Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In the Dumps - Homeschool Update

Okay so I sat here for quite a long time before writing this. Not really sure what to say or how to say it but... I got the school blues! I get so pumped up and have so many visions for the year before it begins. And then the hum-drums set in.

Being a teacher is not my strength. I get impatient, I think of all the other things I need to do in the back of my mind (I run my own business from home - not to mention the cooking, cleaning, pets, errands, bills to pay, etc.), I get tired or just plain don't feel good. Then I start to feel bad that I didn't have some grand activity or field trip planned (seriously don't desire to drag four kids out in the snow at 7-months-pregnant - hurry spring, hurry!!!). I am trying to muster the energy up to even make breakfast, much less plan trips all over the city and state. When I gestate, I hibernate. I kind of pull inward. Don't want to deal with people, don't want to go anywhere. And then I feel terribly guilty. My kids still get out and go places but not as often as I envisioned when we started this voyage.

School time is loud. I'm pulled in half-a-dozen directions. I send Elaina to the couch to work quietly and her brother jumps up there to attack her with hugs and kisses while I'm trying to keep Zoe happy and teach Abigail how to read. I bought Zoe so many manipulatives, books and things for her to do during school time but all she wants to do is fight for attention. I feel myself losing what little patience I have very early on in the day.

The kids lean on their chairs and poke each other and my toddler daughter will reach over and draw a huge line down one of her sister's work. Judah is screaming at me and clutching my leg, asking me for a snack for the millionth time. Zoe chimes in for a snack... then Abigail. Elaina knows better than to prod the Momma Bear and just waits, knowing snack time is at a set time. Then I look over and Judah has toddled off and is climbing up on my desk to grab my scissors (the scissors, stapler, etc. have now been moved to the top of my tall bookcase). I give them a snack for a 15-minute respite so I can actually have a discussion about sea life with Elaina.

Don't even get me started on my "record keeping". I have notes stacked on the desk that I need to input into my tracker (it tallies up all the credits for me). My state requires I keep a record of the school hours and a portfolio of work - at least I'm good on the portfolio. That part is easy!

Instead lots of reading and Lego-building goes on. Lots of little stories played out with dolls and Barbies. When the weather actually cooperates the kids pretend they are making mud pies and running a household and run around the yard getting super muddy and tiring themselves. And those things are nice. Those are more calm moments. But I still want them to learn grammar, handwriting and geography. I am not good at incorporating these subjects into play in a comprehensible sense. Some people have that gift and others, like me, buy self-propelled curriculum in the hopes we can dodge the hoopla of planning every educational moment.

I tell myself it is the first year so be easy on yourself. But I can't help but think that I'm doing it all wrong. I'm feeling pretty down about it and wanting to give up. I read so many homeschool blogs and the moms seem to have it all together. They have fun crafts and experiments planned out and it's just not my thing. Sorry but it's not! Every now and again I'll get the itch and do something totally awesome. But it is rare. I know, I know - don't covet and all that jazz.

There isn't some profound message here in this post where you get to the end where I make a grand point and you say to yourself, "Wow, makes total sense! I feel much better about my own journey!" Nope, this is what you get. All me, all real. I don't have the answers. I'm just honestly not enjoying schooling right now.

I love my babies, so so so much! Don't ever get me wrong there. I'm just painting a picture of a typical day and why I'm burning out. This time is so fleeting. These moments so precious. And I feel like I'm wasting them and that my hormones are wreaking havoc on everything I try to build up in my children.

I see the moms who are dressed and ready to tackle the day the moment their children rise and I'm a zombie until about 11AM. I know the perfect mom doesn't exist. I know this person I have built up in my mind probably doesn't exist. But I at least want to do better and strive to be more like her. Ready, emotionally and mentally present, lessons planned and children content. I don't know what it will take to get there or get closer to there but I'm trying. I'm changing it up, trying to figure out how to make it work.

