Monday, February 28, 2011

A 6 Year Old and Her Mummy

We have one more week in Ancient Egypt before moving on to Ancient Greece. There were a few messy and fairly time intensive projects that just weren't going to happen when I was home alone with all three kids, so we did them yesterday. Sierra finished up her dehydrating an apple experiment, which I'll post about later because she's going to make a poster to "present" the information (I had originally thought I'd have her enter the little homeschool science fair with the project, but I think we'll do a poster and video her talking about it instead and send it to a few family and friends). It was also "mummify a barbie" day. Well, really it was mummify a really strange muslin doll (it was the cheapest thing I could find).

We started with this post as a guideline on what to do.

We read the pages about why and how bodies were mummified in our history book last week.

When we got out our doll, I asked Sierra a few questions to see if she remembered the basic process. She remembered all the organs were taken out except the heart, so we drew a heart on the doll to show that the heart was left in She was a little put off that I had her draw a heart shape instead of what a real heart looks like though, so she insisted on drawing "veins" to make it look more life like
We had just finished up our science experiment where we dehydrated slices of apple with different salts, so we didn't go to the trouble and mess to actually rub the doll down with oil and then salt, we just talked about it.

Next, we tore strips of "muslin" (okay, I know I have muslin here somewhere, but I really didn't want to go digging for it, so we used some light blue cotton fabric I had in my scrap box and I just reiterated to her that it wasn't QUITE what the ancient Egyptians had)
We looked around the house for some little things that we could use as amulets since those would be wrapped up with the mummy. The word amulet happened to stick out to her when we were reading in the history book, so we talked about it then and it also just happened to come up in the chapter of Harry Potter we read the next day, so I think it's pretty stuck in her vocabulary now!

Then we made up a solution of 1 part flour to 2 parts water. She dipped a strip of fabric in the flour/water mixture, wiped off the excess, then wrapped it around the doll. After it was completely wrapped, she added on her amulets and wrapped it again. We're letting it dry now.
She had a great time doing it and it was a neat little hands on lesson for her. I may have bitten off more than I can chew though, because now she's talking about building a sarcophagus and pyramid for her mummy. I'm sure she'll be scavenging for materials to do that as soon as it's dry.

Side note: Sierra's very nearly 48 inches tall now, which is pretty insane because I think she was only about 43 at the end of the summer. Josh had to get out the tape measure and re-measure her because I didn't believe her when she told me!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Curriculum Review

Back in August, I did a post about what curriculum we were using this year.

Now that the year is winding down a bit, it's time for me to start buying some of the books we need for the next step, so I thought I'd do a run down of what we're keeping and what we're ditching.

What we're keeping:
Evan Moor Grammar and Punctuation: We finished this book a few weeks ago and it was really good for teaching Sierra the basic rules. She understood the lessons and did well with the worksheets. It seemed a bit hit or miss with what transferred over to her regular writing though, so I also got the Evan Moor Daily Language Review and have been doing that with her so she gets some practice editing sentences. This book would be very frustrating to her if she hadn't done the grammar and punctuation one first, but it's been great as a follow up. For grammar and punctuation, I gave her the entire week's lessons in one day. For daily language review, I am doing the same thing, but we do it Tuesdays and Thursdays, so she's covering two weeks of material every week. Next year I think we'll do the same thing again, just move on to Grade 2 for both books.

Evan Moor Spelling: This is another one I'm very happy with. Her spelling has improved greatly and with no frustration on her part. We do these lessons as they're laid out. She gets the list Monday, does a worksheet each day and there is a test on Friday.

Evan Moor Geography: She LOVES doing these. I also give her the whole week's worth of these worksheets in one day. They're very easy for her, but she has learned a lot about map reading. I've already ordered grade 2 and have decided I'll let her work through it as fast as she wants. I haven't looked real close yet, but I think we will need to switch to something else later on because these don't seem to move on to the basic "learn the states, find Italy on a globe" type stuff anytime soon.

Right Start math: I'm still loving this program. I think what is so appealing to me is that it doesn't teach math the way I learned it in class. It teaches math the way I learned it in math club (yes, I was THAT dork)...where we were taught the fastest, easiest way to do things so we could do well on timed tests at competitions. It can seem like she's "behind" because she's only doing addition, but it's all mental math. She has also learned telling time, counting money, and some basic geometry (parallel, perpendicular, vertices, diagonals...). Next year's book picks up subtraction and multiplication. I've learned a little curriculum lingo this year and Right Start is an asian-based spiral curriculum. Other parents/kids are happier with a mastery curriculum. If you search spiral vs. mastery you will find enough information to keep you busy for days. What I like about spiral for her is that she is constantly reviewing, but if something is just really difficult for her, she's not stuck with it for more than a few lessons before she gets to take a break for a while. Right Start is VERY hands on for the parent though. There's no giving them a book and worksheet and leaving them to work, you have to sit down and go through every lesson with them step by step. That may be a problem in the future, but for now we can always find the time, so I'm sticking with it. I will also be starting Sedona on Level A either this summer or in the fall. Josh and I have decided taking a full summer break from math would be a bad idea, so we intend to continue with the math lessons year round, but on a lighter schedule (probably 2 lessons a week instead of the 4 a week we do now).

