Sunday, April 26, 2015

Student Nursing Association Fundraiser

Last summer, when we all began nursing school as juniors, about half of our cohort decided to join the seniors and the Student Nursing Association. I didn't even think twice about joining because I like to be a member of organizations. It brings people together, it builds relationships, and it fosters community. I like that. 

So all year, we have been participating in various activities with the seniors in the driver's seat. As of Spring Break, our junior cohort elected officers for the new year (I am the Vice President) and the seniors gradually started phasing themselves out as we stepped up. 

This weekend, we got to take the reins to plan our first fundraiser centered around our colleges theater department. The theater director informed us that they were going to be performing Three Penny Opera for a couple of weeks and we could sponsor one of the showings. We would sell tickets and keep the profits and also provide snacks at intermission. 

I believe we ended up selling 16 tickets, but we were happy for that because the profits came directly to us. We found out, once we got there, that the director was actually going to give us all of the profits from the ticket sales, even sales at the door. That was extremely generous of him! For intermission, we decided to sell baked goods, candy, and other snacks. 

Before the play began, he allowed Chad, one of our fundraising committee members to go on stage and say a little bit about SNA. Lindsey created an awesome informative poster to help tell people who we are and what we do. Everyone pitched in to sell tickets, provide supplies, and set everything up and work. 



We had fun and it turned out to be very successful for about 4 hours of our time on a Friday night. By intermission, we had made about $450. We were happy campers. 

For our first junior-driven fundraiser, we did well. Our final meeting of the year is on Tuesday as we only have a week and a half left of our junior year. We come back as SENIORS on June 1. Thank goodness for a quick 3 week break....no studying, no care plans, no clinicals, no simulation labs....nothing! JOY!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Free Minecraft artwork

Yesterday, I wrote about using my son's "too small" Minecraft shirt to recover his desk chair. I found two more shirts that he had outgrown and just couldn't throw them out. 

Yes, I could have donated them, but why not repurpose them?

Jansen needed some artwork on the wall and I needed it to be free. 

I had 2 old canvases that had artwork from our previous home. For some reason, I never threw them out, but they never really worked for this house when we moved in 8 years ago. 

So I basically slip covered the canvases with his shirts. I didn't cut them or anything. All I did was fold everything over in the back of the canvas and duct taped the edges down. 




Later when he decides he is over Minecraft, those shirts can be slipped off the canvases, washed, and donated. 

Incidentally, that lime green lamp was purchased on Varage Sale and the little supply caddy was found at Dollar General. The desk was already in his room, the chair was as well (and was blogged about yesterday, and the Creeper was his brother's but he graciously gifted it to Jansen to go in his room. Total amount of money spent for this desk area set up: $10. Yay!

 
So there you have it. Free Minecraft art for my almost 10 year old's wall. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Minecraft chair...for FREE

Jansen has been in the same room with the same football theme since we moved into this house when he was two. Last year, he started asking to redo his room a bit. Being in nursing school, I put him off for as long as possible. 

This past weekend, he really started begging. He's turning 10 soon, and is going to be having a Minecraft slumber party in about a month to celebrate. He informed me that he really wanted to have his room redone, in a Minecraft theme, before all his friends come over. 

He makes a great point. 

We discussed how he felt his football room was "baby-ish" and how Minecraft was THE coolest thing among all his friends and he just HAD to make a change. Now, I am not all that excited to spend a ton of money changing up his room, especially if he is going to be changing his mind frequently. We made a deal, that if we changed it, we couldn't spend a lot of money, so we needed to be creative as to how we decorated. It needs to last him until he is a teenager. 

So we started getting some ideas. He and I spent the weekend making a Pinterest board, making plans, and starting to craft. It will probably take all month but it will be finished by his party. 

The first thing we worked on was his desk chair. We found it on the side of the road many years ago and recovered it in Houston Texans fabric to match his football theme. 


I thought it was adorable. 

He is over it. 

So, we rummaged through his closet as I was purging old broken toys, unread books, and too small clothes. We found this shirt...now 2 sizes too small for him. 


It's Minecraft...it can be used....it's going to be the fabric for his new chair. 

I took off the chair seat, slipped this shirt over it, and duct taped it to the bottom. Yes, I duct taped it. I screwed it back to the chair frame and voila! A brand "new" Minecraft desk chair for FREE. Free is for me!


He is really happy with it and so am I. 

Next up...Minecraft canvas art work, also FREE!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

This week's madness

In nursing school, this week has been our makeup week. We only had class one day, on Tuesday, and had a big cardiovascular Med-Surg exam that I totally rocked, and a ATI proctored Mental Health exam that I barely rocked. The ATI exam is required to pass the class and it is based on national average scores. Students are scored given a level from 0-3. It is supposed to be an indicator of how well you will do on the NCLEX licensure exam for that subject matter. Well, in order for credit, you must score a Level 2 and thank the Lord, I got a level 2!!!! I must admit, it was challenging, but I am so glad it is over. 

We didn't have simulation lab or clinical this week, unless the student had missed one and needed a make up. I am so thankful that I didn't need any makeups!

This was also week #3 of taking a supplement called TruVision. With school, I am super exhausted, and cannot change one thing about how I am doing things. I don't want nor do I have time to exercise on a regular basis. I don't have the time or energy to plan out meals, count calories or points, deprive myself of entire food categories, or spend extra time cooking. A friend of mine had talked about starting TruVision and had lost some weight and felt more energized. 

Um, I need that. 

I told her that I was just running myself ragged in nursing school, had gained almost 15 pounds stress eating, and was just so so tired. I need something to help get me through. So, I decided to try it. I told her I would give it a full 60 days to see how things were going. 

Y'all, I feel so much better. By the 3rd day taking the True Weight and Energy and True Fix, I felt so well rested. I wasn't having that cracked out, stimulant, heart palpitation feeling that other pills give me. I am very sensitive to these kinds of things. Having tried almost everything else and not being able to take them, I wasn't all that confident that this could help me. Now, I don't feel like I want to start running or cleaning my house or anything like that, but by the middle of the afternoon, I feel like I have taken a nice nap. I'm not yawning and dying by 3pm. I'm sleeping beautifully and falling asleep around 11pm and waking between 4:45 and 5:45 depending on school. 

The best part is that I don't crave the food like I always do. I love food. I love to plan my day around food. My husband and I are big time foodies. And when I am on a diet, I get super cranky, angry, and just feel deprived when I go out to dinner and "can't have" something that I want. Here's the coolest part....nothing sounds really good to me. For me to say, "Gee, it's lunch time. I need to eat. Nothing really sounds great. No, Josh, don't bring me anything home from Sonic." What?! Um, tots are LIFE. And I haven't wanted to eat one! I happily turned down donuts and cake at the hospital the other day and free pizza after Tuesday's exam. 

PIZZA RULES. I just don't want it. And I am so happy with it. 

So, it's been three weeks, I feel really good, and I have lost 7 pounds. It's not much, but it's a move in the right direction and that's all I care about. I haven't changed anything. No exercise, still drink 2 or 3 sodas a week, eat whatever I feel like, and when I get full, I stop eating. How amazing is that? If this continues to work for me, I am going to continue to use it. 

That's what has been going on in my world. Two more weeks of school. 10 official school days. Finals are May 5th! Two more weeks and my first year of nursing school is behind me! Senior year, here I come!!!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015

What a wonderful time spent with family!

We colored eggs....






Then today...Easter. A day that our Savior rose from the dead. What a blessing!

The kiddos woke up to their Easter baskets...


got ready for church...

we spent time with my husband's family...



and spent time with my family...





It was a good day.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April is Autism Awareness Month!

Every year when April rolls around, I reflect on how far my Caleb has come that year. He has had some struggles this year, especially in school, but the Jr. High years are a struggle for all kids.

All his life, I have prayed for him to move more to the "average" side of social skills, academics, self-regulation. I can embrace his quirkiness, but there are times when life is just easier when you are able to blend in a bit. He is now keenly aware of his differences now that he is 12 and the level of maturity in his friends is increasing by leaps and bounds.

He is making huge strides! He began riding the bus this year. That has been a double edged sword in that it is a source of independence for him (and makes my life a bit easier) and an opportunity for him to be teased. Of course, I would love to take care of everything for him, but as parents, we need to be encouraging his autonomy and should be gently nudging him to be HIM. I gave him the choice: I will drive him to school each day or he can continue to ride the bus and advocate for himself. He chose to ride the bus!

He is able to remember and take his own medicine in the morning. This is huge!!!!! We started this semester with a pill organizer, ran through the morning routine with him for several days, and now it is the first thing he does in the morning, completely on his own.

