Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our Plans for Holy Week

Our plans for Holy Week!

Resurrection Eggs activity (homemade version)


April Fool's Day fun
Homeschool fellowship group Park Day and Egg Hunt


Dyeing Easter eggs
Hot Cross Buns
Church for Good Friday

Easter egg hunt
Easter dinner with family (quiche, ham, fruit salad, deviled eggs)

Church and church Easter potluck

Have a wonderful time celebrating Holy Week, dear readers! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tidbits for March 27th

How to Get the Wedding Reception You Really Want - Thankfully this doesn't apply to me (been there, done that), but there is so much wonderful wisdom in this post - plus lots of links to other wedding-related posts. (Like Mother, Like Daughter)

Extraordinary - "The more extraordinary situations I uncover, the more I realize that at one time or another, we all fight something extraordinary. Things that make us feel alone and desperate... Sometimes that means our parenting choices look strange. These are the times when the world feels harsh, but we need it to be kind. I truly believe that if anyone should have compassion for parents, it’s other parents." (Raising Dystonia, hat tip to Contentment Acres)

If We Are to Have Godly Children - These are especially applicable for me this week. (Raising Homemakers, Guest Post by Emily of Blessed Homemaking)

10 Chapter Books for Dads to Read to Their Kids - Looking forward to checking out these books, and this site! (Redeemed Reader, hat tip to

How to Homeschool When You Have Babies and Toddlers - Homeschooling is not the hard part - it's keeping the babies and toddlers busy at the same time! Great tips here. (Growing in His Grace)

The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten - "Two major studies confirmed the value of play vs. teaching reading skills to young children. Both compared children who learned to read at 5 with those who learned at 7 and spent their early years in play-based activities. Those who read at 5 had no advantage. Those who learned to read later had better comprehension by age 11, because their early play experiences improved their language development." (The Truth About Education, hat tip to The Common Room)

6 Perks of Homeschooling - Though we've only homeschooled for four years, I have experienced each of these. (Treasures from a Shoebox)

5 Reasons Your Church Should Be Smaller - "The assumption that bigger is better pervades the church leadership culture. What if that’s the wrong tack?" I agree completely. (, hat tip to

From the Bookshelf

The Disease Delusion: Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Longer, and Happier Life

Absolutely fascinating! Quite a paradigm shift in the mental visualization of the causes of chronic illness. Also includes an illuminating history of modern medicine and how its origin in germ theory colors its perception of and treatment methods for chronic illness. I'm looking forward to finishing this book.

Recipe Corner

I have found my dessert for Easter: Key Lime Pound Cake with Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting. Thanks to Wendy at Contentment Acres for the link!

Also, this Juicy Roast Chicken was absolutely delicious. YUM. Next time I will skip the onion powder.

Have a great weekend, dear readers!

Sibling Bickering


Sibling bickering.

Let's talk about it.

I can already hear someone thinking, "Lady, you have four children. Why is this something new?"

Well, yes. We do have four children. But when you whittle it down to the basics, we really haven't had an interactive group of children for very long.

Our second-born child has severe special needs. Our fourth-born is an infant. Our third-born is quite young, and only became a playmate (and competitor) over the past year or so. So really, the issue of sibling quarreling and bickering has only recently entered our family.

But it's a doozy.

I suppose I've seen it coming for some time. A gradual escalation. "Hmm, that's interesting (and somewhat concerning), but what on earth do I do about it?"

The older child has taken on "annoying big brother" traits - bossiness, controlling, tattling.

In response, the younger child has taken on adaptive "annoying little brother" traits (which I previously thought existed only in fiction) - taunting, teasing, mimicking, screaming.

And over the past few months, it's really gotten worse. The past few weeks have been pretty awful. It has reached the point where I actually cannot leave these two children alone together, because there will be screaming within two minutes (at the outside).

And unfortunately, as in any area of parenting, scolding simply doesn't work. They just look at you blankly and go right back to the negative behaviors the next chance they get.

This problem reminds me (frighteningly!) of when our eldest child turned two and we were hit with the reality of hardcore parenting issues when the terrible twos hit. In other words, "Oh, shoot. We're really in trouble now."

Parenting has emphatically not come easily for me, and each new phase has found me struggling to find my feet and learn the requisite parenting skills. Thankfully I no longer feel quite so at sea as I once did in parenting an individual child. Teaching obedience, giving consequences, etc. - it's still difficult, but it's no longer overwhelming. (Thankfully.)

But parenting the relationship between two children - well, it's blindsided me. I can require a child to relate well to me - but when two children are refusing to relate well to each other? That is indeed a sticky proposition.

I have the feeling that I'm in for another learning curve. But it's one that I've got to conquer, and I need to do it thoroughly. Because two children intent on spending every waking moment squabbling have the potential to make the entire family miserable.

The good thing is that I am determined. In other words, I've had it up to HERE with this issue. I'm willing to do what it takes to dive in and deal with it, because this situation cannot continue.

What am I doing about this issue?

Firstly, I'm praying fervently for wisdom and guidance.

