How Hospitals Drove Me to Homebirth.

 

 

     My trip from hospital births with all the fixings to a unassisted birth at home while floating in a pool of warm water took me almost ten years.  By the time I became pregnant with the ninjababy, my fourth; I didn’t want anyone with letters after their name anywhere near me:  the last three children that I had birthed at the hands of the medical establishment had left me broken and scarred.

 

     Baby one, my eldest, my son.  I was young(ish) while I was growing him, but at 23 I knew that I wanted a midwife – not an OB/GYN.  I didn’t really know much more than that, but looking back on my birth plan now I shake my head.  I had listed no drugs, intermittent fetal monitoring, and no episiotomy.  I wanted to labor in the shower and not deliver on my back and decline routine vitamin K and eye goo.  I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know how to achieve it at that point.  I chose to birth in a medical hospital because I had been convinced that it was “safer” but my midwife may as well have been a doctor.  She was part of a huge medical group, and the hands on personal attention I wanted was pushed off to her nurses and partners.

 

     I had literally every intervention short of a c-section with DS1.  I had an IV, constant external fetal monitoring, AROM, internal fetal monitoring.  I was stuck in bed, given Nubain and then an epidural.  I agreed to everything the nurses suggested because I believed that they had my best interest at heart, and knew more about birthing babies than I did.  I ended up delivering  him flat on my back with a NICU team in the room because after being pumped full of pitocin for 8 hours and not being allowed to eat or drink anything for more than 17 hours the machines said he was in trouble.  Out he came after a huge and unneeded episiotomy to “hurry things along” … perfectly healthy and 8 pounds, 11 ounces.

 

     Twenty months later when I was in labor with my daughter I thought I had it figured out.  I was NOT going to the hospital until the very last minute!  I had a short, succinct birth plan that I was sure they would follow!  I had a BETTER midwife that would listen to me!  This would be the one!  I arrived at the hospital at 7cm to find that I’d be delivered by an OB since “my” midwife was off-call and a short three hours later was holding a bumpy headed baby girl … after being stuck flat on my back in a bed, having constant external monitoring, AROM, oxygen, an IV and a wonderfully unneeded to “hurry things along” episiotomy that expanded to a 3rd degree tear with I’m-not-going-to-tell-you-how-many-stitches.  She was tiny, only eight pounds, and there was no need for all of the interventions that took place.  On the bright side, I did manage to avoid an epidural, and her birth was drug free.

 

     The birth of my second son was so traumatic that almost five years later I find myself still unable to write the story of his birth.  I was violated, humiliated, tortured and dehumanized in every way possible.  Animals birthing in barns are treated better.  I left the hospital less than 12 hours after his birth with a fractured pelvis, both arms purple from IV’s, a bruised baby, and the feeling I had just survived a nightmare. I went straight to the grocery store, totally unable to process what had happened to me.  I suffered PTSD (I later found out that “birth trauma” is a very real and under realized issue) and massive anxiety attacks that made it nearly impossible to leave the house for almost a year after his arrival. When I finally broke down and asked myOBfor help, describing the terrifying, suffocating panic attacks, soul crushing depression and out-of-control feelings he asked me if I was thinking of hurting the baby, then offered a script for Zoloft and the advice to “just get over it.”  He was nine pounds and three ounces, and I was told that I’d never birth a bigger baby safely.

 

     I literally swore that I would have no more children.  No bastard in a white coat was coming near me again to torture and humiliate me.  I WAS DONE.

 

     And then my life changed.  And I found myself pregnant with the ninjababy.

 

     I was ten years older than I was the first time I had done this.  I had birthed three babies with no complications.  I had read more; I had more of a support system.  I had watched documentaries, had a group of like minded crunchy moms on Twitter and a new and supportive partner. My entire life had changed.  But the thought of going to the hospital to birth still terrified me. 

 

     So I chose not to.

 

     No hospital.  No OB/GYN.  No testing, no blood work, no fingers poking my cervix once a week.  No weigh ins.  No drinking nasty sugar water to prove that my body could metabolize it.  No paper gowns. 

 

     Not this time.

