Sunday, September 30, 2012

I heart my dehydrator and canner

I love my dehydrator and canner.  I haven't  been using the dehydrator to actually dehydrate much of anything lately.  Hopefully that will change soon as I made sure to buy just a few wee things to dehydrate this past shopping day.  I also hit a sale on ground beef, though I wish I could have bought more, that I plan to can.  I can't tell you how wonderful, *wonderful*, WONDERFUL it is to just pop open a can of beef, chicken or stew meat to pull together a dinner.  Wow, oh wow.  On top of the meat that I plan to can, which will probably be about 7 quarts worth, I want to can beans.  I really need to get back to eating GAPS style, and beans is a big part of that.  Unfortunately I can never remember to soak my beans overnight.  Ugh.  I plan on soaking my beans whenever I can think of it, and then can them up the following day.  I still have to look into the need to precook them prior to canning.

As much as I love my dehydrator for dehydrating my food, I also love it for a few other reasons.  For one, it makes for a great incubator for my culturing yogurt.  I can make 2 gallons of yogurt at a time.  I may even be able to squeeze in another 1/2 gallon jar, though I try to make my yogurt in one gallon batches.  But my new found use of it has been as a thawing machine!  We got rid of our microwave a couple of years ago (at least I think it was that long ago, it certainly feels like ages ago).  The only time I ever miss it is when I need room temp butter.  So when I finally had that light bulb moment a few months ago, it's changed my life.  Alright, maybe not changed my life, but it certainly does make cooking with needed room temperature butter that much easier.

What I've been thawing the most though, is strawberries.  I LOVE strawberries in my oatmeal and on my peanut butter-banana-nuts-seeds-yogurt concoction.  But rock hard frozen strawberries, not so much.  I put a few on a plate, pop it in my dehydrator on one of the racks positioned in the middle of the unit, and put it on about 130 degrees.  A few minutes later, thawed strawberries. 

It's the simple things in life, the simple things :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Now we wait....

Today was Jedidiah's big test.  I am way toooooo exhausted to tell about it all, so I will give you the basics.

The IV didn't go in as well as I hoped it would.  But he only got stuck twice, so it could have been worse.

After that things went pretty darn smoothly!  He didn't get sick on the one med, and his blood pressure remained normal on the other.  Even the nurse said it was surprising that his blood pressure was so good as most kids blood pressure nose dives.

Jed handled the all day fasting very, very well.  I am very thankful that he didn't have a blood sugar crash.  As good as it all was, he was quite relieved to be able to eat when he got the go ahead :-)

We got home a little after 4PM, so it was a long day.  The boogie baby tried to make up for all the lack in nursing time this evening.  And poor Jonah just wasn't himself this evening.  He did say his stomach was hurting.  It was one of those times when something doesn't seem right, but you can't put your finger on it.  I am praying that all is well.

Oh, and we possibly contaminated some poor sick patient, or they may have contaminated of the nurses sent us to the wrong bathroom...the bathroom for the 'contact' patients.  Have you ever seen a nurse, doc, or other outsider enter a 'contact' patient's room?  They suit up in a long yellow paper robe thingy, plus gloves and a mask.  Then as they exit they have to take all of that off and put it in the trash.  Jed was on contact as an infant during his hospital admission, due to a 'scare' of C-Diff.

Off to bed.  I am hoping the boogie baby isn't feeling like he still has lost time to make up...I need some zzzzz's

Oh, almost forgot.  We have to wait for the test results to come in, which will be in 7 to 10 business days.  Have I ever written about how I hate waiting on test results?  Let me count the ways......

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In Which There are Scary Things

(This was written days ago, when I took the outside pics around our house)

Not that I was unaware that scary things were out the woods, but I didn't realize just how close.  I've been staying clear of the area in the woods where we know there are yellow jackets.  Today I posted pictures of Aubrey playing on a wooden beam.  The beam is up on the corner of a small hill.  Aubrey had slid down the side of it, scraping away some of the dirt/moss on the side.  Later this evening we were all outside enjoying the lovely weather.  Jonah wanted me to take a picture of him on the same beam that Aubrey had his taken on earlier.  Isabella came up to us and told me we needed to get away as there was a yellow jacket nest in the side of that hill.  WHAT!?!  Sure enough, not 30 seconds later a yellow jacket flies up to the hill and crawls in a small hole.  YIKES!! To think that the baby was walking right on top of their hive and sliding down, right in front of the hive opening!  Shudder.

