Thursday, December 1, 2016

Blogging Break (Again)

Hello, dear readers!

I am going to take a blogging break.

(Yes, I know. Half of my blogging is taking blogging breaks.)

This time, I am going to take a big blogging break - by which I mean that I am not going to blog, and I am also going to shut down my blog reader (I will miss you, dear blogging sisters!).

My life for the past 15 years has been in two phases (1) a steep increase in internet use (I think most people my age experienced this), and (2) a gradual weaning from internet use. Unfortunately, step 2 is much harder than step 1 - and much more heartrending. One does get so attached.

I love the internet. I love blogging. I love all that I learn from you wonderful ladies out there. But the internet has the tendency to suck me in and leave me wondering where the last half-hour went... while my floors stayed dirty, dinner stayed unmade, and a stack of children's books went unread.

I want my family to remember a mother who was fully present - who read books to her children, baked cookies and pies, and kept a clean home. I don't want family memories of "My mom checked Facebook a lot" and "My mom stared at her phone all the time."

(I don't actually have a phone or a Facebook account, but the internet does still suck me in.)

And so... a break. This is part of my continuing journey. I don't know if I'll be gone two days, two weeks, two months, two years. One of those.

If I am gone longer, I will pop back in with baby news and also with my nausea and vomiting write-up for this pregnancy.

I will also continue to answer blog comments.

If anyone wishes to email me, do feel free to do so. I love keeping up with people, and am always available via email. I am also always available for prayer requests, so do let me know of your families' needs.

In the meantime, have a lovely, wonderful holiday season, and a very merry Christmas! My love to all of you!

(I should mention that the above is not meant in any way to disparage blogging. Some of you are incredibly gifted and are used of God for wonderful purposes. Keep it up.)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

When Lightning Gets Crazy

Here are those pictures/videos I promised!

One Friday this past July, my husband took the children out to the porch to watch a monsoon. A few minutes later they saw - actually saw! - lightning strike a palm tree in our neighborhood's common area. The tree caught fire immediately, from top to bottom.

My husband was on the phone with 911 within ten seconds. This video was taken about 2-3 minutes after the strike.

The second video, below, was taken just a minute or so later. The strong winds quickly spread the fire to surrounding trees, and within a matter of seconds we had a mini-firestorm on our hands. I have never seen a fire spread so quickly.

Thankfully the rains started almost immediately, which helped to slow the fire's spread. I don't know what would have happened without the rain, because this was one mean fire. Even with the rain the fire stayed intense, and our neighbors (directly behind the trees) sustained substantial minor damage from scorched car paint and burned patio furniture. Garden hoses did nothing to stem the blaze.

The fire department arrived about one minute after this video was taken.

We've been next to a lightning strike before, which was frightening, but being that it struck a metal carport, there was no fire. This was a completely different story! Yikes.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Making Pumpkin Pie Ahead of Time for Thanksgiving

This is so, so simple... I know I'm the last to hear about these tips. But just in case there's someone else like me out there, here is the easiest method ever for making pumpkin pie super-easy on Thanksgiving morning:

Monday: Make pie dough, form into discs, refrigerate.

Tuesday: Roll out pie dough, fit into pans, wrap in plastic, freeze.

Wednesday: Make pie filling, leave (uncooked) filling covered in the fridge.

Thursday: Preheat oven, grab out the crusts, pour in the filling, bake.

Pie in the oven in less than five minutes on Thanksgiving morning? Yes, please!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Briefly Breaking Radio Silence

Hi, everyone!

I wanted to check in quickly with you all. We are now at 24 weeks, a bit more than halfway through the pregnancy journey with our newest edition. After a miserable summer I am feeling much better. Still nauseated around the clock, and downright yucky in the evenings (and other bits and parts of the day), and still throwing up a couple of times a week, but infinitely better than July through September. Week 23 was especially a big week of improvement. I have begun doing a bit of cooking, am back at church, and am even taking the children to park days and field trips.

Life is wonderful.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that life in the aftermath of morning sickness is also quite stressful. Coming out of intense nausea, still struggling with constant nausea, and becoming aware of how badly everything - housework, routines, discipline - has deteriorated, can be rather overwhelming. But the incredible blessing of being free from intense round-the-clock nausea is also thrilling and exhilarating, and it makes me intensely thankful for every moment that I feel functional, and everything that I can do that I can't do while sick.)

Baby is checking out beautifully at our midwife appointments. I spent about a month absolutely convinced that baby was babies, i.e. twins, but baby is indeed solely in the singular tense.

Maybe next time. :)

(So I guess this means that I've lost any excuse for all the weight I'm gaining.)

I have finished assembling our birth kit and am moving into my usual post-20-weeks season of feverish spring cleaning (whenever the nausea allows). Good thing, because our home needs it after a summer of neglect!

The last half of pregnancy always goes by with incredible quickness. So much to do, so little time!

Highlights, good and bad, from this summer:

(1) Losing both of our cats - separate causes, six weeks apart. Total bummer.
(2) Health problems for my husband's mom.
(3) Various health problems for our family - most minor, thankfully most are improving.
(4) A crazy fire in our neighborhood caused by a lightning strike that my husband and the boys actually saw with their own eyes. Will post video later.
(5) First visit to our State Fair for my husband and the boys.
(6) First visit to a local lake. Considering how intimidating I find travel details, this is a major victory for me.

I'm spending my time working through the nausea, preparing for the holidays, cleaning up the mess that inevitably results when I'm down for a few months, and working on getting all of our schedule, routines, and school work back together after a summer-o'-morning-sickness. Perhaps I'll post on that subject sometime too.

I don't know that I'll be around often, but I will try to check in occasionally. I hope that each of you is having a wonderful fall!

A few pictures:

At the farm:

At the pumpkin patch:

This is called the "I can't BELIEVE we paid THAT MUCH for ONE PUMPKIN" trip. 

At the state fair:

At the lake:

I thought she'd be intimidated, but she ran straight from the van into the water.

Helping Daddy make popcorn for movie night:

Being crazy. With added mud. Mud always makes things better:

At our local chuckwagon cook-off:

Enjoying the camp fire


Our annual Pilgrim Thanksgiving feast:

Roast chicken, cornbread, mashed potatoes, succotash, Indian pudding, stewed pompion, cranberry sauce.
All (or most) recipes are courtesy of Story of the World, Book 3. 

I should have added some pictures from our second celebration of St. Martin's Day, but this year I totally forgot before it was too late. This year we added a nighttime lantern walk to the festivities.


And... Little Girl turns two!

This child cracks me up. Not only is she incredibly independent and strong-minded, but she has every bit of fluffy femininity that I never had as a child. Give her the chance, and she'll change her outfit every two minutes. Literally. She adores hats, gloves, shoes, hair accessories, and everything pink - all of the things that I, in childhood, rejected with all the temerity of a devoted tomboy. It seems I have some things to learn about girlhood in the years ahead!

I'm sure it will be good for me.

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summer, News, Etc.

At this time of year, the eyes of the nation turn toward one topic, and one topic only....

The 2016 Arizona homeschool convention! How was it???

Well, I'd love to tell you all.

But the truth is that I don't know. We skipped it.

Yup, that's right. After we'd made our plans, arranged for childcare, and purchased our non-refundable, non-transferable tickets for my absolute favorite event of the entire year, we decided at the last minute to ditch the whole thing and stay home


The furiously thinking reader has now probably reached the truth of the situation, knowing that very little less than a herd of rabid crocodiles will keep me from the AFHE homeschool convention....

