Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Homeschool Happenings

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This week went slightly unplanned. You see, my husband works every Sunday. But, Saturday evening he told me he had taken this Sunday off due to some comp time he had because of a class coming up this week he needs to attend. Wahoo, unplanned day off.

However, he's sick. This means we didn't want to go to church and get everyone else sick. But, he felt good enough to do something. Here is what that something was.


Meet Rachel and Leah (above). Rachel is the black doe and Leah is the brown. They are 7 week old Pygmy goats (crossed with a bit of Nigerian Dwarfs - most likely).


It was time for our goats to meet. Our two new girls went into the pen with our other babies as they are the same size. It was love at first sight. So far everyone has gotten along famously. 

However, they weren't our only two new herd members. They were just our two planned ones. 

Meet Oreo. She is now a week old (she was 5 days old when we got her). Her mama goat was far too young to be bred (we really dislike irresponsible breeding that so many do these days where they just let whatever happens happen). Her mama was 100% not interested in being a mama and this baby wasn't thriving. We knew she needed a home when we saw her but didn't realize how much until we got her home. 
She had her head on her leg and it fell over as she started to dream. She was nursing in her sleep.



Our inside cat just HAD to sleep with her. They like each other so much. 

She has decided inside is better than outside.


Oreo has decided that she wants to be an inside goat. Ha ha. We put her in the port-a-crib so she has some room to move around but is safe. Her suck was inefficient and I have had to spend a lot of time, day and night, working with her to teach her how to suck. Today is the first day she has been able to to drink normally. She's not where she needs to be, but she's come a long way already. One thing is for sure, if we had left her there, she would have died. She was so malnourished. Today, as I petted her, she reached up and sucked on my pointer finger. It's coming, just needs more work. 

This has been a great lesson for the kids. They have really stepped up and started to find what needs to be done BEFORE I have to ask.

Of course, we aren't all about the goats. We also have more traditional learning in our school week.


We are really enjoying our Bible study. We start with prayer, then our Bible portion, some questions over what we read (this is so much more in-depth than we have done in the past and it's wonderful), and then we move into either a book about the topic or an activity. 

The book we are in right now covers history. I wasn't sure if the kids would like it. There aren't any awesome picture, fun activities, etc. I was wrong. They told me over and over how much they liked the reading I did for them. I highly recommend this book. It presents correct ancient history, but also shares, here and there, what some people believe about the events and corrects those misconceptions. 

We are continuing our land form study. Today we learned about hills and islands. My younger son wrote "backyard" (misspelled backward) on hills because we have many on our property. I love that they can relate so well to each land form we study. 


Last on my post, but not last for the day, is poetry. This is our poem for the week. We read it, discuss it, and even draw what we think it means. My kids liked this one. It's their favorite so far. That's good considering they aren't big poetry buffs.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Speaking of Chickens - Homeschool Freebie

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We try to never waste an opportunity in our homeschool day. That includes activities around the farm such as incubating eggs.


Thankfully a friend stepped up to help me this time. She shared a wonderful resource for the lifecycle of an egg. The best part is, it's FREEEEE. Gotta love quality that doesn't cost a cent. In other words, it's cheep, cheep, cheep. You don't find that very often.

I wanted to pass it on to you so you can follow along with us as we put our eggs into the incubator today. You can get a bird's eye view of what's happening each day in this 3 week process.

Egg Hatching and Chick Observation Packet (Free)

Enjoy.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Farm Update

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It's been busy and will get really busy this next week on our farm. I thought I would share what's going on here.

Photo Credit
Our little girl goat, Esther, who had a neurological issue with her rear hips and legs is doing so well. She is running around, jumping, and growing like a week. Her Mom tried to kill her so we had to pull her and bottle feed her. She's doing great with the bottle.

All the babies are starting to eat grass and alfalfa without spitting it back out. I have caught them chewing their cud a few times. I have heard the all telling burping sounds and felt their rumens, well, rumenating.

In about 2 weeks our two baby bucks will go to their new home. They are going together to hobby goat owners that we know personally.

Photo Credit
Our chickens are laying eggs so well, but they refuse to sit on them. This is not unheard of with chickens purchased from feed stores. They are pulled immediately and are not taught to mother, so they usually don't sit on their eggs.

However, our rooster has things figured out ... it appears. We were able to purchase a nice incubator with an egg turner at a trade days type sale last weekend. It's brand new and we got a great deal on it. We will set it up tomorrow, let it run all day, and then start collecting eggs.

