Sunday, August 14, 2016

Interview with the Little Misters About Their Feeding Tubes

Today I thought I would spend a bit of time interviewing my two sons about their feeding tubes. I affectionately refer to them at Linus (younger son) and Charlie Brown (older son). 

We will start with Linus:

Me: Linus, how are you feeling today?
Linus: Good.

Me: So, it's been a little over 2 weeks since your surgery to put in your feeding tube. How is your feeding tube site feeling?
Linus: Good. It is starting to feel like a part of my body ... sometimes.

Me: What is your favorite part about having a feeding tube?
Linus: I don't have to worry about how much I eat. I am happy I don't have to eat a certain amount each day. I can eat how much I want and stop when I want.

Me: What is your least favorite part of having a feeding tube?

Me: What did you feel or think when you heard you would be having a feeding tube?
Linus: I thought it may be very painful.

Me: Were you right or wrong?
Linus: Well when I woke up from surgery it kind of hurt a little bit but then it got better. But it didn't hurt like I thought it would.

Me: I know a lot of parents want to know and a lot of kids who are going to get tubes might like to know, what does it feel like for food to go into your tummy through your feeding tube?
Linus: Mostly I feel nothing. But if the food is cold my throat gets cold.

Me: What do you think of your cool tubie pads?
Linus: I think they are fun but sometimes they sting a little big when I put them on (this is because he is having a tubie issue that the pads are actually fixing, but we aren't fully healed with the complication yet).

Me; Are you glad your doctor wanted you to have a feeding tube?
Linus: Sort of.

Me: Do you think it will help you? How?
Linus: Mm hmm. I really think it's going to give me more energy.

Me: Is there anything you want to tell kids that are going to have to get a tube that might help them?
Linus: They put you to sleep so you can't feel it. I don't think it hurts bad, but let your Mom know and the nurse will bring you pain medicine.

Now we will move on to our older son, Charlie Brown. He has had his feeding tube almost 2 years, so his perspective might be a bit different, thus I will be asking him the same questions.

Me: Good morning, Charlie. How are you feeling today?
CB: I am feeling good. 

Me: So, it's been almost 2 years since your surgery to put in your feeding tube. How is your feeding tube site feeling?
CB: It feels like there isn't a feeding tube site.

Me: What is your favorite part about having a feeding tube?
CB: It takes the medicine for me.

Me: What is your least favorite part of having a feeding tube?
CB: When I get a tube change.

Me: What did you feel or think when you heard you would be having a feeding tube?
CB: (pretends he faints) Crying and begging.

Me: How has that feeling changed?
CB: Now I would cry and beg to HAVE a feeding tube because I feel better. It's like a part of me, like my hair, my eyeball.

Me: I know a lot of parents want to know and a lot of kids who are going to get tubes might like to know, what does it feel like for food to go into your tummy through your feeding tube?
CB: It doesn't have a feeling.

Me: What do you think of your cool tubie pads?
CB: I don't care about tubie pads. I like them to be on, not off.

Me; Are you glad your doctor wanted you to have a feeding tube?
CB: Mm hmm.

Me: Do you think it has helped you? How?
CB: I think it has. It made me stronger.

Me: Is there anything you want to tell kids that are going to have to get a tube that might help them?
CB: Once you get used to it, it's like a part of your body. You get extra sleep because they put  you to sleep to get the tube.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Feeding Tube This and That

What a week. It was a tubie kind of week. If you don't have a tubie in your family, you won't get that. If you do, well, you are sighing and patting the screen in empathy for me.
Linus has been doing so well with his tube surgery. But now he's having a harder time. He's having some pain at his site and we aren't sure why. His surgeon gave him the all clear, so we know he doesn't have an infection or issue with his site that can be seen. But he's really hurting and not happy about it. 

Add in that he's gotten some infractions this week on his diet that I am not sure what they are and he's also in a horrible mood with food reactions. Poor buddy. I just want to snuggle him up and make it all go away. I feel so bad for him. 

We also learned these past 16 days since his surgery that he has a reaction to tape. Sigh. He had tegaderm over his surgical site, that was not good. He had tape after that, it was even worse. Every tape tried just tore his skin up. He has blistering and his skin is peeling. His surgeon told us to not allow anymore tape to be put on him unless it is a true emergency situation. 

That wouldn't be horrible but we are still working on moving him fully to a blended diet
(wahoo, even his GI is happy we are doing that) so he still has night time feeds. With those feeds come a need to tape his extension to his stomach so it won't move or pull on the feeding tube. That had to stop. Tonight was our first feed without the tape. I had no clue what to do. I hmm'd and haa'd for a long time. Someone on a feeding tube support board suggested wrapping a piece of tape around the extension creating a tab on the tubing and then using a clothes pin to attach it to his shirt. Then it wouldn't move but the tape wouldn't be on his skin. 

I tried it. 

I thought it would work after looking at it. 

He came to me 96 calories later unable to stand it saying it was pulling on his tube and it hurt because it moved with his shirt. No matter where we put it he didn't like how it pulled on his tube as he moved and it caused stinging in his site. Grr. 

So, I pulled the formula and pump and gave him a small blended feed to at least give him some of his calories and now I have GOT to figure out how to effectively give him all of his calories during the day without slowing down his oral feeding and it needs to happen tomorrow instead of a weaning process. 

Eh, who needs sleep. 

I went into this surgery thinking it would be a breeze since I am a second time tubie Mom. Ha ha ha, yes, the laughter is loud here. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Last Week's Happenings - With Pics

I always like posts that show fun end of week recaps of what happened in a blogger's home, so I thought I would do one this week.

We have chickens. They are finally laying consistently for us each week. But this one even surprised me. The egg on the right is a standard egg. It is the size of all of our eggs. The egg on the left is, what I can only guess, is from a serious overachiever. Yikes. Of course, my first response was OUCH! I am thinking it's safe to guess there is a double yolk in there. We will see tomorrow when I cook it.

I found a set of dry herb jars with lids by Ball.
Picture Source
I didn't know how to dry spices when I first got them, but they are a new favorite in our home. I found the easiest way for me to do this was to simply use kitchen string, tie up small bundles of herbs, hang them in the closet in our music room, and wait. I pull them out when they are dried, use my Pampered Chef chopper to chop them up to my desired texture, and put them in these cute shaker jars. You can't get much simpler than that.

The Sound of Music - oh my! I am a major fan. I always grew up wanting to be Maria. To have nuns sing about you in that disapproving but really tickled at you way, to have all those children come and sing in your room in the middle of the night, making clothes out of curtains, bravely moving forward in leaving your home country to forge a safe passage for your family ... how does it get any better? Oh, that's right, awesome music!

When my husband saw, The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music he had to pick it up for me. We watched it one night. I will start with, don't get excited thinking it's a musical with great numbers you remember 30 years later. Yes, there is some singing, but it's a small part of the movie. While it's the path to getting them out, it's not the focus. This is the story from the oldest daughter, Agathe Von Trapp's, view point. It's worth the time to watch if you are a Sound of Music fan. But if you want to not be disappointed, don't go into it thinking it's the same as the original. But the scenery is gorgeous and is shows a different side of the story (and there are big changes in this story from the original).

Our oldest son has been saving up for a new Lego set. He decided on the Mystery Machine. I have to admit, it's my favorite set he has so far. 

I mean, come on, there's a Lego Shaggy and Scooby ... 

And Fred is wearing an orange ascot on his little Lego body. How can you not smile when you see this?

Ruh roh! I forgot to mention it even comes with a big sandwich for Scooby and Shaggy to fight over.

 I admit that I might be a bit biased, but how cute are these boots? You don't know much about our family, but let me fill you in a bit. My husband is country as they come. I have always called him by his nickname, "my plowboy". Our first date he walked up onto the deck of the restaurant in the big city we both lived in wearing his boots (boots that had actually worked on a ranch), Wrangler jeans, and white straw hat. Yeah, he had me at hello. So, how my sons don't live in cowboy boots is beyond me. We just haven't bought them any. Until this weekend. Our younger son needed some boots, actually both boys did. We normally buy them hiking type boots but our younger son spotted these and it was all she wrote. He had to have them. Sigh. I will say, he's just the cutest little cowboy I have ever seen.

 Last, but far from least (this one happened today, but I am including it in my weekly wrap up), is a little gift my husband bought for me. This might not seem romantic or very gift-like, but it sure lights me up! It's a mini fridge for our two kids blended tube feeds. It was set up on a very good day. Today, the day we set it up, our dietitian emailed us sharing our GI doctor's support for a blended diet for our sons g-tube feedings. Oh, we do it anyway, but never had their blessing no matter how successful our older son is on the diet. But it would be nice to have them on board. Our GI is very much on board. Our dietitian is not. But, I don't need her to agree. She works FOR our GI so she will have to help support us in this since our GI thinks it's a good idea. I would like her honest support, but I will take what I can get.

With two kids with blended diets, it takes up a lot of space. I have the food pre-blend and then the food in the bags post blend. Add in our normal food and foods the boys do actually take by mouth, and our fridge was running out of space in a big way. This solves that issue. It even has a small freezer space in it that will hold our freezer bricks for our insulated bags.

So, that's what we have been up to this week. We are gearing up to start school, have our younger son's post-op appointment with the surgeon to remove the bandaging from his new g-tube site, and then hopefully we will be on the standard 3 month appointment time frame after our next visit with the GI. Things are really moving forward. I will be glad to settle into our new normal without the disruptions.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Blended Diet Tubie Family

A mom on my feeding tube support board posted this video and I thought it was a great way to see the realities of a feeding tube family and how we really just feed whenever and where ever our child needs to eat just like any family with children who eat by mouth do. I love that it's sped up so you can get a big picture without the time spent for many of these videos. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Easy, Inexpensive (sometimes free) Calcium Supplement


Did you know that calcium is the fifth most abundant element by mass in the earth's crust? Yet, we always seem to be lacking in this area, especially our kiddos. We all know milk provides some calcium. But, did you know it's NOT the food with the highest amount of calcium. It just has a great PR firm. A short list of foods containing calcium, some with higher amounts than milk and often with less volume than a serving of milk is below:

Collard greens
Broccoli (also has more vitamin C than an orange)
Broccoli rabe
Bok Choy
Sardines (way more calcium than milk)
Canned salmon (same calcium level as milk)
White beans
Tofu (far more calcium than milk)
Egg shells

That last one is the one I want to touch on. Egg shells are a different item than the egg inside. Egg shell is actually made of calcium carbonate. 1/2 tsp of powdered egg shell has 350 - 400 mg of calcium which is equal to or far greater than a serving of milk.

The best part is, most of us already have this excellent source in our homes. Did you know it's very easy to turn these items we either toss in the trash or throw around our rose bushes into free or very inexpensive (depending on if you want to view the shell as trash which you wouldn't include in the price of your egg that you purchased or got from your own chickens)  calcium supplements? Well, I am going to show you how I did it and did it in a very short period of time.

I started with a lot of research. I didn't want to do something that would be harmful to my family. Once I found that this was not only safe but a pretty accepted practice and use for shells, I moved on to the how. I needed this to be in powered form for two reasons.

1) My sons are g-tube fed so they prefer their supplements to go through the tube. Add in that I can just toss the powder in their feeds and it's even better.

2) I can put these in capsules and take them myself.

Before I go any further, I want to add a disclaimer. I am not a doctor, dietitian, or a medical professional of any kind. I am simply a Mom who likes to do things as naturally, yet simply, as possible. Please seek any advice you might need from your own medical professionals before making any diet, supplement or medication changes or before taking the advice of any online source.

Having said that, let's go with the how-to of this project:

1) Step one is easy. Collect egg shells. You can do this a few at a time, but it's far easier to collect shells for a bit and do a bigger batch. If you want to collect the shells simply put them in a ziploc type bag (we actually use an undyed wax bag) and put them in the refrigerator until you collect enough shells for you to work with. The best part is, there's no magic number. When you need more, make more.

2) Rinse the shells to get off any of the egg white, etc.

3) Place these shells in boiling water for 15 minutes to help kill off any bacteria which might be in the eggs. I do nothing special to them other than using a butter knife to make sure they are all under water.

4) After they have boiled you can use a fork to remove them to a towel to dry for an hour.

5) Once dried you have a few choices. You can put them in a skillet for a few minutes on medium heat or you can put them on a cookie sheet and put it in an oven at 200F for 10 - 15 minutes. This not only ensures the shells are very dry (you do NOT want any moisture on your shells) but also just makes sure you have no bacteria on them (if you ate the egg, most likely you are quite safe). I chose to put them on a cookie sheet and used our counter top convection oven.

