Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Growth Hormone Injections: Three months

I wanted to give you an update on how things are going with the growth hormones.  First of all, James is doing wonderfully with having injections daily.  He is such a trooper.  I believe it helps that I allow him to be a part of the process.  His job is to get the alcohol swab out, open it, choose the injection site (leg or abdomen), then clean the skin.  I ask him if he is ready before I give the injection, then count to three.

Here are the growth results after 3 months of injections. Drum roll please...

Beginning weight: 46.1 lbs               Current weight: 50.3 lbs
Beginning height: 47.1 inches           Current height: 48.2 inches

That's right.  He grew 1.1 inches and gained 4 pounds!  He went from the 19th percentile to the 35th percentile!  We are very pleased.  He will continue on the same dose for the next 3 months, then he will have lab work drawn and return for another set of measurements.

On the downside, he has shown an increase in aggression and a couple of nights he had difficulty falling asleep.  We did have to increase one of his medications that helps with the aggression.  Just this past weekend we also noticed him blinking his eyes more rapidly.  We are taking every precaution to make sure he is not having break-through seizures.  The neurologist ordered bloodwork and a 24-hour EEG (he was due for another one anyways).  Once the results of these tests are back we will regroup.

For now we are rejoicing with the fact that he is finally growing!!


Growth Hormone Injections: The Beginning

We were informed a couple of months ago that James, 7 years old, would need to go on daily injections for growth hormones.  He takes Depakote for seizures which probably interferes with his body's natural production of growth hormones.  This poor boy has not gained weight in over a year, and had actually lost 3 pounds at one point.  He has not outgrown clothes, shoes, and jackets like you would normally expect children to do.  Johnathan, who is a full year younger than James, has outgrown James both in height and weight.

It took a little over a month for the authorization from the insurance, shipping of the medication to our home, as well as the doctor's office training me (mom) in giving the injections.  Out of all of our children,  I am glad it was James because he is not afraid of needles and is such a brave boy!  He loves to help get the alcohol swab out of the box and open the packet.  Of course he loves the attention of the other children also, who all want to watch.  We have been giving him the injections for 3 weeks now and he has already gained 3 pounds and grown 1/4" taller.  I am amazed!  We follow up with the doctor at the 3 month point and I can't wait to see James' growth.

Top Ten Must Have Items for Homeschooling

I decided to join in on the fun with the Ten in Ten blog hop at  iHomeschoolNetwork This week's theme is Top Ten Must Have Items for Homeschooling.  Here are mine in no particular order. 

1.  Computer/Printer/Internet - I do an incredible amount of research on my computer and gather so many ideas to use in our homeschool from my favorite homeschooling websites, which includes printing out a gazillion pieces of paper.  If I don't happen to find a particular worksheet or activity, I make some of my own printable worksheets for the kids to use.  The kids like to use the computer/internet to go to some of their favorite websites, such as or Time4Learning.  Since our computer is also a touchscreen, I can use the smartboard CD-ROM games I purchased from Lakeshore Learning.

2.  Thermal Laminator - For many of our activities, I choose to laminate them so all four children can use the same activity and also for durability.  Once laminated the children can write on them with dry erase markers

3.  iPad - I feel extremely blessed that we were able to purchase three iPads this year for use in our homeschool.  We bought durable cases for them as well.  We enjoy reading books, playing learning games, watching movies, creating social stories and so much more.  One of our children uses his as communication device as well.  With the portability of the iPad it is so convenient to take with us to doctor or therapy appointments.  Here is a quick video demonstration of James using the Proloquo2go app on the iPad to share his basic information.  (If you have trouble viewing, click on the title to go to the blog post to watch).

4.  Pocket Chart/Calendar Stand - This is another one of our daily use items.  Since we are renting our house we wanted to minimize the number of holes in the walls so we purchased this stand.  One side has our monthly calendar and the other side has our pocket chart, which currently holds our sound cards from All About Reading.

5.  Do-A-Dot Markers - What is it with these things?  My children absolutely love them and are begging me to find more activities to dot paint.  Daily use item again.

