Monthly Archives: September 2013

Farewell my Friend

Today has been a humdinger.  In many ways it feels like yesterday never ended.

I was up most of the night with stomach yuck.  And then my dog got really, really, really sick.  Again.  It started months ago.  It has gotten progressively worse.  He’s 12.

The conversation has been going on, what to do about Stuie?  When to say goodbye?  When is it wise for his sake and ours?  My fear has been that I was saying goodbye too soon, but today, the truth hit.  Life was ending for Stuie.

My wonderful, wonderful hubby took him in for his last vet appointment.

When hubby and I met, we had his and her dogs.  We had to say goodbye to Misty 3 1/2 years ago.  Today, I hugged my friend and said goodbye.

Stuie and I have been together 12 years and two weeks.  He was with me as I recovered from a rotten relationship, as the Multiple Sclerosis reduced me to a wheelchair and month long hospital stays, they let Stuie come to the hospital and he helped my body and mind heal.  The doctor insisted on meeting him one day, saying, “I want to meet this miracle dog.”

Then he was there when I met this great guy that would become my hubby.  He fit perfectly in what that guys black lab.  He transitioned to being a dog with three kids.  He was a good dog.

And today we said goodbye.

That's the dog.  That's the potty chair.

That’s the dog. That’s the potty chair.

There was the night he ate Patrice’s potty…and then there was today…

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Down on the Farm

I’m a week late, but here is last Saturdays’ fun…

Every summer, even when I was overdue with Patrice, we go blueberry picking. This year we went another step and went apple picking.  I got votes from Facebook and we headed to the orchard overwhelming mentioned, Erwin’s.

We had no idea what to expect.  And what expectations we did have, were wrong.  The lines were longer than expected, but we enjoyed it so much.  The orchard is across from a pharmacy, behind a subdivision and HUGE!!!  We got off at the first stop on the wagon ride out to the trees, not knowing it was the first stop.  We had paid for a bushel.  I was afraid the girls would be bored to tears before we were done.  Turns out picking apples is way quicker than strawberries or blueberries.  We were done in about 10 minutes.

Taking pictures took much longer.  Much, much longer.

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And today, half a bushel of apples became 5 quarts of applesauce.

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There Are The Elite

There are those we see as the REAL bloggers, the REAL moms, the REAL homeschoolers.  I am not one of those.  I am not the elite, but I am pretty proud of myself right now.

Saturday we went apple picking.  While we were riding the wagon, Caitlyn leaned over and asked if we could study the digestive system and learn why her tummy rumbles.  Absolutely, so I set out to find ways to make it relevant and understandable.

First I headed to youtube and found some videos to intro the thought.  I started with a fun Winnie the Pooh video singing about the rumbly in his tumbly, here’s a pin for it, then used a quick intro from the Arizona Science Center.  We then headed to Wonderopolis for an overview of why the stomach growls.

But what kind of homeschooler would I be if there wasn’t a hands-on experiment?  For that, I headed to Teachers Pay Teachers and found a messy, but fun hands-on.

I dyed noodles black last night with this recipe, again from Pinterest.  It was as messy as you might imagine.  I don’t know how to use black food coloring without making a mess of myself.

I bought some bananas and drug out my blender.  And we were off.

First we needed to eat our food, so we broke the banana in pieces put it in the blender.

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Supplies are one banana, a section of silk stocking or nylon.  Has to be open at both ends, bowl and noodles dyed black.  I started with the blender, but with just one banana, it was not very effective, so I ended up just mashing it myself.

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We broke it into pieces to represent biting up the food.

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Smash it up to represent chewing.

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Put a couple black noodles in the section of nylon.  Hold it closed, put in some banana.  Mash it up and wring out fluids in the nylon to show the action of the intestine, then push it out the bottom, you know, show the “end product”.
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We then referred back to our homeschool curriculum, Easy Peasy, to add our intestines to our bodies.

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And of course, since the blender was out, we had to have smoothies.

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Pretty, Pretty Fun

Friday, I talked about my first sensory box.  I find them fun.  My hubby finds them pointless and messy.  Ah well.  If I’m willing to take on the mess…

We already dove into a second one.  We redid this colored rice pin I originally found on Pinterest.  The girls and I made it a year ago.  We still have our original jars of colored fun.  Today we upped the ante by making 9 cups of colored rice for another sensory box.

It is very easy.  Eight to nine cups of uncooked rice.  Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with the correct amount of food coloring to make the desired shade of color.  Put one cup of rice in a sandwich bag, pour in the food color mixture, seal  bag.  Mash the color around until it coats all of the rice.  Repeat process until all of the rice is colored.

