Dinner? No Dinner?

August 24, 2016

Possum is 10 years 3 months

Bandicoot is 8 years 1 month

Little Princess is 5 years 7 months

 

I thought I could do it.  Roast chicken and veggies for dinner.  I have made it countless times – you know, before…

3 1/2 hours in and still no dinner.

I am ready to collapse.

Why do I do this?  Why do I keep biting off more than I can chew?  Why do I keep forgetting that anything requiring me to function after 3pm is just not possible?

Sometimes it is hard to be accepting.  Sometimes it is hard to not keep wishing it was all like it was before.

Flare-Up, Remission, Flare-Up

June 2, 2016

Possum is 10 years

Bandicoot is 7 years 10 months

Little Princess is 5 years 5 months

 

Do you remember this?

This year it has coincided with a health upset for me.  I have had a rather significant “arthritic flare-up” in my knees.  We do not know what caused it.  We do not know if it will happen again.  We do know it is less than pleasant.  There has been extreme pain involved, a lot of fear as I was tested for any number of things, and a LOT of inconvenience as I have been almost crippled for weeks or months at a time.  (For quite a while I could barely move from bed to lounge, let alone get down the two steps at the front of the house to go outside.)

That was back in 2014.  It started almost exactly 2 years ago.  In the end the episode took almost eight months to completely leave my system.

Remission (I still hate that word, even though it means such good things) lasted approximately 10 months.

Although a 10-12 month remission may well be all I can expect, and certainly a lot more than many others in my condition, eight months for an episode is a long time.  Not only does it take a long time for my CrP levels to drop, but the chronic pain means it takes an even longer time for me to recover full use of my body.

This cycle is in a very scary pattern.

And those two steps are such a killer!

 

**Spinal inflammatory disease also effects the pelvis, hips and knee joints.

I Really Need to Blog About This

May 31, 2016

Possum is 10 years

Bandicoot is 7 years 10 months

Little Princess is 5 years 5 months

Today I was dismissed from hospital on a four month at-home, self-management trial. You would think that this was cause for jubilation, wouldn’t you? A mark of success? Instead I feel forsaken.

It has been a long road to get to this point. About a week before Christmas I started to feel ill. Then the headaches kicked in. Finally the ache in my back, that I had woken with each morning for a good six months, upped its game. By mid January I was nearly paralysed with back pain and spasm.

So started a five week stint in hospital. This has been followed by full day treatments at the hospital a couple of times a week ever since, interspersed with tests and specialist appointments.

The upshot? I have three bulging (including one slightly ruptured) discs in my lower back. (Permanent.) And I also have spinal inflammatory disease (Episodic, but degenerative.) There miscellaneous and still undiagnosed pain in my pelvis, which is often crippling and possibly the most debilitating part of all of this. And I have Chronic Pain.

Oh, I am in a much better state now than I was. I travelled too and from the hospital today by car, albeit hospital transport, as I am still unable to drive. I arrived at the rehab hospital (from the critical care hospital) in an ambulance, moved about on a gurney and a pat-slide. So yes, that is an improvement. I could even leave my crutches at home, once I had used them to get down the two stairs at the front of our house to get to the car. The hospital is single level with wide corridors and no Lego on the floor.

I should be happy.

But I feel like I have been dumped. Kicked to the curb.

The thing is, over the last three weeks, my condition has deteriorated. The assessments that were run on me today to determine my progress where on a different time frame. One compared me to six weeks ago. (I take one less step over 10m than I did six weeks ago, although the test was not run in the same way today as it has been in the past.) The other compared me to three months ago. My current deterioration cannot be taken into consideration.

I don’t really want to have to go the hospital for one or two days every week. It is hard on our whole family. But I had hoped that they would continue treating me until, say, I could go out from home on my own.

That day was supposed to come a long time ago.

I have thought about blogging this journey since I was an inmate – er, sorry, inpatient – back in January. However, I kept thinking this was a small blip, not an ongoing deal. I also have had so very little extra energy. I guess this is why I have not found a lot of stories of others to read. I will try and tell you more about this journey. I may even copy snippets from my diary or from letters I have sent to friends.

This is a story I need to share. Not all days are as bleak as today.

My Very Own Chocolate Biscuits

September 5, 2015

I love to bake.  I learnt to bake at my mother’s knee as a preschooler.  I know a lot of people that are afraid of making cakes and things because they feel it is an exact science.  I have never had that problem.

However, biscuits are my kryptonite.  I can just never tell when they are done.  Or maybe I am just not patient enough to get all those batches cooked for the right amount of time.  Something.

Until now.

I have even developed my own recipe.

And to top it off they are gluten-free.  Primal-inspired, even.  (I like baking with sugar, I must admit.)

