Saturday, February 28, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It is an even worse sign when they follow that with, "We show that you still have to meet 2700...the procedure costs $6700 (yep those zeros are right)...how much of that $2700 that will be your responsibility are you prepared to pay today?"
Other than the jaw-dropping price, I now have the freedom to pursue any medical attention we need since I've again met our deductible in full in one fell swoop. Bring on the TRAMPOLINES-broken bones are covered until December!!!
The place I went was THE BOMB. The receptionist took my information and said she would pray it would go well. The financial women took my money and said she would pray that I got good results...and I never mentioned anything to them about what I was there for or any concern at all. Nice to be in a Christian place :-).
My mom went with me and they let her come in for the whole procedure. She's nerdy like me, and wants to see how they do it...she just doesn't admit it like I do :-). It was nice to have her there to talk to before and after, and we went to an awesome lunch at Cheesecake Factory after. We both got the Loaded Baked Potato Soup which was sooooo good. I had the raspberry lemonade and it was the best I've ever had. I was so full from both of those though that I didn't have any cheesecake!
My nurse and the doctor and the mammogram tech were all very nice. They were Christian too, and I felt like I was in good hands.
It was better and worse than I thought it would be. Better, in that the lidocaine part really didn't hurt. You know lidocaine...the stuff they inject you with to numb you up. They usually say something like, "this is going to feel like a bee sting." (Men can skip the rest of this. ) Yeah, 'cause bees routinely sting my BOOB! Anyway, it didn't sting. It barely hurt at all. Even the lying flat on the table face down with my BOOB hanging through a hole wasn't that bad.
What was bad? Well, first they take the Boob hanging through the table and put it into a mammogram machine under the table. Then they take a few pictures. Then they put your boob into the mammogram machine just how they want it and compress it...and leave it there...for the WHOLE rest of the time. And, let's just say calling it a "needle" biopsy is a bit misleading. I mean, I'm familiar with needles. I've spent several years of my life getting injected with them weekly and monthly for allergies. And no, for the record, I did NOT think they'd be using an allergy shot needle to do this...but I did picture something more like an amnio needle. Big, long, and scary.
Yeah, well what they really use makes an amnio needle look small and wimpy. Below is the best picture I could find.
It's like taking the end of a ball point pen, making it razor sharp, giving it another cutting surface on the side, attaching it to a vacuum, and jamming that into your BOOB! It was GREAT! (Yes, that's sarcasm.)
Actually, it wasn't that bad either because I was really numbed up...but I'm not numb anymore, so draw your own conclusions.
And lastly, and if you are queasy you might want to skip this part, when they removed the "needle" (hereafter to be called the alien probe), I started bleeding. Or at least they said I did, since I couldn't feel or see it (remember my Boob is hanging through a hole in the table). Bleeding enough that they, ummm, hastened the end of the procedure. Bleeding enough that they decided doing the follow-up mammogram down the hall might be a bad idea. Bleeding enough that they packed the area with gauze and then crammed it BACK into the mammogram machine under the table and cranked up the pressure to apply enough pressure to make it stop. For 20 minutes. It didn't work. Bleeding enough that I could have given blood if anyone had collected it all. Bleeding enough that I heard how they once had to do this to woman for 2 HOURS before it stopped. (It stopped after about 45 minutes.) Bleeding enough that they told me if it started bleeding again at home and I couldn't get it to stop in 5 minutes, I should head to the E.R. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea.
Anyway, I'm home, and I'm fine now, although I suspect I'll be bruised for weeks. (At one point they had me roll over on my back, and the nurse basically assumed CPR compression stance over my Boob to get it to stop bleeding...except unlike in CPR there is no letting UP, just the continuous downward pressure for 20 minutes. I felt like Annie the CPR test dummy.) They told me to take it easy for the next day, so anyone who wants to bring me bon-bons is welcome to stop by :-).
