Friday, May 30, 2014

Podcasts Devoted to Extreme Morning Sickness! Don't Miss This!

I'm so excited to share this with you all!

Rachel, a correspondent of mine and multiple-time hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) mama, has started her own website with regularly-released podcasts exclusively devoted to the subject of HG (a.k.a. extreme morning sickness).

In her podcasts, Rachel talks to HG survivors and activists as well as researchers (professional and amateur) who are investigating causes and cures. Each podcast is professionally edited, quite interesting, and relatively short. I'm currently working my way through her current archives and am enjoying them greatly.

Visit Rachel's website and check out her podcasts! This is a great way to connect with other HG mothers, and also for maternity care providers to learn more about extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). 

HyperG Pregnancy: A Podcast About Hyperemesis Gravidarum

HG mamas and researchers, Rachel is always interested in talking with HG survivors and mamas who are engaged in HG experimentation and research. Email her at or leave a comment on her site if you'd like to chat with her!

Enjoy! Thanks to Rachel for providing this awesome resource!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Success Story: A Pregnancy Without Extreme Morning Sickness (HG)!

I wanted to quote from the comments to highlight another hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) success story - an HG mama whose efforts have resulted in a subsequently HG-free pregnancy. Her method and the method I'm using have both similar and dissimilar points, but an underlining similarity of plan and purpose. Here are her own words! (All emphases mine.)

"I've been following your blog for quite some time and really enjoy it, thank you. I've been researching gestational diabetes and insulin resistance and believe these may be the underlying cause of some cases of severe pregnancy sickness, along with inflammation. This can be fixed before pregnancy and does not require a very low carb diet. Avoiding omega 6 fats is a very important part of treating insulin resistance. I also don't necessarily think low-carb during pregnancy is safe, after reading a few journal articles that say it causes epigenetic changes and obesity in offspring. Perhaps getting insulin resistance under control before pregnancy could be done instead of the ultra-low carb diet. I would prefer to do this and stay out of ketosis, while still taking advantage of a higher fat/higher protein diet.
After reading the book "Pregnancy Sickness", I do not feel vegetables and herbs are safe during the first trimester. Berries are a low-carb fruit that could be subbed for veggies. Boiling meat is the best way to avoid both toxic charring and bad smells. Coconut milk/oil/flour is high in fats and/or fiber and doesn't have the bad omega 6 oils. Nuts have toxins and omega 6. Milk and especially cheese spikes insulin so probably not a good idea. 
I'm planning to start trying in a few months and I have a blog so I will keep you posted on my diet and if it works. I want to be low-carb but just above ketosis. I have strips to test this. I am trying to merge low-carb, paleo, "pregnancy sickness protocol" and manage insulin/inflammation all at the same time.
Some supplements that help manage insulin are magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, and DHA/EPA. B vitamins seem to be of great benefit for pregnancy and health problems, especially "non-folic acid" forms of folate such as: folinic acid and methyl-folate. (Excess B vitamins are lost in the urine). My body does not process folic acid so my doctor has me on methyl-folate instead (Deplin). Of course B6 is a must for pregnancy sicknesses.
I read an article that said alpha lipoic acid helped infertile women concieve but am not sure if it is safe during pregnancy. Magnesium and DHA are safe and recommended, along with vitamin D which boosts the immune system, reduce inflammation, seems to prevent developmental disorders, and also prevents severe flu complications. I also think there should be a greater focus on vaginal health (ie vaginosis and candida) and anemia, especially getting these under control before pregnancy for better outcomes.
"Well my thought is the same as Dr. Fox: that insulin resistance leads to infertility and NVP/HG. He used to treat with metfomin, now uses a low carb diet, but there are other ways to lower insulin resistance:
  • weight lifting (the more muscle that can store glycogen, the less insulin resistance) 
  • avoiding omega 6's 
  • supplements: magnesium, alpha lipoic acid, vitamin D, DHA, probably B vitamins 
  • lowering overall inflammation with a gluten-free paleo/GAPS/SCD diet.
"No fancy ideas here, just a compilation of ways other than low-carb diet to control insulin:)
"Metabolic problems in moms such as insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity have been linked to autism in the children (recent research). One more reason to get insulin under control way before TTC. 
"Power of 10 and Body by Science are excellent books to teach high intensity weight lifting. This type of workout is done one a week and build the most amount of muscle in the fastest amount of time. They also noted that when pregnant women did the workouts before and during pregnancy, they had low incidence of diabetes, and much easier labor. The mechanics of the workout (slow controlled movements while avoiding holding the breath) are very similar to what women do in natural labor. Having high muscle mass in pregnancy leads to a much quicker recovery.
"It's just amazing how all this stuff ties together. I think a huge problem is our modern lifestyle, if my theory is right, it makes NVP/HG way worse.
"I just had my HemoglobinA1C and insulin retested, going to see if the weight lifting and diet and supplements have lowered the A1C."

