Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Finally Someone Saw It

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Our older son's legs have turned in for a long time. Actually, let me correct that. Since he regressed his left leg slowly began to turn inward. His right leg was fine. He can now turn his left foot completely towards the back with no trouble and no pain. Recently his right leg began an inward turn. I have asked countless doctors about it. I have talked to specialists. Everyone sees it, no one knows what it is. Muscle guys say bone, bone guys say muscle. One doctor blew us off completely and said, "it's just Autism". We were given expensive custom inserts, had muscles taped by therapists, and more. Sigh.

Finally our ortho doctor did thorough testing (the first one to do so) and found out, without a doubt, it's not bone related. He said it was muscular/neuromuscular. I went to the top neuromuscular doctors (supposedly) and she is the one who told us, "it's just Autism".

I had all but given up. He has pain related to this, he trips on his own foot, it makes him clumsy, and no one seemed to care enough to help.

I decided to throw in the towel after one last call for help. I emailed our DAN doctor about the issue. hoping he could refer me to someone. He didn't refer me. He told us to bring our son in to see him. We did.

He poked.

He mashed.

He bent.

He twisted.

He looked.

He felt.

He sighed and said there was nothing biomechanically wrong with our son (meaning nothing a chiropractor could help), there was nothing wrong with his bones (we had hear that from a pretty reliable source). He said this was organic and it was definitely in his muscles. It was all tied to his issues we knew about (mito, deficiencies, etc). This means we were some what helping with the protocol we were on, but not nearly enough to help because those items could never correct the damage. They could only support and heal the CAUSE.

Our son has loose muscles on one side of his body, very tight muscles on the other, and it's twisting and tilting his pelvis.

He decided to work with PNF (Propioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation). Normally he does this in-office but we live quite far from him so regular multiple visits each week would be impossible. Instead, he's teaching us the exercises, giving us a rigorous schedule, and will see us every 3 weeks to monitor our son's progress. He said words I never hear him say. He told me he thought we could reverse this. It won't be fast or easy. We have a lot of work ahead of us to help him stabilize, move things like they should be, and then make them symmetrical in usage. We are working a few hours a week to try and overcome what the body has been doing for years and will be doing 24/7 as we do the exercises.

I appreciate that we have a doctor who finally really looked at our child, saw his issues, and helped set up a plan to remedy the situation.

My take away? Never give up!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Getting Real

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When we read people's stories online, they are heavily edited, carefully chosen pictures that they want to share. We rarely see the day they eat cookie dough on the sofa while not getting out of their pajamas. We see adorable little children lined up in a row, doing their school work with no whining, while their tousled hair (that took 30 minutes to get that bed head thrown up in a quick bun look) looks adorable as they mix up homemade cookies.

Yeah, so not me! Let me describe my day.

I wake up at 3:00am to kind of nudge my husband to make sure he's awake to get ready for work. I wake up at 3:09am and repeat. I wake up at 3:15am and repeat. I am often then awake while he's still groggy in bed thinking about getting up. It's a good thing he's so cute and I love him so much.


  • I get up after laying there staring at the ceiling and traipse into the living room. I grab my pillow as I leave my bedroom and lay on the sofa. I put a DVD in that I don't care if the kids see in case I fall asleep and they walk in on the end of it. This means something like Leave it to Beaver or The Andy Griffith Show or the like. 


  • I watch it a while and go back to sleep on the sofa after convincing our cat that he doesn't want to play with me. 


  • 5am or so comes and I am awake for good. No, I am not just an awesome, well scheduled, and put-together Mom. Nope, for some ridiculous reason I am a morning person. No matter what I am up early. I don't want to be. I am not singing with the morning birds happy. I am simply awake. 
  • 7am or so and my youngest is up. He comes into the living room, sits next to me, leans on me, sighs, and then says, "canIwatchamovieIamhungrycanyoufeedme". It happens every morning without fail. 
  • I slowly get up, grab him some cereal or toast with "chocolate milk" (formula mixed with almond milk because he doesn't eat well) and sit back down with him letting him eat on our card table or desk which is in the living room while he watches his kids DVD. I give him his morning supplements his doctor wants him to have, and hand him pear juice to drink with it.
  • I hang out and wait for our older son to wake up. Since he was up until midnight due to his sleep issues tied to his Autism, he won't get up until about 9 - 9:30am.
  • He wakes up, I kiss his sweet sleepy head (because he has the biggest bed head I have ever seen with hair going everywhere and a sleepy smile every single morning), and snuggle with him a bit. 
  • He doesn't ask to eat. He never asks to eat. If I didn't make him eat I think he wouldn't eat all day. So, I tell him it's time to eat and give him his breakfast choices. He likes cereal, toast, or eggs most mornings. 
  • I let him sit at the card table as well because brother did and, well, you know how that is. 
  • We finally finish with his breakfast between 9:30 - 10am.
  • I mix his supplements (those that can be mixed) and get them in syringes. I put them into his g port of his GJ tube and change his tubie pad. 
  • In this time I have grabbed something with caffeine and added in my Before the Flow or After the Flow (depending on the time of month), my zinc, and take my allergy pill after forcing myself to eat a little something. I am not a breakfast person and could skip it everyday. But, since it's important, I take my allergy meds in the morning knowing it will force me to eat or else I will be nauseated. 
  • I get dressed, the boys get dressed if we get dressed that day. I almost always do. I feel more productive with clothes on vs. pajamas, don't know why. We then do our typical personal care such as brushing our teeth and hair. I don't put on make up. True confession, I very, very rarely wear make up. I don't like the feeling of it and yes, I have tried it all. It's a sensory thing and my husband loves me bare faced, so it's a win-win. I also rarely do much with my hair. I brush it, put it in a pony tail about 40% of the time, and that's it. I am a very low maintenance person. 
  • The boys play, run around, and have fun in between all of these activities.
  • Yeah, well, it's now 11:00am and it's time to contemplate lunch. 
  • I normally make a quick lunch. It might be left overs from supper the night before, a sandwich, hot dog, pasta, etc. 
  • I make their lunch supplements and hand my younger son his (he swallows his) and mix them up for my older son to put in his g-tube.
  • Depending on how well our older son has eaten for the day, I start his continuous feed now and it will last him the rest of the day and into the night. If he's done awesome (which is rare) I wait until supper to start it.
  • The boys clean up their places and it's time for quiet time. 
  • I tell the boys this is a good thing for their bodies to rest for an hour. They don't have to sleep, just participate in a quiet activity. Mommy really just wants to have a bit of down time. 
  • After quiet time we have a snack and start school. I used to do school in the morning but the kids have told me they hate doing it that early and prefer the afternoon. I am fine with that since I do better in the afternoon, too. I have noticed a big difference in their attitudes towards school work and their attention when we work in the afternoon. 
  • School ends and we do some chores. The kids pick up anything in the livingroom that is theirs, clean up their rooms (if I remember to ask them - just keeping it real), feed their pets, and then do other chores depending on what needs to be done. 
  • It's soon time to think about supper. I make supper, we eat without my husband 4 out of the 7 nights in a week due to his work schedule. I, again, hand supplements to our younger son and mix them for our older son to go in his g-tube. 
  • If our son did great earlier with his oral intake, I start his continuous feed now. 
  • Both kids run off to play for a while. 
  • Every other night the boys get showers/baths (depending on which one they want). 
  • We have prayer time, often talk about the day, and sometimes read a book or just snuggle for a while. 
  • I kiss the boys, give them big hugs, tell them how much they are loved, and send them to bed. 
  • 10 minutes later one of them is out wanting something (water, another hug, to tell me a life altering issue that just came to them once the lights went out, etc). I listen/hug/get them water and send them back to bed. 
  • Younger son stays in his bed until he's asleep. He often reads a book until he goes to sleep. 
  • Older son stims. He stims for the next 3 - 4 hours until he falls asleep around midnight. 
  • I sit on the sofa, chat with hubby, maybe pop in a DVD, go over what needs to be done the next day, and settle in for a long night as I can't go to bed until our older son is asleep because he roams. He never leaves the home, he just roams in our home. I need to be up to help him with whatever he needs. There is always a need in his mind. It's never aimless. 
  • I head to bed once the quiet happens in his room. 
Days are busy. I am OK with that. Sure, I would love quiet days where we did nothing but read books, take long walks in the woods, and play board games. It just really doesn't happen. It's our normal. 

