Thursday, February 28, 2013

Miracle cleaner

About a month ago, JJ did an "end-o" off a small table in our family room and cut open his chin in addition to cutting his lip and gum tissue inside his mouth. (You can read all about the details in the post "JJ goes to the ER.")

As you can imagine, there was a LOT of blood. Fortunately, I managed to get JJ to the sink before it really started gushing and got as much as I could under control before putting him in the suburban to go to the doctor's office (and later hospital).

Before JJ fell, we were about 10 minutes away from piling into the burb to go to Cooper's Tae Kwon Do class in downtown Hillsboro. Cooper was already in his uniform...his glaringly white uniform. This was only the second time he'd worn it.

Cooper came with me to get help for JJ. He sat next to JJ and tried to comfort him. I also gave Coop some paper towels to wipe up any dripping blood on JJ's face. Cooper was very helpful, but in the process, blood got on his uniform in a few different places.

Unfortunately, that was a small priority and operation "stain removal" would have to wait.

Before he left the ER with Jared later that night, I had advised Cooper to put his uniform in the laundry room as a reminder for me to work on getting the blood out before his class on Thursday evening. It wasn't until Thursday morning though, a day and a half later, that I finally remembered to address the issue.

Three months ago, I had purchased a non-toxic cleaning soap from Branch Basics that I had stumbled across through a food blog that I follow. It's free of ammonia, chlorine, endocrine disruptors, phosphates, SLS and solvents. It's human-safe, perfect for everyone including babies, children, the elderly and even pets.

I was mostly curious to see if this could do all it said it could do. Truth be told, I'm more concerned about how effective a soap is as a cleaner and not it's level of toxicity. Hopefully that makes me one who really appreciates a clean home and not a bad mom. (Although we were just discussing JJ falling off of a table while I was standing nearby...)

I remembered this new soap and thought "Hmmm, this bloody uniform would be a good test subject."  So I sprayed the soiled spots on the leg of his uniform and his belt. And I got distracted.

When I came back a little later, the blood had already started to looked watered down.

I tossed it in the washer and held my breath when I pulled it out. Not one trace of evidence that blood had been anywhere on that uniform or belt. I couldn't believe it. Sometimes, there's a pale yellow spot where stains had been...where they almost came out. But I looked the uniform over several times. Nothing. SWEET!

A couple of days later, Cooper had left his breakfast plate on the dining room table. We had pancakes with black raspberry and huckleberry jam on them. JJ had managed to not only climb on top of the table (yeah, he obviously didn't learn his lesson) but he crawled right through that plate with jam on it. His jeans were covered. And I smiled :)

I took his pants off, sprayed them with the Branch Basics soap and left them because I didn't have any laundry to do at the time. A day or two later, when I walked through the laundry room, the jeans caught my eye. They were free of all jam stains. They weren't watered down, they were nowhere to be found. It was like they evaporated into thin air. Like magic. I couldn't believe it.

Since then, we've had blood on sheets and again, I sprayed it with Branch Basics and used a paper towel and wiped it away in one swipe. I dropped a blue permanent marker on my kitchen tile that landed tip down and left a dot. I grabbed the Branch Basics and a paper towel. It took a few more scrub strokes, but it came  right out.

I've used it on windows & mirrors (finally a streak-free cleaner), the tub, the fridge. I've mopped with it in my kitchen. I knew it made the tiles look SUPER clean...but just this last week, I discovered with a little bit of scrubbing and it actually took a significant amount of dirt out of the grout in between the tiles. On another occasion, while mopping my kitchen floor, I was noticing how dirty my lower white kitchen cabinets were, so I started wiping those down. This stuff works better than Magic Erasers and doesn't leave that white residue behind!

Apparently you can use it to treat insect bites, sunburn, cold sores and heaven forbid *l.i.c.e* You can clean your cars, grills and use it as a flea treatment for your pets. You can wash your produce, your own body and babies with it. You can use it to clean bikes, diaper pails, stinky disposals, dry erase boards, engines, exercise equipment, garage floors, highchairs, jewelry, patio furniture, retainers, tires, toys, yoga mats and the list goes on.

I'm really excited about this stuff...just for the "blood factor," especially with my four boys and a hubby who could potentially get it on his clothes in his line of work. We went to Jared's office first when JJ cut his chin open and JJ wanted Jared to hold him. JJ laid his head on Jared's shoulder and of course got blood all over Jared's shirt. It was about a week before we remembered his soiled shirt in the laundry basket and "treated" it with Branch Basics. The blood came right out. However, not so much on his white lab coat, but it had been laundered at the office first. So it stands to reason that  Branch Basics works its magic on NEW stains in fabrics that haven't been washed and dried yet.

The news is spreading about this stuff because ANOTHER blog I follow from time to time, did a post on it just this week as well. Plus there's a special offer if you want to try it. I would highly recommend it (even though I'm not being paid to say so :) and would suggest you jump at the offer because it IS pricey--at first. However, it's a concentrated solution that you dilute so the price per ounce will save you money in the long run when you eliminate the other cleaners you would spend money on.

Here's the link to the site. Though if it doesn't work, just go to

There's a deal that's good only through Monday, March 4th. You can get a 32 oz. bottle of the concentrate and 1 empty spray bottle for dilution for $18.89 (not including shipping). You can make 6 All-purpose bottles for $2.85 each. That's a great price!

Love this stuff! Hope you do too. If not, and you buy some, I'll buy it from you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Shout out for Cooper

Last month, in school, Cooper's class had an opportunity (if they wanted) to draw a poster for the Oregon chapter of the American Lung Association that illustrated the importance of not smoking.

