Thursday, January 31, 2013

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 228

Yesterday Jemma began her final phase of intensive chemotherapy. Phase 2B began with an overnight stay in the hospital followed by a lumbar puncture in the morning. She has to take Thioguanine pills at home throughout the phase and visit the hospital four days per week to receive Alexan shots through her catheter.  If all goes well the phase will only last two weeks.

Extracting blood from Jemma's catheter continues to be a problem. Although it hasn't been confirmed, the nurses and doctors believe that the opening of her catheter lies inside her body next to the wall of a vein. Think of trying to drink through a straw when the end is plugged, because it is close to fruit or ice in the glass. Air or water goes into the drink through the straw, but getting liquid out is a problem.

Yesterday when it happened Jemma was very cooperative changing her body position while they tried to take blood. (She didn't want another finger prick.) Unfortunately only a little blood came out which was not enough for the blood test. Instead of giving her the blood thinning medicine, she was given an iv drip. Thirty minutes later the blood came out.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lacy Pink Kid Sweater - Knitting

This is the fourth sweater I made from Little Sweet Peas. I love the lacey designs for girls and the cable knit designs for boys. Although this is the fourth sweater I made from this book, it’s only the third design. This is the second time I made this sweater. The directions called for six balls of yarn which was exactly what I had and exactly what I used. I have never come so close to running out of yarn, but having enough to complete the project.

The finished sweater fit beautifully, but there was one thing I found quite awkward with the design. The front portion where the buttons and button holes are placed was cast on at the beginning, but knitted at the end. The five or so stitches on each side were placed on stitch holders while the front and back were knitted. The long strip then required a seam all the way up on both sides of the sweater to attach it. I had forgotten about this, but if I was going to create this sweater for the third time I would definitely knit these stitches in place while I was knitting the front and back.

So she really does like the sweater despite the look she gave me for the photo. I finished it up during Day 211 of her Leukemia treatment and snapped the picture after the doctor called us back to the hospital for additional medicine. Knitting really helps me pass the time and gets my mind off Leukemia during her chemotherapy.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Origami Boxes

Each week at the hospital the kids in the cancer ward do a crafty project. It must be a challenge for the instructors because the project needs to be interesting for children ranging in age from 3-18. When my 5 year old made this box she worked next to a 14 year old girl and 10 year old boy. All the kids were very focused on their work.

Each child began with a sheet of square paper 24 inches x 24 inches, which they painted however they wished. Then they followed these Origami Box Instructions to fold their paper into a box. To make the bottom of the box they used a sheet of plain colored paper about 1 inch smaller than the top.

This post is linked to: 
Monday Kid Corner
The Chicken Chick
Keeping it Simple

Monday, January 28, 2013

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 225

Sometimes the blood doesn't come out of Jemma's catheter and that's a big problem. Her catheter is used to give medicine and take blood. Basically it's a long-term iv that is inserted directly into her heart. The catheter must be cleaned internally at least once per week. This is done by the nurses squirting a saltwater type of fluid into the tube.

Sometimes catheters are positioned inside the vein in such a way that the end opening is blocked by the vein wall. This could create a blood extraction issue. Sometimes platelets grow over the end of the tube and act as a one way valve. In that case fluid could go into the catheter, but would be difficult to withdraw.

In the past when blood hasn't come out of the catheter Jemma tries to change her body position while the nurses are trying to take blood. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. Then other nurses and doctors give it a try. Again sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. Then they inject a medicine in the catheter to break-up the blockage. The medicine can stay inside the catheter between one and twenty-four hours. In the past they have left it in for one hour and then tried to take blood again. Each time this has been successful.

Unfortunately the medicine isn't especially good for the body, so using it each time blood is required is undesirable. Since Jemma had the medicine last week, the doctors decided to investigate further this week when blood did not come out. She had an ultrasound of the heart and an x-ray. The conclusion was the catheter was positioned correctly and there were no platelets blocking the entrance. Perhaps the platelets were too minimal to be seen on the ultrasound.

She was given the medicine again and this time it was left in overnight in hopes that it would work better. Unfortunately all this investigation took the majority of the day and her finger had to be pricked to get the necessary blood. When we returned to the hospital Saturday morning the blood came out just like it was supposed to.

Today we visited the hospital again for another blood check and everything worked fine. Jemma is currently on a break from chemotherapy and between phases 2A and 2B. Her blood is slowly rebuilding itself and if she has over 500 neutraphils on Wednesday she will begin phase 2B with an overnight stay.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ancient Greece History Co-op - Week 14 - Sculpture

Week 14: We created Greek sculptures.

