Our Family

Our Family
"These are the children God has graciously given to me. (us)" - Genesis 33:5

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where Does The Time Go?

I swore to myself that I would be better about posting to my blog this year. I wanted to at least "beat" my postings from last year. Here we are in March with February long gone...and I've posted nothing new. I haven't posted a pik of Joshua in his new super cool glasses, or how we have rearranged our house...again...to accomadate our ever growing family of 8, or about how Mike's never ending quest for a full time job is taking all of his time, or even about how we are trying to put all of our trust and faith in God to help us through out it all.

It is a balance of many things that keeps this family up and running each and every day, and my blog is only one of the many, non-priority things, that takes a back seat.

Don't lose faith my friends...we are still here and we are still fighting the good fight. School for us will be done by mid April, (that's what happens when you start school in July), so after administering their final exams and getting our school room cleaned up and ready for the upcoming year...maybe, just maybe I will have the time to post some pix and talk about all the things that are Ouellette...and there is quite a bit to catch up on!! :0)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Glad January Is Over...

OH MY GOODNESS! I am so thankful it is February. January proved to be a very interesting month for us and I am so glad it is over.

We are all much healthier now, only having a little sniffle and cough, and are praying that we are done with major financial issues for a little while at least!

As I hinted to in my last post, during our time with all the kids sick we had to deal with an unexpected situation...and now we have this:

Yes, this our latest addition to the family. It is a 2008 Ford Econoline 350 12-passenger van. We have lovingly nicknamed her "Ginormica". (watch Monsters vs. Aliens and you'll see why). We have been in need of a bigger vehicle since the day we brought Sarah home because our conversion van only seated 7 people. That meant we had to put Ethan in the front seat with either Mike or I sitting on the floor when we went anywhere together. It was either that or two vehicles, and with gas prices where they are...the van was costly enough.

On Saturday, January 7th, we decided to take our sick children out for a ride because they needed to get out of the house. At the time they only had conjunctivitis, but just before we left Caleb throw up in the van. We weren't sure if it was due to coughing and crying, or if he actually he had a stomach bug, but decided to continue with our plans to run some errands. We had to go to Walgreens to pick up another bottle of eye drops and pulled into the drive-up. It was taking forever so Mike turned the engine off...it refused to start 15 min. later when we were done. A customer in a pick up truck pushed us out of the drive up and we called AAA, my sister and my father-in-law. We don't know anyone who has enough room to get all of the kids home.

Long story short, the vehicle started a couple of times before AAA got there, but we didn't want to take a chance. We had it towed to our mechanic who after the weekend informed us that he couldn't find anything wrong with it. However, due to the size of the fuel tank, (32 gallons) and the vehicle he couldn't put it on a lift to follow up on more diagnostics. So, we drove it over to Bonneville and Son. We had purchased this vehicle from them in 2008 just before the twins were born. After they took a look at it, they too couldn't find a reason why it wouldn't start as it started just fine and the fuel pump looked okay. It did need a new radiator, a radiator flush, some new lines and a thermostat, (all the reasons why the heater wasn't working all that great). However, he needed us to come down to show us a much bigger problem...

He wasn't kidding. It is only due to God's good grace that we found out the way we did. It could have been much worse. The whole front end frame that basically holds up the engine and front end of the vehicle was severely rotted and rusted through. I honestly don't know how the front end had stayed up driving over all the potholes and frost heaves we have around here. We could look right through the frame. It wouldn't have been seen unless the tires were removed. In any case, after an estimate it was determined that we would have to sink at least $7000 into the van to fix it up, and be without it for at least a week or two.

We made the decision to scrap it, and buy something else...enter Ginormica. Our salesman, Dan Reitz, from Bonneville and Son has and was awesome. This was the third time we've purchased a vehicle from him, and he went above and beyond his job to help us out. He was able to get $2500 for trade in on our van, and then began looking for a van for us. They didn't have any in their inventory so they had to look for vans at other dealers and then work out a deal to purchase it for us to then buy from them. He even brought a van to the house so Mike and I could test drive it, and try placing car seats in it. We eventually bought the one we test drove, and he brought all the paperwork to our house to sign.

In January we had very sick children, no van, our furnace died, and one of Mike's crowns decided to fall out. Through it all, we are still able to see God's blessings despite all of the financial setbacks. God is good all the time and all the time God is good!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sorry, We've Been Sick

That's actually an understatement for what it is that we have been. As a matter of fact, I'm hoping that because we have been continuously sick since just before Christmas, we will have had a little bit of everything and can consider it out of our systems for the rest of the winter...hmmm, ya I know, probably not.

In any case, here is our story...

The week of Christmas up through the week of New Years the three youngest kiddos had croup. It wasn't as bad as it can usually get because we caught it early enough on Caleb that when Elijah and Sarah started with the symptoms we began the same treatment. The other kids had the same virus but other than high fevers, runny noses and vomiting once for both Joshua and Rebekah didn't end up with the same croupy cough.

