A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Safety First!

 photo greenbarkpress_zps9eade074.jpg

I had the honor of being able to review Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again by Ginger Pate, from Greene Bark Press.

 photo lookleftlookrightlookleftagain_zps08f68e39.jpg

This fun little board book, which retails for $8.50, is designed to teach kids to cross the street safely.

Hannah was my reviewer this time around.  I think this may be her first review, actually.  One of us walks her to and from school each day, so it is a timely subject for us, and a great life skill to practice.

The premise of the story is that the main character, a duck, needs to get to a mailbox to mail a card.  In order to do so, he has to cross streets.  After learning the correct safety rules to do so, the duck displays confidence in crossing alone.

We read the book together, and then went out to practice what we'd learned.  Sam graciously agreed to be her student so I could take pictures.

Looking left!

Looking right!  

Crossing safely.

And again.

It's easy to see why Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again is an International Book Awards finalist.   I am glad to add this book to our home library, and I look forward to Katie eventually having enough English to understand the concepts it presents.

Although the book is suggested for children aged 3-8, I later caught Hannah (6) and Jack (9) reading it together.  I know from experience Jack's "looking skills" could use some brushing up, so it was nice to have a fun, non-lecture-from-mom way of doing it.

To read more reviews of Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again, please click below.


 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!  Thanks for clicking for us!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What's been going on at our house

Aside from being sick, (finished one abx, still on the other one) we've been just flat out busy lately. Since my last post, we've gone out of town 3 days for a funeral, had Luke's feeding assessment, had friends we met in China over for a visit, had a birthday, done back to school supply shopping, started painting the babies' room, and taken the sick computer in for repairs. I'm really missing the computer!

The nice thing is that we got to see Annaliese while we were out of town.

She's happy, and she's doing well. It's hard to have her so far away, but it was nice to hear that she's a good houseguest. 

Luke's feeding assessment went well. I got an email copy of the report back already, which is nice. (I should call the speech place, since I haven't gotten their report yet.)  She states that he has the cup skills of an 8 month old, and the tongue and jaw skills of a 9 month old. Which fits right in with his development in other areas. He's just a very big baby. 

His size has been a challenge for me.  Both in the literal hauling him up and down the stairs, which I often ask one of my strapping teen boys to do for me, and in clothing him. I've often asked myself, "What size IS this child?!"  It's a hard call. His shorts are a size 4. Which means all those size 24 mos/2T shorts we had for him are too small. I could probably get him into 3T shorts in a disposable diaper, but we don't actually have any in that size. The problem with size 4 shorts, is that they hang down past his knees. We just pretend he's a baggy little surfer and roll with it. However, now that autumn is approaching, I'm realizing that's not going to work with pants. I'm either going to have to buy 4T pants and re-hem, or keep him in disposable diapers, 3T pants, and roll the legs a little. He's got a serious Buddha belly. Paul says I should just make his pants. In my spare time. Did I mention that school and homeschool start tomorrow? And I'm supposed to be making curtains for the babies' room? Probably not going to get to making pants for a while. 

I've often wanted to put a disclaimer on this blog, "If you're looking for one of those large family blogs where mom's got it all together and the children all play an instrument and speak Latin and wear matching, home sewn outfits and only speak respectful, kind words... Stop, back away slowly, and try some other blog."  Tomorrow being the first day of school and all, I should have some amazing plans, right? Well, the truth is, I pinned a couple of ideas, but without my stinking computer, I can't print what I was planning to print. And the reality of this summer being what it has, I haven't even ordered spelling books or enrichments yet. Math was also going to be, yes, you guessed it, on the computer, so now I'm really up a creek. Fortunately, I have a new game to review for The Schoolhouse Review Crew, so we have something exciting to kick off the year with. 

If you haven't yet entered our giveaway, please enter here:  http://grtlyblesd.blogspot.com/2013/08/alone-yet-not-alone.html

 My apologies for the formatting issues; I'm on my iPad and will edit once the computer is running again.  If you can pop back up to the top of the page to click for us at Top Mommy Blogs, that would be awesome, thanks!

