and pumping. I spent my nights sitting by Ralph, reading a Bible, talking with the nurses and pumping. Almost like a Groundhog Day experience. The days have run together now and I cannot remember one from the next.

Ralph was placed on a ventilator early on. He was very sensitive to noise and was considered to be a "minimal stim" baby. He had some earmuffs just like he would later have on the flight to Kansas City. He seemed to improve slowly and was extubated one day while I was out for coffee with some girlfriends from church.

Ralph spent some time in an oxygen tent after that. I took some pride in getting him tucked into his tent neatly and making sure there were no leaks! I guess I took any opportunity to "mother" him that I could. Which reminds me of the night that I arrived to find that one of the nurses had given him his first bath! I'm sure it had something to do with fluctuating hormone levels, but I nearly fell apart. I was devastated that this "first" experience had been stolen from me. I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was hurting from all the things we were missing out on like nursing, bathing and cuddling in bed together, and so on. I was wondering at the same time if we would ever get to do these things.

A few long weeks later Ralph was out of the oxygen tent and on a nasal cannula. I was finally able to hold him and we were starting to work with feeding with a speech therapist. I was so eager to get him taking a bottle so that we could get him home. I figured that if I could only get him home then we could work on nursing together at our own pace. It is nearly impossible to bond with a baby in the NICU. When other people are diapering him and feeding him and making decisions you never really feel like they are your own baby. I was longing to bond with him.

It was that week that he started going downhill again. Back into the 100% oxygen tent he went. More x-rays, more tests, oral feeding discontinued, new drugs started. FINALLY, he was started on nitric oxide! The nurses shared with me that they had never seen a baby on nitric that was not transferred to a bigger hospital. Sure enough, the doctors wanted to have a conference with us. They had done everything they could do for Ralph. We needed to decide if we wanted to wait and see if he would improve or transfer to Kansas City.

The whole atmosphere was grim. Our sweet cardiologist seemed to be nearly in tears. We would transfer. I was allowed to ride in the plane with him and I had a couple of hours to go home and pack a few things while Ralph was prepared for the trip.

It was May 23. Our children were at their school's end of the year picnic. We had left them there with some friends so we could have our conference with the doctors. When we got back to the park I could hardly speak. These wonderful people people immediately surrounded us and laid hands on us and bathed us in heartfelt prayer. Families stepped forward to care for our children so that James could come to Kansas City as well.

I packed a small bag and headed back to the hospital. Ralph had been re-intubated for the transfer. The weather was stormy in Kansas City, so the flight crew had to wait to take off. When they arrived, James and I watched them calibrate their equipment and load the baby into the incubator. I started to feel quite ill and begged James to go in the plane with Ralph. No such luck.

We followed the team downstairs to a waiting ambulance. James clicked a few quick pictures as they loaded up. I had to ride up front. Not what I wanted! It had also been a bit stormy here that night and the wind was quite strong. The ambulance driver flipped on his lights AND the siren and headed up the canal route going about 95mph! The whole rig was lurching back and forth in the wind and I wondered if we might tip over.

Arriving at the little business airport, I saw the Children's Mercy airplane. Nice. The pilot was
big around and red in the face like a heart attack waiting to happen! I got in the little plane first and sat in the very back. The flight nurses squeezed the gurney in in front of me and got in. We took off right away.

It was very loud in the plane and I don't think Ralph really liked this very much, although I think he was quite well sedated. The nurses were periodically on the phone with some doctors at the hospital in KC. They pushed some IV meds at least a couple of times during the trip. I couldn't see Ralph so I couldn't tell, but I think he really wasn't doing well.

The flight was less than one hour. The approach to the downtown airport in KC was very bumpy...leftover from the earlier storms, I guess. The plane was sliding back and forth and I think I gave the nurses the impression that I might pass out. They started bombarding me with questions about my other kids. Very slick! Before I knew it we were safely on the ground.

