Saturday, September 25, 2010

International Ataxia Day

National Ataxia Foundation

Today I want to take the time to help make those reading this blog more aware of Ataxia. This is condition that my nephew, Andrew, suffers from the effects. This condition has so many different faces that it is hard to diagonois and still remains difficult to treat.
Here is some information about Ataxia from the National Ataxia Foundation

What is ataxia?

Ataxia means clumsiness of movement or loss of coordination that is not the result of muscle
weakness. The word “ataxia” might be used simply to mean poor coordination, or it might be used in a more
specific way to denote a degenerative disease of the nervous system. Ataxia may affect the fingers and
hands, the arms or legs, the body, speech or eye movements. This loss of coordination may be caused
by a number of different medical or neurological conditions. For this reason, it is important that a
person with ataxia seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause of the symptom and
to receive the appropriate treatment.

What causes ataxia?
Most often ataxia is caused by loss of function in the part of the brain, the cerebellum, which serves as the
coordination center. The cerebellum is located toward the back and lower part of the brain. The right side
of the cerebellum controls coordination on the right side of the body and the left side controls
coordination on the left. The central part of the cerebellum controls the very complex movements of
gait or walking, head and trunk stability and eye movements. Other parts of the cerebellum help to
coordinate eye movements, speech and swallowing. Ataxia may also be caused by dysfunction of the
pathways leading into and out of the cerebellum. Information comes into the cerebellum from the
spinal cord, inner ear and other parts of the brain and signals from the cerebellum go out to the spinal cord
and to the brain. Although the cerebellum does not directly control strength, (motor function) or feeling,
(sensory function) the motor sensory pathways must work properly to provide the correct input into the
cerebellum. Thus, a person with impaired strength or sensation may notice clumsiness or poor
coordination, and the doctor may say that person has ataxia.

If you would want to know more about Ataxia and the things they are doing to help find a cure or at least medications to help please visit the website
This might be something that you don't deal with, but there are people suffering from this everyday and they are suffering without a lot of media for a cure. Thanks

Flag Football Season

Robert on the run

Robert centering the ball

On defense - catch up with her!
Okay Flag Football season has 4 games in, so we are about 1/2 way through and Robert seems to be enjoying the season and he is playing well. Today he had a run that was almost a touchdown but he stepped out of bounds. Then they came back and he did make a touchdown. He had at least 4 flags that he pulled for the stop. His team seems to be more of a throwing team, which we are still working on catching on the run really well, but he is doing well with the running and getting to where he wants to go when he has the ball.

Monarch Butterfly Hatched

Both chrysalis opened within 24 hours of each other

These are our Monarch butterflies that we have been feeding and watching through the life cycle. They both opened within 24 hours of each other and then we released them together on Friday afternoon. Something neat that I learned this time through the process of watching these caterpillars/butterflies is that you can tell the difference between male and female and in the photo above you can actually see 1 of each. The male is the upper butterfly and th female is the lower one. If you look at the bottom wing of the male butterfly you will see a black spot on one of the lines in the wing, this is how you can tell if it is a male or not. See we really can still learn new things each day! Just remember that like the butterfly it takes a lot of time, patience and trials sometimes to become the beautiful thing that God wants us to be!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Agriculture Education and other fun things

Since I was raised on a farm and Gary works on a farm, agriculture is our way of life. I believe that it helps us remain grounded in what we do. We get to see the miracles of life in many forms, from the birth of a calf to the sprouting of the seeds, we see the cycle all around us. With that in mind, I have been wanting to add something new to my blog and that is an agriculture activity or link to an activity to help people understand different aspects of farming and what is really going on, as farms become more modern and we see less of the farms that have a few chickens, a few cows and a couple of pigs. Specialized farms are what are now and are pretty much here to stay. 

Silage chopping

So for this month, around here it is time to harvest the corn. Some of the corn in our area is harvested in 3 different ways. The first is when the corn is still a little bit green in the stalks and a tractor, corn chopper and wagon go through the fields. There are also the self-propelled choppers that will harvest too. The corn that is harvested this way will be stored in the tall silos or in a silage bunk or bag. This will be corn silage and used as feed for the animals. 

