Tuesday, August 19, 2014

They clean up nicely

We were invited out to eat last Sunday. Went to one of our very favorite places, St. Francis Restaurant in Phoenix. Like, love, or hate this blog - but it will always direct you to the best food around.

Whatever did we do before camera phones to capture these handsome dudes (the girl is pretty cute, too...)?

That's all - just showing off these beautiful people I made. And to think that's not even all of them! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Babywearing Jackpot

You may think that after having a number of children, I am some sort of baby care expert. While I like to think that I know more than when I started, there is so much more yet for me to learn and discover. 

Last week for our 14 year wedding anniversary (insert happy cheers), my husband and I went on a date that included a few necessary errands, some gelato, and a stop at Zoolikins, a local store I highly recommend. I had just earlier that day found out about a particular type of baby sling/wrap, and wanted to try it out in person at the store. 

The brand of carrier is called Baby K'Tan. I had heard of it before, but did not know anything about it. 

Basically, there are a few different types of baby carriers. The most common type are what are known as "soft structured carriers" (SSC), with their straps and buckles. This includes anything from a Baby Bjorn to an ErgoBaby carrier. Another common type of carriers are slings. They either have rings and are adjustable (known as ring slings), or are custom fit to the wearer in a set size (like Hot Slings). Finally, there are wraps to carry babies in, which are basically just a very long (15+ ft) pieces of fabric that can be tied in a number of ways depending on how you want to hold the baby. 

Personally, I find wraps the most comfortable by far for extended carrying. They keep baby close, and distribute the weight evenly, freeing up both hands/arms. However, the length of the fabric is very cumbersome. If baby is already fussy, s/he will not enjoy being wrapped up (which takes a couple of minutes for a beginner). Also, the wrap has to be re-tied every time after baby is taken out for a diaper change, feeding, etc. Trying to use a wrap in a public spot such as a parking lot without letting the ends touch the ground is near impossible. Removing a sleeping baby from a tight wrap to lay him/her down is tricky. For all these reasons, I have used ring slings almost exclusively for carrying my babies around for nearly 13 years. 

Ring slings are great for discreetly breastfeeding, and carrying a baby securely in a variety of positions. They can be slipped on and off quickly within seconds, don't require complicated wrapping techniques, and are just all around user-friendly. The only downside to them is that most of the weight will be on one shoulder only, which can become uncomfortable with extended carrying. They also do not fully free up both arms, as the arm opposite the supporting shoulder has to kind of keep close to the baby.

Well, the Baby K'Tan basically takes the best aspects of a wrap and a ready-made sling, and combines them into one. I absolutely LOVE it!!! The carrying comfort of a wrap, with the ease and speed of a ring sling. 

If you are one who enjoys carrying your babies close while you homeschool, run errands, do chores, or otherwise go about your day, you may want to give this carrier a try! I have been carrying Boaz more this week than ever before, and enjoy it so much I'm wanting to carry him even if he would be happy to sit in his swing or bouncy chair.

Please be advised that it is best to try these on in person, as sizes are custom-fit to the wearer. According to their sizing chart, I should be using a size "large", but actually fit much better with a "medium." When you put it on, it should feel a little tight. The fabric is knit jersey, and just like a shirt, will stretch with wear until you wash it again. If you are local to the Phoenix area, I highly recommend you buy from Zoolikins. Not only would you be supporting a local, independent business, but they are also exceptionally knowledgeable and super friendly :)

 Face out, known as the "adventure position"

 I posted a second picture just because the little guy is so cute :)

Facing in, blissfully asleep. While it's recommended, I do not use the additional sash, as I find it unnecessary for a secure carry. That makes using this sling even faster, and a bit cooler in the Arizona heat. Obviously, use at your own discretion. 

No affiliate links or commissions, I just love this carrier so much I wanted to share!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Muffin in a Mug premix (THM Style S)

A sweet friend of mine got me hooked on "muffin in a mug" creations. They are so quick and versatile that they have become a daily staple for me. To make whipping one up even faster, I multiplied the recipe to make a premix that can be used without needing to pull various ingredients out of the cupboard.

