Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Honey Bunches of Oats Giveaway!

The nice people at Purex sent me a box of the newest flavor of Honey Bunches of Oats to try. The new flavor is Tropical Blends - Mango Coconut. It has all the yummy stuff that regular Honey Bunches of Oats has, with a new tropical twist. There are mango flavored flakes, real coconut shavings, and coconut flavored granola clusters. My kiddos were excited to try this new variety. Jack has been interested in mangoes for some reason lately, and Harry has been asking about when we are going to Hawaii, (I wish,) so it came at just the right time. :)

The good news for you is that two lucky winners will each get a coupon for a box of free Honey Bunches of Oats! You can try out the new Tropical Blends, or use it for another flavor that you already love. And, they are having a Tropical Trio Sweepstakes to help kick off the new product. One of the prizes is a trip to Hawaii, so maybe Harry's wish will come true. ;)

Contest rules and legal stuff: Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. The first entry is a mandatory follow the blog entry. Leave your email address so I can contact you if you win! Earn a bonus second entry by leaving a comment saying how you'd use the product. I will draw the winners on Sunday, March 10. I received this product for free from Purex. As a Purex Insiders blogger, I agreed to try the product and post a review on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Purex. This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 25, 2013

One Year Later

This past weekend marked one year since Harry first got SJS. In some ways it seems hard to believe that it all started that long ago. But looking at him playing and being happy sometimes makes it seem like it's impossible that it even happened at all. Friday was the one year mark of him being hospitalized, followed up the next day by being intubated and transferred to St. Louis. We decided instead of wallowing in unhappy memories, to create new, happy ones. So, rather than recount all the details while reflecting on where we were this time last year, I want to talk about a positive part of the whole experience.

Having a critically ill child is probably one of the most difficult things a family can go through. It is physically, emotionally, and financially draining. Thankfully, Ronald McDonald House is able to help with all of those needs. We have had the opportunity to stay at two different Ronald McDonald Houses: when Jack was born and when Harry was sick. Though the houses were different, the basics were the same. They provide very, very affordable lodging to families with children in hospitals far from home. (Think less than $10 a night!) And, no one is turned away for not being able to pay. In addition to that, every night, a volunteer group comes and cooks a free dinner for the families staying in the house. There are also snacks and other food available for the families at no cost. There is also a free laundry room at each house. In St. Louis, the hospital has a Ronald McDonald House lounge in the hospital. It had showers (way nicer than the ones in the family lounge at the PICU,) snacks, computers, books, and much more to help keep parents comfortable while staying with their sick children. They also had free laundry facilities. Often, the awesome volunteers would switch out the laundry and fold it for the parents. The Ronald McDonald House Charity works hard to meet the most basic needs of families while they are going through one of the worst times they will likely have in their lives.

I think that when people donate to charities, they sometimes wonder if the contribution really helps the people it's supposed to help. You can rest assured that donations to the Ronald McDonald house really are making a difference in the lives of the people they help. If you'd like to make a contribution to this worthy charity, there are many ways you can help. The easiest way is to drop your change in those collection boxes in every McDonald's restaurant. Last year, those boxes collected more than $27 million to help families of sick kids! If you live near a Ronald McDonald House, they could use donations of travel sized toiletries, toys, and food. A more specific list can be found here. You can also get a group together and volunteer to cook dinner one night. There were church groups, co-workers from an insurance office, and just groups of friends wanting to help out that provided meals during our two stays. More information on volunteering can be found here. Doing something small can really add up to help families.

Looking back at the past year, I want to again thank everyone who has prayed for Harry and helped our family in so many ways. We could not have hung in there without you and really appreciate all of you. Thank you!!! Hopefully, this time next year I will be writing about how this is all a distant memory :)


Friday, February 15, 2013

An Update on Harry

Harry had an appointment with his regular eye doctor last week. This seems like the easiest way to update everyone who wants to know what's going on.

A few weeks ago, Harry had another tear in his left cornea. The good news is that it is all healed up. Unfortunately, it has caused even more imperfections in the already damaged cornea. In December, the cornea specialist recommended the use of contacts for the next ten to fifteen years to help regain his vision. (You can read the details of that here.) Cory and I took him to several appointments trying to get the contact in, and it wasn't going well at all. I went into last week's appointment with a whole presentation of why the contacts weren't a good idea for Harry. (Trying to put them in made tearing the cornea more likely, it seemed more invasive than the possibility of having two surgeries fifteen years apart, etc.) As I started to launch into my arguments, the doctor told me that I didn't need to convince her, because she was one hundred percent on the same page as me. So, that was a big relief. It made me appreciate, once again, what a great doctor she is. It's nice when some positive things happen at the appointments. :)

