Thursday, May 31, 2007

My new supplement regimen

For the last many years, I have struggled with serious hormonal and mood swings. One of the side effects that I think has become the main problem is that I struggle with constant anemia. I still remember vividly going to the hospital in Delta, Utah thinking I was having a heart attack and they could only find severe anemia. (A deep massage took care of the problem after more tests than I ever want to undergo again in my entire life!)

Finally, I relooked up PMDD which seems to be the challenge I contend with. I learned a number of things, but one of the things that resonated with me was total avoidance of dairy products. Mind you, that is not going to be easy but I have lost my taste for as much as I once ate. I have noticed that when my moods get the most difficult to control, I crave ice cream. The next day I hit rock bottom. (I usually eat it before bed.)

For the anemia, I am back on 4 capsules of white oak bark a day. It has worked for me in the past and has already helped now. I have been doing this for about 2 or 3 weeks. My cycle has become way too frequent for anyone to avoid anemia, and it literally stops it! Since pregnancy is not something I'm interested in now, total stoppage is just fine by me. Menopause looks good.

My third change is that I am taking 2 tsp. of cod liver oil a day. Incidentally, I'm giving it to my dog too, and he loves it! His coat was silky after about a week. I'm taking it for the Omega-3s.

My fourth change has been the one of longest duration. I discovered Glacial Milk's Noni at Sam's Club last fall and put Dog Lover and myself on it. It has the highest dosage of B vitamins that I have been able to find for a reasonable cost. Now all but Jim takes it, and even he takes it when he doesn't feel well. Dog Lover showed astounding improvement immediately in her hair and nails (most visible). She has never had strong nails---spoon nails were hers---and her hair was thin. Now I have to cut her nails, and she doesn't bite them. I can't rip them either. Her hair is much thicker and shinier too. None of us have gotten sick much since beginning that, and for that I am grateful. And no, I sell none of this. I don't buy it off their site either although that is an option. Our Sam's Club offers it as a Click 'n Pull item.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nature and wildlife field trip

Today was a full day, and it was a good day! We left this morning for Predator World down in Branson at about 8:35 and got there at about 9:45. The homeschoolers group we were meeting was supposed to show at 10:30 so we were in plenty of time. Better early than worried about being late!

Predator World is not terribly large, but it is fascinating and different than anywhere else we have been. When we walked outside to see the lions, tigers, and wolves, we were amazed to see a man in the lion's den playing pattycake with him. Actually he was teasing him and slapping him with his own paw. Both were having a great time! When the handler got up and headed to the gate, the lion gamboled along beside him just like a big dog. He had such a sad look on his face when the man went through the gate, shutting it behind him. He cocked his head like, "Don't go."

Later we saw him tossing a ball to three tiger cubs playing in a pool. The same scene was reenacted there when he left. They followed him toward the gate too. They were in the same area though so they walked toward the white bengal in the area beside theirs and roared at him. The white bengal was the papa of the three cubs. The four exchanged what sounded like friendly roars (much quieter for one thing), and then the cubs walked into their den. One was trying to bite another's leg. Obviously the tease of the family! :-)

It was interesting to find out that their were no alpha males there. There were some in 2nd place, but the alpha was whatever human was in their area. The guide said they thrived on the attention and begged for more all the time. I couldn't help but think what a marvelous job that would be. Of course, there would be more than a few hazards to the job! The lion was a maneless male lion, and he was apparently the only one that had not been declawed and they are all well fed. Even so, by sheer weight and strength, any of those animals could do some damage!

Predator World also has a black bear and bengal tiger that share an area. The keepers figure that the bear either thinks he is a tiger or the tiger thinks he is a bear. They have lived together since they were 3 months old. Unless the animals have always been together, they do not have them share an area. For example, there are 3 areas for tigers (one for the white bengals, one for the orange bengal and bear, and one for the tiger cubs.) Then there are two areas for wolves. One for three that have been together since two of them were cubs, and one for a new wolf.

