25 April 2013

6 Reasons We Spent More On Curriculum This Year

Having expensive curriculum isn't required to homeschool, but it can make teaching easier. At least when it comes to planning what to do. Earlier this year I posted here about the curriculum we planned to use for the year. The truth is, I've changed it up a lot over the course of the year. This year we felt it necessary to purchase some of the most expensive materials that we have ever bought for teaching. This decision is mainly surrounded by a few facts:

1) Nia started this year as a 7th grader that was working with 1 high school subject. She was so successful with this, we decided to challenge her with another and then another. Now she is working in all high school subjects, and, well good curriculum for this level doesn't come cheep. I want really good curriculum for high school for a few reasons. The next step is college, and we have to put her high school work into a portfolio to help her get into college. I've never taught high school, and I've been a little intimidated about it.

2) Up until now, we really haven't bought much curriculum. With the lower grade levels for Nia, we have focused on manipulates and I felt confident enough with my teaching experience and research skills to cover everything that needed to be covered.

3) Anara's school experience last year (she went to public kindergarten and missed a lot of year because of mono) left her behind her peers and really doubting her abilities. We started the year with Anara convinced she would never learn to read. We tried 4 different reading programs before finding one that she could really shine with.

4) In the past we have mainly focused on paper, hands on, and book work. Anara, however really excels at computer programs, so we have purchased or subscribed to some educational sites for her.

5) After finding their way threw Nia, Anara, and random other children that have been to visit. Much of our preschool material has been lost or used beyond acceptable condition, so we have replaced most of it with new stuff for Cam and our little bun in the oven. Not that preschool materials are generally that expensive  but this has upped the price tag on homeschool this year a little.

6) Purchased curriculum is organized & generally ready to go when you open it up. With our family growing, I've got to make up some time somewhere. Not planning out assignments & search the web for activities is a huge time saver

24 April 2013

Baby Countdown Update

After my OB appointment yesterday, I thought I would give a little baby countdown update. Today there are 23 days remaining 'til my due date!!! The hospital bag is packed and in the car. My bedroom is set up for our little guy to come home. Tiny clothes are clean and put away. All of the necessities have been put into place. Now, I just wait, and make more baby crafts (like the really wrinkly one to the above).

My appointment yesterday went really well. The ultrasound reviled  fluid levels were actually up just a little from a few days ago. No induction this week, whew! That's a relief. He has moved down where his head is against the pelvic bone, which I have to say isn't comfortable and also means there is no way do get a look of his face. This is where I should point out how jealous I am of all of my friends 3-d and 4-d ultrasound images of their little ones' faces. However, I was told this is a good sign as it means he is in the "I'm ready to come out" position. Here is a run down of how things looked yesterday: All of Baby's stats are looking great! He is in the 73 percentile in size, heart looks good, heart beat looks good, all measurements are exactly where they should be! My heart- looking good. My blood pressure- starting to creep up there, but not a cause for concern. Swelling- rarely and even then very little. Lower back- hurting often, but gets better quickly. Blood sugar levels- also really good.

22 April 2013

Pregnancy in the North and South

Even though several people warned me that once you hit the Masson/Dixon line it's like a different world, when I was preparing to move to Ohio, I never really thought there would be much of a difference between it and Kentucky. After all, they are only separated by a little water. I have lived south of Kentucky in Tennessee, Florida, and Gorgia. Those 4 states are simular enough, how different could one state up be? Was I in for an awakening? Heck even living in foreign countries is more like living in Kentucky when compared to Ohio. Things that are considered normal or kind in the south (and many other parts of the word) are invasions of privacy and rude here. Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. There are some things that are definitely better in Ohio. Here are my major comparisons, keep in mind this is only the items that stand out for pregnancy. The girls were born in the south, and the boys either were or will soon be born in the north.

