Saturday, January 30, 2016

Do We Really Trust Him?

Trust is hard in this day and age. Food companies say "natural" and they are filled with junk. Politicians say "trust me" and they lie through their teeth. Friends build up your faith in them only to turn tail and run to the nearest ear to gossip into. Trust is hard. But, we find it's a lot harder when we put our trust and faith in the wrong place.

We can prepare all we want, we should prepare for life's battles. But, when it comes down to it, our safety and well being rest solely in one place, our Lord and Savior's hands. If we haven't fully trusted Him for our lives and our path, we work in vain.

My husband has a job that plays this out so well. I have told him since we were engaged, "You are safer standing fully unprotected on the worst streets in this world wit God on your side than you are in our home, armed to the teeth, with locks up and down the door with God not on your side, so I will just hold you up in prayer." Nope, he hasn't been unharmed in his career. He has been hurt. But, I know God's hand is in his life and working for good. Every time he's been hurt the end result was good. The end result wasn't ever supposed to be about if he had harm come to him, it was something else. He was the tool. Sometimes tools get hurt in their proper use.

Our new pastor shared a passage with us yesterday via text.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

God has seen it all. He knows it all. We know a tiny, tiny bit of a tiny, tiny piece of an infinite puzzle that's not even been laid out fully for us to see. And, yet, we trust ourselves more than the Creator of the universe. How misplaced our thoughts and plans are.

 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wintertime Hodgepodge

It's Hodgepodge time again. Visit with me a bit and then head on over to Joyce's blog to see what she's up to today. 
1. Share a winter memory from your childhood. 

Winter was the time of year where cold happened, but not bitter cold most years. We lived in the south, so we wore coats and gloves, but didn't get a lot of snow experience. When it did snow, it was like Christmas all over again. School was ALWAYS canceled since no one was equipped to drive in it. Many businesses shut down as well. I remember it would take us FOREVER to get ready to go outside. Again, being from the south, we bundled up if anything flake like came floating down from the sky. Since we didn't buy snow shoes, we covered our shoes in plastic bags after putting on two pairs of sock, our shoes, etc. We didn't want wet feet. Some years we didn't even buy gloves, so if the craziness of snow hit, we weren't prepared. Enter socks. My Mom or Dad would be the donor of our "gloves" and we would run outdoors. It probably took us longer to get ready than we spent outside. But, we knew hot cocoa was waiting inside for us, so we weren't disappointed. 

When I got a bit older we lived in married student housing while my Mom went to college. We lived "down the hill" (in those days that meant the 6 apartments every child wanted to move into because they were bigger and, well, there were only 6). A friend of ours lived "up the hill". Since college classes were canceled, his parents were home. We all got cardboard boxes, flattened them, and spent the afternoon sliding down the hill. Getting back up was a huge chore. We would walk 5 steps and then fall and slide back down. We laughed harder than we had in a long time. We would hold hands hoping a group effort would help. It rarely did but often lead to us falling back down the hill on top of each other. 

2. What was on your blog this time last year? (Besides the Hodgepodge of course!) If you weren't blogging, what in the world were you doing with all that free time? 

Nothing. This blog wasn't around this time last year. What was I doing? Thinking about writing! I like to write. I started a children's book but am not sure where to go from this point (it's finished, needs a bit of editing, but fairly finished). So, I was doing that. Other than that, I was taking care of my kids. I don't know when our big ice storm was last year, but it was close to this time. So, I was sitting at home, stuck inside, knowing my husband wouldn't be coming home for a few days because he was stuck at work. I even have a picture of 1/2" of ice on our door knob that I put on Facebook and said, "the reason hubby can't make it home". 

3. Ellen Goodman is quoted as saying, 'We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential.' 

Do you see more flaws or more potential in your life at the start of a new year? Have you done anything specific this month to address either one? Does the new year truly begin for you on January 1, or is there some other month of the year that feels like a fresh start and new beginning?

Wow, good question. I see a lot of work that needs to be done, honestly. But, I don't really make resolutions for the new year. My list is ongoing as God leads me to see things that need to be tweaked, removed, or changed. 

4. Who's an athlete you admire or respect and why?

Athlete? I don't really follow sports at all and don't hold athletes up as any type of example. If I had to choose one, I would say Tim Tebow. Agree or disagree with him, he's true to his beliefs, stands for what he feels is right, and seems like a pretty nice guy. 

5. Do you like cream in your coffee? Whipped cream on your pumpkin pie? Cream cheese on a bagel? Sour cream on a baked potato? Cream of wheat for breakfast? Have you ever had a scone with clotted cream? Of all the creamy foods mentioned, which one sounds most appealing to you right this very minute?

I like coffee. Cream, no cream, flavored cream, I like coffee. Sour cream on potatoes is yummo! Right now, if I had to choose, I would say cream in my coffee because my hands are cold and that would mean I could wrap my fingers around a warm cup. 

6. Where were you last kept waiting for 'hours on end'? Or for what felt like hours on end? How well did you cope?

Let's see. I wait often for medical people to get in gear. I have waited 2 hours for a pediatrician before (every single visit, we left). I wait hours for call backs from doctors, DMEs, and more. My life seems to be about waiting for others. Sometimes I handle it just fine. Our DME rep didn't answer me yesterday like logic would say she should. I just chilled out and figured she would answer today. If not, I would email her and ask what was up. But, when I am having a serious situation with the kids and call their doctor, only to be told "we will call you right back" and 4 hours later I have heard nothing ... no. I get upset and crank.

7. Believe it or not, when next week's Hodgepodge rolls around it will be February.Huh?!? Bid adieu here to January in seven words or less.

