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October 28, 2010

Update: Superstars ITW, braces, recovery

Wow! Can you believe that nearly a year go is when SS had surgery for ITW? Seeing him ice skate, run and play yesterday makes it hard to believe that almost a year ago both of his feet were in a cast! Followed by painful walking with the cast ON.

When the casts came of on New Years 2010 he was given braces (AFO's) to wear. He has been wearing them religiously since then.  We have been able to have them off for up to 4 hours per day, which allowed him to do things like soccer April 2010 and swimming over the summer.  Yes he was playing soccer just 5 months after surgery!

Well this pass Tuesday we had seen the surgeon for an another post surgery follow up. This is what the surgeon told us:

Yep that's RIGHT we were told that he does not need the braces! At LEAST for the next 2 months. We will see the surgeon again right after Christmas and will learn then if he'll need a new set of braces.  A new set would mean braces for 12 months. Oh and he does NOT need physical therapy! Which just amazes me because I was so sure that he would.

A visual for just HOW bad things were for Superstar! The chart below will show you the range of motion he had before surgery and the range of motion he has now in his feet. Both feet were pretty equal prior to surgery and both feet are pretty much the same now.
picture source

Before surgery the max range of motion he had with his foot was at the 30 degree mark on the picture. The doctor called this -30. That means that was the furthest his foot would go back when pushing on the toes.  Prior to surgery he could not even make his toes to be perpendicular to the floor.

Today his foot flexes all the way to the 10 degree mark the the picture. He has GAINED 40 degrees of motion!!! This is a LOT better then what even the doctors thought! They are simply amazed at his range of motion and it's clear when we are with them how amazed they are.

So here we set nearly 12 months post surgery. SS has gained 40 degrees of motion and is brace (AFO) free for at least the next 2 months! Do you know how odd it is for me NOT to be telling him to put his shoes and braces on and see him run around the house in just his socks?  He had to wear shoes with his brace.  So for about 12 hours a day he wore shoes AND braces.

He also the last 2 days been more active!!! Running like won't believe!  It must feel really good to have your feet free!!!! He knows that come Christmas he may need braces again. However he said to me well that's okay at least I get 2 months without them for sure!

October 20, 2010

STEMfest 2010 - Saturday October 23, 2010

Are you in driving distance to NIU? If so then you may enjoy going to STEMfest 2010 on Saturday, October 23, 2010!

STEMfest seeks to increase public awareness of STEM initiatives, activities, careers, and education for people around northern Illinois. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. This a FREE whole family event! There will be 100s of hand on activities in an carnival like atmosphere.

Even though the event is FREE there is $5 parking fee! Please see STEMfest 2010 Site for more details.

It truly looks like it's going to be fun for the whole family!

October 18, 2010

Changing Education Paradigms

This is a talk given my Sir Ken Robinson. This one is about "Changing Education Paradigms". It's about 12 minutes long and a must watch if you care about children and education!

October 17, 2010

Chess Tournament Fall 2010

Yesterday the children competed in a local Chess Tournament. They did well. Superstar individual score placed him in 4th place and Web-Princess individual score placed her in 9th place. (note the time stamp on the photos is wrong. These photos were taken October 16th)

Superstar with this 4th place metal.

Web-princess with her 9th place ribbon.

The kids had fun participating in this tournament. This is their 2nd tournament. They participated in this same tournament Fall of 2009. When I pulled up the old post I was SHOCKED to see how short WP hair was last year! LOL! She still likes to hold the ribbon next to her face when showing it off. They also got the purple participating ribbons again this year but I didn't get a photo with those ribbons.

Last year WP scores were 0-wins 1-draw and 4-losses.  Her scores were the SAME this year, but she placed in 9th place, because she was placed in a different section: 3rd-5th graders. There are 60 some kids in the 3rd-5th grade level, vs. the 20 in the K-2nd grade level.

Last year SS scores were 1-wins, 0-draws, and 4-losses. THIS year his scores were 2-wins, 0-draws, and 2-losses. Not only did he play a better game this year, but he placed 2 spaces higher then last year. We plan on participating in the winter and spring tournaments this year as well.

October 15, 2010

Art: Leaf Rubbing

It's a nice fall day! So we decided to do some leaf rubbing. I told the kids to go out into the yard to get some leafs. I suggested that they get some off the trees seeing they won't be as dried out as the ones laying on the ground. Our whole fence line is lined with trees, bushes, etc. A toddler could easily walk up to our fence and pull leaves of the "trees". So I assumed that is what the kids would do.

