Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Breakfast Menu for Visual Learners or Non-Readers

Technology is only as good as the practical use you can apply it to. Right? Not sure where that leaves Facebook...ha ha...but at any rate there are some great concepts out there just waiting to be utilized in creative ways. I hardly consider myself creative, a mimicker for sure, but original thoughts sometimes are few and far between. I have noticed lately since reading up on my dyslexic learner that combining activities will often stimulate both hemispheres of the brain. My most brilliant thought moments can be found while I'm working next door at the barn. This week's light bulb concerns Pinterest.

Pinterest is new to me, and I've only had a little bit of time to figure it out. It's a site where you can 'pin' photos found on the web on 'boards' that you define. Fun to play around with for sure. But practical? Now it is. Enter the visual menu for young kids or visual learners. The menu I have in mind is there to help me remember as well as show H-Bob what gluten and caesin free, low-sugar items we have on hand to eat on her elimination diet. We're trying to focus on 'what there is' as opposed to 'what you can't have'. I'm starting out with breakfast...although there are a few pins on that board that need to go to their own separate GFCF board...lemonade for breakfast? Probably not. Click here to see what's there so far.

You can see that by pinning photos of the cereal we selected or the fruit and granola recipe, that we have our own 'menu' of sorts to get the day started on a fun, positive note now that choices are a little bit limited. Not only can H-Bob see them at a glance, but as the board continues to fill up with GFCF products and links to similar recipes, I will have a reminder as well since my cluttered mind tends to overload at times. A step in the right direction for us I hope.

What fun use have you discovered for Pinterest?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Homemaker Monday - July 18, 2011

I'm linking up today with Diary of a Stay at Home Mom and Happy Homemaker Monday.

The weather in my neck of the woods:

It's is the 60s right now. Forecast is for high 60s and rain AGAIN. (This was taken verbatum from my last post three weeks ago. Not too much progress towards summer here. Though to be honest I think we're supposed to get into the low 70s.)

Click for Oregon City, Oregon Forecast

Things that make me happy:

Our relaxed pace of life for the next few weeks is definitely welcome. Things start to pick up again once County Fair gets closer.

Book I'm reading:

So many since my last post...Overcoming Dyslexia, Disconnected Kids, Brain Allergies, The LCP Connection, The Kid Friendly ADHD Cookbook. Pretty heavy stuff.

What's on my TV today:

Not much as usual.

On the menu for dinner:

Hubby and our nine-year-old spent the last few days camping and brought home pink meat trout. It's a little like poor man's salmon. There's no fishy trout taste at all, so time to get creative with it tonight.

On my To Do List:

I really need to get a handle on the weeds in the garden. This rain and temperatures that encourage weeds has made a mess of things. We also ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO finish cleaning out the goat shed. That becomes my mulch material for the paths between the raised beds in the garden and a great weed suppressant.

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:

Since we're starting a sugar-gluten-casein free diet for H-Bob to see if that has an impact on her dyslexia and attention, cooking will be real interesting. I've armed myself with several gluten-free flours from Bob's Red Mill and a handful of cookbooks. I am probably dealing with this harder than she will since I feel like I can either cook two batches of things or be creative enough to keep everyone happy with only slight modifications to what her menu needs to be.

In the craft basket:

There are only wishes...

Looking forward to this week:

Our Marion berries are beginning to ripen. With the rain this year, they are fantastically plump. Now if we could only get a little sun to ripen them. I'm itching for a pie...guess it will have a gluten-free crust and ice cream? GF crust, yes; ice cream, no since that is a weakness of H-Bob's, but I did come across a recipe for slightly sweetened whipped coconut milk to replace whipped cream.

Tips and Tricks:

I had started to use gallon ziplock bags to bundle up individual craft supplies with instructions taken from Family Fun magazine in a type of kit for H-Bob to grab and work on when I'm involved in something else. They're rather picked through at this point. Time to refresh them. It does a great job of keeping her productively occupied when I can't be there.

My favorite blog post this week:

In my search to learn how to prepare gluten-free foods, I stumbled across this post outlining what is gluten-free, how to use substitutions, what does and doesn't work. Thank you Gluten Free Mommy for sharing your experiences.

