Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, New Decade, New Goals...

Well, not to be left out, I too making some resolutions, well, more like a list of goals for the "new year" and the new decade! So here's my list of goals, now where's yours? Toni at The Happy Housewife will be hosting a goal-posting thread stating tomorrow, so go ahead & make a list of goals & join in here!!

Personal Goals:

-Exercise atleast 3-4 times a week (atleast using Your Shape on the Wii)
-Lose weight (ideally, I'd like to get back down to less than I was before I got married...that was 3 years & 2 babies ago!) Notice I'm not putting a specific number down!
-Have atleast one "date night" a month ( I know this doesn't sound like it's very often, but next semester we will be lucky to get that one night a month. Of course, this doesn't mean we won't spend time with each other, but for this goal, I want atleast one specific night set aside to be child-free & spent together outside of our house!)
-Find an organizer/planner & actually use it!

Financial Goals:

-Pay off Kenney's car *We are so close to having this paid off!! Soon, we will be putting what we would normally pay into savings every month so we can by this time next year hopefully get a new to us car/van!*
-Pay off all our credit cards.
-Commit to trackig ALL expenses during the month of January.
-Create a budget, using the Crown Materials & our expense tracking in the month of Jan., and stick to it!

Home Goals:

-Reorganize coupon binder & go through them weekly to discard expireds & put up new ones.
-Meal Plan weekly & stick to menu atleast 75% of the time.
-Have one "prep" night set aside to do all baking & other prep work for the week's menu.
-Do atleast one tub of laundry each day.
-Mop kitchen floor weekly instead of monthly.

Family Goals:

-Finish Braydon's "book-it" lists before the 15th of every month
-Create a chore's chart & allowance for Braydon.
-Begin potty training Makenna.
-Have a "parents meeting" weekly to discuss weekly events

Bloggy Goals:

-Blog consistently, atleast 3 or 4 times a week to start.
-Participate in atleast one meme a week.
-Update the layout & name of the blog. *I've already got a new name & theme for the blog, now just have to learn how to redo the cool bloggy look!!

Lofty, I know, but I've gotta start some where! I will update you on my progress, and will hopefully have the new look up soon!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A day late & a dollar short

My little princess is TWO. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be talking about my daugher as a princess, as you may remember (refer to these posts for a refresher: #1 and #2 ) but now, it's the only fitting name for you! I love how "girlie" you really are! You love to dress up, play with your baby dolls, have tea parties, etc. I love dressing you in pink & purple, because PINK IS YOUR COLOR! You just look adorable in it! You love to help pick out your clothes in the morning with Mama & will definately let me know if I've made a mistake with my suggestions!

You love shoes of all kinds-Daddy's shoes are just way too big, but they're oh so fun to put on, especially since they can be found all over downstairs & on the stairs! Your favorite pair though are your precious pink crocs! Even when you were admitted to the hospital, you insisted on sporting your pretty pink crocs with your hospital gown! You definately know how let your style shine through on any outfit!

Your hair is as curly as can be, and it's getting really long! You love to accesorize with hairbows & headbands on EVERY outfit! And I must admit, your piggy tails just are way off the adorable chart!

Your smile melts my heart, and your giggle is contagious! You light up every room you walk into! You are now 24 lbs and 31 3/4 inches tall, my little petite potato, but you are built "tonka tough" *as you have to be when you have an older brother who likes to wrestle!*

Miss Makenna Rae, you have melted my heart and stolen it forever. Each day with you is better than the one before, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my beautiful little girl. Never forget that you were created in His image, and that you are His workmanship! "We will love you forever, we'll like you for always. As long as we're living our baby you'll be!"

For Makenna's birth story, you can revisit it here and here for her 1 year old post.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm baaaaccckk!!

Okay, I've decided that it's time to come back to blogging....Now that life is beginning to come back to "normal", errrr, as normal as they can get, that is, I thought I need to get back in the habit of blogging. Plus I wanted to get a "jump start" on the New Year's resolutions. So, here's a quick recap of the past 5 months...I'm sure I will be posting about these in time...

-Kenney was hired @ a competitor log cabin company for a few months, but then again was laid off due to lack of work (not many people were buying log cabin homes in this economy). He decided to go back to school in August to begin working on his computer networking degree.

-Braydon started Kindergarten and is doing wonderfully. His developmental pedi is so impressed and we're so excited about his progress.

-Jordan Riley Kenneth made his debut on November 16th, 2009! He weighed 7lbs 8 oz and was 20 inches long! He is doing well, aside from some pretty serious jaundice problems in the first few weeks.

-Kenney is starting back to work for the company that laid him off in August in the beginning of January, as well as going to school at night. He will be very busy, and very tired, but it's only for a short period of time!

Anyways, I look forward to posting more shortly...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Party planning on a budget

When you're having a party or other event, it is EASY to spend hundreds of dollars without thinking twice. That is, unless you're on a budget!! For thsoe of us who don't have money like that to drop on a one-time event, how do you make your party memorable, tasteful AND inexpensive? There are many suggestions as to how to achieve all three!

1.) Be prepared to work. Most of the time, you can choose whether you want to do the work or have someone else do it for you. Invitations can be purchased, or you can make them and save the difference. You can purchase a ready-made veggie tray, or you can wash and prepare your own. You can pay someone to decorate your cake, or you can attempt to do it yourself (this is of course a very difficult task, so I suggest paying someone!!)

2.) Prepare your menu based on what the stores have on sale the week of the party. One store might have shrimp on sale that week, so you can serve shrimp & still be saving some money. Or a store might have a sale on some frozen appetizers and there may be coupons out there for you to save extra money. If you're unwilling to change your menu plans to what is on sale, then be prepared to pay extra.

3.) Look and see what you have your own cupboards! You might have a cookie or brownie mix in your cupboard, and that will save you because you can make it yourself instead of having to purchase them already made or even purchase an extra mix! Plus you might even find some paper goods left over that you might be able to put to good use!!