We loaded back up into another ambulance, me up front again. The flight nurses had to yell at the driver to take it easy on the rough roads and hills. Again, I think that Ralph was not very stable. At the hospital they took Ralph one direction and deposited me and my suitcase in a waiting room in the NICU. It was after midnight when we arrived, May 24. A new day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Taking a break...

I'm taking a break from writing this weekend. I'll be back on Monday with more stories.

While you are here, won't you take a moment to pray for two newborn babies who are facing the possibility of needing ECMO treatment? Unless you have been in the situation where ECMO is presented as an option, it is hard to understand how truly frightening this can be. Check Kelly's and Jenna's blog if you want to know how to pray.

Thank you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The beginning

I wrote this shortly after I had recovered from a hair raising, bumpy flight in the Children's Mercy plane. Ralph was transferred to Kansas City because ECMO, a last ditch effort, was available there. He was so sick - I thought this might be the end.

Ralph is intubated and prepared for transfer. The NICU doc here was so sweet - he had the nurse tape some ear muffs on him. The plane WAS very noisy.

After dragging my suitcase around the hospital for a few days I was able to get a room at the Ronald McDonald House. Ralph was stabilizing and then I was able to clear my head and begin to communicate with the folks back home.

Ralphie was born at home on April 29, 2007 after an uneventful pregnancy and a gentle labor. It was immediately apparent that he would require medical attention. He had breathed in meconium sometime before birth and was in respiratory distress as soon as he was born. The paramedics were called and Ralphie and mom were taken to the hospital by ambulance. We didn't even have time to weigh him! He was born at 9:15pm and was at the hospital before 10:00pm.

The first few weeks are a blur at this point in time. I wish that I had the presence of mind to record the events and my thoughts at the time. Let's fast forward...
We are presently at The Children's Mercy Hospital. We are dealing with Ralphie's pulmonary hypertension as a result of his meconium aspiration. This high blood pressure of the lungs is adversely affecting his heart. On top of everything else, he has contracted pneumonia! He is stable and doing much better as of today, May 27, 2007.

I want to take a moment to thank all of our family and friends. We are truly blessed to have such incredible people on our lives! You know who you kept our fridge packed with food for the family, you made lunches for our school children, you cared for our young children so that we could be at the hospital for important tests and meetings with doctors. But most importantly, you held us up in prayer and continue to do so. What more could we ask?

Water therapy

Water therapy was the last place I wanted to go this morning!! It was about 8 degrees Fahrenheit outside this morning, but I sucked it up and went out anyway. Ralph was in his snowsuit so no worries there. He has not been in the pool since October. Today he was more about socializing with the other children, parents and therapists than working on walking skills. I have a social butterfly on my hands!

We do a group activity consisting of front and back swishes, front and back kicks, sitting dives and jumping off of the side. Ralph really likes the jumping in, although he can't really jump yet! Then we move to our usual spot on the underwater bench to practice walking. Today splashing and waving was a success. Walking...not so much.

Richy, Chipper, Jordan and Rose had dentist appointments this afternoon. Jordan has some enamel defects on 3 of his adult teeth. This was apparently caused by some illness as a toddler and will require lots of work to fix. Thinking back, I remember he had RSV at 18 months. He didn't appear to be ill except for a fever and had a series of febrile seizures. I had completely forgotten.

I'm hoping to hear about my computer tomorrow. I'm so nervous. I just can't lose all my pictures!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I never really considered blogging until after Ralph was born. Then, it grew out of necessity. For many weeks after he was born, I wouldn't (couldn't?) deal with talking to anyone. James was my gatekeeper. He spent countless hours on the phone keeping people updated and keeping me protected.

I set up a demo website as an experiment a little later on. When that expired, I moved all the content over to As I started reading and admiring other blogs I realized that I wanted to do more, so I set up Ralph and the Crew.

It has been awhile now and I never moved over my original posts from the early days. Some of you readers/lurkers don't really know what we've gone through at all. So, over the next few days or weeks, depending on how life hits me, I'm going to go back to the beginning. I'm not sure about the best way to do this, but I want to have our story all in one place. So check back soon!

