Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tidbits and Snippets for January 31st

How We Create a Learning Atmosphere in Our Home - Excellent tips! (Large Family Mothering)
Also see a later book-end post, Homeschooling: No Freedom Without Order. I'm really enjoying Sherry's latest posts!
Trim Healthy Mama for Newbies and Pregnant Mothers - Good stuff here. (Growing Home)

Three Things I'm Missing When I Lose My Joy in the Home - "There’s a difference between just being a bit tired as a mom and being wearily joyless... When this happens, it’s probably because three crucial things have been pushed to the side and lost their importance in my days or weeks." (A Mama's Story)

Dear Mama: Satan Is Doing Everything He Can to Keep You From Reading This Letter - Excellent! (For Every Mom, hat tip to Contentment Acres)

Love, Infatuation, and the Pre-Teen Crush - "It should come as no surprise when a young man begins to notice that young women are different in ways that seem interesting rather than irritating. There’s nothing wrong in that – God created the differences and celebrates them in Scripture – but like everything in life, there are side paths, crossroads, pit falls, and traps that we need to guide our sons through and around." (Raising Real Men)

From the Bookshelf

The Notorious Benedict Arnold

If you ask the average American about Benedict Arnold, I think most of us could answer that he was a traitor. But further than that? Nope, nada.

This book is an excellent and thorough (and extremely well-researched) treatment of the life of Benedict Arnold, birth through death, with a detailed explanation of his military service during the Revolution and his attempted betrayal of the Patriots to the British. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to high-schoolers or adults who want to fill in their knowledge of this fascinating epoch of American history.

The author, Steve Sheinkin, has numerous other historical works, and I'm planning to dive into them soon.

A note to parents: The book begins and ends with a moving description of an execution scene. Additionally, some of the descriptions of battle are a bit on the gruesome side. Don't hand this one off to students who are too young or immature to handle this. But for older students, this is an excellent resource for studying the Revolution.

The Black Pearl Mystery (Boxcar Children #64)

Only nos. 1-19 in the Boxcar Children series were actually written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, so this one is an "in the style of" continuation by an unknown author.

I'm not often much of a fan of "in the style of" books, because they often come across as awkward and stilted. However, this one was very well done. I'm not sure I would have known the difference on my own.

We used this book as part of our unit study on Hawaii, and the 9yo loved it.

High Tide in Hawaii

I find the Magic Tree House books to be very useful in homeschooling. They're not intensely detailed or difficult, but they're easy reading that appeals to a wide range of ages without too much stress. Plus, there's a Magic Tree House book for practically every history topic under the sun, a big bonus! (I exaggerate, but sometimes it feels like it!)

I also love the Magic Tree House Research Guides - an interesting and fun non-fiction companion volume for each adventure story. Our children love both the fiction works and the non-fiction companion works.

Meet Kirsten

We are using the first of the Kirsten books (by American Girl) as one of our morning read-alouds. It's a hit! I love all of the Kirsten books. And after my disappointment with one of the more modern American Girl series (due to its militant feminist ideology), it was a relief to return to the Kirsten books, which are sweet, gentle, fun, and teach a lot of good history.

We plan to work our way through the entire series over the next few months.

Still More Stories From Grandma's Attic

We are slowly working our way through the Grandma's Attic series. It has been a complete hit with the 9yo!

I received this series as a gift from my own grandmother. She made a fun game of leaving one book around every so often for me to find, and I treasured them. I still read them as an adult! And now I'm sharing the same books with my children.

Really, I can't say enough good about these books. They are fun, interesting, and teach excellent morals without being corny or preachy. If you haven't yet invested in the set, they are definitely worth the time to track down.

Then There Were Five

This is the third book in the Melendy Quartet series, an older set of books set around the time of World War II.

I've always been a huge fan of the Melendy books, but I'd never read this one. Now, twenty years later, I'm finally finishing the series.

And I loved it!

This is the story of how the four Melendy siblings acquired a fifth adopted sibling, Mark, along with all of their usual adventures.

If you haven't yet enjoyed the Melendy Quartet series, give it a try!

And from the world of adult books...

The Adrenal Reset Diet: Strategically Cycle Carbs and Proteins to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, and Move from Stressed to Thriving

This book was recommended by the authors of "Trim Healthy Mama," and it was a great read! Though the THM ladies eventually disagreed with Christianson's approach of cycling protein and carbs, there is a wealth of awesome information in this book. Recommended!

Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline

This is a rewrite of the original "Trim Healthy Mama" book, and it's a keeper. The formatting has been beautifully redone, with pictures added, and the bulkiness has been slimmed down into a beautiful and streamlined book that is pure pleasure to read. The authors' style is witty, funny, and wise. I devoured this boo and can't wait to read it again. Even if you don't want to use the THM eating style, this book is sheer enjoyment in the reading. I learned quite a bit!

