Wednesday, September 14, 2016

1st Day of School!

It's our 7th year of school at home! I was reveling in that when I realized that if we do this thing until the end I will have homeschooled over 25 years! Ahhhh! That's monumental! 

Daddy takes them on their official send off "Not Back to School Breakfast" to return home for drop off!

The fear of the Lord is our beginning! 

Excitement all around! 

Whitty and mama alone! 

My students.

We have kindergarten through 5th graders this year!!! 

We have future pilots, mothers, nurses and woodworkers of America (or where ever God may call them!) 

My calling is high and humble! 

To 20 some more years! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How to Keep Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy & Happy While Homeschooling

This is probably one of the most common questions I'm asked about homeschooling... 

"How in the world do you occupy your little ones... and manage to get ANYthing done?"

Valid concern... 
Considering we have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old who is nearly as "busy" as her toddler sister. 

I can't figure it out for you, but these are ideas I've tried and regularly use.

~ Do school together. This is my #1 go-to response. If you can't beat them, join them (and I don't mean spankings). Have your little ones "join school". If your big kid/s are doing math, pull out some pattern blocks, pop your toddler in a high chair and call it "math time" for them! When you are doing phonics pull out a workbook or letter tiles and have your 3-year-old do "phonics"... because... it is truly school too. Who say's they have to be 5 to be "going to school". Quite literally, our 4th child has ALWAYS done school with her two older brothers and she's proof this method works!

~ Keep them moving... Tip #2 is that little ones need both a healthy balance of routine and also moving through different activities. It's easy to get focused on your older child's lessons, but keeping a steady supply of activities keeps littles ...
1. Out of trouble
2. Happy
3. Learning at an age appropriate level

~ Do blanket time. Pull out a blanket (we use a rug) and train your toddler to sit and play quietly on it with a bin of toys that they find intriguing. The key... don't be punitive. When they lose interest, move on. 

~ Daily Bins. I make a daily bin (Monday - Friday) that features items that my littles find stimulating. Some ideas are: puzzles, magnet blocks, bristle blocks, legos, pattern blocks, felt board, dry erase board and books, board books, sorting toys. Pull a bin for a half hour and enjoy!

~ PBS kids??? Have a movie block of time... whether that's one show of PBS kids, or Sign Time or another show that they can't be easily distracted from... use it! 

~ Play kitchen. Add in math with a cash register. 

~ Make a sheet tent!!! Or a couch fort! 

~ Pull out child safe (yet adult) kitchen items... big (real) pots and pans, rolling pins, plastic cups and tools are super intriguing to little people!

~ Have a puppet show.

~ Rice or Bean bin. I don't love the mess this makes, but it is a nice treat. And no, I wouldn't go to the lengths of getting a kiddy pool... I'd just rather vacuum! 

~ Invest in a kid trampoline. I was doubtful about this, but after seeing how our preschooler took to it at a sensory physical therapy session we got one! She has "jump time" every day and it's essential for both of us to make it through a winter day! 

~ Playdough or other doughs (like kinetic sand). There's something wonderful about putting a toddler in a highchair and letting them squish and squeeze to their heart's desire while you sit on the couch and read a book aloud... for at least 10 minutes! 

~ Packing. Pull out a suitcase and some clothes (ones just out of the dryer) and let your preschooler pretend to pack for a trip... they will undoubtedly pretend to take a trip and pull around the wheely suitcase for a good half hour!

~ Box play! We all know the mesmerizing qualities of a big empty box. Add crayons ot the mix for and older child and it's even better! 

~ Sensory Bin. For younger toddler a bin of sensory objects are very fun and great developmentally! 

~ Cutting and pasting... get out a tray, safety scissors, and a glue stick and set your little one up at your side (because you never know what will happen with scissors). 

~ Room time. Everyone needs time to be alone. Set up a safe room, fully childproofed with a bin of safe toys and a doorway gate. Teach littles to play in solitude for a short period of time each day, lengthen to close to an hour if desired and handled well. 