Plain Version (S)
1 cup almond flour
1 cup flax meal
4 tsp baking powder
5 Tbsp coconut sugar
Mix all ingredients well. Store in an airtight container on the counter. Makes approx. 8 muffins.

Chocolate Version (S)
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup flax meal
1/2 cup cocoa
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
Mix all ingredients well. Store in an airtight container on the counter. Makes approx. 8 muffins.

To make a muffin, follow these steps:

 1. Get an oven-proof bowl or mug for your muffin.

2. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 Tbsp coconut oil in the bowl

3. Add 5 Tbsp of the premix, then add any additional flavors you would like. Below, I am making one plain muffin with blueberries and cinnamon added, and one chocolate muffin with chopped pecans. 

4. Bake 12-15 mins at 350 degrees. 

Alternatively, you could nuke these in the microwave for 1 minute. We don't have a microwave, because if we did, I would be tempted to use it. If you have one, feel free to go with that option. Attaining a healthy weight will yield more health benefits in the long run that not microwaving your food. Some have commented that the taste is better when baked rather than microwaved. I typically make my muffin while I am already using the oven for something else, such as toasting bread for breakfast, reheating leftovers, or making dinner.

5. Depending on the flavors you chose, top with a little butter, unsweetened whipped cream, or cream cheese.

Both of these versions are absolutely delicious! The berries make the muffin wonderfully moist, while the chocolate + nuts gives a feel of brownies. I have also made the plain version without any add-ins, and then topped it with lots of whipped cream and strawberries for a "strawberry shortcake" version. The combinations are limitless! For the record, a serving is ONE of these, not two. The second muffin was for Solomon, who loves eating THM style.
If you are in the market for a whipped cream maker, I have and highly recommend this one. Costco also sells it (as well as the necessary N2O cartridges) at their business-members-only locations.

To make a "bread in a mug" premix, use the plain recipe above, but omit the coconut sugar. When mixing it up, use 1 tsp (rather than 1 Tbsp) of coconut oil - other than that, the recipe is the same.

And can I just add how ***excited*** I am to be losing weight easily without counting calories, writing down everything I eat, going hungry, compromising my milk supply, or giving up healthy fats?


If you are not familiar with THM, please click here to read my previous posts.
To buy the book, click here.
To read about my only misgivings about the program, click here

Friday, August 1, 2014

Trim Healthy Mama - Another Update

I first discovered Trim Healthy Mama spring of last year (and mentioned it briefly here).

In spite of my misgivings about using stevia or the other plan-approved sweeteners, I did succumb to them for the first few weeks that I followed the program. However, due to the (I believe serious) health effects of these sweeteners, I stopped using them. You can read why here and here. Please do take the time to read those posts before reading on below, as I consider the information in them to be crucial if you want to follow the plan, and enjoy maximum health benefits. If you are expecting, or hoping to get pregnant, it is especially important that you read up on the dangers of using stevia during pregnancy.

But that is not what today's post is about. Rather, I wanted to once again reiterate that it is entirely possible to follow a whole foods based, health-nutty diet, AND follow the Trim Healthy Mama approach, successfully! Are there some foods recommended in the book that I would never eat? Of course! But there is absolutely no need to have them if you don't like. Remember, the main concept underlying THM is to separate carbs and fats. How wholesome those carbs and fats are is entirely up to the individual.

More importantly, it is very possible to follow the plan with natural, wholesome, low glycemic sweeteners, and successfully lose weight while on program. I'm talking raw, unfiltered honey, Grade B maple syrup, and coconut sugar (my new favorite). There is no need to use denatured, hydrogenated sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol, which will wreak havoc on your intestines, or to use stevia, which is a plant, but one that greatly interferes with normal hormonal balance, and which many (including myself) believe to be a contributing factor in miscarriage and low fertility.

I went back on plan two weeks after giving birth, which was 10 weeks ago. During that time, I have lost exactly 20 lbs, and done so without my usually fickle milk supply suffering. The reason for this is that following the THM plan does NOT require you to cut calories. In fact, I think I actually consume MORE calories when I'm on plan than when I'm off, because eating this way fuels the metabolism so much that even two hours after a huge meal, I am hungry and ready to eat again. On an average day, I consume anywhere between 2,500 - 3,000 calories, while losing weight! 