This is what I'm going to try tomorrow:
-Prayer time is FIRST
-Everyone is going to take 10-15 to go get dressed, brush hair, brush teeth and be at the table for instruction, including Momma!
-Elaina is now going to work at the desk, Abigail at the dining table, for seat work
-Going to set a timer for Zoe for snack time
-Going to talk to Zoe about giving me 10 minutes to get her sisters set up for their lesson and then I will read to her and Judah; will have her pick out books during that time
-Potty break will happen for everyone right before snack time (we will have a first floor bathroom before summer so that will be helpful as they can go alone, they just don't want to go UPSTAIRS to the bathroom, alone)

I think it sounds like a plan! Sometimes writing all this out really helps one come up with new ideas and an action plan. I'm not ready to give up, no siree!

Monday, March 25, 2013

6 Years Ago...

... God gave me you!

Happy 6th Birthday my sweetheart! Such a happy baby and a happy girl who loves to encourage others and make them feel special.

We went to Pizza Ranch with the cousins and Daddy's parents on Friday to celebrate. But Sunday (yesterday) was the actual birthday date. We were snowed in but we had more pizza (it is what you asked for!), cake and a couple gifts. We spent your birthday lounging around, playing with Legos. 

You never tire of hearing about your babyhood and ask me about it all the time. And I always tell you, "You were such a happy baby! You cried maybe five times total as a baby." You weren't a snuggly baby, though. You liked your space and often laid there making "duck lips" and spitting, cooing, laughing and kicking your feet. You kicked your feet a lot, almost nonstop it seemed.

You don't really ask about your birth yet. I know there will come a day when you do. Your birth is what really launched me into a quest for better care with your younger siblings so I always have this feeling of remorse in the back of my mind of how it played out. Some women have had it worse, I know. I can't change the past but I can sure make different choices in the present. I am just so grateful you are you and that you're safe and healthy.

My remorse comes mostly from your care at delivery and afterward. Your collarbone broke, a more common occurrence in hospitals than people realize, not always resulting from a dystocia (getting stuck) as you were not stuck but pulled on before you could maneuver and turn your way through as babies naturally do in birth. I was so sick from the epidural and drugs and Pitocin that I allowed be given to me that I only held you briefly before asking someone to take you. It was awhile before a nurse, who was in the room the whole time, finally offered me anti-nausea medication which worked instantly.

I struggled with breastfeeding and wasn't in a pro-breastfeeding hospital to begin with (hindsight...) so professional support was nil. You loved breastmilk and I used a shield for two months and tried to wean you off of the contraption. I regret not trying harder. I regret not realizing I could have pumped instead if it came down to it. I was so uneducated even though I had already had your big sister.

(Those curls!!!)

But despite those regrets you're still a healthy, vibrant, imaginative and creative being. I still firmly believe birth matters even if the outcome turns out well in the very end. Women and their babies should always be respected, not treated like an animal to be controlled and manipulated by hospital staff. In other words - no matter how a birth turns out the mother and father should never leave feeling like they had no voice, no respect or that the mother's body was mistreated in any sense of the word. And they should never be left feeling like their baby was treated poorly. Respect is very important to me.

I miscarried right before conceiving you. The pregnancy was emotionally difficult because I was afraid to love you and lose you as well. Once you were born that survival feeling was immediately gone and replaced with the deepest devotion. Or I should say that devotion was already there but by letting go of my emotional baggage really let the love shine through! We were very connected once we were home and well on our way to bonding.

While you may not have been a snuggly baby you sure are a snuggly girl now. You are the queen of spontaneous hugs and kisses and a warm word of encouragement (you sweetly tell me I'm so beautiful even if I'm in my pajamas without makeup!).

You are my colorful girl who loves to wear whatever she feels looks good together. A little sparkle here, a lot of sparkle there! You also love little treasures. Your winter coat pockets are currently full of rocks that you find who-knows-where. 

You are not a follower, you are a leader. Don't let anyone ever make you feel like less than who you are because you are amazing just as you. You definitely follow the beat of your own drum (as I did but please oh please don't make the mistakes I've made, ha!).

Mommy (and Daddy!) love you so so so much!