That's right! Two pink lines, the news of which reached us the last day of June, meaning that by the time the conference rolled around, I was too busy doing my dying slug imitation to even think about being an eager conference-goer. (Still am, actually.)

However, we are very grateful, and very excited. We are a few short weeks short of finishing our first trimester, and we heard baby's sweet heartbeat yesterday. (Yay!)

I will post a nausea-and-vomiting update soon for those of you who are here for that purpose (soon = within the next few years). I can tell you (spoiler!) that although it's been an absolutely miserable summer, this pregnancy has stayed non-hyperemetic. (*Loud songs of thanksgiving!*)

In the meantime, I probably won't be around too often. Maybe in another few months?

I hope that each of you has had a lovely summer, and that your school years are starting smoothly. Love to you all!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Entering a New Millennium!

And I'm finally here...

This is my 1000th post!

I've been blogging since 2008, so that's roughly 125 posts - or thereabouts - per year. It looks like my posting frequency peaked in 2011-2013 - and this year, 2016, has been miserable, posting-frequency-wise (halfway through the year I'm at 28 posts).

I've decided - tentatively - that I can keep blogging, assuming that I can accept one caveat - that I'm okay with not blogging.

In other words, if I can be at peace with the (very frequent, very long) times in which the blog is silent, and can accept that I can only post very infrequently, then I can keep going.

Learning to chill out is the key - never easy for an always-stressed person like myself.

But that's the goal!

In the meantime, here's to the next 1000 posts! I'm looking forward to sharing with you all.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In Which... I Go Shopping!

I am not a shopper... except at one time of year, and this is it!

Used homeschool curriculum sale time!

Due to stomach bugs and various life events, I only made one sale this year. But it was the best! As usual, I found nothing for which I was looking, but came home with lots of great things anyway.

At used curriculum sales, I face a couple of challenges:

(1) Being overwhelmed by the sheer volume, and by the voice in my head that says, "Hurry, you're going to miss something you should have bought!"

(2) Seeing something that I want but needing to pass it up because it's over-priced. This happens fairly often.

(3) Seeing something that I want but needing to pass it up because the physical quality of the book isn't going to meet our needs (i.e. yellowed paperback books, falling-apart hardbacks, etc.).

Despite that, I enjoyed my time thoroughly and am sorry it's over till next year!

Here they my finds!

For ME: I especially need the selection on the bottom left.

Missionary Biographies - I'm especially excited about the titles from "Christian Heroes Then and Now" (top left, bottom right). We are currently reading their book about Gladys Aylward, and the children love it.

Classics and History Readers - I adore the Eyewitness Classics series (top left and bottom right) and was thrilled to find two more. "The Yearling" and "Pollyanna" are classics that I want to have in our library. (I am currently working to build a solid library for our family of good-quality classics for children and young adults.)

For Young Children:


Okay, this one is admittedly one I should have checked out before buying. It's a great book, but it takes human reproduction further than I would have liked. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with this one.


And there you have it! A very successful day, and a very enjoyable one. Not only did I find lots of delicious books, but I met up with lots of local homeschoolers and got to chat - always so much fun.

And next time... I'll be there at the very beginning so that I can snag even more!

(Books are the only area in which my minimalist frenzy is in severe remission.)

Happy shopping for those of you heading in the same direction this time of year!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Very-Low-Carb Diet: Jumping Ship

I owe you all this update, so here goes!

 I will keep it brief.

I have long been in pursuit of dietary methods of pre-conception healing that will aid in the prevention of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), also known as extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.

I ran across one promising line of thought, the very low carbohydrate (VLC) diet, and used it successfully (in combination with the probiotic approach) in the prevention of HG. I went from out-of-control nausea and vomiting, controlled only by high doses of powerful drugs (Zofran), to a pregnancy in which I didn't even throw up once. (Except during labor, but that's another story.)

You can read all about my use of the VLC diet here.

(I should also note that I experienced additional health benefits from the VLC diet in addition to avoiding HG, for example: (1) healing of seasonal allergies, and (2) the remission of my persistent postpartum nausea. I have also seen VLC/ketogenic diets used with rousing success in other cases where extreme healing was needed, such as in the treatment of neurological disorders and with autoimmune diseases.)

My plan was that - after some serious post-partum diet fudging - I would simply go back on the VLC diet and stay there through my fertile years. That seemed only sensible, considering how successful it had been in preventing recurrent HG.

But there was one problem.

Namely that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make it work.

First came the procrastination. As the postpartum weeks crept past, I kept making bargains with myself. Just one more week. Then I'll restart the diet. Okay, one more week. And... how about another three months or so? 

And when I finally did get started, I couldn't stick with it longer than 72 hours, regardless of how many times I tried.

Here are the problems I ran into this time with the VLC diet, with some brief details:

(1) Boredom

Boring? As opposed to recurrent hyperemesis gravidarum? You've got to be kidding me. 

I know, this is minor.

But it's very, very difficult to keep going on a diet that is mostly meat and green vegetables. Severe boredom sets in. I couldn't muster any enthusiasm, and everything tasted bland and boring.

(2) Constant Hunger

I could not feel satisfied when eating. I could eat to the point of feeling physically uncomfortable, and still feel hungry and unsatisfied. As (I believe) Stefani Ruper says, carbs are part of satiety as well as fats. I found this out by experience.

(3) Carb Cravings

As in, I can't think about anything other than grabbing the nearest carbohydrate and chewing on it.
Man on the street: Can you tell me the way to the airport?
Me: Why yes, yes, I would like dessert.
Man on the street: The airport?
Me: Bananas! Oatmeal! Cornbread! Yes!!!

(4) Unsustainability

I simply could not make this diet work past the 72 hour mark. Inevitably, by that time I was so desperate for carbs that I was chewing on any carbohydrate in sight, usually including massive amounts of white sugar.

In case y'all are coming to the conclusion that I'm a lazy, good-for-nothing diet bum, I can say in my defense that I did go nearly an entire year absolutely carb-free. Yes, not just just sugar free, but carb free. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

But this time, I couldn't make it work.

(The fact that I am under a massive amount of life-and-raising-children stress has made keeping up the VLC diet doubly difficult.)

(5) Stalled Weight Loss

This time around, I didn't lose any weight at all.

And you're probably thinking, "Well, if you're going on sugar binges every three days, no kidding."


But I can also say that even in my carb-free year, I only lost an additional 10 pounds and never got lower than twenty pounds above my ideal weight.


Despite all of the above, I kept trying for many months. But finally, I gave up.

I just couldn't do it any more.

There are two possibilities:

(1) I am a lazy bum.

(2) Being on the VLC diet long-term was harmful to my body, and my body stepped in and physically prevented my staying on the diet. (Rather like how one can hold one's breath for a while, but eventually, one's body will force one to begin breathing again.)

Honestly, I'm open to either possibility.


So where did I go from there?

I decided to join up with Trim Healthy Mama, a program that I have admired from afar for months.

I hope to post my review of the THM system soon. But in short, the THM program can be summarized thus:

Snacks and meals are either E (protein + carbs) or S (protein + fat).

Thus, the THM system separates macronutrients, but it doesn't villify any of them. Carbs, fats, and proteins are all good - just in the right combination.

