Thursday, September 22, 2011

Extreme Makeover Home Edition - Review of Season 9 Premiere

It is time for the new season - Season 9 - of EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME EDITION!!  (imagine me saying that with all of Ty's enthusiasm) 

This season opens with a 2 hour season premiere on Sunday, September 25 at 7/6c on ABC.  (watch the teaser trailer below)

Through this blog, I have connected with so many wonderful, inspiring, and amazing people.  I have also been contacted with some really great opportunities that I would not have otherwise ever had the chance to be a part of.  I do not always accept the offers, but sometimes the opportunities are just too great to pass up.  Recently I was contacted with an offer to watch the season premiere of Extreme Makeover Home Edition before it airs on national tv.  Me?  Are you serious!?  Yes, please!  I love this show.  I love the idea behind it.  I love watching the houses come down and the new one (in all its grandeur) replacing it.  I love watching the families reaction at the reveal.  I cry.  A lot.  How can you not cry at this show?  So, when offered this opportunity to watch I was all for it...but you know what solidified it for me...the episode will highlight a former Navy Officer, Barbara Marshall,  who is fighting to end homelessness among female veterans.  I knew there was no doubt I was going to watch....and I am so glad I did! 

Here is a little bit about the show that I would like to share (without giving away too much) 
The show opens with the decorating crew traveling to the White House!  No, they are not "re-doing" the White House, hehe:

Instead, the crew of EMHE is stopping by to enlist the help of the First Lady herself. 
The crew moves on to North Carolina to the site of the makeover where we are introduced to Barbara Marshall, her family and the women at the Steps n Stages Jubilee House.  Ms. Marshall opened this house, along with her husband, as a transition home for homeless female veterans (single or with children) to offer them a place to stay, aid with job hunting, medical assistance, and transportation (just to name a few).  Ms. Marshall's spirit and compassion for these women is so inspiring.  What she is doing, empowering and helping these women, is undoubtedly not only making a difference for the women who come through her doors, but also for generations to come, as some of the women have children with them.

The house they live in is in need of many repairs and more space so that more women can be in steps the crew of EMHE, Mrs. Obama, the build team, and volunteers from every branch of the service!  That was so amazing to see all the support of every branch. 

The family and residents of the house are sent off on a vacation and the work begins.  I loved the way the house came down!  I loved watching the new house go up.  It is always amazing to me how much they accomplish in just a weeks time.  The house is incredible and definitely just what Ms. Marshall needs to help women veterans get back into the game of life. 

Mrs. Obama was very hands on in this episode.  She seemed to truly care about these women who live at the Steps n Stages Jubilee House and genuinely wanted to help them.   She said somethings in the episode that really stood out to me.  "Everyone can do something"  How true is that?  Really, we can all do something!  We might not can build a house, but we can do something.  Know a family with a soldier deployed?  Take them a meal.  Mow the lawn.  Provide an hour or two of childcare to give the parent at home a break.  As a military wife of a soldier in the midst of his 3rd over year long deployment I can tell you we all need help no matter how together we may look.  
Below is a picture of Mrs. Obama and Ty:

Of course I want to share one more picture with you.  The picture of the family and residents as the crowd is cheering "MOVE THAT BUS" and their new home is revealed!  This part has to be hands down one of my favorite parts.  I find myself saying "MOVE THAT BUS" right along with them, hehe. 

Let me encourage you to watch this episode. It is no doubt one of my favorite episodes.  I promise you will be blessed by Ms. Marshall and her desire to make a difference.  One last thing, some advice, have tissues on hand.  :)    I will watch it again, right along with you and I will have my tissues.  So, watch it and let me know what you think!

*I received no monetary compensation for this review.  This was just an opportunity for me to watch a show before it airs, and share on my blog what I thought of it.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Minor Setback

We've had a minor set-back at our house...

It is really nothing that major, just enough to be a little discouraging.

Jack had his annual eye exam a few weeks back.  Yes, it was a few weeks ago and I am just now getting around to sharing...can we say busy life??? :)  I was on facebook the other day and facebook reminded me what my status was 2 years ago (how sweet of facebook to have that feature)  Anyway, the status stood out to me because it was about Jack's eye appointment.  Here is the status:
"is so pleased with Jack's progress!!! In just 6 months the vision in Jack's eye... has gone from 20/400 (meaning he could only read the large E on the chart) to a 20/50 (could see about 4 lines now!) !!! Plus the patching for the amblyopia (lazy eye) went from wearing a patch over the good eye for 10 hours a day to NOW only wearing it 3 hours a day!!! PRAISES"

So fast forward 2 years to now:

