Wednesday, July 30, 2014

God has Big Plans for Jacob

I'm not sure how to begin a post about a day that my 2 year old son almost lost his life, except to say that God is good, and His hand of protection was upon Jacob.

Jacob & Mommy, One month after his injury
God has big plans for this boy.  If you have been around Jacob, you know that there is one word that best describes him: i-n-t-e-n-s-e. The boys in my family are calm, quiet, pretty 'keep to themselves.'  It's the girls who are loud, chatty (I have clear memories of my Grandma talking to everyone we met when department store shopping), always analyzing and thinking.  But this boy, this boy is LOUD, ACTIVE, friendly, and endearing.  He can make anyone smile just by flashing those big brown eyes and dimples.  And he knows it.  My hope and prayer is that he learns early to use this, among the many other talents God has given him, for the Lord.  That he will use his loudness, his intensity, and his endearing character to draw and point others to Christ.

So God has big plans for Jacob... He repeatedly protects him when we, as parents, are unable.  In his first year and half, Jacob managed to swallow a penny and receive 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his hands.  He keeps my prayers for safety flowing!

One such time is June 14, when Jacob was involved in an accident that could have taken his life.  We were having a garage sale, Scott was mowing the yard, the kids were running everywhere, eating donuts, and watching some TV.  It was as typical as a Mid-Western summer Saturday can get.  

As the mowing was finished, Scott loaded the mower on to the trailer to return it to the farm.  Jacob was standing beside Scott, on his right, as Scott was chaining up the second of two ramps.  Something happened with the chain, and the ramp fell.  As it started to go, Scott looked to the right to be sure Jacob was there, but he was not.  The next thing he saw was Jacob on the ground.  Apparently, at precisely the moment that the ramp started to fall, Jacob started to run to me, far out from the trailer, exactly the length of the ramp.  The end of it hit him in the forehead above his left eyebrow, and knocked him to the ground.  He was unconscious, bleeding from his forehead and his right ear.

The trailer
A lot happened, but I will not include that now.  I will just say, there is no reason that that ramp should not have crushed Jacob's skull.  It is very heavy, and had the momentum of falling.  On my own, I cannot lift it.

The ambulance took Jacob to a hospital 45 minutes away because they were a Level 1 Trauma Center.  There were doctors there waiting, prepared to do surgery immediately, if needed.

Scott and I sat with our family, waiting for them to tell us we could see him.  I remember a lot of staff people coming into the private emergency waiting room that they placed us in, giving us updates, information, etc.  A chaplain came and prayed with us. The pediatric trauma doctor came to introduce himself.  I was in a state of shock, it seems.  My thoughts were protected.  My mind did not do the 'what ifs' cycle.  I just sat, waiting.  Praying. When a nurse came once, I remember asking if we could just go be in the room with him.  She said, "There are too many doctors and nurses around your son to even see him right now."  It took weeks for me to realize exactly what that meant.  My boy was fighting for his life.

After an eternity, we finally got to see him.  He was on a ventilator, had a neck brace, IVs, and tubes everywhere it seemed. And what is truly amazing is how seeing him made us feel better. The concrete reality of being with him was better than the abstract unknown of the waiting room.

Jacob in the CCU
The doctor came, after a second CAT scan, and as we walked back to see Jacob for the second time, he was talking of severed blood vessels and arteries to the brain, of surgery, of possible transfer to a children's hospital, and decisions.  I will never forget him saying, "There may be some decisions we will all have to make."  They would need to do an MRI to get a better picture of the exact injury.  He let Carotid slip out once, and I knew that this was very serious, and yet, I had a peace that there was no understanding for.  I was not crying or wringing my hands.  I was sitting quietly with Scott and my family, praying.  Generally, I would be a complete mess. Instead, I was sending out a call on social media for a very specific prayer for an extremely clear and perfect MRI, after this discussion with the doctor, not telling anyone aside from our family of the words the doctor had used.

And finally, three and a half hours later, eight or nine hours after the accident, we had answers. A couple MRIs and MRAs (I don't know the difference!) showed that Jacob had several injuries.  A wide gash, which required 12 stitches externally, plus whatever it took internally to sew the muscle back together.  (It was a very clean cut that pulled the skin apart to expose his skull.  I will never forget that sight!  A mother is not supposed to see her son's skull!) A fracture in the temporal bone above his right ear.  And the most critical, a fractured Clivus.

