Friday, January 30, 2009

My First Book Review and Give Away!

Recently, I was accepted by a publishing company to review their books on my blog. Since my time is limited, I knew I would be more likely to actually get a children's book read and reviewed so, I chose "The Moon Shines Down" written by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of the bestseller, "Goodnight Moon" and illustrated by Linda Bleck.

And... I am so glad I did! In this book, you travel around the world with a friendly Koala bear and a sweet little prayer, "I see the moon, and the moon sees me, God bless the moon, and God bless me". With wonderful illustration and a heart felt sentiment, this book has so much to offer, making it appealing to a wide variety of ages. My toddler watched wide eyed, chanting, "moon, moon" with each turn of each colorful page and pointed out each animal while making the animal's sound as we traveled along our paper adventure. It also makes for an effective language learning tool with it's sing-song and rhyming flow.

It is also not lacking in it's appeal to the older child. Reading it with my five year old, it provoked discussion of the differences found in other cultures all a while reinforcing the idea that children in every land sleep under the same moon, made by the same God. This book definitely makes our "never get rid of and save for the grandchildren list", even topping it's ever loved sister, "Goodnight Moon". It would be a great addition to any child's library of childhood memories!

And, since the publishing company sent me two copies, this also brings me to my first give away. This Give Away is open to anyone in the Continental U.S. There are a couple of ways to enter.

1. Simply leave me a comment and I will enter your name and then check back on Valentine's Day to see if you are the winner.

2. or, to increase your chances, put a link to my give away on your blog or personal page and leave me a comment with a link to your page and I will enter your name 10 times!

Just think, along with the practical mop or iron skillet that your husband gives you for Valentines Day, you could also score a children's book that your can read to your children while you lounge in your favorite cotton night gown with the hole it. Once upon a time, I did own silk... It now belongs to my child and is referred to as blankie instead of lingerie..

I will randomly choose and announce the winner on February 14th!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Looking Back into the Fog

I guess that I feel it's necessary to explain the thing that threw me so off track so I'm going to start there. This is going to be a long informational post. However, if you have children (especially children that have had chronic ear infections) I urge you to read it. I wish I had gotten a hold of this information sooner.

On Chloe's first birthday (August 30) she came down with a nasty cold. Btw, I have only one picture from her birthday. I pulled one picture of her off of my memory card and after that, it was somehow damaged and I haven't been able to retrieve those pictures. If anyone has any ideas about that, I would love you forever. Anyway, she came down with a cold and was feeling really yucky. I began to wean her as I did Emma at one year and so naturally, I thought part of her fussiness was due to that. Her seemingly need to still nurse was too overwhelming and I gave in to both mine and her desires to continue what I see as a wonderful part of babyhood. I saved the weaning for a later time and we continued on with a persistent runny nose. About two weeks later, Emma woke screaming one night saying that her ear was hurting. The next morning, I loaded all three children in the car (including Maggie, the baby that I babysit) and headed off to the doctor. I figured while we were there, I could have the doctor check out Chloe also. Sure enough, Emma had an ear infection and to my surprise, Chloe had a double ear infection. Doses of antibiotics for both and at the recheck Emma's ears were clear but Chloe's still infected. Maggie had an ear infection around this time also so my thinking was that maybe there was a strong bacteria that needed an antibiotic.

Now, I'm a firm believer in letting my children "cry it out" unless they are sick or hurting. I also believe that antibiotics are overused and that when we dose our children over and over, not only are we hindering our children's ability to naturally fight infection, we are also feeding immunities to the bacteria which in turn will result in more and more sickness for everyone. However, I was desperate to ease her pain and frantic because my child had something that I could not get rid of. And, since I didn't have a solution myself, I followed the doctor's orders and gave her more antibiotics. So, three antibiotics later, the ear infection was still there and I had an appointment with an ENT and two months of no sleep. I have such a high respect for mothers that have dealt with an on-going or terminal illness with a child. I know that in the grand scheme of things, an ear infection is not that big of a deal but to me, not being able to make my child better made me feel like I couldn't do my job as a mother. I can not imagine the desperation a mother must feel when they have a child suffering from something worse.

