Monday, December 22, 2014

My Battle with Thrush - Ouch!! - Coconut Oil for Relief

     I had my third baby almost three weeks ago. I wanted to share my experience with a nasty infection called Thrush.  It is the worst! So much pain and frustration.  I wanted to share that through a lot of research, persistence, and determination.. I was able to fight it off and get through the worst; with the help of coconut oil.  This stuff helped me through the worst of Thrush.  Here is my experience:

     I have always had a hard time with breastfeeding, but this time was a nightmare.  The constant pain during feedings and discomfort in between was driving me up the wall! When my son was about 1 week old, I noticed the white patches on his tongue.  I remember my first had this, but it was only a thin layer of milk.  This time the whiteness seemed thick and was lining his lips and cheeks as well.

Google it...oh no!...Thrush. :(
Research more.
Get worried.
Call the doctor?
Research even more...
Go to urgent care.

     The urgent care doctor confirmed the baby had Thrush.  She said I showed no symptoms but could have or develop it.  She prescribed my baby with liquid Nystatin and gave me Nystatin Cream for my nipples.  The instructions were to apply it until the symptoms are gone and then continue to apply the meds for two extra days.  That's it?  The research online said I needed to boil all pacifiers, bottles, and breast pumps.  It said I needed to wash all clothing in hot water.  It said I need to completely change my diet in order to keep the Thrush from returning.  Well, being the stress-case that I am, I have done everything I read to do.  On top of everything, I developed a nasty hole (a fissure) on the side of my right nipple from a bad latch. OUCH!  I pumped on that side for about 48 hrs and then continued to breastfeed on it but holy cow!...

It was the most excruciating, eye-watering pain of my life! No joke. I hated life and broke down in tears several times because I felt tortured physically and mentally.  

I was highly tempted to give up nursing and go to formula, but my instinct kept telling me I could make it through the pain.  I told myself, "Just make it through the week."  So I continued to fight the horrible infection and endure the pain.  Here is the crazy run down of my routine:

1. Breastfeed.
2. Rinse nipple with water/vinegar mixture (1 cup water + 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar)
2. Apply Nystatin.
3. Air dry as much as possible. (Yes, I've gone topless for most of the days.)
---Give baby liquid Nystatin---
4. Clean off Nystatin cream using the water/vinegar mixture.
5. Apply coconut oil to nipples.  (I used this specifically to treat my nipple fissure instead of lanolin due to reading that yeast tends to like lanolin cream. And apparently coconut oil has anti-fungal properties.)
6. Air dry.
7. Breastfeed.
8. Repeat.

     NOT FUN!  I've had some very rough days filled with tears and prayers.  My poor daughters were not treated very nicely during my very painful feeding sessions.  But the liquid Nystatin was working fast on my son.  His white patches almost completely disappeared in just a few days.  Some would return a day later but not nearly as much and so I continued to use those meds for him.

     My biggest challenge was cutting out all sugar and breads.  This was advice I got from a friend.  She said she did this diet and her infection was gone in less than a week.  If that really works, no problem!  Boy was I wrong.  I only made it 2 days before I started eating breads and cereals again.  I started to feel depressed with all the healthy food I was consuming.  I know it sounds strange, but I was so envious of a simple bowl of Cheerios that my daughters would eat for breakfast.  My husband encouraged me to eat normally but to still cut down on the bad sugars like soda, desserts, junk food, and my biggest weakness...Oreos! Mmmm.  I also started taking probiotic capsules every day.

     After a week I was not using the Nystatin cream anymore. I felt like the coconut oil was doing more good than anything.  It was also helping my fissure to heal quickly.  All the time letting my nipples air dry was SO good for the healing process.  It was exactly a week after going to the doctor that I started feeling tremendous relief.  I was so grateful for every breastfeeding session that didn't have me in teeth-grinding pain.  Slowly, I felt more relief and only slight discomfort during feedings.  I'm sure everything I did to fight off the Thrush was helpful, but I think most of the credit goes to the amazing COCONUT OIL.
It really worked fast with relief and healing.  I am now recovering quickly and I am feeling so much better.  Fingers crossed that the nasty beast doesn't return!