And the results!
"Hi, I am the one who left the long comments above. I had a healthy pregnancy (despite placenta previa and borderline glucose numbers) and healthy baby, 8 lbs 1oz. He is now one and I expecting again, 6 weeks and feeling great. I used the supplements I mentioned. If I had been able to exercise I might have had better glucose but it wasn't full blown GD. I needed a lot of mag, 800 mg a day. Didn't throw up once, no HG or nausea. :)"

Many congratulations to this mama!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Magnesium and Morning Sickness

If you're doing any research into NVP (nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, i.e. morning sickness) prevention, you have surely run across the magnesium-NVP link. There are many people out there who believe that magnesium deficiency is (fully or partially) behind pregnancy nausea - fascinating stuff!

An interesting fact is that almost all Americans are magnesium-deficient already, due to the modern farming practices that have resulted in magnesium-deficient soils, and thus magnesium-deficient foods. Considering how vital magnesium is to the human body, it's not surprising that we're experiencing widespread detrimental health effects from this situation. For more information, see "The Magnesium Miracle."

I wanted to collect the articles that I have on magnesium and NVP for quick reference. Definitely check them out!

Regardless of whether magnesium supplementation is "the answer" for some women dealing with severe NVP, it behooves all of us to consider magnesium supplementation - either through oral supplements like Natural Calm, or through products like Magnesium Oil (applied to the skin - buy here) or Epsom Salts (used for baths). An additional option is magnesium injections, which can be obtained through a naturopath.

Remember that magnesium absorption may be affected by pregnancy, so it's probably important to raise your magnesium levels before conception.

I've seen lots of great health benefits through magnesium supplementation, and it's now on my "always" list of supplements. Highly recommended!

  1. Raising Arrows: Magnesium Supplementation and Morning Sickness
  2. Modern Alternative Mama: Magnesium May Solve Common Health Issues
  3. Mommypotamus: The REAL Cause of Morning Sickness
  4. Wellness Mama: How I Avoided Morning Sickness
  5. Article: The Miracle of B Complex B-12 and Magnesium Injections
You will notice that most of these articles are about normal morning sickness, not HG. However, it's one of those things that can only help - why not try it? Solving nutritional deficiencies and strengthening our bodies is always a positive step in preparing for pregnancy, regardless of whether or not it's "the answer" for each individual woman. I would list magnesium supplementation as an essential for preparing for pregnancy, especially in post-HG women. 

Thoughts, dear readers?

* Later added: Check out this link to see information on symptoms of magnesium deficiency!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

'Twas the Night Before.... The 2014-2015 School Year!

I'll never understand how it exactly happened, but we managed to start our school year today!

Really, it was nothing less than a miracle. It was certainly by the grace of God alone, for nothing else could have made this happen.

Last Monday, I was pretty hopeless. Due to morning sickness, nothing had gotten done on my to-do list for summer break, and besides buying curriculum, I had nothing prepared for this year.

Get ready in a week? While feeling awful and having the energy of a dying weasel? Ha!

But it happened - solely by the help of God. Otherwise, I would have had to go with Plan B - making summer longer.

Inch by inch, I was able to get the absolute necessities done. I typed records, printed new sheets for my notebook, compiled last year's work, cleared out our homeschool books and supplies, and asked DH to do a wee bit of shopping for basic supplies.

And by yesterday, we were - dare I say? - ready.

Absolutely no extras got done. But that's okay. Extras are just that - extras. I'm so thankful we were able to be ready to start on time with the basics. Being that we are expecting a middle-of-November baby, timing is a bit tricky - and I don't want to sacrifice our summer break next year to make up for losses now.

Last night I even - gasp! - baked a cake and made homemade ice cream for our back-to-school party (or as some call it, a NOT-back-to-school party!). The kids were thrilled - as well they should be, since I haven't made a homemade dessert since sometime in February!

Fanny Farmer's Golden Cake - a favorite! And no, that's not a real spider. 

Then after bedtime, I set up our new books and supplies on the table, and the kids woke up to that - plus our traditional donut run with Daddy for first-day-of-school breakfast. (I know we have Krispy Kreme down the street, but hey, we had a gift card.)

I have found that just this wee bit of effort really pays to get our school year started on a good foot. Though I do my best, our 7yo (now in second grade) is not overly fond of school - or at least of the parts he recognizes as school (i.e. book work). Our little family night-before party, special cards, new supplies, and a special breakfast really help to make it a positive start. The 7yo this morning even said, "Mommy, I love school!" When I recovered from a dead faint, I determined that I will definitely keep up with these traditions! So simple, yet so helpful.

I found it amazing, too, how cleaning out our shelves and school supplies, and replenishing with fresh materials, really lifted my spirits. Until this week, I really hadn't felt ready to start this school year. As I mentioned, six weeks just hasn't been enough of a summer - I'm planning a longer summer for this coming year! - but getting rid of old, tired supplies, cleaning and dusting, and getting new supplies in place has been an enormous boost to my own enthusiasm levels. I almost kinda-sorta felt ready to go!

