Monday, December 2, 2013

Couponing

I have added an additional title to my job description. Extreme couponer. (Well, extreme couponer apprentice) We could all stand to save a little bit of money at the grocery store right? We knew when I quit working we would have to cut back on certain things and we have but sometimes it seems like you can never cut back enough. There is always something that goes wrong or that requires extra money.

We live on one income and with 5 people and 2 in diapers it doesn't always go as far as we would like it to. Our grocery bill was taking over. We were spending a 1/4 of our income at Wal-Mart and Food City and I refuse to do it any longer.

Between household items, food, diapers, cleaning supplies, and wipes we easily spend $500+/month in Wal-Mart. I don't buy meat from there so that doesn't include the Food City bill.

I started watching Extreme Couponing on Netflix   *we don't have cable or satellite TV just Netflix* one day and got inspired. Obviously I didn't walk into the store on my first trip with a $1000 worth of products for free BUT within 3 shopping trips I have saved at least $150. I feel like this is a good start.

Everyone keeps saying "When you figure it out, you need to teach me." So this is the beginning of my lessons :) I just wanted to write a few basics that I have learned very quickly!

Here are a few things to know up front before you even begin couponing
  1. Go Big or Go Home!! What I mean by this is you either have to be committed to doing it or not do it at all. If aren't going to be extreme you aren't going to see major savings if that's okay with you great BUT if you want to see major savings you are going to have to be extreme.
  2. Prepare to have a stockpile of all the things your family wants/needs. You have to get it while the getting is good. So, this may mean that you buy 40 bottles of BBQ sauce because it's your favorite brand and it's only $.25 a bottle.
  3. ORGANIZATION!!! <---I can't stress this one enough. A pile of coupons on the counter, in your purse, or in the car does you NO good. However you choose to organize them is up to you and what works best for you.
  4. Be prepared to spend some serious time looking online and in the newspapers for coupons and to see what's on sale this week.
  5. The way that you get huge savings on items is by only buying #1. What's on sale already and #2 pairing what's on sale with what you have a coupon for.
  6. Throw your brand loyalty out the window! Now in our house I'm the one that struggles with this the most. However, I'm learning to at least try it I don't buy 5 of something even if it's a great deal *unless it's free* if I don't know if we are going to like it or use it. And there are certain things that I refuse to change brand names on.
  7. Don't go for the biggest container of anything! Always go for the smallest that your coupon will allow!
  8. Prepare to buy multiple Sunday newspapers or be willing to scavenge to find extra inserts from them.
Some blogs I have found very helpful is www.thekrazycouponlady.com and www.thriftyjinxy.com. And some great websites to look for coupons are www.coupons.com, www.hopster.comwww.pgeveryday.com, and www.smartsource.com.


This is my coupon binder. I have baseball card organizer sheets in it and each slot holds a different coupon. I also have it divided into sections like-canned food, freezer section, refrigerated foods, baby, medicine, cleaning, etc.

Happy Couponing!!

X

Live With Abandon

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bunk Bed Adventures

My husband and I decided a while back we wanted to get the boys bunk beds since it will be a long while before we have the chance for all 3 kids their own rooms. A couple of weekends ago we finally got them and we rearranged the rooms and everything else for them to fit in the house.

We got them all set up and everything in their rooms changed around (because we also switched which bedroom they had with Payson's) one evening while Mom kept the youngest two for us. It took like 12 hours to get everything set up. Then the very next day we went up stairs to start settling down for the evening and I walk into the boys' room to find a slat from the top bunk had busted down the middle. Splinters were everywhere. *Only my children could do this in ONE day and they had only been up there for MAYBE 30 minutes by themselves all day long!!

My latest adventure is couponing. I am trying very hard to save us money on our grocery bill *I believe this maybe the new American dream*

Dalton is doing so great with Zona, with school, and with therapies! He is going to be having his tonsils removed the week of Thanksgiving. He won't partake in the normal Thanksgiving foods just so everyone doesn't think I'm being mean. I figured Thanksgiving break was better than Christmas break.

I can't wait to start decorating for Christmas. It is my FAVORITE holiday!! If you need me I will be absorbed in Pinterest figuring out the best way to turn my trash into decorations! :)

X
I added the link for You Are More by Tenth Avenue North because I feel like sometimes we all need a reminder that if you are a born again believer "You have been remade" Our sins were washed away with Jesus blood. Not some of them or a few of them. He didn't go through them and say I will cover this one but not that it's too bad. It covered them all forever! Thank you Jesus!!

You Are More-Tenth Avenue North

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Settling in

We have been home for a week and are just about settled back into a routine. We all went back to work/school on Monday and the week went pretty well. Zona has found her place in our family very well.

Monday-Wednesday went pretty well the same as always. School, therapies, work, and so on. We did have to make a trip to the doctor for blood work for 2 kids and shots for all 3.

Dalton went on a field trip this week to the fire station so we utilized our tethering option which came in very handy since Dalton was having kind of an off day.


Then we had Halloween. The kids were power rangers and were super cute! We didn't do a lot of trick or treating. We hit up just the local area here then headed back to the house to hand out candy!


