Thursday, December 19, 2013

Healing and Reeling

The past week has left me in a state of disbelief.  I'm amazed that a cut on my finger rapidly turned into something very serious.  So lets add cuts to my list of things that will send me running to a doctor now. First on the list is mosquito bites after that fun little incident where I had an infection making its way along my veins last year.

The big lessons from my recent experience are these: 1. NEVER EVER EVER take skin and put it back over a cut, unless you want to spend a few days at the hospital.  2. Any red streaking coming from a bite or cut should send you running for medical attention.  If you aren't sure, see a doctor.  The wait and see approach with thing such as this is a dangerous game.  3. Ask around and find out which of your local hospitals have a reputation for bad care and mistakes and then make a mental note to avoid those facilities at all costs.

I started to write the story of how I landed myself in the hospital on Sunday but an infectious disease dr. asked me to please stop using my right hand to type so I could allow that hand and arm to rest since they had just been ravaged with a pretty serious infection.  So the story sits partially written in my drafts folder.  It may be a two or three part story, it's that bad.

Thinking back on the past week really upsets me.  It clearly illustrates that even when we think we have everything under control we really don't.  And honestly, if Bryan hadn't woken me up from the couch where I spent most of my Friday I might not have realized quickly enough that I really needed medical attention until things, which were pretty bad, had gotten to a point that was far worse.  You know you're in a fix when an urgent care doctor freaks out and tells you to get to an ER right away.

So I've been spending the past four days at home trying to recover.  But I'm awful at resting so I keep doing things like laundry, straightening things and worrying about making sure Madeline doesn't fall too far behind with her schoolwork.

Simple tasks that require two hands or run the risk of exposing my finger to germs are pretty much off the table.  I haven't changed a diaper since maybe last Thursday.  I can't exactly cut wrapping paper with scissors (I'm a lefty that can only cut right handed.) and that pretty much leaves me unable to wrap gifts.  It's a good thing I wrapped most gifts before this happened but I still have plenty to go.  I won't even be able to bake cookies since I can't risk my finger coming in contact with the cookie dough.

The past few days I've been feeling like I just want all the Advent and Christmas stuff packed away.  I shared this feeling with Bryan and he actually decorated one of our trees when he came home from work today and then helped me to get our family room tree decorated.  I feel a little better now that our trees are decorated, but I'm still not feeling that Christmas spirit.  It just doesn't feel like we're less than a week out from Christmas.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm Going Home!

I just got good news from the doctors.  My blood culture came back clean and I'm being discharged today!  Praise God!  Thank you to all who prayed for me.  I really appreciate it.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Please Pray For Me and My Unborn Baby

I began to blog about my current situation but it's a very long story and I can only type one handed at the moment.  I had a serious infection in my finger that landed me in the hospital on Friday night.  I fought to go home on Saturday only to get a call this morning telling me that my blood culture shows that the infection is in my bloodstream. This, I am told is a serious risk to me and our unborn baby.  So please offer up some prayers for me.
This is how my finger looked on Saturday morning.  It's not as swollen or red now.  The redness is cellulitis which ran up to my armpit.  It is mostly all faded now.

I feel fine with the exception of my finger that is swollen and hurts at the wound site that is just over a joint.

The infectious disease dr. tells me only one of the two blood culture vials shows bacteria, so it may be a case of the vial being contaminated,  We will know what the culture results are tomorrow.  If the clean vial still shows no infection in my bloodstream I will go home.  If not, I will be here until it is clear.  Please pray that I don't have an infection in my blood stream.  I very much want to go home and be with my family and rest knowing that my baby's life isn't in jeopardy.

All this because I somehow closed the car door on three of my fingers and one got cut in the process!  Watch where your hands are when you close your car doors!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Quick Takes with a Dash of {PHFR}

