March 31, 2011

April Fool's Day Giveaways!!!

Don't be a fool on April Fool's Day!  Carrie, over at Reading To Know, is having multiple April Fool's Day giveaways ALL DAY tomorrow.  Don't miss out!  I hope to win something, and I hope you do too!

Book Review: Judgment Day

This mystery novel centers around a driven news anchor, Suzanne Kidwell, who has a cable show called Judgment Day.  She exposes anyone in power to get ratings, and in her attempt to get the scoop she tends to cut corners in the fact-checking department.  While investigating a string of missing teenagers, Suzanne finds herself in a great deal of trouble.  Before she knows it, she is being arrested for murder. 

As despicable as her actions have been, there is something likable about Suzanne.  This book is full of interesting characters...some honest and some evil to the core.  I would say it's an easy read that can be done in a few hours, but because of the variety of characters and interestingly woven plot it kept my attention! 

One final comment:  The book jacket says Suzanne is accused of murdering an entrepreneur, John Edward Sterling.  In the book, she is accused of murdering a woman and Sterling is a Senator she is investigating.  It doesn't affect the review of the book itself, but I just couldn't post this without mentioning that discrepancy. 

Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my honest review.

March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Undeveloped Film

Just a few words:  I cleaned out my basement storage this weekend and found a roll of 35 mm film!  I had the pics developed ($10 at Walgreens.  Yikes!) and discovered they were from a trip to my husband's hometown, Girard, Kansas.  Based on the weather, the dog, no kids, and the car we drove, I think it's from a trip we made in February 2003 for the wedding of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  Kind of random since we bought our first digital camera in Spring 2002, but fun to see nonetheless...

March 28, 2011

Organizing Side Effects!

This weekend I started my Spring cleaning in the basement storage!  It was hard work, but something tells me it won't be the hardest room I plan on conquering!  In the midst of that project I was reminded about 2 side-effects of organizing:

1.  Organizing encourages creativity.  I was taking a break after removing everything from the basement storage, and in the big pile of stuff I saw these two items, a black crate and red ribbon (in the Christmas box):
 I suddenly had this idea to weave the ribbon through the crate.  Here is the result:
No, it's not the prettiest thing ever, but I put a piece of cardboard in the bottom (which could be covered with wrapping paper), and now it can house smaller objects because they won't slip through the cracks.  If I was actually planning it, I could purchase cuter ribbon (wouldn't a black and white polka dot be cute?)  I plan to use this for storage in my daughter's room which is decorated in ladybugs.  It will probably be stored away in the closet, but at least when she pulls it out to play with its contents it will match her room! 

2.  Organizing may require compromise.   Even though my dream is to have unlimited funds for organizing, that's just not realistic!  I have more than 10 spaces to work on.  Buying new containers for every single one can get quite expensive!  So I started using the items I already have  in the house.  I was originally going for a symmetrical look in this space, so I put a shoe rack on either side:

I quickly realized these were inadequate!  I wanted to put more on these shelves, but the shelves were too narrow and not sturdy enough to hold everything!  What I realized I needed was a tall bookcase, but the only spare one we have is black, not something I would pick in such a small space . As I told my husband my dilemma, he made a request of me.  He asked that I would use the black bookcase for a few weeks to find out if that is really the shelving that will work, and if so I can buy a bookcase in the color of my choice.  I said yes because I'm organizing these spaces to make my whole family happier, not just me!  So in addition to being an "after" picture, this is a picture of compromise:

Week #1, Basement Storage "After"

I can't wait to show you my reveal!  In case you didn't see my before pictures or "plan of attack" posted Friday, you'll want to see that here.  The next step of orgjunkie's P-R-O-C-E-S-S is REMOVE, so I took everything out and started with a blank slate. 

Now, what to put put back in!  I have this new freezer that needed to go in this space, so I put it in first!  I also purchased these brown shelves from a military mom for $10 and couldn't believe that they both fit!  I still have more to put in, so I don't know that they will stay, but I loved that they fit so perfectly.   

