(That's homemade mac-n-cheese, folks!)
When 2009 started, we had no idea that Jeff would be traveling for 75% of the year. We also didn't know for certain that we would begin homeschooling. We also didn't know that we'd be moving. 2009 was a rough year for me. I had some pretty extensive goals for 2009. Here's how I did:
1. Lose 3 lbs each month. I can do that, right? - Didn't happen. By the end of February, I had lost the 6 pounds, but then it all fell apart. I currently weigh EXACTLY the same as I weighed last year at this time. :(
2. Stop using bottled water at home. It's expensive and wasteful. It's convenient for travel, but not necessary at home. - I have used bottled water about 97% less than last year, so I'm pleased with that. Jeff still likes to use it, but it wasn't his resolution. :)
3. Reduce soda intake to 1 or less per week. - Done!
4. Learn how to use my new camera! (Canon Rebel XS) - Nope... still on AUTO.
5. Continue weekly lunch date with Jeff. - We continued this as much as possible. Jeff traveled A LOT this year; sometimes it was less than once a month.
6. Blog less and without obligation ... Live more. :) - I blogged less and felt less obligated about doing so, but I sure did continue to read a lot of them!
1. Get up early for personal bible reading and/or prayer. (still working on this... 5:30 comes too soon!) - Sadly, this didn't happen.
2. Continue with the online bible study. - Nope... hanging head in shame... :(
3. Have at least a weekly devotional of some sort with the boys. (What do you do? I'm looking for suggestions!) - Thanks to our decision to begin homeschooling, this has happened! More than once a week, too!
4. Pray at least once daily that Witt will outgrow his allergies. - I might not have prayed every single day, but I sure did a lot of praying about his allergies and enlisted a lot of people to join me as well. It sure did pay off!
1. Continue being consistent with the boys in discipline. This has worked wonders! - Still needing to be more consistent with being consistent. I think this is a constant work in progress as the boys grow and change.
2. Encourage Will and Jeff to do a "boys night out" at least once a quarter. - This one was hard, too, with all the traveling Jeff did; however, he and Will did go out to eat a few times together this year. They even invited Nathan! :)
3. Continue training the boys to do chores and help as a part of the family. - The boys do their daily chores when asked, but won't do them without being asked. Cleaning the playroom usually results in a day long procrastination event with lots of whining. :P Sadly, I mostly take the easy road and just shut the door.
4. Reduce the number of times I ask Will to stop talking and try harder to answer more of his questions. (Multiple obscure "What if?" questions break me d..o..w..n...) - Homeschooling has helped me with this one a lot. Granted there are still times where I just have to say, "I know you're not done talking, but I'm done listening for now." Sometimes my ears just need a break. LOL!
5. Complete Nathan's potty-training. - DONE!
6. Read more books / watch less tv. (another ongoing battle) - I have enjoyed a couple books this year: Nourishing Traditions (which is on sale right now for less than $18!!!! Go grab one!) and Created to be His Help Meet (Jeff would even say this book improved our marriage... not that it needed a lot of help, but there is always room for improvement!). I also really enjoyed Go Dairy Free. There have been a few other books that I picked up, but those were the ones that impacted me the most this year.
NUTRITION - March 2008 update HERE
1. Reduce the amount of soy milk we use by at least half and start drinking more rice and almond milk. Too much of anything is not good. - I purchased almond milk all year. We all loved it!
2. Along the same lines... learn how to use different kinds of cooking oils - grapeseed, coconut, etc. I mostly just use olive and vegetable. - This year I used mostly coconut oil, followed by lard or olive oil, and then vegetable oil (only for a few recipes). I also tried red palm oil on chicken nuggets, but didn't purchase it again after I ran out... no reason, just didn't.
3. Incorporate more whole wheat flour and wheat germ in recipes. I currently substitute about 1/8 - 1/4 of the white flour with whole wheat in most recipes. - I would say most of my recipes are now 1/2 - full whole wheat flour! I also received a grain mill for Christmas 2009, so I'll be using freshly ground whole wheat flour in 2010! WOO HOO!
1. Update last year's budget. - I think I did this at the beginning of the year, but it all fell through when Jeff started traveling. To be honest, I didn't think much about money this year at all. I had other things on my mind.
