Sunday, September 23, 2012

Books That Changed the World

Books that changed my world, that is!

The other night, I randomly grabbed a piece of paper and started writing down books that had changed my life. Not my favorite books (though there's a lot of cross-over), but books that changed my life. Either my mind or my life's direction was different after reading one of these books than it was beforehand.

So, just for the fun of it, here they are! Though this was not by personal design, you will notice that almost all of these books (okay, all of them), are faith-based. Not surprising, since faith is truly the underlying basis of life, Christian or otherwise!

- The Bible - This is rather obvious, but here you have it! The first time the Bible really meant something to me was in junior high, when I received one of those tiny green Gideon Bibles. I was intrigued by the size of it, so I read it - and it meant something much deeper than I had ever before gleaned from the Bible. Ever since, it has been in the business of changing my mind, my heart, and my life - on a daily basis.

- The Hiding Place - The true story of a Christian woman in Nazi-occupied Holland who helped to help and hide persecuted Jews, and whose father and sister both died in the concentration camps. We found this book in my grandmother's house after her death, and it gave me insight into the Christian faith that I had never had before - especially the place that suffering holds in the Christian's life. Absolutely life-changing.

- A Mom Just Like You - A retiring homeschooling mom gave me this book a couple of years ago, and it (along with several other sources) has completely changed my mind on several areas of life (oddly enough, homeschooling is not one of them). Our life will never be the same.

- A Woman After God's Own Heart - This book was my first brush with concepts of biblical femininity, and when I ran into it in college I found it absolutely mind-blowing. I had never come across these concepts, and they were totally foreign. I am forever grateful to Elizabeth George for opening my mind and my heart to what the Bible has to say about women.

- No Compromise - This is my husband's favorite book! So, of course, when we started dating, it became absolutely essential that I read it. I did.... and again, it changed my life. I had never known that a life devoted to Christ was such a deep and life-changing event, or that the Christian faith could be so meaningful and universe-changing. This is now one of my favorite books, and I read it every year or two. If you haven't read this one, check it out! Right now!

- Left Behind - When I was in college, my childhood pastor read a brief passage from this book in one of his sermons. I was intrigued! I had never heard of the Rapture, or of Revelation theology, or end-times theology at all. I immediately went out and bought the book and read it ravenously - along with the rest of the series (or what there was of it at the time - it wasn't finished at the time). This series helped to form my conception of the Christian faith, and I learned so much while reading it! I never finished the series, and I no longer embrace a pre-tribulation Rapture view, but this book was essential to bringing me to faith and shaping the beginnings of my Christian beliefs.

- Family-Driven Faith - I bought this book randomly a few years ago, and it blew my mind. True - my brain pretty much exploded. Voddie Baucham presented so many ideas that I had never even considered, and a good deal of my church-theology changed as a result. This book is so stinking good - if you haven't read it, go get it! Right now!

- Grudem's Systematic Theology - This took me a loonnngggg time to read - a year or more. But it was awesome, and completely worth it! I had never looked into serious theology past the usual Christian living books, and reading a really good systematic theology (which is also user-friendly) was very stretching and challenging in a wonderful way. If I ever have time, I will read it again! That won't be for another forty years or so, but I'll get around to it! Really!

- Total Truth - I read this book many years ago, and it really changed a lot of my ideas. Oddly enough, I can remember almost nothing of it - I need to go back and read it again. But it changed my thinking a good deal, even if I cannot now remember how! (Profound, no?)

Honorable Mentions:

- The Once and Future King - My first introduction to really good literature, and to really good historical fantasy. Definitely a turning point in my reading habits! As a matter of fact, I never read it now because the cat scene and the unicorn scene totally freak me out - but it is still an excellent book.

- Pride and Prejudice - My first introduction into what would become a life-long passionate love of historical British literature. When I first opened it, it seemed complete gibberish - and it is now one of my all-time favorites.

- I Kissed Dating Goodbye - My first idea that there was something out there different from the usual American dating scheme. An awesome book, and it totally changed my thinking. I wish that I had found it a few years earlier!

- The Upside Down Church - I came to Christ (I believe) through the ministry of Calvary Chapel, and this book (written by a Calvary pastor) explained many things that shaped how my baby-faith grew in the initial years.

Just for fun, I asked DH for his own list. He couldn't think of very many, but those five that he did think of are:

- The Bible

- No Compromise

- The Cross and the Switchblade (and other writings of David Wilkerson)

- Will

- Musashi

What books would be on your list? (And I'm sure that my list is very incomplete.)

