Thursday, November 28, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 14 Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a great day with your loved ones.

Finger Stamp Place Cards
Thanksgiving Turkey Traditions at the White House

How to Create a Fabulous Thanksgiving Centerpiece:



A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Every year, the kids & I watch the Peanuts Thanksgiving special. Since it has been around for 40 years, I'm guessing I don't have to provide a description.












The Thanksgiving Visitor
Description from Goodreads:
Another masterpiece by the great American writer, Truman Capote, is brought to an audience of all ages. Buddy and his closest friend, his eccentric elderly cousin, Miss Sook--the memorable characters from Capote's A Christmas Memory--love preparing their old country house for Thanksgiving. But this year, there's trouble in the air. Full color illustrations.
Thanksgiving Rules
Description from Goodreads:
A young boy explains the rules for getting the most out of the Thanksgiving holiday from the early bird gets the turkey to life is sweeter when you eat sweets. But even after eating his way through the buffet table, he leaves readers with the true recipe for a perfect Thanksgiving. Full color.











That ends 14 Days of Thanksgiving. I hope you've found some of the resources I've posted over the last 14 days to be useful or entertaining.













Wednesday, November 27, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 13

Thanksgiving Games
Thanksgiving at Activity Village

Avalon
The description doesn't mention Thanksgiving, and I haven't seen this one either, so I have no idea what it has to do with Thanksgiving.
Description from IMDB:
A Polish-Jewish family comes to the USA at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. There, the family and their children try to make themselves a better future in the so-called promised land.











When a float in the Coolsville Thanksgiving Parade comes to life, it's up to Scooby & the gang to find the culprit & solve the mystery.

Great for young Scooby-Doo fans











Is your child a fan of "Bear in the Big Blue House"? If he is, he's sure to enjoy this Thanksgiving book featuring Bear and friends.
Treelo tries to help prepare for Thanksgiving, but just seems to be in the way. So, he decides to find somewhere else to spend Thanskgiving. After searching, and not finding anywhere to go, he smells something delicious. He follows the smell & ends up back at the Big Blue House, where he learns that his friends have been searching for him & that they all want him there for Thanksgiving.

This is a silly, rhyming story great for young kids who are learning to count. You start with 10 turkeys sitting on a fence. One by one, they do something silly that takes them off the fence, each with a GOBBLE GOBBLE WIBBLE WOBBLE.












DIY Thanksgiving Crafts:
 

I said that somewhere in these posts I'd tell you about our Thanksgiving. Well, since were at day 13 already, I should probably do that. Our plan for Thanksgiving is for it to be as relaxing & stress-free as possible. Thanksgiving day will find us at home, just us four. We will watch a movie or some tv - maybe the Holiday Special episode of Mythbusters or something totally unrelated to Thanksgiving like Doctor Who. We'll probably play a game or two (or three or four). 
Our menu is simple & very nontraditional. We were aiming for something kind of special, maybe something new, but not the giant, expensive feast we generally do:
baked apples - my husband refers to my baked apples as a culinary orgasm & they are kind of expected for special meals or holidays
crepes with cherries, blackberries, apples, and topped with coconut whipped cream
Turkish delight
fresh baked bread
flatbread wraps with bison, tomatoes, lettuce, sauteed mushrooms & onions, & a choice of sour cream or a creamy tahini sauce

Friday will find us at my step-mom's house for Thanksgiving. We'll do the big, traditional feast there. I'll be bringing my homemade pumpkin bread, banana bread, and I'm thinking of making apple bread & a caramel sauce to drizzle over it. We always have a great time with this side of the family, and I'm looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with them.

By the way, the reason I have used the descriptions from IMDB & Goodreads for so many of the books & movies is that I'm writing as many of these posts as I can ahead of time. So, we haven't had the opportunity to read all the books & watch all the movies, yet. 
 



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 12

BrainPop Thanksgiving Game
Thanksgiving Worksheets

Pieces of April

Description from IMDB:
A wayward daughter invites her dying mother and the rest of her estranged family to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.















A Turkey for Thanksgiving
Description from Goodreads:
Mr. and Mrs. Moose invite all their animal friends for Thanksgiving dinner and the only one missing is Turkey. When they set out to find him, Turkey is quaking with fear because he doesn't realize that his hosts want him at their table, not on it.










Turkey Trouble
Description from Goodreads:
Turkey is in trouble. Bad trouble. The kind of trouble where it's almost Thanksgiving . . . and you're the main course. But Turkey has an ideawhat if he doesn't look like a turkey? What if he looks like another animal instead?
After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise to make this Thanksgiving the best ever! Wendi Silvano's comical story is perfectly matched by Lee Harper's watercolors







More dessert recipes:
Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding
Banana Brioche Bread Pudding
Swedish Apple Pie
Handprint Pumpkin Pie
Cocoa Nib Pavlova with Raspberries
Banana Soufflés
Banana Cake


Monday, November 25, 2013

Plans for Next Year

I haven't posted much lately about what we've been doing for school. The kids have been working, but there really hasn't been much new or really interesting going on.

Dea is almost done with the writing class she is using as the writing portion of her English course. For Lit, she is reading To Kill a Mockingbird. She's close to being done with her Econ course. She just finished book 7 of her Accounting and only has 4 or 5 chapters left of Geometry.
Jay is finished with Dinosaurs & is now doing Marine Biology. He is up to the American Revolution in his U.S. History. He is still doing LFC C for Latin & Joy of Signing for ASL. He is flying through LOF Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics & will be done with it by Christmas break. He is making great progress on his Required Reading list & is almost halfway finished with it.

There have been no big, awesome projects, no fun trips, nothing vastly entertaining to write or read about. That's why I haven't been posting. Much of our time has been spent planning for the holidays and planning for future school years. Here's the plan for the next or so for school. It will be Jay's 5th grade year starting in mid-April. The plans cover the next (and final) 3 terms of high school for Dea, the next starts in Feb.