4.) Ask friends and family for help. If you know that your cousin makes some amazing sausage balls, why not ask her to make them for you? You can purchase the ingredients for her and then she'd be able to make them. This takes one less thing off your plate to do. Does someone in your church make cakes? Perhaps you could ask them to create your cake, as opposed to a large bakery. Your money will go to a friend (instead of a big business) and you might even save some money!

5.) Check out the Dollar Tree and other dollar stores for some great decoration and party basics. Sometimes they have great stuff already done for you, and other times, you can take what you get there and embellish it! It might take a little creativity and time, but you'd be surprised what you can come up with (and you're guests will never know where it came from!) Most dollar stores now have mylar balloons as well, and that is a HUGE savings! Most of those balloons @ a party store can be 6-7 bucks for one, when you can 6 of them @ the Dollar Tree for the same price!

6.) Stop by your clearance section at your big stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and K-mart. Often at the end of the season you can purchase items 75-90% off and put it away for the next event. Target had magarita, mojito and cosmo mixes in their summer section that is now 90% off!! Instead of paying $5, you can get a whole bottle of mix for 49 cents!

7.) Beg, borrow & steal...Okay, well maybe just borrow. But if you want a chocolate fountain, and don't want to shell out $30 bucks to have one, maybe you can borrow it from someone. Same goes for a punch bowl/fountain, serving dishes, tabels/chairs etc. The more you can borrow, the less you'll have to pay for to rent or purchase!

Hope these ideas help you in your party planning!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ahhh, summer is upon us...

Okay, so many of us are about to face the dreaded "summer vacation", if you have not already begun it! Now I say dreaded not because we don't like having our kids home. We love our kids but really, when the heat is on, the kids are home, and the "Mommy, I'm boooooorrrreeeedddd" is the most common phrase you hear, a mother can certainly understand why I use the word dreaded.

We have officially one more week before we are on "Summer vacation" here and so I began preparing today. Braydon needs structure, and so I've got to have atleast an idea of what we're doing. It's easy just to say we'll play it by ear, but a little preparation can come in handy. Having a "back up" plan of things to do in your area to get you out of the house is great! Knowing when things are cheap or even free is even better! Here are some tips and ideas to help you avoid having to use duct tape this summer vacation. =)

All of this takes some research and a little planning. Pull out your calendar, and make a list of the important dates this summer. For example, when are your doctor's appointments, vacations, etc. That way you'll know that you can't schedule a trip to the museum when you're supposed to be taking your little one to get his teeth cleaned!

There are so many resources that you can use this summer! First, check out your local library. Most libraries offer summer reading programs, story times, and other neat activities that are all FREE!! I recommend getting a basket to put all the library books in so that you avoid the dreaded late fees. These fees can quickly turn an awesome free activity into the equivalence of a day at Disney!! (By the way, did you know that some libraries even send overdue fines to collections agencies?!? Not that I know that personally or any thing!)

Other great sources are your local museums. Often times, museums offer free entrance at certain times. Just remember that everyone and their mom (quite literally) will be there at that time, so expect lots of people, children, and even daycares/summer camps to be there at the same time. Our local museum allows you to join as a family and not only can you go to their museum whenever you'd like, but they also offer reciprocal admissions with over 200 other museums worldwide! It costs $60 for our family to join, normal admission for my family of 4 would be $14 per visit. If we go 5 times in one year, we'll have already recovered our money. Also, we have a free activity on vacation if we go near one of the museums with reciprocal admissions, and there are 16 in the state of NC alone!! Check out your state here to see how many you have in your state!

Check out freebies, such as free bowling for kids or Barnes & Noble's summer reading program, tonight's Free Root Beer Float from Sonic Drive-In, a free single scoop cone or dish at Friendly's June 6th, or a free Orange Julius smoothie on June 19th. (thanks to A Full Cup for the last two) Most restaurants offer "kids nights" too where your kids can eat free & there might even be games or crafts for kids to do that night. Locally, restaurants like Chick-Fil-A, Denny's, San Jose (a mexican restaurant), Zaxby's and several others offer kids nights. Each restaurant is owned & operated individually so make sure you check with your local restaurants. Many restaurants offer e-mail clubs, or you can even sign up to receive text messages with coupons for FREE things. Our Dairy Queen offers free sundaes to their MYDQ members on Mondays with other free coupons throughout the month!

GET OUTSIDE!

Chalk is amazing. It's cheap, its messy and kids LOVE it! They can create and recreate every single day....There's also the new 3-D chalk which allows kids even more ways to experience creativity! No longer will your kids be limited to boring old hopscotch! They can create anything and actually see it "come to life". Cost is about $5 bucks for 4 pieces of chalk & a pair of 3D glasses. The added giggles and squeals of excitment are FREE!!!!

Find a community pool, rec pool or YMCA pool to cool off in. Check your with the Parks & Recreation department for a list of pools. If you have to, make friends with people who live in apartments with pools. (hey, when it's HOT out, it pays to have friends with pools!) We've picked Wednesday as our designated pool day ("wet wednesday"). We'll still visit the pool the other days too, but Wednesday will be spent by the pool. Make sure you pack the sunblock, hats, drinks, & snacks. Ideas for great snacks are fruit, pretzels, cheese & crackers. Try to avoid chips & sugary snacks. Bring a book or two that you can read to your kids while having a "break time" (everyone needs some shade time & a book is a perfect way to do so.) If you have younger children, they will need to have more frequent breaks, and don't forget to reapply the sunblock to all (don't forget yourself!!)