~ Fill them up first... this is the best and most vital tip for homeschooling with little ones. Start you day with something for them... songs, a book, snuggles, play with mama... what ever fills ups hteir littel love tanks, do it first thing. They will feel more able to meet the day ahead, spend time alone and playing independently if you've spent time loving and enjoying them first! 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Science School

We went to Mobius Science Center today to view their exhibit on human bodies. 
It was good. 
Not only did we get to enjoy that, but the rest of their fun and interactive exhibits!
It was a good day of school on vacation. 

Spokane is a very unique city... Old and new. Lots of nice trees and archetexture. 

Here's Spokane Falls...

Random Thoughts from Our Trip

If you have 6 kids and a pregnant belly you get stared at just as much in Salt Lake City as you do any other place. For real... I was so hopeful and then so bummed. 

People who ask "when are you due" are really just curious why your bump is sticking out so far and want an reasonable explanation to quench their curiousity... (((But they are really curious if it's twins but won't ask)))

If you are waiting in line and feel the need to tell me you had twins (only) and then follow it with "we had hired help because twins cry at the same time..." I will lose desire to listen to you any more. 

When living in suburbia why is it that people have a dog and let it stay outside all night barking it's head off keeping everyone else awake? What's the point in that?

Sleeping in a queen bed after having a king bed is a real struggle... First world problem to the max! 

Pita Pit is a win in my book. I generally avoid eating establishments that have "pit" in the name... But it was nice and surprisingly fresh when you are on the road. 

If you leave your dairy goat at home you will still worry about her supply even with a hired goat milker to tend her.

When driving from Spokane to Salt Lake City in one days time the only obvious way to end that day is to go pick up French fries from In and Out and then drive to go get chicken sandwiches from Chick Fil A... Obviously, the best way to end that day! 

Butte, MT is pretty cool. Wish we had more time to dilly dally. But above is Spokane Falls and it's cool too!

If you stop to eat in Moab stop at Sweet Cravings Bistro and Bakery... It won't look like much, but the food is great and the owner came over and saw we only had three little (complimentary) brownies and she returned with enough for everyone to have their own! ❤️ How kind and thoughtful is that? 

Lastly, when getting a suite for you and your large family that has two queen beds, a pull out couch, love seat and a crib. You will naturally arrange beds as follows... make a big bed on the floor for two kids out of the couch cushions (ask for extra sheets and blankets) have one child sleep on the love seat, two will be on the pull out bed/couch and one in the crib and... mom and dad will each sleep in their own queen bed... And not feel the slightest bit of remorse over it! 

And yes... We spent a better portion of our "vacation" remodeling the basement where my mother and father (in law) live and fortifying the rickety back deck... But it was a sweet and good time! We Thankf God for time to spend with family and make more memories even if some are sad ones. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My "Textbook" First Birth of Adelynn

Birth Stats...
Estimated Gestational Age: 42 weeks exactly
6 hours labor, 3 hours + pushing
8 lbs. 1 oz.
Unmedicated, Midwife birth center, 1st Birth

When we found out that we would be having a baby, both Tim and I desired to weigh our options when it came to how we would bring our child into this world. We had very FEW options in our town and had found out the hospital c-section rate was well over 40%. After a lot of studying we decided to go to the Lisa Ross Birth and Women’s Center of Knoxville to deliver our baby with the least amount of medical intervention as possible and that held to a high standard of care that was steeped in the midwifery model of care. 

We saw four wonderful and skilled midwives throughout the nine months of waiting. I was almost two weeks overdue the night I finally went into labor. As you can imagine, I was very anxious (total understatement) for labor to begin. The midwives had advised me to take castor oil the next morning, if that didn’t start labor they would break my water on Wednesday. I was really unhappy about all of this, because I was hoping to have an unmedicated birth in the birth center. I felt like I was on a fast track to chemical induction in a hospital, which was the last possible thing I wanted due to the risks and disadvantages it has.

