Thanks for taking the time to stop by and visit our family blog.
This blog was originally created to post updates on our newborn daughter, which was 4 years ago. God has started using this blog as a ministry and outreach plus a way to record the journey that God is allowing our family to live.
To Our Lord, may He get the Glory and Honor!

Blessings from Shandee

Update: We have been led to further sharing our online journey with posts from the entire family. What started out as a simple blogging journey from a Mother & Wife's perspective has blossomed into a family journey. We now welcome you to The Childress Family Blog.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Courageous - In Theaters September 30

Wow!  Courageous is here! I can't believe that the time has arrived.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Coping with the Diagnosis

After  two different A1C tests and consistent abnormal blood sugar readings, we accepted the diagnosis that Hannah had Juvenile Diabetes/Type 1.

This was the most difficult thing that our family experienced. It was very difficult managing 5 children ages 1-10 while being 1 1/2 hours away from home.  The Ronald McDonald House was able to house one parent and 4 children each night. There was also a warm dinner provided each night along with a nice, comfy room and a bathroom stocked with toiletries. It's amazing how we take for granted being able to brush our teeth or comb our hair!!

Our main concern was how to care for our daughter. I am finding out that this is a constant learning process and surprisingly a changing process.  Factors for her treatment include; her overall health including times of illness, her activity level, the food and drinks she consumes, schedule or disruptions to the schedule, plus stresses that our family may be going through.

During her hospital stay, we met with doctors, nurses, and dieticians. We learned to count carbs, take blood sugar readings by finger sticks, and how to properly give insulin via injection. Giving shots was one of the worst things I could imagine. All of these things have become necessary for her day to day survival.

You can read entries from our journey in the archives section. You will need to scroll down to Blog Archive on the right side link and select October 2010.

Please come back soon because we have a great ministry and outreach project that we're working on and would love to share with you in memory of the 1 year anniversary date of Hannah's diagnosis.

Children's Hospital - Level Three

Children's Hospital - Level Three

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What were the Symptoms of Juvenile Diabetes?

Strangely, our daughter did not have many symptoms present at the time of her diagnosis.
The doctors believe the reason for this is because our daughter was what is referred to as the honeymoon period.  During this period, the body is still producing some insulin on it's own. With our daughter's diagnosis, her blood sugar reading was around 200 and we have been told that when children come into the hospital, their reading is usually at least 700. I believe (and thank the Lord) that because Hannah is with me every day, that I was able to see that she was not feeling well earlier on than if she was away from me most of the day with someone else.  If you have heard me speak on mothering, you know that I often say:  " A mother knows."

Our daughter had devleloped several bladder infections from spring till summer last year. When we took her in for a urine sample at the pediatrician's office,  an infection was detected along with the presence of glucose and ketones. Glucose in the urine and ketones are both indicators of Juvenile Diabetes.

Looking back, there were only a few symptoms that our child was showing.

  1. Frequent bladder infections within 5 months
  2. Irritable.  Our daughter would appear very irritable and uncooperative at times for no reason. We thought that this was a personality trait and a strong-willed spirit. We now know that she was feeling very sick and did not know how to tell us.  My heart breaks just thinking about it.
  3. Weight Loss

Below is a list of symtpoms that I found from MayoClinic's Health Website:




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By Mayo Clinic staff
The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children usually develop quickly, over a period of weeks. Look for:
  • Increased thirst and frequent urination. As excess sugar builds up in your child's bloodstream, fluid is pulled from the tissues. This may leave your child thirsty. As a result, your child may drink — and urinate — more than usual.
  • Extreme hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your child's cells, your child's muscles and organs become energy depleted. This triggers intense hunger.
  • Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, your child may lose weight — sometimes rapidly. Without the energy sugar supplies, muscle tissues and fat stores simply shrink. Unexplained weight loss is often the first sign to be noticed.
  • Fatigue. If your child's cells are deprived of sugar, he or she may become tired and lethargic.
  • Irritability or unusual behavior. Children with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes may suddenly seem moody or irritable.
  • Blurred vision. If your child's blood sugar is too high, fluid may be pulled from the lenses of your child's eyes. This may affect your child's ability to focus clearly.
  • Yeast infection. Girls with type 1 diabetes may have a genital yeast infection, and babies can develop diaper rash caused by yeast.
When to see a doctor
Talk to your child's doctor if you notice any of the signs or symptoms of type 1 diabetes — increased thirst and frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, or fatigue."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Year Anniversary of Diagnosis of Juvenile Diabetes/Type 1

One year ago, on this day, our family changed forever. Our life seemed to come to a screeching halt when the news was announced to us. "She has Juvenile Diabetes."  A clear sphere-shaped dome surfaced between myself and the doctor as I sat there listening to the doctor's words.

