Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tidbits for January 31st

The Ultimate Book List for Boys - I love book lists, and this is a great one. (The Modest Mom)

7 Way to Show Your Children You Value Them, Every Day - "I got to thinking that I wanted to share more with my children what I value about them, helping them see themselves through God’s eyes and not through the lens of the world with its unrealistic and sometimes ungodly expectations." (The Purposeful Mom)

Epidurals: Do They Or Don't They Increase Cesareans? - Henci Goer examines the evidence for and against. (Science and Sensibility)

Two Years to No Lies - Fascinating. (The List)

How I Simplify My Homeschool Day With Textbooks - "When I first started exploring the possibilities of using textbooks I felt guilty inside. I was betraying everything I had been taught!" (The Modest Mom via Intoxicated on Life)

From the Bookshelf

Already Compromised by Ken Ham and Greg Hall

"A stunning revelation about the nation's Christian colleges! Apologetics powerhouse Ken Ham teams with Dr. Greg Hall for an eye-opening assessment of 200 Christian colleges and universities from across America. During the unprecedented 2010 study by Britt Beemer's America's Research Group (ARG), these colleges were polled on core faith questions...and the results are revealing and shocking! Examine the beginnings of the Ivy League schools and their now forgotten purpose at their formation. Observe the views, responses, and answers to basic questions from these Christian colleges that will surprise and alarm you."

Fascinating and enlightening (though not particularly surprising) - a good read, and an interesting study in competing worldviews.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Three-Year Homeschool Learning Curve (It Really Exists!)

Several years ago, I read a wonderful article by Amy over at Raising Arrows, and it has been a source of encouragement ever since. Hop on over and check it out:

Homeschooling and the Three Year Learning Curve

To summarize:
"'The first three years are the learning curve. Give yourself a break.' Those are the words a veteran homeschool mom spoke to me my first year homeschooling. Those words gave me permission to mess up, regroup, and try again. Those words are now the ones I give to every new homeschooling mother I come in contact with. They are priceless."

We are now nearing the end of our fourth year of home education, and I can attest to the truth of those words. Things really started to fall into place at the end of the third year. While I have not "arrived," and most likely never will, I no longer feel that I am floundering hopelessly in a foreign universe.

I have found my homeschooling feet.

Just starting on the journey.

In my (brief) time in the homeschooling world, I have seen many mothers give up on home education within their first couple of years. They give it a try, but end up calling it quits a year or two in. (I did it too!) In any conversation that I now have with struggling mothers, I always reference this "law of homeschooling." If you're serious about homeschooling but don't think you're making it, purpose not to give up before you've completed three full years. Most likely, you'll be okay by then.

What does it look like "on the other side" of three years?

Here's what it looks like for me (some of these are elaborations on Amy's points in the original article):

I have learned about myself

I have learned so many things about myself - things that are vital to shaping our family's homeschool environment. For example, I have learned that I am not a super-crafty person. Continual large messes pretty much make me lose my sanity. I need to have the house reasonably clean to be able to think clearly (or even be civil). That may seem basic, but learning things like that about myself is also part of learning about how home education will look in our family. It's different for each family, and every mother has to figure out her own style and how homeschooling needs to work to be successful for her unique family and situation.

I have learned about my child

Had I put my child in school, the 8yo and I would now be complete strangers to each other. We are very, very different and tend to butt heads often. But being together around the clock has forced us to learn to work together and to become closer rather than growing further apart. I am so thankful that God led me to home education, because otherwise this child and I would already be well on the way to total estrangement from each other. As it is, I have been able to learn more and more about him while growing closer to him.

Homeschool science experiments. 

I have faced harsh realities

The harsh reality about home education is that it all comes down to parenting. If I'm not willing to tackle my parenting weaknesses and really enforce cheerful obedience, respect, responsibility, etc., then home education will not work - or will be a nightmare for the mother who has to suffer through it. This has been an awesome reality check for me, and it has helped me greatly in my parenting journey. Like it or not, the basis of successful home education is first producing teachable children, and that involves being willing to face my parenting weaknesses - and deal with them.

I have learned about home education

Attending my first homeschool convention was one of the most inspiring events of my life. It was also one of the most frightening, intimidating, and completely overwhelming events of my life. In fact, my decision to stop homeschooling was due to that feeling of being completely out of my element and overwhelmed with too much information. I couldn't handle it, and I turned tail and ran.

Since then, I have learned so much. I have learned the terminology and the lingo. I have learned the authors, the books, the key personalities in the homeschool community, the curriculum options, the educational styles. I have spent the past years reading (and reading and reading) about home education - on blogs, in books, on websites - and listening to talks, lectures, and convention break-out sessions. Finally, at some unknown point, it stopped being overwhelming. I started recognizing terms and curriculum names. I could talk the talk. I no longer had to sit there looking like a soon-to-be-flattened deer in the headlights.