Blog Hopping:

Gluten Free Girl

On my mind:

Now that we've diagnosed H-Bob's dyslexia, we will obviously be continuing with her vision therapy, have started following the home sensory-motor correction program in Dr. Melillo's book Disconnected Kids to fire up her connections to the left hemisphere of her brain, are getting going full swing on an elimination diet to figure out her food sensitivities, as well as tackling a phonics intervention program to bring up her reading level. Lots and lots to keep my mind busy for sure.

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:

From my devotional that I have sent to my feed reader daily:

We can trust that God knows what is best for us and He will work to make it happen. When we seek the His will and do things His way, not our own, God will bring about the best outcome possible.

"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." - Psalm 37:5
Enjoy your week!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keeping up with your blog reading

I love reading in the blog-o-sphere. It keeps me name it. But some times it takes effort. Through trial and error, this is the system that works for me.

When I come across a blog that I would like to follow and read on a regular basis, I look for an RSS feed icon. That usually takes me straight to where I can choose a feed reader and get started there. I happen to use Google because it seems to be universally available, but that's only my preference. There are many others to choose from as well. Within my Google feed reader, I can set up folders for different categories...home...gluten-free...gardening...homeschool...and have the new posts automatically routed there. Easy enough then to go to a particular folder if I want to see what's been happening at my favorite photography site. That's a big bonus to me over receiving posts by email. And there's always that "Mark all as read" button for those overwhelming weeks you all know about.

But here's the other fantastic thing I do. I have an Instapaper account. This is a nifty, actually ingenious, way to mark things that you find on the web so that you can read them later. I just happen to use it mainly for my RSS feeds. A click of the button, and it is added to my Instapaper account. But it gets even better. Instapaper is also an app. And that inherited iPod from my kids can be synched with Instapaper and always affords me reading material no matter where I am. No wi-fi needed when I'm out and about. Now if I had me an iPhone, I probably wouldn't be so excited about this, but it sure works for those of us who haven't moved up to that level yet. I'm to be found reading through blog posts in a long grocery line, waiting to pick someone up, car rides, just about anywhere. Do I dare say I've been tempted while driving? Well, no...but you could just the same.

The only downside is that while you are reading blog posts on an iPod, it is a little cumbersome to comment on a great post. Sometimes you just want to throw out a little, "Me too!" or "Have you heard about..." or "We're thinking of you." It would obviously require you to have a wi-fi connection and nimble little fingers.

Overall the system works for me. How do you keep current on your reading? Do you just randomly skip across the internet to get your fill? Do you even have time to read blogs? Just curious.

For more great Works for Me Wednesday ideas, visit

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's Dyslexia...So Now What?

The past two weeks have made a mess of my mind...information...opinions...decisions. But I feel I'm on the right track.

Here's the deal. Our nine-year-old H-Bob has lagged a grade or two behind in her reading since the beginning. Writing and spelling have been atrocious. No word attack skills. She's had attention issues. Looking back she never 'got' rhyming. Lessons taught one day were forgotten the next. Math...similar issues. Now that I know, those are hallmark tags of a dyslexic learner. Not the backward letters or writing that I incorrectly had been told were the signs to look for.

On original suspicious that she could have vision tracking problems, we had her tested and eventually enrolled in eye therapy sessions every other week which have helped tremendously. Her ability to perceive...not just physically see...written letters or numbers on a page was in the 10% range. They were amazed she was even reading. Six months later her abilities are vastly improved. But her reading and math have not caught up.

Enter my contact with Raising Spirited Kids, and a comment there on determining whether certain temperaments were exacerbated by learning disabilities portrayed a more accurate definition of dyslexia, and I begin to read some more. After inhaling Overcoming Dyslexia, at H-Bob's next eye therapy appointment I asked her therapists some questions. She ran a few diagnostic tests and confirmed that there were also visual processing other words dyslexic tendencies. A later component of her therapy will address those. But that wasn't going to address my questions I had now. If we have a diagnosis, I need to know the best way to support the situation.

There seem to be several ways people attack dyslexia.

It's there. Let's find a remediation phonic program and hammer in those phonemes until they're firmly rooted in long-term memory. Good approach. You have to have sound association in order to sound out unfamiliar words. We're now working with Saxon's Phonic Intervention program designed for fourth grade and above.

Let's work around it. I was thoroughly impressed with the information on Dianne Craft's site. Dyslexic learners are extremely right-brained. Let's teach them using materials that appeal to their creative right brained sides and utilize the photographic memory that resides there. This also makes sense. H-Bob expresses many tendencies of an overly dominant right brain...great large motor poor poor fine motor skills; excessively cautious; very visual learner.  I was also intrigued by her Brain Integration theories and nutritional aspects that she writes about.