 

     Our original plan was to birth at home, with a hands-off midwife.  I wanted to do as much of my own prenatal care at home as I could.  My first problem came when trying to actually find a hands-off midwife that we could afford.  My insurance simply wouldn’t cover the charges for a home birth (don’t get me started on that…) and we just did not have the extra $3000 to $5000 that was the average cost in this area.  Besides that obstacle, the few midwives that I spoke to did not exactly seem hands-off to me…I wanted someone to sit by and knit in the living room if and until I needed them, not someone who was going to insist on pushing a Doppler against my stomach every fifteen minutes and start talking transfer after 12 hours of labor. No one I interviewed “clicked” and I just couldn’t picture them at my birth.

 

     We did find one, fantastic, awesome, amazing doula and midwife that we visited twice.  She was kind enough to write a script for me to get the 20 week ultrasound I wanted since it was important to me to make sure there were no underlying medical conditions that would make a home birth actively dangerous, but realistically she lived much too far away to attend our birth.  She offered to talk my partner through it on the phone if it was needed, and attempt to come if we wanted her, and I was okay with that.  She also monitored my weight gain (actually, loss for the first seven months) and the results of my ultrasound and weekly urine tests.

 

     I did all of my own prenatal care.  I monitored my weight, bought urine dipsticks to keep track of protein and sugars and ketones.  I have a blood glucose monitor that I used periodically before and after eating to make sure that my sugars were fine (they tend to run low).  I rented a Doppler to have here to check his heartbeat as a “just in case” – though I honestly think I only used it twice, the peace of mind was nice to have.  I ate well, took vitamins, exercised and kept track of how often he moved.  I measured my belly to make sure that he was growing appropriately.  I learned belly mapping to help me recognize his positioning.  Once a month or so I’d have my blood pressure checked.  We had two ultrasounds – one at twenty weeks and one at 32 after a fall – both of which showed a healthy boy growing well with no obvious health concerns.  I did everything here that an OB would do in an office except for cervical checks the last month, group B strep, and glucose tolerance testing…all of which I felt safe in declining.

 

     We did not go into this unprepared.  We discussed unassisted birth here at length.  We talked about the “what ifs” that may occur.  Periodically TBA would have a question and we’d go over it until he was comfortable with the answers.  I was personally comforted by the fact that the hospital was less than five minutes drive even in bad traffic, and that Rescue is housed two blocks away: we could have an ambulance here in two minutes if we ever had to call 911.  I had taken a class in neonatal resuscitation.  We had a birth kit here with everything we could possibly need that you could buy without a prescription.  I had pumped midwives and doulas and friends for information on hemorrhage and dystocia and every other “worst case scenario” I could think of…but at the base of it, deep in my heart, I believed that birth was a natural process.  Women are made to birth – that is what we do.  I knew that we had a solid plan in place for the “what ifs” and also knew that the chances that we’d need that plan were low.  I trusted that if I followed my body and listened to my instincts that all would be well.  I was never once afraid.  I never questioned our decision.

 

     I won’t rehash the ninjababy’s birth story here:  he has his own blog post.  What I remember most about bringing him into this world was the amazing, relaxing, calm atmosphere in the house.  There were no clocks counting down.  I ate, I drank, I slept.  I moved when I wanted to and changed positions.  We watched TV and laughed.  I didn’t know how dilated I was, and didn’t really care to know.  It didn’t matter, I knew he’d come on his own time.  We played the Beatles and lit candles and incense.  We watched the sun come through our bedroom window and steam rise off the birth pool.

 

     No one was yelling at me to push, or not to push.  There were no strangers with fingers inside me.  No one cut me, or pushed needles into my arms, or insisted I lay flat on my back.  The room wasn’t filled with strange people waiting to snatch my baby away to clean him and inject him with unnecessary things and smear antibiotics in his eyes.  He was born into his fathers’ hands, peacefully in the water, almost in the exact spot where he was conceived.  He took his first breath in this world while cradled on my chest.  There were no harsh lights or latex gloves or strange smells.  There was just a perfect baby and his family.  Before he was two hours old the three of us were laying in bed, warm sunshine coming through the window, nursing and napping.  It was amazing, and yet also felt like the most natural thing in the world.

 

     As a side note, the ninjababy was nine pounds and seven ounces – larger than my second son – and he was born without leaving so much as a mark on me.  My smallest child did the most damage, my largest the least.  His was truly a gentle and healing birth that I recovered from very quickly.

