Telling Others About Your CHD Child

Your child has been diagnosed with one or more heart defects. On top of processing your own thoughts and emotions you have to tell your family, friends, coworkers, etc. what is happening with your child.There are a wide variety of reactions you will see from people.  Some are surprising, some are disappointing.  It will change the way you think about some people and it will change the way some people think about you. Some people just don’t know how to react.  Others will overwhelm you with their support and generosity.

When you talk about your child’s diagnosis here are some of the possible reactions.  You’ll hear, “if there is anything I can do to help, let me know.”  Some will actually mean what they say and will be there for you.  Others won’t and will disappear when times get tough.  Some won’t want to hear about your child, they’d prefer to pretend it wasn’t happening because they can’t handle the reality of the situation.

Others will tell you maybe the doctors are wrong to try to make you or themselves feel better.  They might even think this false hope is helpful in some way.  This can be frustrating especially when you’re the one who has seen the tests and spoken with the doctors. It’s not helpful. You don’t have the luxury of denial since you have to make plans for getting your child the best medical treatment, making sure your finances are in order to pay for care, making work arrangements if you need extended time off or to work from the hospital or even another city.  For your baby you need to face the situation directly.  False hope the doctors are wrong will only prevent you from making necessary preparations, ultimately making everything more difficult.

On the other hand, you’ll have some people really step up to help you.  Some might help by watching your other kids so you can be in the hospital. They might bring you takeout when you get home from the hospital so you don’t have to cook. They might just be there to listen when you need to talk out some of your emotions.  They might help you raise money for CHD charities or even help you get by when money is tight. I’ve found there is no limit to some people’s kindness and generosity.  Throughout my entire experience I have held it together at every point, except when people have gone above and beyond helping when I didn’t expect them too. I’ll admit these are the times when I’ve been moved to tears.

You’ll see the best and worst in people.  The important thing to remember is no matter what reaction you see in people it is their reaction not yours.  You can’t change people or how they feel.  You can show them how you handle the situation and possibly inspire them by your strength, positivity and faith.

The Year with Two Father’s Days

My son, Billy and I spending some quality time together about 3 years ago.

My son, Billy and I spending some quality time together about 3 years ago.

Ever since I started dating my wife she insisted on celebrating special occasions on the exact day. I grew up with a brother and sister who have birthday’s back to back and mine is two weeks after theirs.  Growing up we celebrated all our birthdays the weekend after my brother and sister’s actual birthday.  So celebrating on the exact day isn’t as important to me.

In our relationship, I made the mistake of doing special dinner’s on the weekend instead of on the day, having parties not on the actual birthday, etc. I did this over and over again, not thinking it was a big deal. However, to my wife it was a big deal.  It was one of those small issues you work on in a relationship.

A few years ago, my wife’s insistence on this issue worked to my advantage. It was June, Father’s day was approaching.  My wife made comments all week about it.  She seemed more excited to celebrate then I did. Finally, on Sunday my wife let me sleep in and made me my favorite breakfast in bed.  We went to the movies with the family.  We went out to a delicious dinner. Everything she did was done with extra care.  I couldn’t have asked for anything more, it was a really great day.

We put the kids to bed and we started to settle in for the night. My wife asked me, “Did you enjoy your Father’s Day?” I smiled and said, “It was a great day, but Father’s Day is next week.”  Her eyes opened wide and she sprung out of bed to find a calendar.  I couldn’t help but laugh a little.  She flipped through the calendar and found the date.  I knew she realized her mistake by the water bottle whizzing by my head. I responded, “I can’t wait to see what you have planned for next week.”

When Father’s Day actually came around she tried to claim I already had my day.  I reminded her it wasn’t on the actual day.  She knew I had gotten her with her own rule.  There was no way around it this time.  I was getting two Father’s Days.  Since then my wife has loosened up on her “rule” and I have gotten better at doing more on the actual day. The lesson I learned is two is better then one. The lesson my wife learned is to always check the calendar.

Saving Big with a Little Work

I saved $95 on my room at Harrah's Casino from the phone quote to a Facebook fan exclusive rate.

I saved $95 on my room at Harrah’s Casino from the phone quote to a Facebook fan exclusive rate.

Everyone likes a good deal. It’s a great feeling to get something you want or need for less then you expected to pay. But are you willing to do a little research to get that deal?