Oh, and the Dr. said she wouldn't bet her LIFE, but she would bet her DOG that my results would be benign. I asked if she was wrong if that means she gets MY DOG (PLEASE!...although I'm not sure I'm so desperate to get rid of him that Cancer is a better alternative.) I'll get my results on Monday. Anyone want to watch my kids Monday afternoon???
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Here are some pictures:
Here are the kids in our annual photo. We have pictures of them on this tree stump since before some of them were even born. Notice my nephew Bam-Bam joined us this year.
I loved the way these two "sucker" fish were facing each other on this log.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I'm a no frills-no fuss sort of girl. And despite my background as a teacher, that approach has carried over into our homeschooling methods too. When it came time for my first child to learn to read, I went with a curriculum I had seen a friend use with good success with her children. It's just one book, with what the teacher reads in one font and what the student is to read in another. It takes them from letter sounds to reading a 12 chapter story in its 108 lessons. That curriculum worked for us too, so I have never sought another. But now my three older kids have all finished that, and while they are good readers, they are deplorable spellers, with my daughter being the worst of all. She spells phonetically, and most of the time it's wrong.
So I was blessed this year with the TOS Crew to have the chance to review several spelling curriculums, and I was especially excited about Schola Publications' The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading-Level One. Honestly, because of my laid back approach to homeschooling, I'd never heard of Orton, Spaulding, Gillingham, Riggs, or anyone else with an idea about how kids should learn to read or spell. But I have many friends who use a similar approach to The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading, and I've often felt that the things they were covering were things I really wanted my kids to learn. But I've also heard them comment over and over how teacher intensive those curriculums are, (just the other day my friend said, "SWR is making me swear"), and I have to admit I just felt like there was no way I could take on something that intensive.
Yet when I was offered the chance to review The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading, I jumped at the chance because here was a program that offered the best of both worlds; a comprehensive language arts program that covered all the sounds our letters make, rules for spelling, a history of our language that explains WHY words are spelled like they are, an emphasis on good penmanship, writing activities, AND all the prep work done for you, the teacher, including DVDs to watch to show you how to teach all the material. PLUS all the student paperwork already organized and ready for use. It was like a dream come true!
On the "pro" side, I have to say this material is meticulously organized. The teacher's materials are in a tabbed 3-ring binder called the Foreman's Construction Guide and include a history of our language and how the Classical approach to education and the Orton inspired language arts programs fit in, 10 DVDs containing all you need to know to instruct your students in this program, your "blueprints"or lesson plans, and the "building codes" or completed versions of what your student will produce as they learn. The student manual carries on the Construction theme and is the Apprentice's Building Manual. Their binder contains their blueprints, building codes, composition papers, and readers. Also included is a clipboard with a plastic protector so that students can practice their work on the plastic overlay first and then write the final version on their paper. And they include markers for using with the clipboard and even pencils for writing their work in the binders. The DVDs are clear and concise. The program has a clear scope and sequence that goes through each of the four levels in The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading and segues into Schola Publications' other curriculum The Latin Road to English Grammar.
I do have a few personal "cons" as well. First, the DVD's would only play on my computer (not our DVD player) and so I found myself having to spend large amounts of time sitting in front of my computer just watching a video, which is not something I normally would do. I was hoping it would play on my TV and I could at least fold laundry too. Also, the DVDs are very professional and amazingly helpful, but not very exciting (my daughter in particular asked why I would want to watch them because they were BORING...although I'm sure they'd be boring to most 9 year olds). Second, I have issues with the fundamental idea that "y" does not say "e" that is presented in The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading as well as other curriculums like it. In my world, "y" says "e" at the end of words like baby, happy, plainly, crazy, and scary, just to name a few. And even if "y" takes the place of "i" and only makes the sounds "i" makes, "i" says "e" in radio, so why can't "y" say "e"? History aside, the fact is that in today's English it does, and I won't teach my kids that it doesn't ( so in that one case, I have just modified what I teach them to reflect that). Lastly, I do wish there was a printed version of the teacher's instructions...something more detailed than the lesson plans and maybe less than the DVD so that I could have skimmed it and presented the material even if I couldn't watch the whole video. It's hard for me to get uninterrupted time to sit and learn what I am then going to regurgitate to my kids, and then repeat the process all over again. It takes twice the time-the time to watch the video myself and then the time to teach it. But I do understand that without the DVDs, I'd probably feel like "swearing" in frustration at having to figure it all out myself just like my friend. The last con would be the price. For a thrifty person like me, $199 is pretty steep.
