Sunday, December 13, 2015

Time4Learning Homeschool Review

 We had a pretty rough start to homeschooling this year... starting with a really rough pregnancy that ended in an emergency C-section and being life-flighted. The whole thing left me really from home education. For the first time, with 3 school aged children, a toddler and a baby, I'm looking into some online curriculum.
  I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid curriculum review. Time4Learning offers an online curriculum for prek-12th, information about homeschool portfolio reviews and tools like the How to Homeschool Guide. Be sure to come back and read about my experience!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How we do solids

 This here...this is my bubbeh takes. He actually responds to "Bubbeh Takes" more than he responds to "Jericho," or as we more often call him, "Jerko Jerko."
Unlike my first child, who was given a puke-soup concoction consisting of watered down and pureed carrots promptly at 5 months old, Jericho is not really being fed any solids yet. And when he does, it will not be baby food from a jar or any liquefied substance.
 After carefully transitioning four children to solid foods already, I have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing. Of course, our methods (ours... as if my husband cares to have any say in this subject which I have researched extensively) may vary greatly from yours. And that is *probably* okay - I say probably simply because there are still mums out there who think it's acceptable to put rice cereal in their two month old baby's bottle so he will "sleep better." No. Just stop, please.
I'm all about baby-led introduction to solids. That doesn't mean that I start stuffing my baby full of solids as soon as he becomes fussy during a time of day that he has never previously been fussy. That's just not an indication of needing solids. There are several indicators though that I follow to assess whether or not my baby is ready to start trying foods. Now, this is based off of the idea that I honestly believe they don't need runny foods off of a spoon to get them started.

 1. Baby is able to sit appropriately to feed himself.
When your baby can sit completely unassisted and you don't feel like you have to put pillows around them to catch them, it is a good indicator that they could handle feeding themselves.

2. Baby can grasp items the size of a pea 
Since baby will primarily be eating items the size of a pea (hey...they might even be eating an *actual* pea!) it's safe to assume that they are ready for it when they can effectively pick it up and put it in their mouth. 
3. Baby can get things into his mouth
 If your baby can pick up these tiny objects but not actually put them in his mouth, he's probably not quite ready yet. That coordination is learned at a specific time for a specific reason. 
4. Baby tries to mash with gums
If you notice your baby (who is now sticking things in his mouth) is moving things around with his tongue and trying to grind them with his sweet little toothless gums, he is ready to chomp on some food. If he is no longer pushing things out of his mouth with his tongue, that's a good sign as well. 
5. If he is staring at your food and moving his jaw up and down
I only really pay attention to this if he seems ready in every other way because honestly, I have seen babies around three months old start taking an interest in solids. Unfortunately, wanting food is not the same as being ready for it. 

So here is my littlest guy around five months old, I believe. And yes, he is standing independently. My kids have all been pretty physically advanced. And he is doing all the things on that list I made. Does this mean I start giving them food super early? No. Because I'd rather cautiously wait if possible. I'd much rather have them get no solids for longer than get solids too early. Here's why:

Babies who are fed solids start to do this really incredible thing: I call it, OLD MAN POOP. It's where those breastmilk diapers where you go from, "oh, yucky poo poo, your diaper stinky!" in your sing-song baby talk all the way to "Oh My Lanta!! What did you eat?? Oh, send it back to the fiery pit from whence it came, Frodo!"
There is no going back.

The other thing there is no going back from is *feeding solids* in general. You can't just stop feeding your baby solids. You only go forward, not back. So if you think it's so cute and grown-up to give them four jars of baby food a day, you have to keep on doing it. Even when it's not cute and you realize it is a huge chore.

There is a huge lack of control once you start solids. If grandpa sees that you gave junior even one taste of a french fry, he's gonna be handing him an entire milkshake tomorrow. Once they see you give baby the goods, they'll introduce foods without your permission so fast it will make your head spin. Believe it or not, they are even more excited than you are to get your baby started on real food.

It's really, really bad to give your baby food too early. Children who get solid food at too early might be at a greater risk for developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease. Even spending ten minutes on the internet reading about feeding solids too early will give you an idea of what kind of health risks you are making. For some strange reason, 40% of babies are given solids too soon. That's almost friggin half. Why? What is the reasoning? Are people thinking that age is the most important factor in when to start solids? It's just a number, and one that cannot reflect a baby's readiness for solids.

