Monday, October 29, 2012

CtG - Week 7 - papyrus, hieroglyphics, a Fall Fest, and a little bit of magic ;)

Here are a few highlights from our week...


The kiddos had fun this week creating hieroglyphic pictures. They tried hard to tell a story using the pictures. I was able to figure out the story line for the most part.

They also made a cartouche. We just used cardboard squares, pencils, and markers for this activity.

Blue-eyed boy's Pharaoh with a really long beard

Brown-eyed girl's Cleopatra

We stuck to the schedule pretty much as lined out in the teacher's manual this week, but we did opt to leave out some parts of Wednesday's Bible discussion due to content we were just not ready to cover yet. 

I think I recall doing the same for a certain part of the required reading in Journey.

We learned about how the Egyptians made and wrote on papyrus paper. I happened to have some samples of papyrus paper the kids could have to keep so they were able to actually, see, and touch, and feel real papyrus.

By the way, if you happen to have the Drive Through History Holy Lands DVD #1, this week would be an excellent time to watch Episode #2.


Nothing too exciting in this area this week. We completed the cup and water experiments in the bathtub.

Fall Fest

The 3 Amigos, 3 Caballeros, 3 Musketeers: these gals had tons of fun together!

My brown-eyed girl is not too sure about the!

fun on the hayride!
Jengo Fett

The 'Magic Curt' Illusionist Show was pretty entertaining.
Trying to get out of the knots tied by these guys.
straight jacket

catching a paint ball in his teeth
chopping celery, but not the hand

The kiddos had LOTS of fun!

 We hope you all had a great week as well!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cyclic vomiting and what we are trying (part 3)

1) Vitamins - I am going to start the kids back on multi-vitamins. They have taken them on and off through the years, but I am going to try to find one they like and then be more consistent with making sure they get them each day.

2) Digestive enzyme with probiotics - a friend of mine suggested digestive enzymes. I don't know why I didn't think of this before. My husband takes them from time to time (especially when he is going to eat something he knows may potentially upset his stomach). My brown-eyed girl is taking it for now, but I am not sure how long she will want to because she is not thrilled about the taste. I may try a different form other than a chewable next time or a different brand.

3) Gluten - We are going to try and cut gluten out of her diet. I have been doing a lot of research and getting advice from friends who are on gluten free diets and I am thinking this may help some of my brown-eyed girls tummy troubles. I know what you are thinking...another person jumping on the gluten-free-fad band wagon.  Before you go judging and rolling your eyes (as some have already done), if you thought doing this even had a small chance of helping your child, you just might try it too. We eat LOTS of wheat in this house and I wonder if increasing our wheat consumption over the years has inadvertently increased some of my brown-eyed girls issues. If anything, it will get me to bake more, which is better than buying all the store-bought overly processed stuff, which is healthier for all of us in the long run. 
We picked up a hodge-podge of gluten-free foods and snacks to try. Some have been a hit and others have just been nasty. I told my daughter I would try whatever snacks and foods she did so I can see what they taste like too. The KinniToos chocolate cookies were a hit. With that price though, she'll be the only one eating them. Whenever I buy those, I'll just buy a bag of Oreos for the rest of us. They are both similar in appearance and taste. Glutino crackers were good too, but again, a little pricey. My daughter loves tomato soup, so when we eat that, she can have her crackers to dip and the rest of us will have Ritz. I found a Cream of Mushroom condensed soup. Apparently, condensed soups have gluten in them. We haven't tried it yet, but hope it tastes good as a lot of my recipes call for Cream of Mushroom soup. Julian's frozen pancakes were ok. My daughter ate most of it. Van's Buckwheat Berry waffles were nasty...kinda like eating cardboard. I am waiting for my gluten-free flour to come in and plan to make and freeze my own pancakes and waffles. I usually make mine from scratch anyway...well, when I have some spare time to make up a big ol' batch of em. We have a few other things to try, but haven't done so yet.

4) I am finally going to make an appointment with Texas Children's. I guess I put it off so long because I got discouraged. Don't get me wrong, I really like our pediatrician, but he never seems really concerned about what is going on with her. Once he slapped the name cyclic vomiting to what was happening to her, that was pretty much the end of the discussion. That is not good enough for me. I want to brainstorm ways to help her or at least lessen her occurrences, not just accept it and act helpless to do anything. Something or a build up of something in her system has to be what is causing this. The last time I was at the pediatrician talking to him about it, he referred me to the local pediatric gastroenterologist. If you read my previous posts, then you know that was a mistake. 

