Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 of '11

As the current year closes, I always take some time to reflect back on what all has happened in the year. I decided to do this on the blog with a Top 10 posts of 2011. These posts are a combination of my favorites and yours, based on stats.
(Click the links to view the post.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Noah's Neuro Appointment

We had an appointment with Noah's neurologist today to discuss the events of the scariest night ever (when Noah had the grand mal seizsure and went to the hospital in an ambulance, read this for a total recap) and the subsequent myoclonic seizures he has been having the past few days.

Noah's levels were a little bit off so we made adjustments to his medication. The Dr. is hopeful that will get Noah back to where he was before all of this started. If the seizures continue after a little bit on the new doses, then we will do an EEG and see if we can figure out what is going on.

After having one grand mal seizure, the chances of him having another are higher so we now have a syringe that we can use in case Noah has a grand mal seizure lasting longer than 3 minutes. We also have a "wafer" pill that dissolves on Noah's tongue and is fast acting that is for us to give him when he is having myoclonic seizures. While I am glad that we have these things in the case of an emergency, it's scary to know that we need them.

I'll end with a cute story..... As you may know, Noah is mostly non verbal. He says things like Momma, Daddy, Nana, and Granddaddy but that's about the extent of it. He often tries to talk but what comes out is unrecognizable. A couple of times lately, Noah has blurted out things that are real, recognizable words! Today, when the lab technician was getting blood to check his levels, she was having trouble finding a vein. It was taking awhile. Finally she announced that she had found one.  Noah looks at her and says "It's about time!" There was another lab tech assisting and he looks at me and says "Did he just tell her it's about time?" I responded that yep, I think he did just say that! We all busted out laughing. Love that one of the few things he's ever verbally said is riddled with teenage attitude!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How I Spent Christmas Day

After our ordeal on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning, which I will refer to as the scariest night ever for year's I'm sure, this is how I spent much of Christmas Day.

While I HATE the reason for all that extra loving, I can't say that I hated all the extra snuggles and hugs.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Scariest Night Ever

Warning: This post is long! I wanted to write about this ever since it happened but haven’t felt up to it until today. And writing this has felt healing almost as if I am purging the experience.

It’s ironic sometimes how things can be going so well at one minute and within a few hours end up disastrous. That’s exactly what happened Christmas Eve night.

After having such an amazing time with Noah at the Christmas Eve candlelight service, we all went back to my Mom’s house for our "Christmas Eve Extravagana."  We had a great time eating and spending time with one another.  Noah was in a great mood and was full of giggles. We let him stay up later than usual and he finally headed to bed just before 11.

Around midnight, I headed to the bedroom. We were spending the night at my parents’ house and there J, Noah, and I all sleep in the same room. Noah was under the covers asleep in the middle of the bed and J was lying next to Noah  watching TV. I was sitting at the end of the bed with my lap top uploading pictures from the evening while quietly talking to J.

A commercial with music came on TV. I noticed Noah’s legs kick once and thought maybe he heard the music and was fussing about it. But he was still moving so J pulled the covers off of Noah to see what was going on while I quickly stood up to turn the light on. I came back to the side of the bed to check on him (this sounds like it took awhile but it all really happened in a matter of seconds) and saw his whole body convulsing while his eyes were open but rolled back. I immediately knew he was having a grand mal seizure and said so to J. J loosely put his arms around Noah and began quietly telling him it was OK.

I was panicking but desperately trying to hold it together all at the same time. Noah has myoclonic epilepsy (a type of epilepsy where the seizures are more a jerking of the arms and/or legs and usually only last 1-2 seconds.) Noah has (until that point) NEVER had a grand mal seizure and hadn’t even had any of the myoclonic seizures in a very long time. I have known since he was diagnosed with myoclonic epilepsy at 14 months old that he was at risk to develop grand mal seizures and him having a grand mal seizure has always been one of my fears.

