Wednesday, 28 August 2013

100th blog post

Wow, I cant believe I have made it to 100 blog posts, in just over a year...

I feel like I should say something significant, but right now my mind is a blank.  I won't bore you with what we have been up to this week (that post is coming soon....).  Instead, I think I will just put in some photos from the last 100 posts.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog I *mostly* enjoy writing it, it lets me get a bit of perspective on what is going on in our little lives.
Heathrow airport, off on our look and see
My lovely Netmums ladies, I miss you guys 
My first car

Experiencing Mice on Main
Cutie Pie
Getting kitted out for baseball
Gappy Gosling
Paul and Uncle Tony
One of our first trips to the pool
Chilling in Orlando

Friday, 23 August 2013

Friday photos

I am hoping that by adding plenty of photos to my post, that  I won't end up writing an essay, so here goes....

Last Saturday Isaac was invited to a party at South Carolina Children's Theatre.  It was really good.  I am not a big fan of kids parties, but the lady who took charge of the kids, Tracey, was awesome.  They played a game, then had some food provided by the parents.  Tracey and her helper then took the kids off to a studio, where they rehearsed a play, and performed it for the adults about 45 minutes later.  As I say, awesome, particularly for the age group (the birthday boy was 5)

The weather here has not been too great, a little cool and very wet (stop sniggering in the UK).  Sunday we traipsed of to the zoo, as Paul had not been for months.  This is the nearest the elephants have been to the front of the enclosure.  The boys literally raced round the zoo, and had it done in 45 minutes....

 Monday, Isaac was back at school all day.  I think he is settling in to lunch and learn a bit better, though we did have an incident report form home.  Cue reward charts (pictures to come....)
Anywhoo, I digress.  Here is Oliver and Seb doing some printing/painting.  I need to get paints that pour better next week.

 Typically Seb ended up covered, and needed a change of clothes and to be sponged down in the bath...

 Yesterday was Oliver's last full day at home, so I took him for breakfast at Ihop up on the Woodruff Road.  It was very yummy, and we all cleared our plates.  Have a feeling we will be back there again soon.

 Seb found this little fine motor skills game that I had made for him yesterday. I found it here. It is literally just putting cocktail sticks into an empty ketchup dispenser.  He loved it!!!!  See how many sticks there are?  He did them all.

Then proceeded to follow me around the house with it, as he wanted to do it again and again and again.

 So I got inventive.  I had an empty spice pot, so decided to tape over the top and colour in the holes.  I then coloured 20 cocktail sticks to match the colours.  Easy, and using things I already had in the house.

Again, he loved it, and was better than I expected at matching the colors

Oliver had his orientation at school this morning.  He met his teacher and spent an hour in the class with her (there is a picture of him on his schools Facebook page!!!!).  I went to Chapel with the rest of the parents.  He seemed to enjoy it.  Thank you to Anna for looking after Seb for me.

The boys have been going on at me to do some 'scientifical experiments'.  So this afternoon we did this.  I must say, It is very clever.  The boys had great fun mixing up the colours on the milk.

Isaacs multicoloured plate, before he mixed it up too much....

Thats all for now.  Oliver is back at school next week, man has it been a looooonnnnnnnggggg holiday...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

My week on a Continuous Glucose Monitor

Last time I saw my delightful Diabetic nurse, she asked me if I wanted to try out a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for a week to see if I would like it.  I jumped at the chance.

This is a device that looks a bit like this.  This is the transmitter that attaches to your body

I had to have mine fitted towards my back, as she could not find enough flab on my belly to place it there.  It contains a very small needle inserted under the skin.  It takes glucose readings every 5 minutes, and sends these to a receiver .  I was given the Dexcom seven plus, a slightly older model (this is a trial after all).  This sensor lasts for 7 days, after which time it has to be changed with what I can only describe as an implement of torture that looks a bit like an ear piercing gun.  This was fitted to me last Tuesday. Ouch.  The specialist I met was awesome.  A Swedish lady who specializes in insulin pump and CGM fitting and education. She was very thorough and very pleasant, just like everyone  I have met here who is involved in Diabetes.    