Control it with diet. Studies have shown that many neurological disorders such as ADHD, autism, and dyslexia can be improved through diet. There may not be food allergies present that cause outward symptoms that come to mind when you think 'allergy' but there can be food sensitivities. Those sensitivities are part of a complex cycle where nutrition absorption is compromised and brain activity is affected. I read Brain Allergies which mainly deals with food sensitivities and psychological issues. At the time it was written, research had not applied it to the epidemic level of kids with ADHD, autism and such but the process by which the brain is affected holds true. I've come across people in my life recently who have restricted their sugar, gluten, and dairy for various reasons and have personally reported tremendous changes. The evidence is too hard to ignore that food sensitivities are real, and it too is a path we should take with H-Bob.

Fix it. Yes, that's right, fix it. I sat and cried as I read Disconnected Kids, The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders. They were describing my child. Very right brained. Disconnected left brain. No communication between the two to her case...reading and writing. The results that have been had with this program which was tailed for home use in this book or performed at their Brain Balance Centers makes you want to shout from the housetops, "You have to try this!"

Here's an excerpt:

These disorders may manifest with different symptoms but they are really one and the same problem: a brain imbalance. There is even a name for it--Functional Disconnection Syndrome, meaning areas in the brain, especially the two hemispheres of the brain, are not electrically balanced, or synchronized. This electrical imbalance interferes with the ability of the two hemispheres to share and integrate information, meaning the brain cannot function as a whole. The result is that a child with a brain imbalance has normal or even unusually good skills associated with the higher-functioning area or side of the brain, and unusually bad skills associated with the underactive area or side of the brain. The problem seems to come about because one side of the brain is maturing at a faster rate than the other. As the child develops, this imbalance becomes more significant and the two hemispheres can never fully function as one. The brain is functionally disconnected. Fix the disconnect--that is, get the immature side of the brain to catch up to the other side--and the symptoms go away. So does the disorder.
We've just started the home version of Dr. Robert Melillo's program, so I cannot say personally that we have achieved success. But I'm positive and hopefully that it will make a difference. There are different facets to his work. One is to physically trigger just the left-brain, in H-Bob's case. (Autistic children have a right-brain disconnect and would work to connect it.) Sensory exercises make that left-brain wake up and communicate. It has become silent in the "use it or lose it" concept after originally becoming unsynchronized during the developing process. The other portion of the program is diet and getting the body nutritionally balanced. Here it is again. Start an elimination diet to figure out if there are food sensitivities and get the system off to a start with a clean slate. Interestingly he writes that these food sensitivities will leave once the brain hemispheres are reconnected. The last component is a Behavior Modification Plan which to be honest I haven't absorbed completely yet. It deals with appealing to the deficient side to reward/punish, once again to stimulate the hemisphere that needs to reconnect rather than continue to build the dominant side.

So...there's a lot here. We've started our sensory motor exercises. We've initiated our no-sugar week while keeping our food diary before starting the elimination diet next week. An boy oh boy, there's some research to be done there. I'm in a panic wondering what in the world there will be left to feed poor H-Bob. We're continuing our vision therapy. We are going to start the phonics intervention program.

There will be tears...over no-sugar items already. Next week WILL be...ugly as well. I am going to need the patience of ten thousand saints and the prayers of a multitude to get through this. But we will. And the results are bound to be worth it.

It's your turn. Advice? Comments? 

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - July 8, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week...

I have been filling my head with information on dyslexia and food allergies. Amazing how one simple discovery can dictate the route your life starts to take.

In our homeschool this week...

We have discovered which is a resource that assigns a numeric value for books in their system. It is more finely tuned than just giving a recommended grade level. I am using this to come up with reading material that is below H-Bob's current level so that we can work on her fluency.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...

Dig in deep yourself and educate yourself on the options there are for your children's education. There is no cookie-cutter approach and each one is definitely wired differently. In doing so, you will learn more about yourself than you imagined.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing...

We have one more weekend of church convention activities that will pretty much fill up our weekend, but the following week looks wide and clear. Yeah!

My favorite thing this week was...

