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Thursday, March 28, 2013


After speaking with a very nice and knowledgeable doctor from St. Jude's we have all come to the conclusion to go back to Iowa City and start on some oral chemotherapy, which can be done at home. The studies available to us right now are all Phase I, which is MORE of a gamble than the oral chemotherapy. Doctors are now once again saying "No cure" and "quality of life" but we know that miracles do still happen, if it is God's will. We pray that this oral chemotherapy does something...whether it be stall the tumors or even shrink them.

We have an appointment on Monday to talk over the chemotherapy options and hopefully pick up the pills. We have changed to a different oncologist as we were not comfortable with the one that we had the past three years.

This has been a very stressful week - playing phone tag with doctors, making some huge decisions, awaiting a new baby in the house (the due date is today!), and watching our elderly dog go downhill quickly which will lead to just another decision having to be made. Please continue to keep us in your prayers - we need them!!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

99 Blessings

99 Blessings; An Invitation To Life by Brother David Steindl-Rast didn't turn out to be what I had hoped.
I knew going into it that this would be a book that I could either quickly thumb through when the mood struck or sit down and devour if I needed to.

I also knew that these were the first drafts of prayers of thankfulness from Brother David, not edited later to be more print friendly.

Knowing all this I still found the connection lacking. I could appreciate Brother David's prayers of thankfulness for the simplest things (who doesn't appreciate a good garage sale or bird song?) but didn't get excited over his thankfulness of hair or hats or most of the other prayers. 

I wanted these prayers to stir my heart, to get me as excited and thankful for the things that Brother David did. I actually got bored through some of the descriptions and the point got lost in some of the writings. Love the idea of being thankful for each and every little thing but I wanted to learn from Brother David's own thankfulness and felt like this book just didn't do it for me.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Waiting Game

There is not much to report this week. We heard from the oncologist on Monday and were told that there weren't any clinical trials in their data base that Jacob qualifies for at this time. The main doctor is out of the country this week for business but when she arrives back the doctors will all sit down and try to formulate the best plan. There may be possible studies at other hospitals that Jacob does qualify for and they will be looking into that as well.

We continue to pray that there is a good option for Jacob. We continue to trust that God will lead the way for us. There is a sense of calmness this week...I know that all your prayers have surrounded us and helped cushion this blow.

Jacob feels great. He loves not having to take any medicine daily and is enjoying this week of rest. His smile continues to shine each and every day - there are blessings all around us!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 15th

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my dad's heart attack, which ultimately ended up taking his life two weeks later. Which ended up being one day before his 61st birthday. Which is the due date for our newest baby.

I believe in signs from God. Little "pennies from Heaven", so to speak. Things that make us happy within the midst of grief. Signs that let us know that life goes on and that we are blessed no matter what our circumstances. Learning that I was pregnant last summer when Jacob was in the hospital for 40 days during his stem cell transplant may have seemed like a big mistake. Too much on one's plate. Yet the due date of this baby struck a huge chord with me...my dad's birthday. My dad who had shoulder pain the very night that Jacob's cancer had been found to return on March 8th. Shoulder pain which ended up being a heart attack. Out of the 365 days of the year this baby's due date ended up being  March 28th. If that's not a sign from God then I don't know what is.

Yesterday, as I mentioned, was the one year anniversary of my dad's heart attack. It also found us leaving the house at 4:30am to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for Jacob's scans. It was a 16 hour day away from home and exhausting. We didn't receive the news that we had hoped. Out of the three nodules in his lung, one has grown by 50% (the others stayed the same), making him no longer eligible for the study he was on. The Oncologist will consult with the other doctors and come up with any other options we may have and get back to us on Monday.

I don't have a sense of helplessness, nor hopelessness. I'm not filled with anxiety of the future or a sense of fright. Some may say that it's shock talking but I know that it is the comfort of God. I KNOW that if we just trust in His will and His way He will lead us.

We have so many people praying for us that we are wrapped in the comfort and peace of them.

What should we pray for? I've been known to ask myself. You can't specifically ask for Jacob to be healed or you'll be disappointed if he's not I've heard. Prayer won't change the outcome, so just ask for comfort others have said.