Progress and Pink Hair

After only 4-5 days of focusing on walking skills, I'm already seeing progress with Ralph. We work on keeping Ralph playing on his feet by putting toys on side tables, the couch or piano bench. I have him stand leaning against the couch and encourage him to walk to mommy to get the toy I'm holding. He just seems to be more solid on his feet.

Although, today it seems that Ralph is a rubber chicken! One day he is solid as a rock and the next day he's like jello. Tomorrow is another day, I guess. AND...tomorrow is water therapy day!! We've missed the last few water therapy days so it will be a treat to get back in the pool again. Ralph generally works on walking on one of the underwater benches where an adult would sit. It is the perfect depth for him to walk on, and I can set his oxygen tank on the poolside bench right above us. I'll let you know how it goes.

I THINK I have found a new oxygen supplier! I hope the pediatrician's office is not getting mad at me...this will be the third set of orders they have faxed out for me this week! I was trying to understand why the 2nd company wouldn't take us as customers, even though they were in my insurance network. I was so frustrated that I asked the lady on the phone if I could speak to her boss. When she placed me on hold, it hit me! I'm frustrated and fighting with these folks I really want to do business with them? NO. So I hung up.

Anyway, the guy in charge at the new company (#3!) wants to get a pediatric concentrator for Ralph so I won't have scads of tanks sitting by my front door any more! It's always fun when Ralph knocks these things over. I have a cracked tile now! I didn't know there was such a thing as a pediatric concentrator. Really! How on earth am I supposed to know what to ask for and what is available?

On a whim I decided to go to quilting at church this morning. Rose and Leroy would have fun in the nursery and I could catch up with my friends and put in some stitches on the quilt we will donate to MCC. I got to drive Wesley's suburban since the tires on the van are not yet replaced. The steering wheel has a sloppy feel to it. If I'm not real careful, it looks like I'm driving drunk, swerving back and forth!

As we walked up to the front doors of the church I saw the hearse! Oh no, not another funeral! We've had 4 or 5 since Christmas. No one that I knew this time, by the way. The quilting room is separated from the sanctuary (auditorium, really) by a folding wall. We were all trying not to talk loud or laugh while we worked. Kind of tough!

Apparently, the woman who passed away had cancer. Breast cancer I'm assuming because she had a hot pink wig on. Yes, open casket, hot pink wig! The sweetest thing was that many, many of the women who attended the service also wore hot pink wigs of different styles. There were also a group of older order Mennonites in attendance...the ladies wear distinctive head coverings. I couldn't help but wonder what they thought of the pink hair! All in all, a very diverse group.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I'm just taking a little break from my phone calling to settle down. I get so mad I can't even see straight! Home school has been suspended as well, again.

I'm trying to change oxygen providers. Why is this so hard? I'm not happy with my current provider. This is basic economics! If I get crappy food at a restaurant then I no longer do business with them. A salesperson treats me rudely, I no longer shop at that store. Get it?

I guess consumers of medical services can't expect good service. They constantly demonstrate incompetence and indifference and NOW I know how they get away with this crap. They are the biggest company around and they know that you are stuck with them. Any other company would go out of business with such poor customer service. Unless you are willing to put your life on hold and wade through the red tape and hours of phone calls and return calls and such - you are stuck.

Maybe they picked the wrong mommy to mess with! Maybe I'm the stupid one and I should just bend over and take it. Who knows? I'll be doing some more phone calling once I get myself composed. 2 months. I started this process to find a new provider 2 months ago. I just want to get it over with.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Ralph had his Rainbows teacher and his PT at the house on Friday morning. It has been nearly a month since they've seen him. He really should be walking by now, but he is just not getting it. He IS strong enough. It is time to get tough. He really does prefer to spend time putting pegs in a board over time spent being forced to walk!

Ralph is growing out of his shoes. Now I'm trying to decide between wearing shoes more often or not. My theory has always been that going barefoot helps babies/children develop strong arches. But, he might benefit from some more stability right now.