Before this appointment I had been noticing that Jack was having trouble with his vision.  If he was not wearing his glasses, I would catch him covering his left eye and only using the right eye to look at things.  I had also noticed the left eye turning in much more often than it had been previously.  (The turning in of his eye does not happen while he is wearing his glasses so that is a really good thing)  For those who do not know, Jack has a condition known as amblyopia or "lazy eye".  He was offically diagnosed with it in 2009 (finally) by the 3rd eye doctor we went to see.  Yes, it took 3 doctor' it mommy intuition, but I knew there was something that was not right.  And boy was I right, my child was nearly blind in the left eye by the time we got him to a doctor that knew what was going on.  I am so glad we found the dr. we have and that he specializes in this condition.  Jack has made wonderful progress through wearing an eye patch to strengthen his eye muscles and re-gaining vision in his eye.  It amazes me what a simple task of patching an eye can do to improve this condition.  When we first started the process in early 2009, Jack had to wear a patch over his right eye (the stronger eye) for 10 hours a day to force him to use the left eye therefore increasing the strength in the left eye.  The patching process was very successful!  So much so that in just a year and half, Jack was no longer wearing the eye patch.  Now, he still had the condition, but it no longer required daily patching.  Instead of seeing the eye doctor monthly (like we did to start with) we were on yearly visits so long as his eye did not turn in while he was wearing glasses.  So fast forward a problems with the eye turning in while wearing eye glasses, but I had noticed the other things (mentioned at the beginning of this post) so I was anticipating some set backs when we went to the doctor. 

And sure intuition was spot on...again.  As I sat in the room with Jack taking his eye exam I saw first hand just how "bad" it had gotten...Jack has lost some vision.  :(  I do not really know why.  Guess it is just part of having amblyopia.  I don't know.  Now, it is nothing like it was on our first visit when he had 20/400 vision in the left eye.  At our last appointment Jack had 20/40 vision in the left eye to now the vision is 20/60.  I know, nothing like it was, but it is going in the wrong direction.  Which means that the left eye is definetly not as strong as it was.  bummer. is back to patching again for us.  2 hours per day, everyday.  Patching the right eye (stronger eye) so that we can strengthen the left eye.  The doctor was so funny about it.  He told Jack that he gave him permission to play video games while he wore his patch.  He told me, "how often do you have a doctor tell you to let your child play a video game?"  I chuckled but I know that the idea behind it is to force him to use the eye.  Now, no way am I letting him play video games for 2 hours just because he is wearing a patch.  We tried to read with it on and do homework, but it was very difficult for him to do that, so we stick to games and just playing outside.  Jack is great about wearing the patch.  He rarely complains about it.  Thank goodness.  I can not imagine how annoying it must be.  On those occassions when he complains about wearing the patch, I just remind him why is wearing it and that mommy wants to make sure the problem is corrected now so he does not have problems when he gets older.  I have friends who they themselves or someone close to them has a lazy eye and they always express to me how they wish their condition would have been caught when they were younger because now it is too late. 

Patching for 10 hours per day on a 4 year old was a task.  We got through it though.  Patching for 2 hours is nothing compared to 10 hours, but sometimes we have trouble finding 2 hours per day at home to wear the patch.  Between soccer and dance class we stay on the go.  I am sure some of you are thinking, just let him wear the patch out.  We use to do that.  But it never fails, everytime we have gone out in public with the patch on, we get some strange looks and on occassion some strange questions and comments.  Most people  just stare...which is so uncomfortable for Jack because he is a very shy child.  We get the occassional "looks like someone has a boo-boo on their eye, did the cat scratch you?"  to which I inform them about Jack's condition.  A few times we have had people make comments like "bless his heart, that poor child"  To which I like to inform them that he is fine, its just a lazy eye.  But I am glad that these people ask instead of staring...the people who stare really bother Jack (and me to for that matter)  I do not mind to answer questions, I just don't like the stares.  So, because of all that, we prefer to be home when it is time to patch. 

Jack is wearing the patch again.  I have not noticed any improvement yet in the left eye.  I have noticed a couple times that his right eye will turn in shortly after taking the patch off.  I have noticed it 3 times.  I know that does not seem like much, but this is new.  The right eye has not ever done this.  It has always just been the left eye turning in.  So, I am keeping an eye on it.  If it happens more, I will contacting the doctor's office just to make sure.  If not, we will return for our follow-up visit in December. 

