Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Day in the Life of Our "Away Schooler"

I've been itchin' since we started Jefferson in 'away' school ("Mooom!  No one calls it that - why do you do that?") to go in for a day and torture the teacher with my presence and beady-eyed stare observe.  It's been a while since I've been 'in' school myself and although I have a good feel from Jefferson for how things go at 3rd grade in Dayspring Christian Academy, I just wanted to see how things flowed.

I was quite pleased (but not surprised) at how well Mrs.3rd Grade Teacher interacts with her students and keeps them in control.  There was not one wild or rambunctious child and only a couple whom were even slightly distracted (and these she dealt with quickly, firmly, and discreetly - wow!).  Her instructions were always clear and well-followed with room available for any questions.  These kids obviously respect her but aren't afraid of her - great balance, I'd say! 

But my favorite thing about this class is not the academics or even the wonderful behavior of the students, but the obvious faith of Mrs. 3rd Grade Teacher.  She has prayed with me at parents meetings and she prays with her students each day, as well as pulling out her guitar and playing praise music with Mrs. Teacher's Aide (also the school music teacher).  This warms my heart and puts any doubt (yes, the enemy still tries to get under my skin about Jefferson even being at away school) at ease.  She stays in constant communication with the parents, works hard to stay prepared for each day, and obviously cares for her students!  Isn't that what a parent wants for their child in school?


So, no more blabbering.  On to today's poorly taken summary notes agenda in 3rd grade...
  1. As day starts, students finish uncompleted items, leftover work, or corrections quietly at their desks.
  2. Students pledge allegiance to God's Word, the Christian flag, and then the U.S.
  3. Mrs. 3rd Grade Teacher prays
  4. Praise music and then devotions
  5. Math -> verbally walk through word problem sheet (teacher & class together) with plenty of room for questions; timed practice sheets; lesson of the day; more time on word problem sheet with teacher help (Saxon 3 is the math program)
  6. Spelling ->buddy system spelling practice (today no lesson or new words)
  7. Recess & snack (poor Mrs. 3rd Grade Teacher barely had time for her own snack as she prepped for reading)
  8. Reading -> lots of options today (literature discussion circle w/ Mrs. 3rd Grade Teacher; group meets & discusses questions w/ Mrs. Teacher's Aide; student voice records a reading passage to improve their fluency; work on comprehension worksheet; work on AR book); students worked quietly and Mrs. 3rd Grade Teacher's multitasking talent came through as she met their needs
  9. English -> using Shurley Grammar 3 students work verbally w/ Mrs. 3rd Grade Teacher to diagram sentences together allowing for any questions & plenty of class participation; students worked on their 'persuasive' paragraphs & had time to discuss their progress with the teacher
  10. LUNCH!  (I have to admit that I really felt the need to stretch by this point.  The kids accomplished a lot in the time just before lunch but it still seemed like a long time to me!  Must be the 'homeschool' in me - lol!)
What a great lesson for me today in Jefferson's 3rd grade class!  I felt like I learned a ton about teaching just by watching a talented teacher do her work.  It was as exciting as it is for me at home just because I love to see kids learn!  And someday Jefferson will hopefully find it interesting to look back at a day in the life of his 3rd grade year!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

...the mouths of babes!

I've been so long in putting together a Tiny Talk Tuesday post - just keep forgetting to write down the funny things these kiddos say!

