Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gratitude For A Twelve Year Old

The last couple of days it has hit me how grown up a 12 year old really can be.  Sometimes Amber laments not being a little bitty girl anymore, and while those years were fun this time is equally enjoyable.  I decided to make an impromptu list of why I appreciate my 12 year old. 

Why twelve year old daughters are so much fun.

  1. They are able to reason more and understand the reasons rules are set.  Associated with this is that they also understand why they are punished for breaking those rules.  They may not like the punishment, but it no longer seems somewhat random.
  2. It is just plain fun to goof off and do things together without having to constantly also care for the child in the way you care for a toddler.
  3. A twelve year old can take on more household chores.  This not only alleviates some of my jobs, but teaches her responsibility and an appreciation for the work others do.
  4. She is becoming more independent in her learning, while still needing some guidance.  I'm not sure I'll ever be comfortable sending her off to do her school work without some interaction with me, but it is great to not need to sit with her all day for every minute of every subject.
  5. At this age kids are still new to discovering literature, science and history.  Amber loves to tell me all about what she has read that fascinated her and loves to point out the cultural references to literature that she finds. 
  6. A sense of humor: it is so enjoyable to watch Amber's developing sense of humor and to be with her and experience that humor daily.  She is actually a very funny person; just not a joke teller.
  7. It's great at this age to see Amber's own sense of clothing style coming out.  Sometimes she just doesn't care, as long as it matches. Other times she has very specific ideas of how an outfit should look.  Many times I am surprised at how well the combinations work.  
  8. As an only child, Amber has always been better than I ever was at entertaining herself. Still, she is now making more of her own choices for free time entertainment, without us needing to give options.  
  9. Twelve year olds are much better at describing their feelings - physical and emotional.  I can't image how parents of very young children handle chronic conditions that depend on catching reactions early when the child can't tell you about the reaction.  
  10. My twelve year old still thinks her mom is great and wants to spend time with me.  I know this won't last forever, but I appreciate that time we do have together.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Again Once More into the Breach... Or Tummy Aches

This week has been spectacularly low on actual school work. Amber has had a whole week of stomach pain and we aren't sure of the source. We thought she might be sick, but then it looked like something related to her FM. After missing all activities prior to Thursday, Amber is marginally better but still in some pain and very puny.

Originally we had a hike with the homeschool group scheduled for today, but Amber can't manage it so instead we are having a calm day at home finishing some school items and baking. 

On the school front, Amber did complete her standardized testing this morning which means we are free to resume regular school next week. During her extended downtime Amber was able to finish the current literature book, The Tale of Troy. We've yet to have our last discussion on that book, but we are preparing for her final literatur book of the year, Famous Men of Rome. 

Amber also watched a few more episodes of Drive Through Ancient History when she started to recover a little. While it's not my favorite resource, it does give her a different perspective on her current history topic with a little humor included. 

(LEFT) Ready to serve at the confirmation dinner last weekend.  In two year's it's her turn to be confirmed.
(RIGHT - TOP) Pretty much how she looked most of the week.  Watching Warehouse 13.
(RIGHT-BOTTOM) Feeling a little better today.  Kitty cuddles make it better. Allergy shots still haven't started though.

Mostly Amber read lots of her fantasy books and we allowed her to watch Warehouse 13. I've been a fan since the pilot episode, but Amber was too young back then in 2009. Now that the final season has started we allowed her to watch the episodes from the beginning. It's been enjoyable to rewatch a series I love with Amber.  There has been quite a bit of pausing to explain numerous historical references so that Amber understood the "artifacts" on the show. 

I've been trying more new recipes this week to increase our catalog of safe treats, snacks and breakfast foods. With Easter this weekend, I needed a few special items for Amber to eat when everyone else has the standard Easter treats.  I still LOVE Gluten Free on a Shoestring. Just when I need a new recipe Nicole is there with the perfect one. I do usually need to make a few substitutions, but there is no way I could develop these recipes.  

As a baking tip, crackers apparently NEED sugar. Swapping dextrose for sugar results in "softers" not crackers. How do I know this? I attempted it with our tried and true sorghum-teff thins, otherwise known as Wheat Thin Copycat crackers.  I didn't bother to look up the chemistry of this little blooper, but after two batches of softers I gave up and returned to sugar.  Oddly enough the next batch was perfect. 