Then we got to Friday. Dalton doesn't have meltdowns very often nor is he normally aggressive especially with me. But Friday was apparently a special day because it was an anything goes kind of day. It's so hard on days like that especially when it's been a while and even more so when it happens in public. Because even if everyone within a 50 yard radius isn't looking at you, you feel like they are (most of the time people have to look). Not that I don't understand even now that I know how it feels if you see a child having a meltdown and people trying to restrain him you are going to look but you don't have to stare. But being the person on the receiving the end of the looks feels like a 1000 eyes boring holes through you.


Friday night Charlie ran to the store to grab a few things milk, bread, eggs, bologna (worth it's weight in gold if you ask the kids in this house), and pop. When he got home we were asleep and he for some reason left it all on the table, all night long. So Saturday morning we had to run to Wal-Mart. My first trip into a store with all 3 kids and Zona. It went pretty well. BUT, Zona is very very picky about where she uses the bathroom and I had taken her out twice that morning but she wouldn't go. Then I guess she couldn't hold it any more and as we are working through the meat aisle in Wal-Mart she is walking and pooping :/ I'm not sure which is worse meltdowns with Dalton or a pooping dog in Wal-Mart. However, I had my potty kit in my purse so I cleaned it up and went on my way.

Saturday night Dalton and Zona spent their first night in Dalton's bed. They both had to go use the bathroom about 4:30 then they both went back to bed and stayed there the rest of the night.


Today we spent the day with my sister and her family and had all kinds of fun :)


X

Romans 12:12 NKJV---rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Almost finished!

Tomorrow is our Public Access Test and if all goes well Graduation Day!!! Woooooo!!!

We have had a great experience here at 4 Paws and we love love love our Arizona! But we are definitely ready to go home to our own beds and to get settled back into our routines!

This morning we did three tracks and Arizona was a rock star every time! The last track we did completely in the woods, a lot of what we have done has been Dalton walking across a field then just inside the tree line but back home woods is more likely! Arizona found her boy without any issues.

Tethering has been a bit of a challenge so far, not for Arizona but for Dalton. We aren't sure what part of it his doesn't like just yet but we will continue working on it when we get back home where we can play around with the options a bit more.

Arizona also does some tricks like shaking hands, giving high five, playing dead, and we had to teach her to "fist bump" since this is Dalton's new thing! We worked on "giving kisses" a little bit last night but we have deterred her from licking from the beginning so this is a little confusing for her while sometimes it's okay and sometimes it's not so we aren't sure that we are going to pursue this one. However, Dalton thought it was hilarious when she was doing it.








We can't wait for all of our family, friends, teachers, and therapists to meet Arizona when we get home!!

I attached Mandisa Overcomer below especially for all the 4 Paws families. We were VERY lucky to get Arizona as soon as we did but these families work sooo hard to make this dream happen for their children/family! Even when the fundraising goal seems mountainous they just keep at it!!

X

Mandisa-Overcomer

Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh tethering....Day #7 & #8

Have you ever worked so hard for something then when you finally get it you have to take a moment step back and say "Am I sure this is right?" That's how we felt about the dog. We have fund raised and been waiting to get the dog for right at a year (some families wait 3 years!) so as we pulled into the parking lot the first day of class, I was thinking "Uh, I hope we were right." Right away when Dalton started taking up with her I knew we were.

Then the first day of tracking I was yet again reassured that I was right. This was one of the best ideas I have ever had!

Then today was the first day we have tried tethering and behavior disruption. It is definitely confirmed, I'm a genius!

For the first time we walked through the mall without anyone having a death grip on Dalton or him being on a harness or being in a stroller or buggy! He had his freedom to walk around and look at stuff but not so much freedom that he could take off running. I had a little peace of mind about him not running away!

Then we did a few tracks in the mall which really reaffirmed my genius. I now have a little bit of a security blanket that if he were to get away Arizona could find him in a matter of minutes.

The dog is also trained for behavior disruption. For us that means when Dalton gets overwhelmed and starts jumping and hand flapping the dog has been trained to come over and paw at him to distract him and to draw his attention to her. The dog is also trained to provide some deep pressure by laying over Dalton's lap to help calm him down, we can use the touch command for the dog to paw at Dalton when he jumps and flaps his arms to distract him, or nuzzle him when he bites his shirt or fingers (we are still working on this one). As you can tell Arizona's abilities are priceless! Plus Dalton and I taught her how to fist bump tonight.

The fist bump is his new thing along with high five. Of course Arizona fist bumps the same way she gives high five it's just Dalton doing something different but he doesn't care about the details! :)

However, dog supplies are not! I don't know if you guys have been to a Pet Smart or a like store lately but it's crazy!!

Needless to say now I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt I was right to pursue getting this dog and if I ever had to I would do it all over again I totally would and wait longer if necessary!!





We can't wait to get back so that everyone can meet the newest member of our family!

Below is the link to Chris Tomlin's - Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone). This is a favorite for me. Amazing Grace is a song I have sung almost everyday since my kids were born as a lullaby. God's grace is simply amazing, it's never ending.

