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Friday, December 29, 2017

Planning A Homeschool Graduation Step One

So, my oldest is graduating in 2018. Back in the Summer I jotted down some things I needed to research, but now it is time to get going, and planning. I will be posting about this journey, as it will be a learning experience for all of us. Since I have another child that will graduate in 4 years, this will be a plethora of info for me. I hope it will go smooth.

So, what should be step one? In my mind step one should be picking the date, and the venues for both the ceremony, and the party. We actually completed this step, this week. We looked at all our options, including the big Homeschool Graduation that FPEA puts on each year, and since we didn't see that one working for us, we have decided to have a small ceremony at our church. I have asked both pastors if they could do the ceremony, more on that later, just in case one was not available. Both said yes, so that is awesome. So, that is the venue for the ceremony. Since it is our church, it is free, but we will give a love offering to the church as a thank you for their generosity.

Picking the date was a little trickier. Since graduation isn't technically until May, for most schools in our area, but in early May is Shrek the musical, which my son is playing Shrek. That is 3 days gone in the first weekend of May. Plus it is Mother's Day, another weekend used, and I am back to working at least every Sunday, and some Saturdays. So, with all that said, we decided to have it in April. He will be going on his last youth retreat the last weekend in April, yep another snafu. So, we will be doing it the 3rd Saturday in April. Why is it so important to set the date so early? Because most of our family lives out of state, and they need time to plan, so they can come if they want to, and some are.

Now for the party venue. Most people would probably rent a hall, or have it at their home. We considered all that, but DJ loves the idea of having it at the springs. Since it is warm by April people can swim, but not too warm where the bugs will be awful, or melt from heat. I hope the Love Bugs won't be out yet. Ugh, didn't think of that. Oh well date is already set. Now, I have to post it to FB so out of state family will know ahead of time. It is too early to send invites, so this will suffice for now. DJ decided he wanted to have the party at Gilchrist Blue Springs state park. It is affordable for people to get into, and lots to do, with covered pavilions and picnic tables. It is a beautiful park, and just was made a state park.

Are you planning a homeschool graduation? Share your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Time to Plan A Graduation and New Years Resolutions

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas. We were busy right up to Christmas Eve. Christmas Day I relaxed and binge watched shows I haven' t watched in weeks, or even more than a month. Now it is time to get serious again. Yard work, and decluttering is on the list of things to be done while we are on Christmas break. Today, we started and got a lot done. I also need to get back to a proper diet, and exercise routine.

Our first writing assignment for the new year will be making resolutions. I will ask them, and myself, to write 3 resolutions and how they plan on sticking to them. I already know mine, but that will be for another post. I can't believe next year I will only have one child to homeschool. It just seems so surreal. With that in mind, I have learned a lot from my first child, who is graduating in 2018. I know the programs we have hated, the ones we have loved, and the ones I would like to try. One program I would like to try, for History, is Big History Project. The more I look at it the more I like it. So, for 9th grade, next year, my daughter will be using it for History class. Plus, I have already decided to use Aleks, for Algebra 1 for her. I love it when I can plan this far ahead. It takes a lot of pressure off.

We will be having DJ's graduation ceremony and party towards the end of April. He got the lead role in Shrek, and that happens in early May. So, we needed to work around that for planning his graduation. I have so much planning to do, but we have already decided on some things. He has chose his colors, theme, and taken his own pictures for graduation. Him and his girlfriend decided to do the pics themselves. They may not be professional, but they had a ball doing it, and saved a lot of money. I will be sharing all the things we are doing. I have never even been to a homeschool graduation let alone planned one, so this will be an experience for all of us. We also chose the venue for the ceremony, and party. It should be fun!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Surviving the Holidays with CKD!

If you follow this blog, or even read it occasionally, then you will know that Christmas last year started a very rough time for all of us. I thought I was getting the Flu, but come to find out one of my kidneys had been slowly become atrophied, and began to fail. Since I didn't know it was my kidney, I was taking flu meds, and cough meds, all bad for the kidneys. Anyway to make a long story short, after we finally discovered the problem, some very drastic lifestyle changes had to occur. I am optimistically healthy now, but managing the disease can be tricky, especially during the holidays. Halloween through New Years, are very tricky months. I ate way too much candy at Halloween, chocolate and nuts are not good for kidneys. I had to get back on track, and it took a lot of will power to not eat that candy lying around the house. Thanksgiving wasn't too bad, I did quite OK. But, Christmas is proving to be a challenge. So many parties, and get togethers, and tempting delicious things to eat, most of which are not kidney healthy. So here are some tips from what I have been trying to do for Christmas holiday.

1- If you are going to a party, potluck or other Christmas event, be sure to bring a dish that is kidney safe, so at least you can eat something that will be for you. I use Davita for great recipes, some aren't great, lol, and an app by the National Kidney Foundation, that I love. I put in all my info and it tells me how much I should eat per day, and meal, for all the triggers like Sodium, Potassium, Protein, and Phosphorous. For example, I started a new job, and the lovely lady I work for loves to eat. She is older so she buys a lot of already made meals, that are typically very high in sodium, and phosphorous. She made a Mexican pizza the other day, and I was careful to eat only 2 pieces. But, I brought a nice large fruit salad, for us all to share. I used kidney friendly fruits like strawberries, grapes, one small orange, cherries, and a banana could be added for anyone that wanted it. A few sliced almonds, and whipped topping to be added if desired. This gave me the ability to eat a good healthy option, but not hurt her feelings too. We will be doing this again next time I work, but I am supposed to bring potato salad. I will leach my potatoes before making the salad. I do this by soaking the potatoes for two hours, rinsing, then soaking again for another 2 hours, then rinse again, add new water and then boil the potatoes. This decreases the potassium by up to 50%, and red potatoes have less potassium than other potatoes. If you peel them it decreases the potassium even more.

2- Try to eat half size portions of items that you know are not kidney healthy, especially items full of sodium.

3- Try to find items that are made from scratch, or fresh ingredients, rather than processed .

4- I am not diabetic, so sweets are not really too much of an issue for me, it is the salt I love. Salty, crunchy snacks, are my favorite things to snack on. So chips and dip, or veggies and dip, are things I would need to avoid, or eat in small amounts. If there is any Hummus, that is a better option than say ranch dip. I do not care for Hummus, so I would have to eat just a very small amount of other dip, or avoid it altogether, which probably won't happen, lol. If there is popcorn, or pretzels, those are better options, but still watch out for too much salt.

5- Avoid large amounts of alcohol. I do have a bit here and there, but one glass would be my limit. Why avoid alcohol? Because, it has no real nutritional value, and it can raise your blood pressure which is a big no no for CKD.

6- Avoid dark sodas, they contain large amounts of Phosphorous.

7- Avoid processed meats, used in a lot of appetizers, at parties and events.

You can still go to parties, and enjoy yourself, just be careful, and moderate. If you are stage 4 or 5, you need to be even more careful when at parties or events. For me, if I do eat too much of something I shouldn't, I try to increase my water intake. Not everyone can safely do this. If you are on fluid restrictions, you should not be doing this without the guidance of your doctors. None of these tips are medical advice, and should not be taken as such. They are tips, and ideas for things I do to help keep my CKD under control.

Monday, December 18, 2017

A Math System We Love, Finally!

I have so much I have not updated on this blog, for this school year.  But, this item is something I want to be sure and share.  My son has struggled with Math, since Pre Algebra.  It isn't that he can't do it,or was failing, but he just could not retain the Common Core stuff.  Now, as a homeschooler I don't have to teach Common Core.  However, due to the fact that he wants to go to college, I felt it was very important.  So, to make a long story short, we have literally tried almost every Math program out there, from textbooks, to online, and even some tutoring.  Even though he can achieve a low level B, and didn't do totally awful on the Math part of the SAT, he still just was not retaining, or feeling confident about Math.  This is his Senior year, and while discussing options for a 4th year of Math, it was suggested to us to have him take a Math for College Readiness class.  So, I looked at those options.  The only problem was that almost all of them were only 1/2 credits, not a full credit course.  That would leave me with trying to figure out how to get another 1/2 credit in Math.  Since he already was using FLVS, I decided to look at their Math for College Readiness course.  It was a full credit course, so we signed up for it.  This is the nice part.  I really can't give FLVS credit for this course, because it is actually done on a completely different website called ALEKS.   I had never actually heard of this website, and I thought I knew them all.  Right away my son said he loved it.  The layout was good, the way it was taught was helpful, and most important he was retaining the info.  Whatever ALEKS does different than other curriculums, it works!  He still is loving it, and even is getting A's.  I can not tell you how pleased I am with this website.  I definitely will pay the 20 dollars a month for my daughter to do Math on the ALEKS website starting next year.  I could start it this year, but she is currently working through the Easy Peasy Middle School Math, and I don't see any reason to stop.  She is pleased with it, and doing well.  If you have a child that struggles with Math, check out ALEKS.  I did not receive anything for posting this.  Anyone who reads this blog know I love to share awesome resources when I find them.  My daughter and I are on Christmas break, so I hope to catch up quite a bit of info here on this blog, including surviving the holidays with CKD.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Halloween Fairy Garden Homeschool Literature Project

This might not make any sense at first, so be sure and read the whole thing. Caitlin, and I are reading, Little House in the Big Woods. No, we have not come across any fairy gardens yet. But, the literature unit study that we purchased, to go with the book, had a tablescape project to do. Since it is Halloween, and I am truly in love with fairy gardens, we made this adorable Halloween, fairy garden, and it now sits in the center of our dining room table. The one pumpkin is a solar light. However, we did not have any sun for it to charge today, so we will return it to the outdoor garden tomorrow, and bring it back in at night. I make houses, and other items for fairy gardens, and I love it. They can be purchased in my Etsy shop. I have some new ideas for more houses, just haven't had time to get to them done.