This scary thing I have been aware of, just not sure where they all are.  Besides the yellow jackets, we have to have the return of the huge wasps/hornets.  They may not be the same as those we had when we first moved in.  Those things were extremely attracted to light.  Big time!!  This time I've seen a few come to our windows, but not like in the past.  But now we have these huge things, maybe cicada killer wasps? that have taken up resident in one or two of our trees.  Last week I tried to go down to our creek.  We have a fence up now, so we have to scale the fence to get to the creek.  However there is only one place to really get over and that happens to be right next to the wasp tree.  These wasps are huge and scary.  No creek time that time.

And then today.  Today Moira and Saoirse went down to the creek.  We have quite a few snakes around these parts.  The most common being the black snake (rat snake).  They have frequented our chicken barn.  They will lay right under the chickens, waiting for an egg!  Unreal.  Last week we had a pretty green garter snake in our yard.  Flannery got some really neat photos of it.  But back to Moira and Saoirse.  They spotted a snake in the creek.  Upon further inspection it was a copper head!!!  A first for us!!  Yikes.  I refused to let them down there until Jeremiah got home, but by then it had taken off.  I guess we will be a lot more careful on our trips down to our creek.  I made sure to look up copper head snake bites.  Interesting.  All snakes (well, at least those that were being tested) give off a warning.  A rattle snake shakes it's tail.  A cotton mouth opens it's mouth *wide*.  And they figured out why a copper head is the biggest's warning is an initial bite, one that doesn't give off as much of it's toxin.  The bites are supposed to be very painful though, not fun.  Generally, though a trip to the ER would be encouraged, there isn't much to do with the bite but symptom relief.

I'm thinking we've had our fair share of ER visits and I don't relish

Beginning the New School Year

So we started out the new school year with a bang.  The new year began on the first day of our new Charlotte Mason co-op's first meeting.  Our co-op meets just once a month.  Other's who have done co-ops before thought that once a week just gets too overwhelming. We've never been in a co-op before, but I would agree that once a week would be too much.  For now at co-op we do the following;

Together we...
sing our hymn of the month
children give recitations
sing our folk song of the month

The olders and youngers break for:
Shakespeare...the olders will be reading their assigned roles for our chosen play, the youngers are read the play from Lamb's Shakespeare

We have a lunch break, which gives all the kids a chance to run around and chat.

Then we separate again into olders (close to high school age and up), and youngers for..
science...the olders are doing biology and this time is for a group lab
the youngers...go for a nature walk and do a craft

Afterwards they were let loose to run and play.

It was a great success!  I had the youngers for the nature walk.  I had them make a fairy loom (found HERE) before we took our walk.  I wasn't sure how well it would be received, but all the kids loved it!  Then after our walk they painted.

As for the rest of our regular schooling.  Um, well, lets just say I'm still not all prepared.  Kind of hard when we don't have all of our books!  We really need to make sure to buy ahead, which is hard to do when we are behind on....well, everything!  ha!  I was pretty upset about it all.  I don't relish having the kids having to read week 5 on one book, week2 on another book, week 1 on a third, etc. Makes for a confusing day...every day.  But waiting until we get all the books in isn't an option either as we are behind as it is.  Like I said, we are behind on EVERYTHING.  You name it, and we are behind.  Thankfully this morning I was able to take a deep breath and convince myself that we can make this work.  (though part of my brain thinks I'm lying...hee, hee)  But, unless money starts to grow on our trees, behind we stay.

I have a bunch of pictures to share.  I really, really wish I had gotten pictures of our co-op  meeting, but alas I was too busy :-)  Most of these pictures are taken by Moira, or Flannery...since I don't have a camera.  I have to sneak it away from Moira to get a turn :-)

We've lived close by to a nature trail for the past 6 years.  It was only this past month that we made a visit to it for the first time!  We all loved it so much we visited it again the following week, which is when these pictures were taken.  Here we are starting on our walk.