Happy Sabbath, all!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gold Mines, Bucket Brigades, and the Owl That Wasn't

This week was a huge week of homeschool field trips! I'm still tired after such a barrage! 

On Wednesday we headed to the Natural History Museum. Dinosaurs, Native Americans, panning for gold, archaeology, Arizona film, and our son's favorites - the Lost Dutchman Mine exhibit and the old-time jail (which fascinated and terrified him simultaneously). 

We were at this museum two years ago, and it's fascinating to see how a young child's interests (and attention span!) change over that time.

Two days later, we went to the Hall of Flame Museum (the firefighters' museum). This event started out with an hour-long tour, which interested our son on a level of "total and complete boredom." However, I wasn't upset about this - he is, after all, only six, and a history lecture is not likely to enthrall a six-year-old boy. Sometimes I realize that I have to adjust my expectations when I am expecting him to like or be interested in something that did not interest me until I was two to four times his present age. 

After that, however, came time to play on the fire engine and spend time doing outdoor firefighting activities, like the bucket brigade....

... and getting to hold the fire hose:

However, it is here that I must admit to a big, big, BIG-TIME parenting

That's right. You see those pictures above, of our son with the fire hose? Those were taken by another parent. Yup. I had thought that the line was moving fairly slowly, so I turned away to speak to another mom - and when I turned back - our son had already had his turn and was doing something else. I missed the big moment completely.


 I'm still embarrassed over that one.

Then this weekend, we went to attend an event with the local Fish & Game - a wildlife presentation and release of a rehabilitated great horned owl. Fun!

Only problem - when we drove the half-hour to get to this event, we arrived on time - but to an empty park. No owl, no presentation, no nothing.

Thankfully, as a testimony that we are not quite insane, there were several other families wandering around the parking lot, all saying, "Are you guys here for the owl?"

We eventually had to give up, but ended up having a great evening anyway. The adults stood around talking while the kids played for about an hour and a half (it turned out that we were all homeschooling families), and then we finished up with a picnic in the car and then trek out to the Scouting store to outfit our eldest for Cub Scouts.

I love this picture, even though the absent apostrophe is driving me nuts. 
We never did find out what happened to the owl.

We finished up the weekend with an evening trip to our local Riparian Preserve for a cook-out, walk to the lake, and play time.

And now.... onward and upward! The new week awaits.

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Morning Sickness & Super Mom Vitamins

I thought I would post a comment that I read over at Raising Arrows on her article, "The Protein-Morning Sickness Connection":
"For me changing my vitamins made a HUGE difference in the entire pregnancy and nursing. With my first pregnancy I ended up in the hospital 2x for fluid because I was so dehydrated. I slept 20+ hours a day and lost 30+ lbs in 2 weeks. I was devastated that I was so sick because I longed for a large family. I tried a new vitamin with the second pregnancy and while I was still sick it wasn't as bad and I never had to go to the hospital. Between my 2 and 3 pregnancies I found Super Mom vitamins and it changed everything. With the last 3 pregnancies I've taken Super Mom's and I've only thrown up 2x in all 3 pregnancies combined! My energy level has been much stronger throughout the entire pregnancy. It has also helped me produce more milk for my baby!"
Just wanted to re-post in case these vitamins could help other mamas!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Nausea: It's Not Just for Pregnancy, It's a Way of Life!

Hello, dear nauseated readers!!

A brief health-type update in which there is a good deal of TMI - you have been warned. Also an update in which I try to juggle a cranky baby with typing, while simultaneously dealing with "Crocodile Hunter" in the background and mentally ignoring the hideous mess waiting my attention - so there is no guarantee that this entry will actually make sense. Again, you've been warned.

So.... where to begin?

With my first and second babies, my cycle returned at eleven months postpartum. With that in mind, I have been nervously calculating when I ought to go back on the VLC diet in order to avoid being caught unawares by a surprise pregnancy. Should I do three months? Six months? Nine months?

I had tentatively decided on nine months for my start-date, when, last month - bam! Cycle returned. A good five months sooner than it had ever returned. I was rather disappointed! But all the same, I was back on the VLC diet within negative five seconds, and have remained on it ever since (three and a half weeks), even though by this time I am already about to die of boredom (and carb cravings). I need to figure out some new menu options (eggs, anyone?).

But almost immediately (three days in), I ran into a problem - nausea. Lots and lots of nausea. Thinking the obvious, I wondered if a new little one had joined us - but that was apparently not the case, as a long line of negative home pregnancy tests could tell you. But why, why, why, was I nauseated so badly - for hours at a time, several times a day? Especially since this had not happened last time?

I finally hit the computer to do some research, and found that nausea is a common side-effect of diets that are low-carb, high-protein, AND low-fat. Bingo. I remembered that the original paperwork had said that one's diet should be high-fat - deriving at least 50-80% of one's calories from fat. I had unintentionally been doing a low-fat version of the diet, and I was paying for it .

Immediately, I added a ton of healthy fats to my diet - butter, avocado, olive oil, nut snacks (something I'd been avoiding), and even (*gag*) a spoonful of cocoanut oil twice a day. And.... bam! Within a couple of hours, the nausea was gone and has not returned in the week or two since.

So... for anyone doing the diet, remember to keep it high-fat!

And other than that.... I'll keep you updated!

My longterm plan is to wait until I'm completely through menopause and then eat nothing but carbohydrates for the rest of my life. I may kill myself in the process, but I shall die supremely happy. Mmmm.

In other NVP news, I emailed my summary entry on the VLC diet to the USC researcher who is doing heavy-duty research work into HG treatment. Frankly, I felt a little bit silly doing it. After all, I am a two-bit blogger who's done a bit of internet reading, while she is an incredibly specialized research doctor who is an expert in her field. However, just in case there's anything in it, I wanted to get the information into the hands of one of the only people who could do something substantial with it. There may be nothing in it after all (my experience last time was not conclusive), but it's worth a try to get the information out there.

And there you have it! Your local NVP news for the day. How are you all doing out there?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch....

Hi, everyone!

It's been a while since I checked in - my apologies!! I hope each and every one of you is well. Right now I am so busy that I honestly don't know what to do with myself - I feel as though I am in some sort of weird time vortex, where my entire world has shrunk to one word: homeschooling. There is so much to learn, so much to do, and the outside world has almost ceased to exist while I deal with the onslaught. Don't worry, it ought to let up in another thirty years or so, but in the meantime, I am busy.

I hope to write about all that in another post soon. But in the meantime, here are a few snippets of daily life from our family:

A few minutes of peace (usually the 3yo is fussing because the 6mo is trying to pull his hair or steal his toys):

In not-so-happy news, we have discovered to our dismay that we have a black widow problem outside (*shudder*gag*ick*). This is beyond creepy, not to mention dangerous. So tomorrow, clad in full battle gear, my husband and I will be sallying forth to the garage to do battle - which involves taking everything out of the garage, sweeping and vacuuming, and probably using some sort of bug bomb. (Suggestions, anyone?) I am beyond grossed-out by this one. Ick. If I live through tomorrow, I'll let you know how it goes.

Several years ago, a friend told us that any summer following a mild winter is likely to be bad for insects (or rather, good for insects and bad for US having to deal with them!) because fewer freezes means more larvae will survive the winter. We are for sure paying for last year's mild winter, because bug populations (spiders & scorpions) have been awful this year!

Moving on from arachnids....

Two weeks ago, someone FLIPPED A SWITCH with our cute little Baby Moose! In one weekend he went from, "Hello, I'm a really cute baby who just sits here looking adorable" to "Enough of this baby stuff! It's time to crawl!" - and while he was at it, he got two more teeth and is now getting into everything. Yikes! Toddler-time is on the horizon!

Speaking of Baby Moose: This past weekend we went north to visit DH's parents. While we were there, Grandpa decided to make some sort of goofy face at our little guy - and he did not like it! He immediately burst into petrified tears - and kept it up all weekend, becoming hysterical whenever poor Grandpa got near him. He relented just as we were leaving, permitting Grandpa to hold him while the car was loaded. Hopefully this will be a temporary aversion!

Celebrating the Chublet's third birthday at Grandma & Grandpa's house:

The Chublet's first birthday cake that he has been able to eat! (Before this, his texture issues prevented it.) He's definitely in favor of the idea!! 

Happy birthday to the cutest and most darling Chublet!!

In other family news....

Here's another weird thing - our very own version of crop circles! Is this odd, or what? They appeared in our yard after an irrigation day - odd dark green circles about five to eight feet wide, in various places across our yard. They're still there, though not as prominently as before. Anyone know what these are?