Usborne Prehistory and Usborne Ancient History: I have been happy with these, but I have needed to come up with my own hands on activities to keep it interesting for her. I plan to use these same books again for Sedona. I haven't decided what to do for next year though. We will be moving on to the Middle Ages and I'm not sure if I'll stick with Usborne books, or buy the History Odyssey program. I definitely want to get started on a time line soon though and I'm liking the looks of the one Pandia Press just released

Reading: The child loves to read, so I stopped pushing the issue, because I realized I don't need to. She has been reading easy chapter books (Freckle Juice is the latest one I saw her with) on her own. She's also joined a Liberty Girls group and is reading the American Girls books for that (Kit and Addy). I am still reading Harry Potter to her. She is very interested in the story line and has read some of the chapters on her own when I was busy. We're almost to the end of book 2 though and I'm not sure how much further I'll let her go at this age.

What we're ditching:
Evan Moor Nonfiction Reading Practice: Just not impressed with this. The topics are all over the place. If I had several years worth of books, I could probably take the time to pull out the readings that are relevant to other things we're studying, but the benefits of the set up don't outweigh the hassle it would take for me to do that.

Evan Moor Reading Comprehension: I thought these were good, but Sierra hated them. She can learn to focus on what is happening in a story and why by discussing what she's currently reading or doing little projects like drawing a scene from the story. No need to force her to do something she hates for a subject she normally likes.

Evan Moor Science: These worksheets were pretty good and Sierra learned a lot from them. I will probably do them again with Sedona. I think Sierra is ready to move on to something more involved though, so I'm planning to start her on R.E.A.L Science Odyssey from Pandia Press next year. I'm a little worried about the amount of parental involvement it seems will be required (I can just imagine getting a science experiment all set up and then the little girls throwing a fit and interrupting what we're doing). I figure we can always do science on the weekend if we need to though.

Power Glide Spanish: This wasn't bad but it didn't quite impress me either. Sierra was picking up the information, but she was also getting distracted and "glazed over" at times (this version involved listening to a CD while following along in a book). I had to sit right with her for every lesson too because there were times the CD was asking her to say things, but not giving her enough time to actually do it, so I would have to stop and start the lesson. What we have is the old version though, the company is now called Powerspeak and the lessons are online.

What we're thinking of trying:
Foreign Language: Honestly, the powerspeak lessons are a bit pricey for something that I haven't heard a whole lot about from other people. I have heard a lot of other parents rave about Rosetta Stone, but they say your child needs to be about 9 to get started on that. Right now I'm thinking we may just put language off for a couple of years and then get Rosetta Stone (gulp! that's an investment!) and work through it together. Not sure if we would go with levels 1-5 or just do levels 1-3, then pick up a third language and also do levels 1-3 on that one.

Reading: In the not so distant future, I'll be starting her on a reading list of the classic books/stories. I have a few elementary text books I've picked up at library sales that I might use for that and I've also been buying up paperbacks of the things I read in school when I've seen them on sale.

Summer Project: Aside from math, we will be taking a summer break (length to be determined!) from regular school work. I've been thinking of big, independent projects she might do during that time though. Maybe build her own Rube Goldberg machine, build a city out of boxes, start her own blog to "publish" the stories she writes... I don't know, I'm mulling ideas and haven't yet brought any of them up to her, because I'm sure she'll latch on to ALL of them, and that will make momma crazy.

Sedona: I ask Sedona every day if she wants to practice reading. Most of the time, she tells me no, so we don't do it. On the days she says yes, we get through 2 or 3 pages in a Set 1 Bob Book before she loses interest. When she loses interest, she starts purposely saying the wrong sounds while cutting her eyes over at me and stifling a giggle. Sounds like a certain uncle she has that insisted he didn't know his colors in Kindergarten, but really knew them all along. I'm not pushing the reading, because we both just get frustrated if I do. She knows all her letter sounds and I think the reading is going to come on its own without me forcing it on her. If she's still resisting the idea in 2 years, I might push a little more. She is very interested in math still and has picked up things just from being in the room with Sierra. The other day I gave her scrap piece of paper to color on that had some hexagons on it. She drew the diagonals and said, "Look! I drew the diagonal, I can do sister math!" Then she picked up the other paper I had given her, colored in a picture of a penny and said, "Look! I colored the penny!" and did a little happy dance. I didn't even know she knew those terms and what they mean. She definitely seems ready to start her own math lessons, but I will probably stick to 2 or 3 days a week unless she asks to do more. She is also picking up some language skills. When I say the words for Sierra's spelling tests, Sedona always whispers a sentence with the word in it to herself. I'll say "train" and she'll be over there at the playdoh table quietly saying, "as in: We took a trip on the train." It's annoying, but also very cute. She turns 4 this summer, so she's still got another full year until Kindergarten and I'll probably just keep letting her do her own thing until then.