Nor is this weight loss due to being postpartum. I've been down this road a time or eight, and unless I make a concerted effort, I will weigh what I weight the day after giving birth indefinitely. In the past, I have always had to wait to start losing weight until baby was well accustomed to solids, because dieting pretty much meant drying up my milk. Not this time around!

Does this lunch look like I am suffering hunger? This fabulous salad was made with plenty of fresh greens and veggies, two eggs, smoked salmon, diced cheese, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and as much dressing as I wanted (which was a lot).

And because I had a little hankering for dessert, I rounded the meal out by having mixed berries (sweetened with a bit of maple syrup), topped with unsweetened cream.

So you see, even with my fat-fueled "S" meals like the one above, I can use a wholesome, low glycemic sweetener like maple syrup (which is still a carb) in moderation, and lose weight. 

If you have been thinking about buying the book or going "on plan", but are put off by some of the recommended foods, particularly the no-calorie sweeteners, don't be. Go ahead and jump on board, but rest assured that you can do so without giving up real, God-given, natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, and still lose weight painlessly and with relative ease.

Please check back for a favorite recipe of mine in the next blog post! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pink Stork Morning Sickness Solutions - A Review

Some time ago, I was contacted by Pink Stork Morning Sickness Solutions, asking if I was interested in reviewing their natural product line for treating morning sickness. After having suffered through Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) with most of my pregnancies, anything claiming to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) immediately has my interest. Especially products that are natural, and even more so if these products address what I believe to be the true underlying cause of morning sickness and hyperemesis - Heliobacter pylori. 

I first blogged about the connection between H. pylori and NVP/HG about 9 months in my blog post, The Cause and Cure of Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum. With a view count of over 52,000 to date, it is THE most popular post on this blog, bar none. I have heard from scores and scores of readers who reported that their NVP/HG greatly improved by addressing the underlying issue of H. pylori colonization. During my most recent pregnancy, not only was I able to reduce my symptoms of hyperemesis and morning sickness by about 90% by following the protocol outlines in the blog post, but I was able to do so while expecting twins, which typically is accompanied by exacerbated nausea. Personally, as well as based on the testimony of others, I am convinced that gastrointestinal issues, more specifically an over-colonization with H. pylori, are the true cause of morning sickness. I just wish there were more doctors and researchers studying this subject in depth, and developing natural, safe, and effective treatment methods.

Pink Stork Morning Sickness Solutions promises to do just that with their line of natural products to relieve anything from morning sickness to hyperemesis by way of healing the gastrointestinal system, killing off the H. pylori, and addressing nutritional deficiencies.

One month supply of the full product line

1) Probiotic: Probiotics are healthy bacteria - billions of them. Taking them as a supplement helps swing the balance in favor of good vs. bad bacteria in the gut. These are to be taken ideally on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. The capsules are small, but you could also open the gelatin caps, pour the contents into some water, and take it that way.

2) Foundation, i.e. prenatal multivitamin: This is an organic, whole foods based, liquid multivitamin made from various plant extracts. The flavor is very pleasant, and I can tell that (at least for me) it would be palatable even while pregnant. If you have ever tasted the iron supplement Floradix, it has a similar taste, but milder and fruitier, and without the "blood" aftertaste. 

I was very excited about this prenatal multivitamin, and love everything about it, but then noticed that sadly, it contains two artificial preservatives: potassium sorbate, and potassium benzoate. I react poorly to both, and it was this reaction that led me to look for and discover the preservatives in the list of "other ingredients." Also, the sweeteners used are erythritol and stevia leaf extract, both of which I stay away from whenever possible. For me, this means that I would not be able to use this particular supplement in the Pink Stork line.

I have brought these issues up to Pink Stork Solutions, and they are working on re-formulating this supplement in the future. Most women will not be as sensitive as I am to these ingredients, and would probably benefit overall from this whole food nutrient based supplement. Especially since pharmaceutical solutions to hyperemesis contain their own cocktail of chemicals that are probably far more harmful than the preservatives in this product.

