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Saturday, January 31, 2009

9 yr Anniversary

Today is my (our) 9th year wedding anniversary. A couple of years ago I didn't think it'd be possible that we'd make it this far, but we have.

Then..a little less weight (him), not as many wrinkles (me), and fairly naive (me again)

Now...been through hell and back in many aspects of our lives..and lived to tell about it.

Today we had a quiet day. A comfortable day. I am so thankful for being able to feel content. I am wiser today than I was. I am stronger today than I was, and I am more committed today than I was.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Baby Castings

Baby castings! Hand Castings! Belly Castings! They are literally your baby's hands or feet (or your belly) put into a mold, then later the mold is filled with plaster, to create an exact replica. Down to jagged fingernails & every line and crease. They are so beautiful!!

When Elias was in the hospital, a wonderful friend Chawna, called in a friend who did it. Now, I have little hands and feet castings all over, and have used them as precious gifts to my family. I even have one of my hands clasping the baby's hand.

Some women do belly castings, in case you want that keepsake! You can paint them afterwards, decoupage them, whatever.

I know of women who are going to go through a mastectomy or vulvectomy, and want to "memorialize" themselves before the surgery. It can be very healing.

Whenever I look at Elias' little hands and feet I remember what a journey we've had with him, and what a gift his life is.

Here are Elias'

One foot was bigger than the other, he was very swollen and one leg had massive fluid in it...his poor little body....we were so blessed to have these keepsakes.

By the time Sebastian was born, the lady that did Elias' castings had moved away, but there were still several local ladies that did it. I set up an appointment with one and had a great experience! They even come to your home...very easy.

I had my hand done holding Sebastian's. I love it so much!

And here's Sebastian's hands and feet.

Casters in the Las Vegas area:

Hearts & Hands
Beautiful Hand, Foot & Belly Castings

Get Plastered
(702) 498-3718

I'm sure there are under attachment parenting, or midwives, or simply belly casting. Have fun with it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Ninjas, in the Magic Treehouse Bookclub only took 1 week. Some activities can be found at the publisher's site: Random House

Ninjas Outline

Aluminum Foil
Popsicle Sticks

1. Have the class come all dressed in all black, and bring an adult sized black tshirt.

2. Discuss, "What is a Ninja?"

3. Difference between Ninja & Samurai
Samurais were Bushido warriors and Ninjas were Ninjutsu warriors. Both were militarily trained and both were utilized as soldiers and as assassins. The main difference between their ideologies was that the Samurai placed honor above all things, including life. The Ninja held life and survival as most important. Some formal Samurais actually opened Ninjutsu schools. Hattori Nazo Yasunaga (Father of Hattori Masashige Hanzo {Hattori "The Devil" Hanzo}the world's most famous Ninja), was a formal Samurai that actually trained and became a Ninja.
So, Samurais and Ninjas could be enemies or allies.

3. Make a Ninja Sword
Everyone took turns penciling in their outlines on the cardboard, then the moms cut them out. Decorate with Aluminum Foil.

4. Make Ninja Puppets

5. Talk about Ninja Gear
I showed some pictures. There are plenty of sites online to show you how to make a Ninja Throwing Star out of paper.

6. Make a Ninja Mask
This is too cute and too simple! I took pics of them with their swords, all in black..very cute!

Well, here's a non-smiley Spidey/Ninja. But look how cool the mask is! (His version of wear all black was his black spiderman Halloween costume, how cute!)

Gotta love homeschooling! They are each so individual...what a great group!

Extras lesson on Night of the Ninjas

For my previous posts on this topic:

Forming a Co-Op
Magic Tree House Bookclub Index
Dinosaurs Part 1
Dinosaurs Part 2

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crazy Day

Had a very weird day the other day, full of all sorts of emotions. Wednesdays are a hectic day for us. Brian has classes with a local homeschool group from 10:30am-3:00pm, so it's early drop off. then lunch and then our friends come to my home for the Magic Tree House bookclub. Then, they leave, I run the vacuum, make dinner (or get dinner to go) and off to Awanas we go!

