Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Funday: The Fire Department!!

Nearly a month ago, we had the wonderful opportunity of touring one of our local fire stations.
We have two stations in our town, and we've always toured the one around the corner from our house.
This year, we decided to tour the other department, and we invited a few other local homeschooling families to come along!!
This station had recently received a brand, spankin', new engine.....
and WOW!! was she a beauty!!
She has the coolest equipment including video cameras mounted on the top as well as the front of the engine, and remote controlled sprayers!!  
All the children enjoyed learning about how techie firemen are these days,
and all the wonderful tools they have to keep our community safe!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

{You CAN} Teach your child Thursday: Workboxes!!

Last year, our homeschooling routine was better than in previous years because of the new curriculum's we were using.
But there were still some bugs that needed to be worked out, and I was at a loss in how to make it better.
I felt like my children were always waiting for me to tell them the next thing to do, and some days would hardly complete more than the bare bones basics.
In other words, I felt like we were wasting a tremendous amount of time every. single. day!!

In my wanderings around other homeschooling blogs and forums, I remembered conversations about workboxes and what a wonderful tool they were in organizing your homeschool!!
At first, I just bookmarked some sites and intended to read up on how they worked later on......they sounded like a lot of work to get set up.

Well, in August, as I was getting our schooling set-up for this year, I went back and spent some extensive time reading about the pros and cons of this concept!!
And the more I read, the more excited I got!!

This was the solution to my problems!!

The basic idea was founded by another homeschooling mom who was struggling with the exact same issues I had.
So she devised this system of "workboxes" that are nothing more than the plastic shoe boxes you can get cheap anywhere.
She set up 12 of these boxes on a small wire shelving unit and in each box she put a subject for her child to complete that day.
Some boxes had a chore they needed to complete, and another might have a special treat to keep them motivated.
The boxes are numbered consecutively and the child is instructed to start at number #1 and go in order.
No skipping ahead to something they want to do instead.
This way, the child sees everything they are required to do for the day before they are "finished" and can play.

My main problem was the space for 4 of these things!!
So I looked around and found that other mom's had come up with some fabulous alternatives to the shelves of boxes while keeping the basic idea in tact!!

So I started looking for a solution to my space problem and the Lord led me to these mini plastic file holders they sold at Wal-Mart this year!!!
They fit perfectly on my already existing book shelves!!!

This has been the BEST thing for us, and I plan on keeping this system in place FOREVER!!!
I only have 8 folders in each of my children's boxes.
They are numbered from 1-8.
I just load up their daily assignments the night before {ideally!!!} and in the morning, after our breakfast and Bible time, they grab their box and GO!!

The oldest's workbox.

A younger student's workbox.

It gives me a couple minutes to clean up the kitchen and get little ones involved while the older ones are working independently!!
They know how much work they have to do everyday and they are motivated to get it done by the time their friends in the neighborhood get home from school so they can go outside and play.
They also know they aren't supposed to play games on the computer until their work is done either.

Because we are several weeks into this.....we have come up with some loop-holes!!
This system would be hard for those who are exclusively using unit studies to teach their children!!
We do a combination, so in between the lessons we do together, my children are to be doing their independent subjects.
For me, it can be a bit cumbersome to have to stay on top of grading some things and refilling their folders for the next day.
Sometimes I don't get to that until the morning and that lends to the children getting busy with toys or other things while they are waiting for me and we have a late start to the day.
Just being transparent about some of my own discipline issues..... 

Over all though, this system is great and anyone CAN do this!!
For an EXHAUSTIVE discussion on this system, with tons of links to those who already use it, alternatives to the boxes and shelves, the pros and cons, on this:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Women's Wellness Wednesday: The journey continues

Over the course of the last several weeks, my journey to better health has taken yet another path.
Last year, in January 2010, I started a weight-loss journey.
It took me 10 months, but only by the grace of God I was able to loose the 45 pounds I needed to.
I learned so much during that time about myself and my relationship to the Lord and my relationship to food.
I journaled about it somewhat, and if you're interested you can look under the label "weight loss journey" for that story.
During that time, I was also {and still am} under the care of an endocrinologist for hypothyroidism.
One of the reasons I wanted to get to a healthier weight was to see if that would help relieve some of the annoying sypmtoms I was having that goes along with that issue:  hair loss, extreme fatigue, being freezing cold during the colder months of the year even when those around you are comfortable, irritability, and depression.

Well, even after I reached my goal, I still wasn't feeling myself.....even with adjustments to my medication {I'm taking levothyroxine}.
I met with my endocrinologist and he did finally agree that my medication needed to be adjusted, but I began asking myself if this is just as good as it's going to get?
I've been able to maintain my exercise routine and my weight has remained stable {ony fluctuating by 3-4 pounds during my cycles}, but something new surfaced this summer.
When my period rolled around in June, I bled a LOT.
More than I've ever experienced before.
Like two or three changes of clothing and leaving my mark on the seat of the car....a lot!
And just on day two.
Day three and beyond was pretty manageable.
I thought it was a fluke.
Same thing in July.
I started doubling up on the protection products I normally used.
Only this time I felt afraid to leave the house for fear it would be a mess.
So I called my OB and talked to the nurse and explained to her the situation.
She agreed that sounded fishy and scheduled me to see the doctor within a couple days.
After a pelvic exam and a sonogram, I had a new diagnosis.
No fibroids or extreme pain.....just that.
His suggestion was to start birth control pills to control the bleeding and if it got worse, a possible hysterectomy.
"What?"  I thought.
For just one day of heavy bleeding a month?
There has to be a better way!!
So I began searching around online......
Here's what I found that completely changed my search for a solution: {click on the title below}

Never before had I heard that term......estrogen dominance.
But the more I read and cross referenced, the more it made sense!!
Estrogen dominance is not only the culprit in many uterine issues like mine, but also in...get this.....thyroid issues!!
But a regular medical doctor {like my very good OB who I love} won't address that issue.  
It's a completely different science.
I had to find another doctor who was willing to talk some more natural alternatives that involve saliva testing to look for out-of-whack hormone levels.
When I did finally find one.......I couldn't afford the testing.
Regular insurance doesn't cover it {of course!!}.
I was going to have to pay $300 out-of-pocket which immediately pulled me out of the game!!
So I've been researching and reading and talking, and I'm on a new journey.
A journey to better health......more naturally!!!   
Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

T1 Tuesdays: The latest endocrinologist visit and some fun new tools!!

