Sunday, October 12, 2014

Halfway Through Our Homeschool Year! (And Reflections Thereupon)


As of last Friday, we are halfway through our homeschool year. We're finishing up our one-week break now, and next week we'll start one more six-week term before baby arrives. If baby can conveniently arrive four days late, we'll finish the term perfectly!

Having reached our halfway point, I've had some time to reflect on what I've learned this year. Most of it has been quite surprising.

Last year, I was the PERFECT HOMESCHOOL MOMMY. In other words, we did everything. School, crafts, science experiments, fun projects, field trips, park days, academic extras - everything. Every week. Period.

At the time, I didn't realize it, but I had put my self on the high road to homeschool burnout. I was determined to be the perfect homeschool mom if it killed me.

And it nearly killed me.

Ditto with holiday overkill.

I didn't realize how badly I had burned out until summer break came and I found myself increasingly disinclined to start up again. Ever.

You'd think I would have been more careful, because I've seen what burnout looks like - and it's ugly. I don't ever want to go fully into that land. But I was well on my way.

The main lesson learned was that I need to guard myself from following other homeschool moms out of envy, guilt, or anything else. I need to focus on the Lord's will for OUR homeschool and follow that. Otherwise, I'm just going to hit the road to burnout again... and again... and again.

If last year was "The Year of Really Over-Doing It," this year is "The Year of Recovery."

I'm recovering from... homeschool burnout.

I spent a good bit of this year recovering from... morning sickness.

I will spend the last third of the year recovering from... childbirth and having a newborn in the house again.

But the main recovery of this year is definitely the burnout issue.

This year, I have felt extremely disinclined to do any of the extras. Recipes, crafts, science experiments, etc. - all of those have gone from weekly to rare. I simply cannot garner any enthusiasm for them! Part of that may be morning sickness and pregnancy fatigue, of course, but I think that a lot of it is still residual burnout from my perfectionist drive last year.

I'm still praying and thinking about what I need to do to maintain a workable long term solution to avoiding homeschool burnout. I know that I need to scale back. I know that I need to respect my own needs (like my need for a clean house). I know that I need to pray more, and to seek the Lord's will for our homeschool (as mentioned above). But finding that perfect balance between my natural inclination (meaning no crafts again, ever) and the perfect-homeschool-mother bit (all extras all the time! more! more! more!) is going to take some serious time.

Additionally, I have found that this year has not been as much about academics as it was last year. For the most part, second grade has been a continuation of first grade. Aside from changing our math curriculum, there haven't been too many changes. (Next year, when we add grammar and spelling, will be a whole different critter.) And in many ways, I haven't been too worried about academics this year. (Except for our son's handwriting, which is so atrocious that we might as well have him apply to medical school now.)

This year has focused on slightly different areas:

  • Organization
    • I'm learning to keep simpler homeschool records that will be sustainable when we add more students. 
    • I'm re-learning how to plan meals. 
    • I'm working on chore charts. 
    • I'm organizing my cleaning methods. 
  • Behavior
    • We're working on obedience with the 2yo and attitude issues with the 8yo. 
    • We're working on consistent discipline (which is so incredibly hard!).
    • We're tackling the issue of picky eating and table manners. 
    • We're working on family dynamics and on creating a peaceful home.
  • Character
    • We're working big-time on the issue of diligence, primarily through the medium of chores. This has been so much more work than I thought it would be, but I am soldiering through the challenges. If I don't fall over dead before we work through those challenges, I'll post about the whole thing sometime. Don't count on it any time soon. 

From the past two years, I can see one thing very clearly: Every year will carry its own challenges, and each year will be very, very different from each other year. There's no such thing as simply saying, "We homeschool." It's more a matter of, "Our first year was the year that went smoothly. Our second year was when we dealt with sibling bickering. Our third year was when Mama was on bed rest." And etc. As in parenting and family life in general, each year and each season will have its own strengths, its own weaknesses, and its own challenges. 

While that's rather intimidating, I'm very grateful that the Lord is always in control and is working with our family on the areas with which we need help and improvement. I'm praying that we will always be headed in a more mature and godly direction - as opposed to moving backward! (Though that's probably inevitable, at least occasionally!) 

