Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Leukemia: Before, during and After Induction

I wanted to keep a photographic record of my sons battle with Leukemia,  but when he came home from the hospital  life was very difficult.  There were days I did not eat let alone remember to take a picture of him.  But many days I did. What follows is how he progressed from diagnosis to mid induction when the meds were kickin his butt to where he is now in the Consolidation Phase.

Day 1 - When he still seemed like a little boy.

Day 3 - Get the first transfusion. In this picture he is so much my sweet little boy, being silly and  looking so cute. 
Day 8 - First day home and oh so happy.  Soon his smile would be replaced by tears as the hardest part was yet to come. 

This is when it started to get bad.  He was starting to swell, pain would soon have him immobile. 
The day we cut off his hair.  So swollen and bruised. 
A forced smile.  During this time he slept much of the day, and when he was awake he cried.  He couldn't sit upon his own and was left utterly dependent on me.  It even got to the point he couldn't hold a cup.  
On his birthday, the swelling is going away and  hes starting to smile more.

Outside  for a hike, aside from trips to the hospital this is about the first time in 2 month he was outside.  Happy and smiling, hes starting to be his old self.

On a field trip.  Swelling has about disappeared and the pain is gone.  Only residual weakness and hand tremors remain.

Today he is doing great.  His spirits are up.  He is hopeful and encouraged.  He laughs and plays and tries very hard to be independent.  I asked him yesterday if his hand tremors bothered him and he told me, "No. Well only when I play a game and it makes me go somewhere I don't want to."  He never complains.  Not even when he couldn't sit or get himself a drink.

But when it was bad it was bad.  The drugs might save his life, but they tortured him first.  The swelling was incredible.  I will never complain about being swollen during pregnancy again.  And his weakness was humbling.  I watched him try, and fail, at getting a drink of water.  His hand couldn't grasp the cup and it fell to the ground.  He never asked for help, never complained.  And I cried a lot with him because his soul was so strong even when his body wasn't.  He would tell me he loved me and thanked me for my help.

I write this not just so you can have a glimpse of what it is like.  How we manage.  But also so I will never forget how far he has come.

Monday, March 26, 2012

10 Ways You can Recycle While you Homeschool

Recycling should be part of every child's learning not just as good stewards of the Earth but also good stewards of our money. It can help you see the world in a different way.  You start to think outside the box, to use your imagination, to be creative and to get out of the disposable mentality ever present in western society.  Not to mention its really useful and gives the kids something to do.

1. Toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls don't need to be thrown right into the recycle bin either.  They can find new life as a child's project when study the life cycle of a butterfly.

2. Containers from mushrooms and other produce make great Japenese wood block art crafts.

3. Metal cans make great pencil holders or candle holders as part of a lesson on the art of tin punching.

4. 2 Liter bottles can be used for painting during art or a rocket pack during playtime.

5. You can use milk containers for bird feeders.  This is good for entertainment and to learn about the birds in your area.

6. Boxes become shelves (great for storing glitter or paint) or a way to study moon phases.

7. Butter and whip cream containers become planters (or take home containers for food).  Or egg cartons become planters.  Basically anything can be a planter. Great to use when the kids are studying plants.

8. Altoid containers or other tins can become travel toys or crayon holders or whatever you can imagine. These are great to keep in moms purse for the kids to do something while waiting at a doctors office or in line at the bank or pharmacy.

9. Greeting Cards can be hand held fans (ours have come in quite handy since its been warm already), or ornaments or gift boxes.  I like being able to use things again and again and gift boxes are definitely usable again and again.  Would be great for gift exchanges, for putting snacks in to give out during field trips.  I can see making a ton of these for all sorts of occasions.

10. Broken crayons can be recycled into bigger more colorful crayons. I don't know about you, but I have an entire box of broken crayons.

And one last bonus one because I think its very clever - turn last years calendar into this beautiful envelopes for greeting cards.  This is really useful when you are making your own cards.  I think I may never throw anything out again.  Well, maybe some stuff.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kids are honest

About everyone else but themselves it seems.  They have no problem ratting out their brother or sister.  They have no problem breaking your heart by telling you that your breath smells like coffee.  And they really don't mind sharing all the family secrets with perfect strangers.

Take for instance when we went to a second hand office supply store - the kind with furniture not the kind with printers and paper.  The only person there was the one sitting up front.  So of course my 6 year old had to chat her up.  He told her his age, the age of all the brothers that were with us.  Told her that his 8 year old brother had cancer.  Told her, "And the baby isn't even a year yet.  And the big one holding him, hes 45." Well at least he spared me.

The next day when we were in the car coming home from a field trip I could hear the kids in the back talking about something smelling.

Kid 1 - "You smell like grandmas house."
Kid 2 - "That means you smell like old people."
Kid 3 - "Ewww.  I smelled old people before, and they don't smell good."

Not sure which old person they were sniffing, and which grandparents house they were referring too, so not sure who exactly should be offended by that remark.