And here it is.  But, remember, I believe in sharing my recipes for love, not money, and I want you to do the same.  As my Mum would tell us, a recipe is never less good by letting someone else enjoy making it. My recipes are covered by the usual copyright.

Chocolatey, Triple-Choc, Choc-Chip Biscuits

(as named by Little Princess)

This makes about 36 – depending on how much dough is eaten before it gets to the oven.

2 cups (about 220g) almond meal
1/4 teaspoon of salt flakes (just a pinch if you are using table salt)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup of butter
3 Tbsp sugar (I use raw caster sugar)
4 Tbsp cocoa
~250g chocolate chips/chunks of your choice (I used 1/2 250g packet of choc chips and 1/2 375g packet of those big white chocolate melts, but you can use whatever you would like, even pieces from a block of chocolate, adjusting the amount you blend them.)

Put everything except the chocolate chips in the blender/food processor and blitz it until it is combined.  It will be a sandy texture, but sticks together when you squeeze it.

Add in chocolate and give it another blitz to mix it up and get the chocolate pieces about the size that you would like.  Remember, mixed chunks are good.

Make into balls about the size of a walnut and squash a little into fat circles on a lined tray.

Bake at 180deg C for about 10-12min.  After about 8 minutes I open the over and give each one a little press with my finger.  This seems to make them a little less puffy and a little more dense.  I might be kidding myself, though!  I am notoriously bad at cooking biscuits – never knowing when they are done.  I have noticed that if you remove these the moment you can smell them in the oven, they are about right – assuming your nose works like mine.

(Share recipes for love, not money.  Rights reserved.)

Pyroluria

March 18, 2015

Possum is 8 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 6 years 8 months

Little Princess is 4 years 2 months

Well, it has been quite a time around these parts. 

Sadly, although I was becoming mobile in my last post (in August!), I still had a number of months of incapacitating pain ahead.  In January it looked like I was finally experiencing the carrot of remission from the pain.  (Really, any condition that is accompanied by words like “remission” and “mortality” are not things I want to have too much to do with.)

Instead of the hoped for 10 year window, I had less than two months of freedom from near continuous joint pain.  On the up side, although it is rather, um, unpleasant, I do have movement now.

But really, that is just the tip of the crazy iceberg.

Poor Bandicoot has spent his life with gut pains.  The doctors have done various tests over time, but found nothing.  One day I said to him, “You don’t talk about the pains in your tummy any more – have they gone away?”  He turned to me and said, “The doctors think I make it up, so I will just have to put up with it.  There is no point in me telling anyone.”  Doesn’t that just break a Mumma’s heart?

So when I discovered a naturopath who had helped some friends with similar issues, I figured I had nothing to lose.

The truth is, I am a bit on the fence with natural medicine.  This was all a big leap of faith for me.  However, she is a former biochemist and pharmacist, so I felt she would take the science seriously.

The good news is that Bandicoot was suffering from a parasite.  It was diagnosable with a standard test (ordered through my doctor, *ahem*) and relatively easily treated.  He hasn’t had the pains since.  I cannot imagine how much better that must make him feel.

The down side is that he was also diagnosed with pyroluria (or pyrrole, or krypropyrrole or, well, there are another couple of older names, too), which is a metabolic disorder.  Possum and I have also been subsequently diagnosed.

This is managed by a restricted diet and supplements of the nutrients our bodies are not metabolising from food.  Apparently we will all be new people.

I can’t wait.

Because right now, I am an exhausted wreck.  Some of the dietary changes did not agree with us and we had family wide “failure to thrive” – as good as it sounds.  It looks like it will take a lot of tweaking to find what works for us.  And in the meantime my life is food.  Every meal, every snack requires thought and recipe searching.  Do you know how often growing kids eat??

There is, of course, some kind of humour in this.  I learnt to cook as a preschooler.  (Not that we were called “preschoolers” back then.)  I read recipes for inspiration, but I really don’t know when the last time was that I actually followed one to cook.  I don’t like being that boxed in.  But now that my pantry is filling with all sorts of things I have never used before (chia, sorghum…) and so many of our staples have disappeared (tomatoes, ham), it seems I need a recipe to pour a glass of water.

I am so glad we decided to use a packaged curriculum this year to cut down on planning and recording time for me, although we had thought we would use that time for some other projects we had planned, not trying to work out what is for dinner.

What is this strange blog I am reading?

August 24, 2014

Possum is 8 years 3 months

Bandicoot is 6 years 1 month

Little Princess is 3 years 7 months

Hi!  Remember me? ~waves~

We have had a busy and tough year this year.  Bandicoot joined our homeschool, with all his quirks and vivacity.  It has been a challenge for me to step up to the plate, especially as nothing I had planned or had previously used with Possum worked with him.  Really.  Nothing.

