Saturday, August 5, 2017

10 Hospital Stay Tips for the Special Needs Parent

It's been flurry of activity around here this week and we leave for the hospital tomorrow! Between making sure the kids have all they need for school which is starting soon, planning meals and grocery shopping for the kid food next week when my mom is here, plus catching up on all the laundry, I haven't sat down a whole lot other than when I've been working my job.

Zachary had his final therapy sessions this week and we said goodbye to his therapist for the next 4-6 weeks. I'll admit I was a little emotional walking out of the therapists office. I think mainly because we have known about this surgery for so long and now it's finally here. I'm not quite sure I'm ready for all of this.

Monday will mark Zachary's 5th hospitalization and as I was thinking about "How to prepare for a hospital stay," I thought it'd be best to introduce you to one of my dearest and oldest friends Kim. As a teenager, she was more like my older sister. Oh the stories she could share. :) I'm pretty sure Kim was the one who taught me to TP a house. I'll never forget going with her family to drop her off at college and the trips to visit her in her dorm. Kim also inspired me in my walk with Jesus as a young stubborn teenager.

Thankfully social media has allowed us to stay in touch and both having special needs children has brought us back together amidst living thousands of miles apart. Over that past couple of years, Kim has spent, added up, almost an entire year living at the hospital with her daughter. If I could learn from anyone about hospital tips, she's the one to turn to.

After our messaging back and forth, here are...

Top 10 Hospital Stay Tips for the Special Needs Parent 

1. Ask about Ronald McDonald House room right away. 
    These rooms are in high demand! It can be a few days to get one.

2. Be a part of rounds every morning and don't be afraid to give your opinion. 
    No one knows your child like you do!

3. Take your own pillow/blanket for sleeping in the room.
    This is something I had never thought of. Duh! This is why I have friends to teach me these things!

4. Take a few of your child's favorite things from home.
    We already have a list started of Zachary's favorite toys and blankets to remember. He LOVES his rotating star globe at night and you can bet that's going on the list too. Anything to make him feel a little more at ease.

5. Take some of your child's tube formula if they are on it.
    Zachary and Kim's daughter are on a whole food formula called Nourish that they get through a G-tube. The GI doctor told me the hospital will "probably have it" but I'm not taking any chances. We'll be throwing a box of Nourish in the car with us just in case.  Zachary is also on an obscure kidney medicine that we're taking some of just in case it takes them a bit to get it in the pharmacy. Definitely not something I want to risk going without.

6. Ask if your favorite nurse can "primary" your child so that they will have your child every time they work.
   Once again, Kim to the rescue! This would have never crossed my mind.

7. Take a walk outside every day.
    It will help you avoid "hospital psychosis" or going a little nutty from never getting out.

8. Seek out healthy options for meals.
    Even bring your own healthy food! We will be bringing supplies to make our morning Shakeology and using the refrigerator in our hotel. Many hospitals have family gathering rooms on the hospital floors and will have a refrigerator you can use as well.

9. Find out if the hospital has a gym that family members can use.
    You guys know Peter and I love working out and it's not just for our weight. It's a complete sanity saver for me. We will be taking our computer so we can do workouts online and will definitely track down a fitness room either at the hospital or the hotel.

10. Reach out for and utilize your support system.
     This one is VERY hard for me. I'm a "do it all myself" and "I'm tough, I've got this" kind of mom. I'm already learning how much I'm going to need my "people" to get through Zachary's surgery and recovery.  The special needs journey in general is a hard hard road. We can only do it alone for so long.

If you are about to face a hospitalization with your kiddo or are suddenly facing an unexpected season in the hospital with your child, I hope you find these 10 tips to be sanity savers. Hang in there tired mama!

For probably the quickest updates on Zachary, especially next week, follow my Facebook Page or Instagram. And we plan to upload video updates to YouTube so you can see how it's going.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Surgery Countdown

Ready or not, here we go! It's Monday afternoon, and at this time next week hopefully Zachary will be just coming out of his predicted 5 hour long surgery. I can't believe the time is almost here. Do I feel ready? Not at all.