Goodnight! Goodnight! Parting is such sweet sorrow!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

This has been a really good week. I mean, it's one of those weeks where you just find yourself smiling because life is good. I pray it's that good for you! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

When Church Is ....

The subject of this post is, when church is hard EASY!

As parents of kids with special needs and medical issues, church has proven to be hard over the last 8+ years. Even the best intentioned people can make something that should be simple (church attendance) a huge chore or impossible. Let me share some of the things we have faced over the years. 
  • A Sunday School teacher who wouldn't keep our sons in the classroom until we picked them up even though one was prone to elopement and I was 100% willing to leave from my class a few minutes early in order to be at the door the second her class was done. This left my kids wandering the hallways and me running in a panic to make sure I caught up with them. 
  • A nursery assistant director who insisted our son HAD to have his bottle while sitting in a moving swing. He has SPD and would get ill swinging in the best situation, but with food in his mouth ... yeah. 
  • A children's area at a major mega church just for kids with special needs not grasping food restrictions (even though many kids had them) and just letting my child go into a full force meltdown over not being able to have a snack like everyone else (he had what I sent and didn't understand) instead of just trying to help him through it or paging me to come help him through it. It ended up with turned over furniture while these "highly trained" helpers just made it worse and worse when he just needed help working through it as he didn't understand. 
  • No one wanting to really be your friend in church or caring to get to know you because you couldn't be a core member. You might have to miss some Sundays because one of your children had their fatigue hit so hard getting from the bed to the sofa was too much for them. You can't teach Sunday school (and you don't take your kids anyway because of the issues above) because you know you aren't reliable and that's not fair to commit to something you can't do. Etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. 
We had taken a nose dive in our attendance because of these issues and feeling shut out from even small churches that have a very set idea of what church members should do and be. We want to do those things, we can't at this point in our lives. Then we got a pastor who, as we identified it, didn't bring the meat, only watered down skim milk, and church was too hard. It shouldn't have been, but it was. It was a chore to even think about getting dressed for church, much less actually doing it. 

So, we didn't. We just stopped. But we yearned so much for it. We wanted it for our kids. We needed it for us. We missed it and our lives were not better for not going. 

We started to look around and just couldn't find a church that would love us, allow us to love them, and also really walked what the Bible taught. 

That's when my mother-in-law stepped in. Oddly enough, she's not a church goer (though she's a believer, she was hurt by the church as a kid/teen and won't really go back). But she told us about a church someone she knew attended. We finally got around to trying it. WOW!! I mean, knock your socks off wow! 

It was a tiny church, and I mean 5 - 6 cars in the lot during Sunday school hour. But the pastor is on fire for God. We felt loved the second we walked into the sanctuary. We heard and sang uplifting music to worship our Savior. The sermon was incredible and very Biblical without apology but stemming from love. We walked out that first service and our younger son looked at us and said, "I loved that church, can we start going there." Wow. I looked over at the end of the service and saw my two sons holding hands as we had our closing prayer. HOLDING HANDS. 

We decided to try them again. We opted for night service because you really see who the core of the church is that way. Almost everyone who was in morning service was in evening service. That says a lot to me. I got to hear about how they serve together regularly. Every other week they serve the community. They have more unscheduled things they do as well as needs arise. They believe in meeting a need before it's requested with a humble servant's heart modeled after Christ when He washed the disciples feet. 

My husband and I did have concerns about the typical stuff that comes with our special circumstances with our kids. He asked me to call the pastor to talk to him about it since I really knew their issues best. I called him yesterday morning and expected to leave him a message since he has a full time job outside of being a pastor. He answered the phone and gave me his undivided attention. I explained where we were coming from and told him not only did I want to introduce our family on a deeper level, but I wanted to see what he felt about our family joining the church knowing, ahead of time, what our situation was. He did not hesitate to tell me how welcome we were, how they were there to help every member deepen their faith in Christ no matter their need. He said guilt would never be thrown at us if we couldn't come due to the kid's issues. He said they were there to love us, help us grow, hold us up to God's standards, and to serve our family as brothers and sisters in Christ. You could tell he meant it, it wasn't just a sell job. 

So, this Sunday, we will be seeking membership with this church. We are so excited. I haven't been excited about church in years. This church seems to make it easy to come together as the body of Christ to worship and learn about our God. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

It Finally Happened ... I Tweeted

I am on Twitter for my blog. I tweet. I never thought I would, but here I am with my own little Twitter account. If you are so inclined, I would love for you to follow me.

My Twitter Account - Random Acts of Boyhood

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Food Dye Dilemma

Food dyes are in everything. If you don't believe me, go pick up a bottle of relish. Go on. Yep, yellow food dye. Look in bread, mustard, juices (even those with the words "natural ingredients" on them), the list goes on. I have picked up items I never dreamed would have a food coloring in them to find at least one, often 2 or more, in the list. Why?

But, this isn't just a gripe about the junk we call food these days. It's more than that. It's a real health issue and one that very often goes unexplored before kids are given medication. Now, before I start, I am not opposed to medication for ADD/HD. I believe it's a real disorder and some kids have it to the point nothing natural works and you must move to a man made medication. So, no hate filled emails or comments stating that I am crazy and how your child needs ... I get it.

Having said that, hyperactivity issues in children are FAR over diagnosed, and the foods we eat are a big cause of that.

My child is a perfect example. I remember, many years ago when I was in MOPS with my first child and was on the MOPS forum, a Mom said adamantly that food dyes did NOT cause issues in children with hyperactivity or anything else. I had no reason to worry about that and didn't even comment on the thread, if I recall.