So I got home on tuesday, and had to wait 3 hours for it to be ready to take my first blood glucose (BG).  I had to enter 2 into the receiver, it then figured out where I was 

The machine on the left is my BG testing machine, where I have to prick my finger, put blood on my test strip in the machine and wait for a read.  The one on the right is the CGM receiver.  As you can see, there is not much difference!  Over the last week this machine has been giving me pretty accurate (within 30 d/ml) BG.   It does have to be configured 3 times a day with reading taken by a finger prick test, but at least this has encouraged me to take my BG more consistently. It has been interesting to see how things have affected it, like alcohol....

Ideally, I want to be in the green area.  As you can see below, this did not happen often, something like 65% of the time.  Most of my highs tend to be in the early morning.  This is due to something called the dawn effect, and often alcohol.  This is just a sample of the 12 page report I received.  Certainly makes for interesting reading.  

I now have to decide if I want to go on one of these permanently.  The specialist I saw only deals in this, which admittedly, looks pretty awesome.  It is more accurate than what I have been wearing, has a better range ( I can be 20 feet, instead of 5 feet from the receiver, and it will still pick up a signal), and I would even be trained to insert it myself.  I don't have to go on it permanently, I can use it for a few weeks, the take a break.  The transmitter is completely water safe, and it is even safe through airport security.  The only thing is it is on me, like a little plastic bug.  Reminds me a bit of my 3 hospital stays for child birth, and having a drip in my hand.  It is also not very aesthetically pleasing, though most of the clothing I wear cover it up.  People tend to stare at us at the pool due to the volume of our children, this would just give them something else to stare at, lol!!!

The next issue is insurance.  If  we decide I want to go on this, I have a form to fill in for the specialist.  She gets in touch with the insurance company to see how much they cover.  Seeing as they only covered the insertion of the trial monitor, and then only the cost for 3 days (my specialist is awesome, and frigged it for 7 days) but not the cost of the removal appointment (the specialist frigged it under the same cost code again), I am not sure how much they would cover.  You would hope that they would realize that the short term costs well outstrip the long term complications.  But this is an insurance company...

One thing to note..... Not sure I would have been offered this in the UK.  So this has certainly been an experience.  Now I need to go away, have a good chat with Paul and a long old think.....

Friday, 16 August 2013

A few photos

Here are a few photos to show what we have been up to this week....

Wednesday, Paul had to take a car from work on a long drive to test it (hard life, I know).  He decided to drive to Charlotte, and while he was there popped into the ikea.  We needed some boxes to go in a storage system we already have, its the Trofast system, so you can either get the boxes for $3 at Ikea, or $12 on Amazon.  I spotted a few other things we needed online, so he ended up with quite a bit....

 Thursday, Oliver and Isaac did lots of activities while Seb slept.  First up water balloon phonics.  Few things to note:  it is tricky to fill water balloons if you have long nails, use electrical tape (duct tape) not Sellotape when sticking them to the fence.   That being said, the boys had a blast.  Oliver tried really hard to match the endings to the letters stuck on the fence.  Isaac was more intent on throwing the balloons with full vigor.  And they even helped pick up all the little bits of balloon when they were finished

Next up was glitter pictures.  Our peppers come from the supermarket in packs of 4 in little black styrofoam trays.  I had 2 in the cupboard.  The boys had fun squeezing out the glitter pens, but the glue was a bit trickier.  They did enjoy sprinkling the glitter (making a mess).  I think these are awesome, I almost want to make them into Christmas/greetings cards somehow.

Next up was coffee filters art work.  I adapted this craft slightly.  We have a large amount of coffee filters, having bought them from Costco ages ago.  So I got the boys to colour them, then they sprayed them.  They liked this a lot too, and did about 12.  Paul came up with the idea of making a daisy chain out of them.

As we now have the storage boxes for arranging the Lego exactly how we want it, I spent yesterday afternoon sorting it back into colors, and Paul finished it off when he came home.  This is my 'helper'.....

