I still remember the nervous pit I felt in my stomach before each new year of elementary school began. Of course, it faded away after the first day and was replaced with excitement, but as a mom, I experience those same nerves before starting my children’s homeschool year! Each year has its ups, its downs, messes, and moments of utter chaos, but a few tips help me to pull through and make the most of this messy journey!
1. Split your schedule:
This works particularly well if you're running a 4 day per week homeschool schedule. Work with child A and C on Monday to Thursday and child B and D Thursday through Sunday. There's less of a break for mom, but the days themselves may just be more peaceful!
Another option to divide and conquer if you're on a 5 day per week schedule is to work with one set of children in the morning, and another in the afternoon. In our house, this looks like morning lessons with my pre-school and 1st grader, then an after lunch history storytime with all my children, then more focused lessons with my 2nd and 4th grader.
2. Find subjects to automate:
Certain subjects are easier than others for each child. Depending on age and strengths, find a streamlined online option for that student to work through. For example, my five-year-old loves math and enjoys Mathseeds, so that's one subject she can work on independently with a program that I trust to build a strong number foundation.
3. Find your rhythm:
I know in the homeschool circles we run in, rhythm is a common catchphrase. Think of it like breathing. There's the inhale, the fast-paced run around or higher stress lesson times, and the exhale of independent play or quiet reading time. Simply observing the natural rhythm that takes place without intervention can help you build off of a hidden pattern that's already taking place around you.
For example: Our days tend to be tense from 9-10, while some of my students work [and fight for my attention], but we take a break around 11 to start lunch. That's an inhale, and an exhale.
After lunch and outside time, it's time for another inhale with some of our more challenging lessons, but an exhale comes around 2 when I attempt to get my toddler to nap.
4. Loop in friends and family:
With the presence of video chatting platforms these days, why not incorporate a video call with a relative as some learning time? My son enjoys reading chapters of books to his grandparents and quizzing them after, and my daughter likes memorizing poems to share. You could even consider asking a relative to pitch hit a lesson via zoom.
5. Give yourself grace:
It's ok when lessons don't go as planned… It's ok to switch curriculum in the middle of the year… it's ok to blaze your own path… it's ok to say "no" to too many activities. Give yourself the grace to grow just as you give your children grace to learn and explore. Remember, there isn't a right or wrong way to homeschool- just what works for you and your students!
James is one week old today, and I've wanted to write up his birth story while it’s fresh in my mind…
I went for a walk with my kids and my parents throughout the neighborhood and after, I was feeling a lot of pressure in my pelvis as I ran around the kitchen and made lunch. My parents ran to the store, and my husband was on his way home from work early, and I decided to take a bath and try to assess what was going on with my body. I was having some random contractions, but mostly pressure, and I figured that a bath might make contractions taper off if it wasn’t true labor.
While I was in the bath, I started having a panic moment that I've had in every labor right around the transition phase where I have to deal with any and all fear related to actually pushing a baby out of me. I wasn’t feeling filled with faith… at all, and knew I was at that moment where the rubber met the road, and had to embrace what might come next.
I had an appointment at the birth center at 3, and I had intended to go myself, but with all the pressure I was feeling, I decided to have my husband take me and to bring all of my birth supplies just in case. When we got to the appointment, I explained what had been going on and the midwife checked my cervix and was completely shocked that I was at 7 cm.
They gave us the option of going out for dinner, or staying at the center, and I decided to stay and "settle in” emotionally because I knew a birth center was a bit different than my previous home births.
I met the on call midwife, and she was divinely appointed to be there for our birth. We chatted a bit, and I told her about my previous births and some of my concerns and fears with this birth. She really wasn’t sure what to make of the situation and explained that she’s not used to women coming in and smiling and talking at 7cm and wasn’t sure if she’d just have to catch a baby at any random moment.
I labored on a ball for a while and worked on figure eights to help get the baby in a better position. I continued to have mild contractions that got down to about 3 minutes, so I decided to get in the tub. But, as I stayed in the tub for about 20 minutes, my contractions grew further apart so I decided to get out. Then the midwife checked on baby’s position, which was still posterior, so we did some spinning babies techniques. She mentioned it was normal for contractions to slow with these, and my labor pretty much stopped.