Secondly, I'm discussing the issue with my husband. He is completely on board and is working alongside me to confront this issue.

Thirdly, I'm asking experienced mamas for advice. (Thank you so much to those of you who have already left advice in the comments and via email. I really appreciate it.) I'm compiling all the advice I receive into a document so that I can have it ready when I need to review - which will be often.

Fourthly, I am tomato staking - keeping one or both of the children involved close to me as often as I can (unless they're with my husband). I have learned the unfortunate fact that these two cannot be trusted to be alone right now. Thus, when I go to nurse the baby, one of them comes with me. When I'm in the kitchen, one or both of them comes with me. It's tough, but that's the way it's got to be right now.

Fifthly (is that a word?), I am doing my best to be diligent with discipline. Sometimes in the past when I've heard bickering, my response has been to duck my head and hope they'll work it out on their own. Guess what - that approach doesn't work. At all. It just gets worse. So when I'm foolish enough to leave them alone and I hear the predictable screaming, I turn around and dive right in to figuring things out and dealing with it. That in itself is rather difficult, but I'm doing my best.

I'm also working to incorporate character training into our daily read-alouds and morning time, as well as to focus our Bible memory work on verses about character, and about peacemaking versus fighting, etc.

Lastly, I'm reading all the books and blog posts that I can get my hands on. See below for some of my finds. (Feel free to share more.)

We'll see where this goes, and if I can, I'll update. In the meantime, this is just an issue from the parenting trenches. Like all parenting issues, it's messy, sticky, confusing, and plain ol' hard.

But I'm going to do my best.

(And, lest you think that everything is perfectly awful around here, let me state that these little guys are wonderful children whom I enjoy thoroughly. This is just one aspect of life around here that needs to be dealt with, but thankfully there are lots of wonderful and positive aspects as well.)

Here are some resources I am using:


Raising Godly Tomatoes

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes - in You AND Your Kids

Shepherding a Child's Heart (Thanks for the recommendation, Deborah!)


The Common Room:
Article collection

Raising Olives:
Building Strong Sibling Relationships
Solving Sibling Squabbles

Life in a Shoe:
Sibling Relationships

Treasures from a Shoebox:
Squashing Sibling Squabbles

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Quick Update

Hello, dear readers!

I am thrilled to announce that I finished my project of updating our family booklist, and thus I have lifted my self-imposed and occasionally-obeyed blogging break.

However, I am still super-busy, so my posts may still be a bit scarce.

Here are a few brief snippets of what's going on around here lately:

Homeschool bookkeeping: This week, we will finish up the 2014-2015 school year. After a five-week break, we'll be starting the next school year. Translation = I have a lot to do! In addition to all the usual odds and ends of finishing one year and starting the next, I am:

  • Preparing to start teaching piano lessons to the 8yo. I can't say either of us is particularly enthusiastic about this, so I am working hard to make this a positive experience.
  • Trying to turn our master bedroom closet into a children's-clothing-box storage space. The only other option is to start stuffing boxes up the chimney, so I need to get busy before they chase us out of the house. 
  • Summer break itself is quite a project, and it's not really much of a break for mama. Children have the unfortunate habit of still needing food, clothes, diapers, discipline, etc., whether we're in school-time or not! However, I have made a check-off list for our break in order to focus on having fun together as a family.

Lemons, lemons everywhere! Usually around March 1st, we realize, "Oh, shoot - the lemons are dropping and we forgot to do anything with them!" This, year, however, we've been more diligent. Here are some of our lemon projects from this year:

  • Lemonade
  • Lemon meringue pie
  • Lemon cake
  • Lemon sorbet
  • Lemon cheesecake

Plus sending lemons to family and giving them away on Freecycle and juicing/zesting for the freezer. We're also hoping to make lemon curd and German pancakes with lemon sauce before the season is over completely. 

I am working to discipline my computer skills. My current daily plan is:
  • 15 minutes writing (blogging) 
  • 15 minutes business (i.e. my to-do list)
  • 15 minutes email

I am also considering forcing myself to get up early to blog (or skip writing for the day) so that I can better focus on household tasks. (Like Facebook, blogging can be a time-robber if I let it.)

I'm also working to stay on top of my email, meaning no more year-long turn-around reply times. I'm still not as diligent as I would like, but I'm improving.

Speaking of computer time, I have now completed a full quarter-year off of Facebook! Do I miss it? Yes. Do I plan to go back? No, not really. Time will tell. 

We've also been keeping busy with holidays:
  • St. Patrick's Day - We had Irish Soda Bread, corned beef and cabbage, and green ice cream. All were a complete hit!
Now I'm planning for upcoming holidays:
  • April Fool's Day - Believe it or not, I actually did some advance research and have a few plans in mind! I'll try to take pictures to share!
  • Easter - Next week is Holy Week and Easter, which will be a busy time. We will do (or try to do) Benjamin's Box, an egg hunt, another egg hunt with our homeschool group, hot cross buns, resurrection rolls, egg dying, church on Good Friday and Easter, and Easter dinner with family. 

We're also preparing to enter our family's biggest birthday season (May/June), which will be a busy time. We enjoy this time, but it's absolutely exhausting. I always hit the first of July promising myself that I will never celebrate another holiday, let alone another birthday, ever again. I'll do my best. 

Also, it's time for SPRING CLEANING - I was planning to wait until May, but the state of my home is driving me a wee bit batty, so as of Monday, it's time. I'm hoping to work for 20-30 minutes per day on various projects. 

And also, I'm working on something else very important - sibling relationships. Folks, I knew that this time was coming, but now that it's here, it's worse than I thought it would be. Sibling bickering is really, really, really taking it out of me. If I can make time, I'll blog about it some time. Until then, would you pray for me? I need serious help in this area. And for you more seasoned mamas in the audience, please - do feel free to leave any advice for what helps in this area. 

(And if this blog goes silent permanently and you hear of me in an over-the-border insane asylum, you'll know what took me there.)

In the coming weeks I'm hoping to use my limited blogging time to polish and publish the large number of half-written blog posts that I have in draft form at the moment. That too will keep me busy. 

Dear friends, I hope that your spring is going well! I'll be around - sooner or later!

Love to you all.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tidbits for March 22nd

Resurrection Rolls Recipe - For Easter! I'm thrilled to have a from-scratch recipe (most recipes call for refrigerated biscuit dough). (Growing In His Grace)

12 Ways 12 People Live on 1 Income - I could definitely use some improvement in many of these areas. (Treasures from a Shoebox)

B is for Be Yourself (And the World Will Be a Better Place) - "Perhaps you’re like me and find it easy to compare your weaknesses to the strengths of others. But the old saying, 'apples to apples' applies to this situation, too because it’s not fair to compare our weaknesses to others’ strengths." (My Joy-Filled Life, Guest Post by Becky of Purposeful Homemaking)

Ten Women Your Daughter Needs to Meet Before She Reaches Adulthood - "Only the Word of God is the firm foundation we can stand upon, but reflecting on faithful saints of the past who stood rock solid on that foundation can be a useful tool in helping us gird up the loins of our minds. Women are swamped with lies and half-truths just as much in our day as ever before." (Raising Homemakers)

8 Age-Defying Reasons Why I Drink Bone Broth - The how, the why, the etceteras! Good stuff here. (Deep Roots at Home)

Myopia Boom - "After studying more than 4,000 children at Sydney primary and secondary schools for three years, they found that children who spent less time outside were at greater risk of developing myopia." I wonder if there's any connection between how much I dislike sunlight and the fact that I was legally blind by  the time I was in junior high. (, hat tip to Mark's Daily Apple)

Probiotics Preven Neuropsychiatric Disorders - "Probiotic supplementation early in life may reduce the risk of neuropsychiatric disorder development later in childhood possible by mechanisms not limited to gut microbiota composition." I would like to see additional research data as to how this could benefit cesarean-born babies in particular. ( Pediatric Research, hat tip to Mark's Daily Apple)

From the Bookshelf

Stinker from Space

Revisiting a childhood favorite.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Thankfully I found a version that had not been attacked by historical revisionists.

Especially for locals

Don't forget the Chandler Jazz Festival this coming weekend. We'll see you there!

Have a wonderful week, dear readers! 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Homeschool Edition: Finishing Last Year, Starting Next Year

One of the big items on my to-do list this month is finishing up our school year and getting ready to start the next. You'd think this would be pretty simple, but it's actually more time-consuming than it looks.

Here's a quick snippet of what I'm getting done this month:

Summer Break

Finishing this year

- Make a summer-break bucket list
- Figure out next year’s school dates
- Develop new chore schedule to start over the summer
- Figure out next year’s curriculum choices
- Finish school work
- File all papers
- Print records for student notebooks, master notebook
             o Crafts
             o Science experiments
             o Read-Alouds
             o Field trips
             o Poetry books
             o Picture Study
- Curriculum summaries for each student, master notebook
- Write out a year summary, print for each notebook, master notebook
- Enjoy summer break!

Preparing to start next year

- Update homeschool charter, print
- Clean out my homeschool notebook
- Clean out homeschool shelf
- Clean out homeschool cupboard
- Make a list of needed supplies
- Buy supplies
- Make a list of needed curriculum
- Buy curriculum
- Make student checklists for next year
- Make to-do list for homeschool convention
- Buy convention tickets
- Plan first-term science experiments (6)
- Plan crafts
- Plan for preschool activities
- Write out semi-annual goal sheet
- Print:
            o First week checklist
            o Crafts
            o Science experiments
            o Field trips
            o Poetry log
            o Read-aloud record

- Set up student notebooks, supplies
- Plan not-back-to-school party
- Make signs and cards for first day of school

Homeschool mamas, what is involved in finishing up your school year?

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stop the (Homeschool Curriculum Planning) Insanity!

I am in the middle of choosing our family's history curriculum, and I am really cracking myself up over here.

It's crazy.

I am decidedly bipolar when it comes to history curriculum. One part of my brain loves the unstructured, free-reading, narration-style, Charlotte Mason-y type of unit study that joins the family together and revels in enjoying and exploring the world of history.