Not to be outdone by my 12 year old.  She had the best one yet.  The dh went to play poker at a friends and the kids asked where he was.  So of course we had to discuss his playing skills.  I told them I was better, cause I beat daddy.  So my 12 year old said, "Wow, he must be really bad then."  Dang! Burned us both with that one.  Couldn't have been more proud.  Poor thing started to cry, but I reassured her she did great.  She made us laugh and thats a talent hard to come by.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Casa Grande - The Big/Grand House

We had this plan: Go see as many of the State Parks as we can so the kids can collect the badges.  And we all know what happens when you are busy making plans.  Life happened.  After planning for almost 3 months we were finally able to go.

It was a bit odd, being out in the middle of the desert and seeing this Giant home looming in the distance.  Had this been hundreds of years ago when there was nothing else around, I can imagine seeing that come up on the horizon would have struck some fear in me.  And back then it was a compound with a 7 foot high wall around it.  Yea, definitely would have had some respect for the occupants.

If you go: I don't recommend the guided tour.  Sure, lots of great info, but nothing that can't be gotten by some reading.  And frankly the tour guide was boring.  And if I am bored it was really bad.

I can see why they have signs up saying  not to feed the squirrels because these things were tame.  They tried to get into my stroller.  And I didn't even have food! If you haven't been to the dessert southwest by the way, the squirrels here do not look like squirrels.  They look more like Prairie dogs, just teeny.

Before you go visit the website and print out all the handy worksheets (the student exploration booklet is very good) they have for kids.  Build the model out of paper.

We had fun, and its a short trip.  Was not crowded and there was plenty of picnic tables for lunch.  But do remember it is the desert and after between the months of April and October its gonna be really hot.

Now, onto our pictures.

One of the smaller structures off to the side. 

Looking at the Visitors Center from the Big House. 

The Big House. 

Looking in through the door

Walking towards the smaller structure. 

Kids and the Big House....they are trying to hold it up. 

A wittle bitty door. 

Front door stright through to the back door.  Peak  A Boo I see you!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

No Ordinary Life

"I just want to have a normal life."  

"Treat him like a normal kid."

"Do what you do on an ordinary day." 

Since we began our journey with cancer we have heard these phrases a lot.  The drs wanted me to keep pushing ds through school, to act like nothing was out of the ordinary.  Of course pretty soon that was just not happening.  When he couldn't even sit on his own there is nothing ordinary about that.  When he couldn't hold a pencil anymore.  When 2 full days a week are spent at the hospital, any semblance of normal went out the window.

And I realized something.  People like Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Grigori Perelman and other gifted minds and talented people do not and have not led normal lives.  By their very nature they are EXTRAordinary.  Why would we want to be normal or ordinary?  We should all strive to be extraordinary. People like my son have been given a gift of not being normal.  Hes a step ahead of us.  Who knows what paths lay ahead, what journeys he will take because his life is not normal.  I hope he can make the most of it, and those that are close to him can do the same.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

...And then My Heart Melted

My two year old came to snuggle with me on my bed the other night.  I told him I missed him sleeping with me. I asked him if he liked sleeping with me or with his brothers better.  I was hoping he would say he missed sleeping with me too and then I would have to tell the dh that our son had to come sleep with us again, cause he missed us.  But no, instead he said, "Sleeping wid bruvers."  And of course you just have to love how a two year old talks.  So I was already mushy when I said, "Awww,  you like your brothers huh?"  Then he said something I didn't expect and I have no idea where he learned it from - "Yea, they are my heroes."  And then my heart melted.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Comics as a Teaching Tool

Using comics to teach isn't just for those who have difficulty reading and writing, but it is great for those individuals too!  I think, without exception, everyone I know who is really into comics are also rabid readers. There is something about comic book nerds that makes the printed page irresistible to them.  There are so many uses for comic books, like teaching Onomatopoeia. Science fiction has been a mainstay in comics for decades.  But you can learn science from them as well.  Star Trek inspired many an invention, but these are actual comics about actual science.  Or how about a Unit Study for the younger kids - to cover everything from Math to Art. Speaking of Art, keep some of these handy by printing off some blank comic panels for the kids to create their own.  Not so much into drawing?  You can still make your own at Make Beliefs Comix. Turn literature into art, older kids can do a book report of their Literature assignment by making it into a comic strip.

In short chances are if you want to teach it, there is a comic out there that covers it.

Not sure which comics to start with?  Here is a fairly comprehensive list from the Graphic Classroom.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Renoir Fans - Monday Craft

Today we learned about Renoir.  In the spirit of his decorative fans we made some for ourselves.  This craft comes from Classic to Contemporary.  This is a great book to have for homeschoolers.  Remember to give some back ground on Renoir and the type of work he did.

For this project you need paper and crayons or colored pencils.  For older children you can use paint and thicker stock paper.  You can also buy blank hand fans to paint, which might be a good idea if you are doing this with a large group.  It takes some time to fold the fans properly.  So either do it before hand or leave enough time for this part.

Start by folding your fans.  That's the forward, backward folding so you are making it into an accordion.  Once you have folded them, unfold them.  I know, all that work.  But what you want is a piece of paper with the lines on it so you can incorporate them into your picture.

