Saturday, June 30, 2012

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 13

Today Jemma and I learned how to play two new German games.

The first one called Zicke Zacke Huhnerkacke, is a fun variation of memory. The goal is to be the first player to fill your chicken with four tail feathers. Tail feathers are earned when you jump over another person's hen. To move around the circle of eggs players must flip over the octogon shaped card in the middle with a picture matching the picture on the next egg. If the picture matches, the hen moves and the player gets another turn. Guess who won. - Let's just say I'm pretty sure we will play this game again tomorrow.

The second game we played, called Ticketack, is a game which introduces the concept of telling time. The goal is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards. Cards are played to advance the coo-coo around the clock so he reaches the time shown on the clock. This game was ok, but I don't think Jemma will want to play it again.

These are the pills Jemma had to take for breakfast. There are six in total, but only four different medications. I took this picture because I am still in shock that my healthy little girl requires so many medications. The blue and white pill is diflucan and taken to prevent fungus infections each Saturday and Sunday. The yellow pill is partozolzo and is to protect her stomach from all the medications she has to take. The 1/2 and 1/4 pills are both steroids. She takes these several times per day as part of her current treatment. The two white pills are antibiotics she takes on Saturdays and Sundays to prevent pneumonia. These were only her breakfast pills. She had more at lunch and dinner.

Perhaps all the medications and her Leukemia is the reason she looked like this for several hours this morning. She just didn't have the energy to get out of bed.

Luckily she got an energy boost in the afternoon. Excited by a visit from some friends and daddy, she went outside for another bike ride. The bike ride wore her out and she sat, played and ate for the rest of the day.

When someone close to you is in the hospital I think the felling of helplessness is very common. What is most desired is to be able to cure or speed up the healing process to the ill or injured person. Unfortunately all too often, and in Jemma's case this is an unobtainable goal. For her, the treatment plan is very well laid out and now must be followed. No matter what we want or do, we are not able to speed up this process. Almost everyone I know and even people I don't know have offered us help. Fortunately what we can do is make the journey through treatment easier for Jemma, and we are so lucky because help comes in many forms. We have received meals, visitors, postcards, get well cards, well wishes, gifts, visitors, medical consultations and help caring for our older two children. Despite this, three of the people that are helping the most expressed feelings of helplessness today. To those three people and all the rest of you who share this emotion, please don't be so hard on yourselves. You are helping, and Jemma is getting better. Unfortunately we must be patient while she moves through her treatment plan. Thank you all very much for all the help you have given us. It truely does help.

Hip Homeschool Hop Button 

Stiegl Brauerei

 Beer is one of the oldest known beverages and is part of many European traditions. It is available nearly everywhere; sporting events, festivals and even school events (served to adults attending). There are no open container laws and I have even seen young people with glasses of beer in the grocery store during big festivals. We traveled to Austria with our beer-drinking grandpa, and couldn't pass up the brewery tour. I was pleasently surprised by how educational it was.

Salzburg, Austria is the home of Mozart, The Sound of Music and Stiegl Beer.

 The tour began with displays of grains used to produce different types of beer, and the process of production.

For many centuries beer was stored and transported in wooden barrels. A cooper is the name given to the craftsman who makes barrels. There was an extensive exhibit concerning barrel construction and history.

We saw several different historic machines. I believe this one was used for cleaning barley.

Before computers records were kept by hand. We were able to see a replica of an old office.

We also learned about the orgin of Radler. Radler is beer mixed with lemon soda. Many Germans love it. Personally I find it really bad. Anyway, the word rad translates to wheel and a Radler is a bicycle cyclist. Here's the story. A hotel/tavern owner was supplying refreshments at the end of bicycle race when he found he didn't have enough beer to go around. Not wanting to loose business he mixed the beer with lemon soda and told the cyclists it was a special drink just for them. It was less potent than beer and therefore the riders would find their ride home easier and straighter. Well they liked it and Radler is now bottled and sold in stores.

