Monday, May 20, 2013

Where have I been?

Many of you may have noticed my absence in posting weekly Tot School information about things Tripp and I are doing. We've had a lot of changes since my last post in January. We are still Tot Schooling. Tripp has learned almost all his numbers 1-9 and almost the entire alphabet. He knows colors, and he's picking up words at an alarming rate. The reason for my lack of posts is that most days I can no longer hold a camera, and most days it is very hard for me to type on a keyboard for any length of time.

In February I was diagnosed with an auto-immune, inflammatory arthritis. Things had been going downhill since just after Thanksgiving, but I kept hoping it'd get better. But it hasn't. I have severe pain every day. By 5 or 6 pm my hands and feet are very swollen and painful. It hurts to walk. It hurts to use my hands. Some days I'm swollen from the knees down and from the shoulders down. My life has changed drastically. I've been unable to do many of the things I love doing, and unable to do many daily living tasks.

Through all this, I've kept the majority of it to myself. I've spoken to a few dear friends, and I have a small group of friends on Facebook with similar issues who have banded together for support. I have posted very little of any of my new trails and tribulations publicly, so most of my larger circle of friends have no idea what's happened to me. All of my friends in the group agreed on one thing: we needed a judgement-free, SAFE place to talk about our pain and health issues, without getting the eye-rolls from people in our feed who don't believe us, don't think it's "that bad," or just don't want to hear it.

I posted a little about my pain issues for the first time since our group was created on my page last night. (My wedding ring caused an open sore on my finger, because I had swollen up so much and didn't notice because everything else hurt.) Within a few minutes, a very dear and well-meaning friend had posted a link to a Dr. who "cured" herself from MS by changing her diet drastically (Paleo, GF, probably vegetarian.. I didn't watch it all)... And I just want to scream: IF YOUR DIET CURED YOU, YOU WERE PROBABLY MISDIAGNOSED!!!

Don't get me wrong. I KNOW diet helps. I'm not Paleo. I'm not gluten-free. I'm no longer vegetarian, but I don't eat beef or pork. We eat *very* clean and VERY little processed foods. We have a garden with fruits and veggies, we go to the farmer's market. Eat organic when we can afford it. I make 95% of everything we eat from scratch. Bread, yogurt, spice mixes, extracts, salad dressings, some cheeses, hummus, tortillas, baked goods, wine... really, the list goes on and on.

I'm not saying this doctor didn't have amazing results from changing her diet. Yes, changing her diet may be what got her out of her wheelchair. But, I also firmly believe that the MS will catch up to you eventually, and you're just staving off the inevitable. Do I think that's worth it? Yes. Has it worked for me? No. None of the major diet changes I've tried over the last 18 years have worked for me. There are a few things that are triggers, and I stay away from them. But avoiding white flour in noodles/bread and buying whole wheat ones is not a major diet change.

Just because I don't talk about it, doesn't mean I haven't tried it. And I've got a new set of pain and health issues. A new diagnosis. I'm still trying to find my way through every day changes. I'm not currently looking to make drastic diet changes for my whole family. Because, believe me, most of these changes aren't something one person in a household can do. It's all or nothing. I love my large group of granola friends, but I don't know what to say to them when they keep offering diet changes as cures. Well, I don't know what to say that wouldn't hurt their feelings. I don't believe that eating like a caveman would cure me. Cure is a very strong word to me. If the disease was cured by changing your diet, then it should stay that way if you change your diet again. Cure is a means of healing to restore health. When someone's cancer is cured, it is gone from your body and (more than likely) won't return. But if the treatments prolong your life, but your cancer is still there, that's not a cure.

I also don't think they'd want to see me after giving up chocolate. :)

Before my arthritis issues started two years ago, I had my fibromyalgia under control. I had 2-3 flare-ups a year. Yes, I had daily pain. But it was all manageable. I was on one medication and birth control. Do I think my diet changes helped manage that? Yes. But so did my daily yoga, and other health changes I'd made. The diet was only a small part. Everyone's body is different. Treatments may not work for me, as it did for you. Not everyone's body responds to natural treatments the same way. I have a friend with MS who milks goats daily to help her pain in her hands. Every time I try daily repetitions of things similar, my hands swell up and get worse and I can't use them the rest of the day.