Many of you have never heard of the Clivus, unless you are in the medical field.  If you are in the medical field, you will know immediately of the miracle that is my son.  Google Clivus, and the first thing you will read is that with Clivus injuries, there is a very high mortality rate, and at the very least, often much nerve damage in the brain, causing extensive damage and long term disabilities.

The Clivus is a bone that sits at the base of the skull.  Its kind of rectangular, with two corners carved out where the Carotid arteries enter the brain from the spinal column.  Basically, the Clivus sits on top of the spinal column between your neck and your brain.  If any part of the fracture had caused the bone to move at all, blood vessels would be injured, decreasing blood flow to the brain.  This was the initial concern, and cause for words like surgery, decisions, transferring.  The second CAT scan was done with dye, and it showed a distinct line through one artery.  I know this because we saw it a few weeks later.
The vent & neck brace removed next day

But the MRIs, the MRIs shocked the doctors.  Not one blood vessel had been injured.  I could see it in the doctor's eyes.  He fully expected that Jacob would need surgery, possible transfer to a children's hospital where a doctor with more experience performing this sort of surgery on children could care for him.

What an answer to our prayers!! 

By 10 pm, we were settling into Jacob's critical care unit room, staring at our miracle child.  All we wanted to do was pick him up and hold him.  He was still on the ventilator, still had a neck brace, there were still some question as to what therapies he would need, but we left that for the days to come. For now, we were praising God for his healing touch on Jacob.

Five days later, we took our little boy home.  
No therapies needed.  
No surgery needed.  
No long term injury.  

Just an answer to prayer. Thank you, Jesus, for your goodness to us.

Jacob's first night at home
I tell you all of this because God did this.  It was not luck.  It was not the doctors, though God worked through them to bring about this miracle.  Without their talent and abilities that God gave them to care for our little boy, he would have died.

There were people all around the world praying for Jacob, for our family.  Thank you.  Though it is not enough, THANK YOU for bringing our boy's name to the throne room of God.

God has big plans for this little boy.  We know it, and we have again, as we did when he was an infant, given him to God to use as he has planned, promised to raise him with a love for God and others.

*****If you were one who prayed for our Jacob during our hours of distress and the weeks that followed, would you please comment with your location?  I think it would be awesome to see a world map with pins of every location!  Thank you!*****

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stitch Fix

I recently received an order from Stitch Fix.  It was my first one, and I thought I would share my thoughts on it.

I debated repeatedly on whether to even order a Stitch Fix.  I'd heard they could be pricey, and I am a "shop the sales at Target" kinda girl.  But, I had some money from my birthday that I had been given, so I thought I'd try it out.  The most I could lose was the $20 styling fee, so it wouldn't hurt too much. 

Sweet Rain Colleen Geo Print Tie-Neck Blouse
Some of you may be wondering what in the world I am talking about!  Let's back up  a bit.

Stitch Fix is a styling and tech service.  They use the information they gather from you to create a personalized shopping experience.

You go to their website and create a profile that covers what styles of clothing you like, what sizes you wear (they currently style Ladies sizes 0-14), your shape, your budget, and lifestyle .  There is also space to indicate how often you want certain pieces, like if you only want casual clothing, or business clothing, or a mixture, and if you would prefer statement jewelry, accessories, and such.  Then you schedule your Fix!   Scheduling a Fix costs $20, and you are charged at the time your box ships.  Should you keep any items from your box, this $20 is credited towards the cost of them. 

After your profile is completed and you schedule your Fix, you wait very impatiently.  You check your email to see if there is any communication from Stitch Fix, as though they are working on your specific Fix all month long!  You check your profile, and be sure that everything is just perfect.  And then, when you FINALLY get your shipping notice, you track your shipment every other hour. 

No?  Just me?  Hmmm.  I was rather excited about this!

Well anyhow, The day finally came when my package was delivered.  We were assembling a trampoline (I know, very glamorous!), and I stopped everything to take pictures of my box for all of you before I ripped it open, I mean, before I opened it. 

First of all, the box was adorable.  On the outside, it looks like any other old shipping box, but open it up, and it was so cute!  A cute design printed on the inside.  All items were neatly folded and wrapped up together in tissue paper sealed with a sticker.  Also inside are "styling cards," showing you two ways to style each piece you recieved.

