Category Archives: Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder

Homeschool Mother’s Journal–Amazing Spider Webs, Big Rocks, and Pompom Bunnies

Big Rock Park 3In my life this week… I saw my rheumatologist and she put me on a malaria drug. It will take 1-2 months to see if it works. Meanwhile, I’m really ready for spring. I’m not normally so gung-ho about spring, but this year, despite our mild winter, I am just ready to be done with it. I want to get our garden going and see how well our new non-genetically modified seeds do. Did you know that a lot of vegetable seeds are actually genetically modified? So many of us grow our own vegetables to avoid things like genetically modified vegetables, yet we end up growing our very own genetically modified vegetables! If you are interested in guaranteeing that your seeds are not genetically modified, you can check out this safe seed list from the Council for Responsible Genetics.Big Rock Park 1Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Today Dora and I went to a new park in our area with our friends. That is where we saw the spider web that I have pictured at the top of this post. I know it looks almost fake, but I promise its real, I even have witnesses! The photo above is of the kids climbing a giant rock. You can tell that Dora is my 5th, because not only did I let her climb the rock when it was wet and slippery, but I stood back and took photos of her climbing the rock. We did not go to the park to geocache, but as we were walking I saw a spot and said to my friend, “I bet there’s a geocache there!” So I went to check and sure enough, there was a geocache there! It was really weird, because there were tons of great places to hide a geocache at this park and I never have found a cache that I wasn’t specifically looking for. Big Rock Park 2In our homeschool this week… I tired to focus more on poetry and songs that had movement in them and Dora really responded well to them. She has adapted very well to our colored gnome days-of-the-week system and knows what our order the days/colors of the week go in and what happens on each day/color. She also has shown a sudden interest in Elsa Beskow books. We attempted a few craft projects this week. One was to make a pompom bunny. I read about this craft in several of my craft books and they all used cardboard circles to make the pompoms. We found this method to be incredibly confusing and frustrating. In fact, our pompom fell apart. So instead, I tried the method that I have seen all over Pinterest, of wrapping the yarn around your hand (I used this video tutorial for directions on how to do this). Dora loved having the yarn wrapped around her and it only took about five minutes to make each pompom. I then made some little felt ears and tied them to the pompoms. I contemplated giving the bunny some eyes and a nose, but couldn’t come up with a design I liked, plus Dora was driving me crazy with wanting to play with the bunny NOW.

Making a Pompom Bunny 1Making a Pompom Bunny 2Making a Pompom Bunny 3Making a Pompom Bunny 4

How about you? How was your week? What have you been up to? Has spring come to your neighborhood?

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.


Labels: Arts and Crafts, Nature Study, Spring, Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Mother’s Journal–Cabin Fever Sets In and I Get Another Diagnosis, Of Sorts