There are two trails.  The first one is supposed to take you by a water falls.  However, there was no waterfall.  A sign posted said the water was dried up due to the 3 year drought.  Bummer!  And scary all at the same time.  This time we took the other trail, which has this pretty lake on it.

 Oops, pictures out of order.  Here we are on our way to said lake.

 An overlook view of the lake.

Aubrey was pretty fascinated by the water.

Saoirse, don't fall in!  Not that it would have been a big deal as the lake at that point is a mere 2 feet deep.

Time to get this kid new shoes!!!  Seriously!  Not because he is outgrowing them, but for my sanity.  These are hand me downs, so the velcro on the sandal is worn out.  On top of that Jonah insists on having the shoes on tight.  This was only the thousandth time I stopped during our walk (we are only half way through the walk) to refasten the velcro strap.   I'm telling you, if I had some duct tape I would have taped them on!

 Change of shoulders.

Pictures out of order again.  Ugh.  Well, first we came across the below...very odd mushroom.  Twenty yards later we came across this fellow...

See, odd mushroom...and that gave us the idea to do this:

 Ha, ha!  The mushroom was already fallen over, though I think putting this plump fellow in it did the mushroom in.  Sorry mushroom.

 Oooh, a bamboo "forest".  This stuff is so interesting.  I love bamboo made things.  I would love to grow some of our own, except that it is very invasive.  Behind this is a hill that leads to a waterfall and creek.  It is amazing to see the roots of this thing!!  Wow, I could see this totally overtaking our whole hillside on our property!  Yikes.  Maybe if we had 100 acres I'd consider it :-)

 The waterfall behind that stand of bamboo in the above picture.

 Thank goodness he's so cute :-) This was stop 2 million and 52 to refasten velcro strap.

Alrighty, off to get a start on our day.  Never mind that it is almost lunch time.  Non the less we shall try to get a handle on our day and try to figure out how we will do all this school stuff in an orderly fashion.  Wish  me luck...wait no...pray, yes, pray for a miracle :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pulmonary update and pictures

Thankfully, no pictures of pulmonary :-)  Just teasing.  Jed had his appointment the other day with the pulmonologist.  This doctor totally surprised me.  We must have talked for at least 10 to 15 minutes before he examined Jed.  He was a very serious, straight face man.  In short there seems to be nothing wrong with Jed.  He has to review the x-ray as it wasn't sent with the report, but he is pretty certain that he will not be finding anything of merit.  Basically people don't just go and get chest x-ray's for no reason.  So when a radiologist has to read one, he is looking to find something.  With his examination and my description of the cough and it's effect (or lack there of) on his life, he felt there was no need for any action.  Phew! The surprising part was when he asked Jed to hop up on the examine table.  This straight faced doctor turned into a comdedian!!  No joke!  It was hysterical.  Totally didn't see that one coming.  Ha, ha. Just one week away to Jed's endo testing.  I will be VERY much anticipating their results.

The boys, two middle girls and I were out bright and early.  Scratch that.  Actually Jeremiah and Flannery beat us all in the getting out early bit.  Jeremiah is helping to start up a cross country running team.  Flannery is joining in on the fun.  So they were up very early for practice.  Although I woke up before them, all of my movement ceased once I reached the couch!  Ha, ha.

Once I fully woke up the said grouping of us went outside for some early morning fun.  I was hoping it would help me to be more productive.  Attempt failed.  Oh, well.  I need to get back to drinking a lot of water and some of the other things I was doing that seemed to be helping me with needed energy.

When we came in I was putting around on the computer and the baby fell asleep nursing.  I was able to move him to our bed to finish his nap.  Nap time is usually where I try to jump in and get some stuff done.  Ah, yes, it all sounds good in theory ;-)  Energy, where art thou?  I did make it up to the attic to drag/throw some winter clothing down.  By golly we might get chilly enough temps this year to warrant all of the clothes sorting/washing/sizing that a change of seasons warrants.  My journey to the upper depths of despair attic, was cut short as I was having so much little boy help.  We ended up coming down with more than I had anticipated.  When the boys are not looking I will have to throw all of those goodies back up there!

