Sunday, July 31, 2011

Preparing to See the Cardiologist

For those of you who do not know, Gess was born with a congenital heart defect and at 2 1/2 months of age she had open heart surgery to repair her AV canal. She also has a mild mitral valve leak. She has done really well since the surgery and has had no special directives for quite some time now. We only have to see the cardiologist every few years and this was one of those years.

When you go to the cardiologist they do an EKG and an echo-cardiogram. The last time she had those done (which was a few years ago) she was frightened by them and I think we may have even given on up on the echo because she simply would not lay on the table. Having dealt with some other issues at the hospital this last year I figured I would work with her and try to address her fears ahead of time, so we practiced these procedures at home.

During an EKG they place electrodes to your skin and then they use a clip with wires to attach those to a machine which traces your heart activity on to paper. It is a painless procedure, but imagine how scary those wires and clips can look to a child! To practice an EKG at home, all we did was get some tape and attached it to her in various places around her chest and on her sides. (For practice we did this over her clothes which also kept her from feeling any discomfort when the tape came off which could have been counterproductive. ) Once the tape was in place I clipped clothes pins on them. I said, "see, that doesn't hurt at all, does it?" I then explained how the clips would be attached to wires that would then draw pictures of what her heart was doing. We really emphasized how fun and cool it would be.

To prepare for the echo-cardiogram I just grabbed what was handy, which was a brush, and had her lie down on the couch. I turned the lights down and reminded her that the room would be somewhat dark. I then rubbed her chest with the handle of the brush. I told her there would also be a cold gel they would rub on her. I then talked about how amazing it would be to see her heart on the little television screen. A friend of mine said she used a toy microphone and some lotion to prepare her son for the visit. With Gess being a girl and getting older, we opted to do it over her clothes so we did not use any lotion. She still seemed to get the idea.

So, how did it go? Once we got there she was very eager to lay down and prove how brave she was during the EKG. She seemed a bit tense, but once it started she relaxed and did fine. She resisted the echo a bit more. At first she still did not want to lay on the table, but when I talked to her and reminded her of how we practiced, she got up there and did great.

Going to the doctor can be scary for any child. When you see a specialist it can be even more stressful. If you know what your child is going to face going in, it is certainly a good idea to let the child in on it too. It will save a lot of hassle when you get there.

Not only was Gess not very scared, she got a great report too. There have been no changes (which is good) so we don't have to go back for 2 more years! All in all, I think Gess actually liked the visit!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Free Summer Digital Issue of The Old School House

Speaking of the TOS, have you ever read their magazine? Well, if you want to check it out, now is the time. They are currently offering their Summer 2011 digital edition absolutely free with no strings attached! Check it out and see why I am so excited to be a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.

Read It Online Today!

Take a look at the brand new Summer digital edition of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. TOS is offering this digital issue of the magazine totally free with no strings attached. Enjoy this free gift from TOS—no registration or email address required to view the magazine! Take a peek here. Then share the link with your friends by clicking on the share button at the top of the magazine pages.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Horseback Riding Lessons

We are really excited because Gess is beginning to take horseback riding lessons. We are not farmers, involved in 4-H nor do we ever plan to have horses. However, we met a wonderful lady who gives horseback riding lessons. She offered to take Gess on one to see how she did, and she loved it! So now, for the next few months, every other Monday Gess will get to ride a horse! She will learn how to care for them, how to properly mount and ride them, and much more I am sure. We just could not pass up this opportunity. It just doesn't get any more "hands on" than this!

Her first time on a horse...and up she goes!

I did it!

There she heads off on her first ride.
(Yes the teacher has a tight grip on them, though they did just fine!)

I would say she loves riding horses!

Oh, and that guy with her, that's her brother. It was his first time riding too!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Time, Money, Measurement and Garage Sales!

My goal for Math this year is to have Gess really focus on time, money and measurement. We are using Math-U-See and it is helpful for Gess to have the manipulatives to add with but she's moving really slowly through it. While Gess can add, she still hasn't subtracted, nor has she really focused much on telling time or counting money. She's got some basics down on these but she really needs to focus more on them since they are things she will use most often. I still plan on using Math-U-See this year so all I needed were some materials for these specific lessons.

I was posting on Facebook and my homeschool forums and groups asking for ideas for what to use and I was considering some of the Mammoth Math supplements that were suggested. However, last weekend, some local teacher's held a garage sale, and I hit pay dirt! I not only got math work books, I also got folders full of extra worksheets, lessons and math games the teacher's had compiled on their own. I also got some computers games, as well as some non-math related games, books, legos and craft stuff! All for about $16!

