Friday, 30 August 2013

An Ending Leading to a Beginning

This has been a great week. Our last week before we start back to school, and I've been pushing school preparations and to finish up my sewing list. It's been an incredibly profitable week.
My youngest daughter and I have made popsicles twice - delicious both times. The second time we used two cups of yogurt, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and two tablespoons of honey. It was the perfect blend. We had them today in the middle of our marathon session of canning 75 pounds of tomatoes.
Yes, you read that right - 75 pounds. Once I started I was in the rhythm and knew I wasn't quitting until it was all done. We're in the middle of a heat wave and I couldn't endure two days of sweatiness. So now we have 37 quarts of tomatoes ready for turning into yummy homemade tomato soup this winter.
I've done A LOT of sewing this week trying to finish up projects before my time for sewing is curtailed next week. I even sewed a project I wasn't planning on - a mai tei wrap - a baby carrier. I've only used it once so far, but it works great. I do so love carrying my baby. This wrap has him on my back. The baby likes this wrap too.
I'm about 95% ready for school. Are we ever 100% ready? I'm looking forward to starting up again. Break time is fun, but there is something to be said for an established routine. I'm still figuring out things to do or have ready for my toddler to do while we're doing school.
So except for the heat wave we've been experiencing this has been a wonderful week. A great ending to the summer.
How about you? Are you ready for school? Did you have a good summer?

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Vitamin B3 - Niacin

All the B vitamins are so important to our health and niacin is no exception. Niacin like so many of the B vitamins is needed for energy and helping our bodies to properly use carbohydrates, proteins and fat. Our brains, nervous systems, digestion and skin all need the help of niacin. It also helps to regulate our blood sugar and eliminate toxins.
In too large of a dose, niacin causes a flushing and tingling of the skin which can last for fifteen minutes. I experienced this myself. It's not exactly comfortable, but it does pass.
Niacinamide  is the synthetic version of niacin. It does not cause flushing and has a slightly different effect on the body. It is good for those with rheumatoid and osteo-arthritis and those with early-onset type-1 diabetes. It is also an antioxidant.
So how can we add niacin to our diet? According to here are the top ten foods for niacin. The first is yeast extract spread (Marmite), followed by bran (rice and wheat), fish (Anchovies, Tuna, Swordfish), liver, paprika, peanuts, liver (lean), chicken (light meat), bacon and finally there is sun-dried tomatoes. I will admit that after seeing how many times paprika has come up on these top ten lists that I have started to use a lot more of it in our meals.
What would you choose for increasing the niacin in your diet?

The information about Vitamin B3 comes from the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, Alive Publishing Group, 1997.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Cool Times

It's been my goal all summer to make popsicles. First, I've had a hard time finding popsicle molds. I looked in various stores, and my husband finally brought some home from the dollar store. Let's just say it was a fail.
Anyway, I had an idea. We ditched the molds but kept the sticks. I bought some Dixie-like cups at the dollar store with an idea to use them for molds, and here's how it went.

First, find a pretty assistant. We used one cup of frozen strawberries and approximately one cup of yogurt.

Then we added a couple of tablespoons of honey.

We blended it all up and started pouring it into the cups.

We filled the cups about three-fourths full and then put the sticks from the dollar store molds in. We got seven cups from this mix. We put the in the freezer overnight. After lunch the next day we peeled the paper cups away and had lovely popsicles. 

You can see the results from these pictures...success at last.

So simple. We're doing more tomorrow. What's your favourite popsicle flavour?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Hair's To You

So I mentioned a couple of days ago that a my daughters and I wanted to start doing some posts on how we do our hair around here. We've had lots of fun following hair blogs and trying out new styles over the past few years.
Here are our two favourite blogs for hair:
If you have a favourite style put a picture of it on our Facebook page. We would love to see what you do. Or if you want us to try something let us know that too.
Something to whet your appetite.