3) Organic Liquid folate supplement: Folate is the natural, plant based version of folic acid, which is a synthetic imitation not found in foods. Pink Stork folate is derived 100% from food sources (organic lemon peel extract).

The flavor is very pleasant. Sadly, this supplement, too, contains potassium sorbate and potassium benzoate, making it a no-go for me in spite of all its other wonderful ingredients and their health benefits.

4) Cocolaurin: This is a highly concentrated form of monolaurin, a fatty acid and form of lauric acid. It has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, effectively fighting harmful bacteria such as H. pylori, among many others. Monolaurin is a key component in breast milk. Pink Stork believes it to be the best and most natural way to combat H. pylori during pregnancy, and from my research on the subject, I must say they are probably right (though I have yet to try it during pregnancy myself).

At first I was a little baffled as to how to take this supplement, since it comes in the form of little pellets that are not to be chewed up (they are waxy).

I simply measure 3 scoops into a little paper cup like this, then pour them all into my mouth at once, and wash down with water. Very easy!

5) Organic apple cider vinegar: This probably doesn't sound appealing to a lot of ladies, but ACV even by itself is often enough to wipe out mild to moderate morning sickness. Pink Stork brand apple cider vinegar has a very pleasant taste to it, and does not taste overly acidic, especially once it is added to a glass of water. ACV helps restore proper balance and acid levels in the stomach, wiping out H. pylori thriving in the folds of the stomach walls.
Side note: If you suffer from heartburn (caused by pregnancy or otherwise), drinking 1 Tbsp of ACV in an 8 oz glass of water will put an instant stop to it. If you suffer from chronic heartburn, even heartburn so severe that you are using prescription drugs to control it, it can be safely and effectively overcome by drinking 3-4 cups of water + ACV every day for just a few days.


6) Magnesium Spray: This works along the same principle as the magnesium flakes, but can be used quickly and efficiently when taking a bath is not an option. Again, I had a liquid, spray-on magnesium supplement I used during my most recent pregnancy, with wonderful results. Anytime I felt my nausea increasing, I would spray it on my arms and legs, rub it in, and feel significantly better almost immediately.


7) Magnesium Flakes: There are multiple studies showing that magnesium deficiency greatly exacerbates morning sickness. Presumably, this is due to the electrolyte balance being out of whack, causing dehydration, which causes nausea and vomiting. 

Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin, as opposed to taking it internally in pill form. These flakes are to be added to bath water or foot soaks for quick, overall absorption and almost instantaneous relief. 

During my last pregnancy, in addition to supporting my GI system, I also used magnesium salts in my bath water with great success.

8) Organic Peppermint Oil: Peppermint helps quell nausea. This little bottle is for wafting under the nose when nausea strikes, as well as for masking unpleasant odors (you could put a few drops onto a tissue and hold it in front of your nose). Diluted with a carrier oil, it can also be applied to bottoms of feet or wrists for additional nausea relief.

9) Peach Ginger Tea: The typical suggestion of "try ginger to fix your morning sickness" makes me stabby, and I'm pretty sure that anyone who has ever endured hyperemesis will agree with me on this point. To be truthful, ginger DOES greatly support the GI tract, as well as help kill off H. pylori, but in a mom suffering from hyperemesis, it may only be a drop of water on a hot stone. Besides, the last thing I want to do is choke down a spicy-hot ginger beverage if my throat is already sore from throwing up.

So it was with some reluctance that I tried this tea, but a review is a review, right? Imagine my surprise to find I actually really, really LOVE this tea! It is neither spicy-hot, nor does it have an overwhelming ginger taste to it. Actually, it tastes like peach tea, which is the natural flavor it contains. 


Just to see how much ginger was in there (since I hardly tasted any), I tore open one of the used tea bags. Sure enough, lots of ginger in there! They are the little yellowish chunks in the picture below.

This tea has since become a treat for me. Each bag steeps up to 4 cups, so in the morning, I steep 1 bag in 2 cups of boiling water in a quart Mason jar, which I top off with cold water once the tea is done brewing. Then I sip on it throughout the day.