Here are the most helpful sites I found:
Thrush at The Pump Station
Nipple Thrush Treatment Options
Yeast Infections or Thrush
Healing Tips for Nipple Cracks or Abrasions

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A New Student at Inspired Academy - Birth Story #3

     Introducing Desmond Nikola! He has been accepted into Inspired Academy and today marks his two week anniversary as a new student in our homeschool!

     Desmond came into the world two days after his due date.  I was in early labor for about a week and experienced active labor for almost 48 hours.  I went to the hospital and was put on an epidural and Pitocin due to lack of progression (I was only 3 cm dilated!). Yes, apparently I have a cervix made of steel.  After about 5 hours of still minimal progression, my doctor broke my water and finally got things going.  An hour later, it was time to push, but guess what? epidural had worn off by then and I started to feel everything! I was a little scared since both of my previous births I felt nothing, due to a very strong epidural.  This time I was feeling pain and pressure and I told my husband I could feel the baby's head.  After about 15 minutes of pushing Desmond was born and I could feel his entire body come out.  It wasn't a non-medicated delivery, but it was definitely an amazing experience to feel so much of the childbirth happening.  That is the closest I have ever come to a natural childbirth.  Scary, but cool!
     Desmond was 7lbs 12oz and 20 inches.  He has such a soft pleasant cry compared to my second (Dylan is a banshee).  He loves to lay on mom and dad's chest and he was a great sleeper from day one. He sleeps 4-5 hr stretches.  All my kids have been excellent sleepers. 3 for 3, yay!  Desmond has light brown hair and tan skin like his oldest sister Marley.  But his eyes are definitely lighter.  I'm thinking they will be blue or green.
     We chose the name Desmond about 5 years ago when I was pregnant with my first.  We were watching the show LOST and were enjoying an episode somewhere in season 3.  We were discussing the show and I commented that Desmond is one of my favorite characters and that I really liked him.  My husband made the comment that he liked his name.  We looked at each other and both decided in that moment that our son would be named Desmond.  His middle name Nikola was my husband's choice.  He was adamant about using the name Nikola because he is a big fan and admirer of Nikola Tesla.  Apparently he was the most incredible inventor, scientist, philosopher, etc of all least according to my husband. ;)

     Little "Des" is currently taking the classes Intro to Sleep, Breastfeeding Basics, Love and Cuddling, and Little Brother Training.  He is doing well and his older sisters are enjoying the short break they are taking to help him catch up in homeschool.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Pregnancy, Labor, & Childbirth with doTERRA: Review & Special Offers!

     I am not a complete skeptic when it comes to essential oils, but I had never been a "believer" because I had never tried them.  I was given the opportunity to try out a sample set of doTERRA Oils that were customized to my current needs.  I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, so I was looking for anything I could apply to help with sleep, labor, childbirth, and a new baby.
     My doTERRA rep, Jennifer, was very helpful in recommending specific oils for my circumstances.  Thanks Jennifer!

     I told Jennifer that both my husband and I were having a hard time sleeping soundly at night.  She recommended the Serenity blend.  We put a few drops on our pillow and on the soles of our feet.  I started getting a much deeper sleep right away!  My husband did too.  When I asked him how he slept, he said he had a great sleep and had vivid dreams for the first time in a long time.  I told him it was probably the Serenity, but he laughed and said, "I don't think so."  But guess what? He kept using it. ;)

     I was told that the Clary Sage oil should help labor progress.  This is something I desperately need.  My usual pattern with childbirth is a couple weeks of early labor and 2-3 days of active labor.  Crazy right?  I think my cervix is made of steel. Haha!  But I used the Clary Sage as indicated, by rubbing it on my belly occasionally and putting a few drops on my pillow to inhale during labor.  I didn't feel like it helped too much, since I still had a very long labor.  Dang it!  However, when my doctor checked me on my due date, I had dilated to almost 3cm.  For most women, this is not a big deal, but for me I was pleasantly surprised.  On both of my prior labors I was at a zero on my due date.  I couldn't help wonder if the oil had helped prep my cervix a little bit.  Who knows.

     Many women that deliver vaginally experience tearing.  I was given Helichrysum to do a perineum massage for a few weeks prior to delivery.  It is said to prevent tearing and swelling from when the baby comes through the birth canal.  My main problem was it was difficult for me to remember to do the massage.  I tried to make it a habit every time I took a shower, but sometimes I would forget.  I'd say I did this a few times per week.  I am very happy to report that this seemed to work for me! I barely tore at all.  My doctor said she only put one stitch and I didn't even really need it.  Recovery has been a breeze.  Yay for Helichrysum! (By the way, I still have no idea how to pronounce this name. LOL)

     The idea of using Frankincense on my baby boy was just too cute!..especially around Christmas time! ;)  But when I actually researched why Frankincense was given to Baby Jesus, I found it quite interesting.
     At the time Frankincense was considered a very valuable aromatic resin.  It was taken from the bark of a tree and burned as incense.  Biblically (Exodus 30:34), frankincense was described to have elements needed for Priesthood holy prayer.  They say the gift may have been given to Baby Jesus symbolizing his status as a Holy High Priest.  Huh...interesting!
     In present day, essential oil users use Frankincense to rejuvenate skin, uplift moods, boost the immune system and several more uses.  When I used a few drops of this oil (and the Balance blend) on my baby's head and on his feet, I felt the scent and application would help him develop physically, emotionally, and fight off risk of ailments.  It was a comforting moment and I would use them again on my babies, purely for the calming bonding moment between me and my son.  Side note: I am not sure if this has anything to do with the use of oils, but my baby boy has been an awesome sleeper from day one and is very easy going.  Maybe the Balance blend helped him through that initial development outside the womb and provided a calm feeling.  Here is my precious little guy in one of his many deep sleeps.  So peaceful.

     I was also given a sample of Deep Blue Rub, which is a cream that relieves soreness of muscles.  I spent a long night out with the girls at Disneyland trying to walk myself into labor.  No such luck; I didn't get anywhere close to labor, but I did give myself some very sore calf muscles, haha.  I used the Deep Blue cream on my legs and I felt relief within about 10 minutes.  It was very nice.
     In addition to the oils, Jennifer sent me the doTERRA On Guard Natural Whitening Toothpaste.  This product was a pleasant surprise.  I LOVE good dental hygiene! And I really liked this toothpaste.  It was very refreshing with a cinnamon taste, and after each use my mouth felt clean without the aftertaste of typical toothpaste chemicals.  This one I highly recommend.

     My favorite part about essential oils is that they provide us with an all natural alternative to available medicines.  I do not like using drug substances to cure ailments, but trying a holistic method of relieving pain or illness is fabulous!  Overall I was very impressed with the results of using the oils provided to me.  Personally, I found them to have about a 70% success rate.  I also think that the more you believe in the healing properties of the oils, the more success you will have with them.  I believe our brains have a way of shutting our bodies down when we are negative about something.  So, if you try out an essential oil with skepticism, it will most likely do nothing for you.  But if you are open minded, your body will more easily accept the healing properties of the oils.  I will gladly continue to use doTERRA Oils since they have proved efficient enough for me to try in other circumstances.  Please refer to the offer below to redeem your doTERRA discount and subscription.  I hope they are able to prove valuable in your homes.  These would make perfect holiday gifts for family and friends, by providing health and wellness to loved ones.
Best wishes!

*If you want to find out how to purchase these products, contact:
Jennifer Pack
She can answer any questions you have. She also has some awesome promotions for this month!

Here are some ways to get some free products!...
- Share this blog post on your facebook page, then click on the free sample link below
- There is a giveaway for the Holiday Joy blend at this Facebook post:
- Host a facebook party and get free products!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A More Christ-Centered Holiday with "12 Days of Christmas"

      Ever since I was a child, I have felt that Christmas is way too commercialized.  It comes and goes every year with the main focus on gifts and people never having thought of the true meaning or why Christmas is so important to the world.  I have always had a strong faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, and I have a deep respect and love for the Christmas spirit.  Believe it or not, when I was a young teen, I begged my parents to have a Christmas without presents and just dedicate it to family time.  My parents just laughed at me and said, "Yeah, sure." They had problems recognizing the truly important things in life.  No dice.  We got plenty of presents, but no quality time with the family.  I don't remember what gifts I received.  I just remember feeling sad and lonely.  I remember feeling ashamed that my family did not once stop and talk about the birth of Christ on Christmas Day.