Touching. In the South people were always touching my pregnant self. Most generally in my belly region.  I have to say, it would get annoying sometimes. When pregnant with Nia, I was washing my hands in a public restroom when an older women put her arms around me from behind to rub my belly. NOT FUN! On the other hand, in the North, pregnant or not it is extremely rare anyone touches me period. Even my closest friends up here wouldn't dare put their hand on my pregnant belly. If you would have told me this after the hand washing incident, I would have been thrilled. A few nights ago I actually found myself crying about the lack of touching though. I got used to people touching me when pregnant with the girls. The people doing the touching are always thrilled and have a big smile. Being pregnant is stressful, constant happy touching helps a lot with that.

Advice. There is just something about pregnancy that seems to encourage even the most timid people to give you their opinion. On parenting. On sex. On what you should and shouldn't do while pregnant. You get the idea. It still happens up here in the North, just not as much. Also, if your really obvious about not wanting to hear an opinion, a northerner will generally shut up about it. A southerner, well, they are going to give you their opinion until they think you have adopted it.

Heat. It's a lot hotter in the south, obviously. The girls were born in Tennessee and Kentucky. Where we lived in Kentucky is generally about 20 degrees warmer than where we live now in Ohio. Pregnancy and heat don't mix. Although, it does make watermelon taste so much better.

Hospitality. The south is known the world over for hospitality, people just do things for you. If your pregnant they do even more. I never carried anything, opened a door for myself in public, or had to look for a spot to sit in the south while pregnant. Here, I've carried groceries into the house while my neighbor sat on his front porch. A simular situation in the south would have had a neighbor griping at me for going to the grocery alone in my condition while he carried in all the groceries for me.

Tea. You can get a fabulas glass of iced tea in the south anywhere you go. It's the easiest thing in world to make, Petra can do it and I'd bet with a little help even little Troy could manage the task. But somehow, it just doesn't seem to work out for the restaurants that try to make tea up here. With the gestational diabetes I don't get it sweetened, but a southern girl REALLY needs her tea if she goes out to eat.

Men. Men in south are not expected to do much as far as the dirty work with kids and the home. My friends always considered me really lucky because John does do stuff, a lot of stuff actually. He feels he should do an equal amount being half the parental unit. This isn't always the case down south. Several men don't do much if anything at all at home and laugh at the guys that do. In the North this would be really frowned upon. People get divorced for this up here.

Free Stuff. There is so much free stuff for pregnant women in the south it's crazy. I have to wonder if it's because the south has a much higher poverty level. Birthing classes, always free. If you show up, more free stuff. From car seats, to diapers, to high chairs, if you need something for your coming baby in the south, you can probably find an organization or state funded entity giving it away. Not the case up here in the north. Enfamil and similac will each send you a free sample. Huggies and pampers, 1 free diaper and 10 wipes each. That's about it when it comes to freebees in the North.

Visiting. People have a tendency to just pop in down South. If someone drove by your house and you were home. Instant company. This doesn't happen at all in the North. People don't go out their way to drive by your house and most wouldn't dare dropping by without calling first. Funny, in the south it can be considered rude not to drop by someone's house if your in their neck of the woods where the opposite it true here. I wouldn't have known about this etiquette rule had I not had a friend with a northern mother growing up. People popping in for no reason, without calling drove her crazy and I did it all of the time.

Medical Care. With Nia, I'm fairly sure now I had gestational diabetes. I gained about 90 pounds and was over the top moody. I was never tested for it though.  Otherwise, I have to at least say the doctor was nice. With Anara's pregnancy I remember handing my mid-wife a birthing plan. She laughed at me. Also with Anara, I was told I asked way to many questions and if I wanted to talk about an idea, a procedure, or a treatment I had read about, I generally got a eye roll before being told that it just didn't happen outside the big city.  I would have happily went elsewhere, but the next nearest doctor or mid-wife was another 45 minutes away (which put them about 75 minutes from my house). In the North with Cameron and my current pregnancy, my OB (his website) is fabulas! He asks me at least once each visit if I have questions and is more than happy to answer them. He also always makes sure I have all the information I could possibly want or need. He and everyone in his office is also very nice, caring, and supportive.