Boy, how wrong she was. I pray no one that needed to know about dyes listened to her. My younger son was my kid who couldn't be figured out. If you looked at him odd, he melted down. If you said we were getting 3 things at the store and picked up 2 or 4, he melted down. If you stepped one toe out of line with what he thought was going to happen, he melted down. Now, let me describe a meltdown. Before he had words it was his face turning beet red, his hands clenching into fists, and he would immediately start screaming like he was being hurt in a major way. This would go on for hours. That's right, HOURS. It would happen multiple times a day, every day of every week of every month. He would go from smiles to screams in less than 2 seconds. People used to not believe me until they saw it. My Mom saw it in a store and never doubted me again. She is still shocked when she remembers the day her 3 months old grandson went from cooing to screaming within a split second and there was nothing she could do to comfort him. My brother-in-law thought we were just tired parents and took my 6 month old baby outside for a little walk around with his awesome uncle. He came back in a few minutes later with a screaming mess. He was wide eyed and said, "I don't know what happened. One minute he was smiling and laughing at me and suddenly I had this on my hands." Yeah, we get it brother.

This went on for years. We had little things we could do to cope, but there was no stopping it before it happened. I was getting scared. I was worried we were going to hear words like bipolar, schizophrenic, etc if we took him to a specialist. I asked our pediatrician about it. He told me babies scream and don't sleep, it's normal. He's fine. No, this wasn't just screaming and not sleeping. He would sleep less than 5 hours total for the day as an infant because he was screaming the rest of the time. It would take us an hour or more to get him to even go down for a nap or at night.

ECI came out and decided they could help. He had SPD and would probably be given an ADD label when he got older, but they had that look that said, "we won't tell you the other big labels that are coming as they would scare you" when they said it. ECI, while they had good intentions, couldn't help him. Nothing they did worked. So, we trudged along with no sleep and a toddler that screamed all the time.

One day, about 18 months ago, I was on a forum for parents of children with special needs and medical issues. I was perusing the topics of the day and noticed someone mentioned some diet they had their child on recently. I see these all the time and usually don't pay much attention to them. But this one caught my eye because my child looked like their child. I started to read the thread and the comments and they were discussing things like food dyes and even certain really typical foods that are healthy like fruit. This just couldn't be right. But, I decided to research it. The information blew my mind. This was my child everyone was describing. I had to take this to my husband and see what he thought.

His words? "Try it, try anything!" Yes, we were that desperate for an answer. We had been talking about seeing a specialist. We had cried so much in fear of what we would be told and how hard this was going to be. We didn't think the diet would work, but the alternative option scared us silly. So, we decided to try it.

I pulled dyes. Do you know how HARD it is to pull dyes completely? As I said, they are in everything. Day 2 we saw a different child. The first thing we noticed was night 1. We woke up (he was still sleeping with us) and noticed that he hadn't kicked, punched, and screamed all night as he slept. He was a violent sleeper. I have never seen anything like it. I kind of blew it off and moved on with my day. Day 2 was fairly peaceful. I walked on my usual eggshells waiting for the explosions and only a few came. I figured there was no way it was the diet already. It was just a freaky, never before seen good day. Night 2 came and, again, it was peaceful. He didn't punch us, kick us so hard we had bruises, and scream out in the night all night long. My husband woke up after night 2 and said, "is it me or did he sleep calmly last night". I said it wasn't him and he had done that for two nights. He asked if I thought it could be the dyes. I told him I didn't know at this point. 5 1/2 years of screaming, kicking, hitting at night and I had never seen him calm during sleep. I didn't know. He told me to not stop, no matter what don't stop

It's now 18 months later and we have a different child. We laugh, talk, take walks, he sleeps, we talk about things instead of him melting down for hours. We discovered, over this 18 months, that he also can't tolerate apples. One bite of apple and all bets are off. His no-no list is gluten, dairy, soy (all forms, not just the protein), all dyes (even carmel color), and apples. When you remove those, we have a typical kid. His stomach doesn't hurt (did I mention he had tummy aches for years but we didn't know why and neither did his pediatrician or GI doctor). He sleeps all night. He doesn't scream all day. Life is calmer.

My child would have been diagnosed by now with at LEAST ADD/HD. Odds are, we would have been looking at a serious psychiatric diagnosis. Medical people like my Mom who is an RN and our old doctor have told me what their fears were about our son's future. Meds would have been mandatory with the types of behaviors we were seeing. Going without wouldn't have been an option. Instead, we removed some foods and have a typical 7 1/2 year old little boy.

If you have a child who seems to be heading to, at minimum, an ADD/HD diagnosis, what is it going to hurt to try a diet that might help? If nothing else, you will have a healthier child. But, what if you have a child that needs no accommodations in school or medication? If you try dyes and see that's making a big difference and, yet, like us, think you need more foods pulled but have no idea where to start, I would suggest two things.

1) Keep a food and behavior diary. That's how we figured out apples. We kept a diary and realized every single time we fed him apples he screamed for hours, raged over silly things, and couldn't handle life. We pulled apples and that went away. We tested to make sure it was apples and it was apples.

2) Check out the Feingold diet. This goes far beyond dyes and apples (but doesn't go as far as gluten, diary, etc like we have to do. Our son needed that as his own little personal reaction that most people who use Feingold never do.). It includes preservatives, and some ordinary foods you might not think about. The good thing is, they don't just say "pull this". They give you a huge food list of what you can have, including exact brand names that are safe so you can just shop for brand names instead of having to read a thousand labels.

If you are in doubt that my story might be the only one out there and no other kid has this reaction, check out this blogger who details her daughter's life before and after removing food dyes.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The PERFECT Hard Boiled Egg

I have an egg problem. My problem is, I love eggs. However, hard boiled eggs always seem to come out funky. Either they have that gray ring around the yolk that shows they are overcooked ...
Or they are hard to peel ...
Or ... or ... or ...