PS Your current occupational desire when you grow up is to be a vet tech/assistant!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Latest

Okay so I have started writing posts and then have been so tired that I just shut the computer off, hence my silence. Here are some recent pics from my phone (sorry if you're on my Instagram they're probably repeats).

 26-week (?!) belly shot. I already forgot what week this was taken. And yes, it's a big bump and yes there is only one in there. Had someone ask me today, "So any day now, right? You look ready!" Ahhh... the comments begin. I don't get offended, mostly amused. People don't always mean harm.

 Best buds - Elaina and Judah
 My birth kit arrived (I may have already posted about this?!). I got it way faster than I anticipated so that was nice. Great company, too. They included a little bookmark-sized paper in the box with a prayer for safe birth. Amen! I'll take it!
This weekend Abigail and I went to get haircuts. This is her before (she was showing off her first lost tooth) and her after. It was fun going out with my girl! She picked out a pretty headband at the salon as well and has been wearing it everyday since.
We had a spring teaser until yesterday. It was glorious out! We broke out the scooters and went on a nice, long walk. Miss Zoe stopped to pose for me before trying to race after her sisters. I hear a lot of "Guys, wait for me!" from her lately.

Celebrated my birthday and Daddy's birthday (ours are exactly a week apart, except on Leap Year) a few weeks ago. I told him he was an old fart to which he threw back, "But you're a year older than me so what does that make you?!" Touche!

Midwife appointment Tuesday! Baby has been moving up a storm.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Roll Call!

I just updated my list of "Blogs I Love" on my right-hand sidebar. I have so many others that I love but my laptop battery is about to die and it's way past my bedtime. I think that's enough for now. Browse around and you may find a few new blogs to follow!

I kind of feel like I've entered a different season in blogging. When I first started blogging several years ago a whole gaggle of us ladies were connected to one another intimately - we all read each others' blogs and really got to know each others' families. We've since moved our friendships onto Facebook, a more private forum and I've since seen other bloggers come and go (heck I've been pretty quiet myself but trying to be better) without really getting that sense of community anymore.

My own writing style has changed (I feel so dry, boring and tired... sorry!) and I'm struggling to really come out of this shell I've burrowed in. I want to find my writer's voice once again.

When you're a teenager you're told you have time to decide what you want to be when you grow up, that one day you'll "know who you are" but I'm getting closer to 30 and still feel like there are days when I just don't recognize myself anymore. So I'm in that place right now - a transitional phase. Much like a caterpillar of a mom wanting to get her wings and soar! Hopefully sooner rather than later. I feel change in the air. Part of that can be scary and part of it is so mysterious and fun.

Leave me a comment, especially newer followers! I don't know so many of you and would love to hear from y'all. Blessings!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Birth Kit

I just ordered my birth kit! What is that?! A birth kit is a kit of essentials that families buy for their home birth which are not provided by the midwife (in some cases people choose to have supplies ready just in case they don't make it to their place of birth and some people choose to have unassisted birth and need supplies). Most kits are around $30, give or take, some items may already be in your home. You can search your midwife by name in the search engine to find their birth kit at In His Hands (not all midwives may have a list on there). These are the same things you'd be charged for at a hospital or birth center but may not realize it unless you ask for an itemized bill so this isn't unusual.

My kit included such things as the birth certificate, the cord clamp/ring, those big blue and white absorbent pads, gloves, Peri bottle, etc. I also got the birth pool liner and a huge sheet of plastic to protect my floors from the birth pool water.

The cord clamp is actually called a cord ring and looks different than the traditional clamps that have been used in my past births. The long, yellowish clamps always got caught on stuff and irritated my babies so I'm hopeful the ring is less intrusive.

I didn't really need to buy the birth kit just yet but I wanted to because I get my Raspberry Leaf Tea cheaper online than at my local vitamin store (by half the price!). It was going to be $7 to ship a couple boxes of tea or $10 to ship my entire kit, pool liner, tea, etc. Just made sense to get it all at once.