I'm planning on keeping the rest of the year low-key. After baby arrives we will necessarily have to scale back on any unnecessary extras, and the few months following will depend primarily on baby's temperament!

One change I have made recently is to re-think our afternoon reading time (science, history, literature). Over the past few months, I had noticed with some alarm that our 8yo had gone from "Yay! Reading time!" to "Mommy, do we haaaaave to?" After thinking about it, I realized that my selections of reading material had transitioned from "fun stuff" - good-quality fiction and science/history readers - to incredibly boring factual books (i.e. "Let's read all about the culture and socioeconomics of Peru," etc.). I am currently working on bringing our reading time back to books that give us joy rather than books that are deadly dull to both of us. 

I am also in prayer and thought over several issues that must be decided before summer break. These include:
  • Will we start either Spanish or piano for the 8yo next year?
  • Which language arts program will we select for the 8yo? And do we want to do a package curriculum (all language arts subjects included) or separate curricula by subject (i.e. spelling, grammar, etc.)?
  • Will we continue to use the same method for history and science?
  • And finally, how are we ever going to get this child writing more easily?
Lots to think about, lots to pray about, lots to do. 

This hasn't been a thrilling year, so far, but it's been an interesting one - and I've learned many things that will hopefully bless our home in future years. 

I'd love to hear from you, dear friends! Have you dealt with any of the same issues? How did you deal with them?

Have a lovely week, my friends! 

I'll leave you with a picture that demonstrates exactly why it is so difficult to home educate with a toddler in the house!



My husband was laughing hysterically but still managed to grab his phone. This is one of those pictures we'll save to show his future wife! 



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our Podcast Is Up!


Hey, everyone! I am so excited about this! The podcast that I recorded with Rachel Dewell over at Preventing HG Before Pregnancy is up! Head on over and check it out - I'd love to know what you think!

Low carb, high fat diet during pregnancy to prevent HG?

Rachel did an awesome job with editing and producing this podcast! Despite the fact that we had a very difficult time with a bad internet connection, she has produced a great show that includes all of the fun stuff that we talked about. Join us!

Also, remember to join the group Preventing Hyperemesis on Facebook! Great stuff happening there!

Have a lovely night, everyone!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My Favorite Pregnancy Supplements!


My first pregnancy was virtually supplement-free. I was young, clueless, and too horribly sick to take anything anyway - even if I'd known what to take (which I didn't).

Thankfully, since then I've learned of a great array of supplements to help make pregnancy easier and healthier. I'd like to share my list with you, and I hope you'll reciprocate - I love hearing new ideas!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, just a passionate amateur. You are responsible for doing your own research and accepting all risks before trying any supplements!


For Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy:

Click here to see my entire list of supplements (and dietary/lifestyle changes) to avoid severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Preferably, these supplements and dietary changes would be started as far in advance of conception as possible.

Additionally, I enthusiastically recommend all supplements and dietary changes at the above link for all pregnancies, not just those plagued by morning sickness. Check it out!


For Pregnancy and Postpartum in General:


BASICS: Vitamin B complex, Vitamin D, Multivitamin, Magnesium, DHA (fish oil), Coconut Oil

Why: These are the supplements that provide much of what is missing in the standard American diet.

When: Every day, preferably pre-conception onward (i.e. all the time!)

Ideally I would add: Probiotics! Probiotics are awesome for just about everything, and gut health is extremely important during pregnancy (as it always is). This time around, I have neglected probiotics simply because I was eating so many probiotic lacto-fermented foods. But if funds were not an issue, I would definitely add a good probiotic to the mix.




Desiccated Liver Pills

Why: This supplement was recommended to provide micronutrients I might miss in the early first trimester when my diet was so limited. I like it so much that it's now part of my regular supplement regimen! Read all about the benefits of dessicated liver here. Of course, if you like liver, you can always just cook it and eat it. I'll stick with pills.

When: All the time! Especially good to build up iron stores before baby is born.

Other options: If you'd like a good source of non-animal-based iron, try Floradix. I'm guessing that liver provides a superior micronutrient profile, but Floradix is good too!







Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Why: Good for everything "woman-wise"! Morning sickness, birth preparation, etc. Read all about it here! I am currently drinking two glasses a day, and I also plan on doing the "miracle birth brew." I'll let you know how it works! (Directions for regular tea and for full-strength birth tea are in above link.)