So now I am all set for Math! My plan is to do Math-U-See in the morning and in the afternoon work on what I am calling lifeskills Math. These books, along with my Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome should really put Gess on a path to learning some essential math skills. Gess has already started playing the computer games and I can't wait to start on the rest!

Monday, July 18, 2011

TOS Homeschool Crew


I am excited to announce that I am now an official member of the TOS Homeschool Crew! TOS stands for The Old Schoolhouse and is a homeschooling company that offers homeschoolers a variety of resources and encouragement. As a member of the Crew I will get opportunities to try many different homeschool resources such as curriculum, games, and books at no cost to me. I will then share with you, my readers, what I thought of the products I used by posting my review here on my blog. While I am not getting paid for the review, I am able to sample, and sometimes keep, the products I review for free. So I want to be upfront about that.

Up until now (except for the one TOS review I did to apply for this position - TOS Review: The Curiosity Files) everything I have posted about has been things I have personally researched and used. I only post about things that are helpful homeschooling my daughter who has Down Syndrome. My blog will still be just that. Other than posts that begin with "TOS Review", you can know that I personally researched, purchased and liked the product or idea I am posting about. None of that will ever change.

However, that does not mean that my TOS Review posts will be that much different. It was obvious with my first TOS Review post, that The Curiosity Files unit study was very adaptable and helpful for Gess. See, that's the best part. Now that I am on the crew I will simply have access to more great products that I might not have otherwise known were available. The best part is that once I find them and use them, I get to share them with all of you!

Of course I am not silly enough to believe that every curriculum or product I am asked to review will be perfect for a child with special needs. That's alright though, because I will still be able to share what audience I think it will benefit. Most families have more than one child and will hopefully find something useful out of what I post!

I am very anxious to start the year. I can not wait to begin working with the products that the TOS Homeschool Crew will get to review! They have some really great ones coming in this year and I just know that Gess and I will have lots of fun with them! I hope you enjoy my posts and benefit from it as well. So be watching for posts that have the TOS Homeschool Crew banner on them to see what new things we will find this year!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Library Craft Time

Gess always enjoys the summer reading program. Getting her to read the 20 books is easy. Along with the reading emphasis our library has several other activities throughout the summer. They also have contests each week that encourage the children to participate in order to have a chance to win the prize. Since the theme is "around the world," they had the children make a flag one week and they had to name things about a country during another one. Then sometimes it's random, like when you could help name the fish. Well this week they had a "junk bag" contest.

They do the "junk bag" every year. What they do is fill a bag with junk. Then the kids have to make something out of the stuff in the bag. You can add to what is in the bag but you must use everything inside of it, you can't leave anything out. I am really excited because this is the first year Gess did the craft all on her own.

Daddy helped her make a boat last year, but we never turned it in. This year though, I just helped to hold things down so the glue would have time to stick, but she put everything in it's place.

It turned out really great! She didn't intend to make this when she started. She was hoping for a boat again, but now she calls this her "character." I think he looks cool, don't you?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 Promotional Video

I am a big proponent of parental rights. As a homeschooler I realize it is imperative that our rights are protected. However, public school parents need to be aware of the threats too. I hear more and more about public schools disregard the beliefs and feelings of parents. Of course education is not the only sphere in which government is trying to obtain control. With the recent health care reform and HIPPA laws, parents are losing the ability to make medical decisions for their children as well. Lately there has also been an emphasis on adding new regulations regarding nutrition. And that's not even addressing the threat from international laws such as the UN Treaty on the supposed rights of the child (UNCRC). It is not the role of the government to determine what a child should learn, what medical treatment a child should receive or even what food they should eat. has many examples of how parent's have been denied their rights and show examples of how real the threats are. They also propose a solution to the problem: A Parental Rights Amendment.

If you agree that this amendment is the proper way to help secure our rights as parents, please help us spread the word. Below is a new promotional video for the Parental Rights Amendment. Please forward the link - - to as many people as you can, any way you can. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or simply email it to all of your friends. But please help us spread the word.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Church Camp 2011

Well, we had another great year at Church Camp. This is the second year that Gess spent the night. (For grades 1 & 2 they spend 2 days and one night at camp)

I have to tell you the funniest thing she did this year. Gess is NOT a huge fan of noise, especially noise from people talking too loudly. At camp they really encouraged the kids to be loud. They said this is the time when you are allowed to be loud at church so take advantage of it. Well, Gess spent quite a bit of time with her hands over her ears, that is until she figured something out.

They also have a rule that while you are allowed to be loud, when the leaders need you to be quiet you must obey. So they have this game. If they want you quite they raise their fist in the air and get quiet. When you see that, you also raise your fist in the air and get quiet. The goal is NOT to be the last one talking. It actually works really well and the kids all get quiet and pay attention fairly quickly.