     All those years inspired me to do more for my family and for my kids.  I had vowed that I would teach my children about the significance of Christmas and the value of family togetherness.  I knew things would be different for my family.  Luckily, my husband Daniel was on board and has always made endless efforts to better our life for our family.  Every year, we attempt to make Christmas more Christ-centered, spiritual, and memorably fun.
     This year we decided to start limiting presents to three gifts per child.  With each gift representing the gifts given to Jesus: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.  We will be explaining to our children the meaning behind each gift.
  • GOLD: This gift will be something that the child has been wanting; that special gift they have been asking for.  
  • FRANKINCENSE: This gift will be something for their body.  It could be something to encourage health, or maybe clothing.  
  • MYRRH: This gift will be something that enriches the mind or spirit.  It might be something of spiritual or sentimental value, or an educational present.  
These specific guidelines made it much easier to make out our Christmas shopping list this year! And helped us stay within a decent budget.
     Another tradition we are starting this year is "12 Days of Christmas Family Fun."  I have a list of (free or inexpensive) activities for the family to do together every evening for the 12 days that lead up to Christmas.  I ordered these adorable Small Red Envelopesand then I used these Printable Tags link to paste on our envelopes. I printed out this Free Tag Template and wrote one activity on each tag and placed them inside the envelopes. They turned out so cute!!
I plan to hide them in the tree and ask my girls to find the right number each day.  I figured this is a good tradition to have if we want to focus on quality family memories, instead of focusing on Christmas gifts. And guess what?  Finding the envelopes will be a fun educational way for my girls to practice their numbers! Homeschooling score!

Here is my list of activities. But shhhh! Don't tell my girls. ;)

 1)  Play a board game or put together a puzzle
 2)  Do a service project
 3)  Movie night
 4)  See Christmas lights and drink hot cocoa
 5)  See the temple Christmas lights
 6)  Play an active game (like hide & seek or tag or a sport)
 7)  Go ice skating
 8)  Bake treats or make a gingerbread nativity scene
 9)  Talk a walk on the pier and eat ice cream
10)  Make ornaments or another craft
11)  Read aloud the nativity story (I bought The Christmas Story book which is perfect for preschool kids!) and sing Christmas Carols around the tree
12)  Gifts on Christmas Day!!

     In case you were wondering, we still "do Santa."  We love Santa and the fun childhood traditions that come with Santa Claus: pictures with Santa, letters to Santa, stockings filled with goodies from Santa.  And to be honest, I'm pretty certain my 4 year old is perfectly aware of the Santa tradition.  She has expressed to me how she thinks it's fun to pretend we are giving each other gifts from Santa, haha.  We didn't say anything to her. I guess she figured it out on her own, but since we daily encourage pretend and magic play, it doesn't seem like a big charade...just another fun game.  But overall, we don't talk about Santa a whole lot and we don't use it as a way to get our kids to behave, because hey...they should be behaving regardless! ;)  But we do make sure to discuss Baby Jesus a lot around Christmas and we always explain to our kids that Christmas is a time to celebrate his birth and to rejoice in "peace on earth, good will toward men."
Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

K is for Kindness: Learning About Acts of Service

     We are excited to announce that Inspired Academy Homeschool is being featured on as part of the series "ABC's of Homeschooling Through the Holidays."
     We chose to dedicate our blog post to the letter K.  Our post is called "K is for Kindness."  Kindness and service is a main focus in our homeschooling goals, because above all, I aim to encourage my family to be good, happy people.  Academic progress will unfold as it should, but nourishing the love for our fellow human beings and respect for each other is so important to our future.  The holidays are a perfect time to spread service and kindness, and there are opportunities to do so all year round.  Read about the easy and rewarding act of kindness my daughter and I completed together.  We were even able to include family and friends in the project.
CLICK HERE to read the full details of my post.
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 15, 2014