I have spent a lot of time in tears and in prayer.  I would probably have done better to do those in the other order.  I have also spent too many waking hours reading about kids like him and what works for them.  Some ideas I just cannot implement because of my personality and skills, and some I can.  Some of them sound fantastic and do not work at all when I try them.  Some of them sound ridiculous and work a treat.  It has been a steep, steep learning curve, and I am just beginning.

At the same time, Possum and Little Princess continue to grow and change as well.  Nothing ever stays the same with kids.  There is a lot of adapting required in parenting!

Thankfully, we are coming out of that four months or so of the year that I always find the most difficult – from approximately two months before Possum’s birthday until two months after Bandicoot’s.  It seems to always coincide with mental and emotional growth spurts for them, leaving us all unsettled.

This year it has coincided with a health upset for me.  I have had a rather significant “arthritic flare-up” in my knees.  We do not know what caused it.  We do not know if it will happen again.  We do know it is less than pleasant.  There has been extreme pain involved, a lot of fear as I was tested for any number of things, and a LOT of inconvenience as I have been almost crippled for weeks or months at a time.  (For quite a while I could barely move from bed to lounge, let alone get down the two steps at the front of the house to go outside.)

With all of this going on, blogging has fallen down the priority list.  Also, it is hard to be positive or inspiring when life is full of tears, pain and fear.  It is hard to think of the bright side when your head is under water.  And there are probably a lot of times in the last few months that I would prefer to forget, rather than have recorded and shared with you.

But now, I hope, things are a little better, a little more settled.  Now, I hope, I have grown a bit more.

Now I hope, I will get to share some of our adventure with you again.

Lemony Goodness!

August 24, 2014

Possum is 8 years 3 months

Bandicoot is 6 years 1 month

Little Princess is 3 years 7 months

 

We have been away this weekend, to a town just outside our city.  To get there, we needed to drive through some of the small amount of farmland remaining on the outskirts of our city.

And, consequently, past roadside fruit and vege stalls.

I have been working to increase the amount of fresh produce that we eat, so this seemed like a good time to pick up some goodies.

The prize find was a stall about 15km from our home.  The produce looked beautiful and was very affordable.  We bought a tray of oranges – one of the few things Little Princess will eat – and a bucket of lemons.  Just this morning Bandicoot and I had been discussing making lemon squash when we found some cheap lemons.  Providence!

The two little ones have had a wonderful time this afternoon making fresh squeezed orange juice and lemon squash.  And I had so much fun with them that I forgot to take any pictures!

And what delicious lemon squash it was, too.

Here is the recipe:

~300mL fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 5 lemons)

2/3 cup white caster sugar

Stir the sugar into the lemon juice until it dissolves.  Mix with water (for lemonade) or soda water (for squash) at the rate of 1/3 cordial to 2/3 water.

What do you do?

April 15, 2014

Possum is 7 years 11 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 9 months

Little Princess is 3 years 3 months

What Did I Do Today?
What did I do today?
Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30.
The diapers soaked a little longer,
The odor grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilled the day before,
Are staring at me from the floor.
The fingerprints there on the wall,
Will likely be there still next fall.
The dirty streaks on those window panes,
Will still be there next time it rains.
Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today?

I nursed a baby till he slept,
I held a toddler while she wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.
I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taught a child right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that’s true.
Unless you think that what I’ve done,
Might be important to someone,
With bright green eyes and soft brown hair,
If that is true…I’ve done my share.

Author Unknown.

Environmental Experiential Education and the Mathematics KLA

April 2, 2014

Possum is 7 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 8 months

Little Princess is 3 years 3 months

 

This is the second article in a series on environmental experiential education, thanks to the knowledge of Ms R.

Meeting the government requirements for maths is never a problem in our house, but apparently there are some houses that are not riddled with maths junkies.  Who knew?

So here are a few points on meeting the Maths KLA outcomes with environmental experiential education.

The main areas of maths in primary school are shape, number (including money) and measurement.  (Also probability, but we did not discuss that with Ms R).

Shape

Shape is all around.  Use mathematical language when talking about things.  For example, “Can you please pass me a grape?  I’d like the most spherical one you can find, please.”

Get kids into astronomy.  Trajectories and planetary movement will get them honing maths skills pretty quickly – not in a formal way, but to see that star!

Numbers and Algebra

Use spreadsheets.  This will teach them formulas etc without them even knowing!

Again, numbers are all around us.  Get the kids involved with daily activities like shopping.  Also, get them to manage their own bank accounts, including making sense of the statements.