If our rooster is as good as he thinks he is, in about 3 weeks we will have baby chicks. He needs to be as good as he pretends to be because it's the only thing saving his time on our farm. He's a mean old grouch.

Photo Credit
This has been a gorgeous winter. It's been what most would call fall/spring weather. It was 80 yesterday. It's never 80 here in February. The Farmer's Almanac says we are done with all freezes and bad weather so it's time to start planting.

We began our seeds indoors (except potatoes, we don't pre-sprout them). So far we have cukes, carrots, lettuce, large and small tomatoes, cilantro, and one corn plant sprouted so far. We have more that ought to sprout soon.

My tiller needs a tire fixed. My husband will be doing that on Thursday I will then till the area and we will start planting this weekend.

Photo Credit
I finally found a local source for raw milk. Who knew that would be so hard. Now that I have a reliable source, I am going to start making yogurt. We got our heirloom cultures in today and will start them tomorrow. Once they are cultured we will hopefully keep them going indefinitely so we have reliable and healthy cultures anytime we want yogurt.

I also shared our new tortilla recipe that my kids love. Tomorrow I am going to attempt to make baked tortilla chips with them. I will definitely let you know how those turn out. If they turn out well, I will share how I did it.

While we have a lot coming up, it's exciting. This is the first year we have everything humming so well. It seems we have finally hit our groove on our little farm. Gee, and it only took us 6 years.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Homemade Tortillas - Feingold Safe and TASTY

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My kids will eat almost anything if it's on a tortilla. However, we have a little one who is on the Feingold diet stage 1 and I am not sure he's ever getting off of stage 1. This means our food choices are a bit more limited. There ARE safe stage 1 tortillas, but not anywhere near the tiny town that we live. So, I decided to try and make them. How hard could they be?

They weren't hard at all, actually ... once I found a good recipe and tweaked it a bit. Now, tweaking is done, and I have an excellent tortilla recipe that's tasty, easy, and anyone can do.


Ingredients:

2 Cups all purpose flour
3/4 Cup water
3 Tbsp oil (we use safe olive oil)
1/2 tsp salt
More oil for cooking

Directions:


  • In a medium bowl combine flour and salt. Stir with mixing spoon.
  • Add in water, stir to combine.
  • Add oil, again stir to combine.
  • Sprinkle flour onto a bread board or clean counter top, put dough onto flour and knead (12 times or so).
  • Pull off enough dough for your tortilla. For smaller tortillas (think 6"), pull off the size of a medium meatball. For larger, pull of a larger amount. 
  • Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the ball of dough very thin making sure to sprinkle flour on it if it sticks to the pin or board/counter top.
  • On a non-stick (use safe non-stick, not teflon) electric skillet (or well seasoned cast iron) over medium heat, pour a bit of oil to lightly coat the surface and add your first tortilla. Cook it for about 1 minutes on each side. You can cook more than one at a time if you have room. 
  • Serve warm with your favorite toppings. 
Tips:

  • Make your tortillas thin! If they are thicker it won't be horrible, you will end up with a chalupa shell like you find at Taco Bell. But if you want a traditional tortilla, it has to be thinner than you might imagine as it will puff just a bit when you cook it. 
  • Oil is your friend. A light coating will make it slide and cook so evenly and well. 
  • Flour! You really don't want to roll this tortilla out to the perfect thinness only to have it stick and tear when you try and pull it off of your surface to cook. 
My picky kids couldn't get enough of these. My husband who usually says "it's alright" to almost anything he eats told me three times "these are a MUST DO AGAIN". 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Feeding Tube Awareness Week 2017 - Day 5 --- Where I Let YOU Do the Talking

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Today is the last day of Feeding Tube Awareness Week 2017. Thank you all for taking time to read my posts, learn about our kids, and increase your own understanding of our unique situation. It's been a blessing to share all of this with you.



So, today, I would like to open up the floor (if you will) and allow you to ask ME or my boys questions. Yes, if you have a question for the boys, no matter how funny you might think the question is, post it or message it to me and I will even ask them. They are very willing to talk about it in this manner. I have even had people ask them how it feels when the food goes into their tummies.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Feeding Tube Awareness Week 2017 - Day 4 --- The HOW of our Feeding

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I have shared our stories on how we ended up with two little boys who needed feeding tubes. I am sure they left your heads scratching on the WHY, welcome to the club. It's all so confusing, but our boys have always done that to doctors and their parents. LOL.

Today I am going to share HOW we feed our sons.

