Friday, February 18, 2011

Food Waste...

I've shared before that I really make it a priority to use up the leftovers we have. This hasn't always been the case. It hit me tonight as I was cooking dinner how much I've grown in this area.

You see, last Saturday we had another family over for dinner. The mom and I became fast friends through our MOMYS group and when they come to Richmond, I practically beg for them to come for dinner. The Dad of the family and Brandon get along great and so do our combined eight (soon to be nine because she is expecting in May!) children. It's a wonderful time of fellowship for us.

Anyhow, Brandon grilled chicken and I prepared corn on the cob and baked potatoes. We had cantaloupe for dessert. There was quite a bit leftover (no one leaves my house hungry!) and we had leftovers on Sunday, eating the remaining chicken and potatoes. We still had quite a bit of corn left.

The next day, I heated just enough corn to have as a vegetable side dish with our dinner. And we still had some corn left. I cut the corn off of the cob and froze it.

Thursday, I combined it with black beans, diced tomatoes and other seasonings and we had it over rice, with chicken breasts and greenbeans as well.

At the end of that meal we had rice and the black beans, diced tomatoes, corn leftover.

Tonight, I mixed the rice and the black bean mixture with another can of corn, ground beef, onions, seasonings, beef broth and more diced tomatoes and made a mexican soup. (I also used a small portion of frozen baked beans from the freezer. I mashed them to make the soup broth thicker..)

The rest of that soup will be eaten tomorrow for lunch.

In the past, I would have been sick of looking at corn and I would have wanted something else. At some point, I was convicted and felt that simply wanting something else and therefore wasting perfectly good food wasn't the best use of our God-given resources.

Here's the good news: You don't have to eat leftovers the same way you made them the first time! Sometimes we do.. we call it Leftover Buffet or Mismatched Meals and I let everyone pick a few things. Sometimes we have the leftovers for lunch.

Sometimes they turn into "do-overs" like a casserole or a soup.

But I've decided to be the best steward I can be of even the little things... like a few extra pieces of corn on the cob.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Baby Signing Works!

I've been working diligently with Xander on his language. He had very few words and we were concerned given his birth circumstances. (Omitted for his privacy.) We were also struggling with a lot of screaming, crying and temper tantrum behaviors. He was frustrated.. and so were we.

So I started reading everything I could. I remembered that when I was high school I babysat for a little boy named Robbie. Robbie has Down Syndrome and his speech therapist actually taught him sign language to start since children with Down Syndrome have large tongues and it can delay speech. He did learn to talk but in the meantime it served it's purpose.

I've seen sign language materials marketed for babies but I didn't want to invest a lot of money into a system for us. I figured it'd be my "luck" that I'd buy an expensive program and suddenly he'd talk up a storm.

Our library didn't have much and what they did have was checked out and already had a waiting list.

Soooo... I turned to You Tube. I've found over the years that you can pretty much find anything you could imagine (and things you don't care to imagine) on You Tube.

I put the keywords "Sign", "ASL" and whichever word I wanted to work on. When I found someone that was easy to understand and follow, I clicked on their user name to see what other videos they offered.

The first sign I taught Xander was "More." I was eating some fruit and he looked like he wanted some. So I offered him a taste. He loved it and grunted to tell me so. I said "MORE?" and did the sign and then gave him another piece.

Then he looked like he wanted more. So I took his hands and we signed hand over hand while I said "More." Then I gave him "more." We did this over and over. It was low key and low stress.

One night we were at the dinner table and Brandon gave him a bite of whatever we were having. I asked Xander "More?" and he signed! We all clapped. Every since then, he has used the sign.

The next sign I taught him was "Please." If he wanted something, I asked him to sign "please." We used the same kind of method and he started signing "please" on his own.

Then we turned it into a sentence. "More, please."

Next I added "All done." We say all done, but we actually use the sign for "finished" because it was easiest. When he is done eating, he signs "All done." If I'm giving him a treat and I'm done, I sign "All done." When I'm done changing his diaper or done bathing him, I do the same thing. We also use it at the end of storybooks.

