Thursday, January 30, 2014

Accepting Help

In MN when I went grocery shopping at the store 7 miles away, they had drive up service. I paid for groceries, took a number, and drove up and they loaded the car for me. When a friend visited she couldn't believe that. This was so handy with little Lambs and also in the winter. Most of the other time when I went shopping Ram and the Lambs were with me to help load groceries.
Since we moved here Ram and I take turns doing the shopping. This has been a benefit of living in the city. Sometimes we all go to Costco together. Sometimes I give him a list and sometimes I go alone. When I go alone I need to load my own groceries.
There is a local grocery store that I like to go on their sale days by myself. They have carry out service. I've found that I've become so used to loading the groceries by myself or having Ram do it that I don't really like help from the grocery employees. Even though this service is offered I don't ask them to take my groceries out unless I have a lot of groceries or I am shopping early in the morning.
Ram's dad laughed at me for shopping on their sale days and suggested that I just shop at a cheaper store and skip the hassle of a sale day. But often these sales are really good and this store has a lot of natural products that aren't on the shelves of the cheaper grocery store. I also choose which sale days are worth it, I skip cereal sale day but go on produce sale day.
I know I could take the Lambs with me, but this store is crazy on their sale days (usually Thursday but sometimes Saturday). I don't really want to have to watch the Lambs, give each Lamb a task to keep them busy, fight the crowds, and choose what to buy all at once. I've found I really like to get up on their sale days and go shopping before Ram goes to work. Not only is it not crowded in the store but when I get home I unload the groceries, make breakfast, and we start homeschool early which means we finish early. I do have to deal with school buses on the way home, but other than that it saves me a lot of time compared to waiting until Ram gets home from work to go shopping. Plus they are usually well stocked in the morning and when I have gone in the afternoon they are sometimes out of a sale item. Today was one of those days and I'm in a good mood to be ahead of schedule instead of rushing to get everything done before speech therapy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Teaching about Bread

It has now become a tradition for Ewe to go teach a short unit on bread to our church preschool each year before they go on a field trip to Great Harvest Bread Company. Last year I did the lesson planning so this year I just went in and taught the lesson. This year's class is smart and asks a lot of questions and had a lot of comments about everything I said. Ram said he has to tell them during chapel to come talk to him at the end of the school day in order to lead chapel without too many interruptions which means he has to be at church at 2pm on chapel days. I wish he would have told me that before I went in to teach today!

First I read a big book of Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris.

Then the students received bracelets with the Bible verse "I am the Bread of Life" and we talked about what that verse meant.

Then I got ready to read The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone.

Before I read the book we talked about all the words in the title. We sang the R-E-D song. I had planned to show the YouTube but Internet was down at church today. So we just sang the song without pictures. We talked about hens are female.

Then I passed out masks for each child to take a part as hen, cat, dog, or mouse. We had a couple of each part besides hen so that everyone could have a part. One of the mouse masks was broken and I didn't have time to fix the string so the little boy made the best of it. Then I read the story and each helped with their part by saying "Not I" or "Then I will".

It was fun to volunteer to teach them today. It was a nice change of routine plus it satisfies that small part of me that wishes I was still teaching in the classroom. A bigger part of me wants to stay home with my Lambs so I'll gladly give them back to their teacher after 25 minutes!

I don't have an early childhood degree and I doubt I will ever complete one, but it is very interesting all the ideas that teachers can get and share with each other on the Internet today. It is so different than when I began teaching in 1996. It was fun to look for ideas of what to do during my short time with this class.

I used this website to create my lesson plans last year and the class last year did more from that website than the class did this year. If this was my class I would go a lot farther with Bible stories with bread in them and especially talk about the bread and wine at Holy Communion.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Lamb 3 was Eeyore for Halloween. We bought this costume used for Lamb 1 several years ago and I ran it through the washing machine. We were so surprised the first time  that he wore it and he found the noisemaker in the hand and made Eeyore talk! (After that I took the noisemaker out when I washed it.) All the Lambs wore it at least one Halloween. When I pulled it out for this year, the battery in the noisemaker was dead. So Ram bought a new battery and it worked fine. I can't believe how many years we got out of this costume and that it was used before we got it before the battery needed to be replaced. This may be the last year that any of our Lambs can squeeze in the costume but we definitely got our money's worth. All my Lambs were adorable in this costume!

I really wanted to post a video of Eeyore talking, but Blogger didn't cooperate. I do have the video to play for Lamb 3 when he is older though!

Monday, January 27, 2014

ID 2014 Pro Life March

Our family planned to go to a Lego event at Barnes and Noble on Saturday. They were celebrating the new Lego movie to be released soon. I had it on the calendar for a long time but I didn't realize we were supposed to RSVP. By the time I made that phone call they were full. The Lambs were very disappointed but I immediately had a second plan. This meant we could attend our Pro Life March!
I attended pro life marches many years in Fort Wayne and also in WI when I was in college. The pro life march was on the other side of the state when we lived in MN so we didn't attend. Since we moved here we hadn't attended.
This was unlike any march I had ever been to before for a couple of reasons: It was held in the capital of our state; people from all over the state came, not just our area; and there were protesters there. I also didn't attend with a group of other Lutherans, it was just our family.
The protesters were unorganized; looked like they just quickly made a sign before we came; and Ram counted 24 of them. We highly outnumbered them. I was struck with the difference of our short words on our signs: Defend Life or We Choose Life vs. their signs with long sayings. Often their signs needed thinking if they were pro life or pro death, not clear like ours. I was very proud of our group- at the capital steps they made a point of thanking the protesters for being there and showing our great country's freedom. The protesters mainly looked like they were college age; our group had every age from infant to senior citizens. Our group had many high school and college age.
Our group was a lot of Catholics, but many other denominations were also represented. The first prayer was done by a Catholic and I appreciated beginning with the Invocation before the March.
I will show some photos that we took here and if you are interested go here to see more photos and a link to a news story.
Ewe and the Lambs waiting for the march to begin.