He actually had all but completed his poster and brought it home to put the finishing touches on it. But when he went to retrieve it from the side pocket of his backpack, it was nowhere to be found. He had lost it in transit.

Cooper was devastated. All that work! Trying to console him, I told him that he was good at drawing and since there was still some time left, I encouraged him to try to and make another poster. After some time and crying out his disappointment, he finally mustered up the courage to do it again. (Oh, how I can relate to the heartbreaking loss of something you've labored over. The thought of starting again is so overwhelming and you want to just forget about it all together).

The message was the same, but his illustration was different he said. I didn't see his first poster, but the picture on his second one was very impressive. It was a picture of a dinosaur (complete with scales and other defining details) clutching a cigarette in its claws while walking on a giant cigarette. The words were: If you smoke cigarettes, you'll be extinct--like me!  

Cooper's teacher graciously mailed off the over-sized poster from school by the due date and he waited. He really wanted to win first iPod touch with a $50 gift card to the Apple Store and $250 toward the school to help prevent tobacco use.

Well, Cooper didn't win first place. Or even second or third. Or ninth or tenth. But...he did get a very nice Certificate of Achievement indicating he was the TOP 12 Finalist in the 2013 Youth Tobacco Prevention Poster Contest in Oregon. Wow...not too shabby!

GO COOPER! Congrats on your amazing achievement and for not giving up when you faced an extremely disappointing setback. You're an example for us all.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flashback: Going on a cruise! (port: New Orleans)

In October 2011, Jared was approached by the director of the urgent care where Jared is an on-call option for the facility to help cover vacations and personal time, etc. They were losing one of their full-time PAs and the director wondered if Jared would pick up an extra 12 hour shift a week over the next two months while they hired a new provider.

This meant Jared would be working on Mondays, when I usually go to Jared's "real job" and help out at the clinic. Obviously, Jared's job and part-time one take precedence over anything I do. Technically, there are only a couple of time-sensitive things that I do at the office and while the rest is important, it can wait even if it makes (a lot) more work for me later in order to catch up.

Jared wasn't super thrilled about working a 12 hour shift on Monday and then another 12 hour day at his office on Tuesday for 2 months straight. So he said he'd do it only if the money he earned at the urgent care could be used to pay for a 15 year anniversary trip for the two of us. (How do you say no to that?? You don't!)

And thus began the plans for a long-awaited, first-time, just-the-two-of-us, pleasure-only trip. Jared was the mastermind behind all of it. He did a lot of research and finally decided we were going on a Western Caribbean cruise on the Royal Caribbean line (recommended by several friends and patients).

The beginning of that trip began one year ago today! And oh, how we wish we were getting ready for another cruise. February was the PER.FECT time of year for a getaway.

Jared had actually talked to my parents a year or so prior and "reserved" them for babysitting purposes. They wouldn't be on a mission, which isn't always the case with them, so we had to take advantage of them being in the country while we could :)

My mom graciously bought her own ticket to come up a couple days before we were flying out so she could read through my novel of notes and see the "family schedule" in action. Turns out, I was being honored at an American Mother's Gala 5 days before she was arriving. I had considered telling her about it, but because it would add almost another week on to her already self-less trip (and meant more exposure with the kids--we were going to be gone for NINE days as it was), I hadn't mentioned it ahead of time. Her invitation to the Gala came just days after she bought her ticket. As the wonderful mother that she is, I should have known that she would make arrangements to change her ticket so she could be with me on my special day. She wouldn't even let me pay for the difference in ticket price. But I did buy her dinner :) Thanks for coming, Mom!

The framed sketch of the mother holding her child was done by Walter Rane, who actually resides in Oregon. He spoke at a Women's Conference here in our stake a few years ago. Ironically, my mom was actually visiting that week and she came with me. He has a TON of pieces that appear in the Ensign, the church's magazine. Seems like every month or so, I see something else of his. I love his artwork.

A little off topic...there are only a handful of pictures that I like with me in them. It's not humility and I'm not fishing for compliments. I really don't like them. I'm not photogenic.At.All. But I think these pictures are okay. And I'm thinking, why? What is it about these particular pictures? Then it dawned on me...I actually have color in my face. Duh...I had been tanning!! Kind of funny....although what wouldn't be funny is to get really close to the equator and toast myself on the first day of my dream trip. So Jared and I both went tanning the month before we left to get our bodies ready for super sun exposure. (Something I thought of only because of my life in Alaska...that's what a lot of my friends did before they went on Spring Break to Hawaii or know, while I stayed home and enjoyed the dark and the white-out blizzard conditions.)

Tanning was a whole new experience for me. I was a little anxious about it, but once I got the hang of it, I was okay. You have to fill out a form about your skin type before you start. Based on the answers I gave them, my start time was 1 minute of tanning. No surprise there. I think Jared was 10 minutes. After we got our enhancing lotion (which was worth the money just because of the tropical smell :) they got my booth ready. Except that the computer wasn't cooperating. It wouldn't accept 1 minute. It didn't understand it. No one needs just 1 minute of tanning time. After we got a laugh over that, the gal suggested she'd put 2 minutes in and I could just stand there for 1 minute before hopping in. And that's what I did for the first week. We tanned every day except Sunday. Kind of made our schedules crazy because we were sharing the lotion, especially when it took 10 times longer to travel there and back than it did for me to actually tan. But the tanning salon was not far from Jared's work so it was doable. I went to 2 minutes of tanning the second week, then 3-4 minutes the third week. Then 5 minutes the last week with 6 minutes the last two days. Yay...I made it all the way up to SIX minutes of tanning! After only a couple of weeks, though, I had people comment they could tell I was getting color.