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook

And finally, if I'm not around much, it's because I'm with my new love... this cookbook. A sweet friend gave me my own copy (instead of the borrowed one which the library, oddly enough, wanted back), and I'm in love. Every recipe I've tried has been great, the format is terrific, the pictures are lovely, and I love the authors' casual and amusing tone.

Another positive about the book is that the "family size" meals really are decent-sized! It's often frustrating to me that most health books include recipes sized to feed two people (and usually use a large amount of meat and pricey vegetables to do so). But with the THM cookbook, even mamas with truly large-ish families (say, seven-plus children) would only have to, say, double these recipes. A huge plus in my book!

Two recipes I've found to love are the Wise Shepherd's Pie and the Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup.

Recipe Corner

Luscious Lemon Yogurt (Trim Healthy Mama FP) - This was amazing. Too bad Greek yogurt is so expensive! I'm going to try this with regular homemade yogurt too. (Gwen's Nest, quoting recipe from Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook)

E-Z Drop Biscuits - I have avoided making biscuits for years, dreading the this-takes-ALL-NIGHT butter cut-in process. This time, I thought to search for biscuits that used melted butter instead. And... (drumroll, please)... they take 30 seconds to prepare and are as good or better than the cold-butter version. YES!! Biscuits are back on the menu. I made mine gluten-free using my favorite gluten-free flour mix. (

Absolutely Best Brownies - I've finally found my go-to brownie recipe! And even better, this one is easier to tell "yes, it's done!" than most brownie recipes. I've already made these for a new-baby family, a church potluck, dinner guests, and our family. (

Dear readers, have a lovely week! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hyperemesis Prevention Plan (Annual Updated Version!)

(Latest Update: February  2016)

Introductory Comments

It's that time of year, folks! The time when I go through my supplement and diet plan and revise for the coming year. And... here it is! Version 2016, at your service.

Last year I pared down the information to eliminate all of the things I wasn't really serious about doing. I also updated the formatting and included a new sourcing section.

This year my goal was to incorporate all of the awesome things I have learned from other bloggers and authors over the past year into my official protocol.

Please remember that although I do my best, even I cannot keep up with my best intentions. I do not do everything on this plan perfectly (or at all). I'd say a really-really good day is achieving 25% of the below. It's just too much to keep up with on a daily basis with perfect consistency. I simply do my best.

My two main conclusions from last year remain unchanged:

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

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

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

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

* sourcing information provided below



Very Low Carb* (VLC) at 3 months postpartum.
I have found that I haven't been able to make this diet work long-term. However, I had wonderful success using the VLC diet to prevent hyperemesis. I have since incorporated more carbs back into my diet, but I firmly believe that the VLC diet can have a huge healing potential for post-HG pre-conception mums. 

Clean (no additives, or as few as possible!)

Focus on vegetables, lemon water, other alkalinizing foods.
3 cups colored, 3 cups greens, 3 cups sulphur vegetables (onions and cruciferous vegetables), daily.
Avoid industrial seed oils (cottonseed, soy, etc.) and fake fats (hydrogenated oils, margarine)

Lacto-fermented foods - Preferably with each meal. I try to eat from at least four of these options every day.

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

High in good fats

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

Other Super-Foods

          Chia Seeds*
          Flax Seeds*
          Nutritional Yeast*

Lemon water (for alkalinity and liver cleansing) - Half of my body weight (in pounds) in ounces each day. (This is a really hard goal to reach, but I try.)
Another good option is water with apple cider vinegar. Unfortunately, it's absolutely revolting, but I'm going to be trying Good Girl Moonshine by Trim Healthy Mama, which includes ACV. It also includes ginger, great for NVP!
Detoxing Supplementation

        Epsom Salts baths
        Broccoli sprouts (optimally 1 package per week)
        Rice bran (optimally 1 Tbsp. per day)*
        Flax meal*
        Dry brushing

Bone broth (optimally 2 cups per day)

Gelatin* or Collagen* (as often in possible, dissolved in hot liquids like coffee or soup)

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

Some form of healthy meat at each meal

Coconut based snacks - Coconut cream*, coconut-flour* baked items, Trim Healthy Mama skinny chocolate, Trim Healthy Mama volcano mudslide muffin.

Unrefined sea salt* (pink or grey)

Kelp* for iodine - Since we used non-iodized salt, I attempt to add this to main dish meals for iodine supplementation. (Seaweed has additional awesome benefits, for details see The Wahls Protocol.)

Blackstrap Molasses* (1 Tbsp. per day)


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

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

Alpha Lipoic Acid (600 mg/daily)

Vitamin B complex*

Vitamin D


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

Dessicated Liver Pills* - For iron and micronutrients.
I also take raw liver, cut into small pieces and taken like a pill. You will need to find a trustworthy source of organic, grass-fed liver if you want to take this route. 

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

 (A couple of times a week, not every day)

Turmeric* (1 cap per day, plus use in cooking)
I also try to do a yearly anti-microbial protocol, thus: "1 teaspoon colloidal silver plus one turmeric capsule, three times per day, on an empty stomach, for about 10 days"
Milk Thistle (80% silymarin) - This didn't help the last time I tried it, but I might try it - it's standard pre-conception procedure for post-HG mamas. One to three per day, can continue post-conception.

Cocolaurin* (3 scoops per day)



Finances Permitting

        Resveratrol (100 mg twice daily, decreases inflammation)

       Yearly Liver Cleanse (dates done: May 2011, May 2012)

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


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

Sunlight - Minimum 15 minutes per day.

Sleep - Minimum of eight hours per night. Preferably nine.

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


Make sure that I have the following:
  • An excellent midwife
  • A recommendation to a good OB
  • An acupuncturist
  • A source for vitamin B/magnesium shots
  • A good naturopath


Bible verse memorization - I find that having Scripture verses to recite during stressful or panicky times is truly a lifeline, and it's one that I want to develop more fruitfully.

Regular prayer and Bible study

Personal and Practical

Make the most of the time. I find that the thought of future pregnancies helps me to treasure my time, and encourages me to use my time wisely - to take every advantage of time with my children, to train my children as much as possible in character and practical skills, etc.

Work on organizational projects as much as possible.

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




       Strict VLC (very low carb)
       Constant snacking - every hour once nausea begins
       Lemon water, ACV water, or Good Girl Moonshine - lots of it. Do not drink plain water.
    • Recommendations from a friend for other drinks: Pink Stork peach ginger tea, Whole Foods brand rooibos tea, Trader Joe's mint melange tea.
       Two hard-boiled eggs - Eat before bed (for overnight protein)


       Add more Epsom salts baths (daily)
       Add digestive enzymes
       Consider Protandim (this might also be a good pre-conception supplement)
       Add super-powerful probiotic (like Bio-K Plus) and continue till worst of nausea subsides
       Increase milk thistle to three per day
       Really good pre-natal multivitamin if not already taking (SuperMom, doTerra, etc.)
       Baking soda - Four (size 00) caps daily, one at a time on an empty stomach. Make caps in
       advance. Optional, add 1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. of colloidal silver at the same time.


       Optional - Start Vitamin B/Magnesium/Folate shots at naturopathic college.
       Optional - Contact acupuncturist to get appointment.



Personal and Practical

        Buy paper supplies (plates, bowls, utensils)
        Easy kid snacks - gold fish, healthy bars, raisins, juice boxes, cheese sticks, dry cereals
        Put lots of toys away to reduce pick-up load


* Sourcing Information:

Very Low Carb Diet
Feel free to email me for the diet sheets I use. To find very low carb recipes, Google "low carb" or "ketogenic" or "Trim Healthy Mama S meals" when you search. I should also note that at the time of this writing (January 2016) I am not following a strict VLC diet. Hopefully I'll update on that soon - stay tuned for details.

For more information on the "3 cups green vegetables, 3 cups colored vegetables, 3 cups sulphur vegetables," please refer to "The Wahls Protocol" by Dr. Terry Wahls.

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

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

Full-fat plain yogurt is also easy to find, but it's pricey. I make a gallon a time at home.

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

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

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

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

Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Nutritional Yeast
All can be purchased from Azure Standard or from your local Sprouts or Whole Foods.

You can buy frozen sliced okra from the grocery store at reasonable rates. Check out Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook for ideas on cooking okra (especially if you don't like okra and want okra-hiding recipes!).

Rice Bran
I purchase from Azure Standard.

Flax Meal
I buy flax seeds whole from Sprouts and grind in my blender, then freeze. Flax can go rancid very quickly, so it's best to grind your own and keep it chilled whenever possible.

Gelatin or Collagen
I buy gelatin from Azure Standard. A (probably better) popular product can be purchased from Amazon. You can also buy gelatin or collagen from the Trim Healthy Mama Store (or the same THM products from Azure Standard).

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

Coconut Flour
Purchase from Azure Standard, Tropical Traditions, Sam's Club, or Costco.

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

Kelp powder can be purchased from Azure Standard.

Blackstrap Molasses
From Azure Standard.