The most recent sign I've taught him is "Thank you." At first he didn't like this one at all and it was pretty hard to teach him because it comes after he gets what he is asking for. So if he asks for "more please?" and then I give it to him, he had very little incentive to sign "Thank you!" But I kept asking and we cheered like crazy people the first time he did it without me asking.

Some people argue that you are delaying vocal speech if you teach your baby signs. I've seen the exact opposite. When I first started signing with Xander, he made almost no sounds with his signing. Now he vocalizes sounds that sound very much like the word he is signing. It's been amazing and we've not had near the temper tantrums and frustrations that we were experiencing before.

A few other things that I've learned:

- Just because your baby doesn't sign it perfectly doesn't mean they don't understand. Xander signs 'Please" by rubbing his tummy. The sign is supposed to be up higher on his chest. It's like a baby "mispronouncing" a word, like "Dankoo" for Thank You. It still counts! I do the signs properly and have learned to "understand" his signs like I learned to understand mispronunciations from my older children.

- Practice, practice, practice. I've taught my older children the same signs. So now they use the signs when they talk to him too. "Please?" is a common one that my girls ask of Xander. If he is trying to snatch, they ask him to "Say please?" and he signs back "please!"

- Use the words with the signs and soon your baby will be signing and talking too!

Father, I'm so thankful that Robbie was put in my path before I became a mama. You prepared me for this situation many years ago in Your wisdom. Thank you!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Year Ago..

A year ago, I comforted a beautiful friend of mine. She's further down the road in this journey called motherhood and I admire her greatly. She's the kind of friend that you can come to burdened and she picks you up, dusts you off, and sends you back out into the world. She gently gives advice. But she is no pushover. She is the kind of person that makes you want to be better, to walk closer to the Lord and to be a more patient mother.

And I've never met her in person. *gasp* I know! (Yet! Yet! I hope to change that this summer!) She is a fellow MOMYS (Mothers of Many Young Siblings, a fabulous site for Christian mothers of large families) and we've talked a good bit over the years online and even on the phone.

Anyway, back to a year ago. A year ago, we were both pregnant. I went for my ultrasound and it was uneventful. She went for an ultrasound and found out that she was expecting a baby girl that had a hole in her heart and later found out that she has Down Syndrome. She named her precious baby, Verity, which means Truth. (Oh... how the Lord speaks through names! Her name was chosen before her ultrasound appointment.)

My family has had the great pleasure of praying for Joe and Susanna, Verity and her other children. And now we have added their adoption prayer needs to our list.

But this post isn't about me and what I've done. This post is about what God has done. God has made Susanna an amazingly effective advocate for children with Down Syndrome and now her family is completing the process to internationally adopt another precious girl with Down Syndrome.

Why does she advocate?

Trust me, it isn't because she doesn't already have enough to do in her day.

You see, in America, 90+% of children with Down Syndrome are aborted and not given a chance to live. That number blows my mind and literally sucks the air out of my lungs. As a pro-life, Christian mother of four, it sickens me.

In other countries, almost all the children with Down Syndrome are placed for adoption, if they are not aborted. And if no one adopts them by the age of 5, they "age out."(Remember my "The Orphan Books" post?) They are taken from their "baby house" (orphanage) and institutionalized. A staggering amount of these precious children die within the first 2 years of their move.


My Julianne turns five this June.

A birthday that is highly looked forward to here (hey.. a whole hand is a big deal around our house!) is a terrible event in other countries.

Can you imagine someone giving up on you at FIVE? It nauseates me.

I didn't mean for this to be this long but as you can tell I'm disgusted at the treatment of the children. Statistics like this are the things that my nightmares are made of.

I really wanted to link you to her blog and encourage you to read what she wrote about what she wishes knew a year ago. It is important and life changing. It is the Truth. And when you look at the video you will see exactly what she is talking about. (Yes, the video is safe for young eyes that you may have in the room with you.)

