Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Progress

Ben's patching is going really well. Emily insisted on having a patch one day too. I made a rainbow on hers.

Of course hers lasted about 5 minutes. Ben is doing so well with keeping it on for five hours. He complains a little when I put it on and about half way through, he asks to take it off. But, he's a trooper and hangs in there. And it's already working. I find it shocking that it's already making a difference, but it is.

When I first found out about his lazy eye, I remember doing all sorts of tests to see how well he saw. I held up a toy doll of Buzz Lightyear and Woody. With his good eye patched, he couldn't pick out Buzz. I was only 3 feet away and one is white and one is brown. I thought he would at least be able to distinguish the colors. But his eye is already starting to work after just a week of patching.

The other day he was watching TV with his eye patched and no glasses on. He was just wearing his spiderman mask and hadn't put them back on. I asked him if he could see the TV as he was sitting on the sofa. He said yes. So I stood a few feet away and held up three fingers. He told me perfectly how many were up. Then, I stood halfway to the TV and held up a toy car. He told me what it was. Then, I stood all the way at the TV and held up a purple toothbrush. I held it against my chest, so he couldn't make out what it was based on the outline. He got it right away. My chin about hit the floor. I'm so excited about how much progress he has already made.
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As for Noah and his eczema issue, we went to the dermatologist today. She didn't give us any earth shattering news. Simply, Noah needs to stay moisturized with a cream from a tub, not a pump or tube. I found some Cetaphil in a jar at Costco. It is like the consistancy of shortening it's so thick. We need to put that on him 3 times a day, followed by some prescription hydro cortisone twice daily. We'll stop the hydro cortisone in about two weeks and hopefully, he'll be done itching and will continue to get relief with the cream. A $30 co-pay to find out we need to use cream from a jar. If that doesn't work, he'll get a higher prescription of hydro cortisone. So, we'll see where he goes from here.

I was just happy to find out that he definitely has eczema and he's not a cutter. I thought we might be booked for an episode of Springer...my baby is a cutter. Phew, we escaped that one.
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Emily says she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Don't get me wrong, teachers are great, but I try to encourage her to do something that will actually pay her bills. She loves all those blood and guts shows, be a nurse. Which means she will never be a nurse and she will be a teacher simply because her Mother is encouraging her to do the opposite.

Tonight, she was watching TV and reading a book. I was doing dishes and noticed that after each page, she'd turn the book to show her "students" the drawings. Of course, nobody is in her classroom, but she doesn't care.

And even in true teacher fashion, she is multitasking and watching the movie at the same time. Maybe she does have what it takes to be a teacher.

Emotional Eating

Emily has been asking for more time alone with us. Sure she had us all to herself from birth to 17 months, but after that, she's always had to share us with a younger brother. Lately, she has been coming in our room after we tuck the boys in bed. She spends a few minutes with us watching TV and we rub her head or her back. Then, we tuck her in her bed.

Sometimes, she wants to do her homework alone in the bedroom with just me or David. Last night, she wanted her Dad. They went in the bedroom and worked on her spelling words. Noah did not like being left out. He went in the room and complained. I got him out. He tried to go back in the room again, David got him out. It wouldn't be a big deal if he would be quiet and entertain himself, but quiet is not a word that I would ever use to describe Noah. Remember he's a Leo.

After getting rejected over and over again, Noah had to comfort himself. Crying, he walked to the pantry and grabbed some comfort food...a bag of Lay's Kettle cooked chips.


I guess he takes after me after all.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Easy Come, Easy Go

My friend that I carpool with is an accountant. One of her clients just happens to be Emily's first grade teacher. My friend helps at the school a lot and has always brought completed work to Emily's teacher during the school day.

Last week my friend needed to get papers to Emily's teacher, but she couldn't run them into the school. After texting to each other, they decided to put them in Emily's backpack and Emily would give them to her teacher. Actually, her teacher texted something along the lines of "that works for me. BTW, I adore Emily". How sweet is that? Makes me very proud.

While I loaded Emily up in the car, we joked that she is officially a courier. And wouldn't you know it, my friend actually paid her $1 to deliver the papers.

That's Emily's first earned dollar. We don't pay our kids to help out with chores around the house. We expect them to help out without having an incentive other than contributing to our household. So, she was very pleased with herself for making one dollar.