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

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

Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil by Green Pasture. I purchase through Azure Standard.
Since this writing I have switched to Nordic Natural's Arctic Cod Liver Oil. 

Vitamin B Complex
See Rachel's recommendations (in general and for specific brand). Right now I am using B-100 Complex from Vitacost. 

Probiotics (Pill Form)
See Rachel's recommendations.

Dessicated Liver Pills
My favorite brand is Radiant Life Dessicated Liver. Because of cost, I currently use a cheaper brand, Solgar, purchased at Nature's Health in Chandler, AZ.
I also eat raw liver. I purchase grass-fed organic liver, cut it into small pieces, and freeze them. I then thaw one per day, cut it with kitchen sheers, and take it with water (like a pill). 
Epsom Salts
Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) are available in any pharmacy store (Walgreen's, CVS, etc.) or in the cosmetic/pharmaceutical area of any Walmart or Target. It can get quite pricey - most two pound bags run around $6 each, and you use two cups per bath. The best price I have found is the 50 lb. bag for around $45 from Azure standard. 

Magnesium Oil
Make your own or purchase ready-made. 

Magnesium Lotion
Make your own

Magnesium Water
Make your own

You can buy ready-made turmeric caps at Sprouts, or (try to) save money by buying bulk turmeric (I buy mine at Sprouts) and making your own with gelatin caps.

I buy from Pink Stork Solutions. Check out this great company for other awesome resources for NVP/HG prevention.


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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Just for Fun!

Okay, everyone!

This is totally irrelevant (to anything) and is just for fun.

(1) Take the seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter - and number them from one to four, with one being your favorite and four being your least favorite.

(2) Now take the four times of the day - morning, midday, evening, night - and do the same.

(*Pause while I wait for you to do this - no fair scrolling down till you do!*)

If you look at seasons and times of day, they mirror each other in a cyclical fashion:

Winter = Night
Spring = Morning
Summer = Midday
Fall = Evening

Okay, now here's my question for you:

Do your preferences line up?

In other words, does your order of preference for the seasons mirror your order of preference for times of the day?

(i.e. If your favorite season is winter, the corresponding favorite time of day would be night - if your preferences correspond. If they don't correspond, your favorite season might be winter while your favorite time of day might be morning.)

My preferences align perfectly, and I wondered if other people's preferences would align as well. Here's how mine go, from favorite to least liked:

(1) Fall - Evening
(2) Winter - Night
(3) Spring - Morning
(4) Summer - Midday

This was just for fun! Feel free to let me know!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Snippets and Tidbits for January 20th

7 Ways to RUIN the RELATIONSHIP With Your Children - "If you want to have or keep a good relationship with your children,  there are things that you should try not to do." (Character Corner)

How to Get Rid of Clutter and Live Abundantly - I'm going to die laughing on this one. This will strike a chord with anyone who has seen the extreme (i.e. New Age) side of the decluttering movement. (The Toast, hat tip to Mark's Daily Apple)

Why Chicken Nuggets Make Me a Good Mom - I really needed to hear this one.  (Raising Arrows)

The Elusive Titus 2 Woman - Thoughts that I have had for years, put down into excellent form.  (Jess Connell)

8 Reasons We Love Homeschooling - And I love the reasons she loves homeschooling! (Graceful Abandon)

From the Bookshelf

Continuing in my pursuit to read massive amounts of awesome children's literature...

Gone-Away Lake

I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet series, and thus decided to work through the rest of her children's titles. This story describes the summer adventures of two children who discover an abandoned lakeside village.

This book was a "like, not love" book for me. It was enjoyable, but not overly so. I found the theme of two children wandering around old mouldering houses a bit on the macabre and depressing side. However, there was nothing wrong with it, it was fun on the whole, and I'd hand it off to my children to read.

Any other Enright fans? What have you thought of this work or others?

A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32

Most first-person historical fiction (and third-person historical fiction, for that matter) has the undeniable flavor of "this is so, so incredibly fake." That is why I usually prefer fiction written by people living in the times about which they wrote (i.e. time periods contemporary to the author's life and experiences).

This book, thus, was a pleasant surprise. It had a very believable feel, and was a very enjoyable read! I loved it. This was a rare find in a sea of mediocre historical fiction.

And from the world of adult literature...

The Best Yes

This book was a great sequel to "Hands-Free Mama," which I read last month. And better yet, this one was a recognizably Christian work filled with lots of biblical backing.

The theme of Hands-Free Mama was "Put down your phone and live your life." The theme of "The Best Yes" was, "Now make the best use of the time you have." They fit very well together.