6) Remove a few at a time and put them into a coffee grinder or blender. Again, make sure it is very dry.

7)Blend/grind until you have a fine powder. Do this with all the shells until you have them all powdered. I used the dry canister on my Vitamix and it worked like a charm. But you can use a simple coffee grinder and get awesome results. 

8) You can then store them in a small mason jar type container. Put it in the fridge and you are ready to use.

WARNING: Do not use more than 3/4 - 1 tsp/day. Calcium is safe to supplement, but you do not want to get all your calcium via supplementation. If you are using this with children, a rule of thumb is 50% of your calcium dosage can be done by supplements. So, if your calcium should be at 800 mg, use 1/2 tsp for a total of 400 mg and check the list above for wonderful sources of calcium to eat at each meal.

Here are a few resources to see how others do it:

Mama Natural

Healing Naturally

Alex Jamieson

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

From Heart Surgery to Feeding Tube with a Few Trips Through New York

What a wild ride we have been on the last bit of time. I know I have been remiss in posting, but that's because I was just trying to hang on to our sanity here.

Have you ever seen the "I Love Lucy" episode, "California, Here We Come"? Lucy is trying to map out the route from NY to CA making sure to include all the side trips everyone wants to add. Ethel walks into her apartment and she proudly holds up the map above. When questioned, Lucy replies, "Well, the only thing is we have to go through New York three times on the way to Chicago." That pretty much sums it up. I feel like we have been through New York 3 times on the way to Chicago. Hmm, maybe I will turn that into a new euphemism in my life. 

Our younger son had some issues with his heart. We saw his pediatrician who wanted us to see a pediatric cardiologist. We saw her, did testing, did more testing, and then had a holter monitor. They initially thought we were just dealing with an innocent arrythmia and sent us on our way. I loved that conclusion and was happy with it (trip 1 through New York). 

But his symptoms continued to progress, they increased in frequency, and his already poor eating (he has had eating issues for the past year) was worsening directly due to this heart problem. We saw our Cardiologist again. This time she started to get concerned. The words heart surgery were thrown out, and not lightly. She was suggesting a scary issue and we had even more testing. Those results came back negative. Just in passing our pediatrician said, more to himself than to me really, "I wonder if this could all be food related". Was this man nuts? A heart condition that was so extreme it mimicked an issue that would need heart surgery and it's all caused by food? Yeah, I love ya doc, but you have gone off the deep end on this one. 
Tutt, tutt, I spoke too soon. I figured, after some research, it couldn't hurt to try out our doctor's loony idea. So, we started to change up the diet in our home. That's when we noticed some huge changes in our son's heart issues. It was incredible to watch. I was so excited. We proudly walked through the stores with our very specific shopping list knowing our pediatrician was such a rock star that he had helped our son's issues go away with a simple diet, all would be great now. (trip 2 through New York).

While our son's heart issues got better, his eating never picked up and we were quickly able to see a symptom that was being masked by the heart problem. He was having a lot of issues in his neck and stomach when he ate foods. This lead us back to our GI. It also lead us to more testing. The problem is, nothing was there (unlike his heart issues we could see on the testing). We did swallow studies, scopes, and even gastric emptying tests. It all came back beautifully. But our son was not feeling good when he ate, he was also feeling full far too soon in a meal (often after only a few bites), and just didn't experience a feeling of hunger most of the time. This all mimicked his brother's issues that he had when he was 6 years old. It also caused us a lot of stress as we kept picturing how bad our older son got before the doctors finally figured out what to do. 

So, we had a sit down meeting with our GI and laid it on the table. We refused to let our younger son get to the point our older son did, we wanted genetic answers if she felt this was a genetic issue, the list goes on. 

She listened intently to us and then got very honest. Our son had already stopped growing at our last visit. At this appointment he had started the downward swing on his weight and she was concerned that, just like big brother, it would start affecting his height as well and she didn't want that to happen. 

She also told us that she felt that there was a strong genetic component to what the boys had going on that was causing this feeding issue in them. I was excited, I thought we finally might have answers after all this testing. However, what she said surprised me as I hadn't heard a doctor say anything like it before. She said she felt there was a genetic cause to the kids issues but felt that science didn't know what it was yet. (hear those brakes coming to a screeching halt? Yeah, me too). I have never had a doctor suggest we might not get an answer because there might not be an answer ... yet ... even though there is a medical issue. 