I want a sign like that!

It was so cool to be in the middle of the group and not be able to see the beginning or the end of our group. We took up one lane on the street for several blocks before the capital. It took a while for everyone to get to the capital steps.

Thank you to all the policemen that made sure we stayed safe.

We stayed for the prayer and a little of the speakers, but it was cold and the Lambs had been good thinking they were going to a Lego event and going to the March instead. I hope that they have memories of doing this March. We went to a local coffee shop for drinks to warm up afterwards.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Our journey with Lamb 2 Part 5

Before Lamb 2 completed his vision evaluation, his behavior improved. He has much fewer tantrums/meltdowns/loss of patience now. Ram and I believe this is because he recognized that we saw there was a problem and were willing to get help for him. He also knows now that he is not crazy in that he can't read yet or do as well at piano as Lamb 1- that he has vision problems. He is a very hard worker at vision therapy, he is putting in the effort because he wants to succeed at reading and playing the piano.

The piano teacher backed way up, put him in a different series of books than Lamb 1, is going very slow, and is teaching him verbally more than expecting him to read the music. This is temporary until his vision improves. But he is so eager to take piano lessons that he would be crushed if we pulled him out until his vision improves. We are so thankful for the piano teacher's patience and recognizing that he needs to stay in piano lessons.

I had a discussion with a lady at church about what we were doing with Lamb 2. She really encouraged me to have sympathy for him being a middle child and give him extra attention. He had to be in such a difficult place when his older brother does so well at piano and his younger brother does so well academically. Plus we expect him to be a little brother to Lamb 1 and a big brother to Lamb 3. Ram is a middle child but as the oldest I never had the viewpoint of a middle child until I discussed this with this lady. Again everything she said reminded me that we are doing the right thing to homeschool Lamb 2 and get him help with vision therapy.

Lamb 2 got a head start on vision therapy because he has been doing OT for the last few months. The optometrist coordinated with the OT the exercises he wanted Lamb 2 to do, especially the primitive reflexes exercises.

All this has worked together into our new daily routine. Lamb 2 has vision therapy twice a week, speech therapy once a week, and occupational therapy once a week. We have exercises to do daily for occupational therapy that are designed for vision therapy. On days that Lamb 2 has therapy or church he eats a big breakfast with lots of protein. We put coconut oil on Lamb 2's back every night after he does exercises. Our family eats limited dairy and gluten. I help Lamb 2 practice piano daily instead of expecting him to practice on his own. Lamb 2 does more phonics at speech therapy and his teacher has changed her approach to his therapy. The speech therapist coordinated what the child psychologist wanted Lamb 2 to work on. OT coordinated what the speech therapist and developmental optometrist wanted him to do. I have modified his school work (see this post to see specifics).

We expect that vision therapy will take care of the majority of Lamb 2's problems. If his vision improves he should learn to read and playing piano will be easier. Then his self esteem will improve. School work should be easier for him. He will be able to read what he wants instead of what Ram and Ewe and Lamb 1 are willing to read aloud to him. Playing ball with the neighborhood kids will be easier. I expect that after vision therapy improvements will snowball for him one after another and perhaps improvements that we can't even imagine yet. We don't know if vision therapy will solve all his problems. We will deal with that when he completes vision therapy if we need to.

I will admit that I was overwhelmed a few times last fall. I felt that with my elementary education degree and classroom teaching experience I should be able to handle more of Lamb 2's difficulties without help. I often questioned if we were doing the right thing with Lamb 2, especially if homeschooling was right for him. I was very afraid of what could be wrong when we first started the evaluations. Time and again God put the right people in my path (even the professionals!) to show me and remind me that we are helping him. I needed to be reminded that the best for Lamb 2 is to have attention and love through all this. If he was in school he would be lost in the system, perhaps made fun of by the other students, and no teacher would give him love and attention like his parents. God was so gracious to reassure me at the times that I needed it. Then I was ready to explain the piano lesson or school lesson to Lamb 2 one more time in a different way or fill out the financial aid forms to get help paying for his therapy. It all turned out better than I could have ever expected-he gets individualized therapy from wonderful therapists.

There is so much more to this story that took place over several months that I tried to sum up in a few posts. It was not an easy or fast process. We are so thankful that God led us through each step in helping Lamb 2. We are so thankful to be in a big city in Idaho that has the resources to help Lamb 2. We know that God will remain with us through this year as we continue to work with Lamb 2.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Our journey with Lamb 2 Part 4

If you've been reading this story then you know that every doctor Lamb 2 saw said he had vision difficulties. The OT evaluation, Brain Balance, and even the child psychologist said this. The OT referred Lamb 2 to a developmental optometrist. She said he is the best in our area and it took the last patient she referred over 2 months to get in to him. Once again, probably due to we homeschool so are free during the school day, Lamb 2 got an appointment in a couple of weeks instead of a couple of months.
The optometrist evaluated Lamb 2 over a couple of visits and then we had a consultation with him. He couldn't do all the evaluation at once because Lamb 2's eyes got fatigued so easily. At the consultation we didn't learn much new, it was a repeat of what the OT and Brain Balance had told us. I'm so glad that we had been told this before and Lamb 2 saw all the doctors he saw so we believed what the optometrist told us. It was so good to see the results so clearly of what his specific difficulties were after being told he had vision difficulties. The evaluation was so complete-not just evaluating reading, but also throwing a ball and walking across the room, etc. Lamb 2 has 20/20 vision but his eyes can't track to read across the page. His eyes also work very hard to focus to read and they get fatigued very easily. It was amazing how they test and compare them to other students their age. Lamb 2 can't catch a ball and I saw this when the OT spent one whole session working on this with Lamb 2. It was clear to me that there are vision difficulties for Lamb 2 that would not be corrected with glasses and something needed to be done to help him or it will get worse for him as he gets older-and even make driving difficult for him some day.
So Lamb 2 will begin vision therapy twice a week now. Unfortunately insurance will not pay for it, but I believe it will be worth every penny. He went twice in December just to see what it was going to be like and then he began his program this month. One day a week is one on one with a vision therapist. One day is a group therapy with one teacher where he does work on the computer that seems like playing video games to him. Because we homeschool and can go during the school day his group is very small and sometimes the teacher spends most of the time with him. Every 2 months the optometrist will evaluate him and hope to see major progress each time. He expects vision therapy to be a 9 month program for Lamb 2.

