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A Very Sick Baby & Lots of Blessings

10 Jul

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Just as I was getting back into the blogging mode again…my baby decided to get sick.  I debated blogging about it because in the blog world, you kind of have to decide how personal you want your blog to be.  But, there were so many blessings that came in spite of everything that I thought it was worth posting about.  That being said, I’ll spare you ALL the details, but I’ll just say that this was the scariest experience of my life (as a mother) and probably the worst experience of my life.

In a nutshell, my baby developed urosepsis (something I knew nothing about). Her fever was 103.5 then plummeted to 94.9.  When I got that reading, I pretty much freaked out.  I quickly told my husband to give her a blessing.  There were a lot of other terrible things that her body did in the next few hours, but what I really want to remember is that when we went outside to wait for the ambulance at about 10pm (I think), my nurse neighbor just so happened to be outside (Blessing can you say?!!!).  We called her over and she gave a quick assessment and told us exactly what was going on and to get our butts to the hospital.  She told us not to speed (her dear husband is a police officer), but we did not listen.

SIDENOTE: My house was a MESS!!!!!  She stayed with my kids until my parents got there!!!  Love her for that…but still, my house was a mess!!!  In my defense, we were on the tail end of a house full of stomach bug people.  Still, a blessing.  Normally, I could have called on my sister to watch my kids, but she was out of town, so having my sweet neighbor there made it so that I didn’t have to wait to go to the hospital.  Did I mention my house was a mess?????!

We opted NOT to go in the ambulance because they wouldn’t have taken us to our hospital of choice.  The ER doc made an erroneous call on her condition and being that I was armed with the knowledge my neighbor provided me with (again…a blessing!), I was able to push (demand) that the pediatrician come and see her.  Once the Peds came to the ER, they pretty much high tailed us out of the ER.  You know how doctors have to be polite to other doctors; never undermine each other?   I appreciated the “What the h-ll” face the pediatrician obviously directed to the ER doc when she came to see my baby.

Once we were moved to the PICU, it was all hands on deck.  I’m so thankful for all the work that the nurses and doctors did on her as awful as it was to watch.  Everyone fell in love with her squishy body.  They are used to seeing skinny babies and they couldn’t get over her chubs.  I can’t say enough about how determined everyone was to making her better as fast as they could.  Then, for the duration of our stay there  they would pop in and check on her even though they weren’t “assigned” as her nurse.

Other blessings:

We knew she had a UTI because they found it when I was in the clinic earlier that day.  She didn’t have obvious signs yet of going septic.  They gave her two shots of antibiotics.

Normally, we love her chubs, but in the hospital, her healthy physique made it extremely difficult to see her veins.  There were at least 17 attempts at getting an IV on her.  Many different departments tried.  ER, Pediatrics, NICU, Anesthesia, multiple nurses & finally, the NICU doc from another hospital all took a few stabs at it…literally.  The couple of times that they were able to get a vein, it would collapse.  I feel so very blessed that she already had the antibiotics in her system from the clinic that day.  It was starting to fight the bacteria.  Because of the bacteria going to her blood, they really needed her to get the medicine through an IV since it’s a more direct route than the shot.  Having failed at getting an IV, the doctor wanted to put in a central line (which scared the crap out of me).  They also considered a spinal tap.  BUT, because of her quick response to the meds (via the shots) and drinking pedialite like it was going out of style, they felt like the path we were on was working.  She was responding good to the treatment.

Part of the decision for not doing the spinal was based on the fact that the doc assumed she had her two month vaccinations because the computer system didn’t flag her like it should have.   There is a vaccination they get at two months that prevents meningitis.  If she was flagged that the vaccinations weren’t given (I felt like an awful mom when the doc realized she didn’t get them), they for sure would have done the tap.  Why is that a good thing?  Doing a spinal tap can be very risky.  On the other hand, having bacteria in the spine is life threatening.  Why I feel blessed?  We were able to avoid three VERY invasive procedures on a little four month body.  The spinal tap and the central line.  The central line would have required not just the insertion of the line, but they also would have had to put her under anesthesia.  I am sooooooo grateful that things happened the way that they did and she was able to avoid all those procedures.

Thank you to everyone who specifically prayed that she would not have to do the central line.  Thank you mom for putting her name in the temple.  Once the decision was made not to do the line OR the tap, I almost passed out because I was so relieved (and slightly sleep deprived).  It was an indication to me that the worst was over.  I’m so thankful to my parents and sister for helping out with my kids so much since my husband couldn’t get away from work.  I was able to really just focus on her and know that I really didn’t have to worry my other kids because they were in such good hands.