There are crocodiles, alligators, snakes, fish, and sharks also at Predator World. They have several tanks of various kinds of fish. The kids got to feed the sharks, turtles, and the various kinds of fish in another large tank. Many of the animals and reptiles are native to this area or nearby. I think all but the tigers probably are native to this country. There was a good variety; it gave us an appreciation for how many different kinds of animals are in this country!

When we were done at Predator World (about 2 - 2 1/2 hours later), we decided to head over to the Shephard of the Hills Conservation Center. It is a fish hatchery below the Table Rock Dam. Big dam! Hoover Dam is much larger, but this was big enough! The kids learned about the softshell turtle there and also got to see a video about the construction of the dam, narrated by the engineer of the project. There was a picture of the flood waters going over the top of the dam before it was finished. The contractor worked furiously between February and April and got a tremendous amount finished but was not able to complete the dam in time. The got footage of the "man-made" waterfall. It was spectacular!!! It was some weeks before the head engineer went back to the site. In his words, "Even this young engineer knew enough to guess how many rifles would be trained on him if he ventured among the native Ozarkians who had just been flooded out." The Appalachian folk had nothing on the Ozarkians! Apparently the Army Corps of Engineers added an additional dam to help with flood waters. The lake could rise enough to go right over the top before the new section was added.

The nature center at the base of the dam is also a very large fish hatchery, producing millions of trout. We learned that trout are not native to Missouri because the water is not cold enough. Because the "new" Table Rock Lake is more than 230 feet deep (I think), the water at the bottom is very cold; the sun doesn't penetrate it to warm it up. The dam generators pump it out to Taneycomo Lake (sp?) so that lake is excellent for trout. Thousands of people fish there. Because of the generators though, the eggs don't have a chance so they continue to spawn fish at the hatchery. In the wild, about 15% of the eggs hatch; at Shephard Hills, 80% do, so fishermen are blissfully happy.

Next, we drove over the dam, stopping after the new part of the dam to see it, and then driving over the main part. Never mind the thunder and lightning, the kids wanted to run down to see the dam up close and personal. After that, we went over to the visitors center to see their exhibits and video. They also had a nature trail (fully paved) that we hiked. Then we went out to the car, told it to go home, and it did (at least the GPS told us how to go which was good because I had no idea and no map!) I only said No! and did my own thing about 6 times. I have learned that the "easy" way is not usually the "best" or "fastest" way. So when I saw the sign for 65, I looped around to catch it.

We got home around 3:00 and found our house intact. No small feat considering that we had left Gideon loose in the house for the first time since he was a little puppy getting into the garbage. (I had taken the garbage out before we left this morning.) The doggy door was open so he could go outside, and all was well. Woohoo!!!!! Then tonight I completed something that I have dreamed of doing for probably 10 years! All in all, a very satisfying, blessed day!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mary, Martha, and Me

In this book, Mary, Martha, and Me: Seeking the One Thing that is Needful, Camille Fronk Olson explores the depth of the question of whose choice is better: Mary or Martha. She notes that Jesus does not say that Mary chose the better part, just that she chose a good part. Then he teaches her that "One thing is needful." He didn't devalue Martha's service but counseled her to put Himself first, and then all other things fall into place.

My sister-in-law recently blogged (under May Flowers) about her frustration at being at a preschool end-of-school-year party and having other moms basically put her down for working. I had to chuckle because I have felt what I believe to be the same emotion with people's response to my homeschooling. That was just a couple of days ago, and I picked up this book yesterday. It answers on many levels. Another thought Olson explored was that one person's choice or gift may not be another's, and yet we all contribute---so much that we will probably never realize in this life the impact for good we have had.

These are just two of the main ideas Olson discussed. There is so much more! Mary, Martha, and Me is definitely another 5 star read. I'll be reading it again. I need to be reminded of how much I depend on the Saviour and how much He loves us.