6.  Magnetic White Boards - We have several individual size ones and also a larger one.  The magnetic is a must!  We use our magnetic letter tiles from All About Reading to "build" then write our words.

7.  Netflix - We use our subscription to Netflix to watch educational/documentary type movies, Leap Frog videos, Veggie Tales, Magic School Bus, Barney, and so much more.  We also have Netflix loaded on the iPads, but it is closely monitored.

8.  Books - Lots and lots of books.  All shapes and sizes.  Fiction.  Nonfiction.  Easy readers.  Chapter books.  Books for silent reading.  Books for reading aloud.  Research books.  Books on CD.  Books on the iPad.  This is one of my weaknesses.  Most women can't help buying a new pair of shoes, but for me it's books.   

9.  My husband - Although my husband is not an "item", I could not accomplish any of what I do without him.  He is home with us daily and is an integral part of our homeschooling day.  Whether it is help running a lesson that I have set out, taking the kids on a walk, driving to therapy or appointments, or helping keep the children occupied while I am busy, my husband is definitely a "must have".  Thank you Daniel!

10.  An Outdoor Play Area - I truly believe that children *need* the sunlight outside on a daily basis.  We have decided that for us it is as much a priority as academics.  Our boys are very active and need to get outside in the fresh air and run around.  We are very blessed to have an extremely large backyard with many amenities and lots of shade.  In fact, when the weather is nice we spend more time outside than we do inside.

The Top Ten Tuesday link up is hosted by Angie from Many Little Blessings.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

If you have any questions, please be sure to leave a comment.  Now you can follow us on Facebook!


Disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links which do not effect your purchase, but may help us pay for some of our homeschooling supplies.  Thank you for your support!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Make Your Own Watering Jug

I love fresh flowers!  Roses especially.  Since we are renters now we brought our roses with us, but they are growing in pots.  The yard sprinklers reach some of our potted plants, but not all of them.  So they need to be watered by hand.  My husband bought me a plastic watering can, but it is awkward to carry and water always splashes out.  I saw online how someone made a watering can from a milk jug, then I had an idea.  I had these heavy-duty plastic apple juice containers.   I would make them into watering jugs.

Here's how:  1.  Wash the container.  2. Poke many holes in the lid. 3.  Add a couple of air holes which help with the flow of the water.  (We did ours at the top of the handle.)  4.  Fill with water.

Guess what?  I LOVE these!!  They are much easier to carry and less messy than the watering can my husband bought.  And the best part is that they are free.  For now we have two of them and the kids take turns helping me water the flowers.  And it is super easy!!

Happy watering!

Today's post is a {Welcome Home Link Up} with Raising Arrows.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Top Ten Favorite Homeschooling Websites

I decided {last minute} to join in on the Ten in Ten blog hop at  iHomeschoolNetwork.  This week's theme is Top Ten Favorite Homeschooling Websites.  Here are mine in no particular order.  Ready, set, go...

1.  1+1+1=1 - Carisa used to be a public school teacher who now homeschools her three children.  She and her husband are also inner-city missionaries.  Carisa offers a TON of resources (mostly for Toddlers-K), such as her Calendar Connections, themed printables, Raising Rock Stars Preschool, You Can Read sight word program, Easy Readers you can download to iPad, tablet, or print, and so much more.  Most of the resources are free.

2.  Homeschool Creations - Jolanthe is a Christian homeschooling mom of four who offers resources, printables, and encouragement for homeschool families.  We have used many of her book units (PreK-K).  Another resource I LOVE are the Read! Build! Write! Mats and Cards.  I print and laminate the cards, then the kids use them with their magnetic letters as well as word cards for typing.

Confessions of a Homeschooler | free preschool printables

3.  Confessions of a Homeschooler - Erica is a Christian homeschooling mom of 4 who shares resources, ideas and encouraging tips on how to make your homeschool fun.  She has written some of her own curriculum such as Letter of the Week (Preschool), K4 (PreK), Road Trip USA, and a Classic Literature Unit Study.  My kiddos absolutely love the Add It! and Subtract It! games/flash cards she made.  While it is a lot to print out and laminate, we have used them frequently and the kids do so well with the multi-sensory approach to addition/subtraction.  She also inspires me to be more creative in digital scrapbooking. 