Delivery. With both the girls, I wasn't allowed to get out of bed once I got to the hospital. With Anara, there were even tie downs attached the bed when I arrived and I was told that if I got to out of hand, they would be used. When the girls came out, I got one look and they were whisked away to the nursery for measuring, testing, and cleaning. With Troy, much different experience. As far as deliveries go, I would even describe it as enjoyable. There was a large tub, exercise ball, and anything else I could have possibly wanted to use while in labor or during the birth in my room. I was encouraged to get out of bed. I had three nurses and one was with me nearly the entire time just incase I wanted to send her to get something for me. One nurse seemed to be there just to massage my back, help me relax through the contractions, and give me words of encouragement. I held Cam for 3 hours before I decided to have him cleaned up. Which happened in the delivery room and then John got to hold him.

So, to sum it up, through this pregnancy and Cameron's I was really homesick. More so with this one. It feels a little lonely being pregnant up here to me. However, the difference in care from the medical community during pregnancy, delivery, and after has been worth the loneliness.

Essential Oils: Lavender

I'm kind of new to the essential oil craze, my first experience being with lavender. I say "kind of" because I've actually been using lavender oil for a couple of years, but only picked up a few of the other oils in the last few months. My first experience with lavender oil happened when I was pregnant with Cameron. I had been to baseball game with my family, and despite being sufficiently lathered with sun screen, was burnt to a not so nice shade of lobster. I tried putting every sunburn remedy I've herd of or googled on my skin. I killed and entire aloe plant, lathered on yogurt, bathed in buttermilk, sprayed on stinky sprays, and picked up a few other drug store concoctions. I would find relief for a few minutes, then back to pain. A couple of days after acquiring the burn I was at an evening church service where someone said, "I've got an oil for that." She gave me a small bottle and I proceeded to sprinkle way to much of it on the red areas.  Ahh, relief. I was sure the pain would be back soon, but I was pain free for the rest of the night. The next morning I it was sensitive to the touch, but I wasn't exactly in pain anymore. The skin was still red, but didn't hurt.

I spent several hours that day searching the town for more lavender oil with no luck (I now know you can find it in the health and beauty aids sections of Whole Foods, Giant Eagle, and Raisin Rack). The friend that had allowed me to use her oil actually sold oils through doterra, I would come to find that several of the women in my church did so at the time. I ordered a bottle, I didn't want to chance ever getting a sun burn again without it.

It sat in my cabinet for a few weeks, then I came across a diaper wipes solution recipe to use with cloth diapers. So, when Cameron was born I started using it in my wipes. A few months later I was given a suggestion to use it for diaper rash. I developed a rash on my arm and decided to see what would happen if I put some of lavender oil on it. Soon it was time for another bottle of this miracle oil. This was the point I decided google what else this oil could do. I went through the second bottle much, much quicker than the first. I was loving the oil, but at about $30 for 1/2 an ounce... well, I had to either find it cheaper or stop using it so much. I was using a little over one of those 1/2 ounce bottles at a time.

I had been using lavender oil for about a year. This was about the time I put some on a friend's son that was staying at our house for a few days. He had developed a rash that was responding to nothing and had been to the doctor several times. My friend was amazed at how well the oil worked and actually knew where to get 4 ounces of it (in a different brand) for the price I had spent on 1/2 an ounce. I have to say I was amazed when her MUCH cheaper her oil was and it worked just as well as my doterra. Don't get wrong, I love my doterra selling friends & want to support their businesses, but 8X the price is just a little more than I can logically do on a regular basis.

With my current pregnancy (update: DO NOT USE LAVENDER OIL WHILE PREGNANT! See warning below) I actually crave the smell of lavender oil. I've found putting it on my feet before I go to bed at night is the only way I can get more than a couple of hours sleep at a time at this point. Last night I slept a miraculous 6 hours.

I purchased a few more oils when winter respiratory nastiness entered our home this year and being pregnant, there isn't much that is safe to treat those bugs with. I now generally purchase the NOW brand of essential oils from amazon. A 4 ounce bottle of lavender oil runs around the $20 mark. Some of the other essential oils our family has tried are eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and tea tree. I've liked them all. I've ordered and am waiting for frankincense, clary sage, and geranium oils to come in.

***Important warning: After having Ember, I found I had postpartum pre-eclampsia (total nightmare).  Using lavender oil while pregnant can hide pre-eclampsia by reducing it's symptoms. This is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! DO NOT USE LAVENDER OIL WHILE PREGNANT!
Check out the post on
Essential Oils: Cleaning and Sanitizing Spray (here)
Essential Oils: Eucalyptus (here)

21 April 2013

1st Dance

This is a post I wrote about 2 weeks ago. I've been waiting to post it in hopes of one of Nia's friends having a few good photos to put with it. Our's didn't turn out well. Here is one shot of her getting ready.

Nia headed off to her first dance Saturday night. It was held at a local YMCA and hosted/payed for by Kaleidoscope Youth Center. My kids have hit several milestones this last month, and I'm not sure how well this momma or the papa that accompanies me is doing with all the transitions. Sania's milestones seem to be thrusting her into a more adult word, finishing challenging high school courses and going to dances. Anara has been on a mission to find a spark she had before contracting mono just over a year ago, which I feel is a very mature decision to make about yourself. Cameron, well he seems to find a new talent almost daily. His biggest achievement lately has been learning to screw and unscrew lids along with turning door handles.

Otherwise Saturday was a lazy, uneventful day. We mostly lounged on the couch watching TV, listening to an audio book, or playing games. Oh, and keeping this little monkey out of mischief!

20 April 2013


A couple of weekends ago our family had the opportunity to go on a Geocaching scavenger hunt... Well, the rest of the family went trekking through the woods as I sat in the nature center of at Blacklick Park. I just didn't think taking off for a 4 mile hike through the woods would have been the best decision for someone almost 8 months pregnant. Let me tell you about the wait. I was forced to sit either inside or out and take in the horrible view while park rangers forced drinks and chocolate into my hands. It was nearly unbearable.

So, what is geocaching? According to Wikipedia, "is an outdoor recreational activity... in which the participants use a GlobalPositioningSystem (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world."

The metro parks system has a set of hand held GPS systems that it shares amongst it's 18 parks. These little ditties are used about once each season per park to conduct scavenger hunts which are open to the public. The geocaches in this week's scavenger hunt were plastic zipper bags with stickers and/or little trinkets like a plastic ring. You can find a list of each parks' schedule here.

If you don't live close to a Columbus metro park there are several organizations out there that also have these little hunts and also ones that just randomly have little treasures for anyone to pick up at any time. You can grab one of these hand held systems for anywhere between $60 and $6,000 off amazon or just pick up an app for your smart phone. One of the fellow participants downloaded a free app while everyone was waiting to get started. He siad it was accurate enough to find the little treasures.

Here are a few pictures I snapped at the nature center before everyone headed out.

19 April 2013

28 Days left of Pregnancy

I can hardly believe how small that number is getting. Only 28 days left before the official due date. I have hit that point when pregnancy insomnia kicks in. You know the mark of being so uncomfortable it's hard to sleep AND when finally manage to sleep it only means that you will need to get up and pee soon. I'm the last one to bed and the first one up most days. My new early morning schedule has Anara thrilled or annoyed depending on the day. She is generally the first one up in our house and I think has come to really enjoy and need that pinch of alone time.

Aside from some back pain, I'm actually feeling leaps and bounds beter at this point in my pregnancy than I did in the earlier stages. I haven't blacked out in several weeks and my heart feels a lot better, so I have taken myself off the total rest that my cardiologist put me on. I'm still taking it really easy, but I have added cooking to my daily schedule and I'm leaving the house for more than just doctor visits and church. Previously just taking a shower was exasperating, but now I'm feeling normal. Well, as normal as one can feel 36 weeks pregnant. I have a doctor's appointment today, and I will finish this post afterwards.

Well, it's later in the day. The appointment went well, but there is a high probability it will be a little less than 28 days. Heading to the doctor this morning, John and I hit drizzly rush hour traffic. Which made getting to the doctor take well over an hour. I wasn't even sure they would see me when I got there I was so late. I got right in to the doctor. He measured my tummy and checked my cervix. 2 cm dilated!! Next to the sonogram. Our little guy is weighing in at about 7 pounds (which is about the 70th to 75th percentile). A measure of the amnionic fluid revealed that it is a little lower than what my doctor would like to see. After the sonogram, the technician wanted me to see the doctor again to talk about the low fluid level. Apparently, it could be slowly leaking out. If I don't hit an active phase of labor by Tuesday, I will go back for another ultra sound. If the fluid levels haven't increased then the next step is induction.

Ok, here is the weird part. Since Nia was born 13 years ago, the  last 2 deliveries were induced, and I went into false labor about a hundred times with Cameron (well, maybe not that many times, but it sure seemed that way), I've been praying my water would break so that I would definitely know I am in labor. It's possible my water broke when Cam jumped on me about 3 weeks ago, I've had really strong contractions since. I should really consider being more specific with my prayers, this really isn't what I had in mind.

I was really hoping not to be induced. I don't do epidurals. With induction the actual delivery feels about the same, but it's mind blowing how much more painful labor is. With Cam the labor was much worse than the delivery. I also don't want to deliver before Tuesday, that is actually the earliest day my mom-in-law can get here. Oh, and 1 more thing, 2 of my dear friends have a baby shower scheduled for me the following Sunday. Everything will all work out in the end, and it's not like I have any control over the mater. At any rate, this time next week my stress level will be lower. Either because I have new baby OR because I'm still waiting for him.

08 April 2013


My kids love fractions! Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with how fractions have been presented to them. As with most math concepts, I like to introduce the fun part first, then move on to how we use the concept in everyday life, and finally get to the little less fun part of worksheets or curriculum. With fractions this works really well. The practical every day use of fractions generally means we get to go out for pizza as a family or make a cake. If you have gone over money already, it's easy to explain how money breaks down into fractions. The two sets of fraction manipulatives in the picture above were purchased from amazon and are both from the learning resources brand.

One thing I didn't realize when I ordered these is that the colors of the same size fractions on each set match up. For example the 1/3 size in both the circles and the bricks are red. This really helped Anara connect relevance between different shapes and ways to draw/write fractions. The bars also have the fractions written on one side along with decimals on another.

The fraction tower activity set can be purchased here. I paid $13.29 at the time I ordered it.

The rainbow fraction deluxe circles can be purchased here. I paid $9.35 when I ordered this one.

Fraction manipulates are not something that have to be purchased, they can easily be made. When Nia was this age she had circles, bars, and squares that came as part of workbook. They were card stock weight punch-outs. She had just as much fun, still loves fractions (in fact she played with these new 'toys' a few times herself, even without her little sister), and they worked just as well. I decided this was a worthy purchase for our homeschool for one main reason. Sania has always had a fairly delicate, gentle touch. My other kids, not so much. With the spacing of my other children's ages I would most likely be making fraction manipulates every year for the next 13 years. As long as I can keep up with these little gems, this purchase should save me a at least a few hours of measuring and cutting.

I did decide to make some fraction pizzas out of card stock, they seem durable enough where we may even get more than 1 years use out of them. I made 2. One broken into 1/3 size slices and the other into 1/4 size. The toppings are construction paper. Our whole house was delivered pretend pizza with toppings like blue legos and barbie shoes for about a week. I decided to keep the pizzas where the slices stay intact, but I've made this before where they come apart then used sticky sided hook and loop dots to adhere to a larger piece of cardboard for the whole pizza affect. I've never found a great way to keep toppings on when the pizza is pulled apart that way though. I knew a teacher once that made a simular set up using fabric. The pizzas were flannel and the toppings were felt.

06 April 2013

Drive-in Movie

Yesterday my baby (ok, so she's not exactly a baby anymore) finished something and was able to add a rather large milestone to her ever growing pile. Nia finished Algebra (you can read more about that here)!  As way to celebrate we decided to head over to Skyview Drive-in Movie Theater.  To my knowledge, there are two drive-ins in the Columbus area. Skyview and South. Skyview is by far the nicer of the two. Here is a picture from a time close to it's opening in the 40's.