We have some fun field trips coming up, so lots of pics to share soon. Both kids are progressing nicely with their lessons, and our first 10 weeks ends the first week of November.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Our First 2 Weeks of School

We finally got a full two weeks of school under our belts. We had to evacuate for Irma, so that set us back a whole week, with no FLVS, and no power even if there was. We have already made a couple of changes to DJ's curriculum. I won't go into great detail, but please be cautious of the Geometry and Chemistry programs through FLVS. We took his C from Geometry part 1, and went back to our Geometry textbook that we started out with originally, to finish up part 2. He should have it completed by end of Oct. Which would leave him to take Math for College Readiness. He has chosen to not take Algebra 2, and deal with that when he starts community college. Math is just not his thing, and he was getting very discouraged, because it has always been his dream to be a Marine Biologist, and he is a whiz at that stuff. We also opted to take his B from the first half of Chemistry, and just wait to see at the end of the year what he wants to do. He was stuck on Stoichiometry, and when he asked for tutoring he was told to watch videos. Not helpful! Anyway, since he will need another 1/2 credit of a Science, he as decided to take this course, with Khan Academy.

Today, we went to the open house at the UF/IFAS Biological Research Station in Cedar Key.  The kids had a ball, and the weather was amazing.  The highlight of the day, was a boat ride out to Seahorse Key.  That is the island where UF/IFAS does all kinds of research.  We were able to ask questions, visit the lighthouse, and a scavenger hunt.  I took the opportunity to ask one of the researchers if you had to be good in Math, to be a Marine Biologist.  She kind of laughed and said absolutely not.  She said you have to do it, but not be great at it.  She said an author named EO Wilson, an expert on ants, wrote a book about this topic and that it turns students away from all Science majors because they assume they had to be good in Math.  This was a great thing for DJ to hear. 

My husband was awarded a free state park pass, which is perfect for Caitlin's history lessons.  So, we will be doing a lot of affordable small trips in Oct.  We need to start saving for graduation, and Christmas.  Not a whole lot of fancy in Oct, lol.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Evacuating From Hurricane Irma

If you read this blog a lot, then you know last week was our first week of school.  You would also know that we were being targeted by Hurricane Irma.  We prepped Thurs, and Fri, and were planning on staying in our home.  But, on Saturday morning when I got up and saw the new path, my husband convinced me to leave.  So the kids and I, and our three dogs, piled into our Kia to head towards Alabama.  We had a horrible time finding a motel that would let us have dogs.  Finally, a not so beautiful motel, in Dothan Alabama, welcomed us, and I was so grateful.  We spent one night there, and, I had intended to stay at least two to three.  However, when I got up Sunday morning, again the path had changed and the storm was heading over Dothan, with heavy rain and possible 100 mile an h our winds.  The way the hotel was set up, I was sure it would flood.  So, we headed to my sister's in NC.  We stayed there Sunday, night and Monday.  Even that far away, Irma was so huge it was cold, and rainy.  Tuesday morning we headed back to our home in FL.  We went all back roads, as the highways about drove me nuts with two kids, and 3 dogs.  It was so much more peaceful that way.  It rained all the way through NC, and then on and off until Georgia.  We had no damage to our house, but were without power until just a few hours ago of writing this post.  Almost a week without power at our house.  We have never experienced this before.  DJ did do one English assignment, and I believe History on Sat, on FLVS.  He has also been doing his Geometry textbook 2 assignments per day.  FLVS, is off until Monday, so we will get back on regular schedule then.  Caitlin did a couple of writing assignments.  I must say with no power, we sure do have lots of time to concentrate on things that don't normally get done, like clean out the garage.  Thurs it was just too miserably hot to do anything.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Homeschool Update

This is more or less for my own record keeping.  This is why I love this blog, and recommend to all homeschoolers to have one.  We live in a state that frequents hurricanes.  If I happen to ever lose documentation, most if not all of what I would need is here, on my sons blog, or daughter;s blog.

We have had a good start to our homeschool year, however Hurricane Irma is bearing down us, and with the path still uncertain, I may still decide to evacuate.  While we would not take a direct hit, a Cat 3 up the middle of the state, would put us in some very heavy winds.  As we live in a double wide, that could be hairy.  So, should we leave, we will take the laptop with us, so my son could at least do virtual school wherever we end up, and I will bring some stuff for my daughter.  While they are schooling I am purging, trying to save photos and documents to take with us, again a lot is online, and storing stuff in the garage that will hopefully be more sturdy than the house.  Pray for us, and everyone in the path of this horrible storm.  Of course, pray for everyone already devastated by this storm.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

Back to Homeschooling, Volunteering and Hurricane Irma

We start back to homeschooling tomorrow, and just to throw a monkey wrench in it,  Hurricane Irma has it's eyes set on Florida.   So, along with starting school, I have to get together our hurricane kit.  This one is supposed to be a strong one.  We have only dealt with 1 or 2's, since moving here.  Plus, since I was diagnosed with CKD this year, I have to make sure there are appropriate foods for me in the kit.  But, tonight I am painting.  I didn't get to paint last Monday, pesky migraine, and next Monday is not looking great.

I am not doing props to Sam's Club, but seriously if you have one it is well worth the small membership fee, especially for hurricane readiness.  Yes, it is a pain having all that bulky stuff lying around, but it only lasts for a bit of time as you start to use it.  We save appx 300 dollars each month shopping once a month at Sams.

On Saturday, Sept 2, we did our first volunteer day, three hours, with Helping Hands Pet Rescue, and the kids loved it.  DJ got to be dog ambassador, and Caitlin was on kitten watch.  We will do that at least once a month, maybe twice.  We still have our other groups that we volunteer for on an as needed basis for special events.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Menu Choices for First 4 States

As I mentioned in my last post, Caitlin will be cooking this year.  She will choose traditional foods, and recipes for each state, and cook two a week.  She will have a state info sheet for each state to fill out, and read up on the history of the traditional foods.  She will then do a blog post for each.  The first four states, and their menu items are:

Florida:  Gator Smoothies, and Key West Penne, and Key Lime Honey Grilled Chicken

Alabama:  Southern Fried Chicken, and Dill Pickle Potato Salad

Alaska:  Curry Salmon, will use chicken, with broccoli

Arizona:  Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas and Sopapillas

Because of my special diet, these will be tweeked to meet standards for CKD, or I will cook mine separate.  They don't like their meat fried in coconut oil, and while Evo is OK for me, coconut oil is better.  I only bake with coconut oil now, and replace eggs with bananas or applesauce.

With the holidays coming, and since I like to enjoy them, I will be posting recipes for foods and treats to take to parties for the holidays, that comply with CKD.  I love the app from  the National Kidney Foundation called, My Food Coach.  I put my info in, and it tells me exactly how much of the foods I need for the day to meet the requirements for potassium, phosphorus, protein and calcium, oh and sodium too.  Please use with caution with your doctor and dietitian, especially if you are new to CKD, and are unsure how to read labels, analyze and or convert metric units.  This can be very dangerous to you.  Too little and  you can harm yourself, too much and you can harm yourself, it is a very delicate balance not to be taken lightly.  I know for me, having too much sodium makes me feel crappy, so I try very hard to restrict sodium.  I also know the importance of sodium to the body, and Iodine to the thyroid.  My body needs some.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

First Two Weeks of New Homeschool Year Planned

I love it when I am on the ball!  The last two years have been rough, with illness, and rehabs, and such.  While we were still learning, it just seemed unorganized and chaotic, two things I don't really like.  I am hoping this year will be different.  Yesterday, I sat down and planned out the first two weeks.  DJ is easy, he is a senior, and all of his classes are online this year, at least the first half of school year.  Though I have a ton of things that need to be done for him, none are right now.  Caitlin, is the one I have to get on track.  She has no motivation, and it drives me crazy.  Hopefully a more structured routine will help that.  She already has more responsibilities.  For example, forever I have been telling her to not throw clean clothes on the floor, never wear them, and then put them in the wash.  So, now she is doing laundry, all of it with my assistance, washing, hanging, and folding.  She already wishes she had listened, lol.  Seriously though she is old enough to do more chores.  So this is what her first two weeks will look like.  Again, even though I keep a log, this is a very easy way for myself, and my evaluator to browse through what we have done.  I could probably stop the daily log on paper, but that is just a habit, no sense stopping now.