Are you homeschool people out there buying supplies for next year yet? Is there anything you used this year that you just love, or just had to get rid of?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

A friend gave me this recipe several years ago. I think it was originally found on a cooking with kids website, but I can't find it now. If you happen to know the source, let me know and I'll link up!

12T butter
6c mini marshmallows (12oz)
1c peanut butter
2c raisins
1c instant powdered milk
1/2tsp cinnamon
8c oat cereal

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-low heatAdd in the marshmallows and peanut butter And stir until melty (melty is a very technical cooking term)Add in the powdered milk, raisins and cinnamon. We like cinnamon, so I use more than the recipe calls for. I goofed while pouring the powdered milk and ended up with about 2 cups instead of 1. I figured it was all good and threw it in anyway. That was a mistake, my bars didn't hold together well because of it, so don't overdo the milk. Stir until it looks...well, we won't say what it looks like Add in the oat cereal and stir it around Divide the mixture between two pans and press down. I use one 9x13 and one 8x8 to get the thickness I like. I also spray the pans with non-stick cooking spray to make the bars easier to get out. Once cooled, cut into bars (a serrated steak knife works well). You can wrap the bars individually in saran wrap and they are easy to throw in a lunch box. If you wrap them, you can also freeze them for several months and they taste fine once thawed.

I realize it's oh so very similar to another cereal bar that pretty much always counts as dessert. But somehow adding peanut butter, dried fruit and milk makes it into health food, right? Happy snacking!

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Link Round-Up

We did not blow away with the storm! As I was hoping, we were shielded from a lot of the wind. It did snow pretty constantly and the snow plows have been running more than normal. I think we might have to dig the car out (we have to park on the street). It was a lot colder than they forecasted last night, which is a bit worrisome since the forecast tonight is for -11. I have a feeling we might not hit our expected high of 9 today, and that'll make for a colder than expected night.

It's been a bit of a blah, stuck in the house, week around here, so I'm going to do something new (for me, not new for the blogosphere) and give you a link round-up.

If you need a laugh:
My friend wrote a post about being a mother of 3, which is really more honesty than strictly humor. I'm certain all you moms will see the humor though.

My other friend (yes, I know these people in real life) recounted the story of being attacked by demon ducks when she was a teenager.

A popular blog I read put up a post about lush bath bombs, which I had never heard of before and while intriguing, not sure I want to experience in real life (maybe the shower version...harder to get covered in gold glitter that way)

If you're looking for homeschool resources:
I am LOVING the forums at Best I can gather, there's a mix of religious, agnostic and atheist people there, but it's hard to tell because they mostly stick to homeschool topics and leave the religious decisions to each family. That's a rare thing to find in the homeschooling community.

A bloggy friend in her first year of homeschooling discussed her decision to switch from K12 to Time4Learning. These are two very popular programs, so worth checking out if you're interested in either one.

As if Pioneer Woman needs any links from me, but OMSH did a post there this week about feeding your brain that was very relevant to us. I had noticed a sugar-crash induced math fit happening right before lunchtime and changed up our schedule a bit to avoid it, but I think the ideas about decreasing sugar and increasing protein at breakfast would help us out. And when I mentioned a breakfast of avocado, tomato and bacon to Josh, he was all, "umm...yes please!"

Secular Homeschool also put out a link to free handwriting lessons on their twitter feed this week. Sedona has been focused on learning to write, so I will definitely be printing some of these out for her to work on while I'm busy with Sierra.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spring? Has Anyone Seen Spring?

When we lived in Texas, we were subjected to the "orange ball of death" icon on the NOAA weather forecasts whenever temperatures were above 100: Occasionally, we got the tropical storm icon: Besides that, lots of sunny days, thunderstorms, and sometimes the fog or wind icons.

Since moving to Montana, we've become familiar with a whole new set of icons. The blue man of death (below zero): Freezing rain: Snow:
Then Josh pulled up the forecast tonight and asked, "what's this icon?"
Hmm....let me look at the handy dandy graphics key.

Oh, that one means blizzard (and I don't mean the tasty Dairy Queen treat).

They were saving the best for last. Fabulous. They define blizzard conditions as "sustained winds or gusts to 35 mph or more AND considerable falling or blowing snow, reducing visibilities frequently to < 1/4 mile" for 3 hours or more. They're forecasting wind chills of -10 to -20. Wunderground actually says "Snow likely. Areas of blowing snow. Chance of snow 90 percent. Bitterly cold." Yeah, ya think? Hopefully we're shielded by the mountains and miss the worst of it because to this Texas girl it sounds an awful lot like a tropical storm without the "tropical" part, and that just ain't fair.

