Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overrated by Eugene Cho: A Book Review

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC's 15 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"): May thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

About the book:
We all want to change the world, but as pastor Eugene Cho found out, it takes more than just desire. It takes action. In this personal confession he encourages readers to discover a practical discipleship that begins with the recognition that changing the world starts with changing ourselves.
Many people today talk about justice, but are they living justly? They want to change the world, but are they being changed themselves? Eugene Cho shares his story, a messy, painful story of being more in love with the ideas behind the actions than counting the cost and being a world-changer in action. Because everyone loves justice and compassion, but few have taken it upon themselves to truly live it out in their own lives. Cho is still on that journey to discover what it means, and invites readers to join him.

About the author:
Eugene is the founder and visionary of One Day’s Wages, a grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. He is the founder and senior pastor of Quest Church, an urban, multicultural, and multigenerational church in Seattle, Washington. Eugene and his wife, Minhee, have three children.  You can also find Eugene on his blog and website, eugenecho.com

From the author:
This book is my confession. It’s painful and honest, but it’s mine. And it’s this: I am more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world. This isn’t a message of guilt or shame. But it is a call, to both you and me, to be less infatuated with telling a good story and instead live the good story—a story of faith, hope, courage, and justice. -Eugene Cho

“Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world?”  - Eugene Cho

After reading the overview of this book, I was intrigued.  So many Christians today are comfortable sitting in their cozy houses, sharing links on Facebook or tweeting about the injustices of the world, but not actually doing something about them.  Eugene Cho challenges us to get up and do something to right those injustices and to get out of our comfort zones.  He reminds us that instead of just getting upset about things, we need to ask ourselves, "what can I do about it?"  I'll be honest...it wasn't a "comfortable" book to read, but I felt that it was a necessary one and one that all Christians should read.

Cho started the book by sharing how his family publicly pledged a years' wages to the cause of justice.  After three years of scrimping, saving, and living without, they were still $10,000 short.  So, on a whim, he decided to put an ad on Craiglist to sublet his family's home to earn that last $10,000.  It worked, but it meant that his family had to leave their home for 10 weeks.  I was taken aback by the faith and sacrifice they showed.  Right then, I knew that I was in for a wild ride with the book. 

Cho's use of humor throughout the book was perfect and he was able to use his own stories and anecdotes to make very clear points.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hospital Stay #4...Can We Be Done Yet?

This past week was...not great.  Princess came down with a nasty respiratory virus on Saturday (after she'd been to her cousin's birthday party and infected four of my nieces and nephews, of course).  I isolated Little Dude as much as possible from the rest of the family and washed my hands constantly, but the inevitable happened.  On Monday night, I put him to bed around 7:30 pm.  He was breathing normally (for him, at least), not coughing, not sick at all.  At 8:30, I checked on him and noticed that he was wheezing considerably.  At 11:00, I got his last feeding ready and started to hook up his tube so I could feed him, but realized that he was breathing very fast and hard and wheezing heavily.  He was having mild retractions and was really struggling to breathe.  Naturally, it was Hubby's night to work so I was home alone with four kids.  I called my mom and she walked across town to my house in the middle of the night to stay with the three older kids while I took Little Dude to the Emergency Room.  Once there, they did a chest x-ray and monitored his o2 levels and heart rate.  Neither one was very good, and they decided to admit him for observation in case he needed oxygen.  We didn't get into a room upstairs until 6:30 the next morning.  Little Dude had only slept for a few hours all night and I hadn't slept at all so we both fell asleep when we got up there.  Except that Little Dude wasn't feeling well so he woke up 45 minutes later and that was pretty much it for my sleep the rest of the day.

Little Dude would only sleep while I was holding him.

That day, he seemed to worsen, becoming lethargic and tired with a decline in his breathing so his doctor decided to keep him overnight.  It was a good thing we stayed because he did end up needing oxygen that night.  FYI, we found out the hard way that he absolutely HATES the nasal cannula!  He screamed, cried, and refused to settle down for 3 hours while pulling it out every few minutes, even after the nurse had taped it on.  It was obvious that that wasn't going to work so she switched him to blow-by oxygen which meant aiming an oxygen hose at his face at all times.  This helped him sleep and keep his oxygen levels up during the night.

The Child Life department brought him a swing and an exersaucer to play with.  He loved them both, but could only spend short amounts of time in the exersaucer because he got tired out too quickly.