And I love it.

I can feel full again. I can have carbs again. Food is interesting. Life is good.


(Though I do cheat, like the delectable piece of lemon meringue pie that I just had for Easter dessert. If you're wondering why I'm having Easter dessert at this time of year, I will just say that it's been that kind of year.)

I've also added back foods that are low-carb but not very-low-carb. Examples: cottage cheese, plain yogurt, berries.


The mind-numbing fear that has resurfaced, of course, is the fear of recurrent hyperemesis. The VLC was a guarantee, of sorts. In giving up the VLC diet, I relinquished that guarantee.

There are several possibilities:

(1) The VLC diet has healed my body, and that healing effect will (in combination with the other pre-conception therapies I utilize) prevent future hyperemesis.

(2) I am going to pay. Horribly. (i.e. Repeat hyperemesis, here I come.)

I hope for #1, but it's #2 that keeps me up at night.

Right now I'm a confused mess. But I am forging ahead with (1) Trim Healthy Mama, and (2) my other pre-conception routines, such as the probiotic method and magnesium supplementation.

As to the outcome of this mystery?

Time will tell.

Most likely, time will tell very soon.

And I will let you know what happens.


At this point, most readers are of one of two minds:
  1. She's showing some sense at last.
  2. She really is a complete idiot.
I would agree with both.

And there you have it.

Dear readers, I would welcome your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

May 2016 Hodgepodge

May was an interesting month!

Here were some of its challenges and surprises:

New Van: This was a complete surprise to all of us. We went from "hear of a van for sale" to "okay, time to drive it home" in under 36 hours.

Freeway Accident: What happened when the aforementioned van burst a tire on the freeway, ripping off our driver-side mirror (and other parts of unknown nomenclature). We were all thankful for the Lord's protection during this time!

Stomach Viruses: Two of them, two weeks apart. The lucky family member who came down with both of them was... Yours Truly. With as much time as I've spent nauseated and throwing up this month, it's just like being pregnant. But without the cute baby at the end.

*   *   *

Now, enough negativity! Here are some of the random wonderful things we've done, enjoyed, and loved over the past month:

Jules Verne: The boys are enjoying the abridged versions of "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Around the World in 80 Days," and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." My husband is enjoying introducing them to the movie versions (the older classics), which were his favorite boyhood films.

YouTube for Homeschooling: I am using short YouTube videos for hymn study, classical music appreciation, history studies, and memory work. Here are a few videos we've enjoyed lately:

Latin and Memoria Press: Prima Latina is our first curriculum from Memoria Press, and I love it. Excellent quality in every way! I'm now interested in checking out their other curriculum options when they exhibit at our upcoming homeschool convention in July.

Christian Light Reading Curriculum: Another curriculum WIN! This is an excellent curriculum that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Melendy Quartet Book Series: "The Four-Story Mistake" was a complete hit with the 9yo, and we are moving on to "And Then There Were Five." I am very much enjoying sharing one of my childhood favorites with my children.

Amazon Prime: My husband gets a discounted membership through his employer, and we finally caved and tried it. Oh, my goodness. THIS is what I've needed. While I understand the "shop local" idea and support it, I am the type who - if I have to go out running errands to get a certain item - will simply never get around to getting it. Ever. This way, I finally am able to get some of the items we've been desperately needing. (Like a pencil sharpener. Mmmmm.)

Trim Healthy Mama: Love the recipes! Yum! (Have I lost any weight? Um, well, let's not talk about that part of it.)

The Dust Bowl: Our first state study of the year was Oklahoma, and we were immediately captivated by the Dust Bowl and the Okie migration. Fascinating material! See the "Dust Bowl Blues" video above.

El Pinatero: A book that was a huge hit with our children while passing through the subject of the fight for Mexican Independence.

Reading: Some of my own favorites recently have included:

  • Amos Fortune, Free Man
    • Loved this.
  • Little Women
    • I used to find this book incredibly annoying. In some ways, I still do. But I am captivated by the gentleness and love of the mother-daughter bond portrayed in this book, and it is an amazing relationship to emulate.
  • Mountain Born 
    • I can't believe I missed out on this awesome book when I was a child!
  • Evolution's Achilles Heels
    • Probably the best refutation of macroevolution that I've read. Highly recommended. It is rather technical - a background in genetics or at least general science will help.
  • The Door in the Wall
    • Another lovely choice. So well-written!
  • Adam of the Road
    • I loved this book!
  • Elements of Style
    • Another book that makes me realize how embarrassingly bad my education in English grammar was. Oh, dear.

Assigned Reading: Last year I told the 9yo, "Read anything from this (history) shelf!" This year I moved on to a specific reading list. I was nervous about this, but it's been a huge success and he is reading voraciously - both in "fun reading" and history reading.

"The Three Musketeers": This book caught the children's fancy, and they have played musketeers endlessly these past two months. My husband is enjoying sharing the Gene Kelly film with them, and they adore it. (Why they like it, I don't know, but I think it's a guy thing.)

Carpet Cleaning: It only took me six years, but I finally got around to this. Anything that involves picking up the phone or otherwise making an appointment is hugely intimidating for me, so this is a huge triumph! Now I'm ready to dive into a bunch of organizational and decluttering projects inspired by the furniture moving. For locals: We highly recommend Revolution Carpet Cleaning.

Abridged Classics for Children: I have always steered clear of these - academic snobbery, I think. But I have come to realize that abridged classics familiarize children with character, setting, and plot - so that in another four years or so, when they'll be ready for the real thing, they will already have a semblance of familiarity with the work. The 9yo has devoured "Frankenstein," "The Three Musketeers," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," and others.

Working Together: This year I gave myself the assignment of completing for myself all of the science, history, literature, nature, and Latin assignments that I gave the 9yo - so that he could have someone working alongside him. It has been a grand success, and I'm enjoying the work.

Vision Collision Auto Body Paint and Repair: The repair shop to whom we owe our new van's snazzy new look! Locals, definitely check out this company if you need auto body work in the Phoenix Valley. We highly recommend this team.

Mom Delights: Formerly Large Family Mothering, this blog by a mom-to-15 is absolutely awesome. Definitely check out her amazing wisdom. I enjoy each of her posts greatly. 

As of Friday, we'll be one-sixth of the way done with our homeschool year. Wow, how the time is flying!

We're heading into our busy-busy-birthday-season, and also looking forward very much to next month's homeschool convention. 

Dear readers, I hope that you all are having a lovely summer!

(P.S. I am breaking one of my cardinal blogging rules - that is, I am writing a new post before answering the comments on the last post. I beg everyone's forgiveness, and will do my best to get that done soon.)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

First Month of School

As of Friday, we'll have finished our first month of the 2016-2017 school year. One-ninth of our work for the year done, just like that!

I can't believe how quickly it passes.

I kept busy getting ready for school up until the very last minute before school started. Is that crazy, or what? I don't even do much lesson-planning ahead of time. But ordering curriculum, tracking down used curriculum, ordering library books, cleaning out supplies and buying new, making checklists and updating documents - wow. It really took the whole summer!

(The bags in the background are books that a sweet friend dropped off for me - about two months ago! Maybe sometime I'll actually get around to putting them away. For the present, they make awesome tablecloth-weights - and sign supports! And when I get the chance to eat by myself, I simply dip into a bag and pull out a book. Mmm, modern luxuries.)

