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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Girls Room Budget Makeover

(Before)  Misc. pictures, clutter in shelf and on dresser.

(After) I bought the photo frames at IKEA (9.99 each) and each girl has 3 of their own pictures in them.  I purchased the wooden letters to their names at Jo Ann's with coupons (under 10 dollars).  My sister-in-law gave me ribbon so that was free.  I staple gunned the ribbon to the back of the letters and then hung them up under their pictures.  I purchased two white shelves at IKEA (9.99) each and Mark hung them up for me.  I put cute decor that we already had on each shelf.  I cleaned out the shelf and the dresser.  Grace got a new comforter given to her by my cousin Shauna and the cute fairy pictures also came from my cousin.  Bella's purple bedding set I purchased at Target on clearance for 14.99.  It will also work when she transitions to a toddler bed. 
(After).  Not much change, but I did hang up my favorite clock, clean out the bins, organize the green cart and move the baby monitor.  I also took down some wall stickies from over the door way.

(After) This just shows a better view of the girls names and pictures.  I reduced down to one lamp and sadly packed my classic Winnie the pooh lamp away. Sniff, sniff.  I reduced the clutter and I am happy with how the names and pictures turned out.  I would like to add some vinyl when I get a chance to visit with my sister in law.  That will be the finishing touch I think.
(Before) The curtains matched but really gave the room a dark feeling.
(After)  I purchased these curtains at IKEA (14.99) and I LOVE the way they make the room feel.  It feels airy and light and more open.  You can see both the fairy pictures in this picture (thanks again Shauna).  I also purchased a butterfly curtain rod (white) to hang these adorable curtains on. I got it at Target (17.99).  I decluttered the shelf unit and I am quite happy with the way the room feels.  I purchased some butterflies at the dollar store I would like to use as accents on the curtains and wall.  Aside from the vinyl touches, I am finished with the room.  Grace especially LOVES it!  So for about 80 dollars the room got a face lift, and really good cleaning :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Discouraged...but still fighting

Sometimes when it pours.  This was true this past week.  The week started typical...Monday morning errands and such.  What the rest of the week would entail, would be absolutely unbelievable.  Through the process of researching Luke's most current IEP, I discovered that the school district was not providing services listed on Luke's IEP.  He had been missing 45 minutes of services per week.  Not only was this a HUGE oversight by the school district, it is illegal.  Luke is entitled to a free and appropriate education and they failed to provide that.  The director of special education is involved now and I am seeking restitution for the missed services and service time for Luke. 

This situation leaves such a bad tasted in my mouth.  I entrusted my son into their care.  I even spent time talking with the staff at the school before I enrolled him to let them know my concerns, thoughts and apprehensions.  They broke that trust and now I feel that I have to check and double check just to make sure Luke is getting his services and they are doing their jobs. I just always feel like I am fighting and fighting and fighting. If I let my guard down for one minute, I feel that something horrible might happen.

This situation has caused me to question everything.  Education, special education, IEP's, what really is important in the education of a child.  I am left feeling empty, confused and sad.  It even makes me wonder why we have special education when staff doesn't care to read or follow the IEP (Individualized Education Plan).  It is absolutely disappointing.  I think was is the most frustrating for me is that the school district and teachers were cheating my son, Luke, out of what was legally and rightfully his.  Really!!! They are messing with my baby.  He has been through so much, and to now to have those that are supposed to be protecting, educating him and helping him, not even follow through makes this mama MAD (to say the very least).

On the home front...I am really missing Mark.  He is gone a lot and I am left to ease the feelings and actions of 3 little people who miss him dearly.  When Mark was home this week, it seemed everything and everybody was just pulling him away from spending a few minutes together.  His phone would ring (a friend), his phone would ring (friend from work)...van had a leaky tire, the neighbor needed his help, the neighbor needed advice, the church needed him to go down to the bank to sign some papers for something, etc, etc...

To top it off, the one night we had together with him home this week Bella got sick.  Of course, Friday night, she would not be feeling well.  She wouldn't go to sleep and had difficulty staying asleep. Up at 11pm, up at 2am, up for the day at 4am.  I knew right away she had an ear infection.  Got up Saturday (well waited for Urgent Care to open) and took her to the doctor.  DOUBLE EAR INFECTIONS.  The doctor said her ears were bright red and bulging.  This is her 4th ear infection in less than a year.  I think we have ear tubes in her future.  It might be time to call Dr. Wilson.  Ughh.  My poor baby.  Mark's train was called when Bella and I were still at the doctors, so we missed spending time with him again.  Thankful for both Grandma and Mimi, who stopped by today. 

Tonight I was supposed to get to go to a girl's night...a night off.  I had a babysitter and was really looking forward to grown-up conversation and a time to vent, laugh and not have responsibility for a couple of hours.  But..due to the ear infections it didn't happen.  I really needed that break too.  Oh well..Bella needs me and I am where I am supposed to be...but I can feel disappointed.  Another time.

