Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summer, News, Etc.

At this time of year, the eyes of the nation turn toward one topic, and one topic only....

The 2016 Arizona homeschool convention! How was it???

Well, I'd love to tell you all.

But the truth is that I don't know. We skipped it.

Yup, that's right. After we'd made our plans, arranged for childcare, and purchased our non-refundable, non-transferable tickets for my absolute favorite event of the entire year, we decided at the last minute to ditch the whole thing and stay home


The furiously thinking reader has now probably reached the truth of the situation, knowing that very little less than a herd of rabid crocodiles will keep me from the AFHE homeschool convention....

That's right! Two pink lines, the news of which reached us the last day of June, meaning that by the time the conference rolled around, I was too busy doing my dying slug imitation to even think about being an eager conference-goer. (Still am, actually.)

However, we are very grateful, and very excited. We are a few short weeks short of finishing our first trimester, and we heard baby's sweet heartbeat yesterday. (Yay!)

I will post a nausea-and-vomiting update soon for those of you who are here for that purpose (soon = within the next few years). I can tell you (spoiler!) that although it's been an absolutely miserable summer, this pregnancy has stayed non-hyperemetic. (*Loud songs of thanksgiving!*)

In the meantime, I probably won't be around too often. Maybe in another few months?

I hope that each of you has had a lovely summer, and that your school years are starting smoothly. Love to you all!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Entering a New Millennium!

And I'm finally here...

This is my 1000th post!

I've been blogging since 2008, so that's roughly 125 posts - or thereabouts - per year. It looks like my posting frequency peaked in 2011-2013 - and this year, 2016, has been miserable, posting-frequency-wise (halfway through the year I'm at 28 posts).

I've decided - tentatively - that I can keep blogging, assuming that I can accept one caveat - that I'm okay with not blogging.

In other words, if I can be at peace with the (very frequent, very long) times in which the blog is silent, and can accept that I can only post very infrequently, then I can keep going.

Learning to chill out is the key - never easy for an always-stressed person like myself.

But that's the goal!

In the meantime, here's to the next 1000 posts! I'm looking forward to sharing with you all.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In Which... I Go Shopping!

I am not a shopper... except at one time of year, and this is it!

Used homeschool curriculum sale time!

Due to stomach bugs and various life events, I only made one sale this year. But it was the best! As usual, I found nothing for which I was looking, but came home with lots of great things anyway.

At used curriculum sales, I face a couple of challenges:

(1) Being overwhelmed by the sheer volume, and by the voice in my head that says, "Hurry, you're going to miss something you should have bought!"

(2) Seeing something that I want but needing to pass it up because it's over-priced. This happens fairly often.

(3) Seeing something that I want but needing to pass it up because the physical quality of the book isn't going to meet our needs (i.e. yellowed paperback books, falling-apart hardbacks, etc.).

Despite that, I enjoyed my time thoroughly and am sorry it's over till next year!

Here they my finds!

For ME: I especially need the selection on the bottom left.

Missionary Biographies - I'm especially excited about the titles from "Christian Heroes Then and Now" (top left, bottom right). We are currently reading their book about Gladys Aylward, and the children love it.

Classics and History Readers - I adore the Eyewitness Classics series (top left and bottom right) and was thrilled to find two more. "The Yearling" and "Pollyanna" are classics that I want to have in our library. (I am currently working to build a solid library for our family of good-quality classics for children and young adults.)

For Young Children:


Okay, this one is admittedly one I should have checked out before buying. It's a great book, but it takes human reproduction further than I would have liked. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with this one.


And there you have it! A very successful day, and a very enjoyable one. Not only did I find lots of delicious books, but I met up with lots of local homeschoolers and got to chat - always so much fun.

And next time... I'll be there at the very beginning so that I can snag even more!

(Books are the only area in which my minimalist frenzy is in severe remission.)

Happy shopping for those of you heading in the same direction this time of year!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Very-Low-Carb Diet: Jumping Ship

I owe you all this update, so here goes!

