Seeing improvements in 5 year old Jamie

This week I have noticed that Jamie seems to be gradually improving in several areas.  I had increased his b-complex to a full tablet a couple days ago. I still have to use a little “tough love” to get him to take it, as in making him drink the crushed tablet in juice before he can have breakfast. But he is getting used to taking it every morning anyway, and I have seen some positive changes. He is fighting a little less during the transition from play to homeschool activities.  His focus and attention are much better. 

Jamie is doing very well reading the “floating notes” in his piano book and playing them with fairly accurate timing.  That is, he is playing the half notes and quarter notes shown in the music more accurately than in previous weeks.  He is picking up the new songs more easily, and seems to be doing a better job reading the music instead of trying to play by ear or memorize the pattern of the song if there is one.  I’m really glad I chose to start piano with him.  I thought with his fondness of music he would take to it, it’s nice to be right sometimes, LOL.  I don’t really know much about piano, but I’m having good luck using The Music Tree beginner book to teach him. 

Jamie is also focusing longer on math and handwriting.  Today he even asked to do more math after I had done one page with him and was satisfied that it was enough.  He wanted to bring out “decimal street” and build numbers on it.  This is something unique to the Math-U-See books.    Once we finished that and moved onto handwriting, he asked to write the number 10 after we had practiced what I had prepared for today.  We are using Handwriting Without Tears for that.  Usually I don’t have him write in the workbook, but just on the magnetic “slate” and the little chalkboard one.   He is now doing better writing in the book, which is a good sign.  I know that writing on the chalkboard is using more of the large muscles of the arm, while writing in the workbook uses the small muscles of the hand more.

Samuel is coming along with the potty training too. He actually told me he needed to go yesterday, and had a BM in the potty instead of on the floor or in his training pants. He is getting very independent, he actually told me to “Get out” after he sat down. LOL.

Adventures in potty training and gardening

We had a good day, though pretty busy.  Right after breakfast Samuel had his birth to 3 visit.  He is now getting his teacher and OT visit at the same time two weeks of the month.  It works out great, they are a very good team.  I like his new OT, Stephanie, she is really focusing nicely on treating Samuel’s low muscle tone.  Jamie has a hard time coping with Samuel getting so much attention, so I usually try to do school with him at the same time to keep him busy.  Besides, with our swim lessons it’s hard to fit our school into the morning hours.  Jamie did pretty well after initially balking at starting with handwriting.  Today we did manage to get piano practice done before Judy and Stephanie arrived.  I gave the boys 20 minutes to watch TV after they left today, but I was still having trouble getting Jamie to the lesson on time.  I don’t understand how it takes 10 minutes to get them in the car. 

The swim lesson finally branched out from the usual routine and they let the kids swim the full length of the pool with noodles, 5 kids at a time.  Jamie had a hard time swimming in a straight line, he wanted to swim toward an instructor.  I think this was partly because he was having trouble keeping his face out of the water and didn’t get the idea of breathing through his nose instead of his mouth.  It did make me nervous to have him swimming with less close supervision, as they have only 2 instructors and one lifeguard for about 15 kids.  But I make sure to stay close to where he is swimming even if I have to get up and walk to another spot to sit.  I watch him the whole time, I don’t trust the students that the parks and rec. hired to do the job.

So to get back in line with the title I listed, first the compost.  I made an arrangement to take the rotten fruits and veggies from a nearby farmstand to use for compost.  3 or 4 days ago I arranged this.  I expected to get a box or two.  I got 4 full boxes of stuff to compost.  It’s amazing what they have to throw out in just a few days.  I wonder how much he sells.  I sure hope he is doing well, as the farmstand is located very close to my house.  So convenient.  Now if I could just convince him to carry organic produce I would buy there most of the time.  As for the compost, this will be an interesting experiment.  I want more compost to build up the soil for flowerbeds.  I hope using produce won’t attract too many wild animals.  I have the pile enclosed with wire fencing but not covered. 

So right after I finished dumping the stuff into the pile and breaking down empty boxes, I heard Samuel say something.  I looked and he was standing with his back to the bushes.  Since my husband had let him outside with no pants he decided to use the bush Daddy encouraged him to “water” on a previous occasion.  Only this time he “fertilized” it instead of watering it.  I had to call my husband to bring the dog in and clean up Samuel.  Then I used the dog’s pooper scooper to pick it up and dump it in the toilet.  I never thought I would have to clean up outside after the dog and one of the kids, LOL.

