Nov. 2012

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Exciting Cleaning Discoveries

I recently discovered how to clean a moldy water bottle that is tall and has a smaller opening, thus making it difficult to clean and a dishwasher that has hard water build-up.

Moldy Bottle Solution: go to

check out this site for all the ways you can use vinegar including the hard water stains in your dishwasher.

I am excited to learn new ways to clean and fix things so that I don't have to go and buy new. If I get the point of thinking about throwing things away to replace with something new I ponder my carbon footprint hoping for a good future for my children.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Their world and Ours

Isaac: "Mom can you call Grandma and Grandpa and Dad RIGHT NOW so that they can come see the horses before they have surgery?"

Me: "Do you really think I should call Grandma, Grandpa, and Dad so that they can stop everything RIGHT NOW to come and participate in your pretend world?"

Isaac: "Yeah!" (big smile)

Me: "No not gonna happen."

I've been somewhat irritated lately how the pretend world exists on the same level as real life and how the pretend world creates so much bickering between the boys when one of their worlds doesn't mesh with the others. For example, when they are arguing over whether or not you can feed a horse a peppermint or if one wins a pretend world race and the other loses.

My latest statement: "If you pretend world doesn't bring joy, than that pretend world cannot exist." Not sure if that is a good statement to make yet because I am still sorting it all out in my head since I do love their creativity and want to celebrate it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Isaac's First Hospital Visit

Isaac had a loss of appetite on Friday night. Then on Saturday he began having intermittent severe abdominal pain. He had similar pain a few months back with a case of the flu so we thought we just needed to wait for the diarrhea to begin. Sunday the pain become worse throughout the day but still off and on and still no other flu symptoms. He was more tired than normal and sleeping more. The pain wasn't keeping him from sleeping. On Monday we took him to the doctor and she recommended an ultrasound at All Children's Hospital. The ultrasound confirmed that Isaac had intussusception in the small bowel. Basically his small bowel had telescoped into itself. The likely cause is a virus with enlarged stomach lymph nodes that pushed the small intestine inward just enough for it to collapse within itself.

The two possible procedures to correct the problem is an air enema or surgery. The surgeons decided to have the radiologist try the air enema first. They pass a tube up the rectum and blow air in the intestines. They gave only a 20% chance of it working given Isaac's age (usually intussusception happens in children younger than 2 years), the location of the blockage, and the duration of time it had been blocked (2 days). Within 5 minutes the air enema worked!!! The radiologists were shocked. Isaac was completely pain free and just a little tired from the days of pain before and procedure.

After the procedure Isaac and I stayed at the hospital for about 24 hours so that they could observe any changes that may occur when he ate. Next week Isaac will have another ultrasound to help determine if it was only a lymph node/ virus that caused the blockage or if there is something else that caused the problem.

Isaac and I are both happy to be home. We are grateful for the good hospital experience: a brand new hospital, nice nurses and doctors, and TV viewing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cullums Under Construction

Happy Advent, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

The year 2010 has brough the Cullums "Under Construction".

September we began building our new house. The house is located on 102nd Ave in Seminole Florida about 5 minutes from our current house and 1 minute from Kyle's parents. It is the same land where Kyle lived with his parents from elementary school through high school. We are trying to do a lot of the work ourselves so we anticipate completion to be around Thanksgiving 2011. It has been an entire family project with Kyle, myself, all 3 of our children, Kyle's parents and Kyle's brother and cousin helping out. Isaac and Eli have loved playing in the dirt and riding on the backhoe with Grandpa Cullum. We are extremely grateful to have this opportunity to build a home that meets our needs and helps us continue with our goals for our family.

Kyle rode a 100 mile bike ride with his brother Sam in October and I am in the process of training for a half marathon on January 8th with my sister in law Amber Cullum. Both the rides and runs have pushed us past our limits but its always good to complete something you never thought you could.

We are so grateful that Florida Electrical Service continues to find work this year. We continue to hear of more and more construction based companies down sizing and closing in PInellas County. Kyle, David and Steve have worked long hours this year in hopes of continuing to find work for the company.

In May I was approached to direct our homeschool community Classical Conversations Largo. I took on the job and have been busy throughout the year making sure our school days run well and the community is healthy. It has been a lot of work and forced me to continue to strengthen my weak areas of leadership. We continue to be so thankful for the Classical Conversations community and how it holds us accountable to academic excellence and has brought great people into our lives.

