Thursday, February 28, 2013

Online Schooling

I am going to talk about how I am schooling the youngest two munchkins.  Most people have a bunch of questions when they hear what we are doing because they do not know it is an option, have not ever heard of it, or think it is the same thing as homeschooling.  I usually get a funny look and then usually a variety of questions that are actually quite similar in nature.  I figured that I would talk about it here, and maybe it would help clear up any confusion and answer any lingering questions.  If there is anything that I do not hit upon, feel free to ask!


  • Why did I take Thing 2 and Thing 3 out of school?  I was actually deep in research to homeschool Courtney before we moved from VA.  However, the laws in WA are way different, as is the curriculum, so when we moved...Yeah.  Not only was I involved with unpacking a house and getting settled, I did not have time to learn the new laws right away.  I thought I would do it the following year.  I then started down the MS road which took up quite a bit of time. Then Mia started school at the same place Courtney was attending.  Hannah started middle school this year, but went to a different elementary school because of the HiCap program.  Highly Capable is the same as Talented and Gifted was in VA, but HiCap actually moves at a faster pace than TAG.  The regular classes seem to be moving at a slower pace. That did not sit well with me.  Plus funding is horrible for WA schools.  Then we have the school itself. Ugh.  The administration and its policies were ineffective and substandard when you are dealing with children.  I have a list of grievances that I had to deal with having to do with my own children. I am happy to share if anybody wants to know specifics, or is looking for some sort of justification so you know that you are not crazy if you are thinking about taking your own children out of the same school district. Some of the general reasons do include putting Courtney in sweats (that were too big) and a long sleeve shirt (that was too small) when she needed a change of clothes instead of CALLING ME when we live 3 minutes away on the hottest day of the school year. Leaving students, including Kindergartners, unattended outdoors  to stand in line for class-this has resulted in injuries to students, and the only adults to witness it are adults just in the process of dropping off students not involved at all and those adults aren't being paid by the school nor do they even have a volunteer form on record at the school, so they can in no way be accountable for other students behavior.  Leaving it up to the students whether to play outside during recess when it is raining (not a light drizzle-full out raining), and then the children sit there in soaking wet, muddy clothes for the remainder of the school day because they are not told to not jump in mud puddles, etc. The administrators also have no regard for the separation of church and state.  I have discussed this with numerous friends and on facebook, if you are interested in more details, contact me and I am happy to talk to you.  
  • How could you take them out so quickly before the beginning of a new semester?  It is not homeschool.  It is an online public school.  The program we chose to go with is K12, they have schools all over the country.  I knew of many people that have used this program, love it, AND have great success. I basically proctor lessons and am guided through teaching them curriculum that is provided to us.  They still have to meet certain guidelines and it is all mastery based.  It is public school...with a twist.  We had to apply,which was basic-get the kids in the system, names, addresses, birthdays, etc., get the brick-and-mortar school district to sign off on it (which they can't refuse), and then fax some paperwork into the online school birth certificates, utility bill to prove our address, vaccination records, ALL the normal public school requirements.  The school checks all paperwork, calls and talks with us (though this is not the first time we had spoken with them) and send us all the curriculum.  The whole process took about 2-3 weeks. There were no letters to write, hoops to jump through, etc. that you have to do in a lot of case to be "allowed" to homeschool.  No curriculum to plan out or purchase.  Everything is taken care of.
  • I'm not a teacher, I could never do that!  Well, I do not have a teaching certificate or degree, either.  However, I am not having any problems.  The curriculum tells me what to do and gives me tips and tricks along the way.  We are also linked with  teachers the whole time and required to have weekly contact with them, and monthly progress conferences.  We have e-mail and phone numbers and are encouraged to contact our teachers if we have any questions or problems. There are video classes to help tutor the parents on different aspects. A couple of them have been math refreshers, writing refreshers,  how to manage having multiple children at home in the program, etc.
  • Aren't you worried that they aren't getting a real education?  Umm. No. Am I supposed to be offended that the people that ask this believe that I am not qualified to teach my children?  I am not teaching them physics, which was the one subject I did have trouble with in school.  I am actually able to give them more attention, tailor lessons to their personalities, and go at the speed that they need.  I have even found what some more of their strengths are and some of weaknesses are that teachers never mentioned.  The program is teaching many things that they would not have learned in their bring-and-mortar school.  It is way more advanced than the B&M school is.  For 3rd grade, there are history, geography and social studies lessons, art (history and technique), math, literature AND comprehension, spelling, composition and science.  For Mia there is math, science, literature and comprehension, phonics, and vocabulary.  There are also clubs for music, dance, art, hobbies, reading and various other hobbies.  
  • But you don't meet with other kids their own age.  Actually, there is an online directory only accessible to school families where you can look up other families in your own town with students in the same grade.  You can co-op lessons, arrange play-time, etc.  They get socialization.
The girls are doing great.  They are excelling in everything they are given with the exception of literature comprehension for Courtney. The comprehension part she seems to be struggling a little bit with because there is NOT much of this in B&M. Though she is reading on a 6th grade level and her her old teachers kept raving about that and it being as high as they could test...um...if you are not understanding the context in which you are reading the word, it does not  matter as much that you can read the word. This is how some kids fall through the cracks. Her teachers thought she was super smart because she excelled in math and spelled and reading.  Which she does.  So they spent more time with other kids. I am able to breeze though the stuff she has an easy time with and focus on the stuff the needs help with and think of different ways to teach her so she "gets" it.  She has already made huge strides with comprehension.  There are not as many meltdowns as there used to be when they were in B&M and Courtney and Mia actually get along better now.  I really wish I had done this sooner.  I am happy to answer any questions about the program, but those are the main questions and concerns that pop up repeatedly.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Evidently MS makes you look fabulous...