I don't have it all together. In fact, on the average, I would still rate myself as rather behind rather than ahead when it comes to home education knowledge and abilities. But I am now at home (rather than completely at sea!) in the home education world. Conventions are no longer overwhelming, but a delight. I can handle the information without bursting into tears of frustration.

Dear homeschooling mother, if you are still in the "I'm so overwhelmed and I don't know what to do!" stage, don't despair. Just hold on, keep breathing, and keep reading (and reading and reading). Sooner or later, it will start to make sense, and the feeling of being overwhelmed will fade.

Homeschool craft time. 

I have learned about homeschool curriculum

Thirty years ago, curriculum selection was super-simple because there were simply so few options. Today, even a mother who has been homeschooling for twenty years hasn't seen all of the available curriculum choices. There are hundreds (thousands!) out there. However, I have finally made it to where I know the major names, the major styles, and the major options - and that's a huge relief. I can now "talk the talk" and know what my major options are in different subjects, even if there are still hundreds of options that I haven't yet seen.

Unit studies! 

I have found the local homeschool community

Discovering and getting to know your local homeschool community is incredibly important! Here are some of the things that I've learned about my local community:

  • Local support groups - I've found two that work for me, and know of countless others (and where to find them!) if I ever need them.
  • Resources - Testing locations, homeschool stores, etc.
  • Classes, groups, and co-ops - Whether it's theatre, archery, speech and debate, science co-ops, homeschool P.E. - I know where to find the homeschool groups and classes (and we have many!).
  • Homeschool days - Many museums, etc., have annual homeschool days when homeschoolers can get reduced admission fees. Knowing these by memory is a huge blessing and a big stress-reliever as well.
  • Annual field trip schedule - In addition to homeschool days, there are local events that occur annually, and I now know these by heart as well (our city's Jazz Festival, the Christmas parade, etc.). Having these in my memory saves me so much time scrambling for field trips.
  • People - Getting to know people in the community, making friends, letting your children make friends - it's a big part of feeling connected rather than lost and floating. Also, getting to know various persons' strengths and interests means that I know where to go when I need help or information on a certain topic.

When we first started out, feeling alone was one of the biggest obstacles. Now that I've gotten to know the community, I feel much more settled and at home. If you're just starting out, I do recommend finding a few support groups! They can be intimidating at first, but after a year or two of getting to know people, they're priceless.

I have learned lots about what doesn't work

We've spent lots of money on curriculum that was shelved in the end. I've tried schedules that didn't work, ideas that didn't work, discipline techniques that didn't work. You name it, I've tried it. And most of it doesn't work. But for the odd 5% that does work, it's worth it. Each time I try something, I learn something - even if it's how to go back to the drawing board start again.

I have learned about the practical side of home education

There is so much more to home education than just "doing school." Let's see - my short list would include home management, teaching chores, time management, marriage, parenting, blogging, cooking, meal planning, laundry - and biggest of all, putting all of that together into a doable package on a daily basis. This is a sharp, steep learning curve, and it is not easy. However, I have come a long way, and I'm learning more and more every day.

I have learned the faithfulness of God

A year or two back, I heard a veteran homeschooling mom say the following (paraphrased):
"Do I have regrets? No, I don't have any regrets. God has been faithful. Every day I asked Him to show me what His will was for our home education journey. He did, and I followed His leading. I have no regrets."

At the time, I was a bit baffled. What did she mean, she had no regrets? Didn't she know how many mistakes I make on a daily basis? How could she make such lofty claims of perfection for herself?

But over time, I realized the difference between regrets and mistakes. All of us make mistakes. But we press forward to the goal, and we can do so in spite of our mistakes - and we can do so with no regrets. God is faithful. And if He has called us to the journey of home education, then we can trust Him and lean on His leading to get where we need to go.

God is faithful.

Thus, dear mothers, if you're still in the trenches of the first three years - don't lose heart! Press on! The challenges and the struggles continue, but there really is a breakthrough at the three-year mark.

Veteran homeschoolers, I would love to hear your input. When did you feel that you passed the initial learning curve and found your homeschooling stride? I'd love to hear your story.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tidbits for January 29th

13 Ways You Waste Your Money - Always good to review. (

One Simple Way to Encourage Obedience in Your Child - She's right, this DOES work. It's just a matter of remembering to do it consistently! (The Purposeful Mom)

Why Our Family Leaves Santa Out of Christmas - Okay, I'm a bit late in posting this! However, I only started this series in January, and this one's too good to miss. (Kids in the Word)

Raising Counter-Cultural Sons: What We Don't Allow - And the follow-up article, What We Encourage. Good stuff here. (Treasures from a Shoebox)

My Secrets to Taking Common-Sense Care of Your Sick Child at Home - Oh, goodness - so much good stuff here. (Like Mother, Like Daughter)

From the Bookshelf

"Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time"

"The legendary Eat That Frog! (more than 450,000 copies sold and translated into 23 languages) provides the 21 most effective methods for conquering procrastination and accomplishing more."