 

     I accept that giving birth at home isn’t for everyone, and that giving birth unassisted is for an even smaller percentage.  That’s okay.  I believe that every woman should have the right and opportunity to bring forth life in the place and in the way she feels most comfortable.  I also believe that this country needs serious reform in both mother-baby care and insurance coverage.  Did you know that in 23 states certified professional midwives (CPM’s) can lose the ability to practice if they assist a home birth?  Not only that, they can be arrested and prosecuted for “practicing medicine without a license.”  (I need to note that CPM’s are different from CNM’s – certified nurse midwives – who are trained nurses.  Most CNM’s work in a hospital setting.)  It also maddens me that insurance will gladly shell out $25,000 for a cesarean section, yet balk at paying a tenth of that for women who want to birth at home. It just makes no sense to me.

 

     Will we have any more children?  I’m not sure.  We discuss it now and again.  If we do, they will be born unassisted, here at home.

 

     

Yes…They Made it Even Easier!

If you haven’t discovered it by now, I love EdenFantasys.com.  I make no excuses for being a mother and a woman, and having a fantastic sex life, and when I find a company as great as this one I feel that it is my solemn duty to share it with all of you.

Recently they’ve added some sales and made some changes that I’m very excited about, and it only makes sense that I share them with you.  Ready for the wonderfulness?

EdenFantasys.com has launched a mobile browser!  That’s right, nothing to download and update and take up precious space on your phone – just click-through to the site on your phone and the optimized site just loads.  I don’t know about you, but the majority of my browsing and shopping happens on my phone, and this is going to make it a lot easier for me to make purchases.  See, I told you they love us :)

In addition, they have a few fantastic sales going on now that you really must take advantage of.  It’s May-Sturbation, and that means 30% off all Doc Johnson sex toys ( some of my personal favorites!)  Also, take 20% off all month with SUMMERFUN, and lingerie and clubwear are on clearance for 50% off!  Whew!  Deals like that always make me want to shop.

Because they are awesome, every order gets a little something free – don’t forget to choose your gift before you check out!  Keep an eye on the home page banners, as well — qualifying purchases can get even more free goodies.

Have fun shopping, my lovelies!

As always, I buy everything from EdenFantasys.com  - they’re fast, discreet, and the prices are great!

Eden Cafe

Mothers Day Presents She’ll Appreciate :)

Mother's Day card

Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mom’s love the hand print t-shirts and adorable cards that their kids make ( I know that I do!) but I also love it when my significant other recognizes me for the incredibly hard job that I work 24/7/365.

I’ve blogged for EdenFantasys.com before, but where Mothers Day is just around the corner I wanted to share some awesome specials and deals they have running in case someone needs an idea for a more, um … adult present?  Heck, what better way to relax? Don’t let the name fool you – they carry more than adult toys.  In fact, I’ve recently discovered their make up selection and skin care and I am in LOVE!

  • Save 20% on all orders with coupon code XOXO

  • Save 25% on all Evolved Novelties products and plant a tree
  • Save 30% on all rechargeable California Exotics products

As always, I buy everything from EdenFantasys.com  - they’re fast, discreet, and the prices are great!

Eden Cafe

A Million and One Reasons I Love Bedsharing

Breastfeeding symbol

Breastfeeding symbol (Photo credit: Topinambour)

Okay, maybe there aren’t really THAT many reasons that I love to bedshare with our now 5 month old ninjababy ( Five months?  How the heck did that happen?!) but when I open my eyes in the morning to see a huge gummy smile … well, my whole day starts off better.  Here’s a few reasons I love it so much…

I’m lazy.  Really, honestly and truly.  I love my sleep.  I breastfeed partly because I have no desire to get up at 2 am and stumble around my kitchen trying to make a bottle.  In the spirit of laziness, we bedshare.  Heck, I don’t even have to roll over to feed the baby, much less walk to a different room and get him out of a crib.  When the baby is in the bed, and the food is only a head turn away…well, all of us sleep better, and my older kids thank me for not being sleep deprived and grumpy in the morning.

We believe it’s the anthropological norm.  Yes, WE.  Not only is TBA totally on board with bedsharing, he actually has me grab the ninjababy early some nights, well before he’s ready to wake up and bed fed.  “From an anthropological point of view, bed-sharing is the norm and is for 90 per cent of the world’s population,” Young says. “It’s only Western industrialised societies that conceptualise separate sleeping as the norm and that’s really only in the last 200 years. Then you have to look at SIDS rates; in China, for example, they don’t have a word for SIDS in the language.”  (Dr Jeanine Young, a spokeswoman for SIDS and Kids, and nursing director of research at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane) (By the way, those who are interested in studying societal differences in child-rearing might want to check out an Online Concordia masters in public health program.)