Week 1 is Sept 5-8, and week two is the week after.  Week 2 will be the same as week 1, as I think all activities will take that long to complete.  It may go longer.


Start chapter 1 of Blaze New Trails, this is a very active series.

Cooking across America:  She will cook twice a week, and the first four states are Florida, Alabama, Alaska, and Arkansas.  She has already picked her dishes, and I will be modifying them for CKD, so be sure to watch for those posts.  I think she will cook on Tues and Thurs.  I also need to find a state info printable for each state, and she will need to read the history of food for each state.  See previous posts for the link to that.


This is an easy one, Easy Peasy Homeschool, middle school Math.  No prep needed, and she will just move from lesson to lesson each day, as she masters each one.  Random testing by me will be done.


The first item of Weather will be clouds, and she has several hands on activities, along with videos and reading to do.  I think this will take at least two weeks to finish this series.  Lots of fun stuff here.  Plus she got a Ranger book with her Blaze New Trails book, and the first activity is squirrel sightings.  This one is easy, we have tons of them.

Language Arts/Reading:

Read the first chapter of Little House in the Big Woods.  This goes with the Literature unit study, Prairie Life.  There are a ton of fun activities, like make a rag doll.  This also will probably take more than one week.  The unit study is 12 units, so we can definitely stretch it out.

For Language Arts, Daily Grammar.

Writing:  Nanowrimo with the goal for her to write a book on wolves, in November.  Lesson one in the Nanowrimo series.  We will progress through the lessons each day, hopefully, and she will need to do research on wolves for writing her story.  They have a workbook, but I think I will just use the online version.

French/Piano:  These will be 30 minutes each, as time allows.  These are video lessons, and hands on lessons.

Friday, August 11, 2017

List of Curriculum Options for Grade 8: Caitlin

As I stated in my previous post I am in the planning stage of our next school year.  Today, because it is 114 degrees outside, I stayed in the air conditioning, scoured my Eclectic Homeschooler Pinterest board, and then saved some new items to that board.  I have been saving items to this board for years, and it spreads over many grades.  I have other education boards you can look at as well.   You can use it for anything you want.  I will be posting the titles to each item that I want to potentially use, for ease of finding when I need it.  The very first link, is for Geometry proofs, and for high school kids.  If you have a high schooler taking Geometry, this is the hardest part of the whole class, especially if doing Common Core.  Geometry Proofs

8th Grade Items


50 DIY Projects for teaching Social Studies
The food timeline
Official State Foods
Tropical Grilled Chicken-  recipes for all the states
Across the country 50 state foods
Great Living Books for teaching American History
Hands on History cloth dyeing
25 great movies for our historically illiterate children
Teaching history through movies
Learning American History with movies

Language Arts/Grammar/Writing/Reading:

Pioneer Kids Book 1 not on Pinterest but you can find it on Kindle Unlimited
NanoWrimo young writers work book, there is also a Yahoo group that we joined
Daily Grammar
A guide to Grammar and writing
The University of Bristol
Scott Foresman free writing and grammar books
31 days of read alouds
Story steps
Art history and writing
Once upon a time stem tales
Christmas roll a story
Punctuation Jungle
Writing skills what to expect at what age


Cloud classification
How clouds work
Cloud science project
Hands on Thunderstorms experiments
Virtual field trip about renewable energy
Free 40 page weather unit
Five for Friday weather edition
Homemade water clock
Science of clean water, and make a water still
Free science printables
Weather thematic unit
Flaking out water in the air
25 ways to study wind
Hurricane unit study
Cloud classification craft
Using clouds to predict weather
Hurricane and tornado themed activities
DNA and genetics bundle, both kids
Free Wolf Unit this is also for writing
Free math game boards
Living math book list
17 apps for teachers in 2017

For the first two weeks of school, Caitlin will cook 2 days each week, for 4 days.  We shop in 2 week cycles.  She chose the following:

Florida:  Honey key lime grilled chicken, Key West penne, and gator smoothies
Alabama:  Southern fried chicken and dill potato salad
Alaska:  Curry salmon, probably use chicken with broccoli
Arizona:  Chicken and cheese quesadillas and sopapilas

I still need French and Piano

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Planning the Next Home School Year

Well the evaluation is done, and time to get ready for next year.  We don't officially start back until September 5th, but I have a lot of work to do before then.  DJ's is easy, he is a senior, and will be doing a lot of online work.  He will be taking the SAT, on the 26th.  Right now he has no interest in doing dual enrollment, unfortunately, but he also knows that means all the school burden is on him.  That means scholarships, grants, and working to pay for his schooling.  He says he is aware.  Caitlin's will take a little more planning, though at least I have the basics of what she, and I want.  I just bought her History/Science curriculum, see details below. Last year I felt very disorganized, which is way out of whack for me.  I will be sure that doesn't happen this year.

DJ Courses for 12th Grade

Chemistry:  This is the second half of his Chemistry class. He opted not to do it over the Summer months.  He will be doing this on FLVS.

Japanese:  This is his second year, required for college, and we will be using Time 4 Learning Languages.  This was the program with the best pricing around at 60 dollars.  He will have access at that price for 6 months.  That should be sufficient to get enough hours to get a full credit.

English 4:  We chose a more formal Language Arts this year.  He will be doing this on FLVS.

Geometry/Math:  He is finishing up Geometry, and hopefully will be done by the time we start.  Whenever he finishes he will sign up for Math for College Readiness.  He opted to not take Algebra 2 knowing he may need Remedial Math his first year of college.  However,  the more he studies, his Math scores on the practice app, continue to go up for SAT.  FLVS

World History:  Though he did some last year, it is my feeling, and he agrees, that it was not enough for a full credit.  I signed him up for the honors program, at FLVS.

I still need to update his full high school portfolio, and just applied to a pet rescue for volunteer hours.  He will do electives the second half of the school year, to meet requirements.  Right now looking at typing, and Psych2, and possibly Religions of the World.

Cailtin:  Grade 8

Math:  Easy Peasy Homeschool middle school level.  She will pick up where she left off, fractions #18.

Science/Weather:  The past two years Caitlin has not had much concentration on Science or History.  This year will be different.  I have saved a ton of resources, to Pinterest, that I will be going through to put together a Weather program for her.  This is interest based learning.  I will do a future post on the sources I decide to use.

History:  This actually will be multi focused.  I just bought today, from an Etsy seller, Blaze New Trails.  I bought the student book, the fun kit, and the Prairie Life units.  This is a multi subject curriculum, for History, Science and Literature.  My evaluator had it yesterday, and I loved it.  Caitlin loved it too, which is why I was willing to pay the price for it.  She will also be doing Cooking Across America, which is a made up course by me using various resources.  She will be required to cook at least twice a week, and will include Geography as well.  I will do a post later on with the links for this class.

Language Arts/Writing:  This year will again have a focus of good writing skills.  I am scouring my Pinterest board to decide what I want to use.  Might be multiple websites.  I know we agreed that she wants to write about wolves.  She loves wolves~

French:  Caitlin has decided to move from Spanish to French.  Since she is still in middle school, we will probably just have this as an adjunct class, where she uses an app to learn as much as she can, for free.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Homeschool Portfolio for Caitlin Grade 7

This is the online portion of Caitlin's grade 7 Homeschool portfolio.  Physical samples will accompany us to the actual evaluation on August 3rd.  This will be a general outline of websites, books, and other curriculum used for each subject.  Please note for the purposes of life skills, I was very ill in December and January, which led to a lot of life learning.  She did Gymnastics for part of the school year, with Tumblemania, then decided to do the Spring drama play, Madagascar.  She participated in the Kiwis youth choir at our church, for the full school  year, and did several performances in front of church audience, I did grade random samplings of Reading, Writing and Math.

1.  Language Arts:  Spectrum Grade 7 work book, 100% completed.  Then switched to Grade 8 Language Arts Lifepac,  4   books completed.   For the purpose of Language Arts, Caitlin also had writing assignments throughout the school year.  Some of them were published to her blog at,      We read the first book of Anne of Green Gables, with a book report, and she watched the movie.  We are currently still reading Gentle Ben.  To evaluate her reading comprehension, I used the STAR website.  She did 12 passages with questions, and got 4 wrong answers out of the 12, for a mastery of 67%.  Not a great grade, but with such a small sampling, should be considered.  We reviewed all wrong answers, and she was able to pick the correct answer the second time around of reading, with the exception of only one question. I did not give her any clues or prompts, just told her she picked the wrong answer, and to reread and try again.   I chose grade 7, proficient level.

