Category Archives: Preparedness

Prepping When… Your Child Has Cancer

James Talmadge Stevens talks about three main reasons for prepping:  natural disasters, made-made events, and personal crises.  Well, we found ourselves in the midst of a personal crisis last March when Isabelle, our one-year-old, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer.

Of course we were NOT prepared for that diagnosis (noboday could be), and we were also not prepared with the things we’d need for Izzie’s first 10-day hospital stay.  Though we experienced so much help from friends, family, and hosptial staff, we felt a lot like refugees as we tried to function in this foreign environment and cope with the grief and shock of her diagnosis, a barrage of tests and procedures, a stint in ICU, and the start of cancer treatment.

Izzie has remained a joyful, active, normally developing toddler in the midst of a year of chemo, surgery, many scans under sedation, and two stem cell transplants.  We still have a long and uncertain road ahead but are trusting that God is in control and that He loves us and our little girl.  (If you would like to follow her story on CaringBridge, please contact me for a link.)

I’ve found many of the practices and resources of preparedness to be a huge help in the midst of our journey through cancer treatment.  We never know when a simple clinic visit is going to turn into an all-day blood transfusion.  A fever could spike at any time and result in an ER visit and overnight stay.  At the very least, we know for sure that it won’t be long before we’re back in the hospital for another treatment.  Being prepared for these and other scenarios frees us up to enjoy our time at home and helps us feel more adusted when we’re at our new home-away-from-home.

Our bug-out bags have been replaced with hospital bags (though I think they’d actually serve us well in other emergencies too.)  I’ve found that if I launder, replenish and repack immediately after each visit, my mind is fresh about what was helpful or unecessary and what we’d like to add for next time.  It’s just as easy to repack all the blankets and clothes back in the bags than stash them in our dressers.  Most of all I’ve found that this strategy frees up my mind to better enjoy our time at home and to remember all of the other last-minute details when getting ready for Izzie’s next hopsital stay.

So in my trunk (along with my regular emergency food) I keep a bag 3 large duffel bags ready for hospital living:  a bed-in-a-bag (you never know where you’re going to have to crash), clothes and toiletries for the rest of the family, and a bag with clothes, diapers, medical supplies, and enough blankets and toys to turn our patient-princess’ hospital crib and room into a happy little sanctuary.  (Before a no-sleeping-on-the-floor policy was enforced, we also used to pack two foldable yoga cushions.)

I also assembled a special backpack for our weekly clinic visits, which can last from 2-8 hours depending on her lab results.  The morning of a visit I pack a lunch and plenty of drinks and snacks.  These I can carry in this bag where I’ve stowed IV-compatible changes of clothing, a blanket, diapers and wipes, special toys and books reserved for clinic trips, numbing cream and bandages (in case her port needs accessed), bandaids, notecards and a book for me, a jacket and some cash.

Having a preparedness mindset and strategies in place has helped make this difficult situation less stressful.  It has freed us up to live normally when we are home, and has helped make our hosptial visits more pleasant.  To learn more about Izzie and to find other pediatric cancer resources and ideas, please visit my other blog, Always Hope.

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Storing Milk

We are a family of milk lovers, and though someday we’d love to own (or co-own) a dairy cow, until then we needed to address our need for milk (and yogurt) in our long term food storage.  I found an excellent comparison of various powdered milk products on the market at Food Storage and Survival and selected two products for purchase.  I bought a #10 can of each to try out before we bought a large quantity:

1) Nestle Nido, a powdered whole milk available in many Hispanic groceries and on Amazon.  At $14.84 for 3.52 lb container, it made 3 1/2 gallons at $4.24 a gallon.

2)  Provident Pantry’s Instant Nonfat Fortified Milk available at Emergency Essentials.  At $14.00 for a 2.65 lb container, making 3 gallons, it costs $4.67 a gallon plus shipping.

We also plan to purchase a brand of powdered milk available in our grocery stores at a lower cost.  Since we’re still able to purchase milk for less than $3.00/gallon (last year I only bought it when it was $2.00 or less), we will not be replacing our regular milk, but will pull these products into the rotation occasionally.  (We do also freeze milk–removing a little from each jug–when it can be bought a very good price.)

I purchased a FoodSaver last year through Craigslist, but was reluctant to purchase a jar sealer to go with it because the descriptions and photos made it unclear whether the sealer used regular canning lids or if one sealer was needed for each jar.  I’m very pleased to report that the vacuum sealer utilized regular canning lids, which can be opened and resealed repeatedly as long as they’re gently removed.  This allowed me to open and sample the powered milk, repackaging and sealing the contents in smaller portions for future use.  The Provident Pantry milk has not yet come in the mail, so I will update this post with a taste comparison at a later date.

What are your solutions for long-term milk storage?  Any tips to share or products to recommend?

This post was shared as part of Homestead Revival’s Preparedness Challenge.  Follow the link for many more ideas about becoming more prepared.

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Pantry-Building Resources

There seem to be two main camps when it comes to long-term food storage.  One approach involves setting aside a quantity of food and supplies for emergency purposes and leaving it untouched for a year or more.  Wendy DeWitt offers a plan for this approach in her book Everything Under the Sun.  In the other approach, supplies are rotated through regular use, a method I first learned about from Donna Miller at Grain Storehouse who describes it as a long-term workable pantry.  While there are advantages to the first method (more cut-and-dry, less regular inventory to worry about) and there are times that I do implement this method (emergency car kits and bug-out bags) I’ve found the second to be a better fit for my preferences and purposes.

Advantages of the Long-Term Workable Pantry
– fresher ingredients due to more frequent rotation
– greater familiarity preparing and eating pantry items
– more compatible with the use of real foods with less preservatives

Helpful Sites  Here are some of the many excellent websites that have helped me in developing my long-term workable pantry:
Kitchen Stewardship
Miller’s Grainhouse
– Simply Living Smart

Podcasts  I find audio is easier to integrate into my day than lots of hours in front of the computer, so for me podcasts have been even more helpful as I’ve been trying to assimilate information about building a long-term workable pantry.   The podcasts below can all be found on iTunes and many also cover other subjects of interest to preppers and homesteaders:
Nature’s Harmony Farm
New Life on a Homestead
Preparedness Radio Network (especially “Your Preparation Station” program)
Stumbling Homestead
Harvest Eating
Survival Podcast

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