Saturday, February 27, 2010

Update


I haven't posted in a while because things have been unusual this week. Last Sunday morning, my paw paw found my granny slumped over in a chair, unresponsive. At the ER, they weren't sure exactly the cause, until an MRI showed that she'd had a major stroke. Several CT Scans, MRIs, and days later, with no response other than groaning and slight muscle jerks/movements, the prognosis is that she is now terminal. They are simply doing everything they can to keep her comfortable until the time of her passing comes.
This isn't her first stroke...she had one a few years ago that really affected her health. We have all seen her health steadily decline since that time. It was even getting to the point where she didn't remember things well at all, and even didn't recognize people at times.

One of the sweetest and most heart breaking things I have ever seen is my paw paw taking care of her these past few days. We went down on Thursday with the kids, to say our goodbyes. He jumps at her every sound, rubs her head, adjusts the covers, and holds her hand. He prays for her suffering to pass.

I also went down again today, without the rest of the family. My parents and I went to their house to gather some photos to scan for a slide show and for making a memory book for the family. The first thing I saw when I walked into the living room was a card on the TV. It was a Valentine's card for my granny from my paw paw. It had a sweet verse on the front and more on the inside, but the tear jerking moment came when I saw that he had hand written words at the end... "For my wife, my love."

They have been married for 62 years.

Please say a prayer for this family... for a husband of 62 years...4 grown songs, their wives, and the many grandchildren, great-grand children, and the rest of the extended family, who are preparing themselves for this time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

It was a beautiful weather day here in Georgia on this Saturday, February 20th. I got my blackberry rebate in the mail this morning, and then headed out to run errands... grab groceries, and look for some stuff to organize my new school supplies. I was looking for a craft sorter for our Math-U-See Blocks. The curriculum uses them for 7 years of the program so I wanted to find a permanent and convenient home for them. Unfortunately, Wal-mart had nothing I could/would use and I was sad to put it off. But then, while we were clearing space out in the basement for the freezer (more on that later) I found THIS!!!!
Now, I will know who my true contemporaries are if you had one of these....

It's a CABOODLE! I guess I got in about the 5th-6th-7th grade or something. It held makeup, hair supplies, etc. Since then, as you can see, my parents used it to store other things when I discarded it to THEIR basement many years ago. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be the PERFECT thing for.....



Our Math-U-See blocks!!!! YAY!!!! I am so happy they already have a home! We are switching to this math program this week!

Now, on to our next wonderful contribution to the world of reusing and recycling!
We finally have a freezer!!!!!!!

I just noticed that we took this photo before the last shelf was back in...the one in between the basket and the next shelf.

We got our tax return last week and a freezer was HIGH on my list of must haves! So I started perusing the Craigslist ads. We found one we were going to get that was listed for $75. It was about a 5 or 7 cubic storage chest style freezer, not frost free. That was actually a pretty decent deal, but it turned out to be older than we thought and the lady went several days without confirming pick up with us, so even though she had agreed to take $50 for it, we found this one in the mean time and MOVED ON!

It's a relatively newer model Kenmore FROST FREE and as you can see, it is WAY more than 7.0 cubic storage. We are thinking maybe even 20! Corey is 6'6", so that shows you how big the thing is! ONLY $75!!!!!!!
We just cleared out room to get it through the garage and to a resting spot. We'll plug it in tomorrow and let the filling begin!!!! YAY!!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Field Trip!

We went on a field trip today! It was homeschool tour month at the Atlanta Braves Stadium: Turner Field. For $5 we got to see the museum, learn interesting facts, see Coca-cola sky field, the press boxes, luxury suites, locker room....and more!


Katie and Noah with the World Championship trophy. Below with stuff from the seasons they were born.



It was neat to see the stadium totally empty.


The Atlanta skyline....from afar. I am very scared of heights...it was making me pretty dizzy.

We could see from the suites and pressboxes that Hank Aaron was filming a commercial.


Checking out the locker rooms.