2. Save for the boys' education. - Nothing formally. I still want to open them each at account.
3. Open a savings account. (If I don't see it in the checking account, I'll be less apt to spend!) - Didn't get to this either. Jeff was rarely around to go sign papers to open an account. When he was home, this was low on the list of things to do.
4. Stick to my grocery budget. I'm shooting for $125 a week or less to include all groceries, diapers, wipes, toiletries, cleaners, OTC medications, and paper products. Based on some of the frugal blogs out there, this should be totally doable! - HA! This year was a year of survival for me. I feel like I was in constant crisis-mode. I have no idea what I spent on groceries. None. A friend of mine said that when they go into crisis-mode, they increase their budget by 30%. That would bring my weekly grocery budget to $162.50, but i really have no idea. If we needed it, I bought it. I have no physical number to share with you on what actually happened after April of this year when Jeff's traveling started. Here were my extended thoughts on my grocery budget in January 2009, though.
5. Start looking into what it's going to take to build a house out in the country. - Well, the first step turned out to be moving. :) We also brought the plans to a contractor to get a round-about price. The contractor priced it with a full basement and the best of everything... $275,000. Oh, hey, I've got that in my back pocket. HAHAHAHA! We weren't planning on a full basement or the *best* of everything, so it will definitely be coming down in price. Plus, now that seen some benefits to a smaller house, we'll probably reduce the square footage a bit as well. Except for the kitchen. That needs to be BIG! :)
So, that's it. Some things stuck, some things didn't. I'm fine with that. I'm glad to have survived the year and to be looking forward to a new year with my husband home, spending family time in our old, little, cinder-block house, enjoying homeschooling, and all without food allergies. The doors to the world have opened! I feel like my coin has flipped! So many options are before us.
God has blessed us so much and I am so grateful!
Since Witt's milk challenge last Thursday, we've been slowly introducing dairy.
One night I made homemade beef stroganoff and the next day he had his first two bites of homemade macaroni and cheese. I noticed (like any paranoid mama would) that he would start scratching his tummy, sides, and upper back about 2- 3 hours after having dairy. :(
Granted this could just be his eczema flaring up because he'd been off his daily Zyrtec for about 7 -10 days before the scratch test. (The allergist said to keep him off for 3 days, but I wanted to be on the safe side and kept him off longer.) The morning we went for the scratch test he had mild eczema and was scratching his sides, too; so it's not something completely new that came after the introduction of dairy.
BUT... I'm a paranoid mama when it comes to these allergies.
Last night I got out the steroid creme (which I hate to use) and applied to to his torso and back hoping to calm the eczema. This morning the eczema is gone, he has not had dairy since yesterday afternoon, and he's not been scratching.
My plan for the next few days is to be a stickler regarding his Zyrtec schedule to keep the eczema at bay and also keep him off dairy. Then I will introduce some dairy, keep a food log, and watch for scratching.
Even though there is a possibility that the dairy could be causing excessive itchiness, I can deal with that. Just knowing that milk is no longer life threatening is HUGE! It no longer produces hives... HUGE!
If dairy does in fact appear to cause more itchiness for him, I will probably begin to cook his meals and the rest of ours separately, allowing dairy for the rest of the family. One of the main reasons we chose to be a dairy free family was because the allergy was life threatening. But I don't want to get ahead of myself quite yet! There is still a good possibility that the itches were only from the eczema which was from being off his Zyrtec for so long.
So, anyway, after a couple of days I'll start keeping a food log and watching for the "itchies".
I'm hoping I'm just being paranoid. It's hard turning off the allergy mom "switch". The thoughts and concerns don't just disappear over night and although it's a good transition, it's a hard transition.
Oh, and by a sneaky little accident, Witt had half a cookie last night with baked in egg in it. No noticeable reaction! That's not to say more egg or straight egg won't produce a reaction, but hey... I'm taking what I can get!
Please continue to pray for us during this time. Like I said, although it's wonderful... it's still a hard transition to make.
UPDATE: Followup HERE.