Latin is going well, as is our new reading curriculum. I'm already looking forward to next year's curriculum purchases and plans! It's amazing how fast the year goes and how far my mind immediately extrapolates for curriculum plans.

I'm still unsure if I'm going to continue blogging - maybe yes, maybe no, maybe somewhere in between. Lots of prayer still needed.

Maybe I'll just write a book. I've had a topic in mind for years. (Others have already written on the subject, but I'd love to try my hand at it.)

(Gee, since I don't even have time for blogging, I certainly have time to write a book. Oh, the logic. I'm overwhelming myself here.)

In the meantime, here's to the new school year!

Have a wonderful summer, dear friends!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Beginning our 2016-2017 School Year

It's that time of year again - our 2016-2017 school year starts on Monday!

I'm excited. And nervous. And somewhat exhausted even thinking about it. But still excited.

It's going to be a big year.

Besides our usual school schedule, which will be our first full year with daddy working outside the home AND with the baby no longer taking a morning nap AND with adding three (four?) new subjects (Latin, yay!), it's going to be a full year:

  • We will be dealing with medical, dental, and behavior issues with our baby with special needs. 
  • We will be continuing our work with a special diet for our baby with special needs - right now we're on Intro GAPS.
  • We will be dealing with dental issues for my husband. 
  • I am in full-time pregnancy preparation mode, which means lots of supplements and routines.
  • We will be completing our transition to a gluten-free household. We've been messing around with this for about five years, but it's time to go hard-core. It makes me beyond frustrated that a wonderful God-given food has been transformed into a substance which is poisonous for a huge proportion of the population, and we have been dealing with this for too many years.

Additionally, if history repeats itself, there's a good chance that the Lord will bless our family with a new little one over the course of the following year. If that is the case, then we'll deal with all of the attendant nausea, etc., at the same time. 

From my current vantage point, the thought of a new pregnancy is overwhelming. Right now I am just tired, tired, tired. And so incredibly busy. All day, every day. There is just so much to do, and the work just doesn't stop. Ever. The idea of adding astounding levels of fatigue and nausea to that is somewhat overwhelming. 

But I'm also overjoyed at the thought of a new little one, and we will be thrilled if and when our number grows again. (Maybe we could just skip the whole nausea-exhaustion bit this time.)

In the middle of all this, I'm not sure what to do about blogging. I am actually toying with the idea of quitting (for now).

You see, I don't have time to write right now. But an unattended blog is not just an unattended blog. It's a constant source of both temptation (to blog when I should be doing something else) and frustration (of articles written mentally which I do not have time to write physically). It's a constant source of stress. 

Additionally, there are a couple of other things about blogging that bother me:

Point #1

Blogging (or any other computer work) seems to be a signal for my children to misbehave. As in, within 30 seconds of my starting to write. Case in point, the 4yo started a crying fit about six paragraphs ago, just after I started to write this post. Right now I'm ignoring him and letting daddy take over, but this is not an isolated incident. Whatever evil lurks in the heart of my children receives a big go-ahead as soon as I sit down at the computer. 

Point #2

Blogging is a joy to my heart. But it's not necessarily always a big benefit to my family, and it can cause me to neglect those hobbies which do indeed benefit my family. If I'm making time for blogging but not playing the piano for the family (a substitution which happens often), then I think my priorities are out of place. 

Point #3

I am nearing my 1000th post on this blog. But you know what? My best posts are still in the Drafts folder. For some reason, whenever I write a really good post, especially about a subject that moves me deeply, I never feel comfortable publishing it. Is this because I simply shy away from being so openly vulnerable in such a public place? Or is it because I am a coward and can't take the push-back that comes when I publish my opinions on controversial subjects? I believe it's both. (I know it's definitely the latter.)

Point #4

Blogging is a time-eater. It's just so much fun, that time slips away unnoticed. This can be a serious annoyance to my husband, who needs my help and mindful (as opposed to zoned out) companionship.

Another case in point, my husband just walked up and said, "Hey, I thought you were going to stop blogging!" 

Well, I am. Sort of. I'm blogging about not blogging. 

But my husband knows well the trial of trying to pry me off of the computer when I'm in "Stop everything, I have to blog!" mode. 

Anyhow, no answers right now. I still have (lots of) posts in draft form that I need to publish if I can ever get around to it. But as for real blogging... I still have to think and pray about it. Either way, I probably won't be around much!

In the meantime, Happy Easter, Happy Spring, and Happy Back-to-School to you all!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2016-2017

We are now three weeks away from starting our 2016-2017 school year, and here are our curriculum choices for the coming year!

Because I am somewhat short on time, I have copied and pasted last year's post into the space below and will simply change what has changed (which is a lot!). I will include brief reviews of the curriculum we used this year.

In the box is the quick-and-easy run-down of next year's curriculum choices, and further down are the details.

Enjoy! Feel free to leave comments and questions!

~ Fourth Grade Curriculum ~

  Family Time (see notes) - Bible, Bible memory, catechism, prayer, safety skills, manners, missionary biographies, poetry, 
  poetry memory, skills training.

       Daily Reading
       Possibly Christian Light Bible, Grade 3. 

       Grammar, Penmanship, Spelling:
            Christian Light Language Arts, Grade 3
            Christian Light Reading, Grade 4
            McGuffey Readers, Grade 3 and 4
            Notebooking with history, science, literature

       Prima Latina

      Christian Light Math, Grade 4

      Christian Light Science, Grade 4

       Daily read-alouds 
       Personal reading, 30 minutes per day
       Poetry - readings and memory pieces

  History and Geography: 
       Cantering the Country, Year 2 of 2
       Story of the World, Years 3 and 4
       Maps Book D

       Lessons and practice

       "The Painter and the Father" series study
       Draw Write Now, Book 1
       Arts and crafts

       Typing Instructor program

  Field Trips, Group Activities, Etc. 
       Park days and field trips with three homeschool groups
       Contenders for the Faith Club

Family Time
Our morning couch time involving all of the children. This includes:

Daily activities
  • Bible reading - Usually a chapter a day from a book of the Bible (chosen by Daddy).
  • Bible memory - One verse per week. 
  • Prayer - We have a list of people and issues to pray for, and we cycle through that list. 
  • Poetry - We read a couple of pages from whichever book we've selected. The children love this - it's usually a struggle to move on!
  • Poetry memory - This was new last year, and a huge hit. We plan to continue this year.
  • Catechism - One per week. We use the Catechism for Young Children
  • Character Books - This year we'll begin with one of the Miller books.
  • Included weekly - Manners and safety skills (including personal safety).

  • Individual study - The 9yo is assigned to read either one chapter or ten minutes worth of study. This has worked well over the past year, so we're continuing.
  • I'm considering Christian Light's Bible Light Units, which we will look at during the homeschool convention in July. If we go with this, we will probably start with Grade 3, as Grade 4 is a continuation of the New Testament study begun in Grade 3. 

