Friday, July 31, 2009

Don't Sweat It

The other day, my friend commented how she always has her air conditioner set at 78 or 79 degrees. Are you kidding me?? Do you know how hot it is outside?! She said that she had weened herself away from air conditioning, because it makes you think it's hot when it really isn't. Hmmm. I had to think on this for awhile, because I was pretty sure that I was roasting!

But the more I thought on this, the more it made sense. We keep our air conditioning at 74 degrees at all times. But, there have been times, even in the summer, that I find I am looking for a sweater or putting on shoes or long pants, because I am a little chilly. Hmmm. Had to think a little more on this.

I decided to try and experiment. (We are homeschoolers, after all, so we experiment with EVERYTHING!) I decided to try raising the thermostat by just one degree and see how unbearable it became in the house. Much to my amazement, the day went by and I hardly noticed the difference in the temperature. I did this for 2 or 3 days, and then decided to go up again by one degree. This time, I have noticed a bit of a change, but not really in a bad way. I now notice that I'm comfortable, and I'm not looking for a sweater in the middle of the summer!! The house isn't unbearable and it isn't stuffy. So in another day or so, I will raise the thermostat once again by one degree and see if I notice a difference.

I know by now most of you are probably thinking I'm not thinking clearly - probably due to the heat! But before you write me off as a little loopy, think of this. Entergy has proven that each degree below 78 increases your bill by as much as 3%. Wow! Just from moving my thermostat from 74 to 78, I will be able to see a HUGE savings on my electric bill. And I ask you, who doesn't need to save money in that area?

So my challenge to you is this. Try adjusting your thermostat by just one degree, and see if you notice a difference. Experiment with this for at least a week before calling it quits. You will be helping out your environment by not using more energy than you really need, and you will be saving a great deal of money in the process. Money, I might add, that can always be put to use in some other way in these hard economic times.

I would love to hear from you after your experiment and see how well you made out!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rainy Days

Don't you just LOVE rainy days?? They are so peaceful, and the world looks so new and fresh. And for us, these are the days of great learning. Since we can't go outside, today has proven to be a great opportunity to do a few of these great learning activities that I have been putting off because of one thing or another. Here are some of the pictures of what we've been doing on this great rainy day!

First things first. I had to find something to keep my 3 year old occupied. I knew I kept that Light Bright for a reason!

So this morning, out of the blue, my little man asked me if he could pull down the Allosaurus model that I have on a top shelf. We put it together probably 2 years ago, put it back in the box, and it hasn't come down since. So, having nothing else planned for today, I pulled it down, dusted it off, and he went to work. With only a very little help, he put it together and had a great time!!

A few years back, I purchased a chemistry kit from a garage sale for $1.00. I thought that was a pretty good investment, and it would keep until Big Sister was actually old enough to do it. But much to my dismay (and aggravation), she began pestering me almost immediately to pull it out and do some of the experiments. She was about 5 at the time - not old enough for chemistry. But today was the day. She's 9 now, much more able to focus what she's doing, and still chomping at the bit to do some experiments. But we started slow. In chemistry, like most other things in life, you start simple and build on that. So Big Sister and Little Man are looking through and examining all the tools that came with this kit. (He got bored VERY quickly and went to play!)

There was a balance scale included in this kit. Before we could go any further, Big Sister had to spend a little time putting this monster together. But after putting the pieces together, it wouldn't weight correctly. So she had to read the directions on how to zero out the scale. Then she was able to begin weighing things. (I'm still not crazy about that thing. It keeps getting "off". So I'm thinking of finding her another balance scale that actually WORKS!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Mirror Image

Isn't it interesting how, in most aspects of this life, we are mirroring God and His plan for His children? Today, I am reminded of that in everything I do.

As I hold a little one, I think of how God delights in holding me. In caring for my sick children, God cares for my sicknesses - physical, emotional, and spiritual. While I teach my children the things they need to know in this life, it reminds me of how God teaches me about Himself and His will. Just as I clean up the many messes my children make each day, so God cleans up the messes I make in my life.. He washes them away, making a clean working area in which to start again. Through my baby's hurtful pinching and biting, I think of the many times I have hurt God. All day long, I chase after my children, just as God chases after me, relentlessly, over and over, time and again, and He brings me back from where I do not need to go. Even as I punish a screaming fit from a child, it causes me to think of how The Almighty Himself loves me enough to discipline me when I disobey. Just as God never ignores me or any of my needs, I must remember to never ignore my children or their needs. When my children crawl into my lap to sit with me and enjoy each other, so I have a Heavenly Daddy that wants me to crawl into His lap, sit for awhile, and just love on Him. And He always has time to love on me.