Buckle up...
  • But you look so good!  
  • You don't even look sick!
  • You wouldn't know it by looking at you!
  • You don't look sick... (said with a tone of doubt)
  • Are you sure you're sick? You look fine.
These are all things that people have said to me over the past 9 months- since I started getting tested.  People including medical personnel.  It is one of the things that bugs me and others with MS the most, though we never say anything.  Some people, I know, mean well and just might not know what to say.  Others say their comments with disbelieving tones.  Their comments say that because I don't look "sick", I should feel fine.  I should feel "normal."  I shouldn't have the symptoms I am having, or the pain I am having.  Evidently, all diseases and illnesses are supposed to make you look like death warmed over.  And if you don't look like you have been run over by a car, then you really have whatever illness you are complaining of.  Color me confused.  I guess I missed in the literature where it said that MS gives you boils and blotches and makes it look like your skin is melting off your body.

I am here to tell you now, that unless I, or any other person feel like absolute poo and haven't slept or are in the middle of an exacerbation or something similar, you can't tell just by looking at us that we are sick. Also, just because we look like we usually look, it doesn't mean that we feel good or that we are not telling the truth when we tell you what is wrong on the inside.  Another little secret, even the "You don't even look sick!" and "But you look so good!" actually comes across as kind of an insult  It is kind of like they expect us to look bad to prove that we are sick.  Or they want us to look as bad as we feel to make them feel better about themselves.  It almost always comes across as one of those backhanded compliments.  Either 1. By looking good, they think we are lying and there is nothing wrong with us, or 2. They totally were hoping OR expecting us to look bad...  We always smile and say, "Thank you," and are gracious, but anybody with a disease like MS will tell you that we are saying in our head, "Next time I'll try harder to look sick, just for you!" or something similar.  This does NOT include the friends that you see and exchange the usual pleasantries with who tell us that we are looking great.  Or comments about recent weight loss or a haircut looking great.  Normal conversations that everyone has are not included.  But those little, "You don't even look sick!"  Sorry!  I must have missed the memo on how I was supposed to look!

Just treat us like you would normally treat us, and don't mention with shock or disbelief how good we may look right after asking us how we are feeling.  When in doubt and you must say something about how we look... "Well, you look great!"  No snideness, no disbelief, no insulting tone.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday and is trying to get back into the swing of things now that 2013 is here.  Things at my house were as relaxing as possible with three kids on break from school and trying to get everything done for Christmas and then the after Christmas clean-up and organization that comes into play.

We did have some friends of ours over for dinner on Christmas Eve, and then I didn't have to rush to cook while in the midst of wrapping paper chaos on Christmas Day.  I don't know why we haven't always done it this way.  It was much more relaxing.  I didn't feel like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off all day on Christmas.  Soooo nice.

I was majorly surprised by the hubs.  He bought me the stand-mixer I have eyeing.  I didn't make a single Christmas cookie this year, which is a huge deal because I normally make around 800 or so. I haven't made meatloaf in a couple of months or mashed potatoes, and really hated making the frosting for the girls' cupcakes for their birthdays this year.  My hand strength just isn't cutting it, and the hand mixer that I have is awesome, but hurts my hands and arms now.  We talked about pricing it out and looking for sales or coupons after the holidays had passed, but he came out of left field.  It's a beauty.  And I love him bunches, even before he bought me the Breville.


I am hoping that 2013 is a better year than 2012 was for everyone.  I have a bunch of stuff to actually blog about, but wanted the first post of the new year to be wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I am horrible at this blogging thing.

