Blooming Too

gardening - blooms revisited

As promised earlier this year, here is the rest of my blooming garden.

A couple of years ago, Igardening-orange trumpet vine2 found several trumpet vine plants for half-price. So I bought eight plants total because I wanted them to take over my fence. I know what some of you are thinking about this aggressive growing vine, but I love the smell and the continuous summer blooms this vine gives out. I was willing to risk growing this beauty even if it took out my fence. At least I would have beautiful orange flowers. Ha! It is super hardy. It even stays alive when you forget to water it. (Don’t try this at home kids!)

 

gardening-honey suckleCWWhen I thought I was growing trumpet vine, I discovered I had bought a mismarked plant when buying the trumpet vine. Low and behold, it was honey suckle. It’s been really hot this summer and until recently, we’ve had little to no rain. So even with watering, it hasn’t bloomed nearly as well as it did last year and has threatened me several times to go belly-up. It’s a very beautiful vine and smells so good. It also attracts butterflies and bees. Each fall, I pile the base with mulch to keep moisture in and protect it from freezing.

 

gardening-beared iris peachCW

 

This pretty peachy-orange blooming bearded iris popped up after my beautiful purple iris’ bloomed. It showed up out of the blue which is always a surprise. My iris’ are my one of my favorite plants and are living up to their reputation as being a perennial.

 

 

 

gardening-climbing rose bush bloom2

One year, I bought six knock-out rose bushes at the worst time of the year, the middle of winter. However, they have surprised me. They have all lived in spite of our crazy weather of extreme heat and freezing cold weather. They have petite blooms just like this one. They require a lot of water compared to the rest of my landscape so I piled straw around them to hold in the moisture and watering them at their base keeps the leaves from turning yellow. This made a huge difference especially since we’ve had very little rain this summer. Pruning rose bushes also encourages new growth so make sure to dead-head the old blooms to ensure a full summer of beautiful blooms.

 

 

 

Now for my fingardening-pecan treeCWal surprise! I planted a pecan seed over a year ago and I have nurtured this little plant with everything in me. I have since learned that pecan seeds and plants are very fragile. I tried to replant it into a larger pot with the intention of not having to repot it for a few years. However, the seed fell apart and the plant didn’t make it. I’m blessed that my mom has pecan seeds sprouting all over her yard and flower beds. She saved me a seed plant and it is growing like crazy. I’m not about to replant my new plant until it is more mature.

 

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Food Allergies

Allergies2

We have many food allergies in our family. It has taken us many years to figure out what they are and what we can do about them. Any one who has been diagnosed with any type of allergy knows good and well that it is a constant battle to stay clear of the allergens that trigger a nasty allergic response. After my kids were diagnosed, our first thoughts were of defeat.

My mind was flooded with questions like:

  1. What are food allergies
  2. What are the signs and symptoms of food allergies?
  3. How to test for food allergies?
  4. How to cope with food allergies?
  5. How do I cook and feed my family with food allergies?
  6. How do I send my kids places with their food allergies?

 

Let me preface this by saying that these are my discoveries and opinions. I am not a medical professional. I am a concerned mother who has and is still finding ways to improve her family’s well being.

 

Our story…

When Junior started solids at six months old, I noticed she was unable to poop as well as normal. (Just being real here.) She had been breastfed up to this point and we never saw any obvious signs of food allergies. When she was weaned at thirteen months, the pediatrician really pushed us to give her cow’s milk. Being a first time mom, I had no idea what I was doing and followed doctor’s orders. After a year of constant constipation and complaints of her stomach aching, I decided to experiment with different types of milk – almond, soy, dairy without hormones, rice, etc. Junior loved her milk so we went dairy without hormones. It fixed the constipation but not the stomach aches. As any mom knows, you have to decide what is habitual complaining and what to really be concerned about. This was where I was at because I was tired of hearing the complaining.

At this point, Junior is four years old. I decided to experiment with a gluten free diet just to see what would happen. Within the six weeks of experimentation, she stopped complaining of stomachaches. But it was summer time and with a slower change of pace, I thought she had broken the habit of complaining. In the fall, she started mother’s day out, and for convenience sake, we started eating gluten again. Then the complaining started again and having days on end with asthma attacks, I seriously was at a loss. I was due with Booger any day and I really did not have the patience for the complaining or illness any more. (I promise that I’m not a cold mother. LOL!)