Go for a nature walk, a bike ride, bird watching, at a greenway or hiking trail. To find the closest one to you check this out. Don't have a trail near you? Go on a walk around the neighborhood and find nature....it's every where! Even in the innercities, there are greenways you can explore! Make sure you bring bug spray, water, a snack and a camera. Point things out to your kids as you walk, for example the red bug that just crawled by, or the noise you just heard, then have your kids point things out they see. Ask them questions such as "which tree do you think is older?" or "why do you think it's cooler under the trees than out in the sun?" These kinds of questions will no only be encouraging your children to learn even in the summer but also to think for themselves!

But when it is REALLY hot outside, you need some activities for your kids to do inside that will allow you to do your other household chores like laundry, dishes, making lunch/dinner, cleaning, etc. The phrase TV rots the brain was obviously not spoken by a mom in the midst of summer break. I'm not advocating mindless hours of unmonitored TV watching. Pick one day to be a movie day, and create a day full of activities surrounding the movie. (We chose our day to do this as "Movie Mondays", a post is coming about this soon) I'm using movies that I already have, but if you want to get a new movie, Redbox movie rentals are great. They are $1 per day, which is much better than Blockbuster. What's even better is that you can sign up to receive a text message on Monday's with a promo code for a FREE rental. They'll send you the text message around 10 in the morning and it expires at 11:59 that same night. Don't have text messaging? You can sign up for e-mail and although you may not get weekly promo codes, you will get a free code for signing up the 1st time. They have current movies, just like at Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Etc. Click to see what movies they have or to locate a redbox here. Our local Redboxes are at Walgreens, Harris Teeter & Wal-mart. A piece of advice: before you go up to the box, try to have an idea of what you're going to get. When there's a long line, you don't want to be the one who is making everyone wait!

I hope this advice is helpful. If you have any suggestions about how you survive summer break without duct tape, post about it on your page and then come back and add yours to the list! The more the merrier...We can all use new ideas, right moms?!?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What my mom taught me...



-To love unconditionally.
-To serve others without complaining or second thoughts.
-To walk humbly before God.
-How to sacrafice for your kids.
-To save money.
-Not to be wasteful (with time or money).
-To get things done, even when you don't have time, energy, money, etc.
-To forgive.
-To give.
-To laugh so hard tears come streaming down your face.
-To pray.
-To think for myself, and defend what I believe in, even when it gets you suspended from school. (not that I ever did *cough cough* HAHA!)
-to give grace.
-To cry.
-To worship.
-how to really love my kids.

Thank you Mom for everything that you have sacrficed for me over the years. You are the most Godly, humble woman I know, and I am so thankful to have you as an example of how I should be as a Mom. If I become 1/2 a good as mom as you, my kids will be blessed. I love you so much, and really do appreciate EVERYTHING you do!!

PS....I stole your picture Rach...I didn't have any recent ones of mom. Sorry & thanks!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Googled...

You know you've done it before...You opened up google and put your name in there. We have all done it. I've done it before, but this morning, I figured I'd do it again....And I found the usual links to facebook, meetup, etc. But what I also found were sites that took local news articles that had been written about me and posted them on their page...

Several sites took the article written about my trip to the Green Our Vaccines Rally in Washington DC led by Jenny McCarthy. Click here and here to visit the two sites that have published the entire article. It's neat to know that our story, even though at that point we didn't really know how much we really were already apart of the autism community, is still out there, hopefully raising awareness of the vaccine controversy!!

Other sites took the article about raising bi-racial children and published it on their site. A group called Project RACE published the article here.

Have you googled yourself? If so, what'd you find?!?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Braydon's story

He was still thrashing, kicking, screaming and crying. I tried to calm him down as we've been doing a lot lately. I held him tightly with his back against my chest and repeated softly "It's okay, Braydon. Mommy's here. We love you." As I sat on the floor of my four year old son's room, I knew that we had to be missing something. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and quickly thought back to what had just been a typical Friday afternoon. I picked him up from Pre-K as always, and of was informed that he had yet another rough day. Would he ever out grow this? I thought. We got into the car, and headed towards home.

My husband called me to see if we could stop at the store on our way home to pick up some hamburger buns and chips. It was so nice to have a husband that enjoyed to cook every now and then! I glanced back at Braydon, who was smiling as he gazed out the car window. "I think we can do that since it's just a few things."

As I hung up, I heard Braydon say something. And then he repeated it. Again. And again, ten times in total. "They didn't do it right." is all he said. I quickly checked both sides of the car to see what he was talking about, but we were surrounded by the North Carolina countryside, and there were no other cars near us.

"Who didn't do it right, honey?" I asked.

No response, just a blank stare.

"What didn't they do right, sweetie?" I proded.

"They didn't do it right." he stated in a monotone voice.

Then he blinked his eyes, looked at me and began talking about his day at school and a fellow classmate, as if he hadn't said anything out of the ordinary. I brushed it off for now, figuring I'd talk to my husband about it later on in the evening, after we had gotten the kids into bed. This wasn't the first time he'd repeated himself like that. We'd just add it to "the list".

Stores are usually a struggle for us, but atleast his younger sister was at home with Daddy, and we only had 2 things to get. I reminded Braydon that we wouldn't be getting a cookie this time, but we could get a balloon, providing that he behaved himself.

Do all moms have to bribe their children? I reassured myself that yes, most likely every mom bribes their kids before they go into the grocery store. Braydon jumped into my arms and I lifted him into the seat of the cart, because he just can't handle riding in the basket or even walking. We've learned our lesson and it's just easier to put him in there, even though he's almost five years old. Braydon was excited when we saw some coupons so he grabbed a few. I snickered at the thought. Only my child would get this excited about coupons! Just another one of those quirky personality traits which I personally found endearing.

