Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week 20 Pregnancy Update

Hello, dear friends!

I'm writing this during week 19, but I know that I will be well into week 20 before I get around to publishing - if not later - so this is my "official" week 20 update!

I probably will not publish my journal entry for weeks 18-19. Firstly, I forgot to journal most of week 19. Secondly, I was very down and dismal during week 18, and my journal was extremely depressing. Just imagine a lot of complaining, and you'll be pretty close.

And so... here are some random notes about this pregnancy's progression - and life in general!

- On the NVP front, I am feeling anywhere between "eh" and "crummy." Nausea is still constant, around the clock, but most of the time it's manageable. I am managing to stay up-and-going most (or at least some) of the time. I continue to maintain a mostly very-low-carb (VLC) diet - as long as no one mentions the nachos I cadged from the boys' plate tonight. Yum.

- I'm still extremely tired, and my brain is GONE - Second-trimester energy spurt, where are you? And even when I do have the energy to do something, most of the time I spend it wandering around the house wondering what on earth it is that I should be doing! Oh, pregnancy brain! Gotta love it!

- My main food right now is a snack plate of cheese, lunchmeat, tomato, pickle, and cucumber "crackers." I'm eating that three to four times a day, and not much else! There are many other things I'd like to eat, but they all require cooking. Too tired, too nauseated. Cold non-prep foods reign supreme.

- As far as the family, they're subsisting on the super-easy things I can manage to make - spaghetti with jarred sauce, etc. They're looking forward to having my nausea subside too!

- I am thoroughly enjoying my favorite thing in the world - baby kicks! I've felt movement for two months, but now we're getting into the super-fun time of well-defined kicks and getting to watch my stomach bounce. We have one very active baby! This is pretty much my favorite part of pregnancy - or life in general!

- We're going to the homeschool conference! I'm so excited! Behind my excitement, though, is the question of how on earth I am going to manage to make it through two entire days of a high-energy convention - not to mention all of the prep work beforehand to get ready! I'm praying that I will feel much better over these next two weeks!

Last year's homeschool convention! 

- Week 20 is the deadline I have set for myself to get moving now on all of those pre-baby projects. Do I feel up to them? Not at all. But I am trying to get started! Here are my first couple of projects:
  • Refinishing our newly inherited kitchen table! I cannot tell you how tired I am of the {table pad - table cloth - plastic cover} routine, especially with two babies who routinely pull it off countless times per day! I am DONE! But our new table needs something more than the finish it has in order to stand up to six-times-per-day meal/snack use, homeschooling, and children who are as careful as a troop of rampaging soldiers when it comes to avoiding scratches. Have I ever done any woodworking before? Not at all. But I'm already tired of my endless refrain - "Don't set anything on the table! Careful! Don't scratch it!" I'll let you know how that all goes.
  • Surface Decluttering - Part of my pre-baby nesting routine is going through all of our drawers and cabinets. However, this time I need to start with surfaces - tables, freezer tops, etc. Too much stuff! I already feel better with the progress I've made. Though I have regretfully concluded that I cannot gain the skills denied by nature - that is, an ability to decorate - I can feel peaceful and comfortable if my space is decluttered. Really, I can handle just about any stress as long as my living space is clean, tidy, and clutter-free. On the other hand, I cannot handle even tiny bits of stress if my space is dirty and cluttered. Thus, onward and upward!
  • Gathering birth supplies - Yes, it's that time! I love this job! 
Birth supplies at our last birth! 

I have a full (i.e. huge) and growing list of before-baby things to do, and I'll post that soon. In the meantime, those are my beginning projects!

- We've finished our first term of school! - Yes, our first school term (of six) of the year is now behind us. If all goes as planned, we'll have four of six completed before baby arrives, and then we'll be able to take off about six weeks before finishing the school year. I managed to work up to *almost* full speed, leaving out only our daily family time. Hopefully I'll be ready to start that next term (which starts in.... two days - I'd better hurry!).

- Baby's Gender - I am absolutely certain that baby is a GIRL... which means that we're having another BOY! Hurray!!

Boys are wonderful! 

- Baby Names - Yes, we really should think about this sometime! We do tentatively have a boy name, but it's very close to one of our existing names, so I'm not sure if it'll work out. But we need to get a move on, especially with as long as we take to pick names!

And there you have it, folks! Life at twenty weeks. I'll check in again soon!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Challenges for This Coming Homeschool Year!

Hello, dear friends! I'm so sorry I haven't been around more! The truth is that I am still feeling extremely pukey and exhausted, so I'm still spending a good bit of time sacked out on the couch.

However, I'm pleased to report - still no vomiting, no Zofran, no hyperemesis. That triad alone should have me leaping for joy! And this coming Sunday will be eighteen weeks!

I am very blessed.