2.  History:  Caitlin's least favorite subject next to Math.  We started with Alpha Omega Lifepac, Grade 8 work books,    5     books completed.  We then switched to watching History videos on PBS.  They have an extensive library of grade appropriate resources.  She liked the videos, with convos, and or writing assignment much better.  We also had some fun with Geography where I twirled the globe, and with her eyes closed picked a spot on the globe.  Wherever her finger landed, she did a little research and then a writing assignment.  Again, these can be read on her blog.  History in grade 8 will be cooking across America.  She will be learning to cook recipes that are famous to each state, with Geography included.  I am not thinking she will cook everyday, but we will see.

3.  Math:  Caitlin started the year with Saxon 7/6, and finished    34  lessons, with review and corrections for lessons.  After the winter break we switched to an online format, her preference, Easy Peasy Homeschool Middle School Math.  She has shown very good progress using this format, and we will continue to work through it over the Summer months, and start it back up in the Fall, for grade 8.  If she completes all lessons, she will start over and do the harder lessons that she was not quite ready for in grade 7.  As of 8/7/17 she had finished up to Fractions #16.  Throughout the year I also print off small tests for her to take.  I graded them all and she ended up with an 84% for a final Math grade, for grade 7.

4.  Science:  Alpha Omega Lifepac work books, grade 8. Caitlin was able to whiz through these without much challenge.  I have not completely reviewed them yet for accuracy. and I probably will not. # of books completed     9   .  Science is not one of the classes I worry about in the middle school years.  We also did some fun experiments, and you can read about them in older posts on this blog.

5.  Bible:  Alpha Omega Lifepac work books, grade 8.  Caitlin was able to work through these pretty quickly,  7    books completed.  She also throughout the school year, at various times, assisted with Awanis program at church, and Sunday school.  This was her first year in the teen youth group, and made a couple new friends.  She is looking forward to attending camp next year, with the group in SC.  She sang in the Kiwis choir, and she could join the youth praise band if she chooses to do so.  So far she has not been interested.

Caitlin has one more year of fun homeschooling, and then she will have to get more serious about her education when she hits high school.  She has a goal of taking French, she did some Spanish in grade 6 and 7.  She has a few ideas for high school, with goals of pet groomer/walker concentration on having her own business, and or a Meteorologist.  She will be doing a half year of Weather studies, and experiments in grade 8 to better focus on this topic, and if it is something she would wish to pursue.  I think for Math I will add in a little Business Math in grade 8, for her as well as above stated curriculum, so she will get a feel for keeping track of books in a business.   Over all she had a very good year.  Did a lot of grade 8 work, though I don't think it was challenging, or even very interesting.  She is more of a visual, and hands on learner, and really did not enjoy a work books only style of learning.  She still struggles with the 5 paragraph method of Writing, and will definitely continue to work on that.  Caitlin does not have much motivation to write correctly, especially on paper.  As far as socialization skills, and exercise, she did great this year.  Drama, and Gymnastics were great choices for her, and was able to make lots of new friends.  One of her good friends moved away this year, but we are trying very hard to make sure they stay in touch.  She still participates in 4H, and did her first demonstration this year, with a friend.  They did a get a blue ribbon.  Unfortunately her bunny passed away, but he was 9, and dearly loved.   I am currently looking for a more fun, and relaxed Writing curriculum for grade 8. I would love suggestions.  At this point, I love affordable, but will pay for a good, honestly fun program.  Caitlin will also be doing Health class in 8th grade, as she has had some important milestones this year.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bring on Summer Vacation!

Last Thursday was our final full day of the regular school year.  My son will be doing a research paper, topic of his choice, for World History, next week.  I will be giving him a 1/2 credit for the year, because he just didn't have the time to do enough hours to get a full credit.  But, I think he is going to do an online FLVS for World History next year.  He has to finish up Geometry over the Summer as well.

Caitlin will also be doing a final writing assignment next week.  I let her pick the topic, and she will be posting it to her blog when completed.  She will get the option to proofread and edit it one time, before I grade it.  She knows what the Rubric is, and if she gets a grade of 75 or above, I won't make her do any Writing over the Summer.  If she doesn't she will have to continue practicing.  She will do Math, on Easy Peasy Homeschool, and Reading Assessment, a few days a week over the Summer.

I have to start getting portfolios done.  Well, actually only one this year, because DJ is taking the SAT in August, and that will count as his evaluation this year.  It doesn't save me any money, though.

In the coming weeks you will see me start to post curriculum for next year.  DJ will be mostly doing FLVS, so his will be very easy to arrange.  Caitlin will be in 8th grade, so it will be my last year to really have some fun with her, and her lessons.  You may also see me post ideas for homeschool graduation, and college readiness.

Oh, before I forget, DJ read Dracula, and Caitlin read Ann of Green Gables, plus watched the movie, and is currently reading Gentle Ben.

Check me out on




Monday, June 5, 2017

My Homeschool Writing Rubric for 7th Grade

As we are finishing up our school year, and thinking of next  year, I have decided to post a writing rubric so my daughter will know exactly what I expect, and how she will be graded going forward.  She will be doing writing over the Summer so this will continue until at least then.  When she begins 8th grade I will have to create another rubric, as she will be required to do more.  This is my own rubric, based on my own skills that I want to see her achieve.  This may not be strict enough,  but it works for me.

7th Grade Writing Rubric

100 points for a perfect paper.  Points deducted as follows.

Minus 1 point if no name is on the paper, for written paper assignments.

Paper must contain 5 paragraphs in total, an intro, 3 supporting, and a conclusion.  Minus 2 points for each missing paragraph.

Each paragraph must contain at least 5 complete sentences.  Minus 3 points for each missing sentence.  If you add more than 5 sentences in any given paragraph, I will add 3 bonus points.

You must use proper grammar already taught, with spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.  It is your responsibility to either ask if you forgot, or look up the rule to be sure.  Minus 2 points for every spelling, capitalized either not or is when shouldn't be, and punctuation error.  If you use quotation marks properly, I will add 2 bonus points each time.

All errors will be marked, or noted on your blog post for you to review and learn from your mistakes.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Oldest Applied for His First Real Job Today

This is a huge milestone for him, and if he gets it, it will go along way in getting scholarships.  He has done here and there jobs to earn money for camp, and that went very well.  But, this is a real job, with taxes and paychecks and such.  I think he was real nervous, but my husband went with him, and he filled out the papers and was fine.  He had to ask my husband if he had ever been convicted of a felony.  LOL, apparently we need to cover some Criminal Justice topics.  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming.  Oh, and hallelujah he finished the first half of Chemistry, on FLVS with a B, yay!!  Chemistry, according to people we have talked to, is one if not the hardest course FLVS offers.  He worked his butt off to get that B.  He will take the second half in the Fall, and take a break from it over the Summer.  He will be finishing Geometry over the Summer, but now that Chemistry is over, he can do 2 lessons a day, unless it is something really demanding for Geometry.

My daughter is doing very well on Easy Peasy Homeschool Middle School  Math.  She was just not progressing with the textbooks, or work books and I had to make a change.  She picked Easy Peasy, not me, and it seems to be working.  We also switched to PBS media learning for Science, and History and that has replaced the workbooks.  She is at least happy now, and learning.  She still has Language Arts and Bible workbooks, with at least two writing assignments a week.  I need to find a more structured, but fun Writing curriculum for her next year.

We have started our 4th quarter, and the end is in sight for this school year.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thinking of Next Year School Year and Online Education Classes for Kidney Disease

Well, I have been slightly busy this last month.  First my FIL came to visit, then I started back to work, and this past week my sister came to visit from NC,  An update on the Sjogrens Saga.  I saw the Rheumatologist about two weeks ago, hoping to have a lip biopsy to either prove or disprove Sjogrens as the cause of my chronic dry mouth, and eyes.  Just to put it mildly I was not impressed with this doctor.  At first a little standoffish and unfriendly.  However, he did warm up towards the end of the visit.  All my labs were normal, the last set, except for my C3 and C4 which were extremely low.  He said, and I actually agree that there was no way those could be correct, because I would have had other labs that would not be normal, plus I was feeling fine.  He said the lab that my insurance insists I go to does not have quality results.  Great, that is awesome!  He said I could do the test again through his company, and it would only cost 500 dollars as my insurance would not cover it.  Um, no thanks.  Then he told me he does not do the lip biopsy, that I have to see an ENT doctor.  Good grief already!  Another 40 dollars, and that is if my insurance covers it.  So, I have to find that out.  The Rheumatologist said he does not think is is Sjogrens because my labs had all returned to normal., nor does he think it is any Autoimmune Disorder, which I am actually ok with.  Because, I can not take any of the immunosuppressant drugs he would want me to take, one because my kidney can't handle it, and two I work in the medical field.  Having no immune system would not be a good idea.  So, now I wait, again.  This is why people don't go to the doctor, because it is ridiculous the way the system works.  On the renal side, my kidney continues to  improve, though they do not think it will ever regain full functioning capabilities.  The good kidney is holding up well.  I will be doing some of these online kidney classes offered by Davita.  They are free of charge, and you can take live ones if they are near you.  Online just works better for my very busy schedule.