I have to share a little story.  The Rainbow Hat Story.  Once there was a little boy who wanted me to make him a hat.  I don't remember how it came to be that he asked me, or what prompted him to ask.  But ask he did.  So I did a little search online for knitted/crochet boy hats.  I found a neat pattern.  I want to say it was called the Noro hat?  One version had stripes.  I called the boy over to see if it was a pleasing hat style.  He immediately said, "Oh, I want a rainbow hat too!!"  How cute, I thought.  A rainbow hat.  Alrighty, we shall call it The Rainbow Hat.  I imagined in my head what it would look like, thinking of the possible colors.  We were shopping one day, and a detour down the yarn aisle was in order.  Immediately the boy spotted his yarn.  Rainbow.  Think CLOWN rainbow and you get a decent picture of it!  I tried to gently persuade him to reconsider.  Right next to the clown rainbow yarn was a much more pleasing palette of rainbow colored yarn.  But the boy would not budge.  I reasoned with myself that this was not a hat that I was going to have to wear, so why did it matter.  (Although, we would be the ones *seeing* it, since after all it will be on the boy's head!)  I had to reconsider the design since the yarn did not lend itself to the pattern.  I found a very, very simple knitted hat pattern that worked much better.  And to my amazement....the hat came out cute!  Imagine that!  I was going to crochet his hat, but this yarn seemed to yell....KNIT ME.  So there you have it, the Rainbow Hat Story.  Pictures are in order.

But before I post the pictures of the day, I must say a big thank you to our eldest daughter for planting a ton of lettuce, cabbage and spinach in the garden.  I've been terribly slack in the gardening area.  I do believe we will have to purchase some plastic and poles to put over the lettuce in the coming months since we may have planted too late.  We shall see.

The boy, AKA Jonah, sporting his Rainbow Hat.  Take no note that I can never seem to do a decent job of sewing the seams when it comes to yarn items.

Jonah brought a few things outside to play with.  One being a headless Thor.  Lovely.

The boys have been obsessed with this seed caster!  They fight over it all the time.  All.  The.  Time. 

This thrown in because Isabella said she thought it was cute.  Jonah sporting Thor's frozen hammer thingie. 

Up and down the driveway. Back and forth.  He said he was Bob the Builder.  The recent rains have made a mess of our driveway and a small part of our dirt road.  The boys were out there trying to fix it.

This yarn made a neat rainbow on one side of the hat.  It doesn't show up too well here.  Oh, well, you'll have to take my word for it.

A walk up the road.  Aubrey pulled me along to let me know he wanted to take a walk.  The sun was shining right over the road.  I thought it looked neat.

Not sure why this picture is rotated that way, but never the less the cuteness factor remains high.

The leaves were glowing with the light behind them.

Between the action and the back lighting I really like this one.

I was trying to capture some shadows.  By golly those boys move fast :-)

Jed was able to wrestle the seed caster away from Jonah for a turn.  He pushed this all the way up the hill.

Aubrey was playing on this wooden beam.

I realized that there are few pictures of me, and I thought I would take one.  I started laughing at some antics of Aubrey.

The boys hanging out.

Aubrey picking up some rocks...

...and then throwing them.  Good fun.

And for some laughs.  I tried to get Jonah to smile a decent smile, and this is what I kept getting.  Silly boy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jed's Cardio Appt.

We had Jed's cardiologist appointment on Friday.  I would have written about it that evening...if our day wasn't a disaster.  Actually, it wasn't a total disaster.  The most important part was perfect!  There is NOTHING wrong with Jed's heart.  Phew!! Big sigh of relief.  This means the ball gets bounced back to endo.  Jed has an appointment with pulmonary this coming week.  I am not expecting much out of this.  Though I am trying to, expect something, that is.  It seems whenever I expect something from an appointment or supplement, or such, nothing comes of it.  Then, when I am totally not expecting anything to come of an appointment or supplement...BAM!  I get hit over the head.  Sooooo, I am trying to at least tell myself to not disregard his coming pulmonary appointment.