Daddy and I walked him down the hallway at church today. He thought that was pretty fantastic. We need to do some more of this for certain.

Sunday school went well for Ralph today. There are a couple of children (girls!) in the class that like to cry the whole time. He just looks at them like they are from outer space! I didn't go to class with him today, but I like to peek in the little window from time to time. Somehow I always get busted! How does he know that I'm there, anyway?

The first Down Syndrome Society meeting of the year was yesterday morning. I normally take Leroy, Rose, Jordan and Thomas. They enjoy playing with the kids in the nursery. But, yesterday the little ones didn't get dressed after breakfast like I had asked so only Thomas got to go. Oh the tears! It was the end of the world.

I'm working hard on first time obedience with them. Our mantra is - Cheerfully, the first time, every time! We will all be much happier if we can remember this. I won't be repeating myself and they will have more privileges. Win-win? Ralph is at the age where he is carefully watching his older brothers and sister and modeling his behavior after them. I think it is critical to have good role models.

My computer is out being fixed this week. At least I hope the files and photos can be retrieved. I haven't yet heard anything from the talented young man who is working on it. I guess that is good news? I can't wait to post some more pictures. I've tried to upload some photos from my son's computer but I keep getting error messages. Soon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Call me a redistributionist

I took Ralphie with me today to visit my midwife. I'm 30 weeks pregnant already! It's kind of funny that I'm still wearing my regular jeans. Maybe I'm redistributing some of that waistline!

I keep thinking about why my health insurance won't pay my midwife. I'm totally saving them a TON of money by not stepping a foot in a hospital! You would think they would be happy to pay. I've thought about going the hospital route, just out of spite, but I would hate it too much. And, I'd probably end up spending about the same amount of money either way. I'm much more dignified, comfortable and relaxed at home - I think that is better for baby, too.

After my appointment I was treated to lunch by my friend, Ruth. I never get to see her - what a treat! There is this great little Thai restaurant on that side of town. I like to schedule my trips to the East side around lunchtime whenever possible so I can get some Thai food. I ALWAYS order Panang. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and it would never get old.

Ralph ate sticky rice with custard. Really, though, he was more interested in making friends than eating today! He made the waiter (owner?) fall in love with him and also the lady in the kitchen (his wife?). I love this place because, in addition to tasty food, the "T" in Thai on their sign is a Christian cross and there are Jesus cards on every table with an invitation to their church.

On the way out to my van after lunch, I noticed that the front tires on the van looked funny. On closer inspection, oh yeah, they obviously need to be replaced. We took the scenic route home instead of the highway, just to be safe.

By the way, did you know that yesterday was Christmas in Eastern Europe? So, in case you were wondering why my tree is still up...that's going to be my excuse. By the way, please be thinking of the people in Eastern Europe as Russia has cut off gas supplies. It could be a very cold, miserable winter. My heart is heavy for the orphaned children over there. One in particular tonight.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Misc. cheap ideas.

January always seems to be a lean month. Did you spend too much on Christmas like we did? Especially in these uncertain economic times, it is good to find ways to stretch a dollar and pinch a penny. Here's a few to consider:

Getting too little sleep is one of many things affecting the quality of my skin. Stress would be another! I've studied skin care, and ingredients and tried so many things. Nothing has helped lately! I don't believe much of the skin care marketing that I'm bombarded with anymore.

I'm wondering if this is one area where the obvious answer is not the most correct. Is the solution a counter-intuitive one? Perhaps.

I've come across a solution that is quite basic and is not what one might expect. Ever heard of oil cleansing? Common sense says that the last thing you want to do is put oil on your face if you have breakouts!

Well, I guess common sense can be wrong. There are many scientific reasons why OCM works well, but I won't go into it. I'll just say this - it is cheap and it works.