So, we asked what the next step was. The next step was a feeding tube. Yep, round two. Two kids, two tubes, zero answers even though we have seen the best of the best with regards to doctors. 

Last week we went to the same hospital our older son was at 21 months earlier and had the same surgery he had to place a g-tube. Our younger son is now being tube fed just like big brother. (our third, and I pray final, trip through New York)

It was an easier decision this time around, but it's no less heart breaking. He's already seeing benefits from it though our first time of getting all his calories in was yesterday. We have to wean up to a full diet, we can't just start day 1 with his full calorie goal. I am far, far from organized yet. I am still figuring out a system of feeding two children with a feeding tube. I know I will get there, but I hate this crazy flying by the seat of my pants I am in right now. 

That's where we are right now, and it's why I haven't been online lately. I hope to pop on far more frequently, and hopefully with some great resources and insight for you all. 

Well, maybe not the great insight. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nature Study and Interview with Linus

We spent Thursday outside for school. I used a nature study at Schoolhouse Teachers to start us off on our fun. It was about evergreen trees. Thankfully my sons and husband transplanted some trees for us last year and they have done quite well. Why do I say thankfully? Well, we have these all over the property but we would have had to walk quite far to see them, these were transplanted down our driveway.

We started by looking at the pine trees down our driveway. We touched the needles, we felt the bark on the branches, and we smelled them to smell that minty smell they produce. Then the boys sat down and drew the tree they found the most interesting. Our younger son was all about this tree. He was drawn to it (no pun intended).

The clover are blooming all over our property, much to the joy of our chickens. They love this yellow clover so much. 

The ladybugs like it a well. It's easy to find them milling around the clover and tall grass.

Just getting outside helps my sons so much. It helps calm them, helps them focus, and just seem to help them overall. So going outside to study in nature is a wonderful thing. We often go outside to do other study time as well. Math in the grass, language arts at the picnic table, or ready by the pond. It's one of the beauties of home education. I love that we have so much land to explore in our home school day and we use it often. But sometimes all we need to do is step outside our front door and take a few steps down the driveway.

Interview with the Little Misters (Linus Edition)

Q: (Me) Can you tell me what your favorite part about being outside is?
Linus: I like seeing what God created. I like all the green stuff and in the winter I like the snow. (poor kid, doesn't get much joy in the winter where we live)

Q: Can you tell me something you have learned from being outside or doing school outside?
Linus: Oh, just how animals create things. Like spiders and how they make webs and birds and how they make nests.

Q: How does going outside make you feel?
Linus: My body feels fresh and good. I get my energy out. Sometimes I get tired. I feel relaxed.

Q: Do you like having school inside or outside better?
Linus: Outside!

Q: Do you have any advice for families that don't go outside for school or anything else you want to add?
Linus: You need to get outside because you can see what God created and just explore. Your kids would feel happy.

And with that he had to go to the restroom and it ended his train of thought as happens with most 8 year old children. I can't stress enough how important going outside is. From the basics of vitamin D, and just breathing in fresh air to the way our bodies change when we are in nature, things we can learn, and how we can interact in God's creation. God designed us to be in nature. The garden of Eden was not the high rise of Eden. So, take a minute and get outside today. I know we will be doing just that.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Children and God

Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. Luke 9:46-48

Jesus spoke about children and used children as an example in His teachings often. This wasn't by accident. Jesus did NOTHING on a whim. He had a purpose for every example, ever story, every word He said. He used a child, probably a very young child, to make His point with His disciples. This child was probably one they would have passed by without a second look. Or, they might have looked over, smiled at the game he was playing, and then walked past. But Jesus saw this child very differently. He saw the lesson to be learned.

These men were standing in the presence of our Savior and instead of just listening and learning and helping they were debating on who would be greater. Hello, if you don't know the answer, JESUS.

I see this story from so many angles.

1) I see a Savior who loves us so much He will continue to teach us over and over and over. He taught the disciples so many times, and continued to do so even until His last day on earth. He is so patient with us, so kind, so merciful.

2) I see a Savior who expected us to get His lessons and start living them. He didn't let us wallow. He said "here's how to live, now go do it."

