Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's New! It's Improved! It's.... New and Improved!

Hi, everyone!

I have decided to leave my original plan & protocol as-is, because it contains oodles and oodles of things that HG mamas might like to use for ideas for their own plans. However, for my own use, that plan is now far too large and cumbrous, especially as I have completed or decided not to do about half of the items on the list. I am, therefore, going to leave the original list intact for public reference and compose an updated, simplified list for my own use - which you will see below.

I would love to hear any input from you all! What would you add to your list?

For other great examples of HG plans/protocols, see Knocked Up, Knocked Over and various lists at (like this one).

You will notice that I don't have a detailed plan for HG treatment - it's mostly pre-conception. I pray that I never need that, but I'm not sure what I would write other than "Go to hospital and pray that I get treated well." Definitely a weak point.

Latest Update: July 2014

Pre-Conception Plan


  • Diet

    • Clean (no junk food, no additives)
    • Low sugar, low grain, no wheat, high in good fats (animal fats, avocado, coconut, etc.)
    • No vegetable oils 
    • Very Low Carb (VLC) at 3 months postpartum
    • Lemon/ACV water (for alkalinity and liver cleansing)
    • Butter, 2+ Tbsp. per day, preferably grass-fed
    • Bone broth, 2 cups per day
    • Coconut oil, 2-4 Tbsp. per day
    • Lacto-fermented foods - with each meal, or at least daily
    • See below

  • Supplements 

    • All the time
      • Multi (Super Mom or other)
      • Fish oil (Fermented preferable, but must provide DHA/EPA, preferably 1000 mg DHA daily)
      • Vitamin D (preferably 5,000 IU daily)
      • Alpha Lipoic Acid (600 mg/daily)
      • Vitamin B complex
      • Probiotics (Tummy Tune-Up by Beeyoutiful, see reference to NVP in link), also whole-food probiotics such as kefir, kombucha, yogurt, and other lacto-fermented foods
      • Magnesium - See sub-category below
      • Dessicated Liver Pills - For iron and micronutrients. 
    • Finances Permitting
      • Resveratrol (100 mg twice daily)
      • Turmeric (350 mg twice daily)
    • Occasional 
      • Kelp - occasionally for iodine
      • Yearly Liver Cleanse (dates done: May 2011, May 2012)
    • Occasion-Specific (not necessary for pre-conception)
      • Alfalfa - During second half of pregnancy
      • Floradix - During last trimester of pregnancy
      • Liquid Ca/Mg supplement - During last trimester of pregnancy and postpartum, or as needed

    • Liquid Calcium-Magnesium or Natural Calm 
    • Epsom Salts for bathing and foot baths (evidence shows that magnesium is absorbed best transdermally rather than by oral supplement... best price found at Azure Standard)
    • Unrefined sea salt (I get pink sea salt from the bulk bins at Sprouts)
    • Magnesium oil applied to the skin 
    • Bone broth - ideally two cups per day, and ideally from organic and/or grass-fed/pastured/antibiotic-free sources (Sources: Sprouts, Backyard Farmer, The Meat Shop)
  • Exercise

    • Especially weight bearing exercises, since muscle mass helps with insulin/glucose metabolism. (Am I doing this? Noooo.)

  • Sunlight
  • Protein and Fat Intake

    The following list is quoted from this article (above mentioned) as a daily recommendation for pre-conception protein and fat intake:
    • 3-4 eggs 
    • Some form of healthy meat at every meal 
    • 2 cups (average) of homemade bone broth daily 
    • 2-4 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil 
    • 2+ tablespoons grass fed butter 
    • Coconut based snacks like coconut cream 
    • Various other forms of protein and fat like tallow used in cooking, bison for snack, etc.


  • Find a naturopath

    • I have several recommendations, plus the local naturopathic college.

  • Contact acupuncturist

    • Done! They recommend starting pre-conception - something to consider for next time. 


  • Bible verse memorization

    • Right now I am working on Psalm 121. I find that having Scripture verses to recite during stressful or panicky times is truly a lifeline, and it's one that I want to develop more fruitfully. 

Personal and Practical

  • Make the most of the time!

    • I find that the thought of future HG helps me to treasure my healthy times, and encourages me to use my time wisely - to take every advantage of time with my children, to train my children as much as possible in character and practical skills, etc. 

  • Work on organizational projects as much as possible



  • Diet

    • Strict VLC (very low carb)
    • Start protein shakes (zero-carb version)
    • Constant snacking - every hour at least
    • Lemon/ACV water - lots of it! 

  • Supplements

    • Add more Epsom salts baths (daily)
    • Add Morning Sickness Comfort
    • Add digestive enzymes
    • Consider Protandim 545


  • Start Vitamin B/Magnesium/Folate shots at naturopathic college
  • Contact acupuncturist to let her know in advance
  • Get appointment with OB/GYN for Zofran prescription


  • Pray!

Personal and Practical

  • Buy paper supplies (plates, bowls, utensils)

  • Good resources for food for family while unable to cook: 
    • Fruit and vegetable platters 
    • Rotisserie chicken
    • Lunch meat
    • Easy kid snacks - gold fish, healthy bars, raisins, juice boxes, cheese sticks, cheerios, dry cereals


And there you have it! Additional ideas, anyone? 

Feel free to let me know if you have questions about any of the above. (You will also find more specific links on the larger protocol.)

Happy Sabbath, everyone! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Big, Exciting Blog Post!

Yes, that's right! The one you've all been waiting for! (All three of you!)

Our choices of homeschool curriculum for the coming year! 

Oh, wait - you haven't been waiting for this? No matter, you're going to hear it anyway!!

And so, without further ado, here is our (current, soon-to-be-changed, I'm sure) plan for the coming school year:

Let's start with what we will not be doing:

Things We Will Do Later (But Not Now):

Formal Language Arts - We will delay this one or two years and pick this up after his reading and penmanship skills are good.

Grammar - This will be in late elementary school or junior high.

Map Skills - This was suggested by a friend (and veteran homeschool mom) who said that her kids love their map skills books. This is usually started in second grade, so I'm going to give it a go next year.

Spelling - Again, waiting for penmanship to be established first. Also, I am taking the advice of this blogger who recommends waiting for third grade to start formal spelling.

Formal History & Science - We will be doing lots of science and history, but it will all be from reading real books and interest-led studies. Formal textbook learning can wait for junior and senior high.

Typing - Not yet, but coming soon, I'm sure.

Music - I started piano at age five, but our six-year-old is not at all ready for lessons. We have not decided yet how to handle teaching music, but that will be for another day (thankfully!).

A Bunch of Stuff I Haven't Thought Of Yet - That covers the rest of the things I will think of later!

Things We Will Probably Never Do:

Vocabulary - I find that our son is developing an excellent, way-beyond-expectations vocabulary simply from adult conversation and reading good-quality real books. I can't conceive of a need to teach vocabulary as a separate subject.

Things We WILL Do This Year:

Handwriting - I used the Sonlight catalogue to read up on the reviews of their top three handwriting picks: A Reason for Handwriting, Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting, and Handwriting Without Tears. We chose Handwriting Without Tears.

Math - We will be using Singapore Math, as recommended by one of the most successful homeschool moms in history (who happens to be a friend of mine).
Phonics: We will continue to use Rocket Phonics.

Bible: We will use the Bible (duh!), Egermeier's Bible Storybook, and verses and activities from AWANA.

History & Science - We will be using book lists from Sonlight, "Honey for a Child's Heart," "The Read-Aloud Handbook," and "Books Children Love," and going off of those as interests develop (and also from interests that develop from life activities) in order to delve more deeply into various subjects. This was an incredibly successful (and completely unintentional) approach last year, and I want to continue it through early elementary. I am hoping to start doing notebooking with these subjects (see also here) one day a week. Notebooking will serve double duty as serving for a vehicle to cover artwork, narration, composition, and various other language arts skills.


- Social Activities - Church, AWANA Kids' Club, our MOMS Club activities, and two homeschool support groups (one which has activities every week, and one which has them twice a month)

- Field Trips - Last year we went on a ton of field trips, and this year we already have a bunch lined up. I am finally getting to know Phoenix! We will be doing a minimum of two field trips per month, most likely more, plus day trips, camping trips, and travel with the family. I try not to ruin the fun of field trips with worksheets and evaluation questions - right now they are just for fun and massive amounts of hands-on learning.

- Practical Skills - Constant work on things like (1) table (meal-time) chores, (2) around-the-house chores, (3) learning home repair/maintenance skills with daddy, (4) safety skills, (5) social skills, manners, courtesy, etc.

Various Notes 

- I am contemplating a modified year-round schedule - taking a month off during the summer to meet my emotional need for "summer break," and then taking the rest of our time off during the school year at more non-broiling-hot times of the year.

- Some goals for this year: To set up a running time-line going through our hallways, to find a globe, and to set up world and state maps in the hallway. Farewell, classy home decor. Oh wait, I don't have any classy home decor anyway. (For some reason, my house still has not decorated itself, despite the fact that we've been in it for almost four years. Strange.)


And that's about it, except for all of the stuff I've forgotten. I'd love to answer any questions that anyone has, or hear your input!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Updated Protocol!

Hi, everyone! Hope you all are having a lovely weekend! Over here we've had a dust storm, a trip to Goodwill, lots of shopping, and all the usual weekend-y things. And now for 30 seconds of blogging!

And really - I do mean 30 seconds. I'm not writing anything properly tonight - just noting that, at long last, I have updated my HG protocol with all of my latest adventures and experiences, and it is ready for viewing! Unfortunately I did not date my old comments, but I have dated my recent comments (and will date future comments), so you can see what's new there.

I find, however, that my protocol has grown exponentially into something that is too big and bulky for practical personal use. I do want to leave it intact so that HG mamas can go to it to get lots of ideas, but I am going to draft a second, more succinct version, leaving in only the parts that I am using and plan to use in the future. So I will keep two versions going, and will post both. Look for that soon!

I'd love to hear any comments that you all have!

And now, off to bed! Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What I Should Have Been Doing All Summer

It's that time of year! Homeschool bloggers are getting ready to start their school years, and many of them are posting their curriculum choice lists (like these over at Women Living Well and Large Family Mothering). Reading all of these "we're ready to start school!" posts made me realize, "These moms have spent their entire summer planning for next year. Oh.... I guess I should have been doing that too." Especially considering that we're "starting school" on Monday!


Actually, I do have a few excuses - (1) In some areas, we will just be picking up where we left off a month ago, and (2) some areas I have been researching frantically (no results yet).

But there are so many things to do in preparation for starting the school year - and I had no idea how many things there were to do before the school year started. My goodness!

And so, without further ado, here is a (very partial) list of things that I need to get done in very short order (fat chance!):

- Order curricula - I tried to order Singapore math this week - oops, they're out of stock and won't be back in until September. *Note to self - Don't order curriculum in August!

- Finish making my curriculum choices - Basically done except for writing.

- Make our son's notebook cover for his schoolwork notebook - Not my strong point!

- Make summary sheets of curriculum covered and extracurricular activities from last year so that I can file last year's notebook - Almost done!

- Finish making chore charts - Working on this one.

- Figure out my initial ideas for a school-day calendar and a school-year calendar - In progress (I know this will change as we go along).

- Go over curriculum choices with DH to get his input and stamp of approval.

- Do a million extra things (Blog! Read articles! File papers on my desk! Plan field trips! Make our family prayer calendar! etc.) - I don't think I'll ever be done.

And now, off to DO these things! Next year I am starting earlier!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Avoiding the Torture, Finding the Joy

You know, I never would have dreamed the homeschooling would be such an adventure! That I would have so much to learn, that I would be so challenged - and that it might even (*gasp!*) be fun. 

In most areas, I'm still experiencing the ever-so-steep three year learning curve with waayyy more "crying moments" than "A-HA! moments." Let me tell you - getting started is not easy! But it is rewarding work, and I'm digging in as hard and as fast as I can go.

In light of all that, here is something that is working right now.

As I read more and more about homeschooling, I see that oftentimes, the more experienced veteran-moms start slowly with their little ones. As opposed to "teach your baby to read" methods, they usually treat childhood gently, encouraging outdoor time, LEGOs, cooking, play time, science experiments in the kitchen, field trips, etc. - building a strong experiential foundation for the academics to come in later years. And oftentimes, in the younger elementary grades, the "non-basic" subjects (i.e. science and history) are either not taught at all, or are taught informally. I have chosen to take that approach, and here's how I'm currently doing it:

The basic principle:

Real books (almost) always make learning easier and more enjoyable than do textbooks.

That's the reason that I chose Sonlight, and even though Sonlight Core A didn't work out for us for kindergarten, I still love the real-books approach (as opposed to a textbook approach) and am planning on using their book lists (along with others) to teach history throughout our school years.

Textbooks tend to be dry, dull, and easily-forgettable. Real books tend to be intriguing, deep, and easily memorable. Think learning history from a textbook, and then think learning history from the "Little House on the Prairie" book series. The former is forgotten as soon as the test is over; the latter is remembered for a life time. 

(* I know that there is a time and a place for textbooks - I love them for certain subjects - nothing against textbooks!)

Here's an example: 

I checked out a delightful little book, "One Small Place by the Sea" - a beautifully illustrated book about tide pools. So much information, so much beautiful artistry! We loved it. 

To build on that ("Let's learn about tide pools!") - I checked out a dreadfully textbook-y book about tide pools - from one of those awful "informational" children's series that have cursed library shelves for generations:

Before I had even read the first page, our son was begging, "Please, mommy, can we please not read this anymore?"

Lesson learned. Real books rule. (Especially in the younger years.)

This year, I set out to check out a vast number of library books ("real books"), based on my three reference books: "Honey for a Child's Heart," "The Read Aloud Handbook," and "Books Children Love." 

The books are good quality real books - usually fiction, sometimes informational fiction, sometimes historical fiction. Sometimes they are a hit, sometimes they're a complete bomb. Sometimes our son's interest completely takes off, and I end up checking out every book in the library on that subject (keeping clear of the poor-quality educational series!). In this manner, we have covered subject after subject this year, in much more depth than I ever covered in school, from elementary to college.

For example, when we read the Magic School Bus book about volcanoes, we really sparked a fire. We spent months upon months reading on volcanoes, earthquakes, and geology - it was a completely spontaneous unit study that blew me away:

The same thing happened with space and the history of space travel. Sometime, if you have a few spare hours, ask our eldest son his opinion of the Apollo space program. I dare you.

(*I should say that I recommend the Magic School Bus books with reservations. There are some phrases in the books that I find disrespectful, and edit out, and there are also conversations that I edit on the fly.)

This past week, I discovered a delightful children's author, Deborah Hopkinson, and checked out several of her books, including this one - a slightly fictionalized history of Fannie Farmer (author of "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook"):

I didn't think that our son would like this book, but he ate it up - and not only that, has been extremely motivated to learn more about cooking! Tonight we had a cake that "he baked" (i.e. made a MESS with), and he is now fascinated by his Magic School Bus book about cooking chemistry. 

Here's another recent science bunny trail: We started with the Magic School Bus book about bees:

Then we moved on to this delightful book, which has lots of details about bees:

And then on to this gem of a book, which has even more details: 

And voila! A mini-education in bees and bee-keeping, all interest-led and completely torture-free (which textbook learning at this age, at least for boys, is not). 

Real books are also a great way to learn local science. We found this lovely little book and were able to read all about the monsoons we enjoy each summer (wonderful book!):
And what about history? The same thing!

Try these wonderful book for learning about stagecoaches, covered wagons, and the journey west:

 And for learning about the Great Depression:

About European emigration to America:

About life in an earlier time in America:

And about American landmarks and mid-1900s culture:

None of these, of course, is a complete education. But they build a foundation of information, of artistic appreciation, of a groundwork of science and history that both serves as a jumping off point for passion-led learning, and for later textbook learning at an older age.

This year our son has read book after book (or had them read to him), and we have covered many subjects lightly, and some (in a completely unplanned way) very deeply - space, space travel, volcanoes, bees, pioneer life, and snakes. He has learned more this year than I learned of science in my entire elementary education, and it's been amazing to watch.

One thing I have not yet figured out is how to use this approach with more than one child involved - but that will be an adventure for another day.

Thanks for listening, everyone!

Great Read: "The Protein/Morning Sickness Connection"

A few weeks ago, I asked Amy at Raising Arrows if she could possibly write a post about the connection between protein intake and NVP (nausea and vomiting of pregnancy), due to a comment she had made earlier about how drastically increasing her protein intake had helped her to control her NVP/HG. Either in answer to that request, or because she was already planning to write on the subject, here is her article, published today!

The Protein/Morning Sickness Connection

There is great stuff here, and it mirrors what I have learned - basically, that during periods of NVP, carbs are BAD and protein is GOOD. That's contrary to what is taught ("eat crackers!"), but I have found it to be quite true. Protein (with fat) usually leads to much more stability and manageable nausea, while carbs lead to a brief "I feel great!" followed by a quick crash and worsened nausea levels. I saw this pattern over and over during this past pregnancy.

This assumes that a mama can actually EAT, of course! But this is worth looking into, and I see this theme repeated over and over - protein (especially animal protein) can really help an NVP pregnancy.

So... take some time to read the article (and the rest of the blog - it's great!) and check out the comments as well.

Thoughts, all???

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Right Back Where I Started From

This past week - California!! Back to my hometown and the scene of all our pre-marriage adventures. Here are some pics!

California friends: We had to make a regretful decision not to see any friends while we were in town, as our time was so limited. We thought of you all! And missed you!

Lunch at the rest stop on the way out: 

When you see a sign like this.....

.... it definitely calls for a snake hunt! No snakes were found, unfortunately! 

Napping in the car (this child cannot nap without a blanket pulled over his head!):

Napping? I think not, at least for this one! He was wired.

Stopping at Hadley's for a date shake (I won't say whether or not we stopped again on the way out for another). If you have not had a Hadley's date shake, you have not truly lived.

My childhood home (not pictured) backs onto a beautiful golf course.... or at least, it used to - until the golf course owners packed up shop and abandoned the place. Let's just say it's gone au naturel since then.

Our son's first time at the beach!!


Soon turned into this....

He came home with a nice sunburn and a great enthusiasm for the beach.

Me, trying to take care of two babies (one of whom refused to nap) while DH and DS wade in the water.

Visiting my university, which had changed so much that I almost didn't recognize it. New buildings everywhere! We wanted to make a day of it and go over the whole campus, but it was more like 20-30 minutes of dragging a complaining 6yo around before giving up and going home.

By my old stomping grounds, the (extremely ugly) new music building:

Since we couldn't visit my choir professor, we took pictures in front of her office!

Visiting the church where we got married - an extremely rushed trip, as we now had three impatient children on our hands. There were still Sunday church-goers around, and I think we must have totally made their day by our mysterious behavior: We raced into the parking lot, jumped out of the car, ran over to the front of the church, photographed ourselves, and then ran back to the car and drove off.

At DH's favorite fast-food place in my hometown, where we ended up eating three times over two days. 

Nursing at Burger Basket! 

At some local splashpads:


We had an eerie experience at these splashpads. While we were standing watching the splashpads, we saw a panicked mother running past us toward the fountain (pictured above), and, turning around, we found that her small child had gotten into the fountain and was on his way to drowning within a stone's throw of us - we couldn't hear him because the noise of the fountain was thunderous. It was an extremely frightening experience - thanking God the little fellow was okay. 

Some random pics: 

At my childhood home, with the ex-golf course in the background. 
We had a great time, and thoroughly enjoyed our trip. This was the first time we have been to California in over five years (since our eldest was an only child and a baby), so a lot has changed. We are not likely to be going back soon, so we are thankful we have a lot of lovely memories from this trip!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Adventures in August

Yet more snippets of life around here!

- Our latest science experiments:

Cleaning pennies with a vinegar salt solution. Did it work? No.

Making homemade carbonated lemon soda, a drink so disgusting that neither of us even swallowed the first taste:

Separating color fractions from mashed spinach. Did it work? No.

Something tells me that I need to get a new science experiment book.

- Other fun stuff....

Digging huge holes in our front planter. Why? Because holes need to be dug! Just ask any boy.

Making sharpie tie-dye t-shirts - this was fun, fast, easy, and required almost no prep time or extra materials!

Paint-in-a-bag! No mess! It amused our 6yo for almost thirty seconds (if I round up). Oh well, I thought it was fun.

- Our 9-year wedding anniversary was last month! We had our yearly conversation:

Person 1: Hey, our anniversary is tomorrow!
Person 2: Oh yeah, I guess we should do something for that.
Person 1: Yeah, what do you want to do?
Person 2: I don't know, what do you want to do?
Person 1: I don't know, what do you want to do?

And so on and so forth. BUT this year had two major improvements! (1) We had this conversation before our anniversary, instead of "Hey, yesterday was our anniversary! We should have done something!", and (2) We actually did do something! We went out for milkshakes! Seriously, this is the first time we've done anything for our anniversary in about seven years or so. Major accomplishment there!

And if we're lucky, we can just make that an annual tradition so that we can stop having to think about it!

- For homeschooling.... After doing hours and hours and hours of research, I've got to admit the sad truth - I am still drowning in a sea of curriculum choices. I just do not do well in any situation that has lots of choices. Everything that I see, I like. But actually choosing - and what's more, choosing well, eludes me. I need to find what fits our son, what fits me, and what fits our family. Argh.

So, for the meantime, I am purposely giving up my endless search, and am seeking the Lord in prayer so that He can guide me to the curriculum He wants us to use for this year. Otherwise I am going to turn into (more of a) frustrated whirlwind of curriculum-choice stress. Whenever we decide on things, I'll let you know!

- Just a couple of family pics:

First time in the door bouncer! 

First sink bath
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!