All images from the NOAA graphics key linked to above

Homeschooling Math

I'm not here to necessarily talk about math, and nothing but the math. I'm quite confident in my algebra, geometry and even calculus skills, so I never worried about math when we decided to homeschool.

Math has reared its ugly head though. At the ripe ol' age of 6, no less. Here's the thing, Sierra is brilliant. No really, she is (I'm not biased at all). But she's not quite as brilliant in math as she is in everything else. She gets the right answers, but it takes GASP! effort. She's not taking too kindly to the idea that she might have to actually work for things. She wants constant reassurance that not only can she do something, but she can do it better and faster than average.

So, we have been using RightStart math, which is a spiral based learn a little, move on, then come back around. On each iteration, you go a little deeper. I like this approach for her because I think it's sticking with her better. Also, she will throw an all out fit if something is difficult for her, so I can't imagine sticking with one difficult skill (as a mastery based program would require) until she got it because I think she might give up on math completely before we were ready to move on.

I'm open to new ideas though, so when I found out there's an online math drill through Math U See (a mastery based program), I checked it out. Bingo! I set it up to drill her on the +8s because we had recently done "The 8s trick" in our math program. The same kid that fussed for hours over doing a 20 problem worksheet a few days ago went through the drill 4 times in a row because it tells you how long you took to do it at the end and gives you a big blue ribbon with a #1 if you get them all right. She was determined to beat her time and only stopped when I told her I wanted my computer back. This has the advantage of giving her a little extra practice and also discouraging counting (RightStart focuses on NOT using counting as a crutch because it's slow and inaccurate, but she was originally taught to count, so she tries to all the time).

Just another reminder to change things up a little when needed. You don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water, it's okay to pull some things in from different programs. The key is to find what will be useful and enjoyable for YOUR child.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Soft Garlic Bread Sticks

This is another recipe that I originally found on All Recipes and have been making for years with my own technique.

Soft Garlic Breadsticks
1 1/8c warm water
2T sugar
2t yeast
2T olive oil
1 1/2t salt
3T grated parmesan cheese
3t garlic powder
3c flour
butter for brushing tops

Add sugar to water in medium bowl
Stir to dissolve
Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit until foamy
Add salt, oil, parmesan and garlic powder Stir in flour one cup at a time Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead a few times until smooth
Separate dough into 15-20 balls (I use a pastry cutter) You have a few options at this point:
Channel your inner 3 year old (mine's constantly making playdoh ropes) and roll the dough between your hands to form into sticks and lay on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Or: If you have a fussy 3 month old on your hands, just plop the dough onto a cookie sheet as is and you'll have garlic rolls.

Or: If you want breadsticks for later, you can put them on a foil lined cookie sheet and stick them in the freezer; once frozen, put in a ziploc bag; when ready to cook, just lay the number you want on a lightly greased cookie sheet and let thaw on the counter, then cook as usual. Let dough rise (about 40 minutes) and preheat oven to 350⁰
Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Then brush the tops lightly with butter.

And a little bonus recipe review. My sister-in-law got us a subscription to Disney Family Fun Magazine for Christmas. The last issue had directions for making toaster pastries with pre-packaged pie crust. It wasn't quite as tasty as all homemade, but they were SUPER easy and the dough is stiff enough to do different shapes without them becoming all distorted. It's an easy thing to whip up with kids. Or when you're craving sweets at 9pm (I'm not the only one here with a raging sweet tooth, right?)

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

Monday, February 21, 2011


We had an unexpectedly heavy snow fall Saturday night followed by colder than expected temps Sunday. So we bundled everyone up and drove the girls down to a hill in town to have their first sledding experience. It's safe to say a fun time was had by all (except maybe Secora, she slept through the whole thing)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gallbladder Update

I figured I should do a little update on the gallbladder/bile reflux/duodenal ulcer/esophageal irritation/whatever it is situation. That very first night I had an attack, I had an inkling of what it might be because I had read about it on a friend's blog and that lead me to information about how to get through the pain in the short term and what to talk to the doctor about, so this is a bit of paying it forward.

To recap: This all started on New Year's Eve, when I was woken in the middle of the night with excruciating pain on my right side and in my back. Since then, I have had several more "attacks". They have gotten less severe and have been happening less often. I went to the doctor, who suspected bile reflux, but sent me for a gallbladder ultrasound anyway. My gallbladder was contracted and had sludge (which could mean it wasn't working and was the source of my pain), but it didn't have stones (which means it wasn't necessarily the cause of my pain and removing it could possibly cause me more harm than good). Because I'm newly postpartum and pregnancy can contribute to gallbladder issues, we chose to move forward as if the gallbladder would take care of itself over time. I had been taking pepcid periodically and she suggested I take it every day and see what happened.

After starting the daily pepcid, I had two more attacks. They were much more mild. The first went away with a little help from a heating pad. The second I got in the hot shower, but neither attack made me have that panicky "maybe I should go to the hospital" feeling. I was feeling really full after meals even when I hadn't eaten much and these attacks were *always* in the middle of the night (usually between 1 and 2 am). The two that happened while I was on the pepcid both happened when I felt really hungry. I had been reading up on gastric and duodenal ulcers and decided to go back to the doctor to talk other medication options.