For those of you that don't know, in less than a week Zachary will be having surgery on both of his hips - a Bilateral Varus Derotation surgery to be exact.

I've been told the surgery will be a tough one and the recovery very long for our little man. Jesus, help us!

We'll get through it, I have no doubt. Again and again God has shown up with blessings from unexpected people - little nudges and reminders that God's got this and has his arms around our Zachary.

This week is a flurry of the usual work plus an added day of staff meetings but also I'm busy prepping everything else around here for our being gone for a week at the hospital. I know this week is going fly by.

The kids' summer is rapidly winding down and they will be spending the week here with my wonderful mama who is stepping in to take care of everyone else on the home-front!

For probably the quickest updates on Zachary, especially next week, follow my Facebook Page or Instagram. And we plan to upload video updates to YouTube so you can see how it's going.

Thanks so much for all of the love and prayers,


Monday, May 22, 2017


Welcome back to another Meal Planning Monday! I've been sitting here with my laptop, my phone (for entering my meals in My Fitness Pal), and a couple of my favorite cookbooks planning a new week of meals. 

Peter's BIRTHDAY is this week! So yes, there will be an evening of sweets, but otherwise I've planned some healthy meals to get me closer to the end of May. If you don't know, Peter and I are in this little "lose 10 pounds in May" challenge and so far it's going great! *fist bump*

Here's a few healthy meal ideas for you this week!

Grilled Chicken BLT Salad

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

Sausage & Vegetables Sheet Dinner

Cuban Style Grilled Pork Chops

To keep us on track, lunches will vary between grilled turkey burgers, grilled sweet Italian turkey sausages, or my high protein chicken salad rounded out with fresh veggies and Greek yogurt.

And TOMORROW (Peter's birthday) it'll be all about delicious grilled STEAK! Mmmmm!

And while you're cooking dinner, check out our most recent FAMILY VLOG HERE!

Have a great week!

Friday, May 12, 2017


Last week we celebrated 6 years with our amazing Zachary. The past 6 years have been filled with countless doctor visits, book draws, different tests, therapy appointments, and lots of emotions. The years have also overflowed though with countless laughs, smiles, moments of gratitude, and awe. Zachary is a fighter and has reached milestones many didn't think he'd ever meet. God has been so good to our family and our precious boy. 

May 4 always comes with strange emotions for us. Zachary doesn't want a cake with candles, could care less about opening presents, and has no understanding for what all of the excitement is about.

What May 4 is, though, is a day to celebrate the blessing of having Zachary in our lives. We celebrate how far he's come and how far God has brought his tiny body in these short 6 years. You guys, he's gained so much weight compared to a year ago and is WALKING! A-ma-zing!

So how did we celebrate Zachary this year?

1. Chick-fil-a!

Zachary doesn't eat much at home other than soup and cottage cheese. (Thus we're so thankful for his G-tube!) He doesn't even like to sit at the table with us when we eat, so how could we even have a family birthday dinner? Why Chick-fil-a of course. His favorite!

We met Peter's family and some very dear friends from church at the restaurant. We had balloons, Zachary got his fill of chicken, and survived the excitement and noise for a little bit...before Peter had to take him to the car and escape back to the quiet. Zachary can only handle noise and activity for short amounts of time. He's definitely a homebody who prefers just his little family of 6.

2. Siblings

Here's the core of why I'm writing this post. Peter and I decided to do something a little different and unique this year and celebrate our big kids on Zachary's birthday. Being a sibling to a special needs child is not the easiest. Our 3 older kids are extremely patient, loving, helpful, and have put up with so much these 6 years so far. Our middle two kids have sat in plenty of waiting rooms and through long appointments. They've had to wait patiently to get a word in while I spent excessive amounts of time on the phone with doctors and nurses.

While his oldest brother is focusing on his final years of high school, Zachary can melt even the biggest kid of the family. The love 17 year old Travis has for Zachary is beautiful to see.