In this life, I am the example of God for my children. It is my walk that teaches them how great His love is, how He wants them, how He longs for them. May I walk worthy of Him.

Colossians 1:10a

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Confessions from a Banker

Cord blood banking is a relatively new concept in health care. The short version of the science behind it is this. When a baby is born, the doctor pulls the blood from the umbilical cord, stores it in vials, and ships it off to be cryogenically frozen for an indefinite amount of time, until the recipient determines it is needed and uses it for a medical necessity. This is a very costly process - several hundred dollars up front, and then the yearly storage fee of $95.00. But scientists claim that they are making great progress in the use of cord blood as an alternative to treat many different diseases.

That brings me to my story. Eight and a half years ago, my mother-in-law called me on the phone to ask if I would consider having my son's cord blood saved for my brother-in-law, who was, at the time, battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer. This had been a long battle for him, and doctors were beginning to talk of the use of cord blood as a cure for this incurable disease. So she called, and she told me that if we would be willing to do this, she and my father-in-law would foot the entire bill - initial cost and yearly cost for however long it took thereafter. Why not?! This wasn't going to cost me anything, it was on my doctor to actually pull the blood, and who knew, but that I may actually be helping my brother-in-law in some way. It was a win-win situation. So we agreed, and the cord blood was saved.

It sat in storage for 6 years. Finally, it came down to a question of whether or not this cord blood that had been banked just for my brother-in-law would, in fact, ever be able to help him. He was nearing the end of his options. After discussing it with his doctor, they opted to forget about the cord blood and go straight for a bone marrow transplant. There was no time to lose with him, because his cancer had progressed too far. In their minds, the cord blood was still too experimental, and he just couldn't afford to "experiment" with the time he had left. And so, he went to Dallas, TX, had a bone marrow transplant, and about a month later, died of organ failure.

About 6 months later, when things had calmed down a bit, we began to evaluate whether or not it was worth keeping this cord blood that we had been banking for these many years. Would it ever go bad? Was there a time limit in which it needed to be used? We decided to call Cord Blood Registry, the bank in which we had used, and ask them. The customer service rep told me that, as long as it was cryogenically stored, it could remain in storage indefinitely. Hmmm...

I began to explain to him how we had come to save this in the first place, and that we were trying to decide whether to keep it. My son, after all, is a Type 1 diabetic, and I had heard that they were trying to find a way to use cord blood in the treatment and curing of this disease. Before I could even finish my thoughts, he interrupted me and said, "Oh yes, I know exactly what you're talking about. There is a doctor in Florida who is doing a clinical trial right now using cord blood on Type 1 diabetics." WOW! This was more than I ever expected to get from this phone call!

Immediately, I got on the phone to Florida and spoke with this doctor. He told me that, yes, he was doing clinical trials, but that the enrollment period had just ended. But he did tell me that he'd let me know when enrollment would open up again for his next trial. So, I filed all this information away in the back of my mind, and really figured that was the end of it.

But a few months ago, Dr. Haller e-mailed me to ask if I was still interested - enrollment was now open for his next trial. Yes! Oh my goodness, YES!! Finally, maybe we could put this cord blood to use and help our son. We jumped through all the hoops to see if we would even qualify for this trial, and unfortunately, my son was not a candidate. Boy was I let down!

After much prayer and thinking, I realized that this does not mean the end. Looking back, I can see the hand of God all over this boys life! This is a child that was a complete surprise to us. His cord blood was saved for someone who never had a chance to use it. This boy is the only child out of my 4 children who has an illness - my other 3 children rarely ever have even the sniffles. The list goes on and on. There are just too many things that are absolute evidence of God's plan in this child's life. We just haven't been privileged to see the end to that plan. So we wait. And we will continue to pay every year to keep this cord blood banked, so that, when God sees fit to use this somehow, we will be ready.

So in the end, if you are expecting a baby or even thinking of having one, cord blood banking is certainly something to consider when thinking and planning all your details. I can't tell you that you should or shouldn't pay this small fortune to save cord blood that may or may not ever be used. But I can tell you, if one day you are faced with a child who has a major illness or accident and are in need of that child's cord blood for healing and recovery, you will be glad you banked!

Big Sister and Little Sister's Beautiful Hair

This morning, we had fun just playing around with the girl's hair. There was no special reason, and we had no where to go. We just had a great time playing around together. The ideas came from this blog: Here are some of our pictures.

Her hair turned out beautiful -- for a 3 year old who couldn't sit still for anything!! I have never ever braided hair that was moving the entire time!

It is MUCH easier to fix my 9 year old's hair. Her hair is long, so we used lots of little clips to help it stay put.

Both of my girls just loved getting their hair fixed, and they loved how it turned out! It was a fun morning spending some "just because" time with them!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Medieval Fun!

