Monday, October 25, 2010

Mommy has a job!

Well...for those of you that don't know....I am officially back at my former school teaching Elementary Chapel.  It is GREAT to be back teaching God's Word to children!  I am getting such fulfillment.  The other joy is that Leona comes with me.  She is still adjusting to Mommy being unavailable when I am upfront teaching, but she is liking the interaction at school.  I plan all of my teaching from home, so I don't have to be away from Leona at all.  It is very part-time, but it is helping us financially! 

I am also tutoring every week a little 2nd grader in Math.  That is going really well too.  I do have to be away from Leona at this time of the week, but a little break for us is great.  PLUS...Ben watches her & has some one-on-one time with her!  It's great!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

She's on the Chart!

Well it has been a great 3 months with Leona's growth. 

In August she gained 9 oz. 
In September she gained 1# 9 oz. 
In October she gained 1# 3 oz. 
That's over 3#'s in 3 months!! YAHOO!!

This past month Leona received the Chicken Pox vaccine.  About a week later she got them all over.  It was very mild though.  She had a temperature for a few days, but the spots did not itch or scab!  Of course this did slow down her eating for about a week!

Leona had a great winter last year---sickness wise.  She only got a few very mild colds, which just consisted of some runny noses & some stay at home days.  Our pediatrician thinks she might be more susceptible this winter, so she got a flu-shot this week too!

Leona was reviewed by 2 Occupational therapists from First Steps.  First Steps is a local organization that helps evaluate & give therapy to developmentally challenged kids under the age of 3.  Leona is doing great in development except for eating.  They will be coming Friday to help make a home plan to teach me how to encourage her eating.  She has been doing really well lately, eating a lot more, however the vomiting has become more frequent!

We met with Leona's Pediatric Developmental Specialist today!  It went really well.  Since Leona has had some vomiting reoccurring lately do to a higher volume of food, she has suggested an Upper Gastro-intestinal scan with a GI specialist. This has been an option for awhile, but has been put off trying to wait out her growth.  We feel it is time to check this.  We thought it would be more invasive, but it will just be a little more detailed than the swallow study.  Hopefully Leona will take the special drink this time without a fight though!!!

We appreciate your continued prayers for our family. We are encouraged with her recent progress! Thanks for checking in with us!  We would love to hear an update from you & your family!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Uninvited Guest!

Leona started showing signs of a fever last Thursday with a runny nose.  She is teething 2 top teeth so we just thought it was that.  Then, I thought maybe she was starting a sinus infection because my allergies were terrible, so I began giving her Benadryl on a regular basis.

Friday & Saturday were miserable for her.  Her fever reached 101 & she just wanted to cuddle all the time...which anyone who knows her knows that she is always too busy for cuddling!   Soon vomitting followed the fever, as well as several baths to keep it under control.  Ben was supposed to be on-call, but ended up getting done early to help me with her, especially since I had been at ECA every day that week.

Sunday morning she woke-up with a slight rash on her face.  About a 1/2 hour later I began to put some things together.  A little over a week before she had gotten the chickenpox vaccine.  I had heard of several people that had gotten them from the vaccine, so I began checking her body.  Sure enough...she was covered!  I couldn't believe it!

I am praising the Lord though! She shows no signs of itching!  I can't imagine trying to tell a strong-willed young toddler not to scratch them!  Her fever has been gone since Sunday too.  Really it's just an ugly, annoying rash now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Making Laundry Soap


Well in another endeavor to save our family money, I started making my own laundry soap.

Who ever thought I would be a cloth diapering, homemaker who made her own laundry soap??

 It worked out great & to think that I will spend about 60 cents for 64 loads of laundry!

Did you do the math? That's less than 1 cent a load!!!! WOW!

Here is my recipe for a DOUBLE BATCH---4 gallons: (based on The Family Homestead site where you can find the single batch recipe)
2/3 bar Zote, grated
9 cups water
1 cup Borax (20 Mule Team found in the laudry aisle)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda; found at Super Wal-Mart, Meijer and Kroger)
8 cups HOT water
3 gallons (12 qts.) water
optional: 1 oz. essential oils (any scent from lavendar, lemon, rosemary, to tea tree)
Zote is a laundry bar of soap.  I found it at a regular Wal-Mart in the laundry section on a bottom shelf.  You can also use Fels Naptha.  Zote is a larger bar of soap & stronger in my opinion.

Borax you can find at Wal-Mart, Kroger or Meijer, again in the Laundry section.

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda is a little more tricky to find.  I found it at our local Meijer & Super Wal-Mart. Most people say they have to order it online. would have it too!  Be careful!  This is NOT baking soda or Arm & Hammer's detergent baking soda.  Refer to the picture!

 Put the grated Zote bar into the pan.  Add the 9 cups of water.  Warm & stir until all of the soap has melted really well. Measure out the other ingredients while you wait so they are ready to go.

Add the cups of Borax & Super Washing Soda.  Stir unti dissolves (not long).

I use a canning pot for the rest of the recipe.  You can use one of those big buckets from Lowe's if you want!  Add 8 cups of HOT water.  (I warmed mine in the microwave & had it ready to go)  Stir really well to the large pot or bucket. Pout the laundry soap mix to the pot or bucket. Stir well.

Add 3 gallons of water to the large pot or bucket. I typically use warm water so that my soap doesn't get too thick while I am pouring.

Use a funnel to pour the detergent into old detergent bottles or water jugs.  You could just use the big bucket to dish it out of, but I wanted something more handy.  The consistency is like sloppy, thick JELL-O.  Just shake the bottle before you pour.  You'll want to use 1/2 cup per load.  (HE or front loader washers will use 1/4 cup---that's 1 cent per 2 loads!)  For dirtier loads I use a little more and for smaller loads I use a little less.

Here is my finished product, minus another gallon water jug.  The smaller containers and jars are for friends to try.  A lot of people were so interested in how well I liked it!

I have to say that I really like it so far.  There are no chemicals to worry about.  It is all natural.  I will use Oxyclean FREE with a few loads that need a little extra whitener.  You can find a brightner recipe here. The main ingredient in Oxyclean is peroxide! My girlfriend uses 1/2 peroxide and 1/2 white vinegar.  She uses peroxide to clean her carpets too!

I thought about adding some essential oils to the recipe because I love fresh smelling laundry, but I use fresh smelling liquid softner from Melaleuca, so I didn't bother.  My first load I tried it with bath towels...the true test.  We'll see how long they stay smelling nice!  So far, so good!  My whites were great!  I am not seeing any changes in my clothes, either!!

UPDATE: I am now on my second batch & loving it.  My batch lasted from Sept to February for my family of 3!  I love it. I think I will try the oils this time.  You CAN'T use this on cloth diapers, so that is a bummer.  I use Trader Joe's & Oxi Clean FREE for those special loads.

NEWEST UPDATE: I've been making my own laundry soap for nearly 3 years. I am still loving it! You can find some helpful tips here.

A friend of mine uses this recipe:
4 Cups - hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax
4 gallons + 12 cups water
Once you start making your own laundry soap, it is a slippery soap to make tons of homemade cleaners!  I will be posting those I have tried on my blog too!  Thanks to those that have shared in this experience and encouraged me in this adventure! Love ya Krista!

If you try it, you have to let me know what you think--- LEAVE A COMMENT!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Praying for a Job!

Would you join us in praying for a job for Rachael? We are really hoping to find a tutoring, babysitting, or part-time job to bring a little more income for our family. She has been subbing since last year & has actually been called in already! That is a praise! We are praying for something more scheduled so we can count on it as a monthly income. We are praying that this will be something that can be done from home, uses her talents & abilities with teaching & that would not require too much time from our family! Pray for His direction!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hitting the 15 lb. mark at 14 months!

We are so thrilled to report that Leona has had her biggest weight gain month EVER! I am sure you could tell from my last posting that I was pretty frustrated by everything! The Lord is so good! He doesn't always give us positive situations to deal with in life, but He is ALWAYS GOOD!

I took Leona to get her weight checked & the scale said 15# 12oz. I had to think back to her appt with the specialist. I was thinking she was 14# 10oz, but that couldn't be right...over a # in one month!??!?! When I got home I checked the dr. sheet from Riley' was 14# 5oz.!!!!! I couldn't believe it! That's 1# 7 oz! I was SHOCKED! She hasn't gained over a few onces a month since like 10 mos.!!

What helped? She was switched from her 25 calories per oz. formula to a 30 calories per oz. Pediasure equivalent only with soy, called Bright Beginnings. She has also had a fat supplement called Duocal! It seems to boost her drive to eat, plus adds a lot of calories per day to her diet. These changes, plus lots of bologna, grapes & green beans!!

Our 14 mos. old is all over the place. She is learning to pick up her bath toys so Mommy can put them away & how to put her dirty clothes in the laundry. She is still working on the "Bring it to Mommy" or "Bring it to Daddy" when she has something she wants to play with!

I am really working on my tone with her. It is so easy for us to raise our voice to get obedience! She likes to test the waters; she has since a very young age, so it is sometimes difficult to keep a quiet, firm tone! LORD change me!

These are some pictures of our trip to St. Joseph Michigan!

Here is Leona playing in the back yard!

Thanks for keeping up-to-date with us!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Crabby Child at the Hospital

Today Leona went in for a swallow study at Memorial Hospital of South Bend. The pediatric specialist wanted to check & make sure she wasn't having any intake issues that were causing her small stature.

A Swallow Study is basicly a moving x-ray that shows the movement of food as it is being swallowed. They check to make sure that it is not going into the airways instead.

Leona could not eat 2 hours prior to her test. Of course she did not want to eat upon waking up this morning, when she was allowed to. She drank about 1 oz. & decided she was done. When we arrived at the Radiology department, they said it would only be a few minutes... I should have known hospital time a little better than that! Of course we waited about 30 min. because the therapist had not even shown up yet! At least it wasn't the 2 hour wait that we waited for the MRI at EGH.

After waiting that long to eat, she was not very pleasant; not to mention nap time was too close for comfort.


She screamed most of the time! They had to put a liquid on the food for her to eat so it would show on the x-ray. She did not like it! If she saw the white stuff on her food, she refused it. Ben had to sit in the chair for her to stay even remotely calm! It took over an hour for about 60 sec. of recording.

The therapist asked a lot of questions! She noticed that Leona does not chew her food, but mainly swallows things whole. She asked about her eating habits & suggested maybe she has sensory issues with textures. She also said that we should not feel bad for her still being on the bottle & not moving toward all cup because her biological age & her eating/weight age are not the same. The focus needs to be on her gaining weight. Of course all of these comments are based on this crabby child she saw for about an hour.

After all the trauma, both Ben & I were feeling some frustration. She passed the test, but what now?


We talked through the possiblity of her having texture issues & we wonder if this is even a possibility. We have had this brought up by several friends prior to all of this. She loves feeling things. She doesn't mind getting messy. She eats foods with a lot of texture like hamburger meat, grapes & broccoli. She used to eat more pureed foods like baby food, but as soon as she had finger foods, she didn't want anything I fed her. She will refuse foods she doesn't want & there is no forcing her either. Anything sweet is pretty much out too! So is that a texture issue or merely a picky, stubborn child? We think it is the later b/c she is a strong willed child. Right now as I write this she is in her highchair playing in soy yogurt, eating grapes, hamburger & deli ham while watching Baby Signing Time!

Before Ben left for work, he gave me a long hug as I cried a little. Sometimes I am just so tired of all the doctor appt's, struggles of getting her to eat, & the wondering what to do! Ben assured me that she is normal, just small. I continue to be on the other side of something is wrong, just what?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vacation in Ohio

We just got back from 1 1/2 weeks of vacation with the Strickland family. We were so blessed in renting a pastor's lake house on Lake Seneca. It is a private lake, about 1 1/2 hours from Elkhart. It was very quiet & peaceful. We actually found out later that we knew the pastor's neice & nephew-in-law (if that's a word :) from our church & ECA (Rach's former employer).

The best day of the whole week was Sunday afternoon. The Thigpen's, Strickland's & Highlander's from Norwalk, Ohio joined us for our own church service. Ethan, Ben's brother, played some powerful worship songs for us all to sing together. All of the men shared some significant passages that they had been studying. We are so blessed. Ben's Mom also shared a psalm that she had been memorizing. It was a great reminder of God's grace & the joy of being a part of such a godly family. The time together was so sweet. As I looked around the whole group I realized how many things we have all faced over the past few years. There is always something God is doing to work on this family.

"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial, for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

Leona loved being with family. She loved eating breakfast with Gma & Gpa, while Mommy slept in!! She loves the water, too! She loves splashing & kicking her legs. She also discovered playing in the sand. Anytime we have been to Lake Michigan the sand has been too hot for her to play in, so she loved getting dirty & filling the frisbee up with sand & dumping it on her head!

At the end of our trip we traveled to Cedarville, Ohio to see Ben's Grandpa Jindra (his Mom's Dad), Aunt Nancy & cousin Christina. We were also able to visit the gravesites of Ben's 2 uncles (Tim passed away in 2006; Danny in 2010) & his Grandma Jindra (died in 1993). It was short, but good to see family that we don't get to see very often!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leona's Lovely Bows Hits the Web!

I have started my own website for Leona's Lovely Bows n' Things! You'll find it at

You'll always find this blog button on the left hand side of our blog. Just click & it will take you directly to my new site! I am still working on it, so come back for more listings!

You can also add this blog button to your blog or website. Check out my button grabs at the bottom of this blog

Riley's Children's Hospital with Leona

We were at another doctor's appointment today, only the 6 hour round trip in the car made it all the more interesting! Leona actually enjoyed the whole trip! She barely fussed, which is not normal for such a long time in 1 day.

We met with Dr. Stanley. She spent 2 HOURS with us! We really felt listened too! She confirmed that Leona's regular pediatrician, Dr. Wendy, was doing everything right! We guessed this all along, but it was great to hear that out loud from a pediatric developmental specialist.

Dr. Stanley's first step will be to look at how she intakes food. She has ordered a Feed Study. This is basically when the doctor's x-ray her while she eats & drinks. She also wants to have a pediatric specialist review her recent MRI. All in all, she feels there is definite concern to watch her growth carefully! Her length to weight ratio is not well balanced. Due to this concern we met with the dietician for ways to beef up her calories. We will be changing her to a Pediasure equivalent only with Soy.

We are praying that we will be able to do the Feed Study here in South Bend, but the dr. only approves of 1 dr. up here to do it. Otherwise, we will be traveling the trip twice in the next 2-3 months!!

The ups & downs of 2009 have continued into 2010, but we are so thankful for God's faithfulness in our lives! We are truly thankful for His peace & provision. Not only are all of Leona's medical bills taken care of, but He has provided a tutoring job equalling over $300 the past 2 weeks, several Leona's Lovely Bows orders, an on-call pay check for Ben, a free gift card for our anniversary meal on Friday & some free cash from Ben winning the Biggest Loser contest at work---losing 20 lbs. in 6 weeks! Need I say more?

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Long Day at the Hospital

Well on Friday we spent over 3 hours at the hospital with Leona!

Leona was scheduled for an MRI at 10 AM. We arrived & signed in! We got to the radiology department waiting room. After waiting about 10 min. we were off to a waiting room.

We were nervous at how all this was going to go. I mean, how in the world do they keep a little 1 year old still for a MRI?? Well...they knock them out!! We kept her busy walking the little hallway until they were ready for us. Many patients loved watching her Be-bop around the hall!

She got MANY comments like...
"Oh how cute!"
"She is so little!"
"She is such a happy baby!"

After 2 1/2 hours of waiting we were ready for the sedation process. They gave me the oral sedation medicine to give her. She was so good! She just sucked it down for Mommy & Daddy! In about 10 min. she was snoring away!

The MRI process went well. She did twitch for 1 test that they had to re-do. Even asleep she doesn't sit still!!! HA! Afterwards she was still zonked. It took about an hour to get her up enough for the nurses to check her so we could finally leave!

SO---I am sure you are wondering if we got results. I called the pediatrician's office this morning. The nurse said that the dr. had written an exclamation point & NORMAL MRI

We are just praising the Lord for His goodness to us! Now--we just have to face the trip to Riley's July 14.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Leona turns 1

It is hard to believe that Leona is now a year old. This year has been full of some many things, so I guess it feels like a year, it just surprises me how much she has grown up. This Friday will be exactly 1 year that we brought her home from the hospital & it is very humbling.

We took her to McDonald's for the first time today. She DEVOURED the hamburger, leaving just a lonely bun! It was the first time she ever ate a french fry, too. She would rather eat the meat...our little meat hound!

Psalm 127:3 says, "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him."

We know & believe this. We are so humbled to be parents & pray that God would give her a desire to know Him & serve Him with all of her heart.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What plans, LORD??

"For I know the plans I have for you..." (Jeremiah 29:11a)
God certainly has plans for all of us, but sometimes we get into the "fog" of life & wonder what He is doing? Often, I feel this comes before a big change.

Before Leona was conceived I felt the same way. I remember sitting in my car with my sister-in-law, Alissa, telling her that I felt like God was doing something. Little did I know that a few mos. later I would be meeting with a powerful group of women who would pray for a little one into our life & then 6 mos. later we would be praising God for the miracle of life!!

God has been so faithful to us. Both Ben & I landed jobs in Elkhart right out of college. I had the most wonderful position at a great christian school! Gotta pay back those loans somehow!! He blessed us into a house the next year. He has healed my migraines & my back after 2 stretches of unpleasant health issues! Maybe I should explain miracles here...just His providential acts...God using normal situations to work out His plan (thanks Pastor Schloegel for that theology lesson :)!!

Our little family has changed...MAJORLY since then. Not only do we have a child now that takes so much work & time, but I am a SAHM (stay at home Mom). I have also started my own business called "Leona's Lovely Bows n' Things" with making little girl hairbows & hair clips, which may just end up being a hobbie at this point!!?!??! We'll see as eBay hasn't really taken off like I hoped, but I just have so much fun doing it!!!!

On top of my life changes, Ben is working on-call over some weekends. This is his first weekend & he has had TONS of calls. He was busy from about 8-12 pm last night. Today has been pretty frequent too!! Ben is definitely ready for a change when God brings it. He gets so frustrated to get paid so little for doing such a huge job!!

So I am back to my ? What plans, LORD?? "...plans to prosper you & not harm you, plans to give you a hope & a future." (Jeremiah 29:11b) BRING IT ON, LORD!!