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….and all I got was this eyepatch!

January 13, 2012

The old joke – Mom and Dad went to ____ and all I got was this crummy t-shirt?

We lived it this week, sort of.  I took the boys for their first eye exam last week. Neither have shown any reason to need to get their eyes checked earlier – no squinting, no issues reading, no light sensitivity. Little did we know…

Both boys loved seeing how ‘alien’ they looked with these:

Connor got an all-clear…

Aiden, however, was diagnosed with Amblyopia (not to be confused by strabismus which is the crossing of one or both eyes). It is basically a deficiency in how his eye focuses, and then how the brain reads those images that it gets back. It is typically referred to as ‘lazy eye’, but it is just an anomaly where his eye  has no physical reason why it cannot focus, it just doesn’t. The optometrist said he’s too old to expect good results (typically, an eye matures around the age of 8 or 9), but that we should patch him – just get a play patch from  the toy section. That’s all we got from her. Oh..and the fact that his eyeglass prescription would make him look like a cyclops, so be prepared. (yes, a slight bit of hyperbole there, but it is just about all we got from her). When I would ask questions, she wasn’t forthcoming with more than, it’s just him, he’ll learn to live with it.

He had to have his eyes dilated, which was an experience in itself. The boy does NOT like knowing pain is coming, and she started out saying, “I have to put these water drops in your eyes and it’s going to hurt.” Yep  – that was a smart move. She couldn’t have known that about him, but it’s not necessarily something you want to say to a little one to prepare them for what’s coming. It took both of us holding him down to get the drops in, and he was really mad at me the rest of the day.

We got an eyepatch for him from the pharmacy and had him wear it all weekend. By Sunday, I was ready to tackle this thing that was effecting my boy.  I read and read and researched, and just wasn’t happy with the information that was given to me by the optometrist, when I was reading that there was more hope online. So on Monday, I spent a couple of hours on the phone between insurance companies and trying to find a pediatric opthamologist, and we had an appointment on Wednesday!

He was happy to get to look like a pirate. We’d been looking at different patch options, and he really did just want to stay with a plain patch because the rest looked so baby-ish. No Spiderman, no Batman, but the  camo did intrigue him.

What a difference that appointment made!  Dr. Davis of Pediatric Opthamology was wonderful with him, didn’t ask a lot of questions, didn’t make him look at teeny tiny letters ad nauseum, had some fun photos for Aiden to focus on while he did the exam. At one point, he said, wow…the boy has a lot of  astigmatism. Turns was wicked, all right. He has different variations of it in different areas of his eyes, making it really hard to find where the refractory points are to get a good indication of how bad the amblyopia really was and how to correct it. So Aiden had to be dilated again, but this time with a child’s prescription of medication, and the Dr. was quick as lightening.  After more exam, and letting Aiden take control of the machine to adjust the focus points, Dr. Davis pronounced that yes, he does have amblyopia, but it wasn’t the worst case he’s ever seen, and he could be corrected to 20/40 from his 20/100, and that just wearing proper glasses would be therapy enough, he felt. We’d come see him in three months to see if there was any improvement, and if there wasn’t much, we’d start patching therapy. If we wanted to go ahead and patch a bit each day, he wouldn’t tell us not to, but he really feels the glasses will be enough.

So we went right out to Lenscrafters to get his glasses – and tada! The first thing he said when he put them on, with a HUGE grin on his face – I CAN SEE!

(and as we told everyone – that’s not a bad haircut, that’s a decent haircut on a boy with a bazillion cowlicks that never lets his hair lay the same way twice).

Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever? He picked out these glasses, himself. You can’t even tell he has a strong prescription in one eye! I’m so grateful God gave us the opportunity to seek out a second opinion and find out how to help him better. We’re looking at patching for one hour each afternoon to give him a little eye exercise, but will wait til the exam in April to go forward with anything more once we find out how he’s progressed.

So – the moral of this story is nothing, really. Get a second opinion. Sure, we could have taken the boys in for eye exams earlier, and we might have caught this earlier and begun treatment earlier. But Dr. Davis said this may not have cropped up until the last year or two. Not being in a traditional classroom setting, we wouldn’t have seen him squinting to read the blackboard, and because he showed no other signs like not being able to read street signs when he was driving, he wasn’t tripping over things as if he had no depth perception, and he was doing fine in school, and reads really well, nor did he ever express to us that he was having problems seeing, there was nothing to signal that there was an issue.  And sure, I do wish we’d gone in earlier, in hindsight. But it wouldn’t have ‘cured’ him – it would have just given him a little more treatment time. For now, we rejoice that it wasn’t worse, thank God for the intervention and trust that treatment will improve Aiden’s eyesight, and never rely on a megamart optometrist, again, for something significant 🙂


Happy Hanukkah – the Dreidel Game

December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight, at sundown, begins the 8 days of celebration called Hanukkah, for those of the Jewish faith. Our family finds ourselves connected closely with the faith, seeing our Christianity as an extension of the Jewish faith, and one way we teach our children about the Jewish faith is to participate in observances to help them embrace it.

Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is a celebration of the Festival of Lights, a symbol of rededication and miracles.