After the tour grandpa got his beer.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 12

The above photo does a pretty good job at explaining our morning and early afternoon. Today Jemma had another lumber puncture. This was the second time this procedure was done and there will be several more (approximately 12). The doctors use this method to inject chemo into her spinal fluid. So far the Leukemia has not been detected in her spinal fluid, but this is a standard part of treatment. During the procedure she was given anestetic, and she had to lay with her feet up for the following hour.

While laying down I was able to read her several books and then she decided to draw a picture while I finished the socks I was knitting for her. This is actually the first pair of socks I have knitted, and they were a bit tricky since I only had a pattern for an adult. Luckily they seem to fit, but if I make them again I think I will add a few more stitches.

Once the lumber puncture was finished she had to remain on the IV while she was given another type of chemo. Around 2:00 the nurse came back and disconnected her, and we were then free to venture outdoors. 
Jemma had a special request today. She wanted her bike. Since her energy was so low yesterday I was expecting the same thing, but was thrilled she wanted to ride. Although her stamina is no where near where it was before she got sick it was much better than yesterday. She did a short loop around some hospital buildings and thought it was so funny that my husband and I had to run to keep up with her. I'm also happy to report that she didn't have any mouth pain today. The doctor said it was probably just a scratch which was irritated by sour foods.

Notice how Jemma is dressed in the above photo. The temperature was 86 degrees F. It was sunny and hot. Since being diagnosed with Leukemia she is constantly complaining of being cold. Where as before I was the one wearing all the clothes. This is because the hemoglobin levels in her blood are not normal due to her Leukemia and treatment. Grandma - please send more beautiful hand knitted sweaters. She is wearing them constantly!

Leukemia - Upcoming Treatment Plan

It has been about two weeks since Jemma was diagnosed with Leukemia. Now I'm beginning to understand the impact that this disease will have on my family. As I mentioned earlier she is at the beginning of a 2-3 year treatment plan. I recently had a chat with the doctor to discuss Jemma's treatment after we leave the hosital. Here is my summary of her upcoming treatment as I understand it now.

Current Treatment (know as protocol 1A) approximately June 18 - July 22
35 days of hospitalization
Jemma receives 5 lumbar punctures, 3 bone marrow withdraws, steroids and chemo plus other medications such as antibiotics

Protocol 1B approximately July 23 - Aug 20
4 weeks in duration
2 overnight stays at the hospital
hospital visits 4 mornings per week
Jemma receives 2 lumbar punctures and chemo plus other medications

Protocol M approximately Aug 21 - Oct 15
8 weeks in duration
3 overnight stays at the hospital ever other week
Jemma receives 4 lumbar punctures and chemo plus other medications

Protocol IIA approximately Oct 16 - Nov 11
4 weeks in duration

2 full day doctors visit per week
Jemma receives lumbar punctures, steroids, chemo and other meds

Protocol IIB approximately Nov 12- Dec 4
3 weeks in duration

2 overnights at the hospital
hospital visits 4 mornings per week
Jemma receives lumbar punctures, chemo and other meds

Maintenance - 1.5 to 2.5 years
chemo pills at home
blood checks at the hospital once per week
other meds?

The above schedule assumes all goes well. The chemo will destroy her immune system and she will be very vulnerable to illness. If she has a fever she will need to be in the Oncology ward within 1 hour and hospitalized immediately. I will have to take her temperature every morning and evening just to check.

The schedule above does not include the numerous checks she had last week to determine how all her systems and organs function. The ear/nose/throat doctor said we would be back in four weeks. I would assume it is the same with all the others. She will have more of these checks, but I'm not yet sure how frequently; kidneys, brain, eyes, nose, throat, heart, and probably a few I forgot.

Teaching "Good" Eaters - Guest Post - Historical Food Adventures

I was asked by Julie at Teaching Good Eaters to do a guest post. I actually turned her down very quickly as I received her request just after my daughter Jemma was diagnosed with Leukemia. Several days later I began to see a great improvement in my daughter's health and I wrote her back asking if I could still do it. Blogging is part of my normal routine. My daughter is improving, but is very sick and spends a lot of time sleeping. For me, anything I can do that makes me feel normal and keeps my mind from worry is helpful. So here is what I wrote for Julie.