All these supplements come accompanied by a very readable booklet explaining each product in detail, as well as giving diet restrictions and recommendations (for example, cutting out sugar, processed foods, unprepared grains, etc.). There is also an extensive list of references backing up their claims.

Overall, I would definitely recommend these products to any mom suffering from hyperemesis or nausea and vomiting, with a word of caution regarding the preservatives in two of the products. I am excited about regularly incorporating the other products to my daily routine if and when I am blessed with another pregnancy.

To read more about Pink Stork Morning Sickness Solutions or to order their products, please click here. They are currently offering a 20% discount for first time customers! (Use discount code "first" at checkout.)

Note: I received a one-month supply of all of the above products for free in exchange for this honest, unbiased review. The above posts contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If I had a nickel everytime someone said...

"Wow, you sure have your hands full!"

I typically just ignore whoever says it, because I HATE that comment! If it's a nice old lady, I might give her a big friendly smile. If it's a rude jerk, I might say, "Wow, I've never heard that before!" But most of the time, I just pretend I didn't hear them.
Yes, I have my hands full. Is that wrong? And is that the most creative thing you can think of? And could you kindly stop communicating the message to my kids that they are a burden, whether that's what you are trying to say or not? Just because you are stating an obvious fact does not make it okay to say (again and again and again and again). Do you really think you are the first person to say that?

Imagine me commenting to random strangers:

- Wow, you sure look lonely! (to the single)
- Wow, it must be horrible not being able to walk/see! (to the disabled)
- Wow, your family sure is small!
- Wow, you sure look old/young/haggard/fat/tired/etc.
- Wow, you sure are covered in tattoos!
- Wow, are you really going to eat the junk you just loaded into your cart?
- Wow, you sure are wearing an interesting outfit today.

I could go on. Remember, there is a time and a place to voice whatever your opinion is, such as "I think birth control is stupid and wrong," or, on the contrary, "the planet is overpopulated and people should stop breeding." You are fully entitled to your opinion. But you will not find me personally confronting individuals I encounter at the store about their choices. That's just common courtesy.  Now if it's something grossly inappropriate and reprobate, such as a big burly guy in a flouncy summer dress, you may overhear me telling my kids to stay far away from you and not look your way, but I don't think we fall into that category, so please resist the urge to add to the thousands who have said, "Wow, you sure have your hands full!"
So, what is your favorite response to this stupid remark?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

You can't miss us!

For Father's Day this year, I made up and ordered these shirts for my husband and myself:

I figured these would be fun to have on outings this summer, when we are asked the typical questions (repeatedly) pretty much every time we go anywhere with the whole family.

And since I like to dress the kids in matching bright colors so as to make it easier to keep track of them at busy venues such as the zoo etc., I also ordered shirts for the kids with their name and birth order on the back.

My favorite? Boaz' tiny onesie :)

All these shirts were ordered through CustomInk, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Outstanding customer service, great turnaround time, easy to navigate website, and the best prices I found anywhere. I have no affiliations with the company, just recommending them because they deserve the publicity.

We have also updated the sticker on the breedermobil family van....

The lady who originally sent us these stickers had wisely included the baby on the far right for future use :)

and changed the license plate to reflect our growing family size. 

We can be spotted (and heard!) from a mile away... :) Most all of the time, people are very friendly and happy to see our traveling circus. The critics are definitely the exception, not the rule. 

And if you want to make the kids' day, just ask "Are they all yours??!?" They will break out in cheers because we spring for a round of ice cream each time we get asked that, just so they never get resentful of hearing that question. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Abiding Radio

At the homeschool convention, I was excited to come across a booth by "Abiding Radio", an online conservative Christian radio station that streams music 24/7 on four different channels. As it turns out, they are based out of Mesa, Arizona - right here in our own backyard. I enjoyed getting to know the people behind the radio station a little bit. Like us, they are independent, fundamental Baptists and share our conservative values. Not to mention they were just simply nice people!

This radio service free because it is supported purely by donations. You can connect not only from your home computer, but also through a smart phone app.