I asked J if I should get my Dad (who was sleeping upstairs) at the same time as he was telling me to get my Dad. I'm not sure what we both felt my Dad could do but he is older and wiser and has First Aid/CPR training. I took off running towards the stairs loudly yelling my Dad’s name (later I was told by my Momma I was screaming like a banchee.)  After yelling his name twice he called back and asked what. I shouted up the stairs that Noah was having a grand mal seizure and I needed him NOW. He said he was coming and then I heard J yell for me from the bedroom so I ran back towards the bedroom. J said the seizure was getting worse and to call 911. At this point, my Dad has made it downstairs and is on the other side of the bed gently talking to Noah with Jason.

I ran to the kitchen and of course the phone is not on the base. I ran in the living room and that phone isn’t on the base either. I flipped on a light and finally find a phone on the side table in the living room all the while reminding myself to breathe. I call 911 and get put on HOLD! After what seemed like an hour, a 911 dispatcher is on the line. I talk fast normally and was trying to tell myself to slow down as I explained the situation to her, give her the address, and then run back to the bedroom to check on Noah and answer her questions about what he is doing. I repeat her instructions to J and my Dad.

Noah was still convulsing badly at that point but I know that my Dad and J have him so I began taking care of the things the 911 dispatcher was telling me to do like turn on the porch light, gather up Noah’s medicines, throw on clothes, and make sure the family pets were confined (except I accidentally forgot about Pasiley – poor thing was in the room watching the whole ordeal.)

After what seemed like an eternity, I heard sirens. The paramedics and a fire truck arrived. Finally, Noah had stopped seizing. The whole seizure last about 6-7 minutes. At that point, he was conscious (he never totally lost consciousness) but he was pale and super lethargic. The paramedics took his blood pressure and vital signs. His heart was beating rapidly and his blood pressure was sky high. Thankfully, he was breathing just fine.

Noah was put on the stretcher and they tell J and I that we can both ride in the ambulance. My Dad says that they will follow us in the car. I follow the stretcher out of my parents’ house. My Mom was standing in the hallway and she squeezed my hand. I asked her if she was going to come to the hospital with Dad and she says yes, of course and then told me my brother (who had been asleep in a room upstairs and slept through all of this including my high pitched screaming to my Dad that was so loud they probably heard in the next county) would be coming too.

We get to the end of the driveway where the ambulance is parked and they told us one of us can ride in the back and one in the front passenger seat. They ask who would be riding in the back with Noah and I immediately responded. I sat on a bench across from the stretcher Noah was on.

Not long after getting in the ambulance, Noah began to cry a deep grunting type of cry that I have only heard him cry when he is coming out of surgeries. I had to sit in the seatbelt on the bench and could reach him but did manage to at least be able to hold his hand. I quietly talked to him and reassured him that I am right there with him, that I’m not leaving him, and that if he is scared, it is OK to be scared. I told him that they were taking us to a hospital so the Doctor can check him out.

That ambulance ride took FOREVER (time seems to stop during a crisis and everything seems to take longer!) I’ve decided that I don’t like ambulance rides very much. I could not see out the side window so the only window I could see out was the one in the back and the only thing I could see out of it was the lights of the car behind us which I assumed was my parents and later found out I was right. But because I could not see out the side window, I could never figure out exactly
where we were.

As we neared the hospital, Noah finally began to stop crying and calmed down. We got out of the ambulance and I walked right beside the stretcher as they took quickly took inside the ER.

They checked his vitals and monitored him. He became more alert; signing to us and interacting with the nurses. From that point on, things were pretty uneventful. It was just your standard wait forever in the ER waiting game. After awhile, the Doctor told us that he doesn't really know what caused the seizure. He gave Noah a medicine to prevent more seizures right then and a prescription for more for later and instructs us to call Noah’s neurologist as soon as the office opens back up.