In other family news, our eldest is... reading. Oh, my goodness - did you get that? He is READING! One night last week he randomly started reading off street signs and road markers - completely out of the blue. Despite the fact that I have been teaching him phonics for almost a year, he has never been self-motivated toward independent reading. I am not worried about that, because all of what I read points to great results when boys are not forced into academics too early. But this was a huge milestone, and a very exciting one. (He is still only reading very elementary words, nothing fancy, but he's definitely on his way.)

Right now, we are dealing with starting the homeschool year (daily lessons, field trips, park days and playdates), trying to make various decisions for our family, going through our second of two family birthday seasons, and dealing with life in general. Things are packed, but I am learning a ton and God is definitely using this season of my life to stretch me far beyond my comfort zones in every way possible. I have never prayed so much or so hard, nor done such difficult and stretching mental work as I research, study, plan, and labor to develop our homeschool. (College was nothing compared to this.) Life is hard, life is challenging, life is stretching - life is good. And God is good.

Getting into a sitting position on his own! 

I have several posts sketched out in my mind (not to mention all of those that are hopelessly lost in the past, never having been written out), so I will try to check in again soon.

Our 6yo's invention - a balloon jet pack.

Convinced that he is about to lift off. :) 
Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Nausea & Vomiting of Pregnancy Go-To List

Over the past few years, I have noticed that I have become the "morning sickness go-to person." Through Facebook, or my blog, or just through knowing me, people know that I have had experiences with severe NVP, and every couple of months I get an email from someone saying, "Help! I have horrible morning sickness, can you help?" And because I participate in many online birth groups, there are often requests for NVP help there as well. 

Lately, I have realized that I am reinventing the wheel each time someone asks me this question - writing emails with everything I can think of regarding NVP, over and over again. This week, therefore, I decided that I needed to write down everything that I could think of into a document so that I could keep it handy to have when this question is asked.

And so... here is my rough draft! I would love-love-love it if my wonderful readers could read this through and add their comments. Did I write anything incorrect or incomplete? Did I miss anything? This list is a bit patchy, just because it covers everything from mild NVP to hyperemesis, so I'm guessing that it will need a lot of revision.

Please feel free to share the link to this document, but do not copy it into another website. If any birth professionals would like to print this for clients, I would be honored - just give credit on the print-out.

And now... what do you think? Please let me know! 

Notes on Morning Sickness

- Because “morning sickness” is a vastly incomplete and inaccurate term, I will use the more technical abbreviation “NVP,” which stands for “nausea and vomiting of pregnancy”

General Notes

-       - The general idea with NVP is that it occurs solely in the morning and that it lasts only through the first trimester. For some women this is true. However, for many women it is VASTLY INACCURATE.

o   Many women experience NVP in the evenings, or in the mornings and the evenings, or in varying degrees around the clock. I have always had mine around the clock with the worst nausea being from 3 p.m. to bedtime.

o   For some women, NVP decreases after the first trimester. For others, it lasts till around 20 weeks. For some women it lasts till the birth. For some women it decreases in the second trimester and returns in the third trimester.

o   Morning sickness usually tapers off gradually rather than suddenly resolving at a set week of pregnancy.

-       - If you are carrying multiples, you can (usually) expect morning sickness to be worse than in a singleton pregnancy. More babies = more NVP!

-       - The timing of NVP appearance varies. Very rarely (as in my case), NVP will make an appearance before a positive pregnancy test can be obtained. Usually it hits between weeks 5 and 7.

-       - Though an absence of NVP does not mean that something is wrong, the appearance of NVP does usually mean that your baby is thriving.

-     NVP experiences cover an astoundingly large range – everything from “Morning sickness? What morning sickness? I feel great!” to “I don’t feel so great” to “I feel downright awful” to a mother who is fighting for her life in the hospital with life-threatening hyperemesis gravidarum. Different remedies will work for different women and for different levels of NVP – what may be helpful for mild NVP will be worse than useless for severe NVP (example: crackers). Look through these suggestions and try different things – remember that different things will work in different situations. If something doesn’t work, ditch it and try something else.

What To Do?

Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy – Mild to Moderate

-       Ginger: Ginger is the most well-documented herb for NVP. It is found in many forms:
o   Powdered, in capsule form – health food store
o   Ginger ale – Must buy from a health food store, and look at the ingredient labels. Most grocery store “ginger ales” are not true ginger ales and may not even contain ginger.
o   Ginger snaps.
o   Candied Ginger
o   Ginger Syrup (look at Whole Foods)
o   A supplement called “Morning Sickness Comfort” (formerly “Morning Sickness Magic”) which also contains vitamin B.
o   I should say that I find no particular benefit from ginger. However, it is helpful to a majority of women.