Style Card in Stitch Fix box
At first look, I wasn't sure what I thought.  Everything was cute, but nothing was something I would pull off of the rack for myself.  When I shop, I think "practical."  I take care of children ALL of the time.  So I held off judgement until I tried everything on.

In each Fix, you receive five pieces.  You can determine if you receive accessories every time or not.  I chose not, as I am pretty picky about my accessories.  So, I received a dress, skinny jeans, and three tops.  I loved all of them!  If you keep every piece in your Fix, you receive a 25% discount on the total cost. 

41Hawthorn Harriet Azrec Print Fit and Flare Dress
To the joy of my husband (ha!), we did a little photo shoot.  Here goes!

1.  41Hawthorn Harriet Aztec Print Fit and Flare Dress $64.00
I was surprised that this dress fit PERFECTLY!  It a tank dress, and I paired it with a jean jacket, as the style guide suggested, or it can be worn with out the jacket.  It is so comfortable!  This dress can be paired with flats, sandals, or heels.  Throw on a necklace and it looks great!

2.  Sweet Rain Colleen Geo Print Tie-Neck Blouse $48.00
 This blouse is not something I would pick out.  I would say that it is even out of my comfort zone.  However, when I put it on, I loved it!  It has a triangle print on it, with a tie at the neck.  It is very lightweight.  As shown above, it goes perfectly with a little cardigan.  My styling cards suggested a mint cardigan, but I only have coral, and it goes perfectly!  This one can be paired with jeans, or a cute skirt.  The only complaint I could find about it is that it is hand wash, but my washer has that setting, I tried it, and it worked!
Sweet Rain Colleen Geo Print Tie-Neck Blouse

Pomelo Corinna Striped Heathered Dolman Top
3.  Just Black Adora Ankle Length Colored Skinny Jean in Soft Orange $78.00
I would call these pants more of a coral color.  They almost match the sweater I'm wearing in the top photo.  I do not have a photo of these because they were too small for me.  I loved them, though!  And while they do have an exchange policy for sizes, it is not guaranteed that they can exchange sizing due to availability, so my sister, who also loved the pants, kept them.

4.  Pomelo Corinna Striped Heathered Dolman Top $48.00
This was, by far, my favorite!  Sooooo comfortable and versatile.  It feels like a lightweight sweatshirt, and wears like a nice top.  I even dressed it up and wore it out one Friday night for date night!  And then I wore it again the next Friday as we were all home for the day.  I could live in this top! 

5.  Le Sample Kahlo Embroidered Racerback Tank $48
Le Sample Kahlo Embroidered Racerback Tank
This is one I have not worn yet.  The weather and my activities have not yet aligned.  It would be cute with white pants or shorts paired with it.  I think this one is the most challenging for me, as it is different than anything I own, but I like that about it.

As a mom of three, I love that I can "shop" at home!  Trying to find time to go shopping and try items on with three children in tow can be frustrating and emotional.  I loved being able to try the items on in my own home, and to look at the rest of my wardrobe to style each thing, unlike being in a store, hoping that shirt matches those pants or that skirt that you have at home, being able to try on shoes with each outfit. 

Stitch Fix is also helping me expand my style, and figure out exactly what I like.  While I do not normally spend this amount on clothing, it was all included in my birthday gift, and I feel that the pieces are of a higher quality than I would find at my typical stores.  I tried to give honest feedback to my stylist, and requested the same stylist for another round.  I have read that the more honest you are about what you like and dislike, the better the Fixes get.  I am hoping for a couple less expensive items this time around, but I also do not plan to keep more than one or two items.  The budget cannot handle more than that!

If you are interested in getting a Stitch Fix yourself, please use this referral link!  For every first Fix that ships from accounts using this link, I receive $25 credit to my account. 

*I did not receive payment of any sort from Stitch Fix to write this post.

*Affiliate links are included in this post.

Monday, May 5, 2014

It's 5 o'clock! What's for dinner?

It's 5 o'clock.

You are exhausted.

All you want to do is put your feet up and enjoy the evening.

But your kids want to know what is for supper.

And you realize that You. Have. No. Idea. 