Or maybe I'm just crazy busy?  Yeah, we'll go with that.  We'll stick with me being an overachiever and not being horrible at something.

I did go to the neurologist last month.  She was not thrilled with the amount of side effects that I was having after 7 weeks of being on the full dose of Betaseron, so she pulled me off of it.  So now I am doing research what to start next.  She wants me to try Gilenya, but that would be at the bottom of my list.  She also told me to research Aubagio and BG-12.  She said the only other injectable that she would consider would be Copaxone, but that with my nasty injection site reactions it is a huge strike against me.  With it being a different drug it might be okay, but I still have injection site reactions (ISR) from the Betaseron, so I wouldn't even be able to start until those go away- if they do.  You can't give a shot into an ISR because it causes more pain, can make it take longer to heal and can cause more irreparable damage to the underlying tissue.  Fun times.

I go back on the 22nd of January to let her know what I have decided.  I am leaning heavily toward the BG-12 (or as I call it because I continuously forget the "G"- the B12 Bomber).  The problem with that is that it isn't actually on the market yet.  Possibly in March it will be out, but the FDA has already pushed it back for more testing.  Not necessarily a bad thing when you look at the side effects that the other pills have.  However, when you are waiting on it to come out...  Another problem is- I have no clue what the copay is going to be on the B12 Bomber.  I know what the other 3 are.  I know what the new one should be as long as it is covered like the rest of the specialty drugs and barring any shenanigans. Shenanigans could throw a wrench into plans when you think it is going to go one way one way and then it ends up being a lot more than that.  Yeah, you are talking about health, but finances cause stress, and stress causes symptoms to flair.  Vicious cycle there...

I have been super, super busy lately.  Seems like I am always saying that, but it's the truth, just more so the last couple months of the year.  November and December not only have the holidays, but 2 out of 3 of my girls birthdays.  Plus, we just started doing online school for my youngest 2 that are still in elementary school. Lots of craziness and change-ups with the schedules here.

I will write more about that in a different post.

If time gets away from me...again...I hope everyone had and has a happy holiday season.  No matter what holidays they celebrate.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Good thoughts

An old friend called today asking about my journey so far.  Asking how my symptoms started, and how I went about getting diagnosed.  Turns out that she is going starting the process of finding out if she has MS or possibly one of the other conditions that can mimic MS and is in the wait and go crazy phase.  I was happy to help in any way I could, though it wasn't really a lot. Just a bunch of "this is how it started", "this is what my dr. did", but I hope some of what I said made her feel like what she is feeling right now is normal and isn't   crazy.  I would like to ask you all to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  Send her good vibes and wishes, whatever it is you believe in, because she could use it right now while she is starting the overwhelming process of just finding out WHAT is going on.

I have a 3 month check-up tomorrow.  I have been on a full dose of Betaseron for 7 weeks. It hasn't been easy and the side effects aren't letting up a whole lot.  I am eager to speak to the doctor about that and the increase in some of the symptoms that I have been having.  So if you could end me some good thoughts, too, I would appreciate it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope everyone did whatever it is that they wanted today, whether that is shopping, watching football, working overtime for extra money or eating food until you never want to eat again.  I hope you got to at least spend time with people that you care about.  We had dinner with our dear friend, Katie, and her family.  And I can't thank them enough for having us.

I have been seeing posts all over Facebook and other social media sites where people post each day during the month of November something that they are thankful for. "30 Days for Thanks."  I think it sounds like a great idea in theory, but not something that I can keep up with. Every other day would probably be, "I'm thankful it is not shot day."  You guys would start defriending me and threatening to shove needles in my eyes.

There are some things that I am thankful for, though.  I want to take this opportunity to spout my 30 days of thanks into one post...The last year has given me a lot to be thankful for. These things I would be thankful for anyway, just more so now.


  • I am thankful for my babies.  I have the three most amazing beautiful girls in the world.  They are smart and funny and helpful.  They have driven me crazy at times, but have been more helpful lately and a lot more loving and quick with a joke or hug if they think I need it (even if I don't and am just trying to remember what I was doing).  
  • I am thankful for my family.  My mom and dad and siblings.  Even from 3000 miles away, I know they love me. Goofy texts and messages that make me laugh and calls just to check on me.  My mom hopped on plane at the end of August and surprised me and my dad bought the plane ticket.  Just because she needed to see me.  
  • I am thankful for my friends.  I have some of the greatest friends a girl could ask for.  Some near and some far.  They have helped out however they could without thinking twice. They have kept me sane and slapped me around when I needed it, and just let me vent if I needed that. 
  •  I am thankful everyday that I get up and can walk and can see.  I have pain in my legs, and have fuzzy vision some days, but as long as I CAN see and do not need help getting around, then I chalk it up as a win for the most part.  THOSE things would come with a much larger learning curves. 
  •  Most of all, I am thankful for my husband, Chad.  I love him and he is my soulmate.  We might not be perfect, but we are perfect for each other and I do not know what I would have done without him the past year.  He has taken care of me in so many ways and a lot of men would have run the other way when the going got tough.  I don't thank him nearly enough, and have been seriously cranky lately, but I am so thankful for him and love him with all my heart.  I hope he has some inkling of how much he means to me.  