This is her in the PICU…she’s a teeny bit too big for that warmer 🙂

IMG_2604Here she is a day later after we finally graduated to a normal room.  She doesn’t look like a sick baby…smiled at everyone the whole time.
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The nurses brought her this hat to help keep her from losing body heat.

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This was the night before we went home.  It’s 3am and they are trying to get her body temp back up so they put her to sleep on warmers and one of my favorite nurses made her this cute hat out of a onesie!

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Here she is…ready to go home after five days in the hospital.  She’s so happy to be away from all the poking and prodding.  Don’t be jealous of her leg warmers!IMG_2659

I feel so incredibly blessed.  I know families endure much worse medical experiences for their little ones.  I am thankful that this was something that was treatable.  I hated watching my baby go through this.  But, I’ve learned that although the Lord doesn’t shield us from awful experiences, he lovingly provides tender mercies.  That way, while we have to go through the junk stuff, we can feel His love and know that He is aware of our concerns.  Once I started recognizing the blessings, I had hope that she would be okay.  And she is.  We’ve spent waaaayyy too much time in the hospital both during the pregnancy and after.  I hope we’ve done our time and we don’t have to do it anymore.

You’d never know what a sick little duck she was just a little bit ago.

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*The first picture at the top is the first time we got to hold her outside of the incubator thingy.

Healthy Chicken Salad & Refreshing Mango Dressing

12 Jun

My husband has dubbed our house the “House of Horrors” over the past few days.  All five of the kids have been sick…the really yucky kind!  All that “horror” has left me craving something healthy and refreshing.  Go figure.

I was looking for a mango dressing on Pinterest, but ended up making my own…with inspiration from the ones I found. IMG_2699

Then I took what I could find and made this salad.  I never put walnuts in my salad, but since my freezer has a few bags my dad picked off the tree, I was excited to use them.  I think it might be a new salad staple.

mango dressing chicken salad

The kids who were feeling good enough to eat again loved it and even had seconds.  Winner! Winner!  I added the feta and chicken individually.

The Chicken Salad:

diced apples

diced tomatos

walnuts

(as soon as the avocados are ripe, it will go here)

Feta

Chopped chicken breast

Disclaimer:

I don’t measure much when it comes to making things without a recipe.  Even then, it’s hit and miss.  So, know that the “recipe” here may need to be adjusted to your liking.

The Mango Dressing:

2 cups chopped mango (I just used frozen)

1/2 T chopped garlic

2 T apple cider vinegar

1 T honey

2 T olive oil

4 T apple juice

1/2 tsp ground pepper

You could probably reduce or eliminate the oil and apple juice if your fruit is not frozen.  My mango was frozen, so it was really thick.

Just throw it in the blender hit go!

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Hoping for healthier days!

Armoire Makeover for Sewing & Fabric Organization

17 Feb

My super-Craigslist-finder sister found these awesome (and kinda ugly) armoires for $40.  In Hawai’i, we don’t have very many options when it comes to furniture.  Pressed board furniture does not do well here.  Solid wood furniture is preferred, but it costs a FORTUNE!  It’s often cheaper to buy quality furniture on the mainland and ship it here via ship cargo.  The best furniture finds are usually at Costco.  But, you’re limited to the type and it’s only seasonal.

Anyway, this piece is solid wood.  It’s very sturdy and all the drawers glide easily.  PLUS, it has the adjustable shelf clip thingys (I’m sure there’s a name for this) already installed.  Often times armoires aren’t outfitted for shelves on top.  And…with the push of a lever, the drawers all lock.  Perfect for little two year old hands and seven year old fabric lovers…who sometimes forget to ask before cutting up fabric.I broke up the hubby’s work day and told him that he needed to leave and pick it up within an hour and a half…nowhere near his office.  He was less than pleased (to put it nicely :)).  I was very happy!!!  He couldn’t park in his office building because it wouldn’t fit in the parking garage, so he parked at his mom’s apartment building and walked back to work.  All this in his “office attire.”  Thank you babe!In the beginning, I went after it with OIL BASED paint.  YIKES!!!!  Who knew it was so awful to work with?  I hated it.  I couldn’t stand the lines.  Now I know why everything grand-dad painted had those paint lines through them.  He was a painter.  I always thought he just used really good thick paint that left lines because it was so “quality” thick.  On top of that, I wasn’t even sure it would dry this month!  So, although I was very grateful for my dad’s free paint….I ended up stripping it all off the next day.  You can see here that I also attached paintable wallpaper to the doors and created a border with wood strips.  The wood strips were leftover toe kick boards from my kitchen remodel.  I just cut them on my table saw.This is how she looked inside before.And these are her insides after.  I used wrapping paper and Mod Podge.  I know it’s kinda wrinkly…but I wasn’t too worried about it because once everything’s in, it won’t show.  I had the same attitude with painting MANY coats on the shelves.  I just needed it to be “generally” white.