Phidias is the most famous Greek sculptor from the classical period of Ancient Greece. He lived during the 5th century BC and created Athena which stood in the Parthenon in Athens, and Zeus which sat in the Temple of Zeus in Olympia.

Before the 4th century all sculptures of Greek women were required to be clothed. After the 4th century there was an explosion of nude women sculpture. That's one way archaeologists date ancient Greek artwork.

We watched this video to learn how Greek sculpture influenced art.

Then we created our own Greek sculptures from zucchini.

 This is what we started with.

 These were the carving tools.

 The kids peeled the zucchini and cut off the ends before carving.

 Carving zucchini is very difficult.

Can you guess which one is supposed to be Zeus?

To read more about our homeschool history co-op activities click on Homeschool History under Homeschooling Topics on the right-hand side of the blog, or one of the cultures below.
Ancient China 
Ancient Greeks

Check out these great blog hops for more educational activity ideas. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Flower Pony Tail Holders

It's a little ironic that my child who lost all her hair due to Leukemia treatment is sewing flower pony tail holders.

A few months ago she received a wig which is actually part of her dance costume. The wig contains two thick braids and these are perfect for the bottom of the braids. She also plans to use them when her hair grows back.

This is an excellent beginning sewing project. My daughter is only five and can now make them completely on her own. This summer when my mom stayed with us to help out during the initial phase of treatment, she taught the girls to sew yo-yo flowers. They have used them to decorate shirts and headbands and even made a doll completely out of yo-yo flowers.

We do tons of sewing and crafting projects. To see more of them please visit our craft page.

This post is linked to: 
Saturday Show and Tell

37 FREE Online Art and Music Resources by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Homeschool Without Traditional Art by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Draw What? by TechWife @ A Playground of Words
Flower Pony Tail Holders - Beginning Sewing Projects by Julie @ Highhill Education
Seeking Beauty- Virtual Curriculum Fair by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me
Creating an Artsy Homeschool, even if you're not by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness
Living with an Artsy Boy by Annette @ A Net In Time Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 4- Seeking Beauty: The Arts and Everything That Brings Beauty to Our World by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Friday, January 25, 2013

Leukemia - You are not alone

When going through a crisis it is very normal to feel alone. Since Jemma began treatment I have been contacted by several families with relatives receiving Leukemia treatment. Although they are scattered around the world and Leukemia is a rare illness, illness and sickness is unfortunately all too common.

When one person goes through a long-term illness, it can effect several others. There are many people who have a family member who has gone through cancer treatment, been through bed rest with a pregnancy, born a premature infant, suffered a stroke, been faced with kidney disease or recovered from a heart attack. I can personally name friends who have dealt with each of the medical issues I mentioned above.

Although the medical issues and treatments are quite different, they all can have similar effects on family members. We worry about how everything will turn out, struggle to keep up with housework, and accept help caring for children. No medical emergency is easy to deal with, and it's hard to cope when life is out of our control. But so many people have been through tough times and they do understand. Some people are good listeners, some good cooks, some good friends and some are just all things good. Many people offer help because they have had difficult times in their own past and remember those who helped them. Accepting help can be very difficult. It is for me, but accepting help does make things easier.

If you are going through a family crisis just remember, you are quite the opposite of alone. The Chicken Chick

Hobbies and Handicrafts - Jan 25

What have your kids been doing? "Hobbies and Handicrafts" is a weekly link-up to share and show-off your kid's projects. Woodworking, knitting, crochet, weaving, paper airplane design, painting, drawing and so many more...... During school time, or when kids are finished - what are they spending their time on? Are they practicing instruments? Constantly crafting? Writing plays? Inventing new things? There are many blog-hops to share pre-school crafts, and many for adults. This one is for kids. Show-off their projects and talents!

Hand constructed furniture, needlepointed pillows, hand-made baskets, beautiful and creative photos, homemade videos...... Kid hobbies of any type are fair game. This is their chance to shine. What did they choose to make? What patterns/books/tools did they use? How did they get the idea? What inspired them?

Feel free to link-up a post you've already written and comment on the posts of others! I’m excited to see what your kids are doing.

  • Link-up to your post URL
  • Include a link back to this page in your post – You can grab the button below
  • Check out what others have seen

The kids at Coombe Mill have been busy making bird feeders and bird watching. Check it out!

What have your kids been up to?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 221

"I don't have a thirty dollar bill." - That's my favorite Jemma quote of the week.