-       Lemon: Hard candies, lemon water, sucking on a lemon, lemon essential oils

-       Peppermint: Hard candies, essential oils (can put on your pillow)

-       Switch to a food-based prenatal vitamin

-       Over the Counter things to try: Benadryl & Dramamine

-       Pregnancy Teas: Try the pregnancy tea by Earth Mama Angel Baby – good stuff. Check out the pregnancy area in your health food store (Sprouts, etc.) – they usually have morning sickness teas.

-       Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Buy the bulk herb at a local herb shop or online at a good herb store like Mountain Meadow Herbs. Brew and then drink hot or cold, or even freeze and make a slushie out of it.

-       High-protein: This is a BIG ONE. Eat protein – lots of it. Meat, eggs, nuts, cheese. Every snack or meal should either be protein, or have protein in it.

o   I have had my best luck doing a very-low-carb, high-protein diet that I started pre-conception. This is mostly for hyperemesis mothers who deal with severe morning sickness. Email me if you want information. However, one way or the other, simple carbs will usually make you feel great momentarily and then even worse as your blood sugar crashes. Staying away from carbs (or at least simple carbs) and bulking up on protein (as much as possible) is what really works for me.
o   However, I should note that (especially once nausea is established), some women have good luck with sources of simple carbohydrates (sugars) such as flat coke and hard candies and preggie pops.

-       Constant snacking: This is another BIG ONE!!! Don’t go more than an hour without snacking. Carry snacks with you wherever you go. If you need to get up in the middle of the night to snack, fine. Do it. I kept cheese slices in a cooler next to my bed. If your stomach gets the least bit empty, you will pay in increased nausea. Try also to eat at least a few minutes before getting up in the morning.

-       Keep hydrated. Dehydration = worse and worse nausea. Try different things if you have trouble handling water. Pregnancy teas, etc.

-       Vitamin Shots: With my last pregnancy I got Vitamin B/Folate/Magnesium shots at our local naturopathic college. I think they helped, and I plan to do it again. To find out where to get these, locate a local naturopath.

-       A naturopath can also help you with acupuncture and/or homeopathy if you are interested in those modalities. Acupuncture in particular has a very good track record with NVP.

-       Supplements: Vitamin B complex, magnesium, zinc. Herbs: Milk thistle. Other: Digestive enzymes, good probiotic.

-       If all else fails, try a liquid nutrition drink, such as Ensure or Boost. I recommend chocolate!  Slimfast and jello are other options.

Is something wrong?

-       This level is characterized by the following:
o   I can’t keep anything down.
o   I am no longer using the bathroom (or not very often).
o   I am losing weight.
o   I am feeling panicky or desperate.
o   I am vomiting multiple times per day.
o   I am having trouble handling ordinary everyday tasks.

-       To check if you are dealing with hyperemesis, visit Click on the “For Mothers” tab, and click on the “Do I Have Morning Sickness or HG?” option – you will find a table comparing normal NVP with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), or extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.

-       HG often requires treatment. See your doctor or midwife immediately to get help. This may involve:

o   IV hydration
o   Hospitalization for severe cases
o   Home health care for severe cases 
o   Zofran – either oral tablets, orally disintegrating tablets (ODT), or a Zofran pump (depending on how sick you are and how well you can tolerate meds by mouth)
§  There are other anti-nausea drugs given during pregnancy (usually Phenergan and Reglan), but they have more side-effects than Zofran and are usually less effective

-       If your care provider is not supportive, look immediately for another care provider. Care providers can vary immensely on their willingness to take HG seriously, and some will laugh it off or tell you to eat crackers. This is NOT OKAY, and you need to move on.

-       Go to the website and read, read, read. You will find tons of information and support.


- There are MANY lines of thought on morning sickness prevention, all of which require pre-conception efforts, and none of which is guaranteed to work. (In other words, DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP.) I will list as many as I can think of and leave it up to you to research them (though feel free to ask any questions):

o   Magnesium (building up tissue levels pre-conception)
o   Body alkalinity
o   Liver cleansing
o   Milk thistle (for liver cleansing)
o   Very-low-carb diet for insulin regulation
o   Pre-conception diet (clean, good supplements, sunshine, etc.)
o   Gut health


Thoughts, dear readers? (p.s. Forgive the formatting - it got rather screwy.)