We'll start with Dea. She has 3 Terms remaining in high school. I'll refer to them as Term 2, Term 3, and Term 4, since we're currently doing the 1st Term since switching to 'Terms' instead of 'Years'

Term 2:
Native American Study - using various resources from the library, Netflix, and internet
ASL - using The Joy of Signing
Middle Ages & Renaissance - using various resources from the library, Netflix, and internet
Algebra 2 - using Life of Fred Advanced Algebra
Computer Programming - using TeenCoder
English:
Writing - a writing class at Universal Class, Term Paper
Grammar - Giggly Guide to Grammar & Chortling Bard Caught Ya! Grammar with a Giggle for High School
Vocab - Vocabulary Cartoons 2 & Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power
Lit - Black Elk Speaks, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Pride & Prejudice, Time Machine, Dracula, The Last of the Mohicans  
Speech - using Painless Speaking

Term 3:
Intro to Psych - using Psychology and Your Life
Photography - using 2 free online Photography courses & The Ultimate Field Guide to Photography
Chemistry - Thinkwell & materials for labs
Spanish - Tell Me More
Trig - Life of Fred Trig
English:
Writing - a writing class on Universal Class, Term paper
Vocabulary - Vocabulary Cartoons if not finished in previous term
Lit - The Crucible, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Jurassic Park, Anna Karenina, Don Quixote, Three Sisters

Term 4:
Serial Killers 101 - using various resources from library, Netflix, and internet
Geology - using a free online Geology course
Auto Maintenance - using Auto Upkeep Homeschool Curriculum (though sh'e technically been learning auto maint. for years by working with my husband on our car)
U.S. History - using various resources from library, Netflix, and internet
Spanish - Tell Me More
English:
Writing - writing class at Universal Class, Term Paper
Lit - Ender's Game, The Scarlet Letter, The Poseidon Adventure, Maus, The Kite Runner, The Divine Comedy

Now for Jay's 5th grade year.
Language Arts:
Grammar - Adventures of Genius Boy & Grammar Girl, Caught Ya! Grammar with a Giggle, You've Been Sentenced game
Spelling - All About Spelling 6 & 7
Vocab - Vocabulary Cartoons
Writing - Write with the Best
Reading - required reading list of approx. 50 books ranging from 5th to 10th grade level

Logic - Analogy Crosswords, Even More Word Winks, Grid Perplexors, Perplexors
Science:
Forensics - Body as Evidence, Detectolab Kit, Fingerprint Kit, Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Science, Investigating a Crime Scene, Police Lab, Top Shelf Forensics
Chemistry - Elements Intro to Chemistry, Carbon Chemistry, and materials for labs

Spanish - Tell Me More, Spanish in a Flash Bingo, Spanish in a Flash Word Search, Spanish in a Flash
Latin - Mango, Short Latin Stories, LFC History Readers, Vesuvius & Other Plays (we want a lighter year of Latin so he can focus a bit more on starting Spanish)
ASL - The Joy of Signing
Math - Life of Fred Beginning Algebra if not finished by then, Life of Fred Advanced Algebra, Life of Fred Geometry
U.S. History - Post-Civil War to Modern Times using various resources from library, Netflix, and internet


14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 11

Thanksgiving Dinner Game
Thanksgiving Worksheets

The House of Yes
Another one I haven't seen, but it popped up on several lists of Thanksgiving movies. It doesn't sound very family friendly

A mentally unbalanced young woman (who thinks she's Jackie Kennedy) goes into a murderous rage when her brother comes home for Thanksgiving and announces he's engaged.











Kids Crafts:


Thanksgiving mice!
Description from Goodreads:
It"s Thanksgiving and four adorable mice are putting on a play for their woodland friends in this delightful read-aloud, the fourth book about the holiday mice. Lively verse introduces beginning readers to basic words and rhyming sounds and tells the story of the very first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrim mice traveled across the sea and settled in America. The simple story-within-a-story format, accompanied by colorful, action-filled illustrations of mice in costume, also serves as a basic introduction to theater.
One is a Feast for a Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale
Description from Goodreads:
The Thanksgiving feast is over. Mouse spots one pea, which is quite enough for one mouse, but he keeps adding other tidbits. Then Cat sees him, in a story about giving thanks for the little things. Full color.











How about some dessert recipes:
Ginger & Pear Upside-Down Cake
Apple Crostada with Brown Butter Streusel 
Almond & Orange Cake with Poached Plum Compote
Flaky Pear Pie
Cranberry-Glazed Pumpkin Pie
Classic Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Meringue Pie
Caramel-Croissant Pudding









Sunday, November 24, 2013

2014 Challenges

For the past few years, I have done reading challenges with the kids, trying to encourage them to read a variety of works. I decided just to do reading challenges for me next year. If the kids want to join me they can, but these are for me. I didn't bother to search online & find ones that others are doing to join. I just came up with my own. Here they are:
I will read 20 books from my home library (I have a tendency to borrow from the library more often than reading from my own collection, despite always adding to my own collection) 
I will read a book from each year I've been alive
I have created a Book BINGO board with 25 different kinds of books on it, the goal will be to get not just one BINGO, but at least 3 (though, I will likely aim for blackout)

I will also be doing a few other challenges in 2014.

Movie Challenge: I will watch 52 movies I have never before seen

Health Challenges:
I will walk 1400 miles
I will try 25 new foods or recipes

Games Challenges: (these will include the kids & my husband)
Play 3120 minutes of family game time 
Play 40 different games (the kids & my husband tend to get into ruts & keep playing the same games over & over, so I want to make sure we have variety)

Once I have ironed out all the wrinkles, I will add a page for the challenges, so I have somewhere to track my progress. 



14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 10

For today's post, I thought we'd focus a little more on the adults. We deserve to enjoy the holiday as much as the kids.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Flower Arrangement

The Ghost at the Table

From the book jacket:
Strikingly different since childhood and leading very dissimilar lives now, sisters Frances & Cynthia have nevertheless managed to remain "devoted" - so long as they stay on opposite coasts. But with the reappearance of their elderly, long-estranged father they find themselves reunited for a cold, snowy Thanksgiving week - a reunion that awakens sleeping tensions and old sorrows.
Frances envisions a happy family holiday with her husband and daughters in her lovely New England farmhouse. Cynthia, a writer of historical fiction, doesn't understand how Frances can ignore the past their father's presence revives, a past that includes suspicions about their mother's death twenty-five years earlier. Adding to her uneasiness is her research for a book on Mark Twain's daughters, whose lives she thinks eerily mirror her own and Frances's.
As Thanksgiving day arrives, with a houseful of guests looking forward to dinner, the sisters continue to struggle with different versions of their shared past, until a warning issued by Cynthia's friend Carita, that "families are toxic" and "blood is bloody," proves prophetically true.
The Ghost at the Table reveals what happens when one person tries to rewrite another's history, and explores the mystery of why families try to stay together even when it may be in their best interests to stay apart.

The Harrowing
From the book jacket:
Baird College's Mendenhall echoes with the footsteps of the last homebound students heading off for a Thanksgiving break, and Robin Stone swears she can feel the creepy, hundred-year-old residence hall breathe a sigh of relief for its long-awaited solitude. Or perhaps it's only gathering itself for the coming weekend.
As a massive storm dumps rain on the isolated campus, four other lonely students reveal themselves: Patrick, a handsome jock; Lisa, a manipulative tease; Cain, a brooding musician; and finally Martin, a scholarly eccentric. Each has forsaken a long weekend at home for their own secret reasons.
The five unlikely companions establish a tentative rapport, but they soon become aware of a sixth presence disturbing the ominous silence that pervades the building. Are they the victims of a simple college prank taken way too far, or is the unusual energy evidence of something genuine - and intent on using the five students for its own terrifying ends? It's only Thursday afternoon, and they have three long days and dark nights before the rest of the world returns to find out what's become of them. But for now it's just the darkness keeping company with five students nobody wants and nobody will miss.