Prema at 11 years old started middle school in the fall. She is in a self contained special education classroom for students with multiple disabilities. She remains in 2 joining classrooms most of the day and is fully supervised whenever she is mainstreamed with other students. In the mornings her curriculum focuses on academics and in the afternoons she is learning life skills. Prema is loving school this year. The new environment brings some challenges as she is the only deaf student and therefore a full time interpreter is required. On the positive side she is functioning at the same level as her peers so she is able to be instructed in small groups providing her the socialization she craves. Prema started her 2 year braces treatment in January 2010 and got her first set of glasses in September 2010. She is looking very mature.

The boys have kept us very very busy this year with their endless creativity and energy. Isaac at 5 years old continues to do well in his school work. He is really enjoying math this year. He is always leading Eli and other children in complex imaginary play usually pertaining to be Kings and Knights, farming, playing a Rocker baseball game, living in the land of Narnia, etc. Eli at 3 years old loves to join in Isaac's imaginary worlds as the comic relief such as the mascot at baseball games or the wild horse. Eli is still fascinated with living creatures such as bugs, insects, and other animals. He often tells us he wants a pet. He is a very deep thinker and asks us all the hard questions about faith and death.

Even though the letter seems to paint a really "beautiful" picture of our family, our character is constantly "under construction." We have 5 VERY strong willed people living together. We have been tested in our obedience, patience, acceptance, perseverance, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, orderliness, joyfulness, and faith. We pray that through the process we really are becoming beautiful for each other.

We look forward to what 2011 brings.

Michelle for Kyle, Prema, Isaac and Eli

Eli had been helping Kyle fill in the sides of the footer

Sam and Kyle working with the cement pump man and Chuck

Isaac proud he helped pile the wood

Prema pulling cut tree roots from the foundation sand

Eli riding with Grandpa Cullum in the Backhoe

Isaac and Prema riding on the swing in the backyard tree (interesting story we wanted to remove the tree but the city said we'd have to pay them $10,000 to remove the tree. So instead we changed up the house plans and are happier with the tree and house designs now.)

Frog Prema caught. She loves to spend time catching frogs and lizards and tame them to sit on her shoulder or arm.

Dirty faces we see often these days!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another Embarrassing Eli Moment

Eli was at the top of the play structure on a fairly busy Sunday at the park. He decides to pull down the front of his pants and pee right through the climbing wall landing. We saw it coming. We shouted "Eli don't..." and the stream arched its way down to the ground. Thankfully no one was directly under him so everyone seemed to be dry.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cranky Kids and Their Imaginations

Isaac and Eli have been cranky the past few days. Prema's brain just doesn't seem to be functioning very well. A lot of it probably has to do with the time change and waking up earlier since it is brighter in the morning.

Our sons have wonderful imaginations. Here is a sample in regards to why Isaac has been cranky the last few days.

A few days ago in the morning I asked Isaac "Why is it that you are so cranky today?"

Isaac: "Well I am just so tired."

Me: "if you are so tired why don't you just sleep in a bit longer."

Isaac: "I have had to wake up for winter training the past few days."

Me: "Winter training? Last night you were talking about waking up early to sheer the sheep." (Isaac and Eli have a "farm" with lots of animals that they tend to throughout the day. We are reading Farmer Boy by L.I. Wilder so they are acting out all the things they here Almanzo doing in the book.)

Isaac: "Nope it is winter training time but tomorrow morning I have a break so I can sleep in a bit longer and not be so cranky."

then last night Isaac was tell Grandpa Cullum that he has winter training right now. Grandpa Cullum thought it was training season for the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, as did I. Last night Isaac informed us that the winter training is for his Rockers Baseball team which practices in the winter and not in the spring. Isaac has a pretend Rockers teach, which rarely loses and made it to the World Series. They play games just about every day. Eli is their mascot. The colors are blue, gold, yellow and red. For each adults birthday recently Isaac has made each person tickets to the Rockers home opener on April 1 2011 vs the Devils. The game happens to be on his own birthday.

We love their imaginations. There is something new everyday that we chuckle at listening to them at play. The only bad part is that sometimes their imagination can lead to more work for us as we discover that "plowing the field" means ripping out all the grass in an area of our lawn or "ice skating" means throwing dirt all over something so they can slide with their feet. I just take deep breaths and remind myself to cherish the memories and am thankful their brains are working instead of sitting idle in front of the TV.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things We've Been Thinking About

We are so busy that I haven't had time to post much the past year. I thought I would post just a few of the things we've been thinking/ discussing/ reading about individually and as a family.