So, what is your favourite hairstyle?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Homeschooling High School

High school is where we really become free-wheeling in our curriculum choices. By the time children reach Grade 9 their likes and preferences for what they study are really coming out and you can tailor their schooling to these desires.
So far in Math we have done a general math course and a business math course from Rod and Staff. I cannot recommend the business math course highly enough. It was very thorough and came with a workbook full of ledgers so the practice was really hands-on. My daughter did quite well in that course and math is not her strongest subject. This year we're going to be doing an algebra course from Christian Light Publications.

Algebra_i_preliminary_edition Grade 9,10 Math

English Grammar has been a lot of review and I think it's all finally beginning to sink in. I here my daughter helping her sister and think, "Ah. She's finally getting it." :) Sometimes all the concepts can be daunting until you teach someone else and then it all comes together.
Literature is our "fun" subject. One year we did the Iliad - lots of fighting and gore. I'm sure the boys will enjoy it more than my daughter. Last year we did Silas Marner. I love that story. This year we are doing A Tale of Two Cities and Ivanhoe. Next year we're going to do something from Shakespeare and something from John Milton - Paradise Lost or Samson Agonistes. This is by no means a static list. I'm sure our course will vary sometimes according to the student.
Our Science has been whatever caught our fancy. One year it was a general look at the universe. Last year was Creationism. This year we are going to look at the science behind the Trim Healthy Mama diet one semester and a study of astronomy the second semester. This study comes from Rod and Staff.

Discovering Gods Stars - Book

For History we used the Rod and Staff Grade 9 text. In Grade 10 we studied Canadian History up to Confederation. This year we will do Canadian History from Confederation to the present. This course is from Christian Light Publications and is very thorough. We are also going to do a course on "Collectivism" - a study of all of man's attempts to bring about a one-world government. Next year we will be studying Canadian government.

Grade 9 History/Geography Pupil TextbookA_goodly_heritage Pleasant_places

For my girls we do some sewing, cooking, baking, etc. Actually, I also give my boys basic lessons in cooking and sewing as well. And my children are all the time doing in-depth studies on the things that interest them. My oldest daughter is a Jane Austen expert as well as all things Les Mis. My oldest son enjoys medieval warfare.
What do you do for high school? Do you follow a set curriculum or do you pick here and there according to your interests?

Friday, 23 August 2013

I'm Back

Well, what can I say? I'm sorry that I've been away for so long. We've had everyone taking turns being sick with a summer flu and a lot of errands that left me too tired at night to think about writing a post. Anyway, I have been thinking about things I want to write about. My younger daughters and I are planning out some posts we can do (maybe 2-3 times per month) about hair care, styling and accessories.
Like I mentioned we've all had the flu in varying degrees. Being the mom, it took me longer to recover than it did the children. I have a tendency when sick to forget all about taking my supplements and staying hydrated, etc. which only prolongs the agony. Thankfully the baby never was sick, but I think that's due to him nursing and getting antibodies through the milk to whatever we had - another reason to love nursing your baby.
I lengthened a skirt for my daughter using the new technique I came up with. Actually both of my younger daughters are wearing it because they love the skirt so much now. It was pretty plain Jane before.
I currently have a new-to-me dish setting up in my fridge. It uses chia seeds to thicken so we'll see how that goes. I've been wanting to try some popsicle recipes, but we're finding it nearly impossible to find popsicle molds. I know I could find them online, but I don't like shopping online. I'm thinking about just using little paper cups and the stick part to the failed popsicle molds that we tried.
Just one more week and then we start school. I can't believe this summer is almost over. I still have a few things to do for getting ready for school, but I can feel it all coming together. I'm starting to look forward to getting into the routine. One thing that we're going to start next week is a new chore routine. I've thought long and hard over the past few weeks about how to shake up our chore system. Sometimes a too-well-known chore system is boring and the jobs don't get finished as well or as easily. I think I've come up with a solution so I'm going to set it all up tomorrow and we'll start it Monday morning. I'm excited - don't know if my children are - but I am. :)
So, it's good to be back. I hope you've had a good week full of joy and health. What is your favourite home remedy for getting through the flu?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

New Edge for a Jumper

Our local Salvation Army recently had a 50% off sale. I bought a jumper for my youngest daughter even though I though it might be a bit short. I figured since I was only spending $1 on the jumper adding an edge would be easy.