Rocky

I'm sure you all know the basic story, so I won't summarize it for you.
As for what it has to do with Thanksgiving, I have no idea. I don't actually enjoy watching the Rocky movies. It came up on several lists of great Thanksgiving movies, though.













For today's recipes, how about some adult beverages:
The Brandy Alexander
B-52
Pumpkin Pie Martini
Blood Orange-Pomegranate Mimosa
Pomegranate Champagne Punch
Whispering Wreath









Saturday, November 23, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 9

Turkey Bonk
Thanksgiving Theme Unit

Addams Family Values
Ok, this movie doesn't take place at Thanksgiving, and it technically doesn't have much to do with Thanksgiving. However, the play the kids have to perform at camp is Thanksgiving themed. It is also my favorite Thanksgiving themed scene in any movie.

The basic plot: A Black Widow, Debbie, sets her sights on Fester. She moves into the Addams' home as a nanny for the newest Addams, Pubert. She convinces Gomez & Morticia to send Pugsley & Wednesday to summer camp. The kids hate camp, where everyone else is peppy, smiley, & perpetually cheery. Everyone except Joel Glicker, a nerdy misfit who has a crush on Wednesday. While the kids are away at camp, they are informed that Fester & Debbie are getting married. After the wedding, Debbie tries to kill Fester. Meanwhile, the kids at camp have to put on a play, written by one of the counselors, about "The First Thanksgiving." Wednesday does a little re-writing of the script, which adds in a few facts & makes the play far more entertaining. The kids escape from camp & make it home in time for Debbie's last attempt on Fester's life, which is also endangering the rest of the family.

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
This book takes a new look at what we call 'The First Thanksgiving.' It gives a more balanced version, including some information on the Wampanoag. It may not be 100% accurate (there are sources that provide somewhat different views of the event, but with almost no written record from the time, it is difficult to know for certain what exactly happened), but it is far better than the typical version taught in schools. As is to be expected of a book connected to National Geographic, the photography is beautiful.

Possible Activities:
Research the different perspectives of 'The First Thanksgiving'
Try a traditional Wampanoag recipe
Learn about the contributions Natives have made to our society - words, foods, etc.
Learn about the Wampanoag culture (aim for learning about the culture then & now, to prevent giving the impression that the Wampanoag, or Native Americans in general, are no longer around)

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message
I think the Author's Note does a far better job describing the book than I would:
The words in this book are based on the Thanksgiving Address, an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants. These words of thanks come to us from the Native people known as the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois or Six Nations - Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. The people of the Six Nations are from upstate New York and Canada. These words are still spoken at ceremonial and governmental gatherings held by the Six Nations.
Children, too, are taught to greet the world each morning by saying thank you to all living things. They learn that according to Native American tradition, people everywhere are embraced as family. Our diversity, like all the wonders of Nature, is truly a gift for which we are thankful.

Possible Activities:
The publisher site has a Teacher's Guide

The Birchbark House
I have not read this one, though my son has read it & at least one of the sequels.
From the back of the book:
Omakayas and her family live on the land her people call the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. Although the "chimookoman," white people, encroach more and more on their land, life continues much as it always has: every summer they build a new birchbark house; every fall they go to ricing camp to harvest and feast; they move to the cedar log house before the first snows arrive, and celebrate the end of the long, cold winters at maple-sugaring camp. In between, Omakayas fights with her annoying little brother, Pinch;plays with the adorable baby, Neewo; and tries to be grown-up like her big sister, Angeline. But the satisfying rhythms of their life are shttered when a visitor comes to their lodge one winter night, bringing with him an invisible enemy that will change things forever - but that will eventually lead Omakayas to discover her calling.
By turns moving and humorous, this novel is a breathtaking tour de force by a gifted writer.
































Friday, November 22, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 8

Thanksgiving Mahjong
Thanksgiving Worksheets

Home for the Holidays

I have never seen this one. I thought about watching it before posting it, but our library doesn't have it & our Netflix queue is ridiculously long. It's rated PG-13, so it might be something you can watch with your kids, but you should probably watch it yourself (or check the content advisory on IMDB) first, to see if it has any inappropriate content. Here's the description from IMDB:



After losing her job, making out with her soon to be ex-boss, and finding out that her daughter plans to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend, Claudia Larson has to face spending the holiday with her family. She wonders if she can survive their crazy antics.





I haven't read any of today's books, so can't give any opinions.

Thanksgiving on Thursday
Description from Goodreads:


The Magic Tree House whisks Jack and Annie back to the eve of the first Thanksgiving where they meet Pilgrims and Squanto, the Native American who helped them.













Thanksgiving: The True Story
Description from Goodreads:
Every year on the fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate with a Thanksgiving meal. But what is the origin of this tradition? Did it really begin when the Pilgrims and Native Americans got together in 1621 in Plymouth,Massachusetts?

In her signature narrative nonfiction style, Penny Colman paints a fascinating picture of this cherished American holiday. She examines numerous Thanksgiving claims which were antecedents to the national holiday we celebrate today, raises the turkey question—does everyone eat turkey on Thanksgiving?—and shows Sarah Josepha Hale’s instrumental role in establishing the holiday. Get ready to delve into the rich past of Thanksgiving in an enlightening history that uncovers the true story.


The Thanksgiving Book
Description from Goodreads:


"Provides information about the history, lore, traditions, foods, and symbols of the Thanksgiving celebration. Features include narrative overviews and primary source documents, chronology, and resources for further information"--Provided by publisher.









Today's recipes are for gravy:
Savory Turkey Gravy
Holiday Turkey Gravy
Vegetarian Gravy
Turkey Mushroom Gravy
Makeover Home-Style Gravy
Herbed Turkey Gravy
Seasoned Garlic Gravy
Orange Tarragon Gravy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 7

Turkey Place Cards
Turkey Trivia



Grumpy Old Men
Description from IMDB:


John and Max are elderly men living next door to each other. They're continuously arguing and insulting each other, and have been this way for over 50 years. One day, Ariel, moves into the street. Both men are attracted to her, and their rivalry steps up a gear.



Honestly, it has been a rather long time since I last saw this movie. I don't really remember it having anything to do with Thanksgiving, but it came up on several lists of Thanksgiving movies.




