Whooping Cough – On The Mend

The baby is sitting on the floor playing with toys.

This isn’t remarkable, babies do this every day. Only when they don’t, because they’re too sick to waste any energy playing.

It’s so easy to take that for granted.

We seem to be on the mend.

The kids are bickering a bit.


Really sick people don’t expend energy fighting.

Victoria is feeling much better. She slept better last night than she has in a week, and for once I was in the bed instead of holding and rocking her in the easy chair all night.

We had one scary night. I panicked and called an ambulance. Not because she was coughing, but because she wouldn’t eat and I was worried she was getting dehydrated. (She wasn’t. They said she looked fine.)

I’m not usually one to panic, but this much sleep deprivation will make anyone a little crazy.

Spring will come. It will be warm and beautiful outside and this whole “Whooping Cough” experience will be something we wistfully remember.

“Remember that Winter of 2013 when we all got Whooping Cough?”

“Ah, yes. How did we ever manage?”

A few friends from our congregation, and my parents, have brought food over. Vat-like pots of soup, noodles and other easy to eat things. I haven’t had to worry about dinner for days which has been wonderful with a baby who just now TODAY has let me put her down for the first time.

The middle kids have had the easiest time of it. Actually Ruby doesn’t cough much at all. She did have Strep in the middle of all this, and that’s what was making her miserable.The day before yesterday she woke up at 11 am after having slept about 15 hours, and that made her turn a corner.

The hardest hit seem to be the two oldest, who are still sicker than anyone else. Zoe went back to school (which I thought was a mistake) and I ended up running to pick her up yesterday. She was out of it with fever. Too soon to get back out into the world.

We’re all coughing a little less every day. I think it’s going to take me a week to get caught up on sleep.

The other posts in this series:

  1. Whooping Cough – first sick kid and positive pertussis result
  2. Waiting For Pertussis Results – had remaining kids and hubby tested
  3. We get test results (3 positive, 5 negative, 1 undetermined)


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Whooping Cough, Part 3

The other posts in this series:

  1. Whooping Cough – first sick kid and positive pertussis result
  2. Waiting For Pertussis Results – had remaining kids and hubby tested

Anyone for Whooping Cough Hangman? Sadie won, by the skin of her teeth though.

We got Pertussis test results from the Hospital today.

Victoria – positive
Ruby – negative
Sadie – negative
Ilana – negative
Julien – negative
Caleb – positive

Still waiting to hear about hubby.

Julien and Ilana are symptom free at this point. It is possible that they WILL come down with whooping cough however.

Sadie is asymptomatic too, although she does have coughing at night. It’s not reaching the choking stage, and probably never will, even if she does get WC eventually, because of the Vitamin C treatment. Is this a false negative? Or does she have something else that causes a cough? Or has the Vitamin C kept the 4 negative kids from falling ill?

Caleb is also doing better, as is Zoe. Neither of them are having the choking cough, and Zoe went back to school today. If I made decisions on her behalf, I would have kept her home to rest more,  as her sleep is still interrupted, but sadly I’m the underappreciated Evil Stepmom ;-)

I would not be surprised if she caught something again from her schoolmates in a very short period, as she is especially vulnerable now.

Three days ago I started to get sick. Moderate fever (102-103F), sore throat, chills, body aches, headaches, cough. Time will tell if this is also Whooping Cough – I actually seem more sick than the kids did at this stage, as they presented with milder cold symptoms.

Other than the sleep deprivation that comes from waking up whenever anyone in my house coughs, I’m feeling better today.

Vic seems to be doing well. She only had two coughing episodes last night, lasting just seconds each time. I felt terrible because I had forgotten to give her a nighttime dose of Vitamin C. I won’t forget again!

I am so very thankful for many things: that these cases have been as mild as they have, and that I knew about the Vitamin C treatment which has been nothing short of miraculous for us, and that Victoria is an older infant and can handle the coughing episodes now.