4.  Making Learning Fun - So many {FREE} fun, educational printables and activities for early childhood/elementary.

The Homeschool Classrom

5.  The Homeschool Classroom - group blog made up of homeschooling Moms sharing tips, ideas, resources, and other inspirations to help all those who are currently homeschooling or discerning the call to do so.  A great variety of all things homeschooling! 

6.  Amazon - I order from this site quite a bit; from our homeschooling/office supplies, books, games, household items, and so much more.  I price check almost everything with Amazon before I make a purchase elsewhere.  I also add items to my wishlist for future reference so when I do order, I can bundle it (minimum purchase of $25 for Free Shipping).  I love the Free downloads for Kindle (I put them on our iPad).

7.  Starfall and More Starfall - "Where children have fun learning to read!"  Since we have new/approaching/upcoming readers we utilize this site almost daily.  We also have the app on our iPad.  All of our kiddos like this website and they can all work at different levels.  Starfall also has a download center with more free resources.

8.  Mommy Speech Therapy  - Heidi is a mom of four and a Speech-Language Pathologist who shares tips and techniques for moms to help their children become the best communicators they can be.  Our family is no stranger to SLPs as one of our boys was born with a cleft palate, one of our boys is on the autism spectrum, and all three of our younger boys have developmental delays.   

9.  Public Library - Our local public library has an online catalog that I use almost as much as I do Amazon. When I am searching for books I always check the library first to save money.  When I am preparing for our next "theme", I search the online catalog and request the resources (books, audiobooks, DVD's, computer games, etc.) be available at our local branch.  Then all I have to do is pick them up.  It is much less time consuming and less running around. 

Over 1500 products from Teacher Created Resources

10.  Teacher Created Resources - When I homeschooled our older children (now both graduated), I fell in love with Teacher Created Resources.  I could find workbooks on any subject and there were so many choices!  If there were specific areas the children needed extra help with, I could order a workbook that just focused on that.  I'm about to let you in on a little secret...shhh!  Their website has sample pages for practically every workbook.  I am definitely one who likes to preview what I am thinking about purchasing, but I have also been known to just print out some of the sample pages and use those.  

So there you have it!  You probably noticed that most of the websites I use are related to early elementary education.  That is because our currently homeschooled children range in age from 3-9 and have varying disabilities.  We modify a lot of the resources/curriculum we use so the children are still able to continue learning.  
The Top Ten Tuesday link up is hosted by Angie from Many Little Blessings.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

If you have any questions, please be sure to leave a comment.  Now you can follow us on Facebook!

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links which will not effect your purchase, but may help me with our homeschool purchases.  Thank you! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Moments to Remember

Moments to remember

Moments to Remember was developed as a simple way to look back on our week as homeschoolers and find photos that encompass the memories we want to remember.
The week may have been tough, there may have been more bumps than smiles, but in the end these are the moments that keep us going, the ones we need to remember.

One hot afternoon this past week, we decided to take the kids for a frozen yogurt treat at a local cafe.  We came prepared with lots of quarters because the last time we ventured here quarter-less, it ended with a major meltdown.  There is an old-time car for the kids to ride and we "prepped" the kids that everyone would have one turn.  

{A major part of our homeschooling focuses on teaching social skills as our boys have many special needs.  Any opportunity to go into our community to "practice" what we are learning is very helpful!}

Johnathan (7) enjoying his ride.  

Alex (almost 10) enjoying his yogurt peanut M&M's.  He ate all of the candy and left the yogurt.

Amada (3) driving.  She talked the entire time the car was moving.  

James (8) is very serious about eating his frozen yogurt.  And finishing anybody else's.  Whenever we get ice cream or yogurt, he is always the first one done.  He still has an open cleft palate and for some reason I don't think he gets a "brain freeze" from eating frozen treats too fast. 

My husband and I laughed about clearing the place out, but there was some truth to it.  EVERYONE who was there when we arrived were gone before we left.  