It seemed suspicious to me that Chloe had never had an ear infection and then at 13 months, she got one that we couldn't get rid off so, I did a little or maybe lot of internet research. I found a lot of mother's saying that dairy was the culprit of their children's ear infections. Now I know that there is a lot of crazy information out there on the internet but I also know that some of the best advice that I've gotten has been from mothers who have actually experienced things and aren't trying to make their children fit a text book description. And since it was also around her first birthday that I introduced milk, I figured it couldn't hurt to take dairy out for a week and see what happened. A week later, we headed off to visit the ENT to find out that her ear infection was gone. They checked her hearing and found out that some "temporary" hearing loss had occurred and though the ear infection was gone, her inner ears were packed with fluid. The ENT insisted that the fluid would not go away on it's own though he admitted that many children did have a strong sensitivity to milk and that he thought that sensitivity did often cause ear infections. He told me that if I didn't put tubes in her ears, that her ears would continue to get re-infected and her speech would not develop correctly. And he said that even though it might be due to a milk allergy, putting tubes in would take care of it and I wouldn't have to worry about her diet. I kindly thanked him for his time but told him that I was going to give her two months with no dairy to see if the fluid would go away on it's own and that she had her 15 month checkup coming up and I would have the doctor look at them then. I came home and purchased an otoscope off of the internet. I was able to keep a check on her ears to make sure that they weren't getting infected but I wasn't really sure how to tell about the fluid. On December the 10th, we went in for her 15th month check up. I went in equipped with my defense (charts of where I had kept up with her protein, calcium, and iron intake) and fully ready to change doctors if he was not supportive of my decision to take her off of dairy. This is how that visit went:

He came in, checked her out as doctor normally does at a check up and then looked in her ears and said nothing.. So this is how the conversation went:
me: so how to her ears look?
doctor: great
me: you mean there is no fluid?
doctor: no, they look perfect
me: you know you sent me to an ENT don't you.
doctor: looks through her chart. Yeah, I see that I did.

I then explained to him what I had done and then very defensively told him that I was keeping her off dairy and that I had been charting her nutrient intake and that I knew that she was getting the nutrients that she needed.

And to my surprise, he responded by saying that many children did have a sensitivity to milk and that he had several patients that ate a dairy free diet and that they were just as healthy as his other patients and that he didn't even think that cow's milk was the best nutrition for a child and that if I did decide to try milk again, goats milk might be the way to go because goats milk was made for an animal more the size of a child while cows milk was made for an animal the size of a cow. INFORMATION THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HELPFUL THREE MONTHS AGO!
He also told me that it wasn't necessary to chart her nutrient intake because she would take what she needed from the food she ate (which I don't totally buy). But anyway, he was more supportive than I expected. Since then, I have read in many different places that researches believe that at least 50% of children have some sort of sensitivity to dairy products. I wish I had figured this out before I put her on three unnecessary antibiotics. But, here we are many months later: tube free, dairy free, and ear infection free, at least for now. And, we moved on to other illnesses like stomach viruses which made for an interesting Disney World trip! But that'll have to wait until later. Chloe is sitting beside me repeatedly calling momma and telling me what she wants with precise clarity.. Speech seems fine to me.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mommy Tips

Okay, until I get my act together and get the last pictures I took edited and our income taxes done, I was hoping to do a kind of interactive blog. We all know that mothering isn't easy but I would like to hear any tips you might have that we could use to help each other along. It can be anything from cleaning, to getting your child to sleep through the night, to the things you do to energize yourself to products you can't live without. I'll start.. and as others add things, maybe I will think of more.

Vinegar, water, and baking soda are the best cleaners. I rarely need anything else.

-turning clothes inside out to wash them helps prevent fading.
-sometimes you can stretch a piece of clothing that has shrunk by washing in hair conditioner (depends on the material)
-RIT dye does wonders!

-a spoon full of sugar does help the medicine go down, it also cures hiccups.
-I swear by the Vicks on the feet for persistent coughs
-a bath soak in Epson salts helps achy muscles and energizes by removing toxins.
-telling your child that you got a girl scout badge for taking out splinters gets her to sit still so that you can remove hers. Or at least it worked with my child. Yes, it was a lie, don't worry, I asked for forgiveness.
-keeping a set of red hand towels on hand is useful in case of an accident with blood. It helps a lot with the drama if they can't see the blood.
-buy stock in band-aid

Okay, that's all I've got for now hopefully ya'll have some better ones. Becky, we definitely want to hear your trick for getting rid of the boogie man.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm wishing for a boring 2009..

Okay, Jay is trying to give me a kick in the butt and get me back to blogging... I'm overwhelmed by how far behind I've gotten with my blog and my check book. Those things are just hanging over my head and driving me nuts. But I just can't focus until I've had some sleep.