The only problem was when I got home I didn't want to do a ruffle or a straight edge. I was bored of ruffles and I felt a straight edge would be too constricting for running around in. So I let the jumper sit for a few days while I let my brain perk over this problem. Here is my solution. A straight edge, yes, but different.
Here's the jumper - cute.


First I measured how much fabric I would need to go around the bottom edge.

Then I played with the fabric to see how long I wanted it. I doubled that measurement and added one inch for seam allowance (I decided on five inches).

Then I cut four pieces - two for the sides and one each for the front and back.

I folded each piece in half and sewed the short ends. This way I don't have to hem anything.

I clipped the corners, turned them inside out and ironed them flat.

Next I pinned them onto the jumper. First to the front and back...

...they didn't quite meet (which I didn't mind)...

...then to the sides. I don't know how I managed to make the sides shorter than the front and back, but I call it one of my happy mistakes - I like it. I sewed that all down.

Then I sewed lace around the top of the seam on the outside and added a button at each side.

So there you have it. For $1 and about an hour of effort (thanks to interruptions ☺) I have a very cute "new" jumper for my daughter.

What do you think? Would you try this?

Monday, 12 August 2013

Homeschooling Junior High

Now we're getting into the grades I really enjoy teaching. I taught in these grades before I was married and loved it. In Grades 7-8 I still use mostly Rod and Staff.

In Grade 7 I start teaching Literature. That is not to say that up to that point my children have not been doing a literature class. I am truly blessed because once every two weeks my children go to school with my mom, and she teaches them Literature, Spanish and Art - subjects that I don't shine in.

However, when my children reach Junior High I take the literature class back because I love it. They still go to my mom's school for Spanish and Art and a computer class is added in.

So far in Grades 7 and 8 we have studied Anne of Green Gables, Amos Fortune-Free Man, Swiss Family Robinson and most likely Uncle Tom's Cabin this year. I try to pick books that will interest myself and my child - not always easy.

 I really expect a lot more from my children by this point. They should be able to do most of their work without supervision. They should be able to write short essays and do research. We also use an online programme to supplement their Spanish class, and they are responsible to see that they do that.
What do you teach in Grades 7-8, especially in your literature class?

Update - I don't think I should try to post on a Monday. I knew I was forgetting something. For Grade 8 history I do not use the Rod and Staff curriculum. It's all about North American history. Here is my reasoning. They have already had a solid introduction to North American history in Grade 5. They will be getting a minimum of two years of Canadian history in high school. So in Grade 8 they do British history. It is such a rich history and we are a part of the Commonwealth. God Save the Queen.
Proud Ages. A Story of England from the…

Saturday, 10 August 2013


This will be a little bit of a mishmash of "Fruitful Friday" and "Library Time". Yesterday I was tired and just basically spent the day hanging out with my children watching movie and eating ice cream cones which could explain the higher numbers on the scales this morning. Anyway, we had fun and every once in a while it's fun to just kick back and chill with your children. Some of us also went to the park after supper. I was wishing I had brought the camera because it was the first time we put the baby in a swing and he LOVED cute to watch.
We had a good week - I fixed a jumper for my youngest daughter (post to come on that), taught my girls how to cork (another post on that), found some great deals at the local Salvation Army store (including a candlemaking kit! - something I've always wanted to learn how to do), read a good book written by a holocaust survivor, found a store where I could buy Ezekiel 4:9 bread (good for the diet), ate beans from our garden and tidied up the garden which was looking a mess (tomatoes and squash looking good), had a long "skype" with one of my sisters one night (sisters are great), made a birthday gift for a friend (think I'm going to have to do a post on this too because I make this gift all the time - easy and fun). Well, you can see we had a great week.
My oldest daughter found a lot of classics - Shakespeare, Dickens, Elliot, Bronte - at the Salvation Army that she happily bought. My nine-year-old daughter found a Beverly Cleary book. My five-year-old son is making great strides in his reading. He said this week, "I can't believe I'm reading!" It makes all the effort worth it. He was "reading" an alphabet book to his baby brother this morning, and I was so happy that he could read all the letters now.
They're addicted to corking now.
How was your week? Did you read any good books?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Wrap-up and a Winner

This week has been so much fun - writing about a subject I am passionate about.