Hi - My name is also Julie. I'm Julie from Highhill Homeschool. This is the first guest post I've ever done and I'm super excited that it is here on Julie's Teaching Good Eaters blog. I have tried many of her recipes with my family and they have all been "likes". In my house we have food adventures in three main ways. The kids select recipes and follow the directions to prepare different foods a few times per month. We live in Europe and like to try the local specialities when we travel. As part of a history co-op. we prepare and enjoyed cultural/historical feasts to match the historical group of people we are studying. I would like to share some of our historical feasts with you today.

So far we have studied the Celts, Vikings, Scythians and Ancient Chinese. For each group of people we have had food adventures.

When we studied the Celts we actually had food adventures two weeks in a row. The Celts ate apples, barley, millet, onions, fish, cheese, milk, garlic, wheat, deer and nuts among other foods. The first week we talked about their diet, tried grinding grain into flour and then made oat cakes and a drink with apples. The second week each family made-up a Celtic recipe from the list of foods the Celts ate. The kids loved trying all the new foods.

Next we studied the Vikings. For the Viking feast the kids made their own butter and worked together to create a pot of stew. Each child was responsible for adding one ingredient to the stew. There were onions, parsley, fish, carrots, spices and more. Since the Vikings liked to drink mead that was served too. (a kid version of course).

The Scythians were a group of horseman that lived on the plains of central Asia in countries now know as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and western China. They relyed on their horses for everything including food. For the Scythian feast we went out to a Himalayian restaurant as it was the closest we could come at the time. Then, when we were on vacation in Italy we actually had the chance to try horse meatballs. They tasted a lot like beef. We liked them and went back the next day for round two. Since studying the Scythians and visiting Italy I have learned that there is a horse butcher located near us in Germany, and they serve horse meatballs at a local beer hall.

In conjunction with the Ancient China history co-op we had a tea party and made sushi. We learned about the traditional tea ceremony and then tried our best to duplicate it.

My father used to own his own business. He once told me that the more senses you can involve in lessons, the more information will be retained. I think he's right. I know the kids remember those horse meatballs, the taste of their own butter and that delicious Viking stew. They have really enjoyed our historical food adventures while learning about cultures of the past.

This post is linked to: 
TGIF Linky
Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons 
Show and Share Saturday

I Saw it on Vacation - Week 20 - June 29

What have you seen on Vacation? "I Saw it on Vacation" is a weekly link-up for kids and adults to learn about geography. Many of us have been to exciting places and seen unique things. Let us dream about future vacations while we learn more about our world!

Corn fields in Iowa, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan, grizzly bears in Alaska…….monuments, landmarks, national parks, geographical features of any type are fair game. It doesn’t even really need to be a vacation. Your post could be about your local climate, or the traditions of your region. If the post shows photos of mountains and big horn sheep in Colorado, or explains hurricanes in the south it’s applicable. Just make sure it is kid-friendly and geography related.

Feel free to link-up a post you've already written and comment on the posts of others! Please link your post on the weekly I Saw it on Vacation blog-hop post and on the I Saw it on Vacation page. I’m excited to see what you have seen!
  • Link-up in two places;
    - Weekly I Saw it on Vacation blog-hop post below so we can see what’s new
    - I Saw it on Vacation Page – If you don’t see your territory send me a email so I can add it. jmommymom @ gmail . com
  • Follow me and I will follow back. Leave me a comment to let me know.
  • Link-up to your post or your main URL if your entire blog is dedicated to one place
  • Include a link back to this page in your post – You can grab the button below
  • Optional: Include the “I Saw it on Vacation” button on your side bar so others can join
  • Include the location and a short description of what you saw in your link up.
  • Check out what others have seen

If you would like to see what we have seen, check out German Living Topics, European Countries and European Living Topics on the side bar.

Last week I mentioned that I miss the Lake Michigan beaches and friends and family. Well, I'm not homesick, but I also miss American holidays. Especially Thanks Giving and the Fourth of July. I love watching kids decorate their bikes and enjoying parades. Have fun at your bar-b-ques next week!

What have you seen?