A few minutes later I looked out the window and this is what I seen:

Web-Princess is pulling on the leafs and branches that Superstar was able to snag with the rake! Leaf (pun) it to the kids!

October 12, 2010

Making Bio-Plastics AT Home!

Yesterday we went with our homeschooling group to a local pumpkin festival. It was fun! The kids do crafts, play on the playground, and participate in the scavenger hunt. The best part was that the things we did were FREE! There were ride and other games to do that cost money, but we decided that we weren't buying tickets and that we would only participate in the free activities.

One of the crafts the kids did was make this biodegradable plastic "stuff".  They call it bio-plastic. When it's done it is kind of this rubbery stuff. We weren't able to mold it, shape it into a ball, while it was still warm. We didn't even realized that once cooled it would pretty much be this hard, rubber, plastic stuff. So if you want to try to shape or mold it you have to do that while it's still WARM!

To make this bio-plastic you need water, corn oil, corn starch. Food coloring is optional, although it nice to make things in color!

  1. Place a tablespoon of cornstarch in a plastic ziploc bag
  2. Add two drops of corn oil to the cornstarch
  3. Add one tablespoon of water to the oil and cornstarch.
  4. Mix the cornstarch, corn oil, and water in the plastic bag by rubbing the outside of the bag with your fingers
  5. Add two drops of your favorite food coloring and mix again
  6. Place the bag in a microwave oven on high for 20-25 seconds. DO NOT completely seal the bag. Careful, it's hot!
It is very warm-hot when it comes out of the microwave so be careful with it. However keep in mind that if you want to mold and shape it you have to do that while it's still warm-hot. 

This is something the kids can very easily do, but because it does get hot I would advise that it is done with adult supervision. Just because of the risk of getting hurt with the stuff as it comes out of the microwave.  Once it's cool it's fine!

Edit Add: We just discovered that you can use vegetable oil instead of corn oil. 

October 9, 2010

SCARCE: New (to me) books

Today several members of I-HOPE (the new homeschool co-op/group that I have started) traveled to Glenn Elyn, IL to visit SCARCE. SCARCE is a "school" book rescue. I learned about them back in February, but I didn't have the privilege to go down their until today.

They are FREE for public school teachers, but do make homeschoolers pay a yearly membership fee, plus $5 per book. They have a LOT there! Digging around I was able to find Social Studies (World History) textbooks for the children. I was able to get 2 textbooks (one for each child), the corresponding student worksheets, chapter tests, and the complete book on audio CDS for $30 (not including the yearly membership fee).  Based on my brief assestment of the material while at SCARCE I'm confident that this material will last me for 2 school years.

I'm excited to dive into the books more and see what's actually there! I'm also over joyed to have been able to get the corresponding audio version of the books. We were told almost an year ago that Web-princess has convergence insufficiency. At first we didn't do anything with that knowledge because we were in the middle of dealing with Superstars surgery for ITW. (Can you believe that it he had the surgery almost a year ago? At the end of the month we see the surgeon to learn if he can be brace (AFO) FREE!)

After things started to settle down post surgery, I started to dive into convergence insufficiency to learn what I can do for Web-Princess. I learned that those with convergence insufficiency responded best to reading with the same methods used for dyslexia. Those with dyslexia respond best with a multi-sensory approach to reading.  I learned all of that January 2010, but it took me several months to learn what the means and HOW to do that in our home. I really didn't start applying things until April/May 2010, which really was at the end of our school year. I've started THIS school year trying to do things as multi-sensory as possible.

Thus the more senses I can engage when learning to read or doing reading activities the best! We do a lot of writing with shaving cream, writing in sand, reading with audio books. We have been learning phonics with card games. The more I can engage the different senses at the same time the better she responds. So to get a Social Studies Book today with the corresponding audio version is AWESOME!!

Speaking of Web-princess, I'm so please to see progress in the reading, writing, spelling area. Her independent reading is more of a 2nd grade level. Her writing is more of a K level. However she's starting to get it and is actually trying to read more on her own.  Not only that but she has also made up her own books and stories. All independent and outside of "school" time.

Her latest creation is called "Soopr Sron Boy" (translation Super Strong Boy). It's a chapter book! She even included a table of contents at the beginning of the book. She informed me that this book will have a sequel (although she called it a new chapter, but what she describes to me is sequel).

Chapter 1: Her Ces the Hero 
Sopr Sron Boy wes a vare god hero.
Translation: Chapter 1: Here Comes the Hero
Super Strong Boy was a very good hero.