Hot Dogs

Eli loves to make people laugh. One of his most common jokes is "HOT DOG". He uses it as a silly name, punch line, you name it. He doesn't enjoy eating hot dogs so I think he must either like the sound of the words or it reminds him of his other favorite thing, his penis.

Aslan to our Hurray!!

Isaac LOVES the Chronicles of Narnia. We have the best audio CDs of all the books performed in Radio Theater by Focus on the Family. Isaac has been listening to these CDs for about a year every night before bed and during rest time. He knows them so well that he often speaks in Narnia lingo during regular conversation.

Parenting/ Behavior Management

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Love and Logic
Shepherding a Child's Heart
The Learning Parent (Character Training)

Our children keep us on our toes. We learn more about ourselves and are challenged to train/ mold our children into the best that they can be. We pick what works best for our family given Kyle and my personality and the personality and needs of our children from all the resources we come across (books and people).


We are homeschooling Isaac for the second year using the Classical model. We are so grateful to have found Classical Conversations Christian Community. Through CC we have learned so much about how to truly educate the classical way and have support and weekly connection with other families who are also classically educating their children. This is a nation wide organization, check it out in your area!

We also just finished reading The Core by Leigh Bortins the founder of Classical Conversations. It is a wonderful resource for educating classically and also spurs great conversations about American Education.

Largo Middle School
Prema started middle school yesterday. She is in a self contained special education classroom that does academics in the morning and life skills in the afternoon. Prema has known that she is going to a new school for a few months. The anxiety and excitement has resulted in her constantly saying "Largo middle school 6th grade fall me" aka I am going to Largo Middle School in the fall. I will be in 6th grade.

Bungalow Homes

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spoken LIke a True Cullum Boy/ Man

We have potty trained our boys the easiest way for us. In the winter/ spring when the weather is perfect for being outside a lot we allowed them to run around naked. The pros to this method have been less expense on diapers, less wet/ soiled clothes, only a few floor clean ups, and not always needing to ask "do you need to use the bathroom". The cons could possibly be that my boys seem to have an infatuation with their private friend more that most and they have no problem, even when older, pulling their pants down anywhere and relieving themselves in public. Eli took longer to potty train and so he spent a longer time being naked. Possibly as a result he is often asking to remove a piece of clothing, talks about and plays with his private friend more often than Isaac, etc.

Our potty training technique may have had something to do with our boys often shedding their clothes, but it is also a Cullum trait (at least for the Cullum generation before (a.k.a Kyle and Sam). see Amber's Articles for evidence. Kyle is the same.

On July 10th we celebrated with Kyle's cousin Matthew Cullum and the now Jackie Cullum at their wedding. Just after Jackie walked down the aisle, even before the vows,Eli our nudist asked rather loudly "When is she (Jackie) going to take her dress off?" Spoken like a True Cullum Boy/Son!!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Prophecy in a Name

I have been working on character training with the kids. A friend introduced me to the resources of Rich and Marilyn Boyer. They have a book Parenting from the Heart and Hands On Character Building . They also have other resources available on their website The Learning Parent

One thing the Boyers talk about in their book is continuing to talk with your children about their special purpose. One way to do this is by teaching your children the meaning of their name. A name can hold a positive prophecy for the future. We were very deliberate in naming our children based on the meaning of their name. Both boys were born during times of deep struggle, so we purposefully chose their names based on our desire to laugh again and be uplifted. We wanted Prema to have an Indian name and liked how it's meaning corresponded to our biggest reason for adopting her; she deserved a family to love her.

Even though we have known the meaning on our children's names, we haven't spent much time teaching them about the meaning of their names. The Boyers encourage you to not only teach your children the meaning of their name, but also a scripture verse that goes along with the name meaning. I found a name meaning Christian company Cross Timber's that does research on your name, finding the positive prophecy and the scripture verse. Here is what they found for our name, which we had put on bookmarks to post on our bedroom doors.

