Sunday, November 19, 2017

Life Lately // A Zachary Health Update


I'm well overdue for another life lately post. The last time I left you was a couple months ago when we were deep in the throes of Zachary's hip surgery recovery. I'm definitely happy to say those days are behind us! Zachary's hips have healed nicely and new bone is growing in where they cut and moved things around in there. He has had regular X-rays to re-check and we've been cleared to not go back to the see the surgeon for another 6 months where at that time they'll begin the talk about his follow up surgery. Yes you read that right - he requires another surgery approximately a year after the initial surgery to remove the plates and screws they have put in. 



Recovering and re-gaining his walking and standing skills have been a bit harder that expected. He's re-learned to crawl but had some progress delays due to unexpected issues with his feet. We will be getting new foot braces next week to hopefully help his feet. 

I am happy to say that we witnessed a little miracle this morning as he briefly stood on both feet! I quickly snapped the picture below before he knew I saw what he was doing. That's a HUGE little glimmer of hope in that picture. He'll get back to walking was eventually, I just know it. 


While we're talking about Zachary, I'll try to quickly share our last couple of weeks. Zachary seemed to come down with a stomach bug on a Saturday night and by morning was showing significant signs of dehydration. Due to his kidney concerns, the kidney doctor quickly got involved and asked us to go to the emergency room. After several hours of fluids and lab work, we were sent on our way.



Unfortunately the dehydration didn't improve and we were sent back to the emergency room 2 more times that week before they admitted us for a 4 night stay. After other symptoms began presenting themselves, additional tests were run and we learned Zachary had C-diff. C-diff is a very nasty "super bug" that can be commonly caught by those frequenting a hospital or who have weakened immune systems after antibiotics. While C-diff can be quite hard on the kidneys, Zachary's kidneys seemed to have hung in there nicely. We're not exactly sure when or how he caught the nasty bug but thankfully with some strong antibiotics Z seems on the mend. 



The only remedy to kill the nasty bacteria spores that can linger on a surface from months to a full year is bleach. Needless to say, I've been on a bleach disinfecting rampage and have even had nightmares about the pesky germs. 

We are grateful God has protected Zachary's kidneys amidst a week of frustrating dehydration and the C-diff bug and we are pretty much staying away from people and germs for the next while. It's somewhat common for the illness to return and so we are being extra cautious to keep Zachary and his weakened immune system safe and healthy.  When you have a kiddo that's extra fragile, many things are simply not worth the risks!



Want a glimpse into our days? We've been picking up the vlogging camera again and you can see a little bit of our hospital stays on our YouTube channel or check out the video up here ^^^ or down below! 

Want to not miss a vlog? Head to our actual YouTube channel and you can click "subscribe" and then the little "bell" in the corner to be notified any time we post a video.



Needless to say life has pretty much revolved around Zachary's health for the past several months, but we are doing our best to make sure we find time with the other kids as well. They have all been so patient, caring, and helpful as we navigate what has been an unusually hard 4 months. 

If I could give you one quick piece of advice whether you have a special needs child or really any other things in life distracting you, it's to not forget to make time for the others in your life who need you. It may mean saying no to others and other activities, but in this moment here and now the most important people we need to be pouring into are those 3 big kids right there.


Something fun? We found a gem of a hiking place yesterday.  I have no idea why we've lived here for so long and have never ventured this this park. But it's now our little secret place that I have a feeling we'll sneak away to often. 

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving week! We're looking forward to the "hopefully" quiet week ahead.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Life Lately

I'm so glad it's almost the weekend! So very glad. 

Today I'm taking a break from Friday Favorites to do a little Life Lately post. It's been quite a while since we've posted a Vlog or blog post about how life is going. We are still in recovery mode for Zachary after his double hip surgery, but we're down to counting the days until we are hopefully done with his annoying brace between his legs. Let me repeat - we are in a single digits countdown and I don't know who would be more excited, Zachary or Peter and I. Well, Zachary doesn't really understand any of this so I guess we're more excited. This has been a LONG SIX WEEKS to say the least. 

I'm grateful for so much during these six weeks but we are definitely ready to move past all of this. For example, it is currently 8:53am on Friday morning and I have re-applied his brace approximately 10 times. He can now take the brace all the way off and just threw it across the room. Yep. This is my life.

Next Friday we will have Zachary's post-op appointment at the hospital. They will do X-rays to see how everything has healed and hopefully we will get the word to be all done with the brace and to start the process of learning to use those teeny legs again! I have no clue what that will be like for him or us but we're ready.


I guess I can't really share a Life Lately update without talking about the 2 new additions to our family. Two female snakes now reside in our home and that now makes 3 ball pythons. Exciting, right? Doesn't that make you want to come visit?!


