Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving Day at my parents' house. We ate way to much food. Natalie & I had made 6 pies (4 with regular crusts & 2 gluten free), pecan tassies, gluten free green bean casserole & gluten free dressing. So nice to have a young lady who likes to help in the kitchen! It was such fun having my nephew Nils & his lovely wife Katie with their 2 year old Emery, my niece Becky & husband Chris with 1 year old Karis, my brother Greg & Sis-in-law Robin, my parents, Phil's mom & step-dad and our little family of 4. Watching the little girls run around was the highlight, I do believe!

Today the girls & I went back and took along our friend Sara. They worked with Becky to set up & decorate Mammaw's Christmas tree. It looked beautiful when they were all done with it. Mom also taught us how to play a domino game called Mexican Train.

Before we left their house we took showers. No, it's not some weird family tradition. Our hot water heater is out. Phil has lived with lukewarm showers, but I really like hot water when I bathe! Thankfully the dishwasher heats its own water so we can wash most dishes. AND the landlord (our friend) should be back in town by tomorrow to fix it.

This weekend will be a landmark for our family. As of Sunday we will have 2 teenagers in the house! It's hard to believe Natalie will be turning 13. We'll have a family day Sunday to celebrate her (and church).

What did you do for Thanksgiving? Hope it was wonderful for you!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hinds' Feet on High Places

Though the fig tree does not bud
   and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
   and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
   and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
   I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
   he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
   he enables me to go on the heights. 
Habakkuk 3:17-19

During my college years I read a book called "Hinds' Feet on High Places." I do not honestly remember much of the context other than the main character, Much Afraid, having to go to the top of a mountain. I do remember I cried a lot as I read it. I also remember that it was based on the last verse in the passage above. In the KJV it says, "The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places." 

After we were married I was in a Bible Study using the Precepts method of pulling passages apart precept by precept in the book of Habakkuk. This last passage stayed with me. Though the fig tree does not bud, I will be joyful. I WILL rejoice in God my Savior.

Tonight I thought of that as I was driving our van and hearing the brakes grinding. This was after getting it started with 3 cranks. Earlier today my car, a hand me down from my parents, which now has nearly 200,000 miles on it, overheated and had to be towed home. This is the car I had a small wreck in a few weeks ago causing nothing but a few scratches to the Suburban in front of me, but a knocked out grill, bent hood which we can't open, messed up headlights, and a bent, now broken, radiator. 

The passage sounded a bit different in my head than in the Bible. It went more like this:
Though the Buick has no grill or hood,
though its headlights cannot be adjusted and it needs a new radiator,
Though the van needs new brakes and had to have the wrong fuel injector put in because of cost,
Though my glasses are nearly 3 years old and my eyes have changed but I can't afford new ultra-light glasses to avoid headaches,
Though our home is just a rental and does not have central heat or air,
Though I have medical bills piled up from trips to the ER and the insurance company says it won't pay for tests my doctor ordered, the same tests they paid for months earlier, 
Though we aren't sure how we can afford to put gas in the van,
Though the only other form of transportation is a motorcycle that needs a new tire,
Though our daughter's 13th birthday is coming up and Christmas soon after,
Though there are so many more bills I can't even think about it,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
   I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
   he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
   he enables me to go on the heights. 

In light of eternity, these are but vapors. They will soon pass. Does that make me FEEL happy? No. Who WANTS to have piles of bills, live on a special diet, have cars that break down, and not be able to own a home? But happiness isn't what God promised. He promises joy, contentment, and peace in the midst of unhappy circumstances as well as the happy times. I may complain again as soon as I'm done typing this. I may be short with my kids over things that shouldn't get to me. Ultimately, though, I need to CHOOSE to have an attitude of joy. I need to rejoice in God, my Savior. 

And I will rejoice that we have food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over our heads, window unit air conditioners, and portable heaters. I will be thankful for one running vehicle and friends to transport us when needed. I will take joy in knowing my husband has a job and I will be making money being a Pampered Chef consultant again. Mostly, I will praise God that even if I had none of this, He is still worthy to be praised and He has saved me when I am unworthy to be saved. 

All that and I have peppermint ice cream and hot fudge down stairs. Life isn't so bad! : )

Chef Mama is Cookin' Again!

Have you heard the news? Okay, so it isn't BIG news, like the kind that makes the TV station or newspaper (remember those? LOL!). It's the kind of news that you see on Facebook or e-mails. Chef Mama is back. Back to being a CHEF again.

After a nearly 2 year hiatus, I have rejoined The Pampered Chef as a consultant. We need to earn more money. I will be posting about some of those reasons soon. I am a homeschooling mom. I tend to have health issues pop up now & then. I am on a restricted diet which makes being gone to an 8-5 job more challenging (though thousands deal with that daily). And I really want to keep my craft business going. My husband asked me about working retail at a store I would enjoy, like Hobby Lobby. While an employee discount there would be wonderful, my guess is you start at minimum wage. I just looked it up. That's $7.25 an hour. Now, for my teenage daughters, that may seem like a lot since we pay one of them $5 to mow the front yard. For an adult who has to buy gas to drive to said workplace and home again, as well as for work worthy clothes and shoes, it doesn't add up to enough to pay medical bills. Plus, the hours would be set by the employer, not me.

I thought of other direct sales companies, but none of them seemed the right "fit." With some I'd have to make deliveries. With others, I'd still have the party plan and have to go out. My tax deductions would be for business supplies alone. With Pampered Chef I am doing the party plan, but no deliveries (unless I have a show shipped to me). I can deduct some food costs if I am trying new recipes. And dish detergent for washing PC dishes. Besides, I already know the basics of PC. I really don't want to have to learn too much new right now!

The products are the main thing I KNOW about Pampered Chef. I'm not just flippantly saying, "It slices! It dices! It will AMAZE you!" then going home to my own kitchen tools. These ARE my kitchen tools. My utensils, my pans, my baking stones, my Simple Additions pieces are what I use in my kitchen. I use them every day. Even if all we do is make eggs, we use a mini-whipper. More often, though, I end up with a pile of baking stones or pots and pans to be hand washed. That restricted diet for both my daughter and me means I cook a lot from scratch. I LOVE my Kitchen Aid (which we bought years ago with money I earned from the Pampered Chef) and use it weekly, but I use my PC items daily. People love these products, not because they are the latest, greatest fad, but because they work, are quality products, and really do help you spend less time cooking and more time at the table.

The other selling point (no pun intended, but it's a good one---ha, ha!), and probably the biggest, was the amount of money I could earn. I knew that the LEAST I could make for a show was $30. The LEAST. I knew that on average a consultant makes about $100 per show. I knew that in my head, but was thinking, "Well, even if I make $75 per show, it's better than Hobby Lobby." For that matter, $30 is better than Hobby Lobby, especially considering I get paid the same for a catalog show where I sit at home in my pj's and enter orders.

As I started packing for my first live show, I found an old binder that had flyers in it with old specials listed. I pulled those out but my eye caught a page before I threw it out. It was an old commission statement from September of 2007. First, the grand total popped out at me: $693.  I looked to see how many shows I had done: Four. I was a director at the time, so some of that was director "overrides" from my sales and my team. When I looked at the actual commission I just smiled. $405. For 4 shows. Now I'm thinking, "I can make AT LEAST $100 per show." I did not get back into PC to go "gung ho." I got back in to do one show a week and maybe some catalog shows alongside that. But seeing those numbers, I realized I need to tell people that they CAN make money doing this. You won't get rich quick and, unless you do a show a day, you probably don't want to quit your day job. But if you want to earn AT LEAST $100 for 3 hours total of work, then it is a great job.

Hopefully I can share more tips & tricks with you. I'll be setting up a facebook page and a website as soon as I am able.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An update just for Mom

Just so my Mom knows I really did listen, I thought I'd post again. I want to write some longer posts. We had our 22nd anniversary & I have thoughts on marriage to share. We are trying to start our homeschool year, so that is always a fun topic. I want to lose some weight. Another "meaty" (or more accurately, FATTY) topic. For now, I'll just post a quick update.

Last weekend while my husband & I spent a quiet weekend without kids, the girls spent the weekend with my parents. I'm so blessed to have two healthy parents who are in their mid-70's. Sure, they aren't healthy the way that a 20 year old is, but all things considered, they are doing pretty well. Mom took the girls to a huge Outlet Mall complex (actually it's 2 outlet malls) in San Marcos TX. It's kind of funny as I went to college there (San Marcos, not the outlet mall) & I think we had a Wal-Mart & a few other stores (besides the college stores). Phil & I lived in San Marcos & could see the Outlet Mall from our apartment complex. It was a strip of stores. Then the 2nd mall was built. Now it's this huge complex where people will shop for days on a trip, staying overnight at local hotels.

The girls had never been to an outlet mall like this. They were fairly impressed, I think. They each bought some things with their money. Natalie has some really bright nail polish! She is the nail polish queen. Bethany found a cute headband and some shorts. Finding clothes to fit her tiny body is a miracle. We met my folks Sunday morning & were able to go as a family to church together. We go to a church service at 1 p.m. Last week I saw this as a "tweet", "CBC@1: Eliminating the need for alarm clocks." Love that!