Combine shelling corn
In a couple of weeks the corn will continue to dry or start looking dead. Then there are 2 ways to finish the harvesting of corn. One is to bring in a combine and when the combine goes through they are shelling the corn. They will just have the corn kernels to store when the combine is done. The other way to harvest corn is with a corn picker. This is a machine that will pick the ears of corn off the stalks and the ears of corn are stored in a corn crib.
harvesting ear corn with a corn picker

Most of the sweet corn is already done in this area, but there are still fun things to do with corn. If you get a chance, The Amazing corn maze in Lucinda, Pa is a lot of fun and this year they have made it 3 acres bigger!
So if you get a chance to spend some time with corn, check it out. IF you can't get to the corn maze, try something simple at home maybe carmel popcorn or just use the old hot air popper and watch what the kids do with that (especially if they have only had microwave popcorn!)  There are some great corn coloring pages available at check under "fall."

Let me know if you enjoy knowing more about agriculture and ways to show it to your kids and ways to enjoy it in the many different seasons.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Special Class Schedule

At Keystone, we have "numbered day schedules" instead of  "day schedules" and I find this very confusing. But Robert and I have found that each year we take a piece of fun foam and divide it into the 5 days. He writes the day number and then what special class goes along with that day. I also try to find stickers to decorate each class with. Then I take Velcro dots and attach a dot to each day & I make an arrow or a marker of some type to move each day to help us keep track of this schedule. This year the marker is a football. So each day he would move the football to the next day and know what special class he has. In addition to that I have a stack of magnets, (The free kind that are handed out as advertising) I glued 2 of those to the back of the fun foam with Elmer's glue. This makes it that it will stick to the back of our door (without damage) and Robert can check to see if he has what he needs for the day when he is going out the door.

If nothing else it has worked great for me to be able to as questions in the evening,. like how was art? or what ever class and it gets the conversation started.

Monarch caterpiller on the move

Caterpillar in a J before going into a chrysalis

Here you can see our caterpillar on the left in the "J" shape
and another caterpillar in the chrysalis on the right.
They will stay in the Chrysalis for about 10-14 days
Our caterpillar has grown a lot since we first put a entry about the caterpillars up. So he has eaten a bunch of milkweed in the past couple of weeks. Over this past weekend we saw him in this "J" form which is what they do before going into their chrysalis. They will be in the green chrysalis for about 10-14 days and then they will emerge as a butterfly ready for a long trip to Mexico for the winter. I love to see the life cycle come into a way that kids can see it. We'll post more when it happens.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Gary (boy is it hot!)

Well, today we celebrated Gary's birthday.As usual I got out the Happy Birthday banner and the boys decided to write on the door "Happy Birthday Dad!" (With those crayola window markers) but there was just one problem to my day it was 90 degrees, hot and humid and I needed to bake a birthday cake in my house with no air conditioning. When Gary came in for breakfast, I apologized that I didn't think we would have cake for his birthday until the weekend (possible high of 58). I figured that ice cream with a candle would have to due for now, but he asked about the Banana Split Ice Cream Cake that a friend had shared the recipe a few years ago. I thought about this and decided that it would be just about perfect for his birthday today. Which it was especially good this evening when it was still very warm at 7:30, and it worked great for a hot September birthday with a candle in it. So here is the recipe for those who might need a quick and easy dessert for these last few hot days of summer! HAPPY BIRTHDAY GARY!

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake

2 -12 count boxes of ice cream sandwiches
1 tub of whipped cream
any other toppings that you might find on a banana split
Chocolate syrup

In a 9x13 glass pan, cover the bottom in unwrapped ice cream sandwiches. Spread a layer of whipped topping on top of the sandwiches. Then slice the bananas on top of the whipped topping, place cherries where they would be on each slice when cut. Add any other toppings that you desire. Then layer yet another layer of unwrapped ice cream sandwiches. Add another layer of whipped topping. Freeze until ready to serve. Cut place on plates and drizzle a little bit of chocolate syrup over the top and enjoy!