Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Top 10 Items You Need For Your Newborn

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When I was a brand spankin' new Mama, 
I recall that feeling of having to have EVERYthing!

I mean, all the gadgets advertisers are always begging us to buy.

All the baby gizmos & frills & whistles.

Now, that I've, you know, had a few kiddos...

I know better.

There're only a few things you really (I mean REALLY) need.

The rest is just extra icing on the cake.
If you get it, great. If not, then don't sweat it.


The Top Ten Items To Buy
For Your Newborn

1) Oodles O' Blankets (receiving, spit up, crib, warmer/less warm, etc.)

This is where I'd go a bit overboard.

With all the mess that newborns make, 
you may go through quite a lot of these
EVERY single day!

I've enjoyed those shoulder spit up smaller ones,
and as well as, the bigger receiving ones. 

And warm fuzzy ones to snuggle them in.
And crib blankets (optional; see below)

And you might as well throw in some cloth (or plastic) bibs here
why you're at it.

It's all in containing that mess!

2) What To Wear (Sleepers & Onesies; Outfits of Choice)
***take into consideration sizes & seasons

My babies come out big, so we just skip the newborn sizes
and go straight to 0-3 months.

Take into consideration the season you're projected to deliver in.
How much laundry per day you can get by with
(for number of outfits to calculate).

Buy a bit bigger than you expect,
but don't go too big.

With my later children,
I bought second hand sleepers, or have
hosted clothing swaps with friends.

They grow so fast.
Do NOT spend too much on this category!

(maybe just that one special baby dedication outfit, but that's it!)

Oh, and special mention, you may want baby laundry detergent,
but we just use free & clear detergent for everyone, so that works too :)

3) Diapers & Wipes (diaper bag, creams, etc.)

A simple diaper bag.

A whole bunch of wipes
(you cannot buy too much of these!!),
and lots of diapers. 

 I concentrate on size 1 & up. Newborn (for us)
lasts maybe a week, if even!

1 & 2's usually last quite awhile, and with 10-12 diapers
per day in the beginning, you are going to go through a lot.

A nice diaper cream of choice.

And you're good to go!

4) Bottle and/or Breast Feeding Supplies
(***note: if breastfeeding, Vitamin D drops)

I have breast fed all of my children (but not all went successfully).

Just a prepared for what may happen.

If you really, really want to breast feed (which is best for you
& baby), then find some support ahead of time.

The first while always hurt me (A LOT), but I used
a special cream (Lansinoh HPA Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers, 40 Grams)
 and it lessened it with the later ones.

If bottle feeding, then you need to select:
bottles of choice, cleaning/sanitizing system, formula of choice
& be ready to switch nipple flow size as baby grows (or if baby is fussy 
on one particular flow/nipple).

Breast fed babies on our continent need extra Vitamin D.
Buy the drops for baby, and you'll be set to go!

5) Somewhere To Sleep/Sit
(i.e. crib, baby layette, bassinet, bouncy chair or ExerSaucer) 

For our newborns, we've had them either right in the crib
OR a bassinet. But there are tons of options.

Even for co-sleeping parents, there are co-sleeping options
that are safer than before (i.e. The First Years Close And Secure Sleeper)

(I roll too much in my sleep and our bed is high. Not chancing it, but 
many of my friends have their system going)

For daytime, I put the baby to "play" in a bouncy simple seat on the floor.

Older babies seem to enjoy the ExerSaucer, but floor & tummy time 
is still important.

All the other fancy gadgets are optional.

Also, swings are great, but not all babies like them.

Two of my babies were very fussy & loved the helped to settle them down.

(another item to seek out used & in good condition, if possible)

6) Stroller & Car Seat (set or not)

I've never had a set that fit together, but some of my friends swear by them!

A simple stroller that takes you & baby from A to Z will suffice.

Now, a car seat you have to be choosy with.
There are dates to check & verify.

I don't recommend you receive them used at all, unless
you know the person WELL (no prior accidents with the seat),
 and the date is okay still.

although a few friends have given me almost brand new ones 
they no longer needed. Dates were okay)

Note: you may also want to purchase a sling.
I personally tried to wear my baby, but it hurt my back,
and it didn't feel comfortable. But there are TONS of Mamas
that love that experience! Another optional purchase.