On the homeschool side of my life, we are starting our 4th quarter tomorrow.  DJ is finishing up a very challenging Chemistry two semester course, and will finish up the second half in the fall.  He just really needs a break, so time consuming this class was.  He will complete Geometry over the Summer break, as he started it in February.  I will be registering him for the August SAT, but he does the questions of the day test prep, and so far he has a near perfect score for Reading and Writing, and the Math could still use a little work, but is not horrible.  He is looking at Santa Fe College next Summer or Fall semester.  We have a lot of prepping to do for next year, as it will be his Senior year.  He will be doing most of his classes on FLVs, with the exception of Japanese, and History.  He will do Japanese on Time4Learning, and History will be Greek Mythology, curriculum not chosen yet.  I will be looking at various sources for that, and will share them when I figure it out.

Caitlin will be in 8th grade next year, and this year I have discovered that she very much hates workbooks.  I chose Alpha Omega for her, for this year, and though not challenging she hates them.  Her Saxon textbook, my preferred Math choice, she does not like either.  She wants online Math.  So, we started using Easy Peasy Homeschool, middle school Math, and she is doing quite well.  We will finish up 7th grade Math using Easy Peasy through the Summer months.  Her writing is still not what I want, and I am unsure what to do with that.  My son did not like writing either, but he learned to love it.  I just have to find the right fit for her.  I will be looking at Teachers Pay Teachers for some ideas.  She has changed her mind and wants to do French instead of Spanish, and I will be looking at FLVS for her to do that.  It will be her first time using FLVS, and I think language would be a good place to start.  She absolutely hates History, and since it will be her last year where I can really pick and choose how I want her to learn, I think we will do video and living books on Inventors, famous Women, and Black History for her next year.  I will update as I go, and discover things to use.  I also have to really buckle down and start looking at putting together our portfolios for this school year.  Being sick, and having so much family visit, has thrown me off my normal organization path.  But, I have everything, just need to get it in order.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Typical Lunch for Sjogren's Disorder and CKD

I will be doing a final Sjogren's Awareness post, a kind of putting it all together, and my thoughts on it all, in a few days.  But, for today, I want to share a typical lunch that I have chosen to eat almost daily.  I do once in a while eat something else, but for most days this is it, with variations.  I drink one Sprite a day, no dark colas, and I am trying to be soda free altogether, but you know it is hard to give up everything.  Sprite is low in sodium, and has no phosphorous.  If you are diabetic, I am not, any soda is a not so good choice.  I alternate any of the items listed below, depending on what I have in the  house.

Lunch for anti-inflammation caused by Sjogren's and health for CKD.

Since bread causes inflammation in the body, and is high in sodium, I avoid bread at all cost.  I do eat pizza here and there, but I use no sauce, and thin crust.  So instead of sandwiches, I eat a salad with any, or all of the following depending on my supplies.

Baby spinach, instead of lettuce.  Why?  Lettuce has phosphorous in it, and while spinach does have potassium in it, it is a wonderful source of iron.  I try to eat small amounts of meat only, so I need to get my iron from somewhere besides a supplement which is horrible on the bowels.

For other veggies, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, no carrots, tomatoes, croutons, bacon bits etc.

I put loads of fruit in my salad like strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, apples, and sometimes grapes.  CKD patients can eat lots of berries, and grapes.   However, citrus fruits, except lemons,and melons except watermelon should be eaten in limited amounts only, or avoided altogether.

For cheese, I use Sargento Baby Swiss only.  It is very low in sodium, and I use only small amounts since dairy increases inflammation, and has phosphorous.  Not all Swiss has low sodium like Sargento, though it is still lower than other cheeses.  Read the label, to be sure.

I always like to add a meat to my salad.  Since lunch meat is really high in sodium, I try to use lower sodium options, and still only a couple of pieces chopped up.  One egg can substitute as a meat source.  Eggs are high in phosphorous but are also a great source of Vitamin D, which is extremely important for kidney health.  Always use caution when eating too many eggs.

For the dressing I use Raspberry Vinaigrette, or Strawberry Vinaigrette with one teaspoon of regular Italian dressing.  The vinaigrettes are low in sodium in comparison to other dressings.  I was making my own Raspberry Vinaigrette, but it isn't exactly cheap, and only makes a very small amount, so I gave it up.

For a beverage, I drink only one cup of coffee a day, with either no sugar or honey in it, and small amount of french vanilla creamer.  I am going to get decaff so I can make my iced coffees, but I will have to limit the creamer. Like I said one Sprite, and I add two lemon slices to it.  I reuse the lemon slices in my water, to which I add a small amount of any Ocean Spray juice.  I use pretty much only Ocean Spray because it is low in sodium, and it uses no preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and is all natural.  It is worth the extra 50 cents or so to buy it.  I use it to make my own flavored water.  A note about water, CKD patients should not drink tap water, apparently, but filtered water only.  We have a filter on our fridge, so that works, but just take note that not all bottled water is filtered, so bring your own, or read the label to find out.

I will discuss dinner later, a much trickier meal for anti inflammation and CKD.  Always remember, this is informational only, and not intended to be medical advice.  Always research options, and talk to your doctor before you make drastic changes to your diet, especially if  you already have other illnesses.  Again, I do not have high blood pressure, or diabetes, but many people with CKD, do so my choices might not fit your needs.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Caitlin's First Puppy and Dog Youtube Video

As we come up on our fourth quarter, I start to think about the next school year.  DJ will be a senior next year, and he will be doing most of his classes on FLVS.  Easy for him next year.  He probably will do Japanese on Time4Learning, and History with me.  He wants to do Greek Mythology, and FLVS doesn't offer that.

Caitlin will be doing a whole year of Weather, for her Science.  For technology, and whatever else I can relate to it she will be making videos.  She will start with educational videos on how to properly care for a rabbit.  We will move on from there.  Her first video is below, of our new puppy and other two dogs.  As part of her Math class, and learning a skill, marketing etc she has joined in my Etsy shop and will be creating loom rubber band ankle bracelets, and bracelets.  You can see her first item, here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dealing With Stress and Sjogren's Disorder

One of the things that can make Sjogren's, or any of the many Autoimmune disorders worse, is stress. Stress has recently been labeled the silent killer, and for good reason. Stress causes inflammation in the body, and inflammation causes illness, especially, but not just for Autoimmune disorders. These are the things I have done for many years, not just since being diagnosed, to help alleviate stress.

1. We all need to work, but we don't need to kill ourselves doing it. Don't be a slave to a paycheck, or debt, just to buy more stuff, or gain status. These things are useless in the end, and you can't take them with you. Living within your means, and living a simple life, may not be exotic or fun, but it truly is a lot healthier for you, especially if you suffer from disorders like Sjogren's.

2. Learn to say no, and then do it. Don't take on 100 different things that you know you do not have time for, or the energy to do. Women have a tendency to take on everything like they are Superwoman, and for a while you will be. But, it will catch up with you, and not in a nice way. People in your life will just have to get over it, period.

3. Change your diet. I know everyone says this, plus lose weight, blah blah blah. But, if you are eating tons of dairy, meat, and preservative filled foods you are only causing yourself to have more inflammation, and when the body is inflamed it is stressed, and when it is stressed your Sjogren's symptoms are going to be worse. Well over a year ago, I gave up dairy, almost completely. I was tired of having acne, and I had read it might have been caused by dairy. So, I quit it, and I loved milk and ice cream. I have no more acne. at all since then, and with only one good kidney all the protein in milk would be a killer. With CKD, I have had to give up tomatoes, and bananas, two of my most favorite foods. I also have to limit potatoes a staple in our house. Foods that increase acidity in your body will just make you feel icky, and cause more stress. Start slow if you have to, and work on it each day. Do research, and learn about an anti-inflammatory diet.

4. Exercise some if you can. Most people with Sjogren's, as well as any Autoimmune disorder, suffer from some sort of pain. Pain can make exercise difficult. However, gentle exercise can help your pain. Start with stretching, move up to Yoga or Taichi as you can. I have been on a walking regime for over three years now, so long before I was diagnosed. I try to walk five days a week, as well as some light weight training. I do have a great deal of pain some days, but as I get stronger it gets better. I can not tell you the importance of stretching. If I don't stretch, oh boy I pay for it. Please be easy at first, and discuss exercise with your doctor. I feel better when I exercise, but you might not.

