Every time Adrian finds a tiny grape he gets so excited that he found a “baby grape” and usually insists that I take a picture of it. He labels slightly bigger ones “kid grapes.” Then there’s the even bigger, yet still smaller than normal, “teenager grapes.” Full size grapes on the smaller side are “mommies” and the biggest ones are “daddies.”
All kids love the celery in food coloring and water experiment.
There’s just something magical about watching the celery change color.
Ani was put on a gluten free diet a week ago today. The first few days were the hardest because I plan menus on Thursdays and grocery shop on Fridays. This meant I was grabbing a few things at the grocery store and trying to adjust the planned meals to be Ani-safe. Grocery shopping on Friday was a bit stressful. Thank goodness for a smart phone and manufacturer websites that tell you if something is gluten free. Things marked gluten free make me very happy.
A couple months ago I rearranged a bit in our kitchen and I still had an entire empty cabinet. This is now Ani’s cabinet. She can eat anything in that cabinet. There are gluten free foods elsewhere (that are ingredients for specific meals), but everything in there is stuff she can eat or use as she wants.
We’ve had a couple extremely successful gluten free meals over the last few days. I made crepes using the recipe on Gluten Free on a Shoestring. They turned out really good. We put turkey bacon (Butterball brand) in some and Nutella in others (Ani was very happy to learn Nutella is gluten free). Cameron had one crepe with both turkey bacon and Nutella (he said it was okay). I added some cherries, grapes, kumquats, blueberries, and blackberries and we had a truly delicious lunch.
We always have dinner in the crockpot on Sundays. Yesterday I made Sweet Baby Ray’s Crockpot Chicken. My dad always says that meat cooked in the crockpot, even when completely covered with liquid always turns out a bit dry. He is right, but even a little dry, the chicken tasted really good. We had some Hungry Jack potato flakes (happily, gluten free) so mashed potatoes were easy. I found some packets of Pioneer brand gluten free brown gravy when I went grocery shopping. It made really good gravy! Everyone liked it. I cooked some green beans and sprinkled those with Kraft parmesan cheese. All together, it made a yummy and filling Sunday dinner.
We did have a few complete failures this week. We got Ani some brown rice wraps. They were absolutely inedible. I’m going to try making some tortillas using the recipe on Gluten Free on a Shoestring. Ani’s never eaten much bread so she’s not concerned about replacing that. She doesn’t love pasta either (and let’s just say the gluten free pasta we tried was an epic failure). But tortillas. She eats a lot of tortillas both for Mexican food and for sandwich wraps.
Hopefully as time goes on it’ll get easier and easier to properly feed Ani. And even more hopefully, a gluten free diet is exactly what she needs and she’ll actually get healthy!
I have a problem. I absolutely cannot not finish a book. Even if the book is terrible, I still feel compelled to finish it. Recently I read Tedd and Todd’s Secret by Fernando Trujillo Sanz. It was pretty bad. The grammar was horrible. But I couldn’t stop reading. I had to finish it. Last year I read Canadian Meds by John Moynihan. Same thing. Terrible book. Had to finish it.
I don’t know if it’s because I think it’s got to get better or if I just can’t bear the thought of never finding out what happens to characters I don’t actually care about or what. I once read something by a librarian that said there are so many books out there that we should give a book 50 pages and if it’s bad or we just aren’t enjoying it, stop reading and move on to a better book. It’s sound advice. But it’s advice I just can’t seem to follow for some reason.
We’ve been learning about the life and works of Jackson Pollock in art over the last few weeks. Yesterday the boys got to create something in his style. They all had fun and Cameron especially really got into the paint spattering thing (and one of my teacher’s binders will forever have a yellow smudge because of it).
Ani’s been pretty sick for several months now. She’s in pain all the time. Sometimes her muscles just feel really weak. She is exhausted no matter how much sleep she gets. She has trouble concentrating. She craves salt and orange peels. She gets dizzy easily and has quite a bit of nausea.