X

Chris Tomlin--Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day #5 & #6

Yesterday I was a slacker! This being away from home and constantly on the go is starting to wear me down a little :) But we were up and back at it again today even if we were running a little bit late getting started!


This was after our tracking this morning in the rain! Today was the first day we got to take the lead about half way through the track. I definitely see why the lady trainer wears a glove on the hand she holds the flexi-lead with. Arizona is strong and fast as, I'm sure, the other dogs are and it doesn't take long for your hand to get raw. However, it is totally worth it! We have started working on a few short tracks in the hotel. Hopefully, it will start getting a little easier each time for Arizona to know who "her boy" is.

Payson, Nick, and mom went to a wedding today of a family member that lives close by. Apparently Payson was a wild woman, the norm, and Nick was as good as a baby can be. :)

Dalton is continuously warming up to Arizona and she is quickly finding her place in our little family. Charlie and I both agree that Papaw is going to love her which will make Dalton like her even more! One week down and one more week to go before we get to go home.

X

It was one of these kind of days today! --->   Free to Be Me

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day #4

Our tracking went pretty well this morning. They were mowing at the park we went to so it took Arizona a little longer to catch the scent and it was harder for her to keep it BUT she did it! I'm still just in awe of the tracking.


Arizona was listening intently during class!


However her boy was fast asleep again :)

It amazes us how quickly he is warming up to her. Payson was even petting on her A LOT tonight. Arizona hasn't quite figured Nick out just yet. I think she is trying to decide if he is a toy because he is so small. Every time he gets near her he gets a good licking right in the face.

Tomorrow will be our first public outing with the dogs and I'm excited to see how it goes. Tethering is a another BIG BIG deal for us so we are excited to start practicing that!

Below I attached the link for Casting Crowns "Praise you in this Storm" video. For a very specific reason. When we first started our journey finding Dalton's diagnosis, dealing with doctors, school systems and therapist, then getting a diagnosis, and finding a path we needed to be on to help him in the most effective way this was kind of my theme song. Because there were some weeks that every day seemed like a storm. Some days I was taking it hour by hour.

Once we found a diagnosis it was more like what we thought was a small detour in life changed the whole direction of it. The journey was just beginning! Our path is continuously changing depending on his needs and the other needs of our family as a whole. But I don't at this current time feel quite like everyday is a "storm" it's more like we have a few "misty spots" throughout the day.

But today I was thinking I want to praise God the same whether we have a stormy day or a misty day or a bright sunshiny day! Because regardless He is in control. He is our God and we will praise Him regardless of our situation and current outlook on the day!

X

Casting Crowns--Praise You In This Storm

Day #3

Yesterday was our first tracking exercise and I'm pretty sure everyone was in awe! For us-the only thing that I could thing was this is why we are here* It was amazing the way she found them.

Charlie and Dalton probably walked out 50-75 yards (I'm terrible with measurement by just looking at stuff and Charlie and mom are asleep so that is a total guess :) ), they let Arizona watch for the first 20 yards then the trainer stepped in front of her so she couldn't see where they went after that. Then Charlie and Dalton at the end of the clearing stepped a few feet into the woods. But Arizona went right to them without hesitation.

When you're in constant fear of your child getting out of the house and wandering off by themselves, it dominants your life. Every time we go somewhere new our first thoughts aren't, "Oh this is going to be fun." or "The kids are going to love this!" it's "Where can Dalton get away the easiest" or "What aren't we going to be able to keep him away from?" I mean we still think about the first set of questions but they definitely aren't at the forefronts of our minds. Sometimes we flat out avoid situations that we know they would enjoy but are just too much risk with Dalton.

This dog obviously isn't going to take Dalton's desire to run off away. But what we hope for is that if he ever gets away she can find him, she will give us another set of eyes on him, and in public she will be tethered to him to help him not wander off.

They are also bonding really well. We are super excited about this! We are bribing the dog to like him :) We make sure he gives him the best treats every time she comes around and only the good ones like Beggin' Strips!



We are excited to go out on another tracking exercise today and to see what other cool tricks Arizona has up her sleeve!

X

Psalm 28:7 NKJV--The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Training Day #2

Day #2 went really well! Dalton is starting to warm up to Arizona even more. He let her set a little closer and was petting her a little more. We are super excited and happy with how he is accepting her just 2 days in.




Tomorrow will be our first tracking experience. The trainers will be running the dogs for the first couple of go rounds but I'm excited to see Arizona in action! This was a major reason for us to get the dog so we are wanting to see it first hand.

Tomorrow will also be the first day that Arizona gets to come back to the hotel with us. We brought her crate home tonight and a few other supplies for her. We are excited to see how everyone reacts to the dog being with us ALL the time.

Dalton amazes us everyday with his ability to adjust and change for the situation at hand. Sometimes we forget that our worries shouldn't hold him back or dictate what he can or cannot attempt. We try to prevent every meltdown or tear or bad day and sometimes if we just step back and let life happen it will be OKAY. He will adjust and accept. Not always by any means but so many times he surprises us with the things that he just accepts!

Today we were talking about how much more he is talking. I'm not sure why we are still surprised when he spouts off some big sentence but we are. We don't always know what he is talking about but he is trying to communicate so much more! We are very thankfully for the fact that it's improving.

X

Matthew 17:20 NKJV--So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Meeting Arizona!

We meet Arizona today! We were a little worried because before we left the house we asked Dalton if we could go get a dog and he said "no." Mostly because he just didn't understand. But we were fairly certain he would warm up to her and thankfully HE DID!!! All 3 of the kids actually responded really well. We were concerned mostly because they haven't been around dogs very much at all and she has been scared of the ones that she has been around.




 
 
 
Right after he woke up from a nap he was a little skeptical again but he was, in general, kind of grouchy after his nap.
 
We went over some simple obedience commands in class. We won't start tracking for a couple of days and it will be a couple of days before we can start bringing Arizona home with us in the evenings.
 
We are looking forward to learning all about Arizona and she was well behaved today! She didn't jump on the kids or try to lick them too much *unless she smelled treats :)*
 
Of course we had to have pizza for lunch to celebrate! The kids were really good all day today! Hopefully Dalton sleeps better tonight than last night!
 
X
 
1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV -- And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

We have arrived...

We traveled into Ohio to pick up our service dog yesterday!


This morning is the first morning of class and it's almost surreal. We have been working on this since last year but we thought we still have at least another year of waiting ahead of us. So to be here now and to have prepared in a week...it's just been a whirlwind.

There were times in our fundraising when I would be thinking to myself "is this really worth it." I dismissed it straightly because if I didn't think it was worth it why would anyone else? It's hard to fund raise that much money and to try to do it quickly so that the waiting is kept to a minimum. I feel very blessed to have this surprise dog come long earlier than expected!

Of course, at a gas station somewhere in KY, Dalton made a friend that had a 4 wheeler at a gas station. This older gentleman took him for a ride around the building. I was in the van and I could kind of hear the conversation going on between Charlie and the guy as he was asking if Dalton could go. I was thinking "Charlie please don't say yes, please don't say yes" Then of course Dalton got on the 4 wheeler and the gentleman's wife came out of the store and stood and talk to us while he rode. But I thought to myself that "it's terrible that in this day and age, we trust NO ONE!" There are some good people in this world.

The kids did really well on our adventure. We had to stop only 3 or 4 times, which isn't bad with 3 kids! Quite frankly I was getting more tired of being in a vehicle than they other I believe. Last night we got to go swimming. Which is Dalton's favorite activity! To our surprise Payson actually got in and loved it as well. She refused to get in the outdoor pool this summer but loved this one. It was supposed to be heated but it wasn't very warm, just warm enough to knock the chill off. So, Nick didn't spend a lot of time in the pool.

We are very very very excited to meet Arizona this morning. We are so thankful to everyone to helped us get here! Thankful that the good Lord had this special dog come around a little early than expected to help us out!

X

Job 35:11 NKJV -- Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth,
And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oh boy!

We are preparing for our trip...and by that I mean I am mentally deciding what to pack, I'm thinking about doing my laundry, and putting it off in just about every way possible. HA!

We are so excited to get there but I have no desire to do the laundry it requires to pack our bags. That's so terrible. It's the steps I have to walk to go downstairs to do the laundry and then have to go back up 2 flights of stairs to put it up and pack the bags. *I'm going to get MOTIVATED!*

This is going to be an interesting 2 weeks. We will be getting an inside dog for the first time EVER since our all 3 kids have been alive. We had one for a very short period of time when Dalton was little but not since then. I'm interested to see how they all react when the dog comes home with us and gets to go inside. *Thank goodness for dvd players*

We have tried to talk to Dalton about the dog but I don't think he quite understands just yet that we are actually going to "have" a dog. But I did get him to pick her out a doggie bowl for her food. Now if I could just get Nick and Payson to understand that it isn't for them...

Now I am going to go pack. Right after I make my list of everything that we need to pack :)

X

Isaiah 40:31 NKJV--
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thanks to the moon & back....

As many of you know we have been fundraising for a service dog for Dalton since November of 2012. Well on Sunday we were surprised when there was post for a special dog offered if you had raised at $5000 & could be at the facility in a short time frame. Out of the families that requested the dog Dalton was chosen!!!

Everyone meet Arizona--


We are so excited to meet her and welcome her to our family!!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible! In whatever way you helped it is greatly appreciated! We cannot wait to get to OH and start our training!

X

Every good thing-The Afters

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cutting toe nails


I always think to myself, If the kids would just go to sleep I could get so much accomplished. Ha!! What do I do when 2 out of 3 children are sleep? Well, that's a good question! I'm writing on my blog, of course!

Writing on my blog seems like a much better option than the laundry that needs to put away and the bags that need to be packed or the car that needs to be loaded up once the bags are packed.

Dalton has had a pretty good week at school. We are finally getting in a groove and he is accomplishing some work!