Meanwhile I’ve collected a ton more links with family’s stories of Whooping Cough – some of them in vaccinated children, some not.


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Waiting For Pertussis Results

Saturday we took all the kids to get tested for Pertussis. (So far we only know for sure that Zoe, 13, has Whooping Cough.)

Zoe is staying with relatives until she’s no longer contagious (though it’s probably too late for that). She is doing better. Her case has been a very mild one, thankfully. This is probably due to the megadoses of Vitamin C, which are reported to reduce the coughing by 2/3.

It’s a simple swab up the nose, over with faster than a sneeze. Nobody cried, not even the baby.

The only other child who has symptoms is Caleb, 14. He is quite fine and feeling well during the day, but coughs at night. The day he backed off the Vitamin C (because it gave him runny stool), his cough got worse that night. Proof enough for me that it’s doing its job!

My husband is coughing, but we’re pretty certain that it’s his seasonal allergies. It’s been very warm here lately and he always coughs this time of year.

When we went to the urgent care facility on Saturday, I had everyone wear a mask. The staff thanked me later for this and said that if we hadn’t been properly masked, they would have had to notify everyone in the building at the time that there was Pertussis exposure (assuming the tests come back positive of course).

It was really annoying that a boy was walking around the waiting area coughing his lungs up with no mask. ARGH. His mother seemed totally nonplussed. Finally a nurse came over and put a mask on him.

I’m thankful that, unlike my husband’s experience last Thursday, this Doctor was actually respectful and we had a nice dialogue about vaccination.

The conversation went like this:

Doc: “Is your decision on vaccinations due to religious belief?”

Me: “In part, yes.”

(I answered this way because some vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue.)

Doc: “You might want to think about vaccinating the older kids. The little ones are fine (I’m assuming they’re not in daycare?)”

Me: “That’s correct.  And these children are homeschooled.”

Doc: “…but the older ones will be going into high school and college and they’ll be exposed to all sorts of things. You could skip Chicken Pox, HIB, and the HPV vaccine. You could even skip DPT since we never see Diphtheria or Tetanus anymore, but I would recommend the MMR.”

Me: “Thank you. It’s not a decision we revisit regularly as we continue researching vaccines.”

Anyway, I was glad the staff didn’t make a stressful situation worse by chastising us.

I’ll update when I know test results, which hopefully will come back today. Meanwhile Caleb is confined to his room (his brother has moved out for a bit), and everyone is in quarantine. We haven’t gone anywhere except to urgent care and the hospital.

Right now I’m staying at my parent’s house with the baby until we have more info.

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So… We Have Whooping Cough

Quite an opener, isn’t it?

At first I planned on naming this post “Whoop… there it is”, but thought better of it. This illness can be really scary, and I’m not taking it lightly. But a girl does have to keep her sense of humor, no?

I’ve been reading and researching Whooping Cough for about 14 1/2 years since… you guessed it, my oldest child was born. Of all the so-called childhood illnesses, Whooping Cough scared me the most. Every time my kids come down with a sickness, I check their symptoms with the books I have on hand. As a result, I knew the symptoms of Whooping Cough well.

So last Saturday, when we were at a party and after running around playing a game, my stepdaughter Zoe began having a coughing fit and turned purple, I looked at my husband and said, “Babe, that sounds like Whooping Cough.”

The very next day, we quarantined her in her room and I started her on the Vitamin C treatment Dr. Suzanne Humphries recommends here. We ordered the powdered sodium ascorbate online because we couldn’t find it anywhere. While we waited for it to ship to us we had her take powdered ascorbic acid we bought at Whole Foods.

After her first large dose, she coughed up a huge wad of mucus. Which is exactly what should happen as the Vitamin C thins the mucus and allows you to get it up, and is what Dr. Humphries says would happen.

I hoped I was wrong about the diagnosis, but her case was textbook, and I knew the Vitamin C wouldn’t harm her even if it wasn’t Pertussis.