Nat came home a bit sniffly. We thought it was allergies. Monday we had a Girl Scout meeting then we went shopping for cake making supplies. My niece, Becky, asked if we'd like to bake the cupcakes & cake for her daughter's 1st birthday party. Natalie has been SO excited to do this! She has been planning & even practicing to make these. Well, by Monday night Natalie was running fever & her throat hurt. Today her fever was gone during the day but her throat hurt. Tonight the fever was back. We'll take her to the doctor tomorrow to see if she needs an antibiotic. SHE is the one asking to see the doctor and really wanted to go today so she could get on meds if necessary.

Of course, if she is sick with something contagious, we won't be making any cupcakes or a cake (for a family gathering later in the day, after the kid party). If she's sick on Thursday we probably won't be able to make the trip to Houston on Friday. If one of us catches whatever she has, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!

In other news, our bedroom window unit decided to stop cooling yesterday. Our Central air went out in June & our landlord has put window units in most of the rooms. We were able to pull a small one out of the girls' room. However, our room is a LOT bigger than theirs, so this one unit isn't cooling our room the way the other one did. Our landlord is looking for a bigger one and even offered to take one out of his bedroom to put in for us so we could have two. Phil told him no, that we'd be okay with the one. I am staying up late partly to wait for the room to cool some more. I'll also go take a shower & have wet hair to keep me cooler.

OH! In food news, I made a yummy breakfast dish today. I'm a bit of a cookbook collector. I've actually just sold several of my gluten free cookbooks as for most things I make I've found flour mixes I can use with standard recipes. While I was at a quilt shop in Kerrville TX the other day I picked up this little book with recipes from Texas Bed & Breakfasts! I'd already found a recipe from the place where Phil & I stayed last year on our anniversary. I looked through this one & decided to try a version of something I saw, but modified, mainly b/c I was downstairs & the book was upstairs. LOL! I put 2 pieces of muenster cheese in the bottom of a buttered small oval baker (from Pampered Chef). Then I mixed 4 eggs with a bit of milk, some salt & pepper, and dill. I poured that over the cheese and baked at 350 for I'm not sure how long b/c I never heard the timer go off. It was more than 15 minutes, I know. It was just getting lightly browned, and was baked all the way through perfectly. It was REALLY good! I liked that it was small and I could make it in the Toaster Oven. Natalie wasn't feeling like eating eggs, so it was just enough for Bethany & me to share. Now I want to try more recipes!


Not a terribly exciting blog post, but it's a post! Good night. Or morning!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm still alive!

My mommy just spanked me. My Mom just let me know it's been nearly four months since I posted here! YIKES! I guess it's time to post something. Something deep and profound. Or not.

In May I was dealing with some abdominal pain that I'm still not sure what the cause was. It was on the left side and I thought it was kidney related at first. Nope. Went to the gastroenterologist & got scoped out. Both ends. And, yes, they did clean the scope off in between. LOL! All was good. That means my gluten free diet is working! She did tell me to stop using ibuprofen as it seemed to be causing problems in the lining. Sorry if that's TMI! A friend suggested maybe I bruised a rib. That very well could have been the case. I'm wondering if during my first (yes, first, there was another one) kidney stone procedure it got bruised from the pressure.

About the time that pain started going away my old friend the kidney stone started to move. This one was on the right side. I landed in the ER in mid-June, then in the Doctor's office. He planned to do a procedure the next day, but I'd taken ibuprofen that day, and had to be off any blood thinning medication for a week prior to surgery or shocking the stone. See what I get for not listening to the gi dr.? He did decide to put in a stent the next day. Oh. Boy. What. Fun. (Don't you hate when people. type. with. periods.? LOL!)

On June 30th I had surgery to remove the stone. If you look at a calendar you'll realize that was a Thursday. Guess what comes right after June 30th? Well, July 1st does, but I'm thinking of July 4th. Which meant, I had to wait until AFTER the 4th of July to have the stent removed. Since the offices were closed on the 4th, and we were out of town, I had it removed on the 5th. It was painful. Having the first one out wasn't. In fact, it was a relief when I had it out. This one was different. That night I developed a pain that was as bad as passing a stone. I took some hydrocodone and called the doctor's office to find a doctor on call. The dr. who called me back said this was common, that my ureter had closed off and my kidney was backed up, but it would pass. He said as long as there was no fever it would be okay. Thankfully he was right!

It's taken a few weeks, but finally my body seems to be healing. Apart from a new issue I developed last summer: migraines. I had an attack this weekend. Since I'd never had one before last year, I don't recognize the signs & wasn't sure what to do for it. I do know I spent most of Friday and Saturday in bed. Today I am feeling human again. Which is good since I HAVE to go mail things. I've been selling off things on ebay and have 17 items to ship today! I remember reading in Dave Ramsey's book that one way to help prevent/get out of debt is to sell what you have. He said to sell so much that the kids thought you'd be selling them next! ha, ha! My kids are just discovering which stamp sets I've sold and saying, "Mom, you sold THAT? I liked that set!" It's okay. They have more money than I do. They can buy their own! : )

I'll try to post again soon so my parents don't ground me you can find out what's going on here. I know you are waiting by the computer for my entries. WHAT? You AREN'T????

Have a great day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

God Loves these people

Has the Holy Spirit ever convicted you right in the middle of your thoughts in a strange place? Today we went to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is a fascinating place to me. I see pictures online of "Wal-Martians" and sometimes I do have to giggle. Or wonder, "Are these real?" In our Wal-Marts, though, I see all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds running the full spectrum of skin tones. It's pretty common here to hear at least 2 languages at any place. Sometimes at Wally World you can find even more. Today seemed to be "Sunday go to town" day. I thought these folks must have come into town from the country and assumed most weren't terribly bright that fit that category. Here's my first conviction (by God, not the law officer): It may be true, but I knew somewhere in my heart was the other part of that, the one that says, "I'm glad I'm not like that." ouch.

Then we went to the Dollar Store. I thought, "This is for those who haven't quite reached Wal-Mart level yet." Mind you, I am right there with them in the store. Maybe they were thinking the same thing about me! I walked down the aisle & passed yet another mullet-wearing-tatooed-all-over-his-body-in-his-wife-beater-shirt-guy and THAT is when the Holy Spirit really convicted me. I guess you could say He spoke to me, but it wasn't over the P.A. system or anything. It was inside of me. My next thought was, "These are the people Jesus loves."

Amazing that I could sit in church and listen to God's Word taught and sing praises to my Lord then so quickly want to turn my nose up at anyone who isn't like me. I should be shouting, "Hallelujah no one else is just like I am!" It would be a sad world if we were all the same.

Easter is coming. Good Friday has to come first. That dark day Jesus died on a cross to bear my sins. He wasn't guilty of anything. I was. He also died for the Wal-Martians and the Dollar Store shoppers. Praise to Him, Easter came soon after and He ROSE from the grave conquering death and separation from God if we just trust in Him as our Savior. Maybe I should spend this week praying that if any of those shoppers don't know Jesus that this Easter that will all change.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Girls part 2 & my non-conforming child

I really have to say that the group of girls my girls have as friends are the best. I truly think of them like my "other daughters." Just seeing them interact at co-op today reminded me that any frustrations they may have with each other are so minimal compared to what we'd be experiencing in other situations. And I have to say that while Natalie still have some "rough edges" when dealing with people, she has come SUCH a long way. I'm listening to her interact with a younger girl right now. A few years ago Natalie had a really hard time having this particular child around, mainly because she (Nat) is very jealous (meaning protective) of her time with her friends and this child is a little sister, which means she (child) takes her sister's time. Nat would also be upset if any neighbor friends came over when she was at these girls' house. While N. still can get frustrated with the younger girl, she treats her more like a little sister & can be very kind to her. Today in the car the little one fell asleep on Natalie's arm. Natalie just adjusted to make them both more comfortable!

Then there is my non-conforming older child. I suppose being Autism Awareness Month it is only fitting that she chose to wear her hair in a "special" way today. She thinks it looks nice to wear a headband as if it were a wreath on her head. It's not straight around like a crown or sweatband, but tilted the way fair maidens wore garlands of flowers upon their hair. Except hers is a stretchy navy blue headband. I did tell her it looked odd, but that if she was okay with it, that was okay. I don't want her to get out in the world & have people tell her she looks weird and come home saying, "You said it looked fine!" I asked where she saw this style. Her answer was, "On a random person." As I put in my former posts about conformity, she's not doing anything sinful, just different. If she's okay with it, then I guess I will be, too. I just don't think I'll be wearing my hair like that any time soon! LOL!

Natalie, on the other hand, made sure to tell my friend Kathy, who among her many talents can cut hair and is the new stylist for my girls, "I parted my hair today!" I'm not big on making hair look "just so" and have always just brushed their hair or pulled it up into a ponytail. Last night Nat came in & asked me to part her hair because she couldn't get it right. She came in this morning and asked me to make sure it was right. She is quite happy with her straight part in her hair! Thank you Miss Kathy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Maybe it was easier then.

