**Kids names have been changed to protect the innocent and naughty alike. ;)
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
They came here to our house for a week to heal. I love being their safe place.
They mourned (and still do... you understand if you're an animal lover) but couldn't stand the emptiness so they began looking for another. They were only going to get one puppy but one thing led to another, love happened and now they have three. :) So here they are:
The beauty at the top is Pixie. The kids and I got to put our stamp of approval on her name before they sent her papers in. Her official AKC name is Sweet Midnight Pixie Dust (part of that name is a tribute to Molly). The one climbing up my mom is Daisy. Her official AKC name is Sweet Princess Daisy.
Did I say there were three?? Why yes, yes I did. :D But I forgot to take Butterfly's picture before my Dad took her home. He only stayed a day to drop off my mom then had to go back home; he took Butterfly with him. I'll get pictures of her when he comes back to pick my mom up. :) Butterfly was abused by her former owner and brought back to the breeder where my parents were blessed to get her. She has some official name somewhere but it's stupid so we call her something better. lol
So now you know what two of my new fur sisters look like. They are adorable and sweet. Each one has their own individual personalities. Daisy has a zest for living that makes her seem hyper, but she's really just awesomeness in too small of a body. Pixie is playful yet loving, wanting to be near her mommy every second of the day. Butterfly is very laid back and is no doubt EXTREMELY happy that those two puppies who are always annoying her are far far away. lol
Aren't they cute??? I think they look like me. :D
It all starts at 7am when I get up (sometimes earlier if kids are up before that)
Rush through my shower and try to remember to brush my hair before leaving my room. Sometimes I do, yay me!
Toss a load of laundry in the wash, open up blinds and make beds.
As soon as I get downstairs I open up all the blinds. I just HAVE to have my blinds open; I feel trapped in a cave otherwise. :)
Wash off the counter and start making breakfast.
Give the kids their homeopathic drops
Remember we have to wait 15 minutes after drops to eat and try really hard to drag out the smoothie making process for 15 minutes. Not an easy thing!
Kids go eat at the table while I clean the kitchen from breakfast, and get water bottles, lunch, snack and dinner in bowls and into the cooler (I try to start this prep the night before but sometimes I forget) so we can take it all with us.
Remind Grace to feed her fish and practice piano. Remind Tony to empty dishwasher. Remind Kate to leave everyones toys alone while they do their chores. ;)
Pack everyones school work that will be done en route
Pack the van with everything but the kitchen sink.
Rush out the door hollering at kids to make sure they have all their stuff b/c I'm NOT grabbing one more thing.
Start van, turn van off and run back inside because I forgot my phone (I swear, this happens every week!). Roll my eyes as the kids snicker.
Head out to our allergy treatments 35 minutes away.
Spend hours there. It's supposed to be quick but somehow that never ever ever happens!! I am always surprised at how long we are there but we manage to make it out the door in time for co-op. The kids are supposed to be finishing up any school work necessary at the docs but it takes alot of effort to keep it moving and if I get chatting with the doc or his wife, well... they do what kids do... play. I actually don't mind being there for hours, it's a nice social activity for me. :)
Feed kids lunch on the way to school.
Get to co-op just in time, toss Tony out the door, walk Grace in (she is not comfy going in without me yet), let Kate use the potty
Go outside and let Kate play with her bestest friend (who also has a brother in Art class) while Grace is taking piano lessons.
Get Grace from piano lesson
Make mad dash out to the CSA farm and pick up veggies
Feed them snack on the way home
Stop by Daddy's work if he's still there so the kids can hug him
Get stuck in rush hour traffic. We live an hour away from the co-op so by the time we get on the interstate, it's 5:00 bumper to bumper (at 4pm I might add) traffic.
Unload kids, food from farm and all paraphernalia from van
Be grateful for my foresight in pre-making dinner... or get irritated at myself if I didn't and scramble around trying to figure out what's quick. :D
Feed the herd
Clean up from dinner and plop my butt in front of the computer for a few minutes.
Orchestrate kids showers
Get everyone's bedtime drinks
Read stories and tuck everyone in bed
Do something useful in the laundry room
Shoot annoyed look at the kitchen b/c it didn't clean itself while I was busy
Plop lazy butt back down in living room
Get back up, start a movie and get crackin' on the kitchen.
Get my second wind and have trouble winding down.
