Monthly Archives: September 2009

Pond’s Cleansing Towelettes Giveaway WINNER!

Using random.org,

Jennifer’s comment: “I admit it, I’m lazy. I use the traditional soap & water because I haven’t been able to find anything that actually worked effectively. I would definitely try these. The convenience, and your review, have piqued my curiosity.” was chosen! A big ‘Congrats!’ to Jennifer, and a HUGE ‘Thank You!’ to all who entered.
I really appreciate all my readers, and hope to host more giveaways in the near future.

Waking from the nightmare…

As you may have read in earlier posts, HERE and HERE, we had quite an eventful weekend. What started off as a typical weekend with the kids…aside from having to care for a child with shingles (that’s an entire post in itself), and Greg having to work most of Saturday…ended in total chaos. If you want details in a play-by-play fashion, read the above posts…this post is more details of what was actually wrong with him, and what happened/didn’t happen on Sunday.

Greg was diagnosed as having Atrial Fibrillation. It is basically that the top chambers of his heart (atria) were beating fluttery and irregularly and not in sync with the bottom chambers (ventricles). This causes decreased blood flow…which in turn made him light headed. They performed an ultrasound to look at his heart, which was way cool and gross at the same time.
You could see the valves fluttering and it looked like his heart was just beating weird all over the place. He was pale and had slight tingling in his fingers. He was in the ER for about 6 hours before they decided to admit him sometime around 5:30am on Sunday. He sent me this picture from his phone to try to make me feel better…
I was able to finally get there around 9:00am after a friend of ours came to stay with the kids. They had him on a drip of Cardizem to slow his heart rate hoping that his heart would convert back into normal rhythm on its own. The plan was if this didn’t happen by noon, they were going to shock him to convert it back to normal rhythm. He was a bit nervous about this…I was terrified. I began to lose it a bit when the nurse was explaining it to me. If they had to shock him, they would have given him medicine to put him to sleep…not really asleep, but where he would be able to talk to them but wouldn’t remember anything. They would then put pads on his chest and back, use the defibrillator, then give him meds to wake him back up. He would be groggy and out of it for a few hours, but would most likely be able to go home that day. I thank GOD he didn’t have to go through that. (The nurse said that his heart was trying to convert itself, but just wasn’t quite getting it. His heart rate had been fluctuating wildly in a range from as high as 155bpm to as low as 30bpm.) After taking a short nap…maybe 45 minutes, he awoke about 10 til noon. He was still pale and getting a bit anxious because of the threat of shock looming. At 12:15, he looked at me and said ‘I’m back.’ He had felt his heart go back into normal rhythm on its own. He began to regain his color immediately and was excited and ready to go home. The nurse came in and confirmed that he had converted, and the doctor would be in soon. It took about 2 more hours before he was discharged. We praised God for fixing his heart issue…it was down to the wire and we were so nervous, but we were reminded that God is not limited by our time or schedule. (The doctor was actually supposed to be there at noon, but didn’t get there until almost 1pm.)
We arrived home to a barrage of ‘Daddy!’ and hugs. Shortly after getting home, our friend Brandon showed up with pizza for our family. Greg enjoyed the company of his friends for awhile, we ate some pizza, returned a multitude of phone calls and texts, and then snuggled on the couch for the rest of the evening.
We are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. There were so many prayers and well wishes that we lost track…hopefully we responded to and thanked everyone. Today, Greg is taking a day off of work to rest. (He fought me on this, but I insisted he needed a little more rest.) He has been sleeping peacefully on the couch all morning, and is currently snuggled up with Grayson just enjoying life. It almost seems as if it was all just a bad dream. It all happened so fast, and ended as quickly as it began. It really has been a bit of a reality check for us, and we are not going to take so much of our lives for granted. We are so thankful for our relationship with each other, with God, with our children, with our friends, with our family…there are no words to describe how much we appreciate it all.

I want to wake up…

After less than 4 hours of sleep, I woke up to an empty bed. To a feeling of heaviness and dread at having to explain to 4 sweet children that Daddy is in the hospital. The first words I heard this morning were from Trinity ‘Mom, where’s Greg?’ I nearly lost it. I texted Greg to call me when he woke up which resulted in an immediate call. So far the Dr. has had him on a drip that slows his heart rate hoping that it would return to normal rhythm on its own. According to Greg he is in A-Fib…I think that’s what he said. They are giving this until Noon or 1pm. If this doesn’t happen they are going to put him to sleep and shock him. I am terrified, and waiting for our friend to get here to watch the kids so I can go be with my husband. I feel as if I am in some sort of nightmare on the verge of waking but I just can’t make the push through the fog. The kids are doing okay. I explained he is in the hospital because his heart was beating funny and that the doctors are fixing him…that he’ll be okay. These words are for my benefit as much as theirs. I want to wake up.