But, I was in the mood for hard boiled eggs recently and decided, once again, to hit the internet for tips on how to do it. I have seen poking holes in the shell, fresh eggs, not fresh eggs, start in cold water, start in hot water, salt in the water, no salt in the water, the list goes on. None have ever worked for me.

Until this week. I finally found it. I found how to boil an egg that's perfectly cooked, peels like a dream (even if you put the egg in the refrigerator afterwards to eat at a later time), and has the perfect texture. And, ladies and gents, I am going to share it with you. Supposedly this idea came from the Amish, but don't quote me on that because I don't know if it's true.

I assume I can forego the ingredients list since it's eggs and water?

  • In a pot put cold water, enough to completely cover your eggs. 
  • Put the pot on a burner and turn it on high heat JUST until it boils. 
  • Boil the eggs for 2 minutes (no longer). 
  • Put a lid on the pot, turn off the heat, and let the eggs sit in the water for 11 minutes. Use a timer. 
  • Once the timer goes off, pour the water off the eggs, remove them from the pot, and put them in cold water. Tip, if you put them in about half ice and half water, this next step happens quickly. 
  • Keep them in the cold water until the egg is cool. 
  • Pull out and use as you wish. They will peel easily, be perfectly cooked, and will have a great texture. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

He's Free!!

Such a praise today! Pastor Saeed and 3 other Americans are free men today. Pastor Saeed's only crime was his faith in the God of Abraham and His only begotten Son our one Savior Jesus Christ. In Iran, that was an offense punishable by up to death. But even losing his family while in prison for 3 years, being tortured and abused, being very sick and not given medical care, being starved, he never gave up his faith in Christ. Praise God Almighty for this news.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Heart Issues Have Come Home to Roost

For a while now our younger son has had a funky pulse. It wasn't able to be counted because of how irregular it was. I always blew it off thinking he had just been running around, flipping upside down, etc, etc. But, Sunday, it came to head when he wasn't feeling good and I used the stethascope we had for our older son to listen to his heart and heard an irregular heartbeat.

I called our pediatrician the next day and he said come right in. We did, he found a little blip on the EKG, and called the pediatric cardiologist to get us in on Tuesday. We went in and had another EKG, and an Echocardiogram. Thankfully his actual structure of the heart is perfect. Whew. So, no concerns there.

She did say he has a very pronounced sinus arrythmia. That, in itself, would not be cause for alarm. There is another possible issue going on with some delayed blood flow. Again, it wouldn't be something that needs treatment. And, of course, there could be something she doesn't know that's causing some of this.

Enter the Holter monitor.

We came home with one of these attached to monitor his heart 24 hours a day. We mail it back, they download the record and decide if he has something else going on, as well. We have a chart to write down every incident of him not feeling well so they can see if that's tied to his heart acting up.

He hates it. My child who rarely scratches an itch suddenly has itches everywhere the stickers are located. I don't think he slept well either. Thankfully this isn't a long term thing, and I keep reminding him of that.

We are praying that she sees nothing that is a concern. But, we are also praying she sees anything that's there if he has something going on with his heart. That's not a part of the body to be lax about. It makes him not feel good. That's enough for me, as his Mom, to want this taken care of quickly.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Blessing for You for Today

I can write a lot of pretty words, but I can never say it as well as God's word.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Color-Filled Hodgepodge

It's Wednesday!! You know what that means. It means a Hodgepodge post. 

So, check out my thoughts and then head over to Joyce's blog to read what she wrote and what many other bloggers are thinking about today. 

1. Share one thing that really makes your day.

Wow, there are so many things that can make my day. But, one of the easiest ways is when my boys just give me that random smile or come over and hug me for no reason. It just doesn't get any better than that, no matter how bad of a day I was having. 

2. Lots of these kinds of lists out there, but one found here says the fifteen most colorful places on earth are:

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy~Burano, Italy~Havana, Cuba~Rio de Janiero, Brazil~Chefchaouen, Morocco~Balat, Istanbul, Turkey~Menton, France~Jodhpur, India~La Baca, Buenos Aires, Argentina~Guanajuato, Mexico~Capetown, South Africa~Valparaiso, Chile~Wroclaw, Poland~San Francisco, California~and Pelourhino, Salvador, Brazil.  

Of those listed which would you most like to see up close and in person? Of all the places you've seen or traveled in your own life, what would you say was one of the most colorful?

Well, while most would choose Italy, Morocco, and Turkey, I am choose San Francisco. The reason I am choosing it? It's close to my brother in LA. We have never been able to visit him in LA and I would really enjoy that, the kids would like it, and he's been asking if it was possible. 
3."Everything you want is on the other side of fear." Jack Canfield  In general, would you agree or disagree with that statement? Why?

I guess my answer would be, a little bit of both. Everything you NEED is in God. I have found what I want is often not what I need. But, I also feel that fear is a big thing in our world. Instead of realizing God has really got this under control, we live in fear. So, if we don't take that first step towards Christ due to fear, we will never have what we need.

4. Imagine you're stranded on a desert island and dessert appears...what do you hope it is? Do you ever struggle to remember which spelling is desert and which is dessert?

Oh, this is so easy. I have been thinking about this dessert for a while and just mentioned it two days ago. My very favorite dessert ever ... Boston Creme Pie. Yum!!! 

I hate the words desert and dessert. In my brain the spelling should be opposite of how they are. I have Googled it a few times, just to make sure I am right when I am spelling it.

5. What song almost always makes you cry?

Blessings by Laura Story has me bawling every single time! I mean, I cry the ugly cry. It touches me on such a personal level due to my kids issues. 

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

6. January is National Soup Month.  Everything from soup to nutsin the soup,thick as pea soupsouped up...which saying most recently applies to your life in some way? Explain.

Hmm, this one is harder. Lately my kids have been such goofballs and I have been saying what my Grandmother used to say to us, "you are full of soup". I mean, I have been saying it a lot. 

7. Write a two word note to your younger self. What does it say?


8. Insert your own random thought here.

If you like chicken but are a bit bored with what you normally make, you really should check out the Bangin' Ranch Drums from Trim Healthy Mama. You could even make it with boneless breasts if you can't bring yourself to eat darkmeat. Just make sure you change the cooking time. 

Bangin' Ranch Drums

Monday, January 11, 2016

When Calories are Hard to Come By

One of my sons has a very hard time getting enough calories throughout the day. There are many reasons for this issue. He doesn't feel hunger most times. He only eats because I put food in front of him and say it's mealtime or snack time. He also has a lot of sensory issues tied to foods in the way they smell, taste, or feel. This makes feeding him hard. I feel like my life is focused on food all day long. It got so bad that, no matter what therapies he had (and he had a lot for these issues), no matter which tricks we used (we tried them all), he couldn't get enough in each day to meet his calorie goal set by his dietitian. He ended up with a g-tube placed to help him get his calories in each day. This lead to a GJ-Tube because he was refluxing his formula. 
What we really wanted for our son was to eat like a typical kid. We wanted to have the complaints most parents did that they ate too much pizza or burgers and not enough vegetables. We had a son that loved veggies as a toddler and hated meat. That was our first steps into sensory issues. Through the years we have had to learn how to make calories count. We can't simply give him a meal. We have to count every calorie in every item on the plate and add very specific foods to make sure each item is as calorie rich as possible. 

But, it doesn't have to be hard. It really doesn't. Sometimes it's just thinking ahead. 

Here are a few examples:

Everyone says to cook foods with less oil. I disagree and so do our nutritionists and dietitians. In fact, they encourage it's use for calorie enhancement. But don't choose junk. Make sure you are getting healthy oils. 
  • Olive oil - 119 calories/Tbsp
  • Avocado oil - 124 calories/Tbsp
Avocado oil is on of my favorites. It has a wonderful light flavor and you don't taste like you are eating guacamole with everything. I use it in my sons eggs, for anything I cook that could be cooked in oil. If I bake, I try to use a high calorie oil (some have nearly 150 calories/Tbsp). Needless to say, I have quite a few oil choices in my pantry. 

More Oils
Coconut oil is very often overlooked. It's awesome. It's solid in the cold and liquid in warmer areas. You can use it as a spread (mix a bit with some honey and put it on toast, yum), in fat bombs (don't know fat bombs, you need to), and more. I mix it in candies I make to add fat to the chocolate, peanut butter, etc. I put it in anything I can because it hides so well. Oh, and don't leave our real coconut milk (not the kind that comes ready to drink, I am talking about the thick, white, creamy coconut milk you find in cans. You can use it in cakes (talk about rich) and other baked goods. You can also make coconut milk whipped cream which is delicious and easy to make. Two hints: Chill in fridge overnight instead of one hour and add 1 tsp of vanilla for a va-va-voom flavor. 

Nuts have gotten a bad wrap over the past few years. But, most of us are not allergic to nuts and their use really helps kids get the fats they need in their diets, and also the calories. A good old fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be delicious, healthy, and a great calorie meal. Using average numbers for each item, here's the breakdown of calories
  • Organic Whole Grain Bread - 70 calories/slice (assuming 2 slices for a sandwich)
  • Organic creamy peanut butter - 190 calories/2 Tbsp
  • Fruit Spread - 30 calories/1 Tbsp (we use a chia spread with no pectin)
That's a total of 290 calories in a kid friendly meal. Add in a good dark veggie, a few chunks of cheese if you aren't dairy free (hello 114 calories/oz), and quality water to drink, and you have a nice calorie meal that most kids will eat. (not speaking of those of us with kids with real food issues) My son will now eat this meal. We have worked very hard to get this type of meal into him and it's a fairly typical meal in our family. For fun you can add in some sweet potato chips (114 calories/cup of sweet potato). They are very easy to make and quite tasty. 
Kids like dairy. If you use dairy in your home, use this with many meals. It doesn't have to be fancy. Add a few cubes of raw milk cheese to the side of a plate for 100 calories. That's part of this whole thing, you don't have to be fancy. Kids usually aren't impressed with a lot of effort. They like simple meals they can identify, so work with them and save yourself grief. 

A note about dairy alternatives. We use dairy alternatives for our younger son. He can't have dairy of any kind. So, he gets almond milk, coconut milks, etc. However, these usually give between 45-80 calories/cup. So, if you are using them just for calories, they aren't a winner. 

There are so many more options out there. Make each calorie count when you have a kid who struggles in this area. Fat bombs are great because a kid just sees candy. You see healthy fats for their brain and good calories for their body. The old adage of K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Sweatheart (we don't use that other word in our home) is so true. Kids don't expect fine dining. They are cool with a sandwich. If that bores them, add faces with veggies and fruit. When you have a child that has food issues, you don't worry so much about the small things. You worry about nutrition and health. But, this will even work for picky eaters. Have fun, keep it simple, and help your child work through this. If you need therapies for them, get it. Feeding therapy can work wonders for many kids. For those who have picky eaters, remember that there are a few things you can't control in your kid's life. Food is one of them. They don't have to eat if they don't want to do it. So, try not to get into the food battle with them. Don't cater but don't fight. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Online Class You NEED to Checkout

I know I mentioned in a review the other day. If you missed it, go check it out before going any further. 

I found a class on their site that is awesome. I kid you not, my kids keep telling me, "let's do just one more lesson", "my mind is blown", "I know you have told us that about the Bible before but it just now dawned on me. That's incredible." (that last one came on Thursday) I have learned a lot just by sitting and watching the video with them.