However, Monday evening I had mild contractions for several hours, but I didn’t get too excited since that had been happening for a week or so and by morning they would stop. Around 10 p.m. I decided to take a bath and to go to bed, since I had an early wake up to take the castor oil. I tried to enjoy my bath, but I kept having to get out to go to the bathroom. That’s when the contractions started feeling very different. They were sharper. Realizing that this could be “it” I called Tim upstairs to start timing them. I didn’t want my mom (who was visiting with us) to know I was going into labor because I had gotten everyone’s hopes up before, so I said, “Honey, come tuck me in.” We started timing the contractions and they were about 3 minutes apart by 11 p.m. This scared Tim because we had an hour and a half drive to the birth center. He called the birth center and our midwife, Susan said to go ahead and come on in. 

The drive to the center seemed to fly by. Tim must have been speeding because it only took us about an hour. Right after we got to the center my water broke and in it was meconium, likely from my overdue status.  

I spent some time on the birth ball with my husband rubbing my back. Then I tried lying down on my side, however, this was awful! I felt so much worse lying down. After trying it for a while Susan our midwife suggested I get in the birthing tub. What a relief! I felt so much better. The water took away the pressure and the warmth felt so good and I felt like opening up. I stayed in the tub for most of the remainder of my labor. My labor was very intense and seemed to come in waves and groups. Then I’d have a good break to rest.

Around 6 a.m. Susan checked my progress and found that I was already at 9 cm and about ready to begin pushing. I remember thinking, “Wow! That was labor?” It seemed to go by so quickly. I never felt like I couldn’t keep going on. Susan requested I get out of the tub to push due to the meconium. I dutifully got out, but wasn't very please with leaving my "happy place".

The first hour I made very little progress pushing. At some point, after about 3 hours of pushing in all manners of ways, the midwife said, “Marci, you need to make up your mind if you want to get this baby out here or go to the hospital… it’s up to you… but I think you can do it here if you just give it everything!” l couldn’t even entertain the notion of being transported to a hospital (that sounded absolutely horrifying) and thought, “What the heck to I have to lose?” and pushed like a fierce woman. At that point I discovered what it meant to really push. I pushed for about another 30 minutes until our baby finally crowned. I thought, “Holy cow, I’m going to split in half… but, oh well…” and the amazing thing was, I didn’t split in half! I did have a nice tear, but it was easily repaired. 

Once the head of the baby was out the midwives (another one had appeared) discovered the cord was wrapped around the head twice! They managed to get one loop off, but not the other so they had to cut the cord. The midwife placed the baby on my stomach. The baby was purple and floppy, which scared me. I remember looking down at this new little face before they took the baby off to be suctioned and to get the baby breathing, which it did right away (with no issues due to the meconium)! We didn’t know what the baby was and the nurse kept calling it a “he.” But one of the midwives came in and said, “Do you know what you had?” We said no, and she said, “It’s a girl!” Both Tim and I were so happy!

They brought her right back to me and laid her on my chest. Tim said, “Oh, honey there’s our baby!” We both couldn’t believe how much hair our little girl had, and how beautiful she was already. Her blue eyes were so alert and awake, looking around at the new world around her and at her new mom and dad. We decide to name her Adelynn Ruth. She was 8lbs 1 oz and was a total rosy cheeked chunk!

They gave me a shot in the thigh of pitocin due to some bleeding. Other than that we just rested for a few hours before packing up and driving home that afternoon. 

I was so glad I had decided to try and have her with midwives and that I hadn’t been in a hospital. My midwife noted that my birth was a very “textbook first time birth” for the majority of the clients they see.  I doubt that I would have been viewed as a normal “textbook” case by traditional obstetric care in that area… they most likely wouldn't have been so patient with my 42 weeks “over due” status, the meconium or my  3 hour push session. I have no doubt I would have ended up with an outcome that wasn’t necessary and wasn’t ideal or as positive for us all. I didn't care about proving anything to any one, but in the process I really proved to myself that I am capable of much more than I ever thought I was! 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Things on my Home Birth List that aren't on my Midwife's List

Typically when you give birth at home your midwife gives you a list of Home Birth Supplies. On it are things like: a heating pad, trash bags, bowls, 3 sets of sheets, 10 towels, a birth kit...