5. Sit out and enjoy nature, enjoy the sunshine on your skin. Obviously be aware of when the bugs are active, and don't be in the sun too long. Nature has been shown to be a natural stress reliever. I love to be outside, and when I lived up North would get the Winter blues. Sunshine is good for me! I love to feed, and watch the birds. I have plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, they are so much fun to watch. Planting a small garden is another great way to get some gentle exercise.

6. Learn a craft, or hobby. I have been crafting since I was a young girl. My mother has always been creative, and can do just about anything. She taught me to crochet at a very young age, then I learned counted cross stitch, and threw the years have continued to learn new crafts. I love to make jewelry, paint, wood burn, etch glass, and yes even crochet still some. These are great ways to help alleviate stress, and clear your mind from thinking of things that stress you out.

7. Get plenty of sleep. I think that one is self explanatory. It is when your body revives itself, if you don't get enough, work on it. I used to take Benadryl for sleep, many years actually because it relieved leg cramps too, but I now take Melatonin a completely natural sleep aid. It will not harm my kidneys, and some studies show it actually does some good things for the body. Ask your doctor first to be safe.

Be kind, and love yourself. Embrace your disorder and vow to conquer it. Having an optimistic attitude will work towards relieving stress. Don't let other people steal your joy. If they are not bringing you love, and kindness then re-evaluate if you really need them in your life.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Counting My Blessings this Easter!

Today, I woke up just like everyone else who woke up this morning.  I drank my coffee, enjoyed a beautiful dawn outside while drinking my coffee.  I got dressed, let my 16 year old drive us to church, and proceeded to line up in our church choir to sing praises to the Lord.  Then it hit me, all at once, like a punch in the chest,  I shouldn't even be here.  I should have died last December.

I most likely had been in acute renal failure, with at least moderate metabolic acidosis.  I thought I was just worn out from Christmas, and was getting the flu.  After a while I thought wow this is some flu, and that is when I sought medical care.  However, at least 3 weeks had passed since the beginning of symptoms, and I was slowly improving every day.  The only treatment I had in that time  was sleep, lots of it, like 18 hours a day, water, just water, no food for at least 2 weeks, and prayer, lots of prayer.

I am not pushing religion, I don't do that, nor am I saying you will heal without medical care, I don't do that either.  What I am saying is I didn't die, and I should have.  Or, at the very least been in the hospital for a very, very long time, with probable emergency dialysis.  For whatever reason, my body, even with an Autoimmune disorder, Sjogren's, my body was able to bring itself back into at least pre illness balance.  I was still in Metabolic Acidosis when I saw the kidney doctor a month ago, but with proper treatment I am hoping I am in almost complete balance.  You can call it a miracle, blessing from God, lucky, whatever you want.  But, I call it a blessing that it was not my time to be called home to the Lord, and I still have a purpose here on this Earth.  I have been saved since I was a teenager, and though my walk with God has been bumpy and curvy, I have the peace of knowing that when I do pass away, I will be in a better place.  I am not ready to die, but I am not afraid to die either.  I didn't expect to get so sick in December.  I did not expect my kidney to fail.  I did not expect to be living with an illness that will most likely continue to eat away at my body.  But, I can be thankful every day for my blessings, and the walk I have been given to continue to walk.  It might be hard, and it might not always be fun, but it is a part of me, and who I am.  Believe me, I have had to make a lot of hard life changes.  One of which is not taking NSAIDS for pain, and yes there are some days I have a great deal of pain.  I have had to modify my diet, and lifestyle to be sure I am doing the best to keep myself in balance.  I could have chose to do none of those things, but then I might not be here to enjoy this beautiful Easter day.  Yesterday, I read something that made me so sad.  It was meant to bring awareness to Sjogren's and other autoimmune disorders, but at least for me it just made me think how horrible.  It said, Sjogren's will attack your body every single day for the rest of your life.  To me this statement seeks pity, and guilt from anyone who might read it.  Not awareness and a positive attitude to get out the word about this disease.  I know for me, I don't want pity, I don't want to be treated differently than anyone else.  I don't want people to point to me and say ha, if you weren't chubby, exercised more, or changed your diet, you wouldn't have this disease.  If only it was that simple.  I want people to realize they need to respect everyone, no matter their situation, and to imagine walking a mile in their shoes.  I want people to reach out with hands of love and kindness, not point the finger of shame and guilt.  Awareness does not have to be humiliating.

I hope you will have the same peace and blessings as I have had.  I will never know when it will be time to leave this earth.  Some pass very young, and unexpected, while others live to a very old age and know it is their time.  Having peace with  my spiritual being, brings me comfort in ways that are unimaginable.

Please, if you need to seek counsel for your spiritual being, reach out to someone to assist you.  But, most important be blessed, and grateful every day to still be able to appreciate the warmth of the sun on your skin, the smell of the wildflowers, the laughter of children, the frolicking of your pets, and all the other beautiful things that make life what it is.

I will discuss coping with stress in my next blog post.  

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hurricane Preparedness for People with CKD Sjogren's Awareness Month

I live in Florida, I have CKD, and I need to put together a hurricane kit, starting in May.  Since I was just diagnosed in March, I thought to myself, how do I make sure I will be safe in a disaster?  So, after some research I found a preparedness list on Davita, that even tells you how to break down your emergency rations into meals for 3 days.  Since, here in FL you can lose power for many more days than 3 days, I probably will double or even triple the items for my CKD, and the others in my family as well.  I would recommend keeping the CKD items in a separate area than the other food, maybe ziploc bags or sealed containers marked as such in your bin, bag, or box.  One other thing I will be looking into, is that I can register with my electric company as someone with a chronic illness, and they try to get them people restored first.  I do not use Dialysis, but if you do, or have O2 or any other item that is life sustaining, make sure you register with your electric company for sure.  I will be summarizing the items for CKD, and then sharing the link to all the info.

So, because people with CKD can really only eat certain items of food, setting up an emergency food kit can be tricky.  Since I eat a lot of fresh fruits, and veggies, I was wondering how exactly I would eat, when a lot of store shelf foods are processed, and high in salt or sugar.  I am not diabetic, but that doesn't mean I should suck down a ton of sugar either.

So this is the items they recommend for a 3 day diet kit for CKD, I will state changes I would make for me due to preferences.

1-  3 packages of dry milk or 4 eight ounce cans of evaporated milk.  Evaporated milk can be high in sodium, calcium and protein, so they do recommend watering it down before using, half and half.  Be sure if you choose evaporated milk that you have a way of opening the can, or it will be useless to you.

2-  1 to 2 gallons of distilled or bottled water.  They noted that if you are on dialysis, and you have no power, you should drink only 2 cups of water per day until dialysis can be restored.  This is a very small amount of water so be prepared for that.

3-  Powdered fruit drink 1 can or single packets.  I personally will not be doing this for me, way too much sugar.  Straight water will work best imo.

4- 1-2 cans of soda, except for dark colas.  Again, I will just add extra water here, or 100% juice, and Ocean Spray is pretty much the only one I use because it has the lowest amounts of sodium, and no preservatives.  Apple and Grape juice are low in potassium so good choices there too.

5-  6 boxes of single servings of cereal.  Don't use Raisin Bran.  Cereal is actually a very good source of iron, since almost all of them are fortified with iron.  They are usually low in sodium, potassium, and protein making them an even better choice.  Always read the labels to be sure, and keep in mind most are very high in sugar.

6.  1 box of sugar, or sugar substitute.  I don't know about this one being in my kit.  I just don't see a use for it.  However, if you are a diabetic, it probably would be a very good idea to have some kind of sugar in your kit, in case your sugar drops.

7.  Cans, or fruit bowls, they suggested 12.  These need to be low in potassium, so no raisins, oranges, or bananas.  I think most other fruits are low in potassium, except maybe kiwis, but be sure and read labels before adding them to your emergency food kit.

8.  8 small cans of unsalted meats.  I have never seen completely unsalted meats, especially in a can.  I have seen low sodium tuna, but the others suggested I have not.  I will be putting peanut butter in my kit, not meats. Peanut Butter is high in protein, however it is also high in iron, and other important nutrients.  I will add low sodium crackers, not bread, to my kit.  If you add the unsalted meats be sure to add mayonnaise, or something to make it with, unless you are going to eat it straight out of the can.

9.  Like I said above, a loaf of bread, small jar of jelly, and small jar of honey.  I will be adding all these to my kit, except the bread.  Will substitute crackers for bread.  Ritz makes a low sodium cracker, and it is the only brand that I have found that does, at least where I live.

