Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted
according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or
slow to do the humble work.

- Mother Teresa

About Me

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Sunny Florida, United States
I am the proud mom to 6 kids: Natasha, 24, Nikolai, 20, Reese, 20, Maylee, 14, Erik, 10 and Violet, 7. The kids come from Russia, Ukraine and China; I'm so proud of my family sometimes I think I'll burst and I needed an outlet for it - so I've created this weblog. :o)
If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
- Mother Teresa

Motivation for Moms

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One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.
Mother Teresa

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Last week, I figured out how to save 40-50% off my grocery bill - my Wal-Mart grocery bill (the total would be more like 50-60% if I shopped at the "regular" stores)!! The idea has been there all along, but I didn't think about it until last week.

All I do, is I go to our neighboring grocery stores' websites and look for their weekly ad. I go through it, clicking on whatever item they have on sale to add to my "grocery list" that is generated for me automatically. When I'm done, I print the lists. I staple them together. I grab my coupons, and off to Wal-Mart I go!

How it works is, Wal-Mart price matches almost every ad you can find. The other 2 grocery stores offer lots of "Buy one get one free" sales, of course, at much higher original prices than Wal-Mart. I get that item, use a coupon if I have it (boy, is THAT fun when I do!), and voila!!! At check out, I have my list (with items that I got circled to help me find them) and as the checker took each item, I'd tell her what the price or deal was.

Yesterday, my shopping list from a neighboring grocery store offered Uncle Ben's wild rice "BOGO free". I found the bags of rice and they were $3.24 each (ouch). With my BOGO ad from the other store, I got two bags for $3.24, making them each $1.62. Then, to my absolute delight, I noticed that each bag had a coupon stuck to it (you know what I mean) for $1.00 a bag, making each bag only $0.62!!!!

I'm not an "extreme couponer" like seen on TV, because I haven't got 30 hours a week like they do to mess around (plus, in FL, stores don't double coupons), but I have found a very easy way to save 40-50% on my groceries and it only takes 10 min. online to do it, and a little concentration when in the store!

I had so much fun yesterday, that in the canned fruit aisle, two older ladies were debating on what kind of fruit to buy. I told them that P*blix had a BOGO ad for Del Monte canned fruit, and we stood there and I showed them my list and told them how they could this and that free just by mentioning it at the register! Soon enough, a gentleman showed up and we let him in on the deal, and a mom with a little boy chimed in, too! We had a little crowd of "price matchers" in the canned fruit aisle, all conspiring to get a good deal! It was fun!

Anyway, I thought I'd pass on this tip to you! Hope you try it and I hope it helps! :o)
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Every year on my daughter Natasha's birthday (on Oct 30 - I'm late blogging), we make caramel apples. We started this the first year she was home (at age 5/6) and we continue it to this day, though she is not with us anymore. I wonder if she ever thinks about those days and what fun they were? The kids always looked forward to it, and they still do today. We got apples for "caramelizing", but I forgot sticks, so we used Erik's little forks. ;o)

This is one of Reese's favorite yearly activities. He got to go first.


Erik's turn!!

And Mark's!!

All finished! Yep, they were sloppy, but that's half the fun!

Saturday, November 19, 2011
A lot has been going on with me medically and a lot of people are asking a lot of questions, so to avoid having people wonder and to maybe even keep rumors from getting started, here is the skinny on the situation:

I had a slight problem that caused my doctor to order a CT scan. This was interesting, because I am the type of person who is never sick. Nothing ever goes on with me medically. So, with interest, and a bit of amusement, I had the CT. The nurse called after the results were in and said that the doc now wanted an MRI, but didn't tell me why. So, again, with interest and a bit of amusement, I had the MRI (these were done of my abdomen).

The doc called me in. With concern, he told me that it looked like there was a mass on my pancreas. He referred me to a GI doc (which I felt was good, since at least he didn't refer me to an oncologist!!). After a nightmarish week when I was convinced I had pancreatic cancer, the GI doc studied the reports and to my HUGE relief, told me he really didn't think that it was a mass (NOT CANCER!!), but a big aneurysm. He had spoken with a radiologist at the hospital and because I have no history of alcohol or cigarette use, or drugs, or a family history of aneurysms, or pancreatitis, or trauma, they really could not understand why in the world it was there, but it was. They scheduled me for an angiogram. They would thread a catheter tube up (starting at my groin) my artery to the aneurysm (ballooning of the artery) and fix it. Well, they tried. Once they got up there, they realized the job was too complicated for them at that facility and I needed a more sophisticated hospital. It was a real letdown...

So we finally secured an appointment with a vascular surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. I had my scans and reports sent up there beforehand. We met with him and he was as confused as the local guys were as to what was going on. The aneurysm was in a VERY unusual place and was very large. Armed with the knowledge of the first angiogram info, he felt that he could do another one, only more sophisticated one, and approaching the thing from both ends. We scheduled it.

Well, at our pre-op appt, the doc said he'd consulted with several other vascular surgeons and they said that they noticed something: a nearby artery was very narrowed and the artery with the aneurysm was compensating for it, and the pressure caused from the double duty is what caused the ballooning, so simply fixing the aneurysm wouldn't solve the problem - the narrowing would need to be fixed, or another aneurysm would grow. I would need major abdominal surgery to fix the narrowing. Nice.

I called my mom, who is always faithful to help me whenever I need her. She made plans to come to help take care of us for my December 5 surgical date.

At my pre-op appt, we had yet another curve ball thrown at us: the doc again consulted with several other vascular surgeons, and they wanted to do another angiogram for diagnostic purposes: he wanted to zone in totally on the aneurysm and narrowed artery and get a much better look before making any decisions on big surgery. After the images are taken, he will send them to the vascular surgeons at both Rochester and Arizona Mayo clinics so they can all see them and a recommendation can be made.

He said that he is aware of only THREE other documented cases like mine worldwide have been found, which is why they are being so careful and why he is getting so many consults from other surgeons!!! I'm glad that they are trying so hard, but I'm anxious to get this thing fixed... I don't LIKE walking around with a huge aneurysm (plus a smaller one) that could "blow" at any moment!!! I am otherwise very healthy, other than my weight, so that should work in my favor.

But that's what's going on with me. I will next have an angiogram on Dec. 5 and after the doc shows the images taken to the other docs in the other regions, a decision will be made and the recommended procedure will be scheduled pretty soon afterward.

This was a long post, but it's a long story! Thanks to any of you who made it this far! :o)

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If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.
- Chinese proverb
It is not the will of your Father that any one of these little ones should perish. Matt. 18:14

Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. Matt. 18:5

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

My family

My family
Nikolai, Mark, Missy, Reese, and Erik

Nikolai, 19

Nikolai, 19

Reese, 19

Reese, 19

Erik, 9

Erik, 9





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