By now, it was 10 at night and I was disappointed. I had never had a labor stall out, but our wonderful midwife suggested some options. We could sleep there and see if anything else happened naturally, we could try a breast pump, or membrane strip, or go home and come back if things progressed in the night.
I talked it over with my husband, and at this point, I made up my mind that I wanted to be home in the morning when my kids woke up with their new baby brother. I had to make a conscious decision to let my body go into labor, and tune off all the distractions that were keeping me from mentally entering "labor land."
I opted for a membrane strip and then decided to stop all the enjoyable chit chatting and pace around the hallways by myself to get it the right mental spot. During this time, I'd have contractions, most of which I kept walking through, and they still weren't regular which made me worry labor wasn’t progressing.
I went back to the birth room and decided to try to sleep, but before I could climb in the bed I heard a pop and my water broke. In all my births, this was the first "pop" experience I had and it was kind of cool. I woke up my husband and told him to get the midwife and she came with the nurse quickly.
By this point, my mind was fully in "laborland" and I walked to the bathroom and they asked what I wanted to do and I just said I didn't know, which was a clear sign my mind was fully withdrawn to my body. I eventually said I wanted to get in the tub, and they started the water, and then reminded me that things could slow again, and they wouldn't be able to help with positioning as well, so I opted to go on the bed. I knew I'd be pushing momentarily, but I was surprised by how much these contractions were actually doing the pushing and moving for me. In between each, I felt like I could sleep, and told the midwife that because I was worried she might step out if she saw me sleeping, but she reaffirmed that it was simply the hormones doing their job and I was almost there.
After a few of these really strong contractions, I felt the urge to push, so I did. In one push, his head and an arm emerged, and with the quickest hands on earth, our amazing midwife was able to untangle James from being double wrapped in his cord. Then, with a second quasi push, he was born!
James came at 37 weeks and 6 days, but was a whopping 7lbs 14 ounces for that gestation. A further surprise was that the placenta WAS circumvallate (the first ultrasound showed it and second didn’t). Due to this, and his crazy one arm up, posterior, and tangled in cord, I was so thankful he came that day and not weeks later when he could have been well over 10 lbs.
Of course, we’re all over the moon in love and so thankful he’s joined our family!!
And, just like I envisioned, we got home just in time to greet my older three when they woke up with their baby brother and was greeted by my early rising 5 year old.
I'm so thankful that God planned the perfect time, the perfect people to help, and provided the peace and strength I needed at each step of the way!
It's been busy around my house these last few weeks and consequently very quiet on my website and social media. We welcomed James on 7/29 and have been loving all the snuggles and family bonding time!
I'll be back in the fall with some new content, new fun products, and plenty of adventures to share!
Introducing music into your homeschool routine doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive! We've considered violin and piano lessons, but I wasn’t sure if my kids were ready to invest themselves in the topic, and their knowledge of music was very limited. Then we were introduced to Merry-Bells, a perfect introductory to music concepts in a neat red box! Merry-Bells features eight colorful bells, each labeled with the musical note that they make.
My kids were instantly drawn to the colors and the sounds, and I quite enjoyed them as well as the ringing was peaceful and sounded much like wind chimes.
We popped in an accompanying DVD, which features popular children’s songs, handed out the bells, and started making music! Immediately, my kids were immersed in learning about each bell's sound, practicing timing, hand-eye coordination, and working as a team to develop their bell-playing skills.
For our first lesson, I expected to try out a few songs, but my kids insisted on ringing their bells for every song on the CD! With kids 8, 6, 4, and 2, our songs were more clanging and less recognizable tunes, but we all had so much fun!
