Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rare Disease Day


Earlier today one of my Facebook friends posted about Rare Disease Day. I know that February is American Heart Month and that February 7-14th (the week prior to Valentine's Day) is Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week. Feeding Tube Awareness week is also in February (overlapping with CHD Awareness Week). I had completely forgotten that there was such a thing as Rare Disease Day.

As I did some further research, I realize that Lauren is actually a triple winner on Rare Disease Day.

According to rarediseases.org, a "rare" disease is one that affects less than 200,000 Americans at any time. Both Pediatric Cardiomyopathy and Eosinophilic Esophagitis are both listed on their register of rare diseases. Lauren also has a gene mutation that has only been identified in one other child. That definitely counts as rare in my book.


The statistics I found tonight are that 30 million Americans have a rare disease and that nearly two-thirds of the people with a rare disease are children.

I've shared Lauren's story before, but that's not really why Rare Disease Day matters to me. Over the years I've made friends with many, many families who are dealing with Rare Diseases. Families who search relentlessly for answers, even if many times the newest round of testing leads to more questions than answers. Families who deal with medical issues and procedures that they never dreamed that they'd handle.

More importantly I've seen children rise above their challenges: a girl who plays beautiful piano solos even though Eosinophilic Esophagitis means that she gets nearly all of her nutrition through a feeding tube,  a boy bridging into Boy Scouts despite many hospitalizations for Mitochondrial Disease, and many other stories.

I'm praying for a day when there will be effective treatments for Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Mitochondrial Disease, the unnamed gene defect Lauren shares with a little boy named Ryal, and so many other rare diseases.


©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

Friday, February 20, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean -- The Dining Area

I am so happy to be finished cleaning and organizing the kitchen. It seemed like some of the messiest chores (scrubbing the oven racks) and some of the most difficult organizing tasks (dejunking the junk drawer) were in the kitchen.

I smiled a bit when I saw that the next area in our 34 Weeks of Clean challenge was the dining room. I thought I'd have an easy week because we don't have a dining room in this house. We do have a dining area, though, and I conveniently skipped over it when working in the kitchen. I still had work to do.


I don't have a china hutch or any other storage spaces in this area so I really just need to clean.

My first step was the table. After several military moves, the alignment for the table is a bit off and the crack to insert extra leaves is a bit wider than it should be. Since I was deep cleaning, I decided to find out what had managed to slip through the crack since the last time we added a leaf for company.


Ick! I found some sticky goop from a spilled drink, a few straight pins, and a couple test strips from my glucose meter.

When I moved on to cleaning the chairs, I tightened up the loose bolts underneath so they wouldn't rattle as much when we move them around.


Thankfully I didn't find too much gunk that had collected on the table and chairs. They really just needed to be wiped down well.


I took a damp cloth to the light fixture above the table, but then decided it would be easier just to take the glass parts off and dunk them in a sink full of soapy water.



While I was at it, I took the glass off the light fixture in the adjoining living room, too. (Since I had the ladder out, I went ahead and dusted the long-neglected ceiling fan blades. If you look closely in the picture you can see how badly the dust had built up.)



I didn't take pictures, but I also cleaned the blinds and the window to the side of the table.


The finished product:


I enjoy seeing the clear surface on the dining table so much that I've remembered to put away the placemats and other assorted items after meals. Without placemats and stray salt shakers lying out, the table collects far less clutter than it used to.


If you'd like to join me with the challenges, you can find Michele's posts on her Family, Faith, and Fridays blog, on the Facebook page, or by clicking the button below. She posts a new challenge every Friday and will also be hosting a weekly link-up for any other bloggers who are brave enough to share pictures of their progress.


©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean -- Finishing up the Kitchen

Last week's 34 Weeks of Clean challenge included all the little (and not so little) things in the kitchen that I haven't already attacked this year -- the oven, the microwave, the toaster oven, the countertops, etc.


A few weeks ago I guessed that Michele would have us clean the oven sooner or later. I checked the weather forecast and found a cool morning to set the self-clean cycle on the oven. (My northern friends are incredibly jealous that we're already having afternoons that are too warm to run the self-cleaning cycle on an oven without turning on the air conditioning.)

After letting the self-clean cycle run, I used a razor blade to scrape off all the gunk on the glass window and a bit of steel wool to scrub the racks.



The toaster oven and the microwave simply needed a bit of elbow grease.

The biggest improvement in the kitchen came when I cleared off the countertops. This part of the counter is several inches higher than the rest and divides the kitchen from the dining area. It often becomes a catch-all area, collecting all sorts of junk. 

Before:


After:


I love the way that clearing out just a bit of random clutter makes my whole kitchen look better. I haven't been able to keep this area completely clean, but I have been able to keep it from becoming a jumbled mess. And when that area of the kitchen looks clean, then I notice the things left out on other counters that could be put away. Before I know it, the whole room is sparkling and I'm smiling.



If you'd like to join me with the challenges, you can find Michele's posts on her Family, Faith, and Fridays blog, on the Facebook page, or by clicking the button below. She posts a new challenge every Friday and will also be hosting a weekly link-up for any other bloggers who are brave enough to share pictures of their progress.


©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wordless Wednesday, February 11th



©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com


Wordless Wednesday at Life at RossmontPhotobucket

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rasmus and the Vagabond {Review and Giveaway}

A few months ago Lauren started asking to pick the books that I read aloud to her during our school day. We reached a compromise by alternating who gets to pick the book. This way she gets to pick whichever fun new book catches her attention and I still get to pick some good books that she might overlook. The one problem with this system is that I feel a lot of pressure to make sure that I pick good books -- books with a engaging characters and a captivating storyline.