I know!  I've been there!  So many nights, we would end up with breakfast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or whatever could be scrambled up from the cabinets for supper.  It stressed me out.  Every. Single. Day. to not know what we were going to eat, to have to get up every morning and think all day long about what would require only what we already had on hand, that would not require me asking my husband to run to the overpriced local grocery store to get something.  I would get very little completed during the day because I was so concerned about what I was going to make.  Stress was the game of the day, and the kids and I were grumpy and hungry come dinner time.

That is why I am here with a solution!  You do not have to experience this.  It's an easy fix that does not cost a dime, and it will probably SAVE you money.

 Its a pretty big secret.

Are you ready?

Are you sure?!

It's called Menu Planning.


I told you it's simple!

Every month, I gather all of my supplies, I sit down, and write out a menu. For the whole month.  I try not to repeat any recipes, or only once, at the beginning and the end of the month.  I space out what kind of food we are having, and I plan for leftovers.

Here's how:

1.  Decide what format you want to use. 

You can use a calendar, a notepad, or your iphone.  Whatever works!

I'm a pen and paper kind of gal, so I use a notepad.  I write the dates/day of the week down the margin of the paper.

2.  Gather your recipes.

I use mainly my recipe box and pinterest.

3.  Check your calendar for any plans that may affect your dinner.  

Will you need to leave shortly after dinner time?  Will you arrive home just in time for dinner?  Will you need to eat away from home any nights?  Mark them down on your meal plan.

4.  If you are a family who usually has leftovers, pick what night is best for that, and mark it every week.  

Ours is usually Wednesday.  Scott has to be out the door before 6 pm, and currently, we have ball practice at 6:30.  That makes dinner a little earlier, so it's just easier to have leftovers. 

5.  Start filling in your menu with meals that your family enjoys.  

I start with one type of meal (beef, chicken, pork, pasta, vegetarian), and fill them in.  This way, I am aware of how ofter we are eating that type of meal in a month.

6.  After the main dish is filled out for the month, I go back and write in the side dishes as well.  

Generally, this means salad and a veggie dish. 

7.  Decide how often you will grocery shop and make your shopping list.  

My grocery shopping time is limited, as I have extra children all day in my home, and my children have practice nearly every night of the week.  This has "helped" me to decide to do shopping approximately every two weeks, with quick trips once or twice between to pick up a few things, like milk, bread, and fresh produce.

I do not shop for 14 meals when I grocery shop.  I buy for about ten meals.  I know that we do not eat dinner at home on Sundays (We are usually at my mom's, or on the rare occasion, we eat out.).  I also know that sometimes we have more leftovers than I planned, so there are extra meals in there.  Sometimes, we just have sandwiches for dinner because it works.  (Or because I forgot to check the menu that morning!)

8.  Check your menu every morning, and check your recipe so that you know how much time to plan for dinner preparations.  

So often, this is where I will fall off of the boat.  I forget to check the menu, to get the ingredients out of the freezer, or to be sure that we have everything needed.  

This is not a magic potion.  You have to do the leg work and keep it in front of you every. single. day.  But when you follow these steps, you will find that dinner is much less stressful, and you do no
t have to think about it all day long!

So tell me, 

How do you avoid the "what's for dinner stress?"

What strategies are working for you?

Monday, April 28, 2014

30 days of adventures in eating

Let me tell you about a little adventure on which I'm about to embark.

First, some history.

I've never had to diet in my life.


Somehow, I have always been thin.  I enjoy my chocolate, and my ice cream.  I gained every bit of 35-40 pounds every time I was pregnant.  And it always melts away.  I just eat when I'm hungry, and if I crave something, I have a little bit of it.

But lately, I cannot get enough sugar.  I feel as if I'm searching for it. All. Day. Long.

My husband and I have been trying to eat healthier over the past year or two, and the harder I try, it seems the more I want sugar. 

So, I am going to challenge myself.

 Enter Whole 30.  Have you heard of it?

It is basically an extreme version of the Paleo diet for 30 days.  (Paleo= meats, veggies, and fruits; no sugar, no grain, no dairy.)  You can't make any substitutions, like banana-egg pancakes, or grain free brownies.  

Currently, I'm spending my time searching out meal plans and recipes.  It's overwhelming to me.  Every meal I enjoy has pasta, cheese, or cream in it!

Say a prayer for me.  And my family.  And share any recipes or advice you can spare!