We are now four weeks into our new homeschool year - two weeks away from our first break. (We do a Sabbath schedule of six weeks on, one week off.) All things considered, the school year is going well. We are still easing into adding all subjects and working around my nausea and fatigue. Hopefully I'll be feeling better by the time the second term starts!

As our first month draws to a close, I can draw several conclusions:

#1 - I absolutely adore our new math curriculum. Love-love-love it! I am so glad we switched from what we were using! I've gone from "Dear God, please don't put me through this torture again!" to "Math? I love math! Let's do more math!" Yum. If y'all are looking for an awesome math curriculum, I highly recommend Christian Light. I can't say enough good things about it.

And, moving on to the subject of this post...

#2 - To my surprise, I find that this year is going to be completely different from last year. Really, that shouldn't be a shock. The children are of different ages, we've changed curricula, our family dynamics are different, we have different areas that need focus, and we'll be adding a baby at the halfway point.

The truth, I suppose, is that every homeschool year is going to be completely different from those before and after! That's somewhat depressing, though also comforting. However, it's quite a challenge!

With that in mind, I thought I'd post a brief list of the challenges and changes that we will face during this coming homeschool year (May 2014 - March 2015).  Of course, there are dozens of challenges that are unknown (ack!), but these are the ones that I foresee:

(Some of these will be academic, some family-related, some from the parenting realm - but when one home educates, life is an integrated whole rather than separated into distinct boxes!)

(1) Relearning Life

This is always a challenge after morning sickness. For some reason, I always forget how to "do" life - all of the usual things that fall by the wayside during a long illness. Meal planning, field trips, chores, cleaning routines, getting to know the neighbors again, going to church. It's just normal life, but I find that I have to relearn all of it.

(2) Earlier Wake Times

Early pregnancy always involves getting extremely lax on wake-times. Right now our family is getting up and going between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. - entirely too late for all of us, especially myself! I also need to be up before the family in order to have devotions, get breakfast, etc. - none of which is happening!

(3) Figuring Out Our Schedule

To my surprise, the beautiful schedule that I worked out last year is no longer a winner. (Blast!) The toddler wakes earlier and has far less patience for his play pen, the math curriculum we chose takes longer, etc. Different factors are necessitating a different schedule. And, as I add more and more of our regular routine back into daily life, I have to find out where and when to squeeze each piece in. I'll post our current schedule in a later entry!

(4) Reworking Room Arrangements!

Two months ago I finally got the toddler into his own bed for the entire night... until this past week, which has included major backsliding. Now to recapture what was lost! After that, we want to move the toddler into the boys' room to make room for baby, and we also need to redistribute the boys' quiet time spaces. Logistics!


My main project for this past summer break was figuring out the huge issue of CHORES. I was ready! I had the book, I had a meeting set up with a chore-mentor-mom, and I was set to go. Then... our new baby arrived on the scene, and we are now well into the new school year with absolutely zero progress made in this area. Hopefully I can catch up! This has been an area of major frustration and failure for several years, and I want to remedy it.

A major area in the domain of chores is teaching myself to CHECK chores. Know why? Because what they say is oh-so-true - "Don't expect what you don't inspect." If I don't inspect, it doesn't get done (or done well). My idea of "putting socks away" is very different from the 7yo's conception of "open door to room and toss socks vaguely in the direction of the dresser." But I find that I am extremely forgetful and slip-shod in this area, and it's always frustrating to come upon undone or badly done chores that I should have checked and didn't. I have to learn to hold myself accountable in this area.

(6) Preparing for BABY!

Despite still feeling quite YUCK, we are almost to the halfway point. Ack! There's so much to do before baby arrives! Hopefully I'll be feeling up to tackling the list in another couple of weeks!

Of course, "get the carpets cleaned" has been on my "before-baby to-do list" for the past three pregnancies, so maybe I should just accept that some things just won't get done.

(7) Keeping Up With Schoolwork!

To have both a babymoon break and a good summer break, we've got to keep up with our schoolwork this year. I'm trying to make sure that we keep up especially with math so that we don't have to continue into summer to finish (as we did this past year). Can we be successful? Only time will tell!

(8) Changing Family Dynamics

If all goes as hoped for, we will finish the last third of this year... with a newborn! And not just a newborn, but a newborn AND a toddler! That will be a first for me, and it will most likely be quite a challenge. Yikes!

(9) Sibling Relationships

Growing up as an only child, I never had to deal with siblings. And sibling relations haven't been a problem in our home either.... until this past year. And now I realize that I have an entirely new parenting skill to learn - teaching good relationships between siblings. And it is NOT EASY. When you add the (non-existent) logic of a 7yo to the me-me-me attitude of a 2yo, the result is... fireworks. Constantly. I have a lot of learning to do.

(10) Parenting Through the Terrible Twos!