It's been a while since I've done a quick takes post and I think the same is true for {PHFR}.  So I'm going to multi-task a bit.
Do you ever have moments where you sit back and say to yourself that something is so crazy off the wall that people will think you're making it up?  I don't know what it is about me, but I have so many stranger than fiction moments in my life that are 100% {real} and often very {funny}.  It's stuff I simply file under I can't make this stuff up.  So back in October my aunt passed away.  She lived alone and was a bit of a recluse when it came to interacting with family.   My uncle is handling the estate and is a bit surprised at what he's finding.  Now he lived a few states away from my aunt, but I spent 22 years living a block away from her, so my parents and other relatives who lived near by knew how she lived.  But, even when you know someone, you can still find some surprises.  Can I tell you that I spent quite a while laughing when my mom forwarded me this picture that my uncle sent to her of my aunt's back yard? 
That fine piece of life sized bovine statue was something my aunt picked up at an auction.  If any of you are interested in acquiring this piece for your back yard statue collection drop me an email.  My uncle is looking for a buyer.  I'd like to meet whoever buys it.  
I've spent who knows how long avoiding the supermarket.  I've gone to Sam's Club and Target but not to the supermarket since October or possibly early November.  I suppose at some point I'm going to have to break down and get to the grocery store.  Anyway, on Monday it was pretty clear that we were sort of running out of food options, so as much as I dislike going to end of season soccer banquets, I was quite happy to fill in for Bryan and go with Ellie so I could have my fill of so-so buffet food that didn't require me to cook or visit the grocery store.  Ellie was  very {happy} to get her soccer trophy.

I'm 18 weeks along today and I'm feeling {pretty} big even though everyone assures me that I'm not.  Usually I don't have any sort of baby bump until I'm more than half way though a pregnancy.  I already have people coming up to me asking when I'm due.
I feel so unprepared to have a baby boy.  I've known for nearly a month now that we're expecting a little boy and I just feel like I need to get everything in order NOW.  After three girls I just feel like I have no idea what I'm walking into.  Even selecting a name seems far more difficult.  I am pretty sure we're settled on the baby's name.  
See if you can guess his first name based on the picture above.  I'll be ordering this from Abbey Ceramics for his bedroom soon.
I'm realizing that my standards for grading Madeline's work for homeschool might be too high.  We submitted her first ever book report to Seton a couple of weeks ago and we got her grade yesterday.  The book report that I told her was probably going to get a C at best came back with a 95 on it!  She's thrilled and I'm starting to realize that perhaps Bryan is right when he says I'm expecting too much.
I have no idea how the display screen on my camera broke.  I had ordered a replacement screen but I really have no idea if we'll be able to fix it successfully.  Since electronics and small screws are involved I'm just going to leave that to Bryan.  In the meantime I decided to try and reduce my chances of cutting my nose on the broken glass by adding a layer of packing tape.  Yeah, it's about as classy looking as it sounds.  This is the before picture in case you're wondering.
I think I may have killed our paper shredder this week.  I was working my way through over two years worth of papers that needed to be shredded and this afternoon it made some sounds that make me believe that our shredder has seen the end of it's useable life.  Fighting with the shredder makes me wish we had a fire pit in the back yard or a real fireplace instead of our gas one.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Small Successes: First Week of Advent

Celebrating the little things in life that add up...

1. I'm about four hours away from being able to say that I survived yet another one of Bryan's business trips.  The kids are already in bed so I will call this one a success.

2. On Monday I had a wave of energy that had me cleaning the house like I haven't been able to do in months.  Kitchen counter tops cleaned, all of the laundry cleaned, folded and put away, and the stairs vacuumed.  I even cleaned some of the basement play room.

3. Two nights ago I pulled out the kids' Advent calendars.  I'm still amazed that I was able to muster the energy to get the Advent wreath out on Sunday morning.

4. I am getting very close to being done with shopping for Christmas gifts.  And I even wrapped most of the gifts I already purchased.

5.  I think we've decided on a name for our unborn baby boy.  I've been comfortable enough with the name to share it with a few people so far so I think that's a good sign.  
6. I didn't cry when I discovered that the glass on the display screen for my camera is shattered.  I have no idea how it happened.  I suppose it happened on Thanksgiving when I had it in my purse but I didn't notice that it was broken until I went to take pictures of our Advent wreath on Sunday night.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Is that a Twinkie or a Minion?

I've noticed among my local friends' children that the cute little minions from Despicable Me seem to be quite popular.  I know all three of my girls are were quite taken with them in the first movie and after going to the movies to see Despicable Me 2 my eight year old talked about the minions for days afterwards.

I was recently made aware of a fun little sweepstakes where entrants are asked to dress up a Twinkie like a Minion.  Sounds like a fun little weekend activity for the kids, right?  And now that I've heard of this sweepstakes I keep laughing to myself about how much a Twinkie really does resemble a minion.

So if you're interested in giving a Twinkie a Minion makeover check out the details below:


Hostess and Universal Studios Celebrate the Despicable Me 2 release on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD with The Twinkie Minion Makeover Sweepstakes! The Limited Edition Minion Makeover Packaging hits shelves as the holiday season gets underway.