 I will keep it brief.

I have long been in pursuit of dietary methods of pre-conception healing that will aid in the prevention of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), also known as extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.

I ran across one promising line of thought, the very low carbohydrate (VLC) diet, and used it successfully (in combination with the probiotic approach) in the prevention of HG. I went from out-of-control nausea and vomiting, controlled only by high doses of powerful drugs (Zofran), to a pregnancy in which I didn't even throw up once. (Except during labor, but that's another story.)

You can read all about my use of the VLC diet here.

(I should also note that I experienced additional health benefits from the VLC diet in addition to avoiding HG, for example: (1) healing of seasonal allergies, and (2) the remission of my persistent postpartum nausea. I have also seen VLC/ketogenic diets used with rousing success in other cases where extreme healing was needed, such as in the treatment of neurological disorders and with autoimmune diseases.)

My plan was that - after some serious post-partum diet fudging - I would simply go back on the VLC diet and stay there through my fertile years. That seemed only sensible, considering how successful it had been in preventing recurrent HG.

But there was one problem.

Namely that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make it work.

First came the procrastination. As the postpartum weeks crept past, I kept making bargains with myself. Just one more week. Then I'll restart the diet. Okay, one more week. And... how about another three months or so? 

And when I finally did get started, I couldn't stick with it longer than 72 hours, regardless of how many times I tried.

Here are the problems I ran into this time with the VLC diet, with some brief details:

(1) Boredom

Boring? As opposed to recurrent hyperemesis gravidarum? You've got to be kidding me. 

I know, this is minor.

But it's very, very difficult to keep going on a diet that is mostly meat and green vegetables. Severe boredom sets in. I couldn't muster any enthusiasm, and everything tasted bland and boring.

(2) Constant Hunger

I could not feel satisfied when eating. I could eat to the point of feeling physically uncomfortable, and still feel hungry and unsatisfied. As (I believe) Stefani Ruper says, carbs are part of satiety as well as fats. I found this out by experience.

(3) Carb Cravings

As in, I can't think about anything other than grabbing the nearest carbohydrate and chewing on it.
Man on the street: Can you tell me the way to the airport?
Me: Why yes, yes, I would like dessert.
Man on the street: The airport?
Me: Bananas! Oatmeal! Cornbread! Yes!!!

(4) Unsustainability

I simply could not make this diet work past the 72 hour mark. Inevitably, by that time I was so desperate for carbs that I was chewing on any carbohydrate in sight, usually including massive amounts of white sugar.

In case y'all are coming to the conclusion that I'm a lazy, good-for-nothing diet bum, I can say in my defense that I did go nearly an entire year absolutely carb-free. Yes, not just just sugar free, but carb free. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

But this time, I couldn't make it work.

(The fact that I am under a massive amount of life-and-raising-children stress has made keeping up the VLC diet doubly difficult.)

(5) Stalled Weight Loss

This time around, I didn't lose any weight at all.

And you're probably thinking, "Well, if you're going on sugar binges every three days, no kidding."


But I can also say that even in my carb-free year, I only lost an additional 10 pounds and never got lower than twenty pounds above my ideal weight.


Despite all of the above, I kept trying for many months. But finally, I gave up.

I just couldn't do it any more.

There are two possibilities:

(1) I am a lazy bum.

(2) Being on the VLC diet long-term was harmful to my body, and my body stepped in and physically prevented my staying on the diet. (Rather like how one can hold one's breath for a while, but eventually, one's body will force one to begin breathing again.)

Honestly, I'm open to either possibility.


So where did I go from there?

I decided to join up with Trim Healthy Mama, a program that I have admired from afar for months.

I hope to post my review of the THM system soon. But in short, the THM program can be summarized thus:

Snacks and meals are either E (protein + carbs) or S (protein + fat).

Thus, the THM system separates macronutrients, but it doesn't villify any of them. Carbs, fats, and proteins are all good - just in the right combination.

And I love it.