I've often been confused by prayer. It seems like most of us only pray when we need something from God. Then are disappointed when it doesn't happen the way we want/need it to. Yet in my studying I've come to find that God wants us to praise Him always - pray when we are happy, sad, joyful, or  wounded. He also wants us to ask. He is our Father, and just like children, we can ask for what we want. I want Jacob to be healed. I want Jacob to have a sick-free childhood. I don't want Jacob to suffer.

At the same time, God wants us to trust. Trust in the fact that His will is not our own. That not all our prayers will be answered as we want them to be. That His will is, in fact, better than ours. We don't see the whole picture. We are but children and don't always know what is best for us or our lives.

In that respect, we can ask for whatever we want. It would be silly not to, as God already knows our heart's desires. But then we have to also trust that whatever the answer is that it will be the best for us and to accept it. Sometimes our prayers will be answered exactly as we had hoped and sometimes there is a different plan for our life.

I don't know where God is leading us. But I am willing to follow. That is where my peace comes in. "Be still and know that I am God" flows through my mind - He will lead us, carry us, and push us through this journey. He will help us find our answers or make our decisions.

Because the biggest thing I have learned these past three years is that we can't only trust or believe in God when He does what we want. Can't only praise Him when we get our way.

We can only trust that everything that is brought our way works out for the greater good of us. That is a promise from God. And He seems to always show us this by tossing down some pennies from Heaven.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March PopSugar Must Have Box

The March PopSugar Must Have box has arrived! For some reason I always receive my box like a week after other people so the spoilers are out by the time I open mine. I suppose I could avoid looking at the spoiler links but I don't have the will power! While the contents were not a surprise there are often different color combinations of items so it's still fun to rip open the box and see it in person. 
Included in the March box was:

*Heather Belle Signature Tassel Necklace. Based on the other items on their site I will price this around $80 (other bloggers are saying $85-$90). I love longer necklaces so this will either be for myself or a gift for someone else!

*The Laundress Delicate Wash ($19). This smells yummy but I honestly don't hand wash anything. I may not use this.

*Corkatoo Corkscrew ($14). This is something that I would never buy for myself but I think it is adorable. We needed a new corkscrew and within a month I may actually be able to enjoy a glass of wine occasionally!

*Buxom Sculpted Lash Mascara ($19). I'm not a huge mascara girl as it tends to get lumpy or smeared under my eyes. Maybe this more expensive brand will be right up my alley?

*Hollywood Fashion Secrets Sweater Saver ($6). I know that I have some sweaters and blankets that need to be de-pilled. This should come in handy!

*The New Black Nail Polish ($10). I was excited for this but disappointed in the colors...I just won't wear such red polish. Other boxes contained fun colors (greens and blues!) that I would have loved to rock on my toes this summer. 

*Peeps ($1). The kids were excited to find something in the box for them and mommy just had to eat one for the baby too!

*Hollywood Fashion Secrets Fashion Tape Assortment Pack

Total comes to around $149! While I won't use everything that I received what I can't use will be able to be re-gifted or sold (I sold the Hanky Panky thong from the February box for $10 on eBay last month!). I think that it is an excellent deal for $35 a month. You can use this link and the code REFERFRIENDS or REFER5 (I think one of those is still good!) to get $5 off your first box, bringing it down to $30. The boxes tend to sell out quickly, so if you are wanting the April box be sure to sign up soon.

What did you think of the March box?  
Disclaimer: My referral link is included in this post.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

Once again, I am linking up with What I'm Loving Wednesday. This week I am loving smells. I don't know if it's a weird pregnancy thing or if it just proves that I'm weird but I've found some smelly favorites that I just can't stop sniffing.
Books. I've always loved the smell of paper but this is on a whole new level now. I bought a book at St. Vincent's last week that smelled slightly of gasoline or oil; probably from the type of ink used to print it. The scent was actually alluring. The book above was bought yesterday and still smells new...again, a scent that I can't get enough of and keep flipping through it to smell it! I really think that they need to make an air freshener or candle with the scent of new books or paper.  