The children have been enjoying tuning in to the Kids' channel during meal times, car rides, and other down times. They know all the "Patch the Pirate" songs on there by heart from owning all the albums. I love how many scripture songs they play on there, too. Baby Boaz is not at all fond of riding in the car, but as long as I keep the music playing for him, he will either listen contently, or doze off peacefully. 

Maybe you, too, will be blessed by their ministry! :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Large family joys

Having a large family definitely comes with its set of challenges, not the least of which is having lots of different personalities trying to live together in harmony for the most part. There just are so many possible combinations of family members to interact with one another that conflict cannot be avoided all the time. 

Yet, by the same token, seeing our children being sweet and loving with their siblings is one of the greatest joys for this mama.

This big guy has been with us almost since the very beginning. Truly, children of the youth are as arrows in the hands of a mighty man. My husband and I were both just young pups ourselves when we had this guy, so he's been there for most of the growing and learning we have done as adults and as parents up to this point. I'm thankful he is an especially loving and forgiving soul! :)

Isaac loves helping with his younger siblings in the service. Little Boaz is clearly enjoying it :) Anna in particular adores him, and always wants to have him be her "buddy" when we are out in public and the kids are paired up. Isaac is also my go-to guy for helping with getting the youngest ones ready for bed and all tucked in. He can brush their teeth, bathe them, and wash their hair like a pro!

John is another doting big brother. Little Boaz is very popular around here :) His favorite thing is to bring younger siblings along on his animal chores, and to play Legos and Playmobil with them.

Relaxing on Miriam's shoulder while waiting to get our tire fixed. She's basically a "mini me" with the babies.

Becky is only allowed to hold Boaz while she is sitting down, so she usually mothers Stephen and Anna. Here, she is pretending "house" with them and her dolls, tucking them in for a nap.

Look at the difference in size 22 months make! Stephen is still super excited about his baby brother, and dotes on him daily with kisses, hugs, pats, and occasionally trying to sneak him food. 

I am thankful that for the most part, our kids get along with each other wonderfully, and treasure their siblings. I truly believe that there are two keys to their close relationships: For one, the fact that rather than being separated from each other all day in different grades at school, they are around each other all day, every day. And secondly, the fact that we view children as God's greatest earthly blessings has been impressed on each of them as the years are going on, and the family keeps growing. Somehow, they seem to have caught on to the notion! :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

The three little fishies

Our kids go swimming in the pool pretty much every single day from April through October, as well as a few days a week in March and November, when the water is almost too cold. By "almost too cold" I mean 70 degrees, which is my threshold for letting them go swimming.

All that chlorine in the water was really doing a number on the girls' hair this year. Miriam loves jumping in and diving underwater, so her hair was getting drenched every time she went swimming. Her hair became dry and brittle, and the ends were feeling like plastic doll hair - yikes!

I found these cute little swim caps on Amazon, and must say they work great! Only the hair around the very edges of the cap gets a little damp during swimming now, no matter how wildly the girls play in the pool. They go on pretty easily, though it helps that I braid their hair first. At age 7, with hair all the way down to her hips, this swim cap still fits Miriam well, though I doubt it will still work next year.

The girls also came up with a fun little game, "The three little fishes and the big bad shark." The big bad shark being one of their brothers chasing them around the pool. 

No affiliate links or anything - just wanted to say these swim caps are cute and very good at keeping the girls' hair dry. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My personal gelato shop

My husband really is the greatest guy! 

For years, I had been wanting a compressor-style ice cream maker. Unlike machines that require the bowl to be frozen, those with their own compressor have a built-in freezer. This offers several advantages. For one, they can keep up with the Arizona heat and crank out a batch of firm ice cream even on the hottest summer days. More importantly, they can make batch after batch, without the bowl having to be frozen overnight. A major boon when feeding 9 eager mouths hungry for ice cream. 

Anyhow, several weeks ago, I found a commercial gelato maker on Craigslist. I just love commercial anything, because they have greater capacity and there are so many of us. Plus, commercial stuff usually holds up much better. The price was ridiculously low, just a small fraction of what this puppy costs new. The only problem was that the people selling it lived a couple of hours away in the sticks, which must have been why they kept lowering the price. (By comparison, someone was selling a BROKEN unit for three times that price here in the city.) 