She put me on dexilant, which is basically a new form of prevacid that is extended release (that's my understanding, anyway). I have been on that for almost 2 weeks now and have not had a single attack. I do have some discomfort along the top edge of my abdomen (stomach, gallbladder??) for about an hour or two each evening right around the time I should take the medicine. It's as if it's only working for 22 hours, not 24. I think I may need to call back and talk to her about that because if it's ulcers that need to heal, having "break through" acid production probably isn't good. I have still been very careful with my diet. I'm not drinking anything caffeinated or carbonated, I'm severely limiting chocolate and red meat. But I haven't had any pain, even with splurging (last night I ate 3 big slices of ham pizza and a slice of problems). I will need to follow up with her, but I believe the plan is to keep me on this at a high dosage for about a month, then do the same drug at a lower dose for several months, then wean off of it.

I wish I could eat whatever I wanted without worrying I might wake up in agonizing pain in the night, but I'm feeling a lot better than I was back when this all started. I'm also wondering if she'll order another gallbladder ultrasound in 6 months or so. I'm curious to see if anything changes with that. From what I've read, people who have their gallbladder removed due to sludge or it not working right (as opposed to having gallstones) are much more likely to still have all their symptoms (plus whatever side effects from the surgery) than people who have it taken out because of stones. I've talked to people who are absolutely thrilled to be living life without a gallbladder and people who were absolutely miserable without a gallbladder. I don't like unknowns, so I'm definitely hesitant to pin my symptoms on the gallbladder without really good evidence.

Right now, I'm happy with how things are going and I hope it stays that way!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Knead Bread--Guest Post

We have a guest blogger today!! Kinda. Does it still count as a guest post if it's my own husband?

So here I am guest posting on my wife’s blog about bread.

Not about how to do something on the computer or build something.

No, I'm here to talk about baking bread.

This recipe originally came from Mother Earth News. It seems this kind of bread has become my bread as I am the one that makes it. Sierra refers to this as "Daddy's yummy goody bread" and Kim's sandwich bread as "Momma's yummy goody bread". I make it because it is dead simple and tastes great. A word of warning, don’t try so hard. Yes, this bread is easy to make but if you try too hard it will fail. The only "special" equipment you need to make this bread is a large cast iron stew pot with lid. A large Le Creuset pot with lid would do fine too. So here goes:

Put away the KitchenAid you won’t “knead” it.

Before you go to bed, get out a big bowl and combine the following:

4 cups flour
½ tsp yeast (just a sprinkle really, I don’t measure it out)
½ tsp salt
2 cups water (just out of the faucet, no need to heat it up)

Put the flour in the bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast and salt. Give it a stir, by hand, to mix things up. Add the water and mix until all the flour is wet and you have a gloppy mess. It will be sticky and stringy.Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set it on your counter 'til the morning.

When you get up, your dough will have a bubbly appearance that is the yeast doing its thing.Lightly flour a surface and dump your dough out. Fold the dough over a couple times, nothing fancy, you’re just trying to coat it with flour. It will be all sorts of squishy and not hold a good shape and that’s perfect.For the next step I will give you some options. 1) Pam a stoneware cookie sheet or 2) lay a kitchen towel on the counter and dust with flour. I do the first because I can move it around if need be.

Take your out of shape dough and plop it down on the stoneware or floured towel. Take another towel and cover it (to keep it warm and keep the bugs off). It will rise for about 1 hour. At 40 min into the rise, put your cast iron pot and lid into the oven and turn it on to 475F. Go away and let it all preheat. (notice the square of foil on the lid. Our pot came with a plastic handle, so rather than melting that in the oven, I took the handle off and covered the hole in the lid with foil)Once it is all pre-heated, take your pot out, flop your dough down into it, put the lid on and put it back into the oven for 30 min.
Don’t worry, I have never had one stick, seems weird but they don’t stick. Also don’t worry about the shape of the dough, it will work itself out. Once it's been in for 30 min, take the lid offCook it for another 20 min. When the timer goes off, take the pot out and turn the bread out onto a cooling rack.
DO NOT cut it yet. Wait at least 15 min before you cut into it. Eat it as is or put a little butter on it. There’s nothing like bread hot from the oven. Enjoy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Friday Film

Sierra keeps wanting to take ballet classes because she LOVES to dance. I'm not sure ballet is really the kind of dancing she wants to do though...

Here she is earlier this week dancing to some Bob Marley we had on (you'll notice this is such a common occurrence around our house that Sedona's completely oblivious to anything going on)

This love of dancing is nothing new. Here she is when she was two doing the famous "wiggle butt" dance. There isn't any audio on this one, but she's saying "wiggle butt! wiggle butt!" over and over again

I also overheard her telling Sedona, "One day, you'll see me on DVD and TV!" earlier today. She'll love it when she's famous and someone digs up these videos to play during an interview on The Tonight Show ;-)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Diapering Dilemmas

To cloth diaper or not to cloth diaper...