Recently, I had to book a stay in Atlantic City for a Saturday. Usually, we like stay during the week and use the casino’s free room offers. This time my wife is going to a bachelorette party so it has to be on the weekend which is difficult to get for less then $250 a night at the nicer casinos. I did my research. I checked sites like Orbitz, Travelocity and Priceline. I called the casinos directly to see if my “player card” would give me any discounted rates. All the rates were still expensive.

I Googled the places I wanted to stay with “promotions” and “coupons” entered. Limiting the time frame you want Google to search is helpful in these kind of searches, however I still came up with expensive rates. I checked the casinos websites directly to look for more affordable rates. I found Harrah’s Resort and Casino with a rate of $207 on their site. I felt like this was probably going to be the best rate I was going to find but I got up and did a few things around the house first.

Thankfully I realized I neglected to check Harrah’s Facebook page for any deals. I logged onto my Facebook and found they had an exclusive rate for their Facebook and Twitter followers. I was able to book the room I wanted for $145. I saved $62 by liking their Facebook page, $95 if you count the $240 quote they gave me over the phone. This is one example of how some extra time can save you big money. Whenever I buy online, when we are going on a trip or I need to purchase a larger item I do a little research to see if I can save some money before I buy. Here are a few tips to help you save money:

• Google the product you are looking for to make sure you have the lowest price. Some stores will price match if you want to pick up in person.

• Google the product or brand with “coupon code” or “promo code” to find a bargain. I’ve saved half off of Disney on Ice tickets using this technique in the past.

• Do you know you are going to buy from a particular store soon or do you shop somewhere often? Subscribe to their email newsletter. Brands and stores will sometimes include discounts in their newsletters to keep you loyal.

• Check the store’s social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterst, etc.) to see if they have any special promotions.

• Sign up for loyalty cards. Often you will get rewards for doing your regular shopping. Best Buy recently sent me a $5 coupon off any purchase. That’s free money.

• Time your purchases. Do you know you are going to do a kitchen remodel? Time it around a holiday like memorial day, July 4th, etc when stores run major promotions to maximize your discount.

• Have patience. My wife and I saw a bedroom set we absolutely loved. It was more then we wanted to spend so we waited. Every now and then we would pop in to the furniture store and look for a sale. One day I saw it advertised as on sale so I went in to the store, played hard to get and got another 5% off the sale price. We saved close to $1,000 by being patient. Stores often cycle their sale items over several weeks.

• Know what it is worth. We bought a new mattress and I knew I could get it for 50% off as comparable models were on sale for half off. I knew what the mattress was worth to me and I waited for the sales rep to come to my price. He tried to show us other mattresses, we said not interested. He saw we were willing to leave so he met our price.

Disneyland Adventures for Kinect Review

Haunted Mansion Clip:

Haunted Mansion Clip:

Disneyland Adventures for Xbox Kinect is a big win with my family.  The game is comprised of two types of adventures.  One is where you navigate your way through Disneyland meeting characters like Mickey, Buzz Lightyear and Cinderella.  Upon interacting with a character they may give you a task to complete.  For example, Stitch asks you to find several cheeseburgers placed around the park and bring them back to him.  This is a very enjoyable way to explore the park and see of your favorite characters along the way.  Kids ages 6-11 will find this part especially engaging.

The second type of adventure is to ride attractions throughout the park.  This is made much easier with a handy feature in the game called fast travel.  Fast travel is voice activated and can be used even by those not playing the game.  This is perfect for my family because my 3 year old son and 4 year old daughter can play while I use my voice to fast travel them from attraction to attraction from anywhere in the room.

The attractions are fun filled from flying through Neverland, fighting Zurg with Buzz Lightyear, dancing with all the Disney Princesses, bouncing through the 100 Acre woods with Tiger and many more.  The Kinect uses your body as the controller which means anyone who can mimic movements can participate.  My kids can’t get enough of the game.  The adventures are fun for everyone in the family every time you play.

The game is designed for kids 10 and up.  Mine being much younger are still able to play the adventures very well with a little coaching from time to time.  The one part that frustrated them the most was when something would cross in front of the Kinect sensor and cause them to change avatars.  They would become upset anytime their avatars became a girl for my son or a boy for my daughter.  I quickly learned this could be avoided by setting up a Kinect profile for each of them.  As they grow and their faces change slightly, you will need to update their Kinect profile.

If you have a Kinect system and kids Disneyland Adventures is a must add to your catalog.