7) Medical Supplies 
(thermometer-just one that works! & nasal aspirator, infant Tylenol, etc.)

A thermometer is a must.

Babies can spike fevers very very quickly,
and you want to know what you're dealing with 
when you call the Doctor.

But fancy?
I don't think it's necessary.

Just that it works.

Infant Tylenol is helpful to have on hand, in case.

Nasal aspirators have come in handy from time to time
(those sucky things you stick up their nostrils), so another
item to consider purchasing.

8) Bath Supplies
(washcloths, towels-could use regular towels though! &
either a baby bath, or take baby into bath with you; shampoo/soap)

I used to buy baby baths, but I ended up not using them,
forgoing it.

We just bathe them in the sink.
It's at a better level for my back, and I feel more
in control of the baby in my arms.

When they get bigger, I bring them
to the regular bath, and they can always jump
in with one of us as well.

Cloths are good, but we just use regular ones (more durable), 
and regular towels (warmer & thicker).

Shampoo and soap smells nice, but again,
with newborns you don't really need that much.

9) Beauty Care Supplies
(nail clippers, baby comb, Q-tips, optional are hair accessories, hats, etc.)

I actually don't use nail clippers til much later.

I find my newborn nails seem to rip off okay, or I bite them off...

But, if you do choose to use clippers, just be super careful.
They can cut very easily as their areas as so much more sensitive than ours.

Q-tips are helpful for cleaning. Or those cotton balls. (around ears & belly button)

I actually have had to use a regular brush with my last baby. His hair
was SO thick!! (he had five hair cuts before he turned one years old)

The other stuff is just for fun (accessories for hair).

10) Toys!
(basic things to look at or shake are all that is needed)

When babies are very little, they like contrasts.

Black & white pictures for babies will suffice.

As they get older, they'll enjoy chew toys, and things that shake.

Stuffed animals are nice, but they often just become dust collectors.

One or two special ones usually are good enough for cuddling.
(but do not leave in crib or sleeping area period!!!)


Honestly, out of that list, there are still some things I've done without.

Don't let our consumeristic society fool you...

Our newborns will be small for only such a short time!

Try to buy only the bare essentials, and don't worry about the frills :)

(plus, relatives or friends might end up splurging on your behalf!!!)

***Special Note: This article is
for educational purposes only. For anything medical related,
you are to see your health care provider
(for any specific questions relating to your particular situation).


What about you: 
what was a MUST when you had an newborn?




Friday, May 20, 2016

How To Cope When There's Not Enough Of You To Go Around

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Which means that if you purchase from an affiliate link, 
we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.

Thank you for supporting our family!

The last few weeks have been nuts.

Maybe because it's spring, and the end of the school
year is upon us?

Or maybe, and I am slowly learning to accept this,
"crazy busy" is just my life.


Currently, I have at home with me everyday: a very precocious 2 year old,
an extremely active 1 year old, a non-stop talking 8 year old,
and an artsy 'happy go luck' 10 year old.

And two teens that are in school, that grace us with their presence in the
evening. Late night chats and many topics to cover. So little time.

If you had asked me 20 years ago, heck even 10, if I would end
up being a full time stay-at-home-homeschooling-large-family Mama,
I'm not sure I would've believed you.

I mean, I've always wanted children. A bigger brood even.

I came from a family with 4 kids; my husband's had five.

So we were both (semi) used to the crazy shenanigans of larger family life.

But with the closeness in age of my last two, and the fatigue of this pregnancy,
it's brought me to my knees (in prayer) more than I can recall...

I'm sure that I'm not alone.


Crazy living doesn't have to include my particular brand of 'crazy'.

It's that season of life where you're stretched so thin, that 
you're having a hard time coping.

Some days, you feel it, and others you may not.
But overall, it's a season of extreme fatigue.

Whether physical actual tiredness...

Or emotionally.
Or spiritually dried up.

Or just feeling like Bilbo Baggins,

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too 

much bread.”

That has been me in this season.



A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take some action.

It had been a really disgustingly horrible week.

I was feeling sick, and this was coming up & that.

Kids, well the usual, but it's just so much when
you're already drowning.

I took some decisive action, and although I cannot 
100% credit any one change, I can share the 
totality of my choices.


How To Cope When There's Not Enough
Of You To Go Around

First of all, I started being diligent on my vitamin/supplement routine.

Even though I'm a RHN by trade (Canadian term, Nutritionist), I too
forget to take my vitamins!!

Got back on routine, & after two days I was already feeling more

Although, this does not constitute medical advice (see clause at bottom),
 right now I'm taking:

-prenatal multivitamin

-fish oil (for the EFAs)

-vitamin D

-Magnesium powder

-Calcium/mag mix (I know I'm not consuming enough calcium this time around!)

-when I remember: my herbal pregnancy teas

-short term I've been taking an Iron/B vitamin mix (not daily though)

Honestly, I really feel that was a very helpful step.


Secondly, I decided to ask some of my close friends for prayer.

It is humbling, and sometimes embarrassing for me to
share my personal life with others.

Something I am always working to overcome.

So, once I made the decision to share my heart, I quickly jumped
onto the computer, and went into our secret Facebook group.

Ok, write everything out. Share the prayer request.


I let these ladies know I was having a hard time, and
that I was also battling a lot of physical symptoms with this pregnancy.

Many of them commented fairly soon afterward that they would commit to pray for me.

That's what I love about small groups! What an awesome way to feel supported.

The very next day I woke up without that nauseous & dizzy sensation 
raging through me. (had been battling this pregnancy)

I was so elated!

I let the girls know that I was feeling better, and thanked them.

Then I got a mini negative report on my latest ultrasound.

The dreaded "fibroid" word came up.

"Just to let you know, we'll be monitoring you..." etc. etc.

Only 3 mini ones at this point, but again I went online & asked for some prayer.

On another Mama group I asked for some shared experiences.

The point is: SHARE with people what you're going through!

Use wisdom in personal details with those you don't know well, 

Not smart. Not wise.

Stand together instead.

Now, I want to just add that sometimes you need someone more than
just a friend.

Since I've experienced severe perinatal depression in a prior pregnancy,
I'm at higher risk for it to occur again.

So, this time around, I'm also being proactive & keeping in
touch with an accredited Christian counselor.

He has openings where I can call him if I just need to talk through anything.

I (by His grace) haven't had to take advantage of that much
this go around.

But it's there.
It's another safety net.

(and, if you're struggling, you should NEVER feel ashamed if you need to talk 
to someone professional. I would search out a person who is accredited and that you personally feel comfortable to chat with)


The next one just sorta started to snow ball out of the first two.

As I started to feel better, I became more active again.

Now, not active in terms of swimming & bike riding (like I used to do!),
but for now cleaning the house & walking will suffice.

Had an amazing time visiting with everyone.

The most encouraging comment about my health came from 
a friend that has seen me throughout this pregnancy.

"It looks like you've lost some weight, but your belly is still growing!"

I looked down. Today, the scale came out...

Finally, the weight gain has slowed down.

(I often get super puffy & swollen during pregnancy! It's due 
to my insatiable desire to eat all the time, just so I won't feel sick!!!)

But the more I've started to move, the better I've felt.


Three choices.

Take better care of your health.

Share your struggles with loved ones.

Get active.

So simple, yet we often focus on any & everything else!


What about you: 
what do you do when you feel you cannot cope??


***Note: this post is for educational purposes only. You should consult
a medical health provider for advice on individualized health choices.




Sunday, May 15, 2016

5 Ways Of Putting Together Your Curriculum

*This post may contain affiliate links. 
Which means that if you purchase from an affiliate link, 
we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.

Thank you for supporting our family!

5 Ways Of Putting
Together Your Curriculum

I still remember my first introduction to the
'homeschooling world'...

I didn't have a CLUE on how many options
are actually available.

A friend recommended a book to help me,
and of course, the hours of website perusing

Over the years, as I met & interacted
with more & more homeschooling
families, I came to realize that there 
is no 'one size fits all' of homeschooling

However, there are only a few ways you
can put together your curriculum pack.

Today, I'll share five popular ways to do this, and
each of their benefits/challenges.


1) Buy a complete set 
(otherwise known as 'boxed curriculum')

Benefits: easy for newbies; (usually) no planning needed; covers all of the
subjects in one set (no need to go looking for other pieces); comprehensive & (typically) comparable to what children in public school are covering

Challenges: lack of individualization; your child may excel in one portion (say English), but not the math component; cost is usually quite expensive & must pay up front (no piecing together through the year!)