We continued down the bread aisle, Braydon looked at me funny and out of no where, he began to punch me. Punching quickly turned into an all out attack on me. I stepped back as he was kicking and thrashing at the air, and the he turned his attention to the bread. He squeezed and squished the bread he could reach. I grabbed the hamburger buns, and managed to get him out of the cart. I set him down and began walking towards the chip aisle. As I walked away, he realized that he was going to be left behind. He quickly caught up with me, and didn't say another word. Somehow we managed to make our way back to the front of the store to check out. Right as we got to the front of the line, he insisted he had to go to the bathroom.
Ugh. Stores were bad enough, but public restrooms were a whole other story. Braydon had "issues" with public bathrooms. He literally cries, screams, and tries to claw his way out of the bathroom. He also covers his ears and starts shaking. For a while, we thought something was wrong with his hearing because he was so sensitive to loud noises but would also not respond to us when we called his name. His hearing was fine, so we assumed he'd eventually outgrow this fear. We were wrong.

He would not go within 10 feet of the bathroom, even though he insisted that he had to go. He stood shaking in fear while holding himself. It was evident he really did have to go, but this inexplicable fear of the bathroom was obviously winning the battle against his bladder. It just wasn't worth it, so we returned back to the line. He pleaded with me again saying that he couldn't hold it any longer, so we returned to the bathroom. Or I did, rather. I turned around and Braydon was still standing 10 feet away from the bathroom, shaking once again. Frustrated and just wanting to get out of the store, I gave up with my pleading with him to go to the bathroom. He was three months shy of turning 5 years old. If he wants to pee on himself instead of peeing in a public bathroom, that was fine with me. He'd be the with the wet pants, and atleast I could buy the groceries and get home!

Finally after making it out to the car, I struggled for 15 dreadful minutes to get him in the car seat. I had been bit, kicked, scratched, punched, had hair pulled, and tears were streaming down my face. Finally, I just couldn't take it. I began sobbing and just stopped fighting with him. As he was screaching at the top of his lungs in my car, the only thing I could think is This is just not right. Something is wrong. It can't be ADHD, there must be something more to this.
I put the car in reverse, and he clicked back into "reality". He quickly put on his seatbelt and mumbled something about the police going to put me in jail because he didn't have his seatbelt on. Then the screaching started back. I picked up my cell phone & called my mom so she could hear what I was hearing...I repeated my "Something is just not right!" She told me we'd figure it out, that it'd be okay.

We made it home, but it just got worse when Braydon saw Kenney. He went up to his room and was kicking and thrashing again. The only thing I could do is hold him, and rock him. this was it. I knew something had to be done.

I called his pedi the next day to get him seen, and of course, he had "issues" out in the lobby. When we got in there, he was going wild. He wouldn't and couldn't sit still. He constantly was trying to climb up the walls, and run out of the door. I looked at the look on her face and flat out asked, "Is this normal? He was diagnosed with ADHD, but is that normal for kids with that?" Even before I had finished my question, her head was shaking 'no' and said she really wanted me to take him somewhere else to get re-evaluated. This was bittersweet. On some level, I desperately wanted her to say "Yes, that's normal, he'll grow out of it" But I knew that it wasn't.

Aside from having a few friends whose kids had autism, in a severe form, I knew relatively little about the autism community. I had indeed gone to Jenny McCarthy's "GREEN OUR VACCINES" rally in Washingon DC. I've read all of her books, starting with "belly laughs" when I was pregnant with Makenna. For some reason, Jenny's story just resonated with me. It was a horrible tragedy that she walked through. I had nothing even remotely in common with her, except that we both were mommies to little boys. But I just knew that those books struck such a chord in my heart when I read them. In fact, Kenney even got me one of her books as a Christmas present. But I really didn't know where to start. I went to the only place I knew to look for help: Generation Rescue

Generation Rescue is Jenny McCarthy's site designed to link parents new to the biomedical treatments of autism and other forms with parents who had "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT". They're called rescue angels. I contacted one in Raleigh, who gave me some AMAZING referrals, one to a developmental pediatrician, and one to a neurodevelopmental pediatrician, who was also a DAN! protocol doctor. From my online researching, I learned that DAN! (which stands for Defeat Autism Now!) doctors attempt to treat using biomedical approaches first and foremost, and then will turn to meds if neccesary. They also try to treat the whole child, not just one part.
I called to get appointments with each. The first one was the developmental pedi, about 1 hr 15 mins away. We could get in with him, but would have to wait about 2 months. When I called the neuro-developmental pedi in Wimington, the first available appointment was not until July. I've heard amazing things about this woman, so I figured it'd be worth the wait, as well as the drive to see both of them.

The first appointment went well, the doctor really connected with Braydon, and in fact it was the first time I've seen him make eye contact with anyone for quite some time. He didn't have any of his "outbursts", which of course I figured meant the doctor would tell me he was fine, and that I had wasted my time and his time. (But wait, isn't that what part of me wanted him to tell me?!?) But even with his superior behavior, we were given a preliminary diagnosis. You may remember that I spoke briefly about this in a previous post.

A week after we got home from seeing the 1st devel. pedi, I got a call from the 2nd clinic saying they had a cancelation and that they could see us on the 8th and the 9th (they do 2 seperate appointments for your first visit). We went down there, and on Wednesday afternoon went straight to the doctor. This time, we were not so lucky about the no outburts. But this woman was incredible. She got down on the floor with him and showed me how to hold him, so that no one would get hurt. She reassured me that this was not the first time, nor would it be the last that she had to help do that.