~UPDATE~
Today has been a blur. Greg is home and okay. I will be posting tomorrow about the entire ordeal. (He came out of A-Fib on his own…with help of meds, but did not need to be shocked.) He is feeling good…back to normal except the lack of sleep. I just wanted to thank everyone who has been praying for him and our family, and to say that we have the greatest friends on the planet…I love you all.

Shattered

There are few things scarier than seeing your spouse taken away in an ambulance. I experienced this reality check earlier this evening. We had enjoyed a goofy night with the kids…burgers & baked french fries, crazy gymnastics moves, singing & dancing to stuff on youtube, wrestling matches in the living room. After putting the kids to bed, we settled down to watch a movie. About half way through the movie, we pause it for a minute so he can get a drink. He goes into the kitchen, drinks a glass of milk, and comes out looking scared. I ask him if he’s okay. He says his heart is feeling funny…like it used to when he was a kid. (He had bouts of SVT when he was younger.) I attempted to get him to sit or lie down, but he was anxious about it and was pacing. I got him to stop for a moment and I placed my ear to his chest only to hear and feel his heart racing like crazy. We waited a few minutes to see if it would stop. When it didn’t, I called 911.

It took 12 minutes for the ambulance to get here…which seemed like eternity. They took him out to the ambulance to check him out, and then 15 minutes later drove away. That is when I broke. The house was silent. I could hear typical nighttime noises from outside, but inside nothing. No creaking from kids turning in their sleep, no hum of the air conditioner, nothing. The silence hit me like a freight train, and I shattered it with a single sob. I allowed tears to slip out quietly as to not wake up any of the kids. I knew he would be okay. That God has His hand on our family. That He has plans for us in action. That He is our strength. But when something unexpected and scary happens, the grip of fear and the unknown is almost paralyzing. I composed myself, called my mom to just talk to someone so I didn’t totally freak out, called a friend about either sitting w/ the kids while I went up there or picking him up when they release him, then called the ER. He had just arrived and they knew nothing. They said I could call back or they’d have him call me. Evidently either time warps considerably to me when something like this happens or the ambulance drivers drive S-L-O-W. I hung up and waves of nausea swept over me. I began to shiver. I took deep breaths and prayed. Short bursts of desperate prayer. My mind was racing, so coherent thoughts were few and far between. I pushed panic down and thought of my sleeping babies. God gave me a moment of peace so I could function. I posted a quick update asking for prayer on twitter, and then sat immobilized staring at the screen for nearly 15 minutes. Typically when I have something on my mind I write, so I tried to do what I do, but my fingers refused to try to expel the chaos in my mind. About 30 minutes later, he texted me ‘Good. I will call you soon.’ I could not control the tears of relief. Even with no details, just getting a text from him lifted such a weight.
I am now typing away while awaiting details…a phone call…a text…something. Something telling me all is well with my 28 year old husband’s heart. Something telling me we are going to be okay. Something telling me when our family will be back together and back to normal. Maybe it shouldn’t be ‘back to normal’. Maybe we should take inventory of our priorities. Maybe we should make some changes.
*NOTE* I will update this post as I receive information…
~UPDATE~ 12:57am
Greg called after being in the ER for over an hour saying that he had not been seen yet. His heart rate is down from 155 at rest to 75, and he thinks his blood pressure is down a bit from 160/120 but he isn’t sure what it is right now. He is still having irregular rhythms, but has calmed down a bit.
~UPDATE~ 1:24am
Greg texted that he still hasn’t been seen and his heart is ‘flopping’ more.
~UPDATE~ 3:08am
Greg texted that the Dr. just left him. He’s on some sort of med drip to slow his heart rate. The Dr. says the top chamber of his heart is not working properly and they are attempting to get it to kick back into normal rhythm. He will most likely need ongoing medication. Not sure when he will be discharged…hopefully soon.
~UPDATE~ 4:15am
Going to try to get some sleep. Dr. is now saying it is NOT SVT but something else. His heart is not going into normal rhythm even w/ meds. They are admitting him & are hoping it will go into normal rhythm on its own in the next few hours or they will put him to sleep and shock his heart to try to get it into normal rhythm. I am going to try to get some sleep.