So the learning room is nearly finished, just the cats litter tray to be removed.  Hopefully Paul will finish the box for it this weekend.  I will post more photos once it is done. I love it in there.  I am kinda looking forward to when I only have one child at a time, so I can make full use of the settings, with age appropriate activities.  The reading corner has been set up in the office room, I need to wash the pillow cases from the spare room to add to the comfiness of the corner.  Paul will eventually make a shelf for in there too.  For now the books will go on the desk area, once I have cleared the Lego from it on to the Lego table in the learning room (thats this afternoons job....).

I have also been rearranging my Pinterest this week.  I have made a new board for kids learning.  I was finding so many pins that were so appropriate for Isaac, but not for Seb.  Once Oliver goes back to school, I will have the afternoons with Isaac, and want to use my time wisely, and not just let him watch TV the whole time.  I also rearranged my life style board into separate boards for raising children, organization and hair and beauty.  I felt slightly cleansed after this..... 

Are you on Pinterest?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Kool-Aid Play Dough, Multiplication and Lunch and Learn

Was not expecting to post again so soon, but thats just how it seems to go.  We had a fairly quiet one over the weekend, a McD's was had, and a visit to Walmart.  Plus a couple of trips to the pool in between the thunderstorms.

Isaac had his first session of Lunch and Learn at school today.  I got a phone call from his teacher at 12.05 (20 minutes after it had begun) to say he was in a state and refusing to go into the classroom.  He had been so looking forward to it, he had even sat in on a session last year to see what it was like.  His teacher and I talked about how he needed to make the transition to this scheme, to help him with the long days associated with kindergarden next year.  He was asking for me, and not wanting to go in.  It is held in the toddler classroom (or Sebbies classroom, as Isaac calls it).  She agreed to call me back once they could see if they could coax him in.  She called back at 12.40.  Apparently it was Lego that got him into the room.  He had sat down and eaten his lunch too.  I was so pleased.  When I picked him up he told me he had had a good time.  I asked him if he wanted to go back, he said yes.  At bedtime he starts saying he doesn't want to.  I tried to explain that it is practice for Kindergarden for next year. Now he doesn't want to go to kindergarden.....  I foresee a bit of a torrid time coming up, possibly like we had when he first started.  I really hope he settles, but know it is going to take time, I just hope the school can see it like that too


Today was the first day I implemented a kinda timetable for activities at home with Oliver and Seb.  Oliver loved the structure, Seb doesn't understand it yet, though I made a point of telling him what day, date and month it is, and our color, letter and number.  He was just coming and going with what Oliver and I are doing.  So first we made Kool-Aid play dough.  I got the recipe here, and Oliver helped with most of the steps, other than the water.  This is the most awesome homemade play dough I have seen.  It even smells nice.  Oliver had great fun playing with it this morning, then Seb and I played with it this afternoon.

After that, Oliver did some cutting and I did some sticking to make a book of opposites (our theme).  We then progressed on to numbers, today was 6, Oliver did some adding and subtracting, which he found very easy.  So I decided to mix it up a bit, and started him on his 6 times tables.  By six times three, he had got the gist of it, and was able to answer the rest of the 6 times table up to 12 x 6.

After this was physical time, so we went to the pool.  We came back just before lunch.  While Seb was naked, I noticed him doing a little wee dance, so I took him to the toilet, he sat on it, then the potty, and he managed his first wee out of nappies.  Admittedly, this is probably because he drinks half the pool, but he did it all the same.

Once we had collected Isaac we came home, the boys played Lego, then had computer time.  Seb decided (with my assistance) to do some selfies.  He loved it, think he likes the noise my phone makes....

Over the weekend, Paul began the construction of the cat box.  Look out for more details in a future post.  It is nothing as fancy as I originally wanted, but at least it has cost very little as it uses the off cuts from the desk.

I have an appointment at the Life Centre at Greenville Hospital tomorrow for a trial of a continuous glucose monitor to help me manage by diabetes, it is a weeks trial, so again, watch this space.

Hoping Isaac is ok tomorrow......  I hate situations like this.....