As a family, we love movies. There are some major benefits going to a drive-in as apposed to a normal type of theater. The first being not sitting in a dark quiet theater with a toddler, nuff said there. Also, taking your kids in their jammies is perfectly acceptable. Heck, show up in yours if you want, no one will be the wiser. Well, unless you need to go to the restroom. And, maybe the best part about drive-ins are that you can bring your own food and drinks, even though the concessions do seem to run a little less than the norm for a theater.

If you do decide to head over to Skyview, make sure you check out their website here. There is a ton of information about the Drive-in's history, the shows playing, and even concessions.

04 April 2013

Baby Bottles

Baby bottles, when did they become so expensive... and complicated. For all of my kids we have used the AVENT brand of bottle. We started using the brand when feeding complications for Nia (loooong story, I might tell you about later) left us searching for a bottle that would work for her. Avent was our 5th bottle... and it worked, so we stuck with it. When Anara came along we stayed with the same brand. At the time we lived in the boonies. The closest store to our house was 45 minutes away and I couldn't imagine throwing in multiple excursions through the country side to the previous hellish experience of finding a bottle. So, the bottle wasn't cheep, but it was easy. Bottle, collar, nipple and done. By the time Cameron came along, the design had changed to bottle, ring, collar, nipple. If I hadn't bought a dozen of darn things on before I realized this, I would have searched out a new bottle. You see for me each little piece that is added seems to equate to dozens of extra headaches. Headaches when they drop into the garbage disposal... especially when no one realizes and then you have to re-buy the already over priced piece or be down an entire bottle because of it. Headaches when your digging through a drawer at 2 a.m. and hope you can get a bottle together before your newborn wakes up the whole house. Headaches when your holding your hungry baby while making a bottle only to realize everything has been washed and sterilized EXCEPT all of the rings. Headaches when your husband's very large hands find it challenging to put together little bottle pieces while listening to a baby crying and two other children telling him about the baby crying. Headaches when you forget about the little extra piece or it doesn't get in just right and dump milk all over your baby. I'm really not sure how people who use the bottles with 5 or a zillion pieces have any sanity left.

Umm, maybe you can tell that my love for the AVENT brand left when they added that little ring. They do have a new bottle (back down to the 3 normal pieces), and I'm sure it's great, I'm just not sure I want to use it. I was given a sample when I signed up for a registry at Buy Buy Baby. I found the nipple hard to get into the collar AND it's even more expensive than the 4 piece design. The first set of bottles I purchased for Nia were $3 a 12 pack (not AVENT). I am totally aware that was nearly 14 years ago and the economy has changed a great deal, but my eyes bug out a bit when I look through today's choices and see bottles like the mimijumi with a price tag of $14.99. Ouch. I think my kid would have to use that bottle til they were 5 if I paid that much for it. However, I'm sure there are good, cheeper options out there. I just haven't found them, not that I've looked around a ton.

Recently we picked up replacement nipples for the new born stage of our AVENT bottles for our coming little bundle. They run about $2.50 a nipple. I haven't opened them yet, so if I could find bottles for less than $2.50 a pop, I would be completely happy to return those and just pick up new bottles. Also, I managed to accidentally melt several of our larger bottles, so  even if I don't find a bottle for  less than the $2.50 price mark, the plan is to switch to a new bottle when the coming baby moves past the 4 oz stage.

Any bottle recommendations out there?

So, at some point after Ember began taking around 6 ounces at a feeding we tried him on a few different bottles. What we found was...
1. Em is a very picky little baby. He made it really clear he really wasn't happy about having any other bottle than the AVENT is was accustomed to.
2. Simplier bottles = more spit up. Em has sensitive tummy and the bottles we tried with less pieces really enhanced this issue. I'm sure I don't need to explain more here.
3. If I had a do over with bottles this go around (and with Cameron) I think I would start out with playtex nursers that use the plastic bags. Anytime I have been able to pump milk, I have put into milk storage bags which are easily used in this type of bottle. This was also the only bottle we tried that didn't cause more tummy issues.