NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

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Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts from a Homeschooled Homeschooling Mom

I sat down to write one post on homeschooling, but soon realized I have a mini-series in the making.  So… this is the first of many posts to come on how we do homeschooling at our house.

There are so many different options for school and no one-sized fits all approach!  Public schools, charter schools, private schools, and homeschools are the most common options for us to choose between in the United States.  The best fit for our family in this season is homeschool.  But like parenting, and so many other things in life, we homeschoolers all have to find the groove that fits our family.  I feel like that is a moving target, especially as my kids grow older and we add more babies to the mix, but that’s part of the fun of life.

I was actually a homeschooled kid for most of my school years.  This was a weird thing in the ’80s and ’90s. When I started public school in high school, no one knew what I meant by “homeschool”.  My peers thought it was  some type of remedial or correctional program – I am serious, they actually thought that!  I think they learned otherwise as I soon rose to the top of the class and graduated salutatorian.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Some hands-on learning at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I  love how homeschool helped mold me into the person  that I am today.  Homeschooling allowed me to learn at my own speed (which was actually very slow at first – I didn’t read until I was eight!) and pursue things that interested me – which was pretty much everything.

Homeschool instilled in me a universal love of learning that I still have today.  I learned to love every subject, mostly due to my parents’ love of learning and reading.  My mom and dad read out loud to us for years – years longer than was necessary.  I cherish these memories of family reading time, huddled together on the old family room couch, on a family road trip, or around a crackling campfire.  These books opened up so many opportunities for us.  I only hope that our own homeschool can do the same for our family.

When my husband and I had kids, he knew right away that we were going to homeschool them.  In fact, he told everyone that.  (He was never homeschooled himself, but he saw the benefit of it.) I wasn’t so sure, only because I knew how challenging it is to be a homeschool parent and that the majority of their education would fall on me.  However, as our oldest grew older, I started to look into our options.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

A field trip to the local zoo – the kids love any chance to see animals up close!

Our local schools are good schools and the teachers and administration are very good people, so I was not concerned there.  However, as I saw my young and very impressionable son interacting with other kids at the park, I noticed some things I did not like.  He learned to copy other children’s behavior, especially bigger “cool” kids, just from an hour or two at the park.  And that behavior was more “Lord of the Flies” than it was good Sunday School kid.  I didn’t like it.

My husband and I knew that we wanted to be the biggest influences of our children, not some cool kid on the playground.  We wanted to know what was going on with them everyday and to be able to pour life and love and grace into them throughout the school day.

I knew from my oldest’s personality and learning style that going to public school would be tough on him and we decided when he was only three and a half that homeschool would be the best thing for him.  We have not regretted it at all.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Making a recycling truck out of recycled boxes during a unit on recycling.

Homeschooling gives us the ability to allow our kids time to be kids.  At most schools today, kids are not allowed the time to just play that they need for their cognitive development.  Many, if not most, schools have all-day kindergarten.  Homeschooling has let my kids be kids.  Kindergarten work takes 1-2 hours of our day and the rest of the day can be spent exploring nature, running around, building with Legos, and just letting their imaginations go!

I love that my little boys are not made to feel bad or be punished for being wiggly kids.  My kids don’t come home from school with a “frowny face” for not being able to sit still or wrestling with another kid.  I can give them the time they need to wiggle and move and wrestle.  For most little boys, and many little girls, this is normal and not something to be punished or medicated.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Our first day of homeschool EVER! The boys had some fun with math and trains practicing numbers, addition, and subtraction.

Now that I have a third grader, we spend more than 2 hours a day doing school, but it is still much shorter than the time his peers spend in public school.  He is starting to be able to work independently, for a short time, and I love to see how his brain is developing.  His attention to detail with science and history just astound me.  I am so honored to be able to spend this time with him and see him grow into the man he will become.

Another reason homeschooling fits our family is because it allows my kids to have a very special and tight bond.  Although my kids all have friends their ages, they are also very best friends with each other.  And although they do fight on occasion, as all kids do, for the most part, they get along very well.

It was the same for me and my siblings growing up.  If we weren’t friends with each other, who were we going to play with during the day?  Sure, we had other friends, but not “at school” with us.  I think the sibling bond is one that should be cherished and nurtured.  Siblings just tolerating each other, fighting constantly, and making each other miserable is just not acceptable.  We work hard to maintain that bond between them.  It is worth preserving.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Becoming Jr Rangers at Lassen Volcanic National Park

The final reason we have chosen to homeschool is because we can integrate our faith into our daily studies.  We open each day with a prayer, allow the kids to take turns praying, and practice Bible verses.  And although we don’t use Christian curriculum (more on that in my curriculum post coming soon), I make sure to integrate our faith whenever I can – which is often!  The opportunities abound to share the importance of God with our kids and I try to be intentional to take these opportunities when they come up.

So, were you homeschooled or is it something that you have chosen for your children?

I’d love to hear about what works best for your family.

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When your little girl does not have much hair…still…

Bald babies are super cute and all of my kids have been essentially bald with nothing but a few wisps of hair.  The advantage to this is that they don’t get a bald spot from sleeping that way!  They already have no hair!

With my boys, the baldness never bothered me and they both grew beautiful silky blonde hair and needed their first haircuts by the age of one or 18 months.  Their straight blonde hair was hanging in their eyes and they had little blonde mullets in the back – time for a trim.  And they looked so handsome in their classic boy cuts – not too short – no spiky crew cuts for my babies.