Ninjababy is adorable.  Truly.  From sleeping like a starfish and pushing his dad and I out of the bed, to waking up to pokes in the eye and “Da da DA!” at the top of his voice.  Ninjababy learned to roll over while laying between us in an early morning dance party, and he’s totally practicing how to crawl while using his dad as the best practice mountain ever.

It helps keep my milk supply high.  I’m committed to breastfeeding until the wee one weans himself, and on demand night nursing helps make up for some of the booby time that he might be missing during a busy day when grass is WAY more interesting than hanging out with mama on the couch.

Do you co-sleep or bedshare?  Do you love it?

Sex After Baby … Yeah, I’m Going There. (part 2)

In my last post I was discussing how it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things after a baby, and I mentioned a few things we had used to to help us reconnect as a couple.  This post, I want to get a little more intimate.

 “Sex toys.”  I know, take a breath – it’s ok.  Whether you’re more comfortable calling them “marital aids” or your “sonic screwdriver” they can really make a difference in the bedroom.  Being crunchy, I’m rather partial to glass toys.   Some of them are quite beautiful, they feel great, they are easy to clean, and provide some great sensations when you warm them or chill them in the refrigerator!  Don’t think of them as fragile objects, most are built to last a lifetime of heavy use… and glass is non-porous which means no worries about what chemicals may be leaching out of your new friend and into you!

Consider picking her up a  gift that will be appreciated…I promise! ( And don’t forget the lube, especially for you breastfeeding moms!)

I’ve been buying everything from EdenFantasys.com  - they’re fast, discreet, and the prices are great!

Eden Cafe

Sex After Baby … Yeah, I’m Going There.

Sex after baby.  Everyone is thinking about it, no one talks about it.  Intimacy with your partner is SO important (for you as well as your partner!) especially post-partum, and too often we get locked into the cycle of being too tired to take time to remember that we’re more than a baby feeding/diaper changing machine.  I’ve found after four kids that even if you don’t feel like you “want” to, sometimes just trying gets you in the mood…and the more you have, the more you want!  Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, here are my hints:

Use lube.  Especially if you’re breastfeeding, hormones can screw with your natural lubrication.  I like ID Glide - it’s smooth, condom safe, and water based.

Set the mood.  I LOVE massage oil candles: not only is the glow romantic, but you have oil at just the right temperature at your fingertips!

Try something new!  It can take time to get back into the swing of things, but picking up some fun new items ( even if it isn’t a “sex toy“) can really kick your libido back into gear!

I’ve been buying everything from EdenFantasys.com  - they’re fast, discreet, and the prices are great!

Eden Cafe

#Ninjababy’s Freebirth

As I sit here with a baby two weeks new it occurs to me that I should write the story of his birth before I lose the details. I’m sure that I’ll add and edit in the coming days, so bear with me!  Whether you call it freebirth or unassisted birth I know that not everyone agrees with delivering your own baby at home without a medical professional present – but this was our educated choice and the decision we felt was best for our family. Enjoy!  Parts of it are graphic, so consider this your warning!

I had been experiencing prodromal labor for three weeks by the time October 8th rolled around. I was only three days “late” and my other children were all born closer to 42 weeks, but I was getting tired with the near-constant contractions. I was on Twitter mentioning that some of the contractions tonight actually hurt and received a joking reply about #ninjababy arriving the next day – October 9th – which happened to be John Lennon’s birthday. ( #ninjababy is a big Beatles fan – the first time I felt him move we were listening to the White Album and he reacted with kicks and wiggles every time we played the Beatles for him.) Shortly after midnight I started to time contractions, realizing they were coming pretty regularly and were getting my attention. I didn’t want to say that I was “in labor” yet or get The Man’s hopes up, so we headed to the bedroom to watch the first season of The Walking Dead on Netflix. Romantic, I know … but I think I watched every zombie movie in existence the last two weeks of my pregnancy!

By about 3am I was definitely uncomfortable. The contractions weren’t painful, but I was sure at that point this was the real thing and asked The Man if he’d like to fill the birthing tub for me. “Really?” he said, and got an excited look on his face. I knew it was too soon to get IN the tub, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take to fill and I knew we’d have to stop at least once to let the hot water refill. While he was hooking up the hose and filling the tub I got up to walk a bit, rearranged the pillows and put a chux pad down on the bed just in case. I found a semi-reclined position felt the best and let me relax the most during a contraction.