No, I am not a saint. There are days that I stand at the counter in the kitchen wondering if it would be horrible if I just skipped one day's worth of supplements for them so I didn't have to bother with it. I don't, but it is tiring. There are days I dream of hubby bringing home a large pizza with extra pepperoni and double cheese. I make a gluten free spaghetti instead, but I dream. There are days I pretend I am sleeping when hubby is home hoping the boys will go to his side of the bed. They don't, but I try. There are days when it is lunch time and it hits me that I am still in my jammies. I change clothes, but it sure did feel good. We all have weaknesses. I don't do these things with some halo on. I don't want to wash dishes most days (and some days I don't). I don't want to do laundry, or make another pitcher of formula, or anything else medical. 

This is not who I ever planned to be. I am a techie. Computers and technology have known issues with known causes and you fix them in known or not so known ways. You have a beginning and an end to an issue with any system. You can walk away from the office at the end of the day and know you did a good job and it won't be there tomorrow. I was a manager and loved working with people helping them succeed at their jobs. I was well liked by my employees and my CFO and COO gave me lots of praise and kudos. I got raises and more responsibilities, even responsibilities far above my pay grade. 

But you know, the perks of this job are so much better. When my younger son smiles and tells me we have the best talks, I don't miss that job. When my older son smiles at me at all, I don't miss those raises. When my sons tell me I am the best teacher in the world, those responsibilities I held so dear mean nothing. It's hard. It's tiring. It's mentally exhausting. But it's the best job I have ever had. And THAT is getting real. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

When Life Gets Hard

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"I feel like I am hitting my head against a brick wall". I have heard it many times. I have said it many times. In the Autism journey you can feel like you have not only hit your head into that proverbial wall, but like you have been knocked out more than once.

My advice to you is stop. Stop banging your head for just one minute.

Pull your head away from the wall.

Open your eyes.

Look to your left. Look to your right.

Every wall has a door. Find that door and open it. There's no reason to continue hitting your head when you can turn a door knob and leave that entire room.

We have done this many times. It wasn't until I stopped banging that I found the door to open. It wasn't until I stopped the senseless acts that were causing me so much frustration that I could find the door. It wasn't until I gave it to God through prayer that He gave me enough to strength to stand up and find an exit.

I spoke to my husband who knew someone who was just banging away and banging hard. I told him to tell them this advice. Just stop the ramming and start looking for that door. It's there, find it and see what's on the other side.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Recipe - Lemonade

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Yes, I have another recipe to share. Since we now use Bountiful Baskets we are getting some produce I sometimes don't think about buying, such as lemons.

Lemonade is delicious, a wonderful treat, a good way to get off of sodas, and super simple to make. Below are two quick methods to make delicious lemonade with three ingredients.

Lemonade - by hand

Ingredients

  • 3-5 lemons depending on size in order to get 1 Cup lemon juice
  • 5 Cups water, divided
  • 1 Cup sugar
Directions
  1. Put 1 Cup water and 1 Cup sugar into a small pot and put on medium high - high heat to bring to a boil. (making simple syrup)
  2. While that is heating up, roll lemons on a hard surface making sure to press down a bit to release the juice from the fruit. 
  3. Cut each lemon in half. Only do one or two at a time until you know how many lemons you will need. You don't want to waste them. 
  4. Squeeze each lemon half on a manual juicer until all juice is out the lemon. (see picture below)
  5. Pour lemon juice into pitcher big enough to hold 6 1/2 Cups (approximately) of liquid.
  6. Stir water and sugar until all sugar is dissolved. 
  7. Pour into pitcher and stir to mix. 
  8. Serve over ice or put in the refrigerator to chill before serving. 
I have one similar to this. 
Lemonade - by Vitamix


Ingredients

  • 3-5 lemons depending on size in order to get 1 Cup lemon juice
  • 5 Cups water, divided
  • 1 Cup sugar
Directions
  1. Put 1 Cup water and 1 Cup sugar into a small pot and put on medium high - high heat to bring to a boil. (making simple syrup)
  2. While that is heating up, peel the lemons and cut each one in half. I would start with 2 large lemons or 3 small ones and add to it once you see how much juice you will get. 
  3. Place the peeled lemon pieces into a Vitamix blender (or other high quality blender that can handle the load) and blend on high for 40 seconds (approximately) until you have a thick, creamy colored, juice.
  4. Pour lemon juice into pitcher big enough to hold 6 1/2 Cups (approximately) of liquid.
  5. Stir water and sugar until all sugar is dissolved. 
  6. Pour into pitcher and stir to mix. 
  7. Serve over ice or put in the refrigerator to chill before serving. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Recipe - Garlic Watercress Eggs

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We purchase organic produce from Bountiful Baskets each week. I like that they have organic and non-organic baskets because my mother-in-law doesn't buy organic and this gives her the chance to get more veggies and fruit into her diet. If it's in her home, she won't let it go to waste. So, she will eat it. Never thought I would use that little trait to help her be healthier, but whatever it takes.

In my box last week I received watercress. First of all, I had no clue what it was. It was the only thing not labeled in my box. Second, the only thing I knew about watercress was those little sandwiches everyone seems to make fun of and no one I know has actually ever eaten.

I started with Google and discovered that it was, indeed, watercress. I had just guessed.
Good guess.

Then I asked my husband what we do with watercress. His response? Don't they make sandwiches out of it? OK, so that's really the only thing most people know about it. I am feeling much better.

I then went on the hunt for recipes. Obviously watercress and butter sandwiches wasn't going to cut it in my home. That's when I discovered a secret that only I didn't seem to know. Watercress is wild about eggs.

I decided to try some recipes this weekend and have come up with a favorite in our home. Check it out. I never would have thought I would like this, but figured I had nothing but a few eggs and some watercress to lose, so why not.

