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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

dreamgenii Winners!

Random.org chose #10 and #8

Amanda & Joel said...

Oh man, I need one of these so badly! I'm 24 weeks pregnant now and sleep with 3 pillows... sigh. Getting comfortable at night and the darn heartburn are the biggest pet peeves of mine!

Cattherine said...

My biggest pet peeve is how hard it can be to get pregnant and stay pregnant. We are working on #2, and have been for awhile, after a loss last year. I envy people who get to be concerned about constipation and the like.

E-mail me at babys_mama1 "at" yahoo.com with your address to claim your prize! Congratulations and to those who entered but didn't win...stay tuned as more fun reviews and giveaways are lined up!

Hot, Hot, HOT!

am I ever glad
we put the air conditioners in on Sunday!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lost Stuff

It's going to be HOT this week so today I've been working on organizing the bedrooms and office so that we are able to put our window air conditioner units in. How lucky those of you who have central air are...not having to pull out the heavy units in fall or put them back in each year. We are sticking them in a bit earlier this year because not only is it fore casted to be 90 degrees tomorrow but also because with Jacob going through chemo he seems to be much more sensitive to the heat and humidity. Last week when it became humid he complained of feeling dizzy and having a headache. Better have those air conditioners ready for the heat tomorrow. Which reminds me, I also better get the van to the mechanic soon to get the air fixed in it - Jacob won't do well on those long car rides this summer in the heat.

Back to the organizing which I was doing in the bedrooms. I was able to find two grocery bags of garbage to throw away: broken toys, pieces of paper, holey socks. I realized a long time ago that I am tired of all this stuff but never went full force to get rid of it all. Don't get me wrong, when we have garage sales I manage to fill 9 huge boxes with items and sell almost all of it, which clears out some things. I take bags to Goodwill or bags of items to my aunt's consignment shop to sell but there is still so much stuff that is driving me crazy.

As June arrives next week so will the beginning of my minimalist journey. I am paring down our items and getting rid of things that we don't truly need or love. I'm going to take photos of the boxes and bags that we get rid of and will be posting about my progress. My goal (which has to be realistic) is getting one garbage bag of stuff out of the house per week, as long as it takes until we are in our happy place. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fun At Half Price Books

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for the pregnancy giveaway that ends soon!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

Despite Jacob having an invasive surgery, radiation, and now 30 weeks of chemo...
He is still a boy! While he tires out more easily, gets out of breath quicker...
He is still a boy! Kicking balls around, running in the lush grass, because...
Boys will be boys, after all!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gender Neutral Experiment

Surely by now you've heard about the couple who is raising their child gender neutral. It's been all over the news lately but if you are one of the few who hasn't you can read more about it here.

I found the article interesting and I agree with the parents to some degree. But I think they have crossed the line from making their children comfortable with who they are to making them uncomfortable with who they want to be.

Witterick and Stocker have two older boys who know they are boys but are allowed to follow the beat of their own drum. The youngest child, named Storm, has a gender that is only known by a few...otherwise he/she is completely gender neutral.
The parents do not want the child to be defined by their gender.

As a parent to a boy who likes to dress up with his sister's dress up clothes, wear my shoes all around the house, and get his toe nails painted, I agree that a child should not be judged by what they like to do or play with. Boys can appreciate pretty things and girls can rough it up and play sports, climb trees, and wrestle with the best of the boys.

The parents experiment seems to already be going awry because while their oldest boy chooses to wear pink, grow his hair long and wear it in braids he also noted in the article that he doesn't like to be asked his gender and doesn't like the kids to make fun of him. He seems to be confused on how he wants to be viewed. What will it be like in a few years as he gets older?