Gracias The Thanksgiving Turkey

In this fun book, Miguel's dad, who works as a truck driver, sends Miguel a turkey to fatten up for Thanksgiving. Miguel names the turkey Gracias. As the days go by, Miguel & Gracias become friends. Can Miguel prevent Gracias from becoming dinner or will he have to eat his new friend? Some Spanish words are woven throughout the story, with a glossary in the back. We really enjoyed this one & my son enjoyed trying to guess the meanings of the Spanish words (he hasn't started learning Spanish, yet, but his knowledge of Latin helped).

Possible Activities:
Learn Thanksgiving related words in Spanish
Come up with a turkey-free Thanksgiving menu
An acrostic poem (choose a Thanksgiving related Spanish word)

Ankle Soup
This is a fun read told from the viewpoint of Carlos, a French Bulldog. His owner takes him to the parade & then to Grand Central Station to meet some of her family & go celebrate the holiday. Carlos tells us about all the people & animals he sees, as well as the things he smells. Since he is so short, all the people are described by their shoes, & legs.





The Thanksgiving Book

This is not a read-aloud book. It starts with 'A Brief History of Thanksgiving in America.' In this chapter, it quickly mentions that harvest festivals have been a part of almost every culture. It then moves on to discuss the so-called "First Thanksgiving," where it tells the typical & incorrect version of the pilgrims politely inviting the Natives to share a feast with them as thanks for all their help. Honestly, I didn't finish the chapter. The next chapter, 'Thanksgiving Psalms & Prayers' is quite short. It does include some prayers from various Native tribes, which is kind of nice.
The next chapter, 'The Thanksgiving Feast' is full of recipes. There are recipes for turkey, stuffing, vegetable dishes, desserts, even crab legs. It does argue that basting the turkey is very important, which is simply untrue. Basting doesn't affect the moistness of the bird or its flavor, and basting it every 15-20 minutes (as is suggested in this book) will make it take longer, cool the oven every time you open it, and waste time you could be spending on the other dishes you need to make or with your family. Next we get 'Thanksgiving Stories and Poems'. These are short enough that they could be read aloud. After that comes 'After-Dinner Games'. This chapter contains 5 group games. According to the book, many of them became popular in the late 1800s, so be prepared for some old-fashioned games. The final chapter is 'Thanksgiving Sing-Alongs,' just in case you want to gather round the piano & sing songs of Thanksgiving.
This would be a book to consider if you were planning an old-fashioned holiday. I, personally, would skip the first chapter, but that's because I'm not a big fan the 'First Thanksgiving' myth.


For today's recipes, let's look at breads:

Creamed Corn Cornbread
Skillet Cornbread with Figs, Feta, and Rosemary
Herb-Topped Sweet Potato Biscuits
Crème Fraîche Biscuits
Irish Soda Bread
Pumpkin Spice Bread


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 6

Online Game: Turkey Fling
Thanksgiving Math Worksheets

Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy
Turk is the biggest & strongest turkey on the farm. When people are planning their Thanksgiving dinners, they come to the farm to pick out a turkey. Turk shows off his moves trying to be picked, but his little brother, Runt, always scares the people away. Runt knows the people want a turkey to eat, but nobody wants to listen to him. When someone comes who wants a small turkey, and picks Runt, will his family listen to him & help, or will he become dinner?

Possible Activities:
A Venn Diagram comparing Turk & Runt
Make paper bag puppets or costumes & perform the book as either a play or puppet show



The Perfect Thanksgiving
Description from the book jacket:


Enter two families who couldn't be more opposite. Family one seems just perfect-with a plump golden turkey, gorgeous whipped cream swirls atop their pie, and lace napkins on the table.

Family two, on the other hand, seems far from it! The turkey burns, the Jell-O wiggles and jiggles right to the floor, and Dad's shirt serves as napkin. What could these two very different families possibly have in common?

Full of whimsy, good spirit, and certainly familial love, this laugh-aloud picture book is sure to add spice to any Thanksgiving feast.
Possible Activities:
A Venn Diagram comparing the two families
Discuss your family's Thanksgiving traditions & which family in the book yours most resembles
Have your child come up with a story about the two families in book having Thanksgiving together

Duck for Turkey
Tuyet is looking forward to Thanksgiving & days off school. She is a bit worried, though, because her family is having duck on Turkey Day. Despite her concerns, she & the rest of her family, enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner. When she gets back to school on Monday, she is worried about telling others that her family had duck not turkey. She is pleasantly surprised to find out that not everyone has turkey for Thanksgiving. Some of her classmates had lamb, tofu, enchiladas, and more.

Possible Activities:
Discuss/research different Thanksgiving traditions
Acrostic Poem (FEAST, FAMILY, or THANKFUL)
Have your child plan a Thanksgiving menu with their favorite foods, younger kids might enjoy cutting out pictures of their favorite foods & making a collage or poster


 Dutch
I only vaguely remember watching this movie once, many years ago. So, I can't really give an opinion on it. Here is the description from IMDB:
Volunteering to drive his girl friend's son home for Thanksgiving to Chicago from his boarding school in Georgia, little does Dutch expect the picaresque adventures in store for him. When a blunt, down-to-earth construction worker takes to the road with an insufferable twelve-year-old snob (desperately insecure under the surface) who doesn't approve of him in the least, quite a bit must happen before they can reach their destination as friends-- or, for that matter, get home at all.








For today's recipes, cranberry sauce:
Fresh Cranberry Relish
Cran-Citrus Chutney
Cranberry Pomegranate Terrine
Cinnamon Apple Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry-Orange Sauce






Tuesday, November 19, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 5

Printable Thanksgiving Planner
Thanksgiving Activity Book

Turkey Pox 
Charity loves Thanksgiving above all other days. She is ready before the rest of her family, and can hardly wait to get to Nana's house for turkey. On the way to Nana's, they discover that Charity has chicken pox & turn around to head back home. Charity is sad that Thanksgiving will be ruined (after all, it isn't really Thanksgiving without the turkey or Nana). Then Nana shows up, with some snowplow drivers & the rest of Thanksgiving dinner, including a turkey with turkey pox.

Possible Activities:
Discuss chicken pox, what they are & how you get them
Have your child find all the uses of onomatopoeia
Give your turkey Turkey Pox




Beauty & the Beaks
In this pun filled story, Beauty is a hen who runs the beauty shop on the farm. A turkey, Lance, shows up, talking about a big feast that only he was invited to, making all the hens feel bad. Beauty finds out that Lance is not a guest, but part of the menu & warns him. The hens give Lance a makeover, so he looks like a big hen, to save his life.