The topic is Dinosaurs and the Bible. It's a multi-part class with a video and hand out for each day. You can print out the questions so your kids can read them while they watch in order to be tuned in for the answers. There is a lot of good evidence given, evidence that kids can understand but isn't completely watered down. Big words are used, like "disarticulated" but they are explained in a way that almost anyone can grasp it.

My kids are having an absolutely blast with this class.

I also like that the videos aren't extremely long. Most are 8 - 10 minutes in length so kids don't get bored or antsy. This is a class all of your kids could do together, no matter their age or grade level. The questions asked are hard for younger kids and on point for older kids. We use the questions as discussion points after the video is over.

If you haven't checked out, you need to. If you joined, run over over with my link "Dinosaurs and the Bible" and check out the lesson. I don't think you will be disappointed at all.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links". This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".

Friday, January 8, 2016

Must Reads of 2016

Books, books, BOOKS! 

I love books. My kids love books. We love books. I don't mean those e-books you find a dime a dozen. Sure, we use those. They are great for trips or for our school reading that I do for the kids. I can get those books for free or very cheap and that's huge since we need so many. No, I am talking about real paper, a spine that makes the crink noise when you open it the first time, the smell of an old bookshop real books.

Wait, I am growing faint a bit with excitement. Give me a minute.

OK, I am back.


I read a lot. I read to my kids, I read for my kids health issues, I read for my own health, and I read for pleasure. I always tell my kids that the most important skill to learn in school is how to read. If you know how to read, you can learn anything. It's true. I talked myself into a company by convincing them that they could really use a receptionist. They didn't have one. I chatted with the CFO because I had a chance to meet him outside of any job interview and wanted to be a part of the company. I talked my way into the front door. It was a tech company. I had no tech experience. I started to read. I read and read and read. I listened to the tech guys talking and then read about what they talked about. I looked around to figure out what was costing the company a lot of money, then I read about it a lot, and talked to the big wigs into giving me a chance with it. I got opportunities unheard of in that company because I educated myself. This lead to an incredible job in the tech field where I continued to learn by reading in my free time. No one knew I was doing it. I just did it and then went to those with the ability to give me a chance.


So, what's on my list for this year, you might ask? I will be glad to share it with you.

OK, I admit it, I jumped on the band wagon. Trim Healthy Mama is in my living room being read as I post. The concept is one I like and it's a lifestyle change we can actually stick with, so I figured why not.

The seller says about their book:

Counting calories is out.  All the food groups are in.  Becoming trim and healthy doesn't have to be difficult or painstaking anymore.  After trying almost every fad diet out there, Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett, creators of the Trim Healthy Mama movement, took matters into their own hands. Through trial and error and much research, they created the TRIM HEALTHY MAMA PLAN, the breakthrough lifestyle program to help readers of all ages and stages get healthy, slim down and keep off the weight once and for all.  
Based on the authors’ successful self-published book, this simplified, improved, practical plan shows readers a unique way to lose weight and get healthy by eliminating sugar, and still eating hearty, delicious food. The biblically-sound and highly effective eating approach centers on Satisfying meals (which include more fats and protein) and Energizing meals (which include more carbs and protein), as they are the key to success.  Scrumptious whole, unprocessed foods, including fats, blood sugar friendly grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables, are eaten in a way that boosts metabolism, yet still fits into anyone’s hectic lifestyle.  It’s family friendly and effective for pregnant and nursing mothers, pre or post- menopausal women, and also those without weight or health issues—even men and growing children.

The book includes menu plans, a list of key super foods to eat on plan, time-saving tips, and pantry stocking and lifestyle advice to help readers successfully reach their goals.

 I got the book, I had to have the cookbook. No, really, I HAD to have it. I am a cookbook sucker. This one has such tasty recipes. If you don't believe me, just check out their Bangin' Chicken Drums and you will be sold. Add in their homemade ranch dip and yummy!! I have so many more recipes to try as  I S and E my way through this year.

For my son who has food issues, and I think we are missing a few or maybe it's environmental. This book is well over 600 pages long, which is crazy long for a book of this type for parents. But, I was told it was THE book to get, so I got it. I will be starting it next.

The seller says about their book:
These are the major symptoms of potentially unrecognized allergies. Does your child suffer from any of the following?
• Allergic Nose Rub • Eye Circles • Red Ears • Red Cheeks • Eye Wrinkles • Aggression • Lack of Alertness • Mottled Tongue •
In this breakthrough book, Dr. Doris Rapp offers a simple yet effective approach to handling "problem" children. Is This Your Child? shows parents how to identify the common foods, chemicals, or common allergic substances that could be the culprits that cause some children or adults to feel unwell or act inappropriately. If your child is always sick, hyperactive, a slow learner, or cranky, the first question you should ask is not "What drug should be prescribed?" or "What have I done wrong as a parent?" Instead, find out the cause.
Dr. Rapp gives sensible suggestions about how these reactions to foods and environmental factors can be recognized, prevented, and treated. With this information, many affected children should feel, act, behave, and learn better. If you can detect unsuspected environmental illness in your child--or yourself--you can change your lives so you're more content, happy, and free of illness.

 We heard Dr. Grandin speak last month. From my quick glance at this book, this is the closest you will get to what she shares on stage in written form. I like that it starts with her talking about sensory issues in people with Autism and ends with her answering questions from real people who are living it or love someone who is.

The seller says about their book:
Winner of a 2015 Academic's Choice Award, this is your pocket guide to Temple Grandin; a great introduction to her thoughts and advice on both autism and sensory issues! 

Dr. Temple Grandin is a doctor of animal science, a professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autism activist, and a consultant on animal behavior. She also invented the "squeeze machine", a device to calm the sensory systems of those on the autism spectrum. The subject of an award-winning, 2010 biographical film, Temple Grandin, she also was listed in the Time 100 list of the one hundred most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category. 

Have you even wanted to talk to Temple about the sensory issues people with autism, Asperger's, PDD and Sensory Processing Disorder deal with? Here, in this handy reference book, Temple gives a overview of what it is like to have autism and sensory difficulties, tells how she overcame her sensory issues, gives useful tips, then answers your questions in an easy to reference Q&A.

Those are the books on my night stand for the start of 2016. Hopefully I will finish them by month's end year's end. I hope you find one book on my list that you haven't read before and will check it out.

Our Must Read Books for 2016 {Dad & Mum's Book Stand}

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ever Wonder How a Magazine is Printed?

The Old Schoolhouse is sharing a fun video with us as their yearly big book is printed. This is taken while it's actually being printed on the big machinery. You can even see the covers for the books. Take a minute to share it with your kids, they might think it's cool. There is nothing inappropriate on it at all.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Stay Right Here

You aren't in the wrong place. I have made a few changes to the blog to suit it better. I started this as a way to share our journey towards a toxin free life and it's turned into so much more. Since it will ALWAYS be about my life in a land of boys, I decided the new name fit so well. Random Acts of Boyhood seems to fit me, my life, my home, and my blog.

Ring in the New Wednesday Hodgepodge

New year, new hodgepodge. What could be better? Check out my answers and then head over to Joyce's blog by clicking the graphic below for a lot more! 

1. Are you ready for new? Is 2016 likely to be very different than 2015? Do you want it to be?

Wow, hard question for my first Hodgepodge in 2016. I am ready for anything God wants to bring into our family, good or bad. I pray this year is a bit easier with medical issues for our kids. I hate seeing them have a hard time in anything. So, for that, I do hope for it to be different than 2015. I would love to have a new passion for God. I never want that to be stagnant. 

2. January 6th is National Technology Day. Currently, what is your single biggest struggle or frustration when it comes to technology?

Right now, honestly, my biggest frustration is that I can't find my iPad cord. Our homeschool plan has a lot of books and I was able to get many of them on Kindle. I can use the kids Kindles but the screen isn't as nice as our iPad. Grr. I just need to find it. 

3. It's that time again...time for Lake Superior University to present a list of words (or phrases) they'd like to see banished (for over-use, mis-use, and general uselessness) in 2016. You can read more about the decision making process here, but this year's top vote getters are-

So (at the start of every single sentence), conversation (as in hotly debated topics where we're invited to 'join the conversation'), problematic, stakeholder, price point, secret sauce, break the Internet, walk it back, presser, manspreading (common in larger cities where some men take up the entire bus or train seat by sitting wide), vape, giving me life (refers to anything that may excite a person or make them laugh), and physicality

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add?

Words I would like to banish? The first would be vape. I want it vanished because I would like to see the end of "vaping" in our society. It's unhealthy to those who partake and those who are on the receiving end of their second hand vape. So probably needs to leave. I am horrible about using that word on my posts and am going to try hard to get rid of that habit (because it is just a bad habit). 

Some of those I don't mind and wouldn't care if they stayed. Stakeholder has a certain feeling to it that would be hard to replace with another term. Conversation isn't so bad, either.

The rest I could take or leave. 

4. Share one of your current health related goals.

Weight. Yes, I want to lose weight. But my biggest goal is to be healthy and have a body that can keep up with life's demands. I have already started on this and hopefully it will go well. I am actually going to post about this later this week or next. 

5. Let's talk fifty shades of gray. As in the color. Gray is currently a popular color in home decor, paint, wardrobes, hair, wedding party attire, and more. Are you a fan? Do you have the color in some variation in your home or wardrobe?  Gray hair, the old gray mare, gray matter, gray area...which gray idiom can you most relate to right now?

Gray is a great color. It looks good on me and I like wearing it, especially in the winter. I also have gray in my hair. Honestly, who cares. I don't color it and don't plan on it. It's how God made me and there is no shame in gray hair. If brown, blonde, red, and black hair are beautiful, so is gray. Embrace the gray, ladies. 

I had to stop and think if I had gray in my home. My kids both have gray beds (metal bunks). I think that's the only intentional gray that I have. 

Gray matter is my idiom right now because it describes my life so much. I am always in research mode, reading, learning, ingesting. I have been talking to others about fish oil/omegas (hello, you NEED to take these for your brain - that's another post I will be doing soon). We have been dealing with some neuromuscular issues with our older son. It's just a gray matter situation around here.

6. Certain foods are considered 'lucky' if eaten on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. Cooked greens to bring economic fortune, black-eyed peas or lentils also symbolize money, pork which symbolizes progress, fish for good luck, and if you're in Spain 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. Did you eat any lucky foods on the first day of the year? Is that a tradition in your home? Of the foods listed, which most appeals to you?

Sleep. I slept. I snoozed. I got 40 winks. I watched the inside of my eyelids. That's my tradition. It's a good one. 

7. What's the single biggest time waster in your life and what, if anything, will you do about it this year?

Ironic that I am on it right now answering a question about it. The internet is a time sucker for many people. I am no different. I am going to slow down my online activity that's not homeschool or medical related. Don't worry folks, I will still be posting. This is my outlet, my journal, if you will.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

If you didn't catch my post on Tuesday, you should check it out if you homeschool or are even thinking about homeschooling. There is a deal you do NOT want to miss. Yearly Membership Review

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 Yearly Membership Review

I was given the opportunity to check out the Yearly Membership at . (this post contains affiliate links)
SchoolhouseTeachers Review 2016
First, let's start with what says about their site. They are part of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. They have over 150 classes PK-12 and classes for parents, as well. Their classes have different levels of difficulty which allows them to fit for many ability ranges. They even help with advice on what a course will count when adding it to a transcript.

OK, sounds good to me. I was excited to check it out. First, a bit about why I wanted to look at this resource. Most of you don't know that we live in a very tiny town (we are talking 200 people here folks). We live at least 30 minutes from a town of any size, and that town doesn't have anything in the form of enrichment courses. For that opportunity we need to drive over and hour and spend a lot of money per semester to have limited choices for a few classes. Sounds appealing, right?

Add in that I drive a serious gas guzzler due to having to cart around a wheelchair and other medical supplies and it can get very expensive to do much in the way of classes.

Enter Yearly Membership.

Here's what I found:

I found a website that is incredibly full of options. In fact, you might be intimidated by the thought of courses ranging from art, bible, and foreign languages to music, math, and language arts. But don't jump ship yet. It's the furthest thing from scary. In fact, it's very easy to navigate as you can look for a class by subject or by grade. This also enables you to have a very custom approach to teaching since you might have a child on various levels in their ability. You don't get pigeonholed into one grade level. Have an early reader, choose from the 3rd grade language section while staying in 1st for math where they are grade level.

Another awesome resource is the "Just For Parents or the Whole Family" section. I will be honest. I love teaching my children. As a child I had a chalkboard and lovingly taught my little brother forced my little brother to sit through hours and hours of lessons I wrote on the board. When he was busy running faster than I could catch him, I would teach my stuffed animals. I was born to teach. I love to see the light turn on in my kids minds and eyes. However, I am not a trained teacher and can admit (no matter how hard it is) that I don't know everything. This is where "Just for Parents or the Whole Family" helps.
SchoolhouseTeachers Review 2016
I was able to, as a parent, go in and learn a lot. Some subjects are easy like helping your child choose college. But there are other classes about teaching styles, methodology, and even those bigger names most of us recognize in the homeschool world share knowledge they have gleaned over the years. Honestly, the membership is worth it to me just for this section. The fact that our entire family receives a stellar education is just a bonus. 

Let's move on to what you really want to know, is it good and did we use it? 

The short answer is, YES! (to both)

The long answer (because you all know I am long winded), is YES! OK, seriously, it's not just good but excellent. 

I didn't use this website as our main curriculum. I could have. Honestly, you could get the Yearly Membership for your family and be done with your curriculum shopping. 10 minute curriculum shopping? Is that even possible? Yes, with this website it is. 
I used it for a bit of a different purpose. I used it to enrich our daily lessons. For example, I love art. I enjoy museums, public displays that many larger cities have, and enjoy drawing at home. However, as I mentioned above, we live in a tiny town. Getting to fine art examples is hard. And, even if I lived in a huge metropolitan area, I am still limited by the local museum. With I was able to show my children the Sistine Chapel and discuss Michelangelo's methods and finer details of his works. Hello, SISTINE CHAPEL! They had a course on his work and we went through it. It even included a great activity of painting while on your back. I taped paper to the underside of chairs and had the kids try their hand at what he went through for that masterpiece. Their conclusion? He must have had biceps of steel and loved the feel of paint on his face. I liked that the course discussed his life details, (birth, major works, etc), gave examples of his work, and gave activities to try. We spent time learning about WHO Michelangelo was on a personal level before taking a look at his works. I think this gave us insight into why he painted and sculpted the way he did. It also lead, very naturally, into a great discussion of history. Michelangelo's work was so indicative of the period in which he lived, and the study we printed out and did really touched on that time so we could use it almost as art and history all in one. 

I was able to print the study, and could have skipped anything I thought wasn't something we would do (though it wasn't overwhelming so I printed it all). I showed the pieces to our sons, watched videos on and I was set to go only having to add in paints (or a different medium if I had wanted) and paper. This specific study only took us a day to complete and I liked that I could pick and choose different artists for our art study instead of having a semester or even a week of the same person. Oh, we could have stretched it out for a week, we chose not to do so. 

My takeaways: 

I have looked through all of our options for classes and am excited about what we have on the horizon. I am able to schedule things immediately or as far out in our plan as I want/need. This flexibility is huge and one of the bigger sellers of the website. If we change our mind and want to skip something, add something, or change the order, poof, done in 2 seconds. 

Go slow. Please don't sign up and think within 2 minutes you will be using the full curriculum. I mean, I guess you could, theoretically. There is nothing to stop you from doing that. It is very user friendly. But, I think you would be doing yourself, your family, and the website a disservice by not diving into it a bit deeper to look around. 

Speaking of looking around. They have live chat to help you in that regard. I like live chat on a website. I don't have to call when my kids are in quiet time, I don't have to wait forever for an email to be returned, I get immediate answers. That's a big deal to me on this type of site. 
Check out the resources area and the portion I mentioned above for parents. You will not be sorry you did. We all need encouragement, direction, new ideas, and great information. Use them! 

If that's not enough to get your mouth watering, check out this deal! Yep, 50% discount on Yearly Membership for your family just because they are nice like that. 

I missed so much in my review. But, there is a big difference between long winded and shut up already. There are discounts for membership for those in the military, members of HSLDA, etc. There are over 10,000 videos to help your students grasp new concepts or take an idea deeper. There is a planner to help you stay organized and on track. And there is help even if this is the first time you ever uttered the words, "what about homeschooling". It's so much more than I thought. I figured it would be a few lap books, maybe a poorly put together video or two, and a few thoughts from other home educators. I couldn't have been more wrong. It's thorough, fun, exciting, and very much something you should check out for your family. 

*affiliate links within this review

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