This is an easy, fast read that is packed full of great time management techniques. While it's written for the worker in the corporate world, all of it applies to the life of the home educator as well. Really enjoying this one!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tidbits for January 26th

1915 Mother Resolutions - Interesting from a historical perspective as well as the personal! I especially like #4. (The Common Room)

Hurrying the Unhurriable - "'You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion.' I wish all managers and customers understood that, but too often they don't. The problem is: Christians usually don't seem to understand it either." (Scratchings)

Downtown Abbey - What Are Americans Really Watching? - I don't watch the show (or even know what it's about), but that's beside the point! This is a fascinating analysis of the political, social, and religious trends that shaped 19th and 20th century Britain. (, hat tip to

Motherhood Shouldn't Be a Sacrifice - "If we really know that our child is more precious than our waistline, or split-ends, or that yearly trip to Paris; then why do we mourn such things in such a way?  Why do we label them as sacrifices?" (Children Are a Blessing)

God Created Women for Pouring - "'God created the woman for pouring.  They are "all or none" type vessels. Keeping a home, loving your husband and children is a huge undertaking and it takes ALL of a woman to fill. This is why God created the woman to pour of herself completely because he knew it took all of her heart to care for her family. When you take the modern woman who finds a million other things to pour into, important things suffer. There is only so much in that heart to pour.'" (Always Learning)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Curriculum Review: Christian Light Math (I'm in Love!)

For the first two years of our home education program, we used a math curriculum that was enthusiastically recommended to us (separately) by two dear friends. For both mamas, the math in question was wonderful. However, for us it didn't work out. When the second-grade materials arrived in the mail and I sat down to review them, I realized that I needed to consider using a different math curriculum. This was far outside of my comfort zone (I prefer to pick something and stick with it), but I had to do something.

In the end, I made the plunge. I re-sold the already-purchased math materials locally, and decided to purchase the second grade math curriculum from Christian Light Publications. We have now nearly finished that second grade curriculum after our first year of using CLP math.

And I'm in love.

Christian Light math is simply the best math I've ever seen. It is thorough, well-organized, and excellent quality in every way. It is a pleasure to use.

Each grade of Christian Light math contains ten workbooks. There are seventeen assignments per workbook (fourteen lessons, two quizzes, and one final test) for a total of 170 daily assignments.

(This is cutting it a bit close when one factors in sick days. However, as lesson #16 in each book is always "review for the test," we cut that lesson out - resulting in ten additional days of wiggle room per year.)

Each grade level also comes with two teacher's manuals (each covering half of the year's material), which give teaching suggestions, answer keys, and alternate tests. Though they are intended for use in Christian schools, the teacher's manuals are quite useful for home educators as well (if only for answer keys).

Let me tell you about some of the many things I love about Christian Light math! (And Christian Light Publications in general.)

Christian Light Publications is a Mennonite company that produces educational materials for Christian schools, home educators, and church programs. Their materials are thoroughly Christian, have a rural focus, and seek to give glory to God and set a good moral example. I love this!*

(I should note that these materials are still completely usable for non-Christian families.)

As is the rule with all Anabaptist-produced products that I have seen, the materials are of excellent physical quality. The paper is excellent, the binding is superb, the drawings are first-rate, and the layout is simply beautiful. It is a pleasure to use on a physical as well as an academic level. (By contrast, our last math curriculum had drawings that were painfully poor in quality.)

Each math lesson has a tiny beginning section that covers new material, and then one or two questions concerning that material. The bulk of the lesson, however, is devoted to reviewing previously covered material. Thus, children review almost every concept daily, so there is never time to forget earlier topics. This is wonderful, as children tend to forget material fairly quickly if it is not continually reviewed.

Another huge benefit to this method is that I need to spend relatively little time doing math with our eight-year-old. A few minutes suffice to go over the new material, and he can then work independently on the rest of the lesson. (We spend additional time in the afternoon going over errors.)

While we have found the lessons to be a bit lengthy for one sitting (at least for our fidgety eight-year-old!), that problem has been easily solved by dividing the lesson into two parts. Our son completes the first half in the morning and the second half in the afternoon. In the earlier years, I might consent to write all or part of the answers (while the child tells me the answers orally) for a child who is (like ours) a reluctant writer.

Each lesson also includes a two minute "speed drill," which helps to cement basic addition and subtraction facts. These have been very helpful in helping our son to become accustomed to working under a time limit - a skill which is new to him.

I also like that each book contains two quizzes and one test. Our previous curriculum did not have any tests or graded assignments, so this has also helped our son to become accustomed to a testing environment and to being graded. With his first quiz, on which he did very poorly, we had to deal with quite a few tears. But since then, he has become very used to a testing environment and now handles quizzes and tests comfortably.

(However, if you do not want to begin testing at this early of an age, there is no need to do so - tests and quizzes can be given but not graded.)

While every student, every home school, and every season will dictate different curricula for different families, I can say with full enthusiasm that we love Christian Light Publications math. This is our default curriculum going forward!

