Thursday, December 26, 2013

Trident Cases

Be wary of  Their products can be very faulty and they do NOT stand behind them.  I have one on my phone and thought it worked, so why not order one for the Vizio tablet.  Well, it burned up the tablet and now it won't stay on.  Trident finally, though I had to insist, refunded the money for the case after I sent it back.  But, they will do nothing for ruining a $200 tablet!  All they can say is that they are trying to replicate the issue.  Right.  I bet.  They don't really care is the truth.  They don't even return emails.  They're automated email says 1-3 days, but the truth is they have NEVER emailed me unless I call them.  Their customer service truly lacks!

Buyer beware.

Christmas 2013

The kids didn't get anything extravagant, but they got pretty much everything on their lists and I think they enjoyed it.  We decided to not rush Christmas this year by trying to run too many places and stayed home on Christmas Eve.  We went to mass, which lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes.  I think it almost killed Jaemin.  He was really struggling to control himself for so long.  He just kept asking how many songs were left, but they sang everything at this church, so he counted everything.

We came home and made their favorite snack food Christmas.  We had smokies, shrimp, wings, donuts, cinnamon rolls and whatever else.  Each one got to pick a food for us to buy.  Then we watched Elf for a bit.  They opened all their presents and just played the rest of the night.  Jaemin was pretty excited Santa would bring him a Pororo table from Korea.  And he really liked the Monster Truck Great Grandma W got him.  Cole was pretty practical this year and got lots of things for hunting, his car, etc.  Chase has a drawer full of hoodies now, so he should be in good shape.  Kaelin is full up on clothes and accessories.  Chelsi got tons of shoes and finally got a boy doll for her Barbies.  She now has Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.  I actually got a present this year.  Brian saw my mirror that had broken a few years ago and got me a brand new mirror.  Just a simple little hand mirror, but I finally got a new one.  All in all I averaged out to my budget of $100 per kid.  I tried to work as many ebates, Kohls cash or whatever reward I could find into everything.  So after Christmas, I should have a decent little check coming.

I think they're all worn out now....just fairly quietly playing Wii.  We did do what a coworker told me to try.  We put no labels on the gifts from mom and dad and they each just opened a gift and had to decide who's gift it really went to.  Fairly easy until we got to hair accessories.  We got it though.  You can tell from some of their faces, these were not their gifts.  :)

Here are their own gifts.

And each other's gifts.

Then they played.

We got to go to both of their grandma's houses on Christmas Day and cousin E and uncle B came in from NY.

The pictures of E and grandma kissing cracked me up.  He started out smiling in the one and then looked at her out of the corner of his eyes.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Last Daycare Program

for Jaemin

So cute.  He had to read a Christmas story to the other kids with the other 5 year old, then they sang songs and even bowed.  Jaemin played a lumberjack cutting down the little trees in one song and it was silly cute!

Oh, and last weekends snow.  Well, it wasn't much, but Jaemin had a blast while his brothers and sister and dad shoveled.  He's happily eat it or make a snow ball and nail Cole with it.  He thought he was cool stuff!

Heart Update

Cole had his annual today.  We're starting to prepare, but there's still no for sure of when he'll get repaired or what they'll do.  He hasn't had an MRI since 2011, so Dr. R said he wants it in 2014.  After asking a little more about what happens after that, he decided it would be best to do it earlier, rather than later.  He's going to call tomorrow after talking to the cath specialist and then we need to have a list of Wednesdays we're available to drive to the hospital (2+ hours away).  It's obviously an all day thing.  No stress test this time though.  He said there's still a chance he could qualify for the Melody Valve.  It's only been out for about 4-5 years and they've been using it for 1+.  There's no lifetime on the valve yet since it's not been out long enough to know yet.  That's what he's discussing with the team tomorrow.  He's going to compare today's echo/ekg with last years, but he didn't think there was a great difference.  There's still a chance Cole can go another year without his pulmonary valve since he's not seeing any changes yet and not feeling any signs or symptoms of heart failure yet.  However, MRIs are the better gauge for failure of his right ventricle.  Obviously his right is still enlarged.  That will not go away until the valve is put in.  It's still that fine balance between waiting long enough so you don't have to put the heart through unnecessary surgeries and not waiting so long that the muscle's not repairable, which is when you could run the risk of critical failure needing a transplant.  It's rare, thankfully.