It's great to see the garden flourishing even though the temps are moderate. Even the tomatoes are beginning to look as if they're taken to their transplanting. The peppers, maybe not. But more warm weather has been promised. We also set up our pool. Now if the weather would cooperate.

What’s working/not working for us...

I'm considering our diet. If the thought of going sugar-free for even a week sends me into a panic, it is probably a good sign that I have a little sugar addiction I should address. Big thoughts going on here in that direction.

Questions/thoughts I have...

I asked for wisdom to figure our how to best address H-Bob's dyslexia. And the books and materials that keep falling in my path deal with diet. I'm pretty sure I should grab the bull by the horn and head that direction.

Things I’m working on...

The kids should be getting exhibits ready for our county fair which is held mid-August. After our busy two weeks with church activities, that is going to become a priority. What will I be working on? Well, probably just helping them stay on track.

I’m reading...

Well Brain Allergies turned out to be focused on food addictions, allergies, and nutritional deficiencies that affect the psychiatric health of the population. But the information was startling. What gets me is that with evidence which appears so strong in books such as these, why aren't more people seeking those avenues? Are we always skeptical? Do we not trust our own gut feelings because mainstream medicine does not follow suit? More food for thought.

I’m cooking...

The brisket I mentioned last week was beyond incredible. Even though it's not our usual elk or venison, I'm going to have to purchase one every few months. Such a treat! In the meantime, we've plenty of lettuce, greens, broccoli, onions, radishes and strawberries from the garden to fill our plates with.

I’m praying for..

I'm finding answers that relate to H-Bob's learning difficulties. Now I still just need to know which path to travel first.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Want to read what others are reflecting on? Head to The Homeschool Mother's Journal hosted by The Homeschool Chick.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waffles, Anyone?

Waffles, anyone? Here what works for us...

I took my favorite waffle mix, mixed up a 6-batch bulk mix of the dry ingredients, and put it inside of a large storage container. Nothing new. I'm sure you can find something similar in a lot of kitchens.

But taking it one step further, I used my handy-dandy Dymo machine, the one I have to keep hidden from fascinated small children, to print out strips with the rest of the ingredients...egg, oil, etc...along with how much of the mix needed in order to whip up a batch of waffles. Kinda like my own personalized waffle mix. I keep referring to it as waffles because that is what we prepare mainly, but it would work just as simply for your pancake recipe. As far as that goes, the same concept would apply for any dry mix that you might keep on hand.


And if you're curious, here's the bulk recipe I use along with the individual batch guidelines:

Bulk Batch Waffle Mix

6 cups flour (I use 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour and 3 cups unbleached white flour)
6 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 tablespoons baking powder

To make a single batch of the waffles use:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons waffle mix
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons oil, or melted butter if you prefer

Put together in your mixing bowl and whisk until just combined. A few small lumps are just fine.

It works for me. It might work for you. The ticket to waffles that anyone can prepare.

I'm wondering if you keep homemade baking mixes of different types on hand. If so what unique storage and preparation ideas do you use?

Monday, July 4, 2011


Today is Independence Day. The day we celebrate freedom. I don't want to take the topic of freedom lightly. No siree. It has given our country the right to worship, to educate our children as we see fit, to have free enterprise, to elect our leaders. We can complain here and there. Yes, of course, but today we celebrate.

It's just that today I'm celebrating freedom too. I do believe I have the majority of the day to myself. Hubby and the kids are out sturgeon fishing. Just so happens that I needed to still be here to take care of the ponies next door. Oh, and I'm not too fond of using the five-gallon bucket. Don't ask. So now that that is over and done for the morning, I'm heading to the garden to catch up, while a brisket slow cooks on the Traeger for when everyone returns. So I get to experience freedom from others' schedules...freedom from the kitchen...freedom to spend some time reading with an iced coffee after I broil myself outside. It doesn't come often, so I'm going to relish it.

Hope you all have a glorious Fourth with friends and family.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Entry for July 2, 2011

Outside my window...there are clouds again. Am worried for the hay farmers that have hay cut and have it drying out in the fields at the moment.

I am thinking...that these few moments of solitude without anyone around are wonderful.

I am thankful...for our home and the property we have around us. It allows us to experience so many different things.

From the learning rooms...we will be starting some intervention phonics for H-Bob. Looks like there could be some dyslexia lurking.

In the kitchen...I plan on putting a beef brisket on the Traeger gill for Fourth of July. Can hardly wait.