The other part of me wants a strictly textbook-based curriculum with no frills and no extras.

I have spent most of my time these past few weeks swinging back and forth between the two.

Last week I really, really thought I had made up my mind (unit studies!). I spent two days going over my plans with my husband. We were set. This plan was The One. Then we went over to a friend's house, and I saw a history textbook set sitting out on her counter. I meandered over to peruse it (just for fun), and BAM! I knew that I had found The One. I spent the trip home detailing to my husband my New-and-Improved history plan. He listened patiently.

Seriously. It's insane. Or I am.

As a matter of fact, we don't even know if we're going to do formal history this coming year or not. We may keep it informal (i.e. read-alouds and library books). We're not sure. But I am the uptight kind of planner who has to have every decision made (even if the working out of that decision is years down the road). Thus, I'm obsessing over it.

There's no doubt that unit study learning is usually more fun. But the one year that we immersed ourselves in unit study awesomeness, I ended up so burned out that I didn't particularly want to continue homeschooling, let alone do more unit studies. I wonder possibly if unit studies and all the attendant awesomeness are more suited to artistic mothers who can exist comfortably amidst endless crafts and messes? I don't know. For myself, I must admit that I find the stress somewhat overwhelming.

This year, when we didn't do unit studies (or did only a few measly ones at the beginning which petered out pretty quickly), we haven't had quite as much fun with history... but on the other hand, I am finishing out the year with my enthusiasm for homeschooling intact. I'm honestly chomping at the bit to get started with our next school year. No unit studies = no burnout.

Additionally, since unit studies are more time-consuming, I have found that we have more time for fun stuff when we don't do unit studies - like free reading, outside play, individual creative work. So it may be that a unit-study-free life is just as fun... but the fun is in other areas rather than the school work itself.

(If it sounds like I'm rambling, it's because I am.)

For all those reasons, I am currently leaning toward textbook learning for history. If I can rest assured that history is taken care of with textbooks, then we can fully enjoy our free reading and library trips without worrying about covering enough (or doing all of the intense planning) that unit studies require.

And considering that I will probably spend every other year good and nauseated from morning sickness (depending on the Lord's plan for our family), a textbook approach seems possibly more practical.

However... give it five minutes, and I'll be arguing passionately for unit studies. That's just my current schizophrenic state. This is not a well-ordered blog post full of well-reasoned points. It's just a chance to get the craziness down on paper while my mind works out the details.

Thankfully, the Lord has always been faithful to reveal what He wants for our family, as well as giving me guidance through my husband's leadership. This too will be resolved for His glory and our family's good.

In the meantime...

The insanity continues.

By the way, have I told you how I've decided to do unit studies for our family's history study?


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Our Yearly Homeschool Calendar Schedule

This is our second year using the homeschool calendar year that I have developed, and it's working beautifully!

We use a modified "sabbath schedule" for our school year. This is an idea from Vicki Farris's excellent book, "A Mom Just Like You," meaning a schedule that is "six weeks on, one week off." We use this basic plan, adding in a longer break at summer and at Christmas. I have also greatly modified our starting date from the usual September back to mid-May so that we can work through our Phoenix summers and take our times off in the more pleasant times of the year.

Here's how our school year looked this year:

First Day of School: Late May

First Term - 6 weeks
    (First Break - 1 week)
Second Term - 6 weeks)
    (Second Break - 1 week)
Third Term - 6 weeks)
    (Third Break - 1 week)
Fourth Term - 6 weeks)
    (Fourth Break, a.k.a. Christmas Break - 6 weeks)
Fifth Term - 6 weeks)
    (Fifth Break - 1 week)
Sixth Term - 6 weeks)
    (Sixth Break, a.k.a. Summer Break - 6 week)

Our current summer break is during April through mid-May.

This coming year, I want to move our school year back two weeks, as April and May are usually still a bit unpleasant weather-wise around here. To do this, I am pushing hard to end our school year a week early, and am cutting our summer break by one week. This will necessitate breaking our fourth term into two parts (part before Christmas break and part after), which is a bit awkward - I like to have nice, neat starting dates. But I think it will be worth it for an earlier (and cooler!) summer.

Thus, this coming year's school year will (hopefully) look like this:

First Day of School: Early May

First Term - 6 weeks
    (First Break - 1 week)
Second Term - 6 weeks)
    (Second Break - 1 week)
Third Term - 6 weeks)
    (Third Break - 1 week)
Fourth Term and Fifth Term Part 1 (8 weeks)
    (Fourth Break, a.k.a. Christmas Break - 6 weeks)
Fifth Term Part 2 - 4 weeks
    (Fifth Break - 1 week)
Sixth Term - 6 weeks)
    (Sixth Break, a.k.a. Summer Break - 6 weeks)

We hold this schedule loosely. I often move our breaks around to accommodate our schedule - for example, moving it up a week and having one seven-week term and then one five-week term. I also make sure that our breaks are different weeks than the public school breaks, as the parks and other attractions are super-crowded during those times.

Additionally, with pregnancies and childbirth thrown into the mix every other year or so, the schedule is often moved about to accommodate first trimesters and postpartum periods. Those times (like most life circumstances) are not possible to plan years in advance, but we do the best we can. The Lord has always shown Himself faithful to make our school years work out in the end, regardless of how crazy they become with pregnancies or new babies.

One lovely benefit of this schedule is that by the time most people are starting their school year, we are half-way done with ours! It's always so cheering to have a head start.

Most (all?) families that we know utilize the standard September through May school year followed by the public schools, and I definitely see the advantages. But for our family, the year-round Sabbath schedule works beautifully, and we're really enjoying it.

What schedule does your family use? I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tidbits for March 17th

Homeschool Information Overload - Advice from the Finish Line - "Everywhere I turn these days I’m seeing and hearing discussion about being overwhelmed. Too much input, too many choices, too much to do . . etc. etc. It is especially true in the homeschooling community... the level of stress I’m sensing in those I talk with is higher than ever. Why is that?" (Raising Arrows)

Simple Learning for St. Patrick's Day - I wrote these ideas down for next year! (Our Busy Homeschool)

Celebrating Easter With Your Children - Some of these look awesome. (The Modest Mom)

From the Bookshelf

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

While halfway through this excellent book, I had to return it to the library for person or persons unknown who want in on it. I now wait impatiently for its return (hurry! hurry!). Unlike my last foray into "how-to-write" literature, this book is a fun read, and it also contains excellent tips. It's also geared specifically for online writers (social media, blogging, website content), so its directives are particularly apt for a blogger. Highly recommended.

Especially for Locals

The Chandler Jazz Festival is coming up on March 27th and 28th. Don't miss out! We especially like the New Orleans Square (Dixie-style music), which starts at noon on Saturday.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Homemade Lemon "Jello" Cake Recipe!

In my husband's family, the signature dessert recipe (served at every single family function) is lemon jello cake. Easy to make, and absolutely delicious. (Original recipe here.)

A few years ago, I made an effort to recreate the family favorite from scratch and came up with the following recipe. It's delicious, and (if I may be so bold) possibly even better than the original.

With this cake, the sky's the limit with regard to lemon zest. I have called for four tablespoons in the recipe, but when I made it last week I put in something more like one-half to three-quarters cup. Yes, cup, not tablespoons. You really can't go wrong. Find a lemon tree, grab those puppies, and zest away!

I wanted to post a picture, but... I was too late. The entire cake was gone within 24 hours. Then I made another one for church... and it too was gone before I could remember to take a picture. Maybe next time!


Lemon "Jello" Cake

Mix together:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (6 ounces)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups sugar


3-4 Tbsp. lemon juice, plus water enough to make 3/4 cup liquid
4 Tbsp. lemon zest (*I use more like 1/2-3/4 cup - as much as I can get from the lemons I'm using)
1/3 cup oil

Beat well. Add:

2 eggs

Beat well.

Pour into a greased 9x11 pan (or a 9x13 for a thinner cake). Bake at 375 for approximately 45 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool slightly.

Poke holes in warm cake with a fork, and pour over it a mixture of:

1 cup lemon juice
4 oz. powdered sugar


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tidbits for March 12th

Finding Our Way Back Home - Oh, my goodness. READ THIS. So good. (Raising Arrows)

You Don't Really Have a Strong-Willed Child - "[I]n many instances a child who has been labeled strong willed is actually a child whose will is very weak. They are governed by their feelings, appetites, and passions of the moment. They do not have the strength of will to choose to act rightly regardless of their feelings of the moment." Good stuff. Part 2 here. (Our Busy Homeschool)

Medical vs. Parenting Advice - "A degree in medicine is a degree in a specific and very useful field. It’s not a license to be a demigod." (The Common Room)

A Clean Home is a Pretty Home - This soothed the guilt that always permeates my decorating-challenged soul. (Always Learning)

5 Steps to Living Fear-Free - Part 2 in the series. (Treasures from a Shoebox)

Why I Choose to Home Birth and Love It! - "When I give birth this month it will be our sixth home birth. Every birth has been unique and has a different story. The one thing that has not changed in all of them is the peace I feel at home, and how grateful I am to be there through every labor." (The Modest Mom)

From the Bookshelf

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

In updating our family book list, I am running across titles of childhood books that I've heard referenced but never actually read. This is one of them, and I am taking the opportunity to catch up on what I missed! I found that this is actually a sequel to the original "The Story of Doctor Dolittle," so that book will be next on the list.

One thing I found rather disturbing was the fact that the edition I chose to read has been selectively "edited," i.e. censored, in order to remove the portions of this book that the editors found offensive from a 21st century perspective. I have written up a post on this topic and hope to share it soon, but it needs another couple of weeks and about twenty editing jobs before I post so that I can edit out all of the overly emotional language and sound at least somewhat sensible. (I tend to get extremely upset over historical revisionism.)