I loved the points that Terkeurst made in her book, like: (1) chase (i.e. think out) your decisions to see where they will take you not just now, but in the future, (2) say no in order to say yes to God's best plans for you, and many others.

I highly recommend this book.

Dear readers, have a wonderful week!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

In Which I Do Something Unexpected!

This past Thanksgiving, after another blogger and I talked online, we made arrangements to get our families together in real life. And we did! And it was a ton of fun. A new experience for both of us!

The blogger whom I was privileged to meet was Jessica of Truth at Home, a blog that I have much enjoyed reading over the past year. (Head on over to meet their newest addition!) She is a courageous writer who often tackles issues that I don't have the guts to write about, and I always enjoy her perspective.

Our families met at a park and were able to talk while the children played, and then we all ate lunch together before heading for home. Their family was incredible, their children were amazing, and we had a lovely time.

We were so blessed by this sweet family and by sharing fellowship with them. We're hoping to make getting together a regular part of our lives.

Thanks to this wonderful family for coming out to meet us!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Article: "How I'm Getting Rid of Debilitating Morning Sickness"

Today I want to share with you a post from Graceful Abandon:

How I'm Getting Rid of Debilitating Morning Sickness

Sounds good, right?

It is!

She writes:
"[W]hat I’ve been suffering from is beyond morning sickness.  It’s not the normal queasy and puking I’ve experienced three times before.  This time around I’ve been vomiting between ten and fifteen times a day.  I lost 7 lbs in three days when it started and have lost steadily since then.  And that has been with taking Zofran to help.  I’ve also experienced a slew of other “delightful” symptoms that I won’t gross you out by sharing.

"What do I have?  I have morning sickness on steroids.  It’s known as Hypermesis Gravidarum (HG).  It means I’m dehydrated, my internal balances are thrown off, my body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs for the baby, I’m miserable, and I can barely function.  We have six children other than this one we are anticipating, and I haven’t been able to eat a meal with them in over a month because I’m always in the bathroom.  I’ve barely been able to be human, let alone a fun mom who can play with them and snuggle with them.  This has challenged my life in a way I never imagined pregnancy could.  Many have said they understand, but unless you spend more time hugging a toilet than doing anything else in your day — you just don’t.  I was at my wits’ end."

After researching her condition in light of H. pylori infection and developing her own treatment protocol, her symptoms improved greatly:
"Today, day 3, I am excited to announce that I have eaten and kept down 3 full meals, 1 snack, and a small smoothie so far.  I haven’t done any of those things in 2 months.  TWO MONTHS of pain, vomiting, tears, emotional distress, not eating with my family."

Awesome stuff! Check out the whole article here.

Thanks to the author for posting her experience!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The VLC Diet Works (Except When It Doesn't)

Over five years ago, I encountered the idea of using a very-low-carb (VLC) diet to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. To summarize my experience succinctly,

I tried it. It worked.

But things are rarely so cut and dried in this world, and there have been a few snags - for myself and others. Today I'm going to take a moment to discuss a few of those snags.

Let's dive in!

(1) We're still in testing stages. 

One experimental success does not a study make! We have yet to see if this diet (added to the other dietary changes I've made) will contribute to a truly changed health history (changing from all hyperemetic pregnancies to all non-hyperemetic).

There's also the issue of mild v. severe hyperemesis. By comparison, the HG that I get is mild. Success with mild HG does not necessarily extrapolate to guaranteed success with severe HG (though the original experiment of using the VLC diet for HG prevention was, indeed, done with a woman who suffered from severe HG).

(2) The VLC can cause amenorrhea.

I have heard from two women (both very thin women) that use of the VLC women completely stopped their menstrual cycles.

Okay, that's one way to prevent HG.

But in all seriousness, a diet can't be used to help a pregnancy condition if it prevents pregnancy in the first place.

I have not experienced any amenorrhea due to use of the VLC diet. However, I am not very thin (*sigh*). This would probably be more of an issue for women who are teetering on the edge of not having enough body fat to sustain female fertility.

I have also read several authors who opine that carbohydrates are absolutely essential for female fertility. A VLC diet may impair fertility in some or all women - it's at least a possibility.

I have also spoken with one woman who told me that a VLC diet drastically reduced her breastmilk supply, and she was forced to abandon it while nursing. That's another issue to consider. (I have used the VLC diet several times while breastfeeding and haven't experienced this, but others may.)

(3) The diet has not worked for everyone.

I have given the VLC diet sheets out to many, many women. Most I haven't heard back from. But I have heard of two women for whom the diet did not work in HG-prevention (one I heard from personally, one I heard of via a mutual friend).

Of course, I can't vouch for any of the details. One of the prerequisites is that the diet must be followed faithfully for at least two full cycles before conception to correct insulin regulation. I don't know how these sweet mamas used the diet. But the fact remains that it may not work for everyone.

My guess is that HG has multiple causes. I have heard of all of the following being underlying causes (proven) for HG:

- Thyroid disease
- Copper deficiency
- Adrenal fatigue
- H. pylori infection

I would think it very possible that some women may have multiple underlying causative factors contributing to their HG. If there's enough working against a woman, diet alone might not be good enough. That's why I believe that one of the best things we HG mamas can do for pre-conception HG prevention is to work on our other health problems (fatigue! allergies! female issues!) that might be leaking over into pregnancy problems.

(3) Difficulties with the VLC diet

As I've continued to read about nutrition, I have found two distinct camps of opinion regarding carb-restricted diets. In summary:

Camp #1

  • Carbs are absolutely essential for health, especially for women, specifically in the arenas of reproductive, thyroid, and adrenal health.*
  • Ketosis is harmful to the body. 

Camp #2
  • Carbs are not an essential nutrient, and it's better to avoid them or severely limit them.*
  • Ketosis is not only healthy, but preferable to carb-burning, and can be used to manage and heal various disease states. 

Honestly, it's hard to pick between the camps, because both present very convincing evidence.

There is a third camp, which is where I think I find myself:

Camp #3

  • Low-carb diets are good for some people in some circumstances. They are not for everyone all the time. 

In other words, low-carb diets can be incredibly healing, especially for those of us who grew up on the inflammatory, disease-causing low-fat high-carb diet. But that doesn't mean that a strict very-low-carb diet is a good thing all the time, for all people, in all seasons. 

I've spent considerable time in both the low-fat and low-carb camps. Here's what I've experienced:

  • The low-fat diet was easier to maintain, because it doesn't require eliminating food groups. 
  • BUT it was extremely unhealthy. I didn't realize until I got out of it how many of my health problems (fatigue, acne, joint pain, seasonal allergies) were due to a low-fat high-carb diet. 

  • I have experienced a lot of health benefits from going high-fat low-carb - namely, the elimination of the health problems mentioned above. There is no doubt in my mind that low-carb is healthier than low-fat. 
  • BUT very-low-carb is very difficult to maintain, being that it requires the elimination of entire food groups (fruit, beans, grains, starchy vegetables, sugars, most dairy). 
  • Additionally, I have noticed that my weight loss has stalled (for years) about 20 pounds higher than I would like to be. Some books have noted that the body does not like to be corralled into only one fuel type for the long-term, and that may be what I'm experiencing. 

My basic conclusion is that very-low-carb is healthier than low-fat - but harder to maintain over the long-term, and possibly not even healthy as a long-term strategy. It certainly isn't too practical or pleasant.

Also, I have found that carb cravings and the temptation to cheat never really go away. While I have indeed heard from many hardcore low-carb fans that they no longer desire sugar, grains, or carbs at all, that is not my experience. In my experience, the desire to eat carbs is ever-present. It's a constant exercise in rigorous self-control. Lately I have found that I can only make it three to four days before blowing it, because the carb cravings really get me down. At this point, I'm really not sure if the diet would even benefit me during a pregnancy because my track record in sticking to it lately has been so incredibly bad. 

A diet that requires strict self-discipline and self-denial is not practical in the long run. (I know any low-carbers out there will disagree with me, which is fine. That's just my experience.)

Yes, I did go an entire year without carbs. I've done it. I've been hardcore. But the only thing that made that possible was an intense amount of fear (of recurring hyperemesis). Without that motivation, I'm finding it very difficult to maintain. 

What do I conclude?

The VLC diet has its uses. It definitely worked (in conjunction with other methods) to prevent HG in our last pregnancy. But it's not for everyone, it can have negative side-effects, and it's very difficult to maintain. I certainly don't intend to keep it up longer than I have to.

Thoughts, anyone?

And to any low-carb people out there, I would love-love-love to hear any tips for battling carb cravings. Bring on the diet advice.

* I know that in the above post I have somewhat confused "low carb" and "very low carb" diets. I ask the reader's forgiveness!

* Notes:

Here are a few articles to browse -

From Camp #1 (Low-Carb = Bad) and Camp #3 (Low-Carb is good sometimes for some people but not all times for all people)

From the Camp #2 ("Low Carb = Good")

Friday, January 8, 2016

Tidbits and Snippets for January 8th

Restoring Chivalry and Civility - A great discussion on teaching children - with two extremely useful printables! (Cultivated Lives)

Is Eating Placenta Cannibalism? - Excellent points that even I, as an ardent placentophagist, had not considered.  (Holy Temple Under Renovation)

In Defense of Domesticity - Too much awesomeness to describe in a sound byte. Definitely catch this masterpiece of social commentary. (Crisis Magazine)

You Don't Need a Date Night - A good thing, too, since the last date night I had with my husband was approximately seven years ago. (
Not that there's anything wrong with date nights. There isn't, and they're great. But there is no doubt that date nights have, in modern times, been elevated to the status of an idol. Date nights are fun, but they're not the One Essential Ingredient to a good marriage. I think Ma and Pa Ingalls (who never had a date night, ever) might agree. 

Mommy Life and Getting Past Survival - Great thoughts here. See the comments for additional discussion. (Jess Connell)

It's Worth the Effort - "Keep teaching your children, mamas... Real parenting is tiring work that stretches and grows us, but it is so important." (Contentment Acres)
"I am seeing the gardens in my children's hearts, which I tended so carefully and prayed over so sincerely, bear fruit. Not only do I see God's work in their lives, but I am touched by it as they now minister to me. This has been surprising because I didn't expect to receive anything in return as I mothered them. I kept at it because I wanted them to know the Lord and do what was right. All my weary and often flawed efforts combined with God's grace has turned around and is blessing me in so many ways. Keep going, mamas. I know the road is rough, but it's worth the journey."

From the Bookshelf

Moving toward my goal of catching up on all the children's literature I missed the first time through...

The Mysterious Benedict Society

I've heard of this book for years, and finally decided to tackle it.
And... wow. It was awesome. A gripping story-line, insanely inventive language and plot... it was definitely a page-turner of the highest order.

My only caution is that this book can get a wee bit on the scary-creepy side. Don't hand it off to any easily-scared children. However, I think most teens should be able to handle this. 

Anyone else read this one?

The Penderwicks in Spring

This past week I finished reading the four Penderwick books, of which this one is the last. Did I like it? Yes and no. I liked it because I like the Penderwick series, but the actual story line I found both horrifying and sickening. Also, the resolution was weak - at best.

I am considering writing a review of the Penderwick series, simply to sort out my feelings about these books. I really have a love-hate relationship with them, and I'm not yet sure which predominates.

Any other readers out there who have read these books? Your thoughts?

Meet Julie

Question: How much feminist ideology can be put into one children's book?

Answer: More than I thought possible.

Whether you think that's a good thing or not depends on whether or not you are a fan of feminist ideology, and of teaching it to your daughters.

For myself, I was deeply and profoundly disappointed in this book.

Kildee House

A gentle book about a hermit, his animal friends, and the girl who befriends him. Slow-paced, enjoyable, and especially fun for animal lovers.

The Fifth of March

A fictionalized story of the time surrounding the Boston massacre, from the perspective of a female servant in the Adams household. Beyond a few minor complaints, it's an enjoyable read.

From the Recipe Box

Crockpot Enchilada Stuffed Green Peppers - These were fast, easy, and superb! I used this enchilada sauce recipe and a homemade spice packet using this recipe (I omited the cornstarch, sugar, coriander, and cayenne). I also added a couple of onions, sauteed, to stretch the meat.

Cookie Pizza - It only took me four and a half years after printing this recipe to try it. But YUM, it instantly became a family favorite. Do try it!

Have a wonderful week, dear readers! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy New Year!

New Year's week was a blessed oasis after the insanity of Christmas week. I enjoyed having the rush of Christmas week over, and we caught up on a few things that didn't happen before Christmas.

First on the list was our yearly graham-cracker gingerbread houses. These critters look deceptively easy, but they're a good recipe for insanity. The walls simply will not stay put! (I don't even try to add anything crazy, like a sloped roof. Totally beyond my abilities.) And my royal icing didn't come together too well this year (new recipe = bad idea).

But we still had fun.

For New Year's Eve we baked and decorated the Christmas sugar cookies that didn't get baked before Christmas - fun! I used my trusty natural food colorings (yellow = turmeric, green = chlorophyll, red = beet juice), and my husband served as the Sprinkle Guy. I frosted in double time in order to keep the mess from spreading too far, and we had a fun time.

The rest of the night was spent making a special dinner (egg rolls and fried rice), watching a bit of a Christmas show, and making our now-traditional Crockpot Brownies in a Mug. Unfortunately the brownies were horribly overcooked (I suspect outside influences, namely the 3yo turning them back on after I'd turned them off), and they baked into inedible rocks. Try getting THAT out of your coffee mugs!

This year I looked up an archived video of the Prescott Boot Drop, and we played that at 9:00 p.m. instead of the New York City ball-drop. A big success! I plan to do this again next year.

(We just skipped straight to the end - right around the 9:30 mark.)

At 9:00 p.m. we headed everyone to bed and started chipping the frosting and sprinkles off of the walls, chairs, ceiling, etc.

On New Year's Day we had black-eyed peas and honey muffins (recipes courtesy of Contentment Acres) and did a very unsuccessful job of trying to have a relaxing day (HA!). This weekend we'll try to resume some semblance of normal life after the holidays and get ready to head back to school on Monday.

I'm looking forward to 2016. Happy New Year, dear readers!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Looking Ahead to 2016

I love the week between Christmas and New Year's!

The stress of Christmas is over, but the feeling of the holidays is still here. It's a perfect time of winter stillness before the busyness of school time sets in again.

I enjoy this week as a time to look back (what has worked, what hasn't?) - and to look ahead (where do I want to go from here?).

This past year has been a good one. While there have been set-backs, times of grief, and times of back-sliding, it's also been a year of great blessing and progress. We've settled into life as a family of six, we've gotten used to my husband being back in the corporate job world, and we've made a lot of progress academically in our home education program.

Looking ahead to the coming year, I have plenty of goals and areas that I would like to improve. Here are a few!


* I was actually doing pretty well with my pre-conception nutrition-lifestyle plan, until a certain bout of recent stomach flu took everyone back to simple carbs and zero extras. Time to jump back on the bandwagon.

* I need to continue getting up early so that I can both exercise and spend time in Bible study and prayer. This is a constant struggle! It also entails getting to bed at a decent time, which also entails giving up time-wasters so that I'm not desperately scrabbling to do chores late at night after I've wasted earlier hours.

* I want to devote some time to learning the Trim Healthy Mama cooking system, focusing on S and FP meals and snacks.

* As always, I earnestly desire to press onward and upward in my pursuit of excellence in five areas: faith, homemaking, marriage, motherhood, and home education. As a sideline, I continue to pursue knowledge and better practice in the area of nutrition and pre-conception preparation.


* I need to focus on several areas of parenting: encouraging (and enforcing) responsibility and faithfulness in school work and chores, being diligent about "yes, ma'am" responses, continuing to forge ahead with chore assignments, and beginning to teach the 9yo how to cook (unlike his younger brother, he does not voluntarily enter the kitchen). It's also time to start teaching some boy-girl principles - not because the 9yo is interested in girls, but simply because the topics are starting to come up. Uncharted waters, here I come.

* I need to potty-train a certain 3yo. Yes, the one who's about to turn four. (*Sigh*) I'm afraid I avoid potty training like the plague. I successfully procrastinated through our first child's potty training, and he potty trained himself. Our second will most likely never be potty trained, due to special needs. But our third child is stubbornly insistent upon remaining the "baby of the family," and I don't see that he has any plans to abandon diapers voluntarily any time soon. Hence, action is needed.


* I have several home projects that I'd like to tackle this year:
  1. Get the carpet cleaned.
  2. Get the piano tuned.
  3. Deal with furniture arrangement in the front room.
Knowing me, these three projects will take me all year - if I'm lucky and they don't take the next five years!

Home Education

* Our mornings still need work. No matter how hard I work, no matter how early I get up, I still find myself bogged down by about five million morning chores, and it is extremely hard to wade through my to-do list (not to mention diaper changes, breakfast, nursing babies, etc.) to get to the start of our school day. This has to change, especially as we enter fourth-grade-land and have more to do.

* Speaking of homeschooling, we will be adding several new curriculum areas for the coming 2016-2017 school year, including a formal reading curriculum (reading technicalities, not phonics), composition, formal science, and Latin. Besides making the actual curriculum choices, we'll have to make more time for lessons.

* Still trying to figure out piano lessons for the children. I should just buckle down and teach them myself, but... hmm.

* I am having to make decisions regarding our outside-the-home schedule. This past quarter, it's gotten too crazy, and it has to change. We're currently involved in three separate homeschool groups, and while I love each of them, the combined schedule of park days, special events, and field trips has gotten out of control. (Some moms would consider this pretty tame, but I have a very low busyness-overload threshold.) This year, I'm going to have to learn how to say no to some things - even good things.


* For my blog, I do not have any goals. Two words: no time. I enjoy hopping on when I can, but that isn't often. I see that my blogging in 2015 (119 entries) was nearly identical to 2014 (121 entries), so my time seems to be holding steady. I make zero profit from this blog, and it's something that is purely personal (i.e. it does not benefit my family in any way), so it has to come last as a minor hobby.

I'm looking forward to this new year, and to the opportunity to continue to learn and grow. While I have so far yet to go on this voyage, I have experienced God's faithfulness in the journey - and I know that He will take us where we need to go.

Happy New Year, dear readers!