So, like I said, minor setback...Jack will be fine.  I am believing that God will improve it again this time just like He was faithful to do before.   I sit here looking at Jack, with his patch on, and I think to myself how lucky we are to know about this condition.  How lucky we are to get a grip on it now, so he is not faced with no vision in the left eye when he becomes an adult.  I think about all that he can do...this condition does not slow him down at all...He is a straight A student, he stopped every ball that came into the goal during the soccer game this past weekend, he made all-stars in baseball...this condition definetly does not slow him down.  He knows that God created him in His own image, exactly how He wanted Jack to be.  And that is ALL that matters...not that he has a "lazy eye"...that does not define who Jack is, it is just how God created him.  Part of the unique, special trait that God selected Jack to have....and He gave Jack (and his mommy) the determination to improve it.  And we are believing it will improve.  :)  I will update again after our next follow up appointment. 


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guess What I'm Doing???

I am making "Welcome Home" signs!  Yippeee!!

This very, very long 3rd deployment is almost over...I am starting to see the light at the end of the is a dim light, but I see it :) 
I am counting down by counting the number of trash days left in this deployment...we still have a few trash days left, but I wanted to get a start on the signs cause it usually gets pretty hectic around here as the deployment draws near the end (especially now that I am the FRG co-leader)


Friday, September 9, 2011

Give-a-way Time!

I am so excited to offer a copy of the devotional "Faith Deployed...Again - More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives" by Jocelyn Green

Faith Deployed...Again is the sequel to the devotional Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives.

I really loved the encouragement and wisdom I read in Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives, so when the author, Jocelyn Green, contacted me about reviewing the sequel, I was really excited.

This devotional is filled with the wisdom of over 25 Christian military wives-representing each branch of our armed forces.   It is broken into 8 sections:
1.  Basic Training: Guiding Principles for Military Living
2.  Intimate Allies: Protecting Your Military Marriage
3.  Tour of Duty: Overcoming Deployments and Other Separations
4.  Soul Armor: Guarding Against Spiritual Attacks
5.  Stationed in Christ: Dwelling in the Lord, Near and Far
6.  In God's Service: Living for the Lord
7.  Home Front Hope: Moving Forward in God's Strength
8.  For Blue Star Moms: Trusting God with Your Service Member

A little about the author:
JOCELYN GREEN graduated from Taylor University with a B.A. in English and is a full-time freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and co-author of Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq/Afghanistan (AMG Publishers, 2009). Jocelyn writes for a number of clients, including the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and Indiana Wesleyan University, and contributes to Christianity Today, Campus Life's Ignite Your Faith, Today's Christian, ZIA Magazine, InSite, EFCA Today, Today's Pentecostal Evangel, and High-Definition Life: Student Edition. Jocelyn resides in Cedar Falls, Iowa, with her husband Rob and two children.

Just like Faith Deployed, I found Faith Deployed...Again to be focused on the unchanging character of God.  I find it insightful, full of wisdom, encouraging, strengthening, and hopeful (just to name a few)  I think that it is great that a  free online study guide that goes along with the devotional can be found at

I love that this devotional is not a "self-help" book.  It encourages military spouses to honor God no matter how difficult our journey can become.  This devotional prompts the reader to move past asking "why" and instead turn our focus to God - to His strength.  To draw Him near to us always, not just during the tough times.  As deployment #3 is winding down for me, it is easy to loose sight of His strength and try to "finish" this deployment on my own I am thankful for the reminders that are in this book.

I highly recommend this book to all military spouses and significant others, to military families, to churches who  minister to military families, to everyone who wants a little insight into what life is like for military families.

For reviewing this book, I received 2 copies.  Of course, I am keeping a copy for myself.  :)  But, I would like to offer one reader a chance to win a copy as well!

All you need to do to win a copy is....
Leave a comment with your email address

I know pretty easy right??? 

This will be open until 8pm CST on Sunday, Sept. 11.  I will choose a winner, randomly, and notify the winner at that time.

so...comment away and good luck! 


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Madeline's 1st day of school

Madeline started K4 today!

She has been so excited about her first day of school.  She has been bugging me EVERYDAY since Jack started to school about how much longer until her school starts.  She was in such a great mood this morning.  Woke up with no resistance and immediately got dressed for her big day.  When we arrived at her school, she was a little shy and skiddish at first, but after a few minutes, she was her normal self. She has lots of friends with her this year that we already knew, and will be making more.  I can not wait to watch her grow and learn over this school year. 
Below are some pictures of our Madeline on her first day.  (Madeline and 2 of her bestest friends wore the same custom dress to school today.  Each girl had the same dress just a different color)

Madeline reports she had a fabulous day and looks forward to going back tomorrow.  She told me all about the books she read and songs she sang.  :)  I love how excited she is about school!!!