3) I see a Savior that saw the inherent value in children. They were not little things that would eventually have worth when they could have a job, contribute to society, or bear a child. They had worth and value right where they were.

This is so important for us, as adults, to learn. We need to heed His advice, but we also need to know that when we mess up (and we will) He is willing to be there to guide us back to the narrow gate. He loves us and wants to be with us. He will keep teaching if we are willing to listen.

But, we have to start listening. We can't keep making excuses. Oh, I am speaking to me here more than anyone else. We have got to start looking at what Jesus is showing us and then just do it. No excuses, no buts, just do it.

Last, we need to value children. We need to love them, teach them, guide them, and disciple them. They have worth from the second they are conceived. We need to remember that because Jesus worked hard to not let us forget it.

And, for our kids, they need to know they have worth simply because God loves them. He sees them not as the kid with braces, that funny kid who walks oddly, or the slow kid who can't keep up. He sees a beautiful child and longs to help that child grow in Him and His favor.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bugs Invade

When we first moved to our home it was a brand new home. No one had ever lived on this property before, at least for as long as records go back. So, when we first moved in here we had a little varmint issue. UGH! But, "butter sticks" under the house, a few mouse traps inside, and a good cat outside ended that and we never had another issue. It's not uncommon to have mice when you live on a lot of acreage (400 to be exact) where they have had to work so hard for food and suddenly food is plentiful so close to them.

Fast forward 5 years. We have no more issues. We get the occasional fly. If we leave our front porch light on at night and open the door a moth or June bug will fly in. But you get that in the city and a fly swatter and remembering to turn the porch light off before opening the door takes care of that.

Then we went away for a few days a month ago. We came home to fleas. I will NOT put up with fleas. I freaked and immediately thought to board our cat, go back to my Mom's with the kids, and to flea bomb the house. Then cooler heads prevailed and I realized we didn't want those toxins in our home and I started to research.

Here's what I found, it works fast and it works well.

We used this on our carpet. I will say, it does contain SLS, but since it was going to be on our carpet I bypassed the issues with that and used it at night when we went to bed. You can put this on your cat/dog if you need to. We have an inside cat and I used other things on him.

On our cat we used a flea comb. This works VERY well and fast. You simply comb the cat and the fleas are pulled off the coat. Make sure to have a glass of water with soap in it to dip the comb between strokes. This will kill the fleas found on the comb.

But this, THIS was the big guns. Every natural website I read said this was what you wanted. I told you I don't mess around with fleas. I wanted them gone, yesterday. This Aspectek Sticky Dome Flea Trap (wanted you to have the name so you could find it online) is a very simple set up and extremely effective. You simply plug this unit in and the little night light bulb comes on (you can replace the bulb as needed with an inexpensive night light bulb that you can find at any store like Walmart. The bottom has a very sticky disk in it that captures the fleas when they jump in to get to the light. When I say sticky, I mean STICKY. So, don't touch it. Yes, it comes off your hand, but you need a vegetable oil type oil to get the residue off. And, if paper touches it, forget it. That puppy is stuck. This works fast. We paid a lot of attention to it that first day. Within a minute or two we already had a few fleas. 

We are now fully flea-less. Whew. Since we had those hit so unexpectedly (we have never had fleas before in our home), I decided to leave them up until the end of the season. We come in and out a lot. If there were fleas inside, there must be fleas outside. I don't want them carried inside. 

Oh, last tip on this for your outside fleas. We use food grade diamataceous earth outside to control fleas in our yard area. We use it near our pets living areas and use it in their bed area and on their backs for flea control. We always make sure it's food grade even though we don't use it internally (you can and it works great for many types of worms, toxins, etc). You can find dosing for this online. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Prayer Request

I value and cherish the prayers of fellow Christians. If you have a minute today, please lift our family up in prayers. God knows the need.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 1 Timothy 2:1

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Here We Go

Life has been nuts.

Starting tomorrow life is going to get nuttier.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Knowing I can't stop some of the insanity, I try to limit it where I can. For instance, on Sunday we start our 1950's experiment. I am actually looking forward to it. Yes, I am looking forward to less television, more outside time, more family time, more down time. No, I haven't lost my mind.