Now enters Booger into our lives. She also was breastfed. I noticed on multiple occasions that if I ate dairy, she would projectile vomit, break out in a rash, run a low-grade fever, have multiple frothy, green, poopy diapers, and end up with bleeding blisters on her bum. I was alarmed because I knew this type of reaction was not normal. So I asked the pediatrician. They showed no concern and said that if I didn’t see any blood in her poop then there’s nothing wrong and to keep trying dairy. Long story short, we no longer see that pediatrician. So I started researching symptoms of dairy allergy and new pediatricians. Low and behold, Booger was exhibiting most of the symptoms, barring anaphylaxis and bloody poop. So at this point, I figured out that it wasn’t the lactose she was reacting to but the protein in the milk. Here is an article to help you understand what I’m talking about. I wasn’t about to give up on nursing so I went dairy, soy, chocolate, and tomato free until she was weaned at eleven months.

Fast forward three years, Junior is still complaining of stomachaches and as long as Booger doesn’t ingest dairy, she has no episodes. But Booger now starts complaining of her stomach hurting also. Around this same time, Junior became ill for four weeks. With having found a new pediatrician, he suggested a battery of tests, but everything came back normal. We logged everything she ate including gum. After trial and error, we figured out that something she was eating triggered severe headaches, severe lethargy, severe stomachaches, low-grade fever, and severe nausea. We did the elimination diet to finally rule out certain types of food. Low and behold my suspicions of a gluten allergy reared its ugly head. After this episode, I was determined to find answers. I thought to myself “enough is enough!” He had recommended allergy testing multiple times, but I just couldn’t bring myself to subject my kids to the testing.

Many people are probably wondering why I waited so long to do allergy testing. Here’s why. First, our old pediatrician stripped away the confidence of my mothering intuition to figure out the root of the problem. She left me feeling like I was crazy for thinking something was wrong with my kids even though something was not right. Second, I wanted a pediatrician who would help me figure out what was wrong with my kids and give me direction on how to fix it. Third, before our new pediatrician had an allergy diagnostic and treatment clinic, our only option for testing was two hours away in a different town and our insurance wouldn’t cover testing.

After our pediatrician included an allergy specialist in his practice, I signed Junior and Booger up for allergy testing. The tests confirmed two things for me. One, I’m not crazy and to trust my intuition. Two, both my girls have several seasonal and food allergies. As a result, we are now gluten and dairy free.

 

Now that you’ve read our story, let’s explore the questions above.

 

1.What are food allergies?

Food allergies can range from something slightly agitating and unnoticeable to more severe and life threatening. According to this article, some of the most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. In our house we deal mainly with dairy and gluten allergies.

 

2.What are the signs and symptoms of food allergies?

At the beginning of our journey, the signs were not obvious. As any parent knows, a random stomachache is not uncommon. However, a few years after starting solids, Junior started having constant stomachaches and constipation. It became obvious to me that her allergies had become worse. She showed signs like lethargy, nausea, low-grade fever, and constantly had allergic shiners under her eyes. Allergic shiners are purple and grey looking bags under your eyes. This is your body’s way of trying to tell you that you are allergic to something. Check out this article to help you understand.

Booger has always thrown up after consuming dairy and would develop extreme eczema. These are obvious signs that something is wrong. To back my theory up, please visit this website. She also had frothy, green, and mucus filled poopy diapers and was extremely snotty in her eyes and nose. When she started solids, she complained of her stomach hurting. So having dealt with a gluten allergy with Junior, I decided to take her off gluten and it made a huge difference.

 

3.How to test for food allergies?

To help answer this question, my suggestion is to find a trustworthy pediatrician who either has a certified allergist or can refer you to a specialist. Our pediatrician felt skin testing would be more reliable than blood testing and less traumatic. Plus with blood testing, if you have not consumed the food within a window of time, the blood reflects no allergy to that product. So logic said to me that blood testing would require my kids to consume a suspected allergen just to get a positive blood test and potentially make them ill. We opted for the skin testing because the results were immediate and my kids did not have to go through the trauma of having blood drawn. They also did not get ill because they did not have to consume food that would cause an allergic reaction. To learn more about the different types of allergy testing try exploring this website.