What community events or places do you take your children to?  


This post is a link-up with 1+1+1=1.     

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dreamnight at the Sacramento Zoo

Do you live in or near Sacramento and have a child with a chronic illness or disability?  Then you might want to check out this FREE evening of fun at the Sacramento Zoo on June 1st.

Friday, May 18, 2012

20 Activities To Do With Your Kids While Traveling

Memorial Day is approaching and you may have plans to travel.  Or perhaps a car trip is awaiting you during the summer.  I would like to share twenty activities that we do in the car with our kids, in no particular order.  {We try to go camping once a month and the typical drive to our destination is usually 3-4 hours, sometimes longer depending where we are traveling to.}

1.  Play "I Spy" (I spy something that is the color _____. )
2.  Play ABC game (find words outside the car that start with the letters of the alphabet, in order).
3.  Play Hangman (I like the Melissa & Doug traveling version).

4.  Sleep (I know, mostly improbable).
5.  Count a particular number of items (horses, semi-trucks, motorcycles, etc.).
6.  Search for out-of-state license plates (Melissa & Doug also have a version of this game).

7.  Electronic games.
8.  Watch a movie.
(iPad is great for #7 and #8)
9.  Crayola Color Wonder markers and coloring book (I LOVE these because if the kids drop the markers I don't have to worry about the ink staining the car seats or clothing!).
Product Details
10. Have a snack. (I don't know why but my kids ALWAYS like to snack in the car.  I try to bring chewy snacks like beef jerky, fruit snacks, licorice, or gum.  Oranges cut into slices and stored in a cooler are great for quenching thirst. String cheese is easily portable and not messy.)
11. Sing songs (Listen to kids music CD's and sing-along).
12. Play guessing games (i.e. take turns making animal sounds and guessing which animal makes that sound).
13. Play Simon says.
14. Bring a travel-size Magna Doodle (great for tic-tac-toe).
Fisher-Price Doodle Pro Travel Green
15. Tell stories.
16. Play travel-size versions of your favorite board game, or learn a new one.
17. Read a book (individually or as a group).  Books on CD are great for this too!
18. Beware: Try not to get car sick.  (We keep a stash of Sea Bands in the car as we have several in our family who suffer from motion sickness.)
19. Print out a copy of the map and have the kids follow along (ours also like to use the map app on our iPhone).
20. Play Travel Bingo.  Get your FREE copy of my travel bingo game.  There are four different game boards.  I laminated ours and we use them with magnets and a magnetic dry erase board.  You can play individuals or teams.

How to receive your free travel bingo game:
1. Become an email/RSS subscriber to my blog and leave a comment below.
2. Like me on Facebook and leave a comment below.
Be sure to include your e-mail address as I will be e-mailing you all four copies of the travel bingo game you see below.

Have any activities to add?  Would love hear your suggestions.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Unexpected Distractions

We had something happen today that was absolutely amazing.  And it got me thinking.  How often do we miss unexpected distractions blessings because we are so busy following our schedule?  

And yes, today was a great reminder of that for me.  *Smile*

We were going through our All About Reading lesson this morning and the kids (well most of them) were absolutely not interested.  Daniel (aka Daddy) is normally inside with us while we do school, but he has been working on installing a heater for our pool for the last 3 days.  The kids have noticed his absence, and so have I.  

While we do homeschool year-round, we are winding down for the summer and planning many more activity based learning opportunities.  We only have approximately 10 days left of our All About Reading and we will be done with this level.  SO, I really wanted to get through today's lesson.  Everyone finished their work except  our youngest.  It was time to take our usual break.  Those who need to have a snack grab one and we all go outside to play.  Daniel was also taking a break with us. 

We looked up to see this...

A female Robin making a nest.  This nest was not there a day or two ago.  We sat there watching, absolutely fascinated, as she would swoop down and fly away, then return a few minutes later with a beak full of nesting material.  

Luckily the nest was not very far up in the tree so we could see it all very easily.  I did retrieve the binoculars so the kids could take a look, but it was better just watching with our naked eyes.  We have a balcony off the second story of our house so the kids stood up there.  

