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?