Possible activities:
Have your child find all the puns
Learn about the differences between chickens & turkeys
Print turkey coloring pages, or make construction paper turkey & have your children dress them up to disguise them





It's Thanksgiving is a book of fun kids' poem about Thanksgiving from children's poet Jack Prelutsky.



Possible Activities:
Have each child write their own Thanksgiving poem
Have each child search to find other Thanksgiving poems
Have each child memorize their favorite Thanksgiving poem & recite it to the whole family on Thanksgiving







Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I remember watching this Steve Martin & John Candy comedy with my parents as a fairly young child. However, since it is rated R, you should probably watch it without your kids first, to see if there is anything in it you disapprove of your kids seeing. It has been many years since I last watched it, but I remember it being pretty funny.

Steve Martin plays a man trying to get home for Thanksgiving. As things go wrong for him, he winds up stuck traveling with an obnoxious shower curtain ring salesman (played, of course, by John Candy). As you would expect in a movie starring these two, hijinks ensue & they have a rather, let's say eventful trip.






Today's recipes focus on the veggies:
Green Beans with Lemon & Garlic
Roasted Cauliflower with Dates & Pine nuts
Caramelized Butternut Squash
Spice-Roasted Cauliflower & Jerusalem Artichokes
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Creamed Corn
Lemon-Maple Squash
Sauteed Carrots


Monday, November 18, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 4

Thanksgiving Tongue Twisters
Thanksgiving Printables


In this parody of The Ugly Ducking, The Ugly Pumpkin feels bad about himself & gets made fun of until he finds out that he is not a pumpkin at all. Once he finds a squash patch & realizes that is where he fits in, he is happy.

Possible activities:
Acrostic poem (PUMPKIN)
Discuss parodies
Research pumpkins & other squash to learn the differences
There are a lot of adjectives in this book. Have your child list all the adjectives they can find.
This book could be a good start to a conversation about bullying. Discuss how the Ugly Pumpkin must have felt during the different experiences in the book & how he should have been treated instead.


Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Our library doesn't carry this book, and I have never read it. We aren't big parade watchers in our house. However, I know that many people love watching this parade each year. So, I thought I'd mention it. According to the description, this book tells the history of the parade & has pictures from 80 years of parades.












The Little Rascals
I have never seen this movie. While searching for good, family-friendly Thanksgiving movies, this one repeatedly showed up on lists. However, none of them mentioned why is was a good Thanksgiving movie. There does seem to be a severe shortage of Thanksgiving-themed movies, so I added it anyway, based solely on the recommendations of many lists I came across in my search.













Are you wanting to cook something other than turkey this year? If so, check out today's recipes for meats to replace turkey:
Herb-Crusted Roast Beef
Herb-Crusted Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream
Roasted Cornish Hens with Morels & Leeks
Dr Pepper Glazed Ham with Prunes
Veal Medallions with Fig & Almond Cream Sauce
Slow-Roasted Salmon with Tamarind, Ginger, & Chipotle
Honey-Glazed Lamb
Pumpkin Lasagne
Bouillabaisse
Curried Lamb Potpie
Roast Squab with Bacon & Grapes


Sunday, November 17, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 3

Thanksgiving Games
Thanksgiving Nutrition Printables - scroll down the page to get to them


 Nickommoh! : A Thanksgiving Celebration
The Narrangansett gather for a harvest celebration. Shows what Native American harvest celebrations were like long before the Pilgrims landed. Has words scattered throughout in the Narrangansett language & a glossary. Also has an Author's Note that gives a little information on the Narrangansett.

Possible Activities:
Acrostic poem (HARVEST)
Learn about your local Native American tribes
Learn some of the Narrangansett language
Learn about Native American life before the Europeans landed
Research harvest celebrations world wide



Turkey Bowl
Ethan's family plays the Turkey Bowl every year on Thanksgiving. Ethan has always been too young to play, and has had to sit on the sidelines & just watch. This year, he's nine & finally old enough to play in the game, but the snow has closed the roads. His family might not be able to make it for Thanksgiving. Will he miss his first chance to play in the Turkey Bowl?

Possible Activities:
Research the history of football
Acrostic poem (BLIZZARD or FOOTBALL)
Bowl for turkeys - Fill plastic bottles halfway with sand or water, decorate them with paper feathers, paper beaks, and googly eyes. Set them up like bowling pins. Using a softball or pumpkin, bowl down the turkeys.

 Son in Law A comedy from the early 90s starring Pauly Shore & Carla Gugino. It's not necessarily something you want young children watching, but may be enjoyed by teens & adults. I know a lot of people don't like Pauly Shore, but this is one of his movies that I legitimately enjoy (though I suppose that could be partly nostalgia, because I was about 13 or 14 the first time I saw it). Gugino plays sweet, innocent country girl Rebecca Warner. When she goes away to college, she meets Crawl (Shore), who is, shall we say unconventional. He helps her to loosen up & enjoy life. She brings him home for Thanksgiving, and her family reacts the way you'd expect them to when meeting Pauly Shore.
 





For today's video here are some more DIY decor ideas:


Looking for something new to do to that all-important centerpiece of the meal, the turkey? Check out today's recipes:
Smoked Turkey
Fried Turkey
Butterflied Turkey with Apple-Cranberry Glaze
Deep Fried Turkey
Grilled Turkey
Apricot Glazed Turkey
Tangerine Glazed Turkey
BBQ Turkey
Cranberry Honey Turkey - this is a post of mine from our Thanksgiving a few years ago. There's more in it than just the turkey, but it was a really, really good turkey, so I wanted to share it again




Saturday, November 16, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 2

Thanksgiving Planning Guide
Fun idea for the kids on Thanksgiving day - Find the Turkeys!
Turkey Trivia

In Arthur's Thanksgiving, Arthur is made director of the school's Thanksgiving play. Part of his job is casting. Each of his friends has a specific idea of what role they should have, and nobody wants the most important role, the turkey! Arthur only has days to convince someone to be the turkey. Will he find a turkey in time?

Possible activities:
acrostic poem (TURKEY)
make a turkey fact booklet
make a poster of Thanksgiving symbols, research what each one means





Setting the Turkeys Free is the story of a boy & his imagination. He creates pretty turkeys & has to protect them from Foxy the fox. In order to keep them safe, he has to set his turkeys free.

Possible activity:
I think the best activity would be have your child make his own handprint turkeys. Decorate them with glitter, sequins, real feathers, googly eyes, etc. Make lots of them & decorate the whole house with them.


