Friday, April 3, 2015

Weekly Homeschool & Life Wrap-up 4/3

I'm starting this week's wrap-up with gratitude. Most of all, I'm so very thankful that He is Risen, and he calls me his daughter. Thank you, Jesus!

I think it was Ann Voskamp who coined the phrase "hard hallelujah". It means giving thanks for something that has added pain or discomfort to our lives. In offering these affairs up with our joyful hallelujahs, we in a sense put them at the foot of the cross, to both be healed and bring glory to God.

It's also a discipline, an obedience, because God commands us in Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Some hard hallelujahs:

~ This picture, taken yesterday, represents the weather and the morning mood around here for some. I had considerable difficulty getting through Mary's reading lesson because of this gray sky and the 40% chance of thunder and lightening. I was kind, but after reminding her of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness, and pointing out all the blessings we enjoy from the rain, I firmly told her she couldn't stop doing her schoolwork every time the sky looked gray--which in Ohio is frequently, although it ain't exactly England. The saying around Northeast Ohio is that if you don't like the weather, wait an hour. It changes frequently.

~ Paul has been having somewhat frequent skin infections, despite daily showers and my use of ointment on cuts. He cut his lip outside two days ago and today it has signs of infection. Because of the frequency of his infections--all of which clear up with a prescription ointment and frequent bandage changes--in the back of my mind I can't shake the thought of diabetes type 1, which is auto-immune. While it is rare for a second child/sibling is get the same autoimmune disease, it is less rare for a sibling to get a different autoimmune disease. If you have the marker in your genes for autoimmunity--and my kids obviously do, or have the potential to, considering their sister's autoimmune arthritis--then you could at some point in life develop one of the many autoimmune disorders.

Type 1 diabetes is not a hereditary disease like type 2, but genes play a part in autoimmune disorders, as they did in Beth's juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I have two aunts and at least one cousin with autoimmune disorders. It is thought that the genetic potential, along with acquiring a virus to trigger the autoimmune response in your cells, are what precede the development of autoimmune diseases.

Moreover, it's common that your relatives may have a different autoimmune disorder than you end up with. One aunt may have MS, another aunt fibromyalgia, and then you could get type 1 diabetes, or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, for example. And it's common that autoimmune disorders come in twos in a single person.

It isn't just your typical cold virus that triggers the autoimmune response, but more the pain-in-the-arse viruses, like coxsackievirus B, cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, rubella, and mumps.

Paul's BMI is only a 15, so he's at the border for being underweight--barely reaching the fifth percentile for BMI, although he's eating well. He's also more thirsty than my other children, and needs to snack more frequently. This disease develops slowly, but when all of a certain cell has been destroyed in the body, the symptoms seem to come on abruptly, giving the illusion that the onset was sudden.

This has been on my mind for several months, and it's time to schedule a physical for him and just ask for the simple blood glucose test to put these thoughts to rest. None of my other children have dealt with infected cuts or wounds or mosquito bites. and none of the others have had trouble gaining weight to keep up with their heights, except for a period of low weight for Beth, because of her disease. She is now at a healthy weight.

So, the knot in my stomach formed with Mary's tears and Paul's issue, and my mind wandered to the long, long, spring, summer and early fall we would experience if Mary's storm anxiety doesn't improve, and if Paul gets more skin infections.

The Lord reminded me...if you find your children's behavior stressful, wait an hour. It changes frequently.

And yes, it did. We got through Mary's reading lesson and she perked up and calmed down. I find, though, that my stress level doesn't calm down as soon as their moods do. There is a lingering effect that exhausts me, which is my problem to give to the Lord. The answer almost always is to count my blessings.

Easy Hallelujahs

~ Beautiful kids growing in the Lord

~ The Risen Lord to celebrate and give thanks for

~ Peter began a new OCD medicine earlier this week, and it began giving him relief within two days...Praise the Lord. Could be the placebo effect; I'll know more soon. The Prozac had stopped working after nearly three years, and so he now uses Zoloft, as recommended by the International OCD Foundation. It works on the serotonin balance so the brain's anxiety response calms down, and the patient can work on the therapy techniques being taught. Without medicine, many sufferers find the thoughts and the anxiety they cause are just so strong, they can't employ therapy techniques.

~ I encouraged Mary to go outside and face her storm anxiety (it was just lightly raining). She promptly found a frog to befriend, which cheered her up considerably and reminded her that God loves her and delights in blessing her. She was rewarded for facing her fears.

~ The bread baking is going well and is blessing my family.

~ Beth was supposed to have her eye surgery yesterday, but the cold she caught required a postponement. I list this as a blessing because I had prayed that the doctor would be at his absolute best on the morning of her surgery, which probably wasn't going to be the case and God knew that.

~ Paul loves Kahn Academy and is proving he's quite the self-directed learner. He's the best kind of student for unschooling, which I think works best with kids who don't need to be systematically taught. It isn't really Mom's philosophy which should dictate homeschooling methods, but more the kids' individual learning profiles. Paul has basically taught himself for years (using Sonlight and library books) and in doing so he's been able to work a couple years ahead of his grade level. That would never work for others in this house, though this week, because the kids were sick, I let them concentrate mostly on their interests and their library picks, since the usual stuff is harder to get through when you're a bit under the weather.

~ I love being with my kids, despite the difficult issues.

