The best advice for new moms
You know those wonderful friends you made in grade school that are still your friend today? I hope you do! Well, one of my oldest friends just became a mom. I told her I was more excited for her birth than my own, because I've been doing this mom thing for a few years now.
At her baby shower, they had cards to fill out with advice for the new parents. I knew exactly what I'd right- it's the advice I give to everyone who enters into parenthood:
Trust your gut.
God's filled us with all of the knowledge that well need for every situation, and He continues to fill us daily. He's not hiding his truth from us, he freely gives knowledge to those who ask for it (James 1:5).
Often, this can look like a gut instinct. Your tingly-mom sense that is telling you everything will be alright, or that something is not right. That feeling in the pit of your stomach that gives you something to say and the strength to say it- listen to that.
Here's an example of it working in my own life recently:
With my 4th baby I tested positive for GBS very early on in my pregnancy (9 weeks to be exact). Normal protocol is to administer antibiotics during labor to prevent the transfer of the bacteria to the newborn. I happened to be allergic to the typical penicillin so they were going to administer clindamycin. I've used that drug many times, for month even in the past, and my gut was saying, "NO."
So much so that I ended up changing providers at 36 weeks and finding a midwife who would support a birth without the antibiotics. I knew there were potential risks, and I had to prayerfully trust that God was protecting us, healing me, and everything would be well.
And it was.
My water broke and the baby came all in one push, so there was very little exposure to any bacteria. I was so thankful for my experience.
A few months later, I got a case of mastitis. I started taking the clindamycin that they wanted to IV me during labor, and my body had a really serious reaction to the drug. It caused an overgrowth of another bad bacteria and colitis which had me extremely sick for days on end. I can't imagine what would have happened if I took that drug during labor, especially intravenously.
I'm thankful I stuck with my gut, even if it wasn't popular and was costly at the time, and I hope that all new mamas will do the same!
P.s. we love to pray for you- send us your prayer requests here! And if you’re having a baby, we'd love to pray for your birth, send us your due date here and we'll add it to our prayer calendar!
Last week, I touched on the fact that we have all been sick recently. When a 36-hour stomach bug rips through a family of 6, it's pretty miserable. I caught the bug, then got mastitis, then had a reaction to the antibiotics which left my body in really rough shape. I was so sick that I was unable to produce the breast milk that my 4-month-old needed.
Now, I've been nursing for almost 7 years straight between my 4 kids. There were a few months at the end of a pregnancy when I would ween one child before having the next because my breast became too sensitive to nurse, and besides a few cases of mastitis amongst the years, and sore nipples after birth, my breastfeeding journey had been wonderful.
While I was sick with the first bout of illness, I noticed that Porter was having fewer and fewer wet diapers. We decided to try some Pedialyte to make sure he was hydrated. It was clear that my milk supply was decreased, but I expected it to return to normal quickly once I felt better. 24 hours after the 3-day stomach bug cleared, my milk production seemed to be back to normal, and Porter was nursing well and having an increase in his wet diapers so I thought we were through the woods on that illness.
But mere hours after the increase in milk, I had visible mastitis and a high fever. I continued to nurse as normal, starting him on the breast with the infection, taking ibuprofen, using heat to relieve discomfort and trying to use cabbage leaves for 20 minutes 3x a day in hopes that the infection would clear, but it didn't.
I went to the doctor and they prescribed my old friend, clindamycin. I've taken that drug quite a bit for mastitis in the past- 3x a day for 4 months to be exact and my body was not happy to interact with clindamycin again. On rare occasions, the drug can cause an increase in dangerous bacteria in one's gut and wreak havoc on their body, and that's my story in a nutshell.
All the sickness seemed to put an end to my body's ability to make any milk. I would pump and walk away with 0.5 ounces from each side. I knew that Porter needed much more milk than that. He would nurse for seemingly hours on end and still want to keep nursing. Everything in me did not want to get formula, but I knew that we might need to supplement something else in. I tried eating all the foods you're supposed to eat and drank 5 cups of mother’s milk tea a day, but my supply wasn't increasing quickly enough
So we purchased some formula and I cried in the other room while my husband fed my 4-month-old.