     I am still here, I promise! And counting down the days until my due date. About 2 more weeks!
     I am getting slower, flakier, and more forgetful everyday.  And the irony?...I'm actually adding another child to the family.  Like I can actually handle more responsibility. Hahahaha. XD

     Homeschool? Don't even ask.  Thank goodness for Bill Nye the Science Guy and PBS Kids Network.  At least I feel like the television shows my kids have been watching are semi-educational.  
     It's okay.  My kids are still so young and they just need to play to keep their minds going.  I will be grateful for when this baby is born and my girls have each other to entertain.  When I had my second baby, I had awful guilt meltdowns from ignoring Marley.  Poor baby would want me to play with her and hold her and I just couldn't do it.  It was horrible!

    But I'm hanging in there and hoping this thing happens soon.  Bleh! How can the most natural thing in the world seem SO unnatural?  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fellow Mommies, I Need Your Help!

     Some of you probably know that I am expecting my 3rd baby soon.  Today I hit 37 weeks! Yay, home stretch! But the closer I get to the finish line, the more I realize how much I am in need of some mom wisdom and advice.  Here are some questions I have for all the moms out there, and I would love it if you could leave me a comment giving me your heartfelt opinions and suggestions. Thanks in advance!

1.  My Motivation Is Dwindling.
     The closer I get to my due date, the more flakey I get.  I am tired and find it difficult to be motivated.  I have a great homeschool curriculum planned out for the year and I have ideas and goals for my blog, but I find myself thinking, "Oh, I just can't wait to lay down!"  I do not want to let this pregnancy negatively affect my homeschooling or my blog.  How do you handle pregnancy, childbirth, a new baby while trying to maintain homeschooling or a blog or other responsibilities?  Do you have any good suggestions on how to balance motherhood with the rest of life?

2.  From Two To THREE!
     I am a little scared of growing from two children to three children.  Is there anything I should know about the transition?  Do you still go grocery shopping with all three kids?  Is that chaos?  I have heard of attachments for double strollers, but are they really necessary? Or can I just expect my 4 year old to walk alongside me?  

3.  Minivan Placement.  
     Random, I know, but I have a newish awesome Honda Odyssey and I am puzzled with where to put the baby.  We have had our minivan for a few months now, but I am wondering what the most efficient placement would be for three kids.  All three in the front row? Would the kids bug each other? One in the back? Maybe the oldest in the back so she can start learning how to buckle herself in?  I dunno.  What kind of placement would you use?

4.  42 Week Gestation. :(
     Yes, my body insists on keeping the babies in for almost an extra two weeks.  My first daughter was 12 days late and my second daughter was 10 days late.  I wish I could say that I think this one will be early, but I highly doubt it.  Maybe a week late if I'm lucky? And then even when my labor starts, I have very long, difficult labors.  My first born was 21 hours of labor, and my second was 30 hours of labor (all of it, extremely painful and not much progress in terms of dilation). *sigh* Not fun.  I feel like I have tried so many ways of naturally inducing labor, but they have not worked for me. It's as if my body does not know how to give birth.  HOWEVER, I am open to any suggestions ladies! Give me your go to ways of kicking your labor into gear! Trust me, I am listening with eagerness.  And I will let you know if anything worked.  What are some natural techniques that have worked for you?

5.  It's A Boy!
     I have two daughters.  This will be my first experience with a son.  I am looking forward to the adventure.  But I have heard that boys are so different from girls.  Is that really true or are all kids different from each other? Tell me what you think?  Are there any suggestions that might help prepare me for the differences, if any?  I currently use Huggies diapers and they have been great, but do the boy parts sit differently and require another type of diaper?  Haha.  I'm sure these sound like silly questions, but I feel confused.  Moms of boys, share your wisdom with me. ;)

6.  Exercise Junkie.
     I cannot wait to get back to the gym!  I actually have dreams about running and feeling the burn in my legs again, and it feels so nice.  I won't be able to join a gym right away due to financial reasons, and I know I can't jump right back into running or dancing, but I need to get back to being active asap.  Are there any great free online workout programs for postpartum moms?  I hate sitting around feeling helpless.  I would love some recommendations to exercise programs for childbirth recovery.