I'm so glad the big kids are able to do much of their schoolwork on their own!! I schedule Tuesdays as mom-light days b/c the day is just too busy for me to do sit down work together. Grace finishes most of it but if she made effort I just let it go until the next day when she makes it up.
And there you have it. Fortunately Tuesdays are the only day like that. While we also have allergy treatments on Friday, we don't have follow up activities so we can come home and finish stuff here. I'll write about a regular day some other time... probably not on a Tuesday. ;)
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A Mother's Influence
I took a piece of clay
And idly fashioned it one day;
And as my fingers pressed it still
It moved and yielded at my will.
I came again when days were past,
The form I gave it still it bore,
And as my fingers pressed it still,
I could change that form no more.
I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art,
A young child's soft and yielding heart.
I came again when days were gone;
It was a man I looked upon,
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change it never more.
I am reminded once again that my children are constantly watching me. They see my impatience, they see when I put my own selfish desires over the good of others, they see my procrastinating tendencies. They also see the love in my eyes, the smile on my face, the laugh at their antics.
And each of these things leaves a mark on them. I pray I leave more good than bad.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I have totally scrapped my plan to use Learning RX read with Kate; her attention span is far too short and we were both getting frustrated. She learns almost exactly like Tony so I dug out my old copy of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and she loves it already. Thank goodness!! lol
So Tony does about an hour of alone work upstairs, Grace is in the schoolroom right off the living room working on her alone work, while Kate and I read. Then we play some Learning RX games and she's off. Soooo much smoother for both of us that way. She still gets her special toy box daily if she wants it and I'm learning that just because I like what's in her box doesnt' mean she does. ;) Then Grace is done with alone work and I can help her correct it and start her reading while Tony finishes up his stuff upstairs. By the time he comes downstairs with all his stuff for grading/checking, we are ready to work on our Mom-led subjects.
I think this is really going to cut down on the hours spent running in circles around here. Last week, we finished school at 6pm. Yep, that's 6 PM! I am a fan of all day learning. I mean, if you breathe you're an all day learner; but I do want a definite "put the books down and be done for the day" period. Although I will say we're running slower today because we were listening to Beethoven on youtube and got carried away for HOURS there. Once we discovered Trans-Siberian Orchestra playing Beethoven... school was over for the day. We just couldn't stop listening! Kate really enjoyed twirling to the music and who can stop that cuteness???
** please note we do not watch the videos on youtube, we scroll the pictures off the screen and listen so viewer beware, I have no idea what the video looks like!**
I think life is going to get easier. I hope anyway. Now if I could just school myself to spend less time on the computer and phone... :)
Saturday, September 18, 2010
The girls played store, kitchen, cooking, watched Tinkerbell movies cuddled up in bed with me, listened to Tchaikovsky (by request), rode bikes, played fairies, more kitchen. I was fed like a queen today, being served all the fake food and tea I could fit in. No loud sword fights, no screaming and running away yelling "He's going to hit me with his sword!", no loudness of any sort really; just quiet girly-girl noises.
It was SO weird.
Quiet for a day is good. We got a lot of cleaning done, got a lot of important playing done and enjoyed each others company a lot. We did have a wonderful day today. But it was so quiet.
Tony and Daddy are home now. It's back to it's usual mess and loudness.
All is right with the world. :D
Friday, September 17, 2010
Tony's anticipation has been through the roof today. He has never gone camping before b/c of the danger of anaphylactic shock lurking around every tree stump and stick. I can only imagine the amount of food trash in any given forest area due to people who think the world is their trash can. And I can't be there, which is new to me. I am the primary protector and have not let him out of my sight overnight in years. And even then, he was with my parents so still no danger for him. But he's getting older and wiser and needing guy time so this is the great experiment.
I love that we have a church that not only invites us but makes sure we will be safe. The food may or may not have dairy or nuts in it; we're not worrying about their food. But everyone around Tony has to remember not to touch him after they eat, not to hand him an oar after they polishing off a PB&J, not to tousle him on the head after drinking a cup of whatever... something most people don't give a second thought about.
When the church invited us, I reminded them of the danger. Rather than do what everyone does (and understandably so, don't get me wrong!) and saying "Oh, ok", the guy in charge said "Let me know what we can do to make it safe, we want him there". I kept it together on the outside (laughed and made some small remark) but in my head, my jaw dropped.
WHAT? Does this guy KNOW what he's saying???
But he was serious! He repeated himself even!
So Daddy and I talked about it. Discussed the risks vs. benefits. Daddy was up for it (yay for Daddy!!!), the church group was up for it, so away they went. My heart...
You should know that Daddy has never, ever, ever had to give an epipen. He has missed every single anaphylactic episode that required one. Lucky dog. lol He has always been at work; oftentimes overseas but frequently just at work. I have administered every epipen to these kids, other than the ones the EMTs administered after mine. So this is a big step for both of them b/c there is every possibility that Daddy will have to give an epipen this weekend without me there for support. Support matters. :)
But what I really wanted to show you all was the enormous amount of food I made for Tony. Daddy took a cooler for all Tony's food. They will be there for approximately 24 hours. That's 3 meals and a snack. Here's what I packed:
It's ok, go ahead and laugh. I couldn't help myself. :) The child will have plenty to eat if they get marooned on a desert island for a week. I can't be there to protect him so I will overfeed him from afar. I rock! lol
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Today I joined a local organic CSA. I am very excited about this. We spent some time during the summer going out to an organic farm and picking berries and tomatoes and we just fell in love with fresh from the farm food (wow, that was an awesome alliteration... can you tell I live with a writer?). Nothing tastes better than fresh picked; seriously. I learned recently that in the last 24 hours that a fruit/veggie is ripening is when the vine just pours nutrients into the food, making them peak healing machines. Food at the grocery store, even organic, is not picked ripe. It's picked pre-ripe so it looks ripe when you get it, but it's not really ripe b/c it has been cut off from the source of it's nourishment. STILL way healthier than boxed and/or processed foods so we continue to eat it b/c you do get some nutrition from it, just not as much as fresh picked ripe. Anyway, b/c of all that knowledge rattling around in my noggin, I decided to try a CSA this year.
We tried an organic food co-op earlier this year but the produce went from great (first week) to yucky (fourth week) pretty quickly and after I addressed it with the guy in charge, he tried to make it better but I continued to get substandard produce so I quit the co-op. But I am thrilled to be buying into this CSA now. Not only do I know the farmers, but I know what land my food is grown on and it's picked the day I get it, not a week before. I love that! :)
Now if I could just sprout myself a green thumb so I could grow something that survived long enough to produce food. lol In the meantime, check out a CSA near you. Our box comes out to $1.77 a day. So divide that by 4 and that's what we're paying a day per person for our produce. I love Whole Foods, but this is MUCH cheaper... and in the long run also healthier.
I wanna be a farmer when I grow up. :D
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Around 9 months of age, she got a huge amount of immunizations and immediately stopped growing. I know, I know, vaccines don't cause autism. I've heard that a million times too. Doesn't make it true though. Anywhoo... she stopped growing, she stopped making baby noises, she stopped everything - literally. Her eyes stopped changing color (they were in that changing color mode when this happened), she got a terrible vacant look in her eyes and she got VERY lethargic, unable to do much for days at a time. She lived on my hip most of the time and I have to say I enjoyed her being there. She loves to just suck her thumb and twirl my hair. And that's what she did for two years. She was so delicate and fragile, people often commented that she looked like she would break.
Her cognitive skills would come and go. It was very weird because some days we could see she understood us but other days there was just no comprehension when we spoke. Woody & Buzz Lightyear became her everything and Tony was her sole playmate. As I mentioned in Tony's story, they just kind of went away together into their world, leaving us lonely and wanting. Doctors told us it was just their allergies and their social isolation. But Grace would often lay around for days at a time (once I couldn't tote her around on my hip all day), but these times of lethargy were always followed by wild and lunatic behavior. She would twirl and twirl and twirl (ad nauseum) on her sit and spin, jump up and throw herself against furniture or the walls. It was very disturbing b/c we could NOT stop her! I mean, we could physically restrain her but she would be wild in our laps and just completely out of control... scary what power a 3 year old has when they're like that.
As time went on, these bizarre behaviors continued and we didn't know what to do. It was perplexing because when we moved from Texas (when she was 2), she did start talking, but it was all nonsense. She would echo what she heard and could parrot well enough for others to think she was adorable and b/c she was so tiny (remember she stopped growing at 9 months of age), people thought it was appropriate for her to babble or speak nonsense. But we knew better. She should have been speaking in sentences by this point but the only sentences she could say were the ones we had given her. Original thoughts did not come out of her mouth although I am certain they were in her head. Her tongue was completely coated white and she was diagnosed with geographic tongue (warning: gross pictures on that site). We later learned this was from the raging yeast infection in her blood.