I know that cutting toe nails to most people is an everyday ordinary thing! No biggie. But in our household things like cutting nails or hair, brushing hair, or brushing teeth can but an ordeal. More so the nails & hair then anything else.

Cutting Dalton's hair is like taking his blood at times. It takes multiple people to hold him down and multiple attempts to get it right. About 1 1/2 months ago we conquered cutting his finger nails while he was awake. Of course he has to be watching Netflix on the iPad to do it but that's okay with me.

However, cutting his toe nails is a whole other story. I normally do it while he is completely asleep and I have to do it over the course of a few tries because he ends up waking up. Obviously, this is something we have been trying to get him to work through. For him cutting his toe nails is like fingernails on a chalkboard for most people. As soon as you grab his foot and tell him what you are doing he starts saying "No, No!" then proceeds to the crying and meltdown stage.

BUT yesterday we did it! Yep I cut his toe nails while he was awake and watching Netflix. No tears, no meltdowns, barely even an attempt to stop me. I was thoroughly excited.

X

Corinthians 9:15 NKJV
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What's it like to be a mom?

If someone asked me "What's it like to be a mom?" What would I say? Where to begin...

The experience is indescribable at times. To love a child gives a whole new meaning to love. It is a feeling unlike any other and to be love back by a child is just amazing. It can also be heartbreaking.

Smells of being a mother-pee, poop, spit up, puke, baby lotion, soured milk cup/bottle left under the couch or the bed.

Feelings-exhausted, wonderful, insane, crazy, loved, taken for grant.

What you hear- I'm pretty sure I'm told "NO" more now than I was as a teenager, "Me (this is what Dalton calls me instead of mommy), me, me, me what you doin." x10 :) I don't like to complain about what I hear because there was a time when I wondered if I would ever hear more than a handful of words from Dalton.

I wouldn't trade being a mom for anything in the world. God blessed me with 3 beautiful children and I'm convinced I'll come out on the other side of this wonderful journey as a better, slightly less sane, person.

We are finally getting settled in with school and the new medicines. All seems to be going pretty well. Dalton is starting to get some work done at school, Payson is starting to talk more, and Nick is crawling everywhere!!

X

Colossians 3:14
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Doctors, Therapists, Teachers...Oh My!

There are certain frustrations when you have a child with special needs-if you have a child with limited verbal ability, not knowing what they want or what hurts is at the top of the list. Finding a diagnosis that is for certain can be a challenge. But I know for me in the #1 slot has to be finding the right medical team to cover all of our needs.

Wading through doctors and therapists can be a trip and much like everything else it is a game of trial & error. We are on our 6 pediatrician! No I DO NOT enjoy changing doctors every time the wind blows but it is extremely hard to find a doctor who can cover all the basis we need them to cover. Thankfully, I believe we have finally found a pediatrician!

Therapists for Speech & OT isn't as bad because there aren't as many choices and luckily we hit the nail on the head with Speech. We love our private Speech Therapist and the great progress she has helped Dalton make.

But nonetheless the "Find the doctor" game is frustrating and there are times when you just want to give up. Why can there not be a road map with blinking lights that says "Right here, this is where you need to be!!!"

With teachers, most of the time, you are just at the mercy of the school system to get it right. I know here, there are only certain schools that have the programs that Dalton requires, so there isn't much of a choice. Not that ours isn't good. There just isn't any choices.

I hear "Brittany, I don't know how you do it." a lot. Honestly, I have only two secrets. My faith in the Lord, my savior, who I cry out to when it feels like the weight is too great to carry on my own (pretty much daily, sometimes hourly, & a few days every minute) and I have an awesome family to help me out!

But I believe that everyone has somethings in their lives that is their "weight." Everyone is different but we all have something that afflicts us. Mine is no greater than anyone Else's.

X

Deuteronomy 31:8-And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How dare I...

After I wrote the post earlier I went for my run and I couldn't figure out which was heavier my legs or my heart. Most of the time, I use that time NOT to think. Let's face it I don't exactly have a lot of down time between the kids, cleaning house, appointments for the kids, cooking, etc., etc.... I have learned to enjoy this busyness but I also enjoy the 30 minutes of me time that running as allowed me. 30 minutes where I don't have to think about anything, at all.

But tonight as I started my warm up walking, I was plagued by something. God keep throwing my blog post at me for some reason. So I started picking it apart trying to figure it out.

I came to a couple of conclusions: 1. My last posts have been pretty superficial and not at all what I wanted the posts to be when I started this blog. <--This reason then made me think about why I wasn't digging deeper to be truly honest about stuff when that is what I wanted for my blog to be honest about the issues, heart breaks, victories, good and bad days. Which lead to 2. I'm in a funk where I'm feeling sorry for myself for numerous, but not worthy reasons.

But even after I decided these reasons something was still there. God was still poking at me saying "Britt you are almost there but not quite. Dig deeper." So I said okay but I'm kind of lost can you give me a hint :) Isn't that how life often is. I don't know about everyone else but I pray for God to throw a sign right in front of my face with blinking lights that says "This way!! Right here! That's where I want you!!"