Anyway, after this last episode, that jumpstarted me wanting to press on again looking for ways and people to help her.

Through it all, we are praying and asking God to guide us...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How cyclic vomiting affects my little girl

Cyclic Vomiting (part 1)

It comes on...without warning. 

Most times she'll have an episode each month....sometimes 2 in one month.

Typically, it hits my daughter in the early morning hours around 4 or 5 am. She'll go to bed perfectly fine then wake up in a rush to make it to the bathroom before vomiting.

The vomiting continues. Sometimes just for a few hours and other times longer. Her shortest episode (since the diagnoses) was around 3 hours and the longest was 24 hours. Sometimes she vomits just once each hour and other times it is more like every 30 minutes. 

Can you imagine vomiting every 1/2 hour for a full 24 hours!?!   

This last episode was like that. Sometimes she'll start out vomiting what little is left of her undigested food, but most times, she just vomits up what looks like foam. Depending on how long the vomiting continues, it progresses from that to dry heaving, to more of a yellowish stomach acid. Sorry, I'm not trying to be gross. We give her a dose of Zofran. Sometimes she vomits it right up and other times, it will give her a short break from vomiting. 

This last time, she vomited the 1st dose up shortly after giving it to her. We can only give it every 8 hours. So, after 8 hours of vomiting, we tried again. It helped for 2 hours. In that time, she was able to keep an italian ice pop down. We always worry about dehydration during the longer episodes. I don't know why, but for some reason, these ice pops will stay down sometimes when nothing else will. 
After 2 hours, it started up again. Anything we tried to have her drink or eat came right back up. After several more hours, we gave her another dose of Zofran. This time, the vomiting stopped completely.

So what is my daughter like during these episodes?

She is miserable!

Usually, a severe lower abdominal pain accompanies the vomiting. We haven't figured out this part yet. What is causing that pain? It is in the same spot nearly every time. Sometimes, we can feel a tiny little bump there in her intestine and other times...nothing. The doc told us it is probably food/waste still moving thru her intestines or trapped in that area during the episodes. She curls up into a tiny little ball and cries. The only time she leaves her spot is to vomit. After hours of this, she'll drift in and out of sleep due to exhaustion. 

There is nothing we can do, nothing we can give her to make her feel better. We clear our schedules for that day and the next...and wait for it all to stop. We clear our schedules the day after because she feels puny and weak due to the vomiting and lack of food/fluid intake the day before. We spend the day after doing light things around the house like playing board games, video games, and watching movies. She gets LOTS of food and snacks and drinks to try to get some nutrients back into her little body. The day after that, she is back to nothing ever happened.

She has missed dance classes, water parks, festivals, summer day camps,  field trips, and more. If her brother has anything on the schedule, he misses his things too if my husband is at work and there is no one else to take him. My son takes VERY good care of his sister when she is feeling bad...doting on her, tending to her every need, letting her watch endless hours of girly movies. He is so compassionate!

Let me just say though, with all the research I have been doing and the countless blogs and testimonies I have read, my daughter's episodes are nowhere near the severity of what others have to go thru. Some people's episodes last for weeks. WEEKS!?! My heart goes out to those people and I am thankful that my daughter's is not anywhere near that least not yet. 

I worry because her episodes seem to be happening more often and are lasting longer each time. I worry, that if we don't figure out what is going on, we will be where these other people are. I worry because the last 2 times this has happened, she has gotten lots of ulcers near the back of her mouth because of repeatedly vomiting up stomach acid. I worry about what this is doing to her stomach and esophagus. I worry...a lot.

So, I research and I research some more...trying to see what others in this situation have done, what has helped them, etc...

There is no magical test to see what will work and what won't work. 

It is all trial and error...experimentation.

Cyclic Vomiting (part 1)

I think some people think I am crazy

I mean, how do you explain something called 'cyclic vomiting'?!?

No one has really ever heard of it and no one knows why it happens, but let me assure you...IT. IS. REAL.

So, what is cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS)?

CVS is characterized by episodes or cycles of severe nausea and vomiting that last for hours, or even days, that alternate with intervals with no symptoms. Although originally thought to be a pediatric disease, CVS occurs in all age groups. Medical researchers believe CVS and migraine headaches are related.
Each episode of CVS is similar to previous ones, meaning the episodes tend to start at the same time of day, last the same length of time, and occur with the same symptoms and level of intensity. Although CVS can begin at any age, in children it starts most often between the ages of 3 and 7.
Episodes can be so severe that a person has to stay in bed for days, unable to go to school or work. The exact number of people with CVS is unknown, but medical researchers believe more people may have the disorder than commonly thought. Because other more common diseases and disorders also cause cycles of vomiting, many people with CVS are initially misdiagnosed until other disorders can be ruled out. CVS can be disruptive and frightening not just to people who have it but to family members as well.