In case you missed any of the posts here is a re-cap.

And, of course, what you all really want to know is who won the nursing cover. The winner is...

Debbie Tobler

Congratulations, Debbie. Thank you to everyone who participated.

I had so much fun that I'm thinking about doing another series in a couple of months about something else.

What would you like to see for a series of posts?

Couldn't resist showing this picture again. They are just so cute.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Nursing Twins – Double the Challenge

I'm very excited to introduce a guest writer today - Amber Schonhaar Nickerson, my sister-in-law. Amber had twins six years ago, and I asked her to share her experience in nursing them. Her story proves that although things may not go as we wish, we can still find a way to do the very best we can for our babies.
April 25, 2007. My husband Mark accompanies me to our weekly appointment at the High Risk Unit at the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus. Approximately 5 hours later, I’ve delivered our precious boy/girl twins by C-section. At a day shy of 36 weeks gestation, they are relatively big and healthy. We are overjoyed and overcome with emotion. Although we knew the twins could arrive any day, we are in disbelief that they are here!

Ours wasn’t a straightforward story: nearly 5 years of dealing with infertility, rounds of medications, countless doctors’ appointments, tests, and finally a successful IVF attempt. To say that we were ready to be parents would be an understatement! There’s a reason I’m giving you this background – this story is paramount in my decision to nurse the twins.
After such a journey, I was prepared, I’d done my research, Mark and I had attended the “Breastfeeding Twins” workshops, I had practiced the football hold with two eight-pound dolls, and we had a plan. But, as any mother will tell you, no matter how much planning takes place, no one is quite prepared for the realities of first-time parenthood, and having twins adds a few extra challenges!
As soon as I’d been wheeled into my recovery room, the nurses brought the babies to me. I fumbled with them, one at a time, to see if they would latch. They attempted to, but we could see they were both struggling. Our son had to be in the NICU for about 36 hours due to some fluid in his lungs, so they kept the twins together. It doesn’t sound like long now, but it was extremely difficult not to have them in my room right away. The nurses gave Mark bottles of formula and he fed them. Soon the twins were with me, and I attempted to nurse them every couple of hours. That football hold I practiced just did not work for me, nor did the other styles of holding them. I fumbled with nursing pillows, regular pillows, the Lactation Consultants doing all they could to coach me. The nurses told me that at 36 weeks, our babies were probably not physically able to latch, but I didn’t give up. We went to another workshop held on my floor. We were the only parents with twins. The baby blues struck (later I read that both moms of IVF babies and moms who experience emergency C-sections are more prone to this – a double whammy for me since I had experienced both). Things weren’t going as I had pictured.

I’ll never forget the first time I used an electric, double pump. I cried and cried. In part because of those baby blues, I’m sure, but partly because it felt so unnatural, and also because of the guilt and worry I felt. Was I doing what was best for our little miracles?
I recovered in the hospital for nearly 5 days never giving up on trying to nurse the twins as well as pump as much as I could. Thankfully I didn’t have any problem with supply. The day I was discharged I was very clear to Mark – “Go down to the hospital store and buy the most expensive, best double electric breast pump there!” It would turn out to be one of the best decisions I’d made.
At home, we were troopers. Mark was off with nine months of parental leave. With Mark’s help every step of the way, I got into a great routine of nursing (they eventually did latch on occasionally and I had a handful of successful times breastfeeding them but never at the same time), pumping milk, labeling and freezing milk, and sanitizing bottles. Life felt stressful but we were incredibly happy. And just slightly sleep deprived!