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The colored rice needs to be laid out in a medium layer so it can dry.

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Once it is dry, it took about 5 hours for this batch, it can become a fun colorful, textural sensation.2013-09-20 17.46.33 2013-09-20 17.46.57

Diving In With All Our Senses

Caitlyn and Sue have a pretty set program with our homeschooling curriculum.  Well, let me back up…Caitlyn has a set program.  We are adjusting Sue’s to meet her and our needs.  We are spending lot of time with hands-on activities.  Next week we are going to start working on reading about unicorns.  I think that will grab her attention and help with the reading.

All that to say, I have a plan with them.  Patrice is a little bit of a different story.  I set her up each day with listening to her Bible memory verses and a preschool program, but that only lasts so long.  The other day I realized she was spending all of our school time, on-line.  I am monitoring what it is, so I know the content is good, but she’s 3.  She does not need a lot of screen time.

Yesterday we did some coloring worksheets, but did I mention she is three?  That didn’t keep her engaged for long.

I’ve been seeing a lot on Pinterest, oh my lovely friend, about sensory boxes.  So I am trying my hand on them.  We bought three plastic boxes on clearance and I started looking.

Awhile back the older girls and I dyed rice.  It was a hit and easier than it sounds.  The jars of it we made are still on the back of the stove and the girls refuse to give them up.  But talk about a great sensory activity for Patrice, so later today we are going to dye more, just for her.

But in the meantime, I couldn’t sleep this morning, so I started looking on Pinterest…again. And I found a sensory bin using epsom salt and other items I actually had on hand. Go here for the full instructions.

My Epsom salt was hard as rock, but with a little convincing it became the base of our bin.  Patrice woke up while I was putting it together and got in on the fun.

We used a 3 pound box of Epsom Salt, a liberal helping of pink glitter, some florist rocks I bought earlier this week and left over gems we had from their birthday party craft.

Patrice didn’t stay interested but I bet her sisters will like them and that will get her checking it out again.

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A Hard Fought Place

As I have mentioned, over and over, on social media, my stomach pain has been astronomical.  I had a scope a couple weeks ago and was beyond frustrated with the results.  I went to my next doctor appointment with a big helping of attitude.  Big.

I have to tell you.  That doctor is very patient and compassionate.  He told me when I was in the hospital over a month ago that he didn’t think I was making this up, and he would find an answer.  After the scope I was pretty sure he had lied.  The names of stuff he gave me seemed to be minimizing what has been a very big, ongoing issue.  But talking to him in the office, he assured me it was not the simple issue the internet plays it off to be.  He threw a bunch more meds at me, which wasn’t thrilling, but I could buy his explanation that the meds are there to protect my stomach so it can eventually heal itself.  And I’ll tell you some of what he is doing is counter intuitive, but I have decided to trust him.

Five days later I got some dividends for my trust.  I ate a very forbidden fruit…and lived.  I dialed it back over the weekend, but was able to continue to eat very mild foods.  Food people.  That requires chewing and a fork.  Food.

Yesterday, my stomach rebelled.  It decided I had pushed the envelope enough.  I am paying for it today. I’m back to my protein shake diet.  But I’m okay with it.  I’m not in the promise land, but I have hope, so much hope.  I am satisfied and encouraged.

In the midst of the good week, my brain decided to join the party, and I went slightly manic.  I am very blessed that my mania is so mild.  It basically entails a very clean house, LOTS of cooking and not much sleep.  I do have to check myself a great deal to make sure I am not going overboard in shopping or getting too frantic, but I have great friend who rides the wild train ride with me.  She is a great tour guide through the land of UP.  I did find it to be a little distracting with homeschooling, as I was headed in a million directions and so tempted to pull the girls off what they should be doing, but thankfully we have that flexibility and no lessons were missed that weren’t later caught up.  This was my longest wild ride, at two days, and it can be disconcerting, but man the clean house and cooked food is awesome!!!!!  I am a little too outspoken while on the wild ride, but I don’t think I lost any friends this week.  I guess time will tell.

There’s always concern that off the wild ride will come a big fat downturn, but I seem to be okay. I wasn’t able to tolerate my lithium for a couple weeks but I did down it this week and that’s probably helping.  I can’t get my stomach to tolerate the other medication, but I know if push comes to shove it is there and works pretty well.

All and all, I’m in a great head space.  I am loving homeschooling.  I am so excited about the projects we can do, the co-op we’ve joined, the flexibility to run errands when needed and come back and finish the day later–or today, get our lessons finished up and declare the day over so everyone can get outside in the lovely weather.

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Chaos, My Specialty

Here are a few random bits for your “enjoyment.”

We made a 95 mile trek, each way, to visit an octagon barn on Saturday.

The website is kind of sad, but the trip is worth it…

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This picture is especially precious to me.  I grew up in a farming community. There was a wonderful retired farmer living a bike ride from my house who had a marvelous hobby.  He built a farming museum on his property.  It was 6-8 buildings full of stuff.  He had everything from a horse drawn hearse to an old push button switchboard with a mannequin in period clothes working.  He also had tons, and tons of farming implements.  He knew so much about his collection and what he didn’t know, he made up.  He could spin a yarn like nobody’s business.  When he passed away his wonderful collection was auctioned off.  It was feared that many of his pieces went for scrap.  So I was a giddy girl to find two of his items in the octagon barn museum.  I am guessing there were more but I did not read all the placards.

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They had animals, a blacksmith shop, three one room school houses, the original home to the property, built in 1922 and fully restored, a flea market and craft show.  I would go back.

Sunday was a “normal” day for us.  We had church, Patrice was in a new class, she is now in three year olds.  And so was mommy.  I volunteer in the youngest childs’ class a couple times a month, but I have never made it past 2 year olds because I was always getting ready to have a new baby.  Not this year, so I am now in three year olds.  It is cute and fun!  Normal took a divergence when Patrice got her head stuck in the back of a chair during our adult Sunday school class potluck.  Yup, stuck.  She is used to being able to climb out of the sides and sometimes back of chairs.  She’s little.  Our church has restaraunt style chairs that have the cushion bottom and back with a small opening between back and bottom.  Her body fit, no problem.  Her head and shoulders got wedged.  Tight.  All I could think was, I’m glad that didn’t happen when I was giving birth to her!  But back to the issue at hand, a stuck baby…I will be forever thankful to the guy in our class who had a screwdriver in his car, and a hubby who is quick on the draw with said screwdriver.  He had that back off and her free in moments!  Whew.

And then, before we knew it, it was time to get back to school Monday.

Wednesday was rough.  Sue sat for an hour just flat refusing to do anything.  She just stared at her worksheet.  She finally started to do it after I called a friend and got advice to move forward with lunch and fun right in front of her.  That snapped her out of it.  She finished the work and joined us for lunch and science.

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We traced our bodies on Monday and each day are adding new muscles and items in our science lessons.  Yesterday was quadriceps and biceps. Today is the tibia, fibula, radius and ulna.

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I’ve been working closely with Sue and found some major deficits in her writing, letter and word recognition.  So today, we stepped back.  I mixed salt and cornmeal together to create a writing activity.  I gave Sue and Patrice a pile of letter flashcards.  They wrote the letter in mixture with the pointy end of a paintbrush and wiped it away with the brush.  She can’t wait to show it to daddy, so here’s hoping it helps. I mixed it in little sandwich boxes that we can put the lids on and save for later.

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What have you done to help your kids with letters, number and writing?  I will take all suggestions, especially those that do not require worksheets, those do not seem to be popular round these parts.


Now to get moving…and work on more science, history and Bible!

The Newest Adventure

You would think, with all my health stuff, I would welcome the start of school and two girls heading out my door each day. Rather, I have been dreading the beginning of school since it ended in June.

Imstead, I’ve been dreaming of homeschooling. For years really. But those other years I was working outside of the home. So the dream was shelved. This summer the dream got dusted off. And it was shiny.

I started researching. And talking to other homeschoolers. I found a curriculum, Easy Peasy All-in-One homeschool.

Hubby and I talked.  I gathered info from friends.  Monday night, at 10 pm, we decided to make it a reality.

Our minds said to wait a few days, let me get more familiar and prepared, but Caitlyn saw me clicking through, she knew her friends were in school, and was ready to dive in!  Sue felt the same way, so we were off!

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I had to have a stomach scope yesterday, so we had our first snow day.  It was celebrated around here!

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I’m having some trouble with the girls complaining they are bored, but I think that is normal of this age?  I know Caitlyn complained a lot about it last year in school.  Dear teachers out there, is it normal for 6 and 7 year olds to complain they are bored even when the lessons are short?  We are done by lunch or shortly after with the prescribed school work.  Next week we will start getting involved in some other groups and we’ll add in fun projects but for now, we are getting our feet wet.

I am loving working with the girls, though I do worry I am making mistakes and I will let them down, but we will all learn if I just keep trying, right?