About 2 weeks previous, she had mild cold-like symptoms: a sore throat, malaise, runny nose. This is how Whooping Cough begins: the symptoms are indistinguishable from the common cold. It’s only after a couple of weeks that the cough begins to get worse, after the initial symptoms have gone away.

By Tuesday the cough had begun to get worse. We had a couple of rough nights with little sleep as she coughed, turned red and vomited. My husband took her to the hospital Tuesday evening to get her tested.

It wasn’t easy getting the diagnosis, because when my husband took her to the hospital, the Doctors immediately discredited him, began verbally abusing him because of Zoe’s unvaccinated status, and insisted that “it couldn’t be whooping cough because she hasn’t been coughing long enough”.

They didn’t want to test her, and Zeke had to insist. So their course of action would be for her to continue spreading it to everyone around her until they decided she had been coughing long enough for them to do a simple test?!

On Thursday, we got the test results – Zoe has confirmed pertussis.

(And may the attending physician feel like the horse’s rosette she is because I,  an “uneducated” mother know more than she does about diagnosing this illness. This is where I am awesome.)

So far, Caleb (14) has a mild dry sounding cough and no other symptoms. He had a mild sore throat a couple of weeks ago. Julien (12) and Ilana (10) have no symptoms. Sadie (7) has a mild dry cough, no other symptoms. Ruby (2 1/2) has a “junky” sounding cough, and mild fever that comes and goes. She is playing and eating normally and not acting sick.

And Victoria (7 months) has a mild runny nose. She’s playing, eating and sleeping normally.

I’m fine (I did have a mild sore throat for a few days two weeks ago) and my husband has a mild cough.

Do we all have it? I don’t know. Time will tell. 

We are all taking the megadoses of Vitamin C. It’s calibrated by body weight. To make things easier, I add the correct amount of powdered C to a bottle of water, label it with a name, and have the child sip on it all day. For Ruby, I added a bit of honey and called it “lemonade”. She’s drinking it just fine. It’s making the kids go poop more frequently, but other than that there are no ill effects (and that’s probably a good thing anyway).

Since Whooping Cough has been in the news so much lately due to increasing numbers of cases in several states, I’ve been collecting info and links for months. I knew this day would eventually come, and I wanted to be prepared so when it did happen I could begin a plan of action instead of freaking out and panicking.

Here’s what I know about Whooping Cough. I hope this will be helpful to you.

You need to know about this illness no matter if your child is vaccinated or not.

  • Whooping Cough has never disappeared in the US. It comes and goes in cycles every 4-5 years. (WhoopingCough.net)
  • The vaccine’s effectiveness is debated, but most sources agree it wears off in 2-4 years. Currently, W.C. outbreaks are taking place mostly among the vaccinated. This study, done several years ago, showed that 86% of children who got Pertussis were fully vaccinated.
  • Unvaccinated children and immigrants are NOT to blame for the current epidemic. (PBS.org – see point #6)
  • Whooping Cough is wildly underdiagnosed. Quote: “It is my opinion, based on my research, that the actual number of cases that occur is at least 10 times the number reported.” Source: WhoopingCough.net
  •  If you or your child has ever had a cough that lasted for more than 3 weeks, there is a 30% chance that it was Whooping Cough. (Lost this source, will keeping searching for the link.)
  • Only about 50% of people actually “Whoop” when they have Pertussis. The “whoop” sound is when the person’s lungs become empty after a prolonged coughing fit, and they gasp for air. Older children and adults usually don’t “whoop”. I have never heard Zoe whoop. (Source)
  • There is no medical treatment (antibiotics, steroids, etc) that has been proven to limit the severity or length of the illness. (Source) Some Doctors may insist that the sick person take antibiotics to help prevent others getting sick, but there is no proof that this works. Antibiotics, according to some experts, will only make things worse because they hamstring the immune system. (Source) (In my opinion, the reason Zoe has this illness in the first place is because, unlike the other children, she has had several unnecessary rounds of antibiotics. She seems constitutionally weaker than the others for this and several other reasons.)Quote: “The consensus is that antibiotics may limit the period of infectivity but do not alter the clinical course and are not indicated in close contacts. Most cases that come to treatment have already been coughing and spreading the disease, and antibiotics are of limited if any use.”Source
  • In a similar vein, cough medications are worthless for Whooping Cough. What you want is not to stop the cough, but to help the cough be more productive (i.e. thin the mucus so it can be expelled). Things that act as an expectorant (Vitamin C, steam, etc) are more helpful.
  • The Vitamin C treatment has been studied and shown to be effective in minimizing the length and severity of the cough (the studies were small, but still impressive). (Source) Links: Japanese study Vit C and whooping cough |Pertussis vit C Success Ormerod 1937 |A Preliminary Report on the Use of Cevitamic Acid in the Treatment of Whooping C
  • People who are in the whooping cough (symptom) stage of Pertussis (disease) look and act normal inbetween coughing paroxyms. So if you take your child to the Doctor and the Doc doesn’t hear/see the cough, they’re not likely to suspect W.C. It’s a good idea to record the kid coughing (your cell phone likely has an audio note app).  Older kids and adults may only cough at night, or after eating. Babies and toddlers cough more, but again – the coughing fits may be spaced out.