JClare Studios Photo Shoot & Review

We recently had a family photo shoot at jclare studios. I was approached a few weeks ago about doing a review about this company, and I was thrilled. As you can probably tell just by casually glancing at any page of my blog, I LOVE PICTURES, so there was no thought involved in my (probably a little overenthusiastic) answer of YES! Before I get into my review of the actual session, let me give a little information about Jennifer Clare and ‘jclare photography studios’. jclare studios is a local studio located on main street right off the square. The website is simple, user friendly, and features her work in a nice clean design. There are also links to separate pages focusing on weddings, seniors, and the BLOG. Jennifer Clare has been a photographer for about 6 years, and is mostly self taught (which in my opinion is just as good as going to school, but that rant will have to wait for another day). Jennifer attends workshops, seminars, and classes throughout the year to further her knowledge and skills, and her camera of choice is a Canon. Okay…on to the shoot!

We had so much fun! Jennifer really thought of everything when dealing with the kids. During a phone call setting up a time for the session, we discussed what exactly we were looking for…which wasn’t anything special. I’m not picky, and wanted it to just be a fun shoot with some cute pictures of us just being us. I also have this super cool dress I was wanting to get pictures in, so we set that up as well. She asked what kind of music the kids were into, and had that playing when we got there. They were so surprised, and were all just totally grooving out to some Hannah Montana. She also said they could bring something from home that they wanted to have in a picture, and 3/4 kids did. They were so predictable in what they chose to bring…Trinity – mp3 player & sunglasses, Kara – ‘Beary’ her teddy bear, and Grayson…you guessed it…his trains. We did 2 clothing changes on the kids and Greg, and 3 for me because of the dress. I can honestly say I am more than happy with our shoot.
Our photos were available for review in an online gallery for 5 days. I wondered (out loud) why only 5 days since it was so hard to choose what photos I wanted, and my genius husband informed me it was so that people would order in a timely fashion. This policy is pretty stinking smart since the longer you have to look at the pictures, the longer you have to spend the money you budgeted for prints on other things. This policy is designed to benefit the company, but I actually liked it because it forced me to decide which pictures I want rather than agonize for weeks over which pictures were best. It was ridiculously hard for me to choose which photos I wanted, but I did it and am totally happy with my choices! *NOTE* They archive images on and off site, and guarantee them for 1 year. (You can purchase digital negatives for your own safekeeping or printing.)
After choosing which photos I wanted, I made an appointment with Jennifer to go over editing and actually place my order aka our ‘Personal Ordering Session’. Personal Ordering Session = a face-to-face meeting to place your order, an opportunity for Jennifer to answer any questions you may have about what can be done artistically to your photos, editing, cropping, etc., and a chance to view sample gift items (such as handbags, albums, jewelry, custom cards, etc.). I met her at her office to discuss lighting and bruise editing (evidently my kids play rough), photo size choices, and photo texture. This is also a really smart feature for the company. There are two texture choices, linen and pebble. (These make it where people, *cough* like me *cough* cannot scan the photo and order their own prints.) I chose linen, which almost looks like canvas.
The photos arrived within a week and a half. It happened to be on the day I left for a weekend getaway in Texas, so Greg got hold of them first and didn’t take pictures of the packaging. I mention this because they were so thoughtfully and beautifully packaged. Originally the brown ribbon was tied around the photos wrapped in the blue tissue paper according to Greg. After many failed attempts on re-creating this, I gave up and decided to photograph it as is.
Along with the 6 5×7′s I ordered, I received 8 complimentary wallets of our family photo with the JClare Studios logo.
Here are the photos I ordered the digital files of…as you can see, she did a wonderful job!

I will most likely end up ordering another print or two as a digital file so that I can print as many as I like…it was so, so hard to choose 6 photos out of so many great ones. There were somewhere around 90 photos, and these were my favorite. The ones I ordered actual prints of were the runners up…it was a very narrow margin though. I actually changed my mind on a few during our ordering session.