Hostess is inviting fans across the country to kick up their creativity and dress up their favorite golden, crème-filled treats and “Minion-ize” their Twinkies for the chance to win great prizes. Now through January 5, 2014, Hostess lovers can make the season a little brighter by visiting the Hostess Facebook page . You can even download a collection of Minion accessories, and make your own Twinkie Minion.  Be sure to upload pictures of your creations to enter to win a daily instant prize, which includes aDespicable Me 2 Blu-ray™ and special offers from Hostess, or the grand prize, which includes a Home Theater System, a collection of 30 Blu-rays and a year’s supply of Hostess treats.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Product Review: Britax B-Agile Double

*Portions of this review were originally written for Amazon Vine.  I was provided with this item for free in exchange for my honest review.

Next to car seats, strollers have to be one of my favorite baby gear items to review.  You could call me a stroller snob.  I have a garage that is littered with a collection of strollers, most of which never see the light of day because they simply didn't meet my standards for everyday use after being test driven several times.  Now that we're expecting a new baby I am now on a quest to find the perfect lightweight double stroller since I will be joining the ranks of double stroller moms for the first time in 12 years of parenting.  My first three children were all spaced far enough apart that we only ever needed single strollers so double strollers are getting a lot of attention from me at the moment as I search for one that will accept a Chicco Keyfit infant seat and weigh in under 28lbs.  Does such a stroller exist?  I'm not sure, but if it does I intend to find it!

A little over a year ago I wrote the following review of the Britax B-Agile double stroller:

I'm going to do a little bit of comparing apples to oranges here by comparing the B-Agile Double to the single B-Agile. The stroller on the whole is a very nice double stroller. While I've yet to have two little ones of my own to push around in a double stroller on a regular basis, I have plenty of experience in pushing my friends' children around in their doubles.  

Just as you'll find in the single B-Agile, this stroller also has the infinite reclining seat backs. I'm not a fan of infinite reclining seat backs. No matter how easy or simple the manufacturer claims they are, there's usually something that gums up the works. I had issues with our single our of the box with the webbing for the adjustable portion being twisted, so be aware that the webbing could twist during repeated use and it is a pain to untwist.

It should be noted that while you could use this stroller with a newborn, the seat backs do not fully recline. It comes close to it, but it does not form a flat surface. It does recline enough that a baby will be able to nap, but if you are looking at this for twins and are hoping to use this instead of a travel system, this might not meet your expectations. One of the biggest drawbacks to this stroller as far as I'm concerned is the fact that you cannot use this with two infant car seats. The adaptor clips to use the Britax b-safe seat are shaped differently than the single B-Agile (they curve outwards on the double because the seats on the double are narrow, which is why the stroller can't accommodate two infant carrier car seats).  The stroller also cannot accept car seats from other manufacturers which is also disappointing.

The folding mechanism for the double B-Agile is essentially the same as the single, only with the double you need to pull on two pull straps instead of one. Just as with the single, I'm not thrilled with how this stroller folds. Sure it's quick and easy, but at 28lbs, this stroller is a bit heavy to handle as it falls into it's folded position. I do like that this stroller can stand on it's own once folded if you position the adjustable handle just right. Of course, the handle bar will come in contact with the ground once folded. I don't know about you, but I prefer the portion of the stroller that my hands will come in constant contact with to stay off the ground. If you're a soccer mom like me, imagine how dirty the handle bar will get when you fold this up in the muddy parking lot at the soccer field.

The buckle on the child restraint harness is super easy to snap together and release which is a huge improvement on the design found on the single B-Agile. Releasing the straps from the buckle requires very little effort. This buckle may be easy for little escape artists to free themselves.

The lack of a parent tray for the price of this stroller also does not impress me. I've felt the same way about my Peg Perego strollers as well. For what you're paying for this stroller, it would be nice to not have to buy the cup holder, too. However, if you do go with this stroller and need a parent tray or cup holder, I highly recommend the Britax parent organizer. I have one on my single B-Agile and I love it.

The storage basket underneath is decently sized. Thanks to the thoughtful design of the zip open foot rests on this stroller you can access what is in the basket from the front of the stroller if the seat backs are fully reclined. If you have an oversized bag in the basket you're probably going to encounter some difficulty in getting it out from the front.

I'm not a fan of a fixed height handle bar like you'd find on the single B-Agile, so I was happy to see that the double has an adjustable height handle. It's a nice feature to have especially for shorter or very tall parents. 