Starting the school year

At the end of the upstairs hall in our house, we have upper and lower cupboards, separated by a counter space.  Somehow, during The Great Room Shuffle, the counter became a horizonal stacking surface for everyone's unwanted stuff.  I suppose Flylady would call it a "hot spot."  I called it a freaking disaster area, and tried to stay away from that end of the hall.

Today, I tackled that area.  There is no "before" picture, because it was just too embarrassing.  But I will say that we took 2 trash bags of stuff out to the garage Donate Pile, and I put a stack of "Eli will grow into these eventually" up in the boys' closet, and I returned to Sam a few items that I thought he might not be done with, and I saved a box of former Jack clothes for Luke... so, yeah.  A lot of clothing.  

This is the "after."  Ahhh.  The basket on the left has random girl stuff in it, like razors and lip gloss.  The tote on the right is the last unpacked box from our move over a year ago.  I know what's in it.  It's random desk/school room stuff.  But the school room is full to bursting, and so this tote simply sits.  All things considered, I can live with that.  

Also today, I worked on the school room a little bit.  Just enough so that we could work in there without piles falling over.  

Here's my desk.  Normally, this is command central, but it feels very weird to sit there now without the computer.  

And here is the start of our time line.  I'm pretty excited about this school year.  Last year was geography and culture based, and this year is history based.  Being that I attended 2 different junior high schools and 3 different high schools, my history is fragmented at best.  Fortunately, I love to learn, and I'm very much looking forward to getting a chronological history of the world.  We are using My Father's World as our main curriculum for the second year now, and this year is called, Creation to the Greeks.  Should be fascinating.  

As I mentioned, our computer is on the blink, so I sent it to the spa to rejuvinate.  I am hoping it comes home refreshed soon, as our math is computer based!  I'm sure the kids won't mind skipping a few days of math.  In the meantime, we'll do the fraction game and some flash cards.  I need to have Paul pick up a bag of M&Ms for flash card practice.  

We switched to a table at the end of last school year, instead of having everyone at desks.  For starters, we didn't really have enough space for that many desks, and we also didn't have enough appropriately sized desks for all my students.  So the table solved some problems for us.  

See the cute colored bins?  Those are going to be stocked with things to keep Katie busy while we do schoolwork.  In theory.  Blocks, counting bears...  I need to pick up some links, I think she would like those.  Maybe I can convince Brianna to let me put the pop beads in one, too.  Those would be some serious fine motor coordination builders for her.  Of course, if all else fails, we have crayons, markers, pipe cleaners, etc.  

I think I'm ready, I think I'm ready, I think I'm ready!  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Giardia Returns

Only not Luke this time.

Remember how I was so sick and miserable when we were on our way home from China?  I have felt "not quite right" ever since, and attributed it to a raging case of new motherhood times two.

Sunday, a doctor from our group called and told me that I tested positive for Shigella. Yesterday, my doc called and said I also tested positive for Giardia. Lovely.

At least there's medication that can hopefully knock this out and help me get back to normal. The bummer is I'm not supposed to have any lactose for a month after starting the medication. It can cause temporary lactose intolerance in up to 40% of patients. Yikes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Alone Yet Not Alone - GIVEAWAY

Author Tracy Leininger Craven brings to life a true story from her own family history in this dramatic novelization for readers age 8 and up.  Alone Yet Not Alone: Their faith became their freedom from ZonderKids is available in paperback ($9.99) and Kindle ($6.64) versions.  

Brianna, age 13, read the book first.  Here's what she had to say:  "It was a very good book!  I liked the way that she was so determined to get back out, even though she knew what the risk was.  I can't wait for the movie to come out!"  

Wait, movie?  Yes!  Movie!
The movie based on the book is being released September 27.  Click here to see a behind the scenes look at the film and find out if it's coming to a city near you!  I found out we have to wait until February for it to come here.  

Eli, age 11, was my second reviewer.  Eli says, "I thought it was a really good story.  My favorite part was their escape because it was really exciting and it was amazing that they survived that.  It looks like it will make a really good movie."  