For a month now, my children have been learning Medieval history. It's something I've wanted to teach them for quite awhile now, but just haven't made the time to do it. But, since the summer is when we really get going on fun school stuff, now was the time. So on the first day of July, we got right to it. Here are some of the pictures of the things we have been doing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Little Man

Doesn't time fly?! Eight years ago, my little man was born. Today, we will have a party for him to celebrate. Where has the time gone?

He started out like most any other baby - tiny, sweet, cried, slept, ate. But very soon, we realized this baby was different. When my little man was 3 weeks old, he got very sick with an upper respiratory infection. He just could not breathe from his nose or his lungs. From there, he went on to have one ear infection after another, strep phenomena, digestive problems, tonsillitis about 7 times in about 7 months - the list goes on and on and on. It was not uncommon at all for my little man to have 105 fever. I finally quit taking him to be checked when they kept telling me,"Besides the fever,we can't find a thing wrong with him." So I would sit up, night after night, and hold this sweet baby, who was burning up with fever, and try my best to comfort him.

Finally, when he was 5, we made the decision to have his tonsils taken out. That was a hard one for us, since we really didn't want to take out body parts on this kid. But they were so infected that antibiotics just would not get them well. As soon as his medicine would run out, the tonsils would swell up again. So we did it. They came out. And we hoped this would be the end of the sicknesses. After all, everyone told us that once they did it for their kids, they weren't sick anymore. So we breathed a sigh of relief, because maybe we were done.

But things didn't get better. We still fought with constant high fevers and lots of digestive problems! We didn't know what to do, but finally just decided that this was a normal thing for this child. We just dealt with each issue as it came, and tried to go on with life as usual - stayed home when he was sick, did as much as possible when he was well.

Then Christmas of 2007 came. Like most families at this time of the year, we spent a lot of time with grandparents and other people we don't often get to see at other times of the year. Everyone, of course, commented on how the kids have grown. It had been such a time since they had seen them. But two people that Christmas made note of something that, being with him day in and day out, I had not noticed. They both told me how they were worried about the amount of liquids he was drinking. My thought - "Who cares! Water is good for you!" But both of these people told me this was a sign of diabetes. "That's ridiculous," I thought to myself. However, I am a known hypochondriac, so I told my husband that I thought I might take him in after the first of the year just to be checked. Our doctor was not open on January 1 or 2, so I did not plan to go until the 3rd. It just so happened that, on the 2nd, my little man was very sick with a very high fever - again. So I thought to myself, "Well, I guess it's a good thing I am going tomorrow anyway."

We went the next morning. They checked his blood. We went in the room to wait. Our doctor came in and asked me what was going on, not being his normal chipper doctor self. I explained to him my concern. When I finished, he looked at me seriously and said, "Yeah, he does have diabetes." I just sat there for a moment letting that sink in, because that wasn't exactly what had played out in my mind that he would say.

And so we began yet another journey with this sweet little man - first to the hospital, then to a nutritionist, then to a new doctor in Shreveport, and finally, we settled into a routine of day in and day out Type 1 diabetes management. That includes pricking your finger multiple times throughout the day, and also 5-7 shots of insulin each day. It hasn't been fun, but he has been so great about the whole situation.

About 2 months ago, we made a decision to purchase an insulin pump, hoping that we could even better manage his diabetes. It has proven to be a good choice. He now gets 1 shot every 3 days, and his blood sugars are much closer to normal.

And guess what else! When we finally got to the root of the problem, this child has hardly been sick again. We have lived with Type 1 diabetes for a year and a half now, and he has had a head cold once in that time. It amazes me how many things were all linked to diabetes, and once we got that part right, everything else worked itself out. No more high fevers, no more digestive complaints, energy levels through the roof! He's a new kid!

My little man has come such a long way in these 8 years of life. We have been through great times and bad times, fun times and "scare the life out of you" times. As I sit back and reflect, I am amazed at this child and God's mighty hand on his life. Where has the time gone? Though he is growing up and I know the time will continue to fly, he is still and always will be "my little man".

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Calling

When, in this life, one decides to give up self and follow Christ, there are things that are asked of us. Often, the things asked are easy - begin going to church, pray, tell others about your new found salvation. I'm sure, for some, those things may take some getting use to, but for the most part, the things asked of them are relatively easy.

But as this journey with the God of all creation progresses, there are other things that He begins to ask, things that aren't quite so easy - quit smoking and drinking, forgive that person who wronged you, quit the job you have to follow where Christ is leading you. These things certainly fall in the "hard to do" category. And yet, He still asks.