 "Are you sure?" I asked.

"Positive," she replied. "You are going to be on your way to Children's Hospital so you need to get home and get ready for a stay for at least 5 days."

I heard nothing else...

I cried.

The girls and I were speechless.

I was in shock.

I was in disbelief.

I felt as if a lie was being told and I did not accept it.

However, I knew my child was sick and something was wrong and something was not normal when her blood sugar reading presented a level of 200. After I could think more clearly, at that moment-we started preparing for the 1 1/2 trip Niswonger Hospital.

My oldest daughter grabbed her pen and notebook from her bag. A plan was being formed on how to get a family of 7 packed for several days at a hospital that was 1 1/2 hours from our home. The youngest family member was only 16 months old. Our oldest daughter started lists of names and who was packing what and who needed what along with medication lists and items that could have easily been packed. My girls' actions at that moment were amazing and the fruits of my training was visible. In the small exam room, we developed a complex plan that would quickly be carried out once we arrived home. While the doctor went out of the room, we started praying and immediately rebuking and denying this terrible news. We called Daddy and he was on alert.  He would have to make the 1 hour drive back home from his work and then travel back to TN with us to travel to Children's Niswonger Hopsital.  Kites now have a new meaning to us, if you have been on the third floor at Niswonger Hospital, you know what I mean.

We were later sent to the local hospital for bloodwork to make sure that our daughter would be able to safely come home or if she would need to be airlifted to Johnson City.  We discovered that the doctors were checking to see if our daughter was in ketoacidosis. One set of the grandparents joined us as we waited for the bloodwork.  Thankfully, our daughter was not in ketoacidosis and she was able  to stop with us at home and prepare to make the 1 1/2 hour ride to the nearest Children's hospital.

Once we were able to make a quick stop home, the two oldest girls(age 10 and 7) worked amazingly while guiding their 4 year old sister to help while I took care of their sick sister and made phone calls while setting out a quick lunch that had been picked up from drive-thru. Working together, they packed nearly everything that we needed.

"Mommy, please, let us stay together," she begged in fear.  In the midst of this illness, all she wanted was some normalcy of having her family close and all together. We did everything we could possibly do to honor her sweet request.

My dear Lord, what was happening?

I will never forget that day because everything that we knew as normal changed and will be that way until either God heals Hannah or there is new medical treatment for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes.

Hannah was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 5.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Visiting Knoxville Zoo

An Inside Look at the Turtles

While visiting the zoo, we learned some interesting facts:

  • The Knoxville Zoo was built in the 1970's and is in need of updates and possible reconstruction.
  • The Zoo needs more space to be able to make exhibits for its animals.
  • This Zoo has a rare-turtle that was the first of its kind to be hatched in captivity.
  • Some species of the turtles are nearing extinction.
  • Different species of turtles cannot be combined in the same exhibit for health reasons.
  • Turtles are sensitive to sunlight and temperature changes.
  • The difference between turtles and tortoises is that tortoises are more land animals and do not enjoy being in the water like turtles.

(We also learned that Hannah prefers sea turtles :-)

Making Friends

Tortoise Time

 Al the Tortoise

Dedicated to Mr. Phil

Mr. Phil, this visit would not have been possible without you. Thank you for your generosity, compassion, and time to bless our family. Thanks for the memories and a joy that your efforts gave us.
May your family be blessed as much as you blessed ours!

Red Panda Exhibit

 Pictured here are the Baby Red Pandas

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chili's Donations for St. Judes

In honor of our friend, Westin.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Homeschooling with Pre-Schoolers

Below is a repost from one of my previous blog entries.

(Note: This article is something that works for our family and is only my suggestion based on my life experiences.)

Many mothers I meet, ask me advice for the age-old question, well not age-old question, but a good question. It's been on my heart for a while now to answer the question.
How do you do homeschool with preschoolers?

Let's rewind back to my first year of homeschooling.