At this time of year, most other schools (both public schools and homeschools) are preparing to close up shop and go on summer break. We, on the other hand, are finishing our break and getting ready to start! This may sound crazy to y'all out there. However, Phoenix summers are.... Phoenix summers. When we first tried to use the traditional "summer" summer-break, all we did was sit around indoors and look at each other saying, "I'm boorrred." Unless one likes the heat - or has a pool! - Phoenix summers really aren't good for much. Thus, right now we're choosing to take summer break before the oven heats up. That may change as we become involved in any extracurriculars, which generally follow the traditional calendar. However, for now, it works beautifully (except for continually being the odd-man-out schedule-wise).

And now... Year #4 of our homeschool begins! I'm praying for the grace to handle each day, the discernment to know when to continue a path and when to change direction, and the increased maturity to reach continually for new heights in every area of our home and our educational program. I need every bit of help I can get!

Dear readers, I'm looking forward to reading your plans for the summer, your curriculum plans for this fall, and all of the great ideas that you're preparing for this coming school year! I can't wait to see everything you have planned!

Happy First Day of School!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pregnancy Journal (Weeks 12-13)

As I mentioned previously, I have kept a daily journal since week three - I just haven't published them! I thought this one might be of interest, being recent, so here it is!

No fair judging on grammar, spelling, or the basic rules of logic. My brain is still gone, people!

Here ya go:

May 4 - May 17, 2014

12w0d - The two week countdown is ON - and then farewell, first trimester! Yay!

Today was a rough day. Felt yuck, and BOY am I spacey. I can see it when I reread these journal entries. My brain is at least 50% toast. I hope it comes back soon!

Looking forward to seeing our midwife on Thursday!

Having come to the unfortunate conclusion that I really don't like the math we're using, I am scrambling madly to find a new math curriculum before school starts. Right now the vote is heading toward Christian Light. But don't hold your breath - this morning it was Rod and Staff, and yesterday it was Horizons. Goodness.

12w1d - So-so day. Really looking forward to seeing our midwife and hearing baby's heartbeat in three days!!!!

12w2d - (Forgot to journal.)

12w3d - Better-than-average morning!

Yesterday I had a better morning but an awful evening. I think I forgot to eat often enough, and then really paid for it. Today I have tried to remember to keep eating, even when the nausea doesn't prompt me.

Yesterday I made myself my low-carb cheesecake. YUM. I'd better be careful, though, because I can eat inordinate quantities of it. Eating a cheesecake a day could possibly have detrimental effects!

Tomorrow we see our midwife! Really hoping for twins! (Not that we'd be able to tell at 12 weeks, but still hoping.)

Two new pregnancy symptoms (over the past week or two) - Insomnia and headaches.

12w4d - "Eh" sort of day. More cheesecake. Always more cheesecake.

Off to our midwife's in an hour and a half! If I can make it through the appointment (or even till we get there) it will be a triumph! Right now I am so tired that even breathing is an effort. Seriously. Will post to the blog when we get home.

12w5d - Yesterday's midwife visit went very well! Heard baby's heartbeat (yay!) and had a fun time getting to see our midwife again.

Her one concern was the fact that I am very much in ketosis. I hadn't confirmed that before (though knew it was a possibility), but my urinalysis definite showed that. Opinions are divided on the safety of ketosis in pregnancy. She would prefer that I up my carb level to get out of ketosis, but I'm very nervous about triggering HG - like I did last time. We'll see.

Today I had all the fun of announcing our wee one on Facebook, and last night on this blog.

Speaking of Facebook. I'm totally re-addicted. Not posting much, but just a stalker-junkie. And I've been spending waaayyy too much time staring blankly at the computer screen. Yet another bad habit to reform as I (hopefully soon) gain my brain and energy back.

12w6d - Today I had a super-busy morning. I cooked breakfast for the family (wow!) and then we all went over to a curriculum sale. The funny thing was that when we got there, there was nothing left. The woman had decided to offer all of the things for free, and she said that everything was basically gone within 15 minutes. So much for that!

When I got home, I absolutely crashed. Talk about overdoing it (compared to my current routine of creeping through the house and collapsing on various items of furniture). I felt pretty good and yuck the rest of the day. The big question - was it because I overdid it this morning, or because I've been more liberal in my carb allowance for the past 36 hours, remembering my midwife's request? Not that I've gone nuts, but I allowed myself two bites of a burrito, extra blueberries, and some ketchup. Or was it a combination of the two? But I'm rather nervous. I do NOT want to undo the hard work I've done simply by overindulging in carbs prematurely.

A big thing that I forgot to mention - wee baby flutters, starting this past Monday!! (12w1d) Yay! My very favorite thing in the entire world. It always starts off very lightly, and they're difficult to detect, but they're definitely there. Anxiously awaiting the wonderful (and more definite) kicks of a month or two down the road!!

13w0d - Thrilled to be at THIRTEEN WEEKS! Only six more days left in the first trimester!! YES! Not that that means anything, but it always feels better to leave that behind.

Today was a rotten day. Was it a coincidence? Was it the fact that I've been just a wee bit looser with carbs?? I don't know, but I am thinking of going back to where I was - meaning no more ketchup on my scrambled eggs. (*Sigh*) Ketosis may be debatable, but HG is NOT. It is 100% bad. I'm not going to risk going backwards with NVP just for a few measly carbs.