And then, aside from all of these, there is The Calling. For me, it starts as a cool idea that someone should do. Then I realize that it's a cool idea that I might be good at, but right now, I'm not really interested. As time goes on, I think, "Maybe God wants me to do this, but I don't want to. No thanks God." The debate begins - "I want you to do this," "No thanks, God," "Yes, it's you I need," "I don't have time for this right now," "Make time for Me," "I wouldn't be good at that anyway," "I'll help you," - and the debate goes on. After some time goes by, I have put so much stress on myself over this, I am just not much good to anyone. And finally, I realize that the only way I will ever truly be happy in this life is to give up my own will and follow the calling of Christ - to walk with Him where I don't want to go, because He asked it of me. When I finally surrender my will to His, instantly the peace of God that passes ALL understanding covers over me like a warm blanket on a cool day. I am finally at peace again within myself and with God.

The Calling is something in which, no matter how hard you fight, you cannot get away. It is something that you MUST do in order to ever be truly happy. Whether or not you feel you are up for the task is irrelevant. When The Almighty himself asks something of you, you will only find peace when you surrender to The Calling.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Sometimes I think about how easy it would be if I just sent my kids to public school. Every day, when that big yellow bus came by, off they would go and I would be free for the day. I could spend all of my time with my 2 youngest children, going to the library, grocery shopping without my son, sewing, having a quiet chat with another adult on the phone - the list could go on and on. There would be no more headaches that stem from choosing which curriculum will best prepare my children for their future in this world. And there would be no more cost from purchasing said curriculum.

However, when all the cards are laid on the table, I really have no other choice but to continue down the path in which God has directed me for these children with which He has blessed us. I know this is the calling He has placed on my life, and I am thankful every day that He gives me the tools in which to follow through with this calling.

When I think of someone that I do not really know teaching their beliefs and philosophies to my children, I cringe. Putting them in the hands of a bus driver and on a bus that is not really safe, I don't like it. And when I think of school shootings and the possibility of never seeing my children come home, I just can't do it.

So each day, no matter how little sleep I have had from the night before, I wake to 4 waiting children. And each day, I wrack my tired brain over what they need to learn for this day. So as not to tire or bore them, I try every day to make our learning time together fun and exciting. My goal is to teach them in such a way as to leave them wanting more and looking toward tomorrow to continue where we left off.

Who says school needs to be at the table or a desk? Who says it should be from a textbook? Who says it needs to be 9 months out of the year with 3 months off for the summer? Who says a curriculum is better because it cost more? Why can't I find all of our school books from my local library? Why can't we take a field trip every week, or go on vacation in October? Why be normal?

And so we continue down this road of higher education, with our ultimate goal being to please The One who has called us to walk this path, to teach my children the things they need to know to be "in the world but not of the world", to instill in them a love of learning, and to have them seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Making Bread

The art of making bread goes back more years than I can count. Women from every corner of our world have made homemade bread to feed their families - some on a daily basis, some weekly, and some just for special occasions. This is an art in itself, and one that is losing its flair.

I remember, as a very small child, my grandmother made bread each week at her table in her very small kitchen. She used a giant green Tupperware bowl in which to mix her dough, and I remember her letting me have a tiny taste once it was fully mixed. She would only let me have a tiny taste, because she said that, if I ate too much, the yeast would expand in my stomach and give me a terrible tummy ache. I'm still not sure to this day if that's true or if she was just trying to keep me from eating too much of her hard work before it was even finished. But back to her small kitchen. Her kitchen was so small that, after mixing her dough, she hadn't enough room to set out all the bread pans to let the dough rise. You have to understand, the recipe she used made about 12 loaves at a time. So, being the industrious woman she is, she would set them all out on the bed in her front room, and then she would forbid us from going in there. I still am not sure exactly how she was able to bake that much bread in her small oven. But she did - every week. She would make her 12 loaves of bread, and she would give most away to friends or family as a gift.

One thing I remember about this entire weekly event was the smell. The smell of bread rising has a way of sticking in your memory long after the baking is over. That smell still lingers in my mind 2 decades later. This is one of those things that, when my grandmother is gone someday, I'll always remember about her.

So this bring me to today. Bread making is something I loved watching my grandmother do as a child. And now, as an adult, I love to do my own homemade bread making. I don't even attempt to do the 12 loaves a week that she did, but I love to make several loaves just to give away to friends and family. So today, I spent a little time in my own kitchen with my 3 year old, and we poured, mixed, kneaded, let rise, and baked two loaves of scrumptious bread. One of these will be given away as a gift, and the other I am saving for our family's Fourth of July lunch. Today, the smell in my house was warm and inviting. It smelled of my grandmother's house. It reminded me of the past, and it reminded me of how much I love the smell of fresh homemade bread.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess