Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quick Update on Jacob

Jacob, our 7 year-old son, was admitted to the Children's Hospital on Saturday.

Once his pain was under control, he thought the entire experience was fun. {I'll have to share some of the cute things he said while he was there in another post.} We were originally told he could be there for 3-4 days. But, thankfully, Sunday morning his doctor said we might be able to go home later that day.

He was definitely feeling much better. The swelling in his face was still there, but much less than the day before. Around 5pm on Sunday, Jacob was discharged! Once home with prescriptions filled, a dear friend delivered a hot meal. We spent yesterday resting at home. Jacob is definitely on the mend, but still has some pain.

We are heading to the doctor for a re-check this morning. We are so thankful for the dozens of friends and loved ones who have been praying for Jacob and for us. We feel so loved and supported. We are grateful for all the emails, phone calls, and meals. Throughout our adventure, we have felt the Lord carrying us, comforting us, and leading us one step at a time.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
~ Isaiah 43:2

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unexpected Adventures

Some days just don't turn out at all the way we expect them to. This morning my plan was to get up, have my tea, read my Bible, eat breakfast, drop Zac off at work, get Abbie to the soccer fields by 11:30am, watch her game, and then spend the afternoon and evening at a crazy youth group event. I got as far as tea and Bible.

Jacob has been sick the last couple of days. He was up late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning complaining of pain near his left ear, and had a 101 fever. My husband is a rock star with sick kids --- they wake HIM up in the middle of the night! So I didn't know what was going on until we got up Thursday morning. Not only did Jacob have a fever, but he also had a wierd lump under his left ear. Jacob wasn't going to school, of course, but I was scheduled to teach Bible study. And Gil had to go to work. So we decided I would take Jacob with me, and he could sit quietly as I got through the first hour, then we could come home when it was time for the ladies to watch the video. That plan seemed fine...

But, at church, Jacob was feeling a lot worse. He had the chills, and was looking terrible. Just as ladies started to arrive, Jacob came over to tell me he didn't feel so good. I was like a deer caught in headlights as I tried to figure out what our options were since I knew what was coming next. But before we both knew it, he was getting sick all over both our shoes! Poor baby! And it was right up front in the classroom! I tried to get him down the hall to the bathroom... I am pretty sure we left a trail. Once he finished getting sick in the bathroom and I got him cleaned up, we did our best to get home as soon as possible.

I felt horrible! I had been so conflicted over my responsibilities at church and taking care of Jacob... I was so sorry I had taken him out, and so sorry that because of my decision there was a huge mess to clean up. Of course, we had ladies who stepped up and Bible study carried on without me. And I am ever so grateful for the excellent housekeeping staff at our church.

Thursday, Jacob's fever spiked to 103.5 and was pretty much there all day. He continued to throw up, so we figured he had a virus. Friday it was more under control in the 99 degree range, but he still had the lump on his face and it was causing him discomfort. Normally, a parent would get their child to the doctor, right? But we haven't had health insurance for over 3 years, and the budget is tight, so we were really weighing what we needed to do as we prayed he would get better.

Saturday mornings, Gil gets up and attends an early-morning men's Bible study. When he got home, he walked in the door he said, "We're taking Jake to the ER." I was glad for a plan of action, because Jacob's discomfort and pain were definitely increasing and I was getting worried. Plus, Jacob now had a patch of cold sores breaking out in his nose. We decided we'd try the minute clinic first (it costs a lot less, especially if we only needed a couple of prescriptions), so Gil and Jacob headed there while Abbie and I took Zac to work, then met up with Gil and Jacob. Once it was our turn, we were told that this looked pretty serious and could even be life threatening! We definitely needed to be at the ER.

Abbie had a soccer pictures and a game coming up, and Zac was at the fields working as a referee, so it was decided that I would take Jacob to the ER and Gil would take care of Zachary and Abbie.

We arrived at the ER at 11:15 a.m. Jacob was starting to feel pretty miserable. I was a little stressed and hoping Gil would get the other kids situated and be able to join me soon. Jacob was most worried about getting a shot. I explained to him that they would probably need to give him an IV... letting him know how it would work and what the advantages of that would be. We were in the waiting room about 45 minutes, then saw a doctor who said Jacob would need a cat scan. We were taken to another room to spend the day, and after two tries, he did get an IV put in.

Jacob was feeling pretty miserable. His pain was getting much worse. We were both glad when Daddy arrived. We were taken for a cat scan, and Gil was able to stay with Jacob during that.

I had to stay out in the hall, but I could see into the tech's room. Here is my baby's head...

We were told it would be at least 30 minutes before we had the results. No treatment could take place until we knew what the diagnosis was. Meanwhile, Jacob was getting worse by the minute. It was now after 1 in the afternoon and all the motrin and tylenol we had been alternating for the past couple days had long worn off. His fever was back, and he was not a happy camper. Our friends Tom & Kathy had come to the hospital just as we were going back for the cat scan, so they were in our room with us. It was great to have the support, especially since Kathy was a nurse. We were commenting about how on tv everything that takes place in the hospital seems to happen very quickly --- they never show all the endless waiting that we were going through.