Sierra and Sedona were both cloth diapered. We started out with disposables when they were first born because it's hard to get a cloth diaper that really fits a newborn butt. After that, it was nothing but cloth until they were over two, and we were getting lazy (and potty training) and we stuck them in pull ups.

Secora had disposables up until about a week ago. We finally ran out and started using our cloth diapers. I should stop here and say I'm not as much of an environmentalist as some of you think I am. Really, I'm just incredibly cheap and couldn't stand to throw away several dollars a day.

After a week in cloth, Secora's bum looks a bit irritated. Not an all out diaper rash, but not clear like it has been. I think this might be related to the eczema stuff....she's sensitive, the cloth is washed in soap, then she pees and now it's sitting against her skin and that's not cool. I'm not going to spend $25 a piece on a stash of bum genius (a brand of cloth diapers which would wick away moisture better, but I can't stand them...and they're expensive, which defeats the purpose for me). So I'm stuck trying to decide whether to keep up with this cloth thing or not.

I crunched the numbers and still not sure I can stomach the price tag of disposables. But I'm also older, tired-er (just go with it) and slightly more richer, so maybe it's time to just give in to convenience. Or maybe we'll stick with cloth, save up a "diaper fund" and switch back to disposable once she starts solids (when the cloth diapers have to be rinsed out before going in the wash).

I have quite a few cloth diapering friends that I know read here...any insight?


Apparently the hyperemesis post struck more of a chord than I was expecting. A LOT of you shared the link and A LOT of people came and read it. I hope it helps at least one pregnant woman (or her family and friends) realize she isn't just being wimpy. I also had quite a few friends express regret that they didn't help more, which I didn't anticipate. I was purposely hiding how awful I felt at the time. I was purposely not talking to people and not being open about what was going on. There was no way for you guys to know. Josh was home with me the vast majority of that time and doing everything he could. Unless you had the skills to insert an NG tube for me, there wasn't much else to do (the doctor thought I was joking when I asked for the NG tube...).

Working on and publishing that post has kinda drained me though. It's been going through edits for a couple weeks and I wasn't sure how it was going to be received by all the people I had basically lied to (by omission, if nothing else) back when I was going through through it. So, I didn't get anything else written up yesterday. Not sure if another post will show up today or not. I did make a lot of progress on another project I've had in the works though. I added the "Start Here" button at the top of the will link to the "best of the best" posts over the lifetime of the blog. I'm still planning to pull out a homeschool section, but it already has cooking, food preservation, and traveling with kids sections.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yoplait Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the Yoplait Kids giveaway is commenter #3, Megan! Congrats! Send me a message on facebook or to itbeganincamp4 (at) yahoo (dot) com with your address so I can get your prize pack sent to you!

The Truth About Hyperemesis

It's been almost a year now. I think I might be ready to take a deep breath and write the truth about hyperemesis. Hyperemesis gravidarum is an extreme form of morning sickness. Really, that description doesn't do it justice.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is generally described as unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids. If severe and/or inadequately treated, it is typically associated with:

* loss of greater than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight (usually over 10%)
* dehydration and production of ketones
* nutritional deficiencies
* metabolic imbalances
* difficulty with daily activities

I had fairly typical morning sickness with Sierra...I felt like I was car sick for most of the day. I would suddenly throw up (once in my lunch box because we were stuck in traffic and I couldn't open the car door), but then I felt better. When I was pregnant with Sedona, I had the same never ending "car sick" feeling, but it was worse. I took zofran on a regular basis so I could make it through the work day. I carried around a tin of tangerine altoids and sucked on them all day long to distract me from the nausea. I drank Boost (vanilla, over ice) to keep my calories up. I had some safe foods and I stuck to them. I took phenergan when I just wanted to pass out and not feel sick. Josh brought me a carnation instant breakfast every morning and I drank it with a straw before I ever sat up in bed. I lost too much weight and it sucked, but it was bearable.

And then I got pregnant with Secora. I started following the Brewer diet immediately (and to the letter) because I knew I wouldn't be able to once I got sick and I think diet was a big part of why I avoided a premature birth with Sedona. (side note: my amniotic sac was freakishly strong and I wonder if a good diet at the start was responsible for that) I had a couple weeks and gained a few pounds before the sickness hit.

When it hit, it hit hard. I had a few days of regular "I don't feel so good" sickness. Then on April 9, we went for an ultrasound. I remember because it was my birthday and it was the first time we saw a heartbeat. It was a Friday. I came home from that appointment and laid down in bed because I felt like I was going to barf any second and moving only made it worse. Aside from staggering the 15 steps to the bathroom, I didn't really get up for the next month. You may think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. I laid in bed getting sicker with every passing hour. I kept a barf bucket by the bed. I propped my computer up on its side so I could watch Netflix while laying down (having the image upright while I was laying on my side made me queasy). I had an aversion to every food and beverage that ever existed. If I could gag my way through eating, it had a better than 50/50 chance of staying down, but often, as soon as I put anything in my mouth, I would start to heave. Soon, chewing was out of the question, but I could still manage things like Boost and pudding if I just swallowed fast without thinking about it.