That was seriously, one of THE best things we could have done for ourselves in preparation for the cruise. I cannot tell you how many people we ran into on the ship who were red and purple on the second day because they burned themselves so badly. How miserable for them!!

We decided to leave from New Orleans, LA since it was a lot closer than Miami, FL and we scored on round trip airline tickets for $350 each! Our 7 day cruise itinerary was the following:
Sat. 2/25, Day 1: departure, at sea
Sun. 2/26, Day 2: at sea
Mon. 2/27, Day 3: at sea
Tues. 2/28, Day 4: Falmouth, Jamaica
Wed. 2/29, Day 5: Grand Cayman
Thurs. 3/1, Day 6: Cozumel, Mexico
Fri. 3/2, Day 7: at sea
Sat. 3/3, Day 8: port back in New Orleans in the morning; fly home

We flew to New Orleans on Friday, 2/24 to make sure we were there with time to spare. We left bright and early on a 6am flight. We did discover that a time does indeed exist when there is no traffic on the way to the airport...3:30 in the morning--in case anyone was wondering.

While we were at the gate waiting to board the plane to Denver, I noticed a mother about my age with her baby crawling around. When I got up to do something, I passed them and said hi and asked how old her son was. He was 9 months...just a little bit older than JJ who was 6 months at the time. The ticket agents announced that it was a full flight and they were looking for volunteers to check their bags for free at the gate. We jumped at that chance because we had a garment bag with our dress clothes that was no good to us on the plane, but didn't want to pay the extra $25 to check it. When we got up to board, they still needed volunteers to check their carry-on bags so we checked our second one also. Sweet!

We got to Denver uneventfully and only waited for about an hour. When we purchased the tickets our seats were in different spots on the plane, but we thought we heard our names over the loudspeaker and sure enough, they had rearranged it to have us sitting next to each other thanks to the request message Jared had added when he got them online. We were in the exit row to boot!

We slept mostly on this flight too. I noticed the lady with the baby from Portland was on the same flight as us. At one point we hit some wicked turbulence and just for a moment I wondered if that was going to be the end of us and that I was glad I had showed my mom where our life insurance policies and my last words for the kids were in the fire safe. (She didn't like it when I showed her, but it had to be done).

As we neared New Orleans, we started chatting with the gal who was sitting in the window seat. She was from Baton Rouge. We started talking about Louisiana and we mentioned that Jared watches the show "Swamp People". Turns out, she's actually friends with one of the main families the show follows. So she told us a little bit about how things are behind the scenes and answered some of Jared's questions. I enjoyed listening to her accent...from the BI-YOO. :)

A major miracle...all of our bags made it!

We got a decent taxi to the hotel, which was VERY nice, but a lot farther from the port than we thought.

I showered and got ready for our dinner reservation, which Jared did all on his own, just for me. I have this thing with Food Network. I really like it. Though we have a few shows set to record on our DVR, I'm not a die-hard junkie or anything. But I was REALLY excited when Jared told me we were eating at Emeril's Delmonico restaurant. So COOL!! The only bummer is that we had to drive all the way back across town to get there and taking a taxi ain't cheap.

We called for a taxi in the hotel lobby and while we waited, we noticed the wind was picking up outside and the sky was growing dark. Silly me....I just could not bring myself to pack anything longer than capris and short sleeved shirts for this trip. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Needless to say, I was a little cold that night. It was in the low 60s and blowing pretty hard.

The taxi was a very old Caprice something or other. It smelled of cheap smoke. The wind was blowing so hard, we heard the roof of the car buckle and thought it was going to rip right off and every time we idled, the car would shimmy. It was bad. I had a headache by the time we got to the restaurant from the smoke and I was really worried that's what I smelled like...which just totally ruins my image!

We were treated like royalty at Emeril's! We didn't see him of course, but it was sure fun anyway. It has great ambiance and we got to eat upstairs by a window. This restaurant was only a street or two away from Bourbon Street and there were still remnants of Mardi Gras which had just ended three days prior to our arrival. We noticed green and purple beaded necklaces in the streets and dangling from branches in the trees on the sidewalks.

David, on the right, was our main waiter. Scott, on the left, was the assistant waiter. They totally doted on us. It was great! I'm sure they were working for their tip, but they knew we were from out of town (did all the picture taking give it away?) and spent a lot more time conversing with us than at other tables. We are cool people, after all :)

I should have known I wouldn't have a clue what was on the was almost all French food. I picked some kind of chicken, because I knew what that was. I got some gumbo for my first course. Which was delicious and I think my very first time eating it.

Jared got a salad with his dinner. I LOVE this salad. It's ingenious! It's a thick chunk of iceberg lettuce sliced like a wagon wheel and all the toppings are on top of the "lettuce palate." Never would have thought to do that myself, but I just might now.

Okay, our dinner portions were GI.NOR.MOUS! and RICH. I think I had 3 bites. I was so sad that I couldn't finish it. This is Jared's lamb and sausage dinner. He did better than I did in clearing his plate.

Here's my chicken-something-or-other and a macaroni and cheese wedge. was the richest main course I have ever had in front of me. And I swear that's a whole bird on my plate!