Our favorite recipe is below with a tweak that we discovered the second time we had them.
Garlic Watercress Eggs

  • 3 - 4 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, diced very small, nearly minced
  • 1 small handful watercress
  • 1 Tbsp (approx) favorite oil for sauteing
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Directions:
  1. Put skillet over medium heat and add oil. Make sure to coat the bottom of the pan. 
  2. Add garlic and begin saute. 
  3. Just before done (it will not take long, 30 seconds or so) add in watercress and saute until just turns limp (very fast).
  4. Remove from pan and set aside
  5. Whisk eggs until they are a good scramble. They will pour off of a fork when they are very well combined. 
  6. Add to pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until done.
  7. Put the watercress and garlic you just sauteed back into the eggs and stir until combined. 
  8. Serve warm
Variation:
  • Instead of using oil, make bacon before you do anything else. 
  • Leave bacon grease in pan and follow steps 2 - 6 above. 
  • When adding in watercress and garlic, chop bacon and add it as well so that you now have bacon garlic watercress eggs. 
  • Drool! Oops, sorry, I mean serve warm. This would be incredible on a tortilla with a touch of cheese, salsa, and other toppings. 


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Happy Hanukkah

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Tonight, at sundown, begins the beautiful Hanukkah season.

Happy Hanukkah. "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12

We celebrate not because we are waiting on Messiah to arrive, but because we know He has. On this day our family... wants to wish you all the blessings of Hanukkah and we pray our Lord, Jesus Christ, will bless you during this season.


Over 2,000 years ago God blessed His people with a miracle that lasted 8 days. Tonight, and for 7 nights afterwards, we remember that miracle and worship the one who created it.

After we light the Shamash (the candle that lights all others, it means helper), and hold it with the single flame, we will say three blessings before lighting the first Hanukkah candle. This is the first of the three: "Barukh attah Adonai. Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has given us holidays, customs, and seasons for gladness, for the glory of the Lord our Messiah, the light of the world".

Happy Hanukkah.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Tubie Tips - Backpacks

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In the tubie world there are all sorts of backpacks so you can be on the move with a tube feed. We have tried a few of them, OK, quite a few of them, and none have really fit the bill. We tried the packs made specifically for tube feedings such as the Kangaroo Joey backpack line.
Out of all the packs made specifically for feeding tubes, it was my favorite. We use an MOOG Infinity pump, but it works very well in this line of packs.

We also tried so many traditional backpacks tweaking them where needed. Most of the time this meant cutting a hole for the tubing that connects to his extension to exit the bag. Eh, they were alright. Nothing to write home about.

Then, one day, we were at Academy picking up a few things when we walked past the hiking area. They had hydration packs galore and it hit me. This was the perfect backpack for tube feeding. There are a lot of choices out there. But most are the same concept. There's a hydration bag inside (a big feeding tube bag looking thing) that hangs and has a long hose attached that goes out a pre-cut hole, usually it then goes down the pack strap, and comes out so you can drink when you want to. I looked at my options and we chose one by BCG.
I wish I had a big long reason to give you that sounds like I really did my research and had a broad knowledge base on hydration packs. Honestly, it was the least expensive. At $19.99, it was far less than the next lowest priced bag which was a CamelBack at $49.99. I know CamelBak is a much higher quality bag, and I am sure it's worth the price. But this is a very well constructed bag and it's for a kid who isn't out running marathons, hiking for miles at a time, or riding a bike in long distance races. Not to mention, it came in a few cool colors.

Our son chose the orange one you see above. He's a sucker for a bright color.

Inside you will see a tab that has Velcro closure that holds the inner hydration bag. I simply took out the bag and hang our unit there instead. Boom, that's it. The pump fits perfectly in the bottom under the bag as that main pocket is the entire length of the backpack. My hand slips in easily so I can push the run, prime, power, whatever button.

I have it cinched up to the smallest size for my son who weighs about 65lbs. The handle at the top serves to let me hang it off of an IV pole, a hook in our SUV, or anywhere else I need it to hang. There are two pockets on it (one zip and one open) so I can store small things like rolls of tape, tubing caps, extra tubie pads, etc.

My favorite parts of this pack are:

  • it's very slim, hugs the body, and isn't bulky. It's the nicest one we have used so far. 
  • since it's a hydration pack, there is an opening in the top for tubing to go out and down the straps. This puts the pump tubing in the EXACT spot it needs to be to hook to the extension. 
I think we have finally settled on a set up for when he's on the move. We use it in the house so he can get up and go where he wants and when we are out and about and he needs a feed. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sleep - It's a Good Thing

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From here
Sleep, it's a huge issue in our home. Kids don't get it so neither do the parents. I remember hearing parents gripe about a kid not sleeping well. You hear stories of "one more glass of water", "a few more pages, Daddy" and the like and you smile. You laugh inside knowing it's a part of growing up.

Yeah, that's not what I mean at all.

Picture a child so anxious about night time that he will beg, plead, and beg more to not sleep alone. Imagine a child so revved up that he runs for hours in his room until he finally slows down at 1am, napping for an hour or two (and I do mean light sleep), waking up, stimming some more, going back to sleep lightly for two hours, and continuing like this until one time he wakes up, sees sunlight outside, and is out of his room at 6am.

I mean sleep issues!

There are ways to help these issues. The problem is, many people want a one size fits all approach. I honestly have people ask me all the time, "what are you using for him and tell me the exact dose".

Here's the issue with that. 1) How big is your child compared to mine? If mine is 65lbs and your child is 32, that's a huge difference in weight and what my child can take might harm your child. 2) What are your child's reasons for not sleeping? What is causing my child to stay awake might not be what causes your child not to sleep. Did you know the reason my older son doesn't sleep is very different than why our younger son doesn't sleep? Same result, different mechanisms in the body.

Instead, I tell the person to call our doctor, or give them the names of other similar doctors who can help them figure out what's going on in their little one's body.

Having said that, this post is to also share our newest possible success in the sleep realm. Our younger son has a lot of anxiety tied to bedtime. Who am I kidding? He has a lot of anxiety tied to life in general. Our doctor has figured out a lot of the reasons why and we are starting new protocols slowly. We have only started two items and one is something we have used before but his body is deficient so he's on it again. When we start supplements, I always start one at a time. This let's me know what's working, what he might react to, and what he might be having an odd side effect with so I can tell the doctor.

Here's what we have so far:

  • Massage - At least once a day, moving up to twice a day, I massage our son's back, calves, and feet. I use Ava Anderson's Dream Cream with two drops of Lavender essential oil mixed in. He loves it. He has always loved massages. If I only do it once during the day, I make sure that one time is after supper. If I do it twice (which we are moving to) then I do it in the morning after breakfast but before school and then before bedtime. I take my time and allow his muscles the time they need to really relax. I start on the shoulder area of the back so he will start to breath in the oils and that will help relax. 
  • L-Glutamine - Our doctor has us giving him 2,500 mg of L-Glutamine from Klaire Labs even evening before bed. I give it to him after his massage and just before he brushes his teeth. We use the powered form and put it in some pear juice (just enough for the powder to fully dissolve as there is no taste to the supplement). 
We have other items we will be adding, but this is where we are since meeting with our doctor. Here is what we have seen so far:
  • A child who is calmer and more able to move through stressful situations. 
  • Monday - it took our son 2 1/2 hours to fall asleep with quite a bit of anxiety and being in his room. 
  • Tuesday - it took our son 1 hour 16 minutes to fall asleep in his room with my aid and medium levels of anxiety (reading stories, singing a lot of gospel songs, praying with him, etc).
  • Wednesday - it took him 40 minutes to fall asleep in our room with no anxiety. 
  • Thursday - he woke up and came to me asking if tonight he could sleep in his own room with me helping him a bit with a story and song. He said he thinks he's ready to move in there now. 
Why this is big: He has always had so much anxiety with sleep that even suggesting he sleep in his room would throw him into a massive panic that was honestly fear based. For him to come to us and ask to sleep in his own room is a huge, huge step. He also takes a very long time to fall asleep, even if we lay down with him. The fastest way to get him to sleep is for us to be in there, but even that is a long journey. For him to fall asleep in 40 minutes, that's a big deal. 