I'm trying to be the supportive mama as Travis wants to work with reptiles for a living. I hate to admit it but I've almost felt a glimmer of compassion for these slithery things. What is happening to me?


Last weekend I had a date with a special guy. I think there's a longer blog post coming about all of this and the heart behind it, but Daniel and I had a super fun yet simple afternoon out. Just Mommy and Danny. He's the sweetest kid you may ever meet.


We have a brand new coffee shop just blocks away and it is quite tremendous. This picture right here is proof we have a nurse that is helping us a little bit now. I can sneak away and get some work done and sip on the prettiest of lattes. To be honest I was to the point of desperately needing a break and this did the trick. Hooray for home health nurses!

Have a great weekend, my friends. Hopefully next week you'll see an update from the hospital that we are leg brace free!

-Jessica






Friday, September 8, 2017

Fall Friday Favorites





The mornings are getting cooler and I pulled out my favorite hoodie this morning when I walked Daniel to school. I just love the change in seasons. Isn't God so creative?

Here are some Fall Friday Favorites for you!

ONE

I don't think I need to say much with this one other than isn't this adorable? You can find it on Amazon. Anyone else sneak out for a PSL at Starbucks this week?


TWO


I absolutely adore Shay Shull from the Mix and Match Mama blog and am so excited for her newest cookbook to release just in time for Fall and Winter. I'm definitely ready for some fresh new slow-cooker recipes. Shay's book Simmers releases October 3, you can pre-order it now HERE! I have no doubt it will be filled with tremendous recipes.

THREE


We are definitely a board game family. Our idea of a perfect Friday night is popcorn, hot chocolate and coffee, and the 5 of us surrounding the kitchen table playing a game. We pulled out Aggravation last week and the kids just can't stop! This actual board was one we had when I was a kid but you can find a new one HERE.



FOUR



We're not quite there yet, but when the weather gets chilly and the kids want to hang out inside, we often pull out the gel pens and coloring books. THIS GEL PEN SET with 100 pens is on sale on Amazon right now! 

FIVE


If you need a coloring book to go with those gel pens, how cute is THIS ONE?

SIX

Finally, it's my favorite "Favorite" of this week.

Pretty much anytime you browse online whether it's Instagram, Facebook, or an add on a website, cute t-shirts with fun saying are everywhere. I'm sure I'm not the only one to gravitate towards the cuteness. Hey - I have a shirt that says "Rock that Top Knot!" Any mom can relate to that one, am I right? 

We have fallen in love with the clothing line NHim Apparel. They aren't just a clothing line with an online shop and a store in the mall. They have a purpose and a mission and our family is 100% behind them. 

Someone from the NHim store praying for us in the middle of the mall after just learning Zachary was going to have major surgery was a moment I will never ever forget.


If you're looking for something good for Fall to add to your wardrobe, check them out! Peter's Colorado NHim hoodie is his favorite.

Here's a little bit taken from the NHim website...

"To sum it up, we are a premium Christian clothing brand for men & women – promoting others to become everyday missionaries through casual conversations. These conversations can often happen over something as simple as a t-shirt or hat. We believe in being givers - giving back to build orphanages with a portion of the proceeds from every sale to give children a future filled with hope.  We also are helping underprivileged families globally. 

We accomplish all of this through high-quality clothing, pushing the envelope on creativity & design, and providing something for everyone. Our products range from our own unique and premium t-shirts, casual clothing, dresses, hats, accessories, jewelry, signs, candles and more. We also believe in the power of prayer, and we pray for our customers in store."  


Happy Friday friends! 
Have a wonderful weekend.

This post contains affiliate links to help support the Newland family.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Grandma's Best Zucchini Bread




Peter's Grandma Jo holds an extra special place in my heart. Our family had the privilege to live with and care for Grandma for the final 3 years of her life. I'll never forget caring for Grandma on that final day of her life and sitting next to her as she took her last breaths. I still miss her terribly and not a day goes by that I don't think of her and smile.

Grandma and Grandpa were known for their gardening skills. Grandpa could grow tomatoes better than anyone I know and Grandma was known for her delicious zucchini bread. She made a TON if it! Here is Grandma's famous zucchini bread recipe that she had written in the back of her worn and delicate 1943 edition Joy of Cooking cookbook.


INGREDIENTS

2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven ot 325 degrees.
Blend together the wet ingredients (first 5).
Gently stir in the dry ingredients and place in a greased loaf pan.
Bake 40-50 minutes or until done.

Happy Baking!




Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Favorites





Happy Friday! Not only is it Friday, but it's a long holiday weekend!
*fist bump*

A long weekend here means my brother is coming to town to visit and Peter has an extra day off work.
Translation? I have help with Zachary! That deserves another *first bump* - and a hallelujah! I sit by that sweet kiddo almost 24/7 and re-adjust the straps to that wedge brace he's wearing roughly every 3 minutes. I haven't lost my mind yet, but we're close.

