Friday, April 23, 2010

Fit Mama Friday-April 23rd

Well Mamas, I'm BACK!!! (with a wee baby in tow)

As promised, here's a post-partum belly shot for you.....

5 days post-baby.....

Not bad, I'm thinking. As of my last midwife appointment, I'd gained 21 pounds this pregnancy (a far cry from the 45-60 I gained with each other pregnancy). I actually think that in the end my total weight gain would have been less that that are there was nearly 2 weeks between appointments and during those two weeks the whole family was sick and while the family is sick Mama doesn't eat well. I would not be surprised to be at my starting weight already with some of my stores having been taking from elsewhere and deposited around my middle.

That being said, there is still work to do. My eating habits have really gotten pretty horrible so I will likely be focusing on that when I post my weekly goals and plans. We'll likely move back slowly to the 100 Mile Diet and I'd love to talk about that more. As I originally said, this for me is really about getting healthier and not thinner so I hope to still be able to participate regularly.

As always, exercise is a problem. I don't like it. I don't do it. That's it. I do hope to change that but for now let me enjoy that baby and maybe a bite of chocolate or two!!

Until next time (likely 2 weeks from now)! Be sure to check in on my other Mama friends over at Got Chai?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alphabet Beats

Product: Alphabet Beats Lower Case Letters
Company: The TV Teacher
Price: 35$US

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I am happy to bring you another review of a product suitable for the youngest students. With Alphabet Beats your 2 1/2 year old-8 year old learns the proper way of printing letters with Miss Marnie, the TV Teacher. The DVD offers 5 minute lessons on each letter on the alphabet. At the start of each lesson, your child is taught a chant that teaches the correct way of writing the letter. This chant is combined with vocabulary starting with the letter being learned and other visuals while Miss Marnie repeatedly shows your child how to write the letter.

Morgaine quite enjoyed Miss. Marnie (she's quite engaging and personable, I must say) who was able to hold her attention for several lessons at a time. In terms of printing, I found that Miss Marnie did not leave enough time for Morgaine to follow along with her in the lessons and that was a little frustrating for my daughter. However, the chant will be quite handy for when we are practicing printing on our own. Morgaine, as a non reader/writer told me she didn't know why she had to write letters over and over again if she couldn't read and for the most part I agreed with her. However, the nice thing about this program is that it is bringing my daughter closer to reading. She's seen some of the letters we've worked on in books we are reading and has said, "Look Mom, it's an 'a'. It goes 'up and around. Back up and down.' " This coming from a child who had no idea that letters had anything to do with what I was reading a month ago is HUGE!

Overall, I am quite happy with this program though I would likely buy it more for a letter recognition program as opposed to a printing program. My daughter seems to be getting more benefit out of it that way but I think it would work well as a printing program for those children that can already recognize the letters of the alphabet and need some extra practice with printing. In terms of the ages specified on the DVD, I think that it could be used with a 2 1/2 year old as a letter recognition program and perhaps a printing program if it was kept fun (for example, writing the letters in shaving cream or with finger paints). I'd never expect a 2 1/2 year old to sit with a pencil and paper! I think that the upper age range on this DVD might be a little high. My six year old would not enjoy these lessons very much and would likely find them "babyish" so it wouldn't work well with him. I think this might be the case with many older children so my age recommendation for this program would likely be mostly for 4 and 5 year olds. However, I don't know your child so you'd have to check it out for yourself to see if it might work well. The TV Teacher offers a demo on their website which would help give you an idea of what the lessons are like.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

An Earth Day Picnic with my Three Lovely Children

It's a lovely day out there today and my little family and I just enjoyed our first picnic together.

A simple's been a long time since I've done anything with a newborn in tow.

Morgaine being her adorable little self (she still loves the camera...a little too much!)

The best we're going to get of our camera shy little guy, Liam.

There's a baby in there...

Happily enjoying his thumb!!

What a glorious way to spend this Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wee Baby Boy's Birth Story

It's the first time I've been back to my blog in a week or so and I was surprised to see that Sunday, the 18th of April was the busiest day on my blog EVER! Well, I was a little bit too busy that day to be posting! We welcomed the newest addition to our family at about 3:45pm that afternoon and well, I was too busy admiring him that evening to post anything else!

Here's his story to add to Morgaine and Liam's birth stories......ENJOY!