I can feel full again. I can have carbs again. Food is interesting. Life is good.


(Though I do cheat, like the delectable piece of lemon meringue pie that I just had for Easter dessert. If you're wondering why I'm having Easter dessert at this time of year, I will just say that it's been that kind of year.)

I've also added back foods that are low-carb but not very-low-carb. Examples: cottage cheese, plain yogurt, berries.


The mind-numbing fear that has resurfaced, of course, is the fear of recurrent hyperemesis. The VLC was a guarantee, of sorts. In giving up the VLC diet, I relinquished that guarantee.

There are several possibilities:

(1) The VLC diet has healed my body, and that healing effect will (in combination with the other pre-conception therapies I utilize) prevent future hyperemesis.

(2) I am going to pay. Horribly. (i.e. Repeat hyperemesis, here I come.)

I hope for #1, but it's #2 that keeps me up at night.

Right now I'm a confused mess. But I am forging ahead with (1) Trim Healthy Mama, and (2) my other pre-conception routines, such as the probiotic method and magnesium supplementation.

As to the outcome of this mystery?

Time will tell.

Most likely, time will tell very soon.

And I will let you know what happens.


At this point, most readers are of one of two minds:
  1. She's showing some sense at last.
  2. She really is a complete idiot.
I would agree with both.

And there you have it.

Dear readers, I would welcome your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

May 2016 Hodgepodge

May was an interesting month!

Here were some of its challenges and surprises:

New Van: This was a complete surprise to all of us. We went from "hear of a van for sale" to "okay, time to drive it home" in under 36 hours.

Freeway Accident: What happened when the aforementioned van burst a tire on the freeway, ripping off our driver-side mirror (and other parts of unknown nomenclature). We were all thankful for the Lord's protection during this time!

Stomach Viruses: Two of them, two weeks apart. The lucky family member who came down with both of them was... Yours Truly. With as much time as I've spent nauseated and throwing up this month, it's just like being pregnant. But without the cute baby at the end.

*   *   *

Now, enough negativity! Here are some of the random wonderful things we've done, enjoyed, and loved over the past month:

Jules Verne: The boys are enjoying the abridged versions of "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Around the World in 80 Days," and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." My husband is enjoying introducing them to the movie versions (the older classics), which were his favorite boyhood films.

YouTube for Homeschooling: I am using short YouTube videos for hymn study, classical music appreciation, history studies, and memory work. Here are a few videos we've enjoyed lately:

Latin and Memoria Press: Prima Latina is our first curriculum from Memoria Press, and I love it. Excellent quality in every way! I'm now interested in checking out their other curriculum options when they exhibit at our upcoming homeschool convention in July.

Christian Light Reading Curriculum: Another curriculum WIN! This is an excellent curriculum that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Melendy Quartet Book Series: "The Four-Story Mistake" was a complete hit with the 9yo, and we are moving on to "And Then There Were Five." I am very much enjoying sharing one of my childhood favorites with my children.

Amazon Prime: My husband gets a discounted membership through his employer, and we finally caved and tried it. Oh, my goodness. THIS is what I've needed. While I understand the "shop local" idea and support it, I am the type who - if I have to go out running errands to get a certain item - will simply never get around to getting it. Ever. This way, I finally am able to get some of the items we've been desperately needing. (Like a pencil sharpener. Mmmmm.)

Trim Healthy Mama: Love the recipes! Yum! (Have I lost any weight? Um, well, let's not talk about that part of it.)

The Dust Bowl: Our first state study of the year was Oklahoma, and we were immediately captivated by the Dust Bowl and the Okie migration. Fascinating material! See the "Dust Bowl Blues" video above.

El Pinatero: A book that was a huge hit with our children while passing through the subject of the fight for Mexican Independence.