And the very next day, she spent it. They have a spirit cart out at lunch every other week. She bought this bracelet with her hard (or not so hard) earned money.

My girl is quite the entrepreneur. Look for her on The Junior Apprentice this fall on NBC. HA!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Patching

We have to patch Ben's good eye for 5 hours per day. Our Doctor will not allow us to get any sort of pirate patch as it doesn't work as well. It has to be an adhesive bandaid patch. We found some cool ones online yesterday that have designs on them. We'll see how big of a battle this will be for us before I order expensive ones online.

For now, I drew a decoration on it and he thought it was cool. Until I put it over his good eye.

He was mad and started to cry.

He doesn't want to wear it to karate or gymnastics, and he was worried that he'd have to wear it to school. I told him no on all counts, but it didn't really cheer him up. His right eye hasn't worked properly in years, so it's going to take a little while to get used to using it. Plus, his vision is still very blurry out of only the right eye even with his glasses on. This is going to be a process.

The good news is that the Doctor actually said watching TV is a great exercise for him to do during patch time and he said he may need to sit close until his eye starts to work better. So, I got him all set up watching The Hulk this afternoon.

I even made him popcorn. But he is still complaining and not happy. One hour down, four to go. I know it'll get easier with each day and that it really isn't a big deal. I'm just trying to convince Ben of that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Raves

Every once in awhile, I like to post some of my new favorite things. I don't go all Oprah on you and start giving away pashmina scarves and new cars, but if you are unsure of trying something, maybe my review will sway you.
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It's no surprise to anyone that I'm now a couponer. I follow several blogs a day to find deals and sign up for samples left and right. I received a sample of Purex Crystals Softener. It's fabric softener in a crystal form. Now, I typically don't use fabric softener. I used one ages ago and it stained all of my clothes blue. Well this new product is awesome because it is the form of crystals and you drop some in the wash when you start it up. Piece of cake. And they smell heavenly. This is something that I will buy. And even better, they have coupons out in the Sunday paper all the time. Pair that with a sale and you've got a great deal and great smelling clothes.

And since I'm raving on Purex right now, I'll just continue. I bought these Purex Complete 3 in 1 sheets. They are the laundry detergent, softener and dryer sheet all in one. Pretty nifty. Again, they smell awesome and they do a great job. They look like a thick dryer sheet when you put them in your washer. When we go on vacation next month, we are renting a condo with a washer and dryer. Instead of arriving in Orlando and having to buy detergent and dryer sheets, I'm packing 5 of these in my suitcase. They weigh practically nothing and I'll be saving some money. And you know how I love to save money.
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After Ben and I got our eyes checked last month and ordered glasses from Costco. I came across this deal online for a free pair of prescription glasses. We had already gotten our glasses, but I thought it would be a good idea to get Ben a back up pair. The frames and prescription lenses are free. We paid to add the antiglare/scratch resistant coating to them and with shipping paid less than $40.

After seeing the world with my new glasses I thought I could get a free pair of prescription sunglasses. I wear sunglasses all the time when I'm outside. Why not have a nice pair that are prescription? So, I used my free code to get a pair of Nicole Miller prescription sunglasses. With shipping, I paid $43 for my new pair of shades.

I'm so happy with them. And even better news, Coastal Contacts is giving away more glasses tomorrow. You can go here for all the details. Very cool.

Speaking of glasses, David and Ben are in Phoenix right now for his follow up eye appointment. David just called to tell me how it went. Ben's right eye is working about 2 times better than it was last month with his glasses on. We are happy that the eye is working. But it is a lazy eye and we will need to start patching his good eye 5 hours every day. Wish us luck on that one.
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Do you notice how straight my hair is in that picture? I tried a new straightening product. I have some mad curls and it usually takes me about 30 minutes to blow it dry and get it straight. And it's never completely straight. I decided to try John Frieda 3 Day Straight (because I had a coupon) and let me tell you, the stuff is a dream.

It was super easy to blow dry my hair and it didn't try to kink up on me. Then, I flat ironed it and I'm very happy. It seems shinier, more shiny, shiniest, whatever. And I don't have any waves underneath which is my trouble area when it comes to getting my hair straight. So if you have crazy curls, give this a shot.