I decided to use OCM on Ralph's scalp today. Frequent bathing ruins his skin, so his scalp tends to be a little scaly. I massaged his scalp with equal parts castor oil and olive oil with a drop of tea tree oil, the same as I use on my face. With a bit of massage and a bit of combing all the scales are gone! I did use a little baby bath to get the oil out of his hair. I didn't think he would appreciate a steamy hot towel on his head!

I've got other ideas for castor oil! Another day.

Today is Wednesday (grocery store ads come out) AND payday. That's a great combination. Since I was up late to give meds at midnight last night, I went ahead and checked the new Dillons/Kroger ad for the week online. I have another window open to The Coupon Clippers and check to see which sale items also have coupons available. Occasionally I check Target and Kmart ads, too. But I rarely shop those stores.

Some weeks are better than others. This week is a Special K cereal week. It is on sale, there is a coupon and a free milk offer from the store. Over the summer I got some great deals on Suddenly Salad. I was able to stock up and still have a few boxes left now in January.

Here is another cheapish idea: When I use the pasta salad mix, I will use two boxes but use only one of the seasoning packets. When I'm lazy and I use a Hamburger Helper meal that has a topping sauce, I skip the sauce and save it as well. It's probably a good idea to use a marker and write on the envelope what the contents are.

I found a great use for these seasoning/sauce packets over Christmas. I use them to make easy cheese balls! The kids love it when I make these. I put 8 oz of grated cheese and 8 oz of cream cheese in my mixer bowl and let it sit out at room temp to soften up. When it is ready I mix them to death if I have time. I'll add the seasoning/sauce mix and a bit of milk to get the right consistency. Then I scrape it out into a bowl lined with plastic wrap, shape in a ball, and pop it in the fridge to firm up.

When the cheese is cold you can remove the plastic and roll it in chopped nuts or parsley or whatever you like. We had a couple of potluck cheese balls for New Year's Eve since I didn't know what was in my packets. One was cheese powder with a hint of jalapeno flavor (no heat) - must have been from a Hamburger Helper Mexican meal. The other was bacon ranch from a Suddenly Salad, delish!

Another great cheap idea is this: be a friend! A friend has kindly offered the services of her son to retrieve the lost files on my toasted computer. I would gladly pay for this, but they won't accept! You had better believe I'll be pleased to return the blessing to them one day, or simply pay it forward. Be on the lookout for ways to bless someone, whether you know them or not. It will come back to you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


The pink clothes are still pink! I don't have time to deal with them today, so they soak.

The dryer on the other fixed! I think. I went to the Appliance Guru (very highly recommended!!) and got my grubby little hands on a service manual for my dryer. First I took the top off. Then I removed the control panel. Then I removed the front cover. Finally I removed the bulkhead (whatever that is). Can you just see me tearing my dryer apart!

Apparently the pen that went down the lint filter was lodged in the blower and that is what was making the awful noise. I took a few minutes to vacuum out the inside of the machine before putting it back together. Very disgusting.

One problem...I had to unplug some wires to take off the front cover. I didn't pay attention to which way to plug it back in. Oops. Now I'm afraid to turn it on. I think the wires were just for some interior lighting. But if I fry the control panel board I'm looking at big bucks! What do I do now?

Monday, January 5, 2009

What else is cooking?

I've got some pink clothes that are supposed to be white! I've read that boiling water with bleach in it will take out the dye, so that is what is on the stove right now.

Meanwhile, I have suspended home school for the day to figure out how to fix my dryer. In pursuit of an ink pen which fell into the filter housing I have really wrecked my dryer. It now screams bloody murder when I try to turn it on. Needless to say there are wet clothes hanging all over the house right now. Now I can identify a little more with you folks that have had to line dry your clothes while traveling in Ukraine!

There is good news to report, however. I got my financial assistance decision from the children's hospital. We were approved for 100% assistance!!! What a relief. They could have approved us for 75% or none at all. Paying 25% of a six figure bill is nearly as difficult as paying the whole dang thang.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

And yet more...