We'd been hoping to go home the next day, but since he'd needed oxygen during the night, he had to stay another night to be sure he could sleep without it.  The doctor ordered saline nebs for him which helped loosen up the junk in his lungs.  Thankfully, that afternoon, his condition improved and he was able to sleep all night without oxygen.  His oral feeds went way down, but that was expected since he wasn't feeling well.  However, thanks to the G Tube, he was able to get the full amount of feedings in anyway.  He did throw up several times (thank goodness he likes baths!), but not enough to worry about dehydration.

Little Dude was discharged from the hospital last Thursday morning and we were both happy to be going home.  When I walked in the door at my sister's house to pick up the kids, Star was elated.  Not to see me...she was excited to see her baby brother.  That afternoon, she refused to nap because she couldn't see him while laying down and kept asking to go say hi to him.  It's so sweet to see the bond she has with him, even though he's turned her life upside down.  I can see those two being best buddies and partners-in-crime when Little Dude gets older.

Oh, and sweet little Princess recovered quickly after resting all day Sunday.  I was so happy that she felt better so quickly.  She has a residual cough at the moment, but I anticipate that clearing up pretty soon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Little Dude-6 Months

Age: 6 months 

Weight and height: 14 pounds, 12 ounces and 25 1/4 inches long which puts him in the 6th percentile for weight and the 4th percentile for height.
Here are the other kids' weights at 6 months of age for comparison:
Princess: 13 pounds, 9 ounces
Little Man: 17 pounds, 4 ounces
Star: 14 pounds 4 ounces

Wearing size: Size 2 diapers and size 3-6 month clothes.  I've been putting him in some 6-9 month clothes just because we don't have a lot of 3-6 sized clothes that are compatible with tube feeding, but they're still pretty big on him. 

Likes: He's very sociable and LOVES attention.  He loves blankets and snuggling.  His favorite toys are ones that play music.  He also loves playing with his pacifiers and paper (which for obvious reasons, isn't a baby-approved toy).

Dislikes: Not being entertained constantly.  He fights sleep like it's the worst thing in the world, but occasionally will fall asleep in his swing or without crying while being held.  He's also not a fan of physical therapy.

I can't get enough of this little face!

Eating habits:  He's still getting six 5 ounce bottles in a 24 hour period.  He eats about 50% by mouth overall and I tube feed him the rest.  His feedings vary-sometimes he won't touch it the bottle and other times, he'll drink the whole thing.  We're about to add rice cereal to his diet.  His GI doctor recommended not giving him gluten or oats for the time being.  We'll be introducing fruits and vegetables within the next month, but will be taking it slow to make sure he tolerates the new foods. 

Sleeping habits: He's taking longer, better naps now.  He still has a couple of days a week where he can't seem to fall asleep or stay asleep, but at least those days are fewer.   He goes to sleep for the night between 8 and 9 and usually sleeps until 7 am. 

My little Supertubie!

Milestones: He rolled over from his back to his stomach for the first time on August 31st and has done it several times since then!  Yesterday, during his G Tube change at the clinic, he started chewing on my finger and I realized that both of his bottom teeth have popped through already.  I'd just checked for teeth on Monday and didn't feel anything so was surprised to feel two.    

Miscellaneous: Around 5 1/2 months, I noticed that he wasn't able to hold his head up as well as before and that he often tilted it to the left as if he couldn't keep it straight.  You can see this in the pictures in this post.  This was concerning since just a few weeks before, he'd been doing so well with his neck control.  It was decided to increase his therapy to biweekly home visits instead of monthly and I have a list of exercises to do with him at home.  His physical therapist diagnosed him with mild torticollis.  He isn't even close to sitting up, but we're working with him to strengthen his muscles.  His fine motor skills and social skills are awesome though!

The pictures throughout this post are from Little Dude's 6 month photo shoot at Portrait Innovations yesterday.  That morning, he had a G Tube change, silver nitrate treatment on some granulation tissue and in the afternoon, he had his 6 month checkup and 3 shots.  He only napped for about 45 minutes all day, so when it came time for his pictures after both of his medical appointments, I was pretty sure he would be crying the whole time and wouldn't cooperate.  I was completely amazed that he smiled the WHOLE time we were there and the sweetest baby ever.  He charmed the socks off the photographer.  :)


Friday, September 5, 2014

The World of Eric Carle at Gymboree

*This post contains affiliate links.  

I have always loved Eric Carle books.  The simple, but sweet stories, the amazing artwork...they're definitely at the top of my list of children's books.  My kids love the books too, especially "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" which Princess and Little Man have memorized.  Little Man even had a Brown Bear, Brown Bear themed birthday party for his third birthday.