Today was Mother's Day. Didn't do much other than skip church (haven't been in over two months now) and lie on the couch staring at the walls. Oh, the excitement!

13w1d - Better day overall. I even printed out a to-do list for the week (trying to get ready for next week's supposed beginning of our school year) and managed to do a few things on it! Goodness, it will be a miracle if I can be ready (and sufficiently energetic and motivated) by then. If not, well, summer may be extended by a week.

13w2d - Getting through the week! Today was definitely a better day. The fog feels like it is gradually lifting.

Today I spent some time filing last term's papers and am trying to do my best to work through the essentials for starting the school year on Monday. I am thinking of starting with essentials (math) and giving myself an extra week before we dive into history and science. Our new math curriculum arrived today (Christian Light), and I absolutely adore it. Yum. Soooo much better than what we were using!! I can't wait to start!

Today I did something I haven't done in months - made a meal plan! Wow! Not too ambitious, just four simple meals, but better than these past months have been. What do you know, I might even start cooking sometime! Goodness.

13w3d - Last night was such a good night that I was worried sick that something was wrong! We're really improving here! Today was a good day too. I ended up really overdoing it trying to prepare our dusty house for a visit from family. Vacuuming, mopping, dishes, bathrooms - I ended up passing out on the bed for an hour after that, but was thankful that the house looked semi-presentable for family. And I was able to be a somewhat decent hostess, too!

Lots of wee baby kicks - tiny, but there!

I have decided that I'm comfortable staying in ketosis. But hopefully a teaspoon of ketchup with eggs isn't too risky! DH thinks I shouldn't... but it's so tempting!

Thirteen weeks. No Zofran. Wow.

13w4d - Harder day, but only to be expected after really overdoing it these past two days.

13w5d - Eh sort of day. BUT did manage to inch a bit closer to being ready for school to start. Hurray for that!

13w6d - Another "eh" day.

But. Let me qualify. I really am getting a lot better. I'm having periods of the day that are productive, AND I've now made a real dinner (i.e. I cooked!) three days in a row. Tacos, hamburger casserole, and taco soup. At thirteen weeks! Are you impressed?? So life is definitely improving. It's just slow.

And I need to mention two words. Again.


I haven't even been tempted. I've felt crummy, but it just hasn't been that bad. Maybe... 5% of HG levels? Miserable but doable. Wow.

One thing I'm not managing to do well is leaving the house. I've now tried it two or three times. Each time I'm exhausted, nauseated, and completely out-of-it, and I completely collapse when we get home. And these are for easy outings! Today we went to a store, stayed for ten minutes, and came home. Complete collapse, as usual. Looks like it'll be a while before we're rejoining park days and field trips, especially with the heat, which make outings twenty times harder anyway.

One interesting note - my carb cravings are now gone. Now, rather, I find the thought of carb-rich foods rather repulsive. Very odd.

I'm a tad nervous about pelvic pain/instability issues. I can really feel my pelvic bones moving when I'm walking - it's gotten worse with each babe, and I'm nervous about the fact that it started so early (mid-first trimester). What's it going to be by the third trimester? Yikes!!

Counting the minutes till the end of the first trimester!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Curriculum Round-Up 2014-2015

Hello, everyone!

It's that time of year - the time when the homeschooling blogosphere is filled with everyone sharing curriculum choices for the coming school year.

If reading curriculum round-up posts makes you feel nervous, anxious, inadequate, and completely overwhelmed, don't worry. You're not alone. We all feel like that. However, I have noticed that the feeling of panic gets less and less each year, and I have almost arrived at the point at which I can read one of these posts without feeling like an inadequate failure who should have picked the same things as the person posting.

It's a learning journey.

My own journey has been somewhat impeded this year by the arrival of our newest little one. Remember the huge to-do list I had for this summer break? Guess how much of it got done. That's right, none of it. It was washed away in a huge swamping attack of all-day morning sickness, and I am barely going to be ready to start this school year, let alone do something crazy like file last year's papers. (Ack.)

With that in mind, some of my fancier plans have gone by the wayside. That's probably a good thing. I really tend to over-think things when given the chance. Perhaps this is God's way of not giving me that chance!

Two of my big plans for the summer were planning for two new subjects to start this fall - Spanish and piano. I'm now prepared for neither, so I'm guessing neither is going to happen. That's okay. Maybe later.

Some things have also fallen by the wayside naturally this year, and again, that's a good thing. I really do over-think things and make them too complicated. Thus, subjects that we are no longer covering (or covering formally) now include:
  • Hymn Study - This one never got off the ground, but I have made the decision to formally shelve it. We sing hymns. That's good enough, for crying out loud.
  • Nature Study - Formal nature study (that is, planned nature walks and nature notebooking) has gone bye-bye. It was one big headache. Instead, we provide lots of nature guides, lots of outdoor time, and as many field trips to local outdoor places as we can.
  • Notebooking - Shelved, either permanently or until 3rd or 4th grade. Time will tell. 
  • Composer Studies - Um... yeah. Another thing on my to-do list. I think NOT. (We play lots of good music at the house, and the kids will be studying piano. Enough is enough.)
  • Latin - The last thing we need is yet another academic subject with more worksheets with which to torture our son. It sounded good... but no. 