On the less positive end of things, a few eyelashes have returned in his right eye, which has been relatively problem free since August. They are scratching his cornea, though thankfully, not in an area that is affecting his vision. It is pretty uncomfortable for him, and increases his risk of an infection. So, they will need to be dealt with. His right eye hasn't had any vision problems, so it's important to get this taken care of before it starts to cause problems. These are lashes that have already been removed with electrolysis and have come back. The chance of lashes returning is about one in three. Since these didn't respond to electrolysis the first time, the two most likely solutions are cryogenically freezing the lashes, which has a one in ten chance of the lashes returning, or doing the reshaping/skin graft surgery that he had on his left eye in August. (You can read the details of that here) Harry has an appointment with the surgeon in about a week and a half. We haven't seen him since late September, and though he's very nice, we parted hoping we wouldn't need to see each other ever again. So, we'll know more about what will happen with the right eye after we meet with him. The dilemma in what treatment to choose is that if the eyelashes keep coming back, he will need to have surgery over and over again, which would probably lead up to him having to do the more intense skin graft surgery. So, do we want to potentially put him through several smaller surgeries and still do the bigger one, or skip straight to the bigger one, which could possibly be unnecessary. What Cory and I would like is for Harry to have to do the least invasive and the least amount of surgery possible. Hopefully, the surgeon will know just what to do!

For the left eye, Harry has an appointment with the cornea specialist on Monday to reassess the contact situation. The three likely possible outcomes of that appointment are: that he'll say to keep going with the contacts, he'll decide to do a surgery on the cornea using a laser to reshape it and fix the imperfections, or he'll recommend a cornea transplant. (Harry's regular doctor assures me that the last one is very, very unlikely and would be the last resort if the other options didn't work.) No great solutions here, but the reshaping surgery is the one we are kind of hoping for. It has the best chance of being permanent and not super invasive.

So, that's what's going on. We appreciate everyone who prays for Harry. His specific prayer needs right now would be that the doctors are able to make the best decisions, and that the treatments are successful. Also, once we figure out how to get the left cornea into better shape, we would appreciate prayers that the vision in his left eye will return. His left eye vision is 20/200, so while he can see some out of it, it is considered legally blind. Prayers for him to not be uncomfortable, and to recover well from the treatments the doctors decide on would be great, too! Again, thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for him all this time!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Harry Turns Five!!!!!

Since October, Harry has been telling me that he wanted a Phineas and Ferb party. He had a lot of plans, including me making "Phineas and Ferb suits" for everyone. (I told him I wouldn't be able to do that, but maybe I could make Perry hats.) Anyway, I had a whole Phineas and Ferb party planned, (including a scavenger hunt based on the theme song. I need to remember to give Frankenstein's brain back to Steph!) and about three weeks before his party, he let me know he now wanted a dragon and knight party. (He got an awesome dragon castle from Grandma and Grandpa Yeager, which was also in the playroom at the hospital. It's pretty much the only thing he remembers about being in the hospital and is definitely his number one favorite toy.) So, feeling slightly panicked with the quickly approaching party date, I scrapped the Phineas and Ferb party and threw together a dragon and knight party. I think it turned out pretty great.

The first request that Harry had was a pinata. I found a good tutorial for a dragon pinata here. Some changes I made were to use a flour and water mixture for the paper mache'. (Two cups of flour and two and a half cups of water.) Also, I just used newspaper, no craft paper. And I definitely do NOT reccomend drying it in front of a space heater. I put it in front of a fan overnight, which worked really well. The kids really liked making it. Jack said how fun it was. I replied that it was messy, and he said, "It's fun because it's messy!"

At the party, the kids decorated poster board shields. (I traced a toy shield from the Dollar Tree.) Then they armed themselves with these inflatable swords to get ready for "The Quest." (Big thanks to Steph for ordering them with her Prime account so they got here in time for the party!) "The Quest" was the game. It started with pin the flame on the dragon, which I made from construction paper. Then, the kids needed to collect boulders (balloons with candy in them,) knock down the castle wall (big cardboard bricks,) collect the dragon eggs from the nest (spray painted Easter eggs filled with candy,) and capture the dragon (the pinata.)

Cory made an amazing dragon cake. (I wish that the people of Coles County had a great need for party planning. Then I could have a job planning parties, and Cory could make all of the cakes for the parties. If only...) The food was dragon wings (chicken wings,) dragon claws (Bugles,) fruit swords, dragon scales (chips,) veggies, cheese and crackers, dragon eggs (Jello jiggler eggs,) and dragon egg punch (cran-apple juice and Sprite with egg shaped ice cubes made in the Jello egg mold and my develed egg tray.) Harry had so much fun! Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate his special day! Here are a bunch more pictures!

Here's a list of websites where I got party ideas:
my Pinterest birthday board

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Borax and Purex Crystals for Baby Winners!

The six winners for the 20 Mule Team Borax and Purex Crystals for Baby giveaways!

20 Mule Team Borax

Cat M.

Sara Y. (I know it says M. on the Rafflecopter widget, but that's her maiden name initial!)


Purex Crystals for Baby

Realia M.

Jill L-R.

Heather C.

Congrats to all the winners!!! If I know you in person, I will get it to you ASAP. If I don't know you, I will be emailing you soon for you contact info, so I can send you your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered!!!

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