Added to this normal Wednesday I had a Dr's appointment at 9:20 in the am. That means up super early, get out of the house by 8:50...ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

This isn't even the emotional part! So, this doctor happens to be an endocrinologist. I had Graves Disease, which went into remission during my pregnancy with Sebastian. I hadn't really followed up on it as it's very hard to get into a specialist in this town. But I finally got in. Yesterday's appointment was a follow up with his Physicians Assistant, whom I had never met.

Prior to this appointment I had to get gads of bloodwork done. I flipped through the printout and happened to see he had ordered me a test for Methylmalonic Acid. That was weird for me to see as my boys tested high for Methylmalonic Acid and it is suspected that they both have Methylmalonic Acidemia. We've been living with this suspected diagnosis for more than a year now. So, I knew I was going to ask the PA how that Acid level correlates to the thyroid and would it have anything to do with the boys being sick.

When she reviewed my test results, my thyroid is fine, but my methylmalonic acid level was skyrocketing. Well, that's the first time to my knowledge I've been tested for it. My B12 and B6 were very low. So, I launch into my story of the boys health history.

Because all their tests were high for methylmalonic acid, we've suspected they have methylmalonic acidemia. As a matter of fact, we were sent to a geneticist in Los Angeles, UCLA, last year. This was highly inconclusive. We have no real answers as to why they boys were sick.

The PA brought in the Endocrinologist and they both agreed that I better see a geneticist myself. The PA, a wonderful woman named Susan, happens to be going for her doctorate at U of Utah, and had recently attended a lecture by a geneticist who shared a case that sounded very similar to ours. She got me that dr's contact info.'s that for a surprise. I've obviously got something wrong that the B12 and B6 are not being used properly, so we'll look at it from a genetics point of view.

I called the U of U Genetics Dept and wonderfully, this doctor actually holds a clinic here in Las Vegas. He will be here in about 2 weeks. He'll review our records then.

Crazy. Thought it'd be a normal, "ok, your thyroid is fine, come back in 6 months" appointment.

So...we'll see. I'll update as we go!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a face!

Spaghetti Face. Every mom's got the same picture. It's either spaghetti or chocolate pudding, or something equally nasty. They get it in their ears, up their nose, stuck in, can't these kids eat cleaner?!?!

See, in the eyebrows!

But look at that smile

And those eyelashes....I love him so much

Monday, January 19, 2009


Brian came in the house the other day with this!

"Winter" and here we are with a whole huge bowl of lemons! It's the first time our lemon tree has produced. We were very excited.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


We decided to skip Sabertooth Tigers, and move into Vikings. This is our 3rd week of bookclub. Vikings took 1 week. My notes are in italics. Some activities are from: Vikings Activities

Vikings Outline

1. Mix & Bake Viking Bread
I explained to them the caste system, and how there were no utensils used. The rich ate by scooping up the food with pieces of the bread....while the servants got to eat that bread after it had been used. This got a big "EWWWWWWWW" factor! I got my recipe from Story of The World Middle Ages Activity Book, but there are multiple recipes around. Viking Recipes. This bread was very hard. I happened to have on hand some packets of gravy (you know the kind, add water, heat, it's done...) I made some if that at the end, and it was a HUGE hit! They sopped up the gravy with their bread.

2. Who were the Vikings?
I printed out some facts from various websites and gave them as handouts.

3. Who/what were monks?

4. Decorate Serpens Magna Book Cover

5. Talk about Longboats & Build Longboat
Styrofoam Egg Carton bottom, straw stuck through section, with a sheet of paper folded in half,glued to itself, for the mast. Fill with small items, float in sink/pool

Here the kids are cutting their egg cartons in half, and making the mast.

Elias' floated! Good job distributing your cargo!

Then someone had the idea to have them all float in the off we went! There's plenty of room for children's suggestions in our bookclub.

6. Eat bread & gravy

Here's the not so beautiful bread

But they enjoyed it!

7. Ceremonial burial of captain
We didn't have time to do this, but I talked about it while they were eating. The longboats were either sent off to sea with their dead captain, or buried in their entirety. They would be fully stocked and even have some of his pets and livestock onboard (for the afterlife!). I had planned to have them build the outline of a longboat with blocks, and put in old cereal boxes, juice pouches, stuffed animals...and then each take turns laying down with crossed arms to be the dead captain.