So what's the bottom line? I really like the information presented in The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading. I think it lays a solid foundation for everything they will do relating to English, grammar, and language arts for the rest of their lives. And I appreciate all the work that is done ahead for me in terms of organizing the materials and showing me exactly how to present it. All those things outweigh the negatives enough that I would purchase it to use myself. I wish it cost a third of what it does, but if we continue to have good results with it, I do think the ends justify the means, even financially.
To see what other members of the TOS Crew have to say, go HERE.
I feel guilty for focusing my other post on just one of Aunt Fannie's kiddos, but Grace's beauty just captivated me (Her smile lights up her face, and she is always smiling, but she's just gorgeous when she's NOT smiling). Here are Aunt Fannie's other cute (and attractive) kids in color above and Black and White below.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
For the first time in six years, I find myself in an unusual situation. I'm not currently teaching anyone to read. Wow! My older three have all completed our chosen basic phonics curriculum (Reading Made Easy) and have now moved on to stories that I chose for them, and my youngest is just not ready to read yet. And wouldn't you know that it's in this current situation that I get a phonics program to review? So I am going to give my honest opinion based on having looked over the program thoroughly but lacking having actually tried this one out on my kids.
Rocket Phonics was developed by Stephen Guffanti, a medical doctor, and his wife Maureen, a former English teacher, after teaching their daughter, Stephanie, to read. The Guffantis are home schooling parents, and they recognized problems with ordinary phonics programs that were already available. For instance, there was "o" as in "no"; "o" as in "not"; "o" as in "to", and "o" as in "of". Unlike the popular Orton-Gillingham/Orton-Spaulding approaches, Rocket Phonics seeks to eliminate the confusion in learning to read by creating a coded system in which each letter makes only one sound rather than having students learn all the different sounds one letter can make. For example, the "e" sound is taught as being the short "e" sound we hear in "egg" where as the long "e" sound is always coded "ea" so students can see the difference.
Rocket Phonics does however firmly embrace the Orton multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics. In fact, it is probably the most multi-sensory and FUN phonics program I've ever encountered.
The pros for this curriculum would be first and foremost that phonics are taught and reinforced through game playing so the learning hardly seems like learning at all. It really appears to be a fun phonics program. I know my kids love our math curriculum so much because it is heavily game oriented, and I would assume they would have the same response to Rocket Phonics. Second, it seems like students really get into reading quickly using the coding system, and Rocket Phonics has really sought to give them quality material to read and not the usual dribble that beginning readers are limited to. Their goal is to have student be able to read all the words in their vocabulary, and I am impressed at how quickly students really begin reading. Also, they use funny things like riddles and rhymes for students to read too so that even the "work" of reading is fun. And the materials seem to be high quality and are non-consumable, so you can use them over and over again.
On the "con" side there are a few things I noticed. First of all, while the symbol cards on which the letter sounds and a corresponding picture are given are very nice in quality, the pictures are not all easy to distinguish from any distance away due to dark pictures with dark background colors. One that stands out in my memory was the "wolf" for the "w" sound. And in a children's phonics program, is a picture of a REAL wolf the best representative for that sound? It's a little scary to me. And the dog on the "d" card is a German Shepherd, not a cute little dog like a Yorkie. On the "o" card is an otter, an animal not all young children are familiar with, just like the yak on the "y" card. And the most odd of all is the choice of a duck for the "u" sound card when all the other cards have pictures whose initial sound is the one they are representing, leading to confusion that "d" is the sound that card represents, not "u". An umbrella would have been a better choice. My last con would be the price. While most Orton programs I've seen are fairly price ($200ish), many other phonics programs, especially marketed toward homeschoolers like 100 Easy Lessons or Reading Made Easy, are in the $50 or less category. Rocket Phonics blends the two approaches, but the price is in that higher range at $160.