English (penmanship, spelling, grammar, reading, composition)

Grammar, Penmanship, Spelling
  • Christian Light Language Arts, Grade 3 - We decided last year to begin language arts a grade behind, and this was a good decision. At some point we will begin the catching-up process, but for now, it's a good plan. The 9yo's skills are developing without undue frustration, as would have happened had we insisted at staying on grade level.
  • McGuffey's Eclectic Readers, Grades 3 and 4 - Last year we chose random books for reading practice, but this inevitably resulted in arguments over book difficulty (I wanted harder, he wanted easier) and selection length (I wanted longer, he wanted shorter). The McGuffey Readers are a great choice because the material is at grade-level and all of the selection are a perfect length for reading aloud (we usually alternate sentences or paragraphs). My only complaint is that the books are insufferably corny, but I can live with that. 
  • Christian Light Reading, Grade 4 - We're also adding this in. Have I mentioned how much I adore Christian Light?
  • Copied narrations from Story of the World history lessons.
  • Notebooking assignments for science and literature. 

  • Prima Latina by Memoria Press - Very excited about this! 

  • Christian Light Math, Grade 4 - Grade 3 was a huge success, and I am excited about moving into our third year of CLE math. CLE has just introduced a textbook approach for their fourth grade math (nice timing!), and we are excited about trying this, as the initially higher investment will enable us to reuse the material for later students (the consumable Lightunits edition is still available).


  • Daily read-alouds
  • 30 minutes individual reading per day - I am planning to alternate assigned books with free choice books. 
  • Poetry - Daily readings during family time. 

History and Geography
  • Map Skills -  We will continue with "The Complete Book of Maps and Geography, Grades 3-8"
  • Cantering the Country - I have decided to alternate two years of Galloping the Globe (country studies) with two years of Cantering the Country (state studies). This will be our second year of Cantering the Country.
    • I hope to post a quick review of CTC and GTG soon. Look for it! 
  • Story of the World - We will continue with the end of Year 3 (Late Renaissance to Early Moderns) and into Year 4 (1850 to present). 

  • Lessons and practice - Last year we had a great start with Hoffman which quickly petered out into nothing, mainly due to my lack of diligence. This year we are starting again, and I will pick a traditional curriculum and teach him myself. I can't say I'm thrilled about adding something else onto my to-do list, but we do not have the money for paid lessons and I've procrastinated, oh, five years or so past when I should have. Onward and upward! 

  • "The Painter and the Father" - This is a collection of paintings in one volume which will save me considerable time in chasing down paintings in library books from other picture lists. 
  • Draw Write Now, Book 1 - An easy way to incorporate art into our home education program. This is a new pick for us. 
  • Seasonal arts and crafts. 

  • Typing Instructor - Thankfully the 9yo loves this and considers it a treat, so I don't even have to schedule it into our lessons schedule. It happens on its own! 

Clubs and Groups

Fellowship Groups
We belong to three homeschool groups:
  • A large homeschool group, which offers a monthly park day, a monthly field trip, a monthly moms' night out, and a great email group.
  • A smaller homeschool group which offers twice-monthly park days, a monthly field trip, and holiday events.
  • A homeschool group through our church which offers weekly park days. 

We try to attend nearly all of the events offered (except the expensive ones!).

The Not-Happening Category
This year we will not cover formal P.E. This comes under the "send them outside, and it happens naturally" category.


I am always interested in cost analysis, so here is the approximate price tag for this year:

Purchase from Christian Light (textbooks, workbooks, teacher guides, answer keys, readers, etc.)
    = $205
I could save money by buying used, but I am slowly learning that I usually end up the loser in such situations, inevitably finding that I have purchased the wrong edition. For now, buying new saves time and money.
Purchase from Home Science (for science experiment kit)
    = $55

Purchase from Modern Curriculum Press (for Latin)
    = $30

Purchase from a friend (Draw Write Now book)
    = $5

Purchase from Peace Hill Press (Story of the World, Year 4, student pages pdf - I was already given the text and activity guide for free from a friend)
    = $10

Purchase from a local music store, anticipated (for piano theory and lesson books)
    = $20

Purchase from Walmart for school supplies, anticipated (I purchase most of our school supplies in July for the following year, when supplies are on sale, so our purchases right now will be minor)
    = $10

This doesn't cover other fees, such as:

  • Library fines (thankfully rare)
  • Used curriculum/literature costs at sales in May and June
  • Purchases at the homeschool convention
  • School supply purchases in July when they're on sale
  • Field trip fees
  • Club fees
  • All of the etceteras

Thus, we spent about $350 on official curriculum purchases for 2015-2016, and will likely spend lots more over the year. However, I'm also hoping to build up a slow supply of reusable curriculum, so hopefully after a few years of increasing purchases, our costs will stabilize or perhaps decrease. (Ha!)


Dear readers, I can't wait to see your curriculum plans! Feel free to leave comments and questions!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Snippets and Tidbits - Going on Leave

I had an enormous "Snippets and Tidbits" post to share with you all. It was so gigantic, as a matter of fact, because I simply didn't have the time to finish it - so I kept on adding article links, recipe links, and book links - without having the time to add pictures and write down my own notes to go with the links.

As the post grew to mammoth size - and I still couldn't finish it - I finally had to admit the sad truth.

I just don't have time for this right now.

Like it or not, the time is just not there. Life is too crazy, and my workload right now is just too much. I'd tell you all about it, but... I don't have time. (Not having time to write about why I don't have time. Funny, that.)

And so I ended up deleting the entire post (*sob*) and forcibly putting myself on "Snippets and Tidbits" sabbatical - for at least three months, possibly permanently.

I adore sharing links for articles, blog posts, recipes, and books. I'm just like that. When I find something I love, my immediate reaction is to share it with everyone I know. That is, in fact, what has been hardest about leaving Facebook - not getting to share fun things with friends.

But the fact remains that there just is no time. And while I occasionally can pen a short blog post, I don't have the extra time or energy for a regular feature that is quite labor-intensive to put together.

And that's that!

But to appease my insatiable appetite for sharing thigns, I may just tag random links on to other posts, just to keep my hand in.

Like this one!

Accepting Children with a Grateful Heart @ Children Are a Blessing - It's good! Go read it!

And this one!

Sorry. Lost control of myself for a minute. (*deep breathing*)

But I'm going to try to keep it to a minimum. If I don't, y'all can reach out through the internet and slap me silly.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Case Study: Morning Sickness After Baby's Birth

I have recently began to compile a small-but-growing list of morning sickness (NVP) coping tips under a new side bar on this blog. Check it out, and let me know if you know of any great online lists to add!

One of the lists is Morning Sickness Survival Tips from Sara Elizabeth at A Mama's Story.

As an interesting side note, Sara is one of those rare ladies who experienced continuing full-blown NVP (nausea and vomiting of pregnancy) after the birth of her baby. (See this blog for a documented case of post-birth HG.) Scroll down to the end of the post to read her story, from which I quote here:
"My fifth pregnancy was worse. I was sick in the beginning and lost a good bit of weight. Then around halfway through my pregnancy, nausea and vomiting returned.  As for the baby, he was fine, healthy, and was my biggest. After the birth, I continued being sick, the entire 1/2 inch of my hairline fell out, as well as other patches, and my chemistry lab was “indicative of someone with an eating disorder.” By the time he was 3 months old, I was in a size zero–way too thin for my height.
"Looking back, I believe Diastasis Recti played a part in my continuing sickness; but I was too stubborn. During the pregnancy, I felt I was doing my duty by avoiding the “big guns.” By my final month, I came to grips with reality and talked to the CNM about medicine, since not eating or drinking as I should wasn’t good for either of us. While I think there was a physical issue that led to the symptoms, I believe I went too long. After working as hard as it could for the baby, my body simply collapsed after the birth. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve talked to her sooner."

I am always fascinated by these rare but very real cases of post-birth NVP. (I too experienced nausea that continued for quite some time - that is, about two years - after baby's birth, though I did not experience full-strength post-birth NVP.) There simply isn't a lot (or anything, really) in the medical knowledge-base about this condition, but I have heard it mentioned by many severe-NVP mamas.

I echo the sentiment that NVP/HG can have severe, long-lasting consequences on a mama's body, especially when it is gets of out of control. I have experienced this. Competent and sympathetic management are so crucial to dealing with this nasty condition.

Thanks to Sara for sharing this post about her experiences!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Trim Healthy Mama for Morning Sickness Management?

As I have traveled further into the Trim Healthy Mama world, I have asked the question that I ask of pretty much everything:

It may be great, but does it help with morning sickness?

The answer appears to be yes, at least in some cases.

While I don't have much data from HG mamas, I have seen several mothers reference using the THM system during pregnancy with substantially better NVP management.

Here are a few to check out:

(See Tip #5)

THM Pregnancy Tips @ Mrs. Criddle's Kitchen

My guess is that any diet that helps with blood sugar regulation will be a big plus for morning sickness management. That's no guarantee with HG, but it's something to look into.

Thoughts, dear readers?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Homeschool Read-Alouds 2015-2016

I have just finished typing up our list of read-alouds for the 2015-2016 school year, and wanted to share it with you all!

Of course, this begs the question - what exactly is a read-aloud? I usually list only "longer" books in our read-aloud list, but there's a cloudy dividing line between short books (of which we read many) and longer books that we count as read-alouds. In general, I have counted something as a "read-aloud" for our list if it took three or more days to read. Shorter books were recorded elsewhere under lists made for specific areas of study (state studies, history studies, science studies, etc.).

These are also books that were read aloud as a family, not counting individually read books. Just family-time read-alouds.

With all that out of the way, here is our list for this past school year. Feel free to post any questions!

Read-Aloud Record
2015-2016 School Year

The Box Car Children – “The Black Pearl Mystery”
The Box Car Children – “The Black Pearl Mystery”
The Box Car Children – “The Chocolate Sundae Mystery”
The Box Car Children – “The Mystery of the Yellow House”

“Caddie Woodlawn” (Brink)
“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (Lewis)
“The Bears on Hemlock Mountain” (Dagliesh)
“Ellie” (Borntrager)
“The Silver Chair” (Lewis)
“Booker T. Washington: Leader and Educator” (McKissack)
“Stuart Little” (White)
“The Horse and His Boy” (Lewis)
Hardy Boys #2 – “The Cliff House mystery” (Dixon)
“The McElderberry Book of Greek Myths” (McElderberry)
“What Was the Alamo?” (Belviso)
“Robinson Crusoe” (abridged, Usborne)
“Robinson Crusoe” (abridged, Classic Starts)
“Anna, Grandpa, and the Big Snow” (Stevens)
“Traitor in the Tower” (Jackson)
“The Long Winter” (Wilder)
“What Was the First Thanksgiving?” (Holub)
“The Courage of Sarah Noble” (Dagliesh)
“Wisdom and the Millers” (Martin)
“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (abridged, Eyewitness Classics)
“Anne of Green Gables” (Montgomery)
“Living Wild: Wild Horses” (Gish)
“The Sign of the Beaver” (Speare)
“Finding Providence: The Story of Roger Williams” (Avi)
“A Treasury of Turkish Folktales (Walker, partial)
“Peter the Great”
“E is for Enchantment: A New Mexico Alphabet”
“Don Quixote and Sancho Panza” (abridged, partial)
“Toliver’s Secret” (Brady)
“Kit Carson, Mountain Man”
“The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” (Pyle, in progress)
“The Children of China” (Zhang, partial)
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Moses, abridged)
“Growing Seasons” (Splear)
“More Stories from Grandma’s Attic” (Richardson)

“What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?” (Fritz)
 “Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?” (Fritz)
“Ssh! We’re Writing the Constitution” (Fritz)
“And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?” (Fritz)
“Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?” (Fritz)
“Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?” (Fritz)

“Ben and Me” (Lawson)
“The American Revolution” (partial)
“George Washington’s Spy” (Woodruff)
 “Eddie and Gardenia” (Haywood)
“Little House in the Big Woods” (Wilder)
“Meet Kirsten” (American Girl)
“Kirsten’s Surprise” (American Girl)

 “A Walk in the Desert” (Johnson)
“A Walk in the Boreal Forest” (Johnson)
“A Walk in the Tundra” (Johnson)
“A Walk in the Prairie” (Johnson)
“A Walk in the Rain Forest” (Johnson)

“Shane” (in progress)
“The Bounces of Cynthiann” (Lampman)
“High Tide in Hawaii” (Magic Tree House #28, Osborne)
“The Raft” (LaMarche)
“Father Damien”
“Lydia and the Island Kingdom” (Holub)
“Kirsten Learns a Lesson” (American Girl)
“What Was Pearl Hartor?” (Demuth)
“What Was Pearl Hartor?” (Demuth)
“A is for Aloha: A Hawaii Alphabet”
“Five Children and It” (E. Nesbitt, in progress)
“Phoebe the Spy” (Tomes)
“A Prairie Boy’s Winter” (Kurelek)
"Thomas Jefferson: A Day at Monticello (in progress)

Poetry Books
“Mice Are Nice” (comp. Nancy Larrick)
“Nasty Bugs” (comp. Lee Bennett Hopkins)
“Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold” (Joyce Sidman)
“Wagons West” (Roy Gerard)
“Side by Side: Poems to Read Together (comp. Lee Bennett Hopkins)
“Where Fish Go in Winter” (Amy Koss)
“One Year in a River Valley: Snow Toward Evening” (Collection)
“My Dog Does My Homework” (Collection
“Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast” (Prelutzsky)
“Little Monster’s Bedtime Book” (Mercer Meyer)
“Hypnotize a Tiger” (Calef Brown)
“Dozer, Digger, Dumper” (Hope Vestergaard)
“Firefighter’s Night Before Christmas”
“Hailstones and Halibut Bones” (Mary O’Neill)
“Snow, Snow: Winter Poems for Children” (Jane Yolen)
“A Visit to William Blake’s Inn” (Alice and Martin Provensen)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Article: "Magnesium and My Morning Sickness"

Amy at Raising Arrows recently shared wonderful news that their newest little one is on his or her way! (Congratulations!) Amy uses pre-conception magnesium supplementation as part of her pregnancy preparation and severe-NVP-prevention plan, and in her latest post she shares how her magnesium protocol is working out in her latest pregnancy.

Head on over and check it out! 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Year of Homeschooling in One Post!

The 2015-2016 school year (finished last week) completes our fifth year of home education.


I have so much yet to learn, but I've learned so much.

And while I know all too well my failures, weaknesses, and areas of needed improvement (let's not get started), I no longer feel as a foreigner in a foreign land.

Instead, I feel at home. And that's a good place to be.

Here are a few highlights, memories, and random notes from our school year, now ended!

Homeschool Memories

 May 2015 through March 2016

Not-Back-to-School Party, May 2015:


In history studies...

This year we started our first chronological study of history using Story of the World, Year 3.

This was a huge success!