When we started this journey with Charlie Brown we started with formula. Think baby formula but with the nutrition an older children needs. It wasn't great, but it was all we knew. It took a bit to figure out because he was refluxing a lot until we realized he was one of those kids who couldn't tolerate soy oil. We got rid of that with a new formula and things got better. They weren't great, but he wasn't refluxing every meal.

As we went along I started to research. Yep, I went into research mode like I do with all of my kids issues. I am pretty sure my kids doctors roll their eyes when they get an email or phone call from me saying, "I have been reading about ...". But, they also respect me and, most of the time, realize I have done quality research and will go along with me or even think I figured it out quite well.

My research was looking at blended diets. This is not a new concept. In fact, people who had feeding tubes before the formula industry began, and for quite a while after it began, were given blended diets. You simply blend real food and feed it via tube. Not a hard concept. We decided to make the switch.

This was a big learning curve as I had to get enough calories in but also do it in a small enough volume that his tummy was OK with it being in there. We did a lot of trial and error as most GI dietitians are NOT equipped to help you feed your child real food. That was a shocker to me. I figured they were DIETITIANS. I thought that meant this would be their area of expertise. I was told it was great, go to the FDA with his calorie goal and it will tell you the amounts of each type of food he should have because they didn't know. They only knew how to tell me how to mix the formula for the right concentration based on calories/oz. Yikes.

I blended, froze, and served him pureed meals. He did so well on them. He was able to go at a faster rate than with formula and not reflux. He also looked so much healthier with real foods on board.

When Linus received his feeding tube I had done even more research. There was a "formula" on the market called Nourish.


Nourish is an organic plant based diet that comes shelf stable and ready to feed. No mixing, no blending, nothing. I knew they would recommend formula, I had my suggestion ready for them. Amazingly they approved of the formula I wanted (it isn't really a formula, it's just a blended diet in a packet, but qualified as formula with the doctors, nurses, dietitians and insurance companies). We went home with that prescribed.

Now I blend a lot of their meals and use Nourish on hard days or when travelling.

But how do we physically feed our kids? I know people have asked us. Here's a break down of the steps with pictures included at the end.

1) I put a 12" extension (long tube) onto their g-tube (after filling it with water so that I don't fill their tummies with air) that's in their tummy. It locks into place.


2) I fill a 60ml o-ring cath tip syringe with the blended food.
We use the Miracle brand o-ring syringes that you can purchase online. The Squirrel Store has the cheapest prices, most reliable in-stock, and quickest shipping I have found.

3) I put the syringe into the large opening of the extension and unlock the clamp.

4) I slowly push the plunger on the syringe and allow the food to enter the extension and eventually their feeding tube, which leads to their stomachs. This has to be done slowly or it will make them reflux or fill up too quickly.

5) I close the clamp, remove the syringe, and repeat until all the food is gone.

6) I flush the extension with 60ml of nursery water. This not only cleans out the extension of extra food so we don't miss any nutrition, but it also gives them 2oz of water and cleans out the g-tube so it won't clog.

Yes, we use a different type of syringe for this. These syringes last about a day when you put real food into them. The rubber end just kind of eats away. So we purchase the o-ring out of our own pockets since once will last for months. These are paid for with our insurance through our DME so we use them for other things like water pushes and such.

7) I remove the extension, put the cap back on the g-tube, and we are done for the meal.

Some of our other medical supplies we receive are:

Pump: This enables us to give larger feeds that need to be done at a slower rate so their body will accept it, give feeds on the go, or for overnight feeds (just what it sounds like, a slow rate all night long) There are other brands, but I feel this is the best for a blended diet and we are blessed that our DME provides the Infinity brand.



Feeding Tube Bag: When I use the pump I have to use a feeding tube bag. You can see it looks like an IV bag of sorts with long tubing and a cassette to go into the pump. I fill it to the desired amount, attach it to the pump, set the rate and volume on the pump, attach the end of the tubing to the extension mentioned above, and hit start. We hang the pump and bag on an IV pole at night or put it all in a backpack if we are on the go.



10ml Syringes: The little syringes are for medications, vitamins, and tube changes (yes, I have to change the g-tube that's actually in their tummy twice a year or if it fails).


We have many more supplies that come to us each month from our DME, but these are the most commonly used.

Benik Belt: This is what Linus has to use to secure his extension because he cannot tolerate any tape on his skin. This is called a Benik belt and has been such a huge help for him and has kept him from having massive sores due to his tape issue.