Once again, after this appointment we were given the exact same diagnosis, even without them comparing "notes". I feel fairly confident that we have a good diagnosis, which I finally will share. His diagnosis is "PDD-NOS" which stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. PDD is the clinical term for autism. It's also referred to as ASD, autism spectrum disorder. You might here people refer to kids with autism as "on the spectrum" which means they have autism. Braydon is high functioning, but he has some speech problems, which means he could not be included in the "aspergers" category. PDD-NOS is basically a category for children who do not have enough criteria to fit any other

We are so encouraged though with the doctor's list of supplaments to begin treating Braydon's gut problem as well as getting his brain to function as well as it should. We will be doing some other lab testing this upcoming week to check for toxins, etc. We have a follow up visit in 5 weeks to determine whether Braydon would benefit from a exclusion diet or not (GF/CF)
Although the diagnosis is not necesarily a happy one, I do know that know we'll be able to get him the services he needs to get in order to have him be very successful in school. And it doesn't change the way we look at him or love him one bit. And I hope it won't change the way you feel about him either.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My 1st Harris Teeter Triples Trip

I only spent $47.80 and save $87.75! Here were my Deals! TOTAL PRICE PAID (in bold)

(5 deals) BeechNut Toddler "Let's Grow" Items sale price 2/$4, (some were 2/$5 but I only got those that were 2/4) 75 cents off coupon per item, FREE with a 25 cents overage (per item)

(1 deal) Fiber One Bars sale price 2/$5, 50 cents off coupon, $1.00

(2 deals) Betty Crocker Cookie Mix 17.5 oz reg. price $2.19, 50 cents off coupon, $0.69 per item

(1 deal) Ragu Sauce Buy One Get one Free (BOGO) (so sale price is 2/$2.69) $2 off any pasta sauce, $0.69 for 2 or ($0.34 a piece)

(2 deal) Dole Fruit Bowls 4 pk. Sale Price 2/$4, 75 cents off coupon per item FREE with a $0.25 overage (per item)

(1 deal) Ken's Salad Dressing Buy 2 Get 3 free $0.73 per item

(1 deal) French's Worcestershire Sauce reg price $1.69, 50 cents off coupon $0.19

(1 deal) Harris Teeter trash bags Buy 2 Get 3 free $1.58 per item

(2 deals) Crisco Omega 3 DHA Canola Oil sale price $3.79, 75 cents off coupon $1.54 per item

(2 deals) Softsoap Antibacterial soap BOGO (2/2.29) plus 35 cents off coupon per item $0.10 per item

(2 deals) Pillsbury GRANDS! frozen biscuits sale price 2/$5, 50 cents off coupon per item $1.00 per item

(1 deal) Kraft 2% Sharp Cheese 8 oz block sale price 2/$5, $2 coupon, $0.50

(2 deals) Pillsbury recipe creations sale price 2/$4, 40 cents off coupon per item, $0.80 per item

(1 deal) Perdue already cooked dino chicken nuggets regular price $4.89, $3 off HT store coupon , $1 off manuf. coupon $0.89

(6 deals) Deli Creations sale price 2/$5, $1 off HT store coupon per item, plus $1.50 off 2 coupon, Plus an addition $3.00 off purchase of 6 Food Lion coupon ALL ITEMS FREE!!

I was pretty excited about the free stuff I got, although I paid a little more than I am used to paying during triples because we needed items that we don't have coupons for (like butter, milk, ground beef)


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Pampered Chef

Okay, so I have to admit I'm not remotely as talented in the kitchen as say Andrea or Toni in the kitchen. Oh, how I'd love to be...but I digress. Even as limited as my cooking skills truly are, I still love Pampered Chef stuff. I love the deep covered baker I adore my microcookers. But really, I love the fact that they make cooking easier.

The deep covered baker that easily fits into your microwave (unless of course you are using the same microwave that fit into your college dorm!)

Go check out all the cool gadgets over at www.pamperedchef.biz/mertscookin and if you see something you like, get it!! I had a cooking show at my house this past Saturday and had a lot of fun! When you go to add something, your host's name is Christy Rue. All orders must be placed by March 12th, 2009.

For a chance to win your choice of the chipotle rub, the greek rub, or the Moroccan rub visit Meredith's website , pick out your favorite Pampered Chef product and leave a comment telling me what it is. For an extra entry, blog about this contest, with a link to this post, and leave a second comment. Also, you'll get an additional entry for every $10 you spend (through Meredith's page, using me as your host!) Contest is open to US residents only and ends March 12th, 2009 at 12 noon, EST.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Back the Basics Cooking Class Contest


I am so excited to tell you about a contest that Toni at The Happy Housewife is hosting!! She's giving away a virtual cooking class!! It's a 14 week course that's done in the comfort of your own home, specifically your own kitchen! You can even cook in your underwear & no one will know!! Already know how to cook? Maybe your sister, daughter, mother, or really cool friend Christy could use it!! =)

To learn about the cooking classes and to enter the contest go stop by The Happy Housewife's site. For a direct link to the contest post, click here. Leave a comment and tell her that Christy from Life of the Newly married sent ya! Also, while you're there, check out all of her cool cake tutorials, meal planning posts, homeschooling info and much much more!!

Contest ends March 13 at 10 PM EST.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hello God, It's Me, Margaret...errrr..Christy!

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." -Psalm 143:8
I am not a morning person. Never have been, and never will be. But that being said, there is something amazing about seeking God early in the morning, especially if you despise getting up otherwise. It's a time to have a few minutes alone, no kids, no husband, no distraction, where I can spend time basking in God's love.
What's better still, is being able to read a devotional book and scripture with my husband, over breakfast, as our children listen on. Sure, they don't understand right now, but what they do understand is that Mommy & Daddy spend time, specific time set apart, together, to read God's word and to seek Him.
We went through quite an unsettling period for a few months, but God was simply trying to get our attention. Our focus went from "What the heck did we do wrong? Why is God punishing us?" to "What has He got in store for us? It must be something so incredibly big because He wanted to get our attention!"
It is so neat to watch my husband seek God and become the leader of our family, which I have so desperately wanted. It's quite ironic, as I am quite an independent person, and the thought of submitting to my husband's leadership is nothing that comes easy, but it's something that feels right, and deep inside it's something I've always wanted. My dad was a very good leader for our family, and still is to this day. And it's also amazing to see how much Satan tries to attack when we do so.
But God is good to us, He continues to provide for our needs, and in God's economy, we don't have to fear anything!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The pound that broke the camels back!

Or should I say broke the dang scale?!?