Our weekend: Green Cleaning and Family Fun

I went on a cleaning kick on saturday. The boys were good, they spent most of the morning in our basement playroom while I sat with them and folded laundry. We have a great sensory integration focused playroom and it has been wonderful for Jamie. I’ll have to post a picture of it soon. I got my husband to take the boys outside so I could mop the floors. I use a Swiffer Wet Jet, which I like, and I managed to make it more of a green cleaning product by rinsing out one of the empty cleaning solution bottles and putting my green all purpose cleaner and using that in the mop instead. It worked as least as good as the Swiffer solution without the strong chemical smell.  My husband had to use channel locks to get enough grip on the cap the remove it before we rinsed out the bottle and put in our preferred cleaning products. 

Then when the boys took a nap I cleaned all our bathrooms. I noticed that my scour-it off paste did a much better job removing my husband’s hair spray layer from the sink than Comet Cleanser used to do. The job went much more quickly with the new green cleaners.

We took the boys to Quassy after nap, as it was carload night. We got to take them to Saturation Station for about an hour, because it is included with the wristband. Samuel hated it because he doesn’t like water on his face or head. I tried to take him on the waterslide with me, but the lifeguard made him go down by himself. Needless to say he wasn’t happy. It was a little chilly, so even Jamie didn’t stay for long. “Mommy, I’m shivering and my teeth are clicking.” Jamie did go in the lake with his Daddy, I think that was a little warmer. Samuel sat in my lap for a long time, wrapped in a towel. It was nice to have him sit and cuddle again. He is getting so independent now that he is almost 3. As he sat there he was studying the rollercoaster. “Car, Mommy?” I told him it was a rollercoaster but that he might not be tall enough to ride it yet. Of course he said “Why?” which he uses quite a bit these days. So once we got them dried off and on a couple kiddy rides it was time for dinner. We broke down and paid for the wonderful amusement park food <sarcasm>.  Before we left Samuel did get to ride the roller coaster with his daddy, I guess he was just tall enough.  He loved it, when it stopped he protested that he didn’t want to get out.  “MORE COASTER!”  I noticed that Jamie has an ever growing list of rides he doesn’t like.  The roller coaster (which he hasn’t tried yet), paratrooper, frog hopper, even the carousel horses, of all things.  I wonder what is going on with his sensory stuff there.  Must be a weird vestibular thing.  He can take all kinds up spinning stuff, but up and down motions he can’t tolerate. 

All in all, a good weekend.  Hope the boys are good tomorrow and not missing Daddy too much when he goes back to work Monday.  I found a few homeschooling ideas in the Oriental Trader’s catalog.  I’m going to see if I can adapt some materials that we already have on hand. 

The pill swallowing cup, and other adventures

I must say, this Oralflo cup I bought was a joke, and is going to be promptly returned.  I patiently explained to 5 year old Jamie to take a big drink and tip his head back, but he kept sipping around the pill.  Then when he did get the pill in his mouth he would not swallow it, but mouthed it and complained about the taste.  After more explanations and a little yelling, I gave up and crushed his 1/2 b-complex tablet and put it in a half cup of apple juice. I explained that he must drink this before breakfast, and after sipping he pronounced the taste acceptable and drank the juice. I guess he was relieved to stop trying to swallow a pill. Later I tried the pill cup to take one of my own vitamins. Now I can swallow half a dozen vitamins at once, but this cup really made it more difficult just to swallow one small capsule. No wonder it didn’t help Jamie. It’s a good thing they have a guarantee, now I’ll find out if they stand behind it. $12 is a little much for a plastic cup that doesn’t help Jamie swallow vitamin pills.

Doing school this morning with Jamie was a challenge. He just didn’t want to do anything except his music, and even that was a challenge for following directions. But we got through our phonics, handwriting, and math anyway. I don’t get what is so hard for him, we only work on each subject for about 5 minutes. And he is totally capable, just lazy I guess. I like using curriculum, but I wish there was a way to keep things fresh and avoid the routine becoming too monotonous. He really liked it better when we first started. I prefer to do a little school through the summer so we have more flexibility to take days off during the regular school year, so that is why we are doing it now.

We have had a few days of rain, so today I had the boys outside after lunch.  I noticed that the sandbox was full of water, so I dumped that off after bailing with buckets until I could lift the edge.  Does anyone have kids that cover the sandbox?  I am going to ask my husband to drill a few small holes in the bottom, as I believe the cover leaks anyway.  They had a nice time playing in the wet sand afterward, until I came in to check my email anyway.   