Yes, I'm not being politically correct here. I ought to say the "precious, adorable moments of toddlerhood." But the reality is that toddlerhood (the 2-3-4 range) is extremely challenging. Our third-born is a much, much easier child than our firstborn, but there are still many challenges, and I fall far short of where I desire to be as the parent of a two-year-old. Thankfully our life is replete with examples of awesome parents whose example we can (attempt to) follow, but there's still no doubt that this is a challenge.

(11) Computer Time - Repenting and Reforming

Yes, I have again become entirely too dependent on the computer during the first trimester yuck-time. Remember how I quit Facebook? HA! I now have to wean myself back down to healthy screen-time limits, and that will probably take a while.

(12) Finances

This year is going to be a year of major financial challenges, being that our financial state is still in the "abysmal" category and we are also going to have many major expenses.

I recently re-read "Gone With the Wind" and laughed as I identified with Scarlett's desperation for money during hard times. Unfortunately, neither of her two solutions (killing a Yankee soldier and taking his money, or marrying a sister's rich beau) is available to me, so we'll just have to muddle through this.

And there you have it!

What challenges do you and your family anticipate for this coming year?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pregnancy Journal (Weeks 14-15)

May 18 - May 31, 2014

14w0d - Decent day - can't complain! Even made an easy cake plus homemade ice cream for our back-to-school party! Wow!

14w1d - Managed to start school today! I set up all of our new supplies, etc., and Daddy took the boys to get our now-traditional first day of school donuts for breakfast. We just covered math today. Tomorrow we'll add handwriting.

14w2d - Wow, yesterday was an amazing day. I managed to start the school year, teach math, keep up and going for almost all of the day, cook dinner, dust, and help with vacuuming. For fourteen weeks, this is nothing short of a miracle!

Today was not quite as awesome, but I still managed to keep going. I love the math we've chosen! Mmmm. I'm also starting to do short read-aloud sessions with the 7yo. Hoping to work back up to our 45-60 minutes a day. Then there's reading time with the littles, which has also been neglected - wanting to get back to that soon.

14w3d - (Forgot to journal.)

14w4d - Feeling tired and out of it. Managing to get through the day (and do math!), but that's about it. I was hoping to feel better faster, but looks like it's going to be a long haul, as usual.

But it is lovely to be cooking again, that's for sure! Only problem - I can't keep up with my appetite. I find myself going back for seconds (thirds?) and then for leftovers before bed time. Only rarely is anything left till the next day. Real food. Mmm.

So tired.

14w5d - A better day overall! DH took the children to a local homeschool function at a farm. Instead of crashing on the couch for the whole time, I actually did some laundry, straightening up, and dishes, and then blogged for an hour! Wow! Big improvement.

Oh, and that article on HG-prevention that I was going to "take the entire summer to write"? Yeah, well, it's pretty much finished. That's what those "gotta write" urges do to one. I'm still going to wait till baby's birth to publish (famous last words), and there's a lot of editing to do and additions to make as I think of them. But on the whole, the rough draft is finished.

Last night was the first night I have tried not taking my nightly half-tab of Unisom.

Also, this morning, I felt what may be have been baby's first discernible case of hiccups! Delightful.

14w6d - This morning was yuck! Got up, ate breakfast, fell back into bed. Thankfully it was Saturday! It's so odd how NVP just goes up and down! Very unpredictable. After a rotten morning, the rest of the day was better than normal! Goodness.

15w0d - Better day overall! Whole family home from church, and made taco soup again for dinner - a double batch. So hungry!!

15w1d - Another "get up and fall back into bed" kind of day.

15w2d - Better day! Stayed up and productive all day, taught an extraordinarily long math lesson, did tons of dishes, etc. Starting our second week of our homeschool year - adding handwriting to the mix. A gradual start to the year is working well for us, for sure!

We're getting so close to 20 weeks! Scary. That's always what I call "crunch time" - not actually that long before baby makes his debut! So much to do in that short time period!! I am in so much awe of those mamas who manage to welcome a baby every two years. I feel stretched and it's going to have been almost a three-year gap between babies!

15w3d - What a day. Felt yucky, and then the kids really decided to kick it up a notch. The toddler was throwing things and escaping from the play pen, and the 7yo decided to go into one of his moody overly-emotional spells. Spilled his cocoa and broke the mug - tears. Didn't want to do his math - tears. I kept thinking that I needed to get my Michelle Duggar groove on, but that was rather difficult when my mind was aching with the desire to wring that child's neck. Not one of my best days, for sure.

