A Healthier Mammogram Alternative

Have you ever heard of a “thermogram”?  I hadn’t either until a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, I had found a lump that needed to be examined more closely.  After watching “The Truth About Cancer” video series last year, I had already decided that I was not going to get a mammogram unless it was absolutely necessary. The videos explained how women are being exposed to high amounts of radiation each year for a test that is only 50% effective.

Dr. Mercola’s website states that, “Mammograms use ionizing radiation at a relatively high dose, which can contribute to the mutations that can lead to breast cancer. You can get as much radiation from one mammogram as you would from 1,000 chest X-rays. Mammography also compresses your breasts tightly, which can lead to a dangerous spread of cancerous cells, should they exist. Dr. Samuel Epstein, one of the world’s top cancer experts, has stated:

“The premenopausal breast is highly sensitive to radiation, each 1 rad exposure increasing breast cancer risk by about 1 percent, with a cumulative 10 percent increased risk for each breast over a decade’s screening.””   http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/03/03/experts-say-avoid-mammograms.aspx

Being the health nut that I am, I went on the hunt for a safer test to find the answers that I needed.

Thankfully, the Lord pointed me to two different people to help me along my path to finding out if the lump that I felt was harmful.  My first wise decision was to confide in my friend, Delaney, who is a nurse.  I hoped that she would have some great medical insight for me and she did!  She told me that she had heard of a thing called “thermography” and that I should look into it.  I googled “thermography charlotte” and only one placed popped up.  It was the Thermography Center in Matthews.  I immediately made an appointment for the next day (because it is such an unknown process, they weren’t overly busy).

This appointment was the most amazing experience I have had in a long time.  The woman who took the thermogram (infrared heat sensitive pictures) was an amazing, christian woman.   She took the pictures and then explained everything to me right then and there.  I knew within minutes what I was looking at, what needed to be addressed, and what didn’t.  First and foremost, the lump I felt was nothing to worry about.  Because thermograms sense heat within the body, anything that was red on the screen was a place in my body where heat was building up more than it should.  On the other end of the spectrum, parts that were blue were cooler.  A cancerous tumor (or one forming) would appear red on the screen because it is a living thing inside of you that is drawing blood so that it can grow.  This test can see where problems are occurring years before they turn cancerous (a mammogram can only see the problem after it is already over 1 cm and potentially cancerous).  She could see where estrogen was building up in my chest, which could lead to problems down the road. Then she advised me on how to get rid of that build up.  I could even see on the screen where my lump was and that it was blue.  :)  Blue = good

I am writing all of this to tell you to please ask around to see if there is a thermography center where you live.  It may not be covered by insurance but they will take your HSA card.  It is worth the little bit of extra money that you may spend.  You will not regret taking the extra time and effort to get a better test than the one that squishes your boobs so hard that it hurts and then sends radiation throughout your body at the same time.  I thank God everyday that the lump I felt was not cancerous.  I am also very thankful that the Lord directed me to Kathrine Wassung at the Charlotte Thermography Center.  It turns out that there are numerous thermography offices in Charlotte, but for some reason, only one appeared on my screen that day.  The Lord was directing my steps and saving me from having to do a mammogram unnecessarily.  I am telling everyone I know about this test because it was fascinating, painless, and effective.

I have attached an interesting bit of an article for you to read and the link to the “Truth About Cancer” series that discusses mammograms and thermography.  Please check them out!

This is the actual video footage from “The Truth About Cancer” series.  Please watch this video.  

Mammograms Cause Breast Cancer (video)

Homeschool Conference and Prayer

Last weekend, I went to the homeschool conference in Greenville, SC with a purpose – to be inspired and to choose a Language Arts curriculum for both Wilson and Faith.  If you have never been to a homeschool conference then I can describe it for you in two words: motivational and overwhelming.  There are two parts to a conference…1. speakers   2. the vendor hall.

Each hour at a conference there are ten different speakers that a parent can go and listen to.  The speakers are amazing and motivational.  They are usually professors, brain scientists, or seasoned homeschool moms or dads (or a combination of all three).  I love getting tips from them about how to homeschool many children of different ages, how to handle strong-willed children, or how to better teach math without arguing with your kid.  They are “motivational”.