Finally, the doctor came in and said that Jacob has an infection of his parotid gland, which is a salivary gland. We were told that Jacob would have to be admitted to the hospital, at least overnight! He would have to be transported downtown by ambulance! Not at all what I was expecting, to be sure. The doctor ordered meds for Jacob, including a dose of morphine for the pain. Jacob quickly felt better.

We had two cars at the hospital, so Tom helped Gil get the van home, while Kathy stayed to wait with me. Meanwhile, Jacob was asking dozens of questions, and even saying he was having a "fun" day. His nurse had come in to tell us he was going off shift and let us know the status of things. He told Jacob how great he was doing and how brave he was. Jacob asked him if he was going to going to get something for being good! That caught the nurse off guard, but he returned several minutes later with a stuffed lion, a pack of stickers, and some crayons for Jacob! Two hours after the morphine dose, the EMT's arrived. Jacob was very excited to be able to ride to uptown in an ambulance!

I said goodbye to Kathy and followed Jacob to the ambulance. He wanted me to take plenty of pictures of the inside, but I will spare you. I think this was his first smile of the day, though!

But, you can tell he still feels pretty miserable.

We got to the children's hospital where they had a room waiting for us. Gil and Zac were already there! Abbie didn't think she could handle being in the hospital, so she stayed at her friends and planned to spend the night. Turns out she scored the two goals in her soccer game today, leading her team to their first win of the season! {I'm sorry I missed it!}

Poor Jacob had only eaten about 3 bites of cereal in the morning, and had nothing else to eat or drink all day! We got to the children's hospital around 5pm, and finally at 7 he was allowed to have something to eat. See if you notice the commonality between the next few photos...

Here are his day nurse and his night nurse as the shifts are changing. We know he is in good hands!

Big brother Zac was glad to be on hand to support his baby brother. And baby brother really appreciated it!

Jacob is finally resting comfortably. Daddy and Zac left at about 8pm. So did you notice? Jacob's eyes were glued to the tv from the moment we got into the hospital room! First it was Spongebob, then it was G-Force. He was kind of oblivious to everything else.

And finally at about 10:30pm, Jacob sleeps.

And what else is a mommy to do, but blog about our eventful day, that didn't turn out at all like I had planned.

Our doctor said we might be here for several days. We have to wait and see how Jacob responds. All day I have had scripture come to mind, as well as a peace that God's timing is perfect. I know He is in control, and that He will be glorified through this. I am thankful for our church family, for all that are praying for our sweet Jacob.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
~Isaiah 41:10

Monday, September 13, 2010

Middle School Drama

My sweet girl started middle school two and a half weeks ago. When she came home from her first day of school and I asked her how sixth grade was, her reply was, "Fine. It's just school." {Already she has the middle-school attitude perfected!} She also added that it was "like elementary school, just more walking."

Her first challenge was getting a locker. The fact that her original lock wouldn't work didn't help the stress levels of this new adventure. So she went an extra day carrying all her gear back and forth in a backpack that is bigger than she is.

Things started to snowball out of control in the second week of school. As we headed to soccer practice on Tuesday night, I questioned the wisdom of doing soccer this season. Abbie seems to have a lot of homework, and she is one who takes a lot of time to get it done. But, she can also work herself up over it. Could we really afford the two hours out of the week for soccer? The next day, I had to take her for her 6th grade vaccines (further cutting into homework time), and then we went to church Wednesday evening, as usual. Once we got home, Abbie had to stay up later to get her homework done, but left one assignment not completed.

Thursday and Friday brought phone calls from the school nurse just 30 minutes into the day. Abbie came home, rested up, and caught up with all her school work over the weekend. We talked about a few strategies to lower the stress. I let her know that I know she can handle this. But, if it is going to be too much, then we can look at homeschooling in November. If, on Wednesdays, homework is an issue, then Abbie and I will sit downstairs at church so she can work on it while the boys attend their activities. And then there is the matter of drama auditions coming up the first week of October... Abbie really wants to try out! But she will have to have a handle on the school thing, first.

Her school day is half over as of now, and she hasn't called home! Two years ago Zac's first couple of weeks at middle school were rough, too. But he figured things out and got into a groove with it. I know my Abbie will, too. She is a great student, and an awesome girl. I feel blessed that I can be home to be a sounding board after school, and cheer her on as she does her homework. Here is a project she put together on on her own to complete a language arts assignment last week:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Croptoberfest is coming!

School is back in session, you’re packing away all of your summer beach gear and the nights are getting cooler (perhaps your air conditioner is even getting a rest). Autumn is the time we get back into the routine of life, while reflecting on the fun (and sometimes craziness) of summer.