I was so excited to see that Gymboree released their Eric Carle collection on September 2nd.  The clothes are absolutely ADORABLE!  Gymboree is also hosting an in-store event on September 5th from 10am to 12 pm.  There will be fun caterpillar crafts and storytime. 

Since we couldn't make it the event, I was happy to see that Gymboree also has printable Eric Carle coloring pages and activity sheets on their website.

Here are a few of my favorite outfits from the Gymboree Eric Carle collection: 

What's your children's (or your!) favorite Eric Carle book?  Leave a comment and tell me which one and why.

So what are you waiting for?  Head over to Gymboree to check it out for yourself!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Random Monday - September 1, 2014

First of all, Happy Labor Day!!  We didn't have any plans today which was good since Princess woke up throwing up this morning (apparently, she didn't get the memo about not getting sick the day before the first day of school), and Little Dude hasn't been doing well lately.  His cough and wheezing have been getting worse over the last few days, and he's miserable and unable to relax for more than a few minutes at a time.  He cries if he can't see me and it breaks my heart because I can tell that something's not right with him right now.  I'm watching him closely and hoping he doesn't have to go in to the doctor before his three appointments next week.

I froze sweet corn from my in-law's farm on Saturday.  The two littlest munchkins "helped" me. 

My mom let me and my siblings get a library card after we'd read 10 books on our own.  I realized last week that I'd kind of dropped the ball on that one since Princess has been reading for a while now.  So while we were at the library for storyhour on Wednesday, she got her very own library card.  She insisted on carrying it home before giving to me to keep in my wallet for safekeeping.

I can't believe school starts tomorrow already!!  I'm hoping Princess feels better in the morning because it's no fun to have to miss the first day of school.  Little Man's preschool class doesn't begin until next week so at least we have a week to adjust to having Princess at school before throwing another one in the mix. 

Princess went with my mother-in-law on a trip this weekend to visit Hubby's grandma and sister.  She had a blast, especially since they got to go shopping.  On the way home from picking her up on Sunday, she sighed happily in the backseat and said, "It's good to get away from your family once in a while."  Word.

I asked Princess if she missed me while she was gone.  She thought for a few seconds before answering, "No, I don't think I missed you."  *sob*  Well, at least the other kids still love me, lol. 

I belong to a closed group on Facebook for parents of children with feeding disorders, GERD, feeding tubes, etc.  The group is a place for parents to ask questions, vent, and support each other as we care for our special needs children.  So, imagine the horror when it was discovered that a question and picture asked by one of the moms had been anonymously screen shotted and sent to a site where it had gone viral making fun of the "stupid" mother.  There are several things wrong with this.  First of all, the group is closed for a reason-because most people can't understand what it's truly like to have a child with a feeding disorder and parents need a safe place to ask questions from others who are walking the same path.  Secondly, it may seem like a "dumb" question to some, but honestly, when you're dealing with special needs, medically complex children, every little thing could possibly mean something big so parents tend to be extremely vigilant with noticing every change in their children.  And yes, there are rare skin conditions that can cause changes like that.  It's better to ask a seemingly silly or obvious question and be reassured that everything is okay than to wonder and worry.  This to me, looks more like a concerned, observant mother than a stupid one.      

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pros and Cons of G Tubes

I get mixed reactions about Little Dude's G Tube.  Some people are happy he has it because it ensures that he's getting the nutrition he needs or just think it's really cool.  Others are horrified about it or sad that he has to have it at all.  Personally, I tend to waver between the two reactions so I put together a list of pros and cons.

  • Little Dude's not starving anymore!  Huge plus, obviously.
  • I can feed him while he's sleeping.
  • I can give meds through the tube and not have to worry about him spitting them back out.
  • Cute tubie pads :)  I love accessorizing my kids with cute handmade things so when I found out that the tubie pads Little Dude needs to keep drainage from irritating his skin can be made in fun designs, I had some fun picking out cute ones for him.  I got his from Gotz GPadz on Facebook.
Little Dude modeling his Doctor Who tubie pad.
  • A G Tube is much less stressful than an NG tube, in my opinion.  An NG tube (a tube that goes down the nose into the stomach) has to be taped to the face, can easily be pulled out, and is traumatic to replace.  Little Dude pulled his three times in the five days he had it while at the hospital and I knew there was no way we were leaving the hospital with it, especially with a curious toddler at home.
Little Dude with an NG tube at the hospital