That's it for now. I'll rave some more next month.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Holy Eczema!

Noah has always battled eczema. When he was a baby, he would scratch the sides of his face and top of his head until there were open wounds. As he's gotten older, those spots seem to have cleared up and now he is scratching other places, mainly his knee and elbow pits and his back where his diaper is. Actually, we aren't 100% sure that it is entirely eczema and not just a bad habit. Sometimes his skin will look beautiful and he'll still scratch it.

We've gotten pretty good at protecting the sensitive areas. He wears pants all the time, long sleeve shirts and onesies. If he can't get to the areas that bother him, he isn't as likely to scratch them to pieces.

At his doctors appointment two weeks ago, I asked if we should take him to a dermatologist. She said to try using Vaseline on the bothersome spots 6-8 times a day and see how he does. We've been very diligent about doing this. And it doesn't seem to have helped one bit.

When I got him from his nap today he looked like this:

He looks like Geronimo. I thought he bit his lip until I went to clean him up. This was the front of his leg and his hand.

And this is what he did to the back of his leg that caused the blood bath.

I about freaked out. He didn't even scream when he did this to himself. Yet he screamed bloody murder when I tried to put cold water on his leg.

I'm making an appointment tomorrow to get him in with a dermatologist.
We need something stronger than Vaseline.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Hulk

A few weeks ago, I taped The Incredible Hulk on FX. Did I just write taped? Wow, still stuck in the last century. I meant recorded, TIVO'd, DVR'd. You get the idea. Ben has now added The Hulk to his repertoire of superheros. Lucky for us, The Hulk doesn't really have an outfit. Ben puts on his blue boxer shorts with no shirt and he thinks that is a perfect costume. There's one problem though. He wants to be painted green.

He asked about 20 times yesterday and since we didn't have karate or gymnastics and it was bath night, I figured I would indulge him. We still have leftover face paint from when he was the wicked witch for Halloween.

He was so impressed with how he looked. He tried to look mad for me, but he still just looks cute.

In other news, the school district sent some guys out this morning to clean up the mess. It took 2 guys about an hour and now they still need to do something with it on their side.

I'm glad they took care of it so quickly. Hopefully, they will at least do a monthly check on their vacant land and clean it up from time to time. If not, I'll just unleash The Hulk on them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Around Our House

I just sent the kids off to school. It's just Noah and I again. Spring Break is over. We had a nice time, but I'm glad the kids are back in school again.

Here's what has been going on at our house.

David and Ben dressed up as the dynamic duo and solved a bank robbery.

**Ben had no pants on, so the cape is strategically placed.
Literally, Ben will give out the lines and if you don't say them right or look the right direction, he asks you to do them over. He should be a movie director when he grows up.
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I made a pumpkin cake for some friends. Well, I gave them a few slices and we ate the rest. I just used them as an excuse to make and eat a cake. It was yummy, even Noah thought so.

Actually, he only ate the frosting. I can now add cream cheese frosting to the list of 6 things that he will eat.
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Our neighbor got a ton of oranges from her friend in Phoenix. She gave us a huge bag because she couldn't eat them all. Yum. Freshly squeezed orange juice is the best.

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Emily and Ben attempted to defy gravity.

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In our housing development, the home owner's association hires landscapers to maintain the common areas. They do a great job, and they better for the fees we pay. Behind our home is a giant field that was supposed to be a Junior High School. That project crashed with the housing market. We have an empty field behind us that belongs to the school district, so our landscape company won't touch it.

Two years ago, we had the major flood that was a result from that field being improperly graded. We called the school district and they took care of it right away. Of course, we were left with about half of the landscaping rock as we had before the flood but whatever.

For weeks, David has been complaining about the tumbleweeds that have built up on the other side of our wall. They were getting so high that we could see them from our side. We kept saying we would call, but never got around to.

If you have never seen a tumbleweed up close, it starts off as an ugly bush. Then it dies and dries up, and tumbles in the wind. It's a huge ball of stickers at that point. If you want to see one in action, check out my video here.

After a night of high wind gusts, we woke up to this in our backyard:


Nothing says "good monday morning" like waking up to 200 tumbleweeds in your yard, and we can still see them at the top of our fence, so more are on their way. If we can get them to clean up the mess in our backyard, we are still left with the stickers and seeds from the tumbleweeds. We'll be using gallons of weed killer all summer long.