You may have heard me mention before that when we moved to WV that I prayed, "God do with us what you need to do to make us what you want us to be". And I've also said that if I knew how much work he was going to do, I might have prayed something else.

I want to preface this by saying that I feel like I live a blessed life. I have a wonderful husband, wonderful children, we love our families, love where we live, love our church and if I knew how to draw a line through church and cross it out and put family I would because that is how I feel about them. But I don't feel like going through the trouble of figuring that out. So, if someone wants to leave me a comment giving me instructions like you'd give a five year old, then I might be able to figure it out. But seriously, five year old instructions is all that I can follow right now.

Anyway, from the time that we moved to WV and on, it seems like there was one thing after another... youth ministry needs a whole other post maybe even blog so I'll leave that part of it out for now but lets just say that that on it's own was enough. But we were constantly having unexpected events that messed with my routine and I'm a routine person.. Broken legs, stomach viruses appliances breaking, trips, job interviews, car motors blowing up, very sick pregnancy, baby birth, three month long ear infections, replacing transmissions, a trip to Disney World the day that my daughter is being discharged from the hospital for fluids from a stomach virus (which didn't get rid of the stomach virus btw) Jay, you had a different Belle, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and it's because we gave ours a stomach virus.. Nothing that is precious to me has been permanently disturbed but I've got a lot of sleep to catch up on so in 2009, I'm scheduling in a nap every now and then. So it's very possible that I might for go regular blog posts for more sleep and organization.

Anyway, the real question that I have for anyone that hasn't given up on me because I've been a horrible blog companion and haven't kept up with mine or anyone elses is, do you think it would be just horrible if I asked God to live me the way I am just for a year, or maybe two? Or maybe even just grow me a little more slowly? I know there is plenty work left on me but is it possible for one to take a break from said work?

And I just have to say this too. It seems that my children have been sick a lot. One might think that we are filthy people. I also want to say that I have a bottle of hand sanitizer sitting on every corner and in my car and a bottle of antibacterial soap at every sink. I also regularly wash there little noses out with saline. Chloe just hears the word nose spray and starts crying. Emma has just finally accepted her fate and does it to herself. I've become a psycho about it. Just had to clear that up. I do wash my children of germs but they apparently find a way to hold on every time.. I'M SO READY FOR SPRING... Oh and the stomach virus.. You would think that I would have figured out when Emma was hospitalized with Rotavirus how to keep a child with a stomach virus out of the hospital. I measured gatorade with a measuring spoon and gave her one teaspoon every ten minutes for an hour and then graduated from a teaspoon to a table spoon and then an ounce. Just like the doctor ordered.. Chloe didn't get dehydrated but her glucose got low or something like that. Whatever... Anyway, just wanted to say that I do try to take care of my children... Inferiorority complex rising to the top much?

I'll try to come back with a less rant type post after I've achieved that much desired sleep.. Btw, have I mentioned that I'm a bit of an insomniac and when I do get a chance to sleep, I usually can't.. Grr...

Oh well, I'm going to go give it shot..

Jay, that was all just for you. You only thought you wanted a dose of Dana :). I love you!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So Sorry Belle

So Sorry Belle
Written Nov. 2010

I can laugh about this almost two years later.  But I assure you that it took me a while to get there.  For Christmas 2008, we decided that we were going to do no gifts except a family Christmas present.  Unknown to the kids, the family Christmas present was a trip to Disney World.  A first for both Emma and Chloe as well as myself.  Just before the trip, Chloe contracted a stomach virus for which she was admitted to the hospital for for 18 hour observation.  I considered rescheduling the trip.  However, with the doctors assurance that with 18 hours of fluids, Chloe would be good as new, we went on with the trip.. We left straight from the hospital and headed to Florida.. We got about four hours down the road, only to realize that Chloe was in fact, not good as new.  We decided then to stop for the evening.  And when the clock struck midnight and we entered 2009, I had a car seat in the bathtub of a hotel room, cleaning vomit out of it..  We continued on our journey and entered the Magic Kingdom at 4 p.m. on the first day of our tickets.

About thirty minutes into our first experience at Disney World, Chloe found a nice spot outside Bell's garden to get sick once again.  So, Chloe and I called it a day and headed to the hotel.. I'll spare you the rest of the details and just say that the remainder of the trip went approximately the same way.  Us thinking she was better, us trying to go on with plans, me getting puked on...

So, if you went to Disney World in Jan. of 2009 and all the princesses were out with a stomach virus, the Ellis family is most likely to blame..