When I heard about a review opportunity for Astrid Lindgren's book Rasmus and the Vagabond, I thought it would fit the bill perfectly. It's been a few years since I've read her famous books about Pippi Longstocking, but I remember the stories fondly.



About the book:
After running away from an orphanage, nine-year-old Rasmus finds the world a cold and unfriendly place until he befriends an extraordinary tramp called Paradise Oscar. Together they meet more adventure than they ever imagined, solve a mystery, and catch the culprits. Rasmus dreams of finding a family and a home someday. But when he does, will he be able to part with his new friend and life on the road? (publisher's description) 
Our thoughts:

Rasmus and the Vagabond was a perfect read-aloud to add to our collection. It had lovable, real characters and plenty of action to us interested in reading the next chapter. Lauren's favorite part of the book was when Rasmus met Oscar and joined him as a vagabond. I preferred the action-packed chapters where Rasmus and Oscar were hiding from the gangsters.

Although it was a great book to share with my daughter, this book might be even better to share with a young boy. I remember when Brennan was younger and I struggled to find quality children's books with strong (but likable) male characters. Rasmus is the sort of character that boys can identify with, a character that tries to do the right thing but somehow gets mixed up in trouble.

Rasmus and the Vagabond is 180 pages long and is written at a third or fourth grade reading level (according to my calculations). It would be perfect for third or fourth graders and would also appeal to a slightly younger audience. I'd definitely recommend it for early readers who are having trouble finding age-appropriate materials written at a more advanced reading level.

Giveaway:

The publisher has offered to give a paperback copy of Rasmus and the Vagabond to one of my readers. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below. A winner will be randomly chosen from all comments posted by 10:00 pm (MST) on Friday, February 13th.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean -- Recipes

I think this week's 34 Weeks of Clean challenge through me off because it seemed so easy. Most of my recipes were already organized into two binders neatly stored in a cabinet.


Looks can be deceiving though. Many of the recipes were indeed neatly typed and put in page protectors. Unfortunately, there were a lot that were scribbled on index cards and stuffed in the front pocket (or worse, shoved in the clear cover on the binder).


I pulled out a new binder (to replace one that was starting to fall apart) and set to work getting everything refiled. There was a huge OCD part of me that wanted to type up all the loose recipes so that they would match the ones already in the binders. I knew that was a job that would take far more time than I could spare so I reluctantly settled for a make-shift solution.


Finished binders are better than having grand intentions of making them perfect.

My two overflowing binders are now divided into three -- one for main dishes and sides, one for breads and breakfast ideas, and one for desserts. They still fit neatly into the organized cabinet above the coffee makers.


My only disappointment is that I still haven't made pretty covers for the binders. I'll have to add that job to next week's to-do list.


Michele also challenged us to look through our cookbook collection. I'm in a purging mood this year, trying to downsize before this summer's move. Looking through cookbooks was a good step in my plan to reduce the number of books on our shelves.


The "After" picture shows some of my favorites and some that I need to go back through to copy down the few recipes that I want to keep out of them.


It was a bit fun to have an organizing week after all the dirty cleaning jobs we've had lately. I suspect that next week's Kitchen assignment will include some scrubbing. I'll do my scrubbing after I find the perfect printable binder labels for my recipe books.

If you'd like to join me with the challenges, you can find Michele's posts on her Family, Faith, and Fridays blog, on the Facebook page, or by clicking the button below. She posts a new challenge every Friday and will also be hosting a weekly link-up for any other bloggers who are brave enough to share pictures of their progress.


©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 29, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean -- Fridge, Freezers, and Floor

Last week I learned to post my big "after" picture at the beginning of my blog post so that I wouldn't have a messy picture showing on my Facebook feed.



I predicted that I'd be cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer sometime soon, but Michele surprised me by adding floors into this week's assignment.

I started working on the refrigerator and freezer last Saturday. Thankfully the weather cooperated and it was warm enough to completely defrost the freezer in the garage. 

Before (inside freezer):



A little over a year ago, Lauren could not get enough frozen grapes. Of course, she quit eating them when I stashed five gallon ziplock bags of them in the outside freezer. Even though a few looked a bit frost bitten, they made delicious raisins.



Modern art created by very, very old popsicles:



After (inside refrigerator and freezer):




After (outside freezer):



Apparently, I have a larger selection of gluten-free flours than I remembered. I better start baking soon.


The floors in the kitchen are large ceramic tiles and simply needed a good down-on-my-hands-and-knees scrubbing.

After:


I did get a bit carried away while cleaning the outside of the refrigerator and decided to clean the sides. And since I had pushed the refrigerator out from its cubbyhole, I went ahead and cleaned the floor under the fridge too. This cleaning challenge is turning into deep cleaning for a lot of areas that are often ignored around here.



The best part about finishing up the huge tasks of organizing the kitchen is that it is now much, much easier to see which foods I'm running low on. This past week I was able to plan meals around food we already had. My grocery list was so short this week that I could go through the self check-out lane at the Commissary (40 item limit).


I think Michele indicated that we'd be spending another week finishing up cleaning challenges in the kitchen. I've already started looking at the weather in hopes of finding a cool morning to use the self-cleaning cycle on my oven. I might be wrong about the upcoming assignment, though. In that case, I suspect I'll clean my oven and then do next week's challenge.

If you'd like to join me with the challenges, you can find Michele's posts on her Family, Faith, and Fridays blog, on the Facebook page, or by clicking the button below. She posts a new challenge every Friday and will also be hosting a weekly link-up for any other bloggers who are brave enough to share pictures of their progress.


©2009-2015 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

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