Father, I love you. I have been watching this story unfold for a little over a year now.... and I've watched with anticipation and excitement. I know that each baby You knit is fearfully and wonderfully made, just as You tell us in Your Word. I am thankful for little Verity. She has already touched so many lives in her 7 months of life and opened so many eyes to You! Lord, strengthen my friend, Susie. Give Joe and Susanna wisdom as they are on this journey to adopt. Comfort their hearts as they wait for the paperwork to be done and the process to be completed. Protect their future daughter as she waits for her forever family! Thank you for connecting us. You've chosen some amazing friends for me, in Your wisdom. Open the world's eyes, Lord, open their eyes to the truth. Amen.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: What He Must Be... by Voddie Baucham Jr.

What He Must Be... If he Wants to Marry my Daughter is book that Voddie Baucham Jr has written and dedicated to his daughter, Jasmine. It's a book about a multi-generational vision, the ministry of marriage, the father's role and then the qualities that he feels his future son-in-law should have. He also addresses the lack of young men that have these specific qualities and offers some solutions.

I thought this book offered practical wisdom. I read this book in slowly over time because I thought it was very meaty and I wanted to take it all in. I often found myself thinking about it later as I did chores and discussing bits of it with Brandon. I'm going to encourage Brandon to read this book as well. I thought there were alot of good points in this book and enjoyed reading it as the mother of both sons and daughters. Perhaps one day, we will ask our children to read it and we'll discuss it together.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The boys have RSV...

(A silly picture from this past Sunday..)

I'm a very mentally drained mama right now. It's 4 am and I've sat up listening to the baby breathe.

Both of the boys have been sick since the weekend so Wednesday I took Solomon into the pediatrician. He sounded the worst. I don't run to the pediatrician's office for every little thing but I had some red flags waving, so I took him in.

I'll spare you the details of a frustrating appointment, but when your pediatrician doesn't even bother to speak to you like you are intelligent human being, having an appointment with him is worthless. I was told he had "the funk." It's a shame that he thinks I'm too stupid to understand "upper respiratory infection" which is indeed what he marked on the check out slip.


Thursday, Solomon sounded much worse. He was coughing longer and longer and his breathing was quite a bit faster. I've seen one of my children gasp for air before and this wasn't that, but what I did see worried this mama of four. He was very clingy and was now running a fever. He wasn't playing at all. He coughed until he vomited. He started to refuse bottles.

Brandon got ready for work and headed in at 2:30. I sat down with my Bible for quiet time, rocking Solomon in my lap and my spirit was restless... after prayer, I called Brandon and asked him to come home. I thought Solomon needed checked out.. again.

Those who know me, know that things have to be bad to call Brandon home. I mean.. I've had three vomiting children at once and handled it myself. I had a stomach virus and four children to care for and handled it. In fact, if we would have had a second vehicle, I probably would have taken them in by myself.

Instead of going back to our pediatrician, we went to Kid*Med which is a pediatric urgent care center. It was a very nice facility with friendly staff. In fact, our chiropractor's front desk lady moonlights there. I have to say after living here for 2 years and seeing a sea of unrecognizable faces, it is nice to see a familiar face at times.

I had both Xander and Solomon seen. Brandon came along so we didn't have a repeat of the Pediatrician Fiasco of 2011 repeated and so the girls came along as well. I really didn't want to expose them to the germs, but it was the best I could do with the circumstances to have them sit on the "well" section of the office until we were called to the back.

Both boys tested positive for RSV. It was delightfully refreshing to have a pediatrician (with a bit more experience under his belt than our pediatrician) listen to my summary of their symptoms and behavior changes.. after all I am the MOM and with my children 24 hours a day with few exceptions.

So now we have a new nebulizer (since ours seems to have disappeared) and we are doing saline nebs and have albuterol on hand if needed. It was also refreshing to hear the pediatrician we saw tonight say that NONE of his four children were on the growth chart and that milestones are a guide, not set in stone requirements. I knew that but after yesterday's appointment I was starting to wonder. I wish I could have taped him and sent it into our pediatrician since most of the time we spent with our pediatrician the day before was spent harping on Solomon's weight and his not sitting up without support. *sigh* (For the record, Solomon *is* on the growth chart.)