Because while these parents want to agree or not, males and females were created differently for a purpose. Men are just naturally physically stronger than females. Females are typically more nurturing. Men are more silent while women like to chatter. The list could go on and on. Men and women are not equal but are great in their own respect. A man can have a maternal instinct or a woman can be a body builder but they still view themselves as a man or woman. By choosing not to proclaim the gender of their third child they are doing exactly what they are trying to avoid: making the gender the all important aspect. By hiding the child's gender they are not proclaiming to their boys that they should be who they want to be...they are instead pointing out that parts of yourself should be hidden in order to be accepted by the world. But they did find a way to get a whole lot of attention!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pregnant AND Comfortable?

Those two words just don't go together very well, especially when describing the morning sickness of the first trimester or the bulkiness of the third. One of my biggest complaints during pregnancy was trying to get comfortable enough to sleep at night.

I wish I had heard of the dreamgenii three years ago when I was pregnant with Joe. With back pain and feeling much like a beached whale while trying to position myself in bed I got very little sleep.

dreamgenii wants all pregnant women out there to know that there are ways to make your pregnancy more comfortable. They sent one of their pillows to prove their point.
My disclaimer is that I am not pregnant (though with the help of chocolate and ice cream I suppose I could appear that way at times!). I well remember the feeling of being pregnant though so am basing my review on that.

First of all, I love the back support cushion. This is something that is helpful to me now as ever since my first pregnancy I get back pain. With my knees positioned on the pillow and the back support I find that this pillow reduces my back pain...so I imagine it would do wonders for pregnancy induced back aches and pains as well.

The pillow is neither too hard nor too soft. Throughout my previous pregnancies I used one of those large body pillows that can be bought at Wal-Mart but found it too squishy and soft to be of much help. Plus, unlike those giant body pillows this pillow is more compact while still being supportive. It also allows you to roll over in bed along with the pillow, instead of making you reposition it each time you need to move. Total bonus there!

We all know that side sleeping is the ideal position for a pregnant woman and this pillow promotes that position, while making it more comfortable to do so.
It is useful for after pregnancy as a feeding support pillow. And as I'm finding out...can make sleeping more comfortable when you aren't even pregnant.

Ready to get one of your own? Check out dreamgenii or leave a comment stating your biggest pregnancy peeve. Two lucky readers will win a dreamgenii of their own! Earn an extra entry or two by tweeting or putting this post up on your Facebook (and leave an extra comment telling me you did so). Winners will be drawn at noon on Tuesday, May 31st. Good Luck!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


People are strange. You put some good news on your son's condition on your blog and you lose two followers! It's like "Well, it's not a train wreck any longer so no need to watch!"

It's the bad news on television that garners all the news. It's the horrendous stories that get the attention. When things start to settle down they loose their luster.

Our news was great this week, and I can only thank God for the blessings he has bestowed upon us. It doesn't mean that our journey is over though. There is a long road ahead of us but I am glad that we aren't viewed as a train wreck any longer. I say good riddance to the people who seemed to only watch our progress for the entertainment. And to the rest who weep with us, pray with us, and are here to support us through thick and thin - thank you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Update

Jacob's ANC is now up over 1,400 so more than enough to start chemo. We are now situated in our room and just began hydration.

The nurse reviewed the scan with me and it IS good news! As of now there is no evidence of cancer! The tumors in the lungs are gone...so it's as good as it gets! It's such good news that being in a double room again isn't even getting me down. :)

This and That

When this blog posts Jacob and I will be driving to the hospital. It's no longer a sure thing that we will be spending the next four days at the hospital. Jacob's ANC counts yesterday were 686 and they need to be 750 or above to start chemo. We had the choice to wait until next weekend or take a chance to drive to the hospital this morning and hope it went above 750 in the past 24 hours. It's a gamble that I'm willing to take since I also wanted to sit down with the doctor to fully discuss his CT scan results. I am hoping and praying that his counts have risen high enough by this morning to be admitted for the chemo so that we can get this stay over with.

Otherwise, I've been playing around with photo editing and wanted to share some of the fun that we had out in the sun this past week.

(Becca on the right and her aunt (yes, really!), Abby, on the left)

I'll update later on if Jacob was able to start chemo or not. Keep those fingers crossed!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Treasure Hunt

By now you all must know that I love to shop at garage sales. You just never know what you'll find that you never knew you needed! :)

At the end of April our town had their city-wide garage sales. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, it's when many garage sales are organized for one day. Our town had over 50 listed with several more sales that were unlisted.