Rune Stones
Viking Ship Coloring Sheet
Viking Mask

For my previous posts on this topic:

Forming a Co-Op
Magic Tree House Bookclub Index
Dinosaurs Part 1
Dinosaurs Part 2

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Composting in the city

I grew up in a very rural area, so big city living still has a few drawbacks for me, like neighbors so close you can reach out your windows and touch each other, and having very little property.

However, we overcome a lot of obstacles. If we want to play in a stream, we head up to Mt Charleston and frolic in Deer Springs. If we want to see farm animals we schedule a field trip to JR Pony Farms. Different, but fun anyway.

When we were looking for a house it was very important to me to get a "decent" piece of property. If anyone knows Las Vegas neighborhoods you know this is hard! Most houses you walk out the back door and there's an unfinished little strip of backyard. I wanted a pool area, a backyard area, and a swingset area. We were patient and found a house perfect for us! We'll never move. It has enough inside space, and just the right amount of outside space. It has my designated areas, but also has a huge side yard.

Brian's science for years was his beloved garden. We have raised flower beds, raised herb and vegetable beds, fruit trees, bushes, roses, and so much more. As part of this gardening space we also made a compost bin.

For awhile we were very good about saving our scraps and composting them. Eventually, with the advent of a pregnancy and a new baby, the work of turning it became too much and it all went to seed...literally! It started growing flowers and pumpkins in it! We stopped using it for awhile and it sat empty.

Now, while Brian is not on a gardening kick, he is on a "green" kick. We recycle everything, and we're back to composting.

I actually like composting. I like the good, dark. rich soil it produces. I like watching it turn into nutrient rich usable soil.

I've been trying to compost everything and anything, but household scraps don't add up that when I saw my neighbors Christmas Tree out at the curb, I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, can I chop that up?" So I called her and asked, and not only did I get that tree, but also a 2nd smaller one she had in her family room!

Yes, I literally cut it into pieces, down to the trunk.

Christmas Tree

I cut slightly bigger pieces for the right will become compost later than the left bin, which is cut much smaller.

So, here I've got tons of evergreens in my pile...need to try to mix it up with other stuff. And then I remember my good old paper shredder! And, just that week, the Assessors Packets were delivered to our houses. This is a newspaper looking thing, about the size of 3 Sunday papers. So I called a different neighbor up and asked to have hers. Between hers, and mine, it took Brian and I a day to feed all the paper through the shredder and dump it into the pile!

Now, in addition to all that, we do still save kitchen scraps. I have a "kitchen bowl" on my counter that stays there for loose scraps, leftovers, heels of bread, etc. When it gets full (or smelly) it goes out to the compost bin. Pretty easy!

Because I have so much need right now for excess to mix with all of the tree, I'll be contacting local grocery stores for their produce refuse. I've walked out of Walmart before with garbage bags of corn husks...really! Ask! Don't be afraid! Especially when you couple your request with recycling AND teaching. Hard to turn you down!

In the past, we've also made compost with the help of worms. This is called vermicomposting. Here's a picture of the Vermicomposter

Inside the Vermicomposter. See, it has drainage abilities and all!

It worked GREAT! Anyone who has just kitchen scraps to compost and wants an easy way to do it, this is it! They do need to stay indoors. But the container doesn't smell. The only drawback for me is...I hate worms!!

There are different ways to use the bin, and the way we chose was to section it off in quarters. The idea is, the worms will be where the food is. Put the food in one quadrant, worms there! After they've made their poopies and turned it all into nice soil, you can get it out of the other quadrants.

Yeah, except, they LOOSELY stay in their quadrant. I might find some of in the far left corner, I might find half of one I just cut off in the top right....ewwwwwwwwwww. It just didn't work out well for me as far as being able to RETRIEVE the compost. But the composting part worked wonderfully well. Totally rich soil!! So, if you like worms, vermicomposting is for you!

We used a company called Topline. They sell the vermicomposter, worms, started kits, books, you name it, they have it!

Well, hope this encourages you to start composting! If you live in Las Vegas and you want to save your kitchen scraps and bring them to me, feel free! You can always freeze them until you see me next! I'll include them in our compost bin.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Consumer Electronics Show

Yesterday was a huge highlight day for Brian. He got to go to CES! For those of you who don't know, CES is a HUGE electronics convention held annually in Las Vegas. They bring the newest and neatest gadgets to show...often in prototype format, so this is before they even go on sale. Talk about heaven on earth for a techie!!!!

While the show is not open to the public, it has been his fervent wish to go. We've begged, pleaded and posted on every local loop known to man, asking if anyone had tickets. Lo and behold, one of his friends dads had some and let the boys go! How very awesome!

I'd tell you about it, except he speaks in computer-ese and that doesn't stick in my head long. I did catch something about Windows 7 Beta being publically released (this is the newest Microsoft invention) will be replacing Vista soon. Of course techie son had already downloaded and tried a copy and found it utterly lacking. Go Linux!

For an example of the way my son's brain's a link he sent me...

He's so funny!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

So Funny

Just a little days are full of funny statements from Elias. He's such a clown/goof/his father/little boys/did-I-say-clown?

This morning he gets up and comes in my room. He looks at me and says, "I put on my deodorant."

I'm laughing inside because he's 7! But he likes to be a "big boy" so he has about 3 different Old Spices in his nightstand drawer.

But he's not done.

"Yeah, I put it on my forehead, and under my nose, and on my nose, and on my cheeks...oh yeah, and under my arms too!"

What a crackup! He sure does smell good today though...especially when I kiss his little face LOL!

Press Release: Clarification on Used Book Sales

Great news!! See how word of mouth (email) really works!!

The CPSC has just issued a Press Release essentially saying that used sales at thrift stores etc are not going to be stopped, and items will not need to be tested. However it does specify that items with lead in it exceeding the lead limit should not be sold...and to never sell recalled items.

They are still working on proposals for guidelines, so you may still write to them with your feelings on the issue. Check back on their website for latest information

Here's the test of the press release:

Used Book Sells Banned...Sign the Petition, Write Your Legislator!!

Passing this is about the umpteenth time I've heard about it, and it indeed seems to be true. The Sale of Children's Books (toys and clothes) to be Banned. Do your part..write in! This will affect every parent....every yard sale, Goodwill, Ebay and more!

Oh, how I wish this were a joke! But it is a grim and looming,
almost Orwellian, reality.

Effective February 10th, in the United States, the sale of
all children's books (books intended for children ages 12 and
under) is to be PROHIBITED. Every single book printed prior
to the ruling is affected, whether new or used. New books in
production are required to include a "lead-free" certification
and will be the only books that are legal to offer for sale.

What does this mean to the homeschooling family?

Well, for one, curriculum fairs across the country will be
canceled as book vendors scramble to figure out how to comply
with the new ruling. Complete book inventories will have to be
destroyed -- the ruling even prohibits giving away the books!
Local thrift stores will be hard hit -- most will likely have to
close their doors -- yes, even Goodwill and Salvation Army.

Clothing, toys and books -- even CDs and DVDs are included in the
ruling. Thrift stores will no longer be able to accept or process
anything (including clothing) that would be intended for a child.

No more library sales. Libraries will not be permitted to give
away or sell book donations. It is unsure yet, however, how
the libraries' shelves themselves will be impacted (the ruling
doesn't explicitly mention "loaning" books, just selling or
giving them away). The key word, however, is "distribution" --
libraries may well be required to destroy books from their shelves.

(The ruling that originally passed was about toys, but the EPA has
since made a statement that clothing, books and media are included
in "children's toys".)

Just how serious is this new law? has already notified all vendors of their need to comply.
No book can be sold at the Amazon site that was printed prior to
compliance. And the "compliance" must be coordinated at the manu-
facturing stage. At the time of this article there is no clause
to be able to grandfather- in older books or even rare out-of-print
books. It can cost between $500 and $1500 to test a book for lead.

I happen to own a children's bookstore specializing in living books
from the 1950s and '60s. My punishment for selling a book after
February 10th? Up to $100,000 and 5 years in jail. And yes, it is
a felony charge. For selling a SINGLE book.

(Although I don't think the S.W.A.T. team scenario would become a
reality overnight, at the same time I would be leery of blatantly
violating Federal law.)

So what can you do to help save your local used bookstore that
sells children's books? Or that homeschool curriculum business?
Or your EBay business selling children's items?

ACT NOW before the quickly approaching deadlines:

1) Email or call the CPSIA - the office of the CPSC ombudsman at

Comments on Component Parts Testing accepted through January 30,
2009. Or email:

2) Contact your local representatives. For their contact informa-
tion, just enter your zip code.

3) Make your voice heard by voting on this issue! The top 3 in
each category will be presented to President-elect Obama.

4) Sign the petition.

5) Spread the word! Forward this article. Send an email. Write
about this on your blog. Tell others about this issue and
encourage them to do the same.

For the complete story, read the following links:

Consumer Product Safety Commission Summaries on Legislation Index
page for Children's Products Containing Lead; Lead Paint Rule and
other rulings

Office of the General Counsel FAQ on retroactive inventory requirements -- The use of forward effective dates appears to force current inventories to adhere to the ruling on February 10th, 2009

Specific FAQ on their interpretation of books and other media to be included in the testing of lead based products

Effective Date: Lead content limit of 600 ppm becomes effective 180 days after enactment. An advisory opinion regarding the application of the new lead limit to inventory existing at the effective date can be found on our web site at

Getting the Lead out: There is no lead in children's books

There is no lead in Children's books: From a Pediatrician

Quick Writeup of the Legislation all-used-book-sotres-goodwill-salvation-army/,0,2083247.story

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dinosaurs, Part 2

This is the 2nd week of our Magic Tree House bookclub. It's a continuation of Dinosaurs. The first week outline can be seen here: Dinosaurs Part 1.

Here's my outline. My notes are in italics.

Dinosaurs Part 2: Extinction & Fossils


1.What is Extinction
The cessation of existence of a species

2. Discussion of other extinct animals: Sabertooth tigers, Mastodon, Wooly Mammoth,

3. Why would certain animals stop existing?
maybe their eggs were eaten by the dinosaurs' natural enemies, or by other dinosaurs;maybe the land moved and caused the weather to change; when the weather changed the plants living at that time were not able to thrive and produce the amount of food needed to feed the dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs could not continue; maybe a large star caused an explosion of cosmic rays that killed them all; or, maybe a storm of meteors caused clouds to block the sun, which again affected the plants because they could not produce the amounts of food the dinosaurs required.


1.So, how do we know they existed?

2. Encountering the Idea- Activity
This activity is using a baby as the example. I did an additional one, where I printed off clues from the Internet. I did a Grand Canyon Park Ranger. I printed pictures of: Army color green, a gun, a blank shield, a picture of a US Park Ranger shield, a blank outline map of Arizona, an outline map of the US, with AZ colored in, a picture of scenic Grand Canyon.....all to equal a Grand Canyon Park Ranger.

3. What is a Fossil? What is a Paleontologist?

4. Show some fossils
I have some various real and reproduction fossils. Here's a reproduced set. I got my real ones from Ebay.

5.Digging for Dinosaurs - Activity
I bought extra cookies because inevitably, someone wanted to eat them! I let them eat the leftovers.

6. Coffee Ground Fossils – Activity
I called my local Starbucks and had them reserve some grounds for me as I'm not a coffee drinker. I got way more than I needed! But, it's good info in case you need grounds! And it's free! I used 1 batch for every 4 student. We imprinted them with various objects, including playdough cutters. We sprayed them with Pam first to help get the dough off easier. Worked great! They did take a week or so to dry though.

These are the things I didn't get to...but please know, there is SO much available! Just search "dinosaur, activities" etc. I usually also have on hand some coloring pages for the kids....either when I'm reading/talking to them, or for the little girls who love to color.

Dinosaur Activities
Information on our State Dinosaur
Dinosaur Coloring Pages

There's even a Certificate of Achievement

My previous posts on this subject are:
Forming a Co-op
Magic Tree House Index

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sitting on Santa's Lap

I just realized I never posted our Santa pictures this year! Crud, I mean last year.....well, you know what I mean! Christmas of 2008!

This year we saw Santa at a homeschool Christmas Party. Elias was very excited. Santa was very nice and talked to each child for quite awhile.

After Elias had a turn, we tried Sebastian with him. Well, it's not a smile, but it's not a cry either! And, I'm not in the picture! That's better than we hoped for.

And Brian wouldn't sit on Santa's lap....but he was the photographer for the event so I could be there for Sebastian.

After sitting on Santa's lap, Elias had a few more occasions to see Santa in other settings, but each time he refused saying he had already sat on his lap and already told him what he wanted. Too funny!