However, I've added a few things to my list and this is what I find additionally necessary to have on hand for birth and soon after...

5 brand new wash rags and 2 new bath towels... new because no one wants a scratchy old nubby washrag on your forehead during the throws of labor ... get some that are soft and new. Plus, it's unlikely they will "get ruined"... just wash them!

Stuff to make my ideal post birth meal... Smoothy, egg and peanut butter toast. Best ever!!!  And easy for a tired daddy or midwife to make at any hour!

A dimmer switch in your main birthing area/s... just trust me on this one! It's genius. We have a dimmer switch in our bathroom and bedroom and it comes in handy for late night nursing or a-hem... other things!

A strawed water bottle... I like these >>>>>

A yoga pad... this is handy for if you have to kneel. We have concrete floors and it is nice for those kneeling around our tub helping me too.

A "daddy labor do list"... Look here.  So during my last birth I made this list and felt like my "organizing/nesting tendencies" might have gone overboard. But, the morning after the birth I looked over and saw the emergency hospital transfer bag sitting by the front door and I nearly started to cry... my husband had followed the list!!! And when I asked him about it his response was, "I was just so glad to have something to go by and know what I ought to do and to know how you wanted things, so I wasn't guessing or forgetting things." Later my midwife requested a copy to share with her other clients... she said, "This might just save some marriages." 

Pre-made thank you and sustaining supplies for your birth team... I don't usually have long drawn out births. So I usually make my team a supply mug. It contains: new mug, thank you card, honey straws,  coffee, tea, bag of almonds and directions to where other food is. I don't think they even made themselves coffee last time during my 4 hour birth, but they did take them home! 

A fan... even in the winter it's nice not to be overheating. They will turn if off once baby is soon to come and warm up the room. 

Music... or not. I always make a playlist, but usually have them turn it off soon after because "it bugs me." 

Easy to digest comfort food for during labor and a few frozen nourishing meals for after... Early in labor I always try to eat a meal, if only to get something in me to help me through. Usually it's something like chicken noodle soup. After I have my post birth meal (above) but having something else is nice too... if you freeze a few meals just get one out (or put it on daddy's to do list) and it will likely be thawed and ready to eat post birth!

Extra TP, paper towels, trash bags, ziplock baggies, dish soap, laundry soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other basics... Because who has time to go get basics when you have a new baby to snuggle? Stock up! And don't forget to splurge on PAPER PLATES AND PLASTIC CUPS! Because, its nice to take a break from dishes too!

Herbal sitz bath... During my last birth my assisting midwife made a huge pot of the herbals sitz bath (that came in my birth kit) and steeped it up on the stove. On her way out she said, "Don't forget the bath tea is on your stove in the big pot." The next day I put it in a gallon milk jug and used it in my baths and mostly in my peri bottle to wash myself off with... it rocked!

Happy home birth and laying in! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Names for New Baby

Recently, we had our big ultrasound and got to see our baby. 

We decided via unanimous decision to let it remain a mystery what the baby is... Boy or girl. Everyone is in favor of getting a brother, except Thea who will not even entertain the idea of it being anything but another sister! Time will tell. 

One thing is clear, we all think it's the most precious baby there is! 

We've been taking name ideas and here are the children's ideas that they want added to the master list! Girl names are first... 

Thea - 5 and a half 
Junior Charlie (she was insistent on this combination in this order despite reasoning from older siblings that it made no sense)

Cora - almost 8
Beatrice "Honey Bea"

Eli - 9 

Allan - 9 and a half

Addie - 11 
Lucille "Lucy" or "Lu"
Timothy "Timmy" Junior

So ... baby "Chuck" or "Honey Bea" might be joining us soon!