We love Story of the World, and it is a major keeper for our family. We made it through 32 of 42 chapters, which is remarkable considering that we started the program almost a third of the way through our school year. When we begin our 2016-2017 school year in May, we will continue through book 3 and then into book 4.

I am beginning to think that I will use a five- or six-year rotation with Story of the World rather than a four-year rotation. (To keep up with a four-year rotation, one has either to squeeze in extra history lessons or skip some to keep up.)

Our major history success of the year was the two months we spent studying the American Revolution. Wowza, this was a favorite. We had so much fun.

(Story of the World devotes two chapters - that is, two weeks - to the American Revolution and the writing of the Constitution. We used our Christmas break to stretch it out to eight weeks in order to fully enjoy studying this time period. There's just too much good stuff for only two weeks.)

Reenacting the Boston Tea Party. For two straight hours. 

Here are a few books on the American Revolution that we loved (some are for younger readers, some are for older children, some were for adults):

  • The Jean Fritz Revolution series
  • "George Washington's Spy"
  • "King George: What Was His Problem?"
  • "One Dead Spy"
  • "Toliver's Secret"
  • "Johnny Tremain"
  • "The Notorious Benedict Arnold"
  • "Ben and Me"
  • "The Education of George Washington"
  • "Guns for General Washington"

The boys had a wonderful time recently attending the Phoenix Liberty Festival as a closing activity for their studies. They got to drill with the soldiers, fight in a mock battle (and watch other battles reenacted), help with a mock amputation, and spend time hanging out with the soldiers on both sides.

Other history topics that caught our fancy this year were...

Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving!

Indian cornbread, turkey, potatoes, succotash, stewed pompion. (All recipes courtesy of SOTW Year 3 Activity Guide!)

Guy Fawkes Day - Parkin Cake (really good!) and a really badly constructed bonfire.

Yeah. Gotta work on our bonfire skills for next year.

St. Martin's Day Celebration!

The Plague Year of London - I so enjoyed reading Defoe's "Journal of a Plague Year" and the fictional "At the Sign of the Sugared Plum." Wow, I learned so much!

Many, many other topics of history caught our fancy this year. The execution of Charles I, the Protectorate under Cromwell, the Restoration, Jamestown, the search for the northwest passage, Mary Queen of Scotts, Henry Hudson, Samuel de Champlain - and lots more.

I should note I was encountering almost all of the above subjects for the first time in my life.

I am finally getting the thorough history education that I have always craved but could not find in my own educational experience. It is an incredible blessing.

Some of our Story of the World coloring and map pages displayed for the world to see! 


And some favorite crafts and activities of this year:


But that was not all! Oh, no - that was not all!

This year we also continued our geography-based state history studies with Cantering the Country. This year's states were...
  • Alabama
  • Texas
  • Oregon
  • New Mexico
  • California
  • North and South Dakota
  • Hawaii
  • New Hampshire

The winners for this year (in terms of general popularity) were Alabama, New Mexico, and Hawaii. This is not based on the states themselves, but simply on the wealth or lack thereof of materials available at the library. My big disappointment was New Hampshire, for which our library had almost no material, and the big surprise was Hawaii - lots and lots of material! (We're not done yet!)

Here are some of our favorite projects from our CTC studies!

Down-home fried chicken dinner with ALABAMA

Homemade butter with TEXAS

Navajo Fry Bread with NEW MEXICO

Dinner, South-west style, with NEW MEXICO
Fun with maps with CALIFORNIA

Splitting open a coconut with HAWAII (Unfortunately, no one liked it, but it was still fun.)
Homemade cherry pie with ALABAMA. (I don't have any pictures of it BEFORE it hit the floor.)
And our closing-of-the-year luau with HAWAII:

A lasting memory from this year's CTC studies was the song "Boll Weevil" that we reviewed during our study of Alabama. Not only did we all learn the song (and it became a family lullaby for our newest), but our little girl was immediately christened "Baby Boll Weevil." Each of our children has somehow gained an animal nickname, and we now have Bug, Wombat, Moose, and Boll Weevil. Not the most expected nickname for a baby girl, but it's definitely memorable.

We discovered the work of Mantan Moreland while watching the above video, and enjoyed learning his comedy routines from the early days of film:

I love how home education has a unique ability to chase down bunny trails and transform itself into an extremely complex learning experience. Almost each of our studies has revealed unexpected interests and learning opportunities.


In other areas...

In math, we continued with Christian Light Education. As with last year, it was wonderful. A complete hit! We added on Christian Light's Language Arts, and it too was successful.  Next year we will be adding in Christian Light's Reading and Science programs. 

Here is our curriculum summary for the year:

{Click on images to enlarge}

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments!


Other school-y stuff this year...

We started working on hard-core memory work, getting through something like 50 memory pieces this year! 

We used Bible passages, character definitions, poems, and lots of the fun historical speeches and pieces that we ran across in our history curriculum.

The biggest hit of the year was the poem "Click Beetle." The 4yo can recite this one, and does so with enthusiastic energy. In fact, he insists on it every morning during our memory review time. It has a wonderful chant energy that makes it a great poem for group recitation. 

Some of our other favorites were:
  • The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence (Yes, the whole thing. We're not finished yet.)
  • Poem - "Ducks Are Lucky" 
  • Poem - "Boll Weevil"
  • Patrick Henry's Speech ("Give Me Liberty!")

I have been using the Simply Charlotte Mason Memory Box system, and it has worked beautifully for reviewing pieces once learned.

Memory work has been such a blessing. It has continually amazed me how quickly children can memorize, and this ability gives us a wonderful way to build up an enormous base of memorized pieces that become both a life-long blessing and a wonderful family culture.

Our memory pieces of the moment, hung over the sink for review while washing dishes!


Some things that didn't happen (or happen well) this year were:
  • Catechism
  • Piano lessons
  • Art study
  • Science experiments
  • Hymn study
  • Famous musical pieces study

Some of these will continue to lie fallow next year; some will (hopefully) be resurrected. Time will tell.

Things that we plan to add next year include Latin, formal science, a reading comprehension curriculum, and some notebooking.


One of the most fun things about home education is the wealth of field trip opportunities. We participate in field trips (as well as park days and seasonal events like Christmas parties and Valentine exchanges) with three different homeschool groups, as well as with our own family.

Here are some of our field trips from this year!



Magic Show


Olive Mill

Tool Day

Mountain Climbing

Desert Hiking

The eclipse in the desert

Tubing at Canyon Lake

Ballet Under the Stars

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Field Trip

Someburros Field Trip

Star Wars Day at the Library

Pumpkin Patch

Chuckwagon Cook-off
Local airport hangar

Field trips have been one of the major perks of home education. During my K-12 public school education, I went on maybe three field trips, total. (Pumpkin patch in kindergarten, Sea World in sixth grade, Disneyland with the band in high school.) With homeschooling, we take three or more field trips in any one month! I don't know yet if the children know how blessed they are in this regard, but they will at some point. I find it lovely that as an adult, I get to enjoy the field trips too. I'm making up for lost time.

(Okay, I remembered a fourth field trip from my school experience - Pisgah Crater under the leadership of my amazing senior year Government and Economics teacher, Mr. Tim Tuttle. Mr. Tuttle, you were awesome. I still remember that trip. Thank you.)