I don’t remember the exact moment, but at one point, I decided that the most important thing to me was giving our babies breast milk and the way it got to them – whether it was bottle or breast – didn’t matter. A few things played into this. We had been through weeks of attempting to nurse them. We were so fortunate to have a Lactation Consultant visit our home, as well as appointments every few days with the team at the hospital. Nursing them together was near impossible for me. I soon realized that I had to support my breast with my hand in order to nurse one baby at a time. They were growing fast and breastfeeding them one after the other was just not an option. Picture it: 2am, two tired parents, two hungry crying newborns. Feed one, and then let the other twin cry for that time, hungry? Something just didn’t make sense. The answer lay in that great Medela ( pump Mark had picked up and the fact that he was off for 9 months! The perfect solution was to pump full time so we could enjoy feedings together.  

This was not how I pictured it, but it worked for us for nearly 8 months. At that point, I was exhausted to say the least. It’s difficult to look back now and think about exactly what lead me to stop at that point, but it was the right decision at the time. Ultimately, I look back on those months with pride and happiness. Parenting lesson #1: sometimes things don’t turn out exactly how we plan.

For tips and information on breastfeeding twins, visit La Leche League International
If you missed our first four posts for this International Breastfeeding Week you can find them at...

Also check out our nursing cover giveaway here.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Challenges in Breastfeeding

While thinking back over my nursing experiences and writing these posts this week, I realized that I have had relatively few problems. I've generally had an easy time feeding my babies after the first two to three weeks.
Obviously I won't be covering every challenge you could encounter in your breastfeeding experience - just some of the more common ones I  have experienced or heard about from others. Also, this post is in no way intended to take the place of medical help if that is your need. It could give you a jumping off point for knowing what you're facing, but I'm not a doctor. So if you need help, please see your doctor.
The first problem I encountered in breastfeeding was thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection that is on the mother's breast and in the baby's mouth. It is passed through the milk and can be difficult to get rid of. Your baby will have white patches in his mouth and be fussy when nursing because it hurts him. When my first baby was four days old, she refused to nurse. I was recovering from a C-section and dealing with all the post-partum hormones and now my baby wouldn't nurse - we cried together. Then I called my midwife. After a few questions she said we had thrush. She prescribed Nystatin which I applied to myself before nursing the baby. I also ended up not nursing for two or three days because of cracks and hoping to clear up the thrush. So we finger-fed our baby with whatever milk I could pump and formula to make up the difference. There are various natural remedies that some moms use for treating thrush - gentian violet being one. I believe that we had thrush because of the antibiotics I was given during surgery. In hindsight, I would have started taking a high-quality acidophilus supplement as soon as possible after surgery to help my good bacteria repopulate quickly. Some mothers battle with thrush for weeks so if you suspect thrush is your problem get help right away.
Daddy doing the finger feeding
After a few days of nursing my fifth baby I knew something was wrong. It just shouldn't hurt as much as it did. At the time, we were living in the country and my midwife couldn't come out to check on us so we ended up paying for a lactation consultant to come see us. Right away she saw that my daughter was not properly positioning her tongue. She showed me a technique for starting to re-train my daughter and there was improvement right away. This experience taught me that even though (for me) it hurts to nurse for the first couple of weeks I could tell that this pain was different and looked for help right away. When breastfeeding the sooner you get help the simpler the solution generally speaking.
Another problem I encountered was with baby #6. He was tongue-tied. He could not move his tongue out of his mouth to get a proper latch which resulted in painful nursing sessions and a fussy baby because he couldn't get full. When he was eighteen days old I took him to a breastfeeding clinic where they snipped the skin that was holding his tongue back. It took about four adults to hold him down so he wouldn't wiggle and about one second for the doctor to snip him. I| could tell that he was crying because he was angry that he was being held down. The relief when I nursed him was immediate. There are various kinds and degrees of tongue-tie. If you suspect this, get professional help to decide what should be done about it.
My sister has experienced mastitis many times in the course of breastfeeding her five children. This is a painful condition where you feel like you have the flu and one (or both) of your breasts is hot and painful. You need antibiotics for this and you need to go to bed. Go to bed and get your baby as much as possible to nurse from the affected side. This won't be fun, but it will help your body to heal. There's a lot of information on the internet for treating and preventing mastitis so do a search if you think you have this condition.
I've mentioned a few times that my first two to three weeks are painful. I usually experience this as a sharp pain when the baby latches on which gradually diminishes throughout the feed. It does get bad enough that I dread nursing my baby, but I also know that if I push through this everything will be great on the other side. One thing that really helps me is Lansinoh. Lansinoh is made from the grease that comes off of sheep wool when it is washed after being shorn. You can learn more about it here. I really do find a difference in my pain level when I use this regularly until my body gets used to the baby nursing.
Another challenge is unsupportive family and friends. Give your friends a miss for a while if they can't support you in how you feed your baby. It's not quite so easy with family, but have your husband speak to them if necessary. Prepare your family ahead of time. Try to educate them as to why you want to feed your baby this way. Given time even those most opposed can often be won over when they see how happy and healthy your breastfed baby is.
These are the problems I or my sister have experienced. I know there are lots of others - mom/baby needs surgery for various reasons, medications needed that may not be breastfeeding friendly, post partum depression, various conditions that make it difficult for a baby to nurse (think cleft palate). Generally speaking there is a solution to each and every problem. Don't give up nursing your baby right away. Research your options. It may take some effort but you will be so glad.
What was your biggest challenge in breastfeeding?
Tomorrow I have a special guest post about nursing twins. Please come back and join us for that.
If you missed our first three posts for this International Breastfeeding Week you can find them at...
Also check out our nursing cover giveaway here.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Bookmark Winner