In my life this week… I do believe that I am beginning to go a bit mad. Dora came down with a cold last week and we have spent almost two weeks at home. Plus, Dora is a horrid child to deal with when she is sick. She won’t slow down or sleep any extra. Instead, she wants to go non-stop, as usual, but behaves irrationally cranky in the process. I finally took her to the pediatrician this week and she has tonsillitis. This is only the second time in my 21 years of parenting that I have had to deal with tonsillitis and the other time was just last month with Tertia, so it is a bit oddly coincidental. The pediatrician put Dora on antibiotics, but they don’t seem to be helping any, yet her symptoms are supposedly bacterial.imageIn other health news, I finally saw the rheumatologist. The diagnosis process is far from complete, but at this point in time I have been diagnosed with an undifferentiated connective tissue disorder. I’d love to explain a bit more about what this means, but I really don’t understand it myself, plus the rheumatologist is doing testing for more specific diseases, so this really might not be what my final diagnosis is. The rheumatologist needs to confer with my nephrologist, but the current plan will be to start me on hydroxychloroquine, which is a drug for malaria, when I go back to see her in two weeks and we are able to review my latest batch of lab results. Meanwhile, there is some concern that my liver may be damaged, which would mean that I would also need to see a hepatologist (if nothing else, I am certainly learning the names of a lot of medical specialists). Also, the bottom number of my blood pressure, which has always been very low, has been getting higher each month. I have no idea what that means, but it is not making any of my doctors happy.8th Grade CurriculumIn our homeschool this week… Dora has not done much of anything the last two weeks, but Gohan has soldiered on. He has really been struggling with the essay he had to write for his 8th grade Oak Meadow Language Arts assignment, but I think he may actually have a completed essay by tomorrow. My hair may have all turned gray in the process, but I think he is beginning to understand how to write an essay. (Famous last words!) Saxon Algebra is going fairly well, Gohan is struggling a lot with unit conversion (converting cm to yards and so forth). He understands the overall concept, but will make incredible computational errors when doing the problems. I feel that this means that his brain has to work so hard on setting up the formula, it just flounders when it comes time to solve it. He also is struggling some with the geometry aspects of the curriculum. He is almost finished with his world history studies for the year and he continues to take chemistry and chess at our local co-op. He has really enjoyed the chess class and has even begun competing in tournaments. His drama production class is halfway through and will be presenting their play to the public at the  beginning of May. I’m sad to report that he has dropped taekwondo, but am happy to report that I won’t have to fight him to attend anymore.Things I’m working on… Projects with Heather Ross fabric. I just learned, via a review of her book, Heather Ross Prints: 50+ Designs and 20 Projects to Get You Started, that you can buy some of her fabric designs from Spoonflower. They cost an arm and leg, but still are cheap compared to buying her fabric from anyone else. Plus, the overall cost of clothing made from these fabrics is still much cheaper than buying designer clothing. I bought some fabric to make matching outfits for Dora and the Waldorf doll that she received for Christmas. I also bought some fabric to make me some skirts, as I pretty much live in skirts during the summer. Sewing is not my strong suit, so I am hoping to keep these projects very simple.I’m cooking… I’ve been making a lot of soup and breads with recipes from The Waldorf School Book of Soups and The Waldorf Book of Breads. I find that both soups and breads are relatively easy ways to sneak in more vegetables and fruits to our meals. Dora has recently started resisting eating as healthily as she used to, so I am trying to be a bit more creative with her meal preparation. I doubt I’ll keep this up for long, as making soups, especially, can be very draining with all of the prep work, so I have been cooking them on Sundays. Soon my Sundays will need to be devoted to our garden though. The good news is that Dora will eat a lot more fresh produce once it starts coming straight from our garden, so I won’t really need to make soups anyway.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.


Labels: Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Happy 2013!

Happy 2013Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. We enjoyed a simple and restful seasonal celebration, which left me feeling refreshed and revved up to start the new year. I did see a nephrologist during the break. She ran numerous tests and we are awaiting the results, but in the interim, she increased the amount of supplemental potassium that I am taking every day (it only comes in prescription form, so can only be done through a doctor). I cannot tell you how much better this small change has made me feel. I am no longer having constant muscle aches, spasms, and cramps. In addition, we figured out that the secret to keeping my headaches at bay is for me to drink a LOT of water as I was passing more water than I was taking in (I need to drink about 100 ounces per day to keep up with my kidneys). So while I am not feeling 100% myself, by a long shot, I am feeling so much better since I last posted!

I am never much of one for resolutions, but this year I do plan to focus on getting back to the basics. That’s back to the basics in my food choices, my personal care items, Dora’s toys, our household, and so forth. As I mentioned before, I am trying to eliminate any and all toxins from my life, in order to take some of the load off my kidneys. This will be a long term process, but I have made a pretty decent start thus far. One thing that is complicating this process is waiting to see my nephrologist again, as depending on what exactly is wrong with my kidneys, I may have to reduce unusual things, such as protein sources, from my diet.

As I have been focusing on simplifying our lifestyle, I have found myself drifting away from using the Montessori method with Dora and drifting towards a Waldorf-inspired method of home education. This process was given a great big nudge by having Secunda move back in with us and me subsequently losing my office/homeschooling room. Space became a major issue, but also, Dora just had no interest in doing any of the Montessori materials anymore and I finally got tired of trying to get her to do them. So, over the break, I sold ALL of our Montessori materials and invested in some Waldorf books and materials. The books are mostly for me to learn how to provide a Waldorf-inspired education to Dora, something I already knew a bit about. I needed very few materials for Dora, as I had already been heading in a Waldorf-direction for several months. In addition, I actually reduced the number of toys and arts and crafts materials we have on hand, as I now have a have a higher standard about what qualifies as non-toxic than I used to. Finally, when trying to emulate a Waldorf education, one usually tries to keep the environment simple and uncluttered. So, all in all, it seems like all aspects of my life are coming together in synch right now.