We kept watching TV, and by the tub was full ( about an hour and a half ) I was really, really ready to get in. Sitting wasn’t comfortable, I couldn’t lay on my side, and standing and walking intensified the contractions to the point that it took my breath away. The hot water felt incredible! I draped a towel over the side, leaned on it and found that stretching out kind of frog-legged was the most comfortable way to be. My belly was almost resting on the bottom of the tub, but when a contraction had ended I got on my knees. We were still watching TV and I was focusing on breathing and staying totally relaxed and loose during each contraction. The pain was SO much less in the water and I loved how easy it was for me to move and change position, but …

After maybe two hours in the tub I realized I wasn’t progressing. The contractions were getting stronger, but further apart — from 4 minutes when I got in to nearly 10 minutes apart. I didn’t want to get out, but I knew that’s what I had to do to get things going again. The Man woke up when I got out of the tub ( I told him to take a nap while he could) and I wrapped up in his bathrobe. While my fantastic partner bailed water from the tub so he’d have room to top it off with hot for me, I walked. I labored on the toilet, leaned against the sink, made a trip to the kitchen for a cold drink. Contractions ramped up fast, and they hurt. I was having a hard time relaxing and breathing and just wanted to get back in the water!

I waddled back into the bedroom, determined to stay out of the pool until I couldn’t take it anymore. I got as comfortable as I could in bed and attempted to nap, and almost managed to doze off between contractions. I had labored nearly 12 hours at this point and had been awake more than a day, and I was getting tired. I sat there, looking at the gently steaming water – incense and candles burning – and realized this was as close to a perfect birth environment as I was going to get. I also realized that I was to the point that I had to close my eyes to focus through each contraction and they were coming faster. I was headed back into the tub!

I asked The Man to go start the dryer ( I had towels in there for after the birth) and asked him to make me my labor martini.  He was only gone ten minutes or so, but by the time he came back into the bedroom everything was getting moving.  I was having to vocalize through the contractions at this point, laying flat in the tub during a contraction and then moving back to my knees between.  I didn’t want to open my eyes, and it took concentration to stay very relaxed and open and just let the pain go.  My legs started to shake, and I said “Oh – this is transition.  It’s going to really suck for the next twenty minutes or so, but it’s almost over now.”  He came to the foot of the bed and held my hand during contractions, but I found that I didn’t want to squeeze – making a fist made everything else tight as well – but just holding his hands was enough.  I remember talking to the baby, saying things like “c’mon, then — come on down” and “not much longer.”  I was way  more aware of what was going on than I thought I would be, and was giving a running commentary of what was happening.  I never felt the urge to push – my body just did it all on its own.  After three very fast, hard, contractions I could feel his head coming through my cervix and said “Oh! I feel his head!” followed almost immediately by a pop and my announcing “and….my water just broke.” I let go with one hand and told The Man I wanted to check and see where the baby was – he couldn’t have been more than three inches away!  Four pushes and he was out – the first one had him crowning, and I was able to reach down for the first time ever and FEEL my babies head.  The second push and his head was out — I moved off my knees back on to the seat in the pool so that he could see what was happening as well, and told him that the next contraction would free him to the shoulders, then another and he should be free so be ready to catch.  I was almost laughing saying “It’s his head! It’s his head!”  I probably sounded like a nutter!  The next contraction came very fast and hard and I felt his shoulder and one arm pop free, then the other.  There was a pause that felt like forever between that and the next contraction, but in reality probably only lasted 45 seconds or so.  The Man reached into the pool, ready to catch … my body pushed, and the #ninjababy was free.  He lifted him out of the water, said “Oh my GOD!” and handed him to me, then ran off for towels.  I unwrapped the cord from around his neck, held him to my chest and rubbed his back … he gurgled twice, then opened his eyes and took a deep breath.  The cord had already stopped pulsing by then, and I was afraid the water was getting too cold in the pool, so as soon as the towels were there we wrapped him.  The man reached over my shoulder to tie and cut the cord, and #ninjababy looked up at him with these wide eyes and grabbed his wrist with his little hand.  As soon as he was free dad got some great skin to skin time while I was delivering the placenta.