Here is a list of blog posts I have collected where Moms share their family’s experience with Whooping Cough:

Has your family contracted Whooping Cough? Please share your experience and any links below.


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Helping the Reluctant Reader

Last week I met three fellow homeschooling mom friends at one of those indoor jump places. As our kids played we chatted about homeschooling, books and Jane Austen.

And reluctant readers. Turns out each of us have one.

In a house full of bibliophiles, I also have a child who I consider to be a reluctant reader. But he is very nearly reformed at the moment. :-)

In 3 out of 4 cases, the child was male, so I will use the male gender for this post. While I generally eschew gender stereotypes, it’s pretty much established that a reluctant reader is more likely to be male.

If a household doesn’t value reading, then the kids aren’t likely to become big readers. Being read to and having lots of books around and parents who read a lot generally makes for a literate kid. But I trust that none of the readers of this blog are slackers in this area, so I’ll discuss the other kinds of issues that can cause a child to be a reluctant reader.

I think there are three basic reasons why a child might not love reading.

They are: the child can’t read well and so it’s a chore to do so, the child who has a short attention span/memory and can’t get involved in the story, and the child has a kinesthetic learning style, meaning he prefers to move around, take things apart, and use his hands to learn.

First, rule out whether this child is struggling with the mechanics of reading well.

If this is the case, and the child is struggling to read, go back to a basic phonics program and review it. The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading is excellent. If you drop everything and do phonics for a few weeks, this might solve the problem. (Don’t forget an eye check if it’s been awhile. My 7 year old began to complain about her eyes, and at first I thought she was faking, but after taking her in for an exam, she needed glasses after all. She’s been reading a lot more, and reading better, since she got them.)

If it isn’t a case of the child not being able to read well but simply preferring to do other things, here are a few pieces of advice that have worked for us.

First, let me state that I’m skeptical of some professionals who want to diagnose a learning or reading disability when the problem could be solved by a patient parent.

Back to my morning with the other homeschooling moms. One of them said she has a friend whose son was struggling with reading, so he took him to a shrink.



The shrink said that he had no short term memory, and as a result he wasn’t reading or comprehending well. As if this is a life sentence. I can’t help but be skeptical of this. I believe memory is a muscle that can be strengthened.  Since when is “not paying attention long enough to make sense of what you read” a mental illness? If it is, I bet most Americans are crazy, since many people in this country don’t pick up a book to read for pleasure after they graduate. (Shudder!) I think this is because TV, internet reading (if it’s exclusive) and the like lead to lazy habits. We don’t have to think anymore.

The worst part about this is that my friend then said that she was convinced that her son suffered from the same malady. While I was at first concerned about coming across as a know-it-all, I realized that this mom was really vexed by the situation.

So I told her that my opinion after much research and observation, is that many things we call an illness nowadays is just our low expectations. In generations past, there was much emphasis on memorization in education. I remember doing narration and dictation in school, and the friend I mentioned? She is from Italy and told me that there, she had to memorize long poems – such as Dante’s Inferno. She also had a lot of dictations and riassunto (summarizing).

Now, kids are entertained with electronic devices that do all the imagining and remembering for them, and cell phones with everyone’s phone number programmed into them. (When I have kids to my home I ask them for their mother’s cell phone # and the majority do not know it.) They don’t have to remember anything. Of course, there are kids with a bona fide learning disability but I think they’re truly rare.

Lest you think I’m some kind of expert with perfect kids, let me mention that last year, my 11 year old son had some problems with homeschooling and many days ended in tears for him (and me). This year he is doing wonderfully and has made so many strides in reading and grammar, because of my change in approach.

The only change? Doing narration and dictation.

At first dictation was terribly difficult for him but now he is quite good at it. Dictation and narration help to strengthen the memory muscles so the child can a) pay better attention to what he’s reading and b) retain it long enough to make some sense of it.

A brief description of dictation and narration:

Dictation simply means you read aloud a sentence (or two or more, depending on ability) that you choose to the child. Encourage him to “see” the sentence in his mind and to listen carefully. Tell him beforehand that you will only read it “X” number of times (at first I would have to read the sentence(s) over and over but now I only read them 3 times and he’s got it!) so they know they had better pay close attention. After you have read it several times, ask him to say it back to you. If you need to, prompt him one word at a time. Have him say it over and over until he’s got it, then ask him to write it down. Watch while he does it so you can correct any errors (in spelling, punctuation, etc) immediately.

The dictation sentences are prepared for me in the Writing With Ease books, but you could choose anything: a short scripture, lines from a book you’re reading, anything you like.

Narration means that you read the child a passage aloud and then have them summarize it briefly for you in their own words. Insist that they use complete sentences. If they don’t, I gently remind them to restate their answer in a complete sentence.

We do narration after reading our history lessons for Story of the World, and a couple of times a week as part of their writing work (from Writing With Ease).

Narration and dictation help with that memory issue mentioned earlier. Julien used to be the type of kid who just could not get the sense of what he read. Whether I read it or he read it himself, he would need me to restate the main points aloud to him.

No longer.

Narration and dictation have helped him discipline his mind to hold ideas in it longer. Which is the whole point!

As far as a child being a kinesthetic learner and needing to move about, well there’s not much you can do about that. Some kids will be that way all their lives. I know people who can’t talk on the phone unless they’re pacing the floor. Or who cannot speak unless they’re gesturing passionately. Some people can take things apart and put them back together again and build things that have the rest of us scratching our heads. They can also read maps better than anyone else.

That doesn’t mean they won’t learn to love reading.

A final tip: try to associate reading with pleasure. Read to a baby or toddler while they nurse or rock to sleep. Don’t push a child to learn to read too early. Make books fun. Discard (not permanently, just until another time) a title that doesn’t get you and your child excited right away. Read aloud with children even when they’ve been reading well for years.

We do a nightly read aloud as a family, including mom, dad, teens and little kids. I also do read alouds with the kids as individuals if they need it.

Another suggestion?

Limit electronic entertainment and ban it outright occasionally. We do a weekly Screen Sabbath where noone uses screens (even parents with their phones). During Quiet Time/Nap Time, no screens are allowed. Kids who might not otherwise will pick up a book out of sheer boredom which is what you want! :-) It’s also a good idea to assign an older child to read to a younger one. It makes them feel grown-up and is a good way for them to bond.

I love this book for research, inspiration, motivation and suggestions: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Another wonderful pick is How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell.