Bulk herbs may be purchased online at several excellent online stores. Local friends, try Desert Sage Herbs in Chandler, AZ. The price per pound is slightly higher than online, but when you take shipping charges into account, it is far cheaper than purchasing online.

When: All the time, but especially during pregnancy!

Also try:
  • Nettles! - Another great herb for women! Can be mixed with RRL to make tea.
  • Alfalfa! (See below for more information) - You can add alfalfa to your tea mix if you prefer that over pill form. 
  • Peppermint! - For flavor. 
  • See this tea recipe for directions on combining the above into a pregnancy tea! 

I have no idea why this picture turned out upside down, but you get the idea. 


Alfalfa Pills

Why: Building my vitamin K stores (to help with postpartum bleeding) and building up baby's vitamin K stores (since we choose not to accept the vitamin K shot). Alfalfa also has a ton of great micronutrients - check it out here! It's an awesome supplement. Please note that I am talking about alfalfa (the grass) not alfalfa seeds.

Alfalfa can also be taken as a tea rather than a pill (see above).

If you want another way to get super-high levels of "green stuff" (i.e. concentrated greens), try liquid chlorophyll! (Hint: It's made from alfalfa.) We always keep a bottle of this wonderful stuff on hand to use as green food coloring for frosting and ice cream (instead of the typical petroleum derivative), but it's also an amazing supplement. Many people put it in their drinking water.

You can always just eat terrifically high amounts of greens (spinach, etc.), but I am notoriously bad at that!

When: Preferably all the time (pregnant or not), but at least during the last trimester.




Dates

Why: Date consumption has been shown to have amazingly positive results on pregnancy health and birth statistics! Read the summary here (or the original 2011 study here).

It's also a great excuse to eat one of the yummiest foods on the planet.

When: All the time, but at least during the last four weeks of pregnancy (~6 dates per day).

I'm entirely too tired to find a picture of a date, so you'll have to make do with a picture of a toddler with a date shake! Does that count? 


Liquid Calcium-Magnesium

Why: Prevention and treatment of afterpains!

Read about my complete afterpain protocol, which has taken my afterpains from debilitating-excruciating (first birth) to quite manageable (third birth).

When: Always good, but especially during the last trimester and then during the postpartum.




Afterpains Tincture

Why: This stuff is great for helping with afterpains! Unfortunately the company from whom I usually buy my tincture has stopped selling to the public, but there are comparable products out there. Just do a quick Google search!

When: Immediately after birth (I take mine within 60-120 seconds after birth) and thereafter as needed.


***

Okay, dear friends! It's your turn! What pregnancy supplements do you take to make pregnancy easier, happier, and healthier? Let me know!




Friday, October 3, 2014

Spring & Fall Cleaning Lists


As of this weekend (or at least sometime before Christmas), I should be finished with my Spring Cleaning project!

*Hurray!*

This project has definitely taken much longer than I anticipated - especially as I ought to be finishing up with FALL cleaning right now. However, the house feels much better, I've gotten a lot of things done, and it's been a lot of fun. I may even tackle Fall cleaning now - or at least as soon as I find my checklists, which have been lost in the process (and which I do not feel like re-printing!).

I am sharing these lists in the hopes that they might be useful to someone (and for bragging rights, since these puppies took months to put together!). However, cleaning lists will be highly individual - both to individual women and to individual houses. You might get some ideas here, but you'll have to make up your own if you want to try something similar.

However, making these sheets is super-simple. Just list out the rooms (or zones) in your home, and start listing the big once- or twice-a-year projects that you like to get done. Twice-yearly projects go under both Fall and Spring, and once-yearly projects go under either Fall or Spring (but not both). I prefer to front-load my year, so a huge majority of my yearly projects fell under Spring cleaning. Thankfully this leaves me far less to do for Fall cleaning.

Enjoy, dear friends!