I hadn’t intended originally to deliver the placenta in the tub, but I was having horrific afterpains and it was right there … so out it came, along with a clot the size of my fist.  I stood up, kind of shaky, and wrapped a chux around me to head into the bathroom to clean up, then back to bed.  I was bleeding more than I felt comfortable with, and I knew I hadn’t torn at all, so I took two doses of HemHalt while nursing the newbie — passed one more large clot and a gush that saturated the chux I was lying on and then the bleeding seemed to almost completely stop.  Funny side note, and probably TMI, but about an hour later I headed to the bathroom to pee and felt something dangling …. only to reach in and find the amniotic sac right there, nearly completely intact, and another large clot.  I remember thinking it odd, but my bleeding had nearly stopped at that point and I was tired.

We headed to bed, the three of us, and took a lovely nap while the #ninjababy nursed.  Well … the boys napped!  I laid there staring at the beautiful new baby that I had just delivered – on my own – and almost in the same spot that he was conceived.  It was both surreal and the most normal experience ever.

INTRODUCING:

Leonidas Danger Perry 9 pounds 7 ounces and 21′ long with a 12.5 inch head!

Born at 1:53 pm – in the water at home

Update

Yes, if you were wondering — I AM still pregnant.  I’ll be 39 weeks tomorrow, and though all my other babies have been 41+ I’ve always had an idea that #ninjababy may arrive early.  I have to say, I’m ready when he is.  Though I’m being patient, and I know he’ll come when he’s ready, the last two weeks have been uncomfortable!

I developed SPD ( symphysis pubis dysfunction ) which is something that I hadn’t had to deal with in my previous pregnancies, and a little over a week ago I started prodromal labor.  I’ve had Braxton-Hicks contractions every 3-7 minutes for 14-16 hours a day for nearly nine days now.  I’m tired, it’s hard to find even a reasonably comfortably position to sleep in, and the last day or so my back has ached like you wouldn’t believe ( well, maybe you would? )

Even with all that has gone on, and the incredibly stressful pregnancy we’ve experienced, I’m at peace.  I know that when #ninjababy is ready, he will appear.  I have everything I need to welcome him home.  The house isn’t as clean as I’d like, but I don’t think he’ll notice…and if I have to wait three more weeks?  Well, I know it will be worth it :)

Time4Learning – Homeschooling Curriculum Review

Disclaimer:  As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschoolafter school study or summer learning.

As most of you know, we homeschool my 9-year-old son and my 7-year-old daughter.  This year we are also adding in some Pre-K learning for my four-year old son.  On one of my homeschool mailing lists I was given a link to Time4Learning – an online homeschool curriculum.  There are a lot of them out there – from K-12 to OakMeadow – and they’re typically pretty expensive ( especially if you have more than one child in the program!)  This program is significantly cheaper, which I love — anything that makes homeschooling more accessible to everyone is great in my eyes!

According to their website:

Time4Learning is a convenient, online homeschool curriculumthat combines education with interactive fun. Animated lessons, interactive activities, printable worksheets and detailed reporting make the learning system a top selection of the Homeschool.com “Top 100 Educational Websites” list, year after year.

The Time4Learning program has been refined through years of feedback from educators, parents, and students. Lessons are presented at the student’s pace by an automated system. The language arts and math lessons correlate to state standards. Science, social studies and art are also available as a bonus in most grades.

Kids love the computer, so let them learn on one! The Time4Learning curriculum gives preschool to eighth graders who are homeschooled the independence they crave, as they progress at their own pace. The program also helps kids who are homeschooled advance, by teaching with individualized learning paths that assure skill mastery.

Parents like the automated grading, lesson plans and detailed reporting that track progress and make record keeping simple.

Other key features of the homeschool curriculum:

  • Students get individual logins and work at their own pace
  • Parents can set the grade levels independently for each subject
  • The grade above and below are available for review and additional study
  • Detailed lesson plans available for parents who wish to review lesson contents
  • Access to an online playground that rewards and motivates
  • Time-stamping feature on the activities (for attendance)
  • An automated system grades lessons and keeps reports for homeschool portfolio usage (shown below)
  • Sign up and get started on the same day!
Signing up was very, very simple — it truly is a free 30 day trial ( they didn’t even ask me for credit card information) and the account was active within hours.  I spent some time on it last night checking out the parent resources and lesson plans, setting timers and looking at how they had reporting set up.  Honestly?  I was impressed.  It’s easy to find each child and monitor exactly which lessons they’ve completed, which are still to be finished, and their scores on each lesson.  You can even print out the test they took if you need or want it.  One of my biggest concerns was that the lessons taught to the Virginia SOL‘s ( standards of learning ) since our school district can be a little … tough … to please.  I was very happy to see that they did, as well as other states.
This morning I dropped the kids on Time4Learning to see what they thought of it.  It’s important to me that they be able to be as independent as possible when doing lessons on the computer as I’m often working with one of the other two children on something.  My oldest had no issues at all with the lesson on Mayan culture once I showed him the basics, and did very well on the test at the end.  He loved the fact that certain words that he may not know how to pronounce were highlighted and spoken for him if he clicked on them, and some had definitions.  My daughter didn’t want to stop after her one lesson on sorting and counting ( it was set up as a game!)  It’s a big hit here… in fact, I had a hard time getting them OFF the computer so that I could write my review!
The only drawback I noticed was adding a new child — I really wanted to test it for my four-year old after I found out that they had a  preschool mode, and didn’t sign him up when I initially did the free trial — it’s not much to add him now, but I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t just add one more child.
We’re definitely going to continue using Time4Learning for the rest of our free trial, and if it works out as well as it has so far, it may become a larger part of our curriculum.  I do want to point out that even though we use the curriculum for schooling at home, it is as valuable for supplementing public school work ( maybe your child needs extra work in math or science?) as a summer program, or even for pre-K fun!
Would you like to try Time4Learningl for yourself?  Leave me a comment with your name and email, and I’ll send you a link to use!
*Update 9/15/2011*
     I was contacted by a Time4Learning representative after they read my blog post and they were nice enough to add my 4 year old to the free trial as well!  Great customer service … I’ll let you know what the final verdict is after we’ve used it a month

It’s Going to Be Okay.

I know that I’ve seemed down lately.  Blame it on wildly changing pregnancy hormones, or the crazy that has invaded my life recently.  I know that it’s hard when you just can’t fix what’s broken.  I’m trying very hard to focus on what I CAN fix and change right now instead of the flood of things that are going on around me that I just CANNOT fix or change.  One day at a time, sometimes one breath at a time, and I’m getting through.  It will be okay.  It will all work out.  I must have faith.

Several people have messaged me recently asking if we need/want anything for the arrival of the #ninjababy.  Honestly, there isn’t much we “need” but there are things that it would be nice to have.  After three kids I’ve pretty much realized that all you “need” is some cloth diapers, a car seat, and some clothes.  I had set up an amazon.com baby registry a while back, mostly to get the 10% discount later on for ourselves, but I attached the link to the list at the bottom of this note.

Honestly, the only thing we truly NEED at this point is a place for the #ninjababy to sleep when he isn’t in bed with us.  I have my heart set on a baby hammock, but they’re expensive and I can only find the one I like in Australia.  @juliecottle from Natural Transitions sells them, and I love supporting my Twitter moms when I can instead of some nameless corporation.  It’s called the Happy Hangup, and it is on the list below.  Because it’s so pricey ( sad face ) I had actually started a donation fund a while back to try to get some help with it…the hammock, stand and cushion end up being less than a traditional crib price wise, but it’s still a chunk of change.  I like the hammock because of its motion, and the fact that it’s easily portable for travel or just switching rooms…and because I guess I’m now shameless, here’s the link to the FundRazr for the baby’s bed: Ninjababy Hammock

Again, I’m not asking for anyone to buy anything – this is for those people who had asked, and my fingers have been slow in sending the same message with the same information over and over.

Here’s the link to the Amazon list, carefully arranged into “wants” and “needs.”  There’s also some fun stuff on there  (we don’t “need” an oriental styled gliding bassinet, but thought it would be fun for a “ninjababy” to have).  We’re a babywearing, clothdiapering, cosleeping crunchy family … but I still squee over the cute factor of some of this stuff.  Hey, I’m only human!  We may be getting a hand me down car seat, but the rest of it is here.

In addition to all this, as much of the profit from my Etsy shop as I can save is also going to buy things for the arrival of the #ninjababy.  Minus shipping and material fees, every time you buy a dryer ball you add to my “baby needs” fund.  If you want to go check out ( cough cough *buy* ) some wooly goodness, the link to the Etsy store is here AND  I’ll have a perma-coupon for free shipping (domestic OR international) if you use ninjababy at checkout.

I think that’s everything?  I’ve added a contact me page if anyone needs more information, and I’m always happy to take hand me downs for clothing and clothdiapers.   ( I’ll even pay your shipping!)

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