So that is my fantastic week in a nutshell.  I am believing next week will be better.  Despite all the difficulties I am thankful for so many things...a home, my children, my husband, a place where I can access medical care for my child on a Saturday, friends that care and grandmas and Mimi's that stop in and help out.  Tonight I am thankful to the doctor who prescribed numbing ear drops for my baby, so that for the first time in 4 nights I will be able to get some sleep in my bed and not sitting in a rocking chair.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Latest On Luke

Everyone is so great about checking up on Luke and asking how he is.  I really love that so many people care about this little guy!  I thought I would share a little update about how he is doing medically.

Luke had an appointment in early September at Casey Eye.  I didn't blog about it at the time because I felt I had been writing so much about Casey Eye that we all just needed a break.  That day in September I had to go up there by myself (Mark was working the new schedule) and it is always anxiety inducing for me to go without a support person.  The news was good from the appointment.  Luke's latest visual field test was much better than the previous two.  The doctor did emphasize that his vision field tests were still NOT normal, but much better than what we saw earlier this year.  It still does not explain the million dollar question about what is causing these issues?  Luke still takes his eye drops faithfully each night, and we again got a referral to a specialist (but one that we have seen before).  We are going back to Legacy Emmanuel to the genetics department.  Off to see Dr. Antiodiotis.  The doctors are curious if there is a genetic connection between all of Luke's medical issues.  In fact, Dr. Edmunds (Luke's glaucoma doctor) said she began thinking of the genetic component after something I had said.  "ME", I said something that made a doctor think.  It really is true what they say "Mother's know their children best." 

Now Dr. Edmunds is talking about CAT scans and MRI's which I am NOT eager to jump on that boat with her.  Every doctor we encounter is always curious about Luke's microcephaly.  They are curious to take a look inside the head/brain.  CURIOSITY my friends is not a valid reason in my book to have Luke undergo another procedure.  Give me a medical issue/reason why they think it is necessary and we can talk, but for the sake of just looking....come on...I DON'T think so. And it is not like it will change his course of treatment. 

Luke got a new pair of blue glasses that he picked out all by himself.  He was so proud about it!  We are still using the iLs to help with the auditory processing issues and also attending OT weekly.  He is making great strides with his handwriting, and is doing well in school. 

Luke seems to be doing a bit better with Mark's weird schedule.  At times it is more difficult than at others.  I just keep reminding him that it won't be forever.  He is a big help around the house when he wants to be.  Other times....well...not so much.  He is a big help with Isabella and will mostly do what I ask of him.

Overall, I feel things are going well with Luke.  I have moved past the frantic feelings of needing to know everything that is wrong with him.   I have PEACE.  And even though I still don't have all of the answers to his eyes, I am daily "letting go" of my expectations and worries for the future and thanking God that Luke is doing so well, that he is an awesome reader, good speller and has made some friends at school this year.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What the World Needs....

What the world needs....less talk about the economic crisis and more commitment to good oral hygiene.  (How many kids can we get brushing their teeth at once?!?) :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Life with Coupons...

Someone asked me today if I was an "extreme couponer."  I had to laugh and say "no".  While I do not coupon to the extremes of some, I do enjoy saving money on products my family uses daily.  It has been nearly a year since I was bitten by the coupon bug.  They say it only takes one money saving transaction and you will get hooked.  Well...that was true for me ;)  My first experience with coupons regarded saving money on diapers.  After I scored a package of diapers for free....I was hooked!  With all the publicity regarding the TLC show "Extreme Couponing", I thought I would share what "Extreme Couponing" looks like in the Dahl House. 

Can anyone say FREE??? Yes, today I scored all this for FREE.  These are on products that we use.  And to be honest....I really didn't do anything that special.  Between the stores Rite Aid and Safeway I got these items free.  Each week I buy the Sunday papers, file them in my system, and watch my favorite 3 blogs for the deal match-ups.  I find what I want, cut the coupons and shop.  :)

I have no special rooms to store my stockpile.  Just some space in the garage (thank you Mark), and chest freezer.  And by "Extreme Couponing" standards, my stockpile isn't really one at all.  I am proud of it though.  It is perfect for us.  I really enjoy couponing because it is something I can do to contribute to the family and help with finances even thought I am not working.  It leaves me feeling frugal, happy, and prepared.

 This is my one white cupboard...I keep it stocked with soup, boxes of pasta, peanut butter, salad dressing and other fun stuff.

 The bottom part is filled with health and beauty items and cleaning supplies, shampoo and body wash.  I will never pay for dental floss again.  I enjoying knowing I have plenty of toothpaste, razors, hand sanitizer and deodorant.  It is convenient for Mark who is traveling a lot to just go out to the laundry room storage and pick out what he needs.  It is even better to know it was purchased at a stock up price!

 This is my laundry soap collection.  As you can see we like Tide!  It's not a lot but was purchased cheaply and we have plenty. 

 This is my one shelf crammed between the wall and the water heater :) The top shelf contains paper products, the next one has all my cereal.  I have stocked up on 20 boxes of cereal the kids like.  Each box was purchased for 1.25 or less.  This shelf  also contains boxes of oatmeal.  The next shelf is the baby shelf (formula, diapers, wipes, bottle liners, toddler food).  The bottom shelf has all the bottled drinks (water, poweraid, juice, pop, etc.)

Finally my chest freezer that is stocked with all sorts of things that were purchased at rock bottom prices.  Bread, pizzas, strawberry puree from June to make jam when it is winter, hot dogs, meat, Popsicles, etc.

So there you have it..... a little example of one stay-at-home mama's way to contribute to her family, use coupons, be prepared and provide for her munchkins.  I heart couponing!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Change has come...

My days are filled with activities that revolve around those 3 precious blessings shown above. 

Luke has settled into the school routine...finally...and I am happy to report that he is enjoying school and even has been making friends.  He comes home from school eager to do his homework (which is usually a fun activity that the teacher sends like bingo, or word scrambles).  We continue to be impressed with his teachers' knowledge and instruction for kids with special needs like Luke.  Thursdays are still therapy days at Legacy Salmon Creek.  He enjoys the one-on-one time with his therapist, Joy.  I enjoy the support she gives me as Luke's mom.  It is truly a partnership...a partnership, a delicate balance, a well choreographed dance, between therapists, teachers, doctors and specialists that help Luke excel.  I can report I honestly feel settled and have made PEACE with his health diagnosis'.  I continue to advocate for him, making sure that the school is doing all they can for Luke and that he is receiving the services noted.  He is also in level 2 for swimming lessons (which we all attend once per week).  He is more confident in the water, and truly seems like he belongs in that class.

Princess Grace is happy at school.  She has a gazillion friends, enjoys music, library and hot lunch... and oh yes...the MONKEY BARS.  She comes home each day and reports to me her monkey bar successes and failures.  "Mom today I did the monkey bars backwards."  "Mom, today I couldn't do the monkey bars." :) It is so funny to me that EVERY book she has brought home from the school library has been mainly pink in color, Barbie or Hannah Montana.  Too funny.  She cracks me up.  Her teacher adores her, and the feeling is reciprocated by Grace.  Although she is struggling in reading, I have chosen not to take on the guilt, and be grateful and thankful that a reading program is available to her each day and that it just a FREE service they are offering to her.  She has been begging me to return to dance class.  I am thinking on that one.  I want to support her interests, but at the same time have to make sure that we can commit fully to the activity.  Grace is taking swimming lessons once a week too.  She is in level 1.

Isabella is growing up.  She is witty and independent and has a temper!  She is saying more words daily like "poon" (for spoon) and "g-g" (grace) and "woo-woo" (for Luke). She is obsessed with her shoes, feeding herself independently and brushing her teeth (as long as you run the water for her and she can play in it!)  Sometimes I look at her and she just warms my heart so much.  What a daily blessing and reminder of God's incredible love!  She too is in swimming lessons with me (parent and tot level).  Yes, I am that crazy.

I am surprised how content and happy.  I am filling my days with activities that revolve around the kids.  I am not stressed with the daily happenings of work, or caught up in drama that can be consuming.  I have time to cook, clean, organize and coupon.  Sometimes my only worries for the day are finding new (or slightly used) shoes for Bella, or running a juice box up to one of my children at school for their lunches.  After my summer of worry and stress about working, I am happy...I am at peace...I am doing exactly what it is I am supposed to be doing. 

While this happiness is so wonderful, it hasn't come with out CHANGE.  Mark is now working what the railroad refers to as "THE ROAD".  He is traveling with the trains.  If you want a good idea about what it is that Mark does watch the movie Unstoppable with Denzel Washington.  Mark is a conductor and when he travels with the trains it is consider "his train."  He rides with an Engineer (who drives the train), but Mark is responsible for the communication to dispatch, and all the stops and moves the train makes.  More specifically...he is traveling to Pasco, Washington and back.  I am not going to lie...the money is good.  The schedule on the other hand STINKS.  Mark's schedule is basically...he doesn't have one.  It has been an adjustment...most difficult for Luke (who thrives on schedules).  It bothers him to not know when dad is coming or going.  I have tried my best to ease this transition, but in the world of special needs, sometimes you can't and you just have to deal.  That is kind of where we are.  I let the waves of sadness wash over him, and then I pick him back up (so-to-speak) and we move on.  We do whatever we had planned for the day, all while validating his feelings and thoughts about how much he doesn't like dad going to Pasco (which he will voice often).  Pray for him if you have the chance.  We all would appreciate it.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And the winner IS...... sweet cousin Sarah Rufener!!!! Your Fall Bag will be on the way to you tomorrow when me and Miss B take a trip to the post office.

Sorry it took me awhile to around the DAHL house has been crazy to say the least as we all adjust to Mark's new work schedule (which is really no schedule at all). :)

Much to share and many pictures to put up.
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