I. Hate. Stepping. On. The. Scale.

It's been roughly 3 or 4 months since I've stepped on the scale, as we conviently didn't have a scale in our home. (I just couldn't justify spending the $20 on a scale.) But the past week, Kenney & I have both decided enough is enough. We have GOT to get a handle on our weight. Both of us have just really piled some lbs. on. (Dang you, Oreo Cakesters!)

We made a decision today was "D" day, a.k. diet day. We went out a bought a scale. I have to say I knew I had gained some weight, but to actually see them is a whole different thing. And that is why I. Hate. Stepping. On. The. Scale.

You're support is greatly appreciated and if you have tips that have helped you be successful, let me know!!

So farewell, Oreo Cakesters . We'll no longer have our evening flings while watching mindless television. (well, the 100 calorie ones, perhaps!) And Tiffany at Pizza Hut, we'll no longer discuss our children while I wait for my pizza. And to the Staff at Dunkin Donuts, don't mourn the loss of my weekly visit to get an apple fritter. Yes, perhaps a cup of coffee on occasion, but no more than that.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hitting the street for little feet!

Help me raise money by visiting this page to donate, or even better join me in my walk in Chapel Hill on May 2nd!!!


Click here to help me reach my goal!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Finding pieces to the puzzle...

Today was Braydon's doctor's appointment with a developmental pedi. We had to wake up at an ungodly hour, and we were in the car before the sun started to rise in order to make it to the doctor on time (the doc's office is about 1.5 hours away, and with morning rush-hour traffic, it makes it more like 1 hr45 mins-2 hours. Plus I had to schedule in time for potential "But mama I've got to pee NOW!" and then the struggle to get him to pee in a public restroom...)

Anyways, I don't know what I was expecting the office to look like. I knew it was just one doctor, who saw patients 2 days a week, and they only scheduled one patient per hour. But it was eerily quiet when we entered. The doctor came out, and began talking with Braydon & myself, asking him questions about our trip to see him, what he ate for breakfast, little questions like that. Then we went back and he did all the height/weight/ general health stuff. He noted that B has big tonsils. Never knew that before. Learn something new everyday, huh?!?

He played a few games with Braydon, and then the dr let him play with the trains while we talked. We went over the history of the pregnancy, his early development, etc. Then we started to make a "plan of attack". First thing, he wants to do a sleep study with B because he thinks he's having problems with his sleep, and that is probably having an effect on everything. After that, we'll go back to B's ENT (Ears, Nose & Throat) to discuss having his tonsils & adenoids removed. After that, they'll do allergy tests because he said Braydon had "allergic shiners" under both of his eyes, which means he had the dark circles under his eyes that kids with food allergies often have. From there, we'll worry about the other things. The doctor did give us an idea of how he'll be diagnosed, which at this time I'm not going to disclose. At this point, nothing is official, and we'll see how everything goes with our "plan of attack".

I tell you what though, this doctor was incredible. Normally, B flips out at the doctors office. Braydon was an absolute angel. In fact, I was worried that perhaps the doctor would tell me there was nothing wrong with him because Braydon was behaving so well. In all Braydon's life, I've never, ever seen him make eye contact and keep it with anyone. Today, he made eye contact with this doctor. I was floored, to be honest. But I'm thankful that the doctor saw what he needed to see.

We prayed that we would get answers, and after today, I really feel we are on our way to figuring out his puzzle, piece by piece!!

(Braydon giving himself bunny ears!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Daytime dates!

Kenney & I decided to postpone our valentine's celebration for a week due to a Love and Respect confrence at our church Valentine's weekend. That weekened was awesome, and really has helped strengthen our marriage, and our understanding that God created us different-not wrong just different. Kenney & I can be quite stubborn, not wanting to admit we're wrong, so we listened to the speaker's advice. "The one who deams themselves the most mature should be the one to make the first move." *snort* We did get a lot out of the conference and if you get a chance to attend one, it'd be well worth your time! We also renewed our vows in the church service on the 15th, which was very special. I know we've not even been married a full 2 years, but we still participated.

The vows were very touching, and I wanted to share them here. And yes, I cried like roughly 2 seconds into Kenneys (they went first).

Men:
The vows I made to you on our wedding day
have been tested through the years,
but I mean them more today than ever before.
Having been married to you these years have proven my belief
that you are the woman God made especially for me.
I pledge that I will love you as Christ loves His bride.
I will be Christlike in my actions, my attitude and my affections.
I take the responsibility of being the spiritual leader of our home.
I pledge to you a sacrificial love that desires your highest good,
even at the expense of my own desires.
I will love, honor and care for you as I would my own body.
I will continue to learn all I can about what pleases you,
to live with you in an understanding way.
As we grow old together, I will devote quality time to you,
keeping you as my priority.
I know that you are my precious gift from God
and I look forward to spending eternity with you.

Women
It has been my joy to be your bride through the years.
It has not always been easy,
but I also understand my vows more today than I did on our wedding day.
I pledge to follow you wherever you lead
and will be a helper that we may glorify God together.
Having watched you grow in Christ through the years,
I have the utmost respect for you, and I will continue to honor you
and have complete trust in you.
I will seek to respond to you in love as I would to my Lord Jesus.
I will comfort you, encourage you, and pray for you.
I will be submissive to you, out of my love and respect for you as a man of God.
I will make our home a place of rest and enjoyment for you.
I know that you are my precious gift from God and I look forward to spending eternity with you.


Here is our picture we got from the church from that day taken by none other than Rachel @ Savor Photography!