We received three DVDs, " 30 Christmas Songs,” “30 Children's Songs,” and “30 Patriotic Songs,” Each offers an array of songs in two forms, the harmony version, and the melody version. We worked on the harmony version with multiple players, but the melody version is perfect for a single bell player. I appreciated the wide variety of tunes available; most tunes were easily recognizable and allowed for us to sing along to help maintain our place in the song. My kids felt like they were playing in an interactive video game and have asked to play bells as a daily part of schooling our routine.
My older students benefited from the musical charts, which allowed them to practice songs individually and at their own pace. Simply be reading the colors on the chart and matching them to the bells, they were able to play fun tunes and get a sense of how different sounds blend together.
I'm thrilled that as my children play, they're developing their timing skills, listening skills, and working as a team to create beautiful music. I'd highly recommend incorporating Merry-Bells into your homeschool routine if you're looking to introduce music at a level that multiple ages can enjoy and want to encourage a love of music in a fun, interactive way!
With baby number 5, I went to my first prenatal appointment around 13 weeks, after waiting for my referral and then another month for the next available appointment.
I was thrilled to get that first peak at baby on the dating ultrasound, and it was equally exciting to see a much more developed ultrasound image than the typical first ones that look like an abstract bean- a lovely bean, don't get me wrong...
Nearing the end, the tech was taking some notes and making some marks. then, I went to see the midwife and do the rest of the appointment.
The midwife mentioned the placenta was circumvallate, which was an "irregularity." I left, feeling great, though still nauseous, and went about my day.
Later, I remembered that strange word the midwife mentioned and decided to google it to learn more. That was a bad idea...
When searching for "circumvallate placenta" across the internet, you'll learn that it's a rare condition where the placenta curls away from the baby, which can lead to poor nutrient transfer, preterm birth, excessive bleeding/hemorrhaging, placental abruption and potential death to mom and baby.
I was paralyzed with fear! Was my doctor doing enough? What could actually be done? If something went wrong before 20 weeks, then there was nothing to do to save the baby, but should I be preparing for a preterm baby? Birth defects due to lack of nutrients?
I just wanted to scream:
SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
I decided to not announce my pregnancy until 20 weeks, in case something happened, I didn't want to be bombarded with questions, and I waited in pins and needles for my next appointment.
I finally had another ultrasound at 23 weeks, and guess what? Placenta looks great. The tech didn't think it was circumvallate anymore, but the ultrasound needed to be reviewed by a doctor. Baby is doing well, though on the smaller 35th percentile (uncommon for me).
The reason for this post is essentially this: if you've been diagnosed with a circumvallate placenta, take a deep breath and let those worries go.
I wish I didn't worry so much about something I had no control over. I spent so much time fretting about potential complications that haven't happened, and reading through forums of other moms, it seems most people are diagnosed, read WebMD, totally panic, then eventually realize their worry isn't needed.
The midwife's term of "irregularity" sums it up the best. The placenta is different, or appears different in shape. For me, it seems to have adjusted- though medical personnel will say it doesn't do that and was falsely diagnosed. I'm not sure what the actual deal was, I just know that I was totally panicked for months about every little ache or pain, kick, or lack of kick, and it was simply fruitless and ducked the joy out of the beginning of this pregnancy- so my advice is to not do the same but embrace the irregularity, and your precious bundle of joy growing within you!
Have you been diagnosed with a circumvallate placenta? I'd love to hear your story in the comment section!
Back in the '90s, Jackie Mize coined the phrase 'supernatural childbirth' in her best selling book by the same title. The concept seemed unheard of until she shared of her miraculous conceptions and pain-free deliveries, which encouraged many Christians to believe for the miraculous in their pregnancies and births. Mize's book was a gateway into helping believers expect and receive more from their pregnancies and births.
I was given the book in my first pregnancy by a friend who was also expecting. She shared her faith and the miraculous birth stories of others and I was so intrigued. From the moment I found out I was expecting, I had been afraid of actually giving birth, but after reading supernatural childbirth and inspiring testimonies online, I started to actually look forward to my birth experience. (You can read that story here )
So why did I write Re:Birth and how is it different from Supernatural Childbirth?