  Seasons of Giving is for both Thanksgiving & Christmas. It starts with Pooh & friends realizing it's almost Thanksgiving. When they gather in the woods for their Thanksgiving feast, Rabbit tells them they are doing it all wrong. Thanksgiving dinner can't be honey, haycorns, thistles, and hot chocolatey icy cream, it's about tradition & must be done right! Rabbit assigns them each tasks & he decorates. Of course, everything goes wrong, and Thanksgiving is cancelled. Pooh and the gang show Rabbit that what is important is that they are together. They finally sit down to their Thanksgiving feast of honey, haycorns, thistles, hot chocolatey icy cream, and lemonade. The show then transitions into Christmas (which I'm not discussing here).
Obviously, this is a family holiday video.





Have some fun learning about turkeys with the Kratt brothers in today's video: Wild Kratts Happy Turkey Day:

Today's recipes are for potatoes & sweet potatoes:
Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic & Mascarpone Cheese
Whipped Sweet Potatoes & Bananas with Honey 
Smoked Chile Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Mixed Roasted Potatoes with Herb Butter
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey & Cinnamon
Bacon Hasselback Potatoes
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Mixed Herbs and Cheddar
Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic, Dijon Mustard, & Bacon




Friday, November 15, 2013

14 Days of Thanksgiving - day 1

For 14 days, I will be posting for Thanksgiving. I plan to include fun stuff, educational stuff, books, movies, YouTube videos, recipes, and some thoughts & ideas for themes & traditions. At some point in these posts, I will also include our plans for Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy.

Fun & Educational:
Thanksgiving by the Numbers
36 Little Known Facts About Thanksgiving

Books:
'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving is a fun little book about a field trip to a turkey farm the day before Thanksgiving. The kids play with the turkeys, and are horrified when they are informed that those turkeys will be dinner the next evening. So, they smuggle the turkeys onto the bus & take them home. Both my kids were giggling while we read this one, despite being 9 & 15 years old. 
This book is a great opportunity to discuss with young children what a parody is. You could also add some fun activities after reading it, such as: 
Discussions of animals raised for food 
Make posters trying to convince people to eat something other than turkey for Thanksgiving
Have your kids decide what the kids' family ate instead of turkey that year
A discussion about the consequences that would have arisen from the kids stealing the turkeys
Have them write a new ending to the story

Amelia Bedelia has always been popular in our house. So, we had to read Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey. This time, Amelia Bedelia is helping out at the school because all of the 3rd grade teachers are out sick, and they need someone to direct the 3rd grade Thanksgiving pageant. Though Amelia Bedelia, in her typical style, misunderstands several things going on, she manages to direct an entertaining pageant. 
Amelia Bedelia books are, of course, great for teaching homophones, idioms, & puns. Fun activities could include:
Making a homophone book that lists all the homophones in Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey draw pictures (or cut & paste from various sources) for each
Make a book of idioms found in Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey with pictures or explanations for what Amelia Bedelia thought & what the idiom really means
An acrostic poem (THANKFUL)

Food:
Today, I'll share recipes I found for stuffing (or dressing, if you prefer). I have not followed these specific recipes, but they looked interesting (this goes for all the recipes I share in these Thanksgiving posts, unless stated otherwise).

Movie:
Ok, I found that there is a lack of Thanksgiving themed movies. I'll be listing one per day. 

Scent of a Woman - If you don't automatically associate this movie with Thanksgiving, don't feel bad. Neither do I. However, it does take place over Thanksgiving break. It is not a movie I would watch with the kids, but for an adult only evening after the kids have gone to bed.

Video:
Today's video from YouTube is some DIY Decor & Entertaining Tips:









Wednesday, November 13, 2013

World Prematurity Day

In honor of World Prematurity Day (Nov 17), this post tells the story of my pregnancy & my son's birth.

On this day 10 years ago I was just days away from being put in the hospital. How many days? I'm not actually sure. I don't remember the exact day I was admitted. I just know that it was the day after I sent out my wedding invitations & almost Thanksgiving.

My pregnancy was awful. Well, all my pregnancies were awful, but this was a different kind of awful. Shortly after finding out that I was pregnant, we had a miscarriage scare. I started bleeding. I had to leave work to rush to the ER. They said I hadn't lost the baby, but probably would. I was put on bedrest for a few days & then on extreme restrictions - lift nothing over 5lbs, do not sit, stand, or lie down for more than 30 minutes at a time, avoid all stress, etc., etc. At the time, my daughter was 5 & was just starting Kindergarten. I was not supposed to pick her up. I was working as a receptionist for the corporate office of a multi-state car lot. My job meant sitting at a desk for hours, interrupted by delivering messages, getting all the (often heavy) FedEx boxes ready to go out, & helping people in multiple departments with various projects, but I wasn't supposed to do most of that.

Not long after the miscarriage scare, another issue started. For reasons unknown at the time, my muscles started to hurt on a consistent basis. Since then, some have decided that I developed Fibromyalgia. I had a very difficult time sleeping because my muscle pain would keep me awake. Sitting at my desk for too long hurt. Relaxing seemed to make it worse, but I still wasn't allowed to do much.

The next fun issue was Placenta Previa. That was fun. In case you don't know what it is, Placenta Previa is when the placenta grows at the bottom of the uterus & covers the cervix. My mother started harassing me about having her church pray over me. She didn't mean for me, she literally meant over me. They wanted to stand in a circle around me while praying, because apparently the Judeo-Christian God doesn't listen if the sick person isn't in attendance. I finally gave in to get her to back off. I didn't need the stress of stupid arguments with her. I was already stressing because she was "helping" with wedding plans. My doctor told me that it was possible for the placenta to move on its own, especially given that we were still in the first trimester. It did. It moved just enough that it was no longer a severe complication that needed to be addressed at every appointment.

While all of this was going on, I was planning my wedding & trying to help my daughter deal with a horrible year at public school. Wedding planning was horrible & stressful. My parents are divorced. My mother does not know how to be polite & civil.  She suggested that, to make things less stressful, I do just one parents' dinner - my mother & step-dad, my dad & step-mom, and my husband's parents all together for a meal. She swore up & down that she would be on her best behavior, would be polite. Ha! She was rude, bitchy, sniping, and completely disrespectful throughout the whole thing. I was pissed. She was totally over-bearing with all wedding plans. I was constantly trying to hold myself back from screaming at her & removing her from helping me plan.