I had hoped that 2012 would start off a bit healthier...hahaahahahha, not really sure why I thought that because the second round of illnesses began with Sarah who developed conjunctivitis on the evening of my last post...the 4th. I began the eye drops on Thursday afternoon, just in time for Joshua to also come down with it. (Side note: Joshua is by far the worst child to get sick with anything! With all of his sensory issues...oy!) I had hoped that I would be able to keep it contained to those two, but then Elijah came down with it on Friday night.

Saturday was a day that we would love to forget as nothing really went well that day. (There will be another post later regarding why this really was a day better forgotten) Even though we had a late start to breakfast, (not because we slept in or anything crazy like that) I wanted to get the kids out of the house because of the nice weather and I figured I could run the zillion errands that needed to be run at the same time. As Mike backed the van out of the driveway, Caleb (who still had a cough from the croup) decided to throw up after coughing and crying all at the same time. Mike pulled the van back in and we dragged Caleb inside to clean him up, shower him, put new clothes on him and get him back out to the van. We agreed that it was most likely due to coughing and crying at the same time and thought nothing of it. He ended up throwing up for the next 24 hours!

At that point, I figured I was doomed and started treating my eyes for conjunctivitis as they were getting itchy and slightly goopy anyway. Then on Monday night, after recovering from a stomach bug, Caleb started with conjunctivitis and Sarah took a turn for the worst. I brought her to the doctors on Tuesday to check for ear infections, but she was clear. The doctor switched her eye ointment to eye drops and we started another seven days of treatment for her. (For those of you who have never dealt with or don't remember the dosing for this is 2 drops per eye 4x a day...per kid!!!) Within 24 hours her eyes began clearing up and Mike and I thought that maybe we were getting to the other side of it.

Oh no, we weren't. Caleb woke up on Thursday morning with enlarged glands down the right side of his neck. He had complained about his ear a little on Tuesday night, but then didn't say anything on Wednesday. Whenever the kids get really congested I will begin putting garlic oil drops in their ears to prevent any kind of inflammation. So, after talking to the doctor I began some homeopathic treatments for him knowing that if he didn't improve by morning, I would have to bring him in to be checked. Well, Elijah decided to wake up at 4am on Friday by throwing up in our bed...sigh...sooo, between Caleb's still enlarged glands and Elijah vomiting every 45 minutes I found myself back at the doctors. This time the diagnosis was; Caleb had a severe double ear infection along with conjunctivitis, and Elijah also had a severe double ear infection with conjunctivitis, but also had bronchitis and some sort of stomach bug. Upon arriving home from the doctors, I discovered that Rebekah had also developed conjunctivitis.

That brings us to today. It took most of the day for Elijah to keep anything down but by the end of today he had eaten some toast, a banana and some ginger tea and was playing with Sarah. I'll take that as progress toward feeling better. As for the rest of us, we are on the mend. I'm praying that the stomach bug will stay away from the rest of the kids. Only time will tell. For now we will continue doing eye drops, ear drops, antibiotics and ginger tea for everyone.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Why We Avoid Food Dyes...And You Should Too!

Our diet seems very restrictive to most people. I can certainly see how it would appear that way to a general observer. I can assure you however, that it is anything but. We have had many a family member and friend sit at our table to share a meal with us...sometimes a little unsure of what to expect...walk away saying "wow, that was gluten free, dairy free and good for me?" That's not to pat myself on the back saying what a wonderful cook I am, (or hubby for that matter) but to point to the fact that our diet truly isn't that limited. What we eat is what we should be eating...meats, fruits, vegetables, carbs and healthy fats.

You may be asking yourself, "well what about desserts and 'junky' type foods?". Oh, we have our fair share of those too, but not every day. Sometimes not every week. My kids are able to have donuts, brownies, cookies, peanut butter cups, mint chocolates, candy canes, etc. It means making most of it from scratch, or shopping at specialty stores to purchase them...but even those, (to some extent) are either healthy or healthier than their counterparts.

Yes, you can find some desserts out there without gluten, dairy and soy...but sometimes they still have a food dye or two in them. Granted most of the organic and dedicated gf/cf vendors wouldn't use those kinds of ingredients in their products to begin with, it's the companies who happen to also make a gf/cf product but still add the food dye, because it's cheaper and they want their product to "look" like their gluten filled counterpart.

Why avoid food dyes? Listed below are the most common food dyes, where they are found, and why you should avoid them:

Blue 1 (brilliant blue FCF): Beverages, candies, baked good, jellies, condiments. (did you know that marshmallows contain blue 1 food dye? It's to make the white more bright.)
A potential mitochondrial toxin that inhibits the body's ability to convert food into energy. Could increase cancer risk. Linked to increased hyperactivity in children.

Blue 2 (indigotine): Pet food, beverages, candies, cereals, ice creams.
Linked to nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, breathing problems, and increased hyperactivity in children.