Well, after we had SMORES at the campfire we went to watch our camp director Buddy use some Science to illustrate some gospel truths. Well, that got the boys really excited and they were pretty loud but by this time, Gess knew what to do to get them quiet. As they got loud, she raised her hand, then others raised their hands and even the leader raised his hands, getting them all back quiet and paying attention again. A few ladies and I were laughing so hard because none of the kids were aware that it was Gess, not a leader that wanted them quiet! It was so funny!

Anyway, our theme for camp was going on a road trip. We talked about how important it was to follow the signs on the road, just like it was important for us to follow God's Word. Our missionary had been to Africa and she taught a song in Swahili. She was also a native of England so she used her roots to share the gospel by using a tea bag. Yep, you read that right, a tea bag. Kids just love illustrations like that and it was pretty cool. I found a link to The Teabag Gospel where you can see how it's done. Gess sat through all the services and listened rather well.

Here is Gess and our missionary speaker. We snapped this as Gess was on her way to the water slide.

Gess just loves music which is usually her favorite part. Being able to dance around the church is a fun change of pace too. They used the Go Fish Guys Let's Sing songs for part of worship. That's great because Gess has that DVD and is familiar with those songs. From that DVD they sang, Ten Commandment Boogie, Lord I Lift Your Name on High, and Bible Stories. They sang some other songs too, including this one which was new for Gess.

For crafts the last couple of years they have been painting blocks that they will use to decorate camp. The blocks they made last year were placed in front of the office. They painted flags from different countries on them to represent all the places that missionaries go to spread the gospel. Gess painted a flag from Denmark, we found that easiest. She got to see it in place this year! Here she is in front of it.

They also made some doorknob hangers. She enjoyed both activities.

At night in the cabin Gess wanted to sleep on the top bunk, but since she has a tendency to fall out bed, mom said no! Here she was trying to confiscate my bed!

In the evening we would lower the flag and have a time of respect and prayer. In the morning we would raise the flags, say the pledges and pray before breakfast. Here she is waiting for the ceremony to begin. (You can see a couple of road signs behind her)

There was also plenty of playtime. Gess got pretty good at shooting baskets!

It does take some work to help Gess stay on schedule and on task, but she did pretty good. Next year her age group stays for a whole week. At this point I am not sure she is up to it but a year can bring lots of changes, so we shall see. All in all it was a great camp and I am glad we went.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Television at the store - Gee thanks!

At our after church's 4th of July picnic today (yes, I'm aware it's only July 3rd) we were given some left over bananas. What do you do with over-ripe bananas? Well, I hear it makes a good bread. I've never tried before, but since Gess and I started our Kitchen Classroom this year, we try to cook together at least once a week. I thought, what better to bake than banana bread?

As usual the first thing we do is check to make sure we have all the ingredients. If we do not, we make a list and go to the store. Since we tried cooking yesterday and ruined a batch of cookies (too much's a long story) we were out of flour and almost out of eggs and butter. So Gess made her list and off we went to Wal-Mart.

Gess has gotten much better since we started our shopping journeys together. She is really learning her way around the store. Today I let her lead and I followed her. She did really good at first. She knew right where the eggs were and while she kept looking right past the butter she knew it was there somewhere. The next item we needed was plastic spoons. (Not for the recipe of course.) She kept looking for the isle, she knew about where the spoons were on the row, but not which row it was. Just when she was about to hit the right isle, BOOM, there it was! That shiny little thing that talks, has pictures and wants to sell you things. YES, those annoying new television ads in the supermarket! So at the end of the isle that I needed to her to head to, she hears the TV and stops dead in her tracks.

"Gess, Gess!" I go and get her back on task. "What do we need?" She thinks a minute and replies, "Spoons." So she retraces her steps going back where she started. "Gess you are going the wrong way."

"Oh yeah." And she heads down, looking at each isle where she knows the spoons might be. Guess what happened next? Yep! She stops again, captivated by the evil advertisement for some tea you just can't live without or something like that.

So much for this learning experience huh? Well, despite this unfortunate distraction, I was finally able to get her to the spoons and after that the "folwer" we needed. (We also learned today that the flour you cook with is spelled differently than flower you grow...and actually the L comes before the O.)

These days she also helps me at the self-checkout. I don't have her scan the items because those machines are so touchy, but she does choose my options for me. She clicks it to start and tells it what payment method I am using, etc. Then she helps me pay and we are on our way.

You know, we got rid of television at home. I like having DVD's because you do lose that commercial advertising aspect. I like that strangers are not coming into my home telling my child that she needs their product. I guess they are on to us though. If we won't let them in, they will come find us! What do you do!? (By the way, the banana bread turned out much better than the cookies!)


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