Amy is the homeschooling mother of 7 living children and 1 precious little girl playing at the feet of Jesus. Raising Arrows is where you find years of homeschooling and home management knowledge, as well as grief support for those who have lost a loved one. You can find Amy on Google+
According to my baby ticker, baby is putting on some fat! I’m hoping I’m not putting on fat! My OB appointment last week went really well, but next month is my Gestational Diabetes test. Last baby, I flunked the 1 hour for the first time. I am trying to watch my sugars and not have that happen again!
Trim Healthy Mama has definitely become a big part of my pregnancy. One of my favorite breakfasts are the Trim Healthy Mama Pancakes topped with either Greek yogurt or Strawberry Chia Jam. My girls had to make a jam to work toward their jelly making badge in Keepers of the Faith, so that is the one we chose, since we’ve been canning plenty of sugar-laden plum jelly these days. In fact, yesterday alone, I canned 44 jars of jelly! YIKES! Here’s a photo of me stirring and stirring that beautiful plum jelly…
So, yeah…back to the sugar-free kind of jam: It was super easy to do and tastes really great! You definitely should give it a try!
We had company this weekend as I’m sure many of you did as well. These particular friends always come and help us finish out little (or big) household projects. This time we recovered dining room chairs and barstools that were absolutely embarrassing, fixed an off-balance fan, a sink that wasn’t draining right, and a bazillion other little projects! We are very lucky to have friends like this because frankly, if they didn’t come visit NONE of these things would ever get done!
And finally in this week’s news, I’m missing my biggest helper, my 16 year old son. He’s gone down to help my mom. Whenever Blake is gone, we see on a very small scale what it will be like when he is no longer living here. That’s the thing about babies…they grow up. And one day, they are no longer under your care. *sigh*
Here’s a little nostalgia from Ty’s first deployment when Blake was only 3:
Carrying a new little life is such a blessing! Every pregnancy, I try to find ways to celebrate the new life within. Despite morning sickness, aches and pains, and fears, it is important to me to try to find even the tiniest of ways to celebrate these amazing months I have been blessed with. Today, I want to share with you some of these the celebrations!
I’ve put together a Celebrating Pregnancy printable to print off and keep handy throughout your pregnancy. I’ve also included links and other ideas below that show these celebrations in action!
Month 1: Learn a New Skill
Most women don’t even know they are pregnant at this point, so purposefully celebrating your pregnancy will be a tad bit difficult. However, if you are planning to become pregnant (and even if you are not!), this is a great time to celebrate by learning a new skill that has “baby inclinations”. Think quilting, diaper making, crocheting or knitting, cake decorating or scrapbooking. Craftsy.com has some great online classes you can take, or ask another crafty friend to walk you through the process!
Month 2: Host a Freezer Meal Party
You’ve had the excitement of seeing that pregnancy test turn positive, now what? Most women deal with some sort of “slow down” in their life in the first trimester, either due to morning sickness or exhaustion or other factors. Month 2 (before you start this slow down) is a great time to have a Freezer Meal Party! These meals are not for when the baby is born, but rather for the days when you are just too tired or too sick to cook in the first trimester.
You are probably still not feeling your best, so now is the perfect time to do some at-home pampering. I enjoy long Epsom salt baths with candles and music, followed by some yummy smelling lotion. A really luxurious bath product is Philosophy Cinnamon Buns Bath Gel (don’t croak when you see the price – it is worth every penny – as long as you keep it out of the reach of little hands!). Be sure to go with smells that do not bother you. Sniff them in the store before you buy! Light the candles, slip into a nice, warm bath, and turn on your favorite music.
As for music, listen to something that relaxes you. A new feature from Amazon that I am really enjoying is Amazon Prime Music. There is a huge list of FREE albums/songs that you can listen to from your phone, tablet, or computer. I really like piano music and Enya, so I have a lot of Enya’s albums in the my list as well as The Piano Guys and George Winston. All you have to do is download the app and start searching for your favorites!
Month 4: Enjoy Nature
Now that you are starting to feel better, it’s time to soak up some nature and take time to reflect and look forward. Think about the past several months, plan for the next several. Talk to baby. Pray. Really take the time to see the world around you. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, the trees, the flowers, the intricate details of creation. You and your baby are a part of that amazing gift of creation. Don’t squander the time.
Month 5: Plan Date Nights and Outings with Your Spouse
You’re feeling that 2nd Trimester awesomeness, so take advantage of it! Sit down with your spouse and plan out some fun outings and date nights. Go to places you haven’t been before. Take a day trip, or even an overnight excursion! Talk about baby plans, and relish your time!
Month 6: Buy (or Make) Something New For You
Now is the time to indulge that ever-expanding belly with something new! If you are super-crafty, you can make something, but I prefer to purchase something instead. I typically end up purchasing maternity clothes, but whatever you choose, make it something you can use NOW. I would encourage you to buy at least one piece that is brand new and super nice because you will have it for years (and babies) to come.
My favorite purchase this time around was a Rainbow Denim Maternity Skirt from Deborah & Co. (Today through Labor Day, you can use code: LABORDAY5 to get $5 off any $50 order and orders of $100 or more receive a FREE SCARF included in their package! Scarves are one of my favorite maternity accessories! Click HERE to start shopping!)
Month 7: Do Something Nice for Yourself
What is that one thing you would really like to do, but just don’t seem to do for yourself? Is it a new haircut? Maybe a massage? Perhaps it is a piece of jewelry to celebrate your pregnancy? This month do something fun that is just for you!
Even if you don’t know baby’s gender, you can purchase something this month that is just for baby. This is my 9th baby, but I still feel it is super important to get something that is just for THIS baby. One thing I’ve done this time around is order several products from Mother’s Lounge. I have a coupon code that will get you these products FREE FOR SHIPPING!
is the code and the products you can get include:
nursing pillow from NursingPillow.com
baby leggings from BabyLeggings.com
baby sling from SevenSlings.com
car seat cover from CarseatCanopy.com
nursing cover from UdderCovers.com
(You can use the code on each site!)
Month 9: Host a Baby Tea or Another Freezer Meal Party
A Baby Tea isn’t like hosting your own baby shower, but more like hosting a tea party with your girlfriends. It’s not about gifts, but about swapping birth stories and encouragement and savoring those final days of pregnancy.
Years ago, I picked up a used copy of Clay & Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Wholehearted Child. I was fascinated by the content and implemented as much as I could in our little homeschool. Since that day, I have recommended this book to homeschoolers everywhere, and even given it special mention on my Homeschooling page here on Raising Arrows.
About a year ago, I picked up a copy of the new edition. I could readily see there was more content and I knew I needed a refresher course. Finally, during vacation this year, I was able to begin reading.
Boy, did I need the words contained within those pages! Ty and I spent hours discussing what I had read. The kids and I spent hours discussing what I had read! There was so much to chew on. I am continuing to chew even today!
One discussion that came from my reading was concerning a sidebar comment on page 98 entitled The Education Nation:
“Secular public education in America has evolved into what is essentially an elaborate employment preparation and social indoctrination mechanism.”
And I realized even I was getting caught up in the mindset of “employment preparation.”
You see, I have a 16 year old who is very close to finishing up all of his required high school credits in our state. The natural conveyer belt of our society says the next step is college, but Blake isn’t sure he wants to go to college. He’s a very intelligent, very driven young man and although I wanted to respect his decision, I felt myself lurching inside.
Would he be able to get a good job without a college education?
Isn’t every smart child supposed to go to college?
How would people react to him not going to college?
(notice how that last one is all about MY pride?)
Government education has truly become a system of institutionalized thinking. There aren’t many “outside-the-box-ers” these days. The goal does seem to be to get a child through high school so they can get through college, so they can get a better job than their parents, but if you look around you will see a lot of college graduates struggling to do just that. And often, their answer is to go BACK to college for another round. Piles of information, good test taking skills, and very little to show for it in the way of real world experience. In the words of Kevin Swanson,
“It’s like taking 12 years of bike and never getting on one.”
Common Core is supposed to help change some of this, but all I see there is more of the same…fill heads with information they won’t retain and teach a test so hopefully they’ll get a good enough grade to get into college and…then what?
As I continued to read in the Clarkson’s book, I found myself deeply convicted to stop secretly wanting my son to be like everyone else (I say secretly because I would NEVER have admitted that I even remotely wanted any of my children to be INSIDE the box) and use these young adult years to give my son even more opportunities to become who God has created him to be because “true education is not about making a living but about making a life.”(<— this is a topic explored even more within the pages of Educating the Wholehearted Child.)