Lets jump right to it. Here are my favorites from this week!

ONE


My first "favorite" is straight from the garden. Take a look at that bionic zucchini! Our garden is practically overflowing with delicious produce. I think that massive zucchini was ripe around surgery time but we were so busy we didn't even see it or pick it in time. I plan to shred that puppy and freeze the it for yummy zucchini bread.

I stepped outside today to pick more cucumbers and came inside with 12 of them. Anyone know a good way to use up cucumbers?! I may need to track down some mason jars and try this recipe!

*Hint: Check back next week for a very special zucchini bread recipe! :) *

TWO


Have you hopped on the Lipsense train yet? My cousin is a Lipsense Distributor and I gave it a try a few months ago. It took about a week for my lips to adjust but now I am absolutely loving it! I may live in comfy clothes and not do my hair much while I'm home every day with Zachary, but you'll usually find me with my lips on. This smudge proof stuff is the real deal! Even after a sweaty workout my lips looks the same. Check out my cousin Annie's FB page HERE if you want to see what it's all about. Drop her a comment in her page and tell her I sent you! :)

THREE



I'm getting into this new groove of living in workout clothes. Honestly, unless it's a day our nurse is here, I don't leave the house and I simply live in comfort. In fact, I had a meeting at church the other night, put my jeans and thought "Yuck! This is so uncomfortable!" (This coming from a person who usually lives solely in jeans!)

If you haven't discovered FABLETICS yet, you are missing out! I signed up for the insanely cheap first outfit they were offering and I fell in love. If you use THIS LINK, you can get 2 pair of leggings for $24! They have the cutest tops and the black leggings I received from them are my favorite. 

Fabletics is Kate Hudson's brand-new line of activewear. As a VIP member, you'll get instant access to discounted prices and new personalized outfits every month. Plus, it's free to join! 

FOUR



I told you last week about the new supplements we have been taking. We've been so in awe with Peter's migraines leaving and the energy we have that we had Travis start taking them. Travis too suffers with migraines and the typical teenage tired and foggy brain. OH MY WORD people. I feel like I have a different kid! He's feeling good and his mood and energy has improved. As his mom I think this is quite tremendous! :) 

The only problem? Now I ran out of it! WHAT was I thinking sharing the good stuff?!

This pro-biotic is called VitalBiome and we take it every morning first thing when we wake up. 

VitalBiome is a revolutionary probiotic with clinically-demonstrated ingredients that help improve your health and your mood! Its exceptional formula delivers 8 diverse probiotic strains that reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, reduce GI distress, and rebalance your gut microflora, dramatically improving your health and happiness. I swear that it's helped our quality of sleep at night too.

Benefits:

* Helps reduce feelings of stress & improve mood

* Helps reduce GI distress

* Stabilizes stress hormones & promotes relaxation

* Supports a healthy immune system

* Helps relieve bloating & bowel discomfort

Send me an email at jessnewland@outlook.com or comment below if you want more details. You can also visit HERE to learn more about it.  

I'm still so so grateful we gave these a try. We're now considering putting Kaylee on some of the vitamins as well. We've noticed that big of a benefit. 

FIVE



Did you catch this recipe from earlier this week on my blog? Peter and I have had this stir fry for lunch at least 
3x this week. It's so good and super quick. Check it out!

SIX



I was beyond excited to share this post with you all this week. We have felt so loved and cared for during the long recovery with Zachary. So many of our friends and family have reminded me the importance of a personal touch and a simple gesture. I hope you'll read my post How to Support a Weary Friend and share it with anyone you think might benefit! 


Happy Friday friends! 
Have a wonderful long weekend.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How to Support a Weary Friend



I sat in the hospital cafeteria sipping a steaming cup of coffee. It felt like my stomach was in my throat and per my personality, I was trying to be tough and fight away the worry and tears. Peter sat next to me and we felt heavy and motionless. 

We had just watched our tiny special needs boy be wheeled away on a giant twin sized hospital bed. He was currently being sedated for his 4-5 hour long surgery.

As we were attempting the casual small talk with my parents to keep our minds busy, my sister found us in the cafeteria pushing a stroller and carrying a gift bag. She handed me a bag filled with simple items as a "hospital survival present" including snacks, lip balm, a face mask, Emergen-C, 2 rolls of toilet paper, and more! They were simple gifts that were exactly what parents who were about to spend a week in the hospital would need. 

Isn't it funny how at just the right moment even a small gift of toilet paper can mend a heart and touch a weary soul? It's true!

While we ride out the rest of Zachary's recovery from surgery at home, the exhaustion level is at an all time high, the laundry may be piling up, but our heart keeps getting touched again and again by loving hands.  