We were giving the kids a taste of the new lacto-fermented salsa that will be a daily part of their new diet. It tastes like fresh salsa except that it has a certain something that fills your sinuses.
Rae (6): Man, this stuff is zingy! (Her word for anything spicey or vinegary)
Jefferson (8): It's not a zing - it's a BANG! (As he struggles for breathe and chokes it down)

Strangely enough, both Adam (4) & Lincoln (2) liked that 'bang' enough to eat more!
Adam is doing wonderfully in his speech therapy!  He is 4 now but just 2 years ago he couldn't even say 'mommy.'  Here are some of his favorite words that I love:

"lasterday" (yesterday)
"helipockter" (helicopter)
"I dough know!" (I don't know)
"One, two, three, FIVE!"
"Bummy tumps!" (He love the 'tummy bumps' in the road!)
"Did you buy 'at one?" (He asks me this about EVERY item in the house multiple times each day- for some reason he wants to know if I bought 'that one' from the store)

I was telling Jefferson (8yo) once again that he is just growing so fast I can hardly believe it:

Me: It's like you're growing taller every day!
Jefferson: Yeah... you know I DO grow like a germ taller everyday.
Two quotes from our "How to open a fresh coconut" adventure:

Adam: I want to see the eyeballs - let me see the eyeballs!! (wanting to see the coconut 'eyes')

DH: Look kids - we're milkin' a coconut!

Join Mary for more fun Tiny Talk Tuesday over at Not Before 7!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Random Thoughts

Playing along with Living to Learn's random meme today!

The phone rings. Who will it be?
Blockbuster telling me that the movie(s) I rented will be charged to me and owned by me very,very soon if I don't get my rear up and return them!

When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?
Always - my almost OCD can't stand them to be not in the right place (sad, I know)

In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?
Listener -  tend to be more introverted and love to observe people

Do you take compliments well?
They embarrass me but feel good too

Do you play Sudoku?
Love it but don't play it often enough

If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive?
Absolutely not but at least the view would be lovely!

Did you ever go to camp as a kid?
Band camp - what else?  LOL!  Girl scout camp when I was little and music camp when I was in high school (intense amounts of practice - ouch!) and drum major camp in high school (no, I did not get to be the drum major -!).

What was your favorite game as a kid?
Rummi Cube with Mom...actually any game with mom - I just liked spending time with her.

Use three words to describe yourself?
Friendly, shy, too perfectionistic to get anything done

Do any songs make you cry?
My middle name is SAP -yes!

Are you continuing your education?
Everyday I teach my children I am learning a TON!  But I've recently been inspired to look into Speech Pathology after I've finished educating my kids...

Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth?
Yes - with my sister. I vaguely remember a seal in the background or something?

How often do you read books?
Everyday with the kids - Little House on the Prairie series right now. For me? Maybe 1 or 2 pages a day, if that....just so busy (as I sit here blogging - snortsnortchuckle!)

Do you think more about the past, present or future?
The future- always trying to plan everything out (as if I have any control over it though!)

What is your favorite children’s book?
I have to pick just one??  Sheesh!
Llama Llama Red Pajama brings such joy to their little faces - we love it!!

What color are your eyes?
blue (sometimes greenish)

Where is your dream house located?
Where ever my family is but hopefully overlooking rolling farmland

If your house was on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed?
My scrapbooks, my computer and my kids - in that order!  No serisously....

When was the last time you were at Olive Garden?
Can't remember - haven't eaten pasta in what seems like forever!
Where was the farthest place you traveled today?
Lancaster to drop Jefferson off at school - I'm starting to love this drive at 7am.  It's beautiful when the world is just waking up!

Do you like mustard?
Love it!  Foods with zing!

Do you look like your mom or dad?
NOT my mom. I think God just put my dad on the copy machine and left my mom outta the deal!

How long does it take you in the shower?
Too long and I never have enough time for it!

Can you do the splits?
Why on earth would I want to do that?? My knees pop just sitting down anymore!

What movie do you want to see right now?
The Blind Side - it'll probably make me cry (remember my middle name?)

What did you do for New Year’s?
Uhhh - I think I just made dinner and went to bed - the usual.  Couldn't find a sitter and probably couldn't keep myself awake anyway!

Do you own a camera phone?
Yeah but it takes cruddy photos so I rarely use it.

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
6-7 hours but I need 7-8!