The moral of the story is that I am learning to simplify. If I add all of the bells and whistles, I won't make it out alive - and that is, after all, one of my main end-goals. I do not want to drive either myself or my children into the ground. Additionally, one of the main points of home education is to provide the larger blocks of free time that children need to pursue their own interests and be children instead of being driven into the ground by endless busywork.

My new goal: Keep it simple.

We currently have only one student, age eight, going into second grade. Though he is extremely bright and mechanically brilliant, he is not in favor of book work or writing (most boys aren't), and I expect that my choices and philosophy are shaped by those factors. Having differently minded students in the future will most likely add a whole new dimension to our school!

I should note that each of the above-mentioned subjects is a very worthy area of study! I am not trying to denigrate them in any way, and should any of you choose to include them in your home education program, I'll be thrilled. These are just things that haven't worked out for us - but they may be a perfect fit for someone else.

With that in mind, here are our curriculum choices for the coming year.

2014-2015 Curriculum Choices

  • Family Time - Covers Bible, Bible memory, catechism, time, calendar, weather, family rules, manners, personal safety skills, and poetry reading.
  • Reading - Our 7yo is now reading fluently, so we just do daily read-aloud practice from our books at home. He no longer needs our phonics program.
  • Language Arts - Copywork. Formal language arts will begin next year. 
  • Science, Geography, History/Culture, Literature - Galloping the Globe (my review here), plus one extra science experiment per week. We also add lots of outside time, plenty of field guides (kids love these!), and supplemental science material via library books. We hope also to pick up some fun science texts for the kids to use at their leisure (which, oddly enough... they do!)
  • Field Trips - An average of one per week, coming from our family activities or either of our homeschooling groups. Additionally, park days and play dates with those two groups.



We have been slow to get started in this area.


Firstly, because Americans tend to really overdo extracurriculars. We've all seen this path, and it's ugly. We really don't want to go the route of the over-stretched, over-committed American family.

Secondly, extracurriculars are usually very pricey. Yikes.

Thirdly, I do not do well with a busy away-from-home schedule.

And fourthly, with a larger family, overdone extracurriculars can really kill both school time and family time.

All that being said, we want to ease into any extracurriculars slowly and with much consideration. We don't want to do things just for the sake of doing things (via the American parenting guilt factor). We want to add extras only when they have a sure value for our family and the child involved. We have had weekly commitments before, and even those stretched our family. Trying to eat dinner in a mad rush, throw all the kids in the car, rush out the door into rush-hour traffic, and then back late at night with cranky kids and a seriously screwed-up schedule. Not a ton of fun. Thus, we're going to tread lightly in this area. Unless something really special comes up, we'll be limiting extracurriculars to field trips and outings with our homeschool groups.


Here are the subjects that we will be adding next year in third grade:
  • Language Arts - Using Learning Language Arts Through Literature or Christian Light
  • Spelling - Included in LLATL, or we may try Rod and Staff spelling or Sequential Spelling. Not sure yet. 
  • Typing - Possibly. I hope to look at the new typing program from Handwriting Without Tears at this year's convention. 
  • Spanish and Piano - If we don't get there this year.
As you may see here, I am no longer a passionate devotee of Charlotte Mason. Nor am I enamored with any other particular style of home education. I am in favor of doing what works and what doesn't bog down our home. Keeping it simple, and using what works - that's my new way of doing things. Thankfully I have many wonderful friends and mentors upon whose advice I rely greatly, and there's always someone to ask for advice and direction when I'm floundering.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Bring 'em on!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Where Do We Go From Here?

After revealing our fun surprises of the week - namely, that we're expecting AND that this pregnancy has not been hyperemetic...

I thought I would pause to post a brief update of what's happening here!

Our homeschool year begins on Monday. I have just this week found the tiniest bit of my energy returning, so I am doing my best to make necessary preparations (filing, printing, typing, shopping, etc.) to be ready on Monday. Can I get it done? Not sure. It will probably be a matter of getting the bare essentials done and letting the rest slide - temporarily or permanently.

I plan to publish our curriculum round-up for the coming year in the next day or two. Look for that! I can't wait to share with you all!

I am planning to start our school year gradually - first with just math and handwriting, then adding in history and science, and then all the little extras (family time, picture study, etc.). I don't want to go beyond my strength until I feel better, but I am determined that we shall have a longer summer break next year - meaning that math has to get done!

My big project for the summer, besides beginning our school year, will be getting our household "rebooted" after the neglect occasioned by several months of NVP (i.e. morning sickness). Things like meal planning, deep cleaning, routines, chores, etc., have fallen by the wayside - and I have now to pick them up and reinstate all the necessities of household life. That's always a challenge. One wouldn't think that a brief break in routine would cause everything to fall to pieces, but I always feel that I have to relearn the basics. "What? Cook dinner? How on earth do I do that?"