My husband happened to be home that Friday so I was able to head out alone with my sister instead of hauling three kids along. We hit a lot of overpriced, full of junk sales but happened upon many good ones as well. I saw one sale being set up and remembered that it was a fun one with stationery and kids games and workbooks so decided to head back to it once they were completely set up.

Upon walking in I was a bit disappointed as it looked like just a garage filled with cookbooks. Hundreds and hundreds of cookbooks. Don't get me wrong, I love cookbooks and was able to find several that interested me:

I was still hoping for some stationery or fun kids stuff like last year when I ran across a rubbermaid shoebox in the corner filled with greetings cards and a sign reading 5 cents each. I glanced through the box and thought there were some usual ones so offered the woman $2 for the whole bin and she agreed. Only later when I arrived home did I see that they are Hallmark, Shoebox Greeting, and LANG cards - ONE of these greetings cards sells for more than I paid for the whole lot of them - and there must be at least 50 of them! I'm set for birthday and anniversary greeting for a long time!

As I exited the garage I saw a large cardboard box and peeked inside...only to find bunches of craft kids for children! As a mother to little ones I love craft kits. As a homeschooling family I especially love craft kits to keep the kids busy on a rainy or snowy day when they are driving me bonkers.

There were Klutz kits, American Girl card making kit, Crayola make your own sticker kit, Wee Bead People kit, make a sack puppet kit, and more. I happily grabbed all the ones I knew we could use with the intent to put them away for a rainy day (lucky for me the kids have not spied them yet so will be thrilled when I ration them out to keep us entertained).

The best part? Everything above cost me less than $10! Everything was priced just right. And that is why I love garage sales!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's Your Beef?

Or more importantly, what's in your beef?

That's the question I've been asking myself recently while cooking my ground beef. What were those little white pieces in my meat? What was those specks of almost neon red coloring in the meat that wouldn't turn brown no matter how long I cooked it? What were those hard pieces in my meat? I've noticed the quality of the ground beef from our local grocery store has been slipping, or else, I've started noticing.

And then it happened. I watched Jamie Oliver's second season of "Food Revolution" and saw the episode about "pink slime". What is that, you ask? Do you really want to know?!

"Pink Slime" is essentially slaughterhouse trimmings that have now been approved by the US government to be mixed in with our ground beef. These trimmings were once only approved for pet food but now in order to cut costs they are, in layman's terms, thrown into a machine that looks much like a washing machine and pummeled around to separate the fat from the meat, sent through a machine that grinds it into a paste, and washed in a mixture of ammonia and water (to kill all the bacteria that is on these types of sweepings from a slaughterhouse floor). Up to 15% of the ground beef you buy consists of this pink slime, and over 70% of all ground beef sold in the US is this type of mixture. If you are buying meat from a local grocery store odds are that they are purchasing this type of ground beef.

Jamie Oliver went on to say that the only way you can be sure that you are not ingesting pink slime is to watch the butcher grind up an actual piece of meat in front of you...or purchase from businesses that slaughter their own meat and do not use these large suppliers. The meat with pink slime is not required to state on the label that ammonia is in the product so there is no way to know what you are eating unless you trust your source of meat.

I've stopped buying ground beef at the local grocery store. I can't stomach it and won't feed it to my children any more than I would spray some Windex in their mouth. Our town has a family run meat shop which is stocked with meat from this family's own farm. It is processed locally and sold locally. It is not grass fed or organic (how I wish it was!) but since we can't go that route at this time it is the next best thing. There is no pink slim in this meat and no ammonia hiding in there with pieces of meat that used to only be reserved for dog food.

I'm sick of what the government is allowing to be called "food". I recommend you read more about this pink slime and find out exactly what is in your beef. You can read more about it here.

Did you know about pink slime before this? What is your reaction to this?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday's Topic: End of the World?