From Judaism 101:

After years of oppression by the Greek Government, two groups of Jewish people banded together to revolt against the oppression by this government (which had placed a Hellenistic priest in their temple (a non-Jew being in charge of the temple), forbid the practice of the Jewish faith, and required a pig to be sacrificed on the altar (non-kosher). (…read more HERE)

“According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for themenorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle. Note that the holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory: Jews do not glorify war.”

You can read  more  here:


One of the observations of Hanukkah is the Lighting of the Menorah and readings that come with it, as well as a dreidel game for the children. A dreidel is a top with 4 sides, each side with a different Hebrew letter representing the phrase: A Miracle Happened Here.

The Dreidel Game

Using markers (chocolates, raisins, beads or use a point system if you don’t want to use actual objects), place 2 markers per player in the middle

Spin the dreidel

  • nun – do nothing
  • gimel – take everything
  • hay – take half
  • shin – put one in
When someone collects all the markers (or gets to a predetermined point level), the game has been won!


If you want to print your own Dreidel – or use one as a wrapping box this week – Heather Roselli @ Sweet Shoppe Designs has this great printable:

Here is a simple printable from Enchanted Learning .

Typical treats for Hanukkah would include Latkes, Donuts and Applesauce



Looking for a unique Teacher gift idea?

December 12, 2011

It’s the time of the year when people begin getting twitchy and nervous about what kinds of gifts to give their children’s teachers. You know they probably will smile and say thank you, but one more I ♥ the Teacher coffee mug or Apple for the Teacher plaque might just send them over the edge.


Here is a really unique gift for all of the teachers you need to buy from – all for around $10-15 dollars, depending on if you buy a print or a cursive font service for them. They’ll be able to use their own font on newsletters, handouts and letters home to parents, or for their own personal scrapbooking!

DJB Fonts


Christmas Advent Activities: 25 Days of Books

December 1, 2011

One of my most special memories of the Advent Season (which I haven’t done for a few years and need to bring back !) was 25 Days of Christmas Stories – each day one of the children would get to unwrap a special Christmas book and we would read it together. Each day, there was a surprise in store, not knowing which book it would be. Our books range from preK  to pictures books to activity books to adult-led reading books. The last book to be unwrapped was our Bible where Daddy would read the Christmas Story on Christmas morning.

At the end of November, I would pull out our Christmas book box (yep – we have a box just for that), and wrap each of the books and put them in a basket by our tree. I got the books from used bookstores, from friends, and collected over time. They always, and I mean always, point to the true meaning of Christmas for us. No Rudolph books or Santa books (well, except a book on the story of St. Nicholas). We get enough of the secular Christmas in our lives, and these are special times to instill in the children the true meaning of Christmas.

What are some special Christmas activities that you treasure with your family?

Blogs for Boys

November 16, 2011

I am always on the hunt for good blogs for boys. Not that girls can’t go to them, but these blogs really give me great ideas of things to keep my boys entertained, learned ( ha ) and engaged.

All for the Boys

With Fort Fridays, weekly fun projects like the bottle launchers below, party ideas across all kinds of themes, this site has become one of my favorite blogs to read for fun boy stuff!

Toys from the Trash

great site that mixes a lot of science with toys – and all made from junk you can get out of your trash!

Bloesem Blog

I love this blog for it’s unique style and crafts. They also do book reviews, food for kids and a mom page. But the crafts are definitely fun!

and these mazes would make my boys so happy – and it’s something to do with those putty strings !

The  Boy Trifecta

I’m thinking that this would also work well for smaller Nerf guns 🙂 I’ll let you know!  This is really a blog more for moms who like to craft for boys with some cool projects like this one, and hoodies and scarves and other great pieces.

These are just a few of the, I’m sure, many that are out there. If you have a great boy blog or read one often, share it with us!!!

Creating a more realistic handwriting feel to your layouts

November 2, 2011

I’m over at the Creating Keepsakes blog today (I KNOW! how unreal is that?!) celebrating Digital Scrapbooking Week. Come join me in learning how to get a more realistic handwritten feel to your digital layouts, get a free font, and a chance to win your own custom handwriting font!

Reformation Day Craft: Stained Glass Paintings

October 31, 2011

Happy Reformation Day – the day we celebrate Martin Luther papering a local church! Well, the day we celebrate the even of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany – flaming the Protestant movement in 1571. Among the crafts we did was learning to make mock-stained glass windows..and how oil interacts with paper. I hope to have our own family version of the 95 Theses ready for posting later this week.

We found these stained glass black line drawings here: – the last activity has direct links to the downloads.

We printed off the black line print and colored in each segment with crayon – hard, so there was a good thick layer of wax. Then gently swabbed a cotton ball with oil across the surface a few times, till the oil had soaked in. Of course, in our case, the boys went WAY beyond the call of duty with that part, so the prints still look pretty wet. But it did give off a great stained glass effect that is pretty.

The boys wouldn’t let me shave their heads like monks for a real-life reenactment. *sigh* This activity would be good for Sunday School classes, as well.

Tomorrow – All Saint’s Day! GO SAINTS!