We are nearing the 14-week mark with this baby - almost to the second trimester! I have kept copious notes in the form of a running journal ever since we got a positive test - I want to have good records for this pregnancy. I don't know if I'll ever publish them, but at least they're there.

I have decided to wait to publish a "summary entry" concerning what I've learned about NVP/HG until much later in this pregnancy - possibly after the fact, in the postpartum. As I mentioned before, there is still so much to do - I have to experience the rest of this pregnancy, do more research, learn so much more. I don't want to publish just to have to deal with endless revisions. However, I will likely begin to write that post very soon. It's going to be ridiculously long, and will probably take the rest of the summer to type - I can then leave editing and finishing touches till the last.

For the past ten days or so, I have begun to feel the faintest of wee baby kicks. This is the moment I live for - unutterably precious. I can't wait for the giant earth-shattering kicks! So much fun. Besides NVP, I really adore pregnancy.

And so... that's about all. Really, what I have on my to-do list is quite manageable... except that I am not feeling energetic or well enough to do any of it! It's a matter of trying to skate through with the minimum, and pray that I continue to feel better day by day.

As far as the blog goes, I'll be in and out. I don't have any concrete plans at the moment, but I'll probably post pregnancy updates here and there, along with whatever else strikes me. It'll be a while before everything is back to normal around here, including the blog.

And there you have it!

Hope you all are enjoying the summer - I'm counting the days till it's over!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Follow-Up Post: Let's Talk Morning Sickness!

For those of you who missed yesterday's news, yes, we're expecting!

We're very excited!

The family has let us know in no certain terms that they think we're insane. That's okay. Maybe next time around they'll have accepted the fact!

We saw our midwife for our first visit yesterday and heard baby's heartbeat - always such a lovely sound!

I apologize, dear readers, for not letting you all know sooner. My reasoning was very simple - I wanted to find out the big YES or NO on whether the diet I've been doing worked to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme morning sickness) before I reported in.

The answer to that question, at this point, seems to be a resounding YES.

Let me give you the basics.

For the past two or so months, I have felt like dirt. I have spent the majority of time lying around while my house got dusty and the kids ate packaged snack foods. I've felt crummy and it hasn't been a ton o' fun.


I have not thrown up once. 


I have not taken one Zofran. 

Do I really need to say more?

Normally I would have been in uncontrollable hyperemesis from week four onward, unable to keep anything down, or at best maintaining a shaky balance only through massive doses of Unisom and Zofran.

Needless to say, I am thrilled - if it's possible to be thrilled, nauseated, and dead tired at the same time.

I'm not going to do a big write-up right now, because we're only 13-ish weeks in. There are still many questions unanswered, many things I still need to do, many confounding variables to work through (the diet wasn't the only thing I was doing - far from it!). I will try to do a complete write-up later in this pregnancy or after the birth.

But in the meantime, we're thrilled!

We are planning our fourth homebirth, and hopefully our third waterbirth, and we're so excited to be adding to our family. Even if we are insane.

Feel free to ask any questions! Love to everyone!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Time for a Little Holiday Planning! (Really!)

What? You all think it's a bit early to be planning for the holidays??

That's where you're wrong! It's never too early!

And I have been very busy planning for this coming Thanksgiving! Namely, I've been sitting around and staring at the walls! It's what you call productivity, folks!

In other words....

We're very excited!

Facebook friends, please keep this quiet for 24 hours until we announce tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Curriculum Review: Modern Curriculum Press Maps Books

A year or two back, a sweet Catholic homeschooling friend of mine told me that her boys absolutely loved their map skills books. At the time, I'd never heard of map skills. However, anything that boys like (as opposed to, say, everything else) seemed a good idea! Thus, at last year's convention I picked up Modern Curriculum Press's Maps A book. We used it this year, and it was good! We will continue this coming year with Maps B.

(Modern Curriculum Press puts out many products besides map skills, but we have no experience with their other products.)

The Maps series simply builds on basic skills - left/right, north/south/east/west, prepositions (next to, across from, etc.) to begin building the skills eventually needed for more complicated map interpretation. They're fun, easy, and not time-consuming. We completed one lesson per week (taking 10 minutes per lesson tops), and finished far before the end of the school year.

This curriculum really was an all-around winner. Inexpensive, fun, instructional, and not time-consuming. It really doesn't get much better than that.

There are many map skills books out there. Because this one has worked so well for us, I have not shopped around at all. If you'd like to browse, however, visit the Rainbow Resources booth at your local homeschool convention and check out the map skills section.

We highly recommend both the subject and this particular curriculum! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Curriculum Review: Galloping the Globe

Galloping the Globe is a unit study collection studying major countries around the world. You can spend however long you like on each country, do them in any order desired, and select whatever you want out of the unit study to use.

GTG is a single book - it's not an "all in one" unit study that comes with everything you might need (like craft materials, readers, etc.). Gathering materials is up to you - and thus, access to a good public library is a must (unless you want to buy a lot of books).

Primarily, GTG is a book list. There are books about each country, and books by authors from each country. There are also craft and activity suggestions for each country, recipes, occasional website suggestions, maps, and lower-elementary activity pages to copy (like word searches, etc.).

We have now used GTG for one year after seeing another friend's success with this curriculum (review here).

We love it!

Here are some notes from things learned along the way:

- There are some books that GTG uses consistently with each country. None of these books is available from the library. I asked my friend if they were necessary, and she said no, so we did not buy any of them.

- Buy used, and it's the cheapest curriculum you'll ever find! Even new the book is only $25 or so.

- Again, you need a library. If you're super-rural, you'll probably want something like a packaged curriculum from My Father's World that comes with books included.

- GTG is easy to use multi-level K-8 or even beyond.

- This year we did the Introductory section, England, and China. Next time through I won't bother doing the introductory section. We also won't spend quite as much time on each country. This year we did 4-5 months on each unit - way too much time. Right now I am so sick of China that I could scream! Next year we are planning on spending one term maximum per country (six weeks). Some families choose to move very quickly, allotting just one week per country.

- GTG covers both history/culture/geography and science. The science topics are primarily native animals for each country, so if you want your elementary student to cover other science subjects, you will have to supplement (or skip the GTG science topics and substitute something like Apologia science). That hasn't been a problem around here - just providing lots of reading material as interests come up (along with nature field guides) has produced a 7yo who is well versed in everything from astronomy to minerals, just from interest-based reading. Provide the books, and they will learn. Take a look at this post for more science ideas if you want to supplement.

- GTG has a sister-curriculum, Cantering the Country, which is a unit study for the United States that goes state by state. I'm hoping to nab a copy of this soon! (Short review here.)

- We do not do all of the activities listed, and we haven't used any of the activity sheets, vocabulary lists, Bible verses, or websites. We also haven't read the country summaries or used the discussion questions. (Have I mentioned how much I abhor discussion questions?) Primarily we use the book lists (and subject lists for doing library searches). Even if our library doesn't have the particular books listed (a common problem), we can easily find others on the same subjects.

- One of our favorite activities with unit studies is FOOD. We have made at least ten dishes per country (again, I need to cut down) and tried some great food - even though some, like Spotted Dick and Custard, nearly had me with my head in the toilet. You just try grating blood-spotted suet to put in a dessert. GTG provides one to three recipes per country, and more recipes are easy to find with ethnic cookbooks or online.

- GTG is a great "jumping-off" point. For our study of England, I added easily ten times as much material on top of what was in the book. You get ideas and go from there! Country studies are really endless. So don't feel bound by what's in the book - use it as a starting place and go from there. GTG is not complete, nor is it perfect (no unit study is), but it's a great place to start. Have fun!

- GTG also has a GTG Yahoo Group for support. (We haven't joined - it sounds great, but I just can't take any more groups!)

- Our local library offers the ability to reserve books online, and I make liberal use of this service. In fact, I don't think I've ever actually looked up a book myself! If you want to use GTG, find out if your library offers this service - it's a life-saver. Not only does it save time at the library, but it allows you to do most of the work of book selection from the comfort of your home.

- GTG is a "do it yourself" curriculum. It does not offer any schedule or daily to-do list. What you do and when you do it is entirely up to you! If you are the super-uptight kind (like I used to be) who simply must have a pre-made schedule, you will want to find something else - try Sonlight.

Finding history curriculum has been a huge challenge for me. I have severely disliked every single history textbook that I have seen, even those that come highly recommended. Textbooks simply have a unique ability to make the most interesting subject in the world beyond boring, and that's a horrible thing to do to history. I prefer a real books approach, and this is a good start. We're really enjoying this curriculum, and I suspect that I'll love it even more when I learn not to draw out our studies for too long.

Highly recommended!

Monday, May 5, 2014

An HG Success Story!

I absolutely love finding HG "success stories" - stories in which an HG mama doesn't just manage her HG, but finds what works to prevent it for the next pregnancy.

Such stories are rare and precious, and we need to learn everything that we can from them.

I ran across this HG success story quite randomly and wanted to share it with you all! The blog is Eosinophile, and the two pertinent entries are her most recent.

(As a side note, this blog has some really excellent material on it. Hop on over and take a quick tour!)

The first HG entry, Birth Defects and Hyperemesis Gravidarum, reads:
"I have been preparing my body to try to conceive for a year. My fist pregnancy was a disaster, with hyperemesis gravadarium, a birth defect, and polyhydraminos. I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to prevent these problems... I don’t want myself or a future child to have to suffer these things. Here are some of the things I have done.
"I have made sure my body composition and nutritional status are optimized. By using a gram of DHA and EPA a day, getting my vitamin D levels above 70ng/mL, and the paleo diet.  Last time I didn’t eat fish and I didn’t supplement with vitamin D and was careful to avoid the sun.  Sadly I took advice from my doctor, which was the wrong advice."
In her second entry, she reports success - Pregnancy With No Hyperemesis (!):
"I am now 7 months pregnant, I conceived right away.  Thankfully I had no hyperemesis.  After one incident of nausea I got acupuncture and felt better immediately."

Unfortunately there are no further entries, and the one comment I submitted has not been published. I suspect that this blog is now "untenanted," which is unfortunate! But the information is there, and I definitely recommend checking it out. I will be linking to both entries from my sidebar. For those HG mamas out there who compile research, I recommend copying both articles into a document for safekeeping - untenanted blogs tend to disappear over time.

Congratulations to this mama!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Curriculum Review: Singapore Math

We have now used Singapore Math for two years (Kinder and 1st), so I thought I'd write a quick review!

Singapore Math is the only math that I have used, so unfortunately I don't have any comparisons to make with other curricula. I happen to have an experienced (graduated) homeschool mama friend who happens to be a math genius (she leads the homeschool math competition group and now is a math professor), so when it came time to select a math program, I simply emailed her.

"Which math should we use?"


End of search. I ordered it, I received it, I used it.

(I should say that this friend recommends Singapore only through 6th grade - she does not recommend the higher levels.)

That being said, here's a quick run-down:


- At first I didn't understand their method of teaching. It was very different from how I was taught, with straight up-and-down addition/subtraction - i.e. "cancel the nine, make it an eight, carry the one," etc. There is none of that. However, I realized that the foundation they lay is a solid one for understanding the concepts mentally, and it is very sound.

- On the whole, we've been pretty happy with it. And I really trust my friend's recommendation, so I'm glad we started here.

- Singapore comes highly recommended and is one of the recommended choices included in Sonlight curriculum packages - which is high praise indeed! (They also recommend Horizons, Saxon, and Teaching Textbooks.)

The Not-So-Good:

- I dislike having to buy both textbooks (non-consumable) and workbooks (consumable).* Technically speaking, it is a money saver for the consumer, because the textbooks can be reused for the next student. However, I know very well that by the time we have another student come up the line, there will be a new edition out and I'll have to buy new textbooks to match the workbooks. This is a big pain in the neck. Additionally, I dislike having to flip back and forth between the textbook and the workbook. I would rather have one big consumable workbook that includes the lesson and the practice problems, and just re-buy for each student. That would be a lot simpler.

- The first and second grade materials each include two workbooks and two textbooks, each costing about $11 each. I find that a bit pricey, especially when it is just one subject for one student.

- They work a year ahead. For some reason, people seem to find this something to boast about. I do not. We held our son back a year on purpose so that he would be developmentally ready for academics rather than having to force readiness. Having a curriculum work a year ahead basically undoes this completely.

- They move too quickly. I find that they are expecting huge jumps (double digit subtraction and addition) without having laid the groundwork solidly with basic [5+2]. This makes it very difficult to progress when the foundations have not been sufficiently laid. And I am quite sure that our son could not do quite a few of the tasks that were taught this year, because I had to do such heavy coaching to get him through them. I would be much happier if he had a good mastery of the before mentioned [5+2] concepts (the basics) rather than a crummy (or non-existent) mastery of more advanced concepts. Additionally, this led to a lot of frustration this year - me losing my temper and/or pulling my hair out because I could not get him to do what seemed basic to me (but obviously wasn't to him because it was just too much). (The Sonlight catalogue notes this weakness and recommends supplemental practice of the basics to go along with Singapore curricula. We may have to look into that.)

- No color in the workbooks. This may be good or bad, depending on the student. But it does make it a bit dull. A bit of color would have been nice - even one color! Additionally, doing the sections on money without color was downright difficult, because the coins look very much the same sketched in black and white.

- I would prefer to have fewer problems per lesson in the workbooks. I think they overdo it a bit - more so with each grade. However, this is a common issue with many math curricula.

- It requires quite a bit of writing. We are trying not to emphasize writing in the early years, so I have been splitting the lessons in half - he writes half, and I write the other (he still does the work). Again, fewer problems would be much better.

Would I Buy It Again?

Well, that's a hard question - because again, I haven't used any other curricula to compare with it.

However, using Singapore has given me a good idea of what works and what doesn't work for our family. I would definitely be open to switching curricula, and here is what I would be looking for:
  • A curricula that produces only one or two consumable workbooks per (lower) grade, not a combo of workbooks and textbooks.
  • Fewer practice problems per lesson.
  • Does NOT "work a year ahead."
  • Lays a solid foundation before moving on to more advanced concepts. 
We have long considered switching to Teaching Textbooks in third grade (which is where Teaching Textbooks begins - they don't have lower grades yet), and we may do so. I also like the look of Horizons math (you can see sample pages at their website).For now we've purchased the second grade set of Singapore, so we'll be using it. Our decision at the end of this coming year will really depend on how second grade goes with Singapore. I'll let you all know how it goes!

Fellow home educators, what are your recommendations for math? Any other Singapore users out there? What are your thoughts?

Want some other math curricula to consider? Try:

* This applies to only 1st and 2nd grades (and possibly further; I don't know). Kindergarten is just two consumable workbooks. There are also home instructor guides (which I do not buy) which will add to the price.