I drilled new holes on the drawers so that I could add knobs.  The knobs were brushed nickel, so I had to paint them.  I also removed the hinges to spray them black.Now, it’s not organized yet.  I just wanted to see if I could fit everything that I was hoping to inside.  I’m so excited!  Everything fits!  Anyone free to help me organize all my fabric into something that’s functional and pretty to look at????  All my favorite fabrics are in the drawers.  Did you notice that “keyboard drawer” and how it fits all of my sewing machine “stuff” perfectly?  I should probably screw a board on to the back of it so things won’t go falling off.In a nutshell, here’s how it went down.This was so fun.  I LOVE IT so much!!!  Now, to clean the house that was very neglected during this project. *sigh*

A Sea Glass Wedding On The Ocean

8 Feb

Gosh it’s taken me a long time to find the time to get to this post.   And, to save time, this is mainly just going to be a post of pictures.  There are soooo many.  Please pardon the lack of order.  WordPress is not the most user-friendly for inserting a lot of pictures, so it was taking too long to organize it.  I really had to cut out a lot of good ones.  I wish I could post pictures of everyone.  I didn’t get any great ones of just my brother and his wife.  There was an “official” photographer, so she took care of that.This is my oldest brother with my youngest brother.  Both of their wives are natives of the Philippines.It was a LOVELY event.  It was so elegant and so beautiful.  We love love love our new sister-in-law!  We are so happy for my brother.  They make a beautiful couple.As for my kids and their wedding attire, I really wanted them to “coordinate.”  The only way to do that I realized was to sew the clothes myself, so I sewed my daughters’ dresses.  I was pretty excited about my older daughter’s dress because I “designed” that one in my head, then on paper and it came out as I imagined.  My little one’s dress started off as a peasant dress, but it wasn’t happening…so I did a bunch of stuff to make it look the way it did and I was really happy with how it turned out.Everyone had a great time planning and putting things together.  With my sister-in-law (who did the jewelry) as the coordinator, we were quite the wedding force.  Everything was beautiful.  All of the vases were re-used from past weddings in our family.  The decor was so incredibly budget friendly.  The reception was held at my brother’s home turned vacation rental.  The setting was perfect.For the food, we all took care of a dish or two.  Everyone kind of does at least one dish really well…so we stuck with that.  The food was so amazing.  Here’s my dad at the stove.The company was fabulous.  It was a small-ish reception in that it was just the family.  So, including my grandma (who is 90 years old and has more energy than me!), that makes 38 of us.  My sister and her husband who currently (not permanently 😉 ) live in California, came so it was really nice having our whole family together in the temple.The bride’s sister flew in from the mainland and she has a cousin that lives here who was able to attend.  My daughter and my niece are excited about their new aunty!That’s my Crafty SIL/Jewelry Store/Wedding Coordinator on the left…and one of my ultra fabulous baby-sitter nieces on the right.  As you can see, height does not run in our family.

Here are a few candids…All the little ones loved walking through these crystal strands.My kids love all their older cousins.We got the idea for these monogram letters from Pinterest.  My mom cut them out of pine wood and painted them.  They were a really nice touch.We brought the letters inside to hang on the wall once the dinner started.My sister did the same thing under these plates that she did at the shower.Here she is with my oldest niece.  Sometimes we suspect they were made from the same mold.I love this boy…and his smile.One of my super-dependable baby sitter nieces and my nephew…son of the groom.Strategizing the cake cutting.Daughter of the groom…she got him good!I love this shot my sister-in-law took.  The sky is a perfect backdrop.Look how much spunk my grandma has.  And that’s my “Martha Stewart Sister” who doubles as a pastry chef.  Very handy to have around.  I love that she lives about a minute away from my house.This is the sea-glass candy she made that I talked about at the end of this post.My daughter and my niece had fun with my camera for about 10 minutes….I have so many pictures of my sister here…she’s setting up something in almost every single one.Here’s my cute niece sneaking (getting caught) a plate of cake in a dark corner of the room.

And here’s my daughter…not so sneaky with her cake.  It kept her busy while we were cleaning up.Boys Club.And more candids. Everyone loved the edible pearls.As you can see, it was a lovely event that we were all thrilled to be a part of.  Congratulations to K & J and the beginning of their new life together.

Gifts I Made This Past Christmas: Wooden Toy Airplane

12 Jan

My son asked for a wooden airplane.  I imagined a simple, sturdy, old style airplane. One that my grandpa Jesse might have made if he were alive.  Something like this:But then my wonderful hubby intervened made some suggestions and this is what we ended up with.I cut out all of the wood on my “I can’t believe it’s still alive” table saw.  The “safety” key does nothing.  The only way to start it up is to plug it in.  The only way to turn off the blade is to un-plug it.  Anyway, I was impressed with the tiny pieces I was able to cut without losing my finger.  All of the pieces were scraps I had lying around.He is happy and it was handmade with love, so even though it wasn’t the airplane I imagined, he loved it.It’s still lacking a paint job.  We just primed it so that he could decide how he wanted it painted.

Gifts I Made This Past Christmas: Baby Ugg Boots

4 Jan

Technically, this is not a Christmas gift, but rather a baby shower gift.  I’ve been wanting to make these for a while now but never made time for it.A baby shower gift for a baby girl whose mom is from Hawai’i, but will be born in freezing cold Germany!
There’s not much to say about this except that this is one of my favorite patterns.

It was really easy and I thought they turned out darn cute.  I’m hoping to make some for my 2 year old soon.  I’ll have to alter the pattern a bit to make it bigger, but I don’t think it will be too hard.

I like them best tall like this.  Don’t they look cozy?  Especially in this freezing Hawai’i weather we’ve been having!

I purchased the pattern from Sweet Pea Patterns on Etsy.

**Update: Sweet Pea Patterns just informed me that you can also purchase the toddler version of her pattern!

Scrap Fabric Soft Shapes Book Tutorial

29 Sep

I’ve been working on this project over a period of a few days.  Normally, I only like to work on something if I can finish it all in one sitting.  With four kids (one of them being a tornado), it’s no fun to start, stop, move your stuff, lose stuff, look for missing stuff, get back to the project, repeat.  I was disciplined on this one and I actually finished it in a reasonable amount of time.  There was a lot of looking for missing stuff in the process, but I finished, and I’m happy to say that the little tornado loves it.  As do all the other members of the Fantastic Four.  The littlest one is also very territorial about it.  I’m so glad that she loves it.  I would be so bummed if I spent all this time on it and she didn’t care.  I know your little one will love it as well!  I think having all the fabric pieces around that they weren’t allowed to touch for a few days helps in the excitement department too 🙂

Here’s the tutorial for your Scrap Fabric Soft Shapes Book

Materials:

14 – 8″ x 8″ Fabric Squares (Choose a color that will allow the fabrics to stand out)

7 – 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ Quilt batting squares

Fusible Web (I prefer Heat n Bond).  They come in different sizes or rolls, so just have enough to cover all your pieces.

About 1/4 yard worth of Scrap Fabric…or just a whole lot of scraps!

1 – 3″ x 8″ piece of solid color fabric for the title “shapes”

1 – 3″ x 8 1/2″ piece of fabric for the binding

Thread colors to match your scraps

Needle and Matching thread to hand stitch the “spine” of the finished book.

Print out your pdf file of choice at the bottom of this post.

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First, get out all your pretty scraps.Fuse your scraps to your fusible web of choice.  Since I was working with scraps, I decided that this would be the method that would limit the amount of wasted stuff.  I just laid out my scraps in this “puzzle” over my large piece of Heat N Bond.  Then I simply took the iron to it.  This may not be the best method for you, as you may prefer to do a piece at a time.

If you’re not comfortable with applique, here’s a great tutorial.Next, flip your fused pieces over and start marking your shapes.Cut out all your shapes.  Look at them and check to see if you have a good variety of colors for each page.  (You could call this a colors AND shapes book!)

Organize your pieces and peel off the paper backing.

For the cover, be sure that if you use your own font that you use a “mirrored” pattern piece for your words.If you haven’t already done so, cut out fourteen 8″ squares.  Lay out your pieces on the square.  Keep your pieces about an inch from the edges of the page to allow for seams and binding.Press your pieces down according to the instructions on your method of fusing your fabric.

Next, go ahead and stitch all your pieces down.  Stitch your pieces according to thread color so that you don’t waste time changing thread constantly.  This is the setting I used for my applique.After all your pieces are stitched down, organize your book in the order you’d like it to be in.Now, figure out which pages will be back-to-back and place them right sides together.  Line up the corners on the side of the pages that will not be bound.  It doesn’t matter if the bound side is a bit off because that can be trimmed and it will be covered with the binding.  Place one of your batting squares over the top of the pages it.  It’s okay if the batting is a bit larger.Pin all three sides that will be sewn, leaving the book bound side open.Use a 1/4″ seam allowance.  The edge of your fabric will be the guide for the seam allowance and NOT the batting.  Notice in this pic that the guide is up against the fabric regardless of how large the batting is.