Other baby things I've gotten and crossed off the list:
          We co-sleep/bedshare. Three of our four other littles were in bed with us as infants. Our second-born was the only one who slept on her own, through the night, very early on and liked it that way. In many ways bedsharing has made me feel like I get more sleep and better sleep BUT it's very light sleep. I wanted the co-sleeper so baby is right there but not between Daniel and me, they have their space. The co-sleeper I got attaches to the bed.
          *This is one of those things that I know can be controversial. It can be done safely and it can also be done very unsafely. If you're interested in learning more THIS is one article that I found and loved. I also wrote my own article about it HERE.

-Changing Pad
          We have had the same changing pad since Elaina was a baby! It has seen us through lots of diaper changes but alas, it is time to get a new one. Beyond time... Not everyone cares for changing tables but I have used one since day one with my babies and love it. When our downstairs bathroom is done, hopefully later this month, the changing table will be in there since most changes happen downstairs during the day and the laundry room is right next door!

Other than the clothes my sister will get for me (she gets to shop with my money; I'm not making her pay!) since she knows the gender (and no, she won't tell you so don't bother begging her to tell you!) that is really about all I needed or wanted for baby. I may need more cloth diapers if baby is a boy, though, since I still diaper Judah and he uses all of his.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Emotional Breakdown

Can I just fast forward to June? I know, cherish these moments and all that jazz. But the hormonal mess makes me feel, well, hormonal. Being happy and content one minute and then blazing mad the next is exhausting. That's how I feel - exhausted.

Sorry, just keeping it real. Doesn't make me ungrateful. Just tired.

Daniel ran errands for me today. He texted me that he was leaving the store and 50 minutes later I'm sitting at the table, staring out the window, trying to not cry and wondering where in the world he is at! It's a 20 minute drive. Finally the truck pulls in and I go from concerned wife to upset. I got even more upset when he brings the groceries in, plops them down for me to put away and then proceeds to leave the house again to go do a non-important errand.

I lost my temper.

Then I bawled.

Then I got angry again and bawled some more.

It went from bawling because I thought my husband got in a crash on the way home to being angry (and feeling sorry for myself) for feeling stuck at home for days on end while he's gone out several times. I work from home, I school from home, I eat and sleep and drink home. I'm here, within the same four walls, for days on end. Most of the time I'm waiting on other people so I can get the work done that I need to get done. I was starting to feel a little cuckoo today, a little restless and just needed a break. Especially as it seems all the kids decided that today was going to be a whining-and-fighting-and-being-cranky-all-day-long kind of day.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels off their rocker some days.

Keeping the Sickies at Bay

What are your tips and tricks for helping to keep the family healthy?!

I thought I'd share a little bit about what our larger-than-average family has been doing this season. We've managed to avoid a ton of the stuff being passed around this year. I don't want to get controversial or pick fights but I will start off by saying that we don't vaccinate or get flu shots. That's our choice and if you do differently for your family I respect that. I mention that in case anyone wonders as they read the rest.

1). Vitamin C - we take Vit C supplements. I found gummy ones at the drugstore. They're probably not as healthy as some of the more wholesome ones you can find but they were what I found at the time being and seemed to have been helpful! We also love to drink OJ (the not-from-concentrate is going to be the best for you so something like Simply Orange or Aldi carries a brand that is similar).

2). Vitamin D - I take three itty bitty Vitamin D capsules a day (errrr when I remember!). The kids get theirs in their multi-vitamin. Most people are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a great immunity booster!

3). doTERRA Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils - there are really only a few good essential oil companies out there. In my personal opinion doTERRA is the best.

I have tried several different oils that tout being 100% pure. But I can honestly say that none of them come close to doTERRA. doTERRA even smells different, better. I've bought cheaper oils to save a few bucks and thought, "These stink! Why would anyone want to put these on?!" Plus I never thought they did anything. So a few months ago I finally decided to buy some doTERRA oils. Wow, what a difference. Not only in smell but in effectiveness.

So I wanted to share some stories of how they have helped our family combat illness.