When your kids are little you are so very physically exhausted. At least I was. I'd see women just loving to play with their little ones and wonder how they had that energy. I had a child who didn't sleep through the night until she was 5 years old & another who decided she didn't like to fall asleep until about 2 a.m. some nights. That coupled with extreme anemia that I didn't know about just left me tired. A lot.

When my kids were little people did not encourage me with words like, "Oh, it's so much easier when they are older." I guess that's a good thing because they would have been lying. They told me that it wasn't as physically draining, but it was more emotionally and mentally draining when they were pre-teens & teens. Maybe they did lie, as I am still tired a lot! But the other part is true. I'm not sure if it's a roller coaster, a merry-go-round or bumper cars. Maybe it's just one big amusement park.

When Natalie was little, from the time she was old enough to do so, she was the child I'd pick up from church nursery with a little greeting from the helpers. Sometimes it was in the middle of the service and I'd get "paged" or it might be after the service if they kept her the whole time. The greeting was usually, "Today Natalie was hitting (insert any child's name in the room)," or "Natalie had to sit in the time out chair for biting (child's name)." The child was consistent: at home she'd also hit people. I recently learned she even hit kids in their houses. She cannot understand why she was so mean, but praise God she has grown up to the point that she no longer hits kids or bites people. She typically doesn't take toys away from others, either. LOL!

Now, though, there is a new issue. It isn't abnormal. In fact, I'm quite sure it's par for the course. It's something I recall as a girl about her age and it's something I know to be true from teaching. It starts when girls are around 9 or 10 and continues on until, well, I'll let you know. It's called having friends. I don't know if it is because hormones are starting to bounce around in their bodies or because they are trying to assert themselves (again, NOT new here) or exactly what happens, but girls hit a stage where they can be best friends then something happens and they are bickering. From my experience, there is rarely a right person and a wrong person. Often it is a perception issue. Sometimes it is a sleep deprivation issue. I am convinced that every girl born in the year 1998 was born with strong leadership skills, too. I can recall birthday parties for Natalie with about 7 girls all born that year & every single one being a leader! Apparently, other years have had this issue as well. I've seen this happen between girls over & over. Truth is I see it happen in my OWN house with the two girls who live here daily! Each girl is convinced she is right.

From an outside perspective, and as a Mom/teacher, I have to say that usually both girls are wrong and both girls are right. I'm remembering the year I had 14 boys in a class and 3 girls. One of the girls was smart. She just hung out with the boys! LOL! The other two, oh, my. They would go round & round from best friend to worst enemy. I must say with my girls & friends it has never been that bad. Maybe because they are under our watchful eyes so often we've had opportunities to use these times as teachable moments. Maybe because they have learned Scripture from a young age they're able to move through these times more easily. Or maybe I just take enough naps that I can pretend it's better than with some of my students or even my friends & me at that age! After the fussing, they typically will still chat and give each other a hug. It may be a few weeks before they are buddies again, but they are friendly. I MIGHT have not been as nice after fussing with a friend at that age. Just maybe. 

As I'm typing this I'm reliving memories of my own. I'm picturing Jo Carol and Lee Ann and Beverly and Denise. It's giving me hope that we will survive this roller coaster ride. While I lost track of Jo Carol when we moved away from the Houston area when I was in high school, my parents have stayed in contact with Lee Ann's parents over the years, and Beverly & Denise and I are in touch occasionally. Bev lives in a nearby town and is busy with her two teenagers and Denise lives out of state. I haven't seen them in awhile but they are the kind of friends that if we did get together with our kids (as we did a few times when they were young) we could laugh about those days in our youth. I'm trusting that as my girls & their friends go through this part of life they will be able to look back one day and laugh, too.

Look out. In the year 2038 you might find the first 40 year old pair of women as President and VP in the White House!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our Funny Language

Being a lover of English, though I may not always use it correctly, I found this post very entertaining: Click Here

Since it's considered a blogging no-no to copy an entire post, I'll just give you some teasers & you can go to Lissa's blog for the rest:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.


Her last part about "up" reminds me of a joke that goes like this:

A Texan goes to Harvard (no, that's not the funny part!). He's looking for the library, so he asks a student, "Can you tell me where the library's at?" The student retorts with an indignant voice, "At Hah-vad we don't end sentences with prepositions." The Texan rephrases his question, "Can you tell me where the library's at smart aleck?"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Of Lice and Women

A week ago we discovered we'd been exposed to lice and indeed did have nits on Bethany's head. Yuck. Gross. EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW! But, as I told some friends, after the year we had last year with TWO friends diagnosed with cancer and losing one of them, lice is simply an inconvenience. It isn't life threatening. It's just, well, GROSS!

After a week of treating, olive oiling, wearing caps, washing sheets, washing clothes, washing towels, washing more towels, washing more clothes, and so on, I THINK we are nit free. Tomorrow night we will do the lice shampoo one more time. My head is itchy, but it's always itchy. I seem to have a reaction to something I'm using. No nits for Nat. NICE! Phil, well, he doesn't keep his hair long enough to get lice.

Here is a story I shared with some friends. I heard it years ago & Phil reminded us of it with this lice attack. It is from THIS website, Mystery of God (never heard of it before but I found the story there).

Did you ever read the book ‘The Hiding Place’ by Corrie ten Boom? When they were taken to the Ravensbruck concentration camp during WWII, Corrie and her older sister Betsy found that their barracks were infested with lice. Betsy insisted that they thank God for the lice, since we are enjoined to give thanks for all things. Corrie struggled with that, but was obedient. The book goes on to tell how the sisters had an unusual freedom to read the Bible and pray in the barracks at night with the other inmates, in spite of the repressive practices of their Nazi guards. Corrie said, ‘The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.’ Why were they given such freedom? After a while they understood -- the lice! Another blessing in disguise.
What a reminder to give thanks in everything. In the midst of all trials we are to thank God. His love and grace are sufficient even when all else fails.

Have a blessed and LICE FREE day!

Conformity part 2

This is the second of a 3 part sermon series. ha, ha! It's just the 2nd post on this topic so if you just popped in & are clueless about what I am talking about go back to THIS POST.

You know by now that in our family that the only conforming we are to do is to God's standards. That sounds so clear cut, thought not necessarily easy. Yet, within God's standards and among believers in the Lord Jesus Christ there can be great differences that don't go against Him. This is wear it can be hard for any young adult (or old adult at times) but for someone with social struggles anyway, this really is confusing.

In the book I mentioned in my first post, Stargirl, the fictional character who was a non-conformist, wore long skirts to school. It sounds like what she wore would have looked like something Laura Ingalls Wilder would have worn. I have friends who only wear skirts or dresses, but they don't look like they need to get into a covered wagon & head west. The girl in the story didn't just look a little different, but apparently VERY different. She also had a pet rat she carried with her to school (which is totally fictional as no school would allow a non-service pet). I hope I am painting the right word pictures here. I'm also smiling because one of my dear friends who is likely reading this wears skirts & used to have a pet rat. I am PRETTY SURE she never walked around the school cafeteria playing the ukulele while singing happy birthday to all the students. : )

So what happens when your child wants to wear something that doesn't go against Scripture or your standards but is very different from the norm? A few years ago we took our Girl Scout troop to a pioneer farm. One of my favorite "other daughters" (a friend's daughter who is also my daughters' friend) bought a sunbonnet, the kind from the Little House days. She was determined to start a new trend in our homeschool co-op. I thought it was so cool that she was willing to step out of the boundaries. And after a few nasty sunburns on my face and neck, I'm about ready to wear a sunbonnet! Another girl we know often had on the most unusual outfits. They were things I might have told my daughters not to wear, but they were okay by her mom and not bad, just different. I've noticed some things coming back in style that I love: floral prints and bows. I am of the Laura Ashley generation. I loved that our generation had styles that could have easily been worn, with some adaptation, in an English novel written in the 1800's. Not Charles Dickens, mind you, but more of the Jane Austen type. Natalie likes some of the floral prints. Bethany likes hair bows. She likes the BIG hair bows that are in style now. She also has some interesting tastes. She has some neon pink sunglasses that flip up and a plain clear lens is underneath. I actually have owned clip on sun shades for my glasses that did that. While I thought they were not attractive, they were highly practical. Of course mine were not neon pink, either.

There is a phrase I used in the last paragraph that is where difficulty seems to arise. The phrase is "in style." Who are these people who determine what is "in style?" Who decided in the 1920's that feed sacks would be made of pretty fabrics that could be turned into dresses? Who decided in the 1950's to put a poodle on a skirt? Who decided to put strings on a cotton shirt, dip it in different colors and produce the tie-dye look? I have no clue. I have no idea why people follow certain trends. I just know that when something is introduced, it might catch your eye, or it might not. It might grow on you over time. Or you may think the thing is hideous forever.

Back to the question of conformity. If you think your child's choice of clothing or maybe even an activity is within God's standards and you are okay with it, do you allow your child to wear the clothes or do the activity? Maybe it's dressing like Laura Ingalls Wilder or maybe it's a boy who wants to sew. Chances are the child will be ridiculed, not only by other kids but by adults, as well. Sometimes a sister could possibly be the one ridiculing your child. Not that we've ever had THAT issue in our house. Ahem. Or it could be a relative or a friend or someone totally different. On the other hand, you might have someone say, "That is a really cute bow in your hair," when you are at the craft store because the people there are, well, crafty and creative.

We have enough social behavior issues to deal with that I generally don't care if the girls choose something, within the guidelines, that I would never wear or that I might find unstylish. I DO try to let them know if I think an outfit might be criticized so they are not in shock. When I'm dealing with issues like getting a child to go through a buffet line on her own (she won't do it) or to stop correcting other people's grammar or other type of behavior (an issue we deal with frequently) or to learn that just because something may be true or may be your opinion, you DON'T have to share it, then I honestly am okay if my child wants to wear purple and neon green striped socks. If she isn't worried about what others think, then why should I be?

Of course, now that summertime is here (yes, Virginia, it is summertime in March in Texas) we have the issues of finding modest summer clothing. Since we are a family of mile long legs and arms stuck on a body, and since we ARE okay with wearing shorts (it's just plumb hot here), it's the ongoing battle of finding long enough shorts. Bethany is so put out with stores making shorts so short. Natalie has always worn her pants lower than her waist (with LONG shirts) and she has less leg than the rest of us, so she can get away with most shorts, but it's still a struggle. And finding swimsuits? Well, THAT is a whole topic for non-conformity that I won't even address here!

I'd love to read your input on dealing with issues like these: when your child wants to do something that is God honoring but might bother others or might cause ridicule for being different. Do you let them do it? Do you encourage them not to? What do you think?

Edited to add: If my child is under someone else's authority at a certain time, such as in a class at co-op or staying with grandparents or friends, and they ask them not to do something, I expect them to comply. If the thing they are asked to do were to go against our rules, I'd probably go get them and bring them home. Thankfully, we have great friends & the girls have terrific grandparents! Bethany has had to take off the neon pink flip up glasses in a class setting where it was distracting to the teacher. We just bought some neon pink shorts for Natalie. I hope THOSE aren't too distracting in a class or she's in trouble! LOL! On the bright side, B. said, "I'm so proud of Natalie for getting something neon!" : )

Conformity part 1

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Recently, my younger daughter and I read a book together for her literature class. The book, titled "Stargirl," (apologies to the sentence police; I don't know how to underline words on my blog) tells the story of 2 high school students. One is a well-liked, well-known student who is "pretty much" like everyone else in the school. the other is a young lady who has been homeschooled up til the story takes place, and appears quite eccentric. Gotta watch those homeschoolers, you know. At first the student body is uncertain how to respond to this girl (she dresses like someone from Little House on the Prairie, it seems, and plays the ukulele at lunch, specifically Happy Birthday, along with song, to anyone having a birthday that day. She constantly does random acts of kindness for people all over town and all over the school. At some point she does something to make the students think she is a great asset to the school. One of her acts is to cheer for the other team during a sporting event. This eventually causes the fickle teenage students to turn away from her and shun her completely. The young man has now fallen in love with her, become her boyfriend, and finds himself part of the shunning. He coaxes and coaches her to become "normal." However, this plan backfires. She changes her wardrobe and behavior, yet the students still don't like her and she loses the one friend she has because she has now become a "fake." In the end she goes back to being herself, the boy stops dating her, and after one last party where she ends up stirring things up in a good fun way, she moves out of town never to be seen again.

It's fiction. Yet, in real life I wonder how often our kids, or even we, deal with this issue of conformity. I have to admit, as I read the book and discovered the character has no clue of what is socially acceptable or that people have shunned her for her behavior, I kept wondering if she had a form of Asperger Syndrome. When you live with a child with this mild autism you start thinking even your goldfish has it. Actually, we are pretty sure our goldfish has ADHD and identity issues, but that's another post for another day. Then I thought that it's not just my child with autism who struggles with the issue of fitting in or not fitting in, choosing to be like the others or be her own person, choosing to wear clothes that might seem weird but aren't bad, and other conformity issues in life.

In our family, the issue of conformity in any form has to first & foremost pass the test of the Scripture at the top of this post. Is my choice conforming to the world's view or God's view? Does my choice please God? Will my choice make another person stumble in their walk with God? Since God's Word says that children are to obey their parents while living at home under their authority, our kids' choices need to pass the Mom & Dad test. In our house Mom & Dad don't always have the same views on things, so this is always interesting! LOL!

I find it interesting that in Scripture, apart from being told that we need to obey the authorities, kids are never told they have to obey other adults, especially if it contradicts the parents' choices and more importantly God's choices. The even bigger issue that most kids struggle with is that of conforming to their friends' choices. As homeschoolers, we don't deal with that as much as when I was a student in school, but it does come up. We've always tried to teach the girls that different families, even Christian families, make different decisions. While we may let our kids watch a certain TV show, another family may not let theirs. Likewise, their friends may be allowed to wear certain clothes that our family does not wear. It goes back to the PARENTS having that choice, not the friends, not the parents of the friends, and not some stranger on TV who suggests kids should do something.

This topic of conformity has been dancing in my head since reading that book and I have more I'd like to write about if you are up to reading more. Though I don't expect you to conform to what I say. LOL!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why you should hide your camera


The other day Natalie was using my computer. She found me and said, "Mom, this is why you should never leave your camera out on your desk." She handed me the camera & I found an assortment of self portraits. Apparently she only left one on the camera. And, since she did, AND because I am such a kind loving mother, I am posting it for all the world to see. Isn't she beautiful?

Monday, March 14, 2011

46 years ago today

I've noticed a lot of moms blog on their kids' birthdays. They start with "16 years ago today," or whatever age the child is turning. My mom doesn't blog. She will read mine, though, so I thought I'd post my own birthday blog. LOL!

46 years ago today that pitiful looking little girl in the picture was born. She didn't look like that at birth. Actually, she had black hair. Here you will read some fascinating and perhaps unknown facts about her first 46 years.

Okay, I can only write in third person about myself for so long. Yes, I was born with dark black hair with a hint of red. Apart from immediate family, I don't suppose anyone I still know has ever seen me as a dark brunette. I can't find a picture of me as a newborn, so you'll just have to pretend. Besides, the pictures are all in black and white from the Stone Age so we all looked like we had black hair, I'm sure.

I was born 10 days before my next older brother's 5th birthday. I'm sure a baby sister was JUST what he wanted for a present. ha, ha! My oldest brother (there were just 3 of us kids) was almost 8. They were into playing with boy toys, like army men and G.I. Joes. We actually still have one of the GI Joes somewhere. Greg (the oldest) was also into the "rock" music of the day, which meant Beatles. He would later collect the entire Beatles collection and still plays the guitar today. Steve was into doing anything that involved scaring the "living daylights" out of my mom. When he was 2 years old he pulled the Christmas tree down twice & broke lots of ornaments. When he was 3 or 4 he asked if he could sit outside and wait for Greg to come home on the school bus. When Greg got home Steve wasn't there. I THINK this was the time he had walked down to the corner store and the police called Mom because they'd found him there. By the time I came along he had a habit of going next door to the neighbors' house in his pj's on Saturday morning, climbing into bed with them, and watching cartoons. These were grandparent aged folks, not kids! They loved having him around. He was also the reason I am so much younger than my brothers. When mom was pregnant she or dad said, "This one can't be more difficult than Steven." The other replied, "No, but it could be just as bad." Steve passed away at 17, so Mom now says she understands: He had a lot of living to do in 17 years!

Apparently, I was the easiest baby. I liked to nap. Hmmm, old habits die hard as I still like to do that. I didn't walk til I was about 14 or 15 months old. I didn't do ANYTHING until I could do it just right. However, Mom also says that I did talk early & would tell my brothers what I wanted. Since the boys were in school during the day, I suppose for mom it was a bit like having an only child for a few hours.

This picture is when I was about 2 years old, I think. Mom calls it the "Poor Pitiful Lori" picture. Apparently I did NOT want to have my picture taken that day. See the blond curls? THAT is what I have had most of my life. It's darker now, but still pretty much blond with some red in it. Trying to picture myself with black hair is just beyond weird!

I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and we lived in Portland. If you've been to Corpus, you'll understand this statement: Mom says I was almost born on the high bridge! From then until I graduated from High School, we had moved 19 times. Two of those were out of the house to a different location, then ended up moving back into the unsold house. Still counted as a move! I stayed home my freshman & senior years of college, lived in the dorm one year & apartment one year. I lived in 2 different apartments as a young single teacher. Since Phil & I married we've moved 11 times. No, my dad wasn't in the military & no, neither is Phil. I suppose I just have a propensity for moving. I'm not exactly sure of the meaning of propensity, but it's a big word that makes me sound smart. LOL!

My parents made sure we were in church every Sunday. Though me moved a lot, we always found a church to attend quickly and got involved. I can remember being the last ones out many a Sunday, especially in my junior high days (remember, back when it was junior high instead of middle school?) at Cypress United Methodist Church. Though I had wonderful teaching, it wasn't until I was in college that I really understood that all my church going and learning wouldn't get me into heaven, that I was a sinner & needed to be made right with God. I discovered that only through trusting Jesus to be my Savior could I do that. That was the biggest decision of my life & one that will last for all eternity.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a dancer. I was on the dance team at Smithson Valley High School. Only because they let anyone join. I was okay as a dance team member, but probably wouldn't have made it in a big school. My dream of being a Rockette in New York was not to be. ;-) My first 2 years of college my major was German. I wanted to be a German teacher. Somewhere along the way I decided it was more prudent to become an Elementary teacher. I've taught in 3 different schools as a paid teacher, taught and been an assistant director for Sylvan Learning Center and now homeschool my own kids. I hope to teach classes like sewing or cooking one day. We've lived in Zaire as missionaries where Phil flew airplanes and I was the "control tower" (aka talked on the shortwave radio when he was flying) and accountant---in 3 languages---only 1 of which I spoke. Neither job was one I trained to do. I was ALSO supposed to help with children's ministry. I didn't exactly have a lot of time left to do that. We moved to Nairobi Kenya and I worked as the "head teacher" for a small group of homeschoolers for a few months. I thoroughly enjoyed that job. I guess teaching is in my blood. I also worked doing things like stuffing envelopes at home when I was pregnant and the dr. thought I might be losing the baby.

Since being back in the states I've had my most important job: MOM. It's the lowest paying job I've ever had, the one that takes the most time, the one that causes the most frustration, and the one that brings the most joy. I would not trade this job for anything in the world.

I'm so glad my parents didn't trade that job for anything in the world, either. I'm glad they didn't stop at 2 (like Phil & I have done). Mom read a book in college called, "The Third Child is the Easiest." I'm glad my folks took a chance that the author of that book was right. I don't know that I've been the easiest, but I'm glad I'm here!

Thanks Mom & Dad for giving me life!

P.S. Maybe it wasn't fascinating or unknown, but if you made it this far you can pretend it was!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hand Flapping and Asperger's/Autism

One of the classic symptoms of autism is "stimming," a repetitive movement of some sort that stimulates the brain of the person with autism. Some of us without autism do this without thinking of it, but with the autistic person, it's on a grand scale rather than petite. The most common type seems to be hand flapping. Have you ever seen someone get excited and start flapping his or her hands? With the autistic person, this can happen on a regular basis.

For us, Bethany never did a classic hand flap. However, she used to do what we called, "strumming." She'd have her hands bent as if she were going to strum a guitar (with either one or both hands at a time), then "strum" them on her tummy. I'm of the mind that this stimming behavior tends to cause the person to go more "into their own little world," so my choice was to gently stop this behavior. Some professionals would agree that stopping is the best thing to do, while others would say to let them do this. I'm the mom, so I get the choice here!

Recently, Bethany has asked about hand flapping and we've discussed that it is a common trait in people with various degrees of autism. Okay, that sounds like you can get a B.A. or Doctorate in autism! I mean people at various places along the autism spectrum.

I may have mentioned that both my kids have a sense of humor. We like to laugh. A lot. The other day Bethany came down stairs holding something in her hand and shaking her hand rapidly as she stood there. I asked, "Why are you doing that?" Without missing a beat she said, "Because I'm autistic." I about came unglued with laughter, which wasn't a good thing as this was not long after my kidney stone surgery & it HURT to laugh! Then I realized she had a small pen in her hand and was shaking it to get the ink down to the bottom. You've gotta love an Aspie girl with a sense of humor!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2 currently cutest kids in the world

My 2 great nieces both had pics posted on facebook today so I have to show them off.

Emery at the rodeo with her grandparents. Look how close they are to the horses!

Karis all ready for Valentine's Day. Can you say ADORABLE???

Saturday, February 5, 2011

WHICH one has the "normal" diagnosis?

In the world of neurological alphabet soup there are 2 letters that mean "normal" to the rest of the world. They are N.T. They do not mean New Testament nor Nose & Throat. They mean "Neuro-Typical." It means that neurologically the person's brain is in the "typical" category, or as most of us would say "Normal." I am of the belief that normal is a setting on your dryer and has nothing to do with people. Which may explain a lot about me.

I have 2 children. 2 girls. Actually, they both have some "alphabet soup" after their names, but for the most part, one is considered N.T. The other is autistic. Asperger Syndrome, to be specific. High functioning autism. Can you guess which one is the N.T. one?

Which just goes to prove you cannot tell the face of autism, but the face of ADHD is WAY easier to pick out! LOL!

BTW, girls are still in p.j.'s & somewhat embarrassed that I'd post these publicly. They should've thought of that before entering my room. Bwahahahahahaha!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Having another Kid!

I'm guessing anyone reading my blog (hello.........is anyone out there in blog land after my long hiatus?) already knows that I am having "TWINS." If you don't know, don't get excited. They aren't the kind of twins anyone WANTS to have. They are kids....sort of. I have kidney stones.

I suspect I've had them moving around for months. I had lower back pain several months ago at night but by morning the pain was gone. Since I have fibromyalgia, I tend to attribute pain like that to my muscles. Then, in late October, I had something unusual go along with it. NOTE: If you haven't had a kidney stone this may be TMI (too much information). I started having blood in my urine. Not normal.

I went to the doctor's office and had a urine test done. I saw a nurse practicioner who put me on antibiotics for a urinary tract infection and said to let her know if it wasn't better in 10 days or something. I took the pills. The bleeding stopped, but about a month later started up again. The pain continued to come on & off at night. Since I've had a kidney stone (albeit 18 years ago), I kept thinking lower back pain with some pain in the pelvic area sounded like a kidney stone, not a UTI. I mentioned this to the Nurse Practicioner, who again said to take another round of antibiotics for this, but if it was better, then we knew that was the problem. And I did. And it did get better. For awhile.

About 2 weeks ago the pain and the bleeding started up again. I called the clinic and they told me to come in and see a nurse. They did the urine sample. The doctor read the results & back on an antibiotic. I told the nurse I suspected a kidney stone. She said....you know...call us if it doesn't get better. She also said I'd have to see a doctor to ask about getting a referral to a specialist. Ugh. Why didn't they schedule me with a doctor when I called?

Here is the problem with kidney stones and diagnosing them: they only hurt when they are moving. They can be in your kidneys just relaxing having a good ol' time and you never know it. Then one day you go from feeling fine to being in labor without an epidural. With my first stone, I'd never had a baby & the man doctor said this pain was worse than labor. Apparently he'd never had a baby either. I had no epidural with my first born. I didn't even get demmorhal (spelling very likely way off there). I got Nubane. I'm not sure what it is but I'm guessing it's Tylenol with a $50 price tag. With the kidney stone, they gave me demmorhal & I was HAPPY!

Back to this stone, or stones. That was on a Thursday that I saw the nurse. I took my 7 days of bactrim. Mind you, I've been on so many rounds of antibiotics for upper respiratory crud that there is no way my immune system can handle much more of this. On Saturday, a week after I saw the nurse, I woke up around 4 or 5 with really bad lower back pain. I KNEW this time it was a kidney stone. I also knew that there was nothing I could do about it, so I just took ibuprofen. I also knew my husband had not been out of the house is weeks except to go to work and was hoping to ride his motorcycle for a bit that day, so I didn't tell him I was hurting in the morning. Really, I wasn't to the point of tears, but it was bad enough that I could not rest. When he got home I was still about the same, so had him take me to the ER. Several hours later, a CT scan, 4 pokes to find a vein that would give blood, and I was sent home with the diagnosis of 2 kidney stones on the left side that are moving and 2 on the right side that are just in the kidney not obstructing anything. They also gave me some Lortab (hydrocodone, like Vicodin, but it has part of my name in it--LOL). And if I wasn't already feeling like an old man with urinary issues and kidney stones, they put me on FloMax. You know, the stuff they advertise for older men to help with those issues. And another round of Bactrim, because guess what? I was STILL infected!

It's been a week. I had pain on Sunday after coming home from the hospital, but it subsided until Friday. I had slight pain on Friday. Today I've had some sharp pains on my right side, more like where my ovary is. The Lortab isn't doing much for that, but maybe at bedtime it will. I've also spent the week doing some more TMI stuff (such as having to strain my urine, which means....well, I'll let you figure out what it means!).

Sounds like I'm complaining. Maybe I am, but I don't mean it to sound that way, really. I will take having a kidney stone over what several of my dear friends have gone through with cancer just this past year. It is painful. It isn't fun, but it isn't going to make me go through chemo, I'm not going to lose my hair and throw up daily from it, and it won't take my life. And really, the time to just be at home is kind of nice! Thankful for good friends who've helped tote my kids when they needed to be toted and to my parents for toting ME when I needed to be toted!

I haven't named the twins yet. I guess I should say quads, but since I'm only planning to birth 2 at a time, I'll go with twins. Open to suggestions. ha, ha! I see the urologist on Wednesday, so if I haven't birthed them by then, I hope he will figure out what to do next.

Wishing you a kidney stone free kind of day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Okay, that was a LONG break for someone who is trying to "post daily." Sorry! I am nearly feeling human TODAY, but we shall see tomorrow. I have a gazillion things I need to do so I will keep this short & sweet. I just have to share a "Bethany-ism" with you. Bethany has a mild form of autism and can say things in the funniest way. She also has a quick wit, so sometimes she actually intends things to sound funny. As a VERY young child I remember her telling her sister, "Natalie, people without any hair are called Head Balls." She heard "baldheaded" and thought they were head balls! She also "educated" her sister on shopping, "Natalie, Old Navy is where old soldiers go to buy their clothes." I've learned from Natalie that she thought Bethany was ALWAYS right since she was the big sister and followed her lead in things. Chances are that's true. Thus we had a kitchen floor painted red. And Natalie had continual loss of chunks of hair. From playing Beauty Shop. Except only Bethany got to be the haircutter. Though there was that ONE time Natalie chased B. with scissors and got a good chunk, but that's a different story.

Anyway, tonight Bethany came up with a great one. I was looking at grocery ads & rather mindlessly asked, "Bethany, do we like tangelos?" She said, "I like oranges," then paused and added, "I like tangerines and I like buffaloes, but I don't know if I like tangelos." LOL! Yeah, Bethany, a tangelo is a mix between tangerine & buffalo. THAT'S it. ha, ha! She's so silly.

Not to be left out, Natalie has always had a quick wit & most the time means to be funny. She suggested for Valentine's day we have a "Pink Elephant" exchange at co-op, like a White Elephant exchange, but call it pink. I told some moms this & one asked her, "So, can you get me a pink elephant?" Natalie, "Sure. What kind do you want?" She went on & on about the types & where to find them. And last time my parents went out of town and the girls didn't know, she said something like, "They never tell us anything anymore!" So my dad called yesterday to tell her he was going out of town! ha, ha!

NEVER a dull moment here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Mystery Post"

My friend Kathy cracks me up. She commented that she's waiting for the "Mystery Post." It makes it sound so, well, mysterious! It's really not. I just have more thoughts on homeschooling to share. I know some people read what homeschoolers share as sounding condemning of anyone who doesn't homeschool. I want to clarify that by sharing the PRO's of homeschooling I am doing just that: sharing the pro's of homeschooling. A list of what's good about one thing doesn't automatically mean you are tossing out another thing. It would be like me sharing the pro's of living in Texas. It would not mean anyone who lives in Florida or Wisconsin or Timbuktu is wrong. So the "Mystery Post" I'm thinking of is going to be pro's AND con's of homeschooling. Why should I write about homeschooling? Well, because it's what I do.

I have not taught in PUBLIC school in 20 years. Does that mean I have no clue what is happening there? No....and yes. I do know that there are still 20 plus kids per class. I DO know that teachers are expected to make sure kids pass a standardize test. I DO know that there are parents who are a teacher's best friend and there are parents who are a teacher's worst nightmare. I'm pretty sure that in the midst of having some sort of classroom management they are also supposed to teach subject matter. I DON'T know exactly what curriculum is being used, how math is taught, or if they have kids in one class all day for elementary or not. I DO know that teachers send the kids home at the end of the school day and get paid for doing their jobs (and for what they do they should get paid more).

I'm fairly certain that teachers cannot: lead students in prayer, teach the Bible as Truth, sing praise songs in class, have class in pj's, on the couch, with snacks and a drink. It's just a fact. Honestly, if I put my kids in school & a teacher came into school with pj's on & wanted to sit close to my kids on a couch I'd be SCARED! There just ARE differences that aren't always good or bad. They just ARE.

So, while I'm dreaming up the rest of my mystery post, I'd be glad to take input from others on pro's & con's of homeschooling. I have ideas in my head, but would love to hear from you. Thanks!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Diagnosis of the Day

In our house we could make knew episodes of "Mystery Diagnosis." Except, I think in that show the patient always died, so we'd have to totally revise it to make it family friendly! Natalie is feeling a LOT better but still, um, needing mucinex. My mom's family used to joke that you could tell you were part of the family because of all the throat scratching/clearing noises due to allergies. Let's just say she's part of the family.

Phil was feeling bad last week, but this week he's just tired. He's not been able to get out on his motorcycle, but "tis the season" for unpredictable weather. It's raining & cold this weekend.

Bethany seems to be the healthiest of the bunch. She had that bit of a sore throat after Christmas, but now is just merrily moving along with life. How can someone that tiny stay so healthy? It IS a mystery!

Then there is Mama. After this last round of Biaxin (very strong antibiotic that made me feel nauseous the whole time I took it), I've now developed a urinary tract infection & am on meds for that. I know I need to get cranberry tablets to take. I HATE cranberry juice. The tablets I can tolerate. Just haven't been out. And I need to get back on the probiotics to be sure I DON'T get another infection. I asked the rheumatologist (I see him for my fibromyalgia) about any test that might be done to see why I get sick so often or if there is something in general causing me to have all these issues. He said, "I don't see any unifying factor here. You just happen to have a bunch of auto-immune disorders." Oh, boy! LOL!

Right now I feel as if I'm in early stage labor except the pain doesn't come in waves/contractions. It just is there. And there's no baby at the end. ha, ha!

Now you know why I missed posting a few days. Am thinking of something new to post about but it will wait. I know all 3 of my readers are waiting anxiously! : )

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And we're off.

That's off as in on. You know, when a race starts and the announcers says, "And we're off..." I guess off to the finish line? Kind of funny that you say you are "off" when you are starting something. Hmmmm.

Today we started co-op. Our homeschool co-op is a group of about 10 families or so this year. People often ask about the "S" word---socialization. I laugh. Really, I try not to laugh, but I do. Seriously, do people think that if you homeschool you live in a cave? Truth is we learn more socialization & social skills than any school setting can teach. As adults, how many of you sit in rows of desks with people your exact same age all day? How many of you have the exact same set of skills and jobs as every other person on the block? In school kids have to be taught by a set of what the states deems necessary for the kids. Plus, having been a classroom teacher, there is no way to do with a class what you can do with kids at home: teach each one on his or her own level & develop a plan of action catering to your child's specific skills and talents. And if school is for socialization, then I missed the boat as a teacher. My goal was to keep kids from socializing. If you are speaking of socialization as interacting with people of different ethnic groups and economic levels, you have far less a chance of doing that in the neighborhood school than you do in the real world. Maybe the ethnic part can be done in school, but just in our neighborhood we lived in until 1 1/2 years ago we had neighbors who were FRIENDS who may have had different skin tones than we did, but my girls never thought twice about that. Most public schools are going to have students from ABOUT the same economic levels because typically a neighborhood or part of town will have similar economic levels. Plus, is the school where you REALLY want your kids to learn their social skills? It's been YEARS since I was a student in a public school, but I distinctly recall learning things from other kids that are NOT what I want my kids learning! At least not in the way we learned them!

Now, take those kids with you to the grocery store, the post office, the downtown library, and let them see street people, talk to people who are wearing different clothing and look totally different, and are not all the same age as your child, and THEN you can talk to me about socialization skills.

Really, though, that isn't why I'm writing this post. In our case, life is different. We have a daughter with mild autism so a huge part of our "curriculum" is teaching life skills. We've spent much of our schooling years teaching things like making eye contact when speaking, answering when being spoken to, learning to play and interact with others. These are things that, unless she were in a special ed classroom, would not likely be TAUGHT. She doesn't just "get" these things by example as your neuro-typical, N/T, ("normal") child would. So, again, if you want to address the "S" word, I will show you all about socialization & socializing.

We started attending our homeschool co-op when Bethany had just turned 7 & Natalie was about to be 5. Many people attend co-ops so their kids can learn things that may not be strong subjects for the parents. Parents teach classes which they feel comfortable teaching. For example, I have taught elementary math classes, middle school cooking classes, and classes based on the American Girl books. I have NOT taught science (apart from being forced to teach early elementary science---LOL), Spanish, or upper level math courses. One mom in our co-op is a huge history buff and a big reader, so she is teaching our high school kids. Another mom speaks Spanish so is teaching that. Yet another is working with the middle school kids on geometry & literature. Natalie is in those classes, which means we are not doing literature or math courses at home, but work on her homework from those classes during the week. Bethany is taking Spanish & art. I can't help much with either but they are things she enjoys & excels in.

As I said, MANY people join co-ops for those reasons. Some join as a means of support. It's hard to be "Lone Ranger" homeschooler. For us, it WAS the "S" word. I wanted Bethany to learn to work in groups (didn't care if they were her age or not) in a SAFE setting, in a SMALL group, with N/T kids. Natalie was picking up on Bethany's behavior, so I wanted her to be exposed to more N/T kids in a setting that would encourage good behavior (not school hallways or bathrooms). Natalie was a pretty mean little girl at times. She will tell you so! She would take toys from kids, hit kids, and just be mean to them! She did NOT need to learn any new "tricks" from kids at a school, but needed as much reinforcement of what we were teaching her from adults. She also needed to learn what "typical" behavior was. Recently she's told us that when she was little she always wanted to do what Bethany did because B. was her big sister & she just figured if Bethany was doing it then it must be the right thing to do. HA! HA! THAT was her first mistake!

