Pregnancy: What Helps?

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Believe me….it’s TOTALLY worth it!

 

So in my last post on Pregnancy I took a realistic view at my personal journeys through pregnancy. Now, I want to share what has helped me to cope with the different symptoms one may face during this multi-faceted season of life. In other words, what helps?

Morning Sickness:

  1. Protein- Sandwich it -My sister calls it “Protein packing”, meaning that you begin and end with eating a high-protein food whenever you’re eating a meal or snack. At the very least end with the protein but when my sickness level is at its highest I have to begin AND end with protein to lessen the stomach upset.
  2. Frequent eating- Every 2-3 hours -Though I try to do this anyway so I don’t eat like a pig every meal 😉 but sometimes it’s hard to do! During pregnancy this is an absolute must for me if I want to lesson vomiting, faintness and extreme fatigue.
  3. Small amounts- When in doubt start with half -My stomach is extra sensitive so giving it less to process at a time just makes sense. Also, when my stomach is too full it’s that much closer to being able to leave my stomach;)
  4. Lots of liquid-Water is best, sugar is not -Honestly, I am a water person. I don’t normally drink milk, juice, nor carbonated/other beverages….However, when I am pregnant even my own saliva makes me gag (yes, I’m a camel, I spit!) so water, I’m thinking from the lack of flavor (?), is very hard to ingest and then keep down. My first couple pregnancies I could do Gatorade, now it seems to have too much sugar. It seems that the happiest medium for me is Coconut water, all-natural, best directly from the coconut (Yay for Mexico!:)
  5. Low Glycemic Index-Blood sugar rules -Sugar is my nemesis. I like it, don’t get me wrong…too much actually. In the first two trimesters of pregnancy, for me, sugar in any form, even fruits cause more indigestion and vomiting. During my last pregnancy I couldn’t even tolerate things like oatmeal and whole-wheat bread. There are a wealth of sites anymore that will tell you about the sugar levels/glycemic index of foods and for me the lower the better.
  6. Chlorophyll-Indigestion -Even when you’re being careful you’re bound to have days when you’re stomach just isn’t doing its job. For these times I use a concentrated chlorophyll that has mint extract to calm the acid. I can dilute it to my tolerance level and it’s been more effective than tums or milk of magnesia. I didn’t tolerate it well though in my first trimester.
  7. Laying on your left side- Aids digestion and blood circulation -Your stomach opening is on the left side and the main nerve and blood vessel that get “messed up” in pregnancy are on your right. So if you’re laying on the side that will aid your stomach and not smash one of your main nerves then it makes sense that it would help.
  8. No less than 8 hours of sleep- No, I’m not joking -Honestly, I do best with between 10-12 hours of sleep during the first trimester, but less than 8 is a recipe for vomiting. I’m assuming less sleep means more stomach acid, probably will have to look that up;)
  9. Avoiding “harsh foods” –spices, acidic, oily, chocolate, high-allergen, harder to digest (nuts, red meat, dark greens, refined foods/breads)-Welcome to Blah Land  -“Harsh foods” will probably mean different things to different people. Most people would probably say that spicy, oily and acidic foods make sense that they would cause more stomach upset. For me I’ve noticed that it’s those foods plus others. When pregnant my stomach does better if I avoid high-allergy foods (milk, nuts, eggs, seafood, chocolate, etc.) as well as refined foods and red meat. The last couple I have also had a hard time with harder to digest vegetables, mostly the dark green ones.
  10. Low impact/low stress- Just say “no” -If you’re not good at saying “No” or “Not now”, pregnancy is the perfect time to practice;) This is of course different for everyone due to personality and pre-pregnancy fitness levels but generally speaking high physical activity, at least during the first trimester, makes it harder to balance electrolytes and blood sugar. Also, I’m sure everyone has experienced biological issues to an extent, due to stress. Keep your stresses to a minimum, both physically and mentally/emotionally, doing only the highest priorities and your body (and babyJ) will thank you!

 

Energy:

  1. Sleep, Sleep and more Sleep -This cannot be emphasized enough! Have you ever heard the saying, “Your body HEALS when sleeping”? Well, it’s true in the sense that your body does more regeneration during sleep than any other time. So if you’re growing another HUMAN BEING inside of you, it only makes sense you’ll need some extra sleepJ!
  2. Exercise -The time and intensity of your exercise will vary according to your pre-pregnancy fitness and how your body reacts to pregnancy. However, even if you’re totally NOT an exerciser I would HIGHLY recommend SOME form of regular exercise. It makes such a HUGE difference, not only in your pregnancy overall health but in the ease of your delivery. For examples, during my first pregnancy I did some light aerobics but mostly speed walking and light weights. My second pregnancy I had a really hard time with my sciatic nerve so I switch to swimming. Third pregnancy was walking. Fourth pregnancy was swimming and walking. This pregnancy I’ve done mostly yoga, a bit of swimming and light aerobics and weights.
  3. Multi-vitamin -This is where I become a hypocrite. I KNOW by experience that multi-vitamins make a HUGE difference in my energy levels. However, I consistently throw them up if I try to take them before my second trimesterL Thus, I choose tiredness over staring into a porcelain bowl, until I’m between 5-6 months along.
  4. Blood Sugar Balance -If it’s too low I’m tired, if it’s too high I will be tired in about 10 minutes. Going back to the glycemic index thing, if my blood sugar isn’t staying at a good level I tend to crash. Actually, I can tell I’m getting hungry when I start to fall asleep and I know after I have something sugary I will start to fall asleep in about 20-30 minutes.

Body Changes:

  1. Expect and Accept -Everyone’s body will have different changes during pregnancy but the universal one is a big stomach. Be ready for it. Know that your body will change and accept it. Notice that I did not say you have to EMBRACE it. I really admire the pregnant women that I’ve seen who do truly embrace the changes and see it as a different kind of beauty. I am not one of those women though. But knowing that changes will come and also knowing they’re temporary helps be cope.
  2. Get Educated  -Whether you’re into doing everything from a medical stand-point or prefer a more natural approach to your health, education is the key. This will help you not only know what to expect, if it is “normal”, but also what you can do about it. I love this point because it makes me feel like I’m an agent and can make some improvements/changes, not a victim that just takes whatever comes along.

Emotions

  1. Be Gentle -I am not an advocate of sitting on your rear-end and allowing people to wait on you just because you’re pregnant. However, I do think one should set their level of personal expectations a bit lower or modify them at least to be realistic to needs. That means knowing your limits, and here comes the hypocrite in me again, not getting to the point where you break your limit before you relax or take breaks.
  2. Communicate -This is a hard one for me,  as I’ve mentioned in another post. Generally speaking I often ignore my own needs so getting to the point of communicating them to other people….well, let’s just say it’s not one of my strong points 😉 But then, my bad habits have helped me learn a lot about how important it is to communicate clearly what you really need from people! Especially in terms of your spouse and family, let them know what you need and expect. Of course you will first have to know your own needs first and then find/know the best way of communicating them with your closest associates. This is not being a baby, nor should you be manipulative or pull guilt-trips, this is clearly telling people what your limits are and where they can help you. If you do it in a respectful and clear way it will be one of your biggest ways to lesson stress.
  3. Step Back -Sometimes I’m just irrational. When I’m pregnant I think I’m that way more often. It has really helped me to realize this and when I feel that I’m going to explode in any emotional way I need to get away from people. For one, when I feel out of control emotionally anything I say will probably not be helpful, maybe not even coherent. Secondly, high emotions tend to breed high emotions so if I’m that way I will most likely influence others around me to be highly emotional and that’s just messy. It’s best to take a walk, say a prayer, take a nap, do whatever it takes to calm down a bit (chocolate, anyone?;) Then if I’m still feeling too emotional I journal my feelings so that I can sort them out and see what I need to do about it.

Spirituality

  1. Keep up your habits (or start new ones) -Keeping up your personal devotion habits are an absolute must during pregnancy. I would even go as far to say as double them up. If you usually do scripture reading in the morning, do it morning AND night. If you usually just pray when you wake up and at bedtime, pray three times a day. You are growing a body with a spirit inside your own body, it is essential to stay as spiritually strong as possible.
  2. Be Still -Whether you do full-out meditation or just take a daily walk in nature, learning to relax your body and concentrate your mind is very powerful. Sometimes all I seem to find time for are a few deep breaths and a prayer but it is AMAZING the difference one can feel when we stop all the activity and remember that we are spiritual beings.

So that about sums it up! These suggestions are of course taken from my personal experiences, and everyone is different, but I hope you can find something useful:)

 

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I’m Back!….What happened?

 

 

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Sometimes we get a little antsy waiting at the airport for Daddy…

 

Hey Everyone! You probably thought I got lost or something, haha! Not to worry, after a 7 month hiatus, I’m back!

So what happened? Mostly, life happened.

My computer finally gave up on me in May, after 7 years of faithful service. I decided to wait ‘til October, when we visited the U.S. to get a new one. (Anyone else have bad luck with electronics in Latin America?)

By then I was so out of the blogging habit that it’s taken be awhile to get the nerve to jump back into things. I thought I’d give you a quick update of what’s been going on for the last 7 months.

Right before my computer went kaput (is that actually a word?….yes, I’m the geek that has to look it up now….it is! Yay!) I had just started the Food Cleanse portion of my 2014 Life Cleanse. It went really well, I felt it was very effective, much more so then my last try, and I felt like it did restart my health and get me back on the right track to eating right for my body. The total cleanse lasted over a month with first taking out all processed foods, then going vegetarian, then vegan, then just fruits and veggies, then juice and then back again.

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Yep, that would be two lines alright!

I was just finishing up my Cleanse when I found out I was pregnant again! This was a bit of a surprise since I had just miscarried right before I started my Cleanse. I was so grateful I had, had the chance to clean out my body before starting to grow one inside of it;)

For the next couple months my main focus was keeping my cookies down and trying to find a rhythm of life I could realistically handle with a pregnancy.

Balance is always something I struggle with, especially when pregnant, but the last couple pregnancies have taught me that I cannot be Super Woman because my actions and health don’t just affect me. Thus, I’ve tried to be gentler with my body while pregnant and found that it helps in a multitude of ways which I’m sure I will detail in another post;)

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“She feels it’s important to be prepared….”

We were able to go on a much needed family trip to the beach in May, in which I was once again reminded of how traveling and morning sickness don’t mix well. Thankfully Marvel and the kids were just happy to be at the beach and didn’t complain that Mommy was laying around and not on top of meals nor anything else for that matter:/

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Happy with her castle cake!

We finished up our homeschool year in June and celebrated Elf’s 4th birthday! Man time flies! She is growing up so fast, maturing even faster…4 going on 40! She keeps us on our feet and laughing all the way!

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Wow! Ten years already!

In July we celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary with a dinner out all by ourselves! Gasp! We had entire conversations without interruption and got to talk about each other instead of family and business matters. It was wonderful to reminisce and remember why we fell in love in the first place. Marvel has helped me grow in so many ways and is so patient with me. I will be forever grateful for him in my life.cropped-fonsecas_018.jpg

What would I do without him?

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Too cool to smile I guess;)

We also got to celebrate Engineer’s 9th birthday in July! He is growing up WAY too fast and it’s amazing how much he has changed in the last year or so. He has reached a new stage in his life and it’s been interesting to watch and then adjust as all our girls are really still in the “little kid” phase. It’s been really interesting to partake of Engineer’s wisdom as he has become much more expressive about his thoughts. Loving it and at the same time a bit of the Momma in me doesn’t want my little boy to grow up!

August was my birthday and though Marvel was travelling like crazy he made sure to set aside time to surprise me with Japanese food (my craving of choice this pregnancy;) and the kids and he just about wet themselves from the excitement of trying to keep the secret from me. The girls also threw me a “tea party” in which we had imaginary strawberry soup with carrots, strawberry cake and strawberry tea.

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Oh yeah, Engineer “rescued” a homeless kitten….pets….my favorite:/

I also spent the months of July and August planning our next school year and finishing up our immigration processes to get us all our Mexican residency. Immigration is always a headache for me, honestly, but it’s so nice to get it done and know that with residency we won’t have to renew everything EVERY year anymore. I also finished up getting Button’s Mexican and U.S. passports because Marvel was a sweetheart and got us a surprise trip to the U.S. to see my family in October!

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Engineer participated in a folkdance performance for the Mexican Indepence Day

September was the start of a new school year. I decided to wait to pick up my curriculum in the U.S. when we would go to visit (AKA: saving a BUNDLE on shipping costs!!) we spent September with mostly review and setting up and getting used to some new additions (Piano, Portuguese, and Button being more involved as an almost 2 year old). It was a very useful month because I was able to better pin-point exactly where each kid was and adjust many teaching methods and scheduling before we even got our new curriculum.

Also in September I went to the OB/GYN for the first time! Yes, yes, I know, I know, believe me I’ve had the lecture about pre-natal care…let’s just suffice it to say that I’m not a big fan of doctors in general, haven’t ever really found one I’ve liked here, would prefer a midwife but after finding out about the minimal qualifications needed for them and doctors in Mexico decided not to risk it while we’re here, and in all humility I have done this pregnancy thing a few times now and basically know what is normal for me and what is not. So, all that said we were able to go to a basic check-up as a family and everyone got to see the baby on the sonogram, which is always fun. We also found out at this appointment that we are expecting another baby GIRL! January 19th is the due date…though at this point this Momma would go for earlier J

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Cousins! Actually only a few of them….

In October we continued our concentration on school and then the kids and I got to go visit my side of the family in Washington State! It had been 3 years since we’d visited and we’d only seen my parents in the meantime when they came for Button’s birth and another visit here.

It was WONDERFUL to see my brothers and sisters, many of whom had begun their families since we last saw them, and meet all the new additions to the family. It was so great to reconnect with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles and even my close friends from my childhood.

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Birthday Girl!

Fiesta got to celebrate her 6th birthday while we were in Washington, which was a special treat and she was delighted with all of the attention! As usual, she was sure to tell us exactly how she wanted her cake, chocolate and vanilla with PINK frosting! As her nickname implies, if it had been up to her she would have invited every person she had met in Washington to her party, but we tried to keep it to close family;)

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Two Cakes???!!!!

It was really a wonderful visit and so fun for my kids to feel more connected to family that we talk about all the time. I was once again reminded of what an exceptionally loving and supportive family I have. They work so hard to stay connected and help whenever they can even with geography in the wayJ

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Can we forget Halloween?

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Why is she touching MY cake?

November we got back into the rhythm of school and also got to celebrate Button’s 2nd birthday! She was a little shy with the attention but made sure everyone understood that is was HER birthday and HER cake and HER presentsJ We had a smiley face theme because Button’s favorite song is “If you’re happy and you know it.” And she is truly one happy little girl!

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Guess we were too hungry to take the picture when the food was pretty!

We also celebrated Thanksgiving with our usual turkey dinner and this year the kids each picked a dessert that they wanted to make. We ended up having a leak come through our entry way, coming from the upstairs bathroom, a few days beforehand. So even though I wasn’t up to inviting some of our friends to share in the festivities as we usually do, we did have the plumber join us for our dinner;)

As soon as Thanksgiving was over we started on our Christmas preparations, more with our homemade gifts than anything. We knew Christmas was going to be a little different this year. Marvel had been hearing mixed reviews on his Mother’s health over the past few months and we all wanted him to go and see her himself to see what was going on. Though business wise travelling during December would be the best, he really didn’t want to leave in case the baby came early. He had decided to go in March.

Then he realized that his passport had run out of Visa pages. He travels a lot for business and Visas are often needed. Normally this isn’t a big deal but because his country has different regulations on passports the only way to get more pages was to return personally to his own country and get a whole new passport. So we felt that with that and his mother’s health deteriorating, it was best he leave before Christmas and be back by the end of December.

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Oh the ever frustrating star!

That meant we would postpone our own little family Christmas a few days. The kids were very understanding and everything was arranged. This also meant we had to adjust our Christmas preparations so that we wouldn’t just be sitting around waiting for Daddy to get home. So we moved everything over about a week and saved our Christmas baking for the real Christmas day so that we would be so busy making and delivering goodies we wouldn’t have time feel like we were missing out.

We’ll have a day of cleaning up for Daddy’s arrival and our Christmas celebration and a final day of cooking and baking and wrapping and preparing for our celebration of Jesus’ birth on Monday.

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Can you tell we like glitter?

We’ve simplified our schooling during the last part of this month and had many more activities and reading together than usual. We had a study of snow (which is interesting to do in a place where it never snowsJ We’ve made ornaments and gingerbread houses and the kids made all their gifts by hand this year. The kids also made their own Christmas stories, which was fun to see their creativity. Between that and being involved in Christmas get-togethers with friends and a Christmas program at church we’ve really had lots of fun memories made.

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Some candy even ended up on the houses!

So that about catches us up. In the next few weeks we’ll be having our Christmas with our family, celebrating the New Year, making our family and personal goals for the upcoming year, starting back to “normal” school, and finishing up our preparations for our new arrival next month!

Stay tuned!…

Teaching Children through Symbols: Easter Week, Plan B

IMG_1726                                                                                         As usual, Elf is eating more than she’s making, but good times non-the-less!

So do you ever have those days, weeks, months, when nothing goes according to plan? That was my week this week.

Mostly we just had some low-key days with Mom and kiddos needing to take care of their health. That meant kids were much more in charge of their homeschooling this week and we did not get out and about much at all.

It was still a good week, just definitely not what I envisioned. But I’m learning more and more that what I envision may not be what is best in the long run. 🙂

Over the past several years, we have really been striving to teach our children the symbolism associated with Christianity. Especially those in connection with holidays (you can read more about our Christmas traditions here)

We feel this aspect of teaching is important because it gives LIFE to tradition and causes the children to focus more on the activities. Don’t you find yourself more focused on an activity if you know WHY your doing/learning about it?

But perhaps even more so, we feel teaching our children symbolism helps them understand Christ’s teachings better. He taught through parables and symbols, in fact nearly all of his direct teachings in the Bible are taught in this way. Also, many books, especially Isaiah, cannot be fully understood unless one looks beyond the obvious and uses tradition and symbolism to interpret the full meanings.

Of course, we will always have the Holy Ghost to guide our insights in the Scriptures, but we feel that the Holy Ghost works better when he has more to work with (ie: a knowledge of symbolism and Christian traditions).

Like with Christmas, my mother gave us a book
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that helps act as a guidebook through the many symbols and traditions associated with Easter. We really love it because it includes all the main scriptural references to the major events in the last week of Jesus’ life, as well as the major traditions and symbolism associated with his time, culture, the Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. It has been a wonderful resource for our family!

We started the week with our Family Night on Monday. We talked about Palm Sunday and the significance of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the symbolism of the white donkey and the palms (Great article on sybolism of Palms here.)

We also told the story of Jesus last week on earth with symbols, hidden inside plastic eggs (You can find a link for telling a similar story here) We made it into a scavenger hunt this year and the kids had fun looking for all the “ingredients” for our Jesus’ story “egg hunt”.

IMG_1771                                                                       Just the unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and “wine” (aka:Acai juice) this year:)

We had our Passover meal on Tuesday. We did it “Mexican Style” this year, including the traditional foods with some homemade refried beans, guacamole, and veggies.

Usually we have a full Seder Plate, this also opens the door to discussions on Jewish culture which helps children understand the dynamics of Jesus’ day and the cultural and political events that helped lead to His Crucifixion.

But this year we stuck to the essentials that are mentioned in Exodus, during the first passover. Well, we just talked about the lamb, and we don’t drink wine so we used Acai Juice;) The kids were really interested this year in learning the symbolism of the Passover and I had to giggle when Fiesta asked, “But Mom, what does the guacamole signifize (aka: symbolize)?)

IMG_1730                                                                              Fiesta liked cutting up all the marshmallows for our Resurrection Rolls

On Good Friday we made our Empty Tomb Rolls (aka: Resurrection Rolls), discussing about how this day was in remembrance of the day that Jesus actually died and was put in the tomb.

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IMG_1742IMG_1743      Today I think we FINALLY (hopefully) wiped up the last of the flour that got scattered throughout the house;)

We covered them with foil and put them in the refridgerator so that we can bake them on Sunday morning and open them to find that the “tomb” is empty!

IMG_1748                                                                                 Button was trying to talk me into letting her go in the pool, “Poo, Poo Mommy!”