Our son, who has had sleep issues since he was a week old, is starting to sleep. I pray this is his answer. God lead us to an awesome doctor who is, what I would classify as brilliant. He saw our two kids issues and knew how to help. He said what we were doing for our younger son would happen quickly and I was afraid to have hope. I am starting to let go of that fear and see the hope that is out there. 

If you are a parent and feel like giving up, or have given up, don't. There is hope. It might not happen overnight. We have been trying for sleep for 7 1/2 years. But it can happen. Pray hard, seek His face, and look for doctors who will listen and know what to do once they understand your child's issues. 

If you need a place to start in finding doctors, let me suggest the two websites below. You can find one closer to you. You might have to drive a bit, but ask about phone and Skype appointments. Many will do that for those who aren't local.

Defeat Autism Now - don't let the name fool you. They are biomed doctors and can help much, much more than Autism. 

MAPS - the newer and very up-to-date people out there. 

Stand strong, parents. You can win this war. 

*Most of the links in this post are not affiliate links. The only one that I am affiliated with is the link to Ava Anderson. I receive nothing if you click the link, only if you make a purchase. You will not pay more for the item, but I do receive commission on anything purchased. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Random Hodgepodge

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It's fitting that Joyce is having a random Hodgepodge this week considering the past few days (see my Catching Up post). So, here we go. Check out my answers and then head on over to Joyce's blog and have more bloggy fun.
1. Did you watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special Monday night? Who's your favorite Peanuts Character and why?

We didn't. I have it on DVD, so my kids are well versed in the movie. My favorite character is Linus. He reminds me of our younger son. If you knew our younger son, you would agree. His mongee (favorite blanket) is even the same color. I mean, down that our son's hair he looks and acts like Linus. (even the deep thinking)

1a. "Most psychiatrists agree that sitting in a pumpkin patch is excellent therapy for a troubled mind." - Linus
Would you agree?

I think getting outside and just being is VERY good therapy. I think a lot of issues with our health could be solved by just standing up and walking outside our front door and not coming back for quite a while. Homes are meant for shelter, not living most of your life. 

2. Describe a sound from childhood. What does this sound bring to mind?

Hmm, this one is harder. The only sound I think of is from a certain Christmas as a child. I remember laying in bed and hearing the chain in front of the fire place (do fireplaces still have those chain curtains). It was moving a lot and I thought Santa was there. I crept out of my room, tiptoed down the hall, and peeked into the living room. The only thing I saw was my younger brother looking at all of our gifts. I was so disappointed. But, only for about 20 seconds and then it hit me it was Christmas morning and we started yelling for our parents to get up so we could open our gifts. 

3. You've won a trip to a winter wonderland ... would that excite you? Which one of the following would you most want to experience (or which one would you dislike the least) - see Aurora Borealis in Norway, stay in Sweden's Ice Hotel, go dogsledding in Lapland Findland, take a winter wildlife safari in Yellowstone, or celebrate Winter Carnival in Quebec:

Wow, that's hard because all of them sound awesome. But, if I had to pick one I would choose to see the Aurora Borealis in Norway. I always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis and, hello, Norway. I mean, NORWAY!

4. Who or what keeps you humble. 

My ultimate answer is God. Without God nothing in this world would keep me humble. On a more direct level, it's my kids. Everytime I think I have it figured out with their medical issues I am side swiped and realize I wasn't quite fully right. Sigh. 

5. What part of preparing for Christmas do you like the most? Explain. 

I hope it's OK if I answer this with our Hanukkah celebration plans. We aren't doing Christmas this year. My favorite part is studying the history of Hanukkah with my kids. We spent yesterday reading about the war between the Macabees and Syrians. We talked about God's provision in our lives. We read the Bible about Christ being the light and in Revelation about us needing no sun in eternity because of Christ. 

I am also really enjoying learning the blessings for each night of Hanukkah. The first night there are three and the other nights there are 2. The extra one you do on the first night is the blessing Jewish people say on Sabbath. 

6. Gingerbread - yay or nay? Is making a gingerbread house part of your family holiday tradition?

I love the flavor of a good gingerbread cookie. However, we don't make houses because my kids are allergic to so many things in the cookies and I have never found a good recipe for a safe one. Think my kids will be permanently scarred? 

7. What's one thing you want to start, do, or complete before the calendar rolls into the new year.

I don't really have anything I want to do. I have accomplished a lot this year and am satisfied with how it's ending. If I need to say one thing, I would put that my kids would start sleeping (again, see my Catching Up post). If that were to happen this year would be double incredible. 

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

I ordered my first Bountiful Basket this week. My sister-in-law sent us pictures of her share from the last 2 weeks and the produce is beautiful. I like that I can pay and upcharge and get 100% organic produce. I also added on 20lbs of citrus (hmm, how can I save this the best way and keep it good) and a package that has everything you need to make homemade tamales (save the meat). We pick it up on Saturday. 

Here are my questions to anyone who reads this Hodgepodge:

1) How would you keep 20lbs of citrus from going bad? I mean, we will eat it, but it's 20lbs! 
2) Do you have a no fail recipe for tamales? My tamale package includes: Masa, corn husks, green chiles, jalepenos, dried red chiles, and tomatillos masa. 

Catching Up

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Sorry I was gone a few days. Being Thanksgiving week, having a nasty storm, and crazy doctor appointments, and it made for me missing being here.

We traveled to my Mom's for the holidays and came home the Friday after Turkey Day in order to have a day of rest before going to my in-laws on Sunday to celebrate with them. We got a call Saturday morning that, due to the rain, the road to my sister-in-law's was flooded and there was no way we could get in and the day was canceled. Sigh.

Sunday evening we packed up and went to my Mom's again because she's very close to our sons biomedical doctor. It takes us 2 hours to get to her home and, since our appointment was at 9:30am the next day, we didn't want to get up before sunrise, drive to her home, drop off the kids, and then head to the doctor's office in time to make the appointment.
From here
The day of our appointment came and I was excited. I love our doctor. He's so kind, warm, and smart, smart, smart. I mean, he makes smart people look mildly intelligent. I went in with my notebook of test results (I always take them with me so I can refer to them as he speaks and make notes on them), a spiral, and a few pens (you never know if one might die and I take a lot of notes when he's chatting). We sat down for what would be a 2 1/2 hour long chat. I didn't realize he had blocked off so much time for us.