From: Sanskrit

Love, Affection: Reflection of God’s Love

Love is patient, and is kind; envieth not; is not puffed up, rejoiceth not in evil, but in the truth; Love bears all things, endures all things, always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13

From: Hebrew

Laughter, Child of Promise: Surrendered to God

And God said, Sarah they wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt cal his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. Genesis 22

From: Hebrew

Uplifted: Delivered

And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Malachi 3:17

From: Gaelic

From the strait: One with Perspective Insight

The way of the wicked is as darkness, but the path of the just is as the shining light; that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:19

From: Hebrew

Who is like God? One of Exaltation and Praise

Who among the sons of the might cam be likened unto the LORD?...O LORD God of hosts, who is strong LORD like unto thee? Or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Psalm 89:6,8

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eli keeps us laughing

...and wondering what to do. Yesterday we were at Chic-fil-A eating lunch. Eli and Isaac were in the indoor playground playing. Kyle and I were chatting with Kyle's parents at a table in the restaurant area with a good view of the play area. I looked up and saw Eli standing in front of the large window with his pants down, bouncing his right foot on the ground as if to keep a good beat and pretending to strum his guitar which was his penis. AHHHHHH! I quickly got up from my chair (which fell down with a big crash) and ran to pull Eli's pants up. I took him to the bathroom and couldn't stop laughing as I was trying to discuss the importance of keeping our pants up in public areas.

Make Over

My friend Amy wrote an essay about me and submitted it to a local salon for a Mother's Day Makeover. I WON! So today I was able to spend 4 hours at the salon getting my hair cut, shined with a clear coat, a pedicure and manicure, and make up application. It was a real treat. Thank you Amy and thank you Kyle for watching the kids! Now off to a date with Kyle.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Signing Time- Animals

Hi, This is Kyle, posting videos for Michelle while she is off galavanting around helping the adoptive parents of the world. If there are any errors in here, I take no responsibility and Michelle should be consulted directly regarding fixing said errors. Happy signing.

intro, horse, rabbit

fish, whale, dolphin, octopus, jellyfish, stingray

cow, pig

kangaroo, sheep

deer, moose, goat

wolf, fox

mouse, rat

hippo, rhino

zebra, elephant

lion, girraffe

bear, tiger

bird, duck

lizard, frog


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Signing Time- Verbs

go, sit, walk

eat, play, run, jump

talk, lay, stand

stand up, sit up, look, wait

leave, get, stay, catch

swim, drive, climb

review 1

review 2

ASL Time- Pronouns

me, you, he, she, it

we, them, these, those, these

my, your, his, her, our, their

setting up people in space

setting up things in space

myself, yourself, ourselves

review pronouns

review pronouns with family words

**You can continue review using pronouns with family members on your own. You could create family word flash cards word on each card and another set of pronoun flashcards Then pick one card from each pile and sign them together. i.e. my sister

Pronouns can become very confusing for people since it requires placing people in space who are not present. This is one of the things about ASL you will begin to love as you learn the art of story telling. It is hard and at times confusing, but very neat simultaneously. If you have additional questions please post them in the comments and I reply for all to see.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


the ABC's...each letter has its own sign. You do not specify capital or lowercase letters when spelling in ASL.

after you learn the letters you could...
1. practice spelling your name and the names of family members
2. practice spelling any words you see while driving or riding in a car



Review ABC's

Monday, April 5, 2010

Signing Time- Family Words Review

here is a video to help you review your family words quickly. On the right hand side of this blog you will see a listing of my ASL lessons. I am tagging each lesson so that you can see the key words and find old lessons quickly when you need them.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Signing Time-Family Words Part 2

This is part 2 of " Family Words". You should see part 1 before part 2.

sister, brother

cousin, niece/ nephew

husband, wife, aunt, uncle, family

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Signing Time- Family Words Part 1

Hi Everyone

I have decided to try and video a new signing time each week. Hopefully family members, friends and kids will be able to enjoy learning American Sign Language. It is a somewhat selfish adventure as I end up interpreting for every interaction Prema has and therefore miss out on adult conversations.

This is not a professional video at all. I just pressed record on my computer and what you see is what happened in one recording, no rehearsing or planned dialogue. If I waited for a perfect time, place, and situation it would never get done.

A note of warning: If you are living in a state other than Florida and you try and talk to a Deaf person in your state, there may be some differences in the their signing compared to what I am teaching in these videos. Just as each state as spoken accents, there are also ASL "accents" with states having differences in the way they sign things. For example I think there are at least 25 different ways to sign "birthday" in America. Also Sign Language is not a universal language, hence why this is call AMERICAN sign language. You cannot go to another country and expect to be able to communicate with Deaf people. You may find some similarities, but the languages are different.

Post a comment and let me know what you think about this new project of mine :) I hope to upload more signs this week :)


mom/ mother, dad/father, parents

grandma, grandpa, great grandma, great grandpa

baby, son, daughter