When we had our baby girl, Addamay, I was thrilled!  However, I did not have high expectations for hair in her first twelve months of life – none of my kids had much hair, which I am told is quite common with blondes.  However, I was hoping that she would grow hair at least at the rate of her brothers. But no, Addamay has the slowest growing hair of any of my children.

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Less than 24 hours old, her brothers kissing her little almost bald head…

So out came the bows.

And I started to make bows…

The first headband I made. This started to get addicting!

The first headband I made. This started to get addicting!

And she still wears bows…

Addamay is now 28 months old and still has very little hair.  She is starting to grow bangs and her hair is several inches long at the very middle of her head.  That is all.  She has no bangs in her eyes.  She has no mullet.  She has no beautiful Shirley Temple curls… sigh…

At 28 months old, she still doesn't have much hair, but it's getting thicker and longer at the very top.

At 28 months old, she still doesn’t have much hair, but it’s getting thicker and longer at the very top.

She gets called a boy in public if I dare dress her in anything but pink.  Turquoise blue is the worst offender.  It does not matter that the shirt is covered in girly flowers and she is wearing a skirt – if she is wearing blue, she is always called a boy.  Thankfully, I am not easily offended.  I just chuckle and gently correct them, or not… it really doesn’t make a difference if I’ll never see them again…

I also get asked all the time if I cut her hair.  ALL. THE. TIME.  Really?  Why would I cut my little girls hair that short?  I can see a nice cute bob with bangs, but cutting her bangs up to her hairline… I don’t think so…

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Addamay’s first birthday pictures with Jennifer Jens Photography – super cute – but still mostly bald

I know she comes by the bald headed-ness honestly.  Although my husband had nice thick blonde hair in his first birthday pictures, I, sadly, had none.  I wore a cute hat instead.  And my second birthday pictures were not much better.

But, there are advantages to her very short hair – the most obvious being that I don’t have to wrestle a very strong willed two year old every morning to brush her hair and get it out of her face. But, I still would like to try…

I know so many moms of little boys with long beautiful hair – curls or just straight and thick – and the complaint I hear most often is that everyone thinks they are girls.  I get it – and I don’t have a problem with their child’s beautiful locks – or maybe I do – but it’s just jealousy…

Really, why do the little boys get such gorgeous hair?  Sigh…

For now, it is still about baby headbands at our house… And in honor of my little hairless girl, I am giving away two adorable baby headbands handmade by me on Instagram.  I make these for Addamay, for friends, and for gifts, but these are not for sale, so they are one of a kind and made just for this occasion!

Win these adorable headbands over on Instagram @amylovesnature

Win these adorable headbands over on Instagram

Head on over to my Instagram for details!  Even if you don’t have a baby girl in your house, you probably know one and these make great baby shower and birthday gifts!

Good luck!

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THM Pregnancy Update: Hello, Second Trimester

I am happy to say that I have officially made it into the second trimester!  The first trimester is always the toughest part of pregnancy for me (even though I am a bit spoiled that I don’t get very sick).

The first trimester is tough. Even though you don’t look very pregnant yet – and most people don’t know you are pregnant at all if you wait to announce like we do – you are exhausted, hormonal, and nauseous.  But, you pretend like everything is fine, even though all you really want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for a week! Read about my first trimester experience here.

The second trimester gets easier for a couple reasons.  The first being that most women are lucky enough to get their energy back and nausea goes away!  The second reason is that by then most people know you are pregnant.  They suddenly open doors, tell you to take a nap, not carry things, or sit down and rest.  The ironic thing is, you probably feel better than you did the first 14 weeks! (Of course I am generalizing here. I do know a few women who were very sick throughout their entire pregnancies. I’m sooo sorry.)

So welcome second trimester!  Welcome baby bump and maternity clothes!  Welcome energy and feeling good! Welcome food cravings and goodbye aversions! Welcome finding out the sex of the baby – oh wait – my hubby REALLY wants to be surprised this time – so…never mind!


a2a9b5b592cc078f836a9bf12380411aSo, a little update on my last two weeks, starting with…

Hormones – from week 12 to 14 I had a terrible onslaught of hormones!  I had so little patience with the kids and everything set me off! This is not like me.  Normally I am pretty level headed and calm, but not so in week 12! My poor kids…

Week 13 was better than week 12, but the excessive hormones were still there.  I also was very tired on week 12, even though I had felt great from 9.5 weeks until then.  And although I know the pregnancy had something to do with the exhaustion, our first full week of homeschool also contributed to it, I’m sure.

Weight gain – the scale has bounced around a bit and is now at six pounds gained. That is in my normal fluctuation range so I am hoping it doesn’t continue to climb too quickly from here.

Cravings and food aversions – thankfully I can eat eggs again!  I can also eat meat and was craving a steak, which I got on our date last week. Yummy! I have been craving salads again, which is a nice change from the carbs and cheese sticks I survived on in my first trimester!  And fresh pesto from the garden. Enough said.

My favorite craving this week has been a quick cooked apple dish that I whipped up.  I will write up my recipe and publish it later, but basically it is just apple pie filling made from fresh apples (tis the season), cinnamon, cloves, and some THM Super Sweet Blend cooked with some water.  Oh my goodness!  It totally fulfilled my baked apple cravings and is completely healthy!  Pregnancy win!  I’ve made it three times this week…

Advanced maternal age – don’t you just love that term!  This is my first pregnancy in the “over 35” age bracket and now I get a bunch more fuss because of it!  Oh joy!  I refused all the extra testing on the baby, but I could not get out of the early test they do for gestational diabetes since I am apparently “at greater risk for it in my advanced age”. Fun!