 

4.How to cope with food allergies?

When I first started researching how to deal with food allergies, I felt so overwhelmed and inadequate. I did not know where to start. So I turned to the internet and typed in “how to deal with food allergies.” Some things popped up but it wasn’t very satisfying. In further searching, Pinterest proved to be a wealth of information. Join the boards and learn more about food allergies.

Even with a wealth of information online and from friends and family, coping with food allergies is a daily and constant struggle. For example: when we go to parties or someone’s house, most often the food is not gluten free. So with a little preparation, I bring a comparable gluten free food for the kids. Some would say that it was not worth it. But when you have struggled for years of not knowing what is wrong with your children then all of the sudden a simple solution like a diet change fixes the problem, you then know it is all worth it so my kids are healthy and happy.

 

5.How do I cook and feed my family?

The longer we are gluten and dairy free, the more items I see added the shelves at the grocery stores. Most of the stuff I cook, we ate before but with gluten. Now I customize each recipe to be gluten and dairy free. Trail and error are the best and easiest ways to learn. For example: We love Velveeta shells and cheese, but the gluten free boxes of shells and cheese are nasty tasting to us. I found Velveeta sells the cheese sauce separately from noodles. So I buy Tinkyada gluten free shell noodles and add the Velveeta sauce. It tastes just like the regular Velveeta shells and cheese. Yummy! Check out my GF/DF board on Pinterest for more ideas.

Gluten Free Shells and Cheese

2 cups of Tinkyada gluten free shell noodles

1 package of Velveeta original cheese sauce

*cook noodles according to package; drain

*mix together noodles and cheese sauce

*serve hot with hotdogs or chicken and peas

Side note: I’m not sure why but neither of my kids react to the ingredients in Velveeta cheese so that’s why we can eat it. Again trial and error are the best teacher.

 

6.How do I send my kids to places with food allergies?

Most people are very respectful and understanding of our food allergies. I’m blessed to work at my children’s school and to have great co-workers. I cannot thank my kid’s teachers enough for working with me to make sure my kids are well cared for. Thank you! Thank you!

Communication! Communication! I’m very up front with my kid’s teachers and office staff about my kid’s allergies. If possible, I try to make it very easy on them. If one of my kids has a special event and food will be involved, I try to make some thing similar in gluten free form and send it with them the next day. I never want to make a teacher feel it is their responsibility to make sure they provide gluten free items. If they want to provide these as an option, I consider it a blessing.

If my kids go places without us, we either send gluten and dairy free food with them or whomever they stay with are accommodating and will purchase what they can eat. Again, we are very blessed to have friends and family that understand food allergies.

 

 

As the kids are getting older, they are learning what they can and cannot eat. It will get easier, but for now, this momma will be a protective bulldog for her babies. The complaint of a stomachache becomes less and less. I’ve also noticed their immune systems fight off infections quicker and they do not “catch” every little virus floating around. Our household is definitely healthier than it’s been in a long time.

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College and Family

College and Family

For those mommas who want to go back to school, I’m here to tell you that it can be done. Here is a little bit about my story on continuing my college education.

Growing up, my parents didn’t push for us to pursue a higher education. My dad dropped out of high school, and towards my middle and high schools years, my mom went back to school. After eleven years, she finished with her Master’s in Psychology as a Licensed Professional Counselor. She was the first in her family to go to college and graduate. I am so proud of her. She is a great example to follow.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I’ve never known what kind of teacher; I just knew I wanted to teach. So after high school, I tried to pursue college and hated it. My heart was not in it. Around that time in my life, I was planning a wedding and buying a house. So life was turning in a different direction and college was not on the priority list.

Fast forward a few years and my desire to go to become a teacher surfaced again. I tried one class while working full-time and that was all that happened. After I had Booger, I had the privilege of staying home with her. During that time, I dove back in to school full-time. I was then offered a position as a Teacher’s Assistant at Junior’s school so I’ve again put college on hold. To finish college has and will be a deep desire of mine. One day I will walk down that aisle, even if it takes me another 25 years.

Here are some steps for you to take to start and/or continue college.