As I started my cool down walk it hit me. The internal argument I talked about earlier about whether to leave Dalton at school or not. That was what God was telling me to think about. I'm internally debating over whether or not to leave Dalton at a school and so many years ago Mary was standing by a crossing with a war raging inside of her, I'm sure.

I'm not saying that my argument wasn't a valid one because obviously there is a world of difference in the decision to be made. But a similarity nonetheless. As a mother we want to do what is best for our children, whether they are special needs or not, we just want to make the right decisions so that they can be as happy, healthy, and as successful as they can be.

I cannot begin to imagine the internal argument that raged inside of Mary as she watched her son, Jesus, nailed to a cross to die for my sins. How must she have felt?

I like to think that God gave her the most generous heart EVER otherwise how could she have stood by as it happened without scratching some one's eyes out or worse. God had designed Mary specifically for that job, he knew many years before it happened what would have to be done. There were numerous reasons that he picked her I'm sure of it. But knowing that her spirit would withstand the storm ahead had to be at the top of the list.

Then I got the both big pictures he was trying to point out to me...again. :) 1. That he choose me for my jobs just like he did Mary. He gave me the spirit that I would need to withstand the storms I would be faced with and the support system I needed to help me along the way. 2. To stop feeling sorry for myself. He hasn't given me a harder job than anyone else just a special one. Everyone has something that they have to deal with that isn't perfect in life.

X

John 19:25 NKJV-- Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother

Romans 4:25-5:2 NKJV-who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 8:38-39 NKJV-For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Back to school....

It's official Dalton has started his Kindergarten year. We are three days in and so far so good.


As you can see the first day he was super happy to be there! We started at a new school. I'm not quite sure how it's going to go just yet....Even though after last year I have a little bit more faith in the school system. The first day I was having an internal argument about whether to drop him off or not.

Last year was easier because I went in and had a meeting with the teacher before he went to school but since we moved so close to the time for school to start this year and was sent to the wrong school in the beginning I didn't have that chance. Hence my resistance. Therefore, I prayed real hard then walked him inside then waited by the phone and prayed the rest of the day. :)

I can see great strides in his behavior every day plus we started a new medicine to help with his anxiety because with his last growth spurt it has skyrocketed!

I am hoping and praying that this year is even better than last year and that he makes awesome progress. We shall see, only time will tell.

We have raised $8,000 to go toward Dalton's service dog!! *yay* Only $5,000 more to go....I'm excited about this!

This has been an exciting week for us, both Dalton and Payson have made a trip to the ER for different reasons and this momma is tired!

X

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fragile X Awareness Day

Today is the day. This is our second National Fragile X Awareness Day. Saturday our group, Fragile X Families of the Appalachians, hosted the Fragile X Festival 2013 in honor of today! We had a great turn out!

Every day I can see improvements in Dalton. Sometimes it is a very small thing but it's something! Looking back a year ago I can see a huge difference. He is able to answer most questions in an appropriate way and he is talking 5x what he was. We don't always know what he is talking about but he is trying. He is sometimes talking in complete sentences as well.

We are still fundraising for our service dog but we are about halfway there! yay** We are now selling t-shirts. To get one you can go to www.teespring.com/4paws4us or www.teespring.com/4paws4dalton. There are 2 different shirts to choose from. We have to sell at least 30 of a t-shirt before they will ship any of them. They will run until August 1st.

We have moved this week to a new place and we are trying to get settled in. We have stairs like 3 flights of them and we were worried to death about the kids falling down them. However, I was the first to fall because I simply wasn't paying attention. So much for worrying about the kids...

X

Proverbs 24:16 NKJV--For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again,
But the wicked shall fall by calamity.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Plans disrupted....

Charlie and I work very hard to have "a plan" for this or that. We have spent hours, even days sometimes debating about this or that. And yesterday was one of those days where the God said "You had a plan? Well, I'm changing it."

I feel like I spend at least half of my days planning how things will go, or where we are going to go, when the bills will be paid, or what's for dinner. However, my plans normally get disrupted. If not by God then most definitely by the kids. Example, Dalton-thinking"Mom wants me to look remotely clean because I have Speech and OT and must go out in public. How can I NOT do this? There's a purple sharpie!!!" Me talking to him-"Dalton was it really necessary to draw lines & circles ALL OVER your arms, legs, and stomach with the sharpie! }f you could just keep it on your legs and stomach next time so it can be covered, I would appreciate it."

It's Fragile X Awareness month and July 22nd is National Fragile S Awareness Day. July 20th will be our run/walk in honor of this day and we are super excited about it!!! I hope everyone will help us raise awareness this month!

X

Personal insight-I don't know if you know this, I'm sure most of you do, but God waits on no man and when he says something will happen this way or that, it will regardless of our opinions.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It all comes back at once....

We had to cancel the event on June 29th for Dalton's dog due to lack of availability and schedule conflicts. We do intend to try again but just aren't able to do it on this day.