Below are just a few of Seb's selfies

Friday, 9 August 2013

Isaacs first Day of school and Consignment Sale.

I took my dad to the airport on Wednesday morning, after stopping for breakfast of course.  It was harder to say goodbye than I thought it would be, and I got a little teary on the way home.  Luckily Paul had taken the day off to look after the kids, so I was able to mooch around after my 4 1/2 hour trip.  It was great having my dad here.  He mucked in with the housework (don't think I emptied the dishwasher the whole time he was here), distracted the kids as and when required, and had a lot of fun doing it.  He enjoyed the pool, and the break away from real life.

Last supper with Granddad.
Yesterday we had a chilled day around the house in the knowledge that Isaac was going back to school today.  We lazed around the house pretty much all day, the boys only got dressed about 3.  I did get Oliver to try on his school uniform in preparation for when he starts back in 2 weeks.  His t-shirts and trousers are too short.  His shorts are far too snug around the waist, so we got Isaac to try them on.  A perfect fit!  Isaac now has shorts specifically for school, and I need to spend about $100+ on uniform for Oliver.   I only got dressed to go to the pool when Paul got back from work.  Don't think bad of me, I have weeks now of school runs, that will only get earlier when Oliver goes back to school.

Isaac went back to school today.  We were able to walk him down to his class room instead of carpool.  Seb was not at all phased about not going to his classroom (thank goodness), despite the fact we walked straight past it.  Isaac went in no bother, and we left him to it after saying goodbye.

Isaac's first day back

I had already planned to meet up with Liene and her boys so we headed into Greenville.  She had suggested we check out Switcharoos Consignment Sale at the TD Convention centre, just on the outskirts of town.  We met up inside, and headed in.  For those in the UK who don't know what a consignment sale is, it is a bit like a table top sale, though instead of manning your table, you price your items and give them to the sale organizers.  They then set up the sale, containing your items, and sell them for you.  You get 65% of the price you ask for, but have to pay a consignors fee (for this particular sale).

Anyone who has been to a conference/convention centre before knows how big these halls are.  This one was HUGE!!!! I have done a consignment sale before, but never on the scale.  It was overwhelming.  We started with the toys, then moved on to the clothes and shoes.  I then looked around the knick knack and baby section.  There was so many clothes, it was difficult to see the wood for the trees.  It also felt like a lot of items were quite over priced, and quite tatty.  We had had our fill by 10.50.  Then we noticed the size of the queue to pay, it stretched the length of the building.  We obligingly joined it.  It took a good half hour to get to the front.  There were people with washing baskets, trollies, buggies and giant Ikea bags, to name a few.

I am happy to report I got a few bargains.  I got 10 items for $43.  These included: 
a potty for Seb ( he may be nearly ready, he was most insistent on taking his shorts and nappy off the other day and getting on the toilet, about 5 or six times, didn't do anything though), 
a couple of books Lego and Spongebob  (I find the books here quite expensive, even with Barnes and Noble membership, and yes, I know they are not the cheapest), 
some Gap slip on black shoes for Oliver for school (these were a bargain, $2), 
a blanket for Isaac for his lunch and learn afternoons (they have rest time, he needs it, and it was brand new with tags), 
Cars jigsaw puzzle, 
t shirt for Isaac and Seb, 
orange Hawaiian shirt for Oliver (his choice), 
T-shirt and jeans for Oliver ( he's the one who needs the clothes, the others get plenty of hand me downs) and a 
Melissa and Doug Paper doll Puzzle set.  This looked quite awesome, but unfortunately it is missing a few pieces, not many, and it is still useable.  Think the boys will have good fun with it, especially Isaac.

I think I did quite well.  I am thinking about maybe being a consigner for next summer sales.  You get to shop first quite often, or get discounts.  By then Seb will have outgrown all his clothes from this year, and it maybe easier and slightly more profit than a garage sale or Craigslist.  We will see how I feel when it comes around next year.....