By the way, for those who buy used books, what is the best thing that you have found inside of a book that you have purchased? I've found photos of people, $1 in one, and yesterday the book above had a receipt from Border's that was fun to pour over. While I love books, I won't pay new book prices so it was exciting to see the $77 purchase that the previous woman made on a July day in 2005!
Almond Scent. I am loving anything with almond right now and that especially includes the Zum Body lotion that I keep on my nightstand. My ritual before bed is slathering this on my hands and arms and I hear my husband sighing next to me when I do so because he does not like this scent! I can't get enough of it, though wish the scent would stay longer than just a few minutes.

Etc! from rue21. I found this last summer and am loving the scent even more lately. To me it smells like a guy fresh from the shower...which may seem like a weird scent but it is delicious!

Walking through the refrigerated aisles of the grocery store. I caught a whiff of the freon and that smell reminded me of when I was younger and sitting in front of the air conditioner unit, or walking into a store on a stifling hot day and smelling that cold air.

Spray Paint. No, I'm not huffing it, but when my husband painted a frame for me I couldn't get enough of that smell!

Unfortunately, with loving certain smells right now there are also ones that I used to be able to tolerate but can't stand at the moment that make me gag and shutter. I won't let my children near me until they have brushed their teeth because of their morning breath, or my husband's work boots which smell of stinky feet mixed with car oil. Our bathroom seems to have a perpetual smell of urine (because of two little boys in this house!) but I've only noticed it the past two weeks so have to daily (or hourly, it seems!) clean around the toilet!  Ahhh...the joys of pregnancy!

What is your all time favorite smell?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This Week

*I'm tying not to dread Friday, when we learn the results of whether this medicine (chemotherapy) is working for Jacob or not. I've placed it all in God's hands but there, of course, are moments of anxiousness.

*I had to dig through the bins of clothing in order to pull out some size 5 pants for Joe. He seems to have had a growth spurt overnight. One week his size 4 pants fit and the next they were all too short! I even noticed today that the sleeves of some of his shirts are now quite short on him. That doesn't happen much with my children; they are all fairly small and grow at a slow rate so this was very noticeable. That's also probably why he has been eating us out of house and home lately...that boy can sure pack away the food!

*Speaking of Joe, Jacob and him have been having a blast with the Darth Vader costume and light sabers that their Grandma sent to them!

*The kids are looking forward to a sibling class this week at the hospital. They get to learn all about babies and make their little sister a birthday card for when she arrives! I'm hoping that the hospital takes down their visitation restrictions before my due date or else the children won't be able to visit us in the hospital (due to RSV and influenza no visitors under 14 years of age are allowed at this time). Keeping my fingers crossed on that one!

*I'm loving the extra hour of daylight and am looking forward to spring weather, though our ground is covered with snow and we seem to get a new covering weekly yet!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Heaven's Lessons

Judging from the first few paragraphs on the back of the book I thought this would be about Steve Sjogren's near death experience. Even the front of the book describes "Ten Things I Learned About God When I Died".

Maybe my expectations set me up for disappointment. Once I started reading I realized there was very little described of what happened in the near death experience, leaving me confused throughout the book. Steve mentions a sense of calmness, of being at the ceiling suspended upside down, and of God declaring that he will now have a limp. Nothing else was mentioned about the actual near death experience and what little was mentioned didn't make much sense to me.

The ten lessons follow but without a correlation to his actual near death experience. There was no connection whatsoever made between the two.

The book seems so disjointed. One moment he is in the hospital, the next he has to leave so has a friend help him out. Yet he mentions long hospital stays and needing additional surgeries but you have no clue of how to piece together a time line on these events based on the writing. I seriously got lost reading this book. Was he in the hospital for months? Or did he escape the hospital soon after his surgery in order to get back to the new congregation that he was setting up, like he mentions later in the book? Why was so much of this book back and forth, back and forth without a clear direction?

I was hoping to be inspired by this book but instead was left confused by it.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Subscription Box Deal

For those wanting to try a subscription box for their children I just wanted to mention that today Plum District has a 3 month subscription to The Happy Box for 50% off! It's just $30 to purchase three months through them, which equals to just $10 a month.

The Happy Box is a craft box with a different theme each month. It is for ages 4-8 or 8-11 (finally a box for my older children, they have been asking for one for months!). Perfect for these upcoming rainy spring days!