I only made one change to Gohan’s curriculum and that was to switch to Oak Meadow for his language arts. I did this to make things easier for me. I no longer have to plan out every component of his language arts curriculum, as Oak Meadow has already done this for me. He will be continuing with Teaching Textbooks for math and the Cartoon History of the World series for social studies. He takes science through our local homeschool co-op. He is also continuing with his two drama classes and Taekwondo. Honestly, he is maturing so quickly right now, it just blows my mind away. After years and years of dealing with his learning disabilities, it’s like a light bulb turned on and his brain is trying to make up for lost time. I doubt I could have started him with Oak Meadow in September. Now, not only can he do a pre-packaged curriculum, he is actually working at grade level in language arts for the first time in entire his life!

How about you? Have you made any major changes to your life or homeschool for the new year?

Labels: Peg Dolls, Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A Diagnosis, of Sorts…


In previous posts, I’ve referred to me having health problems. Since my early teens, I have had various episodes of bodily weirdness, such as recurrent fainting episodes, GI problems, etc. Nothing serious would ever show up on labs and either the symptoms would pass over time or I’d just learn to live with them. In the last two years, however, my health problems have started to have a bigger impact on my daily life, limiting my ability to exercise and so forth. Also, various labs have been coming back confusingly irregular, while others have indicated that I am in perfect health. Finally, my inability to maintain my potassium levels, despite heavy supplementation, earned me a trip to an endocrinologist. After one round of labs with him, he informed me that my kidneys are dumping huge amounts of potassium and that I either had Cushing’s or intrinsic kidney disease. Today, he called to let me know that I have intrinsic kidney disease and need to get into a nephrologist in a hurry.

I’m still having a little trouble believing that after three decades of ill health, I finally have a medically documented explanation. I’d kind of lost all faith in the medical community and am still waiting for a zinger, such as the nephrologist saying that I don’t actually have kidney disease and she doesn’t know what is wrong with me or how to help me (while seeming to hint that a psychiatrist would be my best bet). At the same time, I know this is not possible, I’ve just been too sick recently and no normal person could take as much potassium as I have been taking without suffering from hyperkalemia (multiple prescription-strength tablets per day).

Anyway, I’ve been holding off on writing about this, as I do get tired of saying, “I’ve been having health problems” and never really having an answer to exactly what those health problems are. I feel that I owe you, my readers, some sort of explanation, however, as I feel that the quality of my blogging has gone done hill recently, as I have battled with lack of energy and brain fog. I haven’t even been doing as good a job of reading and commenting on other blogs, much less keeping up with Pinterest or updating Twitter, G+, or Facebook. I intend to blog next week and then take off two weeks for Christmas, my birthday, Gohan’s birthday, and New Year’s. Hopefully 2013 will find me having renewed energy and brain power.

You may also notice some other changes with my blog, however, as the last few months have caused me to question my spirituality, my values, my reasons for homeschooling, what I have accomplished with my life, what I would like to accomplish with what life I have left, and so forth and so on. Hopefully I won’t get too weird on all of you, as I’ve been having more and more episodes of feeling like my brain has been going out to “la la land” lately. This is most likely due to the fact that my kidneys aren’t filtering out enough toxins, so my brain is being poisoned.

One thing that will definitely have to change in my life, and will therefore most likely change my blog’s direction, is that I will need to start eating a lot cleaner. It’s not like I was one of those people who rushed out to stock up on Ding Dongs before Hostess went out of business or anything, but it is my understanding that I will need to adhere to a fairly strict diet that will require that my food be organic, low in protein, and free of any added chemicals. I will also be working on discontinuing my use of hair color, cosmetics, commercial skin products, and so forth.

I’m sorry if this post is way too rambling, I just am trying to be up front about things, but my current brain fog is making it a bit hard to word things as ideally as I would like.

Labels: Peg Dolls, Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff