Thursday, November 17, 2016

Emerald's Kindergarten Books (Year 2)

I cannot keep up with how fast Emerald learns. She turned 4 in May, and at the beginning of the school year we started her 2nd year and 3rd curriculum of kindergarten. Last summer, she learned to read. This school year is really almost too easy for her. Still, she enjoys it and is learning some new things. The rest is review and practice.

Her favorite subject is Bible. We use a book from Christian Liberty Press, which takes her through the Old Testament from Genesis to Ruth. We read one story a day with questions at the end to make sure she was paying attention. Math, phonics, social studies and science are from A Beka. She is flying through these books and has already finished her science book. Health is from Steck-Vaughn School Supply. It was one of the only kindergarten health books I could find. Most homeschool curriculum don't start health until 1st grade, but her sister does health so Emerald wanted to too! Her math and phonics books are not going to keep her challenged or last all school year, so I also bought her Hearts and Hands from Christian Liberty Press. It is meant to be a review book to complete along with their math and phonics books for additional practice. I'm going to have Emerald start it once she's completed the rest of her subjects for the year. We also read Bob Books from the library every day.

It is incredibly difficult for me to keep this girl challenged. She will be more than ready to start 1st grade once she turns 5!

Mercedes' 2nd Grade Books

We are a few months into our homeschool year. Mercedes is absolutely thriving! Last year, in first grade, she wasn't quite reading and writing at the level needed for some of her subjects to be easy for her. Language and Phonics were hard because she was expected to do a lot of reading tricky words and writing sentences so some days were frustrating. Last summer she really took off reading. We went to the library at least once a week to pick out level 1 readers and we sat down and read for at least a few minutes every day. 

By the beginning of the school year she was EASILY reading at level 2 and this has helped a TON with her Language, Letters and Sounds (Phonics) and Spelling and Poetry. She even loves math, which was also very hard for her last year. 

If you ask her, she will tell you that she loves all of her subjects and each one is her favorite. Bible is Christian Liberty Press. She is going through the Old Testament from 1 Samuel to Malachi. We read one story a day, with some questions at the end to make sure she was paying attention. The rest of her subjects are from A Beka. Letters and Sounds, Language, Spelling and Poetry, Health, History and Science. She reads level 2 readers from the library for at least 15 or 20 minutes a day. Ben is teaching her guitar using Alfred's Kids Guitar Course 1 which is the perfect book for young beginners. He gives her a lesson on the weekends and we practice the homework every day during the week. 

10 subjects seems overwhelming, but she doesn't do every subject every day. She does certain subjects Monday, Wednesday and Friday and others Tuesday and Thursday. Bible, Reading and Guitar she does every day. I figured out how many pages she needs to do in each subject every week in order to finish by the end of the school year. Most days she asks to do more than she needs to and we almost always finish the school day by 1 or 2 pm with lots of breaks in between subjects. It helps that she really LOVES her school. This is motivation enough for her to have a good attitude and get her work done quickly.

Homeschooling 2 young girls who are both learning to read while taking care of a newborn and recovering from surgery has definitely been a challenge, but we are doing it and it is amazing. Homeschooling continues to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job as a stay at home mom. I love helping my kids learn and watching them develop a passion for learning. I continue to consider it a joy and a blessing!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

We have recently discovered a new fall recipe that is absolutely DELICIOUS and my whole family loves. These baked apple cider donuts are super moist and full of flavor. My girls and my husband devour them. They are definitely going to be added to my "must bake at least once during the fall season" list. 

I have adapted this recipe to make it gluten free. The original recipe comes from: thefauxmartha



3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons apple cider
1 cup gluten free flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg


3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup apple cider
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in cider. Let cool. Add sugar, honey and egg and whisk until evenly combined. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir together wet and dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Add batter to piping bag and pipe into greased donut pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Let cool. Combine melted butter and apple cider. Mix together cinnamon and sugar. Dip donuts into butter mixture and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Makes 12 donuts. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I Loved My C-Section!

Seven weeks ago, my third baby was born. His name is Dominick. He is amazing.

I was more anxious during this pregnancy than when I was pregnant with either of my two girls. I hadn't had a very positive labor and delivery story with either of them. My pregnancy with Mercedes lasted 21 days past my due date, and I was in active labor with her for 53 hours. My labor with Emerald went just fine, but her shoulder ended up getting stuck in my pelvic bone while I was pushing her out (a condition called "shoulder dystocia") and she was in distress when she was born. For the first few minutes after her birth (it felt like forever), several doctors surrounded my little girl trying to get her to breathe. Nobody told me if she was okay or not or if she was going to die...because nobody knew. Besides several bruises and 2 cones on her head, she ended up just fine, but spending several minutes trying to prepare myself for the possibility that my baby might not be alive took a toll on my emotions and I hate looking back on her birth experience and feeling those emotions every time I look at her hospital pictures. After two not so pleasant labor and delivery experiences, it was very hard for me to even consider the possibility of a third child.

When I got pregnant with Dominick and my new midwife reviewed Emerald's hospital records, she told me we might need to consider a c-section. Emerald was 9 lbs 4 oz and Dominick's ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy showed that he would be a bigger than average baby as well. We got several opinions from other doctors and midwives at the hospital and they agreed that a c- section, in my situation, would be less risky than a vaginal birth.

Ever since I started getting pregnant and having babies, c-sections have been a worst nightmare for me. I'd heard dozens of c-section horror stories from people I know personally and from random internet forums. I'm a very natural minded person when it comes to health care, and there is nothing natural about giving birth by surgery. It terrified me. My anxiety through Dominick's pregnancy was horrible. I had nightmares about my upcoming surgery almost every night during the last trimester. It's all I could think about during the day. And I could not keep myself off the internet reading c- section stories, trying to find positive ones. Positive c-section stories are almost non existent online.

Then 3 weeks before my c-section, I ran into a friend I hadn't talked to for a while and told her I was having a c-section. She shocked me by saying "Oh I LOVED my scheduled  c-section! I'm so excited for you!" 2 days before my c-section I was talking to her again. She said, "Are you remembering that I loved my c-section? It was amazing."I held onto those words as I anxiously awaited the last few hours until I had to go into the hospital for my surgery.

I had a HUGE list of things I was anxious about. Most of my fears came from stories about other people's nightmarish experiences. But those stories and my fears ended up the exact opposite of what I actually experienced. 

Fear #1: Not being able to eat or drink for several hours before surgery would make me sick to the point of vomiting.

Reality: I was so excited the morning of my surgery, eating and drinking was the last thing on my mind. I rinsed my mouth out a couple times that morning so it wasn't so dry, but other than that I barely noticed any discomfort. And my stomach was just fine! Thank God for adrenaline. 

Fear #2: They would not be able to get my IV in before surgery. This fear was actually legit because I have small veins and most nurses have to try multiple times to get the IV to stick.

Reality: My nurse was fantastic and got the IV needle to stick on her first try!

Fear #3: The notoriously nasty oral antacid (Bicitra) that they give you on an empty stomach at the hospital would make me vomit...a common story on c-section forums.

Reality: They gave me an antacid through my IV and it wasn't even an issue!

Fear #4: The spinal would make me nauseous and vomit on the operating table, another common c-section thread story. I have a bit of a vomit phobia if you haven't noticed yet.

Reality: The spinal DID make me nauseous and at first I did feel like vomiting, but as soon as I mentioned it to my anesthesiologist, he adjusted my meds through my IV and it took about 10 seconds for my stomach to feel completely normal.

Fear #5: My baby would be taken away from me for hours and I wouldn't get to meet him or bond with him. Or just that I wouldn't get to hold and feed him right away like I did with my girls, which might affect our bonding process.

Reality: As soon as Dominick was born they gave him to my husband who placed him right by my head. I got to kiss him and touch him and smell him, just like I wanted. When I was ready, they cleaned him and weighed him right next to me so I could watch. Then they gave him right back to my husband, who walked next to me as they wheeled me to my recovery room. Once in recovery I got to breastfeed my baby immediately. It all happened so fast and honestly, I was pretty drugged up and happy which probably made the time go by faster. I didn't have an ounce of separation anxiety. It was perfect.

Fear #6 My recovery would prevent me from bonding with or taking care of my baby.

Reality: I had no problem feeding, holding or cuddling my baby even the day of my surgery. My husband and the nurses were amazing and completely accommodating. Someone was always around to help me lift him, change him, swaddle him, or help me to cuddle him in a more comfortable position.

Fear #7: When I got back home, I would not feel well enough to take care of my baby and other two children.

Reality: My husband stayed home for a week and a half after my surgery. By the time he went back to work, I was completely capable of doing what I needed to take care of my kids. Yes, I was sore. Yes, I had to take it easy and let go of my perfectionist tendencies to have a clean house and keep the kids busy/happy/entertained/doing something productive every second of the day. I took a lot of naps with the baby. The girls watched way too much TV. We ate a lot of sandwiches and cold cereal. The girls learned how to fix themselves their own snacks. But it wasn't impossible. It was good. Way easier than I expected.

Having a c-section was a huge blessing for me. My 9 lb 3 oz baby most definitely would have gotten stuck like Emerald did, with possibly a worse outcome...I heard my doctor telling my midwife during the surgery, "This baby is trying to be a shoulder dystocia baby even with a c-section!" because, apparently Dominick's shoulder was stuck in my pelvic bone already and they had to work extra hard and give me a bigger incision than normal to get him out safely. I no longer believe that having a c-section means having a nightmarish birth story. For me, it was the opposite. It was my best birth story. So I want to give the internet a positive c-section story for nervous, anxious mamas to stumble upon as they await their dreaded c-section. I can say with 100% honesty that I LOVED my c-section. It was perfect. And the outcome was a perfectly healthy baby. Which, in the end, is all that really matters.