Here is my fat little guy today. He is 22.5 pounds and 27.5 inches, and just turned 7 months old. He had a few bites of potato out of my soup at dinner time, and he loved it. The other day, I put a few avocado pieces in front of him and let him try to get some in his mouth. That's the extent of his solids intake. And at this point, that is all he needs.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

That Alaska Life

I've written tons of blog posts about Christianity, doctrine, scripture, parenting, etc. But one thing I seem to get asked about constantly by people reading my blog is, "what is it like living in Alaska?"
Sure, living in Alaska is made infinitely more interesting in my family because we are so ridiculously conservative and patriotic (think a more approachable Palin family) but honestly, it is culture shock for most people even without the extra elements. Just a forewarning, I live in Southeast. It's not exactly the same everywhere in Alaska, so I'm strictly speaking about my own little zone here.

There are times of the year that you cannot leave town without a gun. 

Yep. During the best season that we get, you have to take a gun with you everywhere. There are 3 bears per square mile on this island and yeah- they can and will eat you. If you want to go fishing? Take your gun. If you want to go for a picnic? Take your gun. Want to go pick berries? Take your rape whistle. Just kidding. Take your gun. Speaking of fishing...
The fishing is just like they show on T.V.

You know those shows that feature the salmon in Alaska and they are just everywhere, like a bridge made of fish that you could walk across? That's real, and it's no exaggeration. Then when it gets a little later in the season, those same fish are dead, rotting on the shores. It's disgusting. And it stinks. But the fishing is good while it's good. 

During the summer, there is no darkness. 

 In july, we get just over 18 hours of daylight. Do you have any idea what it's like waking up to the sun and thinking it's time for coffee - only to check your clock and realize it's 4 a.m.? Or what it is like to think it's getting close to time to make dinner but you quickly find that it is already 9 p.m.? Yeah. It is really crazy for a few months there!

Winter is prime time for suicides

You would think the summer makes up for the darkness of winter but it doesn't. Everyone here has a severe vitamin D deficiency. Couple that with 6 hours of daylight a day and you have a perfect combination for severe depression. Alaska has the highest suicide rate per capita in the country. 

If may be surprised to find that you are stranded here. 

It doesn't actually feel like you live in the United States sometimes. We are so removed and secluded that sometimes. you forget what civilized places feel like. Groceries have to be barged in or flown in. Do you know how much fuel costs? It causes our grocery prices to be through the roof. There is one tiny store (if you can call it a store) that gets groceries straight from costco and marks it up by half. That is the cheapest way to get groceries unless you want to travel by plane or ferry. Oh, did you want to go shopping? I hope you like Amazon. Most online stores won't even ship here. By the way, I live in such a tiny part of alaska that our mail doesn't get delivered to our homes! We all have post office boxes. I don't even know my home address because most of the houses here don't even have numbers on them. It's sad, I know. 

There is some amazing crap to see. 

Between snow covered mountains and glaciers, and bears and whales, and cultural landmarks. and the salmon run, and the Alaskan natives... it's awe-inspiring how much there is to take in. I wouldn't trade it for anything. 


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Headcovering for Beginners

So... I went ahead and made a not-so-quick little video to introduce you to headcovering. It's just a touch on beginner basics and where to get started. Once you get the basics you can accomplish just about anything with a little bit of fabric :) I hope you enjoy it. It is late and I am halfway asleep but I did my best... tehehehe.

Monday, August 24, 2015

God's Plan for your Miscarriage

This is a touchy subject. Like, a really touchy subject.
 I'm talking about the loss of a child, specifically still in the womb
I see blog posts on it frequently, but they never explain how you can find joy in this terrible thing that has happened to your family.  They talk about how to grieve, and how you can grieve for as long as it takes and that is okay. They talk about what not to say to someone who has suffered a loss, and they talk about how so many women have gone through this same thing and know what you are feeling.
I have a lot of friends who do not prevent pregnancies. Supposedly one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage as it is, so when you think of how many miscarriages a woman may experience when she gives the Lord control of her fertility.
Imagine crying out to the Lord and saying, "My womb is yours Lord. I am a sacrificed vessel for you to do your work in me!" Imagine Him blessing you with the greatest blessing you can receive... only to find out, some short time later, that your baby is gone. I'm not saying this is any worse than any other person who is not allowing God to control their womb losing a baby. But you can see how it feels like a huge slap in the face.
One woman whom I greatly look up to recently lost her second pregnancy in a row. She has many children already and feels that she is nearing menopause and may never have another child. Losing two babies back-to-back in the second trimester was surely devastating to her. I remember her posting in our group that she hadn't felt movement. I remember saying it was probably fine. Probably. I didn't want to admit that the worst had possibly happened.
Later when she announced that she had lost the baby, I broke down in tears. My daughter asked me what was wrong but I couldn't even answer. Even though it wasn't my loss, I was completely overwhelmed with grief for her.
I try to ask questions before I point fingers. I know my God and I know that even if I don't understand His purpose, there is always one. So I started asking "Why?"
Why does God allow you to become pregnant and then take away your baby? What purpose does that serve? Why would that child be conceived in the first place?
I have another friend who has only two children, and they are adopting another. She has had several losses despite desperately wanting to grow their family.
I began to see the whole picture after asking about the lesson to be learned.