Year 2005
Childress Family Status:
Family of 5
Just moved 3 states within 6 weeks-no joking!
Children ages: 4 yr. old, 2yr old, 10 month old baby and expecting daughter #4
4 year old kindergardner getting ready to turn 5
New Baby comes along so I then had; 5,2,1,newborn. Pottytraining, nursing, unpacking and teaching my first year of homeschooling with no idea what I was doing! Keep in mind husband travels approximately 2 hours to and from work everyday.

As you can see, that is a lengthy list and a very physically and emotionally straining day. One friend even commented to me, "You sure don't like to make things easy on yourself, do you?"
Well, my answer to that is it's not my choice. The Lord opened my heart and my husband's heart to every decision that we allowed God to show us and guess what? During this incredibly difficult time is when the Lord did the biggest change in me. I learned to do many new things. I began to grow in Him and at this point was when I learned my true calling in life;
being a helpmeet to my husand and the precious gift of motherhood in however God allows to fill my womb.

At this time, I learned a great many things about teaching school with preschoolers. Afterall, I had three of them at one time. So, here are some of my tips:

1. I personally must have a schedule, even if it is not an exact time, still keep a consistent, routine. Children thrive and do very well with routines.

2. Don't leave the preschoolers out of school. Bringing them along with you as early as newborn stages will train them to be with you in the classroom and there will really be no adjustment period because that is all they will have ever known. Plus, I have noted that no matter what we are doing or where we are at, children long to be with other children and that is the case with siblings. They want to be together having FUN.

3. Do the FUN stuff when it's first thing in the morning while everyone is awake, full, and ready for the day. FUN stuff would be crafts, Science(I recommend
Sonlight over and over,) Worship Music&Bible time, drawing, dvd's, and journaling.

4. Skip the more serious, concentrated stuff for when the preschoolers are resting. If you have a set time, you will know that you will get the serious work done later and can count on that. I know some days things do not go as we plan, so don't get discouraged, just be consistent. Example subjects that may require more help are; reading, phonics skills, testing, and math.

5. Keep the preschoolers rotating while you work with others. Plan ahead for this. It will require time and planning, but it will benefit you while they are having fun and moving along while you are working with the older students. Something that I do ahead of time is set up centers. Centers are activities at a table or area. For example; at one center, I have put play doh with play doh accessories. Center number two would include puzzles. Center number three could be magnetic alphabet letters and a magnetic friendly tray they will stick to. You can have as many centers as you want. I would personally not exceed 3 or 4 because it may overwhelm them with so many choices. Also, the child should rotate centers. I have found with my daughters a good center time is 15 mins. and then switch. It will keep them busy having fun and learning motor and visual skills while you work with other students.

6. Include them in as much as you can. I include my preschoolers in every way that I can during our morning schedule.

7. Make a space for them just as you do your other students. Your cute preschooler will look for his or her own special desk or personal area because Little Mr. or Mrs. preschooler wants to be just like big siblings.

ENJOY! When it's all said and done, later in life, these are memories. Memories of their time and education spent with you. You can't invest in a more fulfilling career.

For more ideas or questions, please contact me via COMMENT or email.

Blessings, Shandee

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Image research

~Sharing some of the online images we found this afternoon. While doing research for an art contest, we discovered some images that we thought you might enjoy. The theme of this contest is Fall in Southwest Virginia.~ Special thanks to all the online sites we visited today.

To the right, is an artist creating her submission.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Absence

Please excuse our absence, we'll be back soon with updates. Thanks for peeking in on us.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Really Pandas?

In honor of my cute little toddler who is now in love with Pandas, thanks to our church VBS, I have temporarily changed the background to her favorite pandas.

A View from our window

What a blessing it is to have my children with me during the day and I thank God for allowing me to homeschool them on this Fall day-what a joy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Single Income Family

For the most part of today's culture, many believe that there is no way that one income could provide for a family of seven.  I dismiss that belief. Many times, others often tell me that they "cannot afford to not work" or that they "wished they were that lucky to be able to stay home."

I want you to know that if you know that God has called you to be home or to do anything else in your life, then you will make a way because you know that God has called you to do that thing. In this case, I am referring to staying home to care for my family.  God has clearly shown my husband and myself that my place is here and I will not believe the information that starts even in toddlerhood, to over-achieve, get ready for school, get ready for college, live for your career! Friends, my career is love my husband and to train precious little girls to serve and minister and to love the Lord with all their hearts in the name of Jesus.  If I concentrate on those two things, it is a pretty high calling!