Reading: Some of my own favorites recently have included:

  • Amos Fortune, Free Man
    • Loved this.
  • Little Women
    • I used to find this book incredibly annoying. In some ways, I still do. But I am captivated by the gentleness and love of the mother-daughter bond portrayed in this book, and it is an amazing relationship to emulate.
  • Mountain Born 
    • I can't believe I missed out on this awesome book when I was a child!
  • Evolution's Achilles Heels
    • Probably the best refutation of macroevolution that I've read. Highly recommended. It is rather technical - a background in genetics or at least general science will help.
  • The Door in the Wall
    • Another lovely choice. So well-written!
  • Adam of the Road
    • I loved this book!
  • Elements of Style
    • Another book that makes me realize how embarrassingly bad my education in English grammar was. Oh, dear.

Assigned Reading: Last year I told the 9yo, "Read anything from this (history) shelf!" This year I moved on to a specific reading list. I was nervous about this, but it's been a huge success and he is reading voraciously - both in "fun reading" and history reading.

"The Three Musketeers": This book caught the children's fancy, and they have played musketeers endlessly these past two months. My husband is enjoying sharing the Gene Kelly film with them, and they adore it. (Why they like it, I don't know, but I think it's a guy thing.)

Carpet Cleaning: It only took me six years, but I finally got around to this. Anything that involves picking up the phone or otherwise making an appointment is hugely intimidating for me, so this is a huge triumph! Now I'm ready to dive into a bunch of organizational and decluttering projects inspired by the furniture moving. For locals: We highly recommend Revolution Carpet Cleaning.

Abridged Classics for Children: I have always steered clear of these - academic snobbery, I think. But I have come to realize that abridged classics familiarize children with character, setting, and plot - so that in another four years or so, when they'll be ready for the real thing, they will already have a semblance of familiarity with the work. The 9yo has devoured "Frankenstein," "The Three Musketeers," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," and others.

Working Together: This year I gave myself the assignment of completing for myself all of the science, history, literature, nature, and Latin assignments that I gave the 9yo - so that he could have someone working alongside him. It has been a grand success, and I'm enjoying the work.

Vision Collision Auto Body Paint and Repair: The repair shop to whom we owe our new van's snazzy new look! Locals, definitely check out this company if you need auto body work in the Phoenix Valley. We highly recommend this team.

Mom Delights: Formerly Large Family Mothering, this blog by a mom-to-15 is absolutely awesome. Definitely check out her amazing wisdom. I enjoy each of her posts greatly. 

As of Friday, we'll be one-sixth of the way done with our homeschool year. Wow, how the time is flying!

We're heading into our busy-busy-birthday-season, and also looking forward very much to next month's homeschool convention. 

Dear readers, I hope that you all are having a lovely summer!

(P.S. I am breaking one of my cardinal blogging rules - that is, I am writing a new post before answering the comments on the last post. I beg everyone's forgiveness, and will do my best to get that done soon.)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

First Month of School

As of Friday, we'll have finished our first month of the 2016-2017 school year. One-ninth of our work for the year done, just like that!

I can't believe how quickly it passes.

I kept busy getting ready for school up until the very last minute before school started. Is that crazy, or what? I don't even do much lesson-planning ahead of time. But ordering curriculum, tracking down used curriculum, ordering library books, cleaning out supplies and buying new, making checklists and updating documents - wow. It really took the whole summer!

(The bags in the background are books that a sweet friend dropped off for me - about two months ago! Maybe sometime I'll actually get around to putting them away. For the present, they make awesome tablecloth-weights - and sign supports! And when I get the chance to eat by myself, I simply dip into a bag and pull out a book. Mmm, modern luxuries.)

Latin is going well, as is our new reading curriculum. I'm already looking forward to next year's curriculum purchases and plans! It's amazing how fast the year goes and how far my mind immediately extrapolates for curriculum plans.

I'm still unsure if I'm going to continue blogging - maybe yes, maybe no, maybe somewhere in between. Lots of prayer still needed.

Maybe I'll just write a book. I've had a topic in mind for years. (Others have already written on the subject, but I'd love to try my hand at it.)

(Gee, since I don't even have time for blogging, I certainly have time to write a book. Oh, the logic. I'm overwhelming myself here.)