I was devastated and felt like this might be the end of my nursing journey. After 7 years of breastfeeding, I couldn't believe that I had only been able to nurse my baby for 4 months and that this illness had caused so much damage, but I wanted to try everything possible to continue breastfeeding.
Porter had a tough time adapting to the bottle and formula at first. It was an entirely new thing for him, but after the first three bottles, he began to get the hang of it and I was thrilled to see his diaper count return to normal and to have a much more content baby once again. I continued to breastfeed on demand the way I had before I was sick, and after each nursing session, if offer him 2 ounces of formula followed by 2 more of he still appeared hungry.
Then, an hour or so later I'd also try to pump even though I was pumping very little milk. Night time was the worst because he was nursing more frequently than when he was a newborn and for longer periods of time, so I got very little sleep, which probably didn’t help my body recover. This was so discouraging, to say the least, but I continued with this for 7 days and gradually began to see Porter drink less formula after nursing. My milk supply began to increase, and I knew we were finally back to a good situation when he began waking up less at night.
I’m so thankful to be back to exclusively breastfeeding, and relieved that I didn’t give up and allow this temporary illness to destroy my nursing journey. I’ve been amazed to learn that people can relactate even after years of not breast feeding. There are even accounts of grandmothers relactating to feed their grandchildren in foreign countries.
Our bodies are truly amazing! Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? I’d love to hear your story in the comment section!
Techie Homeschool Mom Review
For starters, I am not a techie homeschool mom. I’m a still-trying-to-figure-out-my-Gmail-account mom. When I heard of the Techie Homeschool Mom, I knew I wanted to glean as much knowledge as I could from her- and I thought my kids would enjoy learning from her unit studies as well! We checked out Famous Inventors Online Unit Study and learned about ten famous inventors through the online course.
The Techie Homeschool Mom offers a variety of online unit studies which are self-standing, meaning they don’t require any additional books. Instead, links to articles and videos are provided to bring all the information to the click of your mouse. The courses are also self-paced, so students can learn at their own speed. Plus, there’s no limit to the length of time students can take on this program and it’s accessible from any device making it incredibly convenient.
In the Famous Inventors Online Unit Study, we learned about Archimedes, Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, James Watt, Charles Babbage, Nikola Tesla, Johannes Gutenberg, The Wright Brothers, and Steve Jobs. The course is designed for middle elementary students, but can be used for younger students with some parental assistance in reading the material. Before this course, I knew nothing about Archimedes or Charles Babbage and my 7-year-old wasn’t familiar with any of the inventors so there was a lot of learning for both of us!
Each module starts with an overview of the famous inventor, through videos and outside links, students begin to understand the world in which the inventor lived and the impact their work had. The second part of the module focuses on the actual invention, how it worked, and how it ultimately changed the world. In the final part of the module, students are guided through their own experiment that compliments the previous learning in the module. The module ends with a quick quiz or critical thinking question for students to complete. Quizzes can be retaken if needed.
Though the program was suitable for my 7-year-old with help from me, the projects were definitely appropriate for 3rd or 4th-grade children with parental guidance. They include building a replica of Archimedes screw (material cost $40-80), building a telescope, building a parachute for toys, a cup and string phone, making a model steam engine, binary coding with Legos, drawing power poles, making a desktop printing press, folding paper airplanes, and dissecting a computer.
We decided to make parachutes for you army men from plastic bags and practice out paper plane building.
I thought that we’d complete the entire unit study in a week, instead, we took a slower approach and focused on one inventor each day as part of our science time 4x a week and completed this program in a about three weeks. For each lesson, we’d spend about 40 minutes learning on the computer before attempting to complete the project.
The online format of the unit study made it really accessible and convenient for my 7-year-old. This was his first time working through a unit study, as well as first time working online in this format. At first, he dug his heels in a bit and wasn’t excited to learn about the inventors, but by the end, he asked to go back and do it again! Instead, we might check out some of the other unit studies by Techie Homeschool Mom. She has one on the solar system that looks great as well! Ultimately, I would recommend this program to families wanting to dive into thematic unit studies; they’re accessible, organized, interesting and ideal for students 3rd grade and up!
Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew checked out different unit studies- so be sure to see their reviews!