I know that if you are reading this article to the length, that this is a sensitive issue that God has placed on the heart of you and your family.  All day long; in the struggle of my day, the Lord has been prompting me to share with you the ways how our family lives in order to live on a single family income.  Honestly, in America, we overspend and waste so much that we are not aware of.

  1. Mindset-It all starts with a mindset. This is a style of living that is rare and different than most you encounter. I will tell you right now that your mindset will have to change in many ways to accomplish living on a single family income.
  2. Spending-Track, be aware of, and constantly meet with your spouse on your daily spending. Be accountable to each other. I would never advise you to hide any amount of spending from your spouse, be open and honest. You will have such peace and freedom in this area of your marriage.
  3. Vehicle Payments!  Ugh, this is one of the biggest money robbers out there. Seriously, our family is crammed into an out of space mini-van  and often have to take two vehicles so we can all travel somewhere. Is this a pain? Sure it is. Is it comfortable? ABSOLUTELY NOT!  But, we are doing this to make do with what we have.  (And, we have a plan on how to get a vehicle to fit our family, but we have to plan and wait until we can make that happen.)  The point that I would like to express is to be careful not to let yourselves be a slave to vehicle payments. Sometimes, the extra vehicle payment can be the one thing that breaks your monthly budget.  We know this from experience.
  4. Groceries-Making several trips to the grocery store within the week not only costs extra gas money and wear on your vehicle, but it also robs dollars from your budget. How many times have you stopped at the store to buy one thing and came out with $25 worth of items and only a few items to account for it? It happens to all of us when we are not diligent in planning our store trips. (I"ll have more suggestions on this on another post in the future.)
  5. Phones-I know, this is a sensitive subject, but I must say that the cell phone industry is rolling and it's costing high dollars for all their features. Do you really need to have the web access on your phone?  Well, it depends on what you are willing to trade off for it. Recently, we decided that we are tired of paying a $50/month cell phone bill for basic service that had  no texting or any other features.  So, I asked myself, "Can I really make it without this phone?" I said, "Yes!" and spoke to my husband about how to regain $50 back into our monthly income. Would I love to be texting you and blogging about 6 times per day?  Sure, I would!!  It would be fun and also a great way to communicate... However; friends, with all that I do to homeschool and train my children every day, I do not have time to be on a phone-home or cell. This decision was a no-brainer for me and a sacrifice to regain $50 per month.
  6. Less of me-Once I was married, I realized that nothing was about me anymore. I let things for myself fall off the radar. Clothes, make-up, house decor, and anything girlie was always luring money from me. For me, I had to choose to let so many wardrobe pieces drift away and shopping every week was no longer an option. Purchasing these items became a luxury to me and now, when I am able to get a new shirt(that my mother or friend did not give me) it is a nice treat. I still search for a bargain, though.
  7. Bargain Shopping& Coupons-I always watch the sales, clip coupons, and rarely pay full price for anything!  This is a BIG deal with our household supplies.

Dave Ramsey has some wonderful ideas and suggestions. Rick often listens to Dave's broadcasts as he commutes home every evening. We have not completed Dave's program, but it is definitely worth checking out!

I pray that this has been the encouragement that you needed today.
Fellow homemakers, what are some ways that you make it work to stay home? Please comment and encourage others. You can comment anonymously or leave your name.

Blessings, Shandee

Monday, September 12, 2011

Checking In

Hi All...

Making a brief check-in to say hello. It's been a rough go with some sickness making it's way through our family. We actually had to cut our trip short and return home sooner than we would have liked. We exited Knoxville as soon as our Endocrinologist visit was over.

We're celebrating some birthdays this week. Just know that we'll check back in with some fun photos to share.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


And, so we wait for tomorrow's appointment...

And, of which harshly yells, "this is real!" as we make our way through the busy city streets of Knoxville at Children's hospital.

I hear the echo in my mind, "Hannah does have Juvenile Diabetes."

All of which makes me want to run away and pray that this is not real.

But, it is real...

For now, we enjoy a peaceful moment of letting kids play and enjoying life until the morning.

Thank you for your prayers and for being with us on this journey.