With the help of my oldest daughter who taught me how to use a random selector (hope I can remember for next time), we have a winner....

Joy Daggett.

Thanks to everyone who entered. I'm already thinking about doing something for post #100. I'll keep you posted (haha).

Resources and Support for Help with Breastfeeding

There are so many wonderful resources out there now that women did not have access to even thirty years ago.
My greatest support has been my husband - hands down. He has made meals, bought cream, let my cry, provided quiet by taking the children out so I could nap and just plain encouraged me when I was overwhelmed. I have also been blessed with an extended family and a church who support me. Beyond that here is a list of online resources.
The first one that comes to mind is La Leche League. This is a breastfeeding support group that meets all over the world. It now meets in more than sixty countries. The women who lead the sessions are volunteers and the emphasis of the group is on mother-to-mother support. I have thoroughly enjoyed going to these meetings over the years. The group was started in 1956 by a group of seven moms who saw a need for more support in this area. They have now grown into an international organization recognized as a leading authority on breastfeeding. Their most famous book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is in its 8th edition. I have three different editions of this - the first, one from the middle and the . You do not have to be a member to go to the meetings although membership is encouraged because the money is used to help women who have issues with breastfeeding. They also have an extensive website with lots of help and advice. On the website you can also look up a group for your area. There is also a Facebook page here.
Another well-known breastfeeding supporter is Dr. Jack Newman. He runs the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic which is a part of the International Breastfeeding Center in Toronto, Canada. I actually went to this clinic with Baby #6 because he was tongue-tied. Dr. Jack clipped his tongue and the relief in nursing was immediate. There is a wealth of information on this site. is another good source of information. I have not looked at this site extensively, but the leaders at my La Leche groups often recommend it to moms who are struggling with some breastfeeding issue. Just a fleeting glance shows that this site covers just about any question you might have.
A blogger that I read on a regular basis, The Humbled Homemaker, has just started a weekly series on Tuesdays about everything breastfeeding. By following this link it will take you to this series. These posts are on different breastfeeding topics. They are short and to-the-point. It's amazing the amount of information that can be packed into a post.
So there you have it. These are what I consider the top resources. If you know of a new mom who is struggling (or are one yourself) I cannot recommend highly enough looking for a La Leche League group in your area. Their book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, is a fantastic gift for any mom who is nursing or planning on it.
What is/was your best breastfeeding support?
If you missed our first two posts for this International Breastfeeding Week you can find them at...
Also check out our nursing cover giveaway here.