Is this weekend the end of the world? You can read more about this group at Daily Mail to get the full story. (No, I don't believe this, but would love to get your thoughts!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

2nd CT Scan

I finally got tired of waiting for the CT scan results today and called the clinic to find out if the verdict was in yet. One of our favorite nurses answered and read the scan results out loud. Though most of the medical terms sounded like mumbo jumbo to me I asked if the tumors in the lungs were gone and she said that there was no mention of nodules on the scan notes. She only mentioned the thickening of the bottom lung area and abdomen area, which is common after surgery and radiation.

I asked if the doctor would review them and give me a call this week or if I'll just talk to him on Friday when in clinic. She said "This shows good results so Friday should do fine." So while I do not know everything about the test I can say that there were no red flags on the scan and it sounds like things are going well and as expected. I will know the full details on Friday but it sounds like so far so good!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring is Delicious

Spring has to be my favorite season. Not only do we finally get to thaw out after a long winter, see colors emerge from the ground, feel the warm sun touch our face, or hear the birds sing their praises but we also get to fill our bellies with the goodness that grows out of the newly thawed earth.

There is no other time that our favorites can be had for such a reasonable price. Our garden produce is not ready, mind you, but rather just getting started as we planted it all last week. The store sales flier is bursting at the seams with all the good deals though.

We have been enjoying sweet corn, cucumbers, green peppers, strawberries and more without breaking the bank! Each week we scour the sales flier and buy our produce based on what is on sale that week. Other times we get lucky and run across produce that has been marked down in order to move it quickly. This week watermelons are on sale at our local grocery store for $2.88 each, which sure beats the $8.50 watermelon I bought the other week. We love our watermelon in this house and I bought a total of 4 watermelons this week. The raspberries are on sale for $2.99 and I bought a couple packages as they, too, are one of our favorites. Jacob and Joe like pop them in their mouth like candy and Becca and I like them in yogurt parfaits. I can't wait until our own raspberries are ready and ripe this summer.

The sales have been a great way for me to plan our menus. Green peppers and cucumbers were on sale last week 2/$1 so we had Pepper Steak and cucumber salad one night and snacks of green peppers and cucumbers several times that week. Mushrooms were on sale so I made Ben fried mushrooms which he enjoys but rarely gets. Sweet corn was 3/$1 so we had that several times that week. When our meals revolve around produce it cuts the grocery bill and makes our meals more exciting and fresh!

Besides the fruit and vegetables that I have been picking up at our local grocery store I managed to snag some good deals at a larger grocery store in a larger city today when we went shopping after church. 2 lbs. of strawberries were on sale for $2.48 so we ended up with 4 lbs. Sweet corn was 4/$1 so we will be enjoying 8 ears this week. Blackberries were $1.99 ($1 cheaper than at our local grocery store) so two packages went into our cart. Cantaloupe was $2.34 so Joe will be enjoying one of his favorite snacks this week. A few 1/2 gallons of organic milk were marked down to $2 each for quick sale so we bought the last three.

It's been a joy to work in the kitchen lately with all the fresh foods. It's been even better to sit down and enjoy them. It's making me very excited for when our Farmer's Market opens!

What have you been enjoying lately?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Long Day!

We are not at the hospital for the weekend. Yesterday I was informed that Jacob's platelets were too low to start chemo so the four day stay was pushed back to next weekend.

We did end up going to the hospital today anyhow as the CT was scheduled, as well as the checkup with the radiologist. Jacob did good for the CT scan (though it took him 2 hours and three flavors to get enough of the contrast into him as he just wasn't feeling the flavors today). The radiologist appointment went well and he said that the initial reports of the CT scan looked good. When pressed he said that the tumor in the back looks like it has shrunk a lot, which means that there is still a tumor there (in the lungs), from my understanding. :( I never got the full report of the last scan from the doctor or had a sit down with him about it and from that report it had made it sound like the tumors were all but gone. I'm just reminding myself that the radiologist made it sound like it is a good report, so we must be making some sort of progress, even if it isn't fast enough for my liking.