My daughter started having these episodes a few years ago...possibly as early as 3 or 4 years old. They started out so sporadic and spread out that we just chalked them up to a stomach virus or something she ate.

Here in the last 2 years though, her episodes have really kicked things up a notch. This is when we knew something more was going on. 

We were told that our daughter most likely had a dairy intolerance. Our son had a dairy intolerance when he was younger and limiting his dairy intake did wonders for him and his occasional upset tummy. Makes we started limiting hers as well. It did help for the day to day upset tummy trouble she would have occasionally, but it still didn't account for these vomiting episodes she was having.

We took her to the doctor several more times. The first few diagnoses being constipation because of the amount of gas they could feel bubbling around in there. This one was hard for me to understand because, for the most part, she has daily bowel movements. Don't get me wrong, she does get constipated from time to time (as we all do), but it just didn't make sense to me. Nevertheless, we started her on Benefiber...sprinkling it into her foods each day. That didn't really seem to make a big difference, so next we were told to try Miralax. Then it was Miralax as well as an enema when her episodes started. And let me tell you...she HATED those enemas. Besides that, they didn't help! 

A few months ago, we went back to the doc and she was diagnosed with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. She was also prescribed Zofran for when the vomiting episodes started. Sometimes it helps, but sometimes it doesn't. However, nothing helps with her severe lower abdominal pain that is present nearly every time she has her vomiting episodes.

We were also referred to a local pediatric gastroenterologist. That man was a quack!  I was told by MANY people not to go to him, but I didn't listen.  What was worse is that HE didn't listen to a word I said. Without ever even looking at her, examining her, or even looking at her food diary I had been keeping, he had his mind made up that it was acid reflux. Seriously!?! Our pediatrician had looked into that early on in her treatment, but ruled it out as to it being the cause of her vomiting. When I tried to tell him this or question him about the diagnoses in combination with her lower abdominal pain, he'd shrug me off and talk over me never letting me finish a sentence. I know what acid reflux is, my husband deals with it all the time, but this was not acid reflux. 

So, we (yes, my kids were present through all of his unprofessional behavior) politely waited for him to finish his rant, then he stormed out of the room. We left and never went back.

Meanwhile, just last week, my daughter had another episode...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week 6 - A short week, a sad story, surgery, and semi-difficult Bible lessons

Here are a few highlights from our week...

Art went ok this week. I have figured out the my blue-eyed boy doesn't object so much to doing art when I let him add his own twist to things. For example, in Lesson #10, it called for a black pen. He wanted to use bright blue. So I let him. He also wanted to add a few of his own elements to a picture he was supposed to copy. So I let him. I figured, what could it hurt? He gets the jist of it anyway. I am learning not to be such a stickler for doing things exactly the way someone else says to do them. That's hard for me and my former public school teacher mind sometimes.

There were a lot of tough concepts to go over this week. We had a few eyebrows raise throughout several of our Bible lessons this week. The first came when reading how Abram didn't exactly tell the whole truth when they moved to Egypt. They told Pharaoh Sarai was only Abram's sister, not his wife. Technically, she was his half-sister, which brought responses of, 'Ewww, he married his sister?!?'. This opened up discussions about creation, Adam and Eve, and how people in early Bible times had to marry their cousins or half-siblings b/c those were some of the only people around to marry. We also talked about how this is not needed or acceptable anymore b/c God commanded against it later in Leviticus and how things that can go wrong genetically as well as the gross-factor or marrying a relative. We discussed about as much as we could with their level of learning and maturity. I looked into the issued a bit deeper. Here is an article that helped me understand a little better. 

We also talked about the consequences of Abram's lie or half-truth. Pharaoh and his family were struck with plagues, Abram's failure to trust God to take care of them, and Abram and Sarai kicked out of Egypt. Again, we covered what we could within their realm of understanding, but I went a bit deeper in my own studies. This article was helpful. 

Later in the week, I had to explain why Abram, who was already married to Sarai, took Hagar to also be his wife and also had a son with her. My kids, who are old enough to understand a few simple things of this nature were like, "Whoa, what?" I explained to them this was not God's original design. He created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Eve and Susan. We talked about the problems that occurred from Abram not trusting God and having more than one wife. For example - Hagar treating Sarai with contempt and then Sarai treating Hagar badly.  Again, I went a little deeper in my own studies and found this article to be helpful.