In the meantime, here's to the new school year!

Have a wonderful summer, dear friends!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Beginning our 2016-2017 School Year

It's that time of year again - our 2016-2017 school year starts on Monday!

I'm excited. And nervous. And somewhat exhausted even thinking about it. But still excited.

It's going to be a big year.

Besides our usual school schedule, which will be our first full year with daddy working outside the home AND with the baby no longer taking a morning nap AND with adding three (four?) new subjects (Latin, yay!), it's going to be a full year:

  • We will be dealing with medical, dental, and behavior issues with our baby with special needs. 
  • We will be continuing our work with a special diet for our baby with special needs - right now we're on Intro GAPS.
  • We will be dealing with dental issues for my husband. 
  • I am in full-time pregnancy preparation mode, which means lots of supplements and routines.
  • We will be completing our transition to a gluten-free household. We've been messing around with this for about five years, but it's time to go hard-core. It makes me beyond frustrated that a wonderful God-given food has been transformed into a substance which is poisonous for a huge proportion of the population, and we have been dealing with this for too many years.

Additionally, if history repeats itself, there's a good chance that the Lord will bless our family with a new little one over the course of the following year. If that is the case, then we'll deal with all of the attendant nausea, etc., at the same time. 

From my current vantage point, the thought of a new pregnancy is overwhelming. Right now I am just tired, tired, tired. And so incredibly busy. All day, every day. There is just so much to do, and the work just doesn't stop. Ever. The idea of adding astounding levels of fatigue and nausea to that is somewhat overwhelming. 

But I'm also overjoyed at the thought of a new little one, and we will be thrilled if and when our number grows again. (Maybe we could just skip the whole nausea-exhaustion bit this time.)

In the middle of all this, I'm not sure what to do about blogging. I am actually toying with the idea of quitting (for now).

You see, I don't have time to write right now. But an unattended blog is not just an unattended blog. It's a constant source of both temptation (to blog when I should be doing something else) and frustration (of articles written mentally which I do not have time to write physically). It's a constant source of stress. 

Additionally, there are a couple of other things about blogging that bother me:

Point #1

Blogging (or any other computer work) seems to be a signal for my children to misbehave. As in, within 30 seconds of my starting to write. Case in point, the 4yo started a crying fit about six paragraphs ago, just after I started to write this post. Right now I'm ignoring him and letting daddy take over, but this is not an isolated incident. Whatever evil lurks in the heart of my children receives a big go-ahead as soon as I sit down at the computer. 

Point #2

Blogging is a joy to my heart. But it's not necessarily always a big benefit to my family, and it can cause me to neglect those hobbies which do indeed benefit my family. If I'm making time for blogging but not playing the piano for the family (a substitution which happens often), then I think my priorities are out of place. 

Point #3

I am nearing my 1000th post on this blog. But you know what? My best posts are still in the Drafts folder. For some reason, whenever I write a really good post, especially about a subject that moves me deeply, I never feel comfortable publishing it. Is this because I simply shy away from being so openly vulnerable in such a public place? Or is it because I am a coward and can't take the push-back that comes when I publish my opinions on controversial subjects? I believe it's both. (I know it's definitely the latter.)

Point #4

Blogging is a time-eater. It's just so much fun, that time slips away unnoticed. This can be a serious annoyance to my husband, who needs my help and mindful (as opposed to zoned out) companionship.

Another case in point, my husband just walked up and said, "Hey, I thought you were going to stop blogging!" 

Well, I am. Sort of. I'm blogging about not blogging. 

But my husband knows well the trial of trying to pry me off of the computer when I'm in "Stop everything, I have to blog!" mode. 

Anyhow, no answers right now. I still have (lots of) posts in draft form that I need to publish if I can ever get around to it. But as for real blogging... I still have to think and pray about it. Either way, I probably won't be around much!

In the meantime, Happy Easter, Happy Spring, and Happy Back-to-School to you all!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers!