Sunday, October 28, 2012

In Which I Try an Experiment

I've shared before of my efforts to fight the Facebook battle, but another battle that I want to address is the "computer-on-the-whole" battle.

Like many people who have a constantly-available source of internet, I can easily fall into the trap of neglecting my responsibilities and spending way too much time on the computer. It bothers me, but I find the computer addictive. I find that I am itching to check Facebook-email-blogs just a few minutes after I've already done so, and I also find myself thinking, during particularly stressful moments, "I need a Facebook break!" And those Facebook breaks can be both ridiculously frequent and long in duration ("While I'm on, I might as well check....").

And so, without further ado, I announce a plan that I have had in action since this past Thursday. Ready?

I commit not to get on the computer at all until after our daily quiet time (around 3 p.m. or so).

As I've said, I've been doing this for four days now, and I've found it amazingly helpful, in that:

(1) It keeps me from using the "I need a Facebook break" excuse, which inevitably leads me to neglect my children, my home, my duties, or all three at once.

(2) It keeps me from spending my mental energy on internet debates that I witness when I did my morning internet browsing.

(3) It gives me more time to devote to the things I need to be doing.

To help me with this commitment, I have also this week switched to a pen-and-paper method of homeschool record-keeping rather than a computerized system, so that I don't have to face the temptation of internet-browsing when I get on the computer after school to do record-keeping. Love it! 

The only negative?

I am falling even further behind in answering my email, which is not good. However, I was hopelessly behind anyway, so I'll just have to live with it. And, as I need to remind myself, my duties lie first with my family and my home - not my email! (Though I do apologize to anyone who is waiting for an email response from me!)

I do not know if this will be a permanent or a temporary commitment, but in the meantime.... Feel free to come back here and leave nasty comments if you see me on the computer in the morning!

What do you all do to keep the internet monster from taking over your time? I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Loving the Freedom to Wander

One of the things that I love most about homeschooling (and there are so many things to love!) is the freedom to wander freely down various paths of inquiry, following interests and taking time to dwell where enthusiasm is sparked.

Last week, we read the story of Jesus healing the paralytic. That, of course, raised the question, "What is a paralytic?" So, instead of just reading on, we stopped and camped there for a while. We discussed nerves, the spine, spinal injuries, and the different types of spinal injuries resulting in different degrees of paralysis. It was a great time of discussion, of cashing in on a moment of interest, of being able to delve further without having to move a huge group of children along a lesson plan.

This happens all the time - and it's great!

This month I am trying to read lots of stories about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower voyage, and the American settlements. Our son is learning a lot about all the above - ships, ocean voyages, old-time illnesses, English-Native American interactions, Pilgrim life, etc. - it is awesome. And at the same time, he has become passionately interested in Native American life, so we are able to take a side-tour into that subject and check out lots of books on that subject. He is having a marvelous time, and it's a great time of learning.  (It's also a great time of him trying to convince me to let him wander around in his underwear, so that he can be a "real Indian," but that's another issue.)

And here's the thing - none of it is predictable. I can't plan ahead for this. All of our son's interests have taken me completely by surprise. It's just a matter of discovering what new subject has sparked a new passion, and milking that passion for all it's worth in order to encourage learning - and more importantly, the love of learning.

I am learning so much about children, about education, about homeschooling - and the ability to follow learning passions in an unhurried and unstructured ways is one of the biggest blessings of this educational method. I'm loving it.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Diet & Postpartum Nausea: Your Local Information Bulletin

One surprising thing that I have learned in my studies of pregnancy and birth is that there are some areas of medicine that are unknown to modern doctors. With regard to nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, one area of which modern doctors do not seem to be aware is the phenomenon of postpartum nausea. I am not referring to the extremely rare phenomenon of HG that continues past the birth (though that seems to be similarly unknown), but rather to the phenomenon of residual nausea - minor nausea that persists for sometime (weeks, months, years) past the birth of the child.

The common perception seems to be that NVP vanishes completely at birth, but that was not my experience. With my first full-term pregnancy (also my one experience with true HG), I experienced bouts of nausea that lasted for various amounts of time (usually a couple of minutes or hours), and this continued - in diminishing amounts - for the first two years postpartum. At one point the nausea was strong enough to make me dry-heave, but the rest of the time the bouts were merely unpleasant. Because I was new to the experience, though, I was in a continual state of panic during that time, thinking that I was pregnant and that this was the start of HG.

With my subsequent two (non-HG) pregnancies, I also experienced postpartum nausea episodes. This past time, they were quite unpleasant, and quite frequent (multiple times per day).

Since writing about residual postpartum nausea, I have heard from numerous women telling me that I am not alone - that they too have experienced this phenomenon (whew, I'm not crazy!). However, when I have mentioned this subject to several different doctors, the only response has been a "You're crazy, lady" look and a quick change of subject. No doctor to whom I have spoken seems to have heard of residual nausea. 

This leads to two points:

- Whatever NVP/HG does to our bodies, the effects do not disappear instantaneously, especially in some women.

- This leads me to wonder what would happen to a woman should she start another pregnancy before the residual nausea was gone from the last pregnancy. Actually, I'm not sure I want to know, because it scares me too much.

HOWEVER, there is good news!

Being that my cycle has (supposedly) returned, I am now back on the VLC diet - I am now on day 68, with no cheating!! (Except for one day when I took a big drink of my son's lemonade, thinking that it was my water. And then did it again two hours later. Nice!) And....

My postpartum nausea has evaporated, pretty much completely! Hurray!!!

Score one for the VLC diet! For whatever the cause, it really works with nausea. I am thrilled about this, because the residual nausea was very unpleasant, and it's nice to be finally rid of it.

Thoughts, everyone?

And now... Have a great day, everyone! I'm off to go shopping, make cauliflower pizza, and organize family movie night. If all that gets done, it'll be a miracle.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In Which We Are Proved Right!

A year and a half ago, we took our second baby to see a pediatric gastroenterologist for some reflux issues, as the request of our geneticist. We will be forever grateful to that doctor (the GI doctor) for getting us out of a very unpleasant test that our geneticist wanted us to have performed - she was awesome about not doing unnecessary testing, and we really appreciated that.

However, after that was over, the doctor turned rather nasty - she freaked out about the fact that our baby (then 17 months old) was "too small for his age," and she tried to bully us into weaning him off of breastmilk and putting him on high-calorie weight-gain formula (because, you know, "you can't breastfeed him forever" - her words, not mine).

My response, in a word, was:
 ~ NO ~

I eventually compromised by agreeing to add goat milk to his diet - which we did in powder form, added to his food, NOT from a cup like she wanted us to do (anything to get him away from that horrible breastmilk). 

Our (late) pediatrician, when we saw him later, confirmed that her advice had been absolutely rotten - and he added that it is not an advantage to add extra weight to special needs kiddos who have low muscle tone, since the added pounds make moving about even harder (and he already has such a hard time with movement).

That we made the right decision was confirmed again this past month, when we had our little guy's three-year check-up. He is low on the height scale, yes, but he is fifty percentile points higher in weight than in height. In other words, far from "wasting away," he is quite a chubby little guy who, like most special-needs children who have hypotonia (low muscle tone), he will most likely have a lifelong struggle keeping his weight down to reasonable levels.

Had we followed this doctor's advice, we would have:
  • Interrupted a thriving breastfeeding relationship
  • Deprived our baby of the benefits of breastmilk
  • Exposed him to all of the negative health effects of artificial milk (formula)
  • Caused a weight-gain problem on top of what we will already be dealing with
I am so glad that we did not take this doctor's advice.

The moral of the story: Don't be afraid to say no when you disagree with your healthcare provider! I am usually a wet noodle in the hands of a doctor, but I am so glad I found the backbone to say NO.

Our Chublet in all his cuteness.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our Recent Doings in Blurry Pictures

Sorry, folks - smart phones just don't take awesome pictures!

At the pumpkin patch, one of our favorite places! 

Baby Moose is learning to pull up! And he is into everything!

This weekend's camping trip. A "complete fiasco" might be too harsh of a descriptor, so I will just say that we're still all alive and on speaking terms, so it could have been worse:

Trying to keep the babies busy while setting up the tent. Can you tell that the Chublet is not enamoured (yet) of being played with?

Getting the 6yo involved:

A trip to Canyon Lake after the trip to see the Dolly Steam boat. The day-use area was closed to visitors for the day... can we say "trauma"? Yes, we can. And we did.

The mountains at dawn. This has got to be our worst picture:

Trying to get everyone ready in the morning:

Sleeping late:

Some cuteness:

Some highlights of the night were a neighboring party of energetic boy scouts whose exuberant campfire lasted long into the night, and a baby (the 3yo) who decided to wake up crying (and crying and crying) in the middle of the night. I ended up on a deflated mattress squished between two babies, while DH spent the rest of the night on the floor with the 6yo. 

And now, off to bed! Have a great week, all! 

Rating the Dynamic Duo

DH and I are minor-league classic film buffs (of film 1933-1959), and last night we spent some time trying to rate the seven Katherine Hepburn / Spencer Tracey films in order from our most to least favorite (based on both quality and personal liking). Here are our conclusions:

First place, a tie:

Desk Set
Without Love

Second place, a tie:

Adam's Rib
State of the Union

Third place:

Woman of the Year

Fourth place:

Pat and Mike

Fifth place:

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner


Well, classic film fans? How would you rate the works of the ultimate dynamic film duo?

Have a good night, all!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oh, the Irony!

Last week, DH received recognition for his five-year employment anniversary with his company. He received his five-year pin, his five-year anniversary gift, and a letter from the company telling him how they valued faithfulness and long-term employment.

Three days later, they went through and laid off DH's entire division. Called a meeting, said goodbye, and that was that.

So much for "faithfulness and long-term employment"!

I must admit that I have derived considerable amusement from contemplating the above.

But now we're back to the drawing board! DH is working diligently on investigating employment leads, hoping that we will be able to stay in the valley and that he will be able to find employment soon.

However, in this as in all things, we are trusting God - for timing, for wisdom, for direction, for everything. He knows where he wants DH to get a job, and where He wants us to live, and the direction in which He wants our family to go.

Over this past year, I have been praying for God to change us - change us to be the mom and dad He wants us to be, the husband and wife He wants us to be, to be the family He wants us to be and to be going in the direction He wants us to go. I have seen some absolutely incredible (read: mind-boggling) changes to our family, and I expect that this is (as always) part of that process. We are trusting Him in that process.

Hopefully I will not fail to trust Him should our length of unemployment creep close to (or past) the point where we can successfully support ourselves financially.

And so... here we go on the unemployment journey! As God wills, may it be a short one! :)

I thought I'd end with this video... not because it has anything to do with anything I've been discussing, but because.... we just love this video, and I'm feeling particularly random at the moment. If you've spent any time in an American megachurch, you know how true this is. We love this!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

In Which My Life Disappears Into a Vortex

Hi, everyone!

No pictures or fun life-updates for today - my head is too discombobulated at the moment for that. Instead, I thought I'd take just a second to update you all about how our homeschooling year is going so far.

We've been "in school" for about two months, and I think that things are going well. I am very glad that I chose to re-do kindergarten instead of pressing ahead into first grade - things like phonics and writing are coming much easier with an older boy. I am beginning to understand first-hand why all the homeschool veteran moms are telling me to go slowly with young boys! It is definitely easier to wait for readiness than to force through the tears/frustration/despair of a non-ready-to-learn boy.

For this year, as I wrote before, we are keeping it very basic. A little academic time, and a lot of time with interest-led reading, play dates, park days, and play time.

For phonics, we are doing well in our continuing work with Rocket Phonics (look to the last link for curriculum site links). We are almost halfway through the book (which covers K-2nd), and I am beginning to wonder nervously what I will pick next. (Making curriculum choices drives me nuts, if you haven't guessed that yet.)

For handwriting, we are both loving Handwriting Without Tears. It is awesome! Simple, straightforward, uncomplicated, easy to use. Love it. It's a definite keeper, and I plan on using it for the whole tribe!

For math, we are using Singapore Math, and it is going very well. Of course, it's all super-simple right now, so we'll see how our son does when it gets to something that is challenging. But for now, it's going well.

For science, history, and culture, we are doing lots and lots and lots of reading from real books. I use the Sonlight lists, the Ambleside online lists (just found these!!), and other book lists, and I order those from the library. I also order books on interest-led science topics in which our son shows an interest. Over the past year and a half, we have covered topics including volcanoes and earthquakes, lasers, snakes, etc. Right now his passion is in black widow spiders. (*shudder*) He is learning a massive amount of information through this type of education, and it's all very enjoyable.

One of my recent ideas has been to use books on tape during our one-hour quiet time, and he has listened to "Charlotte's Web" and "A Bear Called Paddington" - even more "reading"! Wonderful!

We do notebooking once a week. Our son narrates three to five sentences, on a science subject or book narration, which I write down, and he then illustrates it. I use the free notebooking pages over at for this, and it's been working well.

Our current schedule looks something like this:

- Bible and phonics every day.
- Math and handwriting on alternate days.
- A notebooking page once a week.
- Art/craft project once a week.
- Nature walk once a week.
- Play dates and park days - one to three per week.
- Cooking projects, science experiments, etc., as they happen!
- Plus other activities like family trips, church, and Scouts.

My pet project at the moment is developing a master book list for our homeschool. I have divided it up into preschool, kindergarten, early elementary, late elementary, junior high, and high school, and I am adding to it every day. It is currently at thirty-nine pages in length, and I am only just beginning! I am currently working on dividing up the upper grade literature by historic time periods, which has been a challenge. Despite the frustrations, though, I'm having a lot of fun with it.

Plans for the future:

I plan to add formal language arts in second grade, and am looking at Rod and Staff right now. I may or may not add spelling at that time too.

Singapore and Handwriting Without Tears, thankfully, go all through elementary, so if those continue to work for us, we're set for math and handwriting.

I am considering starting Galloping the Globe and Cantering the Country next year or the year after - these are studies that link culture, history, and science for elementary students, and they look like a lot of fun.

I have wondered if I ought to add formal character lessons, as a lot of homeschoolers do - one that I am considering is Wisdom Booklets by the Advanced Training Institute (the curriculum used by the Duggars).

Things that I have so far neglected (or put off) - foreign languages, music, and art. Those will be for the future, as will be special-needs homeschooling issues.

Something that is absolutely driving me nuts right now is trying to figure out how teach history/geography and perhaps science in a way that will fit our family's future needs. I want to find or put together a program that will:

- Rely primarily on real books
- Not take an unreasonable amount of time on a daily basis
- Enable us to work on the same subjects as a family (multi-level learning)

It's easy to find real-books curricula, but many of them are time-intensive and simply don't work when one has more than two students because of the time required. In other words, I'd love to have all of us working on, say, the Civil War together, as opposed to having one person on the Civil War, one on ancient history, one on the Cold War, etc. etc. etc. How to do this, though - that is the question. One could say that it's ridiculous for me to worry about this when our eldest is six - and that is somewhat correct. However, I know that the foundation for what we will do later (high school) will be laid soon, and I like to have a plan for the future. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions!!

All of this is why my life has virtually disappeared into the black hole known as HOMESCHOOLING. Pretty much everything else is being neglected - hobbies (huh?), free time, blogging, outside activities, etc. - it's all disappeared as I spend every free second (physically and mentally) reading, researching, praying, talking to mentors, and doing more than my fair share of worrying and nail-biting. Sometime I may come to the surface for air, but right now I can hardly remember what the outside normal-life world used to look like. My brain is in overload with learning this new career and trying to put it into action.

Oh, and on top of all the that, add discipline, character training, scheduling, baby care, and trying to fit in housework, laundry, cooking, and miscellaneous!! (*Head explodes. Again.*)

And that's about all! How are you all doing out there? Feel free to leave this floundering newbie any of your thoughts or ideas.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Scouting the Possibilities

This year brought an unexpected change for our family - the introduction of Cub Scouts! It has been an excellent thing for our family, and I am very excited about it.

Actually, it is also a huge answer to prayer. I have wanted to become a scouting family for several years, but DH was not on board. Every so often, we would have the following conversation:

Me: "You know, I think boy scouts would be fun. We could start it next year."
DH: "No way. I do not want to do scouts. Nothing doing."

Then, about a month and a half ago, there was the following conversation:

DH: "Hey! It's time to sign up for scouting! We need to get moving!"
Me: "Errr.... what?"

And that was that.

DH and our eldest are having a blast with their cub scout pack, and it has been a great experience for them. Here are some of the components that I love about cub/boy scouts:

- Basis in Christian faith (this varies from pack to pack - some are Christian, some are LDS, some are primarily secular)

- Father/Son participation

- Focus on respect and obedience

- Focus on other great character qualities - service to others, personal responsibility, loyalty, courtesy, cheerfulness, bravery, cleanliness, etc.

- Learning outdoor skills

- An all-boy environment - it continues to amaze me how incredibly different boys are from girls. Obvious, but true. And all-boy environments are just terrific for boys (ditto with girls).

And one minor plus - the homework is something that DH can do with our son, rather than it being something else to add to my endless to-do list. I can't say that I mind.

Hopefully this will be a long-term commitment, and something that all of our boys can enjoy!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Various Fall Happenings

Howdy, folks!! I am thrilled to announce, finally, that summer is OVER! Woo hoo!!! It may still be over 100 degrees around here, but that's okay - summer is over anyway, whether it likes it or not. On to my favorite time of year!

Of course, autumn would be starting up - and thus, my favorite food time of the year (pumpkins! apples!) - just as I go back on the VLC diet. (*Sob*). However, I have resolved that I will still enjoy cooking through my favorite season, and serving my family, so I am cooking merrily along.... and not eating a single bite of it. Can we say "torture"? But I'm enjoying it anyhow. Sort of. 

Here are a few of our latest cooking projects....

Our very favorite banana split baked oatmeal:

I reduce the sugar to 3 Tbsp., and it is still great (it was a wee bit on the too-sweet side otherwise). This stuff is to kill for. Yum.

Our latest home ec project - making an apple pie. Or rather, I baked the pie while our 6yo did his best to appropriate and consume spare ingredients:

It was great! (Or so I heard....)

Our favorite banana spice muffins were part of last week's efforts, but alas - no pictures.

And finally, crockpot applesauce - yum! And it smells wonderful! Next time I will make it without sugar.

I'm hoping to get around to hosting an apple party for the family, but haven't gotten that far yet.

And now, a few more family pictures!

Our new cub scout!

He and DH are greatly enjoying this activity together. As for me, I stay outside with the babies on the playground and get eaten alive by mosquitoes. When I counted last week, I had 45 bites on one leg and 55 on the other. Apparently, mosquitoes just like me. (Ah, popularity!)

And yes, that age has arrived - when silence is not golden, but highly dangerous. When I found this, I laughed for a long time and then went to get the camera to take pictures. When we went to clean up, we had to undress him in the bathtub for damage-control purposes - he was covered. The cat food bandit is on the loose!

The "twins," making messes together:

And the Chublet, at one of his favorite times - dinner time!!

Have a great week, everyone!