We have had a rough week in our corner of the world. It started last Wednesday, when I injured my back while leaving the chiropractors office. I know, who does that? I was feeling wonderful and relaxed and then I reaches down to pick up Porter in his car seat and OUCH.
So I go back home and am greeted by children with green diarrhea, which turned to fevers and vomit and poop everywhere. I'll spare you any more details, but even this tough mama couldn't keep water down for 3 entire days. I've never experiences a stomach bug like that in my life or had to deal with a crew of sick kids suffering through the same thing.
As soon as I started feeling better, I ended up with mastitis. Bummer. I started taking antibiotics and developed one of those “rare but serious reactions” that are so blatantly displayed in the drug pamphlet, which left me on the bathroom floor for 4 more days.
I've been in bed still recovering while my husband is home helping with the kids. It's been horrendous on so many level.
While I was laying down this afternoon, my two year old comes crying in: "my lip fell off, my lip fell off!"
And I'm thinking oh gosh, what now??
“My lip… my lip… my BEAUITFUL LIP!” she wailed.
She comes over and shows me her little finger with a tiny bit of skin on in. Her lips had been dry and a little bit of skin simply fell off.
I said, “Oh, sweetheart, that’s just some skin!”
“My skin…. My skin… my BEAUTIFUL SKIN!” She cried.
It was naptime, so I knew there was no sense in arguing this one. I got her to sleep and started thinking.
Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. He prunes off everything that doesn’t bare good fruit. Sometimes, when Jesus prunes us, we wail uncontrollably about our beautiful skin - unwilling to see the eternal insignificance of this moment and trying to hold onto something worthless. When we surrender, we allow a loving God to remove things that will hold us back and keep us from baring the fruit God’s called us to.
Spring is the time when gardeners remove the dead or dying parts of plants so that beauty can flow freely from them and the harvest will be sweet. I've yet to hear any plant wail about the pruning process. It might just be their lack of vocal cords, or that they're designed to remain surrendered to nature, surrendered to the process, and surrendered to their Creator.
Though I don't believe God prunes us with terrible things like sicknesses and disease, I do feel like these trying moments can either force us to become bitter or force us to become more deeply reliant on God. It always comes down to a choice, and though it might temporarily hurt, it's a beautiful process with a larger harvest on the other side of this life.
Have a beautiful week!
Social Media disillusionment
When I was a kid, my mom used to use the phrase, "oh, I'm just thinking out loud." It commutated the message that she was contemplating an idea and verbalizing it as she went.
These days, people don't think out loud, they post out loud on social media. Maybe it's another tired mom rambling in a few characters on Twitter, or the Facebook posts and "check-ins" mixed with the pictures on Instagram, but so much of our thought life is displayed in the ocean of clutter on the internet. I absolutely do it to. I post on all of those mediums... and to be honest, I have such mixed feelings about it all. As a writer, I'm told that what I write only has value based on my fan base. Many publishers only want authors who have 50,000+ followers on social media.
To me, that feels unattainable unless I spend a small fortune in promoting posts. Since my Facebook was hjacked, I have become completely skeptical of investing in the value of it. So, without thousands of social media followers, I’m confined to smaller writing gigs and that just makes me look at social media with even more frustration.
Besides my own social media disillusionment, I wanted to stress something to you wonderful readers both quiet and engaging: your clicks have value.
Facebook page "likes" normally cost $1, sometimes less. When you see a page and "like" it, you’re adding value to that brand. Every website click adds value when I work with brands, and comments and shares are looked in with more favor.
In the endless noise of social media, I wanted to send out a reminder that were all seen and heard. Some ways are positive, and some the opposite.
Treating Headaches Naturally
A headache can make the best day feel miserable. I started experiencing headaches as a child; I had a never-ending headache that would vary in intensity. Some days it would be mild, some days it would be a full on migraine that made it impossible to function. My mom brought me to every type of specialist imaginable from neurologists, to chiropractors and everything in between.
As I've gotten older, my headaches have improved a bit, but I still suffer from the occasional migraine and tension headaches. When they occur, I try to treat them naturally before reaching for the pain medication.
Here are my 5 tips for treating headaches naturally:
Peppermint oil: This is especially amazing if your headaches are related to muscular tension. Simply apply diluted peppermint oil to the trouble areas. For me, it's my neck and jaw that trigger headaches so I apply peppermint oil to relieve inflammation and relax in the cool tingly feel of the oil. I’ve found that this can kill a migraine before it starts.