I will know more when the full report comes back, probably on Monday, when I can talk to our Oncologist. I'm thinking that this weekend may seem like a LONG one!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I Wish...

...I could say that I'm packing for a vacation in the Caribbeans or somewhere else exotic and beautiful but rather we are just packing today for another four day hospital stay starting tomorrow. At 7am. Meaning we must leave here by 5:30am at the latest!

Tomorrow will be a busy day. Jacob is having another CT to see if we've made more progress. I'm anxious about the results (as I will be for every. single. test. that Jacob will have in the future) but praying for the best. Jacob is a fighter and his body has shown us just how strong it is so I know that it is fighting this cancer and hoping that every single cell has already been searched out and destroyed.

In the afternoon he will be meeting with the radiologist for a check-up. After that we will start another round of chemo and be in the hospital until Monday afternoon.

So today will find me catching up on laundry and cleaning in preparation of being gone for four days. Packing our clothing and getting our food ready to take along. Spending a little extra time with the two kiddos that I leave behind for four days. And sorting through the meals in the freezer so I can let my husband know what he can prepare while I'm away.

We aren't embarking on a Caribbean vacation. But one more chemo round down means just 7 more to go!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday's Topic: Spanking

Is spanking an acceptable form of discipline or is it child abuse?

Monday, May 9, 2011


3rd birthday
to my baby!
How time does fly!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What A Week!

What a busy and full week it has been! It started a week ago when our town had their city wide garage sales. Ben was home on Friday due to him working the weekend instead so I was able to go to the sales with my sister, sans children! It was wonderful to be able to stop at each sale and not drag children in and out of car seats.

It would have been the perfect day...except I came home to find our outdoor cat acting funny. His tongue was sticking out and he seemed very unresponsive. I took him to the vet and it turns out it was a jaw infection, maybe caused by a tooth or object or a fight with another animal. I have been dutifully giving him his antibiotics twice a day and he has improved. The first couple days had me worried as he wouldn't eat and barely seemed aware of us when we were around him. Now he is back to his normal self and wanting to go outside again.

Then Monday we took our trip to Galena. Thursday was our actual anniversary and we stayed home and watched a movie and snacked on lots of yummy foods.

Yesterday Jacob's Hemoglobin dropped to 6.9 so off to the hospital we went for another blood transfusion. He had been complaining of a headache the night before and feeling a bit dizzy so I knew to expect that. Ben was able to get off work at noon to watch the other two kids and Jacob and I left then and didn't arrive home until close to 8pm. He is feeling good this morning so that did the trick.

He is still receiving the G-CSF shots as his ANC count is only at 1,200 and it needs to be 2,000 before we stop the shots. It's taking longer and longer to build those counts back up each time but it is especially bad when he gets the Carboplatin, which really makes them drop. Only two more times of that drug!

We go back to the hospital on Friday (yep, the 13th!) for another 4 day hospital stay. He meets with the radiologist that day too for a quick checkup and is also having another CT scan. Please pray for some more good results to be shown. These tests are nerve wracking!

It looks like we will be spending the day outside. We are finally getting a stretch of nice weather. I have my windows open and will be hanging up some laundry and bedding soon. Hope you all are enjoying a nice day as well.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rockin' Green Winner

I used random.org to generate the winner and number 17 was chosen. (By the way, can anyone tell me how to take a screen shot to post for future contests? I couldn't figure it out this time!)
Emily B said...

ebickell at hotmail dot com

Emily B, please contact me at babys_mama1 "at" yahoo.com with the scent of your choice and your mailing address.
Thanks to all who entered and keep checking as I have a few more fun giveaways planned!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Today marks our 10th wedding anniversary! It sounds like a long time (especially considering I am just 28!) but it feels like I've known Ben much longer.

I remember when I got engaged at age 18. People told me I was too young. People told me that I didn't know him well enough. Some people told me I would be divorced within a few years (and my brother thinks he's rarely wrong?! lol). The truth was, I was young but I think no matter the age, you know when you've met the right one.

We wanted to do something special for our 10th anniversary. We decided to go somewhere a few days early so dropped the kids off at my parent's house on Monday and hit the road.

We arrived in Galena, IL in time for lunch and had a lovely lunch at the Victory Cafe. We strolled downtown after lunch and peeked into each adorable storefront. I had to snap this picture below of a real dog for Becca as she loves dogs and it was just too cute to pass by!
The downtown is so quaint. The street curves and is lined by flags while the sidewalk is lined with paved bricks. The stores themselves are unique and just opening the old door to some stores transport you to another time period. This is what a downtown should be like!
We spent all afternoon touring the shops and though we barely spent a dime we had a wonderful time looking around at a leisurely pace, something that we haven't been able to do since having kids 7 years ago (I can literally count on one hand the times we have been shopping together without children!). We stopped at a winery and sampled some wine and picked up a couple bottles of our favorite, which we will enjoy this evening with some cheese, grapes, and strawberries and a movie.
It was a lovely, relaxing day together. We ended our evening at a steakhouse where we enjoyed (our first ever) margaritas, yummy steak, and a decadent dessert to share. On the way home we reveled in the beautiful sunset, which was a glorious ending to a glorious day!
Happy Anniversary, Honey!

By the way, don't forget to sign up for the drawing, which ends tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where In The World?

My husband and I took a day away this week (more about that tomorrow!).
Can anyone guess where we went?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday's Topic

While I'm glad that the Royal Wedding is over (yes, I was one of those who could have cared less about it!) I do have to bring it up one last time. I've read several places that Kate omitted the word obey in her wedding vows. Many people thought that this was a wonderful thing as obey is outdated and shows what an independent woman she is.

Do you have an issue with the words obey your husband? Should a woman submit to her husband or is it an outdated custom that should be banished in our modern society? Does it suppress a woman or make a marriage work?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rockin' Clean

I'm always on the quest for natural (and cool!) household products. I do make many of my own cleaning solutions but sometimes for the sake of convenience I like to have ready made products on hand. I also feel that it is important to support companies that are eco-friendly. When I was given the opportunity to sample Rockin' Green diaper and laundry detergent I jumped at the chance.

When it comes to laundry in this household...we do a lot! With three messy kiddos and a toddler still in diapers (whom is occasionally still wears cloth diapers...as schedules allow these days) our washing machine seems to be going non stop.

My children are messy. They love mud and dirt, they love to crawl in the grass, they love to play in the rain. These activities all contribute to stains, and if they sit long enough in the hamper, hard set stains and a beginning case of mildew. The cloth diapers are the same - sometimes it can be tough to get them completely clean - both sight wise as well as smell wise.

Rockin' Green cloth diaper and laundry detergent was an awesome product to test. The scents are amazing (Smashing Watermelons and Rage Against the Raspberries are two I tried!) and the product itself not only is all natural but also tough as nails. It got stains out of our clothing and diapers as well as left them smelling fresh and clean.

Bottom line: it works! And, it works really well! And call me superficial but I love the packaging, I love the name, and love, love, love the names of the scents (as well as the actual scents themselves!). It's like a rock star party in the laundry room! I will definitely be purchasing this for our cloth diapers, and see myself using it on all our laundry as money allows. Which, speaking of money, it isn't too expensive - depending on whether you have an HE washer or not it averages about 6 to 13 cents a load. For all natural detergent?! Can't beat that!

Want to win a bag for yourself?! One lucky winner will win a 45/90 load bag (45 loads regular washer or 90 loads HE washer) of their choice of scent, courtesy of Rockin' Green! Just leave a comment below telling me what scent sounds the most appealing to you ( visit here to see all the scents ). Winner will be drawn on Friday, May 9th. To earn an extra entry tweet, post a link to this post, or mention this drawing on your blog and add another comment telling me you did so. Good luck - I know this detergent will become a new favorite!


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