Now, the vendor hall is absolutely “overwhelming”.  There is a huge gym filled with over a hundred vendors selling games, curriculum, videos, books, etc.  The first time I walked into the vendor hall I just turned back around and walked back out.  It was super intense.  This time, however, I walked in and started to survey the situation.  I knew that I needed some language arts curriculum for my kids.  I have failed them terribly in terms of LA.  We do spelling and handwriting, but I don’t teach them how to analyze books or how to do reading comprehension.  It is not my strong suit.

I must preface this by telling you that over the last week, I had been praying for wisdom.  It says in James 1:5 that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  I trust in that verse and have been seeking God’s wisdom so that I know where to go next.  I took that verse with me last weekend and prayed for wisdom every step of the way.  I prayed about which speaker to go see and which curriculum I should buy.  I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own….I needed God to guide and direct my steps.

I ended up going to listen to a few speakers (one about strong-willed children which was fantastic), and then I hit the curriculum hall.  I found some books about how to play chess, which will be super helpful, if I ever get around to using them.  Wilson loves chess and I need to be able to teach him some strategy.  In the end, I talked to over 5 different curriculum companies, took their pamphlets and then prayed over it all while I ate a few oranges.  I asked God to guide my steps.  I ended up going back over to the Bob Jones table to look at their LA curriculum again.  As I began to talk to one lady, I noticed that there was a girl working there that I knew.  She ran the co-op that I planned to attend a few weeks later.  I talked to her about their virtual learning and was sold.  I spent a pretty penny on that curriculum for Wilson and Faith, but I knew that a teacher on the TV would be significantly better at teaching LA than I would.  I felt as if God had led me to the right booth and put a familiar face at it to help me along.

I knew that God was there with me nudging me along that day.  He knows better than I do what the kids need, and what I need.  Being away for the day and going to the conference was a blessing in, and of, itself.  Being led by the Holy Spirit was another blessing.  I am looking forward to using the new curriculum that I bought that day.  It is greatly needed in our homeschool and I am thankful that I have the ability to buy it and give the kids what they need, and I need.

Famous Artists Study

One of the best aspects of homeschooling is that I am actually learning right along with the children.  Even at the age of 44, my knowledge of history, geography, and art is very limited. I thought that those subjects were very boring when I was growing up and so I did not care to learn about them. Now that I am older, I can see the value in knowing about famous artists, composers, world leaders, missionaries from the past, and other historical facts (although I am still terrible at keeping up with current events.  I guess I just like to learn them when they have become “history”.)

Because I don’t want my kids to be completely ignorant in these areas as well, I decided to take the month of December to focus on doing some arts and crafts, learning about Jackson Pollock (a famous artist from the 1950s), and reading the biography of Amy Carmichael (a missionary to India around 1900.)  it was a lot of fun and very pressure free.

The Amy Carmichael book I chose to read is from the Heroes Now and Then series. The kids would ask me to read to them about Amy Carmichael each day and beg for more chapters when I was done.  You always want to end a book while the kids are still interested and asking for more.  It keeps them coming back.  Amy’s story is fascinating. She broke many tradition roles for both women and missionaries in India. Her legacy continues in India and the orphanage she started still working today.  By reading this book the kids learned about the Caste system, The United Kingdom, and life in the early 1900s. We all loved it!

At the same time, we studied Jackson Pollack, an “action” painters from the 1940-50s. I thought that his art would be the easiest for us to recreate, especially since this was our first try at recreating art. It was SO fun and terribly messy.  We read a book about Jackson, discussed his paintings and then made our own.

To start the project, each child painted the canvas any color that they wanted to use for the base.  Then, I pulled out every paint can that I could find in the garage ( which was a lot since I love paint samples and the old owner of our house left numerous cans).  Next, I put all of the open paint cans on a tarp in the front yard, grabbed some paint brushes and long sticks, and let the kids get to work.  The kids enjoyed it so much that we did it again when Gabriel and Shepherd were here for Christmas.  Here is our set up…..

Each child’s action painting was so different from the others’.  This is Miller’s painting.  He put a lot of color in the center and then was done….

Faith splattered very little on her canvas’.  She insisted on using pink, of course….