In going over the map so many times, I think the kids now have it memorized. It gets a bit confusing at times trying to visualize where the old Biblical cities and locations were compared to where the modern day locations and cities are nowb/c so many of the exact locations are uncertain, but we are managing.

Some of the things we are learning seems to be a bit repetitious or overdone. The kids have begun to say, "Haven't we already gone over this?"

By the way, if you happen to have the Drive Through History Holy Lands DVD #1, this week would be an excellent time to watch Episode #1.

"Pyramids again?", my kiddos said. Yep, they are over them already and ready to move on the other things. We opted not to do the experiments listed in the book. We had already done the 'grow your own crystals' one last year. Instead, we took my son's microscope and looked and salt and sugar crystals. We were able to see their cube shape. From there, the kids strayed off and started look at all sorts of other things under the microscope, but that was ok with me. I needed a break from pyramids!

The Tanglewoods' Secret
We finished the book this week. And it was a tear-jerker! This next paragraph is a spoiler, so if you have not gotten to Chapter 18, then you might want to stop reading here. Anyway, it really got my attention. When reading it to the kids, I started balling like a baby and they just sat there bug-eyed staring at me..."There were many footsteps up and down the house that night while we lay asleep, for Aunt Margaret and Terry's mother did not go to bed at all, and the doctor arrived just before midnight. but no one heard the feet of the Good Shepherd when he drew near and picked Terry up in his arms." I'm teary-eyed again just thinking about it! Of course, my kids informed me this was supposed to be a happy story, not a sad one, because Terry was in Heaven now. I tried explaining to them about 'happy tears' and... oh well, they'll get it one day.... 

...The Shepherd took his little lamb home.

This was only a 3 day school week because my daughter had surgery Thursday morning. She had tubes put in her ears when she was 2 years old. They helped TREMENDOUSLY with her ear infections. She went from having just about 1 a month (she was on antibiotics practically from birth for the ear infections) to having just 2 more TOTAL over the next 6 years. Anyway, she needed surgery to remove one of the tubes that just refused to fall out on its own as well as a patch to help the hole close up.

We were all prepared for a quiet relaxing day. Even sent my blue-eyed boy over to play at his uncle's house for a few hours (his uncle is only 9 months older than My brown-eyed girl felt a little queazy on our way home after the surgery, but as soon as we got some food into her belly, it was all uphill from there...or so I thought. So far, she's had very little to no pain in her ear and has been acting like nothing even happened. I REALLY like the ENT we use. He did both of my daughter's surgeries as well as removal of our son's tonsils and adenoids and we have been extremely pleased.

I had already scheduled to take the day off from school on Friday, so the kids had a free day and I had a 'catch up on your housework' day.

Late Friday night is when the trouble daughter's cyclic vomiting syndrome starting acting up...again. It seems to be lasting longer with each episode now. I have been doing lots and lots of gluten research and I can't help but wonder if gluten could be contributing to this. Anyway, Friday was a sleepless night and Saturday was spent tending to my daughter, researching the gluten-free lifestyle, and purchasing a few gluten-free staples to give us a jump start on things.

Anyway, I am hoping this will help. Only time will tell, I guess. All I know is a solid 24 hours of doing nothing but vomiting (literally) is no fun for my little girl :(

This post has been linked up with Discover Their Gifts.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

CtG Week 5 - mummified Barbies, make your own maze, and pyramids

Here are a few highlights from our week...

Art actually went ok this week. My kids absolutely loved making the maze in lesson #84. They started out with the ruler, then decided it was taking too long and they just drew the remainder without it. My daughter kept hers very simple with just a few obstacles. My son, however, REALLY got into his and turned it into more of a video game. I was actually surprised he spent SO much time drawing. He put black holes that would transport you to another area of the maze, smiley faces you had to collect in order to get into Pharaoh's chamber, as well as unique obstacles. The kids even printed a few out to bring to their friends.   

The kids already know the books of the Bible, so we just reviewed all of them and mainly focused on learning our AWANA Bible verses this week. The kids had some rather large ones to memorize this week.

We are moving at a great pace in The Tanglewoods' Secret. I think we are either right on schedule or just 1 chapter ahead. Did I mention we are all really liking this story?


We learned more about pyramids. The largest pyramid was King Khufu's pyramid in Giza.
The kids then made their own paper pyramids.

Brown-eyed girl turned hers into a necklace.

They also constructed a pyramid made out of Legos.