My wonderful parents and brother had been waiting in the waiting room the entire time. I felt guilty because at this point, it was 4 AM but they assured me it was fine and there was no other place they’d rather be at that moment than the hospital. Even though they weren’t able to be back in the room with us, it was definitely comforting to know they were there.

While I was standing in the driveway waiting on the ambulance, I texted a few friends and posted on Facebook via my phone letting others know what was going on and asking for prayers. Thank you for all of you that saw that on Facebook or received a text and prayed. Knowing that my baby was being lifted up in prayer by so many was comforting.

That was seriously one of the scariest things I have ever experienced and I think I aged 10 years in the span of an hour. I felt so helpless and unsure of myself but I silently prayed and knew that God would take care of my Noah.

Christmas Day was unlike any other Christmas Day. We are usually up early on Christmas Day but we all ended up sleeping until after 10 AM because we were so exhausted. When we finally did wake up, we let Noah see what Santa had brought him. We tried to keep things really low key and calm because the Dr. had said that we needed to try and keep him from being overwhelmed or over stimulated and that he needed to be calm and rest. Noah was very clingy and spent much of the day in my arms, which was just fine with me.

You are probably wondering how Noah is now. Thankfully, he has not had another grand mal seizure but he has had some of the myoclonic seizures. Those got pretty bad Christmas Day night so I called the neurology answering service and luckily his neurologist was the one on call. He said we could give Noah another pill from the prescription that the ER doc had given so we did and the seizures slowed down. He’ll be seeing his neurologist tomorrow morning.  I’ll keep you posted on and would appreciate you keeping Noah in your prayers and pray that he doesn’t have any more seizures.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From my blog to yours, 
from my family to yours, 
from me to you....
Merry Christmas!

May your day be blessed and spent with those you love remembering and honoring the true meaning and spirit of Christmas! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Best Christmas Present Ever

We just left the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church and my heart is so full I think it might burst! 

For the past ten years that we have attended Christmas Eve church services I have wanted to attend with my whole family. But sometimes with special needs children things like super crowded Christmas Eve services just aren't possible. The holidays already make many special needs children anxious and overwhelmed and add a crowded special church service into the mix and you are cruising for disaster.

In order for Noah not to attend, we’d attend in shifts going to different service times so that someone was always able to be at home with Noah where it was quiet and calm.  Each year, I would wistfully watch other extended families of parents, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles attending together wishing it was my own.

In light of some of Noah’s recent behavior changes and the fact that he can sit and eat in a restaurant now (which is something he couldn’t have done a couple of years ago) we decided to attempt bringing him to the Christmas Eve service with all of us.

We prepped him. We made sure he had a nap and we even had a contingency plan should Noah  have become overwhelmed and fussy.  As I walked into church with my family pushing Noah’s wheelchair, I held my breath and silently prayed....

Yes he talked during the service. He said our names making sure we were all on the row with him. He needed my Dad to sit next to him and have his arm around him for most of the service. But he watched in awe at the music, the lights, the sounds; he experienced the beauty that is a candlelight Christmas Eve service. He worshiped with his family and was just generally pleased to be there.

I cried happy tears. This is something my heart wanted for so long. So, it’s not even Christmas day yet and I have already received the best Christmas present ever! While it's not wrapped up and under the tree, it will live in my heart forever.

And you may recall that I received the best birthday present ever back in September. What a lucky and blessed Momma I have been this year!

Merry Christmas friends!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Music

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

I think the music has to be one of my favorite things about Christmas. I love singing carols and listening to all the beautiful holiday themed songs so I thought I'd share my top 5 favorite Christmas songs.

In David Letterman top ten fashion, we'll start with number 5 and work our way to number 1!