So, while I may not do 30 days of thanks, I mean mine with all of my heart.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sleeeeeeep...Updated!

Not that I know what that is.  I am running on a severe deficit.  This time of year is always super busy for me.  Combine school schedules with Halloween, then Hannah's birthday, then Thanksgiving, then Courtney's birthday, then Christmas and throw in a couple of vendor events...October through December are the craziest, most exhausting months of the year for me.

My oldest baby, Hannah, turned the ripe old age of 12 last weekend.  Time goes way too fast.  I remember vividly that newborn smell and how fuzzy her hair was.  Other than a couple of months of colic, she was the most even tempered baby.  Then she never threw a fit when she was a toddler.  She was honestly the most well-behaved child.  She threw her first fit when she was FIVE and it was because she was tired and I wouldn't let her lay down and take a nap, not because she was getting candy or tv or a toy...a NAP.  I remember it like it was yesterday because I was shocked and ended up laughing at her and stopped my shopping to go home and let her take a nap because I thought if she was acting in a way she had never acted before because she wanted a NAP, then she must REALLY need one.

 Now she is this amazing, smart, beautiful young lady who is brilliant-straight, near perfect 100's in all of her classes and freakishly artistic.  She has taught herself to play the guitar and sew and knit and crochet...She draws and makes jewelry.  She doesn't even need me, she is self-sustainable.  Next I am going to see if I can get her to make bracelets while knitting with her toes, playing the guitar with her elbows and drawing while holding the pencil between her teeth.  THAT would be phenomenal.  She might be able to get her own show on TLC.  I might need to change her name to something more catchy, more marketable.  I'm gonna have to think on that.  Until I come up with something, I am just going to refer to her as Hannah Boo Boo.

Hannah Boo Boo wanted to have a sleepover and go to the EMP museum and eat at Beth's Cafe for her birthday.  The other two munchkins went off with a friend the morning after the sleepover and we made the trek into the Emerald City.  HBB and her friends M & K saw the sites of the museum, which for any music and/or science fiction geek are a must if you are in Seattle.  I love looking at stuff that was actually used by anybody famous in an actual movie or tv show or on stage during a concert.  It makes it even better if it was somebody or a movie or show that I really like.  There was a big Nirvana exhibit which we had seen before but could still take our time enjoying, and numerous exhibits including a sci-fi exhibit that were new.  Hannah had her picture taken with a Dalek from Doctor Who.  That made her happy.  After leaving there, we went over to Beth's, where Hannah proceeded to order a 6 egg omelet with ham and cheese served on hash browns with a blueberry muffin.  She ate every bite of the muffin, all of the omelet and started on the hash browns.  I can only assume that turning 12 worked up her appetite.  All in all it was a successful and low-key birthday.  I am pretty sure the girls did no drugs during their sleepover, the alcohol cabinet was not tampered with and they were in bed by 1:00.  When I went to bed, they were playing Scrabble, yes Scrabble.  And they were up by 8:00 to eat and get ready to leave for Seattle.  Yeah, I've got myself good kids.  *knockonwood*


Obligatory picture of my beautiful  Hannah Boo Boo.
  UPDATE:  So, I got a text from my baby sister yesterday.  "Hey!  I thought I was your oldest baby....:/"  Evidently she thinks that because I was 15 when she was born, people repeatedly ask if I am her mom and I toted her around like she was mine a lot of the time, that she did actually burst forth from my loins and I was a teenage mom.  I kid, that is just how close we are.  I am more like a second mom than a sister in a lot of ways.  And I love you, APC!  Though, imagine if I were actually her mom!  And I had given her to MY MOM AND DAD to raise. Now THAT is just the type of show that TLC would go for, Forget Hannah Boo Boo!  TLC- Trainwreck Loving Channel! A is in college now and doing amazing and I am SO proud of her.  The show might get in the way of her studies.  We might want to wait to approach the network until she's done. 

*No, APC is not my daughter that I gave to my mom and dad to raise.  She really is my sister.   I wanted to stick with the TLC theme.  Ali Boo Boo has a certain ring to it, don't you think?  Wasn't that  a cartoon?