The Good:

  • We have a whole new protocol.
  • He saw our sons issues very clearly.
  • He knew what to do about them. 
  • He thinks he knows why our younger son won't sleep alone at night due to night time anxiety.
  • He thinks he has identified our younger son's eating issue.
  • He saw where our other doctor lacked in testing in order to get a full picture on our older son. 
  • He saw where other doctors had made mistakes in what they thought the issues were in a few areas and got us on the right path. 
The Bad:
  • Melatonin is now in the trash. A major sleep issue we were having was being caused by a side effect of Melatonin. We caused what we were fighting. I mean, we didn't know, we were told to use it, but it was not a good thing for our younger son. 
  • The frustration level we had at being misdirected for so long by other doctors was high. But we let that go because it does no good to anyone. 
  • We have a blood test that needs to happen for our younger son. Oh, gee, how I look forward to that... (read sarcasm)
  • I have stool sample to collect from our older son, the kid who never poops. Still waiting. 
  • SLEEP! We have none. Since pulling the Melatonin the kids aren't sleeping. We have something new on board, but it will take up to two weeks to see results. So I am working each night to get our younger son to sleep and just waiting out our older son. This means I am up very late (1am or so) and then getting up early because my younger son gets up early. Come on 14 days!!!
And now I am back. I am not sure how much mental clarity I have, so if my posts make no sense, just keep reading, shake your head in pity for me, and know in 14 days it will hopefully go back to normal. 

Talk soon

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Waffle Recipe - Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Dye, and so much more free

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My kids like waffles. In our pre-special diet days, they would scarf them down like rabid wolves. However, with our special diets and the fact that waffle irons seem to either have teflon, aluminum or some other unsafe coating they weren't a part of our day (or they are cast iron and, well, GF bread on cast iron, yeah, that's a sticky situation waiting to happen).

My kids longed for waffles.

They begged for waffles.

They even tried bargaining for waffles.

Frozen waffles might be your thought. Yeah, just look at the label and find one that has no gluten, no soy, no dairy, no apples (apple juice is a big thing in gluten free foods), and so on. You won't find one, at least not at any Kroger, Walmart, local natural food store, Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and so on near us. I have read so many frozen waffle labels it's not even funny.

Enter this little beauty.
I never thought I would purchase an Oster kitchen appliance. They are not known for being high quality or very safe. But, I received so many recommendations on this exact model I decided to give it a try. It's the Oster Duraceramic Waffle Iron. There were two models. One is a basic one where you open the lid, pour in the batter, close the lid, and wait. The one in the picture was a bit nicer. It was similar to the irons you see in the dining areas of hotels with continental breakfasts. The picture above is in cook mode. If you flip it over you will see two lights (power and ready) and a temperature dial.

To use it you simply open the top lid, pour in your batter and spread it out (just helps for uniformity), close the lid and turn it clockwise. You wait until the light turns on, flip it back over, open it up, and you have a perfectly cooked waffle. No guessing on time or anything.

But, what about a recipe? That's the kicker here, isn't it. I have one. I tweaked a traditional waffle recipe for this and it worked beautifully.

This starts with the right flour. It used to be, in gluten-free cooking, that you had to get just the right mix of flours. You still do, but now the work has been done for us. I picked up one of the cup-for-cup flours for this recipe. I used Domata Gluten Free Recipe Ready Flour. You can use other cup-for-cup brands, but make sure it either has the corn starch in it or that you add it in this recipe (which I will show as optional assuming you are using this type of flour).

From here
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (see picture above for description of exactly what I used)
  • 1/2 Cup cornstarch (you don't need this if you use a flour that already contains it, so read your label carefully)
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal (I didn't use it in this recipe but the original did call for it. That's just a lot of corn product for my liking)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 Cup almond milk (you can use rice but I like the thickness of Almond)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup dairy, soy, gluten free butter, melted (Earth Balance in the red container is excellent)
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, sift or whisk together flour, cornstarch, corn meal, baking powder, and salt to blend thoroughly; set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. 
  3. Add sugar; continue beating just until stiff peaks form; set aside.
  4. Whisk together egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. 
  5. Using spatula, stir milk mixture into flour mixture, blending just until dry ingredients are moistened (there should be small lumps, do not overmix - gluten free flour doesn't like too much mixing).
  6. Stir in melted butter. 
  7. FOLD in beaten egg whites until combined, Folding gives you that fluffy texture, don't overdo it.
  8. Pour batter onto a hot, greased (I use a little oil even though it's non-stick) waffle iron heated on Medium - Medium high heat.
Makes about 5 1/2 Cups and our average waffle took about 3/4 - 1 cup. 
If you like your waffles a bit crispier, put them on a wire cooling rack (make sure it's not teflon coated or an unsafe metal) and let it sit for a minute. 

Serve with warm organic maple syrup and watch your family eat them quickly. My husband, who doesn't have to eat allergy safe, said he would gladly eat those even if we didn't need to be gluten free. That's a big testament to the recipe. He's picky. 

Talk soon.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Holiday Treats - Recipes

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Allergies, intolerances, and more ... oh my! With Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Day coming up, treats are looming in front of us and so is the fact that our kids can't have any of it.

Yesterday I decided to whip up a few treats to see how my kids liked them and, honestly to see if I could do it. I thought I would share those recipes with you. I feel bad, again, calling them recipes since they are so simple. Oh, these are also a great way to add in items that you kids need but won't take by mouth. I am giving you the base recipes, but you wouldn't believe some of the things that I stuffed in these treats.

Peanut Butter Cups


Ingredients
  • Chocolate Chips (I used Enjoy Life Dairy, Gluten, Soy, Dye free)
  • Peanut butter (I used organic creamy peanut butter)
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Muffin cups
Directions
  1. Melt a large handful of chips/chunks over a medium low heat. 
  2. Once melted and smooth, pour a very thin layer in the bottom of a muffin cup. I used reusable silicone cups. 
  3. Put in freezer. 
  4. Wipe out pot or use another pot and put 3 rounded tablespoons into the small pot. Heat until smooth and melted. Add in 1 - 2 tsp coconut oil. Stir until incorporated and smooth. 
  5. After about 10 minutes your chocolate should be solid. Remove the cups and pour peanut butter over the chocolate. (the same amount or double the amount of chocolate, depending on how much you like peanut butter. We used double.)
  6. Put in freezer. 
  7. Melt another large handful of chips/chunks. Once melted and smooth, pour over the peanut butter layer you just finished that should now be solid. It won't be hard like the chocolate but solid. 
  8. Put these back in the freezer for a final setting. 
  9. Remove and put in a container (you can remove the muffin liners). 

Nutty Choco-corn


Ingredients

  • Popcorn
  • Chocolate (I used Enjoy Life like mentioned above)
  • Raw Almonds
  • Organic creamy peanut butter
  • Organic almond milk (you can use regular milk if you have no allergies)
Directions
  1. Melt two large handfuls of chocolate over a medium low heat. 
  2. In a bowl toss in 2 cups of pop corn. 
  3. Dip 10 almonds into the peanut butter so half of the nut is covered and you have the top half with nothing on it.
  4. Dip the almonds into the chocolate in the same manner so half is covered (where the peanut butter is) and the other half isn't. Lay the nuts on parchment paper and put in the freezer for a few minutes. 
  5. While the nuts are setting, add about 1 Tbsp peanut butter to the chocolate and stir until smooth. Add 1 - 2 Tbsp milk until the chocolate/peanut butter mix is thinned a bit. Stir until smooth. 
  6. Drizzle over the popcorn. Stir until about half coated. 
  7. Drop in the nuts and stir to gently toss. 
  8. Pop a movie into the BluRay player and have a fun evening on the sofa. 

Simple Chocolate Bars

Ingredients
  • Chocolate (see above)
  • Organic peanut butter
  • Almond milk (I used a specialty formula my son uses to add nutrition to this bar instead of milk)
  • Add ins (optional - rice crispy type cereal, marshmallows, nuts, etc)
Directions
  1. Melt 2 handfuls of chocolate over medium low heat
  2. Stir in 1 heaping Tbsp of peanut butter
  3. Pour in 1 - 2 Tbsp milk until smooth
  4. Lay out parchment paper and pour/spoon onto paper in a thin candy bar thick piece. (drop in add ins at this point if you want to use them)
  5. Put in freezer until solid. 
  6. Cut with a sharp knife into bar sized pieces
I had a little chocolate left over from some of these and decided to make another little treat. I bought some safe maraschino cherries (yes, safe. No dyes, HFCS, soy, etc). I dipped them in plain melted chocolate(keep the stem on as a handle). Set them on parchment paper or a few in a muffin cup and set in freezer or fridge to set the chocolate.

Talk soon. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Week Hodgepodge

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Joyce, at the blog, "From This Side of the Pond", didn't skip this week just because it was Thanksgiving. Oh no, she let us have fun with another round (so happy she did). Check out my answers and then click the link or picture above to head over to her blog so you can read her thoughts and look at other fun blogs. 

1. What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel it's too late to learn?

Piano - I always wanted to learn how to play and now I simply do not have the time to do it. Maybe when my kids are successfully on their own I could take lessons. 

2. Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?

Toilet paper - if I have to explain why, I might want to pick your brain over how you can LIKE shopping for it. 

3. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?

It is very different. It used to be my entire extended family coming together at my grandmother's home to eat, talk, catch up, and give thanks together. My grandparents passed away, there was a family conflict between two major parts that hasn't healed, and now it's very fractured and I miss how it used to be. 

4. What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of you? Explain.

People share memes about homeschooling or super moms saying they remind them of me. I get the homeschooling jokes but not the supermoms. I am only doing what any decent mom would do for their children. 

5. If you could guest star in a TV show, what would it be and why?

I would want to be an the Andy Griffith show. I just like it so much. My family and I watch it on DVD often. If I couldn't be on that, I would like to be on Leave it to Beaver. 

6. Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from roadside stand or farm shops?

We live on a 400 acre cattle ranch. My mother-in-law (who lives across the pasture) has a huge garden. We have a small garden, though it's getting bigger. There are farm stands where we live. I do not stop at them. I will stop at a farmer's market if it has local growers with organic produce. But I am very picky with what goes into my family's mouths. Many times what's on the side of the road isn't any healthier than what's in the store. Many times, unless you get to the know the seller, it's not even local. Farm stand doesn't equal local or healthy. You have know who you are buying from. Our local stand isn't at all organic and the woman selling the produce smokes the entire time. No thank you. 

7. What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?

I am in awe and wonder as we are working closer to the Hanukkah season. I am starting to see the beauty of worshiping our risen Savior through holidays He personally celebrated. If you want some serious awe, look at the passage in the NT where Christ says He is the light ... that was a Hanukkah celebration he was taking part in during his life. 


8. Insert your own random thought here.

This has been a nuts week. My uncle and cousin came in for the opening weekend of deer season. We love having them down each year. Our older son had a few medical issues. We are gearing up to leave to visit my Mom for Thanksgiving, coming home for 2 days, going to my sister-in-law's for my husband's family's celebration, and heading out from her house back to my Mom's for a big doctor's appointment that Monday. I will be so happy to be home with no where to go and nothing to prepare for ahead of me. 

Talk soon - Gobble gobble

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I'll Get You Home

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Someone shared a wonderful article with me today. I mean, this is tears in my eyes good. You don't have to be a parent of children with any medical issues to have this speak to you. We have all asked "how long, Lord" in our lives.

I'll Get You Home

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Simple Hot Cocoa Recipe

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Baby it's cold outside ...
From here


I like the cold weather. I hate coats, but I like everything else about this season. My kids like one thing about it. Hot cocoa! But, of course, hot cocoa has a lot of things in it my kids can't have such as dairy, gluten (thickener), soy (check those boxes people), and sometimes dyes (because chocolate isn't brown enough for brown hot cocoa you must add dyes for the full effect. 

I have a very simple recipe for an organic version of hot cocoa that is also safe for my kids. Now, this is not a low sugar drink. I mean, it's hot cocoa. But, it's awful tasty and oh so wonderful when it's cold outside. 

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp Ah!laska organic cocoa (or your favorite brand of unsweetened organic cocoa)
  • 2 Tbsp organic sugar (or organic stevia to similar taste)
  • 1 Cup organic almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp organic vanilla
  • dash of pink Himalayan sea salt (or salt of choice)
  • Gluten/dairy/soy/dye free marshmallows such as Elyon - optional (you can find these at Whole Foods and stores like it)
Directions
  • Bring almond milk to a low boil. Take off heat as soon as it begins to bubble.
  • While the milk is heating, put the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a mug.
  • When milk is heated, pour over the dry ingredients in your mug while stirring. 
  • Once completely mixed, add marshmallows if you desire
Mmm, tasty and warm. 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Low Zinc

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With all of our technology and knowledge you would think our food supply would be top notch, healthiest it's ever been in the history of time. However, that just isn't the case. Our food has been destroyed of it's nutritional content through all the altering and such that man has done to it. Because of this our population is becoming quite a sick one. We aren't getting the vital nutrients and minerals that we need and should be getting from our food supply.

With this issue comes the fact that so many people have low levels of zinc. Zinc is important to the body for so many reasons. One of the ways I discovered our younger son had a Zinc deficiency was his incessant chewing of non-food items like his shirt collar, pencil eraser, and so on. 2 days after starting Zinc and it all stopped. It was a symptom, an outward expression of an inward deficiency.

Zinc is an essential trace element. This means you don't need a lot but that tiny bit is essential for your body. Zinc helps with healthy eyes, cellular growth, immune function, metabolic rate, taste and smell regulation, and growth.

Signs of low zinc levels include:

  • lack of appetite
  • loss of sense of smell or taste (in sharpness)
  • hair loss
  • mental slowness
  • growth issues
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss (not in a healthy way)
  • many more
There are tests that can be run to check your zinc levels. You should see your doctor if you are concerned about this. It's very quick and fairly painless. One way many doctors use to get a quick eye on if you have low zinc is a taste test. 

Here's how it works:
  • You need to use Zinc Aqueous for this test
  • Take a small sample taste (1tsp is fine) and swallow it. 
  • What did it taste like? If it tasted horrible or very bad, odds are your zinc levels are fine. If it tasted good or like water, odds are you zinc levels are low. 
I take zinc daily. I put it in my glass of water in the morning and I never know it's there. I have no taste when I put zinc in my mouth. I am deficient but am working on that. 

If you suspect a zinc issue, please visit your doctor. He can run any tests he feel are important and discuss treatment options with you. But don't ignore a zinc deficiency. There's no reason to feel so icky when the treatment is so simple and inexpensive.

**Disclaimer**

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Deep Hodgepodge

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Here we are at Wednesday. Last week I posted my Hodgepodge on Tuesday wondering why Joyce was so slow in getting hers up. This week I forgot it was already Wednesday. Gee, if only they would invent something that would tell you the days of the week in order so you could keep up. 

As always, take a peek at my answers to her questions and then head on over there (click the picture or her name) to read hers and others. 

1. What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

Wow, OK, let's start off with a deep one full of introspection. Um, let's see. Life ... it is NEVER what you expect. I thought I had it all figured out. I knew where I was going, what life would look like, and this wasn't that hard. Then God laughed lovingly at me and said, "oh yeah, wait until you turn the next corner". That corner was a doozy and I have had a lot of them in my life. It seems there is a never ending numbers of corners that can shock you. The life I have now is not at all what I would have pictured for myself. It's 100% the opposite. I was going to live in a nice brick house on a nice tree lined block. My kids would play out in the front yard with the neighbors. I would sit on the front porch with my coffee reading a book or laughing at something they did. School would be in a cute school room in our home with desks and fresh paint on the walls. Sunday dinner would be hot and on the table not long after church. That was going to be my life. 

Instead I live on 400 acres in a tiny town of 200 people. We live in a mobile home because we had to get here in a matter of weeks to help my mother-in-law take care of my father-in-law because he had Parkinson's and they wanted him home instead of in a facility. So building or finding something else wasn't even a possibility. We have school in the living room, drive 20 minutes to the closest friend, and Sunday dinner is often sandwiches made with all allergy free foods as not to make anyone sick. I spend my days doing medical stuff and educational stuff and my nights researching both of those. 

But, while I would never want my children to be sick and would heal them tomorrow if I could, this life is so much better than I had planned. 

2. Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year ... awesomesauce, beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross - read the definition), fat shame, hangry, Mx (gender neutral) and skippable. 

Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find the most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say outloud? Which word would you be most likely to use in a conversation?

My thoughts? We are really dumbing down the English language in a big way. Language used to be beautiful, full of depth. Now it's becoming not much more than text speak and slang. 

Which word(s) would I never use? That's easy - beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, fatberg, hangry, and Mx. I don't have any reason to use beer o'clock. I don't use the word fart or butt. Hangry? Seriously? Do I need to explain why I don't use it? Mx - gender neutral should be saved for for baby clothes that are given when you don't know what the baby is going to be. I am sick of it being pushed on society. 

I would use awesomesauce. I wouldn't use it much. But I have said it a few times to my kids in our silliest moments. 

3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you would rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, bisquits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy ... which one on the list is your favorite?

I am from the south. I have never lived anywhere but the south. You ask if I like gravy? That's like asking if I like to breathe. It's a food group down here. We can put gravy on anything and, just a side note, we can fry anything as well. 

I don't see the point in having chicken fried steak with no gravy. It's just useless without it in my book. Good, warm, peppered cream gravy on top of chicken fried steak (especially if that steak is venison), yum. 

I make my own. It's so easy to do and takes such a little bit of time, that I make it after I make whatever we are having with it. Good gravy starts with good drippings and you can't get that in a bottle. 

From the list of gravies, my favorite is mashed potatoes and gravy. The one I am most curious about is biquits and chocolate gravy. Me thinks that's an English bisquit vs. what we call a bisquit here in the U.S. (or at least the southern portion). 

4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.

I have a lot of plans. I have school plans, medical plans, med plans, daily plans, weekly plans, holiday plans, life plans, and the list goes on. 

I have a little secret. I hate plans. I want to live life by the seat of my pants with only the basic guidelines like deadlines and so on. Making plans is not a natural for me. But, it's a necessity with our life. 

I have had plans fall into a trillion pieces probably a trillion times. Sometimes I am glad they do (like our plans for Christmas this year before we started to have a change of heart towards celebrating Hanukkah). It just fell in our laps and I had to sweep up the mess and figure out how to change direction. Sometimes I am not so glad. We had planned to go to my cousin's wedding a few years back. That came to a screeching halt when our GI said the word g-tube to us. But, that plan fell into a trillion pieces hours before the surgery and we not only didn't get the tube but we missed the wedding, a once in a lifetime event. 

5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or same version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Even taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a change on?

We own Monopoly. I loved playing it as a kid. I still like playing it, especially with our kids. Now that I know it's National Play Monopoly Day, we will play it without a doubt. I like to do things like that for fun with the kids. We played a few days ago and I owned the board. I won't tell you why when I can show you. 

I have never been to Atlantic City, taken a ride on a railroad, and yes parking is very free in our town. The last thing I took a chance on was buying some supplements that I felt would really help our son based on information from a few very well respected doctors in a medical field related to one of his issues. I went with my gut feeling and it 100% paid off.

6. A song you like that has the word (or some of the word) thanks in the title, lyrics, or meaning?

The first song that comes to mind is "Thank You" by Ray Boltz. It makes me cry thinking about something like that happening.


7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude ... what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?

With all that has happened lately in other countries, I am thankful for my safety. I don't know how long it will last, this peace we have so much of, but I am becoming more and more thankful for it each day. I can't imagine the terror in the hearts of those being affected right now, and I am grateful we don't live with that yet.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Remember the question from a bit ago about Monopoly and I said I owned the board. I felt a little guilty beating my kids so much ... but probably not as guilty as I should considering they usually beat me.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Confession

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I have a huge confession to make to you all. It's one I have held in a long time.

I am ... a homeschooler.
From here
First, I need to dispel some misconceptions.

  • I don't grind my own grains. Though, that would be cool if our grain issues weren't so nutty. 
  • I don't wear denim jumpers. I own one. It's too small. I need to donate it. Yeah, I will probably just keep it in my closet. 
  • My kids are not graduating at 13 years old and won't be doctors at 16. 
  • I am not nuts. 
  • I am not stronger than you are. 
From here
Before we had kids, before we even thought about trying, we knew we wanted to educate them at home. Both of us went to public school. My husband went to a school that was small. There were about 200 kids in K-12 total. I went to a larger school. There were about 200 kids in my graduating class alone. So we aren't second generation homeschoolers who know no other way. It's something we have felt lead to do since early in our marriage. 

When our oldest son got his diagnosis of Autism (his first of many diagnoses), we were told the only help for him was at the public school's preschool program for children with special needs (PPCD). We watched our dreams to educate him at home fly out the window. We went to the school, signed him up, had our ARD/IEP meeting, and took him to that little out building each day. I hated it. I wondered why God gave me such a strong desire only to rip it from me. It made no sense at all. 

Then, one day I was at home with our younger son with our older son at school and I thought about it. It really DID make no sense. God said we should home educate. He knew our child before we did. He knew he was growing in my belly before I did. He knows the days of his life already. If God said we should educate our kids at home, He meant it. He wasn't sitting up there while we were at the doctor's office on that fateful day thinking, "whoa, never saw that coming. Change of plans, put him in school." That's why it didn't feel right to me. I was going against God's command for our family. 