  • Well, there's this tube going through a hole in my baby's stomach...not crazy about that.
  • I worry about the tube coming out.  I don't even like to change my 6 year old's earrings, how am I going to put a G Tube back in?  If it comes out at home, taking him to the doctor to do it isn't an option because we have to drive 45 minutes to the closest doctor who can do that, and the stoma closes rapidly.  Thankfully, the chances of it popping out are actually pretty slim. 
  • I spend a lot of time cleaning the extension tubes and syringes for feeding Little Dude.  You haven't lived until you've pushed soapy water through an extension tube only to have the other end fly up and shoot water all over like a runaway hose.  
  • Granulation tissue (tissue that grows around the stoma to try to "heal" it) sucks.  I'm trying out a new product called GranuLotion to get rid of it right now, but usually Little Dude's granulation tissue has to be cauterized with silver nitrate sticks. 
For more information on feeding tubes, visit www.feedingtubeawareness.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Purdy River Band and the Coolest Parents Ever

Have I mentioned that my parents are in a band?  Actually, they're in several bands, but one of the bands just put out their first CD!  Yes, my parents are that cool.

The band is called the Purdy River Band, and they play bluegrass music.  My dad, Dave Anderson, plays the banjo (let the banjo jokes fly!) and sings lead and harmony.  My mom, Elizabeth Anderson, plays the upright bass and sings harmony.  My dad's brother, Jon Anderson, plays the mandolin, fiddle, and dobro and sings lead and harmony. The fourth member of the band (who I'm actually not related to, lol) is Chuck Lahr who plays guitar, sings lead, and writes the songs for the band.

My dad recorded and produced the CD and FYI, he's a total perfectionist when it comes to stuff like that so the sound is amazing.

Coolest guitar picks ever :)

The Purdy River Band can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Reverbnation and on their website.  You can buy their cd, Midnight Run, on Amazon.  Check it out!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Random Monday - August 24, 2014

Princess after stepping outside: "It's so hot out here, I feel like I'm going to die to death!"
My older sister is a Whovian and let my kids watch some Doctor Who episodes at her house a few weeks ago which turned Princess into a budding Whovian as well.  While out shopping last week, Princess saw a blue port-a-potty and got excited..."Mommy, look!  It's just like Doctor Who's house!" which then led to a conversation about how my sister's house is just like the Tardis as well because "it's little on the outside except that it's little on the inside too."  Ha!
Princess: "You're the best mommy ever today!"
Me: "Thank you!  What about yesterday?"
Princess *thinks for a minute*: "No, not so much yesterday."
Thanks for the honesty, sweetheart!
Want baby fever?  Watch this:
 You're welcome :)
I got a copy of "All-of-a-Kind Family" by Sydney Taylor from the library.  It was one of my favorite books as a child, and I'm excited to be able to read it to Princess.

I've been desperate to get back to crafting, but thanks to some flooding in the basement last month, the floor in my sewing room needs to be re-done (which we're pretty sure will cost money) which means that I can't unpack my sewing supplies for a while yet.  Plus, Little Dude doesn't give me much time to dedicate to that sort of thing.  Sooooo, I've come up with some crafting I can do without my sewing machine.  Stay tuned in the next few weeks for the big debut!

I'm trying to teach Little Dude to fall asleep on his own.  And by "on his own", I mean, without me fighting/rocking him for an hour and with the pacifier, blanket, vibrating singing elephant, sound machine, infant swing, and any other sleep aid I can throw at him.  Wish me luck. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Little Dude - 5 Months

Age: 5 months

Sorry for the bad picture.  No camera cord yet so I had to use my tablet for his picture.

Weight and height: Little Dude 13 pounds, 0.5 ounces.  Not sure how long he is since we do weight checks once a week, but height checks are only during his regular checkups :)  I'm guessing between 24 and 25 inches long.

Wearing size: Size 2 diapers and 3-6 month clothes.  He must have had a growth spurt because one day the 0-3 month clothes fit him fine and the next day, they were all too short on him.  A lot of the 3-6 month stuff is still baggy, but if he keeps growing the way he has been, they'll fit him soon!

Likes: He's not a fan of being swaddled anymore, but still loves having his blanket around him and near his face (don't worry, I move it when he falls asleep!) when he's going to sleep.  He loves playing with and chewing on blankets too so they make a great toy too.  He likes sitting in the walker and jumperoo with a blanket tucked around him for support as he gets tired pretty easily.   He loves the standing position and has very strong legs.  He absolutely loves when people talk to him and smiles pretty easily now.

Dislikes: Not being entertained or held constantly.  He still HATES going to sleep and will scream and fight like no other baby I've ever seen. 