Personal Testimonies using doTERRA

In January Daniel went to California to see Jesus Culture. When he got home he immediately fell ill with this nasty respiratory junk. I had just gotten some oils from doTERRA and hadn't really put them to work yet. I started rubbing On Guard  on the bottoms of his feet and I made a chest rub with Eucalyptus, Lavender and fractionated coconut oil. On Guard is one of many "blends" doTERRA has. They create their own blends of several oils for specific purposes. On Guard is an immunity boosting, illness fighter. It utilizes oils that best combat viruses and as a preventative. The company makes hand wash, cleaners and other products with this blend that you can purchase. Thus far we have the pure oil and the toothpaste (the toothpaste is amazing!).

I began putting On Guard on everyone in the house... except Zoe. She fought me and refused to let me put it on her. Being new to using oils I didn't push it and thought she might be okay. Daniel got better after a couple of days (normally respiratory viruses lasts up to 10+ days). Zoe, however, came down with the respiratory junk. I finally convinced her to let me put the oils on her feet and she overcame it but not as quickly as her dad. I speculate, though I don't really know, that because she is so young her immune system is still growing and maturing. The oils helped but they didn't do all the work - her body still needs to build immune defenses as well. *We also used Zarbee's Cough Syrup to help her sleep at night from the coughing fits she'd have.

*Oils are not the say-all and end-all of healthcare. Taking supplements, eating healthfully, drinking plenty of water, good sleep, etc. are all as vitally important and work together for the whole person. We don't solely rely on oils to "cure" anything but rather help to prevent sickness and/or help overcome it more quickly. Though there is plenty that the oils can help you overcome almost instantly, like headaches...

Daniel got a headache so I put Peppermint on him (oh man is it strong - it makes me want Thin Mints so bad because it makes you smell like a big Thin Mint cookie!!!) rather than popping some Advil. Using oils on your feet gets them into your blood stream the quickest (who knew?!) and his headache was gone almost immediately. I've also gotten headaches and I would estimate that the headaches are gone withing 30-60 seconds of putting the oil on.

Another way we use oils is in a diffuser. You put a few drops of oil and water in the little measuring cup that comes with your diffuser, pour it in the diffuser and turn it on. You can buy blends or make your own. For example if someone has pink eye (like Elaina just overcame) you can put in a few drops of Lavender, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Oil and diffuse them into the air you're breathing.

I have had severe heel pain in my feet for a few years now. It started in my left foot after a workout and I realized I had Plantar Fasciitis, which is inflammation in the heel of the foot when the bottom of the foot is overstretched. My left foot hasn't hurt for awhile but my right foot "caught" it (probably from me leaning on it so much from the pain in my left foot). I've been using Deep Blue Rub (it is made with doTERRA Deep Blue oil blend and lotion) and it has helped tremendously in that I can walk much easier after using it compared to nights I forget to put it on. My kids love the smell of it. It has peppermint in it so it is strong and effective. You can feel the tingly coolness of the peppermint at work. It's a more pure smell, not medicinal at all. I've also used Deep Blue Rub on my sore, tight neck and Daniel's back - not sure how it worked for Daniel but it did wonders on my neck! The Deep Blue blend itself is used for muscle stiffness and soreness, perfect for an athlete or anyone suffering from joint and muscle pain.

The only other major illness that hit our house was Judah getting diarrhea for three or four days straight. I honestly believe it was food poisoning. I gave him yogurt and I think it was rancid because Daniel opened another one and told me it just wasn't right - something was wrong with it. Poor Bubby!!!

When Daniel was fighting his respiratory virus I started to get a scratchy throat on several occasions. I'd immediately use On Guard and the scratchy throat would be G O N E. It never developed into anything else. I am the person who gets sick each and every single pregnancy, each and every single winter and almost every time I run errands and have been in contact with shopping carts. I usually have a cough and at least one stomach virus to fight every year.