Treasures in Heaven

Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Each child lost in miscarriage is in heaven with Jesus. It is a treasure stored up in a place where thieves cannot break in and steal. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. The Lord doesn't cause it - it is the result of sin in the world. I believe with all my heart that there is this joy to be found despite the loss of your child.
The Lord is still growing your family in eternity even if it's not here on earth. That child will never stray and is already going to be there when you get there. I have a niece and an uncle that I will get to meet for the first time! It may not make the loss any easier but it can change the way you grieve. I know it is not comforting to say, "It wasn't meant to be," but it should be a comfort to know that your precious child was not taken from you, they were secured as a treasure in Heaven for you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My sincerest apology to the babywearing community...

I remember when I had my first baby and I certainly thought I was cool. I was so in touch with what all the moms were doing. My mom thought she knew what was cool but no. She was wrong. She was outdated and her last baby was born in the 80s so she was obviously clueless. I knew what was up. I wasn't just using Johnson's Tear free baby shampoo. That's what 80s moms used. I had these super awesome disposable wash cloths. I think they were still Johnson's but that isn't the point. They were disposable wash cloths. My mom had probably never even heard of those before!
By the time my second baby was born I realized the horrible mistake I had made. No one in their right mind was using friggin Johnson's anything because it causes cancer. I may as well have been rubbing my baby down with arsenic. Why oh why hadn't I known about Burt's Bees??
Anyways, I like to consider myself at least a part-time baby wearer. I don't really wear my babes after a certain point, usually because they are big and I am pregnant and once they get the hang of walking I don't feel the need to have them attached to me. But early on, and the more kiddos I have, I like to wear them. It's convenient and simple.
When my third kiddo, Royal, was born, I got a Moby wrap for cheap and I couldn't believe how much I loved the thing. It snuggled my little newborn in there on my chest and it was super warm even though it was winter here in Alaska. Sometimes I would just put him in it because he was fussy and then I could get other stuff done while he slept on me.
When Royal got a little bigger, I completely skipped the regular outward-facing carry and started practicing a really neat back carry. It took a while to get it secure, but I felt confident in it. If the baby started to slip at all I could feel it and readjust. I was just walking around anyhow, not hiking up mountains or doing yoga. It seemed pretty fine and safe to me.
The only part I didn't like as much was how much fabric you ended up with. It was a lot to wrap around your body and so it was kind of annoying in a hurry. Other than that though, I really loved it.
Fast-forward a little ways and guess what? You are strictly forbidden from back-carries with the Moby wrap. Apparently, according to the baby-wearing experts, putting a baby in a Moby wrap on your back has been known to cause such catastrophes as babies exploding. You cannot wear a baby on your back in a Moby.
To add insult to injury, I soon learned that everyone hates the Moby wrap. I thought it was the best invention ever, but here I was wrong. No one *wants* to use a Moby wrap. They are too stretchy and they are dangerous and uncomfortable. Who knew? I started looking into other options. There were wraps similar to the Moby called K'tan that were slightly easier to put on, but they still presented the same issues of being too stretchy. I liked the look of the Mei-tei carriers, but they were super spendy. I eventually made my own and I liked it okay, but it could never feel quite as secure as the snugly, stretchy Moby wrap and all it's lovey goodness.
I started to notice that the trend was woven wraps. They cost an arm, a leg, and the blood of your firstborn. I really can't fathom how they could possibly feel secure and tight when the fabric doesn't stretch but then again I've never tried one.
One of my co-ops on facebook had a buy for Ergo baby carriers. They were about $30 and they had some really cute ones. It seemed like a good price to try out a different method for baby-wearing. Plus, Ergo was "the" baby carrier. People are spending hundreds of dollars on different custom varieties of this Ergo thing so I knew I was missing out on something.
I was pregnant with Jericho when I got my Ergo and just looking at it made me insanely happy. I could tell it was well built and sturdy and would be easy to get on and off - much more so than my Moby. The first time I put him in it my heart swelled. I needed some assistance because to be completely honest I could not figure out how to get the buckle on the back done when the baby was in front of me. I wore him in the Ergo maybe three times and was never fully able to get it on AND off without assistance.
So now let's talk about today. Jericho just turned four months old and I needed to walk down to the police station to get my van. I had no adult helpers and I had four other kiddos walking. I excitedly reached for the Ergo, knowing that now, I could put Jericho facing outward. I learned my lesson the first few times and only unbuckled the waist buckle. I tucked Babycakes in there and started to buckle it up when I realized that his legs would not spread properly to hang out while forward facing. Hm. Apparently I'm dumb. So I tried to tuck his feet in. That also didn't work.
I started to get really annoyed because I had somewhere to be and I thought I could just throw this thing on and go. How the heck do you put a baby with short legs spread like that? He was way too big to carry all squished up like a newborn, but he couldn't spread his legs far enough to comfortably face out. In a fit of frustration I tried to unbuckle and pull it off. Of COURSE I couldn't get the darn thing off without prying my poor babe face first out onto the bed. Stupid buckles that I can't reach!!
I tried to switch to a back carry. At least then I could easily access the buckles and not need help. I buckled it on my waist while it sat on the bed with the baby in it, then I grabbed the shoulder straps and pulled him right up onto me. Phew! Not too hard. Then I glanced in the mirror and his skewed legs were making me wince. They didn't fit inside the carrier and they sure didn't fit outside the carrier.  In a fit of rage I disassembled the tiny bit of progress I had made.
I found it stored neatly beside my dresser and whipped that baby on so fast. Jericho was literally giggling as I stuffed him into it, outward facing for the first time ever (he's just a happy kid....).
I just can't do it. I can't do the Ergo. I wanted to like it. No, I wanted to LOVE it. But I can't. My moby wrap just gets me. And I still call myself a babywearer. I'm sorry. I promise I tried. I will hold on to the Ergo until short-fat legged babies become longer legged babies that can fit more easily but in the meantime I'm just sticking with the Moby.
Consider this my formal apology to the die-hard babywearing community.
I also still use the disposable washcloths.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ask A Fundamentalist

 Recently I had the opportunity to open myself up to strangers. I volunteered for an "Ask Me Anything" in which people were permitted to ask me any questions about our lifestyle and beliefs and I answered. There were actually a lot of good questions (and a few ridiculous questions...haha) so this will have to be part one.

Will you ever do something to prevent babies? Or do you mean you really don't believe in birth control ever? Not even a vasectomy?

We don't intend to. We believe that the Lord controls the womb, and we trust Him to do that for us. Some day I will go through menopause and I believe that is God's typical way of saying that my body is done carrying babies. I want to put total trust in God and for me, this is what it looks like.
If down the road, something terrible happens, we would probably evaluate the situation like anyone would, so I can't speak to what we would do. I did just have a traumatic delivery and am struggling, but still trusting the Lord to plan our family.

 What is your exact reason for homeschooling?

 At first, we chose to homeschool because of the school system in the town we live in. It is definitely lacking. After the first year of homeschooling I realized that I can teach my children a lot more in the same amount of time at this age. I also don't like that I am not in control of what they are being told. I have no way of knowing what others are telling them, honestly. At the same time, I want to spend all the time I can with my kids. I feel like that is more important to be able to cherish this time with them rather than send them away for 8 hours a day. you not plan on exposing them to different cultures, beliefs? How do you think that will work for them when they are older and are confronted with the hard truth that not everyone believes the same? What happens if they decide to not share your faith?

 I've had many discussions with them already about differing beliefs and cultures. We live in a Tlingit village where they believe in the Raven deity. We have participated in the Koo'eex and many other programs that we obviously don't believe in. My daughter's best friend is from a Wiccan family.
Bottom line, they get exposed to a lot of differing beliefs and cultures without going to public school, because I do believe it's important to be exposed to those things in preparation for "the real world."

What do you do in the way of field trips?