And if you go to Jan 2010 in my archives, you'll see how we totally redeemed this trip by having enough fun for two trips in one..



Tuesday, January 06, 2009

For the Holidays, You Can't Beat Home Sweet Home

I'm so many blog posts behind. I still need to blog about our Thanksgiving trip and our trip to Disney World. Those are coming. But I want to tell you first about our wonderful Christmas as it is definitely going to be our diamond in the rough.

We had an absolutely wonderful, relaxing Christmas! Yes, I said relaxing.. Who knew that could happen? Last year, we flew to TN on Skybus' very cheap flights that were apparently too cheap since they went bankrupt. My parents picked us up in Chattanooga, and both Adam's parents, sister, and my sister came to my parents. While it was wonderful for us all to be together at one time, with a 2 and a half car travel on each end and then a plane ride in the middle, it was exhausting. In years before that, we drove to Alabama and jumped from one house to another which was even more exhausting. Well, this year, I kind of dug my heals in and claimed the right since we've traveled so much in recent years. My parents came and brought my grandparents and Adam's parents are coming in a couple of weeks. It was so nice to have our children in our own home for Christmas and I'm very thankful to our families for indulging us in our desire to stay home for Christmas.

It was such a treat to have my grandparents with us on Christmas. I can't really point to anything earth shattering and I think that is what made it so wonderful! Conversations reflecting on the past, stories about my dad as a child, and thoughts about the economy, future, etc.. Completely and totally drama free.. No car trouble, no sick children.. I so enjoy the chance to talk to my grandmother as an adult. After the death of my mom's mom, I am very aware of what a blessing that really is. It was so heart warming to hear her talk about her children and grandchildren and know the joy she feels when she sees the succeeding. I know that the time that we spent with them this Christmas will be memories that I cherish forever.

As far as my parents go, they were the normal doting grandparents that they always are. My mom, playing like she's a kid herself and my dad, patiently awaiting Chloe's next shower of kisses. She has such an attraction to graying men! She gets that from her mom ;).

Though my lightening fast trip to Illinois, made it difficult to get my original Christmas plans together, I did manage to pull some of them off.

Our tie dying pajamas turned into tee shirts well, because I was trying to not spend a lot of money. I failed to get a picture of myself but you can see by Adam's and the girls, that they existed. I didn't get them done in time for them to dry completely so they pretty much came out pink with a little green. As you can see, Adam is such a wonderful daddy and wore his pink, tie dyed, not so Christmasy Christmas shirt proudly.

We made various Christmas crafts, watched a few Christmas movies and spent many hours teaching Emma to play UNO after Chloe went to bed. She's not too bad I might add.

The highlight of our Christmas activities was our Disney trip revealing scavenger hunt. (Sorry for the details on this but some I have talked to are waiting for specifics).

I don't have pictures of this because we were video taping it but this is how it went.

We put a present for each of them under the tree. When they opened it, they were Minnie Mouse ears with a note that said, "Put these on your head and look under mom and dad's bed"

Under our bed, were packages with Winnie the Pooh coloring sheets for Chloe and Tinkerbell for Emma with a note that said, "Winnie the Pooh loves you and Tinkerbell does too, look in the place where you'd find a shoe".

On top of Emma's shoe holder in her closet were packages that had various little figurines of Disney characters with a note that said, "The next surprise is the biggest by far, look in the place where mom parks her car".

In the garage on top of my van was a box that had two sets of plush mickeys and minnies (which, I paid 25 cents a piece for at a garage sale. They looked brand new and still have the tags... Go me) and in that box were brochures of Disney World and a note that said, "A family present, for mom, dad, and each girl, next week we're going to Disney World".

It was funny. I don't think Emma got it at first and then it kind of hit her in waves. Chloe, was just glad to get the stuffed animals :0).

I must have done an okay job because Emma is still saying that she only wants a family present next year. Even though, that isn't exactly what happened this year. We caught wind that she had asked the Santa at school for an angel costume. Not ready to completely let that fantasy die, Adam, being the wonderful daddy that he is, hunted down an angel costume last minute.

Best of all, because of our friends and families support, we received cash as gifts and some generous donations to the "living water" project that we have become so passionate about and we were able to make a pretty hefty donation to our churches challenge of raising $8000 dollars to provide clean water for a whole community. You can check the organization out HERE! For all of you that contributed, I want to thank you for your support! If you'd still like to contribute, we're still a ways from our goal as a church so we'd definitely take your money :).