Examples: Bob Jones (BJU), Sonlight, ACE Paces, etc.

2) Purchase by subject & piece together.
(usually called 'eclectic' homeschooling)

Benefits: you can research the best fit for your child in each subject; highly individualized school program, allows you to purchase as needed; typically much more economical; easy to replace one subject over entire boxed set

Challenges: research is needed; can be time consuming to find all pieces; curriculum doesn't always 'fit' well together, or complement one another

Examples: Mystery of History (History); Life of Fred (Math) & Wordsmith Apprentice

3) Follow a particular method.
Let that method be your main guide.
(i.e. Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unit Studies, etc.)

Benefits: while you learn about particular methodologies you'll have a better understanding of WHY you are selecting said curriculum pieces; you can easily find support from other followers of that method (online groups, in person groups, co-ops, etc. all created around that methodology

Challenges: not easy to build an entire curriculum based on one ideology; you may still want to mix & match (i.e. you cover Charlotte Mason based literature studies but mix with a traditional type Math booklet, etc.)

Examples: using sites like Ambleside Online or reading Classical Conservations

4) Use multi-level teaching curriculum.

Benefits: this can save A LOT of time; children learn together & share thoughts; build strong relationships

Challenges: if age range is larger than a few years, this can be difficult to navigate (I've tried it!!)

Examples: various options--> piece together your own group work OR purchase by subject material that can be used with multiple ages at once (some boxed curriculum can be adjusted to do this as well, such as Sonlight)

5) Follow your child's leading.
(termed "delight directed" or "interest led")

Benefits: your child finds great fulfillment in pursuing their own interests or giftings; less 'fight' over doing school work 

Challenges: what if your child is not very motivated to learn much about anything; or you can see talents in your child that they haven't yet discovered (it's a balancing act to be sure!)

Examples: using unit studies of interest to child & adding in core subjects; OR totally allowing your child to direct the school day (in some instances overlaps the term 'unschooling' or unstructured education, or a combo)


These are some of the main ways I've seen people select their curriculum.

I personally have gone from using a full box set (typical when you start out) to following
more closely number 2.

What about yourself: what has guided your curriculum selection?




Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Our Curriculum Favs! (reviews)

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog! 
I appreciate all of  my readers :)

*This post may contain affiliate links. 
Which means that if you purchase from an affiliate link, 
we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.

Thank you for supporting our family!

Our Curriculum Favs!

Reviews of English, Math, Science,
History & More

In Canada, our school year starts the week after Labour Day.
Which is the first weekend of September.

Sooo, there's actually only a few more months til we dive in!

This next school year, I'll be teaching
a pre-schooler, and grades 4 & 6.

Lastly, our eldest two teens will continue their education in
the school system.


I've decided that this year,
 we're going to mix things up a bit more.

As this will be our fifth year homeschooling,
we've learned quite a lot along the way.

First, we began with all boxed curriculum.

This year we'll continue with that curriculum as our base,
but I'm adding on to fill in any gaps, and
focus on special interests that our children have.


So without further adieu,
here are this year's school books purchased (by subject).


When I first began homeschooling, I stumbled across Wordsmith
 writing curriculum.

We used it last year (Apprentice level) with fairly good success.
We didn't use it everyday, but the majority of them.

I've found it to be good value for your dollar,
as we've haven't even made it to
the halfway point yet (***Apprentice
was recommended for grades 4 through 6).

I really like it's creativity &
style of learning. It implements practice of the
various parts of speech by giving mini writing assignments.

Strengths: uses & encourages creativity;
good supplement for literature study

Weaknesses: not a good fit for those who have trouble
translating their ideas onto paper

652372: Grade 5 English PACEs 1049-1060

ACE Paces have been our mainstay since we began homeschooling.

Note: this was the "boxed" curriculum set that we started out with.

 I have loved it's independent learning
approach, & biblical theme throughout all booklets.

This year we'll continue with ACE, however
we're dropping the science workbooks, and
sticking to the two main subjects: Math & English.

I really appreciate that the children can still complete their
workbooks while I'm taking care of the younger children.