Today we did some of our normal Saturday cleaning in preparation for the Sabbath, but to make it a little different we also “purged” a bit of our excess. Each of the kiddos chose some toys (one for each year of life they have had) to give away to someone that could use it more than they.

I thought this was a good way for the kids to realize that Easter time is a time to reflect and renew, getting rid of things that are not in alignment with living a Christian life. Not that toys are bad, just a symbolic way they can look at their little lives and decide “I don’t really need this.” I’m hoping that we can discuss this some more tomorrow as we watch our traditional Easter movie.

We were going to go to a special park that is a ways from our home that has some trees that remind me of Olive trees, to talk about the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsamane. We did this a few years ago in Peru when we lived near a park with Olive trees and my son still remembers it. Unfortunately, Button had a fever and was NOT a happy camper, so we will have to save that outing either for tomorrow afternoon or sometime next week.

IMG_1752IMG_1758                                                                                  It turned out that some time in the pool with big brother was just what she needed to feel better!

We finished off the day with some swimming as a family and Engineer made us a good hot-dog roasting fire and helped the girls roast (burn?) theirs, which also helped him sign off some of his Scouting assignments.IMG_1761                                                          You can’t eat hot-dogs at the dining table! Improvised picnic….

 

IMG_1772                                                                                        I’ll explain in a separate post how we’re doing the Boy Scouts of America program in Mexico🙂

He also helped Mom this week when she was mostly on the couch to take care of lots of domestic duties and even made a couple meals, which also helped him complete some Boy Scout activities…can we say win-win?

All in all it was a rewarding week and we’re looking forward to celebrating the Resurrection tomorrow as we attend our church meetings, sing in the choir, deliver Resurrection Rolls to friends and watch videos about the life of Christ together as family.

We will also enjoy a “Jerusalem meal”, that will include foods that were typically eaten in Jesus’ time, this will also be a scavenger hunt as I list off the foods and the kiddos can go find them in the fridge and cupboard to put on the table.

We hope that the peace, hope, and joy that comes from the celebration of Easter may rest in your homes as your celebrate with those you love 🙂

Moon Pies?….Kinda

Moon Pies?....Kinda

So while studying the Moon, we needed something more for our kiddos to make the connection between the Phases of the moon, the changing of the month, orbit and so on…they got the gist but it wasn’t enough.
With our kids, interest is a first priority cause they can tune you out OH SO MASTERFULLY! Thankfully inspiration hit (my good ideas are never mine 🙂 ) and I remembered some buttercream frosting in the fridge (Homemade and thus thicker than store-bought, made with vegetable oil spread actually)
We rolled 3 dollops of the plain white frosting into about 2inch diameter balls, for the Full and 2 Gibbous Moons, then stuck them in the freezer.
Then we mixed some cocoa powder into some white frosting to make the dark portions on the white frosting balls (Gibbous Moon Phases).
Next we mixed some peanut butter and cocoa into some of the white frosting and made 5 more balls (approx. same size as others) for the other Phases (2 crescents, 1 New, and 2 quarters).
We stuck those in the freezer for a bit and then “frosted” them with the leftover white frosting to make them look like the other before mentioned Phases of the Moon.
Anyway, the best part was it didn’t take long, the kids could do the majority of it, and they were totally focused.
While the “Moons” were freezing we cut up the papers and wrote the names of the phases on them, used some yellow playdoh for the side of the sun and our well-played-with-clay was all rolled into a ball to make the earth. Then we got out our “Moons” and set them up on the correct label and Voila! A memorable and tasty model of the Phases of the Moon!
P.S. The added bonus was that tonight was our Family Night and this Science activity took care of our family treat too! 

Lovely Beginning

Image                                             Here are our “Heart Maps” thus far!

To begin this Valentine’s week we started our day with practicing a new song. Well, a new old song. It’s called “Love One Another” and is based on John 13:34-35. We learned it a couple years ago but then it occurred to me that my now almost 4 year old didn’t really have the attention span at that time to learn it so we’re doing a review. It’s beautiful and brings a wonderful spirit to start the day and lead into our devotional. An added plus is that there is a sign language tutorial (wow, that must be a REALLY old video!)  that goes along with it that we’ve been learning/reviewing as well. My kids all love music and sign language (it’s our second language we’re learning at the moment), but my daughters LOVE this! They are both VERY kinesthetic learners, especially Fiesta, whom defines the saying “she was born dancing.”