15w4d - So-so day. Not feeling great, not feeling horrid. New eating phase is cheese and crackers (crackers = cucumber slices). Yum. Pregnancy cravings are hilarious. They move in, take over, and ruthlessly eliminate all other dietary choices. And then, just as suddenly, they're gone and another moves in. My experience is that the worse the nausea, the shorter the duration of the craving - when I was seriously sick with other babies, sometimes I couldn't even buy what I was craving before the craving moved on and the item became indescribably nauseating. Now, with minor nausea, I can get a week or even two out of a craving before it leaves - much preferable.

Math lessons were easy today, which is always a plus! It's very obvious that our homeschool year is going to be completely different than last year, which is a bit disorienting - it's going to take some time to get our schedule down and figure out what's going to work for this year.

One good (bad!) thing about the nausea at this time of year is that it is keeping me away from all the yummy used curriculum sales that I want to be attending right now. No energy to manage them! I am super-bummed at missing them... but I have no money to spend anyway, so it's just as well. I guess.

One interesting subject keeps coming to mind. Yes, by the grace of God we avoided hyperemesis. But how could I have improved this? How can I improve next time? I still had a yucky first trimester (continuing into the second trimester). How could I do better? Time to start thinking of some improvements for next time.

15w5d - Okay sort of day. Not great, not bad. Looking forward to the approaching sixteen-week mark!

15w6d - The last day of this journal! Hurray! AND I made muffins for the family! Y'all should be very impressed! I know I was!

Still dealing with lots of nausea and fatigue, but am getting better. It's just a slow process. My original hope was to be completely better by now, but that was perhaps a bit idealistic. I need to keep my eyes on the main point. Fifteen weeks, no vomiting, no Zofran. Anything beyond that is just extra credit.

Tomorrow.... sixteen weeks!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Fun Stuff to Do This Summer - Or ELSE!

This week I read an awesome post over at "Our Busy Homeschool" titled "You Won't Find a Summer Bucket List On My Wall." The author writes:
"You won’t find a summer bucket list with elaborate plans on my wall.  I want our summer to be low-key and relaxed – a list dictating 50 out of the ordinary things I will do leads away from the relaxed summer I want for my family.  Instead, we will simply live each day together."
She's absolutely right, you know. Bucket lists can be a huge source of mommy-guilt and to-do-list stress. I experienced this when I tried to do a Fall/Autumn bucket list last year that just stressed me out because of all the great, cool things I wasn't doing.

But I realized that there's a difference! I happen to adore the Fall/Autumn/Winter seasons. I look forward to them all year. My mind is naturally brimming over with things to do during those times of year. Apples! Pumpkins! Fall leaves! Christmas! The inspiration never stops. Bucket lists? Who needs 'em?

Additionally, with our lovely cool winter months, the kids play endlessly outside. They don't need a lot of inspiration - our lovely weather provides it!

But summer? Summer in Phoenix?

Well, I have to confess. I loathe summer. Loathe, despise, abhor summer. The only reason I'm not saying "I hate summer!" is because that word is verboten at our house. Otherwise, I'd probably use it to excess.

And in summer, my one original idea is to hang out in the house praying for the next six months to pass quickly.

The children are much better at enjoying summer than I am! 

Last year I actually set out on a super-ambitious goal - to practice contentment during the summer. To enjoy summer, as if that were possible.

And I succeeded!

I focused on not complaining, on enjoying the perks of summer - evening water-play, long evenings, etc. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the summer. And I was under the impression that my one-time effort would be sufficient. Now I would naturally and effortlessly enjoy summers!

I was wrong. So very wrong. As this summer has rolled around, I have been overwhelmed with all my usual dread of this season. Gripe, moan, complain. It looks like I'm going to have to do this "practicing contentment" bit all over again.

And in the mean time, I need a bucket list of fun things to do this summer. Because otherwise, you're going to find me curled up on the couch all summer muttering, "Is it November yet?"

And when November rolls around, I'll toss the bucket list in the trash and enjoy the season bucket-list-free!

Here, then is my list for the season. It has been highly abbreviated from last year, for several reasons. Firstly, it was too long to begin with. Secondly, I currently have the energy of a dying weasel. I don't have the stamina for a bunch of running about. And thirdly, I am finding the heat intolerable in my gravid state. I will probably only be hitting the great outdoors (briefly!) to sit in the evening shade and sip an iced drink. I don't think that summer park days are going to be my strong point this year!

I'm looking forward to seeing your (far more sophisticated) summer lists this year!

And apart from this simple list, we'll be leaving most of our (non-school) time unstructured!

Things to Do This Summer!

Go stargazing
Game night
   Roast marshmallows
  Water balloons
  Go to a library event:  ____________________
Make s’mores
  Go swimming
Go to Bass Pro Shop
Go on a night-time walk with the lantern
Eat dinner outside
Play outside in the sprinklers
Wading pool outside
Paddleball outside
Make homemade ice cream in the old-fashioned ice cream maker
Celebrate the 4th of July!
Joe’s Farm Grill for milk shakes for our anniversary!