Fall is the perfect time to reconnect after the fast pace of summer and share memories while working on completing some photo projects. My Croptoberfest event is going to provide the ideal opportunity to do both. I'm also excited about all the new products, photo solutions, and ideas I get to share! We are going to have a great time! Will you be attending Croptoberfest?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sneaky Veggie Pasta Sauce

I like to make a batch of pasta sauce in the crockpot, then freeze it to be available for quick dinners. I make it vegetarian, but usually add meat to it as I prepare it for a meal. Of course, pasta sauce is readily available in jars and cans. However, I feel that my sauce is healthier, and less expensive than what is in the store. I like that I know exactly what is in it. And it is super easy to make!

I use the sauce, of course, for pasta. But I also use it as our pizza sauce. I love that when my kids (and other picky kids I know) eat my homemade pizza with my sauce on it, they are eating plenty of vegetables without complaint!

Sneaky Veggie Pasta Sauce

1 100-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes (I get a giant can of Contadina Crushed Tomatoes for less than $3 at Costco!)
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped (or more if you are me!)
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 package chopped frozen spinach
3 cups vegetables, chopped or grated
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)

Note on the veggies:
You can use fresh, frozen, or jarred veggies including: zucchini, carrots, yellow squash, celery, mushrooms, red or yellow peppers, roasted red peppers, or anything else you want. The smaller they are cut, the less noticable they will be in the sauce, but you will still get all the nutrition. I actually put baby carrots in the food processor and pulverize them! You can also use more or less than the recipe states. It is very forgiving!

Sauce Directions:
Saute onions in olive oil in pan on stove until they are translucent. If you are using other raw veggies (celery, mushrooms, carrots) you can add them to the cooked onions and saute further. This helps bring out the flavors of the vegetables. Place crushed tomatoes in crock pot (I usually take a couple cups out of the can to make salsa and use the rest for sauce... like I said, it is very forgiving!) and add tomato paste. I use a wisk to make sure the tomato paste is broken up and incorporated with the tomatoes. Add the seasonings, onions, other vegetables, and stir. Add the frozen spinach. Set crock pot to low and let cook for 8-10 hours! After about 1-2 hours you can stir to distribute the spinach (or thaw it before you add it at the beginning). When my kids used to ask what the spinach was in the sauce, I would just tell them "seasonings"!

This will make a lot of sauce! I freeze it in 2.5 cup, square Ziploc containers, which is enough sauce for our family of five. For dinner, I simply thaw it on the counter during the day, in the fridge overnight, or, if I didn't plan well, quickly in the microwave! I reheat it on the stove in a pan, and usually add about 1.5 cups of cooked ground beef to it (I pre-cook all my ground beef and freeze it ahead as well).

For pizza, I also freeze smaller portions of this sauce in a 1 cup Ziploc container to use as pizza sauce. Once thawed, I can easily spread it on pizza dough, pitas, or english muffins for our make-your-own pizza night! Again, I have had no complaints about my veggie-laden sauce!

I am linked up with the Scooper's No Fool Back to School Meals linky party at A La Mode... and with Jen's Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam... go there to check out some other easy recipes!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fruitless Pursuits

For the last ten days I have been on an interesting journey. I was given the opportunity to participate in a marketing research study in which I was required to abstain from fruit for ten days! I knew I was chosen for the study because I like fruit and eat it often; I had no idea going in that I would be asked to reduce my consumption of fruit, much less eat none at all!!!

I am used to eating fruit with my breakfast everyday: oatmeal with blueberries and toated nuts. I drink tea with lemon, or water with lemon, throughout the day. I often make yogurt smoothies with frozen fruit, which is more like eating frozen yogurt. I toss apples and craisins into salads on a regular basis. When I grab a snack, it is usually -- you guessed it -- fruit! During this fruit challenge, all of this had to change.

It was very difficult, but I complied with the rules and persevered. The fact that I had to create and upload daily videos and interact in an online forum definitely helped me to be accountable. The process caused me to focus on fruit and its place in my life. Each day I had a number of essay questions to answer, and even some creative activities to complete. In addition, I had the opportunity to respond to what the other 15 members of my group had uploaded and written.

I learned a lot about the importance of fruit in my life! I found it very difficult to make substitutions in places where I would normally eat fruit. Without fruit, I was having intense cravings for sweets and carbs. Even worse, I was indulging those cravings! But I knew that if I had been allowed to eat a piece of fruit, I would have been satisfied. When eating chips and cookies and popcorn, I still was left wanting something more. I also craved more water during the challenge. I don't think I usually drink enough water, but without fruit in my diet, I needed extra hydration and found myself reaching for water more often. And without fruit, I tended to be lacking in fiber, which caused its own set of issues! Yes, I definitely missed my fruit!

Participating in this challenge made me realize that eating two or more servings of fruit everyday is really important, not only for me, but also for my kids. I always make sure they have fruit in their lunches (and I am trusting that they eat it!). Now, I am on a mission to make sure that fruit is offered much more often throughout the day. I don't like it when my family chooses the junk food they so often eat. However, if I craved it so much when I didn't eat fruit, maybe giving my family more fruit will cause them to want the junk food less. Definitely, this was an interesting experience. I am so thankful for fruit! I am going to go have some right now!!!

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