In place of journaling time this week we are also working on “Heart Maps”. I was really interested in doing this to help my Engineer especially with his writing skills (and motivation 🙂 but I knew it would be a fun thing for Fiesta and Elf would love to tell me stories about it later on. Plus I was just genuinely interested in what things they all considered important! Today I really didn’t give them many guidelines other than draw a heart and draw or write things that are important to you inside of it. We are going to expand on this as the week goes along so that they can hopefully include everything inside the heart that they hold dear.

I was reflecting tonight as well that we could also use this Heart Map to reflect on one of our Family Night lessons we had a few weeks ago in which we learned about the first commandment (Exodus 20:3). At the time of the lesson we discussed how anything can become a “god” to us and if we start to place it before our one and true God it will lead to unhappiness. I think that reflecting on this commandment WITH the Heart Map will help my kids conceptualize this connection better.

Looking forward to a week filled with focusing on Love!

Welcome Fall

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I’ve always loved fall. Brisk, but not too cold. Beautifully colorful hillsides. The sweet smell of harvest and leaves piling up. The gentle rain. Warm, savory soups and sweet, spicy baked goods. MMMMM, love it! Of course those are my memories of fall.

We live in Mexico now and though there is a wet and dry season and you can tell the slight changes of the seasons its a bit harder to notice. We’ve actually lived in Latin America the majority (for my oldest) and all ( for the rest) of my children’s lives. So when it comes time to study seasons I take it on like we take on history. A worldwide view.

I always start with what the “typical” seasonal changes that I grew up with in the Northwest United States, and that most of my children are familiar with because of visits to my extended family. Then we talk about where we are living and the similarities and differences. Then we talk about where my husband’s extended family lives, on a tropical island in Africa, the similarities and differences there. We try to look at videos and pictures of all over the world and observe as much as we can. The great part is that you can cover science, geography, writing, reading, art, music, dance…and just about everything else with a study of the seasons!

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We began our study of Fall today as part of our nature studies. We talked about the signs and why they happen. The kids collaborated on a clay sculpture of an autumn scene. My son decided that we needed clay figures of boys throwing leaves and getting stuck in a pile of leaves, hahaha! Then we went to the park to enjoy some fun running around, even the weather cooperated to feign fall, the hurricanes on the coast are giving us some very autumn-isc rain-storms.

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I guess old habits are hard to break though! I still had to make some pumpkin bread today to celebrate. Yum!

Almost forgot…..5 Top-rated Activities of 2012-2013!

ImageWe’ve been so focused on getting ready for this school year that I almost forgot to give reviews on how last year went! When I was going back over my kids portfolios and writing up their “Letter from the Teacher” (an overview of their progress for the year) I began to reflect on our favorite activities of the 2012-2013 Homeschool Year. It’s hard to narrow it down but I think these were our Top 5 Picks:

1. Reading Camp-outs: This was sucha a hit that I wrote a whole separate post on it. You can read all about it here: https://2livelovelearn.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/reading-campout/

2. Author Your Own Book: This project was so fun- we want to do it again this year! First we talked about story basics. Then over the course of about a week the kids made up their story, illustrated it, and we glued and stapled and Voila! A book was born!  More to come on an upcoming post!

3. My Favorite Book Week: Each of the kids picked a favorite book and we based many of the school activities off of that book……more to come in an upcoming post!

4. Monarch Field Trip: This was probably MY favorite of the year. To finish a unit in science on butterflies we went to see the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Morelia, Mexico. FANTASTIC! You can read and see more about our trip here: https://2livelovelearn.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/monarch-magic/    AND HERE: https://2livelovelearn.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/fear-team-spirit-and-mountains/

5. Service Projects: Although not as many as we would like, we did some service projects that I think really stuck with us. I think our two favorites were building toys and puppets for an orphanage and making goodies for some families we knew were having a hard time. We did the second one several times but here is a post on one: https://2livelovelearn.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/serve-up-some-sweetness/             We are really hoping to find creative ways to do more of these, it’s a bit more complicated with small children…..So any input and ideas would be very welcome!