Once again I'll list our answer to prayers and continue tomorrow.
1. The biggest answer to prayer was that one step led to another and Lamb 2 saw many doctors that all agreed he had vision difficulties. I'm not sure if we would have gone to the developmental optometrist first if I would have seen how necessary vision therapy was for Lamb 2.
2. We have been told that this is the best place for vision therapy in the area and I wouldn't doubt that it is the best place in the state. It happens to be just a few minutes from our house. Twice a week I load every one up, Lamb 2 does his therapy, and the other Lambs and I go to the break room at the doctor's office and do schoolwork. It only takes a few minutes to pack up our books/drive there/ and drive home so our school day is not interrupted much. The staff is already used to us and very helpful to clear off the table for us to work in the break room instead of the waiting room.
3. There were a lot more little parts of seeing this developmental optometrist that I won't list here individually because the first two are so major.
4. It happened to work with Ram's schedule that he was able to take Lamb 2 to every one of these doctor appointments and evaluations. When we got a phone call that we could get in, we didn't discuss what time worked best for us, we took the first available appointment. This is so significant that we were never asked to do it while Ram was supposed to teach Bible class or lead preschool chapel or something for church. He knew in advance early enough to not schedule other appointments. But it was so helpful that I could stay home with the other Lambs while he took Lamb 2 for these appointments. We only needed to find a babysitter when both Ram and Ewe needed to be there for consultations. Ram did tell the elders at church last fall that we were going to lots of doctors for Lamb 2. They were more understanding after his tantrum during church and extra generous with Ram missing office hours at church etc. to take Lamb 2 to the Dr.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Our journey with Lamb 2 Part 3

I need to back up in the story a little. We did take summer break from homeschool and also the Lambs only went to piano lessons once a month this summer instead of every week. After our summer break when we went back to homeschool, Lamb 2 melted down and had tantrums about every other day of school. I had been looking forward to having all 3 Lambs at home for homeschool and the beginning of our time together was a disaster. I had planned to get into a routine of more academics after less academics the last few years due to moving and Lamb 3 being in preschool. It looked like this was not going to work with Lamb 2 disrupting "class" so often.
Also the first time Lamb 2 had piano lessons after summer break, the piano teacher came out to the car to talk to me. She said Lamb 2 had no memory of any of the notes-not treble or bass clef. She honestly didn't know what to do at that point as he was so eager to learn to play piano but seemed farther behind then than he was after a few weeks of lessons.
Because of what happened after summer break I started to see the wisdom of our family doctor in having Lamb 2 see a child psychologist. Our family doctor referred us to one psychologist but he had a very long wait so the scheduler decided to refer us to a different one. When he saw our paperwork he decided to refer us to a counselor that did play therapy. We got a babysitter for Lamb 1 and 3 and took Lamb 2 to this counselor. We were expecting her to evaluate him and she expected to meet him and begin therapy for anger management with him due to his tantrums. Her office had a candle burning that really bothered my allergies. She spoke to us as parents and barely spoke to Lamb 2. When she found out that we both had different expectations of what was to be done with Lamb 2 (us-evaluation/her-therapy) she decided to send us back to the psychologist that we were referred to do some academic testing. She warned us that it takes several months to get into this psychologist. But because she was referring us, we might be able to get in a little faster. We felt so bad that Lamb 2 had to go through that meeting with her when it wasn't really necessary for him to be there. But the good that came out of that was we did get into the child psychologist less than a month later, not a 3 month wait. We also had a very good discussion with her that affirmed all my mommy gut feelings-homeschooling was the best thing for Lamb 2, I could handle teaching Lamb 2 even if he had a learning disability, etc. It was so helpful for a professional to tell me this.
The child psychologist evaluated Lamb 2 and gave a very long academic test. We got a babysitter for all 3 Lambs and Ram and I went to hear the results of his evaluation. He told us Lamb 2 had a learning disability and it would not be impossible for him to learn to read but very very difficult. He told us Lamb 2 was academically behind in almost every subject except for math. He told us Lamb 2 had vision difficulties. He told us Lamb 2 has an incredible memory-he had never evaluated a child with such a high score on this part. He read a story to Lamb 2 and then asked Lamb 2 to retell the story. Lamb 2 repeated the story almost word for word to him. Then he had Lamb 2 do another task. After about 20 minutes he asked Lamb 2 to retell the story. Lamb 2 repeated the story almost word for word again. The child psychologist evaluation was very helpful to rule out autism spectrum and see Lamb 2's strengths and weaknesses.