What do you buy at the movies?
Depends on whether I'm being good or not - lol!  Good=water and naughty=Raisinets

Do you wear your seat belt?
Absolutely, although I thoroughly hate that the government 'requires' me to.  I am not a child and it should be my choice.

How many meals do you eat a day?
3 and 2 snacks

Do you like funny or serious people better?
Funny!  Serious people scare me.  :-(

Ever been to L.A.?
No but San Diego was probably nicer!

Did you eat a cookie today?
Coconut macaroon (one too many!)

Do you hate chocolate?
Do chocolate haters really exist?? How is that possible?

Are you a gullible person?
Ohhhhh yeah! Wait  - did you really mean that question or were you justing trying to get me?

Are you easy to get along with?
Depends on who you ask cuz hubbs may say 'No way!'


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Allergy Symptoms & Results

These photos show why we are trying so hard to find a something to help Adam's food and seasonal allergies.

1st seasonal allergy attack at age 17 months (miserable!!)

3rd reaction to peanuts at 3 years (12/07) - we now have an Epipen

Last April (3 years old) was his first reaction to seasonal pollens since he was 18 months old.  We weren't expecting it since we hadn't seen it the season before.  Poor miserable little boy!!  We now have eyedrops and a steroid nasal spray as well as a new diet...

Skin Prick Test Results for both Adam & Reagan

 very strong response to peanut and cat
slightly less but still strong response to ragweed, tree pollen, and grass (uh, really??  Couldn't tell from those pics - lol!)

NO positive response (except the control prick)!!  This is also about what we had guessed but are happy to have comfirmed.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Food We Eat - Allergy Testing

I have discovered, much to my dismay, that allergy testing does not always provide clear-cut answers.  I'm sure those of you who have dealt with allergies, whether seasonal, food related, drug related, latex, insect, r other have found the same frustrations in the process of trying to diagnose and cure (I use this word rather than treat because I feel that many allergies are curable).  Add that to the fact that not everyone agrees about the approach to take in dealing with allergies, and a parent can become pretty confused.  In our case, I am thankful to be able to ask and trust God for His wisdom and His direction in the way that we should choose to deal with allergies and food sensitivities that we've seen in Reagan, Adam, and sometimes even Lincoln.

Our family physician was the first (2 1/2 years ago) to suggest that we try to find the source of Adam & Reagan's eczema rather than continue to use topical steroids to treat.

"Accepted" Allergy diagnostic tools (medically "accepted" - we've 'used' the ones in orange):
  • medical history (family, observed responses, general state of health)
  • blood tests (RAST is medically mainstream, identifies IgE response)
  • prick skin test (identifies IgE)
  • food challenges (physician observed response to eaten foods)
  • elimination diets (take out foods groups for weeks & reintroduce in order to observe a reaction)
 "Other" Allergy diagnostic tools (not "accepted" by mainstream medicine - we've 'used' the ones in orange):
  • Applied Kinesiology Testing (usually done by naturopaths)
  • Body Chemical Analysis (aka - saliva testing also done by naturopaths)
  • Pulse Testing (increased heartrate after exposure to allergenic foods)
  • ELISA Blood test (measures IgG - our allergist ignored this info as useless although our family dr is who prescribed it)
Whoa!  The amount of options just leaves one's head spinning!  We have used many naturopathic tests, which told us that they were 'sick' as well as the ELISA blood test for Adam and Reagan and got some results which seemed normal (having observed the kids react to certain foods) and some which seemed odd (or just plain wrong - like the fact that an observed allergy to peanut did not show up or the positive response to mung bean, which none of us had ever you even know what they look like?).  We've since learned just how complicated the immune system is and how much test results can vary!  Although I read much about IgE, IgA, IgG antibodies produced by the body for whatever reason (external contaminants such as pollen or bee stings, or particles of food that are to large to be used in the blood and have 'leaked' through the gut wall), I still struggle to keep it straight.