Yesterday was our quarterly visit with Ashlyn's endocrinologist team.
It has been just over 2 months since we began using the Dexcom continuous glucose monitoring system.
It has been such an amazing tool for us, and I was really hoping that because we are able to react sooner to either a high or low blood sugar, that we would have a much better A1C this visit.
For those of you just joining the Type 1 conversation, the A1C is a blood test that measures the average blood glucose readings over the last 3 months.
In July, Ashlyn's A1C was 8.5%.
That was the highest it has been since her diagnosis in February 2009.
We started using the Dexcom in August, and yesterday her A1C was still at 8.3%.
Normal ranges are anywhere from 5% to 6%.

We saw a nurse practitioner who we've never seen before, and she was very encouraging.
She explained something to me that I'd never heard all our other meetings with our endocrinologist or other nurse practitioners.
I expressed to her my concern that Ashlyn's blood glucose numbers are like a roller coaster.....constantly spiking up and down.....and we just can't get control of them.
I would much rather see a straight line of constant numbers than the spiking.
She reassured me that it's normal even in non-diabetics to have your blood sugar go up and down. 
It's just that our bodies regulate the insulin and glucagon all by itself.
Her body has to pull from the external medications that we give it.
What we want to do is not worry about the spiking, but to bring down the baseline average.
To do that, we change up her Lantus doses.
As of last night, she is taking 17 units of Lantus at bedtime, and 16 units at breakfast.
We also tweaked her mealtime Humalog ratios and she is at 1:5 for breakfast, 1:4 for lunch, and 1:3 at dinner.
In the last 12 months, she has grown 3 inches and gained 5 pounds.
She hasn't crashed into puberty yet, but I am bracing myself for even crazier numbers when that happens!!

I also wanted to share some really wonderful tools we've discovered to help us manage her Dexcom.
One of the tricky things about this system is that you have to keep the receiver {which is roughly the size of a computer mouse} within 5 feet of you to get accurate readings every 5 minutes.
If you set it down and walk into the next room to play for an hour, the meter is unable to read and then you have to wait for it to sync back up once you're in range again.
I also worried that my 11-year old would leave it somewhere and we'd never find it again.
So I looked around online and found these fantastic "pump bands" HERE.
We ordered one to use as a template, and then my mother-in-law made some more for her {yay, Grandma!}

With the leftover fabric, she also made her a
"pump pillow"!!
This way you don't loose the pump in the covers or on the floor at night.
It has it's own little cushioned spot!!
How sweet is THAT?!?!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Funday: Pumpkin Patch!!

Last Monday we were able to go on one of our favorite family field trips of the year!!
Our annual visit to the pumpkin patch!!
We've been going to this very same spot every October for the last 8 years {missing a year or two here and there.}
We had originally scheduled this trip for the week before, but we were rained out.
Because of the scheduling change, a couple of the families that were going to go with us were not able to go this week.
But we did have a friend get to go with us that had never been before and it was a fun time for her and her two little ones {once they got adjusted to the new place!}

Can you see the yellow sign there to the right?  Can you read what it says?
"Keep off the top of the maze."  Uh-huh.

This is the same little, oblivious guy who ignored the attendant's instruction to stop going down the bouncey slide on his back HEAD FIRST.  Got kicked off of that.

Aryn had a much better time this year and fully enjoyed everything she could.
Far cry from last year when she just pouted and clung to me all day then peed her pants at the lunch table.

Surveying his next climb from the hayride.

Yep....that's my life.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Good grief!!  I knew I had had to let some things "slip through the cracks" recently, but I had no idea it has been nearly a month since my last post here!!  YIKES!!
Needless to say, since the beginning of our school year in September it feels like the days just fly by and my to-do list is only ever half done!!

I've been thinking about a better way to really share some of things that our family walks through on a daily basis and to encourage others with some of the things we have found or learned work for us!!
God has been so good to us and I want to share the grace!!

So here is a tentative plan that I've worked up to help this blog have a little more focus and direction:
Each day will have a theme {though I can't promise I will be able to post every day of the week}....

Monday Funday: One of the techniques we have found so helpful in managing and coping with the struggles of living with 2 children with ADHD is to take one day a week to just have fun together.  To get away from the routines that are in place to provide structure, but often feel like cages because of the daily fight these children put up when expectations and responsibilities are put on them.  We go out of the house and let our hair down and express to our children that we love to be with them and enjoy having them important when the rest of the week they struggle with lots and lots of corrections and discipline and disappointments.

TI Tuesday:   A journal of the joys, successes, fears, and struggles of our 11-year old daughter who is living every day with Type 1 Diabetes.  Hopefully providing encouragement and resources to other families living with this also.

Women's Wellness Wednesday:  I've been on a very personal journey the last 2 years, and I'm burdened to share with women what I've been learning!!

{You CAN} Teach Your Child Thursdays:  Ideas and resources for homeschooling

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe:  This is pretty self-explanatory, yet be watching for fun little goodies to make together as well as healthier recipes for the whole family!!!

Stay tuned!!