7.  Am I missing anything?
     I'm sure I have thousands of questions going through my mind about adding another child to our family, but lately I am a forgetful mess of weirdness..."mom-nesia" at its finest.  By the way, that IS a real condition. You can read more about it at "Babies Can Cause Momnesia." Haha.  My husband didn't believe me, so I had to find some supporting facts. ;)  If you can think of anything else that might be helpful to a mom adding a third child, please leave your comments for me!  I am thankful for the wonderful support system that is available through online networking and social media.  I would greatly appreciate any supportive advice.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Why Homeschooling Is Awesome: Reason #6 - We Can Ditch School & Still Learn

     I woke up in a very good mood this morning. So I decided to chuck our curriculum for the day and just run errands with my daughters and make sure we had fun together.  We started out with cleaning up the house...What? Cleaning doesn't sound fun?  Well, trust me; we made it fun.

     I blasted some Disney songs and we all danced and rocked out while we went from room to room cleaning.  Picture the scene from Mary Poppins when they clean up, but with a little more hip hop. ;)  We laughed and sang and were productive as well!

     Then I let the girls play on the computer for a while using the Photo Booth app.  They had the time of their lives taking pictures and cracking up at the special effects.  I love watching them explore new things! It's always entertaining.

     Once they were finished, I told Marley we would take her Halloween candy to the dentist office for the Candy Buyback.  She remembered doing the buyback last year and she requested to draw another thank you card for the US Troops.  She completed her picture and off we went.  Both Marley and Dylan were very excited to get a few dollars for their candy.  Luckily, they don't have much of an attachment to sugar, so saying goodbye to their stash wasn't too hard.  I gave them the choice to take the money home and save it or to go straight to the store and pick out a toy.  They both shouted "Toy!"  Next stop, Target.
     They picked out a Little Mermaid Lego set to play with.  We do need to build up our lego collection so it was a good choice.  We headed home, where Marley and I worked together to put together the set.  There is definitely educational value to lego play.  I gave Marley the instruction manual and taught her how to follow it.  She picked out the pieces and counted out how many we would need.  I helped put them together, but our teamwork was awesome!
     We finished off our afternoon by eating popcorn and watching Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.  I love the Night At The Museum movies, and highly recommend them.  They are adorable, entertaining and educational.  I told Marley that my favorite part was the Einstein bobble heads, and she told me her favorite characters are Kahmunrah and the singing angels.

     It was a great day.  We did not follow our usual curriculum and we did not engage in formal academics, but we had so much fun enjoying each other's company and we still found learning opportunities all around us.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Ancient Egypt Unit Study for Preschool/Kindergarten

     I figured going from Halloween to Ancient Egypt would be an appropriate transition since we often see mummies around Halloween. ;)  This week we are discussing Ancient Egypt.  Marley knows very little about Ancient Egypt, so I decided to start her off by watching the movie Prince of Egypt (on Netflix).  She really enjoyed the movie and it got her in the mindset to learn about that time period.

Here is my outline for our Egyptian lesson plan:                            

- The Egyptian Cinderella
- Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who - Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs 

- Egyptian Tombs: Torchlight (My First Discoveries: Torchlight)
- Mummies Made in Egypt (Reading Rainbow Books)
Egyptian Activity Book (Dover Little Activity Books)
Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book About Ancient Egypt

- Egyptian Worksheets Collection
  This site has SO many great worksheets for Ancient Egypt! My daughter loved the coloring pages provided. I had fun coloring with her too. ;)

- Make A "Cartouche" (to easily translate any name into hieroglyphics click here)  We used paper bags to cut out the shape.  I drew her name using pencil and then instructed Marley to trace the pictures with black marker.  We taped up her Cartouche on her door and declared her the Egyptian Princess of the house.  She really liked that!
- Ancient Egyptian Headband
- Make an Egyptian Collar
- Make a Mummy

- Build a pyramid from legos or blocks
- Making pyramids in a sandbox or sensory bin

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Surviving the Halloween Hangover

     Yesterday was an amazing day! We had so much fun! My husband takes the day off for Halloween every year, because it is a family favorite and we love to soak up as much Halloween fun together as possible.  Well, kind of last minute, we were notified that my daughter, Dylan, had an audition scheduled for a commercial.  After our family breakfast I had to drive her out to LA early in the morning, which was actually nice because I rarely get one-on-one time with my toddler and she enjoys her auditions.  After that we decided to meet up with Dad and Marley at Disneyland.  Disneyland was awesome! So many fun and creative costumes are there on Halloween.  After a nice afternoon of Disneyland, we headed home to eat a quick meal, carve our pumpkins, and get dressed for a Halloween Party.  The Halloween party was so much fun.  Lots of friends were there and it was complete with food, drinks, crafts, games, and a spook alley...all you could ask for at a Halloween celebration.  Then we went trick-or-treating.  [My favorite moment was watching my 4 year old experience a haunted front yard where people were pretending to be dead bodies coming to life.  There were full grown teens running away screaming, whereas my little girls thought is was entertaining and they both really enjoyed it. Haha! I love it!]  I was surprised my kids stayed alert for so long after a full day (without naps!)...

     Trust me, we are all paying for it today.  Heehee.

     Not in bad way, but we are suffering from Halloween Hangovers.  None of us had any time yesterday to sit and rest!  It was fun, but terribly exhausting.  Pair that with a whole lot of sugar, and you've got a family of lazies the next day.  Poor dad has to work, but the rest of us are making it a "lay around in our pajamas and watch movies" kind of day.  Here is what I did to try and make the day a smooth transition back into reality.

1) I hid the candy.
My kids already had so much sugar yesterday.  Halloween day we don't restrict sugar much at all.  I plan to give them a couple days of detox before distributing a few pieces later on.  But we usually participate in a candy buy-back anyway, so my kids don't go through their candy for more than a few days or so.  Anytime our kids start to eat sugar on a regular basis, I've noticed we start having behavioral issues, so it just works better for our family to heavily limit candy intake.

2) We stayed in pajamas all day.
Call it a family slumber party and check out mentally for the day.  It helps. Haha.

3) I cuddled my kids up in cozy blankets, distributed some books, and put on some movies.
The lazy, quiet time is essential to my own sanity.  Hopefully my girls appreciate it as well. Looks like they aren't complaining. ;)

4) I limited talking and used only my whispering voice.
Yesterday was a non-stop party.  So much was going on and we all experienced sensory overload.  Today has been a much needed rest-stop.  My kids are re-discovering calmness and quiet.  It took a few hours, but they adjusted after I persistently set the mood for silence and relaxation.

5) No productivity. No Stress.
Aside from cleaning up the house a bit (since I can't relax in a messy house, haha), I didn't do much at all today.  It's okay to take a day once in a while to do absolutely nothing.  I am not thinking about anything on my to-do list (trust me, it's full).  I will get to that hot mess tomorrow.  It's okay.  Procrastinating is not the worst thing in the world, and I believe our minds and souls need a break sometimes.  Just as long as slovenliness doesn't become a habit. ;)

Good luck handling your Halloween Hangover!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Best Educational Toys for Young Children - Bonus Review: Best Sippy Cup Ever

     The holidays are approaching! And some of us are starting to think about Christmas gifts.  I have recently become somewhat anti-toy, since I feel most toys are unnecessary and do not enrich our children.  Here is one of my favorite blog posts called 18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children.  These are great suggestions for enriching gifts that won't clutter up your home.  HOWEVER, there are some hidden gems in the toy world that I think are educational, fun, and inexpensive.  Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Wooden Shape Sorting Clock
     My toddler, Dylan, just received this as a birthday gift from Grandma, and she loves it!  This clock puzzle is a fun way for both toddlers and preschoolers to work on their color, shape, and number recognition.  It requires hand-eye coordination and encourages counting practice.  The movable hands allow for older children to work on telling time.  It is simple, easy to clean up and is not overpriced.  My girls (ages 2 and 4) have really enjoyed it.