(LEFT) Just about ready for Good Friday services.  We played bells too.  Well, she played, I made a mess.  I'm getting worse, not better.
(RIGHT-TOP) Fructose Free peanut butter cups for Amber's Easter basket. 
(RIGHT-BOTTOM) Roll dough ready for overnight refrigerator proofing. This will be Texas Roadhouse style GF rolls tomorrow. Trust me, they will.  I've made them before.  :)

We met again this week with Amber's dietician who commensurates with us over the reactions and agrees that there is still something we are missing causing random reactions in Amber.  She laughed with me over the whole oats incident, knowing off the top of her head that they would have failed. We left the appointment with more recommendations for food trials and even the dietician's endorsement to participate in a drug trial. It's not a new drug and really is just a replacement enzyme. The only hitch is that it was originally developed for a different condition but might, and that's a big might, help FM kids tolerate more fructose.  Thus the drug is in trial status for FM patients, but in use for the original condition. Still since Amber had lost weight this time we need all the help she can get. Amber is supposed to gain a pound a month, not lose 2 pounds. We see the GI doctor next week and will go forward from there. 

On a positive personal note, I'm back to exercising 6 days a week (on average) and even have the resistance on my bike back up to the maximum level I ever achieved. I'm exhausted when finished, but am able to complete at least 60 minutes of cardio biking each session. I let my diet and exercise slide the past year while Amber has been sick and have now gained 8 pounds that I want to lose by my birthday next month. It's hard with Amber's carb and protein heavy diet to not join in the fun, but a healthy body that can keep up with the needs of our family is more important. I kinda forgot that along the way this past year. 

That's about it for this week. I pray everyone has a great Easter. Here's to hoping for a productive and tummy-ache-free week.

Happy Easter!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Standardized Testing, Allergy Testing, and Genetic Testing

I'm going to tell you straight off that you'll notice that most of the pictures in this post seem to be from the same two days.  You would be right.  I completely failed to take pictures most of the week, but in my defense the week was mostly standardized testing and doctors.  I did try to remember to take pictures at the homeschool group enrichment classes, but you'll see that I was not a huge success in that either. 

Most of the school for this week was standardized testing.  We aren't quite complete either and will finish on Monday.  Amber had an appointment this week; Fred had an appointment on the same day.  That day was pretty much useless for school.  We also don't accomplish much on homeschool group day either. Then we had the added bonus of the fun homeschool Easter party today.   So, no testing again today.

Amber did learn a bit about allergies, allergy shots and genetics on Tuesday.  We visited Amber's allergist for the environmental allergy testing, again.  Same two trees popped up on the test as well as... cats.  Amber is allergic to her cats.  This explains much of the nasal issues and coughing of late.  Instead of finding new homes for our beloved cats, Amber is taking medication and starting allergy shots.  Life is never medically dull around here. 

(LEFT) Defiantly holding her favorite cat after returning from the allergist, who did recommend we give away our cats. 
(RIGHT) Two different days of standardized testing.  Such exciting times.

There hasn't really been any new food for Amber this week.  Yellow bell peppers passed the food trial over the weekend, but it was only one small slice.  We will try again sometime when she is feeling adventurous.  However, this gives us great hope that there are vegetables and fruits out there that she can consume in moderation.

I've been in a fog and feeling sick for a lot of the week and it's my fault.  Fred even warned me in advance; Amber told me I was making a bad choice.  Tuesday I had a pretty busy day because of needing to have Amber at the allergist early, then taking her to my mom's where I met Fred so we could drive into St. Louis for his geneticist appointment (all came out well)pic.  The timing was not ideal for lunch, so we grabbed fast food that I could eat while driving.  I chose to eat a wheat bun.  My body chose to explain what happens when a highly gluten intolerant person eats an entire wheat bun. 

Today was our homeschool group's Easter party at a local park.  The kids, of all ages, were able to hunt for eggs and play together on the playground.  Some of the older kids also played kickball.  Originally Amber was gung-ho to play kickball, yet when the time came she was enjoying herself too much to be moved from the playground.  She played so hard today and over did it, just a tad.  I thought she looked a bit worn out, still she would not admit to it until we were halfway home. Then she sorta fell apart into a puddle of exhausted and hot child.  She's resting in the cool air conditioning now and doing much better. 

(LEFT) New sunglasses and shirt.  She is really not happy about this cat allergy.
(TOP-MIDDLE) Homeschool group time: playing in the gym with the big kids.
(BOTTOM-MIDDLE) Easter egg hunt! (Green shirt w/ pony tail.. racing away)
(RIGHT) Assembling her goblin costume for The Hobbit - homeschool group play.

While this has been a fairly uneventful week for school, it was long and tiring in so many other ways.  We have a service event at church tomorrow for Amber and me, then more outside house maintenance if the weather holds on Sunday.  I'm actually looking forward to the rain forecast for Monday so that we can stay home and not have anything out of the ordinary to do. 

So concludes my very sleepily and groggily written weekly wrap-up post. 

Happy Weekend!

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