Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Day of First Grade

The beginning of the summer seemed to drag on very slowly and the days at home seemed long and HOT, but once I got sick and was stuck in the hospital for 9 days, it seemed like the days flew by and there wasn't enough time to do what everyone wanted!  It seemed like we didn't get to go swimming enough, or make sweet treats often enough, or stay up late having movie nights.  Rita Davenport, the previous president of the company I worked for, used to always say that we only get 18 summers with our kids and to not waste them, and boy that seemed to be so true this year!  We did everything we could to make the rest of our summer the best!  And so a few weeks ago, my little girl became a first grader!

This year took a bit of adjusting as there were some tears in the classroom on the first day from missing mommy & daddy.  However, the kids read The Kissing Hand on the first day, so each morning for the first week, I would kiss her hand and she would hold it up to her cheek and instantly feel better :)  The simple things right?

Kylie's teacher this year is very different from her kindergarten teacher, but that's to be expected in first grade.  Kindergarten is where they get to be cuddled and sweetly nurtured and it's still a lot about playing and socializing.  However first grade is the big leagues and they jump right in.  (Thankfully Kylie developed an amazing ability and love for reading over the summer so that has been an easy transition for her.  Math on the other hand, not so much!)  All this to say that her teacher this year is quite a bit more strict which scared her a bit at the beginning.  However, now that we all have gotten to know her more and have gotten into a routine, we are very happy and are confident that Kylie will thrive in her classroom this year!

I love this girl so much and could not be any more proud of her! 

 She was so excited to wear her new back to school dress, thanks Grandma!

 Some dear friends that she made in kindergarten that are in her class again this year!

 And she's off!

Best Buddies!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Two weeks ago, I took an unexpected trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado with my brother and mom.  It was the weekend before Kylie started first grade and I still had several things to do in preparation for that, and  I had been working closely with several real estate clients, plus I was still healing from my hospitalization last month.  But five days earlier I received a phone call from my step-mom that my dad had very unexpectedly passed away.  It was a call that I never would have imagined receiving in my wildest dreams.  My dad took his life.  He was a God-fearing, Bible-believing, faith-preaching child of God that I know is sitting with Jesus now.  But he also struggled with some very serious mental and emotional issues that ultimately convinced him that he couldn't do life anymore.  I am thankful that he is finally at peace with the Lord and that his mind is now at rest, but so disappointed in his choice to ultimately give up and leave his problems to everyone else.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't super close with my dad, but we maintained a cordial relationship and he was Kylie & Nathan's Grandpa.  It had been a while since we had seen he and my step-mom, but I had just spoken to him two weeks prior when we called him on his 60th birthday.  I knew he was going through a rough patch but had no idea the extent of what was going on in his life.  I wish he would have let those closest to him know "the real him" and that he would have gotten the help he needed, but that didn't happen.

So I got to spend a few days with my step-mom, my brother, my mom, and two of my dad's best friends at a beautiful hotel in Colorado Springs.  It was good to be there together and remember my dad, but it was also tough to see the hurt he left people with as they try to move on. 

I would ask for your prayers for my family and especially my step-mom as we all grieve and find closure in our own ways.  My step-mom has so much to do and is a strong woman, but she is exhausted and completely emotionally drained, as to be expected.  Please pray for my brother as he and his wife prepare to welcome their first child into the world in a matter of days.  Please pray for our family as this has given us a great opportunity for questions about Heaven and knowing Jesus and losing loved ones, but having this happen at the same time as school starting again was a lot for Kylie to take in. Thankfully we have so much family support here and I continue to thank God for that every day!

My dad, brother, and I many years ago.
I love you dad & will see you in Heaven.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gymboree 20% Off Entire Purchase Coupon

Just a few days ago, I picked up a ton of stuff at Gymboree that was on clearance for Kylie for back to school, plus I was able to use an additional 20% off coupon I had from Family Circle magazine making most everything I got less than $6 per piece.  This is such an awesome deal for these quality clothes, especially considering the high resale value of these clothes! 

Here's a rare chance to download a 20% off printable coupon.  Pair this with the great summer clearance sale currently going on for some more awesome deals.  Simply sign up for the Gymboree email list and they will send you a 20% Off Gymboree coupon via email. Just in time for Back to School shopping!

Office Max: FREE Backpack after Max Rewards Starts Sunday, 7/29

For the past several years, Office Max has offered a great deal on high quality backpacks just in time for back to school for the kids.  Starting tomorrow, July 29th, they are doing this again, but consider yourself warned that these go quickly!  We've picked up some really nice Dickey's and Swiss Army Gear bags in the past, and then I use my Max Rewards to purchase ink cartridges for my printer.  I would have to pay for cartridges these anyways, so I always take advantage of the free after rewards items, even if I end up donating them!