And then there are the potty training issues with 34 month old Samuel. He won’t wet himself if I remember to take him to the potty every couple of hours. But he refuses to have a bowel movement in the potty. Today I had him bare bottom for the morning, as it had been 2 days. He started to have a BM then stopped and called for me. I put him on the potty but he refused to finish. So several hours later when I put pants on him to go outside, he went ahead and finished. I cleaned him off with the garden hose, but he just thought that was fun.

So by then I was about used up. We had already had lunch “I don’t want that lunch, Mommy.” Time for nap. I hope they both go to sleep today, I could use the quiet.  Days like this I think the old woman in the shoe knew EXACTLY what she was doing!  LOL.  On a good note, I managed to get oily stains out of a shirt by using our new liquid laundry detergent as a prespotter.  One battle won, anyhow!

Summer sure is busy

I signed my 5 year old up for swimming lessons, thinking it would be a good summer activity and great for socialization.  It sure ties us down though, having to get there at 11:15am two days a week.  Today it was canceled due to a power outage at the school, so we had a little extra time.  I wonder how the other parents knew, because I didn’t find out until I showed up there.  I was wondering what on earth to do with the boys now, as it was raining most of the day.  Fortunately I remembered that we actually had a playdate for after swimming.  That worked out well for our rainy day activity.

One of our other weekly activities is occupational therapy, or OT for Jamie.  We have a great OT that is trained to treat sensory integration dysfunction, AND is in network for our insurance.  We do this on Tuesdays at 11am, and it is a 30 minute drive each way.  So that takes up a big chunk of time too.  It’s really interesting to watch how Lynn is able to see what is going on in his head and give him activities to help him calm down or focus.  I learn lots of strategies for home if I watch closely. I’m hoping to expand the supplements I’m giving Jamie and see some improvement for his behavior and attention. I found a special cup for swallowing pills, called Oralflo, and I hope that will allow us to add some more. Hiding them does not work for Jamie, he is so sensitive to textures.

Today before swimming we had our birth to 3 teacher come for Samuel.  He gets a teacher for an hour once a week.  Today she brought a new teacher that they are training.  They helped little Samuel play air hockey with Jamie.  Wow, he is doing great for a 34 month old.  Finally they are learning to play that game together, maybe the parents can catch a break, LOL.  It was nice to have someone new see him, and comment on how well he is talking.  I sometimes forget how far he has come, especially since he only started talking much about 9 months ago.  I never thought a year ago that he would not qualify for school services for preschool.  I really credit digestive enzymes with helping him progress to this point.  And he has even gotten to the point that I can just give him alfalfa, which contains natural enzymes and is a great detoxifer. I have managed to crush it and hide it in his juice. I wish I could get Jamie to take it. I may try hiding it in homemade popsicles. So now I’m trying to catch my Mommy break as my kids are finally in for nap, though a bit late.  One is protesting, he will talk to himself instead of sleeping.  Hmm, I think the monitor is going to be off for awhile.  I can’t understand why he isn’t tired after the playdate.  Too wound up I guess.  I remember the days when he would fall asleep in the car.  I miss that. Well, it is time to come up with something creative to make for dinner. With all our activities today, no time to put anything in the crockpot this morning. I need a “101 things to do with frozen meat at the last minute” book, LOL.

Treating my thyroid and adrenals. A little about nutrition.

I  have had hashimoto’s thyroiditis since age 14.  Most of that time I have been taking Synthroid or other generic levothyroxine.  Recently I learned about Armour Natural Thyroid, and I have been taking that for about 6 months.  I feel so much better.  Now I’m not so cold all the time and I even lost a few pounds.  However, some of the symptoms that people attribute to their thyroid are actually caused by adrenal glands that are not able to produce  enough hormones to deal with stress.  After reading a book called The Diet Cure, I experimented with some high doses of certain b vitamins and also a  b complex.  But I really felt much worse, bad mood swings, so I stopped them one by one.  They I learned from reading some of Adelle Davis’ old books that the b vitamins need to be taken as the complete complex, and they need to be in approximately equal percentages of the RDA.  It’s fine to take more, but it must be balanced in this way.  That’s when I discovered a balanced B-Complex and it really did wonders for my energy level during the day.  And once I switched my multivitamin to one also containing a balanced b-complex I finally could get out of bed in the morning without feeling lousy. Since vitamin C helps the body use the b vitamins more efficiently, and also helps the adrenals I started taking a sustained release vitamin C as well. I had been taking vitamin E already, so once I used up my supplies, I switched to Daily Vitamin Strips to simplify things. Now I forget my vitamins a lot less often.