I'll review God's answer to prayers again here and continue tomorrow.
1. Due to the mixup of who should see him, Lamb 2 got into the child psychologist much faster than is normal.
2. The child psychologist was very helpful and showed Ram and Ewe that vision difficulties are Lamb 2's biggest problem, but it is possible that there is more involved than just vision difficulties.
3. My friend Joelle was so kind to babysit our wild Lambs several times so we could go to all these consultations without the Lambs. It is very difficult to find a babysitter during the school day and we are so thankful for her help.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Our journey with Lamb 2 Part 2

Yesterday I told you that a Looper reminded me that I should make sure there wasn't a medical problem before punishing Lamb 2. I began by discussing Lamb 2 with his speech therapist. She was at a point that she was very frustrated that Lamb 2 wasn't making much progress even after a year of speech with her. She could see that Lamb 2 was not reading yet. She suggested that we have an occupational therapist evaluate him to rule out something like dyslexia. When I spoke to the receptionist to make an appointment, she told me that the beginning of the school year was the worst time for getting an evaluation done and not to be surprised if it took a couple of months. I put him on the waiting list for an OT evaluation.
Next I called our family doctor and explained that we needed a referral for an OT evaluation and I was trying to speed up the process by getting this referral from the family doctor before his name came up on the waiting list. I am so glad I did this over the phone because our family doctor did not have a reaction that I expected. She said she would give the referral for an OT evaluation because the speech therapist recommended it, but she also wanted an evaluation done by a child psychologist because it is not normal for 7 year olds to have tantrums in public. I agreed to this because I thought it was important to rule out something like autism spectrum.
We were so surprised that Lamb 2 got in for an OT evaluation just one week after I put him on the waiting list. After a couple of weeks of evaluation they told us that he did qualify for OT services for a couple of things. His upper body strength was very weak which would make handwriting difficult and he also had vision difficulties. In September he began going to OT once a week for an hour following his speech therapy.
Shortly after Lamb 2 had a tantrum in church we went to an event at the park where there were several booths. The Lambs had fun in all the bounce houses and we walked around looking at everything. Brain Balance was there and caught my eye. We signed up for their drawing. Brain Balance had opened in our town 4 months before this event. Out of the hundreds of people there they picked our name. Lamb 2 won a full evaluation by Brain Balance which normally costs $350+. We went for the consultation after his evaluation. We explained that we were so thankful to hear what they had to say after his evaluation, but we could not afford $5000+ for services from them. The consultation taught us about primitive reflexes and exercises you can do with your child. They also told us that Lamb 2 had vision difficulties. We were not surprised to hear anything they said, but it was good to hear their view of Lamb 2 after evaluating him.
He was evaluated by an OT but after the evaluation he began therapy with an OT assistant. She was thrilled to have a student that was a little older than most of her pediatric patients and do tasks beyond what she usually accomplished with her patients. When he first had therapy with her she was excited because she was going to attend a workshop in a few weeks that focused on OT for dyslexic children. Even though Lamb 2 wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia, she thought this would be helpful for Lamb 2's vision difficulties. She did go to that workshop and was very surprised that the whole workshop talked about primitive reflexes and what exercises to do with them. She ended up being trained to do the primitive reflexes that is a big part of what Brain Balance does. She came back excited to try these exercises out on Lamb 2.

I will continue this story tomorrow, but I want to review the major events so far that I can tell God was with us on this journey and answered our prayers.
1. We got in for an OT evaluation 1 week after he was put on the waiting list even though they told us it would take several months.
2. Brain Balance recently opened in our town and we went to the event in the park when they had a booth there.
3. Out of the hundreds of people at that event we won the Brain Balance drawing for a free evaluation for Lamb 2.
4. The OT assistant happened to be scheduled to go to a workshop that ended up being perfect for helping Lamb 2.
5. We had already met our 2013 deductible so all these evaluations and doctor visits were free to us.
6. Lamb 2 has an excellent speech teacher that keeps trying to present material to him in different ways until he gets it. Now he goes to OT at the same place and the speech teacher communicates with the OT teacher and they work together to help Lamb 2. His OT assistant is young and eager to help Lamb 2 be a success. God has really blessed us with these two therapists for Lamb 2.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Our journey with Lamb 2 Part 1

Lamb 2 is in vision therapy now. I wanted to take a few days to blog about his journey so far.

In April of 2013 Lamb 2 developed a rash on his body, especially his back. We took him to see our family doctor and wouldn't you know when we took him in he didn't have a rash. Some days he had a rash and some days he didn't. We tried eliminating some foods from his diet, probably the most difficult one for him was no strawberries. We changed to free and clear laundry soap. We made sure he only used Burts Bees soap. We took him to an allergist and they couldn't find that he was allergic to anything. We put lotion on him every night and made him take a shower every morning. We still don't know what causes his rash, but it seems to be less when he has low gluten and dairy diet, uses free and clear laundry soap, and takes a shower almost every day. We also began putting coconut oil on his back every night and this is what helped the most. He is still on a low gluten and low dairy diet, but we haven't eliminated all gluten and dairy for him.

While we were experimenting with different foods and trying to figure out his rash, my parents came to visit for 3 weeks in July. My parents almost went home early because they couldn't take Lamb 2's behavior- tantrums, being loud, and meltdowns. I was so embarrassed as the parent of a child with that bad behavior. We did have a busy schedule while they visited-we went to visit Ram's parents, Lamb 2 had a week of sports camp each morning and then a week of all day VBS. He simply could not tolerate this change of routine. I thought it was a combination of his rash and not enough sleep with his busy schedule.

My parents went home and we worked really hard to get on a routine especially of going to bed on time each night. The rest of the summer was difficult to try to stay on a routine in the summer, but Lamb 2 seemed to be fine when we stuck to our routine.

Then the end of August Lamb 2 had a tantrum during church. It was a pastor's wife nightmare that one of their children would behave like this during church. I'll spare you the details but I took him out for most of the service. I was torn between feeling that it was my fault (as a parent I should have control over my children during church) and knowing that I couldn't have done much differently-he was the one that chose to have the tantrum, I didn't do anything that would cause him to have a tantrum (it wasn't like I told him during the service that he was going to have a punishment).