HOMESCHOOL

Spring Only
Write year-end curriculum summaries and student reports
File all papers and finish notebooks
Purge and reorganize computer files
Go through homeschool shelves on large bookcases
Clean out kitchen homeschool/craft cupboard
Make list of needed supplies
Replenish supplies
Order next year’s curriculum


KITCHEN

Spring and Fall
  Wash front and back door, in and out. Screens too!
  Wash three interior kitchen doors, in and out.
  Clean oven à run cycle, wash front, broiler drawer, remove and wash knobs  
  Wash slatted windows around table.
  Kitchen sink window– sill, blinds, Windex
  Dining area – sill, blinds, Windex
  Baseboards
  Wash all decorative items
  Clean stove wire mesh thing
  Wash trash cans
  Bleach coffee pot
  Bleach kitchen brushes
  Bleach dish drainer, drain plugs
  Wash booster seats, oil chairs
  Wash high chair & liner & tray
  Wash any chair covers
  Wash top of fridge and freezer
  Clean out fridge, if needed
  Wash reusable grocery bags


Spring only
Dust top of cabinets.
Remove all items from PANTRY. Clean.
Remove all items from UTILITY CLOSET. Clean.
Move fridge, freezer, stove, bookshelf, washer/dryer. Clean underneath.
Clean cupboards & drawers. Remember doors! Remember baseboards!
Clean toddler step stools
Bleach kitchen floor.
Laundry Room
       □ Clean laundry room cupboards.
       □ Clean laundry room cabinet/sink.

Wash fan light basin
Wash over-sink light
Backsplash/Wall
Wash door curtain.
Wash laundry basket
Declutter/dust kitchen bookshelf

Fall only
Clean out small freezer
Defrost large freezer


General

Spring and Fall
  - INSIDE
     □  Dust all ceiling fans and ledges
     □  Vacuum baseboards or wipe with damp rag
       
  Diaper bag – clean out, restock, change seasonal clothing

  - OUTSIDE
      
  Dust outside of house
          Scrub stains
          Wash car, vacuum


Spring only
Wash lower walls where needed
Dust ceilings
Dust walls

Fall only
Oil bench
Oil wooden furniture
Clean out emergency car bag
Refill emergency waters



Living Room

Spring and Fall
    Wash organ cover

Spring only
Bureau
Small bookshelf
Straighten/wash large bookshelves, purge books
White storage drawers
Windows - sills, blinds, windex
Vacuum couches
Wash basket toys, wash liner of toy basket
Wash large play cushions
Wash any other toys
Wipe organ keys

Fall only
Get couches cleaned
Get carpets cleaned



  
Front Room
Spring and Fall
Wash front door, in and out. Screen too!
Wash piano bench cover
Wash couch cover

Spring only
My desk
Computer desk
Purge all paper files
Wash window - sill, blinds, windex
Wipe piano keys
Wipe computer keyboard, phone, etc.



Master Bedroom

Spring and Fall
Wash door

Spring only
My bureau
Master closet
         Clean out, wipe shelves
       □
DH’s bureau
         
Go through my clothes
         
Have DH go through his clothes
      □ Windows – blinds, sills, windex
Linen Closet
     □ Clean out
     □ Door, in and out
Wash pillows (do all for house)
Wash winter blankets and store
Bookcases – dust, wash, purge
Baby bureau



Boys’ Bedroom

Spring and Fall
Wash door, plus closet doors
Closet – Re-file/purge clothing, dust

Spring only
Bureau
Windows – blinds, sills, windex
Wash curtains


Girls’ Bedroom

Spring and Fall
Wash door, plus closet doors
Closet – Re-file/purge clothing, dust

Spring only
Bureau
Windows – blinds, sills, windex
Bookshelves – purge, wash, dust

  
Master BATH

Spring and Fall
Wipe cabinet fronts, including corner cupboard
Bleach toilet brush, bleach toilet
Pumice toilet as needed
Wash three doors

Spring only
White corner cupboard, clean out
Medicine cabinet, clean out
Drawers and cupboards, doors too!
Windows – sills, blinds, windex
Wash trash can
Wash training potty




½-Bath

Spring and Fall
Bleach toilet brush, bleach toilet
Pumice toilet as needed
Wash door

Spring only
Wash trash can


J and J Bath

Spring and Fall
Wipe cabinet fronts, including corner cupboard
Bleach toilet brush, bleach toilet
Pumice toilet as needed
Wash three doors

Spring only
Window – sill, blinds, windex
White corner cupboard, clean out (remember to wipe doors)
Medicine cabinets, clean out
Under-sink drawers and cupboards. Doors & baseboard too!
Wash shower curtain
Wash trash can