Notice the smaller pyramids and the make-shift sarcophagus? They came up with this all on their own :-D


The kiddos mummified Barbie dolls on Monday. Scratch brown-eyed girl mummified a Barbie doll and my blue-eyed boy mummified a skeleton. Apparently, a Barbie (even a man Barbie) was still too girly for him...LOL! 

We got this idea from a homeschool blog called Just Call me Jamin. Click on the link to read all about how to create your own mummies!

We tore linen cloth into strips. Then soaked them in mixture of 1 cup flour and 3 cups water. As you can tell by blue-eyed boy's face, it was kinda gross feeling.

We wrapped the bandages around and around the figures, then soaked them with more of the flour water mixture. Finally, we laid them in the sun to dry.
Here are the finished products. Quite crispy!

My daughter has since 'unembalmed' hers and added it in with the rest of her collection. She said it was much too pretty to leave all bandaged up. My son hung his from our carport. Not sure what I thought about that...or what other people think when they walk up and see!
I have to say though...they really learned a lot thru this process and they told their father all about the mummification process while we were eating dinner. A little gross, I have to admit, but they remembered the process quite well. This experiment was the last thing we did for the school day. We read all the required reading for Monday's CtG prior to this activity, watched a short 2.5 minute video from the Getty Museum on the mummification process (*warning* you might want to preview this. It doesn't show anything, but it gets just about as close as you can), and watched a 30 minute Reading Rainbow video called Mummies Made in Egypt.

 I also sang and danced for them to my own little rendition of the Reading Rainbow song. Hello?!? Who DOESN'T remember that song ;) They were quite amused and no, I won't do it again...LOL! Unless I feel like embarrassing them in front of their friends one day, then out come the exploding jazz hands!!! 

We wanted to mummify apples, but never really found the time to get the experiment done this week. If you'd like to try it, you can read more about it here at The Unlikely Homeschool.

This has been linked up over at 2 Ladybugs and a Lizard.

Monday, October 8, 2012

CtG Week 4 - pyramids, LOTS of science, kid blogs, and an epic battle

Here are a few highlights from our week...

The Upper and Lower Egyptian crowns. I wish there was a template somewhere for these, but after some trial and error, we got them to work.


This week, the kids have been learning about Upper and Lower Egypt. They even got the chance to reenact the battle where King Menes united the kingdoms.
A and J only agreed to having it recorded if she could wear her Cleopatra outfit and he could use star wars sabers.
The kids wanted to swap places and reenact the battle again.

The kids have been waiting to dig into their archaeology pyramid boxes for months now. We picked these up when our local teacher supply store was going out of business. We got an excellent deal on them :)
$30 regularly...on sale for $12!!!

Looking over the tools: brush, chisel, hammer, sponge, safety glasses, pic

They had to solve the hieroglyphic puzzle around the pyramid to find the secret entrance

Now they've found the right area; they must chisel away to unlock the pyramid

Beginning to uncover the treasures hidden inside

Same here

The artifacts: we'll learn more about these as we get to them in MFW 

More Science

The kids put some models together to figure out why the pyramids were built the way they were
The square structures kept falling apart

The triangles were much sturdier


In honor of the start of our Egypt study, we had yummy mummy pizza for lunch. Ours didn't turn out near as pretty as the one in this link, but it ate just the same. I remembered to take a picture before, but not after :( The kids had already half eaten them by the time I thought about it. They were a hit!

Kid Blog!!!! If your kids really don't care much for writing or doing journal entries...I highly suggest this. My mother-in-law told me about it a while back, but I am just now getting around the setting it up. It was an instant hit with both of my kiddos! Its name is self explanatory - it's a FREE blog for kids. It is safe, fairly easy to use (very similar to blogger) and you can even set it up to where only certain people can have a code to visit it. You just set up 1 teacher account and however many student accounts you want under that. Each of my kids have one. They even have to submit their stories and comments for my approval (if you want that option activated). I want to teach them to be safe online, so I still had them use code names and told them never to reveal personal information like addresses, names, etc... I am trying to clean my blog up to do the same :-/

 I sent their blog and access to it to multiple family members. They can comment and the kids can comment back. They love that part! They have been enjoying it and writing doesn't seem like so much of a chore anymore :-] They actually look forward to posting little blips and pics of what they are doing each week.

Yom Kippur 

We slacked a little on this feast :( We blew the shofars each day and talked about the meaning of Yom Kippur and about fasting (and I did fast for breakfast Sunday morning), but that was pretty much it.

This post has been linked up with Discover Their Gifts