Christian Light Publications carries full curriculum in every subject for K-12, so check them out! Samples are available in most subjects on their website.

* The other major Mennonite curriculum company is Rod and Staff, which we also love.

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Tidbits for January 22nd

Tidbits for January 22nd

10 Things Homeschooled Children Don't Miss - Yes! Love this! (Growing In His Grace)

Starting Your Own (Homeschool) Book Club - I'd love to try this sometime in the future! Follow-up post here. (Our Busy Homeschool)

God Takes Pleasure in Your Simple Life - "Whether you are making a pie, working in your garden, teaching your children or fixing your husband's favorite dinner {all the simple things in life}, you can truly say, "I feel His pleasure" since these activities are what most women were made for by God." I just discovered this blog, and I love it! (Always Learning)

From the Bookshelf

 Created to Be His Helpmeet

Now on my fourth reading, this book provides a good kick in the pants when I need it - which is, sadly, often. (My review here.)

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

I read (and reviewed) this book last year - now it's time for a re-read! Love this book.

The Recipe Corner

Meyer Lemon Cake - Meyer lemons? In a cake? Yes, please! I haven't tried this yet, but can't wait to give it a go. From one of my favorite blogs. (Like Mother, Like Daughter)

Blackberry Cake - One of my favorite bloggers cooks with my favorite fruit - I can't wait to try this! I'm planning to make it next summer on our annual blackberrying expedition. (The Common Room)

Red Enchilada Sauce - From a friend's blog! We tried this tonight (with Easy Enchiladas), and it was lovely! (Are They All Yours?)

Cinnamon Cream Pie - I found this recipe just after finding out that we were expecting our latest little one. Translation - It didn't get made! Almost a year later, we finally tried it (last night), and it was wonderful! Even our tending-toward-pickiness 8yo loved it - he rated it was "better than Panda (Express)," which is his highest form of praise. Note: Baking time was considerably longer than an hour. (Raising Arrows)

Have a wonderful week, dear friends! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Enjoying a Diet Break

I have now been off of the VLC (very-low-carb, high-fat) diet for a solid two months. I've been looking forward to this break for years - so how is it going?

Well, that depends!

In some ways, it's been really nice to have a break. The discipline of the diet is very rigorous, and it's nice to be able to relax my standards for a while - especially over the holidays!

Here are some of the foods that I've missed the most (and am now enjoying!):

  • Oatmeal and steel-cut oats
  • Bananas and apples
  • Fruit in general, and fruit desserts
  • Beans
  • Cottage cheese
  • Corn and cornbread 
  • Cooked carrots

Bread has never been a passion of mine, so I haven't missed that too much. Oddly enough, I haven't missed desserts and super-sweet things very much either. When I gave up sugar, my ability to taste sweet things skyrocketed - and American desserts now often taste too sweet! When making holiday desserts over the past two months, I have several times cut the sugar by half and still found the dessert too sweet. 

Additionally, I have found myself too busy to even contemplate making many desserts - keeping up with daily cooking and chores has been more than enough to keep me (crazy) busy. 

I have definitely noticed that I am not feeling as well being back on a more standard diet. Here are some of the issues I've had personally over the past two months:
  • A long-term won't-go-away ear infection
  • Stomach flu
  • A super-nasty cold
  • Resurgence of seasonal allergies
  • Minor resurgence of fatigue issues

In other words, I need to get back on the diet for my own well-being. 

I had originally planned to go back on the diet at New Year's. That didn't happen (somewhat anticipated), pretty much because of sheer laziness, as well as a reluctance to start double-cooking (VLC food for me, more carbs for the family) and dealing with the higher costs of the VLC diet. 

But I do need to get back on the bandwagon. Reform and repent. Get with the program. Just because I have gotten through one pregnancy without hyperemesis (HG), I am under no illusion that it would not resurface if I was not on the diet. I do not want to be caught napping. 

Additionally, I have learned that after the initial weight loss immediately following birth, my extra baby-weight does not leave until I'm on the diet. Natural weight loss simply does not happen for me - the baby weight just stays forever (and ever) unless I do something about it. Thus, I know that I won't lose any weight until I get serious about it. 

I also need to get back to my lacto-fermented foods. I just brewed my first batch of kombucha, and have already gotten back to making yogurt. Next up - kefir, pickles, and sauerkraut! (Lest I look too sophisticated, I should say that those last three items I plan to buy, not make. I am just not that awesome!)

So, my friends - how are your diet resolutions doing? Anyone having spectacular success getting back to healthy eating goals?

Forbidden but oh-so-delicious! Yum. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Snippets of Craziness Around Here

Random snippets of life around here...

Wait, what was that? WHAT?

That's right, my friends - the Christmas tree is put AWAY. As in, it's in the box, tied up, and stuffed somewhere in the garage.

And it isn't even Mother's Day yet! What's wrong with this picture?


Speaking of Christmas, have you all met my latest pet?

Bought for me by two persons who were strictly instructed not to get me a Christmas present. But I love it (and them) anyway.