Measurement

Well, that is everywhere, too.  When they moan about learning area, show them a YouTube clip about tiling floors.

 

Keep bringing maths back to concrete examples so that it is relevant to them.

 

*Like I said, this is not a real issue in our home.  DH and I have a maths degree and a maths minor between us and the kids are cut from the same cloth.  Personally, I have a much more Pythagorean approach to mathematics:  That the study of mathematics shows us beauty and order and brings us closer to God our maker.  However, I appreciate that many other people need to see the practical side to maths!

Environmental Experiential Education and the English KLA

April 1, 2014

… or why write descriptive paragraphs when you can write a letter to Grandma?

Possum is 7 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 8 months

Little Princess is 3 year 3 months

 

This is the first in a series on Environmental Experiential Education, and especially how to fulfil government reporting requirements when homeschooling by this method.

I have written this article here for ease of reference for fellow members of my local homeschooling community.  Even if you do not homeschool, you may find something interesting in this series.

Recently I had the good fortune to receive a small download from the vast wealth of knowledge in the head of a veteran homeschooler I know.  She is a proponent of the environmental experiential philosophy of education.

This wonderful lady, Ms R, was leading us in a discussion of reporting outcomes.  For those (blissfully) unaware of such things, here we need to report to the government appointed outcomes in the specified curriculum as part of our registration process.  Many home-educators find this unduly restricting, which is largely why an estimated 50% of homeschoolers are unregistered in our state.

This article covers some points regarding the English Key Learning Area (KLA).  This is for infants and primary aged children (Foundation to Year 6)

First Things First…

The first thing to establish is the outcomes that we, as parents, want for our kids – not just academics, but real life outcomes.  Here are some suggestions.  (Note, I have included the ANC NSW Stage 1 codes for outcomes, as I am most familiar with these.)

Read in Context

  • – including signage, directions, map reading, warnings… These are necessary skills for safety and might just keep them alive.
  • EN1-4A, EN1-11D

    Recognise that you can learn from someone who is not there

  • – includes procedures, instructions, texts
  • This allows them to overcome their problems using someone else’s experience (for example, following a recipe)
  • EN1-4A, EN1-11D, EN1-12E

To Communicate

  • At this stage they want to connect with their mates, so let them use appropriate social media to do so.  This has the added incentive of encouraging writing skills (over time) to save face in front of their friends, without us needing to correct them all the time.
  • EN1-1A, EN1-2A, EN1-3A, EN1-5A, EN1-6B, EN1-7B, EN1-9B

Working on sequencing through silly stories is another technique for developing an understanding of how language works.  For example, tell the story: –

  • Goldilocks ran home to her mother and ate a bowl of porridge, but it was too hot.  The Baby Bear found his chair broken so they went for a walk.”

The kids will, hopefully, think this is crazy and you can get them to retell it properly.  This also lays the foundations for learning the skills of essay writing, constructing narratives and persuasive writing.  It is a great exercise for confined space torture car rides (in between history and classical music study cds!)

EN1-2A, EN1-6B, EN1-9B, EN1-10C

Use a Library

EN1-4A

Read for Pleasure

  • Part of this is exposure to great stories and the language in which they are written.  This includes complete adult literature, too!  Watching DVDs of classics (even “adult” classics, as the subject matter allows) is one way to provide this.
  • When they find the language approachable and the story-telling familiar, the desire to read the books is fanned.
  • EN1-4A, EN1-7B, EN1-9B

Using Texts to Problem Solve

  • -includes fixing broken things (manuals, etc)
  • Alphabetical indexing skills (to locate information required)
  • Using the street directory to find where you need to go.  (The suggestion here is get yourselves purposefully lost, so there is a real incentive for them to solve the problem and do it well.)

    EN1-7B, EN1-8B, EN1-11D

    Writing for a Variety of Situations

    • – think letters to families and friends, shopping lists, recording information, nature journaling, business communication and a variety of practical purposes that come up in daily life.
    • EN1-1A, EN1-2A,EN1-3A, EN1-7B,EN1-9B

    So how does this solve OUR problem of all those ENS-nn codes?

    Well, as all homeschoolers know, in Australia the legal responsibility for education a child lies with the parents, not the government, not the school, nor anyone else.  This is true for all parents, not just those who home-ed.  Our first responsibility is to the adults our children will become (also true for all parents!)  As the state is responsible for providing education on behalf of parents who choose to send their kids to school, their curriculum goals must meet these fundamental required outcomes (above).

    So the first and fundamental step is to establish our goals (outcomes).  Then we can go back and refer the curriculum outcomes.  For all their fandangle curriculese, they should slot into our goals quite well, as you can see from the codes that I have included.


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