Another way we slow things down is with school. That means I let my kids do some of the direction that our lessons go. With that comes things like Reading Eggspress. It's the bigger kid section of Reading Eggs. My sons love it.

But not everything is computers and tech. Today, for example, we needed to work on spelling. I didn't pull out the spelling lists, I pulled out the games.

Yep, I played Scrabble with my sons for spelling and it was fun. The best part is, I only won by 14 points. I had HORRIBLE letters. Seriously, at one point I had an O, A, and 5 I's. Did you know there are only 9 I's in the game. That's a lot of I's to have. But, I love winning by only 14 points and I love losing to my sons even more because I don't let them win. They earned it.

Tomorrow we start on some new items for our sons medical issues. It's a good thing. It will really help them, but it's something new to learn and more things to add to the day.

You know, tonight I was watching Mom's Night Out on DVD and the Mom I most identify with is talking about how she's stress paralyzed. Her husband looks at her like she's nuts and tells her he doesn't think that's a thing. I am here to tell you, it's a thing. Anyone who doesn't think so is either not a parent or ... well, they just aren't a parent. I have been stress paralyzed lately. But, I am moving on from that towards stress upwardly mobile. I am working on seeing the beauty in the chaos. God is not the author of confusion, so anything I am stress paralyzed about is just satan working on me and me not focusing on God. It's me taking my eyes off of Him, looking down at the water I am walking on, and starting to drown. If I simply lift my eyes up and fix them back on my Savior, I will rise to walk in His strength and power. And that's where I am today.

Yep, it's a good day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Memoria Press Astronomy Review

My family was given the chance to review the Book of Astronomy Set from Memoria Press recently.  Considering where we live, this seems like a very good fit for a natural segue into science. I mean, 400 acres in the county with nary a city light in sight. It's the perfect classroom for astronomy.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

In this set I received the student book and teacher's manual for this set. It's a nice deal for $31.90 since you get an entire year of science from it. In this book you learn about constellations, stars, zodiacs, and the solar system all tied together with Greek Myths. It is designed for third grade and up and I think that age level is appropriate for the information presented and in the classical manner in which it's given. It is divided into 4 sections and you end up covering all the zodiacs if you complete all sections.

You will be learning/teaching such things as the brightest stars in the night sky in order to locate constellations, magnitude of stars and their brightness which actually helps you move into those 15 brightest stars.

If you have more than one child that will be in this study, you will only need purchase extra student books. It is a study that will interest older kids as well. Younger children will appreciate it but I think the student book might be a bit difficult for them on their own, though working WITH an older sibling might be a nice way to handle that issue.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

Now, I said this is all you need for a year of science. However, there is a suggested book for use if you want. It's especially helpful if your child has not studied any mythology or you are not very well versed in the stories themselves. This book is D'Aulaires Greek Myths. We didn't purchase it, but it's mentioned as an option if you want to dive deeper into the myths, the specific reasons behind the zodiac names chosen, etc.

Once you have started on the book and had gotten to know some of the information, you can then take that knowledge right out your back door and put it to immediate use finding constellations in the night sky. Be warned, kids have an automatic in to stay up late. "But Mom, it's SCHOOL WORK". How do you deny that one? Ha ha.

Our Thoughts:

My kids love studying the stars. Ever since we moved out here they have been fascinated with constellations, stars, their names, and locations. They pick it up so naturally so this type of study was excellent for that natural curiosity.

However, I was not a big fan of how much it was tied to Greek Mythology. While I understood and know where the names come from, the stories themselves, and why those types of names were given, we personally were not excited about the depth of mythology knowledge given at such a young age. We prefer to keep that for later in their educational careers, so we won't continue this study beyond the review phase. However, if you like or want to introduce your kids to the Greek stories, this would be an excellent way to do that.

There was quite a bit of writing with this study. Honestly, it might be nice to make this a handwriting portion of your day, especially if your kids aren't really into writing a lot. Or, you could do it orally. We are homeschoolers, there are always ways around those types of issues.

If you would like to follow Memoria Press online or check out more information on these items, please find them at the following social media sites:

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If you would like to read more reviews of the Book of Astronomy Set and Memoria Press' other items, click the graphic below for more wonderful bloggers thoughts.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our 1950's Experiment

I read an article about a family purposely moving away from the busyness of life back towards a slower pace for the summer. I liked that idea. My husband liked that idea. We decided it was time to embrace that idea.

We decided to do our own little experiment with slowing down in life and getting out of the hustle and bustle of daily living and also getting out of the way kids play these days.

Even when I was growing up (far from the 50's, think 70's and 80's) kids played different. We played outside all day long coming in long enough for a meal and a drink of water. Oh, but not too many drinks or your Mom would get upset you were coming in and out so we often used the garden hose for a cool taste of water. We used our imaginations more, ran more, climbed more, and just were far more physical. Sure we played with toys, but that was often outside too. I remember my doll in my basket on my bike, skating with my jump rope as a tie with my friends. It was just different.

With that, we are turning off the TV for this experiment. You didn't sit around all day watching TV. You weren't in you room playing Lego all day. TV will be a treat throughout the week for a special show. We only have DVDs, no cable, so it won't be hard to do that. Kids can play Lego if they still want, but they are going outside to do it most of the time.

Now, we live where it gets to be 110 degrees during the day, so we will have to come in during the hottest part of the day since I have one son with heat tolerance issues. But, other than that, we are gearing up for fun in the sun this summer starting next week.

Monday, May 16, 2016

All Cooped Up

We have chickens.

We had a temporary coop made from our old coop from our last chickens.

It wasn't good.

It's roof was low.

We had given away our hen house so we were using a very rigged up house that was super basic with no laying boxes.

It wasn't good.

That's all changed now.

We spent 2 days putting together my husband's idea. Well, not two. We spent yesterday morning at church, but came home, at lunch, and back out we went.

The chickens are delighted. No, really, they are cracking us up with how they are acting in their new super coop. It's not done. The house you see at the end of the pictures below will be fully enclosed soon and we will be putting skids on it so it can be moved around the yard from place to place. This will keep them on fresh grass with fresh supplies of bugs.

The coop with the girls and our one roo inside. You can see the house at the end partially covered (it has a roof and 3 half walls.) Not bad. It's so nice out now we didn't even want it finished yet so we are waiting to buy more wall material. It has an arched roof on the entire yard so nothing can get into the pen with the chickens. At the end where the house is, there is a very, very thick fabric waterproof tarp that will give them extra shade and weather protection.

This is the gift my boys made for their chickens. It's a roosting tree. Simple 4"x4" in the ground with 1"x1" posts all around at different heights. The last picture will tell you what they thought of it, so keep reading.

Inside the pen - you can see a bit of the detail of the ramp and awning better. See that big gray thing right in the middle there? That's my second favorite chicken equipment ever. It's a double walled chicken watering can. When you take the top off one wall comes with it. You fill the can with water for the chickens and no water comes into the drinking trough area until you put that lid back on all the way down. So you can move it where you need and nothing spills. It has a handle inside of it so you can move it with the lid off. It has a handle on top so you can move it with the lid on and it locks so the lid won't come off. It keeps the water so clean and fresh (much better than the plastic ones) and holds a lot of water. Never thought I would be excited about chicken accessories.

So, I said the watering can was my second favorite item, here's my first. It's our laying boxes. Yes, that is a cord in the picture. It will be tacked up today. We bought these at a second hand store this week. My husband had been eyeing them and we were actually able to make a deal with the woman that owns the store (it's a really nice store, a fun place to shop for cute things for your house and adorable new clothing). He had some items that are similar to the metal things she sells (her biggest business) so the price was taken way down after we traded those. We attached it to the house so it wouldn't move no matter how rambunctious the girls got and filled each box with nice fresh hay for them. Now we just wait for eggs.

Back to the roosting tree. We looked outside last night as we walked past the kitchen window and here's what we saw.

Sorry the picture isn't very good. It was very dark and I used my cell phone. First the rooster got up on the top of the tree and strutted his stuff. He was acting like he was king of the world up there. It was hysterical. This picture was taken about an hour later and you can see one hen on the arm on the left. Then that's a hen on the tallest point. Right next to her (we are moving left to right) is our rooster. Then three hens on the right side of him. They were there until after we went to bed last night. So, I think I would call that a hit.

We have another roosting bar closer to the hen house, one built into the frame of the hen house, then each level of the hen house has one on it. So, roosting is an easy job for them with many locations.

That was our weekend. What did you cook up this weekend for fun?

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