We arrived at Prince's Inlet Retreat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia nearing my 38th week of pregnancy. I'd had a feeling that perhaps things were going to happen a little bit of the earlier side of 40 weeks as opposed to later so we'd decided to head down to the cottage a few days earlier than planned in order to get some time to enjoy the area before the newest arrival. I was picturing walks along the water and just relaxing as a family of four. Unfortunately, within a couple days of arriving we each got hit with a flu bug one after the other. Liam, Mommy, Morgaine, then finally Mike. It was not a fun time for anyone dealing with fevers, chills, coughing, gagging, stuffy noses and all that jazz while I continued to have pre-labour symptoms. I felt like my body was ready but I just couldn't let go because everyone else was so sick..

Finally, by Friday, the 16th of April, Mike was making some improvement and I started to get into somewhat of a regular contraction pattern later that evening after having a nice day out and about. By Saturday morning I had the feeling that this might actually progress into real labour eventually. I had a home visit with the midwife that morning and I asked her to give me a little check for curiosity sake (I'm interested and I wanted to see if we'd get the same measurements). At that point I was a good 2 cm and stretchy to 4cm and 50% effaced. The baby was very low and in a good position at that point. We talked a great deal about having the midwife present just to be there and for her to be VERY hands off. We'd let her do what she needed to do to allow us to birth at home being "high risk" but otherwise she was to do nothing at all unless we asked her. Being totally cool she was into that and encouraged us to do so.

After she left my contractions started coming every 15 minutes and I started loosing tons and tons of show. By Saturday evening they gotten to about every 8 minutes or so and had gotten somewhat stronger. Mike and I pulled out the hide a bed and watched After Armageddon (what a wonderfully enlightening show to watch in labour *lol*). I tried to get to sleep after that but laying down wasn't working so well for me so I got into the tub where the contractions quickly started coming every 3-4 minutes but I was quite able to rest in between them. I tried to get out of the bath to sleep a little but once out I just couldn't fall asleep so back into the tub I went (it must have been close to 3:30am at this point). This time while resting I felt the baby completely shift and go posterior. One of my worst fears and what I'd try to avoid the whole pregnancy. The contractions got intense and close together at that point but really not that effective at doing much. At 6am I woke Mike and we hung out in the bathroom for the most part with tea and Cheerios. I was handling things well but we decided to call the lady we had helping with the children and the midwife as well. The midwife had 4 births in the previous week and was to be all over doing post-partum visits so we'd be warned to call her early. She arrived at about 11:45am and we just hung out in the bedroom. Mike spent some time preparing lunch for the family and things were quite chill. The midwife was very discreet and let me do my thing observing from her little nest on the floor. We did end up placing a saline lock in case of hemorrhage but that was about it in terms of intervention. I did have her check me a little while after she arrived to confirm that the baby was indeed posterior (though there was no doubt in either of our minds). At that point, I was 4-5cm and completely effaced but the baby's head was not effectively pushing against the cervix. Her feeling was once it did then things would fly. I was completely sick of short little intense contractions and discouraged but took some homeopathics to help turn the baby and hopped into the tub.

Mike and I continued to hang out in the bathroom but the contractions slowed down significantly in the water and at that point I was ready to tell everyone to just go home. In my head I was only contracting to get that baby to turn and once he did every thing would stop and we'd have a baby a couple weeks later. I pretty quickly got out of the water and the midwife left us together in the bedroom for a while. I hung out on the birthing ball while Mike looked at one of the board games we like to play and discussed some of the cards with me. Nothing much was happening so I was happy for the distraction. I had a couple longer contractions that found me hoping off the ball and sinking low to the ground and the midwife must have taken notice of the change in my voice because she quickly came into the room. I think that our help for the kids took notice too because she got the children dressed up and took them out for a walk.

As soon at the midwife walked into the room the contractions started coming one on top of each other. Again, not too terribly long but intense, and almost constant just because of how frequent they were. I was NOT a calm birther in the least and despite knowing that everything was normal and having a ton of doula tricks that I felt like I should totally be capable of using I just couldn't relax into this birth at all. I was totally in my head the entire time and that was very obvious. We soon started pulling out the Rescue Remedy and other Bach remedies. I started to get somewhat pushy and it felt like I was sitting on baby head but I knew that it wasn't time and was likely a result of the baby being back on. I mentioned this to the midwife and she said things would be much better once my waters had opened. At that point, I told her to just break them and she said she could. However, she didn't get up to do it so after I has a couple calmer contractions I told her that I would just like to have the waters opened. She told me that the baby would just melt away the cervix when his head got applied to it but I was completely unaware that she really, really meant what she said.