And for dessert...beignets. These beauties were to DIE for. We inhaled them, which is why there's no picture to post. They totally melted in your mouth. They were the most amazing dessert. Ever. I think I fell in love.

We had a fantastic time. I just love that Jared thought of this for me.

The cab ride home: well, it was smoke free, but the driver wasn't from around here (meaning, not from our continent) and didn't know how to get to our hotel. He even had a GPS and the address that we gave him. He used his cell phone instead to call one of his cabbie friends for some help and even still we had to direct him the last mile or two. Because we used a credit card to pay for the ride, he had to call the card number in to some call center and all the while, the meter continued to run while we were sitting in front of the hotel. We racked up almost another dollar before he gave us the total amount to approve. (I know, I know, a dollar is no big deal. It's the principle people!) Needless to say, I pulled a "soup Nazi" move from Seinfeld and it was no tip for him. SO glad I don't have to make a career out of taking taxis.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Flashback: Meeting Mr. Skye

The beginning of February last year, Jake was given an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As a 6th grader, he was selected by his principal to introduce a guest author who would be coming to do an assembly at the school. The author: Obert Skye.

Never heard of him. But he was on a book tour across the nation to promote his final book in a trilogy about dragons...something that Jake really loved at the time. I purchased the book for him so he could have the author sign in.

It wasn't until I did a little searching online that I realized a) this author wrote the Leven Thumps series (which I had heard of) and b) he's a Latter-day Saint!

This was getting better and better by the minute.

I made arrangements to come to the assembly so I could record it. I got there a little early and was able to introduce myself to Mr. Skye as Jake's mom and take pictures. I asked the on EARTH were we able to get a young adult author to come and speak at our school?? She said that he was doing a book tour and the contact at Hillsboro Public Library just started calling elementary schools in the district to see who would be interested. I was SHOCKED when the rep from the library said there were only a couple of schools out of the 25 that agreed to have him come. WHAT are these schools THINKING??? Turning down a free assembly with an AUTHOR?????? For shame.

Mr. Skye came up to me later and said that Jake is an incredible kid...engaging him in great conversation. Mr. Skye was really impressed and said "What kid talks like that? He's amazing."

Jake asked Mr. Skye to sign his book for him. And he did--thanking Jake in advance for being the one to introduce him.

The assembly was great. Mr. Skye is a one super cool dude and had some great stories to tell. After the assembly, Jake made an interesting discovery. When he was reading his book the night before, he took the jacket cover off. In his rush that morning to not forget the book, he threw the cover on quickly, not paying attention to what he was doing. When Mr. Skye signed his book, he opened it and signed the inside front cover. Except that the sleeve was on upside down so he really signed it upside down on the back cover. :)

Jake showed it to me, a little embarrassed about his mistake. I laughed and said, "Go show Mr. Skye." When he did, Mr. Skye was wonderful and signed it on the front cover and wrote "This way is up" :) Jake also got a signed "Ambush" poster.

Jake flew through the "Pillage" trilogy books (Pillage, Choke, & Ambush) and it was extremely fitting that this year for Valentine's day, his Grandparents Lee sent him the first book in the Leven Thumps series since we haven't read them yet.

Here's Jake with another 6th grader in charge of the sound system, the principal Mrs. Schofield and Obert Skye.

Jake and Mr. Skye.

The signing of the book...I think this was the "first" attempt :) Fun, fun, fun!

"You are hereby called to labor..."

We've been waiting for my parents to get their FOURTH mission call this week. Their destination was going to be New Zealand. There was an opening for a family history couple at the beginning of June and the contact in Salt Lake City over the assignment of missionaries in the family history department was going to hold it for them.

But that changed about two weeks ago. We found out why today. My dad had a moderate heart attack about 12 years ago. Apparently, trying to get a work VISA in New Zealand or Australia is really difficult and  their health system is overwhelmed. They don't want anyone coming to the country who they think might end up knocking on their hospital doors and...having had a heart attack...even though it isn't related to heart disease, is one of those "no exceptions." Now my mom could have gone to New Zealand, she would have just had to go with someone else and they didn't think that was the best course of action :)

They We were all disappointed, of course, but it didn't last long.

The post office called this morning to notify them that there was a large, white envelope waiting for them.

They have been called to serve in London, England as family history missionaries and will report to the Provo, UT MTC on April 22, 2013.

It was either that or Cambodia! (The only two places available for English speaking missionaries overseas at the time my parents wanted to go). They would have happily gone to Cambodia too, actually, but they LOVED being in Scotland on their last mission and this is pretty close. Jared went to Europe (Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and even Spain) for a month doing his emergency room rotation 7 years ago. I, however, have not, so maybe we can work it out to go visit them before they come home. I have already have a passport!!

My parents were actually supposed to go to Bangalore, India on mission #3, but right before they were supposed to leave, the country stopped issuing VISAs to American missionaries. (Our old home teacher was serving as mission president there and asked for my parents to come over and the First Presidency approved it!) I asked if that ban had finally been lifted. They said no. They still aren't allowing American missionaries over there. They have to be Canadian. Interesting.

We're very excited for my parents. We're very excited for us. There are special blessings that come from our parents serving a mission and we're looking forward to hearing all about their adventures in England.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

JJ goes to the ER

Life has started to get a little hectic for me on Tuesdays. We are firm believers in not overscheduling our kids by enlisting them in so many activities they can't see straight and are never home. We only have our kids in 1 extra-curricular activity each...Karcyn is in dance on Thursdays, Cooper has Tae-Kwon-Do on Tues. and Thursdays and Jake just started after school-sports on Tuesdays and Thursdays, where he actually gets brought home by the bus on practice days. (Pretty cool!)