My daughter was having a terrible time in Kindergarten. She is so intelligent. She is so advanced. She was more than prepared for Kindergarten. Her teacher wasn't allowed to give her work more difficult than the rest of the class was doing, despite the fact that she was so far ahead. In order to give her something to do with her time, the teacher asked her to help tutor the other students. At parent-teacher conferences, I always heard the same things (the same things they'd been saying at her pre-school, too) - she is the smartest kid in class, she is so sweet & caring, she is an absolute joy to have in class. The teacher would show me the results from the most recent assessment (I swear they assessed them weekly), telling me "I'm not really supposed to show you these." She'd show me my daughter's score - way up at the top - and then show me the score of the next closest kid (the only other one who tested for the Gifted program when testing time came around in Feb) - at least 20 pts below. I'd ask, "Can she just sit in a corner & read while you work with the rest of the class on letter recognition?" The teacher would say, "The district won't allow that." I'd ask, "Can you give her Math worksheets from 1st or 2nd grade while the rest of the class learns to count to 100?" The teacher would say, "The district won't allow that."  You sensing the pattern? She started getting bullied at school. It got to the point where she'd come home at least once a week to tell me about how one of her "friends" (thank you public school for totally screwing up my kid's head by telling her that the kids in her class were her 'friends' instead of classmates, it took years to undo that damage) punched, bit, kicked, hit, slapped her. I would call the school, tell them what happened, and they would say, "We'll look into that, and if it happened, we'll take care of it." That was the answer I got every single time. I really wanted to hit that lady. Just a punch to throat to get her to realize that I was not playing around, I wanted something done.

Yeah, stress-free was obviously not an option, no matter how much the doctors told me I needed to avoid stress.

So, things went on like this. I was in excruciating pain most of the time. I was on & off bedrest. When I wasn't on bedrest, I was on major restriction. My doctor was afraid to do pelvic exams when I'd come in for my appointments, because she thought they might just make things worse. Nobody could figure out what was going on with me. Nobody had a clue why my body hurt so much or why so many things kept going wrong. I had quit smoking. I hadn't had a drink since I found out that I was pregnant. I was in pretty good shape before getting pregnant, though a little underweight. So, why was I gaining so much weight? Why was my body constantly screaming at me? Why was I sleeping even less than usual? The short answer, my body & pregnancy don't get along. The two pregnancies between my daughter & my son almost killed me & had to be terminated. I was terrified that my son wasn't going to make it. At least he wasn't killing me, though, so I kept fighting for him. I lost my job - too many days out sick from the pregnancy.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I had an awful night. I could not sleep at all. My whole body hurt. I couldn't get comfortable in any position on the bed, the floor, the couch. My doctor had said that if my pain got worse, I should go see her. So, the next day, we went in to see her. I was 23 weeks along. She again told me she could find no cause for the pain. She decided to do a pelvic exam, because it had been so long since the last (as I said, she'd been avoiding them out of fear of what it would do to me or cause). She found out that I was dilated 3cm, my cervix had thinned, and my water bag was bulging. Not good! She sent me straight to the hospital.

Ah, the hospital. This part gets fun. We got to the hospital & I was immediately admitted. They gave me Magnesium Sulfate to stop the contractions that I wasn't having. After they gave it to me, they told me that it could cause fluid to build up in & around my lungs & around my heart, but it was a slim chance. Not too long after that, I was transferred to another hospital because that hospital had better High Risk Moms Unit & NICU. A few hours after getting to hospital number 2, I suddenly started having trouble breathing. They decided that I had pneumonia because I had fluid in & around my lungs & around my heart. Those symptoms sound familiar? They did to me, so I tried to tell them that the other hospital told me there was a slim chance that would happen from the Magnesium Sulfate they gave me. I had not been sick & this was far too sudden to be pneumonia, but they didn't agree. They were certain it was pneumonia & moved me to ICU. They decide I needed antibiotics, for the pneumonia I didn't have. They wanted to give me Zithromax. I said, "No. I can't take Zithromax. It causes uncontrollable & violent vomiting." They said, "We'll give it to you through the IV. That'll be fine." Yeah, not so much. So, they gave me Zithromax through an IV, shoved a tube down my throat, and left me in ICU for a few days. I was not a fan of having a machine breathe for me. I was also not a fan of the next machine which just forced air down my throat (but at least there wasn't a tube down my throat), so it was a struggle to breathe for my self or to talk. I really, really was not a fan of the antibiotics that they shouldn't have given me & that I didn't even need.

After a few days in ICU, they moved me back to High Risk Moms, because I was magically cured of the imaginary pneumonia (they still will not admit that it was not really pneumonia). They left the IV & antibiotics, though. A huge red welt had formed at the IV site & it hurt like hell. So, they moved the IV. A new welt formed there. So, they moved the IV again. They left me on this damn antibiotic for two weeks, moving the IV every day or two because a big, red, painful welt would pop up at the IV site. I was also getting steroid shots, to help his lungs develop. Plus, I was getting anti-clotting shots. I was having non-stress tests daily. I had blood drawn daily. It's a good thing I'm not afraid of needles. I was stuck on permanent bedrest, in the hospital, and told I was not going home until either my baby was born or I finally hit my due date.

I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. My daughter was staying with family. My husband had to be at work too early, her daycare wasn't open yet. My original plan was that she would spend a week with my mother & step-dad, and then the next week she would stay with my dad & step-mom. That way, they each got a break & she wasn't being too much of a burden on anyone. My mother was not happy about the arrangement. She didn't want my daughter to spend any of the time at my dad's. She offered to keep her for the whole time I was in the hospital. However, we were looking at me being in the hospital possibly until mid-March (I was due on St. Patrick's Day), and it was only November. Plus, my mother was the one who kicked my daughter & me out of her house when my daughter was a baby, leaving us homeless. I didn't trust her with my kid for that long. Toward the end of the first week my mother had her, they were all up visiting me - my mother, my step-dad, & my daughter. My husband was there & so was my grandpa. My little girl was sitting quietly on the floor coloring, behaving so wonderfully. My mother was pissed at me for something, I think we had just argued (again) about my plans for where my kid would stay while I was in the hospital. My husband's parents got there. My daughter was in the way, so I started to ask her to move so they could get through. Before I got a chance to finish a single word, the bat-shit crazy bitch that gave birth to me kicked my daughter in her butt & yelled at her to move. If I wasn't hooked up to so many freaking machines, I would have jumped from that bed & punched her for it. Instead, I yelled at her for it. I told her she was never to lay a hand or foot on my child again. I told her that she was still my daughter, even if she was temporarily staying with my mother, so I was still the one that got to tell her what to do. She got angry with me & left. She left my daughter there, no place to stay, none of her stuff, just left. Luckily, my dad & step-mom were willing to help. They kept my little girl for the rest of the time I was in the hospital. She was taken care of. She got to come see me almost every day (that day was the first time my mother had brought her to see me since she'd gotten her). I knew she was in good hands. I knew she would be okay with them. I knew they were being good to her.