When we got home from church I e-mailed the other Loopers and asked for their advice knowing that many of them are also pastor wives. It was difficult to ask for help because Lamb 2 is 7 years old-it's not like he's having a 2 year old tantrum. Several Loopers e-mailed me both on Loopers and offlist and reassured me that I'm not the only one that has had problems with their children during church. They also gave me some great advice.

1. They encouraged me to make sure Lamb 2 had enough protein before church. When I asked Lamb 2 why he had a tantrum in church, his answer was that he was hungry. So I began asking him what he wanted for breakfast. He answered that he wanted 4 eggs. He ate those 4 eggs plus fruit and other breakfast foods! I simply wasn't feeding him enough before church, never dreaming that a 7 year old would NEED 4 eggs for breakfast. On mornings that he has therapy or church I make him eggs for breakfast. The other mornings he is allowed to have oatmeal or quinoa or a lighter breakfast. But on days that he has something important, he eats eggs. This has helped tremendously.

2. This one is sort of a combination of what several Loopers told me and I made it work for us. When Lamb 2 asks to go to the bathroom during church I now let him go even if it ends up being 3 or 4 times during the 1 hour church service. I know that he is not going to the bathroom all those times. But he simply NEEDS to get up and walk around. Just knowing that he is allowed this, he usually goes once or twice during a service now. When I limited him on bathroom trips because I knew he didn't need to go that often he felt "trapped". This may not work for all families, but this has worked for us. For me it is worth the distraction of him going twice in order to not have a meltdown. He goes quietly and I'm sure most of our members don't even realize he is going twice during a service. We no longer have arguing during the service over whether he really needs to go to the bathroom and how long he needs to wait before going. We will not continue this forever, this is a temporary solution.

3. The last advice ended up being the best. A Looper reminded me that I should make sure there wasn't a medical problem before punishing Lamb 2 for bad church behavior. I will discuss what happened when we pursued this tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Ram's parents

Ram's mom bought a box of New Year's party supplies. We had the right number of men's hats and we had extra women's headbands left over. We watched the ball drop at 10pm Idaho time and sent the Lambs to bed after that. It was one time to be thankful we live in this part of the country!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vision Therapy Progress

I still need to blog about why Lamb 2 is attending Vision therapy twice a week now. I can already see a few glimpses into his progress. I wanted to blog this before I forget where he started. I will try to occasionally blog highlights of his every day life now.

1. Today we worked on a Top Secret Adventure of Spain. (Another blog post I need to do is about Top Secret Adventures that we have recently done.) One page has pictures of 6 people and you need to find five of those people (like Where's Waldo). The one that you can not find is no longer a suspect in the puzzle. Lamb 2 was easily able to find these and when I said one was a suspect, he would rule that out for me because the shoes were the wrong color or something like that. He worked on a similar puzzle (Hidden Pictures) at OT a few months ago. Even when the therapist pointed out where to look, Lamb 2 could not see the Hidden Pictures at all. So this was a good sign that Lamb 2 could find the suspects in the puzzle today even faster than his brothers could!

2. Lamb 2 has been tired and ready for bed at 7pm instead of his bedtime at 8pm. The 7-8pm hour is full of tears and grouchy and just want to go to bed even if we're just reading aloud or doing something calm before bedtime. I spoke to his teacher at VT today about this. She suspects that his brain is processing everything he is doing in VT and now he is doing this every minute he is awake, so that would wear him out. He may also be growing or so much sickness is going around that perhaps he had a touch of a bug. But what the VT teacher said makes sense to me. She said this will continually improve as he does VT.

3. Lamb 2 finished his Saxon Math 2 book. I decided to do some review but not begin the Math 3 book now. I spoke to his VT teacher about this too. With homeschooling we have the luxury to truly go at Lamb 2's pace. Since he is ahead in math we can use this time to focus on therapy and exercises for therapy and continue to work on reading and phonics at a very slow pace. I told his teacher that right now I am expecting quality work from him as compared to before I might have let him finish a paper a little sloppy. But that quality work is much less work than I expected before he started VT. So we work on phonics for 5 minutes 2 or 3 times a day instead of 20 or 30 minutes a day like we did before. I can already see progress in reading rhyming words and phonics awareness in those 5 minutes of hard work that I have not seen before.

This is all amazing to me. I expected to see progress after 2 or 3 months, not after 2 1/2 weeks. His VT teacher said he is a completely different student than the first time she saw him. She said he has always been a perfectly behaved student for her, that the way he follows her directions etc. are so much better than the first time she saw him. I have the unique perspective that I am both his mom and his teacher. It is not just the VT teacher saying this nor just his teacher saying this. I can see it myself both in daily activities at home and his school work. I look forward to seeing his progress after several months of VT!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Laundry Soap

After college I lived at home for a couple of years and used whatever kind of soap my mom bought. When I bought my first house I started buying generic cheap laundry soap. We had t-shirts with our school name on them that we wore once a week. One day I noticed that one of the other teacher's shirts was way faded compared to mine. I asked her what kind of soap she used. She used Tide. That showed me that I never wanted to use Tide, it wasn't worth the cost.
I used coupons to buy some Dreft when I was pregnant. I had planned to save that expensive stuff for just baby clothes. After the baby was born it was easier to wash all the clothes together and no one seemed to be bothered with other soaps. I did find out that Dreft did work well on stains so if baby had a particularly stained up clothes I would throw a capful in with the load. (When they began eating solids, oh how I hated clothes with bananas or avocados on them!) Dreft did smell really good when I used it! I sometimes bought Target brand like Dreft for this. When we moved I donated about half a bottle of Dreft because I used it so infrequently. When we lived in MN I started buying Xtra at Walmart for most of our laundry because that was the cheapest and easiest (only 1 1/2 hours away).
When we began using cloth diapers for Lamb 3, they warned to use more natural soaps, not soaps like Dreft. So I bought some expensive soap online and only used it for diapers. When that was gone I discovered Biokleen free and clear and bought that for diapers.
Last year I decided to make my own laundry soap. I bought the supplies and made it regularly and used it in almost every load. A few months after that Lamb 2 started to get a rash. In a process of elimination I decided to use just free and clear laundry soap, not Xtra, not homemade laundry soap. We still don't know what causes his rash and he still occasionally gets it, but it is less when I use free and clear.
Then I discovered Sun free and clear and it is a little cheaper than Xtra, possibly that is because of living in the West now. I use Sun on almost all loads. I can get Sun at the grocery store, don't need to go to Walmart. I still use Biokleen free and clear on our loads of underwear and socks. Sometimes stores here have Biokleen on sale and I only use a small capful so Biokleen lasts me a long time. I still have lots of the supplies I bought to make homemade laundry soap so I still use that on loads that don't have any of Lamb 2's clothes in them and on cleaning rags.
What do you use for laundry soap?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lamb 2's Day

We couldn't believe that a name similar to Lamb 2's name came up the same week as Ewe's name day at Flying Pie Pizza. We asked if names had to be exact and they said as long as they weren't busy they would let Lamb 2 participate. It ended up that the employee that helped Lamb 2 had the same name as Lamb 2 so he was extra generous and extra patient. They did end up being busy when we went, but not with others that had the same name so Lamb 2 was able to make his pizza. He chose as many different kinds of cheese and toppings as he was allowed. It was a really good pizza and both Ram and Ewe broke their diet to have some. But we have all had too much pizza this week and we can see in Lamb 2's behavior that he had too much gluten, so we'll be eating at home mostly gluten free again now. Thank you Flying Pie Pizza for two great It's My Name Days this week!

Lamb 2 chose the St. Nick hat that Lamb 3 chose last time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Free books

We lived here almost 2 years before I found out that ID Youth Ranch thrift stores give each child a free book on each visit and after they read 5 books then they get a prize. They get to keep the books after they read them. We have taken the Lambs for books twice now. The first time we managed to pick up almost $30 worth of treasures along with their free books. The second time we just bought one book priced 65 cents along with their free books. It makes everyone in our family really happy to get free books!

The first time Lamb 2 chose a book that was great for his reading ability with lots of phonics. The second time Lamb 2 chose a beautiful picture book about Lassie. When we began reading it, the Lambs didn't want to stop after one chapter. Lamb 3 has picked some books that were not classics, but they were free so I didn't mind and after we read them once then they will be donated. He is starting to notice that Lamb 2 has chosen differently. Lamb 1 chose different books each time, the second time he picked a Boy Scout manual and we began reading it together. It's not going to work for them to be in Boy Scouts here, but that doesn't mean that they can't read about and learn some of the skills that Boy Scouts learn.

I love treating the boys to a book without spending any money and I also get a few minutes to browse the thrift store looking for treasures. Do you have a thrift store with a similar deal?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

LCMS Missionaries

I was surprised to see an poster advertisement asking people to consider being an LCMS missionary in the last Reporter. I thought about it and the last time I remember LCMS asking people to be missionaries was when I was in college, so about 20 years ago. It seemed like after that they brought missionaries home, didn't send more out often.

A Looper that I never met but I feel like I know her because I communicated with her so often is now in Papua New Guinea with her husband who is a pastor. Yesterday another Looper announced that her husband accepted a Call to be a missionary, probably in Southern Asia. She is one that I do know, I have met her and our kids have played together at a conference and I sent her cloth diapers/maternity/baby items when we were done with them.

It's both exciting that Loopers have been Called to be missionaries and sad that we won't see them at conferences and other LCMS events in the near future. It's exciting that we know someone to send our dollars to specifically and sad that they live so far away. I am so thankful that LCMS has their finances in control enough to send missionaries again. I know that all Loopers will have extra prayers for our Loopers that are now missionaries because we can pray for them by name.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's Ewe Day Today!

Actually it was yesterday. Thanks Flying Pie Pizza. I don't know which was more fun, getting my name chosen or making my free pizza! Now the Lambs hope you choose their names soon too. It was interesting that all the others that participated while I was there were brunettes, except blond haired Ewe.

Lamb 2 and 3 wanted to wear hats too even though they didn't make a pizza.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Our house

This month is the two year anniversary of buying our house. When we planned what room would be what we planned something well without even realizing it. Our laundry room is across the hall from the Lambs' playroom. It is so handy to throw Legos and other Lamb treasures across the hall after I find them in pockets while doing laundry!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New sheets!

Grandpa and Grandma gave the Lambs new sheets and blankets. This was one of their favorite Christmas presents and it was easy for Ram's parents to go online to buy. Lamb 1 and 2 got Star Wars and Lamb 3 got Lego Ninjago as requested. (Ignore their messy room after we returned home from Grandpa and Grandma's.) The Lambs are still talking about how happy they are that they each got their first choice of sheets and blankets.
Grandma also gave each boy a small box like the one by Lamb 3's bed. Especially Lamb 3 enjoyed putting all his little gifts in it after we opened presents. Some of their gifts were small like mints and Lego minifigures. Lamb 3 received a small enough Lego set that after it was built it fit in his box. He enjoyed looking at his treasures/playing with his Legos on the ride home from Grandpa and Grandma's. It was a good reminder to me that sometimes it's not the gift that is as fun for the child as the box! Lamb 3 did not ask for a huge Lego set, he wanted a small one that he could easily build and play with right away. Children do not always want bigger and more expensive. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Perfect and not coincidence

My grandma always trusted God. Before she died her children were getting concerned that she was out of money and how were they going to pay $4000/month for the nursing home? She died one month after this concern was serious. When my mom paid her bills at the end her fiances came out almost perfect-not owing any money. This is amazing for a woman that was a widow in her 40s and had 3 children to raise as a single parent. I do believe that God organized that for her and the financial organization went back for years-perhaps due to her clipping coupons for groceries it helped her finances come out at the end of her life. We didn't think she received nearly enough money for her house when it was sold. But it turned out to be the exact amount she needed at the end of her life.
We had quite a few bills due the beginning of the month. Some were quarterly bills like our housing association fee, some were annual bills like our two car licenses, and some were regular bills. I didn't do a lot of Christmas shopping but I bought some extra groceries for the holidays and stocking treats. I donated online to a few organizations we wanted to support before the end of the year and those came on our credit card bill. All this added up to my reluctance to sit down and pay those bills. I really did not want to take money from our savings account so we had money to pay for Lamb 2's vision therapy.
Ram did receive a small Christmas bonus from the members of the congregation. We received very nice gifts for Christmas but none of our family gave us cash.
I sat down and paid those bills and I had $100 left in the checking account. That was a good amount to pay for piano lessons and have cash until the next payday. This was amazing to me. The members donated the exact amount we needed for Ram's Christmas bonus and I donated the exact amount to charity that we could afford.
I was still doubtful and thought that as soon as I mailed those checks we would open up the mailbox and find another bill due. We received our first bill of 2014 yesterday, no bills for 8 days! This bill will be due after Ram's next payday.
I hope that this post doesn't come across as complaining about our personal finances or bragging about Ram's Christmas bonus. We are blessed that most of the time our finances aren't this tight. I just had to share that I don't believe the finances coming out perfect for us is coincidence. I do believe that God organized all this for us. That organization involved a lot more than just Ram and Ewe.
Isn't it neat to see God at work even in our every day tasks? It's such a good reminder to thank God and trust Him in all areas of our lives.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lamb 1's Funny

I tried a new recipe for Paleo bread. It turned out delicious but it didn't rise very much. I did follow the recipe and put a pan of water in the oven below the bread, also beat the egg whites separately and added them at the end. I'm not sure if it was supposed to rise more or if I just didn't make it right. It was delicious any way. It was so good to have a piece of bread with homemade jam from my picking blackberries last summer.

So while I'm cutting the bread for snack time, Lamb 1 comes up and says, "Mama, did you put shortening in the bread?" I thought for a minute and said, "No, there is no palm shortening in the bread, just coconut oil". Lamb 1 answered, "Oh, the bread is so short, I thought there was shortening in it!"

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The twelfth day of Christmas

Stockings today: Lemonhead candy that the Lambs requested
We are done with stockings this year, but I still have some treats left so they will be saved for rewards when the Lambs do well at therapy or if they do well waiting on their brother during therapy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming.

Twelfth day of Christmas treat: I plan to make muffins today as drums. I have lots of Paleo muffin recipes. I'm not sure which ones I'll make yet.

Today is Ram's long day of work and won't be home until almost the Lambs bedtime. Today is the rare day of the week that we don't need to leave the house all day. We received about an inch of snow last night so the Lambs are looking forward to finishing school and playing outside this afternoon. I can't control the weather but it sure is good motivation to get school done for the Lambs when it does snow! Since we don't have any where to go today, I'm going to try to get caught up on some housework while the Lambs play outside.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

Stockings today: Lamb 1: small snowglobe that was on clearance
Lamb 2 and 3: camo bandaids

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping.

Eleventh day of Christmas treat: Paleo breadsticks

We have a busy day today with vision therapy for Lamb 2 and piano lessons too. I don't see time today to try a new recipe for breadsticks and I'm sure the Lambs would want a whole meal like spaghetti to go with the breadsticks. For some reason they like to eat! We will save this treat for this weekend.

Last weekend we did make the Paleo onion rings for the 5 golden rings and they turned out delicious!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The tenth day of Christmas

Stockings today: Today is Epiphany but we are celebrating the tenth day of Christmas. The Lambs received gifts they asked for the last time we went to the ID history museum.
Lamb 1: a small bottle of real gold
Lamb 2 and 3: small wind up music boxes

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords-a-leaping.

Tenth day of Christmas treat: Gingerbread baked in gingerbread men cake pan with Paleo maple cinnamon frosting. It really is Paleo! I couldn't believe the frosting was fluffy and sweet without putting any sugar in it, just maple syrup. I thought of making gingerbread men cookies, but the Paleo recipe said it was difficult and sticky. I was so glad I chose this, the cakes came right out of the pan! The sprinkles and M&Ms are not Paleo, but when I left the buttons off, the Lambs had a fit and said they needed buttons. I've owned this pan for about 10 years but never used it before. This Paleo recipe was so easy that I think I will be using this pan every Christmas now.

Today unlike many parts of the country we do not have a snowstorm so we are back to regular schedule. Lamb 2 has vision therapy, Ram is back to work and a church meeting tonight, and we are back to homeschool. I also want to watch Antiques Roadshow tonight, it was recorded in Boise last summer.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Ninth Day of Christmas

Stockings today: By their request, each Lamb received new pencils and plain paper for their art store. Grandma often gives us pencils and I get paper at Staples free with a rebate so today was easy. I'm hoping now they don't come to me asking for paper all the time either.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing.

Ninth day of Christmas treat: Today I needed to be creative. I tried to think of what kinds of foods would be served at a dance for ladies. Lamb 3 loves egg salad and asks to have it often. So I decided to serve egg salad for day nine.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Eighth day of Christmas

Stockings today: Reeses Pieces for each Lamb

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love sent to me eight maids-a-milking.

Eighth day of Christmas treat:

I bought two cartons of this shortly after Christmas. I tried to buy some more yesterday but they were sold out and it is a holiday item. I may try another store today because the Lambs loved it. They are big on mint and Lamb 1 loved a dairy free version of chocolate milk. We all tried some of the first carton and I'm rationing out the second carton for just the Lambs. Since we know about this product now we can begin looking at the store for it earlier and enjoy this treat all month next Christmas.
All of us except Lamb 1 have enjoyed several cartons of eggnog (organic so no HFCS, but not dairy free). All of us have tried several kinds of milk to make hot chocolate, almond milk and coconut milk were new to us, rice milk and cow's milk like we have done before. Each of us have a preference for what kind we think makes the best hot cocoa. Ram's mom gave us some fancy marshmallows "homemade" from her town and also some regular marshmallows for the Lambs. Even Lamb 1 was willing to try hot chocolate when it was dairy free. We have also put whipped cream leftover from crepes in our hot cocoa.
So we ended up having lots of different kinds of milk treats for several of the 12 days of Christmas to celebrate the 8th day of Christmas.

Plans for today: Today Ewe invited a friend from church and they plan to attend a Downton Abbey party at Barnes and Noble. Ram's Christmas vacation ended with a meeting planned for church today. The Lambs continue to play and enjoy their vacation.

Seventh Day of Christmas

I didn't get this posted yesterday, but we did celebrate the 7th day of Christmas!

Stockings today: Lamb 1: light up battery toothbrush
Lamb 2: 50 state song battery toothbrush, he asked if he could have one like Lamb 1 instead. I bought extras because I expected this. I was disappointed no one wanted the 50 state song toothbrush.
Lamb 3: Pooh battery toothbrush that he liked!

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans-a-swimming.

Seventh Day of Christmas treat: one scoop vanilla Coconut Bliss on a plate of paleo carmel sauce with chocolate chips for the eyes. I thought of lots of other variations for this, but I wanted to try to make the paleo carmel sauce. It was very sweet. Some were scooped better than others for our family, but they all tasted good.We have lots of carmel sauce left that needs to be used in the next two weeks-yum!

Today we enjoyed one of our last days of vacation. Ewe did a little grocery shopping. Ewe went to scrapbooking this evening. Ram made more crepes and we had crepes and lingonberries again. Ram wrote his sermon for Sunday while Ewe was at scrapbooking. I am treasuring these relaxed days before our schedule is busy again next week.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sixth day of Christmas

Stockings: These trees from the teacher store. They turned out neat and were a fast and easy project for the Lambs.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a laying.

Sixth day of Christmas treat: deviled eggs

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings.

Fifth day of Christmas treat: paleo lemon bundt cake
We left after church on Sunday and visited Ram's parents and celebrated Christmas and New Year's with them. Ram's mom made this paleo lemon bundt cake for breakfast which worked well for the fifth day. I still want to make paleo onion rings, but that will be another meal.
We had a nice visit and returned home about 6pm last night. Ram and Ewe worked most of the evening to put gifts away, get laundry going, put leftovers in the fridge, unpack suitcases, etc. Ram's mom sent us home with lots of leftovers which makes the end of our vacation nice to not have to shop or cook much. Today the Lambs cleaned up their play room and put their new games and Legos away.
Much of today the washer and dryer were going. I like to wash new clothes before we wear them, especially to try to prevent Lamb 2 from being allergic to them. Many of the new clothes were different bright colors that needed to be washed separately. We all received several new t-shirts and a few new clothes. Each of the Lambs received new sheets and blankets, which ended up being one of their favorite presents. I will eventually blog pictures of their new bedding and some of the t-shirts. Even after going through the wash their sheets still smell new, I ran their air filter today to try to cut some of that smell down. The Lambs were very eager to make their beds this morning!
We also received several new books so I'm busy cataloging them in our family library, deciding which ones should go to Ram's office at church, and deleting those that were on our Amazon wish list. Ram took over putting away the new movies we received. Most are for the Lambs for homeschooling in a few years; they may surprise me and watch them sooner.
Today I had an appointment with an ENT Dr. For the last couple of years I have had trouble with wax in my ear, a nurse cleans it out in the dr. office and then it bothers me in a few months again. I had wax right against my eardrum so I got sent to the ENT. Unfortunately they couldn't fit me in before 2013 ended so I'll be paying for this visit with our new deductible year. But he was able to get the wax out and it is sore but feels better already. After a couple of years of discomfort it is worth paying for today. The ENT Dr. recommended that next time I have trouble I come back to him with a microscope and suction instead of irrigating with water in the dr. office. The Dr. was surprised that was all I came in for, he said it was the shortest appointment ever!
Lamb 1 had his last mayor's book club tonight. We chose to not sign up for the next session. We may do it again in the fall, but he needed a break from a commitment to read a book we did not choose and attend a meeting once a month. It was very foggy and I was glad Ram was able to take Lamb 1.
Due to our few days away we are behind on our 12 days of Christmas foods, but we will celebrate all the days and I will blog about them even if it ends up being after Epiphany.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The fifth day of Christmas

Stockings today: The store had a deal on the new Butterfinger peanut butter cups. They were worth a try for 10 cents each. All 5 of us received one in our stocking. Even Ewe got something in her stocking today!

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings.

Fifth day of Christmas treat: Paleo onion rings or my dad suggested pineapple rings

Photos will be added later, I'm enjoying my vacation from teaching and chauffeuring this week and I'm glad to post this much today!