So far, I've used my new 7-quart beauty to cook applesauce, chili, and....

... thank-you notes. 


We've had a cold going through our house, meaning that the 8yo's Christmas thank-you cards (which he is writing by himself this year - miracles do happen) are most likely coated with cold germs. (What a way to say thank you!)

In racking my brains to figure out how to sanitize a thank-you note (Google was NO help - I tried), I thought of the crockpot. It was worth a try! So all of our thank-you notes are being thoroughly baked before being mailed.

It may or may not work, but at least it's creative. You've got to admit that.


In the realm of new acquisitions, here is our newest family member:

We've had it for two weeks now, and are now able to travel about as a family again!

Believe it or not, we already feel a bit... squished. Seriously. In a minivan. In other words, we shouldn't get too attached, because it's only going to be in the family for a couple of years (most likely).

But it's fun anyway, even if it's just an intermediate step! We're very grateful for our new set o' wheels.


We are now two weeks into the new school term. We celebrated our return to academia by coming down with a miserable cold - all of us, and all within 72 hours of each other. Wow, what a bug! Normally we have only two to three of us caught by each bug that passes through, but this took us all down thoroughly.

In happier news, I am thrilled to report that the 8yo read his first full-length book! Thus far he has stuck with picture books (albeit very long and wordy ones), but a few weeks back he dove head first into "The Chronicles of Narnia." This was very encouraging!

Thomas trains, toddler picture books, and biographies of Adolf Hitler (currently studying World War II).
The beauties of multi-level homeschooling!

I am working full-steam-ahead on planning curriculum choices for next year, which is really quite a job. I hope to order curriculum in March, so time is of the essence! (Especially if I change my mind on everything after purchasing, as I did last year.)


A few weeks ago, I noticed our son skulking about the house, muttering darkly about "fighting the evil Republicans."

Hmm, what?

It turns out that he was playing Star Wars, assuming that anyone working for "The Republic," i.e. Darth Vader, was a Republican.

Ah, politics!


Last week, our church was vandalized by person or persons unknown. Oddly enough, our Bible memory verse for the week was "Thou shalt not steal," so it worked in nicely to a conversation about personal property and the Lord's commands regarding respecting others' things.

Here's how the conversation ended:

The 8yo: Mommy, did the thief use a crowbar?
Me: Yes, probably.


The 8yo: Mommy, do I have enough money to buy myself a crowbar ?

Nice, child. Nice.

It turns out that he only wanted a crowbar in order to go "fight the bad guys."


Because otherwise, it's a bit early to start on a life of crime.


We were two weeks late in going to see it, but they still had it up! Our local Tumbleweed Tree (because that's the closest thing to a healthy pine tree you're going to find around here!):

The dark blotch in front is the 8yo. 


And finally... They're back! And there are more of them than ever!

Yes! Clothing boxes!

Our house is ready to explode with BOY clothing boxes, and now I have a nice stack of GIRL clothing boxes (they've already multiplied since this picture was taken).

However, I expect we'll find room for them... somewhere. Perhaps we could strap them on top of the roof or stuff them up the chimney, or some other practical spot.

But she's worth it!


Ending with a slightly over-dressed toddler! This is cowboy gear, Star Wars and Winnie-the-Pooh - all mixed together (and assembled by himself!).

Have a wonderful week, dear friends!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hyperemesis: "It's a Small Price"

From Wendy at Contentment Acres (a re-post from 2007):

"I am in no way minimizing the effects HG has on a woman's health, but I would go through it all again to have each of my children."

Read the whole post here.

Read more about Wendy's experiences with hyperemesis gravidarum here (there are more articles on her blog):

Have a wonderful Sabbath, dear readers! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tidbits for January 15th

When the Sin of Sloth Sneaks Up on You - "There was no relaxation, EVER. But, it wasn’t because I never sat around.  It was because I was sitting around too much.  I was avoiding what I didn’t want to do, and it was making me miserable." (Your Mom Has a Blog)

What Is Genuine and True? - "We communicate so often through electronics, with short texts, sending articles, posting brief comments on [Facebook] that we let that substitute for relaxed, open conversation.   Interactions can become shallow – we’re in contact but not relationship." (Jim Poulin at Scratchings)

Seeing Setbacks as a God-Send - "When I let the anxiety of not being able to do the things I thought “needed” to be done rule my life, I was a wreck. When I gave it all to the Lord, He guarded my heart and mind and I realized the things I thought mattered didn’t." (Raising Arrows)

When an Unkempt Home Causes Depression - So many good ideas here! (Growing In His Grace)

How to Clean Your Top-Loading Washing Machine - I had no idea that washing machines needed cleaning... until our clothes started smelling distinctly odd. This is the method I use now, and it works! (One Good Thing)

Six Ways to Wear a Denim Skirt - Considering my recent purchase, this is just what I need! (The Modest Mom)

Recipe Corner:

Applesauce Bars - These were a huge hit with the family! I took the sugar from 1 cup down to 2/3 cup and next time I'll take it to 1/2 cup. Delicious! (Taste of Home)

From the Bookshelf:

Amish Society

"Highly acclaimed in previous editions, this classic work by John Hostetler has been expanded and updated to reflect current research on Amish history and culture as well as the new concerns of Amish communities throughout North America."

* This was one of my all-time favorite books in high school - I read it over and over again. Now I've rediscovered it in my local public library, and I'm in love - again!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In Which I (Actually!) Fulfill a New Year's Resolution

Yes, really! I bought a maternity skirt!

Thus, I have fulfilled one resolution - to shop for maternity clothes while not pregnant. I am extremely proud of myself!

Of course, the cold hard truth is that this skirt is a wee bit on the small side, meaning that (1) I have to lose baby weight before I can wear it, and (2) most likely it will end up as a non-maternity skirt anyhow.

But that's okay. I've made a start! (And it was just too cute to resist, even if it doesn't end up working for pregnancy.)

Of course, this could be a dangerous habit. But I'm willing to take that chance.

Local Business Shout-Out

I bought this skirt at Kid-to-Kid, a local chain of used children's and maternity items. Their merchandise is excellent quality, they have a lot of stock, and their employees are friendly and helpful. I have now both bought and sold with them, and my experience has been excellent across the board. Check them out! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A (Very) Inconvenient Truth

"Addiction is the state of being enslaved to a substance or habit, the cessation of which causes emotional distress or bodily trauma. It takes away from ordinary life responsibilities such as work, relationships, or health, and consumes a disproportionate amount of time and energy. You can locate your addiction by identifying that sacred cow that, when kicked by a family member or friend, you defend most forcefully. You have had your doubts about it, if not downright guilt and shame, and you have tried to lay it down, but you are compelled to return again and again on a regular basis, trying to deceive others as you deceive yourself."
- Michael Pearl, No Greater Joy magazine, October 2014 (full article)

This passage will say something different to each person reading. (To some lucky people, perhaps it says nothing.) Does this say anything to you?

I know what it says to me. 

What things in life have you had to give up for the health of yourself and your family?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tidbits for January 12th

Complete Guide to a No-Side-Effects Medicine Cabinet - There is so much information here! Wow! Check it out! (Deep Roots at Home)

Are You Making Effort? - "If you want to know how to backslide, leave off going forward. Cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity." Love this quote from Spurgeon. (Contentment Acres)

Is Evolution Biblically Acceptable? The Question of Genesis 1 - Short answer, no. (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Hat Tip to

How to Obtain the Desires of Our Hearts - "But when we line up our desires with God’s will…well, then amazing things will happen!  He will truly begin to change us and shape us to become more like Him...  We will see our desires changing right before our eyes." (Children Are a Blessing)

Parenting a Wild Child - Her story is my story (I could have written this post). I read her article almost two years ago, and it has been an incredible blessing to me. Mothers, be encouraged!  (Women Living Well)

Especially for Locals!

Homeschool Days at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum are back! The Arboretum offers three homeschool days annually - one each in February, March, and April. The price is awesome ($2 per person ages four and up), and spots fill up quickly - so don't wait to sign up!

At last year's Arboretum Homeschool Days. 

The annual Southwest Family Vision Conference is coming up on Friday, January 30th and Saturday, January 31st. My husband attended last year and absolutely loved it, and we are planning to attend again this year. We're especially excited to hear the keynote, the amazing Vodie Baucham. Registration is free, and the whole family is welcome to attend, so come out and join us!

DH with last year's keynote, author Scott Brown. 

Recipe Corner:

We'll be making our favorite King Cake for Epiphany - possibly one of the most delicious confections known to man. Join us!

Have a wonderful week, dear friends!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

So You Want to Learn About FOOD! (And Health in General)

In 2006, my aunt gave me a copy of "The Maker's Diet." I read it in bed while recovering from hyperemesis, and it changed my whole outlook on life.

"The Maker's Diet" opened my eyes to the wonderful fact that many disease states can be prevented, improved, or even healed with diet, and it's been a wonderful learning journey ever since. (Check out the book to see how the author, Jordan Rubin, healed his nearly-fatal Crohn's disease with diet.)

Reading about nutrition is now a passion of mine, and I wanted to put together a short book list for readers who are similarly interested in learning more about nutrition and health.

And with that in mind, here are sixteen of my favorites to get you started!


A few notes:

  • I have not actually read "Trim Healthy Mama." (I've read all the rest, really!) I include it simply because I've heard so many rave reviews from friends and fellow bloggers. 
  • Many of these books have a philosophical basis grounded in principles of macro-evolution. If you don't accept macro-evolution (I don't), fear not - just separate the operational science from the historical science and go from there. 
  • These books do occasionally have conflicting conclusions ("don't eat pork!" v. "bacon is wonderful!"), but that's okay too. There is great information to be learned on all sides, and themes do emerge despite differences in details. 
  • All description quotes are from each book's Amazon page (linked through the title). 

Here are my favorites, by category:

Food History
"The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet"
*This book was incredibly interesting - I couldn't put it down. Dive in and enjoy!

Food Culture
"French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters"
*Another page-turner. Read even if you don't have children!

Food Practicum
"It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways"
*When you want to change your diet and need a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand how-to manual, this is the book for you. Check out their website as well. 

Food Science
"Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia"
*After reading this book, the connection between diet, gut health, physical health, and mental disorders finally makes sense. This book is absolutely foundational, and highly enjoyable as well. 

And now, the book list!

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet

"For decades, we have been told that the best possible diet involves cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, and that if we are not getting healthier or thinner it must be because we are not trying hard enough. But what if the low-fat diet is itself the problem? What if the very foods we’ve been denying ourselves—the creamy cheeses, the sizzling steaks—are themselves the key to reversing the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease?"

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways

"It Starts With Food reveals how specific foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel, and live—in ways that you’d never associate with your diet. More important, they outline their lifelong strategy for eating Good Food in one clear and detailed action plan designed to help you create a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation, and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food."

"The Maker's Diet: The 40-Day Health Experience that will Change Your Life Forever"

"Discover how Jordan Rubin's faith-based journey from near death to vital health led him to uncover the timeless principles of the world's healthiest people."

Why We Get Fat (And What To Do About It)

"[Taubes] reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century—none more damaging or misguided than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat—and the good science that has been ignored. He also answers the most persistent questions: Why are some people thin and others fat? What roles do exercise and genetics play in our weight? What foods should we eat, and what foods should we avoid? Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat is an essential guide to nutrition and weight management."

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

"Food. There's plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it? Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion--most of what we’re consuming today is longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we see to become... Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating."

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy

"Being healthy and fit has gone mainstream--millions sweat the calories away on the roads or in health clubs and scrutinize labels and menus trying to do the right thing to control weight, delay aging, and feel healthy, fit, and energetic. And it's simply not working. Rates of obesity, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer continue to climb, and even the most committed fitness enthusiasts often carry 10 or 20 extra pounds of body fat.In this updated and expanded edition of the 2009 hardcover release from Mark Sisson, publisher and de-facto leader of the burgeoning primal/paleo/evolutionary health movement presents the compelling premise that you can reprogram your genes in the direction of weight loss, health, and longevity by following 10 immutable Primal laws..."

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

"This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: Animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Sally Fallon dispels the myths of the current low-fat fad in this practical, entertaining guide to a can-do diet that is both nutritious and delicious."

The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat

"If you want to lose weight-up to 75 pounds in six months-or if you want to attain optimal health, The Paleo Diet will work wonders. Dr. Loren Cordain demonstrates how, by eating your fill of satisfying and delicious lean meats and fish, fresh fruits, snacks, and non-starchy vegetables, you can lose weight and prevent and treat heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, and many other illnesses."

Trim Healthy Mama

"For Women Of All Ages And Stages! Over 250 Recipes, Proven Ways to Lose Weight, How to Balance your Hormones, How to Re-fire your Metabolism, Make your Skin Glow, Ignite Marriage Intimacy, Simple but Effective Exercise Plan. (for Pregnant Mothers too!) Answers for Postmenopausal Women."

* Edited to add: This book has been updated into a condensed, revised version that has gotten rave reviews. The authors also split the book into two parts. Check out Trim Healthy Mama Plan and Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

"Leading health blogger Jimmy Moore and researcher and internist Dr. Eric C. Westman join forces again to explain the powerful therapeutic effects of a ketogenic diet—one that combines a customized carbohydrate restriction, moderation of protein intake, and real food-based fats—which is emerging in the scientific literature as a means for improving a wide range of diseases, from Type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s and more. Simply eating a low-carb diet alone isn’t enough, and Moore and Westman tell you why."

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

"After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic—and that elimination of wheat is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In national bestseller, Dr. Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as "wheat"—and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new wheat-free lifestyle."

Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health

"In Death by Food Pyramid, Denise Minger exposes the forces that overrode common sense and solid science to launch a pyramid phenomenon that bled far beyond US borders to taint the eating habits of the entire developed world."

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers

"Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that's been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age."

Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia

"Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride... realized that nutrition played a critical role in helping children and adults to overcome their disabilities, and has pioneered the use of probiotics in this field. Her willingness to share her knowledge has resulted in her contributing to many publications, as well as presenting at numerous seminars and conferences on the subjects of learning disabilities and digestive disorders... She believes that the link between learning disabilities, the food and drink that we take, and the condition of our digestive system is absolute, and the results of her work have supported her position on this subject."

French Women Don't Get Fat

"Unlocking the simple secrets of this “French paradox” – how they enjoy food while staying slim and healthy – Mireille Guiliano gives us a charming, inspiring take on health and eating for our times.For anyone who has slipped out of her Zone, missed the flight to South Beach, or accidentally let a carb pass her lips, here is a positive way to stay trim, a culture’s most precious secrets recast for the twenty-first century. A life of wine, bread – even chocolate – without girth or guilt? Pourquoi pas?"