I asked my OB if I could do an alternative test to the sickly sweet “glucola” drink for the 1-hour glucose test, but he was pretty insistent that the dreaded drink was the best test. I was reluctant to take the test, even though I’d never had trouble passing it in the past, because I had not had processed sugar in over a year.  I wasn’t sure how my body would react.

But honestly, I was actually curious, so I didn’t fight him on taking the test.  I simply informed him that if it made me sick, I was going to refuse it when I had to do it again later in pregnancy.

So I prepared for the test by having a low-carb breakfast of eggs and bacon which I read helps . I drank the glucose drink.  I was right behind a lady who chugged hers in seconds, but when I tried that, I immediately felt gross.  I drank it slowly instead (over about 4 minutes) and waited out my hour.

I waited to feel sick or to get a massive sugar headache, but surprisingly, other than feeling hungry near the end, I felt fine.  They drew my blood and found out I passed with flying colors.  Thank you, Lord!

Some women who have been off sugar for long periods of time have gotten headaches, thrown up, or had terrible sugar cravings after the test.  I wondered if I would experience the same thing, but thankfully, I did not.

Drinking that sickly sweet drink made me realize how thankful I was that I was no longer addicted to sugar.  However, if they had given me a gigantic piece of cake instead, I don’t think I would have found it gross, but I’ve come too far from my days of sugar-addiction to test that theory.


On a sad note, this past week my phone died.  I can’t even blame my kids because I was the one who dropped it.  It hit just right to crack the screen and now the screen is completely black. So, as a result, I don’t have many pictures for this post… Oh, well… C’est la vie!

Hopefully that will be remedied soon and I won’t have to go too long without pictures!

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DIY All Natural Deodorant – 4 Ingredients, gluten-free

Until recently, I was not aware of how important it is to be careful of the things we put on our skin.  I would lather products on liberally to protect from the sun, to prevent wrinkles, moisturize, or to beautify, but I was completely unaware of what was in these products.  

It’s just our skin, we’re not eating it – what’s the big deal, right?

Well, the big deal is that our skin is our largest organ in our body and  it absorbs pretty much everything we put on it.

Yikes! That’s why medications like the nicotine and birth control patches are so effective.

In the last few years I have stopped using makeup and face creams that are filled with chemicals.  I started making my own deodorant, or buying natural kinds, and this year I made the switch over to entirely natural mineral based sunscreens.  Although some of these things have actually saved me money, other things (like natural sunscreen) are a lot more pricey, so I like to save money by making my own whenever I can.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen me testing a new recipe for a DIY deodorant. I’ve made some deodorants from recipes in magazines or on Pinterest in the past, but I’ve always been disappointed with the results. Most recipes simply combine coconut oil, baking powder, and corn starch for a simple deodorant that is easy to whip up.  The result was oily (grease stained underarms – yuck) and really didn’t cut it in hot weather.  However, I used this basic recipe during my entire pregnancy with my daughter since I didn’t want to put anything with chemicals on my skin – especially while pregnant – but I never liked it. When summer came, after she was born, that greasy deodorant just didn’t do the trick.

An all-natural simple deodorant recipe that actually works! It even goes on just like a conventional brand! Inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick - NatureAmy.com

My recipe was inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals’ Hippie Stick

I was excited to try Trim Healthy Mama’s skin care line Trim Healthy Naturals’ deodorant Hippy Stick when it came out last year.  I absolutely love it and it is completely natural and it actually works!(If you aren’t the DIY sort, you can click here to buy THM’s Hippie Stick).  However much I love the Hippie Stick, it is a bit pricey for our growing family’s budget, so I wanted to make something similar for myself and family members.  The following recipe is the result.

After creating this recipe earlier this month, I knew I needed to put it to the test. I loved how it poured easily into a deodorant tube so that when it cooled and hardened it was easy to roll on.  I also liked how I could tailor the smell to my favorite essential oils – definitely a plus for this smell sensitive pregnant lady!  The big test, however, came when we spent the day hiking at Lake Tahoe in 90+ degree weather.  I got home and did the sniff test – no stink! Success!

Ingredients: (Scroll down for a printable recipe)

  • 6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons organic beeswax pellets
  • 11 Tablespoons Arrowroot Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
  • 20 -30 drops essential oil(s) of choice to desired fragrance

Instructions:

  1. Add coconut oil and beeswax to a small saucepan. The first time I made this recipe I used unrefined coconut oil, which has a gentle coconut smell. The second time I made this I used refined coconut oil, which has no smell. Depending on the fragrance you want, you can use refined or unrefined oil.

    An all-natural simple deodorant recipe that actually works! It even goes on just like a conventional brand! Inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick - NatureAmy.com

    Slowly melting the coconut oil and beeswax. Don’t let it get too hot!

  2. Over low heat, gently melt the coconut oil and beeswax. Just enough heat to heat up the oil will do the trick – don’t let it get too hot. Turn off the heat when the oil heats up and let the wax melt on its own.
  3. Add the arrowroot flour/starch and baking soda and mix well. If you can’t use baking soda, you can certainly try leaving it out. I have always used it, however, so I don’t know if it will absorb odor quite as well without it.

    An all-natural simple deodorant recipe that actually works! It even goes on just like a conventional brand! Inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick - NatureAmy.com

    Add the dry ingredients and mix. It will harden as it cools. Add the essential oils to your desired fragrance strength.