Stop 1/4″ before you hit the end of a side and pivot 90 degrees to the next side.  Here is a really awful picture of three sides sewn shut and one end open which will be the side we bind.Trim your batting down to the fabric edges and clip the corners to reduce bulk.  Be sure not to cut off your stitches!Turn your page right side out and then sew a top stitch around the same three sides using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Again, stop 1/4″ before the end of a run and pivot 90 degrees to the next side.  Go ahead and repeat for all your pages.  I did one full page at a time instead of assembly line style because I was paranoid about matching up the wrong pages.  Now, Prepare your book spine / binding piece.  Use your 8 1/2″ x 3″ piece of fabric.
Fold up the short edges (wrong sides together) 1/4″.  Press it down.Then, fold your piece in half length-wise and press.

Press your long outside edges in towards the center line and press.  It should look like this.  Just leave this piece on the side until we’re ready for it.Initially, I was going to hand stitch the binding on, but I think this was a much better idea.

How to stitch through 18 layers of fabric (binding counts for four layers) PLUS seven layers of batting:

Take off the entire shank.  So, don’t just pop off the foot, you need to unscrew the attached shank.  It should look something like this (if you live in Hawai’i, there will be a little rust 🙂

Next, stack your pages in the order you want them to appear.  It’s important that you line up the sides of the pages that are not bound.  Uneven-ness on the bound side is okay because we can always trim those, plus it will be covered by the spine/binding.Hold your stack nice and tight so that the pages don’t move around.  Make sure your “presser foot” is raised up.  Drop your feed dogs.  If your machine doesn’t give you that option, it still works fine.  It just makes more sense to drop them if you can.  Place your book’s center of the open side under the needle where you want to start your stitching.  I used the 1/2″ as a guide, but it will vary depending on how much trimming you had to do.  Just make sure that you’re not coming too far in that you are cutting off shapes.  And don’t go too far out that it doesn’t bind well.  Check to make sure that your placement will penetrate through all the pages (if you have a short page in there, make sure the needle goes through it).

Start from the middle so that the pages don’t move around like they would if you start from the top.  I learned that the hard way.

Drop your “presser foot.”  Stitch a lock stitch.  Then, lift your presser foot up.  Manually move your book in the direction it would move if the feed dogs were naturally moving it through the machine.  Go about 1/8″.  Drop the presser foot.  Press your pedal and do two stitches.  Lift the presser foot.  Move forward again about an 1/8″.  Stitch two stitches in place.  Lift up, move forward, lower, stitch, lift up, move forward, lower, stitch, lift up and so on until you reach the end of the book.

When you are finished, it should look like this.Now, turn your book around and flip it so that you’re on the front now.  You have to turn AND flip so that you can see your guides on the metal plate.  Start again in the center and repeat the process above.

When you are finished, it should look like this with the whole side bound.  You just stitched through a whole lot of fabric and stuff.  Wait…there’s more.

Now for the “spine.”  Grab your strip that we prepped in the beginning.  Place it around your book end to make sure the length and width is good.  If  you want to make adjustments to either, now is the time to do it.Check to make sure that you have enough slack to cover the stitches we just made.If everything looks good, go ahead and pin down your binding.  Like my new shapes pins?  How appropriate!

Flip it over and do the same thing to the other side.  This time, make sure that the tips of the pins are sticking out so that you can pull them out as you are sewing along.Following the same process we used to bind the pages, we’re going to attach the binding.  Since the book is already stitched together, we don’t have to worry about pages moving around, so we can start at the top this time.  Plus, it would look funny if we started in the middle.Continue the process of moving the book manually about 1/8″ per double stitches.When you get to the end, go ahead and stop with either a back stitch or a lock stitch at the end of the pages.  Don’t stitch all the way to the end of the binding.Now  you’ve really sewed through a huge stack of stuff!To close those endings.  Think of wrapping the end of a present.  Flip the middle section down.Then, lay each side down, one on top of the other.Finally, use a matching thread (or neutral if you don’t have a match) and do a whip stitch to close that up.Here are the inside pages.

And here’s the back.I’m happy to say that my little ones LOVE it.  She takes it with her everywhere and loves to show it off.  Now that I’m finished, I need to clean up the mess she made while I was off sewing this.Below are the downloads for pattern shapes pieces.  I have them divided up on to individual pages by shape.  Or, if you’d like to print them all together, use the second link.  Now go make a little one happy!

Fabric Scraps Shapes Soft Book Pattern Tutorial

Fabric Scraps Shapes Soft Book Pattern Pieces Together Tutorial