I haven't had anything beyond a bit of a runny nose. I cannot tell you how *skeptical* I was putting the oil on when my throat started getting scratchy and how I could hardly believe it when my scratchy throat disappeared within a minute or two of putting the oil on. I do not always Lysol my house when people are sick (though we do wash hands like crazy I'm probably the only one who washes hands like they're supposed to!). Daniel doesn't cover his mouth or he'll cough onto his hands. So it was not for lack of exposure that the rest of us didn't fall victim to the respiratory virus.

Daniel and Zoe are the only ones who got the respiratory virus.
Elaina got pink eye last weekend and it healed within a few days, rather than the normal 10-days typical pink eye takes to clear up. She has otherwise not gotten sick with anything else.
Abigail and I haven't gotten anything.
Judah had the food poisoning but nothing else.

Some people grab the box of pharmaceuticals... some people grab their oils. We're the latter. Just tonight Daniel's eyelid got a little swollen and he asked me, "Is there an oil for this?" (BTW NEVER put oils in your eyes, LOL! Probably a given but thought I'd mention that. Put them on your feet or dilute them in oil and dab a smidge on your temples or cheekbones to help your eyes). He's stopped asking for the medicine box when he gets sick and asks me if there's an oil he can use. This is a man who is not crunchy or as green as I am, whatsoever! He wasn't thrilled when I switched to midwives (he's now 100% pro-midwife) nor happy when I got recycle bins and he was really NOT happy when I got cloth diapers so you can imagine how cool these oils were when I started getting them (he tolerated me using them on him but fell in love when he saw them WORK). I've never wanted to change him but he's naturally seen the wonders of my ways, ha ha! I've converted him!!!

Tips for Purchasing Oils
If you're considering buying oils and have no clue where to start let me tell you - I WAS THE SAME WAY! I was overwhelmed. I had no idea what to get, what to do with them, etc. So I just jumped in. I said "I can afford X-amount" and bought a couple oils.

That's my best advice. Start small. No one says you have to buy the whole kit-n-kaboodle right this very second. If you could only get three oils I would start with: Peppermint, Lavender and Melaleuca (AKA Tea Tree Oil). Get some fractionated coconut oil and voila - you have officially begun your journey into using essential oils. (The coconut oil is used as a "carrier" in case of sensitivity or if the oil is really strong or when using on children, etc.)

Take the month to get to know each of your new oils. As you gain confidence, add a new oil each month based on your needs (if it is flu season get Eucalyptus, for example), maybe a diffuser. You can use the site Aroma Tools to purchase extra little vials, jars or plain lotions, etc. to start making your own blends.

I once was skeptic, now I'm a believer. I'm glad I've invested in doTERRA oils. I signed up for their Loyalty Rewards Program (LRP) where I receive an auto-shipment each month (I edit it after an order arrives with new things I want to try for my next LRP order for the next month). I get free oils when I spend a certain amount! How fun is that?! I also get discounts the longer I stick with the program as well as other free money to use on oils. LRP allows me to gain a few new oils or products to try out, to learn about, to use with my other oils, to stock up on the ones I'm running out of, etc.

If you do not have a doTERRA rep and are interested in buying or becoming a consultant (you don't have to sell and make commission to remain a consultant but you will get the wholesale pricing and if you sign up for monthly auto shipments you earn rewards, freebies and discounts!!!) check out my online store. Here's my link. I'm not going to go into a huge sales pitch. My goal of this post wasn't to make a sale. Honestly I'm only consultant status to get the wholesale pricing so I don't really care if I make sales or not. The point of this was actually to share how doTERRA has worked for us. I'm going to continue to share different products on the blog as I learn about them myself, what a fun journey!

Oils can be used to combat moodiness, PMS, migraines, scratches and minor burns, chronic conditions, etc. Oils are amazing tools for your First Aid and Medicine Cabinet.

Be sure to follow Essential Oils for Family Wellness on FB for promotions, giveaways and ideas for using your oils (this is not my page but a page that I follow and I'm in the admin's down-line).

What do you do for your family to prevent or help overcome illness?
Do you use essential oils as well?