  4. Add food-grade essential oils of choice until you reach your desired fragrance. I used 10 drops of doTerra Lavender, 20 drops of doTerra Grapefruit, and 10 drops of doTerra Citrus Bliss. The lavender is naturally anti-bacterial and the citrus are my favorite fragrances.
  5. Now pour the deodorant into two containers. If it has cooled too much (mine hardened quickly) simply heat over very low heat for 30 seconds or so until it is liquid again. I used two old deodorant containers I had saved to store them in. Make sure to lower the plastic push thing (sorry, but what do you call that thing!) to the very bottom of the container before you pour in the deodorant. To harden quickly, place in the refrigerator to cool.

    An all-natural simple deodorant recipe that actually works! It even goes on just like a conventional brand! Inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick - NatureAmy.com

    Heat up and stir the deodorant mixture so that it is easy to pour. Pour into some old deodorant containers. I used an old blue one and my Hippie Stick container.

  6. Store at room temperature and use as you would a store bought deodorant. The coconut oil will be harder in the winter and softer in the summer. I find it to be just right in the summer (not too soft even though we keep our house pretty warm). It can be pretty hard in the winter, but if you warm it up for 5-10 seconds on your warm underarm, it should spread nicely.
Nature Amy's DIY All Natural Deodorant
Author: 
Recipe type: Deodorant
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 deodorants
 
An all natural deodorant inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick
Ingredients
  • 6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons organic beeswax pellets
  • 11 Tablespoons Arrowroot Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
  • 30 - 40 drops essential oils of choice to desired fragrance
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil and beeswax to a small saucepan. The first time I made this recipe I used unrefined coconut oil, which has a gentle coconut smell. The second time I made this I used refined coconut oil, which has no smell. Depending on the fragrance you want, you can use refined or unrefined oil.
  2. Over low heat, gently melt the coconut oil and beeswax. Just enough heat to heat up the oil will do the trick - don't let it get too hot. Turn off the heat when the oil heats up and let the wax melt on its own.
  3. Add the arrowroot flour/starch and baking soda and mix well. If you can't use baking soda, you can certainly try leaving it out. I have always used it, however, so I don't know if it will absorb odor quite as well without it.
  4. Add food-grade essential oils of choice until you reach your desired fragrance. I used 10 drops of doTerra Lavender, 20 drops of doTerra Grapefruit, and 10 drops of doTerra Citrus Bliss. The lavender is naturally anti-bacterial and the citrus are my favorite fragrances.
  5. Now pour the deodorant into two containers. If it has cooled too much (mine hardened quickly) simply heat over very low heat for 30 seconds or so until it is liquid again. I used two old deodorant containers I had saved to store them in. Make sure to lower the plastic push thing (sorry, but what do you call that thing!) to the very bottom of the container before you pour in the deodorant. To harden quickly, place in the refrigerator to cool.
  6. Store at room temperature and use as you would a store bought deodorant. The coconut oil will be harder in the winter and softer in the summer. I find it to be just right in the summer (not too soft even though we keep our house pretty warm). It can be pretty hard in the winter, but if you warm it up for a few seconds on your warm underarm, it should spread nicely.

A quick note about essential oils:

It’s important to use a high quality food grade essential oil (like doTerra or Young Living) when using it on your skin (or breathing or ingesting it).  I use some cheaper brands I can get easily at our local natural food store for making some of my cleaning products, but I won’t use them for skin products or in food recipes.  I think most people know someone who sells these high quality products, I know several people myself, but if you don’t, you are welcome to use this link to support my friend Teresa’s doTerra business, Shine Brighter.  I love to support friends whenever I can!

Containers

If you don’t have an empty deodorant container lying around, you can always store this in a glass jar.  Or, you could buy a cheap deodorant from the dollar store, dump the contents, rinse with hot water, and add your deodorant to this container – whatever floats your boat! Maybe you want to make a bunch to give away (Christmas gifts, anyone?), then you can buy these empty containers online Pack of 20 Deodorant Containers New & Empty.

Ingredients

I was able to find all of these ingredients locally, which was nice.  The coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils I already had in my pantry.  The organic beeswax pellets I was able to buy in bulk at my local health food store, so I just bought a small amount.  If you can’t find a small amount of pellets, you may want to buy the wax in a small block and grate it up for ease of measuring.  Or you could buy a pound from Amazon here 100% Organic Yellow Beeswax Pellets. The arrowroot powder was also at our local health food store in the gluten free section, or you could get it at Amazon here Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Starch / Flour, 16-ounce.

So far I’ve made some of this great deodorant for myself and for my oldest son.  I love that I can make something that is not filling his young body with chemicals!  I tweaked the fragrance for him to something he liked better.  Next, I will be playing around with a spicier masculine fragrance for my husband – he’s definitely not a fruity smell kind of guy.  The options are limitless!

I hope you like this as much as we do!  Let me know what fragrance options you try! I love to connect with my readers on Facebook and Instagram.  If you aren’t following me there, yet, could you head on over and give me a like?  Thank so much for reading!

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This post contains affiliate links – as always, if you buy a product from the links it does not cost you anything extra but it does help to support our family and this blog.  Thank you!

 

THM Pregnancy Update: My first trimester

I’m over twelve weeks pregnant with what will be our fourth child.  This is not my first time around – it’s actually my fifth since one pregnancy ended in miscarriage, so I pretty much know what to expect.  I’ve had boy pregnancies and at least one girl pregnancy and I know what is typical for my body for each trimester and for delivery.  So, that being said, I wanted to compare and contrast what I have noticed to be different now that I am a pregnant Trim Healthy Mama. (You can read my THM testimony and why I love it so much here.)


Is a THM pregnancy easier? Comparing and contrasting my first trimester on Trim Healthy Mama and 3 non-THM pregnancies. - NatureAmy.com

My baby bump at 12 weeks – definitely showing earlier this time around.

My first three pregnancies

So, first let me explain what has been normal for me in the first trimester of pregnancy before becoming a THM over two years ago.

Nausea – I am one of the lucky ones who does not have much morning sickness or nausea.  In fact, I can completely avoid being sick if I follow one simple rule – never let my blood sugar drop too low.  So, that equates to eating almost constantly (even though food isn’t too appetizing).  I would snack on things all day long, because even with over an hour between snacks, my blood sugar would drop and I would feel sick.  I even got up in the middle of the night to eat.  If I didn’t, I was guaranteed to wake up feeling sick and I would often throw up.

Weight gain – One of my earliest signs of pregnancy is a 4-5 lb weight gain, seemingly overnight.  This happens before any nausea sets in and before I have to start eating every hour.  I’m okay with this sudden increase, because it doesn’t seem to be due to anything other than extra blood, fluid, growing boobs, etc.  However, about week 7 or 8 I have to start eating constantly to avoid being sick and the real weight gain starts.  By 12 or 14 weeks I am usually up about 15 lbs from my starting weight – not too cool, but it beats being sick, in my opinion.

Headaches – Oh, how I hate headaches during pregnancy.  Something about the hormones in the first trimester would give me frequent headaches.  It seems like Tylenol doesn’t help much to dull the pain, and I really hate taking any medicine during pregnancy.  So with my non-THM pregnancies, I would suffer through headaches several days each week.

Fatigue – got to love the exhaustion that comes with growing a tiny baby.  This is my most prevalent symptom in the first trimester.  I am so tired from about week 6 through 12.  An afternoon nap helps, but the constant fatigue is frustrating, especially when there are little ones running around that must be supervised.  Thank you Netflix for filling in for me when I can’t keep my eyes open any longer!


Is a THM pregnancy easier? Comparing and contrasting my first trimester on Trim Healthy Mama and 3 non-THM pregnancies. - NatureAmy.com

6 weeks of my growing bump. I popped out really early, but have not grown much more recently.

My THM Pregnancy

So, what is different this time around now that I eat a low-glycemic and sugar-free diet? (Not low carb, please note – I still love my carbs.)

Nausea – So, I cannot say that this time around I have not had any nausea.  I still have had nausea if I do not follow the rule of keeping my blood sugar stable.  However, with THM, I have the perfect tools to keep my blood sugar level.  The Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline (which is a lifestyle, not a diet) is designed to keep blood sugar levels stable.  That is important even for those of us who are not even close to being diabetic.  Not only does stable blood sugar help to keep nausea away, but it also equates to a safer pregnancy, less risk of miscarriage, and numerous other benefits!

In this pregnancy, since I now know how important protein is in stabilizing blood sugar, I make sure to have at least a little with each snack and meal.  This means I can go longer between meals without eating (not more than 2 hours, but that is twice as long for me) and I can even make it overnight without having to get up and eat!  I am eating plenty of good healthy carbohydrates which are important for growing a healthy baby, but I no longer eat processed sugar, which is very helpful in stabilizing my blood sugar.

Protein is still hard for me in the first trimester since I really have an aversion to most meat and eggs.  However, I eat a lot of cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese and that helps.  I also have been using THM Collagen, which I love, but the smell, usually unnoticeable, is too much for my pregnant super smeller.  But, if I mix it into a THM Trimmie, it does the trick.  I forced myself to eat chicken – about the only meat I could stomach. Thankfully, at 12 weeks, I’m able to eat a larger variety of protein, which my poor family appreciates, I’m sure!

Weight gain – I still gained the initial 4-5 lbs of weight I always gain each pregnancy at about week 4 or 5, but I’m thrilled to say that I have not gained more than that this time!  My weight has fluctuated a bit, but at twelve weeks pregnant, I was just at 4 lbs over starting weight!

Is this because I eat 100% on plan?  I wish I could say I do, but I don’t! Food aversions made eating on plan all the time unrealistic for me. However, I do believe it is mainly due to the fact that I don’t eat processed sugar anymore (something I used to eat a ton of during my previous pregnancies – thank you sugar addiction!)  I eat mainly crossovers – I have not been even trying to separate my fuels (carbs and fat) since I found out I was pregnant.  I have also mainly survived off fruit and cheese sticks. Occasionally, I will eat an off-plan food like chips or whole grain crackers, or plain whole wheat bread (instead of sprouted).  I eat more raw honey and some dried fruit (we were camping a lot this summer and it was easy to get trail mix).  These are all choices that I am personally okay with on occasion and they are foods I feed my skinny family all the time.

Headaches – This has been a dramatic difference this time around.  I have had only two headaches this pregnancy so far and both were due to dehydration after hiking in over 100 degree heat.  Praise God!  The headaches that plagued me for several days each week in previous pregnancies are gone!  The only way I can explain this is my diet changes.

Fatigue – This is something that really didn’t change this time around, except to say that I got over it a little earlier!  I was still exhausted from about week 6 to 10 (but not 12 weeks this time!).  I was camping, hiking, getting ready for homeschooling, chasing toddlers, etc. during that time, so I certainly had enough energy to make it through – and even thrive – this summer.  However, that hammock at camp was really, really wonderful!


Prenatal Vitamins

Since I know I will be asked this question – let me include it here.  I am really happy with the Best Nest Ultra-Gentle Prenatal Vitamins I am taking this time. This is not sponsored – I just really happen to like this company and their products.  I’ve actually been taking them all year and I love that they are all natural, organic, whole food based, and include probiotics and herbs! Often prenatal vitamins will make me feel a bit sick after taking them, but these really are ultra-gentle.  I’ve not felt the least bit sick after taking them. The price is what convinced me, though!  Less than $40 for a 3 month supply – sign me up!  You can get them at my Amazon affiliate link here: BEST Nest Prenatal Vitamins, with Methylfolate (Folic Acid), Once Daily Multivitamin, Contains Whole Food, Organic Blend, and Methylcobalamin (B12), Easy to Swallow, 100% Natural Vitamin, 90 Count


I have really enjoyed my first trimester of pregnancy as a THM. I always enjoy pregnancy – I’m one of those annoying happy pregnant ladies, but by eating THM, everything has been easier so far!  And now that I have my energy back, I am excited to start my second trimester soon!

Have you noticed any differences when you changed your diet in pregnancy?  Are you a pregnant THM, as well?  I’d love to hear from you!  Like my Facebook and Instagram if you haven’t yet, so we can connect!

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This post contains affiliate links – as always, if you buy a product from the links it does not cost you anything extra but it does help to support our family and this blog.  Thank you!

A big announcement…

I alluded to some exciting changes coming our way a couple weeks ago, but now, I will let the cat out of the bag.  I’m pregnant!  Our rainbow baby is expected to join us sometime in late February or early March next year.

Pregnancy after miscarriage - allowing time to heal both body and soul. How God turned my mourning into dancing - NatureAmy.com

Our fun pregnancy announcement

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I experienced a miscarriage last February.  I wrote a post about the experience and another about taking time to heal from it – and one thing that I have learned in this all is that miscarriage and loss needs to be talked about more.

It is such a painful thing for a woman (and really a couple or family) to go through, it really should not be done alone.  Yet, so many people feel that they cannot talk about it.   And although I posted about it here, I am guilty of not talking about it much in person.  It is painful to bring up, but it is also reassuring to know that we are not alone in our pain.  There are many, many women who understand.  The more I mentioned the experience to friends, the more friends I learned had been through it themselves.  It was a kind of sisterhood, of sorts…

Time to heal

After my miscarriage, the doctor told me to wait a couple months before trying for another baby.  I smiled and nodded, but I did not really understand his reasoning.  He wanted to make sure I was completely healed, but mostly he was concerned that I had time to heal emotionally.  He said that depression after miscarriage could lead to postpartum depression after a new birth if there was not proper time to mourn the loss.  Only after living in a fog of depression for several months and finally feeling it lift completely this summer did I realize the wisdom of his suggestion.

My body was also not the same after my miscarriage.  My hormones were off for several months and my cycles were strange.  I gained weight and was not able to lose it no matter how hard I tried (which I believe was due to my hormone imbalance).  Finally, in June, the fog started to lift and I finally felt more like myself.  My cycles, which I chart, also normalized again and we conceived our rainbow baby.

Mourning into dancing

When I calculated the baby’s due date, I was pleased to discover that it was just days away from the day that our last little one was taken home into the arms of Jesus.  It was like God was taking a day that was heartbreaking and replacing it with a time of joy.  I really do see it as a gift from our Heavenly Father and I am so thankful.  Our God is so good, my friends – so good!

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:11-12 ESV

Again, thank you for your faithful prayers and support during this time of healing for our family.  It really does mean so much to me.

Oh! And, I can’t wait to give you all an update on my first trimester with a Trim Healthy Mama pregnancy.  I really have noticed some really amazing differences I am excited to share with you!

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Healing from Miscarriage: Allowing myself time to heal, rest, and recover

At the end of February this year, I had my first miscarriage (you can read more about it here).  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through and something I hoped I never would have to experience.

But, although it was physically, mentally, and spiritually hard, it brought me to a place where I could feel my Jesus’ presence.  I knew He was right there with me (as He always is).  I made the very conscious choice to praise Him through this storm.  My anthem was the Bethel Worship playlist of “Good Good Father” on YouTube (linked here) and I played it over and over in my grief.

But even though I could feel the presence of God and I knew He held me safe, it did not change the fact that I was still in the midst of the storm…

I am naturally very self reliant, self-motivated, controlled, self-sufficient – you get the picture – but my grief left me feeling raw, broken, and like I had little control.  My emotions, usually buried and in check, easily sprang to the surface and I found myself retreating into the safety of my home.

It was almost as if I was in a fog.  I went through my normal routine.  We home schooled, went to our extracurricular classes, went to church, and shopped for groceries, but I stopped doing anything that I did not have to do.  I didn’t even realize it until several months later that I was operating in a fog for about three or four months.

I didn’t realize, until it started to lift, that I was experiencing depression.  Looking back at the spring months, I realized how much I had retreated.  I realized how little I had done with friends in that time.  I generally am quite social and fill our calendar with play dates, Bible studies, and activities because I enjoy them, but for several months I retreated from most everything.

And honestly, when I realized what I had done, I was not disappointed.  I knew I needed that time “off” to rest and recover and heal.  Instinctively, I did what I needed for that period of healing in my life.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”           Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Many people have told me that when they experienced miscarriage, the path to healing for them involved giving and investing in others.  They spent more time focusing on others, more time away from home.  And I can see why that would be important, especially if you don’t have children at home, but with three little kids at home and homeschooling, I think I was already giving enough of myself.  The path to healing for me involved allowing myself to rest, to pull back, and to heal in the quiet and safety of my home.

I spent more time in the Word, more time in prayer and reflection, more time writing.  I also found great comfort in Becky Thompson’s book Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart.  Becky writes about her miscarriage and healing in the book and how she used praise as a weapon against grief.  It is just one chapter in the book, but it played a big part in my healing.  If you don’t follow Becky at Scissortail Silk on Facebook, you really should – I guarantee you will be blessed.

I finally feel as if the fog has completely lifted.  It’s been over five months since my miscarriage and it took about four and a half to finally feel completely like myself again.  It has been a process.  And for a “do-it-yourself” kind of girl like me, it has also been a humbling experience.  I would never choose to go through the pain of miscarriage again, but I know I am a stronger woman because of it and I can relate to those who have, or will, also go through one. And for that, I am thankful.

If you are going through something like this, or have in the past, I would love to hear from you and pray with you.  Leave a comment below, or send me a private message on Facebook.

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Confessions of a Star Wars Obsessed Family: how we are raising our kids to be strong in the force

Some families watch sports together. Some families have annual football tournaments. Some families talk politics, or debate world problems. And we – well we – we train our kids in the ways of the Force.
We start them young, of course, as all padawan learners should start. Two or three years old is generally a good starting age to introduce the original Star Wars Trilogy. Starting with A New Hope, Star Wars Episode IV can be controversial for some, but we find that true Star Wars fanatics will agree – you must start at the beginning with Episode IV.

An obsession with light-sabers, Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knights, and the Force will soon follow.  Soon, we will have lively dinner conversations debating important things like “Who is Rey, really?” and “How a tiny green feeble old alien can really be the best light saber fighter in the galaxy.”  And of course, don’t get us started on whether Star Wars or Star Trek is better – they aren’t even in the same galaxy!


True love - Han Solo and Princess Leia

True love – Han Solo and Princess Leia

So, how did this obsession all start?

Well, I blame my parents – as all good psychologists will back me up on.  The very first movie I ever saw was The Empire Strikes Back in the theater as a newborn. And although I don’t remember any of it, that early exposure must be to blame for my fetish.

And then there were my three older boy cousins, who insisted that we all play Star Wars when they came to visit.  I didn’t know much about it then, but at five I was happy to be an Ewok – still my favorites. My sister Ella, since she was older, got to be Princess Leia.  She wore her white slip for the part and put her hair up in two buns.

My Ewok baby - this costume made me so happy!

My Ewok baby – this costume made me so happy!

The true infatuation with the Force came at the age of eight, however.  Back in the 1980s not many people had VCRs  or movies in the home (well, not many people I knew, anyway), but we did have a video store that rented both.  One summer evening, my dad brought home the rented VCR and Star Wars: A New Hope.  He hooked up the VCR, made popcorn (an absolute necessity in our family), and we all gathered in the family room to watch.  And I have never been the same since.

Star Wars Family Fun - Confessions of a Star Wars Obsessed Family - Teaching the Ways of the Force to our kids - NatureAmy.com

I’ve always had a secret crush on Obi-Wan

The following two nights, Dad rented The Empire Strikes Back, and finally The Return of the Jedi.  Conversations in our family changed forever.  We debated what would happen next, what happened before, and how the final trilogy would end.  We got our cousins involved and spent a summer recording a cassette tape of Episode VII to send to George Lucas for inspiration.  I had Star Wars birthday parties… you get the idea.

When I met my husband in college, I knew he was “the one” because not only did he agree that Star Wars was much better than Star Trek (although he really does like watching Star Trek – a flaw I was willing to overlook), but he had a “early” copy of Episode I – that may have not been totally legal…  We spent a “date/not a date” (we had a lot of those) watching it on his desktop in his room.  Ahh… love…

Star Wars Family Fun - Confessions of a Star Wars Obsessed Family - Teaching the Ways of the Force to our kids - NatureAmy.com

Luke Skywalker is a true favorite in our house

Then came the boys and we waited a whole three years to introduce them to the first trilogy.  But unfortunately, at three and one, they weren’t too impressed yet – Lightning McQueen was a bit higher in their priority list.  However, when we reintroduced them at five and three, they were Star Wars fans for life.  And Mike and I, well, we feel like we have succeeded at this parenting thing…


So, what obsessions are you passing on to your kids?

May the Force be with you,

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Bye-bye Binky without the Tears – How the cut the pacifier method worked for us

My youngest LOVED her pacifier – really, really loved it – and I really loved that she loved it so much.  I’ve been a human pacifier, and although I loved to soothe my babies with breast milk, I really never cared to be a sucked on just for the sake of being sucked on.  “Pacis” are such wonderful soothers, plugs, and quiet-ers.  I really had no intention of using it past 12 months, but here we were at 24 months and counting and she was more attached than ever.

At 3 days old, she already loved her pacifier and I loved that she loved it, too.

At 3 days old, she already loved her pacifier and I loved that she loved it, too.

All three of my kids have taken pacifiers (and all three were exclusively breastfed, so it obviously didn’t hurt breastfeeding in our family).  However, my boys both gave up their pacifiers on their own at about 6-7 months, about the same time they decided they liked solid food.  So, I never had to break a child of a pacifier before – and I was kind of terrified of it!