Highhill Homeschool

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 11

Today we played two fun games which are great for number recognition and learning to count.
Last night a visitor taught us how to play this German game called Mensch ärgere dich nicht. The name translates to something like Don't let people bother you. This is a common game in German pre-schools. Players try to be the first one to get all their pegs to their home base. If one player lands on another player's peg that peg must start over. This happens frequently - hence the name of the game. There is probably a similar American game. Maybe Sorry?

Jemma taught me how to play the second game. She said she played it in pre-school with her French teacher. The goal is to be the player with the tallest clown. On the picture below you can see sketches of dice on the right-hand side of each piece. The play starts by organizing the game pieces into groups with the same dice sketch. (ones together, twos together, etc..). Players take turns rolling the dice. At each turn the player works to build his/her clown by selecting a card matching the number on the dice. When all players have their clowns built they are measured to see which one is the tallest.

Today Jemma had very low energy. Her expression while playing the clown game really explains how she felt. We went outside to see the helicopters again, but she was ready to go after only about 10 minutes of sitting on the bench. She cried when she had to walk the short distance from the bus stop to her building. I offered to carry her, but she didn't like that idea either. Once we returned to the oncology ward we spent most of the day in the room. She spent a lot of time coloring and playing a prime number game on the i-pad.

She complained about pains in her mouth while eating. The chemo destroys mucus membranes and cuts or scrapes can be very painful. Think of spilling lemon juice on a cut. The doctor says it's pretty early in her treatment for this complaint and it could get worse. One of the medications she is taking causes strange sensations in the legs because it causes muscles and nerves not to work properly. The longer the medicine is taken, the worse the symptoms. This hasn't been too much of an issue yet, but she also complained of foot cramping. 

On a good note, her appetite is huge. The steroids are making her hungry and she has been filling up on healthy foods; raspberries, green juice, cucumbers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, meat, pasta and yogurt. She has been able to go and hasn't yet needed the stool softeners.

Tomorrow morning Jemma will have another lumbar puncture. This means she will be given anesthetic, the doctors will put medicine into her spinal fluid and they will check her fluid for blasts (bad white blood cells).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leukemia - Crafting in the Hospital

Jemma and I both enjoy sewing and crafting activities. Today we sat in her bed like this for a few hours. She sewed her pencil holder kit together, I knitted and she talked a lot. It's funny, because Jemma doesn't talk much to people here in the hospital, or to anyone she doesn't know very well. She misses her siblings and has a lot on her mind. You may think she is thinking about being in the hospital, but that is really what the adults are thinking about. Jemma is thinking about sending her brother junk email, wondering if her sister will like her pencil case because it is pink and girly, confirming that 9+9 is indeed 18, asking how the doctors know how to put tubes into hearts, and wondering which dress looks the most like one Fancy Nancy would wear. Oh to have the mind of a 5 year old!

I love these cute sewing kits for kids. They are such a great way for them to learn to sew and make great gifts. The kit Jemma put together today was from a German friend. She did similar projects at home before coming to the hospital. With the Build-a-Bear sewing kit she made her own stuffed bear. It was made from felt with pre-punched holes for easy sewing. The purse below is another similar project to the one Jemma did today.

Although the kits are great, chatting with your child is extra special.

* 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.

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 10

Jemma is happy, but very low on energy. When she is awake she wants to spend all her time doing activities that require sitting such as coloring and sewing. She is on lots of medications and they are starting to take there toll on her.

Even though she is low on energy, we did make it outside again. The facility we are in is very large. It takes me 30 minutes to run the loop around the hospital in the morning. This afternoon we took the hospital bus up the hill to the helicopter landing pad. Today we were in luck, because we got to see a helicopter take off.

In the hospital Jemma had her bandages from surgery changed. Next week she will have her stitches removed.

Speed! - Patterns in the Cards - Diagonals Part 1

This is the fifth post in an extension of the Speed! Patterns in the Cards posts. - I created the fun card game Speed! to teach multiplication. It uses skip counting to teach children to multiply and how to multiply faster. The series of Patterns in the Cards blog posts are meant to show some activities that can aid in number sense development using the Speed! cards. 

Cool patterns become visible when two decks of Speed! cards are placed one on top of the other matching numbers. Last week we found that if the top deck was Two Speed and the base deck was an odd number the resulting pattern would look like a checkerboard.