What your kids put on the fan is up to them.  My kids alternated colors, went lighter to darker, wrote their names on it.  There are a lot of examples online if you need to give them some ideas.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Recipe Review: Caramel stuffed Apple Cider cookies

I found these I think on Pinterest.  They look so yummy in the picture.  I love the apple cider in the recipe and buy it in bulk from Costco.  So why wouldn't I make this?

First off, use the parchment paper.  I repeat, USE THE PARCHMENT PAPER.  Second, I used Krusteaz Sugar cookie mix and added the cider mix to it.  Refrigerate prior to baking to best results.  I also used caramel bits instead of the candy kind.  I bet that made a difference.

Use Parchment or your cookies will look like this!
These taste like Candied Apple.  They will stick to your teeth.  Be warned, not for people with crowns. My kids apparently don't like crispy cookies, and they are crispy.  Kinda like a rock.  My oldest liked them, but I don't think she ever met something made of sugar she didn't like.  Needless to say we probably aren't gonna make these again.  They aren't for everyone, but if you like crispy cookies and caramel that sticks to your teeth, have at it!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Celery Roses

Every time I get a stalk of celery I see the beautiful rose I cut off and throw away.  I always vow to make it into something and never do.  Today I just decided to do it.  With stuff all over the counter.  No kids around to show how awesome it is.  Just by myself.  Crazy!  But it was pretty.  Great craft to do with the kids.  You can paint a trellis or some vines, make a pattern.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Art Craft: Kandinsky Circles

When I first saw this I thought it would be an easy way to teach the kids about Abstract Art and Kandinsky.  Then as our year evolved with our art and the time came for this craft, it became even easier.  Instead of the kids folding their paper into 6ths, I figured each child could do their own circle on a piece of paper and then I would assemble it on the wall where we have been hanging our art projects.  We would have a giant reproduction of Kandinsky's Circles!

And if you wanted to get a little more crafty, using an actual canvas and frame and make your own art like this blogger did.  Or you can help your kids out a little by drawing the circles for them to color in.  Be sure to print out his biography so the kids know whose art they are copying!

Be sure to use newpaper on your table! I use paper plates for the paint, easy clean up. And I recycled some apple sauce containers for the water to wash the brushes off.  Don't make the same mistake we did and use plastic cups you later want to drink out of.  Cause the paint does not come off.

Start with a small circle center of the page and work your way out from there.  Changing colors as you go.  You can mix your colors to get a nice variety.

This is a great craft for young kids and older teens.  Use crayons, markers and colored pencils for the young kids and paint for the older ones.

You can do thin circles or fat circles.  Just make sure you fill the whole page.  Thin circles will take longer to fill the page with.

Put all the pages together to make a giant Kandinsky Circles. My 4 year old says it looks like eyes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sharing PDFs for Homeschooling

I have taken the time to make a lot of quizzes and worksheets for my kids for school.  Now I am sharing them with you.  Today I am sharing two that I made to go along with books my kids were reading for school.  Famous Painting - An Introduction to Art for Young People and Adventurous Women.  You can read my review of Adventurous Women here

I have created a yahoo group for this blog.  I have not allowed posting except by me, if you want to share a worksheet you made let me know and I can change the settings.  The PDFs are under the files folder.

Let me know if you liked these or if there is something specific you wanted to see.  Feel free to share on your blog or Pin it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Momma's Ransom Box

Pinterest has once again given me more ideas (I have a feeling my kids are going to grow to hate Pinterest) to help my family function better.  If you haven't seen this or have one yourself, this is a Ransom Box.
 Yea, I know.  Its beautiful.  I used what I had! Stop judging me!  Maybe you will like it more when you see what it started out as:
2 boxes.  The corn oil one had open sides and top.  So I cut that off and I cut off the tabs of the diaper box.  Now the oil box bottom fit perfectly on the diaper box to make a removable top.
I covered it in construction paper and tape.  Then on the lid I taped 2 envelops.  One that read "Take One" and the other that read "Return".

When I find an item left out I place in the box.  When the child discovers they can't find the item they inevitably ask me.  I tell them its in the Ransom Box.  HAHAHAH! My evil laugh.  Now, in order to retrieve said item they have to take a task out of the "Take One" envelope.

Once the task is complete they may have their item.  They also put their task in the "Return" Envelope so that its taken out of circulation till all the tasks are used up and then the pile is moved over to the other envelope.

You definetly need one of these.  Go make one. Right. NOW.  You can thank me later.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Curiosity Cabinet

Now this project would be a fun family project, one that multiple generations could participate in.  One that can be passed down.  A project that never ends.  One that is fun and educational.  One that encourages active participation of all aged students and family members.  A Cabinet of Curiosities.  

When we finally have a place of our own we will get ourselves a locking Curio Cabinet so we can display our very own curiosities.  We might include in it those sea shells we found in the dessert.  I am pretty sure my kids have hoarded pieces of this and that they have found along the way during our adventures.  They can all contribute.  It will be so much fun, I look forward to doing this some day.