Three weeks ago, on Tuesday, January 22nd, Jake was starting his first day of basketball. This meant he wouldn't be home until 5:20 and wouldn't be able to watch the kiddos for me while I took Cooper to Tae-Kwon-Do (because Jared works until 8pm on Tuesdays).

In anticipation for the ensuing crazy evening, I made a crock pot dinner that the little kids could eat at 4:45 because we had to leave the house at 5pm in order to get Cooper to the dojang by 5:30 and then...the three little kids and I would have to wait in the car for another 40-45 minutes because there's barely enough room for 6 parents (let alone a woman and her 3 young children) to watch the class and of course, with the dojang being 20-30 min. away depending on traffic, there's no time for us to drive home without having to turn around and drive right back to pick Cooper up. I'm packing up the diaper bag and getting the last bit of things arranged before calling the kids into dinner, I walk through my kitchen and into the family room. As I walk past our couch, I notice my little monkey man (JJ) up on the small table by the family room window. (This kid has been climbing things for months...he's fearless and frustrating! We finally got smart and put the chairs up on the tables and counter to eliminate the ease of his perching, but on this particular day, there was a rogue chair on the floor that had been missed and JJ found it).

In that split second that I saw JJ up on the table, my first thought was a calm, "Oh, JJ. Not again." And I took the three additional steps to set something down or pick it up before going to retrieve him. On my way back to get him, Cooper came into the room to tell me something and pulled me into his conversation. I stopped to make a point and then before I knew it: *CRASH!* JJ had fallen off the table. He obviously leaned into one of the chairs on top and because the chair was not very heavy, it slid right off with him tumbling after.

I ran over and scooped him up. At first I didn't see any blood...I was looking in the upper half of his head region. Eyes, nose, head--all okay. Mouth?...full of blood. Oh no. He must have cut his lip open. I rushed him to the sink and as I worked to dab the area with a paper towel, THAT was when I noticed the huge gash in his chin. My heart sank, my pulse started to race and mommy guilt swept over me. This would require stitches. But where will I have to take him?

Jared works late on Tuesdays, so I told Cooper--all ready to go to Tae Kwon Do--to jump in the car, and maybe we could swing him by his class since it's not too far from Jared's office, though I told him not to count on it. I really needed someone to watch the little kids for me. It would take too long to get them ready to go, plus they'd be hungry and tired and it wouldn't be fair to them. My friend, Terrisse, whom I hadn't seen in many weeks, had just left a voice mail for me within the hour as I was preparing to go. Her number was the first one listed in my "recent calls" box so she was the one I called for help. I was so grateful that she and her little boy came to my rescue.

I was very upset with myself and that my baby was in pain and suffering because I didn't get to him right away. As soon as Terrisse pulled up, I was backing the car out and telling her from my lowered car window that she could leave as soon as Jake got home...there was dinner on the counter for the kids and to help themselves also.

And we were off to go to Jared's 5pm traffic. I think we sat through 3 or 4 light cycles at 209th and TV Hwy. JJ had stopped crying long before we got to the office. He was such a trooper!

When we got to the office, JJ was very eager to see Jared. Jared has sutured up Calvin before, but that took 4 adults just to hold him down and the depth and width of his injury was minimal compared to JJ's. I hoped Dr. Hicken would be able to do it, but I wasn't holding my breath. Turns out the doc had to leave right when we got there due to another obligation but he said he'd feel much better if we went to the ER anyway because there may have been trauma inside his mouth as well.

So that meant, Cooper's class was out of the question and the three of us headed to St. Vincent's ER--in 5:30 pm traffic. I was really grateful Cooper was with us because he rubbed JJ's head to comfort him and tried to wipe up the blood gently from JJ's mouth. (Unfortunately, he got blood on his super pristine white testing uniform).

I've never been to St. V's before so between the dark, my nerves and traffic, I had to turn around 3 times before I made it there.

That ER was packed! I was rather stunned to see that many people were in the ER on an early Tuesday evening. We arrived around 6pm. We checked in and then waited. And waited. I held JJ while he laid his head on my shoulder. We walked and waited. And I realized all of a sudden that I had a full bladder and no one to relieve me of JJ so I could relieve myself. Oh well. It would have to wait along with everything and everyone else.

Poor Cooper didn't have a book or anything. He did great though. Didn't complain or anything. We scraped together some change so he could get a snack out of the vending machine and eat it on the opposite end of the ER so JJ wouldn't want some too.

Around 6:45ish, Jared texted me to say he had seen his last patient and was going to go home to check on the other kids. Terrisse had contacted me shortly before that to tell me the kids were doing great. She was kind enough to stay longer so Jake could work on homework without the other kids being a distraction to him before she went home. I texted him back as fast as the phlanges on my right hand would allow and told him I could really use his support here at the hospital...that--and I really needed to go potty! He said he'd be there and to text him if we got called back before he arrived.

And we did. We got escorted back to the Children's unit of the ER around 7pm. Our nurse (Kristy?--I can't believe I forgot..I only looked at her name for hours on the white board in our room) got the scoop on the incident and was really great. She said she'd let the doctor know we were ready so he could do a quick look over to see how to proceed. Before the doctor came in though, Jared found us. JJ lunged out of my arms to him (which is pretty normal so that didn't make me feel any worse than I already did). And I was FINALLY able to empty my bladder.

(Even after busting open his chin, JJ is still so happy and smiley.)

Dr. Schutt is young and also very personable. He felt the best course of action would be to sedate JJ so they could get a good look around and not be rushed. So that's what we prepped for.

But it took an hour and a half before they got started. We were all really tired. JJ was perfectly content to be in our arms and the nurse turned the TV on for us to help pass the time. I think...they were mostly waiting on the medication to be processed at the pharmacy. And...they were uncharacteristically busy according to the charge nurse.

A little before 9pm, after hooking JJ up to all the different monitors, they laid him down and plunged two very long and thick hypodermic needles in his thighs. I was standing 5 feet away and they were BIG from that distance. He didn't cry long though thanks to the meds. We decided that I would stay and Jared would take Cooper out. Coop didn't want to be around when JJ got his stitches and Jared was on-call and needed to check his phone to make sure he didn't have any messages.

That sleepy medicine was pretty fast acting. It was seriously less than a minute before JJ went kind of limp. As I walked over to him, his body was perfectly still and splayed across the exam table, but his eyes were WIDE open. It was so freaky to look at. I asked, Jenny, the older nurse who was assisting if he was okay. She said yes, it was just the medicine taking effect. Then his eyeballs started to move around a little and his mouth was gaping open. I could only think...what if he's in this paralyzed state but is really screaming inside and he can't move? That's everyone's nightmare, right? I verbalized this and the nurse assured me that he wasn't scared and wouldn't remember this at all. I thought he was going to be in: EYES CLOSED, but they weren't. I didn't like it. Not one bit and I found hot tears brimming in my eyes. If only I had gone to get him off the table when I first saw him. I thought back to that split-second decision and I distinctly remember I didn't feel any urgency except to finish what I was headed to do and go back. Accidents happen, but still...I wish they didn't happen on my watch.

I sat down next to him in the chair (hospital policy) and rubbed his leg and foot under the blanket. He kind of twitched. I didn't want to disturb him but the nurse said that it would be comforting to him. Despite his very relaxed state, he still had Jared's office pen clutched in his right fist. Jenny didn't want him hurting himself with it and pried it from his fingers. Then she left the room and came back with a big white teddy bear and gave it to me to hold for when he woke up. I leaned forward on the bear to support me as I stretched to reach up and stroke JJ's little foot.

Dr. Schutt came in shortly after and got started. He asked if I had medical experience (when he was talking to me and Jared, Jared said he was a family practice PA and was familiar with the drug they'd be using to sedate JJ). I said, if so, it's only by association since Jared is the PA and his dad is also a physician.

The doctor examined JJ's mouth first. Despite the small chip in JJ's right front tooth, he said the front teeth felt solid, but that we'd probably want to follow up with the dentist to make sure there wasn't any trauma done to the permanent teeth in the fall. JJ's top two teeth cut his lip from the inside (you could see the teeth marks) however none of the cuts went completely through the tissue...thank goodness. JJ also gouged a small pencil-eraser-sized hole in his soft gum tissue below. The doctor even showed it to me. He hoped to suture it up though didn't know if it was critical to do so.

He stitched up JJ's chin first. Of course, because JJ hit the edge of the fireplace, it was an irregular cut. But it was closed with 7 stitches. JJ had another fairly straight line cut on the edge of his bottom lip...exactly where lip liner would go. I don't know how that happened, but he got 3 stitches there.

While discussing what happened, Nurse Jenny assured me that it wasn't my fault. This is just evidence of a very active, healthy little boy and that it probably wouldn't be my last trip to the ER. She reminded me to be grateful that he wasn't always sick and not able to do those things.

When the doctor found out I had 5 kids and JJ was the baby, he seemed pretty impressed. He said, "Wow, you certainly have it all figured out with that many kids." I responded somewhat cynically, "Obviously not if my baby is falling and hurting himself." He said, "Most parents are pretty upset and freaking out, you're very calm and in control and it makes a big difference to everyone here in the ER. Kids can pick up on that fear and high strung emotions." Okay, I'll give him that. I was fairly calm on the outside even though I was kicking myself on the inside.

While working on the inside of JJ's mouth (the doc did end up closing that small hole), JJ started to moan in pain. HOW? I was quietly alarmed by this. I guess the sedation only works over so much of the body. So the doctor administered some lidocaine to further numb the area.

Total stitch count: thirteen! More than his two other brothers combined. 13 stitches in 2013. No more!! And fortunately they are the dissolving stitches so we wouldn't have to hold him down to take them out.

Jared and Cooper came back in around 9:30pm to check out the repaired baby on the exam room table. And then Jared took Cooper home so he could get dinner and go to bed.

JJ slept for another 45 minutes until the medication wore off. I was happy to pick him up and cuddle with him while I watched a show on Food Network. I don't know if he was really asleep but he was dead weight in my arms as if he was. It was another 45 minutes before we were discharged.

In the rush to get out of the house earlier that afternoon, I neglected to grab coats. It was 11pm and freezing outside! Fortunately the teddy bear shielded JJ from some of the cold night air as I quickly half-walked, half-ran to the suburban. Thank goodness it warms up fast.

We got home around 11:30. Jared waited up for us. I'm so grateful he doesn't work Wed. mornings. It was such a blessing he didn't have to get up early. He held JJ, who, by this time was now wide awake, while I got something to eat. I drifted to sleep around midnight while JJ and Jared watched Blues Clues in our recliner in the family room. Jared brought JJ to our bedroom around 3am because when he tried laying JJ down, JJ would just cry. Considering all he had been through that day, Jared figured it would be okay for him to sleep with us just the one night.