That Rocket Phonics is the phonics curriculum that Critical Thinking carries in their catalogs speaks volumes to me, since I love their products. Knowing that, and seeing all the glowing recommendations Rocket Phonics has gotten from other educational people and companies in the know, makes me think that there must be something to Rocket Phonics that really makes it work. And the games and fun approach are what sets it apart, and clearly they also yield successful results.
But the bottom line for me is that it seems a little pricey (although they say it covers 6 years worth of vocabulary) and I'm not personally sure about the coding system. (I'm not against coding systems at all, Reading Made Easy uses one, and my children have all done very well.) I'm not sure I can wrap my head around the "each letter only makes one sound" idea when clearly that's not actually true, and using "ea" to show the long "e" sound does not do justice to the children later as they try to spell words whose long "e" sound comes from a different letter combination (like "ee"). It may be that it poses no problem at all, but having not taught it myself, I feel like that would be a concern I would have.
To read what other members of the TOS Crew have to say, go HERE.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
When a growth is too small or deep to palpate (feel), the doctor must locate it with one of several imaging techniques. First, the patient lies face down on a table with the breasts suspended through an opening. ( TELL me this doesn't just make you LAUGH at the visual :-)! With stereotactic mammography, mammograms of the suspicious breast site are taken from different angles to form a virtual three-dimensional (stereotactic) image that precisely pinpoints the location of the suspicious area. The computer then uses a motor to guide a small hollow needle to the site to remove the samples. The withdrawn samples are then analyzed for the presence of cancer.
So when will it be? Who knows. It's done at a different facility and they have to get the films from the first facility before they can schedule the biopsy.
The good news is I should have a pain free Valentine's Day because of this! The bad news? Aunt Flo will be arriving for a visit soon, and with my luck they will coincide. Ouch!
Saturday, February 7, 2009
I thought it might be fun to let you guys guess who did each one. I don't know that I have anything to offer as a prize except bragging rights, but try anyway! I'll post who did what tomorrow night.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Last Thursday, I went with a group of ladies to a "Midnight Mammograms and Manicures" party. A radiology center about 45 minutes away has these parties to get women to have this essential test done. You get a group of 6-15 women together, all with insurance AND orders from their Dr. for a mammogram. Then you go to this party at the radiology center. They play music and have snack food and gourmet cupcakes and a manicurist, and it is a fun way to get your "hooter crunch" (as my girlfriend used to call it).
Well, Monday I got a call from my GYN's office saying that the radiologist report indicated that they'd like to have me come back in so they could take some magnified views. They saw some calcifications on both sides, but more on one than the other, and they wanted to check it out more. They made me an appointment for Wednesday morning.
Wednesday morning I went in for the new mammogram. The tech let me see all the images, and explained everything to me, which was great. Then after, she brought me back to speak to the radiologist personally. Yeah, that's sort of a red flag, huh? Anyway, turns out that having calcifications can be normal. But they like to see them scattered throughout your breast tissue and not "having church" in any one location. Apparently,to continue the church metaphor, mine are gathering in the fellowship hall-not as packed in as church once it starts, but with a few clusters of calcifications in a specific area. The radiologist said he thought I should see a breast specialist and have a biopsy, but he'd send the report to my Dr. There is a 90% chance it's nothing-or at least it's benign. But it was the 10% chance that he didn't want to neglect.
Today, I got a call that they have scheduled my biopsy for next Wednesday. But then while I was gone this afternoon, I got calls from both my GYN and the radiology place, so I am wondering if there is an insurance issue. Of course, by the time I got the messages they were both closed, so we will see on Monday.