I was still only about 5-6cm when she checked me and while using some gentle hand maneuvers as she was breaking my waters the baby turned into an anterior position and I went from 5cm to fully dilated under her fingers. I was completely freaked out. I wanted to get to the toilet for my customary first couple pushes but the midwife said there was no time and the best thing I could do was get on my left side and just let the baby come. I COMPLETELY clamped down at that time. There was NO WAY that the baby was going to come out of me while I was laying down. I NEED my two feet firmly on the ground to birth. Nope, no baby today....thank you very much. I had Mike in such a tight grip and the midwife telling me I was doing it all on my own (at that point, it felt to me, like SHE had accomplished the whole labour). FInally, some Rescue Remedy was shot under my tongue and didn't that leg lift up and onto the midwife's shoulder. I begged the midwife to just get the baby out and out he came. A massive, MASSIVE head and a little tight shoulder and I had the baby in my arms. 8 minutes to go from 5cm to baby in arms! I felt a tad shell-shocked but that completed passed almost immediately.

The kids came in right away to see the baby but at almost that moment the placenta separated and some bleeding started so fearing the worst I quickly shooed them from the room. I was given a second injection of pitocin but the bleeding was pretty controlled though the midwife did feel the need to help the placenta deliver just because she really wanted to allow me to stay home after this birth. She tried to get the IV flowing but it just wasn't working for her and at that point she actually relaxed and said "you know, you are holding up your end of the bargain and aren't going to bleed too much and your body is telling me so by not allowing me to start this IV. You are going to be just fine." I did ooze a bit like in Morgaine's birth but NO WHERE near the same extent and things were pretty chill. The kids came back in....Liam was quite smitten with the baby but Morgaine thought that the room smelled bad so she was a little less sure of things. We did the newborn exam with the whole family assisting and it was lovely to have everyone involved. The baby was a lovely chunky 8 pounds 7 ounces, and 21 inches long with a 37cm head (that's the 90 percentile folks!!). The consensus was that the baby was probably about a week "early" despite my calculation that he was born on his due date. We all hung out for a while and by 3 and a half hours after the birth everything was looking perfect and the midwife was on her way home. I got up and looked at the photos we'd gotten (none of the birth this time) and posted a little welcome to the world message on Facebook and then snuggled up with the newest addition for a glorious long night's rest.

I did not get birth photos this time around but these are just a few of the photos we took during his first couple hours of his birth.

First glimpse of my beautiful baby.

Seeing their brother immediately after birth.

Nursing within the first 30 minutes.

In Daddy's arms.

Looking intently at the midwife looking at him.

The children helping with the newborn exam.

This story is in it's beginning phase and may undergo some changes over time but I know that there were a few out there that were anxious to hear it so I felt it best to get it posted sooner rather than later.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time 4 Learning

Product: Time 4 Learning PreK
Company: Time 4 Learning
Price: 19.95US$ for first child/month, 14.95US$ for each additional child/month
Additional Information: Prices vary on this product from time to time so please refer to the company's website for current price.

Morgaine was thrilled when she found out that she would be getting her very own product for Mommy to review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. She'd been able to follow along with some of the products that I received for Liam's age range but there was never anything specific to hers until we received a one month subscription to Time 4 Learning to try out their online PreK curriculum. Time 4 Learning offers online educational activities and games geared towards your PreK-8th grade student (you choose your child's level when you register). The focus is primarily on English and math with "bonus" material in history and science included in most grade levels.

Morgaine was eager to try out Time 4 Learning and I was happy to see that the PreK curriculum was easy enough for my her to follow being a non-reader. All activities were explained aloud or used easy to understand symbols like smiley and sad faces. There were a variety of topics to choose from and for the most part I was pleased with how in depth some of the material was for PreK (however, there was other material that I found much too easy for her...but I suppose some children might still need work on those skills and Morgaine is at the older age range for PreK).

When your child logs in they are greeted with a menu of topics to choose from....

Other topics include:

  • the alphabet,

  • colours,

  • shapes,

  • numbers

  • weather,

  • the human body,

  • and much more.

Each topic contains a variety of activities including stories, videos, puzzles and more. At the end of each activity your child can rate whether they enjoyed it or not which is not only valuable to the company but also to the homeschooling parent. For example, I learned that Morgaine enjoyed the story books much more than videos so as a result we will likely look for more written material for her kindergarten year as opposed to visual/auditory material.