~ Peter is working very hard in planning his garden, and I've noticed that his ability to plan, organize and prioritize are being sharpened by the process. Gardeners are either planting or planning, all year long. It is detailed work, Peter is finding.

Update on bread making:
The instant yeast, also known as bread machine yeast, has yielded great loaves for us this week. I continue to bake one loaf a day, using the bread machine on just the dough cycle, which mixes it, kneads it, and lets it rise once. I then punch it down, get the air out, and shape it, put it in a sandwich loaf pan, and let it rise another 45 minutes to an hour. It then bakes 26 to 30 minutes, depending on the flour. White albino whole wheat takes 26 minutes, but regular whole wheat needs 30 minutes.

Halfway through the week I switched from albino white whole wheat to regular whole wheat, and found that the dough was stickier and needed another two T flour, and that the baking time increased by 4 minutes too. 

I am learning not to over rise the bread. It is supposed to be one inch over the pan measured at the highest point of the loaf. You are supposed to use your finger, from the tip to the first knuckle. The above picture is just about right, maybe a tad over, but the picture below is definitely over-risen, as you can tell by that stretched look. 

This was the best loaf and quite delicious. Once this week the bread had a hole in it, kind of like a cave. I learned that this can occur if you don't punch out all the air holes after the first rise. It's a good idea to use a rolling pin to go over it before shaping it.

I also learned that my water should be between 95 to 115 degrees for the best results (I started using a thermometer). If some of your ingredients are kept in the fridge, then the higher end water temp is better. The final dough product temperature is important, to ensure the yeast will work and you'll get the rise you need. I keep the flax seed, the vital wheat gluten, and the yeast in the fridge (as specified on the packages), so the warmer water ensures my final dough product is warm enough.

Last weekend the kids woke up to their Easter buckets. For the first time, they got socks and underwear, colored pencils and pads, and less candy. We give the buckets a week early so as not to associate Easter too much with bunnies and eggs and presents. We'll color eggs today, however, because the weather is the best for an outside hunt this afternoon.

We did do reading lessons this week. Mary learned about the uses of /aw/ and /au/, and the boys are reviewing the same thing in spelling. The yellow cards are the phonogram cards, and on the back is what the children need to memorize about the sound. For example, the back of this card states that /aw/ may be used at the end of English words (or in the middle). /Au/, in contrast, can't be used at the end of words because English words cannot end in a "u"

Peter did a lot of baking these last two weeks. Here are his cheese/whole wheat crackers. They were too rich and most of the kids couldn't eat them, but it was a valient effort. He also tried rolls but they didn't rise properly. He will try those again soon. Paul made pumpkin muffins, which all enjoyed.

Peter used his time to spot read several library books about Ohio gardening. He keeps notes about each type of plant and is keeping a calendar to help him remember when to plant which seeds. It has taken him time to become this organized, and I am very proud of him. This is where project learning really benefits kids. They learn to solve problems and prioritize and organize, and pace themselves as well. The goal is highly motivating for him, so he's working through the executive function issues caused by his ADHD.

I am finding that if I give them days to pursue their interests, or just enjoy their library picks, then we actually save money on curriculum because our curriculum will then last longer than a year, and the delight directed learning days help round out their education and their skills. The switch from curriculum days to library material days, or delight-learning days, does not seem to bother them because I keep a structure in place. Without that structure, things fall apart quickly around here.

Paul is determined to study each president of the United States, and the politics surrounding their presidencies, and on library days he goes full throttle with this. Often, too, he does it after school or on weekends. He studies geography too, using various library resources.

Paul and both my girls wanted me to buy them more fabric, put I'd already spent my limit on school supplies, so when I went through the spring and summer clothes this week, I gave them some pieces to work with that weren't good looking enough to give away, but still plenty nice for sewing. They were absolutely thrilled and Mary said, "This is the best day ever!" Mary and Paul taught Beth to use a needle without poking herself, so she can do simple things now. Paul helps her cut the fabric. She makes stuffed dolls and now, between the three of them, I can't keep cotton balls in the house.

It warms my heart to see them relaxing and working together this way, while I'm off washing and drying their clothes and making their meals and their daily bread. Paul is such a blessing to me and he loves the interaction with his siblings.

Peter does very little sewing and prefers his gardening passion, and more recently too, composting.

Threading a needle.

That's our week, with its numerous joys and its low points as well, emotionally and physically. Life is beautiful, full, and if you don't like it one hour, wait an hour. Things will look brighter, thanks to our Heavenly Father, who is full of grace and loves blessing us!

Happy Easter!

Weekly Wrap-Up


Tesha Papik said...

Praying Paul's skin infections clear up and it turns out to be nothing! I love the concept of the hard and easy hallelujah, that how real life is. That's a good idea to give baskets a week early so that Easter is just focused on Christ, also Easter morning is so busy getting ready for church! I replied to your question about my mother-in-law to the email that's on your blog, I know you don't check it often. I need to get your regular email address in my contacts. I hope you have a blessed Easter and a wonderful weekend!

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

Was someone a Peter, Paul & Mary fan?? LOL! Hoping a blood test gives you some answers for your son. Medical stuff is no fun, but *knowing* is better than being worried.

Christine said...

Peter, Paul and Mary fan, yes. :) These are their blog names and I liked that they were also Christian names. I am heading over to meet you at your place. Thank you for stopping by!