For the most part we have settled into a routine and have accepted what Dalton's diagnosis means for our family and for him. But I have days were the feelings that I felt the day we found out come back at me in a rush. Most of the time it is set in motion by me seeing someone Dalton's age accomplish something I always thought he would do or that I think he would like to do. Sometimes they are set on by the frustration caused by dealing with silly doctors.

I'm not sorry for what he is or for what our life is. God gave us an amazing gift in Dalton that we couldn't have even begin to imagine.

I try to limit my pity party to 5 minutes maximum before I put my big girl panties on and continue about my day. I say pity party because Dalton doesn't care what anyone else is doing and he doesn't know any different than how he has always been. He will pat me on my head and say "Me okay, me fine." --He calls me (mommy) Me.

He always has a smile to offer to cheer me up and make my day bright again.

Now who could be even slightly unhappy after seeing that smile!!

In honor of National Fragile X Awareness Day our LINKS group will be hosting a Fragile X Festival July 20th in Bristol, VA! We are super excited about spreading awareness to our area!

X

James 1:12 NKJV

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The run...

The run went awesomely!! When we left the house Saturday morning headed to town for the 5k/walk. We had 15 runners who had pre-registered for the race and 16 for the walk. We ended up having 55 runners and 24 walkers! Blown away--that is the only words to express how I felt! God was there I know that for sure. I prayed and prayed that he would bring people in to help support and as usual he showed up in a big way!

It was a shocking turnout for our first race. I was amazed and touched by everyone who showed up for the race. I'm in awe of the support that flows out of my hometown. Every time I ask they show up, hand out, give or whatever we ask of them. Growing up the first thing on my to do list was to get out of this place and now I can't imagine not being here. Even though we currently live in Bristol, we are here often and wouldn't trade it for the world!

Of course everything went wrong. We ran out of t-shirts because we didn't expect that many people to show up. Then I messed up and didn't buy enough awards because apparently my counting skills have declined! BUT everyone was very understanding and cooperative and it was much appreciated. Afterwards we went down to Heritage days and painted faces. I didn't see very many kids' faces without some type of face painting on them.

Now that many more people have at least heard of Fragile X. Everyone who participated got a flyer telling what Fragile X is and how it can affect someone. I just hope they read at least some of it...

Now it's on to our next shindig :) Dalton's dog! June 29th we are going to get it done! (Fingers crossed) We lack about $8,500 to having the dog paid for. I know that God's will will be done above all else.

X

Matthew 19:26 NKJV--"With God all things are possible.”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Getting Ready....

The 1st Annual Pound Heritage Days Fragile 5X Race/Walk will be held Saturday May 25th starting at 9:00 am and registration starting at 8:15 am. We have spent this week getting ready for the big day!

I am so excited to be able to raise awareness in my hometown and raise a little bit of money for our LINKS group!

I have all the racer packets ready for everyone who has pre-registered and hopefully we will have several people who just show up tomorrow to race/walk!

Dalton had his last day of Pre-K this Wednesday and he did an awesome job! He sang (kinda) and danced with the rest of his class in front of the families that were there.


This is Charlie and Dalton on the last day of school before his program started! We are glad he had such a great year and has made some really good progress. We are hoping that next year is even more successful!

We are hoping to finish up the fundraising for his dog in June. June 29th we are having a big event at JW Adams Combined School. There will be something going on all day long!

X

Philippians 4:19 NKJV:And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Music To My Ears....

It's been a long time since I got to write on her. We have been super busy planning fundraising for the service dog for Dalton and planning fundraisers for the Fragile X Families of the Appalachians LINKS group.

And in the middle of all the planning madness, Dalton has done exceedingly well at school and with talking more. We are working on the clarity of what he does say. I had an IEP meeting with next year's teacher last week. He will be in Kindergarten! Blows my mind how time is going by so fast! I just hope he does as well next year as he has done this year.

BUT I have even bigger news :) About a month ago, I received my first "I Love You" from Dalton. He was about to get in trouble, so he grabbed my face planted a kiss on me and said I Love you. Apparently he knew there was no way he would be in trouble after that. It was the sweetest words I have ever heard.

He amazes me every day with what he has accomplished,  his imagination, and how much he has matured in a short time. Don't get me wrong we have our days and still have many struggles BUT we are moving forward all the time and to me that's a success by any measurement system!

I have to keep reminding myself that the timeline that I have in my head or heart may not always be Dalton's timeline or God's.

1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV0
 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man. The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Genetics

When you have a “genetic difference” it gives a whole new meaning to the saying “bad genes.” Sometimes that phrase even stings a little after you actually find out you have what some would consider “bad genes.” Since we have received our diagnosis I have come in contact with families that embrace their “genes” and with families that deny them. Regardless of which side of the fence they choose to be on, it doesn’t change the genes that they have.
 