Eating habits:  Because his weight gain was plateauing, we increased his feeds to 5 ounces every 3 hours  (6 bottles total in a 24 hour period).  He'll eat a few ounces at a time and will sometimes finish a whole bottle, but usually he loses interest and refuses to drink the whole thing.  Whatever he doesn't take by mouth gets fed through his G Tube.  I tube feed his last feeding of the day so I don't have to wake him up since it's late at night after he's gone to bed.

Sleeping habits: He's napping a little better during the day.  I got a sound machine which seems to help him sleep a little longer.  He usually takes 3 naps a day-a shorter one in the morning and in the late afternoon and a longer one in the middle of the day.  He's been sleeping through the night (cue the hallelujah chorus!) for the last few weeks and is asleep for the night between 8 and 9 pm and sleeps for 10-12 hours.  He gets his last feeding of the day around 11ish and I tube feed that one so I don't have to wake him up.  It's amazing how everything doesn't seem quite so bad when you're getting decent sleep!

Milestones: He loves playing with toys and reaches for things as soon as he sees them.  He can roll over from his stomach to his back and Princess swears she saw him roll over from his back to his stomach too.  I haven't seen him do that yet, but he does barrel rolls.  He seems to be basically caught up developmentally!     

Miscellaneous: He's doing so much better than he was!  He has longer periods of time now when he'll be happy if I set him down and walk away.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August: The Easy Month

August was supposed to be our easy month, our month off from doctors and diagnoses and tests.  The only appointment Little Dude had scheduled this month was a therapy evaluation on August 1st (they're going to monitor him with monthly home visits, but he doesn't need regular therapy other than that.  Yay!) and we weren't expecting any test results this month.

I really need to quit getting my hopes up about stuff like this...

Little Dude started a 3 week round of antibiotics in late July to treat a bacterial infection in his lungs.  After a week, I noticed an improvement in his coughing fits.  A few days before he finished the antibiotics though, I noticed an increase in his coughing, choking, and breathing difficulties.  As his condition fluctuates a lot, I didn't think much of it-just increased his nebs and kept an eye on him.  Then, on Tuesday night, he started having a really hard time breathing and by Wednesday afternoon, a fever had joined the party.  By that evening, he'd gotten much worse so I decided to take him to the doctor Thursday morning.  Little Dude barely slept that night and was absolutely miserable.

The next morning, I woke up to find that I was sick with chills, fever, stuffy nose, sore throat, and aches all over.  I could barely get up, but fixed a bed on the living room couch and moved Little Dude's whole operation over there so I could rest while caring for him.  I called the doctor and as soon as they heard that he was sick and having problems breathing, they said to bring him over as soon as possible despite the fact that the doctor was booked all day.  I was in no condition to leave the house so my mom came over to take him and a note with all his info to the doctor for me.  I passed out as soon as she left and slept until she came back (I slept through 3 phone calls from her even though the phone was right next to my head, whoops!).  Probably not the best thing since I honestly have no clue what the other three kids were doing during that time, but no one got hurt or destroyed anything.  Thankfully, that nap was all it took to get me feeling just a smidge better because Little Dude came back with instructions to head to the ER.

I packed an overnight bag for Little Dude and me, and my dad drove us up to the ER while my mom stayed with the kids (Hubby was sleeping since he was in the middle of a run of night shifts).  I was so glad my dad could drive us since Little Dude needed someone in the backseat with him to monitor his breathing and choking.   

We spent the afternoon at the ER, where Little Dude had an x-ray of his lungs that showed that he had pneumonia.  They tried to start an iv for antibiotics, but absolutely couldn't get one in nor could they get the blood they needed for a blood draw.  Little Dude has impossible veins, and the only way to get an iv in him is when he's sedated.  After spending over 40 minutes futilely poking my poor baby, they decided to give him the antibiotic in a shot instead.  If I'd known that was an option, I would've asked for it immediately since I knew they weren't going to be able to start an iv.  It took two techs and a long time to get just enough blood for the labwork.

Around 6 pm, Little Dude was admitted, and we were finally sent upstairs to a room on the peds floor which incidentally was right next door to the room he had in May.  He spent the night there for observation.

Because Little Dude was keeping his O2 sats above 90 on room air, he was able to come home the next day with an oral antibiotic.  If he didn't have his G Tube, they would've kept him longer because of concerns for dehydration, but thankfully, we can get plenty of fluids in him even though he's barely taking any formula by mouth right now.      

So, I'm just a little freaked out about cold and flu season now.  Little Dude's lungs and immune system are not in great shape and both Princess and Little Man will be bringing germs home from school this year.  If you want to find me this winter, I'll be the crazy lady with lysol in each hand and a "don't touch!" sign above the baby giving the stinkeye to everybody with a runny nose.