We came out on field level and got a closer look at the film crew....

and of Hank Aaron. A legend in the sport of baseball.

Waving from the end of the traveling train. This is what they used to travel to all the different games back in the 50s and 60s.


We had fun. It was a really neat tour!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Art!

I went painting again last night! It was a very last minute thing. It just so happened that a couple of friends could go last minute too! We were painting daisies.
I was brave enough this time to go totally different...and do a purple background instead of the black that was in the example.

I also ended up changing the centers of my daisies to pink, and it made a perfect painting for Katie's room!
I realized after I uploaded this photo, that it is technically upside down from the way I painted it, but it doesn't really matter! ha ha!
It was so fun! I am trying to get a group together to go March 26th. It's a very cute painting and a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis. And a Friday. Maybe more people can go next time!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

School 2010-2011 (with update in bold)

We have already logged 125 out of our 180 required days of school for this year. With only 55 more days to go, I am already almost done gathering the supplies for next school year. A couple of changes are in order for the 2010-2011 school year.

This is not one of them! ha ha! A Beka continues to be my choice for Reading, Spelling, and Language Arts. We also will use their handwriting practice books again. Their consumable workbooks aren't super cheap, but at the end of the year I have the confidence that in completing them we have covered that year in depth for the grade level. And, their workbooks are in color with pretty pictures for the kids and have sufficient content that you don't run out of practice pages. I will look for the history books by them (used at McKay's) but we are going a different direction for Science:

Home Science Adventures is the choice for science next school year. Or whenever we are finished reading through our A Beka book, which will be soon. The kit I chose includes a bird unit (pictured above), an astronomy unit (below), and a magnet unit (bottom)
It includes ALL the supplies you need for the experiments. I figured we could do the magnet unit first, then the astronomy unit in the fall, then wait and do the bird unit in the spring. I am excited about using a science program that will be more in depth. I wanted to add to the Abeka books with experiments but the ones suggested by them are either super simple (quick) or overly involved...like watch a tadpole grow into a frog. Plus I am not the best at putting together things on my own. AND it was only $81 for the entire year which included all the supplies and an extra set of "notebooking worksheets" for a second student. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE that Katie and Noah can do the same stuff?!?!)

Another change will be with Math. I absolutely, positively DO NOT ENJOY A Beka Math! All that memorization and ridiculous (speed) timing of things. I want my kids to UNDERSTAND math and I actually saw a regression in Katie so far this year with switching from RightStart to A Beka. The reason I had switched was just fear of it being too different and not translating well to testing. I know that doesn't matter, but I just wanted a little more tradition. Well, A Beka (in my opinion) may produce strong test takers but I saw Katie go from adding tens in her head to drawing out objects on her paper to add and subtract single digit numbers! Noah was adding on his fingers! Yes manipulatives are good, but what to do later when they get past ten? ha ha! And memorization and speed drills do NOT work well with Katie's personality. I know that some things eventually become memorized in Math, but I don't think that's the way to lay the foundation. It was a struggle every day, whereas with RightStart we had both enjoyed Math time every day. I am hoping that switching to this program will be a good combination of the good things I liked about both... the mental math and understanding of RightStart, with the daily practice and review of A Beka.
I have heard awesome reviews of it, and a personal friend who just loves it. It has also been around a LONG time (their early editions can be found online for sale...VHS tapes! ha!) so I know they have end results to show for their program. If you click on the logo their website has demos you can watch. It looks like a great fit for what I want for Katie and Noah with learning Math. Learning the easier way, with memorization coming naturally after you learn the "why and how." The lessons start each day with a short (think 5 min) DVD lesson then I go over it with each one individually and they do their daily practice.
It is going to be a bit pricey for the first year (around $150, not each) because there is a set of manipulative blocks you need, but use for several years. I am finding some of the supplies used, so we'll see if I can get it all together for a reasonable cost.