We planned to break her of the habit at 12 months, but since her birthday is in May, a summer full of travel and camping trips made us put it off until after summer.  Then school started, and overnight field trips and general family busyness made us decide to put it off again.  Then came teething and molars, but she was only using it at nap time, bedtime, and in the car, so I was not too concerned about it and neither was her pediatrician.  Then she got a bad winter cold and the pacifier was the only thing that soothed her and I let her have it during the day.  However, when she got better, she was hooked on having it all day long…

At almost two years old, she was more attached than ever. A rare photo with it in her mouth (I usually pulled it out for pictures).

At almost two years old, she was more attached than ever. A rare photo with the binky in her mouth (I usually pulled it out for pictures).

We were down to just one pacifier and I decided that once that was lost, we would not replace it.  However, she picked the worst day to lose it – the same day I had a miscarriage at the end of February – needless to say, we made an evening trip to the convenience store down the street while she sobbed and screamed in her bed.

Three months later, after her second birthday, we decided that it was finally time to say goodbye to her pacifier for good.  But I was torn over all the options.  We could just take it away and deal with her crying and tears – but I really wanted to avoid that if possible.  We could exchange it for a new toy, but I really didn’t think she’d be thrilled about that, either.  We could plant a pacifier tree for new babies, but that would go over her head.  Experts, like in this article from Parents magazine, told me to expect one to five nights of crying no matter what method I used, but was there a way to avoid that?  There was one method that I kept coming back to that suggested a gradual and peaceful transition.

I had heard about the “cut the pacifier” technique  somewhere (I really don’t remember where I first heard about it) and I was intrigued.  The technique is simply to cut a small piece off the pacifier every few days until it loses its “magic”. Eventually, the child decides the pacifier is broken and just doesn’t want it any more. If it worked, we could gradually wean her from the pacifier without the tears.  It was worth a shot.

So, after another couple camping trips and our weekend away in Tahoe for our anniversary, I decided to dive right in.  Everything I read about the method said that it was safest with a high quality pacifier like a Nuk, which is what we use.  Some people were concerned that cutting the silicone could present a choking hazard, but I was not too concerned about this with our Nuk.  The first cut is supposed to be a small triangular cut right near the tip, so that is what I did as soon as we returned home from our vacation.

The first very small triangular cut - really just the tiniest nip off the end.

The first very small triangular cut – really just the tiniest nip off the end.

After the first cut, I hesitantly gave my daughter the pacifier at bedtime, unsure of how she would react.  I half expected her to throw a fit and I had a reserve pacifier hidden in the bathroom, just in case.  She lit up when I gave her the pacifier – as she always did – she loved that thing.  She popped it in her mouth and promptly spit it out and put her finger in the hole.  She whined and held her pacifier up to me.

“Uh-oh,” I thought. “Just act natural…”

“It’s okay,” I soothed in an overly optimistic tone.

She looked at me again and popped it back in her mouth, deciding it would do.

So far, so good…

Over the next few days, she still wanted to have her pacifier throughout the day, but she was holding it more than she was sucking on it.  She still sucked on it at nap time and bed time, but it was not in her mouth for too long each time – just enough to sooth her. Definitely a step in the right direction.

Three days in, because it was going so well, I decided to cut the hole a little larger, still in the triangular shape.  Most stories I read said that the process took two to four weeks of slowly cutting the tip every few days, so I was expecting her to still take the pacifier for at least another week.

However, when I gave her back the pacifier that night, after the second cut, she was done.  She stuck it in her mouth, spit it out, and held it tightly in her fist.  Apparently, it no longer had the right suck – it had lost its “magic”. She didn’t whine or cry – she was done.  She continued to hold the pacifier during nap time and bed time for the next week or two, it was still a soothing item, but she stopped sucking on it.  The method worked in three days with no crying!

Puppy love - now all she needs is her favorite lovey to sleep.

Puppy love – now all she needs is her favorite lovey to sleep.

Honestly, I was pleasantly shocked that the method worked so well.  I expected fits of rage and temper tantrums when we weaned her, but we had nothing of the sort.  It was simple, quick, painless, and quiet – and I would certainly use the technique again.

So, what have you used to break your toddler of the pacifier habit?  I’d love to hear what’s worked for you.

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I’m back! Did you miss me?

You might have noticed that things have been especially quiet on the blog these last two months, and I apologize for that.  But, I’m back!  I explained on Facebook where I was, and if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram (which you should!) you have seen some pictures of our summer adventures.  Summer is an especially busy season for our family.  We spent the majority of the summer camping (stay tuned for some fun posts on that) and lots of time hiking, swimming, relaxing in hammocks, and prepping for large scale backpacking adventures…  I also tackled the KonMari Method in an attempt to simplify our life further. It was a busy season.

Some of our summer adventures in northern California

Some of our summer adventures in northern California

However, now this home school mom and wife of an educator must get back to the school routine.  We are home for the last few weeks of summer, prepping for school, getting in more swimming before the public pool closes, potty training, and generally trying to stay sane in this crazy heatwave in Northern California.  But getting back to a normal routine also means that I will be posting regularly again!  Stay tuned for some yummy healthy recipes, parenting tips, and some exciting changes coming our way…

Dirty little 2 year old hiker!

Dirty little 2 year old hiker!

Thanks for hanging out with me all summer – I am truly so blessed by the consistent traffic this little website generates daily, despite my posting absence.  That is really all due to your Pinterest pins and Facebook shares and I am so thankful for you all!

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