I think the school district gets the worst neighbor award. And that says a lot since they beat out the ones with the dog that barks all night and the other one whose pot smoke fills our evening air once in a while.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Break Creativity

My kids have never uttered the words "I'm bored." Thank God because I used to say that all the time when I was a kid. As a parent, I'm sure it's annoying. Instead, my kids find something to do (or I'll give them a broom). Having the week off is forcing them to tap into their creative side. Even if it does mean segregating the house. Emily made this sign for one of our bathrooms.

I like the yellow sticky note, "you tank" instead of "thank you". You get the idea though. What I don't understand is "only girls. And my mommy". Am I not a girl? I'll try not to take offense. She even decorated the inside of the bathroom with stuffed animals.

She also coached her brother into making a sign for the other bathroom. This is supposed to say "Girls are not allowed."

I went through Ben's old clothes for Noah and pulled out lots of 18-24 month summer clothes since it's been so nice out. Figures the forecast is calling for snow on Monday. Ben has a hard time giving up some of his favorites like this spiderman shirt in a size 18 months. Ben is 5. Surprisingly it fit everywhere but in the length.

This morning when I got out of the shower, I was greeted by some ghosts.

One more day of Spring Break...I think I may actually survive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We Are Not Crows

When I woke up yesterday, I decided to not get on the internet. Okay, okay, it was still down. I had no choice. So, I took the kids to the park. We decided to ride our bikes. As the crow flies, the park is about 1/4 mile away. But we are not crows, so we had to go through the neighborhood. It took us 30 minutes to bike about a mile to the park.

The kids had a blast playing.






We had a snack and headed back home before Noah's nap time. Noah was riding in style in the bike trailer.

Ben was constantly lagging behind us. That's why it took 30 minutes to get to the park. He still isn't confident yet on his new bike. The training wheels have one higher than the other on purpose to get him to learn balance, but all it did was freak him out.

Emily was constantly waiting for us.

See that field behind Emily? Our house is right back there. That is the field that the crow could fly to get to the park. And there is a little dirt path that leads to the end of our street through that field. I thought we should be like the birds and cut out the big loop around the neighborhood. Plus, I was tired and ready to be done. We went down the dirt path. Big, big mistake. Huge.

Ben freaked out because his training wheels were jumping too much on the rocks. So, I loaded him up in the bike trailer and put his bike on top.

Then came the hill. I don't remember there being a hill, but there it was. About 10 feet long and as steep as a swing set slide. Normally not a big deal, but on a bike pulling everything but the kitchen sink, a big deal. A very big deal. I started to walk the bike down and realized about 2 feet in that this was a huge mistake. But, I couldn't turn back. Momentum was taking us down the hill. I ended up at the bottom in a tumbleweed. Ben and Noah were having a great time. Ben even said, "Wow, let's do that again." Not in a million years little man.

Now, Emily was freaked out and afraid to walk down the hill. I pulled 100 stickers out of my pants and walked up to get her bike. Then went back up to get her. Just a few hundred feet to the end of our street. We can make it. Nope. Emily's chain came off. I wasn't about to try my hand at being a bike mechanic at that point. She walked her bike down the dirt path.

Finally, the end of our street. Six houses from our home. Emily wants to ride Ben's bike. I switch them out and she starts off on his. It's way too short, but she is managing until she tries to go up the curb. It's different with training wheels and she falls. We finally head up our driveway...walking our bikes.

We are talking about how horrible that path was. And Ben summed it up best with a line from the Grinch, "We did our worst and that's all that matters."

Today we played it safe and went to the library...in the van!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Day Without Internet

I have the same routine every morning. I wake up, kiss my husband and children good morning, pour a cup of coffee and get on the computer. I think this is similar to what most people do. What did I do 15 years ago? Turn on the TV maybe or open the newspaper?

Yesterday, I was doing my routine when the internet went down. Oh no. I restarted the modem and did the few other checks to make sure all was okay. Still nothing. I called our internet provider and talked to someone for 45 minutes. My kids were hungry and it was our first day of spring break, but I NEEDED the internet. At the end of the call, I was told there was an outage. Lovely.