We had a homeschool co-op going last year but it kind of flaked out this year. Since we are on a tiny island, they wouldn't get field trips even if they were in public school really. The only field trip they do is the tide pools one (they walk on the beach for two hours and look under kids and I go along every year anyways) and one where they drive out the road to the place people make bonfires and go fishing.
We practically live outdoors during the summer. We are constantly looking for bears, going fishing, raising chickens, harvesting berries... we do a lot. It is extremely educational just to live here! When we do move to a more normal place I will utilize every available homeschool resource I can. I can't wait to be able to expose my kids to more and more educational facilities!
 Have you ever thought by suffocating your kids with your religion, instead of letting them chose for themselves might blow up in your face one day?

 I don't think that teaching your children your own beliefs and instilling in them that Jesus loves them no matter what they do is "smothering." I don't want someone else teaching them. I want to do it myself. That's what I signed up for!

Do you follow everything in the bible? Even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff?

 I haven't found things to be contradictory. The things that many people claim are contradictory are usually misinterpreted or taken out of context.

Not really about child rearing but regarding the Bible, do you take it in literal terms i.e., the world was created in seven 24 hour periods?

 Honestly, I don't know much about those things. I've heard Christians argue amongst themselves about whether the world was created in millions of years or if it was created just a few thousand years ago. I don't really see what the difference is. My focus is that Jesus is love and that's the message of the Gospel to found your faith on.
I do believe many parts of the bible are metaphorical, and I'm open to thinking that the 7 days in genesis (and many other parts) might be metaphorical as well.

 Does that mean you do follow a lot of the Bible literally? That would mean, among many other things, no bacon (Deuteronomy 14:8)!
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I've looked into this a lot and prayed about it a lot. Honestly, the things they were told to do in Exodus and Leviticus were guidelines very specifically for that group of people. There are many christians in my circle though that are Torrah-observant and follow all those guidelines. I don't believe those rules were made for us and if I ever feel convicted about them, I would definitely try to follow them. I hope that never happens. I have an unhealthy love for bacon.

 Are you and your husband considered equals ? 

 Absolutely. He doesn't walk around all day lording over me and acting like he is my boss or anything. Mostly , I fall back on him for major decision making for the family and he wants my input as well. I actually make MOST of the major decisions regarding our babies (vaccinating, when to start solids, things like that) because he trusts that I have looked into it more than him.
As my kids like to say, daddy is the big boss and mommy is the little boss. But we are a partnership - and we are both bosses.

 Are you allowed to have your own money?  Or do you have to ask before buying personal items? (I found this question particularly hilarious.... I didn't realize I came across online as such a weirdo)

 Allowed? I haven't really asked. I do defer to my husband for *most* purchases that aren't household or groceries just because following our money really stresses me out. So I don't check the bank account or pay attention to what we have. I'm just not good with money. Usually if I need, say, new clothes; I'll usually ask my husband if we can afford it or not. Likewise, he asks for the okay from me before making large purchases (except the Playstation 4. He mostly just TOLD me he was buying it. haha).

 Are you planning to end up like the Duggars?

 I wish. Honestly. I love having a large family. It's ridiculously difficult some days but just as rewarding as any woman feels with just one child.
I don't think that's really in the cards for us though. Im 27 and only have 5 children right now. I usually don't get pregnant until about a year or so postpartum. So I don't think we will end up with 19 children.

I have a couple questions.  Do you follow the discipline practices of the Pearls?  If so, how do you feel when you see all the stories on the news regarding this form of cruel discipline?
Will you allow you kids to go to a secular college?  Or will you insist that they attend a non-accredited bible college or take home college courses?

Lastly, were you raised in this type of religion, or was a choice you and husband made?

I have read the Pearl's book "To Train up a child." I enjoyed some of it, but a lot of their principles don't apply in our household. I have to argue with a lot of the controversy though - some of the things I see referenced about the book are things I never even read in it or that were taken severely out of context.
I have no opinion about my kids' college education. I don't believe that everyone should go to college anyways. It's just not really necessary (dependent upon what career choice you have made). I didn't even finish high school. I knew at 14 years old that I wanted to be a writer and that furthering my education would not contribute to that in reality (cue the attacks on me about how stupid and uneducated I must be. It's okay - I can handle it). I do hope that by the time they are the age where they will be choosing to go to college or not they will be spiritually mature enough to make good decisions about what behavior will be taking place there and have the strength to not get involved in any poor behavior with other students. 

There are tons more questions that I will post at some point, but I think this post is long enough for now!

"Jesus cannot forget us; we have been graven on the palms of his hands." - Lois Picillo