Our kids have put up with numerous moments where we had to give the majority of our focus to caring for Zachary. I hate to admit it, but sometimes they just have to get ignored. Yet they never ever complain. When Zachary does something new and exciting? They're just as proud and excited as we are. 

On Zachary's birthday, we decided to turn the tables a bit and celebrate our big kids. We took the day as an opportunity to thank each of them and celebrate what amazing "Special Needs Siblings" they are to Zachary.

Each kid received a card from Peter and I with a special message just for them and a small non-birthday present from us. Since there isn't necessarily a Special Needs Sibling Day, we created our own! And I've heard from each of them how much our gesture meant to them.

This coming year doesn't look to be filled with all sunshine and roses with a major surgery later this year for Zachary. But he has the best big brothers and sister anyone could ask for to love and support him and us through it all!

Travis, Kaylee, and Daniel - you're the BEST! You are the heroes in Zachary's life who don't get near the credit you deserve. 

Zachary is better because he has each of you!

Thursday, May 11, 2017


This recipe is a keeper, folks. This is another recipe that has definitely earned a spot in our bi-weekly rotation. Not only did Peter ooh and ahh the entire time he ate, all of our kids loved it too. A healthy meal the kids also love? Winning!

Lemon & Garlic Salmon


Asparagus (or really any fresh veggie would work)
1/2 Roughly Chopped Red Onion
1 Lemon
2-3 Garlic Cloves or 2-3 T. minced garlic


Spray a sheet pan and place the salmon in the center. 

Rub the garlic ALL over the salmon. I spread it on pretty thick!

Drizzle a little lemon juice on the fish.

Sprinkle parsley, salt, and pepper on top and arrange lemon slices last.

Arrange your vegetable of choice around the salmon and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. 

Broil on low for around 20 minutes until done, depending on the thickness of your salmon.

Once I took it out of the oven I drizzled a little more lemon juice on top and served with a side of brown rice. Easy peasy and healthy!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


This has been one of my more requested recipes to post. During the spring and summer months, we make this recipe about every other week. It's definitely a keeper! We love to grill and definitely grill the chicken, but you could easily marinate the chicken and bake it in the oven. After baking you would top the chicken with the Bruschetta before serving. I won't keep you waiting any longer - here's the Newland family's favorite grilled chicken recipe!

Chicken & Marinade:

1 T. Chopped Oregano
1 T. Chopped Basil
1/2 tsp. Chopped Thyme
1 tsp. Chopped Parsley
2 T. Lemon Juice
2 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Salt
4 Chicken Breasts

Combine all of the marinade ingredients into a ziplock bag. Add chicken, mix, and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

*I frequently assemble the marinade and chicken while I'm making lunch and let it marinade in the refrigerator all afternoon until it's time to grill.


6 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp. Salt
1-2 Cloves Minced Garlic
1 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
1 T. Olive Oil

Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate. 

**When ready, grill or bake chicken and top with bruschetta before eating. So easy and so delicious!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Are you ready for the easiest dinner ever? If you can hold a knife and chop a few veggies and sausages you can make this dinner. I'd call this dinner extremely fool proof!

Hate doing dishes? This meal is for you! All I had to wash was a knife, a cutting board, and the pan I cooked on. I'm so excited I discovered "sheet dinners." We may be experimenting with sheet dinners weekly. It's so easy!

Sausage & Vegetables Sheet Dinner


Sausage - We used Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage and some Turkey Sausage but you could use whatever you so choose.

Vegetables - Tonight we did sliced zucchini, asparagus, and red onion.

Spices - Experiment! We went with a little salt and pepper and then a rosemary herb seasoning. 

Olive Oil - Spray the pan and we also sprayed the veggies with a little olive oil before putting on the spices.

You can't go wrong here. Cut up your sausage and vegetables, spray with a little olive oil, season, and bake!

350 Degrees for about 20 minutes. 

That's it! Isn't it pretty?