Here's the scoop:

1.   Sign Up for an Office Max Max Perks Rewards Card.
2.   Purchase any Qualifying Backpack at or In Stores starting on 7/24 through 7/30
3.   Limit 2 backpacks per Max Rewards account
3.   Within 90 Days you should see 100% of the price (Tax & Shipping not included) credited to your Office Max Max Perks account use on a future purchase.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sat, July 28th: Free Backpacks to 1st 100 Kids at Arizona McDonalds

I've been subscribing to Macaroni Kid North Phoenix for probably the past 6 months and love that I have found a place to get a recap of all the local events in my area of town.  If you're not already a subscriber, I highly recommend checking it out yourself.  It's a national franchise and there are 14 different  geographical areas of Phoenix that are highlighted, so you have no excuse staying connected with what's going on in your neck of the woods!  


Here's what she posted tonight that definitely is worth sharing with anyone left out there :) 

Saturday, July 28 - McDonald's FREE backpack give-away

The first 100 children who visit their local McDonald’s restaurant will receive a FREE backpack. Backpacks will be given away to school-age children at 200 McDonald’s restaurants in Maricopa, La Paz, Mohave, Yavapai, Coconino, Gila, Navajo, Apache, Graham, and Pinal counties.  In addition, 50 McDonald’s restaurant locations will host Health & Safety Fairs with state/county/city community service organizations providing health screenings and information on dental care, health, nutrition and Safe Routes to School to local families.
Where: Local participating McDonald's restaurants (excludes Walmart and mall McDonald’s restaurant locations).  Check out this list I found.
When: 8:00 AM (while supplies last)
Who: School-age kids
How: Just show up!
Cost: FREE

Thanks, Macaroni Kid North Phoenix!

A Little Health Update

I'm not even sure there's anyone left reading this blog anymore except my wonderful family, but just in case there are one or two of you, I guess an update is in order!

For the past 6 months or so, I've been struggling pretty hard with my Crohn's Disease.  After my encouraging visit to Cedars Sinai in 2009, I had been in complete remission with zero symptoms for about two and a half years because of Thalidomide, my "miracle drug."  I was 100% healthy for my husband and my kids, my work as a Realtor was keeping me challenged, and I forgot what it was like to have to think about managing a chronic illness.  Unfortunately, before Christmas, I started to experience one of the side effects of the drug so I worked closely with my doctor and decided to cut my dosage in half to prevent long term irreversible damage. 

Thankfully this stopped the nerve damage, but the new dose simply wasn't enough to continue to hold my disease at bay.  My symptoms slowly started creeping back, bit by bit, to where I am today, back into a full flare of my disease.  Every patient is so different, but the symptoms I experience when in a flare are extreme arthritis/joint pain and severe abdominal cramping along with frequent running to the bathroom.  Call me crazy but it doesn't make for such a fun time :(

So I've been working closely with my team of doctors to figure out what else to try, but thus far have been unsuccessful.  Add to my flare a nasty bacterial infection, c diff, that has made repeated appearances in my gut in the past 4 months, and it's been the perfect storm brewing inside my body.  I made a visit to the ER on June 26th and ended up staying for 9 days so I could get IV steroids & anti-biotics.  Thankfully my body responded quickly and Independence Day 2012 will always have a special day in my heart as that's the day I was finally released back home! 

As a side note, my hubby and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in April and months before had planned an amazing trip to Mexico to celebrate in July.  Obviously we didn't end up going, and I'm so thankful we spent the money on trip insurance, so we will definitely be re-scheduling that vacation as soon as I'm better!  I can't begin to count how much praising we did that I didn't end up in a hospital in Mexico for 9 days - holy moly that would have been a nightmare!!!

So now we are back at square one planning a trip back to Cedars in a few weeks to see if they have any new recommendations for me.  I've been so blessed to have a great team at Mayo oversee my care and I continue to thank God for health insurance, despite all the medications and dr visits.  Thankfully, the Prednisone I am currently on are doing a great job of managing my symptoms in the very short term, but as I quickly taper off this nasty drug, we have to determine what my long term treatment plan will be.   

I'm currently doing an awesome Beth Moore Bible Study in the book of James and am encouraged at this exact time that despite the unknowns of what I'm going to try next, I am still able to confidently "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have it's perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  James 1:2-3  AMEN!