Christine recently asked me to share my recipe for hash browns! Is there anything that goes better with biscuits and gravy than golden crispy hash browns? I prefer making my own to store-bought, but I occasionally break down and buy them at the store when I'm feeling lazy. I have traumatic memories of making hash browns at my family's restaurant when I was young! But, that is a whole other story, LOL.

I simply cover 5 pounds of potatoes with cold water in my extra large pot. You can cook as many as YOU like. I put on the lid after the water boils. Boil the potatoes until you can easily push a knife into the potatoes. Underdone is better than overdone here. I gently drain the water my turning out the potatoes into a clean sink. Careful! Steam burns hurt like crazy!

Work quickly now and start peeling. The skins will come off in great big strips if you are careful. I hold the potatoes in a clean area of a tea towel in one hand. I keep turning the towel when it gets gooky. Place the peeled potatoes in a bowl or two and cover with a tea towel until they cool off. You can keep them in the fridge covered with a towel.

I grate the potatoes by hand as needed when they are cold. Plop them into a pool of butter or oil in a hot skillet and wait. Salt and pepper (maybe more butter on top!) but don't stir or turn them until they are crispy on the bottom. Voila!

Your refrigerated cooked potatoes come in handy if you want quick scalloped potatoes (cover in white sauce and top with cheese - done in no time!) or potato salad.

I've been meaning to show this off...

Meredith nominated me for this award a couple of days before Christmas! Wow! This is a pretty nice complement coming from a gal that manages to post daily, sometimes more often, and has 4 very young children. Thanks Meredith, I think YOU are fabulous!

One of the rules for this award is that I have to post 5 of my "fabulous addictions". Hmmmm. I don't really have an addictive personality! LOL. Some of you may dispute that.

  1. My computer. More specifically - surfing the Internet. I'm an information junkie. It's been very intense since Ralph was born and I needed to find out all the info I could about DS, ASD closure devices, pulmonary hypertension and much, much more!
  2. Hot baths on freezing cold nights.
  3. Cold cereal, any time of day.
  4. Really loud music. There are some songs you can only really appreciate when the volume is cranked.
  5. People (babies especially) with Down Syndrome. I can just sit and stare at Ralph - he's so beautiful to me. Praying for the children at helps me feed this addiction. I'm baffled that anyone would abort/abandon a child so special. I want to be part of the solution to this ongoing tragedy.

Now... I have to nominate 5 blogs for this award. This part is always much harder (how to I pick only 5?)! Plus my computer recently died and my extensive list of favorite blogs is history too:( Here are some of my new favorites!

Amy Her blogs are super cute to look at! I "met" her through Reece's Rainbow when her and her husband committed to adopt one of the little boys I had been praying for! They are heroes in my book.

Bringing Mary Home I spent much of my day on the day after Christmas reading this adoption blog. Very uplifting!

Leslie is a friend of a friend. Thanks to blogging, now we are friends, too! Small, small world!

Dr. Boucher Sometimes the content is way over my head! But, I love her sense of humor and I pick up some great ideas and information (remember my addiction?) here!

Oh gosh! It is late! I'm cheating and going with 4. Lame, I know.

Ok, so if any of those want to accept their award, here are the rules:
1. You have to pass it on to 5 other fabulous blogs in a post.
2. You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.
3. You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.

Instructions: On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them. When you post your five winners, make sure you link them as well. To add the award to your post, simply right-click, save image, then "add image" it in your post as a picture so your winners can save it as well. To add it to your sidebar, add the "picture" gadget. Also, don't forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by emailing them or leaving a comment on their blog.

Sunday school

Ralph did great at Sunday school today! His sats were great this morning so I bumped him down to 1/8 on the way to church and I took his cannula off before Sunday school. His helper, Amy, is so cute and sweet. I just know he is going to love her.

Amy helped him to walk from the play room to the lesson room and grab a carpet square to sit on. He loved the songs and even sat still for the story. After story he got to sit at a big table and color pictures with the other kids. He loved the crayons and even colored a little bit. There were donut holes and juice for snack today since the parents were there for open house. Ralph didn't care for the donut, but loved the juice! He grabbed the flimsy little paper cup and crushed it! Of course they filled it to the top!