Blessings, Shandee for The Childress Family

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Our new normal


It is really weird typing about being normal. It's even weirder calling our days normal.

Packing and unpacking.
Travelling far distances to seek care. That's our life now.
This is our journey of Childhood Type 1 Diabetes, which we- nor she, did anything to cause.
 It just happened and no one knows how or why children are suffering from this disease. The folks at JDRF are working really hard to find answers to these questions.

We haven't been on vacation this year. Lots of friends have come and gone on vacation this year and our girls have asked, "are we going on vacation?" Our reply is that the answer has been no, we are not going on vacation this year. 

It saddens me that they are calling this visit to Children's Hospital-a vacation.  But; getting to stay at a hotel and eating out and daddy with us for several days is a vacation, not to mention the generous behind-the-scenes turtle tour that Mr. Phil will be giving us. The children can call this a vacation and we will make the best memories that we can out of this walk with Juvenile Diabetes.

Also, did I mention that I get the sweetest love notes from my adorable daughter?
It's kind of like we have a secret writing code. For example, one day my daughter brought me this note with a hidden message. The hidden message was actually from her blood sugar reading.  She came to me this day, complaining of feeling shaky. I immediately knew she was probably low.

This is our new normal. I don't think I'll ever be happy about it, but we are praising the Lord that there is medicine and there are doctors to care for our daughter and she is still here with us!
Also, we are thankful for the wonderful education that we get each time that we visit Children's Hospital. The clinic office that we visit has truly worked overtime to accomodate families and children to ease the burden of this disease.  Watch out Mrs. Kristen, the Childress girls are really excited to see you ;-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

We need healing.

Update: Thank you for your prayers!  Some of the  girls are doing somewhat better. I am trying to treat their symptoms to get rid of this yucky bug that has been attacking their bodies causing sore throat, cough, and chest congestion.

Why is it that every time that we try to minister or share God's word that our family gets attacked?

It makes me so MAD!

Last week, our two oldest daughters started getting sick right after they were asked to sing at our church yesterday. My oldest daughter pushed on and they proceeded to give God the glory.

Tonight, we are really working hard to take care of some of them. One child is particularly in a bad way with her asthma.

There is no way that we can leave for a 3 hour drive this week if things do not look up and I pray that the special zoo trip is not robbed from us like Elmo was. Plus, I don't want to postpone the dr. visit into much cooler weather.

Please pray against this attack of the enemy. The children can even feel that they started being attacked last week.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Meet the kittens..we are seeking families to adopt one.

Were we hoping for more kittens again, so soon?  
Well, no that was not the plan. Let me tell you the story about these little kittens. 

We were waiting for Whiskers to wean the other kittens that were born on April 3rd. At the age of 9 weeks old, the kittens were still nursing.  One morning, we discovered that Whiskers' husband was outside(the orange cat) and later that morning, we saw the black and white cat.  Whiskers began to follow the black and white cat. She no longer wanted the orange cat or her kittens. And, sure enough, she did get a new husband.

 Meanwhile, I was calling every vet for help on figuring out if she could have kittens again while nursing. I was informed, "Oh Yes!" I was given the option of having Whiskers spayed at that time and I was told that even if she was pregnant, the kittens could be aborted. In our home, life is precious and we said absolutely NO. Whiskers did get a new husband and it is the black and white cat. Remarkably, one of the new kittens looks exactly like him!  We believe that if our family was willing to give these kittens the chance to live, then surely we can find a joyful, loving home for them.  We now know when these tiny kitties can be weaned and we plan to do that so Ms. Whiskers can not get a new husband and have new babies again. 

Thanks for reading their story. Now I will introduce the kittens, which our Daddy has recommended we do not name because  when we name them, there is more attachment.  They are so adorable!

Kitty #1(this one looks exactly like it's Dad)

Kitty #2

Kitty #3

Kitty #4(looks like his Momma)

Friday, September 2, 2011

A few nights ago, Whiskers decided to move her kittens from this cozy birthing bed.

She moved them into this cardboard Pampers box. The kittens have decided to venture out into "the world" from this box. They come to our door when we open it and like to follow the girls on the porch. Two of our daughters made a blankie for them today. The girls are loving the new life on our porch!

I have read that the Momma cat has an instinct to move them when they are around 2 weeks old.

Please come back tomorrow to meet each one.