God first put this book in my heart during my second pregnancy. I had been reading scripture and studying Biblical Theology at Regent University, and I started seeing some concepts in the Bible that appeared contrary to what I had read in Supernatural Childbirth. But, I had already experienced an incredible birth so I wanted to search for truth. My journey and Scripture interpretation took me through the finished work of the Cross. For example, in Re:Birth, we address prophetic metaphors of women writhing in pain during birth- but in the New Testament, we witness the renewal and reversal of the same metaphor, how cool is that??
Another concept that was important to address in Re:Birth was the amount of woman who experienced a supernatural birth..."BUT..." I had read so many testimonies were filled with amazing, miraculous experiences turned to sorrow and dare I guilt as woman shared what God had done during their deliveries, and also how they somehow messed it up of 'stepped out of faith.' Those ideas frustrated me so much, because believe me, I've been there! I've felt the weight of disappointment after a birth, but it doesn't mean that God was any less present or any less capable! Birth looks and feels different, even with the same women, there are no two births that are exactly the same, but we want to CELEBRATE you amazing Mamas and the amazing God we serve!
Don't forget to send us your stories so we can encourage others!
I hope you all are having a fantastic week-
Love and Hope in Christ!
Learning to correctly form letters and practice penmanship can be one of the most tedious parts of the early learning process. Inspiring children to want to practice their handwriting is half the battle! We recently checked out a unique handwriting practice book that offers some creative ways make writing fun! Handwriting Practice: Reusable Letter & Number Tracing Workbook features a spiral bound book with letters etched into each page for easy tracing and comes with a disappearing pen to make this product fun and reusable with multiple children!
My [almost] 5 year old loved tracing the letters and then waiting for the ink to disappear, it made her writing time exciting and the etched letters made the task simple while muscle memory was being built!
Similar products could be found on apps like Wish, but the shipping time took weeks and many complained the product was too small. This handwriting practice book solved those problems, bringing the book to your door swiftly and at a reasonable price!
On top of covering the traditional upper case and lower case ABC’s, the book features number practice and tips on how to implement proper posture for your students. It’s colorfully illustrated, thorough, and easy to use for your smallest learners!
My daughter completed this page multiple times, and there is no ink residue left over!
If you have a student who is in need of a fresh and fun approach to handwriting, consider checking out Handwriting Practice: Reusable Letter & Number Tracing Workbook on Amazon, and let the fun begin!
Have a great week!
It's been quiet around the blog for a few weeks, which is normally a sign of exciting things brewing! One portion has been the decision to launch a "birth with faith" zoom call for mom's curious or looking forward to a supernatural childbirth (see some beautiful supernatural childbirth testimonies here!) ! Inspired by Jackie Mize's book, Supernatural Childbirth, expecting mom's curious about the concept of supernatural childbirth can learn about the premise of birth being redeemed by the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Since writing Re:Birth in 2017, I've been blessed to pray for expecting mom's who are looking for God to do more in their births, from birth without pain to quick and peaceful births, I've kept a prayer calendar of due dates to surround them in prayer as their delivery approaches!
Prayer requests have increased and I've noticed groups of moms, all anticipating supernatural births with due dates close to one another, so I wanted to invite them to join in a time of fellowship, prayer, and testimonies to encourage each other! The calls will be a time of questions, encouragement, prayer and testimonies and organized based on one's due date!
If you'd like to join in, please fill out the form below with your contact info and due date!
You might also be interested in:
While writing Birth in Blantyre, I was able to connect with so many wonderful people and hear their stories, concerns, and victories. One mom took the time to share her three birth stories with me after learning about Re:Birth and felt that God had given her miraculously short labors. I love her birth stories because they break a "birth stereotype," where women feel like labor will be long... because it's labor!
That simply doesn't have to be the case. I've shared before about praying for a three hour labor with my first baby, and being 9 1/2 cm dilated after three hours! During my last birth, I only experienced 40 minutes of regular, peaceful, contractions!
Martha shared: On my first birth it took me about 6 hours after signs of labour. And the other 2 just within 5 minutes of going to the hospital.