Faith’s second canvas….

Wilson, on the other hand, used so much paint that it took his paintings weeks to dry.  It has pounds of paint on it.  Wilson really got into his work.  He enjoyed the project the most.  He made three different action paintings and really put the word “action” into it.

I hung three of them in the hall bathroom downstairs.  Wilson’s are on the outside and mine is in the middle (yes, I got to make one too.).  As you can see, the one on the right had so much paint on it that it began to swirl and run together.  That one gets lots of compliments as well.

We LOVED this project.  The kids learned about a famous artist and they were able to create their own splatter painting without feeling like they couldn’t do it right.  You can’t mess up a splatter painting.  I am not sure who we will learn about next.  We may just start at the beginning and work our way up!

Faith’s first gymnastics meet

Faith had her first official gymnastics meet on Sunday morning.  We were all excited and very nervous.  Faith has been working so hard and has practiced many hours to prepare for this event, and the three upcoming events.  She is at the gym four hours per week, but would spend many more hours there if I let her.  She spends most of her time at home upside down.  :)

This was a great was to ease into the competition world.  There were many, many awards handed out due to the large number of small groups that they had the gymnasts divided into.  Faith had six girls in her group which meant that she would earn a metal. In fact, she earned two.  Her bar routine was her best and she scored a 9.2 on it.  Amazingly, the rest of her group did even better.  She was only a few tenths of a point from getting a higher placement in the other events.  Although she messed up a few times, which caused deductions, she still left the meet very encouraged because she was rewarded for all of her hard work.  I know that she will do even better at the next event because she won’t be as nervous as she was this time.  And she will stick that bridge kick-over on the beam (which very few girls are even attempting)!

We are all very proud of our little gymnast and I know that Faith was very proud of herself as well.

Family ski day

Yesterday we took a field trip to Appalachian Ski Mountain near Blowing Rock, NC. The ski slope has homeschool days on certain Wednesday and Thursday’s during the winter.  On these days skiing is very affordable and each greatly reduced ticket includes a one hour lesson and rentals. Love it!

The kids had never been on skis before and they were just as excited as Tom and I were about them learning. We arrived in just enough time to get the kids their tickets, suit them up and get them out to the bunny hill for their first lesson.  

As you can see, there hasn’t been a lot of snow here in NC this winter. The snow was only on the 4-5 runs that they had open.  It has been cold enough to make snow at night, but that is about all they had.  Yesterday it was so warm out that none of us even wore a jacket.  It was 50 degrees or more and the poor kids were seriously sweaty after their lesson.

About five minutes into the lesson, Tom and I had the realization that we had an hour free without children. We quickly went to rent our own equipment and were able to get in five or more runs before the kids’ class was over. The runs were super short but enjoyable just the same. 

The kids skied and skied and skied. After practicing on the smaller bunny hill, they all quickly graduated to the bigger bunny hill. Faith learned how to turn while the boys just learned how to go straight down the hill and then stop.  They all skied for hours until it was time for lunch. It was so warm during lunch that the kids complained about it being too hot!  Crazy right?  And yes, I have on a tank top in January.  


After eating the sandwiches and snacks that I packed that morning, we went back out to the slopes. This time, Faith wanted to go up to the bigger runs.  She and Tom went a few times together and then I got my turn to ride up with Faith.  I was so proud of how determined and fearless she was on skis.  She did an amazing job.  By the end of the day she was cruising down the blue runs.

Little Miller was like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, “I just want to go fast!”.  He was one of those little kids that you see zooming down the slopes without turning and without any fear.  He did awesome!  He went up to the top with Faith and Tom over and over again.  At the end of the day he cried and cried because he didn’t want to stop skiing.  He especially wanted to keep his helmet and keeps asking me when I am going to buy him a helmet of his own.

Wilson did a great job too (of course I don’t have a picture of him skiing).  Wilson is usually somewhat fearful of going fast (which seems so unlike him), but he liked going fast down the bigger bunny hill.  He isn’t quite ready to head to the top of the mountain but I know that he will get there soon enough.