By the way, here is the pile of stuff that used to be inside this space:

The next step is where I spent the bulk of my time.  "O" is for Organize into piles.  This was going pretty smoothly until I came to this 3-drawer container.  I was stuck, so I slept on it: 

When I woke the next morning, I thought to go back and read the PROCESS again.  I realized that while I was working the PROCESS in the room,  I had not worked the PROCESS with this bin.  I had skipped "R"-I hadn't removed everything!  I promptly corrected that: 

It wasn't really fun dealing with the little things (so tedious), but I found a place for everything and threw away plenty.  For the entire space, I purged a trash bag worth of items and a broken Christmas box: 

Here are all my piles.  Under the picture I have listed from left to right what they are and where they have been relocated to:
  • Halloween, Christmas, and Easter boxes went to the outside storage
  • Black crate, nebulizer, and box underneath went to Samantha's room
  • Black bag in front of that box went to the top shelf of the coat closet
  • Wicker basket went to Timothy's room
  • Electronics went to entertainment armoir in living room
  • Tools went to the garage
  • Luggage carrier and baby gates went to a specific area in garage designated to sell or donate
  • Card tables went back into basement storage
  • Sealed clothes went to top shelf of the laundry room
Next I needed to "Containerize" or find storage solutions.  As you can see this space already had several containers.  In fact, look at how many empty containers I had leftover!
There were 3 container choices I made:
  1. The most important container I needed was the shelving to place my school and craft supplies on.  I'll talk more about my decision making process on that tomorrow, but the final conclusion was one tall bookcase. 
  2. The pink caboodle pictured previously housed our craft paint and brushes.  However, a mom was selling a plastic bag full of those items at a garage sale for $5, so I needed a larger bin.  You'll see that on the top shelf of the final picture.  Now my cute caboodle is empty and any recommendations on what do with it would be greatly appreciated!
  3. Once we put all the tools in a tub, we realized we needed one large tool box, which I picked up at Wal-mart last night.  Here's my hubby hard at work doing that:

I feel like it will take me some time using the new system to Evaluate and Solve/Simplify, but I tell you what...I sure am Smiling!  All of the kids crafts supplies, games, and my teacher books fit with room to spare!  (I just realized I forgot to adjust the shelves, but I'll chalk that up to an entire house of sick people.)  I just love it.  Do you have any ways I could make the space even better?  I would love to hear them!

March 25, 2011

Week #1, Basement Storage "Before"

Even though it is snowing outside my window as I type, this is the first week of Spring!  And to celebrate I am gearing up to do some Spring Cleaning.  I realize traditionally this refers to "deep cleaning", and I'll be doing that, but what my house really needs is some organization help!  We moved here in September, and I didn't get it set up from the inside out.  We've been blessed with the largest house we've ever lived in.  I couldn't be happier, but there is a small downside.  Even though there is tons of storage space here, there are are very little shelves to help with vertical spacing.  I am going to Spring Into Storage!

I will be using the P-R-O-C-E-S-S created by Laura, the Organizing Junkie!  The first step "P" is "plan of attack".  My plan is to organize all of the hidden storage areas in my home.  I plan to work on one space per weekend (except my outside storage which may need several)!  Since Spring started on March 21st and Summer begins June 21st, that means there will be 13 weekends of Springing Into Storage.  I am very excited!

Here is a list of the spaces I intend to tackle.  They are in no particular order:
  1. Basement Storage
  2. Laundry Room
  3. Coat Closet
  4. Kitchen Pantry
  5. Built In Desk
  6. Linen Closet
  7. Timothy's Closet
  8. Samantha's Closet
  9. Master Closet
  10. Garage
  11. Outside Storage
I am a big fan of the before and after photo, whether it be a makeover or room decor, so that's what I'm going to do!  I will start by posting a "before" photo some of my general plans.  I'll post it on Friday if I've had enough time to think ahead!  When you see the before pics you'll think: "Alicia must have made those spaces look extra messy so her after shot would look better!"  Let's go with that.  And then after the weekend, I'll post photos of the P-R-O-C-E-S-S and the "after" shot!

Let's start the fun!  Below are before photos of my basement storage room.  This is an interestingly shaped space.  I think you can tell in the photo since it's under the staircase it has a slant in the ceiling, but at the entrance the space is full height.  There is about a foot on each side of the door to the wall.  This is the only closet in my basement where I homeschool, so I hope to eventually use this room for storage of all things school and craft!   Wish me luck!

March 24, 2011

March 2011 CF Clinic Visit & Update

It's been a couple of crazy weeks with Samantha.  We had clinic on March 14th, and it was stressful.

Samantha's blood work in Dec was normal except for liver enzymes.  The doctor ordered an ultrasound, but since this very same thing happened the year before with a clear ultrasound, there was no rush.  We have a 50 minute commute to our clinic, so the clinic scheduled the ultrasound for the same day as our next clinic visit.  Hardest part of the ultrasound is that it was scheduled for 11am, and Samantha had to fast (food and drink) 6 hours prior.  By the time of the ultrasound she hadn't eaten for 15 hours. 

Clinic had a rocky start
We were shocked how great everything went all morning.  Unfortunately, as the ultrasound was finishing, Samantha's hunger turned to headache.  She started screaming in pain, and there was no calming her.  We rushed to lunch, but she wouldn't even eat anything because her head hurt so bad.  This was the state she was in when we showed up to clinic.  As members of the CF team shuffled in and out of room, it was obvious that clinic wouldn't go very smoothly.  After many tears, she finally fell asleep on my chest.  Praise God!  After about a 20 minute nap, she woke up happy as a lark and said, "Mom, I'm ready to go breathe hard!"  Thankfully, we got PFTs and throat culture done!  PFT were okay-she had mastered the long exhale, but still needs to work on the fast exhale at the beginning.  Culture grew staph, which is normal for her.

The hard part of the day was her weight.  It was down significantly from 3 months prior.  Height was 65th percentile, but weight was 35th.  Makes the BMI under 25th percentile.  We talked at length of the need to get that weight back up, and a weight check 6 weeks out was scheduled (can't believe that's only 4 weeks from this Monday!).  In hindsight, the fact that she hadn't eaten for about 18 hrs by clinic time HAD to play a roll, but I don't know that it would have affected her weight by the 2.5 lbs she needed to be at 50th percentile.  And very gently, the doctor did say we would monitor this closely, and if we couldn't turn this trend around we would discuss options such as the "g-tube".

There is just no way that word makes a parent feel good.  I know many CF moms who are thankful their child got one.  It changed everything for the positive!  I'm sure if we have to resort to that option I will feel the same way (especially knowing the stress I feel now), but the g-tube is considered a last resort for a reason.  None of us want it!

Trying (and failing) to add calories
We came home and tried to get Samantha to make more fattening choices than raw broccoli and fresh strawberries (with no dips).  She felt my stress, and she completely rejected anything "good" for her that she normally did eat.  By Friday she had lost more weight, so after many wonderful suggestions and the support of a dear CF mom, I went on a food vacation last weekend.  We backed off worrying about food, and then I called the nutritionist on Monday.

Our nutritionist recommended a sticker chart that included 3 potential rewards:  a sticker for every 10 minutes of sitting at the table, a sticker for 5 bites of something, and a sticker for 5 drinks.  Whenever she earns 5 stickers, she gets 10 minutes of time with me or dad doing the activity of her choice!  She has responded very positively to this.  Also, some medicine was ordered to increase her appetite, which I picked up yesterday and will start her on next week sometime. 

Pink Eye
Tuesday morning Samantha woke up with her eyes stuck together (totally freaked her out).  A dr's visit a few hours later confirmed pink eye.  She had a bit of a runny nose, but her ears, throat, and lungs all sounded clear.  For two days we treated pink eye and kept Samantha secluded.  Wed night, I took Timothy to Kidz Club, and Samantha was generally fine.  By the time I got home 3 hours later she had a fever and a bad cough.  BAD COUGH.  It came on quicker than anything ever has.