The following week is Jed's big endo test.  I am nervous on multiple levels.  Worried on how he will handle the test.  Worried how he will handle the meds they will use to stimulate the pituitary gland.  Worried he won't be able to handle the required fast from food the night before.  And deep down, I'm worried that the test will come back as 'normal'.  At this point I really doubt that is going to happen, BUT the what if's keep coming to my mind.  Don't get me wrong, I really am not looking forward to giving Jed daily injections of a man made product every day for the next 11 to 12 years.  And silly of all sillies?  I'm a wee bit worried that Jed will look like a stranger for a while.  I know that is TOTALLY SILLY.  But just stand in my shoes for a moment.  No matter what Jed looks like he will still *BE* Jed.  But lets be honest, our physical appearances are part and parcel with who we are.  Jed has always been small.  He has always had a large head.  He has always had health issues.  He runs and plays, but definitely not at the same high level as some of his other siblings.  And all of that?  All of that may very well change, and in quick order.

When we had our follow up appointment with our family doctor he made mention that I need to get ready to buy a lot of new clothing for Jed.  He must have said that at least 3 times!  Later that week I read that during the first year on growth hormones that children will grow twice as quickly as those at their same age (not sure if that is time wise, or bone wise).  So if a normal X-aged child will grow 2 inches in a year, the child given the growth hormone will grow 4 inches that same year.  After the first year growth returns to a normal pattern.  Ahhh, so that is why our doctor said what he did.  Seeing as how Jed's normals have been SO low and slow, I'm a wee bit scared to see just how quickly he may start growing!  Ha!  It will be exciting, for sure, but also a little unsettling.  It's taken me a few weeks to get used to Jonah's new slim look.  Again, it's not bad, just different, something to get used to.  I mean Jonah has ALWAYS, from the time he was born, been thick.  Thick all over :-)  ha, ha!  And now he's this, this...slim boy.  So weird.  Jed, Jed has always been skinny, really skinny, pale, short, small everything (just holding his hand in the parking lot today really drove that home, his wrists are SO small)!  Jed has been wearing the same shoes for two years and they still fit!  He wears a size 3T (He is 6 years old).  Most of those 3T's are hand me downs (washed multiple times and shrunk).  On top of that they are being worn by Jed and Jonah, since Jonah is/was the same size.  Jonah is now outgrowing some of them, and in no way will he be able to fit them for next year.  At Jed's current growth rate, he will still be wearing size 3T, at least summer clothing! 

Ok, I am rambling.  I just can't process this next possible phase in our lives with Jed.  And at the same time, I'm afraid we will come up empty handed, staring down another blank road, with no signs, no arrows, no stop signs, or help desks, get the idea.  That is a scary place to be.  We've been there many times, and I don't relish standing there again.

Off to bed now.  I've had a bit of a cold the past couple of days.  Thankfully it hasn't gotten out of control (most of my colds in the last few years turn quickly into full blown sinus infections).  So some good sleep is in order :-)

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Picture Overload

I've jumped back in to taking photos.  Yesterday and today were great days to get outside.  This coming week is going to be even better with lower temps! Yeah!  I decided to put the photos into collages to keep this post from being a mile long...not that that has stopped me before from posting a million pics :-)  It is getting late, so there won't be a lot of explanation to the pics.

Some Aubrey goodness.  Good thing he's so cute.  Seems like I remember saying that before.  He has not been sleeping well the past two days.  You couldn't tell from these pictures!

It's funny what my kids will do willingly, all on their own.  The younger three girls decided to clean the porch.  When they first told me that they were going to do that I figured they were just going to pick up the wayward items that found their way to the porch.  They did do that, and then more!  They scrubbed that porch down till it almost shines!  It's taken them a few days to do it.  They've been doing the floor in sections.  Today the boys got in on the cleaning action.  They used up 3/4 of a bottle of dish soap...the *large* bottle that I buy at BJ's.  People, that's a LOT of soap!

Jedidiah in action.  He looks so much older in that first picture.