Additional Activities from last week
If you tried the additional activities from last week you should have seen more checkerboards.

Base Deck      
Seven Speed       
Nine Speed

Top Deck = Two Speed

You will also get a checkerboard pattern by placing Four Speed on top of Six Speed and Six Speed on top of Nine Speed.

Diagonals Part 1
Do you think there are any combinations of decks that will result in a diagonal pattern? Actually there are several and there are many different diagonals that can be produced.

In many, but not all instances when Four Speed is the top deck, the resulting pattern is a diagonal to the bottom left. Let's experiment with Five Speed as the bottom deck.

First lay Five Speed, the base deck out like this.

- Now get out Four Speed and find the cards the two decks have in common (20 and 40). If the two decks were extended they would also conatin the common cards 60, 80, 100 and so on.
- Lay the common cards from Four Speed on top of the corresponding Five Speed cards.

The resulting pattern should look like this.

Which other bottom decks do you think will produce a diagonal when Four Speed is the top deck?

Bottom Deck
Two Speed
Three Speed
Five Speed
Six Speed
Seven Speed
Eight Speed
Nine Speed

Paperback Swap

Paperback Swap is my favorite way to evolve a home library. Since we live in Germany our selection of books in English is somewhat limited. The library on the base tends to have books with recent copyrights, there is a thrift store that has a decent collection, and there is a book store on the base. Of course I also order books through Amazon.

Paperbackswap is for trading books and membership is around $20 per year. After getting an account members type in the ISBN #'s of the books they are willing to send to someone else. It costs around $2.50 to mail a book. Each time a book is received, the member who sent the book receives one credit. One book costs one credit.

The key to trading books this way is patience. It can take several months for books to be requested. In addition, popular books that are requested can have long waiting lists. If you are interesting in evolving your at home library this is a great way to do it.

Check out these great blog hops.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Leukemia - How is Jemma? - Day 9

Yesterday at 3:00 in the afternoon Jemma was disconnected from the IV machine. She hasn't had to be hooked back up yet, so we were able to spend more time outside today. This time instead of riding in an ambulance to an appointment we were able to walk. She had her ears, nose and throat checked and the doctors said everything was normal. When we were leaving the test she said to me "Mom, I couldn't hear the beep every time but I knew it was coming so I just put the peg in anyway."

Many of you have asked how the food is in the hospital. In my opinion it is alright. Above is a before and after picture of our breakfast. The hospital gives us the food on the left, then we add lots of vegetables and remove some undesired food and end up with the meal on the right. I forgot to include the orange in the second photo. In case you're wondering, the gold thing in the wrapper on the plate in the left is meat spread.

I have a juicer which I brought here to the hospital. The green juice was made from the above photo. Today's version had celery, spinach, tomato and yellow pepper. Jemma sometimes gives some resistance to drinking juice, but usually ends up drinking it. I try to give her the vegetables for the meal first while I gather the bread and eggs. This usually helps her to eat most of the veges.

For lunch they serve more typical German fair. Although it is still a bit light on vegetables for me, both Jemma and I find it very good. Each afternoon a sort of buffet cart is brought to the ward. It typically contains, two types of potatoes, soup, meat such as turkey or bratwurst, cooked vegetable and pasta. The dinners usually consist of three slices of bread, deli meat and cheese, and a pickle or tomato. Again we try to eat the parts of the meal from the hospital that we find the healthiest and suppliment with fresh foods brought by my husband and friends.

I am so lucky my husband has been an awesome support through this whole crisis. Each night I email him a list of things I would like to have at the hospital. It looks something like this:

2 pairs of pants for me
2 shirts for Jemma
1 fresh towel
1 cucumber
1 package yellow and red tomatoes
cranberry juice
prune juice

He has gone to the grocery store almost every day before visiting to bring us these items which have allowed us to suppliment the hospital menu. Today he had an extra challenge. I asked for specific knitting needles, and he was able to find the ones I wanted.

He has not only done that, but he has been dealing with the insurance company. So far he has spent several hours (8+) on the phone with hospital billing personnel and insurance employees. Tonight he was optimistic that the short term details have been mostly worked out.
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