Once we got settled back in at home, Brandon went back to work to finish his shift and I added timing medications (alternating Motrin and Tylenol for fever) and pushing fluids to my tasks for the evening.

I'm having trouble winding down after watching Solomon cough so much. I'm off to try to sleep.

If you think about us, please pray for healing for both boys. Xander is doing much better than Solomon but that is expected because of his age and size.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Different Kind of Birthday...

Sunday we experienced a different kind of birthday. DeLainey came to her daddy and told him that she believes that Jesus is in her heart.

Brandon talked with her for a bit about what she believes and then they prayed together.

And then he announced to our family that Lainey is a Believer and welcomed her into our spiritual family!

The official date of DeLainey's spiritual birthday is January 30th, 2011, exactly one week before her 8th birthday.

My hands shook as I typed my Facebook announcement. And one of my friends left a comment that spelled out what my heart was feeling oh so well. Her comment was a direct quote from the Bible...

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." ~3 John 1:4

Brandon will be placing a call to the church we are in the process of joining and letting them know. Wanna hear another tidbit that makes me giddy!? Our church has fathers baptize their own children. Oh what a precious memory that will be!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Disney Trip Day 2: Magic Kingdom

Sorry, this is taking me longer than I thought it would-- I should have taken better notes when we were there! Lesson learned for next time!

In the middle of the night, Brandon and I woke up star-ving! We polished off a cup of fruit that we had in the fridge in mere seconds and washed it down with the drinks in our mugs. Oink, Oink...
The next morning, we got up and got everyone dressed. Then we went down to the Intermission cafeteria. I sat at the table with the children as they ate their fruit cups and nursed Solomon while Brandon got our breakfast. We had the All Star Breakfast.

Then we quickly boarded a bus to the Magic Kingdom-- our system was working! Brandon and the girls were in awe when we went through the Main Gates. I don't think he believed me when I tried to explain how Disney does everything up. It was chilly but we made the best of it we could. I'd rather be cold in Disney than cold in Virginia! We got some pictures taken on Main Street by the Photopass folks and made our way to the Hall of Presidents.

On the way, we saw Cinderella's Castle and my girls were just IN LOVE with it. Julianne (4) is in love with all things Tinkerbell and thought Tink should have her own castle. So she kept asking us where Tinkerbell lived. When we arrived at the Hall of Presidents we were in between showings but I was just happy to be in from the wind. We were going to watch a show, but Solomon got fussy.. so I nursed him and then he settled in so we decided to head back out. My husband didn't seem super thrilled about seeing the Hall of Presidents so we moved on.

We went to Country Bear Jamboree and everyone enjoyed it. Then we tried to go see Aladdin and Jasmine. DeLainey thought it was funny that Jasmine's tummy was all covered up (like I said, it was cold.) We weren't there in time to get in line, so I told the girls we would come back another time.

They saw the Magic Carpet Ride and really wanted to ride, so we did. All of us rode since another castmember told my husband that babies ride all the time. (I knew there was no height restriction but wanted to make sure.) The castmember kept telling me to hold on tight to Solomon... But I, of course, all ready knew that. She kept acting kind of shocked that we were going to take him on, but it was fine. I held onto him tightly and he seemed to like the motion. Now my daughter on the other hand kept pushing the buttons to go uppppppppppppppppp and dooooooooooooooooooown and upppppppppppppppp and downnnnnnnnnnnn... I started to feel a little sick, but the ride finished just in the nick of time. Teaching this one to drive, is her Daddy's job.. I can't imagine doing it!