This journey so far has made me really re-think the personal and caring touch. Stepping outside of the  modern social media comment and taking the extra time to send a text, make time for a phone call, grocery shop and make a meal, write a note to send in the mail, and offering to help with errands can mean so very much. 

Here are some practical ideas to go back to the basics and help that friend of yours who may be tired, weary, and just in need of a friendly gesture whether your friend lives near or far.

5 Ways to Support a Weary Parent or Friend

1. Hand deliver a simple gift

Maybe it's flowers, a simple survival care package like my sister handed me, or a Starbucks coffee. If you live nearby, don't be afraid to knock on the door and offer a cheap and simple gift with a hug. Spending the long days at home can get very lonely. You don't have to stay long. Just stopping by for 5 minutes can lighten a soul for the rest of the day.

2. Make a phone call

Last week while I was sitting with Zachary, my phone rang. A dear friend had taken a break from her day to call and check up on us. We talked for maybe 10 minutes, but I got off that phone call feeling loved and encouraged. My tip? Don't be afraid to interrupt! If I was busy and couldn't answer the phone, I would have let it go to voicemail. But I would have listened to my friend's voice later on that voicemail and have been just as encouraged. So maybe in addition to the typical Facebook or Instagram comment, pick up the phone. Make a call and simply leave a voicemail if you have to! 

Texting is a great option if you're in a rush. Drop a simple text or encouragement. That works too!

3. Send a Card

I was surprised how thick the bundle of mail felt on Wednesday when I opened our little mailbox. I was surprised to see 5 cards in the mail from an Aunt of mine. She had taken the time to purchase, write in, and mail cards for each of my kids and also Peter and I. She slipped in a gift card to Chick-fil-a for each person individually and wrote a thoughtful note to everyone. I smiled as I watched my kids each open and read their card. 

You guys, you can purchase cards at the Dollar Tree for $0.50 each. Lets get back to sending an encouraging note in the mail. I can't even really tell you how much that meant to our family. 

Make someone smile and send a note of encouragement in the mail!

4. Gift a Meal

We have been so blessed with family and friends providing dinners for us during this long recovery period. At first I felt funny and guilty that friend were bringing us meals even though it wasn't me personally who had surgery. But let me tell you - this has been a tremendous help. I'm running on very little sleep and spend my days continuously at Zachary's side. Knowing I don't have to muster up the energy to cook for my family has been a tremendous weight off of my shoulders. 

Live far away? Send a gift card for a restaurant! Just yesterday we ordered food from Jimmy John's with a gift card from family members all the way in Michigan. Getting those sandwiches delivered was such a blessing and treat! 

If you don't know, you can order gift cards to almost any restaurant on Amazon.
Just click this link and see for yourself. Surprise and bless a tired friend today!

5. Text a Bible Verse or Encouragement

I feel like I keep giving examples from my relatives in this post, but they have shown so much love even from far away. On surgery day and the days to follow, another Aunt of mine would send me a text message in the morning with an encouraging Bible verse. Another friend of mine has multiple times typed out her prayer for us into a text message. I may have been busy and didn't always get the chance to respond right away, but I did read those messages and trust me, they meant so much. 

Find a verse, type out a prayer, or just send a message of encouragement. 
A gesture that literally takes maybe 2 minutes can be huge.

My challenge to you? Take the extra minute to be a friend and make someone's day. Today!

Curious about our journey? Visit our YouTube channel where we post updates.








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Monday, August 28, 2017

Egg Roll Stir Fry Bowl




I am always looking for quick and healthy lunch recipes. Peter works nearby and shows up at home for lunch daily but he doesn't have a ton of time. We have both fallen in love with this quick and easy lunch that takes literally minutes!

The last time I made this stir fry I used fresh cabbage from our garden, but typically I just keep a bag of  shredded cabbage and carrots on hand. 

 For the chicken, I usually keep a bag of shredded rotisserie chicken in the freezer. Sometimes I shred my own, and sometimes I just buy it pre-shredded in the freezer section of the grocery store. It's already cooked and thaws so quick and easy in this dish. I literally just throw the already cooked chicken into the pan frozen!

INGRENDIENTS

Shredded cabbage and carrots

Chicken (cooked and shredded)

Chinese 5 spice powder

Soy Sauce

Sesame Seeds

DIRECTIONS

Drizzle a tiny bit of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Sesame oil is always great in this recipe but sometimes I just use whatever oil is the quickest to grab.

Place the chicken and cabbage in the skillet stirring frequently. I drizzle a little soy sauce in while it's cooking. Once the chicken is heated through and the cabbage is wilted, I drizzle in a little more soy sauce and throw in the spices and sesame seeds.

That's all there is to it. Quick, easy, and tasty!

Enjoy!