I am NOT worried. I want to be clear about that. I know Whose I am, and He holds my future. I'm totally at peace with whatever that future is. But, financially, our deductible started over again in Jan. It's $3000. Yeah. I'll be paying for all this out-of-pocket. And we just had to buy a new car (I'll blog about that later). So as always, that is the area where I have to just trust in God's provision for us. He's always provided for us in the past, so I don't know why finances are still the one area I wrestle with His sovereignty about, but I know I do and I must surrender to Him daily about it.
I'll keep you updated so you can pray if you don't mind. I'm not worried about the results of the biopsy, but I'm not looking forward to the procedure either :-).
But this plug is for a totally different magazine. It's not in competition with TOS...in fact they have just started advertising there, but that's not how I found it. That I found it at all is a God thing. I got there by clicking on one blog after another and then finding mention of it. It's called New Harvest Homestead, and it has blessed my heart.
NHH speaks to the core of what I want to be someday (maybe when I "grow up"-or as my kids do) both as a homesteader and a Godly wife, mother, and homemaker. The devotional editorials have all spoken to my heart directly, especially the one on one of the sample issues about being in Midian. And the reader contributed articles have inspired me in gardening, canning, and so many other homemaking skills. I love that it supports anyone with a homemaker heart, even if your circumstances aren't very traditional in the homestead sense. To check it out, go to their website at www.newharvesthomestead.com .
Right now, NHH is having a back issue sale that everyone should know about. Here's Lisa's e-mail about it:
For one week only, all back issues of New Harvest Homestead will be on sale for $1.00 each!
This means that you can purchase an entire year’s worth of NHH for $6.00 – that’s less than HALF the current subscription price! Purchase every single back issue for only $21.00! That’s a savings of over $30.00 on all!
You will never get a better deal on the New Harvest Homestead newsletter.
In these uncertain economic times, New Harvest Homestead is an investment that will save you money in the long run. Learn how to grow and preserve your own fruits and vegetables, cook & bake from scratch, raise a small flock of chickens (even in the city!), save money BIG TIME at the grocery store, make your own laundry detergent and other household products – and so much more! Plus, receive encouragement and comfort in the Lord from women just like you in every issue.
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This sale begins today, Friday, February 6 and will end on Friday night, February 13, at .
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I remember going to a craft fair many years ago and in one of the booths there was a sign that said, "Yes, you could make this yourself...but will you?" That's the thing with crafts, someone made them, and if you are crafty yourself, you probably could too...but will you? Sometimes it's worth it to pay a little more to had it done already instead of "saving" yourself some money but never actually getting around to making whatever it was. Or worse, buying all the materials and then never doing it.
What does this have to do with my review of WriteShop StoryBuilders? Everything, because that's exactly how I view StoryBuilders-something I could do myself...but probably wouldn't, so it's probably worth it just to buy them and have them to use instead of having nothing but good intentions to do it myself someday, until my children are well past the point where the StoryBuilders would have been helpful and my children are still struggling with writing a good story because we never tried them.
StoryBuilders is a very simple, but ingenious product. Available as downloadable "e-books", they have different topics that they cover like animals, people, sports, and Christmas. For each topic, there are cards that you print out (they suggest you print them on card stock). These cards fall under four different categories; character, character trait, setting, and plot. You can print each of these categories on different colored paper with black ink text, or use the other option of printing on white paper with different colored text for each category. After cutting them apart, you separate them into piles, and then there are several different suggestions for using them from there. You can give one of each category to your child, or you can let them pick one they want from each category, or you can let them chose one from each category at random. Then there are different suggestions for writing activities to go with those cards. Things like timed writing, or round robin (where you pass the paper to the next person every few minutes), or let them narrate to you. It's kind of like backwards MadLibs-the StoryBuilders cards give you the nouns, adjectives, places, and situations, and you construct the imaginative story around it.
