Touring the Country Through Children’s Hospitals


Mount Rushmore

In January when we were seeing a certain specialty doctor at Children’s Hospital Colorado, I mentioned the trip we had just returned home from the month before. I mentioned how we drove the very long way to see my mom, how we went to Mount Rushmore, how two of my sons went to different renowned doctors in the Twin Cities, how Vince received his chemotherapy at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) while we were at my mom’s house, etc.

“We have a beautiful country and it’s great to see,” Doctor said, “but you have to stop touring the country through children’s hospitals.” She explained to me that she has another patient who has a very rare medical problem and that mother goes to a new children’s hospital in a new area of the country “at least every year”. Doctor thought is was always great to get a second opinion, but that if we were on vacation, we should simply have fun. “Stop touring the country through children’s hospitals,” was her conclusion.

I had never thought of it that way, that we were touring the country through children’s hospitals, but she was right. While seeing my beloved mother in New Jersey was a great part of the trip, the main reason for the trip was to visit these very renowned doctors and get their expert opinions. Vince’s neurooncologist said the neurooncologist at CHOP was the “top guy” in the country for Vince’s particular combinations. I had read some very promising things about the neurooncologist in Minneapolis and the orthopedic doctor (for my oldest son’s extremely rare bone deformity in his leg) in St. Paul. That, combined with the fact that our insurance (through my husband’s employer) provides a slight reimbursement for traveling far for Vince’s treatment/ second opinions through their Pediatric Cancer Centers of Excellence Program meant Road Trip.

We had an excellent trip, all things considered. I got some great answers in Minnesota. Vince is now on the treatment proposed by the Minneapolis neurooncologist and we are making plans for my oldest son to have surgery on his leg (in a way that they don’t do in Colorado) in St. Paul. My wonderful friend came with us for one leg of the trip and watched my other children in Minnesota while we went to the doctors. My sister flew to Chicago and helped us drive from Chicago to New Jersey. We were able to spend a long time with my wonderful mother and my son was able to keep up on his chemo treatments at CHOP. Kevin flew to Cleveland- I met him along the way and he helped us drive from Cleveland to our house in Colorado. Yes, it was a crazy trip. Yes, I had my six children seven and under with me. Yes, I saw parts of the country that I had never seen before. But the most important thing is that I learned some very valuable insights about my sons’ health conditions that will hopefully lead them to overcome them.



I will do it again, even this year as we make plans for leg surgery 1900 or 1000 miles away. I told you that I will go to the ends of the earth for my babies, or at least the ends of the country.

So, yes, I toured the country through children’s hospitals. Guilty as charged.




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Fixing a Homeschool Book That Lost Its Cover

I love John Saxon. I first became acquainted with John Saxon’s math program when I attended high school since my school used the program. I was always good at math, but I had never been challenged or reviewed like I was with John Saxon. When I was a junior in high school, my teacher happened to be the Mathematics Department Head. Mrs.MathDepartmentHead was always singing the praises of John Saxon and frequently showed us a snapshot of her with John Saxon. As a stupid teenager, I rolled by eyes, but now looking back on it, I see she was right- John Saxon’s math really is awesome. As I am teaching elementary math to my young children, I am remembering my own elementary math and I see how the formation of my own non-Saxon Math was lacking and how my Saxon-years were different as Saxon Math actually forms the mind mathematically. My junior year math class was Mrs.MathDepartmentHead’s pride and joy. We were her most advanced group besides Calculus. There was a math book conference of some sort and John Saxon himself would be there. Mrs.MathDepartmentHead volunteered our class to work the conference. When the day came, I was very behind on my schoolwork in other subjects. I talked my parents into letting me take the day off from school. I knew that since my entire math class would be out (on the trip) and since those students were in the majority of my other honors classes, I wouldn’t miss any work since the other teachers wouldn’t teach much with 3/4 of the class missing. My parents agreed and I didn’t go to school that day or attend the math book conference. John Saxon died a year later. I forever missed the opportunity to meet him or at least stand in the same room with him. And now all these years later, I regret playing hooky from school and never meeting John Saxon. It is amazing how I feel the consequences of this seemingly insignificant decision all these years later.

I try to buy used homeschool books whenever I can- I am all about economics. A few times, kind and generous people who have used the same curriculum that I have have even given us some of their used homeschool books. By nature, our family of six young children in a small house are not very gentle on our things, homeschool books included.

Our copy of the Saxon Math 6/5 Solutions Manual was falling apart. The front and back covers were gone and I thought it was beyond tape and clear contact paper. My oldest son was using it and I intend for it to last through all six of our children. I didn’t want to fork over $20- $25 (that I don’t have) to replace it. (But here is my Amazon affiliate link if you didn’t get yours yet.) I will detail how I fixed it here and perhaps you can copy this procedure if it will work in your own home for your own books. Oh, and for the curious who have picked up on the fact that my son is only in Second Grade and yet is doing fifth grade math, he’s a math genius, that’s all. Put another checkmark in the why-it’s-good-to-homeschool-column and let his mama brag- my son is able to set his own pace in our homeschool and that pace just happens to be three grades ahead in math.

To fix a homeschool book that lost its cover, first gather your supplies. You will need string, the book, a drill, a long thick drill bit, a pen or pencil, a piece of looseleaf paper, a plastic folder with fasteners inside, and a piece of wood you don’t care about (I used firewood).






Next, put the looseleaf paper on top of the first page and trace the holes.
After that, drill the holes you have marked, with the whole book on top of the wood you don’t care about. (I didn’t want to drill my kitchen table.)

Next, use the string to secure the book into the fastener holes and tie it. You’ll probably be able to do a better job than me- I ended up with a bit of loose string, but I think that’s OK.

Next, depending on your string type, burn the ends if necessary to prevent unravelling.

And there you are, here is your fixed homeschool book with its new cover. I should probably add a label, but I didn’t yet. Hopefully, it will last through my remaining five children’s use. I have had it in use for about a month or two after I have fixed it and so far it is holding up perfectly.

In the pictures above, you can see what the fixed book looks like from the outside and from a random page on the inside.

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