  And yes, there was quite a bit of arguing over the binoculars until I finally had to put them away.  

Notice the colors of (what I am guessing is) the female
Along with our All About Reading, this month we are also studying about baby animals.  And we were able to watch a natural event right in our backyard that I couldn't have planned better myself if I had tried. 

We noticed what we presumed to be the male, keeping watch.  His chest was much brighter and bigger.  At one point, another bird flew by the nest and it was very interesting to see how both of the robins chased it away.  

This was an all-day event.  It was completely unexpected.  And we embraced it.  I am not sure if the nest building will continue tomorrow, but if it does I'm sure we will be watching.

How do you handle unexpected distractions?  Do you see them as blessings?


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

I had an awesome Mother's Day just spending time with my family and friends.  The younger kids woke up at their usual time (read earlier than I wanted to wake up).  Then they ate their usual breakfast (same. thing. every. day).  I elected to make a quiche for our breakfast brunch so I got to working on it.  I love to cook and bake and I always appreciate new taste-testers.  My long-time friend, Heather, brought danishes and a fruit salad.  We were able to sit outside and enjoy the weather while we ate.  The quiche was quite tasty!

Heather and I 
My older daughter gave me yellow roses (my favorite!), a beautiful butterfly balloon, a card, and my favorite candy.  Wow, what a surprise that was!

When my mom arrived everyone was especially happy to see grandma and Michael as they have been on vacation in Hawaii for the last 2 weeks.  Grandma opened her Mother's Day presents:  a personalized t-shirt that says "This Grandma belongs to" (then has all the names of the grandchildren).  

                      And a personalized photo book from Shutterfly.

Next it was time for all of the children to go swimming.  It was really nice having the older children swim with the younger children so I didn't have to get in the *freezing* (70 degree) water.  We had 9 children total swimming.  It was very relaxing not being on any particular schedule today.


For dinner, my husband BBQ'd pork tenderloin and tri-tip steak and cut up a watermelon.  My older daughter made potato salad & pasta salad.  Heather and my mom pitched in to help with the salads and make corn on the cob.  James was so happy to help with the corn too.

The kids opened their presents from grandma and Michael's Hawaii trip.  Some of the kids went swimming again (gasp).  Then we had cake and ice cream for dessert.  Everyone was definitely tired out and ready for bed tonight!

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day as well.


My mom and I

This is a Happy Mother's Day link-up with 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Moments to Remember


Moments to Remember was developed as a simple way to look back on our week as homeschoolers and find photos that 
encompass the memories we want to remember.
The week may have been tough, there may have been more bumps than smiles, but in the end these are the moments that 
keep us going, the ones we need to remember. 
Five months ago we moved into a rental house after we listed our home for short-sale.  This was a house we purchased in 2006 as we began our adoption journey.  It was a BIG, brand new, beautiful home that we always thought would be our forever home.  But now I am happy and content in our rental house.  We have a rather large (& beautiful) backyard with a pool, tree swing, and a tree house.  Every child's dream backyard.  And we are loving it!  

The kids can't wait to finish their schoolwork so they can run out back to play.  It has been a great motivator and we are making family memories!  The weather has finally started warming up and everyone is anxious to start swimming.  Unfortunately the pool water is fre-e-e-ezing.

Johnathan (7)

James (8) and Amada (3)

Alex (9)

James (8) and Johnathan (7) racing their new remote control quads they received for their birthdays.  I am happy that they are playing together and not fighting.

I am relaxing on the swing with Johnathan and Amada.  Why is it so peaceful to sit outside on the swing and listen to all the sounds of nature?  Yes, I could get used to this.

Even our cats are happy and content with our new home.  This is Bear curled up on the rocks under the big oak tree.  Boots is undoubtedly roaming the neighborhood.

This post is a link-up with 1+1+1=1.  


Homeschool Helps: Equivalent Fractions FREEBIE

 I know it has been a while since I have posted. Life is crazy, as usual. We are back to homeschooling two of our children this year. Becaus...