After about a week and a half, I went back to the doctor. My urine had ketones (a sign of starvation), so she talked about putting me in the hospital. Since I was still hydrated, she left it up to me though, and I opted to get some zofran and phenergan and try staying home. A few days later nothing would go down, not even water. I was more miserable than I've ever been in my entire life. It's hard to admit, but I wanted to miscarry. I've had a miscarriage before. It was devastating. I felt so bad physically and mentally that I was willing to trade it all for something different. Anything different. When I didn't miscarry, I wanted to die. And I don't mean that as hyperbole. I mean I literally wanted to die. Before I got pregnant, I had read Casey's story on Moosh In Indy about her attempted suicide while pregnant and thought she was completely selfish and immature, but now it all made sense to me. I completely understood where her thoughts had been. I laid in bed, unable to sit up without getting dizzy and blacking out, and thought about ways I could put an end to it all if only I had the energy to get up. Thankfully, my brain was still functioning enough to realize I had at least 2 kids who needed me and that was enough to at least convince me "just one more hour" when one more day was too much. I was too prideful to say any of this to anyone at the time. I was still embarrassed to ask for help. I still thought I was weak and needed to tough it out.

If you are currently pregnant and have found your way here because you are searching for relief from hyperemesis, please take note of this if nothing else: Dehydration contributes severely to depression. If you're sick and having hopeless, dark thoughts, get an IV. Keep getting them until you're hydrated. I didn't know that until after the fact. It can help immensely. If it doesn't, tell someone, preferably a health care provider.

I had gone approximately 24 hours with no food or water when I admitted I needed to go to a hospital. Josh called the doctor, who told him if we came to her first, she could give me admission papers and treatment orders to take with me, which would get me treated faster. We had both of the girls with us, so Josh was holding them and I tried to walk from the car to the doctor's office. I had to stop twice on the way in and sit on the ground in the parking lot because my vision was blacking out. Once inside, I made a beeline for the bathroom and sat on the floor leaning against the toilet (thank goodness it was clean, but not sure I would've cared). When they weighed me, I almost fell off the scale. I couldn't stay awake for the whole 20 minutes we were there. We took the papers and went to the hospital, where I laid down in a bed and watched them dig for a vein to start an IV. I had lost over 10% of my pre-pregnancy body weight. My blood pressure was abysmally low. I could no longer give a urine sample at all. I had gone so long without eating or drinking I had no bowel sounds (which greatly concerned the nurses, but why would you have noises when you'd had literally NO intake for hours and hours?).

I spent three days hooked to a steady flow of IV fluids (dextrose in normal saline) and getting regular IV injections of zofran. Late on the second day, I was staying awake longer. I could eat a little bit and drink sips of sprite and gatorade. My weight stabilized, my blood pressure came back up and they stopped making me measure my urine output. I could stand up without getting dizzy. I finally had the energy to brush my hair (which I had neglected so long, I had to slather on conditioner, then brush it out in the shower to have any hope of untangling it).

It wasn't at all sunshine and roses when I went home, but that was the low point. I continued taking zofran on a regular basis for several weeks. I ate popsicles all day long to stay hydrated. I threw up more, but I felt better. By the end of May, I was back to that "normal morning sickness" level of having Josh bring me carnation instant breakfast before I sat up in the morning and snacking on protein bars constantly to keep my blood sugar steady throughout the day. I wasn't a joy to be around, but I was functional. The forums at the helpher site helped a lot. For one thing, I could be thankful I wasn't any worse off. For another, there were people who really understood what this was. There were jokes of being "crackered" (asked, "have you tried saltines and ginger ale?" or something similar) by a "fluffy" (someone actually gaining weight during pregnancy).

And even though I "lucked out" with a relatively short-lived encounter with hyperemesis, it didn't all end with the pregnancy. I get nauseous when I nurse. It's a passing wave that happens right before my milk lets down. It happened with Sedona too, but it's worse (completely bearable, but there) this time. As a lactation consultant, I've had one other client who experienced it. I've done a little research and found it's not unheard of, but very uncommon. It would make sense that this is just how I react to the oxytocin that causes the let down and it makes me wonder if my stomach is just completely sensitized to hormones. I have also read numerous stories of lingering digestive problems after a hyperemesis pregnancy...ulcers and dental problems are fairly common. I wonder if the stomach problems I'm experiencing now are somehow related even though my hyperemesis didn't last through the entire pregnancy. (The new proton pump inhibitor my doctor put me on has completely eliminated the abdominal pain I was having, which suggests ulcers are the culprit. It's only been a week, but I hope it continues working).