Thursday, Witt and I headed to the allergist for our 9:00 am appointment to do the live milk challenge. I felt so bad that he wasn't allowed to eat before the challenge that I didn't either. I'm so supportive, aren't I?! :)
So we left the house at 7:30, stopped by a gas station to buy our small jug of whole milk and were on our way. The whole way there, he was asking where we were going.
I wasn't going to tell him we were going to the doctor's because he cried so much on Tuesday from the scratch testing. Poor little guy.
When we pulled into the driveway of the allergist's office, Witt started crying, "No doctor! No doctor!" Just sobbing. I felt awful and tried to console him telling him there would be "No hurts" today. It only helped a little. :(
Two nurses came in the room with us and we started promptly at 9:00, which was nice. The only problem was that the nurse that was doing the scratch test on Tuesday was one of those two nurses and Witt wouldn't take his eyes off of her. His bottom lip started quivering every time she moved. Thankfully, she realized this and said she would leave us with the other nurse. We didn't see her for the rest of the day.
So, the nurse that was left was able to get on Witt's good side and took his blood pressure and heart rate. Then I gave him 3.5 ml of the milk we brought. The nurse accidentally spilled some of the milk down the counter and I was like, "Um... some of the milk spilled. We need to get that cleaned up." (Always thinking like an allergy-mom even though my boy just drank some! LOL!)
We waited 15 minutes. The nurse returned, checked his vitals, then took a quick peek at his belly and tongue. Then the milk was increased to about 6 ml. We repeated this process for the next couple of hours. The final two dosages of milk were 80 ml each. Not a single reaction to contact or ingestion!
Then we sat there for another hour. Witt took a little snooze in my lap because it was nap time. I was hungry.
Finally at 1:00 PM, his vitals were taken again, the allergist looked him over and cleared us to leave. She said he can have milk just like a non-allergic person would, just not to bombard him with dairy products right off the bat.
That's all I could say over and over and over again. How does one thank God for such a blessing?
We left the allergists and went to McDonald's as it was the closest place and we were a good hour from home. AND...their fries contain milk. Little steps, right? :)
So Witt enjoyed his plain double hamburger with milk fries from McD's.
That night we went to my in-law's for supper. She made biscuits (with milk) to go along with our supper. It was on Witt's plate, but he didn't want it. LOL! He did enjoy a finger lick of frosting from a cake, though! :)
Friday I opened a bag of mint melt-away candies and shared with all my boys. When William was getting his handful of them, he asked, "Is there milk in these?" My response, "Yes, baby, there sure is!" We both smiled so big!
Will was so pleased to hear that Witt's milk allergy is gone! He was jumping up and down he was so excited!!! It's amazing for me to think that Witt will not remember this part of his life. He will only know about it from what I've written.
It's all just so hard to comprehend and wrap my brain around!!
I am just in constant thanks to God.
God is so good!!!
Top Right: Positive Control
Also tested for cow's milk, egg white, egg yolk, peanuts... but wait... I don't see any of those!
THAT'S BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL NEGATIVE!!!!!
Can you believe it? I am beside myself. I really haven't been able to wrap my mind around this yet. I'm totally amazed. God is SO GOOD!!!
The next step is a live trial. First "scratching" with actual milk and then a food challenge. If the scratching with actual milk produces a hive we would not continue to the food challenge. Luckily, someone in the office had milk with them, so we just used a bit of it, scratched him again and waited.
NOTHING AT ALL!
We're blessed beyond measure!
The plan now is to go back Thursday morning to do the food challenge for milk. (They only do one food challenge at a time so we'll look into the eggs and peanuts later.)
He can't eat for 4 hours before the test and we bring our own whole milk. We will spend most of the morning there and they will administer small amounts orally working up to larger amounts over a period of time.
Even if there is a reaction on Thursday, at least we know that he no longer has the contact allergy like when he was younger. That improvement alone is wonderful! (Here is the picture of his back from the 2008 test for comparison.)
Thank you all for your support and prayers! Please continue to pray as we're not through yet. I appreciate you all so much!!
UPDATE: Milk Challenge Results HERE.
UPDATE: Egg Allergy
This post is linked to Gratituesday.
I'm heading to Witt's allergy testing this morning. Jeff will be meeting me there after flying in on a red-eye flight from California.
His test is at 9:00 AM.