"[In Malawi,] whenever we are at home we feel that we are in labour pains. We go to the maternity ward reception whereby the midwife gets our details and checks on the cervix. If they see that you are in the first level of your labour they admit you and they keep on checking you till you get to stage number 8 whereby they know that you are in the last stage of your labour. That is if you find a good midwife. Sometimes you find a midwife who is inconsiderate when she sees that you are on the early stages of your labour she can even ask you to go back home and come back when you are going to the last stage of labour.
I don't know what actually happened to me. It just happened that these two kids I feel it was by God's grace. I just felt my back sore around 7am and when I went to the toilet only to see that I am in labour. I told my husband that i was not feeling alright and he said ok as.he was getting prepared I could feel that It started to be very painful By the time he finished it was around 7:30am he took me to the hospital and while I was in the car I felt that the baby was already on its way.
I remembered the moment he stopped the car I was the first person to.get out of the car and I run to the maternity ward and get straight to bed. The midwife asked me to go.to the reception I told her that I feel the baby is on its way. She immediately got her gloves and checked me only to see that the bay was coming. And she just asked me to push then the baby was born by 8am.
And my last born daughters birth was also a very quick one. It was also in the morning around past 7 when my husband was getting ready to drop my boy at creche. I told him that I could feel a slight pain and he asked me if he could drop me to the hospital first I said no he can drop the boy to school. The moment he left I felt the pain was unbearable. I asked my sister to go to my neighbours house and ask if the neighbour can take me to the hospital. By then I was expecting my husband to come back from creche after an hour. The neighbour came and take me in his car. That time I couldn't sit upright because I could feel the baby was very close. When my husband came back he was told that we already left for the hospital. He just followed us to the hospital When we get to the hospital the hospital attendants run with the stretcher and let me lay there. The midwife asked me to sit upright when we got in the hospital i told her that I lt won't be possible since the baby is close Then she rushed to get the gloves to check only to see that the baby was really coming. She asked me to push again and immediately the baby was born. Thats how I experienced the labour. "
I love how Martha knew her births were "by Gods grace." Her words remind me of Eve's when she remarks, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." (Gen. 4:1). God is with us at every moment during labor and delivery. He already knows the next moment- so there's no reason to fear!
If you're looking for more positive birth stories of God's goodness, check out Re:Birth!
Blessings, my friends!
When I was pregnant with my first baby back in 2011, our insurance wouldn't cover a 20 week ultrasound because they deemed it not medically necessary. The OB practice said this was pretty unheard of, and despite everything progressing normally, we desperately wanted to find out the gender of our first baby to start planning for the nursery and baby showers.
We opted to go to a local 3d ultrasound business and find out what we were having!
I was thrilled, starting listing baby names, and buying a plethora of pink baby clothes [because that's what you do with your first!!]. My sister and a friend planned beautiful baby showers where I was gifted every beautiful pink thing I needed and I patiently awaited our little ones birth! I share my first birth story here.
During this pregnancy, I was having some minor health issues, my heart rate was running high, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, so I was sent to a cardiologist and pulmonologist and had an echocardiogram done to make sure all was well.
During my echocardiogram, I had the sweetest technician who performed the heart ultrasound, and then said, "let's take a quick look at baby!"
She moved the ultrasound wand to my belly and asked what we were having. I gleamed, "a girl!" And she got really quiet for a moment...
In hindsight, she was trying to think of the best way to break it to me...
She showed me the screen, which revealed with certainty that the baby was not actually a girl! I was so surprised, and thinking about alllllllllll the returning I would have to do.... but I was also releaved to have that news broken to us outside of the delivery room so I could prepare with some boy items instead of bringing home a newborn boy in a pink layette set...
We contacted the first ultrasound place, and they offered us a free ultrasound package to confirm the gender... which was in fact a boy!
Ultrasounds are such a wonderful thing, but they're operated by humans and there's always a margin of error! Since then, we've take every gender announcement as a prediction and I appreciate the techs guess!
Have you had an ultrasound tell the wrong gender??
is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom of four, giving her excellent credentials to run her own circus one day!