I was almost in tears yesterday thinking about how we have found a sport that we can all do together, and it is one that I truly enjoy doing.  The kids will only get better and better at skiing and snowboarding as time goes on.  We plan to head back up to Appalachian Ski Mountain in two weeks for the next homeschool day and we are all counting down the days until we can go again.

How is Homeschool going?

The one question that I get asked a lot is, “How is homeschooling going?”.

I am very honest in my reply which is, “It is going a lot better than it was a few months ago.  It was terrible in the beginning, but now we are enjoying it a lot more.  We have a routine….sort of.

The hardest part about homeschooling is getting work done and finding the time to do it.  It is so easy to fill up the mornings with activities, art, and goofing off.  I have really learned to keep the mornings free so that the kids can learn and do their work.  Before I even started this adventure, I had a few veteran homeschool moms tell me not try to get in every subject everyday because it was impossible.  They were right!  There is no way that I can make my own children sit and do reading, writing, math, science, Bible study, spelling, handwriting, and history all in one day.  Not a chance!  On most days we are able to do math, history (my new favorite), spelling, Bible study and reading.  If Wilson does a lot of writing that day then I don’t make him do handwriting also.  It really is a juggling act.

There are days that I feel successful, and other days when I feel like a total failure and that I am ruining my children.  I am constantly tweaking the process and making it better.  For example, I have realized that on Tuesdays, when Miller is home, I need to make the learning more fun and interactive. Tuesdays are the days to do a science experiment, an art project, bake cookies to learn fractions, or read aloud from our history book and color in a map.   It is a day for a math game or watch to our Times Tales DVD to help learn times tables (which is a fabulous way to teach your visual learners).  There are ways to make learning more fun and interesting in order to keep a 4…I mean, a 5 year old entertained.  (Boo-hoo! Miller had a birthday). 

I still love being at home with the kids. Our lifestyle has slowed down significantly and that is the way I would like to keep it. I think that the kids enjoy being at home more often as well. Wilson still needs some friends, which we are working on, but even he would rather be at home in his pajamas than getting up early and going to school all day. 

Another question people ask is, “Are they getting outside socialization”.  The answer is “yes!”  Wilson and faith both go to art class, they go to bible study with other children each Thursday, faith does gymnastics four hours per week, wilson goes to PE class at the Y, and they have play dates. They get to play with kids that they want to be with and are able to choose their friends. Sometimes they play more than they work….sometimes

Overall, life still has its challenges, but it is better. We are together more. My relationship with Faith has improved dramatically. I can learn alongside my kids and I actually know what they are learning. I know what they struggle with and what to focus on more the next lesson. We can take field trips together. Homeschooling is where God has led us and I am so very thankful. 

Christmas part 2

Each year we spend the second half of Christmas break in Pennsylvania with Tom’s family.  We all meet up at his mom and Will’s house for a few days. One day is dedicated to having “Christmas”. The kids get to open presents from Will, Aunt Shelly and Aunt Kim.   This also gives them some games and toys to play with while we are there. Wilson got a chess set so we played a lot of chess over those few days. He beat us most games. 

We also like to bring the Wii for the kids and Alexis to play (of course, we have to play some too.).  This keeps my kids entertained so that they don’t sword fight in the house or jump all over the furniture. Technology definitely has it benefits and uses…..

One thing that we did differently this year was to go to trivia at Al’s pizza where Shelly was hosting the trivia that night. I love trivia night and everyone seemed to enjoy it as well.  It was fun to go out together and have something to rally around. We invited Tom’s cousins, Jenny and Mike, to go with us. They came in handy when there was a matching question about ten famous law cases, since they are both lawyers. Yep! We won first place….which wasn’t too hard since we had two lawyers and Will on our team…and there were only four teams playing that night.  BUT, we still won!

The icing on the cake was the snow. We woke up the first morning to an inch of snow on the ground. An inch of snow isn’t much to most, but to us, it is as good as a foot. The kids bundled up and rushed out to build a snowman. I was thankful that Tom grabbed some mittens at the last minute before we left our house back in NC.

The snowman…..

I was the target of most of the snowballs….

It is always fun to see Tom’s family.  We may not get to see them as often as we see my family, we always has a great time together.  Will is always such a gracious and patient host.  He lets us completely invade his quiet home and never complains about the mess or the noise.  Thanks Will!