April 30, 2009

Computer to Mobile Phone Texts (3 of 4)

A very handy tip that someone told me about recently is how to send an email from a computer as a text message on a cell phone. I have this feature on yahoo, but I didn't know the email addresses below existed to do it with virtually any phone company! And then I REALLY didn't think it would work from Dan's ship. But, lo and behold, we tried it out, and he can text me from his computer!

When you work on a 8-10 hour time difference, this is a great asset! I get to have that wonderful feeling of a surprise text from the one I love! We combine this with K7 (Day 1's tool). Dan can text me for free, and then I K7 him back with an answer or "I love you, too". I can't text back because it's an international texting fee, but I can K7 back for free! This is the closest thing we get to IM (well, and emailing at the same time). You may want to use it, too:

T-Mobile: phonenumber@tmomail.net
Virgin Mobile : phonenumber@vmobl.com
Cingular: phonenumber@cingularme.com
Sprint: phonenumber@messaging.sprintpcs.com
Verizon: phonenumber@vtext.com
Nextel: phonenumber@messaging.nextel.com

Guest Writing: Live it Up!

Head over to Stephanie's Mommy Brain to see my guest post today!

April 29, 2009

WW & SEW: Video Teleconference (2 of 4)

I am spending time this week giving thanks for a few things about this deployment. You can click here for Item #1. Item #2 has been the VTC (video-teleconference). One day about every 2-3 weeks the sailors who sign up can get a 10 minute slot with their families. It has to rotate around, of course, but in 3 1/2 months we've gotten to do it 4 times. It has been amazing! After the 1st one Samantha told people for days, "We saw Daddy on the TV!"

I have to be honest that the last one we went to was a bummer. The ship's satellite couldn't get the video feed to work. He could see us, but we couldn't see him. However, Samantha and I just had a big laugh about how Daddy was blue (the color of the not-working screen), and I look forward to a couple of more before the deployment ends.

This painting is in the staircase of the building that we go to for VTC. The first time we went, Timothy said, "There's my Daddy." Every time after that, Samantha has said, "There's my Daddy AND my Brother!"

For more Wordless Wednesday go to 5 Minutes for Mom.
For more Special Exposure Wednesday go to 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

What's on Your Nightstand: April/May

April's Nightstand...

I read This is Your Brain on Joy for Thomas Nelson publishers, and you can read that review here...

And I had every intention of reading a dog-themed classic, but I just couldn't squeeze it in. My husband read Where the Red Fern Grows for the 5 Minutes for Books children's classic carnival, but he didn't receive the book I ordered for him until after the fact! I'm very happy he still read it and reviewed it for my blog, and you can read that here.

I've also read 2 Love Inspired Suspense novels. This is a series of mysteries that is described as "contemporary tales of intrigue and romance featuring Christian characters facing challenges to their faith... and their lives!" These are EXTREMELY basic. I keep them on my nightstand all the time, and they help me wind down. I always like a nice mystery, but these are simple enough that it doesn't get my mind racing. I'm usually ready for bed in a few pages!

On to May...

Face of Betrayal is my next Thomas Nelson book to review! I guess I'm in a mystery phase right now. I haven't read fiction for Thomas Nelson since my first review, Boomtown, and I'm excited to dig in! Since I've already received it, I will probably end up reading 2 Thomas Nelson books this month.

For the May Children's Classics on May 12 the theme is: Future Children's Classics (i.e., books you think will become classics in the future). I plan on finding a few books, and I would love to pick out some published in 2009 that are potential medal winners.

To take a peek at what other people are reading, go to 5 Minutes for Books.

April 28, 2009

Book Review: Where the Red Fern Grows
(Guest review by my husband, Dan!)

Author: Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows opens with an older man taking care of a stray passing through town. As we see this man and dog interact, we quickly care about the relationship. This man clearly loves this dog and understands the dog has a specific purpose (whatever that may be). This intriguing intro is so touching that we want to know this man more. What happened in this man's life that he can understand this dog so well?

And just as we're asking the question, this old man reflects on that as well...his memories begin as a boy who wants some dogs to hunt raccoons with. I freely admit that I don't know what it's like to hunt “coons” although I've hunted rabbits and deer before. I'm not a great outdoors-man, so my only hope was to glean what I could. Like most great writers, however, Wilson Rawls explains the hunting process so that we can understand what is involved. Without it the reading would have been much more confusing.