I am oh so predictable comfy clothes that I religiously change into the minute I enter the house from being somewhere.

I am creating...well, if you call making jam and tending a garden creating, then that would be it. Would love to really craft though.

I am help out at our 4H goat club's concession stand fundraiser with Goat Princess today.

I am wondering...if we should put up our pool this year. With only a couple of days of 80 degrees and clouds moving in every other day, it just doesn't seem worth it.

I am reading...Overcoming Dyslexia and learning that it is not what I had perceived it to be.

I am spend Fourth of July in the garden getting some neglected stuff done before the jungle of weeds takes over. Ongoing battle for sure.

I am looking forward to...another week of church camp activities.

I am hearing...nothing but the birds outside. Beautiful silence.

Around the house...I can see that I've neglected to vacuum again. It sure doesn't take long around here to draw that to my attention.

I am H-Bob will do out on the boat all day sturgeon fishing with hubby on the Fourth. That's a long time for her to be staying put, but she's more than excited over the prospect of perhaps catching her own sturgeon. Big Guy and a friend of his will be going along as well. They should all have fun!

One of my favorite watching my to-do list shrink. Lame, I know.

A few plans for the rest of the week...include bringing a goat doe and her two kids plus one of our banty hens for the preschool aged kids at Sunday School to illustrate days 5 and 6 of creation. There are plans for goldfish and some crawdads from our creek to be there as well.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...well, not so much for thought. Just H-Bob and her little turtle she has added to her 'pet shop' collection.

Enjoy your week!

For more Daybook entries, head over to The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - July 1, 2011

I love hearing from other mothers whose journeys are similar to mine. So I'm linking up with The Homeschool Mother's Journal on Fridays.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week...

We have been attending a lot of activities put on by our church's annual convention which is held every July. Spare time has been limited. At the same time we've had kids with terrible colds, another with a head-to-toe rash, and I'm exhausted to say the least.

In our homeschool this week...

There has been enough happening here to deserve explanation and it's own blog post. We have been exploring ideas for H-Bob, our nine-year-old, from hyper temperament traits to dyslexia to right-brain learning to brain integration therapy. Very overwhelming right about now.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...

I mentioned our on-going vision therapy for H-Bob last week and am thankful that it paved the way to realize that there may be more blocked learning pathways as well. I have read Overcoming Dyslexia, Raising Your Spirited Child, have coming from the library a ton of resources on right-brain learning, and have devoured the information on Dianne Craft's website. I'm not one to jump on any wagon just passing by, but this evidence is too great to ignore.

I am inspired by...

Those who have championed for their children and turned their lives around by exploring other options for them.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing...

Goat Princess and I will be working a 4H concession stand fundraiser at a goat show on Saturday, but I'm most looking forward to a day to work at home on the 4th. Hubby is taking two of the kids on a sturgeon fishing trip. I'd love to get my garden whipped into shape. They're predicting three days of sun in a row. We'll see.

My favorite thing this week was...

Finding the time to pick a flat of strawberries for the freezer. Now to get some stuff for freezer jam and to u-pick some more.

What’s working/not working for us...

In the big picture...apparently a lot. In the details...constantly adjusting.

Questions/thoughts I have...

I certainly am bogged down with the information I have picked up regarding H-Bob's potential learning issues. The material I have come across is so enlightening and explains so many things I have noticed. But in tackling those issues, I tend to want to look at just one area at a time and resolve it before going elsewhere, such as her vision therapy. But now seeing that she needs phonics intervention, which we will start once the materials arrive, I'm also wondering about starting Dianne Craft's Brain Integration Therapy and dietary changes she recommends. But that seems like a tremendous amount of change in H-Bob's life when change is difficult for her.

Things I’m working on...

I will be putting together a new summer learning schedule for H-Bob to include the reading intervention activities that we need to start.

I’m reading...

Once I make my trip to the library to pick up my books on hold, I will have soooo many to tackle in educating myself about right-brained learning.

I’m cooking...

I've been pondering smoking a beef brisket on the Traeger.

I’m praying for..

I prayed for wisdom to find answers, now I need wisdom to determine which learning areas in H-Bob's life to tackle first.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Our oldest has been baby sitting a seven-month-old pit pull puppy. Can't say that I'm terribly fond of them, but he sure is just a big goofball.

Enjoy your weekend!

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