Please remember him in your prayers.
I hope to post the results as soon as possible, but be patient with me if it doesn't happen. I might be too upset to post or we might be too busy celebrating to post or we might just be going about our daily lives and enjoying the fact that Jeff is finally home for good.
Lots going on. I'll let you know when I can.
Thanks for the encouragement and the prayers! They are greatly appreciated!! And so are YOU! :)
I am giving away 4 sets of 5 coupons (total of 20 coupons)! They are for $0.75 off any one half-gallon of Blue Diamond Chilled Almond Breeze Almondmilk.
These are the coupons that come out of the blinkie machines in the grocery store (although I bought mine on ebay...).
Because the expiration date is so close, this will be a 24 hour giveaway.
So November was our *Extras* break. I removed our Moving Beyond the Page comprehensive curriculum (we had just finished working on Community, so it was a good stopping place, too.) I kept Bible, Handwriting, Phonics, and Math. That's it.
(Sorry for the lopsided picture.)
Well, there were a few read-alouds about Thanksgiving, Pilgrims, and Indians, too. :) Oh, and I let the boys grind up some dried corn in the mortal & pestle. We also watched Disney's Squanto.
We talked about Nutrition when we discussed what the Pilgrims ate (not only for Thanksgiving, but also while on the Mayflower). The boys also had fun playing a free online nutrition game (which I liked until I saw that they recommended margarine over butter).
I also taught Will how to use a sharp knife and how to cut up the vegetables for our Thanksgiving dinner.
Then we made and sent cards to a few people we were thankful for.
During the month, we got "School House Rocks" from Netflix.
One of the songs talked about nouns. Which led to "Mama, what's a noun?" So I explained there are different parts of speech and we also briefly covered verbs and adjectives. We took turns making up short sentences and dissecting them. He caught on really well.
Will also sold popcorn for the cub-scouts in November. He and one other little boy raised over $300 in two hours! Buying, selling, money exchange, greeting people, and trust me... lots of socializing! :)
In the early weeks of November when the weather was nice, we played "Red Light Green Light", "Mother May I?", and "Simon Says".
Of course, we also attended our homeschool co-op sessions. They had a show-n-tell day for Indian articles. Will brought his "headdress" that my mom made for the boys. They also had a *Indian* bracelet making session for the girls while the boys went outside to try their hand at shooting a bow! (The pictures are in my old phone - can you believe I forgot my camera that day?! Ack!)
Now that I think about it, maybe we didn't take that much of a break after all?! :) Don't I feel better? Although I have all this down on paper in my planner, I had it in my mind that we had taken a break. Wow. I love homeschooling! :)
Jeff was home for the entire month of November and we also enjoy some much needed family time together. Thankfully, Jeff's job allows him the luxury of enjoying his mornings with us, leaving around 8 - 8:30 each morning.
During November, Will's headaches got worse and we began seeing a chiropractor. Dr. R is great and has answered all of Will's questions. He is learning (and so am I) how the body works together as a single unit. He might not be able to tell you that, but he could tell you that his bones were out of place which gave him a terrible headaches.
So, here we are in December.
I've been unable to see beyond a day at a time this month. With chiropractor appointments, the Christmas parade, more popcorn sales, snow falling, Christmas dinners at church, and just the dailiness of life with three boys (and the laundry), we truly are on an *Extra's break*... and we're even a little behind. Ugh.
Today will be filled with Bible and Math. And packing. Yes, packing!
I leave for a weekend Ladies Retreat to Gatlinburg tomorrow!! A much needed break, wouldn't you agree?
Jeff returns from his final trip to California just in time to meet me at Witt's allergy testing appointment on Tuesday... please continue to pray that his food allergies will be gone. Thanks so much!
Hope y'all have a great weekend... I sure plan to!
Just a quick minute to jot this down!
Jeff was listening to Will, age 7, sings Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:
You know Dasher and Dancer,
Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid,
and daughter of Blitzen...
Witt, age 2 1/2, with his interpretation of Jingle Bells:
Yeah Yah Bell, Yeah Yah Bell
Ah way... HEY!
over and over and over again :)
Believe it not, Nathan, age 4, has been singing, too!