UPDATE: I realize that re-reading I am sounding really harsh toward A Beka and traditional math. There is nothing wrong with traditional math, I just personally hate it because I never really learned math very well as in understanding it, so it just didn't synch with my brain for some reason. No reason why it might not work for you or your kids, I just don't think it's a good match for my kids based on what I have observed... not hatin' that kind of math for everyone...just us.

Anyway, it is an exciting time of year, and I am so thankful that we have the funds right now to go ahead and purchase what we need so we don't have it hanging over us till June. Our next school year will officially begin in July. But, Noah will be starting the first grade reading and language arts and soon as I get it in because he is finished with his Kindergarten stuff.

The second grade A Beka handwriting introduces cursive! Katie will be thrilled! (maybe she will prefer cursive or something....because she doesn't really love manuscript!)



Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Day! (#2)

Today has been a storybook version of a perfect February day! First, we had a Valentine's Day party with our homeschool group. It started snowing about an hour before we left for the party and the car already had a layer of snow. I have never really driven in snow. It made me a little nervous. We had a fantastic time indulging on sweet treats made by all the moms and the kids played on bounce house stuff (we had the party at an inflatables place). All the kids brought Valentines for each other, and it was a lot of fun visiting with the other moms. By the time we got home we had a really thick covering of snow over the entire yard! I am SO HAPPY that Corey got to come home and play in the snow with us!!!! (He missed it last time because he was gone on his 2 week road trip)



We had even more snow this time! Enough to totally cover the yard and enough to sled! If only we had a steep enough hill!!! It didn't work great, but it was fun to try!

Corey even made a snow angel!


Corey and Noah finally got to have a snowball fight!!!


Bonus of having a husband who is super tall and has long arms: great self portrait! ha!







Katie was able to go a little longer distance since she's heavier than Noah.





Valentine's party, and Snow!!!
Now a blazing fire.....a nice cozy February day!
I measured right before we came in and we had 1 3/4". But, it has been showing heavily ever since, so I think we are probably up to 2" by now!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update: Katie's Eyes

Katie in her first pair of glasses, December 2007

I already posted once today, but then I remembered I had something extremely important to update, so please scroll down to chime in on my health insurance post from earlier.

Katie had an eye exam. She had not been since December of 2008, and was due this past December but because of many different circumstances, we just made it in for an exam yesterday. You can read the history of our experiences with her eyes beginning HERE. And more updates here and here. The last update was last December HERE. Then you will be up to date for this post. To recap from the last post, here are the vitals from that post:

Katie's vision in her "good" eye with her glasses is now between 20/30 and 20/25. She could do part of the 20/25 line! And, in her left (worse) eye, she is now 20/40 with her glasses! She was at 20/60 last time!

Katie now has 20/25 vision in BOTH eyes with her glasses!!!!
(She is 20/400 without glasses)

I am so thrilled and happy for her! We took her to a new eye doctor this time, the husband of one of the moms in our homeschool play group. Corey had seen him before, so we took Katie to him this time. It went GREAT! No break-downs, and she was completely comfortable and happy, even when they did the drops for dilating her eyes. The doctor took a lot of time with her, fine tuning the prescription until he got it as good as possible to help her see clearly. We ordered new glasses (which are SUPER cute Vera Bradley frames) on our way out and I will be excited to see how she does with the new lenses. It has now been a little over two years since Katie has truly been able to "see" and she is doing great. I will never forget how her beginning reading skills (which were fantastic for a young 5 year old) just skyrocketed into third-fourth grade level within months of getting her glasses. And how she pointed out things we hadn't known she couldn't see before....just read those links to my first updates to read all the details, but what a blessing glasses have been in her life.

I just wanted to post our thanks and elation still over this wonderful blessing in our lives. We are so proud of her! Look for a photo of Katie in her new frames as soon as they come in!