Use this link to get the deal! (Yes, it is my referral link! I appreciate anyone who goes through it!) I'll post a review of our first box when it arrives!


A few questions I have been asked recently:

1. You discuss being frugal but lately you have been showcasing several subscription boxes and other purchases which don't seem to be such frugal choices.

I think that it is okay to splurge sometimes. Not if it means using a credit card or forgoing bills in order to do so, mind you, but all work and no play can make life dull.

With that said, I never pay full price for the subscription boxes that I review here on the blog. There are so many referral codes out there that when I want to try a new box I use a code to often get the box half price. I give my honest opinion in my reviews so if it is a product that I really enjoy many of my readers decide to try it out for themselves. Since *some* places let you earn referral credits I often earn free boxes thanks to my dear readers. There are some benefits to having a blog with great readers, after all!

I always disclose if there is a referral link in my post in case someone would prefer to not buy through a referral link. It's usually a win-win situation though since most referral links also include a discount for those who click through it.

2. If I shopped at Goodwill or St. Vincent De Paul I wouldn't tell anyone that. Wouldn't you prefer people not know that?

No. Seriously, some of the purchases I make at these stores would be frivolous or a waste of money had I paid full price for them. For example - the Hanna Andersson moccasins I found the other day. They were worth the $1 price I paid but I would never spend $20 for them and I wouldn't want someone to think I did! I love shopping thrift stores and touting the great finds within them. After all, it is a smart way to shop and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that!

3. You seem to really like brand name items. Wouldn't it be wiser to purchase off brand things to save money?

The items I purchase are almost always used so it often ends up being less expensive than off brand items when purchased new. I can buy a Baby Gap outfit for $1 at a garage sale or spend $8 for an outfit at Walmart. Because the Baby Gap outfit holds up much better than the Walmart outfit I can then sell it once the baby out grows it (often for more than I paid) but the Walmart outfit is often faded by that time or has loose strings, buttons, etc.

Better brands often do hold up better than the less expensive ones. If both my boys can get use out of an item of clothing and then I can still sell it then it is a better product than an off brand item.

So, yes, I am excited to find Robeez shoes at St. Vincent for 95 cents when they originally cost $35 and I know my baby can get use out of them and I can still pass them on afterwards. If something is cute and a good price I will pick it up no matter what the brand. My kids wear a whole mix of brand/off brand names. 

I wouldn't consider myself a brand snob, per say, but I get more excited about a $1 find on a Fossil purse than a generic one.

When it comes to groceries or household products I will generally buy what is on sale. There are a few brands of items that seem to be superior to off brands and I do stick with those (dishwasher detergent is one of them) but otherwise I could care less about those types of brands.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


*We are getting over some sickness in the house. Becca came down with a cold at the beginning of the week and Jacob woke up feeling nauseated and ended up throwing up on Tuesday. It seemed to be short lived because by that evening he was begging to have tacos for supper and ended up eating SIX of them, with no repercussions later, thankfully.

*The time for this baby to arrive is getting near! Weekly midwife appointments now! I seem to always go over my due date so will not be surprised if this ends up being an April baby. The kids are so excited to meet their little sister and talk about her daily!

*I dropped another garbage sized bag off at St. Vincent's yesterday. Of course, I just had to run inside and check for any goodies that we had to have. I found three books that looked interesting. I was a bit disappointed with their lack of selection as I continued to browse and then was overjoyed when I found newborn Hanna Andersson moccasins (new with tag! These sell for $20 on their site right now) and some adorable Robeez shoes. This baby will have some fashionable tootsies! If you notice the price tags, I paid less than $5 for this whole pile of items. 

*I hear a lot of grumbling this week about the time change on Sunday and losing an hour of sleep but I always look forward to the extra hour of daylight. It means that Spring is right around the corner too!

*Jacob's scans are next Friday. They will tell us whether this drug is doing *anything* for him or not. We pray that it is as there really aren't any other good options left. Please join us in prayer!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tax Time

It's that time of year again...tax time! Some people look forward to it as they hope for a refund and others dread it because they will have to pay out money.