Moral of the story: If you're a woman who is sick, ask for help. If you are a friend or family member of a woman experiencing this, recognize that it is NOT normal morning sickness. She is not being a wuss. She is not just too lazy to get out of bed. She is likely not thinking clearly, nor making rational decisions. She needs medical attention, and you may need to help her get it. If you are a woman who experienced hyperemesis, recognize that your daughters have a higher chance of experiencing it and suggest they discuss it with their healthcare provider before things get bad.

As for me? I cannot be pregnant again. I could handle more babies or more kids, but the thought of being pregnant again is almost like a post-traumatic stress thing to's terrifying and makes me feel panicky. Especially since the sickness was worse with each pregnancy. I honestly believe another pregnancy worse than the last would be life threatening for me. I'm blessed to have 3 wonderful daughters and I plan on sticking around for them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Don't forget to enter the Yoplait Kids Giveaway! No more entries allowed after 5pm MST on Wednesday. If you've already entered once, you can also go to my new Facebook page, click the "Like" button and then Come back and leave another comment on the giveaway post.

There aren't many entries and the prize pack is pretty neat. All high quality stuff!

My regular Wednesday post is going to be posted a little later than normal, it's a heavy duty one and I want to be sure I say what I mean to say

Revisiting Kolaches

I've done a little reading up on copyrights as they apply to recipes. It seems the procedure is more important than the list of ingredients when it comes to cooking and copyrights. So I've decided to do a tutorial on how I make Kolaches. The recipe is adapted from The Pastry Queen (and there are several other very yummy recipes in the book, it's one worth checking out. In fact, I've had such good luck with the granola, mother's day pancakes, fried pies and baked omelets that making more recipes from this book is on my 101 in 1001 list). So here we go!

2c milk
2.5tsp yeast
½c lukewarm water
½c butter
2 eggs
1 ¼ c sugar
2tsp salt
8c flour

about ½c preserves or jam

½c flour
½c sugar
3Tbsp chilled butter

Warm the milk until it begins to steam (I do this in the microwave)Why yes, those are a bunch of dirty dishes. I have 3 kids and no dishwasher. That ought to be a crime, but since it's not, I often wash one drying rack full of dishes anytime I'm waiting on something to come out of the microwave or oven. That means there is a perpetual, rotating stack of dirties on the counter.

Once the milk is warmed, stick a candy thermometer in it because you want it to cool down again until it's about 115⁰F. Then melt the butter and also mix the yeast with the warm waterWhile you're waiting for yeast to get frothy and milk and butter to cool to non-yeast killing temperatures, mix the eggs, sugar and salt in a large bowlA whisk works great for this, but they can be hard to clean (no dishwasher, remember?) and a fork works just as wellStir in the melted butter, then be extra sure your milk is at the right temperature (really...remember that batch of kolaches I revived for Josh a little while back? I'm almost certain the culprit was hot milk. And yes, if you kill your yeast, you can mix more yeast with a little water and knead that and extra flour into the dough to save it, but it's a pain to do) Then stir in the milk and the yeast Start adding the flour, two cups at a timeWhen you have all 8 cups of flour mixed in, the dough will be very heavy and sticky. Once again, embrace the sticky dough! Sticky dough is your friend!Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl Let the dough rise. Because it's so sticky and heavy it usually takes at least 2 hours Notice the hammer in the background? Told you I keep it around to whack my mixer back into submission...Punch down the doughPlace balls of dough on 2 greased cookie sheets. I usually make 24 kolaches, and they still come out pretty big.Lightly oil your fingers and working with a few kolaches at a time (they're still rising, so if you do them all at once, your dents don't stay while you're filling them), make a dent in the center of each ball. Then fill the dent with preserves or jam. If you like, you can also do a cream cheese filling (I never measure this, so I can't give you amounts, but you want to mix some cream cheese, an egg, and sugar until smooth) Once all of the kolaches are made up, turn on the oven to 375⁰F and leave the kolaches to rise While you're waiting, make up the streusel. Mix the flour and sugar Add in the chilled butter And mix with your fingers until it resembles sand Sprinkle the streusel over the kolaches. Do a better job than I did here of minimizing the amount of streusel you drop on the pan (it seems to melt and leak under the kolaches, contributing to burnt bottoms) Once the oven is pre-heated, put in the kolaches. The original recipe calls for baking them 25-30 minutes, but I'd start checking on them at 20 minutes. These are slightly over done. Voila! Homemade kolaches! They are definitely best when they are still warm from the oven (but not so hot the filling burns your mouth...I might have learned that by experience). If you are eating them later in the day or the next morning, zap 'em in the microwave just long enough to warm 'em up. You can definitely tell a difference in quality the older they are, but we tend to snack on them and finish a whole batch in a day or two anyway. This is a time intensive recipe, we only have these as a treat a few times a year. This particular go around, I enlisted Sierra to "babysit" for me. Eventually Secora got fed up and just went to sleep though
Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays


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