French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters

"French Kids Eat Everything is a wonderfully wry account of how Karen Le Billon was able to alter her children’s deep-rooted, decidedly unhealthy North American eating habits while they were all living in France.

"At once a memoir, a cookbook, a how-to handbook, and a delightful exploration of how the French manage to feed children without endless battles and struggles with pickiness, French Kids Eat Everything features recipes, practical tips, and ten easy-to-follow rules for raising happy and healthy young eaters—a sort of French Women Don’t Get Fat meets Food Rules."

More Books on FOOD and HEALTH (Added Later):

The Magnesium Miracle

"Magnesium is an essential nutrient, indispensable to your health and well-being. By adding this mineral to your diet, you are guarding against—and helping to alleviate—such threats as heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, arthritis, and asthma. But despite magnesium’s numerous benefits, many Americans remain dangerously deficient. Updated and revised throughout with the latest research, featuring an all-new Introduction, this amazing guide explains the vital role that magnesium plays in your body and life."

Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life

"Debilitating brain disorders are on the rise-from children diagnosed with autism and ADHD to adults developing dementia at younger ages than ever before. But a medical revolution is underway that can solve this problem: Astonishing new research is revealing that the health of your brain is, to an extraordinary degree, dictated by the state of your microbiome - the vast population of organisms that live in your body and outnumber your own cells ten to one. What's taking place in your intestines today is determining your risk for any number of brain-related conditions.

"In BRAIN MAKER, Dr. Perlmutter explains the potent interplay between intestinal microbes and the brain, describing how the microbiome develops from birth and evolves based on lifestyle choices, how it can become "sick," and how nurturing gut health through a few easy strategies can alter your brain's destiny for the better. With simple dietary recommendations and a highly practical program of six steps to improving gut ecology, BRAIN MAKER opens the door to unprecedented brain health potential."

Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Life-Long Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence

"In Sexy by Nature, female health expert Stefani Ruper outlines five easy-to-follow steps that heal you and make it impossible not to love the skin you’re in. This book is a must-have for any woman who wants to be healthy, sexy, and free.

"Women’s health is more complicated than men’s health. How often is this important fact given adequate attention in the health and fitness world? Almost never. To the joy and empowerment of women everywhere, Stefani Ruper’s Sexy by Nature finally delivers what they’ve needed all along to achieve their health and weight-loss goals.
Modern culture insists that the only way around female health problems like acne, PMS, and stubborn excess weight is to wage war against them with gym memberships, calorie counting, and restrictive diets. But it doesn’t have to be hard, frustrating, or an uphill battle. It can be the easiest, most fun, and most exciting journey of your life. How? By letting nature do the work for you. As a product of nature, the female body has specific needs. When those needs are not met, health problems ensue. When they are met, the body heals, energizes, and becomes sexy on its own. Sexy by Nature provides the tools and inspiration you need to meet those needs, to overcome health challenges, and to become the radiant, confident woman you were born to be."

The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles

"An integrative approach to healing chronic autoimmune conditions by a doctor, researcher, and sufferer of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) whose TEDx talk is already a web sensation
"Like many physicians, Dr. Terry Wahls focused on treating her patients’ ailments with drugs or surgical procedures—until she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2000. Within three years, her back and stomach muscles had weakened to the point where she needed a tilt-recline wheelchair. Conventional medical treatments were failing her, and she feared that she would be bedridden for the rest of her life.

"Dr. Wahls began studying the latest research on autoimmune disease and brain biology, and decided to get her vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids from the food she ate rather than pills and supplements. Dr. Wahls adopted the nutrient-rich paleo diet, gradually refining and integrating it into a regimen of neuromuscular stimulation. First, she walked slowly, then steadily, and then she biked eighteen miles in a single day. In November 2011, Dr. Wahls shared her remarkable recovery in a TEDx talk that immediately went viral. Now, in The Wahls Protocol, she shares the details of the protocol that allowed her to reverse many of her symptoms, get back to her life, and embark on a new mission: to share the Wahls Protocol with others suffering from the ravages of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune conditions."

The Science of Skinny

"With scientific research, her own chemistry background, and the traditional diets of our not-so-distant ancestors as her guide, Dee McCaffrey casts new light on an age-old wisdom: Eating foods in their closest-to-natural form is the true path to sustained weight loss and, in fact, the remedy for almost any health problem. We are so far removed from foods in their natural state that we now call them “health foods,” a sad admission that we’ve compromised our health for the sake of convenience. The Science of Skinny aims to create a space for change--to educate and enlighten readers on the value of proper nutrition so that they can find a healthier and more life-affirming relationship with their bodies and the food they eat."

Under Construction...

The Dorito Effect

Honorable Mentions:

Sugar Nation - Sugar and Diabetes.

Sugar Crush - Sugar and Diabetic peripheral neuropathy.