You know you're at an awesome CF clinic when...
One call to the clinic, and they ordered Augmentin for her.  The coordinator also was concerned that the sudden onset and fever was indicative of the flu.  She wanted me to go back to our gen peds office and have Samantha tested.  By now it was mid-morning, and the entire pediatric office shuts down at noon on Thursday for a meeting.  At a military hospital, really???  The soonest they could get me in was Fri morning, so I called the CF coordinator back to ask if she wanted me to wait until Fri or go to the E.R.  She said, "Neither.  I'm going to call you in some Tamiflu."  I LOVE THIS PLACE!  So without even a dr's visit, I got Augmentin and Tamiflu.  If she's not better by the end of the weekend, something is seriously wrong!

Needless to say, weight has taken a back burner in the midst of one of Sam's worst sicknesses ever.  I'm still doing the sticker chart, but now our emphasis is 4 breathing treatments a day and taking these 2 new meds.  She tends to lose weight during sickness, so I am praying continually that God will protect her and motivate her to eat!  Per the nutritionist's instructions, I am only weighing Samantha once a week, so that will be on Monday!  She weighed 37.5lbs last Monday, so we'll see...

March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Favorite Food

For more great Wordless Wednesday photos head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

March 22, 2011

March 2011

It's been so long since I've linked up to What's On Your Nightstand? that I feel a little like "coming home"!  My favorite part of this meme is it gives me a chance to evaluate and prioritize my book reviews and joy reading (which hopefully overlap!)  Some of these have been on my nightstand for a few months, so I'm hoping this will give me a little accountability to see some different items on my "nightstand" next month!

Family Life Marriage Bible by Dennis and Barbara Rainey

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell

Judgment Day by Wanda L. Dyson

Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

Same Life, New Story by Jan Silvious

March 15, 2011

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Hebrews 4:15 NIV

March 9, 2011

Made To Crave by Lisa TerKeurst

In January, my friend Stephanie of Stephanie's Mommy Brain blogged about her experience reading Made to Crave.  You can read her amazing testimonial here.  I was privileged enough to win one of two copies of the book from her, and have been on my own Made to Crave journey ever since.  Can I just say this isn't easy?  It's fulfilling and meaningful and life changing, but I want it to be fun and exciting.  It's not. 

For any readers not familiar with the book, a quick summary would be that we are meant to have our needs met by God and not food.  And when food (OR ANYTHING) else besides food meets our needs everything gets out of whack (sp?)  This is not just a passing idea for me...this is a lifelong struggle.  It's a battle that I am facing meal by meal and minute by minute. 

I have been making small steps since I received the book (starting to work out semi-regularly, cutting out sodas, etc), but on Monday of this week I finally started eating well.  By eating well, I mean getting some fruit and vegetables into my daily plan and not eating ice cream.  This is day 3, and it's just hard.  I walk around the house with the book close by saying to myself, "Alicia, you were made for more".   So, I'm doing it, but not exactly happily.

After hoping to start blogging regularly again in February, I haven't.  Ever since Monday I haven't written any new Facebook status updates.  Why?  Because all my energy is being taken up by redirecting my cravings from food to God.  I don't mean for this blog to turn into just a food blog, but it is supposed to be about "experiencing each moment".  These are my moments right now. 

I know Lisa's book has spoken to a lot of people, and yet I don't hear anyone sharing the struggle I feel.  If you know of someone blogging their battles to crave God instead of food, please write it in the comments!  I've spent 37 years using food to address all my different emotions.  I have a lot of re-learning to do.  And it isn't fun.

March 1, 2011

My "Siesta" verse for March 1st is Hebrews 4:14...
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
I haven't decided when I'm memorizing each verse, but in the end I'll have Hebrews 4:12-16 memorized.  I love this!