With such resounding endorsements, I read the book myself.  I have to admit, I'm looking forward to the movie, too.  Knowing that this is based on a true story just makes it all the more fascinating.  Two sisters, kidnapped by Indians in 1755, who not only escape, but live to tell about it?  Amazing.  I have to admit, I will be bringing Kleenex when I see the movie, as I cried just reading the book.  

Would you like to WIN a copy of this book??
I'm authorized to give away a brand new copy of this 148 page paperback book with 8 pages of film photos.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for entering!  

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!  Thanks for clicking for us!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friday Medical Visits part two - Luke's EEG

If someone wanted to study sleep deprivation in our house, I think Paul and I would make much better subjects than Luke, but what do I know?  

I didn't keep him up 2 hours past bedtime last night, as the info suggested, as he was Losing It an hour after bedtime.  But I did get him up at 6, an hour earlier than usual.  Paul had the fun task of keeping him awake all morning while I was at Shriners with Katie, and I had the fun task of keeping him awake in the car on the way to the hospital.  

He's saying, "I'm awake.  I'm not happy about it, but I'm awake."  

Is this shirt not hilarious??  My Mom Is Blogging This.  Too perfect!  I found it on zulily.com and could not resist.  I figured, 'truth in advertising,' he might as well wear it today, since I was going to be blogging about it!  

We got all checked in at the hospital, and I spent a few minutes on the iPad, and then the tech took us back to a room.  Once we got in there, we wrapped Luke up like a little burrito to keep his arms pinned during the placement of the leads.  

He looks cute and helpless here.  And then the fun began.  

I had wondered why the tech told me to lay down on the bed next to Luke.  I was thinking I could hold his hands down from standing beside the bed just fine.  I soon found out why.  Almost 30# of thrashing toddler is a lot to restrain.  I ended up laying on top of Luke, with my hands holding his head still for so the tech could do his work.  Luke's knees were under my ribs.  Ask me how I know.  

This was after the tech drew spots on him with a red marker.  See the pink splotch on the previously pristine sheet?  That's pink tears from him dripping through the markings.  The red marks are all over his head.  

The tech said to me, "Do you want some ear plugs?"  At first I thought he was kidding, but when I realized he was serious, I said, "No, I'm okay, keep going."  He then said, "I'm going to go get some."  Nice.  At least it gave me a minute to snap the above picture.  And to be fair, Luke hits this one note? frequency? something that actually does hurt the ears.  I'm just used to it, unfortunately.  

Then came the gritty gel cleaning substance.  The tech scrubbed each of those marks with a q-tip.  

Next, he stuck the electrodes on.  All thirty something of them.  I think it was 36, but it may have only been 32, and I don't want to over-dramatize.  But it felt like a *&^% lot.  Especially for a head smaller than a cantaloupe.  

So how do they stick them on?  Okay.  Picture a flattish metal cone with a hole in the middle at the end of the wire.  The tech takes that, scoops up some paste, and squishes it onto Luke's head.  Some of the paste oozes out the hole, and the tech puts a little piece of gauze over that.  Imagine the amount of time it would take to do that.  Then multiply by 30-something.  Add a screaming, thrashing, ticked off toddler.  And try to hold said toddler's head perfectly still.  While being kneed and kicked.  It can't possibly go fast enough.  

Once the tech was finished placing all the leads, we wrapped Luke's head in gauze, and he taped it in place.  Then he went and turned the machine on, and adjusted a few wires.  I took my bruised self off the wailing boy and offered him his bottle.  He calmed down and gratefully began to gulp it down.  

The tech turned off the lights.  Luke's breathing regulated to the occasional catch.  His eyes closed and he settled in to the happy business of drinking his milk.  The tech fiddled with the machine some more.  I opened my ipad and began to read.  

Life was good.  

And then.  

The tech turned the lights on.  Luke kept drinking with his eyes closed.  

The tech started messing with Luke's head.  


Luke's eyes popped open, and he gave a grunt of annoyance.  The bottle ran out, and the tech turned out the light again.  Look, dude, that bottle was the only trick I had up my sleeve.  You blew it.  

Luke squirmed and shifted, which had the tech on the edge of his chair.  I want to know what 2 year old goes to sleep perfectly still??  I was thinking how great it was that he wasn't trying to rip all that crap off his head and face.  Luke rolled onto his side, and his head lifted off the mattress (which is great--we don't usually see that).  The tech said, "You have to stay down!"  Like 1) he understands you, and 2) he is even remotely capable of getting up.  If he could get out of the bed, we wouldn't be here, you know?  

Eventually, Luke's hands wandered up to the gauze on his head, and I had to pull them down.  Over and over and over.  So much for trying to read and not interact with him.  Yes, when Luke put his hand on his own face to play peek a boo with me (which is another Big Deal for him!) the tech told me "not to engage."  

The tech popped up again and unwrapped the rest of the burrito wrappings stating that he was sweaty.  I'm thinking it might have had something to do with all that screaming, and the less you mess with him the better, but I don't have the nifty hospital lanyard, so I keep quiet.  

If the bed had been flat, we might have had better luck.  But he'd cranked the bed UP at the head to get Luke to a comfortable working height.  And left it up.  So every wiggle brought the little guy closer and closer to where I was sitting, until he was patting my pocket with the back of his hand, which crinkled with the packets of Pepto tablets I happened to be carrying.  I took the Pepto out of my pocket and tossed it in Luke's backpack so he couldn't crinkle any more, but I could tell the jig was up.  This boy was getting his second wind.  

Seems the tech realized the same thing after a while.  He brought over a light and placed it over Luke's face, asking if flashing lights bothered me.  I said no, and he went back to his machine and turned it on.  Wink.  Pause.  Wink, wink.  Pause.  Flashflashflashflashflashflashflashflashflash.  Okay, maybe NOW flashing lights in a dark room bother me.  I had to look away and focus on the ipad.  My attention returned to Luke when the tech said, "Don't touch it!" and I looked over to see Luke REACHING for the light.  Thing 3 to celebrate here.  Luke doesn't reach much.  He doesn't put his arms up to be picked up, although we often get one half-hearted arm up now.  He doesn't usually reach for a toy if you hold it in front of him.  The ONLY thing he reaches for consistently is his beloved bottle.  So reaching for the light was actually a GOOD thing in my book, but the tech was operating out of a different book, it would seem.  

After trying to induce a seizure with the flashing light, we were done.  House lights on, let's rip this crap off and call it a day.  Sleeping electroencephalogram, my butt.  Sigh.  

All leads off!  Whew!  Glad that's over!  

Like the little globs of paste all over his head?  I made the mistake of kissing his forehead as I was putting him back into the stroller, and let me tell you, that stuff, or the gritty gel, tastes nasty.  And that was after the tech wiped him down a little with a towel.  

After we got out of there, I stopped at the cafeteria and got a drink.  I really wanted a soda, and they had Pepsi (as opposed to that other icky stuff,) but I knew I needed the cranberry juice and vitamin C, so I got this instead.  Bleh.  

And this shot was taken while we were waiting for Daddy to pick us up again.  Totally chilling, happy as a clam, and still not sleeping.  Little stinker.  He did crash out in the van on the way home, of course.  We see his neurologist again in about 2 weeks, so it will be interesting to see what his interpretation of the results is.

Again, thank you for your prayers.  I made it through what was quite a day, between the two appointments for the two kids.  I feel better, then I feel lousy, then I feel better, but not great, you know?  Maybe Monday will bring some answers from my doctor's office.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!  You've clicked us onto the first page!  Thank you!  You can click for us once a day.  :)

I Am Second

I Am Second is a site with dozens of videos that deal with the reality of daily life.  The choices people make, the paths they take, the results those decisions have.

The site is set up so you can view videos by content area, everything from Abortion to Work, with some pretty grim topics and some tame topics in between.  When I initially checked out the I Am Second website, I looked at the list of videos available with the awareness that Jack and Katie were in the room with me.  I wanted to select something I could watch that wouldn't contain anything inappropriate for Jack to overhear.  I started with Contentment.

The first clip I watched was of Matt Barkley, star quarterback of the USC Trojans.  He shared about what it was like to stand up for his faith through the issues the team has faced lately, and on a very diverse and secular campus.

The CeCe Sims video, wow.  "I'm learning not to let regrets get in the way of my future.  That's all you can do."  Powerful words, given her story.  You can watch it here.

I may be showing my age here, but when I saw that Micheal W. Smith had a video, I was surprised that someone so "big" was involved with the project.  Anyone else remember bellowing out the "Friends Are Friends Forever" song at the top of their lungs in high school, or was that just me?

Probably the most touching video for me personally, was Christine Petric's in the Racism category.  I filter seeing an Asian girl talk about what it's like to live in a white world through the lens of my love for my Asian girls, and ask myself, "How can I make this easier for them?"  It was heart wrenching for me, because I worry about Hannah and Katie facing similar things.

These videos are inspiring.  Please take some time and poke around the I Am Second website and watch something that relates to what you're dealing with in your own life.  If you like what you see, and you want to get involved, like their Facebook page, where you will have the opportunity to help with funding, input, and promotion.  You can even get discounts on cool I AM SECOND gear.

Like this t-shirt!  When Josiah, age 16, saw me wearing this, he said, "Hey, where'd you get the I Am Second t-shirt?"  I blinked at him and said, "You've heard of them?"  Turns out, he's seen several of the videos, both at church and at school.  I asked him what he thought, and he said, "They're interesting!"  I asked him which one was his favorite, and he said, "I don't remember the name of the guy, but his life totally turned around."  So I asked him if he'd like the bracelet, and if he'd be willing to be my "hand model."

Please take a moment to visit the I Am Second website.  Watch a few videos.  Consider signing up for the 22 day challenge.  Thanks for reading!

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!  Thanks for clicking for us!

Sales, Deals, Bargains and Coupons

I have several great deals from sale emails and even an exclusive affiliate coupon or two for you today!

  First up,  40% Off your First Month at Little Passports with code OFF40.

Stride Rite  Next, we have Buy One, Get One 50% Off at Stride Rite with Promo Code BTS2013 at Checkout. Offer Valid 8.5.13-9.3.13.

Save up to $20 with Kiwi Crate's Back to School Sale! shop now ››And Save up to $20 on a new Kiwi Crate subscription (that's 2 months free) plus free shipping!

Hanna Andersson I'm crazy excited about this one!  If they'd had these when Jack was heavy into Buzz Lightyear, I totally would have gotten him some. New Arrivals! Shop Disney Tinker Bell, Disney Pixar Woody & Buzz Lightyear Pajamas and more!  Hanna quality and Disney cute?  Sounds like a winning combination to me!  They also have Star Wars™ Yoda, Vader & Stormtrooper Pajamas, which are much more Jack's speed now.  

  Zulily is having a 72 hour Back to School sale.  Starting yesterday, going through 6 pm Sunday, you get an additional 10% off with the code SCRTSALE54 from the items at this link:  zulily 72hr Back to School Sale  Minimum purchase $60.

LeapFrog Enterprises Inc.    Leap Frog is having a Back to School Sale! Buy 3, Get 1 Free on all game cartridges and apps for LeapPad and Leapster GS! Use promo code CLASSROOM. Offer valid now through August 19th!

Honest Products Voted #1 By Moms. Learn More!  And finally, Honest Company has a Free Trial* on either their diapers and wipes, or their household products.  I was curious enough to check them out, since our family is trying to go a little greener, and was interested in finding out how they stack up against the samples I got from Seventh Generation recently.  Watch for my review coming soon!

Okay, so this post was a little spammy.  I really do try to only share things my readers may have an interest in.  I thought it might be better to get them all in one post, instead of several posts, leaving you feeling bombarded by spam.  Feedback on this is welcome!   

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!  Thanks for clicking for us!