 From the Food Allergy Initiative website (mainstream):

About 50-60% of all skin and blood tests are false positives. These results occur for two reasons:

•When you eat a food, your digestive system gradually breaks down the food proteins, chopping them into small pieces. But diagnostic tests can’t mimic this allergen-reducing process. Since food proteins are bigger when they interact directly with your skin or blood, it is easier for the IgE antibodies to “see” and attack them. As a result, your tests may show that you are more sensitive to a suspect food than you really are. Thanks to the digestive process, the allergenic proteins are small enough to fly under the IgE radar—and the food is safe for you to eat.

•Members of a food “family” often share similar proteins. For example, if you are allergic to peanuts, your tests may show a positive response to other members of the legume family, such as green beans, even if eating green beans has never been a problem for you. This is known as cross-reactivity. The test is positive because it recognizes a similar protein in peanuts and green beans. But the test is not detecting the real culprit—an entirely different protein found only in peanuts." [emphasis mine]

Well at least that let's us know some reasons why we get such inaccurate results from allergy testing.  It's really quite dissapointing for us because it means that we have to be even more diligent in observing our kids and their responses to the foods they eat. And it doesn't help us to understand what is and what isn't a false positive. So even with a blood test, we are stuck with our best 'guess' based on observation and medical history. 

And an excerp from a different perspective (yes - we are those kinds of nutty people) on diagnosing and treating allergies than the mainstream medical community generally accepts - working to heal the gut to get rid of food allergies...

From Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride at the GAPS diet website (not mainstream):
"Many people try to identify which foods they react to. However, with damaged gut wall they are likely to absorb most of their foods partially digested, which may cause an immediate reaction or a delayed reaction (a day, a few days or even a couple of weeks later). As these reactions overlap with each other, you can never be sure what exactly you are reacting to on any given day. Testing for food allergies in notoriously unreliable: if one had enough resources to test twice a day for two weeks, they would find that they are "allergic" to everything they eat. As long as the gut wall is damaged and stays damaged, you can be juggling your diet forever removing different foods and never get anywhere. From my clinical experience it is best to concentrate on healing the gut wall with the Introduction Diet [this is the first stage of her recommended dietary approach to healing allergies through the gut]. Once the gut wall is healed, the foods will be digested properly before being absorbed, which will remove most food intolerances and allergies." [emphasis mine]

So we have a history, a blood test (albeit not current - at this point I don't want to spend the money for something so unpredictable anyway), a skin prick test (just last week - I'll post the results later), and now a plan of attack (Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet).  I know that some find it strange that we aren't just dosing the kids on Zyrtec and cortisone and leaving it at that, but I don't really care what others think.  We are more than willing to use these remedies if we are led that direction.  But until then, we will attempt to make them healthier from the inside out and hope and pray that their symptoms decrease or dissappear altogether.

The Gut and Psychology Syndrom diet is usually used for cases far more serious than ours - autism, depression, ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and schizophrenia - but is recommends for people with continual eczema, asthma, and known food allergies.  It is very, very strict and depending on the individual, may take many months to help the gut get back into a better state of bacterial balance health which is what we feel will actually help our children.  We are thankful that we are already in a place that makes it easier for us to implement it than we ever were before we started eating and cooking whole, healthy foods.  I know I could never have gone from using Campb.ells and CoolW.hip right into this diet (goodness knows it's taken me all 12 years of my marriage and I'm still figuring out this cooking thing)! Still, it will be nearly impossible and full of stress quite difficult for us to eat out of the home in situations with family or at 'away' school or any other fieldtrip that takes us from our kitchen (can you tell I'm nervous about this part?). 

However, I am so optimistic about this new diet!  I hope that our efforts will be God led and blessed with fewer allergies in the future so that years from now the kids won't have to worry about their hurting tummies and itchy skin, nor be diagnosed with worse conditions, like asthma.  For now, I can handle the complaining children, the extra time in the kitchen, and the eyerolling friends.  Even if it doesn't do what we expect it too, is it wrong to be eating more healthily...learning to be better stewards of our bodies?