While we did enjoy Time 4 Learning, the cost of 19.95$US per month would prohibit me from purchasing it, especially because my son would likely want his own membership as well and I could never justify 35$US dollars a month for this curriculum. The company occasionally offers rebates and other specials so it is important to check their website for their most current offers. In my opinion, this program is not complete enough to be more than a supplement to other material. The activities are fun and educational, however, I can find similar activities out there for free with just a little extra searching. If you do not want to spend time searching around the internet and want all your student's activities in one location then this online curriculum may work well for you.

There are free lesson demos on the Time 4 Learning website so be sure to check them out if you think this program might work well for your family. To hear what other Crew members have to say about this product please click here.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

38 and a half weeks-Belly Photo

There you have it! 38 and a half weeks now and still waiting around, like expected. I saw the midwife on Tuesday and the baby is very, very low right now (explains why it has gotten significantly more difficult to enjoy walking around). I'm measuring "small" because baby is engaged. Even though it's my third and this doesn't usually happen until labour I like to break the "rules" so it could still be a couple weeks, yet.

I woke up with some really strong contractions on Wednesday early morning topped with severe nausea and was expecting that I was going places so I took a little check and my cervix is doing pretty much nothing. Note to self: keep hands far away from cervix as it is just disappointing! I feel so early labourish that I can't really imagine feeling this way for another couple weeks but that could be the case so I am trying to stay busy and somewhat active. We've all managed to come down with chest colds so really, it would be best if the baby were to hold off for a little while, yet, and will neither be coughed out or coughed on by his loving siblings!!

Internet (therefor telephone as we are using Skype) is very temperamental here and very intermittent and that makes me a little antsy. For those that are following me on facebook there will be a really obvious update when I am in actual labour (if I get on the computer at all). Something along the lines of "we'll meet the baby very soon." or "having a baby", etc.....anything else is just my not quite ready to have a baby ramblings!

We'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nova Scotia Place of the Week-Prince's Inlet

We've made it to the cottage and no, there's still no baby! 38 weeks and a bit now and we are patiently (for the most part) waiting to welcome the newest arrival. I must say that we have a great location to wait! We are staying at Prince's Inlet Retreat near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and are finding it quite enjoyable. The owner of the cottage has been very helpful and informative and the setting is just picturesque.

Sunrise over Prince's Inlet (view from the front door).

Baby deer in the yard.

The cottage is just remote enough to make you feel like you are getting away yet it is close enough that it doesn't take much time to get to several larger towns to visit (and what beautiful historic towns they are). I'm sure that I'll be able to feature a couple of those towns over the coming weeks here on my blog so I hope that you will check in and see what we are doing while we are waiting for baby!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Family Mint-A Financial Planner's Perspective

Product: FamilyMint
Price: Free

My husband, Mike, is a financial planner and for years he has been telling me that there should be a program out there to teach young children how to save money. I was very excited when I found out that I would be reviewing as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. Perhaps this would be the program that we were waiting for!

FamilyMint is an online money management program designed to teach valuable financial skills and saving habits to families and their children. With FamilyMint you are able to set up a profile/account for each of your children, help them set financial goals (whether it be for a special purchase or for a larger goal like university), track their deposits and as an extra incentive, if you wish, set an interest rate that you are willing to pay them for their deposits or even match there deposits.

While we did not use FamilyMint with our children (neither receive any money as an allowance at the current time), both Mike and I think that this is a valuable tool. The interface is very easy to use, for both the child and the parent and the extra features, such as the goal setting tools and being able to set an interest rate for the different goals, are an added benefit. Mike thinks that this tool teaches valuable saving skills that many adults are lacking but feels that a child needs to be a little older than ours in order to appreciate the value of money and get the full benefit of this program. Ideally he feels that parents would start using this tool when the child is about 8 years old and has more of a grasp of how much things costs and might be making/receiving money of their own. This tool would be especially useful to older children that are getting ready to go out into the world on their own in a few years. There are so many adults out there that find themselves in trouble because they never learned to budget so teaching your children this valuable tool is a must! Mike even said that this program would be good for just those adults to help get them back on the right path!

Currently, FamilyMint is a free program with all the features that I have mentioned but in the future there may be a charge for certain features (though, we have been assured that there will always be a free membership, with less features, as well). I invite you to go to to check out this program for yourselves. The quick set-up and easy to use interface make it definitely worth taking a look at.

***Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.