  1. Go to FAFSA to see if I was eligible for student grants then fill it out. A little is better than nothing.
  2. Check out the local college and/or university. Studying at a local college will help you receive more college for the money. A university is typically more expensive than a local college. Go with what is available. Fill out all necessary forms.
  3. Find scholarship money. Scholarships are free money. Most colleges and universities have a list of available scholarships. Fill out as many as you can that apply to you.
  4. Online classes vs on-campus classes. I opted for online classes because they fit better into my schedule. But I also took a few on-campus classes too. Both were great for me.

Words of Wisdom: If you are thinking of pursuing a college degree, finish it before you get married and have your beautiful children. It is really difficult but not impossible to find time to focus on both.

Top 10 Evening Routines

Top 10 Evening Routines

The best way to daily organization is to simplify the morning craziness. In my house, Earl and I both work full-time jobs so it is critical we stay organized. Here is what we do every night before we go to bed. Free printable here!

  1. After school, craziness!! Junior and Booger both have compartments for their backpacks. Thanks to IKEA for this organizational white Kallax shelving unit and white Lekman boxes . If its winter, they hang their jackets and coats on the provided hooks. Then they place their school papers on my desk and their lunch boxes on the kitchen counter.
  1. Prepare dinner while children start homework.
  1. After dinner, lunches are made and placed in lunch boxes and put in the refrigerator, if necessary. Think about the next day’s breakfast and dinner. Ask yourself – do you need to defrost anything for dinner? Clean up kitchen including washing the dishes and sweeping the floor.
  1. Bathtub time! After everyone is squeaking clean, wipe down the bathroom, hang towels, and put dirty clothes in the basket.
  1. Start a load of laundry.
  1. Set clothes out for the next day including under-garments and shoes. Words of wisdom: finding shoes the night before will save a headache and a few tears from trying to find them during the mad rush in the mornings.
  1. Spend intentional time reading to your kids. According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, reading 20 minutes a day with your kids creates a proficient reader by the third grade. All the more reason to read, read, read! This is a good time to help them study and go over the papers from school. (link to Children’s Reading Found)
  1. Pick up hotspots. These are places where items collect over time and pile up making your house look cluttered.
  1. Switch laundry from washer to dryer. Fold as soon as it comes out of dryer.
  1. Relax by taking a long hot bath or reading before bed. Jump in bed at a reasonable hour.

Bonus: Always! Always! Take the opportunity to hug and kiss your loved-ones. You will miss them when they are gone from this world.

 

Reading! Why some love it and some hate it!

apple with text

I’m not sure how some kids like to read and others do not. I’ve just now started to like reading, but only on my electronic device. And mostly because no one is making me do it. I don’t have to take a test later and if I miss something, I can go back and reread without someone hounding me about why I didn’t understand it the first time. I honestly hate to read real books, except for a few crazy vampire books. I’m weird like that! Junior loves to read but I’m not sure where she gets it because Earl and I do not like to sit and read. My mom told me that she used to love to read. After she returned to college, her love of reading was suppressed and had no time for leisure reading.  She told me the other day that she is just now getting to where she was slightly interested in reading a book again. It’s taken her years because she read so much in college. Do you enjoy reading? Do your kids like to read?

Everyone is different! Questions to ask your kids if they’re struggling with reading are… Do they like to read and why? If not why? Honest answers. Did someone make fun of them while they read because they were having a hard time with a word or sentence like friends at school, teachers, or maybe you have laughed at their pronunciation and didn’t realize it? Do they like to read easy books? Hard books? Do they comprehend what they’re reading? Do they sit still for any length of time? Maybe they could get an activity book that shows them how to do stuff but they have to read the instructions to do it. Do they struggle with pronunciation so therefore it’s a struggle with the desire to read? Read to them at night or at breakfast. Short easy books. Ask them questions about the book and let them tell you whatever they got out of it. Even if its far fetched. Ask them why that’s their answer. Try not to laugh because some of them are really funny! I used to have a problem with sitting still to read. I still only read a few sentences and/or page then go do something. I come back and read a little more and repeat the process. Visit with their teachers to see what they might suggest. These are my thoughts. Yes they learn from our example but sometimes there are other issues involved that need to be addressed. And some will never like to read.

Here are a few websites that may be beneficial to you and your understanding of why reading is so important in a child’s life.

Importance of Reading Aloud

Facts about Children’s Literacy