I also have to be careful of what I do and try to do each day that I think may leave me out of commission. I have a not-quite-two-year-old to take care of by myself each day. Do you think he understands when mommy can't use her hands anymore? And how the hell would I change his diaper?

Things are just so complex for me right now. I've made changes that haven't worked before. I've made changes that made everything worse. I've made changes that have made things better. My family and I are still adjusting to all these new changes, on top of still adjusting to being a little family of our own, and I'm not looking to make drastic changes *yet*.

As my dear, sweet friend who's also having new health issues says: "This has not just been a change in what I DO but who I AM. HOW I am."  ~ Missy Dugan

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Colors Review, Tot School Week 4 (18 months)

Over the last three weeks we've covered four colors. Red, blue, yellow, and green. My goal this week was to go over all the colors again. I started reviewing yellow and green, since we did those last week.

He seemed to still have a good grasp on those, so we went right into covering all the colors.

We got him some ABC magnets at Walmart last week, so I got out his cookie sheet and put them on. They were all in the colors we've covered, so after I let him play for a bit I started asking him to pick up the red/blue/yellow/green one. He did so with only a few blips! Yellow seemed to trouble him more than the other colors, so we'll continue to work with that as the weeks continue.

Isn't he adorable? I just love this sweet little face!

I also wanted to work on some fine motor skills this week, so I cleaned up a small Parmesan cheese bottle and gave him some pipe cleaners, cut in half. I had to show him what to do at first, but it picked it up SO QUICKLY! This entertained him for at  least an hour. He loved putting them in and out of the holes.

 He even figured out to get one in each hole. He couldn't put two in one hole, which was frustrating! I let him play with it until he threw it across the room, which is his current signal for "I'm done". I'm really working on that, it's one of the things that frustrates this mommy! My bad back doesn't do well bending over to pick things up.

Thanks for following in our adventures! :)

Yellow & Green, Tot School Week 3 (18 Months)

This mommy has been having a rough couple of weeks. We've had some crazy weather here in Arkansas and it's made my fibromyalgia act up. I've been in a constant flareup for months now and the doctors can't figure how to help me out of it. I've changed meds tons of times, tried physical therapy, tried old stuff and new stuff. Nothing seems to help. It's been hard for me to take care of Tripp some days. I'm very lucky, though. He's a FABULOUS child and can entertain himself for hours playing. I've been trying to work some Tot School things in here and there.

This week we focused on yellow and green. He seemed to pick up colors much faster this week than when we started. He had a lot of fun lining again!

He also had fun playing with yellow and green mega bloks, and picked up each color correctly when I asked.

And he successfully put the yellow and green bears in their respected cups.

Next week, we'll be working on some more fine motor skills, and going over all the colors we've learned so far. Hopefully I'll be feeling a little better.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Red & Blue 2, Tot School Week 2 (18 Months)

Since Tripp didn't get very far with figuring out red and blue last week, I decided to keep all my Tot School planning from last week the same to focus on the same colors, then change it up next week. I didn't take very many pictures this week because we were repeating a lot of what you saw last week. And because I was having a HORRIBLE fibromyalgia flareup that lasted most of the week. I had a hard enough time keeping up with Tripp to worry about the camera!

I'm happy to say Tripp made some progress with red and blue this week! It happened with the counting bears, which he can't get enough of! The bears and the sensory basket are his most favorite "school" toys to date.

He finally put the red bears in the red cup. Although he much preferred to put ALL the bears in the red cup, then put the blue cup on top and shake them up like he was making a martini! (He's never seen that in this house, I promise!)

I couldn't get him to put the blue bears in the blue cup, though. He would put all the red ones in the red cup. Then he'd add all the blue ones. I could tell he was getting tired of our purposeful play, so I started gathering up our Tot School toys. When I turned back around I found this:

He put the blue bears ON the blue cup! Close enough for this mommy!!!