In spite of all that she is trying to keep up with life as best she can. She does school as she can. She is quite behind for this year, but is hopeful she’ll be able to catch up. She’s a year ahead of her age-mates anyway so we have wiggle room. She does home study seminary. She’s supposed to go in the mornings at least once a week if/when she can. She missed quite a bit of our taekwondo lessons for a couple months in the fall when she was really bad, but now she is there 5-6 days a week (sometimes taking classes, sometimes helping in classes). She volunteers at the library 2-4 hours a week. She runs a 45 minute creative writing kids class twice a month.
I’ve got her on a whole slew of vitamins, herbs, etc. every day. I think she takes something like 12 pills each day. She takes at least one Aleve every day (she is allowed up to 4 a day, but very, very rarely needs that many). I think the CoQ10, Turmeric, and Vitamin D are helping her the most. She was so bad in October. She could barely move, was super pale all the time, and just incredibly sick. I started throwing everything I could think of at her. She finally saw the rheumatologist yesterday and it was clear she was so much stronger than she was just a few months ago. Taekwondo and the pills she is taking are really making a huge difference in her strength and generally health.
The rheumatologist said something is wrong, but he doesn’t know what. He intends to find out, though. He took several vials of blood from her. He’s rechecking some things and running some additional tests, too. Her thyroid is enlarged (not as bad as it was in the fall) with no clear reason so he’s checking for some autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid. He’s testing her for Lyme Disease. I actually requested that in September, but the doctor thought I was a bit strange for asking and didn’t test for it. When I said we moved here from Maryland, lived in the middle of the woods, tick bites were quite common, and my middle son, mother, and I have all had Lyme Disease, he said that was definitely something he’d check for just in case.
The two things he was most concerned about fixing are her insomnia and her inability to focus. She’s been an insomniac since she was a baby. We’ve tried many things without much success. He also recommended she go on a gluten-free diet to see if that helps. Her symptoms could be so many things (I feel like we’re on an episode of Mystery Diagnosis sometimes), but they are consistent with gluten problems. So as of today Ani is gluten-free for at least the next 3 months. We’re hoping that’s the problem and she gets better. At least it is something specific we can try.
We have finally finished studying several of the elements in-depth and have moved on to molecules. This week we made molecules in two ways.
On Wednesday, we cut out puzzle pieces and fitted them together to make water, salt, and a couple others.
On Friday, we used gumdrops in assorted colors and toothpicks to make molecules.
The boys had so much fun making gumdrop molecules, Fritz exclaimed, “This doesn’t even feel like learning!”
Today we finished the 18th week of school. That marks the end of the first half of the school year. So far the year has been great. I expect the rest of the year will be just as great.
We are also coming up on one year since we pulled the boys out of school (one year on Wednesday). I am so glad we are homeschooling again!
We had a nice routine down for school before Christmas break and we went right back into it on Monday with no problems.
On Mondays we do Music and Critical Thinking with Ani and Cameron (that just once a month). On Tuesdays we do History and PE (taekwondo). Wednesdays we do Science and Art. On Thursdays we do History and PE again. On Fridays we do Science and Cameron does outlining in History. Every day we do Religion together and English and Math.
We get started about 9ish every day. Tuesdays and Thursdays we often start a little earlier so that we can be done or almost done by the time we have to get ready for taekwondo. We start with the stuff all together and then the older two boys can pick if they want to do math or English first. Cameron almost always picks math. Fritz it’s 50/50 which he’ll want to do first. I do English and math with Adrian whenever the other two boys are busy completing assignments. We are usually done with school by noon or just after.
About a year and a half ago Adrian dropped whatever he was eating on the (recently cleaned) floor and refused to eat it because it had germs on it. Not knowing what else to do to convince him to eat it anyway, I picked it up, held it up to my mouth, and yelled, “Germs, get off!”
Adrian was fascinated. He asked it the germs really listened to me (of course). And then he happily ate the food. A few days later, he dropped something else and asked if he yelled at the germs if they’d listen to him, too (sure, why not).
Ever since, whenever he drops food on the floor, he immediately picks it up, yells, “Germs, get off!”, and eats whatever it is. It’s just a little twist on the “5-second rule” I suppose.
It did cause confusion and then amusement once while he was still in school, though. He was taking a while to get to the door to be picked up after school on day and his teacher said he had spilled what was left of his snack on the way out of the classroom and was cleaning it up. And then she added in a confused and slightly worried tone, “He seems to be yelling at the Cheerios.”