Green 3 (fast green): Candies, beverages, sherbets, puddings.
May inhibit the release of neurotransmitters, preventing nerve impulses. Linked to bladder cancer and increased hyperactivity in children.

Red 3 (erythrosine): Canned cherries, candies, baked goods.
Associated with thyroid tumors in animals and increased hyperactivity in children. It has been banned for use in cosmetics.

Yellow 6 (sunset yellow FCF): Beverages, sausage, baked goods, candies, gelatin, cereals.
May cause adrenal and kidney tumors, nasal congestion, hives, or abdominal pain. Linked to increased hyperactivity in children.

Anyone see a common problem here among the food dyes listed??? HYPERACTIVITY. How many of you either have a problem with, know someone who has, or have witnessed the child who fidgets, is restless and is unable to settle down to focus? This is above and beyond the typical active child. When did it become so important that foods should have something other than their natural color when prepared? When did we become so unaware of how are foods are prepared that we've allowed these dyes to become part of our diet every single day? Read your labels...you will be shocked to see which of your foods contain one or more of these dyes. I'm fairly certain you won't die if you stop consuming these foods, but I can't say the same if you ignore the labels and continue to put these toxins in your body. Our bodies just weren't designed to fight the constant onslaught of toxins we introduce to it on a daily basis.

Eat healthy this year...if not for yourself, at least for your kids.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A Blessed Routine

We have been a homeschooling family since Ethan's first day on November 5th, 2007. It has been one of the most difficult but rewarding endeavors we have ever been involved in. It means that I am able to be home with my children 24/7 to not only teach them, but give them an environment and opportunity to thrive.

For those of you who don't know, we currently homeschool Ethan in 3rd grade, Joshua in 1st grade, and Rebekah in K. We are currently in week 22, the 3rd quarter of school, having finished 2nd quarter the week after Thanksgiving. The kids had last week off, so getting back to school yesterday could have been disastrous...but because Mike was home, it went smoothly.

Routine for my children, (and for myself as well) has become incredibly important in how well we are able to function throughout the day. I used to consider myself fairly flexible, and in some ways still am, but have found that my ability to control the day for the kids can snowball out of control with one little interruption in the day. That could be an unexpected phone call, a visitor, illness, etc. Most of the time I can reel things back in...but when you throw the holidays into the mix...oh boy!

I have always been one to look forward to the holidays...from Thanksgiving on. I love the decorations, food, music, family and friends and the general cheeriness of strangers you meet when out and about. Not this year. We didn't decorate for any of the holidays for several reasons. Reason #1: Hurricane and Tropical Force Twins. They are truly a force to be reckoned with and are able to turn a room upside down in about 3-5 seconds. Seriously. The thought of dealing with a tree, lights, bells, candles, etc. was overwhelming as I pictured myself chasing after them all day saying "don't' touch", "get away from there", "get down from there", etc. Reason #2: We have no room. You can only imagine how limited our space is having 6 kids. Every available shelf, wall, corner, cabinet etc. has been used to the best of it's capabilities. There isn't any space available to move around to accommodate a tree. Reason #3: Sarah. She had just learned how to walk and due to Reason #2, only has so many rooms she can be in...the living room being one of them...and she likes to eat EVERYTHING!!!

So, we had to really get creative with helping the kids understand that it was the holiday season even though we weren't making the traditional foods, decorating or following our traditions. Our Christmas Craft Chaos day, setting up John Deere and Jane Doe with our Christmas lights outside, and playing Christmas movies and music every chance we had, certainly helped. Even with that, between all of the relatives, friends, change in our shopping schedules and interruptions in our school days we managed to stay mostly sane, put together and kind of in the holiday spirit. Well to the outside observer. Those who know us and are a big part of our everyday lives, knew better. :)

Needless to say, a return to our typical routine is a nice respite from the craziness our lives have been for the last 6 weeks. From colds, croup, fevers and teething to gifts, visits from friends and relatives who live far away, and a kickin' New Years party; the kids, (as well as myself) have desperately needed the return to the scheduled routine of our lives. I'm sure it will get old by mid February, but for now I will take it.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


A whole new year...wow, where does the time go? As with most people, I've found myself pondering the things in my life that I would like to change. How is that I can be a better "me" in 2012? I couldn't find just one answer, there are so many aspects of myself that need improvement. So, although my desire to change is strong, I realize that if I am too hard on myself, I'll never get my feet off the ground to head in the direction of change. Baby steps...like my little Sarah has done over the past couple of months. She started with just getting her balance while still holding on, then she would let go and maintain that balance. Once mastered she would try taking one little step forward to see what would happen next. Then, she worked up to multiple steps and before she knew it her confidence was soaring and she was running. She certainly had her bumps along the way, some bruises from missteps and a soar bum from landing so hard...but all in all she never gave up. That's how I want to be...like my little 16 month daughter. What an inspiration she is!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Merry Christmas!

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