Other things in our family this year:

Watching baby grow! 
Watching baby learn to crawl... stand... walk! 


One of my main projects for last year was reorganization! This was a major milestone for me, because I was born with little to no decorating aptitude. With only agonized prayers for guidance, I made some major changes. I'm still feeling antsy because there are so many things yet to change (just come and look at our family room if you don't believe me), but we did make major progress in making our home work for our family.

Next up... creating a girls' room!


A major process this year for me was/is... learning to cook.

Yes, I already cook. And I've cooked several hours per day for years. But this year I started to learn the Trim Healthy Mama system of cooking, which meant learning lots of new techniques and ingredients. Examples:

  • Gelatin and Collagen
  • Radishes (cooked)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Okra
  • Cooking faux potato dishes with cauliflower
  • Glucomannan
  • Psyllium husk powder
  • Almond milk
  • E vs. S vs. FP meals

And recently, in response to some health issues, I have added Weston A. Price cooking to my learning repertoire. Here are a few of the items that I am learning and will be learning over the next few months:
  • Shellfish
  • Fish broth
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Bone marrow
  • Organ meats
  • Raw milk and raw cheese
  • Seaweed
  • Beef bone broth
  • Chicken feet
  • Ghee

All I can say is... yowza. My head is going to explode. 

Time to climb another learning curve.. 

Sauteed radishes! 

This year we saw something we never see in Phoenix - beautiful Fall leaves! Forgive me while I print these pictures all over again - I can't stop enjoying the gorgeousness!


This year we celebrated Reformation Day with our now-customary outing to a local pizza parlor. (It's the one day of the year when they're deserted.) I also finally got around to making a "Diet of Worms" cake (yuk, yuk, yuk), which the children thoroughly enjoyed. I kind of forgot about the huge unit study I planned studying Martin Luther, but hey - that will wait for another year.

That is, if I can find wherever I stashed all of the stuff I printed for it.

We also instituted a new family tradition which was an instant hit - Friday Family Movie Night, complete with popcorn. The children love this, and we've had a wonderful time with it. We only watch for about 45 minutes, but it makes a wonderful treat to look forward to every weekend.

This year we traveled north to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Highlights of the week - the 9yo's tarantula find, our family Thankfulness Tree, and time with Grandma and Grandpa.

This year I did something I've never done before - meeting with another blogger! We had a wonderful time, and plan to meet again soon.

This year was also another first for our family - making our first Operation Christmas Child box. It was a great experience and a wonderful antidote to the American "me, me, me!" attitude that pervades our house at Christmas, despite my best efforts. Next year we hope to fill two boxes.

We won't soon forget this year's Christmas - it was the year that we actually had to cancel (postpone) Christmas due to a ravaging stomach bug that took out the whole family on Christmas Eve. But aside from that, it was a lovely Christmas season, and we thoroughly enjoyed it as a family. As of this writing (mid-March), our Christmas tree is still up.

This year I have realized anew how blessed I am to have a husband who is deeply involved and invested in his children. My husband treasures our children and enjoys spending time with them. After saying hello to us all in the afternoons, he usually spends several hours outdoors with them every night watching them play (and playing with them). This is a huge blessing, because it allows me some breathing time to make dinner and take a few gasping breaths of silence.

Additionally, my husband has started reading aloud to our children in the evening. This has been wonderful! They finished "Eddie and Gardenia" and have moved on to "Shane." This is an added bonus to our home education program and a wonderful time for the children. My husband has also succeeded in turning the kidlets into Trekkies, so they spend quite a bit of time discussing Star Trek plots with him. Thankfully I was a hardcore Trekkie as a child (Next Generation only), so I can discuss this without too much confusion.

This year we made the big transition from my husband being an at-home small business owner to being back in the corporate world. While the change was challenging, and our ideal is still to have daddy at home, the move was a good one (at least for now!) in many ways, and we have adjusted well.

Earlier in the year we celebrated our annual Lepkuchen Day, this time with a personalized Lepkuchen Day apron given to us by friends and fellow collaborators. This is one of our favorite holidays.

A few random photos from this year:

Our baby with special needs, engaged in one of his favorite activities - destroying books. 

One of my main focus areas in our homeschool program is the inclusion of awesome, amazing literature. We read aloud constantly, and I do everything in my power to encourage our children as readers (see Jim Trelease's "The Read-Aloud Handbook" for more information). 

This year the 9yo has increased prodigiously in reading skills and volume. He reads widely and deeply, and constantly surprises me with the things that he knows. A few favorites from this year:
  • "One Dead Spy" - the life story of Patriot spy Nathan Hale
  • "I Survived" series
  • "Boxcar Children" series
  • "Grandma's Attic" series
  • "Little House in the Big Woods" series

I also have been blessed by the sheer volume of literature that I have been able to enjoy - both with the children, and on my own as I read to keep up with them. This year I encountered for the first time the wonderful works of E. Nesbitt, along with other great children's works (The Pemberwicks! The Melendy Quartet! The Mysterious Benedict Society! Dr. Dolittle! Mr. Popper's Penguins!). I have really enjoyed immersing myself in classic children's literature.

Celebrating Leap Year 2016:

Yes, the picture is upside down. But that will keep you all from noticing how badly drawn my frog is.


And... birthdays!

Mr. Adventure turned NINE...

Our eldest has matured so much this year - physically, mentally, emotionally. I have been very pleased in how he is gradually growing in responsibility and the ability to handle tasks individually. He's even beginning to learn how to cook! And as always, his intense imaginative abilities continue to amaze me on a daily basis. 

Baby Wombat turned SIX....

This little guy continues with weekly therapy and with steady, slow progress. We are addressing multiple health issues with him, and it's going to be an interesting and challenging year. He is the delight of the whole family, and we are blessed by his precious life.

Mr. Practical turned FOUR...

He spends his time planning a career in firefighting and telling me how he's going to defeat various bad guys. He is intensely practical, intensely independent, and alternates between "Ah, he's so CUTE!" and "Okay, sorry, I'm going to have to wring this child's neck." The latter part just seems to be part of being three. Thankfully he focuses on cuteness most of the time.

This year he decided, at the tender age of three, that it was time to ride a big-boy bicycle. And so he taught himself to do so, with no help (and no training wheels), in under 24 hours. This child is a natural athlete and is completely fearless.

The wee one turned ONE...

This year our little one has learned to crawl, to stand, and to walk. She's now into everything! She is learning how to maintain her balance in our rough-and-tumble household, and is the darling of the household.

And that, in a nutshell, was our homeschool year!


I hope that this post has been an encouragement to you! It's actually been an encouragement to me. I tend to torture myself with the mantra of, "I'm not doing enough. I'm not doing enough. I'M NOT DOING ENOUGH!!!" But looking back, I have been surprised. We actually accomplished quite a bit in one year.

If you're just at the beginning of your journey, I want to caution you against overly-high expectations. These pictures show the fun moments. They don't show the tears, the frustration, the tantrums, and the back-breaking workload that comes from being a stay-at-home mama and home educator. So keep that in mind, and don't succumb to the "She looks like she's having fun, why can't my homeschool be that fun?" trap. It's not an easy life, and it comes with (more than) its fair share of exhaustion and grief. It's joyful, and it's also sheer hard work. The two are inseparable.


We will be enjoying "summer" break through April, and then returning to school the first week in May for fourth grade.

Here's to our first half-decade of home education!