All in, a good day!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A project

Since I last posted, I have definitely come to terms with Sebastian's school decision.  So much so, that we had a 'project' weekend.  This is something we have never done before, so try and follow

We have had it in mind for a while now to turn our dining room downstairs, which contained the cat litter tray and a few big toys, into a learning room.  I had seen this on Pinterest, and when I explained it to Paul, he thought we could do similar.

See, the boys need a table to do their homework/colouring/arts and crafts/Lego on, without me having to push them off once I have to serve a meal. They have currently been using the dining table in the kitchen for all of the above.

After a few discussions between ourselves, then with my Dad's input, Paul had a list of what he needed and where to get it.  They headed to Lowe's first, to get the top for the table, and a few other bits and pieces in between.  Then to Kmart in Mauldin for the ends of the table.  But they didn't have 2, so they had to head to the Greenville branch to pick up another one.

We began construction on saturday evening.  I painted the top, 2 coats of white.  

Paul built the shelving units 

 The next day, Paul used some of the off cuts from the MDF for the top to make the supports to hold the units sturdy under the tabletop.  These were glued in place, and left to dry

Once dried, the table was turned back over, and fitted to the top of the units.  We have not fixed it permanently.  We hope the supports will be enough to hold it in place. I am hard pressed to push it off, so the boys would really struggle.  We want it like this so we can disassemble it easily if and when required.  We added a black bench we had purchased from Ikea when we first got here.  It was initially for the boys computer, but that gave up the ghost a little while ago.

Oliver testing out the unfinished product

That evening, Paul glued the edging to the top of the table.  This is to stop pens/crayon/Lego from rolling off the table.  This was left to dry over night

The finished product!!!

We are insanely pleased with this, and the boys seem to love it too.  It draws them away from the TV, and gets them engaged and using brain power. 

 Seeing as I am going to be trying to do some learning with Seb at home to help get him ready for school, I decided to add some finishing touches.  Drawing from some boards on Pinterest, I have done a timetable.  This is mainly for Seb, but it will also give Oliver and Isaac some structure to their days when they are off school.  For example, Isaac goes back on Friday, Oliver 2 weeks on Friday.  I am hoping Oliver is going to get involved with the learning room, and show Seb how things work.  All signs looking promising, so far.

I have done a sheet of A4 with 'Todays day is.....', 'Todays date is.....and 'Todays month is.....'.  This is for all 3 really.  There are laminated cards to velcro onto the laminated sheet, so the boys can change this, and I can talk to Seb about it.  On A5 laminated sheets I have done color, number, letter and topic.  Isaacs preschool in the UK did this, one of each a week and it was really good, gave them all some focus.  We may change ours more regularly though.  Again, there are laminated cards for the boys to stick on.
I had to buy a laminator.  This is such an awesome product, and I am so pleased with the results.  A real investment I feel.

 Each end of the shelving unit has open shelves and storage boxes.  All of these are labelled.  This should help Isaac with his reading.

We also have a storage shelf with boxes containing painting and arts and crafts equipment.

(Sorry the pictures are rubbish, they were taken late at night.  If you want better images just let me know!)

I am hopeful that I can get Sebastian engaged in what we have so far.  There are colouring books, notebooks, scribble books and lots of construction paper.  I also have some fake flowers, pebbles, bubbles and jigsaw type things for him to try.  It will take a bit of time to get him interested.  but I am hoping Oliver will help with this before he goes back to school.

I have also signed Seb up for some Art type classes, with kids his own age.  Give him the chance to spend some time in a social environment.  I also intend to start him at Gymboree at the beginning of September.  This will help with his gross motor skills, and again assist in his social skills.  We are going to be busy.  I am so looking forward to my mornings with Seb...

I have a board on Pinterest which I have created to help with inspiring Seb.  This isn't just about educating him.  It is getting him involved with his environment, helping him know what is expected of him, and hopefully bringing his speech on a bit more.  

We have a few more plans.  We want to make something like this, but a bit more basic, so we can move the litter tray into the office room.  I would also like to make one of the corners in the learning room into a book nook.  This would take the boys books from the play room, where there is the distraction of the TV, into a nice quieter environment.

Lots of fun to come!!!!!