However, I am not the only parent here and I was nervous to suggest to my husband that we could educate him just as well as the school was going to do. He came home that night and, after putting the kids to bed, I asked him to sit on the sofa and talk with me. I told him about my thoughts and said, "what if WE can teach him what he needs to know." and I waited. 

His response shocked me. He thought for a minute and then said quietly, "I think we can. This makes much more sense than what we are doing now. Pull him out of school." The next day I walked into the front office holding his little hand, walked up to the secretary and told her we were taking him out of school, thank you. 

Yes, we are a bit nuts. No, I wasn't ready at all but why send him another day when we knew it wasn't his final destination for learning. 

It has been a very long journey. I started with shiny new expensive curriculum and quickly threw that out. I started with another new curriculum and tossed it. I bought a few more and finally we have a plan that works for our kids. It's hard on some days, and really hard on others. But, the blessings have been incredible. My kids have actually thanked me for homeschooling them. Whoa. My kids have told me, more than once, "Mom, we have the best talks." I love seeing their eyes light up as a concept that's hard for them to grasp hits them and they get it. I love that they can tell you about what happens in your brain when you learn a new concept and finally get it. 

If you want to home educate your kids, you can. Education level doesn't matter. It doesn't. Think about it. If the public school system you were raised in didn't teach you enough to teach children younger than you, it failed and you don't want your kids in the same system. Know you will throw out curriculum. Oh, you think it's easy to pick one, it's not. Learning styles, teaching styles, budget, and more will lead you in unplanned directions.

But, above all remember: You can do it. I did it. I am doing it. I finally let go of how I thought it should happen (which looked a lot like public school) and let my kids styles direct how it did happen. Now we are all a lot happier and my kids are learning easier and quicker than before. 
From here

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hear Our Hearts

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I had another post for today but it needed to take a back seat after yesterday. For those who don't know, Paris was attacked through the cowardly acts of terrorists. People have died, others have been injured, fear is in the streets, the military is trying to take control back, borders have been closed.

There are rumors coming out now from the media and local sources that this was an ISIS attack carried out by Islamic terrorist. Reports are saying up to 127 people are dead, more are injured, 7 attackers are dead by suicide bombing.

This is just a tragic event. Lives have been lost, families hurt so deeply, people are living in fear, and others are living with the hopes of killing more innocent victims.

It's time to pray. We need God in our world. We have thrown Him out and told Him he's not welcome here. Now we are paying for that arrogance. He's our only hope. We need to pray for these families who lost their loved ones and pray for the families of those who attacked Paris. Not only did they lose a family member, but that person is a murderer and we don't know the salvation status of the family itself. They need God just as much as we do.

For those in Paris, we are praying for you. We are lifting you up.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Simple Changes

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I learned about how cosmetics, cleaners, personal care items, and more that we use on our bodies and in our homes can affect us in a big way. I started to look for those types of items in stores. I found some. I found some good ones. But, honestly, I live far away from those types of stores and running out is an issue. Add in that some had just one single ingredient that either I (need no endocrine disruptors) or my sons (gluten, dairy, soy, colors, apples, etc, etc free) couldn't use, and it was hard.


That's when I found Ava Anderson. I ordered a few items after doing some research and I was sold. Not only did they fit in our list of no-no, but they also smelled good, were priced right, and were things you actually wanted to use.

I decided to join so I could get the discount that distributors received. Yeah, I am cheap like that.

I thought I would pass on the site information so you, too, could check them out. Do your homework, research, and, if you decide to give it a try, I would be honored to have you visit my online store where you can order from the privacy of your own home, have it shipped to you, and never have to share your personal information with me.

My Ava Anderson Store

**All links in this post are my personal store links on Ava Anderson. I receive no compensation if you click on them, only if you decide to make a purchase. All proceeds will be going to the biomedical care our sons receive for their medical needs. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Patriotic Hodgepodge

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Woohoo, it's Wednesday and that means it's time for Wednesday Hodgepodge from Joyce over at "From This Side of the Pond". Check out my answers and then head over to her blog for a lot more fun.



1. In two or three sentences tell us what Veteran's Day means to you?
It means remembering my grandfather and grandmother who both served in WWII (and met while in the service). It means taking a moment, or two, and thanking God for those who were willing to give up the comforts of home to protect our borders or help another nation protect theirs. 

2. What's your favorite film with a patriotic theme woven into the storyline?

EASY. White Christmas. Sigh. Now I need to pull this movie out tonight and watch it.



3. Flu shot-yes or no? If you answered no, do you plan to get a flu shot? If not, why not? Have you ever had the flu?

No. I do not plan on getting the shot. We don't get it. We use natural methods for protecting ourselves from the flu virus. Yes, I had the flu once. I still don't get the shot anymore. 

4. I've seen lots of people posting pictures of their Christmas trees up and decorated. Many stores have had Christmas on display since well before Halloween. Red cups are back at Starbucks, sans the holiday decor, and that has some people up in arms. What are your thoughts on all the holiday ruckus this second week of November?

I don't get it. I just don't get it. Hello, um, Thanksgiving!! Now that's a beautiful holiday. 

And, I guess I will take this opportunity to share something we have changed in our home this year. We are not doing Christmas in our family.

It's OK, I will wait until the gasps and fainting spells are over.

Feel better. OK. Let me quickly explain.

We needed to research the origins of Halloween for our boys. They asked us why we celebrated it. We didn't know other than candy. So, we researched it. They both looked at me afterwards and said, "I don't think that's a very good idea for us as Christians, do you". How could I argue?

That lead us on a search for better alternatives and so on. We learned a lot in that journey and we have decided to celebrate Hanukkah instead. Yes, we are very much still Christians. Yes, we still love Jesus and know salvation comes from Him and only Him. But, when you have a moment, study about Hanukkah and see the beautiful pointing to Christ that it has strung throughout. Look in the NT to see Christ, Himself, celebrating it.

So, we will not have a tree this year, but a Menorah. And we can't wait to share the love of Christ with family and friends as they gather around the light to hear about the one true Light that came to this earth so long ago.

As for the cup issue (rolling eyes here), I posted about that yesterday on this post, "The Cup Doesn't Matter"

5. What 'critter' are you most afraid of encountering unexpectedly? Why that one?

In my home? A mouse. I hate mice. I mean, really, because they are mice. 
In our pasture? A snake. Some snakes will chase you. We have means snakes around here. We have been chased a few times. Most just slither on by and don't care about you. Some are snotty.

6. Do you like building things? What's the last thing you 'built'?

Not really. I like working with my hands but not building. The last thing built for us was our wheelchair ramp. My husband and kids are about to build a club house. I build sandwiches. LOL. 

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude...what are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?

I am most grateful for my God who provided such a beautiful and sacrificial way for us to live with Him for eternity. Without that I would literally be lost. My life wouldn't have a whole lot of purpose since the second it ended it would all be dust. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I am excited about Hanukkah coming up. We picked out a simple but pretty menorah. We chose simple candles. I invited family and friends over for the last night's big celebration. I am planning the 8 days of meals. We have some fun traditional games to play (yes, we will have a dreidel) . Our whole family is excited. 
 

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