Some Jonah love.  I'm not sure how much the cat appreciated the affection :-)  I do believe that the wee tomato Jonah has is our last for the season.  So sad.

Some sensory fun!  I had the very, very old rice that I needed to get rid of.  Before I compost it (or the chickens eat it), I put it in a plastic box and buried some toys in it.  The younger kids had a blast!  Now our very clean porch has rice all over it.  I was going to vacuum it up, but a big storm rolled in before I got the chance.  I did however get the chance to vacuum up a bunch of rice that made it's way out of the bucket when I brought it inside.  Oh, the fun never ends :-)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Doctors Appointments....Round One

Small Note::The pictures in this post have nothing to do with the content of this post :-)

Jedidiah had two doctors appointments, in what seems like may be a string of appointments.   Yesterday was his appointment with endocrinology.  Not quite sure how to put it all on 'paper'.  With a new doctor it was hard reading her.  She did a lot of "Hmmmms" and "Huhs".  But at the end when I asked her what her thought was as to how likely this was an endocrine issue, than say a cardio issue, her response was, "This is an endocrine issue, until proven otherwise."  Our family doctor was in agreement with this statement as well.

Jed's GI doctor had told me at his last appointment, which was this past August, that his growth hormone reading from *last year* was 'a little on the low side'.  Those were his exact words.  That was far from the truth.  The truth was that they were *very* low.  His number read about 34.  For his age, the range started at 100, and I think went to 120?  Not quite sure on that upper number.  But clearly that is far from normal.  The endo doctor said that even if we were to take his bone age (according to his last bone scan), that the low range was 50!  Still well below that level.

I had concerns as to why he was having trouble gaining weight as well, since I thought the growth hormones were responsible for height.  Our family doctor told me that they are responsible for both.  He feels the reason that Jed will gain a decent amount of weight and then stop is due to maxing out his growth hormone.  Hmmm. Ok.  Still odd.  However, a low growth hormone (which he clearly does have, although it would be nice to know WHY) would be responsible for his low blood sugar problems.  That certainly was a concern of mine since he started having problems with low blood sugar while on GAPS.  And that seems pretty hard to do (being low) if there wasn't something going on in his body.  GAPS would/should totally, TOTALLY control your blood sugar. 

Do to the fact that the endo doctor thinks he does have a growth hormone issue she advised that we do the 'all inclusive' test, instead of taking another simple blood draw to get a base line reading.  This way, we kill a few birds with one stone.  This test would be demanded of by insurance before they will agree to cover the hormone injections.  It is more involved as he will have to have an IV and a couple of different meds injected, with blood drawn in between.  The meds would stress his pituitary gland, to see just how much growth hormone it is capable of putting out. 

Today we had Jed's follow up with our family doctor about his chest x-ray.  Our doctor feels that it is NOT asthma.  He said for asthma to show up on an x-ray, it would have to be REALLY, REALLY bad.  Clearly Jed has never had an asthmatic episode.  He feels something else is going on, but to be that swollen he recommends we see a pulmonary specialist.  Ugh.  Now, granted while on homeopathy, Jed's cough went away.  I'm still not sure if it came back while on GAPS, or right after we went off of it.  Either way he just wants to know *why* his tubing is all swollen up.  So another appointment will be popping up on the radar.

That is all we know for now.  He has his appointment with cardiology next week.  I am definitely itching to get to that appointment.  At this point that is the only other possibility, that we can think of, that could be at the root of all of this and I want to see what becomes of it.  If it's just an endo problem, then I do believe we will be going the medical route with the daily injections of growth hormone.  This will be a 10-12 year stint.  I feel at this point we have exhausted all of our natural resources, or they are totally out of our price range.  As such we feel it would be best to do what is possible to help him to grow.  The good news is that if for some reason a more natural route comes about, or we fall into money (wouldn't that be fun!), we could stop the injections.  When I asked our doctor about any negative effects of stopping the injections he said the only one would be he would stop growing.  In other words we would be in the same boat we are in now.  I feel at peace knowing that he wouldn't suffer horribly if we had to stop.  Not that it's not a good thing to not grow, but it's not like a diabetic just up and stopping their meds, which would spell disaster.

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