Now, the girls are 14 & 12. Our co-op has gone through some changes. In fact, there are only two families that were there the first year we were, and 3 from the 2nd year. People move, goals in homeschooling change, things happen. Some of those girls from those first families have become my girls' best friends. Their moms have become my best friends. You've read about my friends Kathy and Linda and their battles with cancer. You know that Linda lost her battle and that Kathy is fighting hers. You've probably read the name Danette as the other "well" one (non-cancer) who has helped so much with Kathy and Linda. Kelly is another friend who has been helpful with taking care of Linda's dd during these days. The connection is that we all met through our co-op that first and 2nd year we were there. We are all Christians, but come from different churches, so we don't all have the same ways of doing things. We come from different families and backgrounds, so we aren't all "cookie-cutter homeschoolers." We don't even all use the same curriculum. But we have a bond because our our kids. Maybe the co-op wasn't just for social skills for my girls. Maybe it was for social time for me.

Now day 1 is finished. We only have 13 weeks to go! ha, ha! Now the fun begins with homework and schedules and planning. Along with that comes the fun of a house full of girls at any given time. Today is a "slow" day: we only brought one friend home. Some days I have a car full (4 girls) and another mom drops off a couple more! It's about the only way we can leave co-op. The girls love their time together while the moms are chatting, cleaning, etc. Well, the kids have to clean, too. Part of homeschooling is making sure the kids learn REAL life skills. Yes, it is sad, indeed, that these poor homeschool kids have no social skills and no socialization. ;-)

I always joke about not wanting to start co-op because it forces up to wake up early. Yet, once we are there and with our friends I know I am blessed to be part of such a group.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Holland Schmolland

This is a different look at life with autism. I found it on THIS web page. I hope it's okay to share. I think if you have any special needs with your kids this is kind of a funny look at what life is like.

HOLLAND SCHMOLLAND

By Laura Krueger Crawford

If you have a child with autism, which I do, and if you troll the Internet for information, which I have done, you will come across a certain inspirational analogy. It goes like this: Imagine that you are planning a trip to Italy. You read all the latest travel books, you consult with friends about what to pack, and you develop an elaborate itinerary for your glorious trip. The day arrives. You board the plane and settle in with your in-flight magazine, dreaming of trattorias, gondola rides and gelato. However, when the plane lands you discover, much to your surprise, you are not in Italy - you are in Holland.

You are greatly dismayed at this abrupt and unexpected change in plans. You rant and rave to the travel agency, but it does no good. You are stuck. After a while, you tire of fighting and begin to look at what Holland has to offer. You notice the beautiful tulips, the kindly people in wooden shoes, the French fries and mayonnaise, and you think, “This isn't exactly what I planned, but it’s not so bad. It’s just different.” Having a child with autism is supposed to be like this - not any worse than having a typical child - just different.

When I read that, my son was almost three, completely non-verbal and was hitting me over a hundred times a day. While I appreciated the intention of the story, I couldn't help but think, “Are they kidding? We are not in some peaceful countryside dotted with windmills. We are in a country under siege - dodging bombs, trying to board overloaded helicopters, bribing officials - all the while thinking, “What happened to our beautiful life?”

That was five years ago. My son is now eight and though we have come to accept that he will always have autism, we no longer feel like citizens of a battle torn nation. With the help of countless dedicated therapists and teachers, biological interventions, and an enormously supportive family, my son has become a fun-loving, affectionate boy with many endearing qualities and skills. In the process we've created… well… our own country, with its own unique traditions and customs.

It’s not a war zone, but it’s still not Holland. Let’s call it Schmolland.

In Schmolland, it is perfectly customary to lick walls, rub cold pieces of metal across your mouth and line up all your toys end to end. You can show affection by giving a “pointy chin.” A “pointy chin” is when you act like you are going to hug someone and just when you are really close, you jam your chin into the other person’s shoulder. For the person giving the “pointy chin” this feels really good, for the receiver not so much – but you get used to it. For citizens of Schmolland, it is quite normal to repeat lines from videos to express emotion.

If you are sad, you can look downcast and say “Oh Pongo.” When mad or anxious, you might shout, “Snow can’t stop me!” or “Duchess, kittens, come on!” Sometimes, “And now our feature presentation” says it all. In Schmolland, there's not a lot to do, so our citizens find amusement wherever they can. Bouncing on the couch for hours, methodically pulling feathers out of down pillows, and laughing hysterically in bed at 4:00am, are all traditional Schmutch pastimes.

The hard part about living in our country is dealing with people from other countries. We try to assimilate ourselves and mimic their customs, but we argent always successful. It’s perfectly understandable that an 8-year-old boy from Schmolland would steal a train from a toddler at the Thomas the Tank Engine Train Table at Barnes and Noble. But this is clearly not understandable or acceptable in other countries, and so we must drag our 8 year old out of the store kicking and screaming while all the customers look on with stark, pitying stares.

But we ignore these looks and focus on the exit sign because we are a proud people. Where we live, it is not surprising when an 8-year-old boy reaches for the fleshy part of a woman’s upper torso and says, “Do we touch boodoo?” We simply say, “No we don't touch boodoo” and go on about our business. It’s a bit more startling in other countries, however, and can cause all sorts of cross-cultural misunderstandings. And, though most foreigners can get a drop of water on their pants and still carry on, this is intolerable to certain citizens in Schmolland who insist that the pants must come off no matter where they are, and regardless of whether another pair of pants are present.

Other families who are affected by autism are familiar and comforting to us, yet are still separate entities. Together we make up a federation of countries, kind of like Scandinavia. Like a person from Denmark talking with a person from Norway, (or in our case someone from Schmenmark talking with someone from Schmorway), we share enough similarities in our language and customs to understand each other, but conversations inevitably highlight the diversity of our traditions.

“Oh your child is a runner? Mine won’t go to the bathroom without asking permission.” “My child eats paper. Yesterday he ate a whole video box.” “My daughter only eats 4 foods, all of them white.” “My son wants to blow on everyone.” “My son can’t stand to hear the word no. We can’t use any negatives at all in our house.” “We finally had to lock up the VCR because my son was obsessed with the rewind button.”

There is one thing we all agree on: we are a growing population.

10 years ago, 1 in 10,000 children had autism.

Today the rate is approximately 1 in 250.

Something is dreadfully wrong. Though the causes of the increase are still being hotly debated, a number of parents and professionals believe genetic pre-disposition has collided with too many environment insults -- toxins, chemicals, antibiotics, vaccines -- to create immunological chaos in the nervous systems of developing children. One medical journalist speculated that these children are like the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” here to alert us to the growing dangers in our environment. While this is certainly not a view shared by all in the autism community, it feels true to me.

I hope that researchers discover the magic bullet we all so desperately crave. And I will never stop investigating new treatments and therapies that might help my son. But more and more my priorities are shifting from what “could be” to “what is.” I look around at this country my family has created, with all its unique customs, and it feels like home. For us, any time spent “nation-building” is time well spent.

By Laura Krueger Crawford

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Quick post

Just a quick post to say I did it today! My cpap mask broke about 5 a.m. so I wrestled with it for hours, not sleeping much, until about 11 when Phil was awake & could tape it together for me. I finally finished my night's sleep, which meant I lost most my day. Had I not been trying to recover from this sinus junk I would have just been up & dealt with the day. I need to get really well, so needed the sleep. Hoping tomorrow is a tad more productive. It is Girl Scout day which means we leave the house by 1 and don't get home til nearly 5 some days. Then we get ready for co-op on Tuesday.

Now I need to get my teenager into bed so I can do likewise!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ready for Winter---all 2 days of it!

While most of the US and areas north of us are dealing with snow, freezing temps, and heating bills, we've been in shorts and had the air conditioner on some days. Now, don't envy us b/c we do this year round and cooling a house in 105 temps is not any more fun than heating one is -5 temps.

Still, since we are expected to have 2 days of "Winter" (as South Texans know it, at least), I decided that the coats we bought the girls when they were about 6 & 8 were probably not going to work anymore. Considering they are 12 & 14 now. So, off we went to bargain hunt coats. I suppose for most folks a $50 coat is a bargain. On our budget, that's a luxury. We hit Burlington Coat Factory & after sticker shock of their "low prices" we moved on to Wally World. The first Wal-Mart had one Natalie liked but it was too big. So, we did what everyone does at 6 pm on Friday. We got on the busiest highway in town and headed to the busiest intersection in town (281 & 1604 if you are curious) to another Wal-Mart. Thankfully we found a coat for each girl. Poor Natalie really wanted that one style. It turned out they had the coat she liked, but in red, which fit Bethany perfectly. The problem is that these are ladies sizes and Natalie, while fitting nicely into ladies tops, doesn't have the height for a ladies jacket. Let's just say that the hood would have doubled as a blindfold. We found one with a hood that isn't quite big enough for Sasquatch that worked nicely.