By this time, the tribe was starting to get antsy for some food, so we headed to Pecos Bills. We say Davy Donald Duck and since Donald is my husband's favorite character we got in line for pictures. Xander wasn't too sure about the big Duck but he seemed to go along with it. When we got to Pecos Bill's it was packed. I found a kiosk but it was broken, so we found another one and I entered the food order in. Brandon and I both ordered the Deluxe 1/3 lb Angus Cheeseburger and we ordered hamburgers for the girls. I handed the ticket to Brandon and went with the children to get a seat. We had to sit wayyyy in the back in a diningroom to the side. By the time my husband got though the line to pick up food they had set our food trays in the cooler and everything was cold. Brandon told the castmember that our food was cold to the touch and it was unacceptable so they remade our food. In all honesty, our food wasn't exactly piping hot when we ate it so I see how it got cold so quickly. This wasn't anywhere near the best food we had on our trip. The bun on my burger was hard and dry, the meat was dry and my onion rings that came on my burger were very brown. We added a good bit of condiments to our sandwiches and it was barely tolerable. I picked at my burger but ate my fries. Brandon said that his food was "alright." He liked the nacho cheese being on the bar and he dipped his fries in it. We were sitting by a very stinky trashcan and that was a bummer. Overall, I don't think we'd be eager to return to that restaurant.

When we left Pecos Bill's we rode the Walt Disney World Railroad. Xander fell asleep in Brandon's arms and Solomon fell asleep in my arms. So we rode the complete trip and then got off on the ToonTown Fair stop.
(The best I could do on a moving train with a sleeping child on my chest. Forgive my horrible photography!)

We went into the Judge's Tent then the Toontown Hall of Fame Tent. I have such special memories of these two places. As we walked through the Judge's Tent I explained the Hidden Mickeys to Lainey. She thought that was just so neat! Then, Minnie and Mickey were great with our kiddos. Lainey asked Mickey "Do you remember me from yesterday?" And Mickey shook his head up and down signaling yes. That made her day! We got a family picture.

Next up was the ToonTown Hall of Fame Tent. We chose to do the Princess side instead of the Fairies because the sign said that Fairies had a wait twice as long as Princesses. We assured Julianne we would try to get back to see the Fairies.

The princesses... oh my.. where do I start? They were WONDERFUL with the girls. At first Julianne was very shy... it was almost as if she couldn't believe her eyes.Daddy had to help talk to the princesses for Julianne. Lainey took right to them and had something to tell each one. She talked about the airplane ride with Cinderella. Cindy said she'd never been on an airplane. Lainey was almost racing to get through all the stations to get to Belle. She wanted to tell Belle that she reads books too! (Reading was a real struggle for Lainey last year but she has taken off.) *sniff, sniff* She even told Belle that she reads the Beauty and the Beast Storybook sometimes. Belle said she couldn't really imagine books about herself but said that she thought it was really neat that Lainey was reading so well. The girls continued to talk about meeting the princesses for days and days after their meet and greet.. in fact they still do!
(Most of my pictures are blurry so I'll wait and put up our Photopass pictures of this part.)
We saw Mickey's Country House. And then we walked over to Donald's Boat. There was no water but Brandon asked me to take a picture by the door.

The girls thought that the Alice topiary (?) was so neat and asked for us to take a picture.

We headed to Sleepy Hollow so we could sit down for a bit and get a snack. We used two snack credits and got two funnel cakes. We found a nice little place to the side with tables and benches and enjoyed the quiet. Then we went to the Main Street Bakery and picked up cinnamon buns to take back to our room. They were HUGE.
We took the bus back to the resort and lightened our load considerably. We put Solomon in a warm sleeper and headed back out. We got back on the bus and rode back to Magic Kingdom. Then we got on the bus to Coronado Springs so we could eat at Peppermarket.

Peppermarket was a wonderful meal. I went and picked meals for the girls. They both had asked for pizza. While I was up getting their food, I looked around and decided I wanted fajitas. When I got back to the table, I told Brandon and he went to pick up our meals while I got the children settled. Here are my fajitas.

He ended up getting a burrito and a side of black beans.

Then when I got done I went to pick my dessert and he went to pick his. I'm not a big sweets eater so my dessert was split between the girls. I had Chocolate Layered Cake. But Brandon enjoyed every bite of his Oreo Cake.

We almost felt like we were "cheating" on the quick service dining plan since a server refilled our drinks and we had real silverware instead of plasticware.

Then we took the bus back to the Magic Kingdom and rode the monorail to the Grand Floridian so we could see the Gingerbread House.Then we headed back to the resort for the night