How we educate is important. It runs much deeper than filling heads with information. It runs much deeper than college prep or employment skills. It starts when you child is very young and you allow them to be children full of wonder and curiosity for God’s great grandeur. It continues as you cultivate a home environment that is full of love and respect for the individual image-of-God child, as well as plenty of free space and time to explore personal interests and and God-gifted leanings. And as your child nears the end of childhood and adulthood is in sight, it becomes a time in which you guide your child toward using those interests and leanings where making a living becomes a reality because they’ve made a life.
Might I gently suggest you look into not only Educating the Wholehearted Child, but also a website I have mentioned before that goes hand-in-hand with what I am saying here:
This website is full of information and guidance to take your child’s leanings and help them build a “real” life from those talents. Using the principles we have learned from Jonathan Harris, our son has taken his interest in airsoft guns and built a website. He’s learned to work on airsoft guns, produce and edit quality videos, and write with passion and clarity. Our daughter is also working on her videography and photography, as she moves toward her own 10,000 hours of talent.
10KtoTalent.com offers courses to guide you and your student into using your homeschool time wisely by building a curriculum around their uniqueness in Christ. This isn’t cookie-cutter homeschooling, and it will revolutionize how your entire homeschool paradigm!
I encourage you to really pray through all of this and catch a vision for how amazing the homeschool experience can be in the middle school and high school years!
This year, we were blessed with abundant produce that was free or nearly free to us. We had a small garden and very generous landlords.
I’ve admitted in the past that I am not a gardener. I like to blame it on my sensory issues – there is nothing about playing in the dirt that intrigues me. However, I REALLY like having fresh produce that WE grew. So fun! This year, we grew peas, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, green beans, and there are cantaloupe on the vine as we speak.
As for our generous landlords – they are an older couple who plant WAY more than they could ever eat (as in 60 tomato plants!). They have sent tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and green beans our way in bucket-fulls! And I am sure not going to waste it!
And then, to top it off, this has been a stellar year for the sandhill (or wild) plum! These little beauties grow roadside and are usually free for the picking by whomever makes it there first!
As promised last week in my Pregnancy Update, here are the recipes we’ve been using this canning season.
Sandhill Plum Jelly - Apparently, I’m one of the few sites out there with this recipe because this time of year, I get a lot of hits on this post.
I mention in my plum jelly post how I was running my pulp through mesh with a spoon. Well, thankfully, I found my sieve! This isn’t the cleanest job in the world, but that tart jelly is oh so worth it!
Freezer Green Beans – Early on, we froze our green beans. This is a nice, simple process that yields beautiful, bags full of bright green veggies!
1. Wash your beans.
2. Trim the stems off your beans and cut them in half.
3. Blanch the beans in boiling water for 1 minute.
4. Dunk in ice water for 1 minute.
5. Pat dry (we used paper towels).
6. Bag in “meal sized” freezer bags. For our family, this means full 1 gallon bags, but that may be too much for your family. Adjust accordingly.
Pickled Green Beans – As the season wore on, and the landlords had more and more and more green beans, my kids begged for pickled green beans instead of freezing them. Now for some of you, the idea of pickled green beans seems pretty “out there”, but you really ought to try it!
You can use any pickle recipe, but this one is very similar to what we use for our pickled okra (when we have it) and has been a favorite for a very long time. It includes dill, garlic and red pepper flakes, and ends up quite yummy. By the way, if you ever want to hear my “angry okra” story, fell free to read all about it HERE.
Cucumber Pickles – We didn’t end up with very many cucumbers, so what we did end up with became pickles that went straight into our refrigerator. When you do this, you really need to let them set in the refrigerator unopened for about a week (more would be ideal) to get the full flavor. It was all we could do to wait a week, and they were gobbled up all in one setting! The recipe we used came from Sheri Graham.
Salsa – When the tomatoes first started rolling in, we did up huge batches of our favorite salsa.
This is a very chunky salsa with some surprising ingredients like balsamic vinegar and soy sauce! The acid content in the salsa was plenty high enough to be able to water bath it (the only kind of canning I do), so we ended up doing about 3 gallons.
Later, we moved on to a less chunky salsa that we found HERE. However, I don’t think either salsa is really going to be hot enough. I need to put more heat in them next time.
Spaghetti Sauce – I had never canned spaghetti sauce, and frankly, we don’t use the stuff. For years, we have simply used tomato sauce with spices in it. That’s it. However, I thought it would be nice to have some real homemade sauce for our italian meals, so I dug around for a recipe and came up with THIS ONE.
It was VERY tasty, but by the time we had done up a dozen quarts (plus the salsa we had already done), my kids (and myself) were sick of tomatoes. I happened to mention on Facebook how we were all tired of peeling and seeding tomatoes, and my Facebook blew up with people chiming in saying they didn’t peel or de-seed their tomatoes and I shouldn’t either! I was astounded. I was under the impression this was a RULE. So, when the landlords called and asked if I wanted yet another round of tomatoes, I exasperated my children by saying Yes…because I really wanted to try this little experiment!
Well, the truth is, I will be trying this little experiment later today. HERE is the recipe I’m going to use. Now, I know the woman in the post freezes hers, but I will be adding some tomato paste (to thicken) and lemon juice (to up the acid content) and water bath them for 20 minutes. I will also probably run them through the Vita-Mix…just in case people are pulling my leg about having the skins and seeds in there being ok.
Once I’m through the last of the tomatoes and the sandhill plums, we will be finished until apple season…which also looks like a bumper crop. We buy seconds at a local orchard and turn them into all sorts of yummy treats! We’ll be freezing slices for pie, making applesauce to can, making apple butter (probably in the crock pot), and maybe even some apple pie filling!
Until then, the rest of the tomatoes on the vine will be picked green and fried.
This past week has felt very busy, but a good busy. Because of the Simplified Organization eCourse, I’ve been steadily working through the difficult areas of our home with my husband and children. There are boxes my husband is going through that haven’t been gone through in several moves! It feels so good to be finding homes for everything!
We also had our carpets cleaned by a friend from church who does that type of thing professionally. When we moved into this rental, the carpets had been “cleaned”, but sadly, I think our landlords got taken by whatever company was doing the job because the job was not done. The carpets look so much better now!
I was so thankful that we were already well on our way through the decluttering and organizing process when we had the carpets cleaned because moving furniture and other items was not nearly the chore it would have been had nothing had a home.
Now, everything feels fresh for baby’s arrival…even though we are still 4 months out!
I have a doctor’s appointment this week. Many of you know from previous pregnancies that we travel quite a distance to go to an obstetrician who will VBAC me. I am a VBA2C (Vaginal Birth After 2 Cesareans), so not many doctors will even see me. (You can read my Birthing Story HERE.)
I always look forward to my appointments because they help to mark the time until baby arrives. We have also been blessed with doctors who are more like friends than doctors. And of course, the windshield time driving the distance to the appointment with Ty is always welcome.
Both of these things I’ve had in the past to varying degrees. The carpal tunnel actually started following my 2nd child’s birth. My family doctor at the time informed me that pregnancy hormones will create carpal tunnel like issues that eventually resolve themselves. Sure enough, a few months later, the symptoms were gone.
This time around, the symptoms started coming on this past week – 22 weeks. Any repetitive motion tends to aggravate it. My best tip is to pretend you have a rubber band strung between your thumb and pinky and stretch your hand in and out to relieve the tingling. It always makes me very grateful I only have to deal with this during pregnancy. I feel for the people who deal with this all time.
Restless Legs (RLS) is much the same way. There are people who deal with this condition outside of pregnancy. I know mine has a stopping point no matter how crazy I feel. For those who live with it day in and day out, I would highly suggest looking into a magnesium deficiency.
I don’t have any decent photos from this past week because I was too busy working on the house, but you can imagine me with my hair piled on top of my head, humming to The Piano Guys, with tomato-stained hands sifting through years of junk in boxes we keep moving form house to house!
The 2014 Homeschool Omnibus ends tomorrow night at midnight ET, so don’t miss it!
IMPORTANT DETAILS: All resources must be downloaded by September 25th because after that time, they will no longer be available for download. The deadline for refunds is September 5; however, if you have downloaded any of the materials, you will not be able to receive a refund. Have more questions? Visit the FAQ page HERE or contact iHomeschool Network HERE.
I sent out a second email yesterday, but just in case you missed it, the code for the Simplified Organization course was not working, so I have a new code that is even better than the original one!
will give you the full course for only $45! This offer is good until August 30.