There is something magical about growing up with a dog. Some of my most cherished memories are with the dogs I had as a boy. Many of my dogs would trot up and down the rows of soybeans as I would drive the tractor while cultivating, or they would run all over the fresh black dirt as I plowed before planting. Rawls uses the same sort of imagery, albeit through hunting instead of farming, to show the love bond that had developed between them. Because of this, no matter what the reader's background, he or she can identify with these characters. And for anyone who grew up with a dog, memories of his or her own experience will be awakened.

Like other dog stories of the time period, the story has a tragic ending, and yet a loving one as a boy pays respect to the animals that loved him enough to give everything for him. I will warn parents to make sure their kids are old enough to read a book that has a some vivid depictions of animals fighting, wounds, and even death. But as long as they are able to handle it, and as long as the parents are willing to help their kids understand it, then this book will be cherished long after the reading is done. It has my top recommendation and I look forward to reading it with my son one day.

Dan has been in the U.S. Navy for 13 years, and is currently on deployment. He has been married to his beautiful wife (who did not write this for him) for 8 years and has 2 kids, ages 5 & 3. Dan love spending his spare time reading, and he is also a published author.

Tools that Help this Deployment (1 of 4)

You can read this post to know that the Navy hasn't pleased me this week. Not one bit! I have been waiting for a time to blog about some handy tools that have helped me tremendously during this deployment. I want to count my blessings, so each day the rest of the week I'll be listing a different item that has helped me this deployment. Item #1:
K7 is "unified messaging" (whatever that means) that the military uses when a ship is deployed. Each service member is assigned a U.S. phone # that automatically connects to a voice mail. This way I can call him in the middle of the day when some random thing happens. Now I can't hear his voice, but it's so nice that he can hear the joy or pain in my voice about the ups and downs of my day.

And he loves hearing the kids' voices! The last deployment Timothy & Samantha were so young that they didn't know to have to actually listen to him. I would dial the #, and then they would talk and talk "to daddy". It was funny.

The recorded message becomes an audio file attachment and is sent as an email directly to his inbox. I was just told by wives from other ships that their K7 was stopped because people were leaving inappropriate messages. I hope that doesn't happen to us because I really love it!

Family note: If any friends or family want to leave a message on K7, I'll be happy to give you the phone # via email. Just let me know!

April 27, 2009

What I'm Feeling

All the time people ask me when Dan is due home, and two facts are true...I'm not really supposed to say, and I don't really know. A "standard" (what a joke that word is) deployment is 6 months, but every ship, every battle group is different. Dan's last deployment was just short of 8 months, and we were hoping that this one was going to be a bit more on the "standard" side. But alas it's just not to be.

It's not that I know it's going to be 8 months or 10 months or a year. It's that I DON'T KNOW!!! And what I've been told is that there's no telling when we'll know anything at all. SO frustrating. I want to give my son a month on the calendar he can expect daddy home (really is a 30 day span too much to ask for?) I want to make plans in my own life that either include Dan or don't.

So as I sit here in the dark, I have to experience this moment. A moment where I...
  • don't pretend to be okay with the fact that my husband is half way around the world.
  • don't worry and stress about the future since I have no idea what it holds.
  • don't ignore the parts of my life I do know because I'm depressed about the part I don't.

Guest Writing: Jesus on Learning

Stephanie's Mommy Brain has had a 9 week series "Living as a Single Christian Woman". It's been amazing to see how God has connected the things that Ann, Michelle, and I have had to say on the subject. I was out of town during my last post and didn't link to it. Click here to read my thoughts on Learning from Jesus. They are based on this scripture:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
Check back Wednesday when I write my final post and the final post to the series!

April 24, 2009

Suze Orman's Will and Trust Kit

Suze Orman is giving each of us a Will and Trust Kit to help with our financial preparedness. The free gift code is only good through Saturday, so head to 5 Minutes for Mom to find out how to get yours.

Aloha Friday: Can't Live Without

Kailani of An Island Life writes...In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link below. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

This week at MOPS we did something very fun. We brought a product (or two) that we can't live without, something that makes our lives that much more manageable, and shared it with the group. The products I shared I've blogged about here and here. And some of the products shared were:

I actually meant to take this and was so happy someone mentioned it-amazing stuff!

This must be the modern thing because as recent as 6 years ago with Timothy, we used a blanket to swaddle, but everyone said this thing works.

That rounded part is squeezable, so you can fill it with yogurt, baby food, etc and feed one-handed. Pretty cool.

So I guess my question to you is obvious! You can either leave an answer or a link to it in the comments!
What is a product that you can't live without?

If you would like to read some more Aloha Friday questions or participate yourself, just visit An Island Life!

April 23, 2009

Quarterly CF Appointment

Yesterday was Samantha's quarterly appointment at the CF clinic, and it was a good one! Our last one was the big annual visit where they do chest x-rays and draw 7 vials worth of blood. What a nightmare! The other 3 preventative appointments of the year are much milder, but I always walk away feeling quite inadequate to manage this disease! Dan's last deployment I moved home because Samantha was 1 year old, and I had no idea what to expect. These last 3 months have been a daring venture for me, and I think that I am finally learning to accept, embrace, and challenge this disease.

Our ongoing weight gain battle...

Weight: 31.6 lbs
Height: 38 inches

Weight is 25th percentile. Oh, I was so bummed because we were at 30th percentile in Dec, and I'm trying so hard to make it to that 50th percentile. And I don't know if the pictures show it, but Samantha is really getting "rounder" these days. I actually groaned out loud.

Then he charted the height, and she is only 10th percentile for that! That makes 25th percentile weight much easier to swallow! It's funny because I have people tell me all the time she seems tall (and I think that too), but she's actually quite short. I think the fact that's she's just skinny (or has been in the past) makes her seem taller than she is.

My helper
Timothy was at this visit with us (first time I can remember in a long time), and that helped so much. He likes meeting new people and talking to them, and Samantha thinks he can do no wrong. She's normally not comfortable with any of the Care Team (who she's known since birth), but yesterday she was totally laughing and engaging because big brother was!

Dr. W said he had to find monkeys in her ears and mouth. She normally hates those checks, but Timothy thought it was hysterical so Sam kept saying, "Monkeys? That's silly!" We even told her the throat culture was to get one of the monkeys out! And then Timothy said, "I think monkeys are germs." Smart boy. I'll call back next week to find out if anything cultured.

Digital x-rays
Another great part of the visit was getting to see the chest x-ray from Dec (and previous years). Dr. W said you wouldn't even know these are CF lungs by just looking at the x-ray. THAT is what I want to hear! All the labs look okay from Dec. Iron is just right below normal, so we'll be staying on top of that.

Refill correction
We're keeping all meds the same, but he's fixing one refill issue we've been having. They only give me 1 inhaler of Albuterol & Flovent at a time, and he said I'm allowed to get all 3 at once to avoid delay. That will be wonderful! I'll be getting new prescriptions filled in the next couple of days, so if they don't give it to me the right way I now know what to ask for.

CF Friends
Lil' Chris also got a great report yesterday at his quarterly!
Samantha (another Samantha) had a great appt on Tuesday!

April 22, 2009

April 21, 2009

Book Review: This is Your Brain On Joy

Very rarely can I find a book that approaches a topic with medical expertise, sensitivity to a person's hurts, and acknowledgment that what our deepest need is God (and to know him intimately). This book does all three! With an extremely fresh and educated perspective, Dr. Henslin explains that the constant struggles we have (be it addiction, anger, depression, etc) can be modified. We don't have to live with them, but we must deal with them from many angles. Based on his experience, a brain scan (SPECT scan) shows us which part of the brain is most effected, which allows for a more accurate diagnosis.

He does believe that medicine is often needed, but he also gives many other tools in this book based on which part of the brain is most effected. A checklist is included. For each part of the brain (and correlating issue) he addresses nutrition, supplements, preferred exercises, Scripture, types of music, books on the topic, and a variety of other helpful tools. I think the nicest surprise of the book is that it isn’t boring at all. Besides being informative, it’s witty at times and the personal stories are inspiring!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with emotional pain or who has a loved one struggling. For more information...

Dr. Henslin's website includes his speaking schedule and the the ability to sign up for the Brain-Heart Matters Newsletter.

He blogs!

Henslin and Associates offers counseling.

Amen Clinics provides the SPECT scans mentioned in the book.

Kids' Picks: Bad Kitty and Poor Puppy

Last week Children's Classics had a "dog" theme. During the brainstorming process, I kept thinking about the following books. They were written in 2005 & 2007, so they can't be considered classics. However, they definitely fall under the Kids' Picks category in our home!

Author and illustrator: Nick Bruel
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan)

Bad Kitty is the story of a cat who flips out when his owner runs out of the usual cat food and Kitty must eat healthy food. Upon receiving this news and seeing the assortment of vegetables, Kitty goes on a rampage. Once his owner is able to properly restock the pantry, Kitty is in heaven again, and becomes "Good Kitty" long enough to fix all the things he did wrong. The story line is hysterical, the illustrations are colorful and descriptive, and Bruel finds a way to get through the alphabet 4 times!
  1. Healthy Food: Asparagus, Beets, Cauliflower, Dill...and 22 other equally unappealing vegetables.
  2. So she: Ate my homework, Bit grandma, Clawed the curtains, Damaged the dishes, and so on.
  3. Tastier things arrive: An Assortment of Anchovies, Buffalo Burritos, Chicken Cheesecake...
  4. Restoration: Apologize to Grandma, Bought me new Toys, Cleaned her Cat box....down to Z.
Kitty is so good that at the end of the book she is rewarded with a "new friend", Puppy. Needless to say, Puppy enjoys Kitty's company much more than the reverse! "Kitty doesn't want to play with him. Poor Puppy."

So puppy has to...
  • Play by himself: 1 Airplane, 2 Balls, 3 Cars...all the way to 26 Zoo Animals
  • Dream about playing with Kitty: Apple Bobbing in Antarctica, Baseball in Brazil, Checkers in Canada (Timothy loves all the different countries)
In Poor Puppy, there is a sub-plot with a toy mouse that your child can find in every illustration starting with "15 Old Cat Toys He Found Under the Sofa". So clever! We have the paperback versions, but there are also hardback, and even this cute "Cat Nipped Edition".

This sequel to Bad Kitty came out last year...

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath came out in 2008, and we haven't read that one yet. Bruel decided to make it a low-level chapter book so that this series is growing along with its readers. We bought these when Timothy was 3, and he has gone from enjoying the silliness to reading them himself. He will love this new book that puts him in the reading "driver's seat".

Click here for a detailed description of it, along with some excerpts.
Click here for an interview with the author about this book.

For more Kids' Picks, head over to 5 Minutes for Books.

April 20, 2009

Magic Marker Monday: Autographs

Timothy was very excited at Disneyland to get autographs from each of the Disney characters we met. However, when it was time to meet our favorite Cars characters, Timothy pointed out the obvious problem, "Mom, they don't have hands. They can't sign my book." As I was trying to come up with an answer, Timothy said, "I know, mom, we can sign FOR them." So here you have the signature of Lightning McQueen, forged by Timothy:

For more Magic Marker Monday, please go to 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

April 17, 2009

Disneyland #5: Misc Photos and Tips

My very first Disneyland photo:

The kids got pictures made with Chip 'n Dale on Main Street, but the Treehouse is in Mickey's Toon Town. They climbed it several times!

These chains were almost the death of me. They were the one ongoing PAIN of the whole time there. My kids wouldn't get their hands off of them. First of all, I wanted them to move up in line whenever it was time. But more importantly, all I could think about was all the germs they were touching!!!

TIP: I just thought that I should have pulled out my Baby Wipes (anti-bacterial wipes even better), and had the kids clean the chains while we stood in line.

Disneyland Railroad TIPS

From my friend Sheila...if you want to ride the train w/o going all the way around the park, just go from Tomorrowland to Main Street, U.S.A. That's where the dinosaurs are, and they're cool!

I only saw 1 of 3 trains with this, but the 1st train we rode (our train got "held" so we had to get off) had an enclosed caboose. It felt more like a train, and the kids loved it!

Ride to skip TIP: Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage-first half is completely boring, second half was terrifying for Samantha (yet still boring).

Love this photogenic boy!


Pixar Parade at California Adventure-this was a must see for us, especially since my kids really know Pixar characters better than they know traditional Disney characters. This was our last event, and it was the perfect way to cap off our trip!

TIP: We had great seats, right across the street from the WD Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar (thank you, Sheila). We only had to get there about 20 minutes before it started, and it was a great location to see the floats coming from far away. And then they stopped right in front of us, so I got good shots!

TIP: Go to Engine Ears Toys (on the right as soon as you enter California Adventure) and buy a box of Mr. Potato Head pieces! You pay $19, and then you fill your box with whichever accessories you like. We got Darth Vader, Donald, Minnie, Mad Hatter, Buzz, and Tinkerbell!

Playhouse Disney Show-this is so cute. You'll want to get in line 20-30 minutes before the show starts, but there are TVs set up in the line which really help.
TIP from Sheila that is a must...unless you're going to be on the 1st 2 rows (on the floor, by the way) just go straight to the back. The kids can stand up back there, and there are benches for the adults to sit on. It's win-win!

In case you haven't heard, Disneyland is super expensive! We got a really fantastic deal that expires in June, which is why we went now. However, if that hadn't been the overriding factor, I definitely would have...
1. Waited to take the kids with Dan (sniff sniff)
2. Waited until both kids were 40" tall

That being said, we had a wonderful experience. It exceeded my expectations!

This will be the last write up about our trip, but there will be one more Wordless Wed next week about California Adventure! Needless to say, this was just the tip of the iceberg of everything we did, and if you have questions about other rides or activities, I would be more than happy to answer them!