5. Christmas Eve Sarajevo by Trans Siberian Orchestra - This is a beautiful instrumental arrangement of Christmas music.
4. Carol of the Bells - I love all the different parts going on in this song. I think that it is probably a favorite because of singing it in while in chorus in high school. One year, instead of being on the stage, we sang it accapella standing all spread out around the auditorium and our voices were practically bouncing off the walls and it was simply beautiful.
3. Little Drummer Boy - I just love the beat of this song.
2. O Holy Night - It's just beautiful. I particularly love the Mandisa version which I have linked you too.
1. Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant - I love, love, love this song! Just listen, really listen, to the words. It really makes you think about what Mary went through. And it's just beautiful.

I leave you with Breath of Heaven. Enjoy!

And tell me, what is YOUR favorite Christmas song?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peppermint Bark Recipe

Ever since I posted that my Mom and I were making peppermint bark on Facebook, I've been asked for the recipe. So here ya go! 

It was easy to make and most of all, it's really yummy and festive!

1 12 ounce bag of white chocolate chips
1 24 ounce package of white chocolate bark
1/8 teaspoon of white peppermint extract
1 - 2 cups of crushed candy canes to suit your tastes

1. Put your candy canes in a plastic baggie and smash, smash, smash with a hammer. Take your frustrations out on those innocent candy canes until they are finely smashed.

2. Melt both types of white chocolate in a pan on the stove over low heat. Watch closely and keep stirring until it is completely melted.

3. Remove from heat and add the peppermint extract.

4. Stir in the smashed candy canes. Stir well until it is completely mixed.

5. Pour into waxed paper lined cookie sheet(s) and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and break up the bark into pieces like peanut brittle. 

6. Enjoy!! 

We made this twice and the first time we used 2 cups of crushed candy canes. The second time we only used 1 cup and preferred the second batch.

We wanted our bark to be thin so we poured it onto 2 cookies sheets. For thicker bark only use 1 cookie sheet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Activities

Last weekend we were preparing to go out and do a few Christmas-y things like attending a "Kidmas" event at the library and going to a nearby animal park to see Christmas lights and animals. It was chilly so I was putting Noah's coat on him and he decided he wanted to wear a new winter hat he bought at the school store last week. And then he proceeded to steal by new red plaid scarf. He looked so adorable in his hat and the scarf that I let my little scarf thief wear it. 

Noah's favorite part of the event at the library was the "piano lady" who was playing Christmas carols. He loves to watch people play the piano and could have sat there all night if we'd let him! 

The animal park is a BIG attraction around here and we ended up having to wait in line (in our car as you drive through parts of it) for nearly two hours. I figured Noah would get impatient and we'd leave before we got through the line but I was wrong! He was patient! J found some Christmas tunes on Pandora and he was happy.  

While there Noah got to see Santa. I was really disappointed with this Santa. He didn't seem to know what to do or how to deal with a special needs child in a wheelchair. He didn't even ask Noah his name or what he wanted for Christmas or anything! 

Have you done anything Christmasy lately?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

I love our tree.

Gone are the days of a themed tree and now I love hanging all the ornaments that were given to us by family and friends and have special meaning to us. They might not match and my tree won't be in a Martha Stewart magazine but it's made of love and each year as I pull out the ornaments I fondly remember who gave us what ornament or remember the events that some ornaments represent.

Last year, I bought some red ball ornaments and had them on the tree to fill it in and bring in some continuity. This year, I just wasn't feeling the red so I didn't put them on it. But the tree just didn't seem complete and it also didn't feel like "me." I ended up buying some teal snowflake ornaments and some Christmas balls that were hot pink, teal, and bright green and scattered them around on the tree. I love it! 

The Tree

A Collection of Some of my Favorite Ornies

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Card Holder

For a couple of years now I have wanted something to hold the Christmas cards we receive during the holiday season. Last year, I came up with the idea of hanging them off ribbon on a bookcase in our living room but I wasn't crazy about it. When I came across this adorable Christmas card holder, I knew I had to make one of my own.

Here's my version.........

(Pic taken on Dec 1 when we only had a few cards)

I started off with a piece of wood that is 12 inches long and 5 inches wide. Actually, it was one of those tacky cheap plaques from The Dollar Tree. I like using them for projects like these because they are already painted so you don't have to paint the sides. You do have to sand down the side you'll be decopauging on pretty well though in order for it to stick.