We got to try out the World of Animals and World of Sports, and by the way, the cards from the different "Worlds" can be combined for even more interesting stories. Here are some examples of the things found on the cards:
- Characters: acrobat, rock climber, giraffe, octopus
- Character Traits: feeble, mischievous, cautious, uncontrollable
- Setting: narrow trail, vacant lot, the Arctic, spider web
- Plot: everything goes wrong, miracle occurs, lands on the moon, has no manners
The pros to this are that it actually makes writing fun. In fact, it doesn't seem like writing at all. But it really stretches your child to use their imagination, and that's a great thing for developing writing skills. It's also nice that the program is flexible and has many different suggestions for how to use it. It even comes with blank card templets so you can create your own. And since it's a downloadable e-book, there's no shipping cost and you get it instantly.
The one con to me would be that this would not be hard to create yourself. I'm fairly certain I've seen similar things suggested with some curriculums even. But, the question always is, "Would you?" Would you make them yourself?
If the answer is "no", then I'd say the bottom line is that they are worth checking out. I think the price is fairly reasonable. Each Story Builders book is $7.95, except the Christmas one, which is a mini book and is $3.95. They are available HERE.
If you want to see what other TOS Crew members had to say, go HERE.
Last Tuesday I wasn't feeling well...it was one of "those" days with a chronic syndrome I have. I got the kids and I off to Precept anyway despite the fact that I had been up since the wee hours of the morning. So I pull into Precept, go to get Sari out of the car...and realize she has NO shoes. Yep, they just called to ask for my "Mom of the Year" trophy back. I mean, who takes their kids to a childcare setting with NO shoes??? Me, apparently. Luckily her teachers were understanding. Of course, I had 5 shoes in the car (yes, 5 shoes, not pairs, but with kids you learn not to ask) but none of them were hers.
After Precept we went home instead of going to the park since Sari had no shoes and I wanted to be sure I was indeed just having a chronic issue day and not getting a bug many people seem to have around here. But that night Scott had to be in the Hills for a Boy Scout Board of Review.
Wednesday, well, the chaos started again. Remember the Pinewood Derby? Well, Wednesday night was the AWANA version of the same event. The problem? The blocks you make the cars out of cars and the wheels are slightly different so Mimi and TJ needed totally different cars. BUT, while Mimi's was almost done, we hadn't even started on TJ's. SO his got cut out Wednesday morning, he sanded it that morning, and then we went on a field trip I had totally forgotten about until the night before. We were there until around 1. When we got home, we painted TJ's car over what was left of the afternoon. My husband came home a little early and got the weights on and the wheels sanded and on. Then he took the kids to AWANA and I took Scott to his Court of Honor. My boy is officially a Tenderfoot Scout-the first level you earn beyond just being a boy scout. It was terrible having to have one of us miss each event. TJ won the race for the Sparks, so he had a big night too. Luckily our kids are used to the divide and conquer approach.
By Wednesday evening, I was sick as a dog. Not with my chronic issue...well at least not the same one. This was an allergy thing. I hardly slept Wednesday night and must have blown my nose about 200 times. I was beat by the morning.
Thursday I called in sick as teacher of my homeschool and told the kids they could do whatever they wanted as long as it did not involve me :-). I slept on and off all day. But I had to get up that evening and leave the house to go to, are you ready for this, a Midnight Mammograms and Manicures party. Luckily after sleeping all day and taking four times the recommended dosage of Sudafed PE, I was functional. The mammo thing was a lot of fun. They had drinks and snacks, including gourmet cupcakes, and a manicurist, and then they called us back one by one for our mammograms. Really, for something you have to have done-this is the way to do it! I got home at midnight, had to go to Walmart to get more Sudafed PE, and then went to bed!
Well, I'll end there, but you can see our life is never dull, nor uneventful. Hence, I am sometimes tired. And since I'm still having allergy problems compliments of back-to-back cold fronts, I am even more tired. So I apologize if the blog's been a little quiet :-). More to come though-this week makes last week look tame!