10.  A box of Graham Crackers or Vanilla Wafers.  I will add both of these to my kit, as everyone likes these. I have not checked the sodium levels on either yet.  If these are high in sodium, cereal bars will be used.  They have good amounts of iron as well as other nutrients, and everyone at my house likes them.  I think they probably have preservatives, but I guess in an emergency I can't be too worried about that.

11.  4 to 6 bags of hard candy. This one is probably the easiest, lol.  Of course these will be high in sugar, unless you buy sugar free.

12.  1 package of marshmallows.  Nah, no thanks.  I will probably do bags of pretzels or something.  I hate marshmallows.

That is the list.  Of course always remember a can opener, and utensils.  I mean you could eat like a caveman.

I could not find my list for medications that kidney patients should avoid, it was for transplant only.  I might share it anyways, because they are damaging to kidney, why wait until you need a transplant to avoid them if you can.  Remember, the amounts shared are for one person, you, the kidney patient.  If you have more people in your family you will need to double, triple, quadruple, etc depending on how many people are in your home.

Monday, April 10, 2017

How to Watch Your Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium and Protein Intakes with CKD Related Disease and Sjogren's Syndrome

As I stated previously, I have been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, stage 3, but it was improved with my last labs. I am praying for it to continue to improve, though I will never have two normal working kidneys ever again. The doctor can not tell me for sure if the Sjogren's caused the kidney issue, or if it was caused by something else. However, there are two major causes of kidney failure, uncontrollable high blood pressure, and Diabetes, neither of which I have. So it is suspected that if it was not congenital, which I do not think it was, it was most likely Sjogren's. Sjogren's does not just attack your lacrimal, salivary and nasal secreting glands. It can also attack other glands in the body as well. Neither of my doctors, to date, have suggested any diet changes, or a Nutrition referral. So, I did my own research, and put myself on a renal diet. I won't give specifics of the amounts I am doing, because if you don't have some medical understanding of conversion rates you could do yourself more harm than good, if you lower your amounts too far. Apparently doctors are not trained in nutrition, so as I said before you need to be an advocate for yourself, or assign one to help you. Ask your doctor about Nutrition and a renal diet, if you have CKD.

The kidneys filter out excess waste that your body does not use. The four main food culprits that can harm the kidney are phosphorous, protein, sodium, and potassium. Reducing some of these foods from your diet, not eliminating without a doctor order, can help the kidneys from getting further damage. Again, I must restate I am not giving advice, seek the advice of your doctor, everyone is different and you may have other illnesses that you have to be even more careful about your diet than I do. Your body needs all of these things, but you might need less, or more, than someone else.

I will start with the easiest one first, Phosphorous. Phosphorous is found in dark colas, and meat, mostly. Those are the two largest sources of Phosphorous. I have already given up Pepsi, and refuse to drink any dark colas, even diet. Meat, my portions are down to one to two servings a day. A serving of meat is a piece that will fit in the palm of your hand. If you are like me, and millions of other Americans, you probably are, or were eating 3-4 times the serving size per meal.  I can't forget dairy.  I quit dairy at least a year ago, maybe more, so I almost forgot to mention that one.

Sodium, imo, is the most difficult to control.  We over eat salt at such an excessive rate in this country, it is no surprise that we have so many chronic illnesses.  Salt is in everything, and I mean everything.  What I do for salt is I read labels, all labels.  Sodium has to be on there, even if it is zero, it is the law.  If a serving size of anything has more than 140mg of Sodium in it, I don't eat it, period.  We do not cook with salt, and if I add it, I add it to my own food in little pinches.  I have learned to enjoy other spices besides salt, and if you have a kidney issue you should not be using Sea Salt.  Also, if you have a kidney issue salt substitutes contain very high levels of potassium, so be very careful. Drinks, also have sodium in them.  Water is best obviously, but since I get very bored of just water, I use Ocean Spray juice blends only.  They are low in sodium, and use no preservatives or added chemicals.

Potassium is next.  I love potassium rich foods, tomatoes, oranges and bananas.  I no longer eat those things, or if I do in very small amounts even less than a portion size would be.  Since having  a low potassium level is just as dangerous as a high potassium, you really have to be careful when messing with this one.  Potatoes too, another favorite, are high in potassium, but you can leach them before using them.  I do this every time I cook them now.  Leaching involves, peeling and soaking them for hours in water, before cooking them.  When you do cook them, you have to drain the water and cook in new water.  Below I will share two websites that I love on nutrition for CKD.

Last but not least is protein.  Your body needs protein, but we Americans eat way too much of it, and some people eat enormous amounts to build muscle mass.  Again, meat, dairy, and legumes are the main sources of high protein foods.  For this one I do similar to Phosphorous, mostly avoiding red meat, and smaller portion sizes.  I do similar to Sodium in that if it is more than 140mg per serving, I try to avoid it, or get the portion size down to the amount I just mentioned.  Sometimes this means I am eating very little meat, but I would rather have a tiny piece of steak, than no steak at all.

You need Iron, Vitamin D, and Calcium all which the foods I mentioned are good sources of.  Your physician may recommend you take a supplement if you have CKD to be sure your levels do not go too low.  Iron is a hard one for me, because I don't want to take oral iron due to risk of constipation. So, since I am not diabetic I eat cereal at least twice a week, since most cereals are fortified with Iron, giving me a good safe source for my needs.

Eating out is very difficult, and I can speak to that first hand.  One of the things my family very much enjoys is eating out. I would say we eat out at least once a week.  I have had to majorly change my eating habits when eating out.  I have informed my family I will no longer eat McDonalds, or any other fast food, and if at a restaurant I always have a salad, and bread, then I pick the best dish to fit all the above and try to eat only a quarter to half of it, and bring the rest home.  I can tell you, if you have CKD, and don't want to be on dialysis, that is my goal to not be on dialysis, then learn to cook,  Pre packaged foods, fast foods, snacks and a lot of breads are all high is sodium and full of preservatives all which are bad for the kidneys.

These are two of my favorite websites for CKD.  I am still newly diagnosed, so I am always looking for good reputable resources for myself.  Davita, offers a great menu and recipe planner for CKD.  I love it.


National Kidney Foundation

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Living with Sjogren's Syndrome

Due to limited time, today I am sharing a video with tons of info on living with Sjogren's Syndrome. The speaker does have a little bit of an accent, but this video is worth watching.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Living With Dry Eyes Sjogrens Awareness Month

For day 3 of my Sjogren's Awareness month posts, I will be discussing dry eyes. As I have stated previously I have been living with dry eyes, for many, many years. Over the years I have seen various doctor types, don't want to knock non doctors, but I have never had good luck, and I always ask to see a doctor now for myself, and my children. I have been told it is allergies, see an eye doctor, try this eye drop, try that eye drop, but never getting an answer as to why my eyes were dry and gritty almost every day of my life. I do see an eye doctor, it has been a few years, but my eyes don't really change much. I wear readers bought from the dollar store, and that was all that was prescribed to me basic reading glasses. I was told there was no eye disease, and I believe that. Now that I am finally heading towards answers, I can concentrate on treatment plans.

Dry eyes is not as distracting as dry mouth, in my opinion, but it can be painful, and cause blurred vision. Because I have kidney involvement, with probably Sjogren's my options are not as broad as others may have. Talk to your doctor about prescription eye drops if you think you need them. I use just natural tears, or soothing tears, both bought over the counter, and have no medication in them. I also have light sensitivity, which can be quite awful, especially when fluorescent lights are being used. I worked night shift for years, one reason was to avoid all those fluorescent lights everyone uses. When I did work day shift, I would go home with the worst headache every single day. I wear sunglasses almost always when outside, even when it is cloudy. People used to stare and ask me if I was hiding something. I would just tell them yes, my glowing eyes. We live in Florida, so adding humidity into the house, when you want to remove humidity, is kind of silly. But, if you can use a humidifier by your bedside, or a bigger one for the whole house, it would be a great idea. Wash your eyes with warm water and a clean cloth. Carry clean, sterile cloths with you to dampen your eyes as needed. You can even spritz them with a spritz bottle, but carrying eye drops works too. I haven't discovered too many things that actually help dry eyes, so if you do something awesome let me know in the comments. Don't forget antihistamines, and other drugs may cause dry eyes as a side effect. Don't ever stop taking your meds without discussing with your doctor. There may be another medication you could switch.

Please share this blog post, and the others I am doing as well, to increase awareness to this disease.  Use the hashtag #thisissjogrens.  Visit the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation website to get all kinds of awesome info.