While it was drying, I got to work on my clothespins. Originally I was going to paint my clothespins red and green but then decide decoupaging scrapbook paper on to them would probably be easier and less time consuming so that is what I did. All I did was cut my scrapbook paper to fit the clothespins, brushed on a layer of Mod Podge, and then put the paper on it and smooth it down. I did that to each side.

Once my board was dry, I cut my scrapbook paper slightly larger than the board. I brushed a layer of Mod Podge onto the board and put my paper on it smoothing it down to remove any wrinkles or bubbles. Then I brushed on another layer of Mod Podge and let it dry.

I purposely cut the paper slightly larger than the board so I could sand off the edges of the excess paper. I like doing this because I think it just gives it a more finished look.

Using my Silhouette machine, I cut out the words "Merry Mail" as well as a couple of holly leaves and berries. I ran those through my Xyron sticker machine and stuck them on the board.

Then I took red and green ribbons and glued them down on the back of the board. I also created a hanger using some of the green ribbon and secured that in the back as well.

I really love how this turned out. My only complaint is that I should have used a bigger board. These photos were taken at the beginning of the month before many cards had arrived and now that more have it is starting to get crowded. But I figure I can double them up if I need to.

How do you display the Christmas cards you receive??

(Linking up to the parties listed in my sidebar) 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quote of the Week: The Way you Spend Christmas

"The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much you spend on Christmas." 
- Henry David Thoreau 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekend Wonders: The One with Yummy Treats

I have seen so many yummy holiday treats (some sweet and some savory) featured on various blogs lately. Below are some of my favorites.

Sweet Treats
There is something about the holidays that makes me crave red velvet cake. Perhaps that is when I remember my Grandmother making it. These red velvet cake balls at Susannah's Kitchen don't look too difficult and they sure do look yummy.

Skinny No Bake Cookies
These cookies come from one of my favorite food blogs, Gina's Skinny Recipes. She is amazing at taking a regular favorite recipe and tweaking it into a low calorie, low fat version that still tastes delicious and this cookie recipe looks no different.

How cute would these pancakes shared at Kitchen Fun with my Three Sons be to serve on Christmas morning?!?

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Need a treat in a rush? These hot chocolate cupcakes at Tip Junkie are store bought cupcakes that have been dolled up!

Candy Cane Trifle

This candy cane trifle shared at The Scrap Shoppe looks absolutely divine!

My family always enjoys appetizers after attending church on Christmas Eve so I was on the lookout for different appetizer recipes. 

These bacon and onion cheese balls shared at Nap Time Journal sound different but yummy.

Tidy Mom shares this easy recipe for Garlic Chicken Puffs.

I'm loving this healthy Christmas themed snack shared at Little Wonders.

Snowman Pizza
This snowman pizza at Delia Creates is festive and fun!

What yummy treats will you be making this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Noah and the Santa Hat

Noah's new found love of hats that started over the summer and carried on through baseball has continued into Christmas. He's constantly talking about Santa's hat and wearing his own Santa hat. He even wore it when we were watching Christmas movies.

He does look pretty cute in it, doesn't he?!?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

JOY Jars

I was inspired when I saw these "Thanks" jars before Thanksgiving and immediately knew I wanted to do something similar as part of my Christmas decor so I began saving jars and right after Thanksgiving, grabbed 3 jars, some scrapbook paper, and got to work. 

Here's what I came up with........ 

Battery operated tea lights are sitting inside each jar. 

I simply cut my scrapbook paper to fit the jars, secured it in the back with tape so I could re-use the jar after the Christmas season, and then cut a J, O, and Y from red cardstock using my Silhouette machine. I adhered the letters to the jar with pop dots to give them a bit of dimension and voila! 