Except he didn't sleep. He tossed and turned and kicked us. Somehow he fell asleep and SOMEHOW we managed to get up to get the first wave of kids off to school...even with chess club and jazz band. I had fallen asleep with JJ in the recliner again around 7:30. I vaguely remember Calvin getting up and hearing him eat at the bar and just couldn't open my eyes to save my life.

But all of a sudden, my eyes FLEW open. Calvin!! He had a field trip that morning. He was supposed to be at Century H.S. at 9:45. I grabbed my phone to check the time. It was 9:40!!!!!!

I jumped out of the rocking chair, sat JJ down who was startled awake, RAN through the house and tried to find Calvin and Jared. They were laying on our bed watching TV.

"JARED!! Calvin is supposed to be at school in 5 minutes for his field trip!!" I don't remember how it happened, but we silently and quickly went our separate ways--Jared worked on his lunch and I got Calvin dressed. Jared said he'd take him to school. They were going to OMSI and I would never forgive myself if Calvin missed going with his friends. I said a prayer that the teachers would be doing last minute things like putting kids in groups, etc. and that they truly weren't leaving on the bus at 9:45.

My prayers were answered. Jared came back about 20 minutes later without a crying Calvin so all was well!! I don't know what made me wake up when I did, but I said a prayer of gratitude about 7 times that day because of it.

I'm happy to report that less than 16 hours after his injury, JJ was back to climbing furniture. And smiling as if he had no concerns in the world!! It actually looks like he has two smiles :) It was also a big relief that JJ was not hindered at all in eating or drinking and has not seemed to suffer any other ill effects. I can't believe the sutures in his mouth didn't bother him and he was a real gem for not trying to pick out his stitches like Calvin did!

Obviously, my baby is scarred for life. Literally. But hopefully, over time, his chin will be all good like Harrison Ford's chin. Besides, chicks dig scars, right?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

New car tip

If ever you find yourself sitting in the Fred Meyer parking lot, in a car you purchased less than 36 hours prior and the anti-theft alarm all of a sudden starts going berserk, do the following:

1) smile and tell your teenager who is sliding down his seat to the floor in sheer embarrassment, "Yes, we are cool."

2) keep smiling so that all the people walking past you will think you totally planned the highly annoying, ear piercing debacle.

3) don't injure your thumb pushing the heck out of the panic button on the key doesn't work.

4) call your husband and ask him if HE knows how to shut the alarm off because you're trapped in his car and can't get out.

5) breathe a big sigh of relief when after 2 (really long) minutes, the shrieking of the horn desists all on its own.

6) DO NOT open your door or put your key in the ignition as this will take you right back to step 1.

7) tell your hubby how much you love him when he calls back to say he talked to a rep at the Honda dealer and he said to push the "unlock" button on the key fob and it works!

8) laugh when the rep from Honda calls you 30 seconds later to make sure you're okay.

9) don't concern yourself with how it happened, just with how to make it stop if it happens again.

10) once you've safely and quietly exited the vehicle, tell your teenager, "C' have to admit, that was pretty funny." :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Saying good-bye to an old friend

The time has come for our family to say good-bye to our one and only mini-van.

Less than two months after we moved to Michigan, Jared's car died. And we had to get another one. Fortunately, we found something that would do the trick and not break the bank as we had just started Jared's first master's degree and had NO source of income.

We were a little distraught when, about 6 months later, the car I was driving overheated to the point that it was in no condition to be driven while I had both little boys with me and was about 30 minutes away from home. I was at Kinkos doing something for the Primary Presidency. That's all I remember. That and the fact that we needed another vehicle and PDQ (pretty darn quick). Living in Michigan meant we were about 20-30 minutes minimum from where we needed to be...the university, the high school where Jared was a trainer for, our ward chapel. And Jared's hours working late with the sports teams were such that we had to have two vehicles. And no real transit system to speak of. We just couldn't do it with 1 vehicle. And I'll be the first to admit it. I didn't want to.

Turns out, Jared had just heard a day or two prior on the radio that there was a dealer in Plainwell, MI (not too far up the road from know, about 20-30 minutes :) that was running a special and would take a trade-in and give you $2, questions asked! That was HUGE to us since we had no liquid savings at all.

Would you believe they actually towed our non-working car from Kinkos to the dealer (a good 45-60 min. drive) for no charge?!

It was a no-brainer that we would want to invest in a bigger vehicle, like a van, to accommodate our growing family. But swallowing the pill of a much larger car payment would be tough.

There were 2 used mini-vans under $20,000. A navy blue one and a maroon one. Just on color alone, I wanted the blue one. We have had a red car, a purple car and a maroon car. That was my only hue of red But as the dealer guys were trying to do some number crunching for us with the blue van, we did a little exploring. The blue van, was a blueberry on wheels. Oh my lands. It was blue EVERY.THING! Blue vinyl, blue carpets, blue upholstery. It was a little much, truthfully. Then we took a look at the maroon van. The interior was at least a decent gray tone inside. As much as I didn't want another red vehicle, I didn't want to be singing the blues for the next ten years either. And...the maroon van, because it had more miles, was cheaper. *sigh*

So...we became the new owners of a maroon mini-van. (Jared promised me the next vehicle wouldn't be any color of red and he honored that promise :) Jared was hoping he could delay the purchase of a van until after he was 30 years old. But it was not to be. (I had to scan this picture in because it pre-dates our digital camera days and maybe there's a better way to get it to show up on the blog, but I'm lame, so it is what it is). That's our 3-year-old Jake standing there with Jared outside my in-laws' home in central Illinois a few weeks after we got the van.