So, I took my kids shopping. There were bargains to be had at our two drugstores, so off we went. This trip is usually done while Emily and Ben are in school and it's just Noah and I. He's easy to keep content with some goldfish crackers or M&M's. But when his two older siblings are walking around the store, he wanted to walk around too. And before you know it, all three of my kids are walking around, touching and moving every item in the store. I lost control of my kids quickly. So I did what any mother does and bribed them to behave with jelly beans. Don't judge, it worked.

We headed home. Surely the internet would be fixed by then. Nope. I called again and heard the outgoing message that they are aware of an outage in my area. I wanted to speak to a representative to find out how long this outage was going to take. I'm told there isn't an outage. What? We troubleshoot various things for 45 minutes. She does something and finally tells me there is an outage. Duh, I'm the one who told you that 45 minutes ago. I'm frustrated.

All the while, my kids are sitting inside watching movies.


It's a gorgeous day outside and when I say gorgeous, I mean warm, sunny, slight breeze...perfect.
So, we went outside to play for the entire afternoon. I pushed Noah on the swing for as long as he wanted, which was over an hour. I helped Emily with some tricks on the trapeze bar. We laid on the warm concrete porch and watched the clouds and thought this one looked like a dinosaur spine moving over the moon.

The internet was still down and I didn't care.

After dinner, Emily wanted to go on a walk. So we went. Me, Emily and Ben on our bikes and Noah in a backpack on David while he walked Rocko and Katie. We are dogsitting for my Dad and Suzy.

When we got home, the internet was still down. I took a nice hot shower and we watched The Bachelor and before we went to bed, I checked one more time. It was working. I sent one e-mail to a friend and the internet crashed again. My fix lasted only 2 minutes.

It's obviously working today as I'm blogging. But, it was rather eye opening to go an entire day without access to a computer. We don't have fancy phones either, so there was no way to get any sort of internet connection. Could you do it for an entire day? I now know I can, but maybe I should spend a little less time in front of our computer and a little more time with my kids.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Before and After

Everyday before I get Emily from school, I get a few moments of silence. My boys are good in the car. I make myself a cup of tea or coffee and head off to the school 15 minutes early. We wait in a line of cars for the bell to ring. And herein lies my few moments of silence. I have a stash of magazines or a book that I keep in the car, and I get to relax.

But Stars, they aren't like us. I'm pretty sure that their days do not include stealing 15 minutes of alone time in a car before they do their part of carpool for the day. And I'm pretty sure that they don't have a 5 year old dressed as Spiderman hiding in the car.

That's what Ben does while we wait. He sits in every seat in the car. Whatever makes him happy and keeps him quiet works for me.

Then, the bell rings and I see my girl. In celebration of Read Across America and Dr. Seuss' birthday, she made a hat at school.

Which included dressing up like The Cat In The Hat.

I love that she is still so innocent and thinks it's cool to wear this get up at school. In a few years, she'll find this embarrassing.

And within minutes, my carpool kids load up and I'm driving home with the Ipod playing and 5 kids in the car all talking at once. I'm yelling at Emily to roll up the window and sighing heavily because Ben just spilled something that will need to be vacuumed when we get home, and I'm recalling how lovely the "before" moment of silence was.

Then Ben yells out "pull my finger" and burps. We all erupt with laughter and I realize the "after" moments are pretty sweet too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tied

When Ben isn't being a superhero, he hangs out with his brother during the day. Sometimes they do something simple like color.

Yesterday, they went to explore in the backyard. I walked out a few minutes later to make sure Noah wasn't eating dog poo. Instead, I found him at the top of the swing set with Ben.

Ben said he climbed the ladder. So, I watched and he did it again.

He was rather pleased with himself.
Then, he went down the slide.

I was impressed. Usually it's a process of getting them used to the ladder and teaching them how to go down the slide. He watched Ben and got it. He did it over and over and over. Fantastic.

So today when they went outside, I didn't think much of it. Until I heard Noah screaming a minute later. Ben didn't see what happened, but Noah was at the bottom of the ladder. This is what his face looked like after I cleaned off the sand and blood.

The score is now:
Noah 1
Ladder 1
Here's hoping Noah wins tomorrow.