She also had NO fear whatsoever and would run off if she saw something interesting. Not running away maliciously but just appearing to forget she was supposed to stay with us. We learned very quickly to keep our hands on her at all times. Many grocery trips landed her in anaphylactic shock b/c she could not keep her hands off the groceries. After a few of those trips, we stopped taking the kids to the store and Daddy and I would take turns doing the shopping. It was just too dangerous to take her any place we couldn't make safe for her.
Tony was a great big brother during all this upheaval, in spite of his own problems. He did love Grace with that unselfish brotherly love and was her best protector and advocate. The only time she was without us was during church (after we changed churches) because the nursery was safe for her there. He was her mouthpiece there and everyone looked to him to keep her safe away from us. People kept forgetting that she couldn't be trusted though and she had alot of accidents and anaphylactic incidents in there as well; always when Tony was out of the class with the bigger kids. I can still see in my minds eye, holding her down with all my might to stick that epipen in her leg. And I can see her fighting me with all her might, which is quite alot when it's terror driven. Twenty pounds of 3 year old is alot when it's terrified! On one occasion the epipen didn't work and we almost lost her in the ambulance. Thank God for competent EMT workers!! They saved her life that day for sure.
Life continued to spiral downward for Grace. Her mental absences continued and increased. I'm sure the frequent use of epipens, although necessary and lifesaving, were doing a real number on her adrenals and immune system. Looking back, I can see her behavior was very much influenced by her food. I kept food journals for her when I started on myself and it was very clear that the chronic yeast infections, the posturing over furniture b/c of intense gut pain, the wildness, were all due to foods. And they weren't always food allergies, they were often just foods that fed yeast... such as sugar and gluten. Boy those days were tough as she was my doll baby and could break my heart with a look. And often those sad looks were b/c I was changing her diet and she wanted her old food back.
But slowly and surely, she started coming out of her fog while we changed her diet. It was fun to see that sparkle come back in her eyes. She did have multiple metabolic problems that showed up on tests so we treated those with supplements as needed. At one point we saw she was overloaded with ammonia in the blood... that was scary since people DIE from that! But we treated her with some nutritional supplements and her body got rid of it's excess ammonia load. When that happened, she suddenly had energy like never before; and I mean good energy. ;) Like she could play all day long without needing to rest for three hours on the sofa. The resting for days on end completely ended. Poor little thing, she was so toxic it had drained her ability to function!
We continued to see progress as we treated her with supplements and changed her diet even more. The diet was always the hardest thing for her as she really loved sugar. It was hard to give up and we had to lock things up. Daddy still eats whatever he chooses and one day, it was her birthday if I recall, I woke up early to find both Tony & Grace on the floor of the kitchen, eating marshmallows from Daddy's stash. Daddy's stash had been on the top of the fridge and Tony had climbed up there to sneak it out. He confessed later that he had been doing that for days but had wanted to share some with Grace for her birthday. Sweet but naughty. :) So that day, I called Daddy at work and told him to bring home a locking safe. And he did. lol We locked anything that contained sugar in it away so Daddy could have his own foods without jeopardizing the kids recovery efforts. That was a sweet thing to do; I know many men who will not budge an inch on their own personal comfort but our daddy is not like most men. He had also seen the recovery progress and was not willing to jeopardize it, God bless him!
Once we got all the sugar locked away, we started seeing eye contact return, she completely quit posturing over furniture. She went from not sleeping more than 3 hours a night to sleeping all night. Up to that point, we had trained her to stay in her room and play with quiet toys while everyone else slept. She had a baby gate up and she just stayed in her room doing whatever. If she got loud or out of control, I would go in there and sleep in her bed. She learned quickly that if she didn't quiet down while I was in there, I would leave so she would play quietly for hours with me sleeping in her bed. I remember distinctly her maniacal laughter during the night between spurts of quiet. We didn't realize at the time that this was a sign of yeast but once we started treating her with strict anti-yeast dietary protocols, and giving nystatin and diflucan, these behaviors went away! Sleep is wonderful. :)
With chelation, she was finally able to convert beta carotene... meaning she didn't turn orange from eating that color. Which was nice b/c she looked sick anytime she ate orange food before that. She had alot of toxic metals in her body but it took longer to see improvements from chelation than it did for Tony. Therapy gave her a chance to catch up on all those skills she had missed, but it also brought an understanding of her sensory needs and helped her find relief in that area. I really didn't understand sensory issues for a long time but was glad to have a therapist who did! Grace would spend hours on the net swing and we even bought one and installed it in the house once we stopped therapy. Swinging is a big relaxer for Grace. In fact, when she was a baby/toddler, that was the only thing she would do at the park. We spent copious amounts of time at parks and she would just swing for hours and hours until I was ready to go home. Tony would run off and play wherever there was no one else but she would just stay parked in that swing. I was glad when we found it was her trying to regulate her needs for sensory input because that was an EASY problem to solve. :)
Now at the ripe ole age of 9, she is so stinkin' smart!! No one who knows her now can believe she use to have non-verbal autism; you just can't tell. She communicates very well and has a really tender heart to those who are different. She is vivacious and full of life, her smile is sooo contagious and genuine!! She also wants to be a missionary. She loves Jesus like no ones business. It's my personal belief that when she couldn't communicate, couldn't sleep, couldn't tell us her needs, that Jesus was the one who communicated to her, loved her, gave her what we didn't know she needed. We did our best but we just didn't understand and couldn't always reach her in her hidden (mental) places. I am glad she is with us now in full capacity, but am also very glad that when she wasn't, she had someone who understood her far better than we did.
Here's a list of what we're using this semester. Who knows if I'll change it up next semester!! I try not to deviate too much from any years program but sometimes I see things I just GOTTA have. :D
***For some reason, the links are not showing, but if you're interested in what each subject looks like, just click on them and it will take you to the actual book or program we use***
Math U See Beta (MUS)**
Learning RX games (these are the THINK portion of Grace's program from last year)
A Young Scholars Guide to Composers
Manners Made Easy
Piano (Mommy lead b/c lessons cost a fortune and Grace is almost done with her first books)
Math Basics (just a math workbook to keep him from getting in a rut with Math U See)
Maps & Geography
Machines & Motion
Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier (because every good writer needs to know how to make their books more reader-friendly)
Our Weather & Water
Story of the World Volume 2 (SOTW2)
Timeline work each week based on composers and SOTW
Institute for Excellence in Writing though co-op (IEW)
Art Appreciation through co-op
**Tony is VERY behind in math... due to my lack of knowledge on how to teach (or even comprehend) math, combined with his lack of interest. This is not his correct grade level but he does several lessons daily and finished Alpha (1st grade-ish) in 3 weeks and has moved on to Beta. I anticipate he will be through Delta before the year end. Thank God for video teachers!!
A Young Scholars Guide to Composers
Manners Made Easy
Learning RX games
Our Weather & Water
Piano lessons in co-op
TONS of read alouds. She reads at least 2 chapters from a mom-approved book daily + independent reading throughout the day.
Learning RX read and games
I read Fallacy Detective to them one night a week, usually Saturday so Daddy can join in. He enjoys logical thinking so this is fun for him too. Most of Grace's work and all of Kate's require my direct teaching while Tony does a lot of his on his own. He would probably do it all without help except that some of the subjects require he do them with Grace so we just do them all together. Kate usually listens in but is not required to. She IS required to be quiet while I work with the big kids though and she loves her daily "boxes" that she gets to play with during this time. It works well to keep her focused and quiet.
I have not yet figured out how to do a time schedule. I'm not sure I even want one. I would hate to stop someone in the middle of their lesson just b/c they took longer than allotted; although I do have friends that this works for. We just have more of a groove than schedule. :)
(disclaimer: Daddy forgot that I would need pictures and took video instead so I snagged the pic from the website... but everything is the same except we didn't use a baby vase. lol)
Tony did NOT fairy dance, but he did DRAGON dance. lol He actually provided quite a bit of entertainment trying to avoid fairy activities by converting them into dragon things.
Coloring fairy pictures (Tony had a dragon picture, thank you very much)
Thursday, September 2, 2010
When Daddy got home and saw the paper, he decided to show Tony how to make mazes with the graph paper. He said he used to do this all the time when he was little. I had never seen it done before but it looks extremely cool! Tony has done two of them so far but they spent hours working on their first one together.
Tony finished his but Daddy is making a double-sided maze so it's taking forever and is only 1/2 done right now.
Daddy's 1/2 way done maze:
While they were drawing it, Kate came over to watch and said "Wow!! That's aMAZEing!". She even drew out the word maaaaaazzzee. She looked around to see if anyone noticed but everyone was engrossed in the mazes and missed it. I caught her eye and smirked at her. She threw herself on the couch just rolling in laughter, so proud of her little pun. What a girl!! :)