I had mentioned it to my husband, but there was no way I was willing or able to go that far to pick it up, with Boaz still being little and not liking to ride in the car. Later that week, I was having a particularly rough day. My husband came home from the office that night, and realizing I'd had a long day, asked what he could do to cheer me up. To myself, I thought "I would really like that ice cream maker right now!" but of course didn't say so. 

Well, he walked back out to the van, and walked back in - with my new (to me) gelato maker! I thought he had been at the office all afternoon, but he had, in fact, driven for hours to get it for me. I had not seen that coming, at all! Ever since then, we have made "ice cream" part of our family's daily food pyramid :) So many possibilities!! Just check out my Pinterest board for ice cream recipes :)

I set up a dedicated "ice cream station", where we keep the gelato maker, ice cream dishes/spoons/scoops, paper and plastic tubs for gift-giving and freezing, jars with various toppings, and a waffle cone maker. It has seen a lot of use this summer!

Pumpkin Pie gelato, topped with whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs, and pecan pieces.

Mmmh mmmh! Let me tell you, fresh ice cream goes a long ways towards a happy marriage!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Highlights from the Homeschool Conference

And by highlights, I mean cute pics of my family :) 


The conference was great, as always. I loved catching up with friends and acquaintances in the homeschooling world, being around thousands of like-minded people, browsing the exhibit hall for fresh ideas, sitting in on a few sessions, chatting with fellow exhibitors when we got there early to set up our own booth and stay late to clean up, etc. In a way I wish the conference were longer, and in a way I'm glad it's not.

Day 1 - Orange

 Day 2 - Yellow

And a happy baby both days!

We had a booth for my husband's "Complete Church Piano Course" again this year, and also gave out thousands of sermon CDs and hundreds of the "After the Tribulation", "New World Order Bible Versions," and the 22-hour Revelation series DVDs for free. 

We were busy half the day on Thursday packing and setting up our booth, and were at the conference about 12 hours each on Friday and Saturday. With 8 kids who needed to be fed, watered, entertained, kept in line, (some) diapered etc. this was no easy feat!!! Plus, I wanted to go to some of the sessions and shop for materials, too. A sweet lady from our church helped us all day both days of the conference, which was absolutely awesome!

Would you believe Solomon is starting 9th Grade this fall? I just cannot believe how fast time is flying by. Isaac will be 7th, John 5th, Miriam 3rd, Becky 1st (she is repeating last year because she only finished her books half-way, being as she is only 5 and likes to play a lot), and Anna has a few Pre-K workbooks.

Speaking of Solomon, he got his first major paying job at the conference! When we went to the exhibit hall on Thursday to set up our booth, before it was open to the public, we got to chatting with a fellow exhibitor, "Creating a Masterpiece". He mentioned that he needed two volunteers to demonstrate the art curriculum he was selling by going through the DVD, following the instructions, and creating a piece of artwork during the hours that the convention was open. Both Solomon and John jumped on the offer. The exhibitor then asked if Solomon was interested in helping other kids go through the DVD both days of the conference, 2 kids per hour, during the public hours of the exhibit hall. Of course, Solomon said yes! His job was basically to start the DVD for the kids, stop it every time the instructions got to the next step, help as needed, etc. Then repeat every hour from 10 am to 7 pm (minus breaks).


I must say both his Dad and I were mighty proud of him. He worked hard, even though I am sure that after going through the same DVD for the 15th time, it must have started to be a bit boring. Every representative at the booth that he was working at said he was a big help to them. His boss paid him $9/hour, which I thought was very generous for a 12-year old. Not to mention the fact that they were willing to work with someone that age in the first place, and offer him such a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. Solomon spent some of his money buying 3 of the art DVDs because he liked them so much (I bought 3 more, because they really are wonderful), and took the rest of his wages in a paycheck. (Sniffle!) Where oh where has my little baby gone??!?!?

They offered him the job again for next year. Of course, Solomon excitedly told them "Yes!" I do hope it works out for him.

All the kids did remarkably well, especially considering how much time and effort we put into this. It's been several days, and I am just now getting caught up on sleep. But always so worth it!!