The Immune System Recovery Plan: A Doctor's 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease

One of my goals is to read slowly and steadily through a larger body of health-related works, and this is my latest! This book is a fascinating look into how diet and lifestyle play into triggering autoimmune diseases (lupus, celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, and hundreds more) and how diet and lifestyle choices can similarly be used to help improve and/or heal those conditions. This is an approach known as functional medicine, which aims to heal the root causes of disease states rather than using pharmaceuticals to suppress and control symptoms. It's a fascinating book, and I'm enjoying it very much.

So You Want to Write: How to Master the Craft of Writing Fiction and Memoir

Since I so enjoy blogging, I decided recently to check out a few "how to write" books. This one is particularly mal apropos, since I have absolutely zero interest in writing fiction (and am not planning on writing my memoirs any time soon). However, it looked interesting, so I picked it up!

In the reading I have learned quite a bit about writing fiction, and I've found the material fascinating. The authors obviously know their stuff, and their advice is sound and knowledgeable.

What really stuck me about this book, however, is not so much the actual instructional material, but simply the vast difference between the authors' worldview and my own. The difference between their outlook (sexually amoral, modern, etc.) and my own (conservative Christian) really could not be more different. Since writing is an expression of self, every sentence of this book is saturated with worldview. To be honest, I found the authors' worldview to be exhausting and depressing, and I found the literary examples that they use (all taken from modern works of fiction) to be saddening and repugnant.

However, it's still a fascinating read, both in the material itself, and in how grateful I am to have a God-centered worldview. Very interesting.

Especially for Locals

For Fellow Lacto-Fermentation Fans
I am now back into brewing kombucha, so let me know if you want a SCOBY! Local pick-up only (sorry, long-distance readers - I can't mail them!).

Upcoming Homeschool Field Trip Opportunities
* Ostrich Festival (March 13th, 14th, 15th in Chandler, Arizona) - Check out the awesome line-up of events! Children can get in free tomorrow (Friday, March 13th) by bringing a completed coloring page. 
* Chandler Air Dayz (April 11th and 12th in Chandler, Arizona) - Open house at the Chandler Airport. My husband and the boys love this opportunity! 

Dear readers, have a wonderful week! Love to you all!

Monday, March 9, 2015

New and Improved! (Pregnancy Preparation and Hyperemesis Prevention Plan)

(Latest Update: February  2015)

Introductory Comments

It's that time of year, folks! The time when I go through my supplement and diet plan and revise for the coming year. And... here it is! Version 2015, at your service.

This year, I have done several new things:
  • I have greatly pared down the information to avoid redundancy.
  • I have changed the formatting for easier access.
  • I have included a whole new sourcing section for ease of reference and planning. 

The question arises - am I doing all of the things on this plan?

Short answer, no. 

Firstly, this is a work in progress. I'm getting there, folks, but it's a long time in the making. Secondly, there is the small matter of finances. I simply am not able to make all of this work financially right now. (Working on it!) 

I'd say that right now I am maybe, maybe achieving a quarter of the items on the plan. On a good day, if I exaggerate. My goal is to work up to somewhere like 75%. Hopefully that will be possible with time, planning, and work. Right now I'm taking a few supplements, but doing all the supplements isn't possible - and organic, free-range, etc. is completely out of the question. Hopefully some time.

Two things have become extremely apparent to me:

(1) Diet and supplements can have a hugely positive effect on morning sickness and other pregnancy issues, and...

(2) It is extremely important for women to pay careful attention to their health during their childbearing years. (It's always important, of course, but during the childbearing years the negative consequences of neglecting one's health can be particularly dire.)

Thus, I do take my diet and supplement regimen extremely seriously, and I put lots of energy, effort, and time into both developing my regimen and putting it into place. It's a work in progress, but I hope to make consistent progress. 

I'd love to hear any input - and also to see your supplement and diet plans, so do let me know what you're doing!

* sourcing information provided below



Very Low Carb (VLC) at 3 months postpartum

Clean (no additives)

Avoid industrial seed oils (cottonseed, soy, etc.) and fake fats (hydrogenated oils, margarine)

Lacto-fermented foods - preferably with each meal

          Kefir* (one-quarter to one-half cup daily)
          Yogurt* (small amounts daily)
          Raw sauerkraut*
          Raw pickles*

High in good fats

          Saturated animal fats (free-range organic grass-fed preferred)
          Coconut oil* (2-4 Tbsp. per day)
          Olive oil
          Butter* (2+ Tbsp. per day, preferably grass-fed)

Lemon water (for alkalinity and liver cleansing)

Bone broth (2 cups per day)

Eggs (3-4 per day, preferably organic and free-range)

Some form of healthy meat at each meal

Coconut based snacks like coconut cream*

Unrefined sea salt* (pink or grey)


I am no longer taking vitamin D, as this is provided by fermented cod liver oil

Multi-vitamin (Super Mom* or other) - Since I'm taking fermented cod liver oil and dessicated liver, I believe that the multi is less important. It may go on my optional list.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil * (Preferred dose = 10 mL per day, to provide 1000 mg DHA daily)

Alpha Lipoic Acid (600 mg/daily)

Vitamin B complex*


        Pill form*
        Lacto-fermented foods (see above list under diet)

Dessicated Liver Pills* - For iron and micronutrients


        Oral supplement - Natural Calm or Doctor's Best Chelated Magnesium (or other options)
        Epsom Salts baths* - minimum once per week
        Magnesium oil* or Magnesium Lotion*
        Magnesium water*




Finances Permitting (both of these decrease inflammation; turmeric is also anti-microbial)

        Resveratrol (100 mg twice daily)
        Turmeric (350 mg twice daily)


        Kelp - occasionally for iodine
        Yearly Liver Cleanse (dates done: May 2011, May 2012)

See my list of pregnancy supplements for other pregnancy-specific supplements (most are third-trimester birth and postpartum prep supplements).