After all, my children are a heritage from the Lord - they are worth it! 


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Food We Eat - Attempting to Alleviate Allergies

My head is whirling with information about and planning for alleviating the food allergies that we have in this house!  I don't know why I get so easily overwhelmed but I need to just get with it and get to it in planning our next step in our life with food allergies. 

We learned a lot since our last rotation diet (started back in Feb of 2008, I think).   It was a very stressful diet since it was very complicated. I ended up cooking different foods for practically each person in the house and our food choices were quite limited.  My stress ended up pushing me to junkfood & an outbreak of guttate psoriasis and instead of properly (one at a time and in small amounts) reintroducing foods, I just kind of gave up after 5 months.

However, we did experience many benefits from our first attempt to deal with food sensitivities.  We saw eczema clear up in Adam & Reagan, sleep improve, and dramatic improvement in behavior.  It was enough to prove to me that what I feed my kids is very important!  And although I haven't stayed away from ALL the items which they tested senstive to in the ELISA blood test (quite a list!), we've tried since then to be careful about wheat, cow dairy, eggs, soy, and peanuts.  After so many weeks strictly following that diet, we hoped that what was a 'light' sensitivity' to certain foods would just be ok to relax on, such as rice, coconut (a MAJOR fat staple around here), almond, oat, and yeast.  I didn't, after all, really even know how accurate the blood test is or if it just shows foods that you tend to eat all the time.  And we never had a skin scratch test done or did an elimination diet to investigate further after this rotation diet.

So this last year and a half we have lived with good whole foods and loosely avoided wheat, dairy, eggs, and soy.  I let church snacks & preschool snacks slip and we went to out to eat or to gramndma's on occasion.  I've used yogurt and cheese as snacks when I'm desperate for something high in fat and use butter all the time in order to get the veggies into them.  We let them eat a bunch of no-no's over Thanksgiving and then through to Christmas, from which we are clearly seeing consequences in the form of new ezcema and crankiness.  And Adam also seems to still continually get every virus that comes around - when I thought for sure that he would have a stronger immune system by now.

Which is where we are now as I plan to head us into a new diet in hopes of truly healing everyone's gut (I forgot to mention that I got myself blood tested and showed up allergic to DAIRY and eggs - NOT wheat as I had so thought for sure was my problem!).  'Loosely' avoiding certain foods is not yet enough for Reagan and Adam since I don't think that we've ever truly managed to heal their digestive system.

Our diet will follow "The Gut & Pscyhology Syndrome" book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.  It is very similar to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet except that all dairy is excluded until the person can handle yoghurt & creme-fraise (a home made soured cream).

The basic start (ghee & homemade yoghurt are first dairy to be brought back while other foods are brought back in one at a time and in small amounts with observation for allergic responses) of this diet is as follows:
*no grains
*no starches (potatoes, corn, beans except lima & navy)
*no dairy 
*no sugar (honey is the only sweetener allowed)
*no soy
*no processed foods (hydrogenated oils, MSG, preservatives, food coloring, etc.)
*peanuts (this goes without saying as we have definitely observed a first immune response to these in Adam!)

Recommended foods:
*all meats (& organ meats) and fish
*eggs (we may be able to have the yoke - don't know yet)
*all non-starch fresh veggies (cooked at first is gentler)
*all fruit, including berries & avocado
*nuts & seeds (soaked first for 12-24 hours)
*navy, lima, string beans, lentils, split peas (no bean flours since they haven't been soaked)
*raw, unheated honey
*water w/lemon & fresh pressed juices; homemade nut milk or coconut milk; homemade meat stocks
*natural saturated meat fats; virgin cold-pressed olive oil or other cold-pressed oils; coconut oil
*homemade fermented dairy allowed later as the gut allows (yoghurt, creme-fraise)

Yes, it is quite restrictive. 
Yes, I am quite nervous about implementing it with young kids who will whine and complain and about having to deal with the difficulties of eating away from home and financing this food. 