Our heritage and genes are what they are. In the end they can’t be changed, hidden, or denied. Most of the time you have no idea of the “differences” you have in your genes or chromosomes until something happens and there are reasons to question it.
I have a broken X and my husband has a difference on his 5th chromosome. The difference between the two is that my broken X finally decided to show up. Charlie inherited his difference from someone just like I inherited my broken X from someone.
I love the statement “It can’t be me, I don’t have any symptoms!” Well, I didn’t either! I never have trouble making friends, being in social situations, and was generally a straight A student. Refusing to be tested so that “you” don’t have to “admit” that it could have come from you doesn’t change whether it did or not. It just means that you don’t know for sure!
Regardless of how we feel, whether it be guilty, sad, or torn. Why as parents, if we know it is a possibility, would we not be tested to see if we are carriers of something that could affect our children? Our opinions don’t change what is.
2 Corinthians 1:7 NKJV And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
X

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Beauty of a Heartbreak

Some heartbreaks we will never understand this side of heaven and when we get there the reasoning behind them won't matter. I believe our heartbreaks are allowed to happen to teach us different lessons and levels of understanding.

A year into our Fragile X diagnosis, I'm learning to find the beauties in this heartbreak. For every path the diagnosis closed off two more have opened. This diagnosis has brought a new level of understanding and compassion to myself and my whole family.

We are a month into our school venture and Dalton is doing wonderful. He is having to sit in a booster seat during circle time because he doesn't quite understand that he has to "sit still even if he doesn't want to." But, he doesn't mind the chair and they give him opportunities to try to not sit in it. I can already tell his vocabulary and articulation has improved. Plus, he loves school and can't wait to get to go. 

We are working on an auction with WDIC to raise funds for his service dog. Hopefully by the end of summer we will have raised all the money. We also have a website for donations now www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/brittanymarshal

Psalm 147:3-5 NKJV 
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite.

X

Friday, February 15, 2013

We have lift off!

Dalton has successfully made it through the first 2 weeks of school. Keep in mind that his week at school is 3 days but still. Yep you read that right SCHOOL! And as expected we adults left behind had the separation issues not him. As happy as I am that he is liking school my heart is slightly broken that he doesn't seem to miss me even a little.

We were so worried that he wouldn't want to go to school or wouldn't like it but it has been the exact opposite. He is pushing me out of the door of the house in the mornings to get here. Now if he would learn to sit still and absorb the information we will really make some progress.

March 1st he goes to Vanderbilt for our screening visit for the STX209 drug trial. We are excited and hoping for great results.

X

Sunday, February 3, 2013

School!

Well, it's official weather permitting our big boy will start school this week! Charlie and I are only slightly freaking out (total sarcasm). Dalton also turns 5 this month! Too many milestones in a short period of time cause this momma to freak out a little!

We went up and meet with his teacher last Tuesday and toured the school and classroom. Dalton really liked the classroom because there was tons of toys! They also had a "crash pad" setup that he really enjoyed too! I'm more nervous about him taking on the cafeteria then anything else I believe.

I'm praying that he enjoys it and that it goes well and that Charlie and I don't make anything worse than it has to be. Because Lord knows sometimes it's us that holds him back causes more anxiety than is necessary even when we are trying to accomplish the opposite results.

He will be in a special education Pre-K class and he will make the 10th student. I just hope he doesn't try to use his Power Rangers moves on anyone!

We are still raising money to go towards his dog. We are getting ready to hold an auction with WDIC to try to raise the funds. We are praying that we can a good turn out. I have addressed envelopes until I don't want to see my own address ever again!

We welcomed Nickolas Gibson Marshall on the 14th! He weighed in at 7 lbs 5 oz. and it super cute! We are waiting for the results from his FX testing. As you can tell Dalton is so proud to be a big brother again. Payson isn't so sure about this big sister stuff just yet. (Notice she is letting pizza dangle from her mouth as she looks at him.)

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

X

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Unprepared

We have been preparing to welcome our new baby (for what seems like forever) and I feel like we haven't made near the progress we should have! He will be here next week either by choice or by the doctor's choice and I'm feeling very unprepared. We will be having him tested when he is born to see if he will be affected by Fragile X or not.

Since the last time I wrote we have had all kinds of "fun" so to speak. Dalton ended up having to have surgery the Friday before Christmas to drain an abscess in his ear canal and to have tubes put back in. We were on our 4th doctor by the time we got a correct diagnosis and he is in surgery within 3 hours. So you can imagine how high my frustration level was by then. I was definitely unprepared for it.

Next week we will be busy! We are meeting with the Special Education Pre-School teacher next week to hopefully have Dalton starting school by February. I'm definitely not prepared for this event. I think once he gets started he will enjoy it but I'm a nervous wreck about the whole thing!

Unpreparedness, I might have made that word up, has become a specialty of mine. I am sure that many parents feel the same way. It seems we are constantly in a state of readjustment or unexpected circumstances! I'm becoming accustomed to feeling unprepared but usually when the time comes I'm able to make it up as I go or "wing it" so to say.

Dalton has been doing so well in Speech and OT though. His behavior during speech has improved greatly even though he still struggles some days he is doing much better.

On a side note. Charlie and I are celebrating our 6th anniversary next Sunday! God love this man for putting up with me! Especially during this pregnancy! My emotions have been all kinds of crazy in the last month and a half. I'm very lucky that God sent him to me! God knew it would take a special kind of man to keep me straight. :)

X

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.