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But for our date last Friday, Kenney & I shuffled Braydon off to school, and took Makenna to our friend Gina's house, and set off on our "date". We weighed our many choices and decided that we'd be heading off to Chuck E. Cheese, where a kid can be a kid! (Or an adult can pretend they're a kid!) We got there around 10:30, and there was hardly anyone there. We purchased 100 tokens for $12 (we had a coupon) and brought along the extra tokens and our receipts from the tickets we had from our last visit to CECs. We played skeeball (where the sensors were apparently off and in our 1st game Kenney won the "jackpot"...the lights & sirens went off and out shot roughly 100 tickets!!-not a bad way to start off our day!) After skeeball, we played the competition basketball game, where I prevailed in all but 2 games (and we played a ton!) Then we decided to roam around and play some of the other random games. I have to tell you it was a ton of fun! We got to play all these games and not have to chase after kids, change diapers, listen to whining or temper tantrums. And who doesn't get their picture "drawn" by Chuck E?!?

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After we had our fun, we ran into a lady from our church, who promptly asked where the kiddos were. I proudly stated we were on a date & they were at the sitters!! She sighed and said that her and her hubby were due for one of "those"-she is a homeschooling Mommy to 5 kids and it appears there's another one on the way, but I dare not ask (you know the rules about never asking a woman if she is pregnant!!) We took our ticket receipts up to the front and got our kiddos 2 matching basketballs, an inflatable microphone for sissy, and a star shaped marker for Braydon. We left and headed to the Mexican restaurant we love.

The reason I love daytime dates is because a) we only have to pay for a sitter for sissy, since B's already at school. Often times, things are cheaper during the day. Most restaurants have a lunch portion that is often cheaper! Plus it's not as crowded! We had a wonderful day date, and can't wait to have more of those!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to the land of living, errrr, blogging!!

I had a long hiatus from everyday blogging, and now I'm ready to be back into my habit (or do I dare say addiction?) I think I got caught up in comments (or a lack thereof) and got discouraged. But I remembered that blogging is a cheap therapy!! So here I am world (wide web)!

Today's accomplishments:

-Grocery shopping child-free (while managing to knock some Pepsi 2-liters over and watching them spray all over the aisle, and not 20 minutes later drop a carton of eggs!! Sad thing is I didn't have any little ones to blame it on!) I spent $57.10 and saved $63.89 (that's a total of $120.99 for $57.10!!) Plus, Harris Teeter has a policy where if you try any of their store brand product and do not like it for whatever reason, you can return it, get your money back AND they will replace it with a similar product of your choice. We had bought the HT brand of pull-ups for Braydon *yes he's still in pull-ups, don't get me started on that!* and they did not work for him at all. I was really hoping that they would because they're roughly $10 cheaper per package AND they had Shrek on them!!! So I returned them, got my $8 and change back, along with Huggies Pull-up with the cool alert for free. So that's another $19 worth of product for free. So really, I got $139.99 worth of groceries for $57.10!!

-Star chart for Braydon was made, with tasks created and explained to Braydon. He actually thought this was cool, which is very interesting to me. We've tried doing similar behavior mods with him that have just flopped. Go figure. Maybe it was because he got to buy the stars from the store. We start the chart tomorrow morning.

-Lesson plans were created for my journalism class. It amazes me that these children don't even know anything about our local newspaper, not even how much it costs! Nor do they watch the news! When I asked them how they found out about current events, they said "myspace and facebook." shame shame shame. Call me a nerd, but I liked reading the newspaper in high school. I passed out their assignment for their final project, and their eyes became glazed.

I'm currently blogging while my husband is playing the Wii in his old man outfit. I call it his old man outfit because hes wearing his white undershirt, a pair of boxers and socks. Nothing says sexy like a sweaty man in an old man outfit! hahaha!! And on that note, I'm going to go wash my face and brush my teeth, in hopes that we'll be able to do our couples' devotions before the kids get up tomorrow (for a change!)

Homeschool!

It's official! Kenney & I have both agreed that Braydon will be homeschooling Braydon in the fall!! Yes, that's right, homeschool.

Perhaps you think of this when you hear "homeschool". Photobucket Or maybe you think of "weirdos". I know that originally, I kinda felt the same way. But as we began to consider Braydon's schooling options for the fall, I began to become painfully insecure about our options.

Option 1: Send him to the local public school. It is not a horrible option. He would be easily accomodated, if he needs them. Down side: My parents work for the local school system, and I just don't feel comfortable with exposing him to that environment. We also have friends who have children enrolled in these schools, and their stories added to my concern.

Option 2: Send him to the local Christian school. This also is not a horrible option. I actually work there part time, in the high school. The staff is wonderful, the headmaster is God-fearing and wonderful. The facilities are continuing to grow, which is wonderful, as well as their sports and music porgrams. They teach a bible-centered curriculum, which is very important to us. I just fear that it would not be a good fit for Braydon. I don't think they'd be able to make neccesary accomodations as easily as the public schools.

So I felt very uncomfortable about our two options, and just could not find a peace. Kenney & I discussed our options many times, and we just didn't feel settled on either one. I'd mentioned homeschooling several times last year, but at that point it was just something we'd probably never do.

Finally, I brought it up again with Kenney. He was concerned that it'd be too difficult to do with Makenna being so little, but I just had a feeling we could do this. Then the other day, I was visiting a blog that I am a fan of called The Happy Housewife and I decided to look at her homeschooling stuff she has on there. (Oh, did I mention that she homeschools 6 kids, and is pregnant with #7?!?) I decided that if she could do it with six kids, surely I could homeschool Braydon with Makenna at home as well.

I began looking into curriculum, and quickly found some great ones that I think we might use with Braydon. (I looked into what The Happy Housewife is using here as well as getting recommendations from several of our friends who homeschool as well.) I was also reassured by homeschooling moms at church that for Kindergarten, you really only need an hour and a half of total schooling time each day, which can be broken down throughout the day! The rest is playing, reading, doing art, cleaning the house (there's science of somesort at work isn't there?!?)

Many people have asked me questions about how he'll get socialization. There is a local homeschooling group at our church that offers PE classes and weekly outtings. Plus, we also have church, as well as having many friends who homeschool.

Both Kenney & I are very excited about this big decision. We're not committing to homeschooling him for his whole schooling career...we'll take it one year at a time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the crazy cycle

I haven't blogged in a while because there is such raw emotion in my heart that I just can't seem to be able to actually process them and actually type them. Worry. Anger. Frustration. Insecurity. Longing. Love.

I have to say that today we stand as a stronger family, a stronger husband and wife. We've learned alot through our own experience as well as through wise counsel. It has not been easy by any means, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I have such a deep passion that has been emerging lately, and I am finally being able to not only recognize it but I am able to articulate it to Kenney, which is something that I've not been very good at. We're really seeking guidance and clear direction from the Lord together as a couple, asking that our hearts and our passion would match what God has for us as a family.

We're asking for you to stand in prayer with us. "The blessing will far outweigh the sacrafice."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christy R: Mother Warrior

I took the post title from one of my fave authors/celebrities Jenny McCarthy's book Mother Warriors. It's a book about fighting autism, which I do not have personal experience with, but am still on a fight to help my child be the best he can be and live his life to the fullest!

I mentioned a while back that Braydon was diagnosed with ADHD, which many people are surprised by because he's quite young. The doctor we took him to was highly recommended, but in reality she's the only child psychologist in town. She's nice, but I just don't know. She wanted Braydon to be put on medication right away, and neither Kenney nor myself really felt comfortable with it. We chose to eliminate Red 40, and significantly decrease his sugar intake as well as his dairy intake.

We saw an initial improvement, but to be honest, we've been quite lax, and it's kind of difficult to keep his dairy intake down when he's a Pre-K. We've seen an increase in his behavior problems at school as well as a significant increase in anxiety. Kenney and I both thought we needed to get him on the medicine, and we thought we'd have our answer.

I just haven't made the call back to his doctor's office. Perhaps it wasn't by chance I didn't call, but somewhere in my Mommy heart, I just can't bring myself to call the office. There has got to be something out there that we're missing, and just like my "hero" I started working on my "google" degree. *You'll only understand what I mean by this if you've read one of her books or heard her talk!*

First of all, I've discovered that Duke Medicine has an ADHD center, where they can do all sorts of stuff, including behavior therapy, which I find really cool. There are also some doctors in Raleigh (about an hour away from us) that like to use biomedical interventions, which Kenney & I are really looking for.

Secondly, in my research, I've found some very interesting things, that have actually made a lot of sense, and have now given us a place to start, and none of them have to do with medicine to treat the ADHD at this point!

When a vaccine contains any amount of mercury *and YES, there ARE vaccines that still contain mercury in them, even though it was "technically" removed from vaccines*, the mercury settles to the bottom, and when a nurse inserts the needle into the vile and draws the material into the needle, the largest portion of the mercury will be injected into a baby. Often times, after these shots are given, some children develop chronic ear infections, which require the use of many rounds of antibiotics. These antibiotics kill off all bacteria in the child's system, including the good bacteria which helps the child fight off bugs, and leads to dybiosis in the gut. The dybiosis in the gut leads to permeable gut syndrome, which eventually can cause food allergies to arrise. On top of food allergies, an abnormal amount of yeast, candida, can cause acetaldehydes to be released, which can interfere with brain function.

Wow, that was a lot to read, huh?!? Basically, frequent use of antibiotics in a child that has not fully developed can (and I repeat can, it does NOT mean it WILL) lead to an imbalance and overgrowth of yeast which can interfere with food digestion and brain function.

Braydon had several shots (according to his shot record) that indeed had trace amounts of thimerosal in them. I have researched the exact name of the shots the manufacturer, and looked up the ingredients in them. He also had a ridiculous amount of ear infections even before he was a year old. He has an allergy to amoxicillin as well as an intolerance of eggs. He also has ADHD. I am not saying that him being vaxed has caused him to have ADHD, but I find that information very very interesting!

So here is what I think Kenney & I have agreed to do:

1.) We are going to have Braydon tested for allergies, so we can see exactly what he is allergic to.

2.) We will have him tested for the yeast overgrowth, which according to the clinic that we're leaning to says that it only requires a urine sample. If he indeed has a yeast overgrowth, he'll be given some anti fungal medication and we will begin a "yeast free" diet. According to the center, they have a 2-3 week waiting period currently, and they do not accept insurance, so it will be a "pay up front" and then see if you can get reimbursed by insurance.

3.) We will be looking into going fully into a gluten free casein free diet. This will be very limiting, and very extreme, but I honestly think that we looked into it before, and we just didn't do it. We saw an initial improvement, but have let up. It is now or never. Worst case scenario, we see that it didn't work for him, and we stop it.

4.) We will try to get into to Duke's ADHD program to have Braydon re-evaluated. They use all sorts of tests and have much more funding and capabilities than the doctor he saw here in Rocky Mount. I have no idea how long it takes for the process, other than once they do the testing, it takes about 4 weeks to get a written evaluation. I'm hoping that we'll be able to get him into some therapy. I'd love to find an art therapy or behavioral therapy.

Finally, we'll be looking into supplements for him that can help. I've read a lot about supplements helping quite significantly, so I'm hoping there is some truth to that.

So have you had an experience with food allergies, vaccines or ADHD? I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

few and far between

Lately, I'm sure you've noticed my lack of posting, all 5 of my readers out there...But I'm not good at lying, and to be honest, I just didn't want to put out all my business for the world to see. Plus, it was just too painful to actually put it in writing. I've been struggling, we have been struggling in almost every area.

Kenney & I are struggling to work through our issues. I won't go into specifics, because it isn't fair to my husband or to me to put such info out there. But the good thing is that we've decided we will make it through this, and every thing else. We will not just walk away, and we will make it through.

Tonight, my heart is heavy as I write this for many reasons. I will eventually talk a little bit about this, but for now, it's all still to fresh for me to rip off the bandaid. Please keep us in mind though of the next few weeks. And feel free to share some words of wisdom.