Exercise - Especially weight bearing exercises, since muscle mass helps with insulin/glucose metabolism.

Sunlight - As much as possible. (I'm terrible about this.)

Sleep - Minimum of eight hours per night.

Self Care - Keeping my house clean so that I'm not a stress-case about it. Doing things I enjoy occasionally. Staying off of the computer. Going for walks. Keeping up with my devotions and Bible study. All of the things that keep me sane, balanced, and emotionally healthy.


Find a naturopath. (I have several recommendations, plus the local naturopathic college.)

Contact acupuncturist. (Done! They recommend starting pre-conception. This will also be a matter of finances.)


Bible verse memorization - 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.

Regular prayer and Bible study

Personal and Practical

Make the most of the time! I find that the thought of future pregnancies helps me to treasure my time, 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.

Read as widely and deeply as possible on the topic of health. (See my ever-growing booklist here.)




       Strict VLC (very low carb)
       Constant snacking - every hour at least
       Lemon/ACV water - lots of it.


       Add more Epsom salts baths (daily)
       Add digestive enzymes
       Consider Protandim (this might also be a good pre-conception supplement)


       Start Vitamin B/Magnesium/Folate shots at naturopathic college
       Contact acupuncturist to let her know in advance



Personal and Practical

        Buy paper supplies (plates, bowls, utensils)
        Easy kid snacks - gold fish, healthy bars, raisins, juice boxes, cheese sticks, dry cereals


* Sourcing Information:

Kefir is easy to make. Just buy grains or get some from a kefir-making friend, and follow easy directions for culturing plain milk. I unfortunately have not had good luck with it, so I buy plain, full-fat Lifeway kefir from Sprouts.        

Kombucha can be purchased, but it's so easy to make! My directions here. The longer you culture, the lower the sugar content.        

Full-fat plain yogurt is also easy to find, but it's pricey. I make a gallon a time in a crockpot. My updated directions here.

Raw sauerkraut
The sauerkraut you buy in the supermarket is not real sauerkraut. It is heat-treated for sterility and not useful from a probiotic standpoint. Look for the words "raw" on the label. Raw sauerkraut is available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and most health food grocery stores. I buy raw Bubbies sauerkraut from Azure Standard.      

Raw pickles
The pickles you buy in the supermarket are not real pickles. They are heat-treated and not useful from a probiotic standpoint, and if you're buying typical brand-name pickles, they are also loaded with toxic dyes, additives, and aluminum compounds. (For non-toxic regular pickles [non-probiotic], buy at Sprouts, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe's.) For probiotic pickles, look for the words "raw" on the label. Raw pickles are available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and most health food grocery stores. I buy raw Bubbies dill pickles from Azure Standard.      

Coconut Oil
I buy Wilderness Naturals from Azure Standard or the coconut oil now available at Sam's Club. Coconut oil is also available online from Tropical Traditions.

The butter I hear most often recommended (organic and grass-fed) is Kerrygold, now available at Costco. I buy the slightly cheaper Rumiano's from Azure Standard.

Coconut Cream
I buy Artisana Coconut Cream from Azure Standard. Coconut cream is available online from Tropical Traditions.

Unrefined Sea Salt (Pink or Grey)
Pink sea salt is available very inexpensively in the bulk bins at Sprouts. Other types (purchased in smaller individual packages) at Sprouts or Whole Foods will be much more expensive.

Online, I buy supplements from and Azure Standard (available only in areas to which Azure Standard delivers). I buy herbs locally from Desert Sage Herbs. I buy supplements locally at Sprouts Market, Trader Joe's, and the medicinary at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona.

Supermom Vitamins
The most inexpensive way to purchase that we found was to buy a three-month supply through Amazon. This is not currently available, but we hope it comes back soon! It's much more expensive through the product website.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil by Green Pasture. I purchase through Azure Standard.

Vitamin B Complex
See Rachel's recommendations (in general and for specific brand).

Probiotics (Pill Form)
See Rachel's recommendations.

Dessicated Liver Pills
My favorite brand is Radiant Life Dessicated Liver. Because of cost, I currently use a cheaper brand, Solgar, purchased at Nature's Health in Chandler, AZ.

Epsom Salts
Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) are available in any pharmacy store (Walgreen's, CVS, etc.) or in the cosmetic/pharmaceutical area of any Walmart or Target. It can get quite pricey - most two pound bags run around $6 each, and you use two cups per bath. The best price I have found is the 50 lb. bag for around $45 from Azure standard. 

Magnesium Oil
Make your own or purchase ready-made. 

Magnesium Lotion
Make your own

Magnesium Water
Make your own


Now it's your turn, dear readers! What supplements and/or dietary changes are you using to prepare for possible pregnancy and to improve or prevent pregnancy health conditions?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tidbits for March 4th

10 Different Ways to Eat Coconut Cream - It looks lovely, but what on earth does one do with it? Here are some ideas. (Health Impact News)

For the Tired Mama - I'd love to quote from this, but I'd end up quoting the entire post. Read it! This is definitely one that I'm printing out for my parenting notebook. (Contentment Acres)

John MacArthur's Inerrancy Summit - One of the most important topics of the 21st century. Catch it live or watch it later from the archives. (

10 Ways to Hate People - These are oh, so very true. (Head Heart Hand, hat tip to

Walk in the Ancient Paths - Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. (Always Learning)

Fear Makes Us Ugly - "The unhealthy fear I'm addressing is the kind that does more harm than good. The fear that disquiets the soul and paralyzes us. As being fearful causes us to be controlling and tense, it makes us ugly. And just as perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), fear wields the power to cast out love, as demonstrated each time we lash out with words when terror strikes our hearts." (Treasures from a Shoebox)

Truth for Life - I've recently started again listening to one of my all-time-favorite pastor-teachers, Alistair Begg. Catch all of his sermons from this site!

From the Bookshelf

Nancy Pearcey's "Total Truth" was one of the books that changed my life. Now there's a sequel! I can't wait to check out "Finding Truth."

Recipe Corner

I can finally make homemade refried beans that actually taste good! I used this recipe, using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and cooking about two cups of dried beans to make the cooked beans for the recipe. I hope to post pictures next week.

Have a lovely day, dear readers!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tidbits for March 2nd

I know, I know. I'm on a blogging break. So this post is *not* blogging. These are just non-blogging public service announcements for the good of my readership and the world in general. *Ahem.*

5 Natural Remedies for Pink Eye - Ask me why I was  frantically Googling this subject this week. New experiences are broadening, right? (Mommypotamus)

Surviving Winter (Revisiting Contentment) - It's so funny that this blogger and I struggle for contentment in directly opposite environments. She longs for sunshine, I long for grey skies and storms. Contentment is always a struggle. (Treasures from a Shoebox)

Three Relationship Rules -  I love these because they are so unique! I especially like #2 and #3. (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), hat tip to

Building a Strong and Healthy Immune System - I do some of these, but I have so much yet to improve. Good reminders. (Always Learning)

How to Create a Spiritual Atmosphere in Your Home - Good stuff here. (My Joy-Filled Life)

From the Bookshelf

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home

Oh, my goodness. Why did no one ever tell me about this marvelous book? (They did.) Oh, right. Okay, so why did I never get around to reading this marvelous book?

Good question.

But early or late, this book is absolutely terrific. I highly recommend it! And for me, truthfully, the timing was perfect. I think that if I had read this gem earlier in our homeschooling career, I might have found it overwhelming to the extreme. But now the time is right, and I am enjoying this book to the full.

Recipe Corner

These chicken tenders (low-carb, grain-free) were awesome!! Definitely check them out. I'm not a fan of over-the-top oregano, so I reduced the oregano to one-half teaspoon (from one tablespoon) and might cut it farther next time. You can also reduce the paprika, since it's pretty much just for looks. Enjoy!

Especially for Locals

Open House at Falcon Field Airport
This is a great free homeschool field trip! There is enough stuff here to keep the entire family busy for the entire day. Check it out. 


AFHE Homeschool Convention 
Folks, it's that time of year! That's right, it's time to get ready for the annual Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) homeschool convention! Here are a few awesome things to note about this year's convention:

Deal for First-Time Attendees
"As a means to reach new families with information about homeschooling, AFHE offers a special discount rate of $25 per indivdiual or married couple to first-time attendees (limit first 500)... Starting March 6, 2015, we will begin giving out First-Time Attendee Discount Admission Coupon Codes. Please send an email in March with your first and last name to with First-Time Attendee in the subject line. After verifying your eligibility, we will send you the coupon code with a special registration link and registration instructions."

  • These go quickly! More info here.

Grandparents Attend FREE!
That's right... If you want your parents (your children's grandparents, obviously!) to attend the conference and catch the homeschooling vision, they can do so for free!

Early-Bird Special
Check out the new tiered pricing structure, and make sure to catch the early-bird special, starting next week!

  • For the two-day convention (held July 10-11, 2015): 
    • Earlybird special March 6-15 = $59
    • March 16 through May 15 = $69
    • May 16 through June 26 = $79
    • At the door = $89

Thinking of Homeschooling?
Then make sure to catch the FREE pre-convention mini-conference on Thursday, July 9th! More information here.


Have a wonderful week, dear readers! I will continue to *not* blog until my project of updating our family book list is completed, which will hopefully be soon.

Love to all!