Linking to the parties listed in my sidebar

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quote of the Week: Every Time a Bell Rings

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings." 
- It's a Wonderful Life

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend Wonders: The One with Christmas Printables

There are so many cute Christmas printables out there. Below are just a few of my favorites.

Christmas Subway Art
I love this adorable subway art printable from Bunch of Craft.

Gift Tags
I love these gift tags over at Sass and Peril.

Merry Christmas Banner

This is a cute printable banner over at The Red Kitchen.

Tags (and more!)
Cute tags and more are avaiable for download at Catch my Party.

Christmas Lunch Box Notes
Cute, fun, and festive lunch box notes are available for download over at Darling Doodles.

Shopping Lists
This printable is adorable shopping lists from the Paper and Glitter Blog.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Giving Heart

Noah has such a giving heart and at times I find myself surprised and proud at how much he likes to give to others.

At Noah's school, the kids are awarded points based on behavior and then they can "spend" those points in the school store each Friday. Noah's improved leaps and bounds with behavior and completing tasks this school year and has been able to go to the school store and spend his points just about every Friday.

Very rarely does Noah purchase anything for himself at the school store. Most of the time he brings home a gift for me, my parents, or J. Last Friday, he came home from school excitedly telling us to open his backpack. We pull out a royal blue t-shirt with a picture of multiple puppies (some even wearing hats!) printed on it. As I looked at the shirt, I noticed it was HUGE. I looked at the size and realized it was about J's size. I asked him who he got the shirt for and he sweetly replied, "Daddy."

J wasn't thrilled at the thought of wearing a shirt with puppies on it out in public so he slept in and then gave it to Noah to sleep in since Noah does like to occasionally sleep in J's shirts when he is at work.

I love how he puts others before himself when he has earned a reward. I think it's something we could all learn from and I really hope he never loses this quality.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Emailing Santa

Recently I helped Noah email Santa. We used this website to send his letter to Santa. It was easy to use and he even got a letter back from Santa right away!

For himself he asked Santa for more art supplies, lots and lots of paper, some DVDs, and a Clemson jersey like Daddy's. He also asked for a Clemson shirt, doggie treats, and doggie toy for his pup Paisley.

The website gave him a couple of different choices of how to tell Santa what his behavior has been. I suggested choosing the "angel with a crooked halo" but Noah insisted on choosing the "sweet angel a top the tree." Too bad there wasn't an "angel choir boy" option!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Guest Blogging at The Crafty Scientist

Yesterday and today I have been featured at The Crafty Scientist. Yesterday, Mel (a fellow Clemson fan!!) posted a crafty interview where I answered some fun, craft/blogging questions and then today I am sharing a tutorial on how to create my chalkboard ornaments.

Head on over to The Crafty Scientist and check them out!

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Year's Snow Bars

Every year I make what I have come to call "Snow Bars." They are candy bars (I use Hershey's chocolate bars though you could really use any type of candy bar) wrapped up to look like snowmen. I first made these for a craft show a few years back and they were a big hit and remain a big hit every year.

Over the years, I have varied how I make these just a little bit. Originally I wrapped the bars with white paper and then drew on the snowman features. But last year, I discovered these printable wrappers by Laurie Furnell and have been using them ever since. Laurie shares this file for free and you can download it here.

For the hats I use children's socks. I get them at The Dollar Tree and you get three pairs of socks for 1.00. This year, I started by them in the summer as soon as they started putting out cute children's socks. I cut off the toe part of the sock and discard then I slip the sock over the top of the bar to create the snowman's hat, roll it up a little bit, and then I secure it with a little bit of glue under the sock so it doesn't slip off when they are being handled. I then tie a bit of ribbon at the top of the hat. 

These little bars are easy and inexpensive to put together and remain one of my favorite Christmas crafts!

(Linking up to the crafty parties listed in my sidebar)

ETA: It looks like the freebie is no longer for sell but you can purchase the wrapper file on Etsy for $1.00 here