In return for an honest review over all aspects of a studio family photo shoot, I was given $100 in prints and 6 digital files. jclare studios did a wonderful job with my family, and it was very difficult to choose 6 digital files…they all came out so wonderfully! I would highly recommend Jennifer at jclare studios, especially if you have children. She worked well with the kids, and was great at getting them to do what she needed to get the shot she wanted. The entire experience was better than I imagined. The perfect mix of professionalism, friendliness, and fun!

"Mom"strosities

Most of the time, being a Mom is fantastic…best job ever. Occasionally there are times I’d like to change my name and flee the country. And then there are what I like to call ‘Momstrosities’.
Websters definition of monstrosity: ‘something deviating from the normal’ or ‘an object of great and often frightening size, force, or complexity’ or ‘an excessively bad or shocking example’.
My definition of Momstrosity: ‘things that are particularly icky pertaining to kids’ or ‘an action or situation that makes me say “Awww, come on!” or “What the crap?!”‘ or ‘a nearly unbelievable or shocking discovery’.
For example:
This adorable face with eyes so blue they match his shirt…has crazy expensive Crabtree & Evelyn lotion (that Greg left on the kitchen table) all in his hair. He looks cute, smells fantastic, but it is not a good thing. This happened minutes before we were leaving for my weekly coffee date w/ my friends. He went as pictured.
I vacuum our house at least 2x a week. Our vacuum was making funny noises & not sucking like a Dyson should. Upon further inspection, there was so much hair around the spinny thing you could hardly see the bristles. There were also fairly large paper chunks lodged in the tube and a jelly bracelet wedged in there for good measure. I actually had to use scissors to remove the hair. The blob shown above (that looks like a small furry animal) is what was dislodged. Can you imagine what our floors would look like if I didn’t vacuum so often? Ewww.
I do lots of laundry. When I say lots, I mean I have a high capacity front load washer and I still do anywhere from 10-15 loads a week. These are the foreign objects that I removed from the washer & dryer in one day of laundry. I routinely hear clangs and thuds coming from the laundry room, but come on people…empty your stinking pockets! I can’t count how many times I have washed Greg’s wallet…and once his cell phone. I often find toys, tissues, receipts, and sometimes cash (actually…leave that last one in there, I like tips.)
The other morning while supposedly getting ready for school, Greg walked in and found Trinity coloring her shoes. The were originally black and white and she evidently didn’t feel they were fashionable enough. She ruined a pair of Reeboks (they didn’t fit her anymore, but still had lots of use left) by coloring them as well. I actually tried to wash the Reeboks, but she must have used a Sharpie or something. I hate to admit it, but these actually don’t look that bad in person…except for the writing ‘Trinity Rocks’ on the toe.
So there ya go…Momstrosities. Do you have any you’d like to share w/ the world? If so, link up using the MckLinky below. =)

Thrifty Thursday

I put the smack down on Walgreen’s this week. I made 3 separate trips because I was trying to get a specific item that they always happened to be out of. I may try once more before I head out on my vacation weekend. =) I also did pretty good on our grocery shopping this week…only went over budget by $10 and that included buying 3 Christmas presents.