He can now get completely dressed and ready for school with me only saying, "Show me your responsibility," after eating breakfast. No distractions, no interferences from his brother, no yelling and crying, no constant reminders from yours truly. He can brush his teeth, put on his clothes down to shoes and socks, use deodorant and a bit of cologne, brush his hair, and remember to grab his glasses, lunch kit, and backpack, consistently, every day! It's honestly like a miracle. Yes, I set out his clothes, and yes, I pack his lunch, but we will be transitioning him to being responsible for those things this year. It's a major accomplishment.

He is now in charge of taking out the trash. He hates it. He hates the smell, the sight of all the trash in a bag, and the general uneasy feeling he gets when he has to carry it into the garage to the trash can, but he does it. My husband walked through it with him, answered his questions, watched him do it a few times, and now he does it. We went through this scenario:

Caleb: "Do I take out the trash every day?"

Dad: "Not every day, just when you see that it is full."

Caleb: "So every day?"

Dad: "If it is full every day, take it out. If it is not full that day, do not take it out."

Caleb: "So just on school days?"

Dad: "Caleb, every day, look at the trash can. Ask yourself if it is full. If the answer is yes, take it out. If the answer is no, do not take it out and check it again the next day."

Caleb: "OK. It's my job."

Dad: "Yes, it is your job."

The what-if's in life are so difficult for him. He works so well with a clearly defined routine. He loves to know what to expect and does not deal with change easily. So when life happens, and problems arise, big or small, he does not know what to do to problem solve. When you run out of clean underwear, what do you do? When you don't have milk, can you still have breakfast? If it is raining outside, what do you need to bring for school that you didn't have to bring the day before? If it is Wednesday and Jansen is supposed to take his shower first, but Jansen is still doing homework and it is 8:00pm, is it ok to go ahead and shower before him? It's all the tiny things that we all take for granted that Caleb needs a plan for. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be aware of those types of changes all through the day, to create options for him, diffuse the frustration and anxiety, help him make the right decisions, and reinforce all of that...when it is something that kids just naturally do?

I'm focused on the positives, the progress, the thought that I know he will gain all these life-skills, just at a different pace and through a different method. He is an amazing child, full of life and love. Autism just makes him more amazing!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Financial update

Well, as the first quarter of the year rolls to a close, I'm reassessing how well we have been doing as a family with our financial goals.

At the beginning of the year, we decided to start paying off some things. I took over the majority of the bills and have been making a big effort to get things in control.

Here is where we stand at the end of the first three months...

We have paid off our Lowes credit card (and then quickly had to purchase a refrigerator since ours went out a month after paying it off). So essentially, we paid off our Lowes card twice.

We paid off our Best Buy credit card.

We paid off our furniture card from when our bed broke last year.

We paid off our Dell computer card from when our computer crashed last year and we got another one for me for school.

This month, we paid off a large medical bill from my surgery last year.

So all in all, we have paid off 5 bills totaling roughly $6,500 in 3 months. That is hugely freeing! I am really happy about the positive steps we are making.

In addition, we made a goal to be actively adding to our kids' tuition accounts each paycheck, to add to an emergency savings account each paycheck, and to add to my tuition account each paycheck. We have done all three.

The emergency fund got accessed already when Jansen got sick last week and we had to take him to Urgent Care, so we don't have as much in there as I would have liked. I was hoping to have tuition for the summer saved in that account by the time the Spring semester ends in May. I still have a month left to save and I need about another $150 to cover the cost. We have to pay for my nursing school out of pocket each semester so I have to keep saving! BUT, all of those accounts have more money in them than when we began in January, so that is another positive.

We still have many bills to pay off. Next we are working on paying off Caleb's braces. I have 2 more credit cards and Josh has 2 more. We have one bank loan, two vehicles, and a travel trailer to pay off. Baby steps!

My goal for the end of June is to have Caleb's braces paid off, my 2 credit cards paid off, and have double the amount in our emergency fund and my tuition fund.

My goal for the end of September is have one of Josh's cards paid off, my Fall tuition paid in full, and $1,000 in the emergency fund.

By the end of the year, I hope to have Josh's last credit card paid off, my final tuition payment for Spring on lock, another savings account opened in addition to our emergency fund, and then we can turn our attention to our loan, vehicles, and camper.

Financial independence is coming our way!