We also had fun pushing poms! I took an empty snack container, cut a hole in it, then burned the edges to make them smooth. I made it just a little smaller than our poms. I had plans to mod podge scrapbook paper around it, but it hasn't happened yet! He's also figured out how to open the lid on his own, pull out poms, and put the lid back on.

 The sensory basket is still a favorite. I added some heart shaped bracelets I found on another dollar store journey. He had fun with the new addition, and was surprised to see them there. He put them on his arms, but his favorite was putting the small plastic hearts inside the bracelets.

 Be sure to tune in next week. We'll be working on yellow and green. :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Red & Blue, Tot School Week 1 (18 Months)

We had a big talk before Christmas about what our plans for schooling Tripp are, and while I had been on the homeschool kick for a few months, my husband was a little more reluctant. I'm not really sure why, since he had seen all the worst parts of the public school system as a teacher, but he finally got on board. I told him I wanted to start immediately with tot school/preschool type activities and he was all for it. I'm very lucky to have such a supportive husband!

I'm happy to say Tot School is going pretty good so far. We've picked up quite a few items at the dollar store, gathered up what toys we already had, and have some items wishlisted to pick up eventually.

I spent some time weekend before last laying out some basic lesson plans. Munchkin has an amazing vocabulary, so I wanted to start out focusing on teaching colors. I decided to focus on red and blue, with a superhero theme. I gathered some red and blue superhero Little People, a Superman board book from the dollar store, blue and red blocks, and blue and red mega bloks. I also printed out some letter 'A' printables from 1plus1plus1equals1.

We started out with the blocks. We lined and stacked (Munchkin's favorite) and I focused on repeating which block color we were picking up.

We also had a blast putting them back in the basket. That was more fun than stacking and knocking them down!

I made a little sideline trip to the Dollar Tree this week to pick up a few things for a sensory basket. I'd been meaning to put one together for a while, but I decided I'd rather do theme baskets, and this got me excited to get it together. Munchkin LOVES this thing. I mean REALLY LOVES it. He threw a fit when I thought he was done and started putting it up! (Look for an upcoming post about what's in the Sensory Basket.)

Munchkin is still a little young for these printables, but he had a good time coloring, anyway. Although he did try to eat the dry erase marker. I've made a mental note to get him some regular crayons at our next shopping trip. :)

We also splurged on some counting bears this week. I pulled out the red and blue and tried working with the colors again. He had a blast with these things. He didn't sort them into the right color cups, but he loved putting them in the cups and dumping them out.

So goes the first week of Tot School! (This was the week of Dec 7-11. This weekend I'll be posting about this week's adventures!)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Long Time, No See...

Well, it's been a while!!! It's been a rough few months for me. I've been in a lot of pain. My fibromyaliga is getting worse, or there's something else wrong with me altogether. I've been to a bunch of doctors, and had a bunch of tests done in the last 6 months. Not to mention the last two months I've had very limited functionality in both hands, which has made computer time hard for me. I start physical therapy again next week, and I'm going through a round of steroids now. They haven't done much good in the past, but I'm hoping they'll help with my hands at least.

Tripp just had his 18 month checkup, and he's doing perfect. We've finally gotten out of the 25% in weight, which he's been at since birth (which of course, is normal and ok). He's on up to the 50%! He's also well advanced in language, saying 26 words and 5 sentences. Which has given me some new inspiration.

I've been looking over this site the last couple of months since I came across it in a Facebook mommy group called 1+1+1=1. She's a SAHM who homeschools her children, and has been blogging for a while. She has a wealth of information on her site about homeschooling, which Glenn and I plan to do, including something she calls "Tot School" for children age 3 and under. Basically, it's purposeful play with your toddler, teaching through playing. She's got tons of printables, and lots of great ideas which are being used "real world" with her own kids. She's also got a degree in Early Eduction, so she's got a teaching background on her own.

Glenn and I already do a lot of "purposeful play", but there are a lot of great ideas out there, and lots of new things I can do with my Little Sponge to help him learn and grow. I also feel like it will help me prepare for homeschooling in general. So, I've been preparing some stuff to start Tot School on Monday. :) I'm very excited to start this journey with my Little Man, and I hope to be blogging about it, as well.