Here’s the rundown…
Coffee-Mate liquid creamer on sale for 2/$3 – $1 coupon = 2/$2
Gillette shaving cream on sale for 1.99 – .55 coupon = 1.44
Theraflu on sale for 4.99 – $2 coupon = 2.99 ($3 RR) = FREE
Reach toothbrush on sale for 2.99 – $1 coupon = 1.99 ($2 RR) = FREE
Scunci Barrettes 2/$5 + 2.99 = 7.99 – 5.02 WG coupon = 2.97 (we always need these)
Bayer Quick Release B1G1 FREE = 2/2.99 – 1.50 coupon = 2/1.49
Carefree Pantiliners on sale for 1.99 – $1 coupon = .99 ($2 RR) = + $1 overage
Rembrandt Whitening Toothpaste on sale for $5 ($5 RR) = FREE (LOVE this stuff!)
Pistachios on sale 2/$5 (just been craving these…hehe)
My total was 11.02 after coupons & tax (I used $15 in RR from last week) and I received $12 in RR.
Chicken of the Sea tuna 1.19 x 4 = 4.76 – $2 WG coupon = 4/2.76
Rembrandt Whitening Toothpaste on sale for $5 – $1 coupon = $4 ($5 RR) = + $1 overage
Reach toothbrush on sale for 2.99 – $1 coupon = 1.99 ($2 RR) = FREE
Scunci Barrettes 2.99 x 3 = 8.97 – $6 WG coupon = 3/2.97
Colgate 360 toothbrush on sale for $2.99 – .40 coupon = 2.59 ($3 RR) = + .41 overage
(not pictured) 2 Gal. Milk 2.59 x 2 = 5.18 (not on sale, just needed it)
My total was 15.93 after coupons & tax (I used $5 in RR from first transaction) and I received $10 in RR.
They were wiped out of the everything else I wanted…they were ‘restocking’ which consisted of a group of 3 employees yapping. So, instead of just buying toothpaste, I looked at some of their clearance toys. I found the Betty Spaghetty Go Go Glam doll which I think Kara would love, plus I had another coupon for the toothpaste…
Betty Spaghetti on clearance for 1.79 from $19.99 (according to Amazon.com – I couldn’t remember what the original price was at the store, so I googled it.)
Rembrandt Whitening Toothpaste on sale for $5 – $1 coupon = $4 ($5 RR) = + $1 overage
My total was 3.33 after coupons & tax (I used $3 in RR from previous transaction) and I received $5 in RR.
So I paid 30.28 for everything above, and I have $21 in RR to use next week. =)
Here’s our haul from Wal-mart…I won’t bore you w/ a list of our groceries, but I do want note a few items that I got a really good deal on.
First of all, I found a Littlest Pet Shop Black light Diary on clearance for $6 from $15, and Colin in “The Party Surprise” (Thomas & Friends play set) for $15 from $22. These are Christmas presents for Kara & Grayson. I also saved $7 on Greg’s Commit Lozenges (I noticed there was a coupon on the display at Walgreen’s when I was checking out so I grabbed it…plus they’re a bit cheaper at Walmart, so BONUS!)…this should be his last box! He has done so well with quitting smoking. I am so proud of him!
Here are a few things I found on sale: Tilapia $12, Oscar Mayer Bacon 2/$6 (had a $1 coupon), Tropicana juice $1, Fruit Chillers rang up as 1.60 instead of $2 and I had a $1 coupon.
My total was 260.51 including tax (and after 20.15 in coupons) for everything pictured above (including $50 on a gas card)…I think that I did pretty good considering $52 of that was on Christmas presents & lozenges. Link up below with your ‘Thriftiness’!

To-Do Tuesday

Okay, well I didn’t do so great on my to-do list last week, but this week I’m determined to really bust it out! Some of this stuff is going to be completed today even if I have to stay up ’til the wee hours. Well, technically that wouldn’t be today anymore, but whatever. ;)

1. Deposit yard sale money…over half way to my laptop!

2. Inventory pantry & fridge.
3. Re-pot my pineapple tree.
4. Make menu for 2 weeks.
5. Download app to help me with my to-do list!!!
6. Grocery shop (and buy a huge pot for my pineapple tree)
7. Finish library book!
8. Yoga every day/work out @ the gym every other day!
9. Discuss budget tweaks with Greg.
10. Plan shopping trip w/ coupons.
11. Get new and way cooler blog up and running…with my genius programmer husband’s help, of course!
12. Remember to take pictures of Walgreens run for Thrifty Thursday post!
13. Take Grayson to the park to feed the turtles.
I ‘stole’ the following from Crazy Adventures in Parenting…the fearless leader of To-Do Tuesday. =)

Would you like to join us this week for To-Do Tuesday? Start with just a few things. Don’t over-do it your first couple of times. You’ll grow to become a list-a-holic later, start small now, though, k?
Just so you know, you can join us at anytime, it doesn’t have to be on Tuesdays – the list will go up every Tuesday for you to link to, but you can make your list and link to us at any point in the week!

Remember, with “To-Do Tuesday”, we’re attacking our to-do lists each week, blogging about our lists and what we’ve got going on, and sharing it with each other to help keep each other accountable. Everyone should come back here to link up in the MckLinky as the central “To-Do Tuesday Hub” so we can visit who’s participating and offer encouragement to each other throughout the week. Don’t forget to add the “To-Do Tuesday” button to your post, linking back to this post!

Let’s continue to cross items off our list as we go and help support each other in completing our lists! Don’t forget my useful HTML tutorial on how to effectively “cross-out” or √ “check off” your items on your to-do list!

Joining us? We’re using a new linky alternative called MckLinky! Please add your link below (to your To Do Tuesday post, and not the main page of your blog).