Oh Mac Don-noe had a farm
Ever been to the chiropractor?
Will went two years ago. I took him to see if there was anything that could be done to help him stop walking on his tip-toes, which he has been doing since he was about 2 1/2 years old.
I've had two medical doctors give the opinion that Will should have surgery if he hasn't stopped tip-toeing by the age of 8. This surgery would include snipping the tendons in order to lengthen them so he would physically be able to walk flat-footed. Not something I'm really interested in doing.
So, we went to a chiropractor and he had a few things to say, but after two months of 2 -3 visits a week (!) I didn't see any improvement. Plus, the new year was coming with a new deductible to meet... so we quit going.
Starting mid-summer of this year, Will has been having severe headaches, possibly even migraines, lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of days. After talking with a friend in our homeschool group, I decided to bring him back to a chiropractor... but I chose a different one this time (Dr. R).
Will's first appointment was about four weeks ago. The initial reason for the appointment was the headaches, but I also brought up the tip-toes again. After a couple x-rays, the ultimate source of he headaches was said to be from his misaligned hips which he thinks is a congenital issue. (I was given further information, but not going to share the lengthy diagnosis here.) The doctor also felt as though Will was tiptoeing as a response to the hips to keep from hurting while he walked.
Will has had a total of four treatments this go-round. Dr. R hasn't popped Will's back even once (which I really like); he has solely used a sort of percussion instrument that taps.
Will hasn't had a single headache since then! Four weeks without a single headache is a FANTASTIC improvement for Will. I am so pleased!
Will has also started to walk flat-footed a *little* more. From time to time I notice that he's not on his toes, which is s wonderful improvement as well! It's just going to take time for him to recondition his brain into knowing that it doesn't hurt anymore to walk flat-footed now that his hips are figuring out how they should be properly aligned. It's going to take some work to stretch out those calf muscles of his, too. Whew! He's got some mighty tight muscles from tip-toe walking for 5 years!
So far, I am very pleased with the results Will is having!
Shortly after Will's first appointment, I hurt my back somehow so I made an appointment for myself. After an x-ray, it was concluded that most of my problem was muscular. I got a few taps here and there with that percussion instrument (sorry I don't know what it's called) and then I had my first-ever acupuncture treatment. (Yes, he is a licensed acupuncturist, too.) I walked out of there a new woman!
The following week, I told Dr. R that the muscle in my shoulder has been bothering me on and off since Nathan was born (he had colic and I held him A LOT). More acupuncture and a dramatic improvement.
Today, I discussed my plantar fasciitis issues with him. Basically, it feels like someone is jabbing an ice pick in my foot between the heel and the arch. Nice, huh? I went to our family doctor about this earlier this year and received some inflammatory meds as well as some PT. The PT and meds really helped and has dramatically decreased my pain, but it was still there... nagging. Well, today I got a few needles stuck in different places than before plus a tug, pull, and tap here and there... and my foot feels as good as new! It's not tight. It doesn't nag. It doesn't ache. It doesn't hurt. At all! And my back and shoulder are still doing well!
I'm feelin' pretty good these days! LOL!
Nathan's bonesNathan has had sinus issues since, well... forever. I remember telling Jeff when Nathan was 3 months old, "He's only been here for 12 weeks and for 8 of those weeks he's been on a decongestant." He's always had sinus trouble and I figured I might as well get Dr. R's opinion about Nathan's sinus situation as I've heard of chiropractors working on the sinus area.
On the way home from a campus day after waiting for his turn on the swing: "When girls say, 'Wait a minute,' they really mean, 'Wait a long time!'"
How do you spell 'C', as in the letter C?
Nathan, age 4
And if it's not 'round here somewhere, it's "in my shop!" (Yes, Daddy has a shop.)
He brought me a broken tractor asking me to fix it. I showed him where a few pieces had come off that were missing and told him it couldn't be fixed. He told me to "buy some more pieces". I asked him where I would get more pieces and he said, "The pieces store!" Jeff and I both think he was talking about a local merchandise store that does in fact have a lot of pieces ( nuts, bolts, screws, light bulbs, switches, etc... by the bucket load!)
Witt, age 2 1/2
Overheard: "Chee Bang Bang... LOVE YOU!"
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