Chiropractic Care: often our bodies are out of whack and skeletal misalignments can cause a great deal of pain and impact on our overall well being. This can be the hidden cause behind headaches, especially in children. Seeing a chiropractor for a series of adjustments (people are usually not cured in one trip) can be incredibly impactful on headaches.
Placing feet in cold water: this was recommended to me by my great-aunt from Kentucky. In the early 1900s, she’d get what she called "sick headaches." Treatment options were limited back then, but she said she'd put her feet in a tub of cold water for relief. Science has confirmed this can be helpful because it pulls blood flow away from your head, towards your feet, bringing pain relief.
Caffeine: When I was pregnant, I asked a midwife what to do about headaches because I could no longer take the migraine medication that I had been using. Her response was simple: “Caffeine and acetaminophen.” Caffeine itself acts as a vasoconstrictor, which narrows the blood vessels and can provide pain relief. Some people, however, experience headaches because of caffeine so it’s important to spend time understanding your personal triggers.
Lavender Oil: There are times in life when peppermint oil is not suitable such as the end of pregnancy or while breastfeeding. During these times, I reach for lavender oil. Though I don’t feel the tingling relief sensation of peppermint oil, the lavender oil acts similarly and can be helpful to headaches, especially when applied to the upper lip and inhaled.
Rhythm & Writing Review
Rhythm & Writing takes a new and fun approach to letter formation through Rhythm & Writing with the Get Write Crew. With cute characters and catchy rhymes, children learn handwriting with ease. This program is designed for children ages 4-6 and is meant to be used within this crucial time period to aide children in developing proper letter formation. Nikki Wilson, the creator of Rhythm & Writing explained the importance of forming letters correctly in her intro to Rhythm & Writing,
“I have seen first-hand, what happens when children don’t learn to form their letters correctly: they write slower, their hands get tired faster, and they have a harder time transitioning to cursive.” And, that about sums up my oldest child and his handwriting woes.
The curriculum begins with a pre-assessment to see which letters need some extra attention. My two smallest students, 4 and 2 (yes, she just scribbles but wants to be included), skipped this because their letter knowledge has not been strongly developed. But, my 6 year old took a pre-assessment which revealed he had been forming the letter “t” incorrectly. We flipped to the page to learn about the letter “t” and read a fun rhyme: “long line down and across.” My son had been making a long line upwards, and then across. Though the “t” looked perfectly form, the way he was writing it was incorrect and would consequently slow down his writing in the future and add frustration.
Rhythm & Writing with the Get Write Crew groups letters together by similar shapes. Most programs that we’ve explored have presented letters phonetically, which is great for learning to read, but a bit more challenging when it comes to writing. For example, “M” is a common first letter in phonetic curricula, but “M” requires significantly more fine motor coordination than the letter “L”. Rhythm & Writing with the Get Write Crew starts with “L” and then moves to “t” and “I” because they’re simpler to form and have similar features. Once my 4-year-old mastered writing her letter “L”, the following letters were a breeze!
In addition to a workbook, Rhythm & Writing offers songs to help kids learn their letter formation. All of my kids loved dancing and jumping around to the songs as they learned. We used the Rhythm & Writing program "family style" 4 days a week. One thing that is really neat about the program is that there’s the option to purchase a plastic transparencies to use over a page so that the book can be used with a dry erase marker for extra practice or multiple children. Because my house is where dry erase markers go to die, we photo copied the pages for each student participating in the lesson.
Rhythm & Writing encourages students to practice their letters in a variety of ways, from pencils to markers, and even writing them with their fingers in shaving cream. This is left open for families to incorporate and adapt as it makes sense. In our house, we practiced writing letters in the air with our fingers, in a small purple sandbox, and with play-dough.
We’ve enjoyed this program in our home; it’s boosted my kid’s handwriting confidence and provided me with a bit more peace of mind by knowing we’re finally tackling handwriting the right way with the Get Write Crew! I hope that they expand to include numbers in the future and maybe even make the songs downloadable so you can listen on the go!
Be sure to check out the rest of the crew’s thoughts below:
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.