Health and Insurance

First of all, this is not going to be a post about any kind of political health care topic. This is a post about our family. We are pretty healthy people. We hardly ever go to the doctor, we try every home remedy and dietary change and supplement before we consult for medication. Corey went to the hospital recently for his kidney stone and it was the first time he had been to a hospital in years. The first time he had a kidney stone he just went to the local walk-in clinic.
I, of course, have been to the hospital more recently because of the miscarriage, but before that it was rare...and one occasion where I also visited the walk-in clinic. The kids haven't seen a doctor in a while. Even the times when we did, it turned out to be nothing anyway.

I have been thinking more and more about the almost $900 that is being spent PER MONTH for us to have health insurance. I have felt more and more that it is not money well spent. Wow, what we could have done with $900 cash each month toward paying things off! Ugh! It makes my head spin. The kids and Corey currently have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia.


I have Kaiser Permanente. A couple of weeks ago we applied for Corey and the kids to change over to Kaiser because it would be about $400 cheaper/month and we liked them throughout the December experiences I had with them. (as much as you can like an insurance company anyway)

We found out Monday that Corey was not approved. We haven't received the letter explaining the reasons yet, but we did have the option of adding the kids. We may or may not do that.
Another option that we had looked into before we applied for Kaiser, was this organization:


This is not a health insurance company. It is a Christian health share ministry. Bethany's parents have used this organization successfully for years. Basically, you sign up and send your monthly "premium" to other members each month to cover their medical needs. For example, if we visited the ER, we would tell them we are self pay (which evidently gets you an automatic 50% discount on costs up front in most cases) and then you pay for it (a relative amount of cash flow is necessary or it works out through billing with the hospital or doctor). Then you send the bills to Samaritan Ministries, they divide up your need among families and they are notified whom to send their monthly "share" to. Your costs are covered after $300 up to $100,000. (there is also an additional plan you can add which covers amounts over that, which really isn't that much more...like maybe $30/month more?)

This sounds way too good to be true, right? Well...I thought so. But, I have googled them and read about them and everything checks out. I even know several more families locally who participate and talked to one of them on the phone this week. She is the wife of a pastor and is about to have her 4th child this month. She has used them for about 5 years and they have always been very pleased and received their money within 1-2 months of sending in the bills. They also have only had to send in claims 3-4 times at all besides pregnancies. Another family (10 years with the organization) said they filed a claim for a kidney stone surgery and received even above and beyond the $$ they needed which they sent on to another family. (what they ask you to do in good faith).
The problem with this kind of thing is that it requires a big step of faith. If you send in a need they send you a checklist of all the families that are supposed to be sending you their share, and you report if someone doesn't (which I have not personally heard or read about happening) but if it does happen they send your need to another family and the "non-participating" family is kicked out of the program (or some kind of action). Another thing is that they ask you to pray for the need you are sending money for that month. And send a card or letter of encouragement for the situation. The pastor's wife I talked to said she got cards of congratulations, etc when filing a labor/delivery need.

So...long story short, we are seriously considering this path.

For Corey and the kids.


The decision is a big one because we would have to be more diligent in putting aside money for the $300 base that you are automatically responsible for. And, have the ability to pay the immediate downpayment that hospitals require if you walk in with no insurance. But, another thing I have read is that people who participate in this program testify to having less health problems and accidents, just because they are stepping out in faith in such a huge way and helping others.
That's where we are right now. I know over the past few years we have literally "thrown away" thousands of dollars in premiums. Never used. I am almost certain that any benefits we have received have certainly not outweighed the premiums spent!

We are considering still keeping Kaiser for me for the time being for various reasons, not excluding future pregnancy and just for peace of mind in that area. But for Corey and the kids it really seems like a good option. Especially since we have the local clinics who will see you for $40 and with cheap/generic prescriptions available everywhere now. The cost for Corey and the kids per month is $172!!!! Unbelievable. And to know each month we would send that money directly to a family for their need 100% and also be part of a prayer ministry for others.....
But, to be fair, we really haven't made up our mind yet. We are praying about it. Just wanted to get all my thoughts out here.... and see what others thoughts would be....