Remember this is my personal blog, my personal experiences with getting diagnosed with Sjogrens, and kidney disease. I am not giving medical advice, nor should anything I say be taken as medical advice.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Tips for Living With Dry Mouth Sjogrens Awareness Month

As stated in my previous post, I have been living with dry mouth, for probably five years, or so. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when this began, but I know it was one of the more recent symptoms. At least as far as I noticed. I may have had it more years, and it just didn't bother me. Since I used to take a lot of allergy meds, I figured it was just a side effect from that. I will discuss meds at a later date, but since I mentioned allergies, Claritin is the only one I can take anymore due to kidney involvement. Always discuss meds with your doctor. A dry mouth can be very distracting, and even painful. A cracked tongue, damaged teeth, or swollen salivary glands can all be painful. My tips below are just that, tips, things I have done, and not to be taken as medical advice. Please always consult your physician, do not take my word for it. I research everything first, and then discuss with my doctor.

1. I almost always have a drink with me. I do not guzzle, just sip.

2. I no longer take Benadryl for allergies, unless they are severe, or I am suffering leg cramps at bed time. Benadryl, and other antihistamines have a drying up effect, and can make dry mouth much worse. A lot of people take Benadryl to sleep at night. If you suffer from dry mouth discuss with your doctor other alternatives for sleep. I use Melatonin now.

3. Carry hard candy, or lozenges with you. Because I have kidney involvement, I have to be sure there is not other things in the candy. Sugar free peppermints, don't even taste sugar free, so if you are diabetic they might be a good option. There are dry mouth lozenges, over the counter, that I also carry for severe dry mouth only. I do not want to get used to them. Rinse your mouth frequently, if needed, and of course brush and take care of your teeth. Biotin, is an over the counter mouth rinse for dry mouth. I alternate that with regular mouth wash, at least twice a day.

4. There are prescription medications as well. Speak to your doctor about them if you feel you would like them better, or if none of the other options seem to help.

5. Check out the Sjogrens website, for tips on massaging the parotids, using heat, and other great tips. I am leary of heat, personally, only because if you have an abscess tooth, but you think it is your parotids heat might not be a great idea. Discuss with your doctor to be sure.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April is Sjogrens Awareness Month

As promised, all this month, I will be discussing Sjogrens Syndrome. A disease I have been newly diagnosed with. Well, I still need a definite diagnosis via a salivary biopsy, but that will be soon I hope. My renal doctor is pretty sure that is what it is. So, why am I seeing a kidney doctor? I will get to that. Let's start with some basics first.

Sjogrens Syndrome is an Autoimmune Disorder. That means basically your body attacks itself, primarily through tears and saliva. At least that is where it starts. Those are the first two primary complaints of people who suffer from Sjogrens. They were for me. I have had dry, and so called gritty eyes, for as long as I can remember, at least since my early 20's. I am 47 now. My dryness, and vision issues that went along with it would come and go it seemed. Some days fine, other days not. I have seen eye doctors, and been given reading glasses, but no reason for why my eyes were "dry". Try eye drops was the most popular advice, as no disease of the eyes was seen. I personally figured it could be feasible that due to seasonal allergies, and lots of computer use, maybe allergy meds and tired eyes was just the problem.

However, when I got dry mouth, I would say within the last 5 years, I started to think of other things. Dry mouth is very distracting, it can drive you crazy. You are not really thirsty, but you feel like you have to have a drink. Now even though I didn't start to notice dry mouth until about 5 years ago, I have had issues with my teeth since I was a teen. I shrugged it off as all my family had bad teeth. Dry mouth destroys your teeth. So do a lot of other things, but so does dry mouth. One thing I did not realize, is the actual location of the Parotid Glands. Those are the glands that create saliva. They are located on the side of your face by your ears, down by your lower jaw, under your tongue, and then in other places, but much smaller. I have been suffering from migraines for probably 15 years, or so. About 4 a year, was typical. My point is the locating these migraines would start was right around the front and back of my left ear, and then travel down my neck, and up the side of my head. Right before Obamacare was passed, when insurance companies could still deny you care for pre-existing conditions, I was having an acceleration of migraines, about one every other week. I sought medical attention, and a CT of the head was ordered. My insurance company refused to do it saying some bogus reason, and I believe it was because they considered it a pre-existing condition. Since I didn't have 3500 dollars to pay for it out of my own pocket, I just suffered with it. Eventually they went back to the more normal average of 4 a year. I am now curious if those glands were swollen and that is what was causing the pain. I also have discovered that something that I thought might be a bad tooth, was probably my mandibular gland swollen and painful. This lasts for only about 2-3 days, so it never gets seen by my doctor. It also only happens about every six months. Since I started doing salt water rinses, it seems to help a lot.

How did I end up with a diagnosis of Sjogrens? For years I have thought I might have MS, or some other mystery disease. I had vague, strange symptoms that would seem to come and go with no explanation. I had researched Sjogrens before, as well. In December I was extremely ill, to the point where all I could do was sleep most of the day, or at least do a little bit then need to sleep. My eyes were doing some very strange things, to the point that I refused to drive for about two weeks. I could not really eat, and was very clumsy. I have always been a little clumsy but this was worse. I never had a fever, drank well, created urine, etc. No vomiting or diarrhea, etc. I thought I just had the flu because we had been so busy and I felt worn out around Christmas. After about a week I thought, wow this is some flu. I haven't had the flu in over 10 years, so I figured I was older maybe it was worse. Finally I told my husband I felt like I needed to be seen. My labs were off the wall weird, and it appeared I had some kind of kidney involvement. I was referred to a kidney doctor who said I have basically only one kidney working well. There is no absolute proof that Sjogrens caused the kidney issue, but it is highly suggestive. Since Sjogrens can attack other organs, especially for those with Primary Sjogrens, it is very probable. They also can not tell me how long my kidney was not working properly, but they can say it did not happen quickly. So, my focus for the month of April will be Sjogrens with kidney involvement. There are a lot of things I have had to learn about keeping my good kidney healthy, and since we live in Florida, I have to now prepare differently for hurricane season. I will be sharing all this info, plus basic Sjogrens info.

For now I want to let you know the symptoms of Sjogrens. I have had all of these, but they are not constant for me, especially the dry cough, and joint pain. To find more information about Sjogrens, visit the Sjogrens Syndrome Foundation. Please if you have any of these symptoms, along with dry eyes, and or dry mouth, please seek out your doctor to discuss. Do not take any info in this blog to be medical advice, it is not. It is information, to help increase awareness and knowledge of the disease. Anything that I try, or have done, since being diagnosed is under the approval of my doctor only. 4 million people have Sjogrens, but not many people know about it, and doctors don't either, which might be why it takes so long to get a diagnosis. Be persistent, and be an advocate for yourself. My doctor thought of Sjogrens right away when she heard I had dry eyes, and mouth, but has never had an actual Sjogrens patient.

1. Dry eyes and mouth, as I stated are the two most common early complaints.

2. Joint pain

3. Dry skin

4. Vaginal dryness

5. dry cough

6. fatigue

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Journey to Sjogren's Syndrome

  1. As I previously acknowledged I was extremely sick in December.  I have been diagnosed with CKD and Metabolic Acidosis.  My primary doctor tested me for Sjogrens in January.  That test was negative.  When we discovered my blood creatinine was elevated in two different blood tests, I was referred to a Renal doctor.  An US showed one kidney was smaller than the other.  My Renal doctor feels it is from Sjogrens and I need a salivary biopsy to confirm.
So, why did I just bore you to death with personal stuff?  Well for one this is a personal blog, and since my kids are older there isn't much to blog about for homeschool, so I will use as a personal journal, awareness, education, and yes still homeschool stuff too.  

April is Sjogrens Awareness Month.  As such I will be sharing all the info I have been gathering.  What I want to tell you for now is, if you have chronic dry eyes, or mouth these are the very first warning signs of Sjogrens.  If you don't know if you have dry eyes or mouth then you probably don't, because trust me you would notice.  Dry mouth is especially hard to not notice.  Don't let doctors and insurance companies ignore it eithér, keep after them and be an advocate for your own health care.  

I will not give medical advice, and anything I say is not to be interpreted as advice.  I will share my journey, resources and non medical ideas for stress, weight and pain management.  If you suffer with this disease p,ease feel free to leave comments.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Time for College and Scholarships

Next  year, my son will be a Senior.  I can't believe I just said that.  The years that we have been blessed to homeschool have been a treasure for me, and hopefully for him too.  I still have a 12 year old to get through middle school, and high school, so I won't be bored.

As you know scholarships are a very important part of helping to pay for school.  Now is the time to start thinking, and researching.  I will be adding links to sites about scholarships, as I find them and collect them.  The first four websites are listed below.  Some may repeat.  I haven't actually read them all, yet, just collecting for future use.  All scholarships have different requirements and cut off dates, so it is best to start looking the year ahead.

Since he wants to go to Santa Fe College first, then transfer to UF in Gainesville, I will be posting about Bright Futures, and requirements for those two colleges in the near future.

Currclick for Homeschoolers


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