For those who get a refund - what do you plan on using it for? Paying off debt, setting aside a nest egg, or a big screen tv and new iPhone? How you use your tax refund will define how your financial security goes the next year.

If you live paycheck to paycheck and do not have a savings account you should automatically stick at last half of your refund into a savings account. This gives you a cushion for the whole rest of the year to draw from during an emergency. If you have debt, the other half should be used to pay on it. It may not sound fun but it will give you a sense of relief the whole year through.

If you have a list of needs (new tires for the car, washing machine, clothes for the kids, etc.) be sure to get them now when you have the money to do so or put it into savings and shop around for awhile for the best deal. Wouldn't it be a terrible financial decision to purchase an iPhone just because you want it and have to use a credit card later to get the items that you need?

Remember, tax refunds are not a windfall, but rather money that you overpaid that you are now getting back. It is your hard earned money and receiving a chunk of money at once can help you quickly build your savings or pay off a debt or two. Spending it wisely will help cushion you throughout the year and relieve some financial stress.

Also, for those under a certain income, you are able to go through Turbo Tax online and do your Federal Return for free (and I think that state return is less than $30). It is quick, very easy, and much less expensive than paying someone to do your taxes. Unless you have several deductions or other unusual taxes it doesn't make sense to pay someone to do a simple Federal Return for you.

We get to spend our return this year on medical bills (fun, fun!) but I am thankful for that leeway, which should help ease our financial burden this year.

Basically, if you aren't set financially yet, use your tax refund to help build yourself a safety net this year. That may mean that you won't be able to purchase a fun gadget or toy this year but the stress that it takes off your shoulders will be well worth it!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Try it...for free?

I've been tempted to try a Sam's Club membership for about a year now. As my children get older they are eating A LOT more. Anything that can be bought in bulk (especially fruits, vegetables, and dairy) is a huge help! When I broke down the costs for a membership it didn't seem like it would save us a lot though.

Today Living Social has a deal that is too great to pass up. If you don't have a membership at this time, get a one year membership for $45. While that may not sound so hot, this also comes with a $20 Sam's Club gift card and foo vouchers for an Artisan Fresh Rotisserie Chicken, Artisan Fresh Take-and-Bake Pizza, and Two Boxes of 6-, 12-, or 24-Count Artisan Fresh Cookies from Sam's Club (vouchers valued at $19.84). So with that deal you are *basically* getting a membership for $5 or so after the gift card and vouchers. I couldn't pass that up!

Use this link if you are interested in getting this deal (it is a referral link). I'll post a review of my first shopping trip once I go to see how much savings I feel there is in having a membership.

If you already have a Sam's Club membership, what do you save the most on? Do you feel as though you get a substantial savings each year shopping there?


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cleaning House

I jumped at the chance to review Cleaning House A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma.

As Kay points out, we are raising a "Me Generation". The kids of today feel entitled to what they want and what they have. 15-20 years ago when I was growing up I had chores around the house an worked (babysat outside the home) for my spending money. I didn't get paid for the chores that I did - I lived in the house and was expected to do my fair share.

Yet, now as I'm raising my own kids, I see how the times have changed. My kids think I'm mean when they are expected to do chores. They take their clean, folded laundry for granted. They leave plates and bowls around for me to pick up like some type of servant.

A book about another mother who is in the same place as I am and who solved the dilemma? I needed this book! I love the monthly challenges and how they played out. I have plans of implementing some of them in my own home.

The only thing that I wasn't sure about was how Kay got her children to do their chores. She used a jar for each child and filled it with a dollar per day for the month (so 28-31 dollars). If they did their chore that day the dollars stayed in the jar, if they didn't a dollar was taken out. By the end of the month they got to keep the remaining money in the jar.

The reason I don't know how I feel about this practice is because if you are paying your child money to do something that is their responsibility aren't you just helping along their sense of entitlement? I, as a mother, don't get paid to wash dishes, fold my laundry, or make my bed. Why should my child?

I won't go into my take on allowances here but thought that the money concept didn't really work into the whole idea of banishing youth entitlement. With that said, it was my only gripe with the book and really enjoyed reading about how to get the whole family to pitch in and make the household run.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest opinion. All views expressed are my own.



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