I also started taking a couple drops of Lugol’s iodine solution each day.  Here is a great article on iodine and health http://www.newswithviews.com/Howenstine/james37.htmI had a recent physical  by a new family practice doctor that I’m trying.  He actually said he can’t feel any enlarged thyroid.  My thyroid has been palpable for 20 years, so either he isn’t very good at checking the thyroid or I’m really doing MUCH better.  It  will be interesting to see what my endocrinologist says the next time he checks. 

I learned about the benefits of a quality cod liver oil awhile ago, and we all are taking that.   I read a book called Nourishing Traditions, which recommends a diet more like what people were eating a hundred years ago, before refrigeration and processed foods were available.  There is lots of great information here that details and expands a bit upon what is in the book http://www.westonaprice.org/splash_2.htmAnd this is how we try to feed our family, as best we can.  Grass fed beef, pastured pork, raw milk, fresh fruits and vegetables (preferable organic) lactofermented grains, cod liver oil every day.  They have some great information on what types of fat are healthy, and which ones are harmful.  We really hope to improve the health of our kids, and have a third child sometime soon with no major health concerns.  Nutrition is key.

More recommended reading:

The Schwarzbein Principle: The Program This is Schwarzbein’s most current book.  Pay particular attention to chapter 9.  

Eat Fat Lose Fat By Mary Enig.  Not just about weight loss but also about healthy eating.

Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit  By Adelle Davis.  A vintage book, I recommend only the edition with copyright 1970.  A lot of detailed information about a wide range of both macronutrients and micronutients.  This is a great companion to a more current book such as Schwarzbein’s.   Be aware that Adelle, in her later years, lost her enthusiasm for using powdered milk as a protein supplement.  However, she laid the foundation for later works by other authors, including Schwarzbein.

Know Your Fats by Mary Enig, the ultimate authority on which fats are healthy and which are not. 

My first blog. Caring for a family.

Well, here goes nothing.  I’m trying to figure out this blog thing, but I’m just going to dive in and see what happens.  As you can see in my “about” section,  our family has dealt with multiple health challenges.  But since the kids were born I have really changed my views about healthcare in general.  As a pediatric nurse I was trained mainly in regard to conventional health care.  I have a  BSN from the University of  Arizona.  I think my school was pretty open minded about holistic health care, alternative medicine, or whatever name you wish to call it by.  I remember we touched on a few topics in this regard.    

But I didn’t really take much interest in the natural solutions for health until after I had children.  My first baby was colicky and probably a bit spoiled.  I managed to breastfeed him after some challenges including the fact that he had an undiagnosed tongue tie.  I think for the first 3-4 months that was all he wanted to do with his day.  I think when he got between a year and two years I felt something wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was.  He was a nightmarish toddler, couldn’t keep still and concentrate on any quiet play.   It seemed like he just moved from destroying one item to the next, as we were fixing the first.  He was later diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, or DSI.  (After a long search we found an OT who treats this, and we are also working with nutritional supplements.)

When our first child was almost 2 1/2 we had our second baby, another boy.  Everything seemed fine with him until he was approaching 4 months of age and was not yet holding up his head.  At his 4 month checkup our pediatrician said that he had “done nothing for gross motor development” since birth.  The doctor’s plan was to recheck him in 2 months, but I was not comfortable with this so I called the birth to 3 hotline to have him evaluated.  He was delayed in all areas except early speech development.  To top that off, the same day he had his 4 month checkup, we saw the first blood in his bowel movement.  (After the appointment, of course).  To keep this short, he was eventually diagnosed with the allergic colitis.  At 9 1/2 months we put him on elemental formula, but he really didn’t end up improving much and this was a bad decision.  Because I could not accept the fact that a child could not tolerate breastmilk, this started my off toward “alternative medicine” for good. 

We are fortunate to live near the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopath.  who have a very affordable clinic.  We saw Debra Anastasio, ND as the attending (supervising the students that saw my son and I).  She was very knowledgeable and helpful.  We were able to treat my baby successfully with supplements and probiotics.  With the help of an excellent IBCLC named Jennifer Tow, I was able to resume nursing my son and let him wean naturally when he was ready.  He is now healthy and thriving and tolerating a wide variety of foods.  He has done so well catching up on his development that he now does not appear to qualify to move from the birth to 3 services into the special preschool our local district has.  He does have low muscle tone, but his gross and fine motor skills are age appropriate.  His expressive and receptive language are also age appropriate, though we are still waiting to find out about articulation.  He has come such a long way and we are so pleased!

 With the kids health being addressed, I felt it was time to work on my own health.  After all, unhealthy parents cannot have healthy children.  While my health is still a work in progress, I have found great nutritional supplements that are helping me feel better and have more energy.  I’ll continue with that in my next post.