This van is now 11 years old and the time has come for us to retire it and get a new car.

But what would we replace it with??

Having to fill two truck tanks is not exactly conducive for our budget at the moment. Not to mention we forgot about Jake needing a full case of braces in the next no dream truck for Jared this time. Maybe when we retire :)

But we obviously needed a vehicle with 7 seats so when Jared takes the suburban for youth outings or scout camp, etc. I could still haul the kids around in it. And...he was hoping for one that had more clearance underneath than the van and as much cargo room as possible behind the 3rd row so he could feel comfortable taking it hunting. Because yes, I did forbid him to throw a dead animal in the back of MY dream car. It would also need to be 4WD or AWD. A roof rack and towing package were also on our wish list.

We checked out two vehicles last weekend. First on Friday night on our way back from the temple and then Saturday night after Jared worked at the urgent care since those dealerships were fortunately open until 9pm. We were pretty smitten with the 2012 Hyundai Vera Cruz that had 700 miles on it and was loaded to the brim with extra options. It was also well below our price point. (The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is now becoming a 7 passenger vehicle and replacing the Vera Cruz model. Therefore, they are trying to get rid of them--they had 3 on the lot--and reduced them by $10,000.) It had everything we wanted and much, much more. It did feel more like a car, however. But even though he still had a Honda Pilot left to cross off the list, Jared said on Sunday that he was feeling like we should get the Vera Cruz and forget the Pilot. This vehicle purchase was Jared's baby, not mine, but I suggested he still look at the Pilot, otherwise, he would always wonder about it.

So that's what we did on Monday since the Beaverton Infiniti dealership closes super 7pm. As we approached the entrance, we felt extremely under dressed. And I was IN a dress! That was THEEE fanciest dealership I have ever set foot in. You know it's fancy when they offer you some coffee or a soda. (The waiting room had leather couches, a super large screen TV, a mini fridge with an assortment of canned sodas, a Keurig coffee maker with a variety of flavors and fresh baked pastries and cookies free for the taking!)  I was relieved when we left the building where the bathrooms are fancier than my own to go take a look at the Pilot. Interestingly enough they had two Pilots. Virtual twin vehicles for the exact same price. They were even the same color! One was a 2012 with 12,000 miles on it and the other was a 2011 with 26,000 miles. We test drove the 2012 since we would rather have the newer car with fewer miles. But when we returned to the lot, we discovered that a) it only had a hitch and b) no roof rails to get cross bars on for a car topper. We wondered why the 2011 was the same price, but older and more miles. We learned the reason is because it has the roof rails already, a towing package, in addition to a navigation system and back-up camera and sensors. The 2011 is the "Touring" edition and is 4WD.

The Pilot definitely had more cargo space behind the 3rd row seats and it sat much higher than the van or equivalent. Because it is more boxier in body style, it also feels more like a truck than a car.

While the sales lady was running our credit report Monday evening, we decided that the Pilot was the better fit for his needs and even though they would only give us $1500 for the van as a trade-in (figures), we reserved it with our credit card because we were waiting for a check to come.

Jared was chomping at the bit this week. He was afraid if we waited any longer the Pilot wouldn't be there even though we were assured it would be. I could understand his sense of urgency. He was so close, yet so far. The check still hadn't come yet, but we worked out an arrangement that the dealer was fine with. So yesterday afternoon, over Jared's lunch hour, our van was replaced with a 2011 Honda Pilot. Not Jared's dream truck, but a pretty good second option. A super fancy second option actually. (I was teasing him saying, "How come your non-dream car is fancier than my real dream car??" He deserves it though and at least I get to drive it every once in a while).

As Calvin and JJ and I walked past the van for the last time in the dealer parking lot, I was surprised how sentimental I was becoming over an old, tired car. But then I realized we've had this van for 10 years...almost as long as our 4 younger kids. Cooper was a baby when we got it. We've brought 2 babies home in this van and filled it with 4 before the suburban took over as the family bus. It brought our little family 2300+ miles from Michigan to Oregon in 2004 to seek a better life so Jared could attend PA school. It's been a good friend to us for all these years and has taken us so many wonderful places.

Above all, I was still moved by the gratitude I have felt all along...that the Lord was SO wonderful to us and  enabled a poor starving grad-student family to purchase a mini-van that we needed and would use for many years. And somehow, it worked with our budget.

A fun little twist in this story. Jared and I work with a gal named Kim at the office. She has also been wanting to upgrade her car to a bigger vehicle. Jared had mentioned the 2013 Santa Fe is now a 7 passenger vehicle and she was pretty excited about that. I told her about the new Vera Cruz and our test drive with it on Monday when I was at the office. She and her husband had already gone to the dealer to peek at the 5 passenger Santa Fe the same weekend we did since the 2013s aren't on the lots yet.

While we drive home from Beaverton Infiniti Monday night, I texted Kim and told her that we were going to get the Pilot instead, but that meant the Vera Cruz was still available. I told her to take a look at it and to make sure and ask for the sales guy we had. He did a good job.

Jared got a call Tuesday from the sales guy at Hyundai. Jared was kind of dreading telling him that we decided to go in another direction (it was sort of sad to walk away from a brand new vehicle--something Jared and I have never had--and a great price!). But when the guy knew it was Jared calling him back he said, "Hey Jared, I just wanted to thank you for sending your friends my way. They just drove off in their brand new Vera Cruz."