Vitamix Blender: In the tube feeding world, it and the Blendtec are pretty much the only acceptable blenders. They are professional grade (if you get a milkshake at a fast food or sit down restaurant, you got it from a Vitamix in almost every situation), and can handle the amount of blending needed to ensure a smooth puree that won't clog a tube. You can do it with cheap ones but you will burn out the motor pretty quick and you must always strain your blends and limit what you can put into them. It triples your work and limits your food choices.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Feeding Tube Awareness Week 2017 - Day 3 --- Linus' Story

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Feeding Tube Awareness Week 2017 - Day 3

Yesterday I wrote about Charlie Brown's story with his feeding tube. Today I will share Linus'.

Linus's need for a tube shocked us far more than Charlie Brown's. Who would, after all, think they would have two children with this type of issue?

Remember me saying Charlie Brown was born such a calm happy baby, life was good? Linus was 100% the opposite. Oh, he was born calm and happy, but that soon ended. His lactation consultant in the hospital used to say she had a 30 minute break every time she came to our room because he was just a nursing champ, slept well, was just good with being here and doing what he should be doing.

He got his Hep B vaccine and within minutes he was not that baby anymore. He started this horrible cry and didn't stop. Nursing became a battle field to the point we had to move to bottles. He cried all day and all night. We would work for 2 hours to get 20 - 30 minutes of sleep out of him. It had to be a very specific routine or forget it. We begged his pediatrician to help us. His response? "Some kids sleep less". No sir, this is not a 3 hour nap only being 2 1/2 hours or an extra 15 minutes of wake time. This is a child sleeping 4 hours a day total, which means I was getting less and Daddy was only getting a bit more because I would work so hard to keep Linus out of earshot since he had to work.

Then came the reflux, the horrible reflux. The only reflux I have seen that was worse was in a friend of mine son. He would eat, up it came ... and often half way across the room. Almost all of his baby clothes are totally ruined from reflux. There was no saving them for his children.

We moved him to an allergy free formula and thickened it and that helped somewhat, but not totally.

We finally moved to baby food and the reflux got a bit better, though the crying never stopped. It was nearly constant. If he was awake, he was crying. ECI said they had never seen anything like it. I couldn't leave the room, even if he could hear me. No one could hold him except me, even from his first week of life. No one! Not even Daddy. ECI worked to try and help him overcome this. They failed. Oh, they tried hard, but they had never seen a kid like this. We started with private therapy and they almost gave up on him but I was insistent. We had to help him. He couldn't crawl, roll over, or anything because he couldn't be out of my arms (even Daddy's arms were better than the floor to him, and that's saying something).

Once we got his therapy semi-successful, he blossomed with his milestones. There was no physical reason he couldn't do them, it was whatever this crying was that stopped him.

Eventually crying moved to just a horrible disposition in a toddler, than a preschooler, then ... well you get it. We would have hour long meltdowns out of nowhere many, many times a day and there was no way to stop them.

During this time brother got his feeding tube and life was trucking along, or so I thought. We began to notice Linus had slowed down his eating. I wasn't the first to notice it this time, and I was in a lot of denial with him doing it. My husband told me, finally, ignoring it wasn't going to help so let's face it. We tried even harder with him, and I had some new tricks up my sleeves. But, we figured out much faster with him what was going on and went to the GI. That's when genetic component started being tossed around with our doctors. Thankfully our GI tried a few things and then said, "we are stopping, time to put in a feeding tube before he gets as sick as Charlie Brown was when he finally got one."

His surgery did not go as well as Charlie Brown's. Our wonderful surgeon had retired and the new guys didn't like a GI helping with surgery, they wanted to do it their way and alone. So we didn't get the same procedure. Also, the hospital had a great new idea (said sarcastically). Go home 24 hours after surgery no matter what. He went home in a lot of pain and hadn't even had a feed with his tube yet. Horrible.

But, since then we have had success with his tube feedings. His need for control and his meltdowns have made it far more interesting, but they are working for him very well.

Side note: Some of you know about the heart scare we had a year ago (or so) with him and know that, because of that heart scare we know a huge component of why he has these nasty meltdowns (a few of you have witnessed them and realized how he smiles one second and is hysterical the next and you can't do anything to stop it nor did you do anything to start it). For those who don't, it's food. Yep. He has a very odd reaction to many foods on the market. Everything from dyes, to salicylates (that means apples send him raging), to preservatives. Label reading doesn't help because in our nation you are allowed to hide things and not put them on the label. (why?) But I will get into that story at another time.  


 

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