Today temps are mild, but next week it will deep below the freezing mark and be in the 40's for a high. We happen to have to be out those days. I know 40 isn't cold to someone living in Wisconsin or Michigan (that would be where some of my dork friends live), but to a Texas gal, it's pretty nippy!

Will try to get pics of the girls in their coats to show you.

Stay warm!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Helping a Friend

Have I mentioned that I hate cancer? Once or twice maybe? Well, I do. I do think I mentioned that another friend was diagnosed just a few weeks ago with stage 4 gastric cancer which has also spread to some other areas. Katie's only 39 & has 3 little boys (and one big boy, her dear husband, Kevin). You can read Katie's journey with cancer HERE.

Some other friends have started some ways to help Katie and her family. Rather than reposting all the info, I'm going to direct you to my friend Emily's blog HERE where she has details on how you can help with meals (even if you live far away...wish I'd known about this for my friends Kathy & Linda) and another way to help with digital stamps for those of you who like to do crafts.

Please keep the Renz family in your prayers as they go through this treacherous time. Thank you.

Missed a day!

I guess since I missed a day now I need to post twice today. No problem. I could talk and/or write for a LONG time. LOL!

Yesterday brought a trip to the rheumatologist. I have fibromyalgia so every 4-6 mos. I get to go for a quick visit to the doctor. He wants me to be tested for Vitamin D deficiency. I found that most interesting as my friend Kathy, the one in radiation now for any residual cancer cells, had recently told me that she'd been reading how we are all Vitamin D deficient. However, because I am a dork, I was thinking she'd been telling me this in relation to cancer. When he said this deficiency can cause bone and joint pain the light went on & I remembered, "OH! That's what she said!" LOL! I did see the Vitamin D in the store the other day but those supplements are so pricey that I just went for the immune one. I go for the labwork next week so I'll wait til then & see if I am deficient. I mean Vitamin D deficient. I'm pretty sure I'm deficient in other areas, too!

Afterward I took the girls to Kohl's to use gift cards. Have you ever had a girl age 12 or 14? Have you ever been a girl age 12 or 14? Did you know that girls' bodies change a LOT at that age? Did you know they don't make clothes to really fit girls that age? The clothes makers have decided that somehow you can go from an average or even "plus" size little girl size 14 to a size 1 cut to fit a model with anorexia in the waist but a DD bust and linebacker shoulders. Seriously, the junior sizes are cut SO skinny but have low scoop necks and wide shoulders. For Bethany, my 14 year old who is EXTREMELY underweight (yes, we are working on it & yes, we've seen doctors about it---I was once extremely underweight, but I overcame THAT deficiency), some of the clothes fit okay if she wears another shirt under it (oh, yeah, that's what we like to do in summer in Texas!). At least the waist part fits her well. The shoulders are another issue, as is the low neckline. Natalie is built like a REAL person. She's just exactly at the 50%ile for weight & height. Yet, clothes don't fit well. And she LOVES clothes! How can she be exactly average, but clothes don't fit? Apparently the clothes makers have some strange looking models they use for their designs. I shall HAVE to start sewing for them more often!

They were able to find a few things. Bethany first scoured the blingy jewelry & headbands with bows section. Did you know headbands with bows are in style? I know some people think they look really silly (as in other kids B's age, her sister for example!), but I love the femininity. I love all things bows and flowers and lace. I'd wear them if I didn't look totally ridiculous. They are darling on someone 14, not 45! She ended up getting a cute top and then found some teal colored jeans (she'd been wanting colored jeans) for only $4! They almost fit, too! A size 1, but I'll still need to take up about 3" in the waist. At least they weren't too long. She still has about $6 left on the card, so maybe we'll go back for some jewelry.

Natalie ended up looking in the ladies' section and found a darling top. Unlike her sister, though, she didn't find anything on the clearance rack, so her gift card went lickety split. And, because she is 12 and not a grown up yet, I will have to take up the shoulders about 2-3" so the neckline isn't showing things it shouldn't. We do try to dress modestly. As I've told the girls, "Don't advertise it if it isn't for sale." ; ) Mostly because God wants us to be modest, but the saying gets the point across.

Today we are off to find coats. The last time I bought them coats was 3 or 4 years ago. It just doesn't get that cold that often in Texas. I'm hoping for good clearance prices and for something slightly larger than they are now so it will last a few more years. They both have so many changes to go through yet and will be growing for a few more years at least.

I think I've stopped growing. LOL! I have noticed that although I gained a tremendous amount of weight 4 years ago when I started the gluten free diet, then slowly gained more pounds with meds that cause weight gain and just enjoying gluten free food. GF foods, if made to substitute for regular foods, are high in carbs. Potato flour, rice flour, tapioca flour...you get the idea. Plus my body was finally able to absorb what I was eating. Yea me. ha, ha! However, for the past couple of years I've been at about the same weight. It changes by a pound or two now & then, but pretty much the same. That's encouraging to me b/c if I DO---no, WHEN I do start eating healthier and exercising I hopefully will be able to drop some pounds.

I bought a special 2 month membership to Curves. I need to call & check on some things and the rheumatologist said to start slow, but I am really hoping that will kick start my body into becoming healthier. Something has to help!

I asked the rheu. if there was any test or factor that could cause me to have so many auto-immune issues. He said, "I don't see any unifying factor here. You just happen to have a lot of auto-immune problems." And with auto-immunity, I have to be careful as I add immune boosters to my diet b/c your body attacks itself when your immunity is low and somehow (I have no memory of what I read) if you add too much that supports your immune system, your body can work harder to fight that. I am not a doctor or health expert, so I'll have to look all that up again.

Now to get ready for the coat shopping experience. Wish me low prices!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On the 5th day of New Year's...

Day 5 and I am still blogging! Today Natalie is feeling better but Phil is still coughing. He's gone to work but has been up coughing at night (thus neither of us sleeping well). My head has been hurting with sinus pain. I just started taking a new herb supplement (when you're taking as many meds as I do you have to & are sick this much ANYTHING is worth trying if it's a safe product to try). Some friends suggested oregano oil & olive leaf extract. I found a supplement with both in them that I could afford.

Last night I dreamed of my dear friend Linda. I dreamed that I had a plant that had been cut down but I was trying to root it. In the dream I was pouring water onto the plant hoping that little roots would soon start growing from it. I thought (in my dream), "Why couldn't we do this for Linda? Why couldn't someone revive her as soon as she passed away?" I tend to have odd dreams. Maybe this is a way of me accepting that she is really gone.

We have only a few days left until our homeschool co-op starts up again. Natalie put off her 50 or 60 pages of homework, plus a book to read, until this week. Actually, we were going to work last week, but got sidetracked by illness. So, here we are (we b/c I generally work with her on these pages) the week before co-op getting her back on target. Reading a book called, "A Single Shard," working on area and perimeter and will need to do some review pages with angles. Middle School geometry!

Hoping anyone who is reading is having a good new year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

But, she had the shot!

This year I had both of my kids get the flu vaccine. Bethany got the mist version & Natalie got the shot (with asthma you can only get the shot, apparently). Phil got his shot since he works in clinics so often (on computers, not people---that would be scary). Mom? Well, I forgot to ever go get mine! Ooooops!

Now, that might not be a big deal since the rest had their shots & would stay well, right? RIGHT? Wrong. Today we went to see the dr. I was sure she had a sinus infection. SURE. S-U-R-E. Dr. B, "Let's do a swab & see if she has the flu." Thinking to self, "Barbara," I've known the dr. for 8 years or so from Pampered Chef, "She had the shot. I'm sure this is an infection." Swab, swab, wait 10 minutes. Play, "Let's think of clothing items beginning with the letter S. Now let's think of names beginning with the letter R." By the way, once Barbara returned to the room, she looked up baby names starting with R when we told her what we were doing. INTERESTING. 10 minutes later she entered the room, "Influenza type A. The shot didn't do diddly squat this time."

Which leads me to ponder, did I have a sinus infection last week? Or was that the flu? Or am I going to get the flu? Is that why I still feel bad? The last time we had the flu in our house was 3 years ago. I know because it was the year Pop Bill (Phil's dad) was so sick & would pass away a month later. The girls stayed with Phil's folks for a few days after Christmas. When we got them, Bethany was sick. Turned out she had strep throat. Natalie got it. The next week they had the flu. Seriously, how do you end up with BOTH the worst URI type things (short of pneumonia, I guess) in a week's time? I suppose we picked up the germs at the dr.'s office.

So, here I am with an aching head hoping this is still JUST from the sinus infection and cedar pollen in the air. Hoping and praying. Now Phil is coughing & sneezing. He said, "I feel bad but not bad enough to stay home."

Now if someone could just come over & change my sheets and take care of my house for me. But then you'd all be sick. Didn't I ask someone this already? Oh, the mind is a terrible thing to waste. ; )