The canopies are very nice and generously sized. They will certainly shield little ones from the harsh sun. I love the peek-a-boo window on the canopies. The flaps lift up to reveal a mesh insert which you can see through. This design means you won't have clear vinyl that develops a hole over time or gives you a distorted view. It also means you can actually see your child. The rear of the canopies have a nice storage pocket which can be rolled up and secured. Once the back is rolled up there is a mesh lining that offers ventilation.

I love how smoothly this stroller handles. It is every bit as smooth and easy to steer as the single B-Agile. Even with my 50lb seven year old testing out one seat (she hardly fits in this stroller, but she sat in it so I could test it out) while my nine month old (nearly 20lbs) sat on the other side, the stroller handled very well. Thanks to the thoughtfully designed handlebar, you can easily push this stroller one handed.

The one touch brake is nice. It is easily engaged and disengaged. I like that one touch locks both rear wheels. Since the brake isn't stiff, you can lock and unlock the brake with sandals on and not kill your toes as you disengage the brake. It's the best brake lever that I've encountered on a stroller.

The stroller upholstery is nice. The material is a type that feels like it can easily be spot cleaned. I'd say the fabric is comparable to what you will find on Chicco and Peg Perego strollers. It's certainly nicer than what you will find on a Graco, Baby Trend, or Kolcraft stroller.

Adjusting the height of the harness straps is pretty easy. I like that there's no rethreading involved.

The maneuverability of this stroller is excellent especially given that it's a side by side double. To look at it you'd think there's no way it will fit through a standard doorway, but I was able to fit it through regular doors with a 32 inch opening in my house and it easily fit through the front door. This stroller is every bit as agile as the single version only it's wider. The widest part of this stroller is 30.5 inches.

I do think the seats on this stroller are narrow. My nine month old looked like a giant sitting in this stroller. She has loads of room to spread out in the single version of this stroller, so I was surprised at how little room she had in this one. I think children upwards of four years old will not be very comfortable riding in these narrow seats.

Overall, it's a very nicely made double stroller, but I see areas where improvements could be made. No stroller is perfect, you simply have to find one that has the features that are most important to you.

Brace yourselves...I'm going to start importing reviews

You all know that I write a good chunk of reviews on this blog for Catholic book titles and some DVDs and toys that are geared to Catholic children.  What some of you may not realize is I also write loads of reviews over on for their review program called Amazon Vine.  I pretty much review all sorts of items for them but I focus mostly on writing reviews of baby products and toys.  I began writing product reviews back in 2001 after relying heavily on customer reviews to wade through the market of baby products when we were expecting our first child.  Writing product reviews for baby products has actually been something I've felt strongly about for many years.  I even help friends and family members who are expecting babies wade through the sea of baby products by helping them build baby registries or by looking over what they registered for and offering them suggestions based on what they picked.  I'm certainly opinionated when it comes to baby gear!

At the moment I find myself in slightly uncharted territory given that we will have to use a double stroller for the first time once our little one arrives.  But, I'm not a newbie when it comes to reviewing double strollers.  I've test driven more than my fair share with my friends' children, and I've even reviewed a couple for Amazon.  Right now I'm on a quest to find the prefect double, so stay tuned for some baby product reviews from my Amazon Vine reviews and some new reviews as I explore new baby products in the coming months.  Strollers and carseats are my passion when it comes to baby gear so if you're looking for honest opinions from a picky mom then you're in the right place!

Guess what I've been up to?

I know most of you have probably been wondering why my blog has been a bit a bit quiet over the past  three months.  Part of that is due to us unexpectedly jumping feet first into homeschooling.  My goodness, I never realized just how much time and energy homeschooling could take.  And, those Jesse Tree swaps I hosted also took up a nice chunk of time.  But there's another reason why I've been so quiet.  We're expecting another baby!

I'm presently seventeen weeks along and our little one is due to arrive on May 9th.  Of course, with Katie coming a full week late and Madeline and Ellie arriving two weeks early who knows when this little guy will make his way into our arms.

We went to one of those ultrasound places where they do the gender determinations twice last month.  We went when I was 14 weeks along and it was pretty obvious that we had a little boy on the way.  Talk about a shock!  I already had a name picked out for my new princess and was already digging through hand-me-downs to pull out all the cute 0-3 and 3-6 month spring and summer clothes.  So when we discovered that he wasn't a she I went into hyper nesting mode and started getting everything ready for our little guy.

This past Friday we went back for another gender ultrasound (it was a two visit package) and the baby is still a boy. Oh boy!  So now we have some room shuffling to figure out and we certainly need to decide on a name for this little one who my husband is presently calling Quattro.

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