My days in the hospital never varied too much. My husband would pick up my daughter at daycare when he got off work & bring her to see me. My dad or step-mom would pick her up at the hospital on their way home from work. People would come visit me. I watched tv. I managed to catch quick 5 - 10 minute naps, but never really slept much. I had my daily non-stress test. The doctors & nurses talked about getting me into a pool to do exercises, but never got around to actually doing it. I did crosswords, wordsearches, & read. My husband would stay until he had to go home to get some sleep before work. I forced my husband to go see Return of the King with his best friend, because we had no idea if I'd get out while it was still in theaters. I refused to eat the food the hospital gave me (it all tasted like plastic), & had my husband bring me stuff I could keep in my room. I mostly ate Soup in a Cup. It isn't very good, but at least it didn't taste like plastic. Plus, it was easy to make. All I needed was hot water, which was easy to get. Also, it was cheap.

Three days before Christmas, I was at the end of 27 weeks along. I went into labor & there was no stopping it. Very early the next morning, I was still in labor. It was now day 1 of 28 weeks gestation. They did an unltrasound to make sure he was in the right position. Everything was fine. We were going to be okay. I was having contractions. My water had broken. He was going to be born that morning. As we waited for the epidural to show up, the doctor did another ultrasound, to double-check that my little boy was in the right position. He was still so small that there was still a lot of room for him to move around. While the doctor watched, my son moved sideways & tried to come out arm first. They couldn't move or turn him. We had to do a C-section right away. They swept me off to the OR, knocked me unconscious, and did an emergency C-section. It was 2 days before Christmas, and my son, who was due on St. Patrick's Day, was born.

When I woke up, I got to go see him in the NICU. I didn't get to stay long & I didn't get to touch him. It was almost a week before I saw him again. I had a fever & they didn't know why. Until they figured it out, I could not see my son. Everyone else saw him. I was so upset, I asked my husband to tell the NICU that nobody was allowed in to see him, except my husband, until I got to see him. It simply wasn't fair that everyone else got to see him when I couldn't. I spent Christmas in the hospital. My dad & step-mom brought my little girl & my brother & sister up to see me. We did presents in my hospital room. I was surrounded by people who loved me, and that was all that mattered - not the tubes, the staples, the pain, the morphine drip, the horrible sterile hospital smell - just them.

My sister came to see me. Even my mother showed up after my son was born. I had seen my step-dad since that one day, but my mother had avoided me. They finally figured out what was causing my fever. I had an inter-uterine infection. I was not contagious. I finally got to go see my baby boy. I didn't get to hold him every time I visited, but when I did it was wonderful. When you have a preemie, the only way they let you hold them is what they call 'kangaroo care'. They can't hold their body temps, so they need skin to skin contact when you hold them. I couldn't cradle him in my arms & look at his little face. Instead, I got to have him pressed right against me. The sounds of the machines invaded my dreams for months. The beeping, hissing, and worst, the alarms. I went home after a week or so. I came up to visit him every day.

He was 2 lbs 14 oz and 15 inches long. He couldn't eat from a bottle or breast & had to be fed through a tube. His lungs were underdeveloped, and he had to be on a respirator. He moved from respirator to bubble c-pap. He went back & forth a few times before he could stay on the bubble c-pap. He eventually made it to nasal cannula, then room air. He was on a monitor for Apnea (stop breathing for 20+ seconds) & Bradycardia (heart rate too slow). Every time that alarm went off, I stopped breathing & my heart stopped beating. Every time. I watched the families around us. Some of the babies had already had surgery. Some were in need of surgery. Some had colostomy bags. Some had IVs in their head. My little boy was a fighter, and he wanted out of there. We were lucky. I knew it then & I know it now. We were so lucky because it could have been much worse. Our biggest scare, was something I never saw coming. He had jaundice. Most babies do. A few hours under the bili-lights & it's all good. Not our boy, though. His bilirubin numbers were dangerous. They had him completely surrounded by bili-lights. It wasn't helping. They started talking about possibly needing to do an exchange transfusion, which is pretty much just what it sounds like. They remove your blood (all of it) & replace it with new blood. They said if his numbers got any worse, they would have to do one. I'm pretty sure he heard them talking about it, because his numbers started to improve almost immediately.

We were told that they usually stay in the NICU until about their due date. He came home almost a month early. At the end of February, he was ready to leave that place. We weren't totally in the clear, yet. He came home on a monitor that was incredibly loud & inaccurate. The strap went around his chest & it would go off whenever we changed his diaper, or he moved the wrong way, or it somehow got loosened. He had eye doctor appointments because premature birth can lead to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). ROP can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness. Even those with mild case, which can improve & cause no permanent damage, are still at more risk later in life for other vision problems. About 400-600 infants become legally blind due to ROP each year. So, we had to take him in very regularly to have his eyes tested. He did not develop ROP, luckily. He was at higher risk for RSV, which he didn't catch. He has always been more likely to contract respiratory illnesses than anything else. I firmly believe it is due to his lungs being under-developed at birth.

We had regular appointments with the NICU Follow-up Clinic. They told us that his muscles were too tense & he might need physical therapy. They gave me stretches & exercises to do with him every few hours, in hopes that he wouldn't need therapy. It was around this time that I started homeschooling my daughter. I did those exercises & stretches and made sure he had tummy time ten times a day, like they told me. My days were busy, fitting schooling in with my daughter & meeting all my son's needs, but he never needed PT. They had him evaluated by an Occupational Therapist & a Developmental Therapist. They both said he was fine. He was healthy. He was happy. He developed in his own way & according to his own timetable, but he never gave us much cause to worry. He only slept ofr 20 minutes at a time for at least the first year. He couldn't eat very much at one time, so he ate every hour. He was exhausting to care for.

He is turning 10 years old this year. He is homeschooled. He is in 4th grade. He is doing fantastically academically. He is healthy. As I said, though, when he gets sick, it is almost always respiratory. He has ADHD & some anxiety issues, including possibly OCD, but he likely would've had those even if he had been full-term. We got off easy, and I know it.

Well, that's our story. I don't know that I could have made it through that if it weren't for certain people. Not only the things they did for me, for us, but jsut knowing that they were there, that they loved me, that they truly cared what was happening, it meant the world to me. My dad, my step-mom, my brother & sisters, my step-dad, my daughter, but especially my husband. We went through so much, so early in our relationship. He stood by my decision that nobody was allowed to visit our son in the NICU, before I could see him & again after I was allowed to (it was cold & flu season & people were going in there with coughs & runny noses, which are horribly dangerous to preemies). He supported my decision when I said nobody was allowed to come to the house to visit our son until after RSV was over. That decision did not go over well with some people. He worked so I could stay home with the kids. He agreed that we should try homeschooling after our daughter finished Kindergarten.      

This was shortly before he came home. The tube going up his nose is his feeding tube.

A few months after he came home. No more monitor. Hanging out with his big sis.