He said they team may not be able to tell from the tests today if he qualifies for the Melody and may need the MRI to decide for sure.  Then, we'll kind of go from there.  If he gets the Melody, he'll only need a cath for repair and need a weekend for recovery and can even resume wrestling a couple of months later.  He just needs scar tissue to build up and strengthen the repair.  Then, they're expecting, like other valves it will buy him a few to several years before he needs another valve.  That's the going rate on valves.  For whatever reason, not having a valve at all, he's survived longer than most patients with only a patch for a valve.  It's typically just a few years and we're going on 17.  Just over 16 to be fair, but Doc says it's amazing.

He said once he has the MRI if they decide he needs the valve it will not be a wait and see or lets schedule it next year like they originally thought.  It will be fairly quick at this point.  That's probably better for Cole so he doesn't get any more anxious than he will anyways.  If that even makes sense.  If he needs open-heart this time around and we do it before May, he knows he can recover in time to wrestle his Senior year.  He may not land on Varsity, but I am so proud of him no matter what.  He's very strong.

Other than that it's the same old same old.  He will never get away from open-hearts.  He has a lifetime of caths where they will insert a valve with stents or open-hearts to repair and replace valves.  The only thing I know is that it will be a bovine valve.  He said for right side they do bovine, you don't do mechanical and he only has to be on aspirin afterwards, so that's great!

One day at a time and hopefully we can get him in in February, so we can see what's going to happen.  So much for hoping I wouldn't meet my high deductible next year.  Those MRIs are EXPENSIVE!  I would just like to NOT meet it one year, but my money's well spent keeping him healthy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dear God,

please help my two oldest as they go through middle school and high school finals this week.  Especially, help them in Algebra.  Please help their Algebra teachers to recognize how to make a better impact on kids. 

Chase has put so much work into Algebra I and I'm really having to jog my memory.  Tonight we got out the home teaching book my brother sent us and it helped with linear equations.  Yep, I can again do those.  Just don't give me fractions....ugh!

Cole had a great night at wrestling, so hopefully, that builds up some self-esteem and he'll push through 4 finals tomorrow.

I let Kaelin know how great she's doing.  She's keeping her grades up with straight As and really listening at home and being more unselfish.  I told her she's really turning into a nice young lady and it makes me proud of her.

Chelsi is still vivacious Chelsi.  Enough said.

Jaemin is so Jaemin.  Really the two of them are so much alike except Jaemin has his sensory issues.  He's got quick wit like Chelsi and is very bright.  Being behind socially and emotionally masks his wit so much, but I see it and know it's there.  We're working on his flapping before kindergarten.  Kinda kicking it into overdrive.  The teachers say they have a plan for him, but we still need to try to reroute the reaction.  I know he can't quit flapping.  It's how he deals with anxiety and sensory ups and downs.  But, we're going to try to reroute it to a less noticeable hand action.  At least try.  He cognizantly knows to squeeze or massage his hands instead, but old habits can be hard to break, so hopefully over several months we can break into a new way to deal with it all.  He's so funny and happy.  I wouldn't want Jaemin to change too much.  I love his fascination with time and announcing the time constantly....'clock says eight zero eight, time for bed'.  Even if it's 8:08 am!  He's so structured.  Sometimes you would seriously think he was aspergers, but the doctor says no, it's all sensory related.

Anyways, knock on wood, after Cole got over the stomach bug last week no one in the house has gotten in yet, but it's running rampant at work and school, so I'll feel better if we escape Christmas without it.  Only time we'll tell.  For now, the kids are looking forward to our newer tradition of junk food, movies and games Christmas....just the 7 of us.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's that time of year

Nothing to report. Nothing special.  Just trying to keep up with everything.  I'm almost done Christmas shopping.  Just a couple of odds and ends.  All of the things I have already are wrapped and under the tree.....driving the littler one nuts.  I took the advice of a coworker and labeled the kids' gifts from their great-grandma and their grandpa, but the ones from us are numbered with a random number so they don't know which ones are theirs and won't be able to figure out what they're getting by shaking or size. 

I can't wait for Christmas.  I can't wait for Jaemin to see the scooter he's been dying for.  I just hope it's tall enough for him. I hope Chelsi isn't disappointed.  She wanted a $150 Barbie dreamhouse.  That's just not in the budget.  She also wanted a Flutterbye Fairy, but when I saw how bad the ratings were I didn't want mom to spend $30 just to throw it away.  So, I found her a Disney Flynn dolls since she's never had a Ken and go her a Rapunzel, Tiana and Merida dolls from her grandmas.  I think she'll love them.

I spend my time running kids to school, going to work and then trying to pick up ordered items or bring them back after work.  The latter seems to occur fairly often.  I've been trying to find a pair of khaki's for the big boys for months now.  Neither has dress clothes and they're both so tall and thin they can ONLY be ordered and I have yet to get a true size that will fit.  I've now splurged and ordered from Gap hoping they'll be accurate.  They are the only ones I've found to actually make the dress pants in a 29x30 and 31x34, which are still slightly big in the waist for them, but at least they can grow then.

Things are picking back up now that wrestling is officially starting this weekend.  Cole's been kinda bummed because he wrestled off for 142, but lost by 2 points.  I thought that was pretty good.  The kid is 2 years younger, but has been wrestling kids club for years, his dad is the coach and they sent him to an expensive camp over the summer.  Cole's only wrestled for 2 years, is long and thin (which is not optimal in wrestling unless you really find a way to use it to an advantage) and has a heart condition.  But, then he found out the 145 can't wrestle this weekend for Varsity, so for the week he's Varsity.  He was pretty darn happy, but is afraid he'll lose.  I told him it doesn't matter, just hope....always have hope.  Then, next week he can wrestle off for the Varsity 142 again.  Yes. he's 6'1" and about 139 pounds.  SKINNY! 

It's been getting quieter and quieter.  With Cole wrestling and working he's rarely home.  He gets home anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30 from practice and then some nights has to leave for work around 6:30.  Some nights he has to wrestle and then a couple he's home.  Then, every Saturday he has a tournament out of town and works on Sundays.  I hope he can fit his homework in.  He needs really good grades.  Chase decided he wanted to go watch his friends play basketball, so he went to school for a bit and it was just us and the 3 little ones.  Chelsi and I started the "Sound of Music", but it's too long to finish before her bedtime.  I'm realizing how quiet it is now and how much I hate them growing up and moving on, but like it all at the same time.  I won't be an empty nester that needs kids around all the time.  I think it's just that I'm still adjusting to this change.  And it's not that I need kids around as much as I just need these kids around. 

If they only knew all the things we go through as parents for them.  How much we love them.  How much we try to protect them while letting them live and learn.  It's so hard to balance that, but so delicately needs to be balanced in order for them to grow.  If only there were manuals for each very individual child.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Tradition

Our tradition, since the year Kaelin came home, is to dress in pjs and take a picture in front of the tree for our Christmas cards.  Only one year did we use a different photo instead and I kind of regret it.  It's kind of fun to look through these pictures and see how the kids have changed.  Meanwhile, I was trying to test my flash and Chase was nice (weird) enough to sit in front of the tree for me....then he pulled Jaemin in too.

But, first this is the kind of boy Jaemin is growing into; a corny, funny, little guy with a sense of humor.  Much like Chase....goofy!

Then, we took the real pictures.  This picture won the prize for landing on our card.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another one of those spurts where

it's so busy I can't just take one single second to blog.  It was one of those weeks (maybe it's been 2 since I last blogged?) where I was doing good to get to and from work, home and get everything done at home that needed to be done.  It was probably mostly because hubby had to work 2 hours away 3 of the 5 days.  I was off Monday for Veteran's Day and got some advanced meals made and the kids in for their flu shots.  At least everyone but Cole.  He had wrestling, so he'll have to figure out a time to do it.  I was even a good girl and got a flu shot and pneumococcal.   The doctor said I can't keep getting pneumonia every year, so I'm trying it.

It just seems there's been so much to do.  Football's over and Cole can take himself to and from wrestling, but it just hasn't let us with homework etc.  I still find myself trying to teach Chase algebra from time-to-time.  He just doesn't get what his teacher says or at least not the way she says it.  I've been trying to shop for a laptop too.  The desktop hit it's last leg, but what do you expect at about 7 or 8 years old.  I was tired of trying to put more parts into it.  I'm donating what parts work to my mother-in-law's daycare.  They don't care if the internet doesn't work so great anymore, they just want to play games.  But, laptop shopping is so daunting and horribly painful.  We still have my old 7 year old laptop.  It works okay.  Better than the desktop, so it's our new desktop even if we have to duct tape the plug into the laptop so it doesn't lose power.  Battery's been dead for a long time you know.  My 2 year laptop just got a new battery.  Can't say enough for Anker's $35 batteries on Amazon.  The kids will be getting that one for home work use.  They really need something dependable at their ages.  With 1 in high school (and 1 to be) and 2 in middle school and 1 in a gift class there are nights when all computers are in use.  With this many kids you do have to have multiple.  Cole has his from Make-a-Wish thankfully, but after only 6 months the Toshiba decided to crash.  I restored it and we'll see how it holds up.  Thankfully, I'm pretty techy and can fix some things.  I finally found a little HP at Staples for $499.  I hate to spend a few hundred dollars, but the kids needed my laptop to work on and I need mine and sometimes even they borrow mine.

Then, I, unhappily, found out that Windows 8 doesn't take my Microsoft Office 2000 that we've been living on.  It's just SO expensive to buy a newer version.  Especially enough for all of our household users.  I talked to the guy at Staples and he said since I'm a government employee I should check if there are discounts and sure enough.  I got it for $23.  I live by my budgetary spreadsheets for our household.  I can't go without Excel. It's the only way this family survives. 

I am VERY happy with my HP so far.  I first ordered an Asus because they're supposed to be really good, but when Walmart got it I hooked it up and the spacebar didn't work right.  I couldn't deal with it and got this one for about $80 less!!  Huge money in this house.

Chase has been a very unhappy boy. The iPod he got for Christmas last year stopped holding a charge very well.  I called Apple and it was in warranty for 10 more days, so it's been replaced and should be redelivered tomorrow.  He's not happy that he was to reload everything, but what's your choice?  An iPod that doesn't work well or fix this one.  Uhhhhh?

This week Cole only has to work 2 days so he'll be home more....which is good and bad.  We had a great (our annual date) dinner with our co-November anniversary friends Friday which was great as usual.  This week Cole has his last orthodontic appointment and I have my physical.  Yuck.  I have to fast.  A little worried about my glucose test, but need to know.

I've started Christmas shopping!  Deep breath.  It's so stressful sometimes.  I gets lists from the 5 kids and divvy them out to their Godparents, grandparents or anyone who wants something.  I know about what most of their budgets are and this helps to make sure the kids get pretty much everything on their lists.  They're so lucky to have so many people that care about them and love them.  Of course, it helps that kids are so down to Earth.  Their lists are so great.  So many kids ask for these pie in the sky kind of gifts.  Mine ask for normal, everyday, things.  Chelsi is still slightly pie in the sky at 8 with her Barbie Dream House gift (not going to happen, it's WAY over budget).  But the other kids are almost hard to even get a list from.

Here are examples of the kind of lists I get:
Cole - speakers for his iPod, bore sight, charger cord, tshirt and Bass Pro gift cards
Chase - slingshot, replacement bands, dremel tool (for his carvings), woodburner (for his lure carvings), balsa wood, charger cord
Kaelin - bike, snow boots, charger, shoes, headbands, Mario Cart for Wii
Chelsi - dream house, webkinz, sled, headphones, flutterby fairy, stompeez
Jaemin - scooter

Jaemin's been difficult to convey the idea of a list.  He doesn't quite understand he can talk about things he wants.....he's kinda simple too. Scooter finally came out, so I will definitely find a way to get him a preschool scooter.  I made his additional list of legos and Monsters University DVD.  He loves Pororo, so I found a little Pororo table with a drawer that he can use to color in the living room.  He'll really like it.

The kids can make me so mad at them sometimes, but they're common, everyday kids that don't expect anything to be just given to them.  They're not entitlement kids that feel their entitled to anything except what they work for.  I love how tight Chase and Kaelin are with their money.  How careful they make every decision.  I see Cole getting to be more careful, but he's not quite so much.  I love that when I get something in my monthly shopping as simple as new socks they are thankful.  They know that every $10 can throw us off our budget some months.  They know we struggle to get something in savings and that that's why we're tight with our money.  We don't want to just spend it because it's there.  You never know when you'll need it.  They know were' saving all of our health savings money (I have it maxed out) to pay for Cole's $6,000 surgery.  I don't want that stress hanging over my head as I sit with him in the hospital.  I want to know we'll be able to pay for it without stressing.  Medical has become such a topic in this house with orthotics for Chase, prosthetics for Brian, Cole's annual cardiology, paying dental and vision totally out of pocket, let alone that looming surgery for Cole. Thankfully, we have insurance.  His surgery allowance alone will be $80,000 plus then we have to meet our $6,000 out of pocket max.  That's life.  It could be worse!  I just try to carefully set up appointments and get orthotics when deductibles are met so that maybe if by some stroke of luck we ever don't meet our deductible (doubtful) we will only have to pay $90 versus $500 for the prosthetics or orthotics.  Or keep Cole's cardiology fluxing between December and January so that if we meet our deductible with unexpected emergencies like we did this year I can move it to December so I only have to pay 20% instead of $1500.  It's a lot of careful scrutiny to decide how to work it so you can eventually save something.  I'm no where close right now.  We've emptied out my maxed out HSA every year since we've started.  I hope to pay ourselves back for Cole's braces early next year then I can focus on saving for his heart surgery.  That will cost a whole lot more than his braces did though, so I don't know how we'll pull that off.  We'll need a year or two of not meeting the deductible in order to do that.

I can hope.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

Jaemin had a blast. He is definitely starting to remember things.  We went to a couple of trunk-or-treats at church and he said he wanted to go home and ride in the wagon.  He remembered that Chase pulls him in the wagon every year through the neighborhood to trick or treat.  Chelsi decided to wear the same dress she wore last year.  The girl that I bought the dress from, found the crown after Halloween last year.  Since Chelsi made it a witch costume last year she wanted to be a princess this year.  I was stumped on Jaemin.  He wanted to be a Ninja Turtle when he saw the costume Monday while we were waiting for his medicine, but it was $25.  I had put off figuring out what to do for Jaemin's costume thinking I had all this time, but then he got sick and I ran out of time.  When we were at the grocery store (when he was sick) Jaemin picked out the Batman mask.  So I bought a $1 box of black trash bags, found some leftover felt, velcro, Kaelin's leggings and with Chase's artistic ability we made Jaemin into Batman.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Good riddens

to a bad.....horrible....week!

We had some issues going on, then little man came home sick Tuesday.  He's still sick today.  We actually had a break though.  Friday was fine.  Jaemin felt fine.  Kaelin and I went to a vision check Saturday and grocery shopping.  Found out her astigmatism changed, so she needs new glasses and mine did too.  My vision is much worse in my left eye now.  He said it was a quite a change from the last two visits, so good thing I'm getting my physical soon to check my glucose.  He asked if I was diabetic, but I do worry just a little since it's on both sides.  Kaelin and decided to get some paint while we shopped.  We got some white for the laundry room, violet for my bathroom and some kind bluish greenish color for the kitchen.  It's been 10+ years since we painted that navy in the kitchen .  I'm so ready for something new.

When we got home and unloaded the groceries then started in our painting since Brian had the laundry room taped off and ready to go.  About 1/2 way into the two room project (we worked on the laundry and bath at the same time), Jaemin started crying.  He doesn't cry often.  He said his arms, hurt, his throat hurt, etc.  I gave him a warm bath thinking he would feel better, but then he got kinda lethargic.  I dressed him and took him to bed and put my laptop in there with a movie, but then he started grabbing the back of his head and crying.  He had a temp by then too.  I gave him some motrin, but he just kept crying.  He slept for just a bit and then was suddenly fine.  Since he'd had a fever earlier in the week and threw up, I thought he may have strep since he now had the sore throat.  We had a bottle of azythromycin for him from the trip to Korea.  I put the liquid in and mixed it up and gave it to him.  A few hours later he perked up.  He still couldn't swallow very well so he wouldn't eat, but we got him to drink and eat an ice pop.  We gave him more motrin and I took him to bed with me.  He moaned a lot and then woke up about 12:30am crying in pain again.  This time he wouldn't swallow the motrin.  He just spit it out and cried.  I took him to the ER and luckily they took him right back since he wasn't communicating and were only there for a couple of hours.  They got some tylenol down him, juice and an ice pop.  The strep was negative, but it could have been the antibiotic.  They sent us home and told us to keep a close eye on him and if he wasn't feeling pretty darn good by Monday he needs blood tests.  He doesn't have any of the big symptoms, but they do want to rule out Kawasaki even though it's rare.  Tonight, he's doing slightly better.  His fever's not coming back anymore, but we're also keeping him on tylenol and motrin because his neck was still hurting tonight....which makes you worry about meningitis.  We'll see how tonight goes and how he seems in the morning.  Brian's going to stay home to paint the kitchen, but I may stay with Jaemin too.  We'll see how he does tonight and feels tomorrow.  I feel so bad for him.

I'm not feeling terrific now myself.  Pretty sure I have a sinus infection and it's massive.  I felt fine until after the vision check.  He did some extra tests with me because of the significant changes and it left me with a headache that hasn't gone away.

Hoping this week is a whole LOT better.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

2013 Pics

We finally got the kids out so I could take pictures.  I always have loftier ideas than how they turn out, but with 5, you take what you get. These are my favorites of them all.