Ralph has nursery after the Sunday school hour. I peeked in on him during nursery hour. Since there were only 3 children in the room, I put his oxygen back on. He didn't mind a bit! What a sweet boy. I had a good time sitting back and watching him from a slight distance today.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ralph's big news

The big news around here is this: Ralph starts Sunday school tomorrow! It's pretty hard to believe that my little baby is really ready for this.

The class is called Beginners. It is basically an introduction to Sunday school. The children will learn to sit on carpet squares for story time, learn to sing Bible songs, color pictures, eat animal crackers, and drink water out of tiny flimsy paper cups! What fun!

Ralph will have a buddy to help him out, sorta. His buddy is a young married girl who is studying to be a physical therapist. She will be there to make sure that no one trips on the oxygen tubing and that he gets from one activity to another-since he is not yet walking. She will be there to help with the other children as well. I think that an extra helper for this class is a good idea anyway.

I'm toying with the idea of taking off the oxygen for Sunday school. I'm thinking this would be OK. He often takes the cannula off at home and plays around unencumbered for awhile. He never fusses when I put it back on. I'm so thankful for that. I'm just wondering if I should wait until after our next cardiologist visit in February. He just seems so strong and healthy lately.

Ralph is up to 24 pounds 12 ounces. I gave him a quickie haircut on Christmas Eve and all of a sudden he looked like a little porker! It is funny what a difference a haircut makes. Yep, he's really looking chubby. Maybe I can back off on the calories a little bit now.

Wish us well tomorrow. Ralph's new teacher is a friend of mine and I want her to be comfortable with him in her class. I want him to learn about Jesus and form good friendships with his peers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

Hey, what do you know? It's 2009! We had a little party with the kids here last night. We drank too much pop and ate too many crackers and now we are all a little cranky today. I actually went to bed around 11pm! I guess I'm not that excited about the new year.

I've been a little bummed all week. For starters, my friend Jean died last Sunday. Her service was yesterday and was beautiful. Her sister sang a song that she had sung for Sam and Jean's wedding. I cannot believe that she was able to sing so pretty without breaking down. I could barely sing the hymns on the program. I'm gonna miss her.

I had a business meeting on Monday morning. My computer was acting up at the restaurant and so I was trying to listen and pay attention while quietly trying to fix it up. The unthinkable happened...I inadvertently wiped out EVERTHING. 1000's of pictures - gone. Files - gone. Phone numbers - gone. Email - gone. I nearly left in tears.

If I can retrieve my lost files, it will cost at least $300. This kind of thing really hacks me off. That is $300 that could have gone into my adoption fund, or used to pay down debt. I don't have that kind of money right now, so it will just have to wait. I'm using my 9 year old son's school computer for now.

I wish I had the Christmas photos to share with you. I got the sweetest gifts this year. I love it when I get something really thoughtful. It's much nicer than getting a obligatory trinket. I finally got a bathtub tray - the kind that fits across the tub to hold bath items and even a book and wineglass. The best thing, though, was a last minute find according to James. Thomas told him that he knew exactly what I wanted and made dad take him to Dillon's to show him. They have these great big glass jars there and he remembered that we talked about how much adoption fund money it could hold. The kids made a colorful little sign to go on it (I promise to get more pictures). I nearly cried when I opened it.

Ralph got his RSV shot Monday. It's interesting that last year my insurance company wanted me to pay a $500 co-pay for this shot. THIS year (2008), it is completely covered. I'm baffled. It makes me wonder what I'll be paying in 2009. We will soon find out.

What else will 2009 bring? We will welcome a new baby in March. Wesley graduates this year. James travels to Israel, sometime. Ralph will be walking soon.

Will he be hospitalized this year? Will his pulmonary hypertension improve? These are uncertain. But, we will keep on truckin'!

Happy New Year to you!