We returned home from the hospital Tuesday afternoon and are scheduled to go back on Friday morning for a blood check. Although Jemma's fever was gone when we left, her immune system was still very low. She only had 100 neutraphils which means she could easily get another fever. On the other hand, her immune system has been this low before and she hasn't had any major issues.

Since I was gone for several days we are a bit behind on our school work and working hard to catch up. Yesterday was project today and today we did lot of reading, writing and math. I'm not too worried about getting behind. The kids can do around 75% of their work on their own which means they are only behind on things we do together. Maybe we will get to read a story or two on Saturday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

French Toast

It has been a long time since I cooked with the kids. The other day they asked if they could cook again on Friday afternoons. I thought that was a great idea.

My son searched Rodal's Basic Natural Foods Cookbook and decided to make french toast.

The recipe was interesting because the bread was coated with sesame seeds and wheat germ.

I was impressed by the way my son read the directions and figured out what to do.

Eating french toast with yogurt was new too me. I loved it! The yogurt made it not too sweet and I thought it was some of the best french toast I've ever tasted.

I hope the kids want to make this meal again.

Tuesday Tots
* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Learning Shapes

Playing is a fun way to learn anything, and learning shapes is no exception. We recently played with our Mega Magz, 130-Piece Magnetic Construction Set - 66 bars and 64 balls while talking about different shapes for math. We built and talked about two dimensional shapes such as equilateral triangles, isosceles triangles, squares, rhombus and hexagons. We quickly moved onto three dimensional shapes such as cubes and pyramids.

She built a hexagonal cube.

Then my older daughter couldn't resist the magnetic builders and they made "spinnys". First they built large equilateral pyramids with a handle to spin them.

Then they built pentagonal cubes, hexagonal cubes and several more. This magnetic building set is a toy which has entertained all my children at several different phases throughout their development.

Check out these great blog hops for more educational ideas.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
 ** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 218

We're back in the hospital, but everything is alright. Most children going through Leukemia treatment develop a fever which requires hospitalization at the end of Phase 2A.

After I left you all hanging and worried on Thursday night my husband and I spent two sleepless nights monitoring Jemma's temperature. Her fever was below 101.3 and so she wasn't required to receive antibiotics and be hospitalized, however it was around 100 degrees F which was significantly higher than normal. Since she had a very low immune system we knew that if she did get sick it would happen extremely quickly. I tried to sleep first while my husband took Jemma's temperature every 20-30 minutes, and then he tried to sleep while I monitored Jemma. This went on for 36 hours - very stressful.

On Saturday her temperature was still around 100 degrees F, she still told me she felt fine, and her breathing was still normal. However, she was a little cold and sleeping more than the prior two days. We went to the hospital for a blood check and were admitted.

Her immune system went from low on Thursday to zero on Saturday, her fever was mild, and the infection level in her blood was slightly elevated. Rather than wait a few hours until the infection took over, she was admitted and given antibiotics via the iv. In addition, she received another dose of the medication she received on Thursday to combat blood coagulation problems and prevent thrombosis.

On Saturday when we came to the hospital my eleven year old was away at a dance competition, my husband was working and my son was home. He spent about seven hours with us at the hospital. Surprisingly, in the seven months since Jemma has had Leukemia, this was the first time he had to come, and the first time he really got to see what goes on here.

Although he was ready to leave after the first hour, being here benefited him greatly. He saw the doctor's take blood from Jemma's catheter and shoot it into bottles to test for infection, before learning about hospital food and how to play the card game Gin. He took over my computer to build a house using Google Sketch-Up, and when all that fun ran out he learned how to work Jemma's bed. Seven hours was plenty for him, but I'm glad he was able to come with us. I knew it would happen sooner or later.

Now that's she's been on antibiotics for a while her fever is back to normal. Since we came at the very beginning of her infection she recovered quickly. She seemed quite normal even on Saturday.

Perhaps the best news of all is that her steroids are wearing off a little more each day. She actually tried her dance today. She hasn't done this for about six weeks and it was a little too soon. She fell down while dancing and had to stop. Her legs are physically not ready to dance. Her strength has deteriorated since her nerves were so effected by the medications. Although it was sad watching her fall, I was elated that she tried.

Another sign of the steroids wearing off is Jemma's smile. We saw it yesterday. It's truly been a long time since we have seen this side of Jemma's personality. She was showing one of her favorite nurses how Hedgie looks with a pushed in nose. (All of her favorite nurses are male by the way.)

I'm not sure when we will get to go home.  That all depends on how long the infection level in her blood takes to decrease, but that typically takes between three to five days.

Sorry this post is a bit late. I managed to use all my internet megabytes today and had to wait until midnight to post when my account was reset.
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