 I know this is "behind" what most of her peers would write.  However it took us two school years to learn why reading, spelling, and writing was a such a struggle for her.  Now that we know and have been applying multi-sensory approach as much as possible she has made HUGE progress. In just a few months she has gone form a child that refused to even TRY to read something to a child that is TRYING  READ and WRITE her own books!

I know that as long as I try to use multi-sensory approach to reading, writing, and spelling as much as possible that she will continue to bridge that cap and will no longer be "behind" when it comes this area.

That's why it's so cool that I found the social studies books today with audio CDS! Yes it's social studies, but it does require that she reads it! So being able to read the book and listen at the same time, engaging both senses, will be awesome!!!

October 5, 2010

Web-Princess, Kidneys, and a better Update

First my apologies. I have had few people ask why do I have to re-potty train WP? What does that have to do with the spot on her kidney? I'm not following.  So I'll back track some and make a better descriptive post here. Over the summer WP had a really bad kidney infection; it landed us in the ER. She had to have 2 CT scans both of which showed a spot on her kidney.  These events cause us to see an urologist, who wanted her to have a VCUG to rule out Kidney Reflex.

Today's urologist visit was a follow up to the VCUG that was done mid August. It also laid down the course of treatment, re-potty training, that we have to do. I've over the last several months have been journaling WP voiding habits. She on average only urinates 3 times a day. That is her AVERAGE there are days where is only goes once in 24 period and other days where she goes 6 times.

Urination is a learned behavior, basically she learn incorrectly and now I have to re-train her to learn properly. She should be voiding, peeing, on average 5-7 times a day. Everyone should be really; Just like FREQUENT urination is not healthy the opposite NOT ENOUGH is not healthy.

Spot on her kidney?
The spot on her kidney is not a mass or a cyst or anything of that nature. It was infectious tissue that was infected due to her severe kidney infection. Clear up the kidney infection and over time the infected tissue will heal. This also means we have to help avoid future UTI because if she continues to have them it can't heal.

Is it kidney reflex?
No, it is not kidney reflex the VCUG that was done in Madison showed that she has normal kidney and bladder functions. That means they have the ability to function and work properly. So if everything can work properly what's the deal?

The issue:
The deal/issue is that WP just doesn't go regularly. Somewhere along the lines she learned to "hold it" and just doesn't go as often as "should".  Not going regularly (5-7 times a day) is causing her bladder to be too full. Thus it's interfering with the kidney functions.  If the kidneys want to drain urine to the bladder but can't because the bladder is too full? Then what? Well just like with a clogged drain it's just going to sit there in the sink (kidney).

The solution:
Re-Potty Training her! I have to make her go into the bathroom at regular scheduled times. 7 times a day actually.

  • Wake-Up
  • 9:30 Am
  • Noon (Lunch Time)
  • 2:00 pm
  • 4:00 pm
  • 7:00 pm
  • Bedtime
She is not expected to actually urinate at this times, but she has to make an honest effort. She does have to go in and sit and give it a few minutes. If she does not go at that time, fine.  She is also free to go at any time outside of those schedule times, because we don't want to hold it, however she will still have to go and try at her scheduled time.

So lets say she went pee at 1:30 pm. That's fine, but she still has to go in and 2:00 pm and try. The goal is to hopefully retrain her body to urinate and a more "healthy" frequency. Urination at a more health frequency should help avoid infections.

She does NOT need medication or anything else at this point. However she does have to take a daily dose of metamucil. This is because those that have hold their pee also tend to do the same with BMs. So the metamucial, per the urologist instruction, should help avoid any constipation issues as well. She has not had to my knowledge any constipation issues, but at this point taking metamucil can't hurt her seeing is a fiber supplement.

I'm thankful I'm homeschooling because I can be sure she can go at these scheduled times. I know it can be done in "school", but I also know it would be difficult on the teacher, staff, etc. At least I don't have to worry or wonder if she is really going and at least trying and making an effort at her scheduled times.

I hope this clears up somethings and answers everyones questions. Again I'm sorry that my last post wasn't as descriptive and left a few people asking for details and wanting clarity etc.

Update: Urologist and Web-Princess

Good Afternoon!

Well today we seen the Urologist for a follow up for the testing that WP had done a few months ago in Madison. There is NO kidney reflex (that is what the testing in Madison tested for).

However, I learned today that I basically have to re-potty train her! I have to make up a schedule of set potty times and make her go potty at those times. She may not have to go and if she doesn't go that's okay, but I have to make her go and at least try, regardless of when she use the bathroom last.

So we are potty training again!!! We see the urologist again in January for a follow up to see how the potty training is going.
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