Strengths: easy to implement in busy seasons of life;
'block step' learning; strong focus on biblical truth

Weaknesses: not much room for creativity, and child must
 be independent worker (or open to learn that skill)

We have used Daily Grams for one year, and really enjoyed it!

It is full of easy, short lessons
that help review the basics for that particular grade.

We've almost completed Daily Grams 3, and I've already purchased
Daily Grams 4 & 5 for next school year.

Any parent could easily add in one quick review lesson as part of their day.

Strengths: easy to follow; good review of basic grammar

Weaknesses: not a comprehensive English curriculum (lacks writing & depth)
& some children may not catch onto rules in this manner


469940: Primary Mathematics Workbook 3A (Standards Edition)

Primary Mathematics Workbook 3A 

We were given some free Singapore Math textbooks
a few years ago.

I used them last year for the first time with my one
child, and they loved it!

So, this year we went through the next level (3B) with both of our older children.
It's actually a quite comprehensive booklet!

I only do a few questions or pages per day.
I find the concepts are challenging enough that that suffices.
alongside our other Math booklets as well.

Strengths: few practice questions per topic; lessons are short & concise;
different ways of learning math equations (Eastern Hemisphere)

Weaknesses: not a lot of practice &some
may find the grade listed as 'harder' than other
equivalent grade Math Curriculum

A whole bunch of my homeschooling friends mentioned this
 math 'story book' as a simple &
memorable way to learn math concepts.
(although some use them as their
sole curriculum).

Last year we purchased the first three books
in the series (apples, butterflies & cats)
& our kids really relished them!

This past year, we went through a whole
bunch more (dogs, edgewood, farming, goldfish
& ice cream).

We completed one lesson per day for a season,
and have now stopped until next school year.

Strengths: easy to use; very simple concepts for the child to
understand, creative & memorable story line

Weaknesses: not much practice of concepts;
some questions seem unrelated to the story


427298: Creation to the Resurrection, Volume 1, Second Edition: The Mystery of History Series

Creation to the Resurrection, Volume 1, 
The Mystery of History Series

This was our first year having used the 'Mystery of History' series.
It's actually been really interesting to teach!

We ended up doing the time line on our
bulletin board, but didn't complete
all of the suggested "extras" (flash memory cards or

We only did a few of assignments that
interested us, and I ended up
using You Tube videos to go on 'rabbit trails'
 (i.e. pyramids, historical modern-day
discoveries, ancient artifacts, mummies, etc.)

Strengths: strong biblical focus; detailed lessons;
also incorporates world history into it's timeline

Weaknesses: all the extra assignments can seem
overwhelming at first; pick & choose what
works for your family


337015: Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology

My children have always shown a lot of interest in learning
about the human body & it's functions. I had also heard amazing
recommendations on this science program.
(Exploring Creation Series)

This year we went through the first 8 units,
so next year we'll continue on with this book.

I really liked the hands on suggested activities (there
were only a few per chapter, so not overwhelming).
 My children particularly enjoyed
all of the food based ones!

Strengths: very detailed & interesting lessons; biblical basis for
the lessons, and tie in with scripture; easy to remember
fact sharing; nice pictures & diagrams

Weaknesses: seems more Charlotte Mason styled &
harder to 'measure' what child has learned


This year, we're going to continue with a hodge podge of
extras in our homeschool.

Some books we'll be using:

We just started this book as part of our daily devotion.
It confronts lies, that children can easily believe about
themselves, with biblical truth!


28369: Light Keepers: Ten Boys Who Made History

This book is part of a "ten kids" series that
we are still enjoying as part of our reading time
(whether during "school time" or at bedtime)


Calls to Courage Reader, Grade 6   -

I found this book at my local homeschooling convention.
So far, any of my experience with Christian Light Publications
has been immensely positive (I've heard so many good things
from other homeschooling families as well).

This reader contains many different
stories at a grade 6 reading level, although
I'll incorporate it for all of my children at once.


We'll also be participating in a local co-op,
some field trips & will encourage lots of reading!

What about your family; 
what are you planning for your homeschool year?




Recommended Reads For You
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links seen on my blog would be considered “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I believe will add value to my readers. Thank you for visiting & supporting my blog!