2) Wooden ABC/123 Blocks Set
     I love these traditional blocks! They provide ways for little ones to work on letter, number, and picture recognition.  We use the blocks to spell out words or play matching games.  My toddler also works on her hand eye-coordination by stacking the blocks nice and high and then knocking them down for a good laugh.  These blocks are classic and are also very inexpensive.

3) Dramatic Play Costume Sets
     I am a firm believer in encouraging pretend play.  Through role playing and pretend games, children are able to explore their creativity and artistic abilities.  These abilities facilitate confidence and innovation.  The greatest educational advances are through creativity and art.  We are always looking for ways to facilitate dramatic play in our home.  By handing my children pots and pans or giving them a giant cardboard box, they are able to let their imaginations go to work.  These role play costume sets are so cute! They can be individually priced or they offer them in bundles which are a little more expensive but provide fun options!

4) Personalized Name Puzzle
     We received these as a Christmas gift a couple years ago and they are still one of my favorites.  My kids enjoy puzzles, but the fact that these are personal and unique make my girls cherish them more.  These puzzles help our children to practice spelling their own names and support fine motor skills.  They are a little more expensive than most puzzles but are precious additions to the home and can even be used as wall decor. :)

5) World Map or USA Placemat
     These placemats are a perfect way to introduce geography to young children early on without even suggesting a formal lesson.  Children will naturally start asking questions about the countries and states that they see just beneath their meals.  They can be used at times other than eating as well.  They are very inexpensive and will undoubtedly encourage learning.

*Bonus Mommy Review: The Best Sippy Cup! Nalgene Grip-N-Gulp Water Bottle

      Over the past 4 years I have been through SO many "non-spill" cups for children.  I've tried almost every shape and size.  But I have recently found my go-to cup and have been recommending it to moms everywhere.  This water bottle is a brilliant design!  They call it "virtually indestructible" and I agree.  It is very durable and holds a good 12 ounces, but can fit into any cup holder.  It is stain resistant and is, by far, the easiest sippy cup to clean, due to its wide mouth and large mouth piece, with only one removable rubber sip valve. When I tried one out,  I immediately ordered one for each of my kids.  I love these cups!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Homeschooling Is Awesome: Reason #5 - Date Night Counts as a Parent-Teacher Conference!

     I firmly believe that a strong parent-teacher relationship is vital to the success of a student.  When the relationship is between myself and my husband, it makes it pretty easy and fun! ;)  Date night can count as a parent-teacher conference or a PTA meeting.  How cool is that?

     We try to schedule a date night once a month.  It is always nice to get out of the house and have some one-on-one time to re-kindle those giddy, date feelings about your spouse.  It maintains an important marital bond.  This bond also contributes to the success of our family as a whole.  We talk almost daily about our family and about being on the same page for goals, but date night is a completely different setting and allows us to have fun together.

     On date night, we inevitably always start to discuss our children.  We talk about how much we love them, and how different they are from each other.  We talk about their strengths and their weaknesses.  We talk about what they love to do.  We talk about their learning styles.  We talk about all they have learned and what we hope for them to learn in the future.
      We know our kids better than anyone and we care the most for their happiness and success.  That's sounds like a pretty productive parent-teacher conference to me!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Unit Study for Kids (PreK or Kindergarten)

     Pumpkins! Pumpkins everywhere! It's that lovely time of year when we see signs of Autumn and we look forward to the approaching holidays.  The first colorful sign we see here in Southern California are pumpkins.  We love those bright round beautiful pumpkins on doorsteps, in stores, and decorating homes.  Not to mention all the yummy Pumpkin recipes that pop up!
     Here are a few of the Pumpkin recipes that I have on my Pinterest board (Hopefully someday I'll get around to trying these out, haha)...
- White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
- Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffin
- White Chocolate Pumpkin Blondies
You can visit my Pinterest board called Sweet Tooth for more yummy looking recipes that I never make but daydream about. Haha!

And here is an outline of my Pumpkin Preschool lesson plan:

- Knuckle Pumpkin Prints
- Pumpkin Mosaic
Knuckle Pumpkin Prints
- Crayons & Watercolor Pumpkins - I enjoyed doing this art project to classical music and instructing Marley to draw a "still-life" painting of our pumpkins.