Letters to Emily

I just read the book Letters to Emily. (see sidebar for link) It is such a good book, full of sage advice, such as that which a parent or grandparent has to offer. The format follows events around an older man who has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. He has a grand-daughter that is literally his best friend. She isn't very old, and he is afraid she will remember him as the man that he will become because of the AD. To counteract that, he writes letters to Emily that are linked with poetry riddles so she will remember the man he was before the disease takes that side of him away. Along the way, the letters help his son and his wife who are soon to be divorced understand life a little better and their challenges. His advice to Emily is very timely for his son at the time he receives his copy of the poems.

This is a five-out-of-five-star book in my opinion. It did not take long to read it---maybe 4 hours. Although it is a thick paperback, it is a quick read. I had to read the ending before continuing very far in the book though. I had to make sure it wasn't a downer type of book. It isn't. I will definitely be reading it again soon.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Friday, we went to the Nature Center for a program on amphibians and reptiles. It was fascinating. While there, I saw a good friend and talked to her briefly about setting up a co-op. She was reticent until she found out I want a no-stress kind of co-op. Our kids our about the same ages, and our sons are great friends. Her youngest daughter is a friend of Dog Lover's too. I need to call and follow up, but I think this is going to be a good thing.

The kids started a journaling program with the Missouri Department of Conservation called Going Along with Lewis and Clark. (Missouri is very proud of its connection with the two explorers. I don't think you can graduate from high school here unless you know a lot about the Corps of Discovery. That's okay; I have two resident experts on the subject. Lately Monkey always has a book about them in hand.)

The assignment for this nature center was to describe a skunk for someone who had never seen it. They did okay with the assignment and then they all drew pictures of a skunk. Dragon's representation brought rave reviews. I felt badly for Monkey---his was a good drawing but didn't receive comment since the employee saw his *after* viewing Dragon's rendition. Dragon truly loves to draw, and he is pretty good at it too. They each received a pin with a skunk on it. There are 9 nature centers in Missouri, and each of them is participating in the program with a pin to be earned at each one. Since we only have until June 2, I don't think we'll be getting the grand prize (earnable only by completing all of them.) They'll have fun though! Dragon used his pin as a tie tac today for church.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits? ---Erma Bombeck

Today was emotionally a totally rotten day. The absolutely *only* thing that saved it was a nice annual membership to the Discovery Center. We had sandwiches, juice, and cookies, and headed for the car. I grabbed a book, and we were on our way!

Upon entering, I noticed it was totally silent. Amazing! I cannot tell you how good that was for me. My kids lit into the archeological dig site (right at the beginning) and started to identify the rocks on the wall. I found a "rock" to the side and sat down and read several chapters of Remembering Wholeness. The kids quickly found their way to the computer right by me, and went through the program about fossils, how they are formed, etc. After sometime there, the boys tapped me and asked if they could go back to where the water was. I don't know what you call it, but the kids can play in water to their delight, blocking and unblocking water, learning about turbine engines, water wheels, etc. Dog Lover stayed at the fossil program for quite a lot longer with me contentedly reading. Finally she asked if she could go upstairs and I suggested going in with the boys first. I don't think they have ever spent so long in that one room before, because I always got bored first. I think it was about 2 hours later when we moved on. I need to remember to always bring a book for now on!

We left somewhere around 4:30 and stopped at a music store near there (my favorite one.) It has books of music and all sorts of instruments. I loved it. The boys were playing together on an electronic piano (a pretty nice one), and it sounded very good to me. I was riffling through the various books of music. I am thinking about taking over Monkey's piano lessons, and changing the style of books the boys are learning from. I think they are getting bored, and duets would be a great thing for them. John Thompson actually has some. I didn't know that. I'm thinking about using some of that music. Then maybe I'll use John Schaum for some more variety. There's a series of books the boys are already using that has a great selection of popular songs. I really liked the "expansion" that the John Thompson series has had. They have several books for different kinds of music: American, around the world, popular, etc. I want Jim to look through all of them to make sure I'm on the right track and then I think we'll switch next month. Monkey's teacher is taking the summer off so it's a good time to explore.

Tonight I went to the women's Relief Society Enrichment night. We had a workshop on make-up and hair, etc. and one on photography. They were both excellent. We finished the photography one with time to spare and so I went into the other one. I looked about how I felt. I'm not sure I even had makeup on! I think I put some on earlier today, but it doesn't do so well with tears flowing. And yes, it was that kind of day. Why do you think we went to the Discovery Center? We always go to the Discovery Center when I'm on too narrow a ledge, above a waterfall a long way down. Because the membership is already paid for, expense is not an issue.

I think I'll go eat a bowl of soup and go to bed so my tummy is full. Hopefully that will help me to be more emotionally up tomorrow. I believe a good day is coming my way.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

First day of student planners

Last night, I wrote up an agenda of schoolwork and chores for all my kids. I don't know as I will be doing it for Dog Lover all the time, but it was pretty successful for the boys. They checked everything off as they got it done, and turned in their work when it was all completed. I feel like I'm missing something though. Partly because I forgot scriptures, and they didn't remind me. It's the missing checkmark on their lists. Shame on me!

Dragon and Monkey have started the Zoology 1 (Apologia) book. They read page 1 of the Intro today. Not exactly heavy reading, but it's new to them to do it totally independently. They also had to "get" the idea of following their list so they didn't have conflicts over who got the book first or second for history and science. We only have one book for those two subjects so it's important that they don't try to do it at the same time.

We also have one piano so the children can't practice at the same time! Dog Lover was a little ticked that she had to wait for both of them to practice before she could! Actually, she didn't. Dragon wasn't finished with History, so she went in and practiced. She is growing up so fast! She even looks older!

Love ya!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Good piano session

I finally sat down to hear the boys practice the piano, and I learned that I can't leave it up to them yet. I'm not prepared to have them practice like I used to! :-) Just because I was shortsighted about that doesn't mean I have to allow them to make the same mistake! I can understand and sympathize when they don't want to practice, but I am still going to make sure they do it!

If we practice together again tomorrow, I think Steven will have some pieces to sign off tomorrow. He gets points for memorized pieces. He's coming along.

Dragon is also doing well. He is catching up to Steven because I am there to pass him off and assign new pieces as he is ready. This summer will be advantageous to Monkey because I will do the same for him. I need to find a different series of books to move Dragon into as well. I really like this Bastien series, but I don't want such an easy comparison between the boys! They both need to feel good about how they are doing! (I also think Dragon has the advantage because he hears Monkey practicing the songs before he starts them so it's kind of like practicing them in his mind.)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

I got my goal planning done!

I made an insane statement that I had figured out how to handle piano practicing. Scratch that! The 30 minutes idea is good, but it isn't enough. Unfortunately, morning is the best time for practicing *and* for schoolwork so how do we do both?! We'll work it out.

I'm afraid I'm just going to have to break down and set alarms either for the kids or for me and get up earlier. Ugh! I just went to a homeschool conference where one of the things I learned was to figure out my "way of being" so to speak. My way of being is to be up doing at night. My kids time is morning. Afternoons should be a break for me and for them. So. . . I'm still figuring it out. For the record, back before kids, I used to set 2 - 3 alarms to get me up in time to get to work and I still didn't get up in time about a quarter of the time!

My major achievement right now is setting new goals for the remainder of 2007. Yes, I know that bridges two half "school" years, but you know, that's how our schedule works! I actually have a written outline for what we will be covering, how it will be graded, and goals. The only question mark that I'm very unsure of is science. My weak point. I'm proving the scripture that says that if we will turn unto the Lord, he will show us our weaknesses that they may become strong. I purchased an Apologia text for last year on Flying Things that I think we will use now for the boys anyway. It is a very good text and interesting enough that Dragon has actually read parts of it. Only parts or I would move to the next text. Dog Lover will be learning about plant life, and both are learning about rocks and minerals right now. The library has a ton on that! We actually got started on that thanks to the Webelos geologist activity badge and then I found a cool sticker book at the homeschool convention I just attended last week.