But the point is not that this is permantly how we will eat, but that it will provide a resting, healing period for our digestive tracts in order that we may enjoy a wider range of harder to digest or previously allergic foods again in the near future!

In the meantime, as I prepare recipes and plan grocery trips and visit the allergist, I covet your prayers that this may be less stressful and even more beneficial for our family and that I would perservere in peace (not stress) to our goal.... allergy-free eating for us and our kiddos and better health all around!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

There's Always that One Kid and...

WE are those parents.

You know the ones...
with the kid who just can not stand still and do his cute little part in the church Christmas play
with the kid who refuses to keep his shoes & socks on in the dead of winter. 
with the kid who hasn't a clue what this white headband with sheep ears is and why it must be on his head.

I'm sure every parent get their turn but this year we were the ones...
with the kid who has his hands down the back of his pants and decided that it was funny to let them fall and moon everyone as he walked to his seat (wish I'd gotten THAT on video!).
with the kid who loves to look around him and take it all in as he is supposed to be singing some song about a 'deliberrrr' (Deliverer).

Mischievous sheep in the nativity! from DNAC on Vimeo.

But I am so thankful that his older brother (a wise king in the back) enjoyed his part and that his older sister (a "sheep" behind his left shoulder) is happy to try to guide him and help him with his headband/ears.  This is the first year they have all been old enough to join in this part of the Christmas celebration and we were blessed to have found a new church family in time that they could be part of the play!  I was so proud to be the parent of that one kid!

But maybe next year YOU will be those parents instead of us....or maybe it will be Lincoln's turn to shine? 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Time for theYearly Resolutions!

So many things on my mind that could use changed...improved.  So many things that would fit nicely on a list of resolutions and look so nice with a fat checkmark next to them.  It could be an 'easy' list or an 'unreachable' list, depending on my mood at the time of writing it.  And everyone who knows me understands just how much!

But I often find that my list of resolutions each year can become burdensome ... bearing guilt instead of accountability, considering the perfectionistic nature which I have.  Causing bouts of doubts in my faith and walk with the Lord.  Dragging me down with reminders of what I am unable to change by myself, as I so often try to do.  And as much as I love a list, I can hardly stand even a smidge of it to remain UNchecked!

This result throughout and at the end of each year is clearly is not God's plan for me - His is to bless me and not to harm me; for me to seek Him with all my heart.

Since this is the way I have been wonderfully made, I think that this year I will make my so-called 'list of resolutions' out of scripture instead and post them on my kitchen cabinets to remind and encourage and remain in my heart & mind.  In this sense, I know that I will NOT be attempting to change myself and thus NONE of them will get a nice little checkmark.  And in this little way, I am hoping to allow the Spirit to more freely move in my life and grow me into all the things that a "list" of personal resolutions would instead have me trying to accomplish of my own strength!  Sound like a plan to you?

So here they are:
*"But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."  1 Tim. 1:5

*"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery"  Gal. 5:1  (I am no longer in bondage to food, anger, yelling, pride, controllingness, laziness...)

*"But seek first first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matt. 6:33-34  (Heaven knows how I worry & fret & get distracted away from God!)

*"Let no unwholesome word proceed from our mouth, but only such a word as is good for the dification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear it.  Do not grieve the Holy Sprit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."  Eph. 4:29-30 (I have great difficulty using my words properly with my family)

*"Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better'"  Luke 10:41-42  (All you Marthas out there know exactly why this one is on the list!)

*"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."  John 6:63 (My flesh cannot change me - only the Spirit can give me life and give it abundantly!)

*"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."  James 5:16b (I should always remember to pray more often and sincerely)