More about helping the reluctant reader:

How to get your kids to love reading

The pleasure of having your child read to you

What are your tips for encouraging a reluctant reader?


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Why I Shop at ALDI

I don’t know about you, but I find that our larder goes empty a day or two earlier these days. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out why this is so, when it dawned on me that everything is getting more expensive.

Therefore, when I head to the grocery store with cash, I’m getting a little less food than before.

Not good. I don’t want to spend more on groceries.

My grocery shopping strategy has changed over the years depending on how much 1) time 2) energy and 3) money I have available at any given time.

Einkauf Brisbane Aldi
Creative Commons License photo credit: Thomas Brenner

Right now, I’m getting most of my groceries at ALDI.

I began shopping there in earnest again several weeks ago and have been pleasantly surprised at how low my tab is at the end. I still have to get some items elsewhere. ALDI doesn’t have coconut oil (yet), a staple in our home. I buy non-bromated flour (ALDI flour doesn’t say it’s non-bromated so I leave it alone). I get our milk, eggs and meat from a local farmer and our bread here.

But the bulk of our produce, canned/dried goods and other household stuff (TP) comes from ALDI.

The prices are just insanely low. And I LIKE the fact that the store has less selection. Making decisions is one of the most fatiguing things we do. Making choices reduces willpower. My kids say that I’m in a better mood when we shop there. (I’m not making this stuff up.) I find it a relief not to have to choose amongst 13 kinds of salsa. Who needs 13 kinds of salsa when 2 will do? (Mild, medium. I keep jalapenos in the freezer for hubby who likes hot.) I have better things to do with my time and my brainpower than have to make that decision, hundreds of times over, in the span of a shopping trip. That kind of nonsense just leads to my sniping at my kids later.

I do what I can, people.

I have nothing against coupons, but even when I was doing coupons, I rarely beat ALDI prices… and couponing is stressful (at least, for me) and very time consuming. Besides, as so many people have pointed out, using coupons makes it uber tempting to buy crappy processed food.

Shopping at ALDI makes it possible for me to pay $7.50 for a gallon of raw milk and $5 for a dozen farm eggs from happy hens. (I also get real honey, sausage, chicken and beef from the farm.)

I understand the desire to shop at a froufrou highbrow grocery store as much as the next gal. Heck, I go to Trader Joe’s every couple of weeks to get fancy stuff I love. Like those chocolate buttercream cupcakes. Coconut oil. Organic fair trade coffee (I never buy cheap coffee!).

ALDI ain’t froufrou. It’s very utilitarian, bare bones basic. But hey, even hipsters need to save money nowadays. Especially young hipsters. The last time I went to ALDI, on a Sunday night, it was twentysomething hipster night or something, because the place was crawling with ‘em. (ALDI might be a great place to hang out if you’re single. If you meet someone there, you know they’re frugal and sensible and not high maintenance.)

Even if you don’t want to shop at ALDI regularly, consider going there just once a month to stock up on staples.

Here are a few more pointers.

A few tips for making the most of your ALDI shopping experience:

1) If you don’t like the ALDI near you, try another. There are 2 locations close by me. One is great, the other has nasty produce. Guess which one I shop at? I see people online sometimes complaining about ALDI produce and if I were to judge all locations based on the crappier one, I would come to that same conclusion. Try another location.

2) Bring your bags. I usually put mine right back into the car after I unload the groceries so I don’t forget.

3) Keep your receipts and make a list of things you will buy at ALDI. I’m particular about food so there are certain things I won’t buy at ALDI. Ketchup, for instance. It has HFCS. (But really we have to read labels no matter what store we shop at, yes?)

The mustard, however, is a go. And there are certain items that I ONLY buy at ALDI because the price is so good. I’ve found that the quality of some items is inferior. Dishwashing liquid and powder, for example. They’re no good. The razors cut my legs up too. But I love the ALDI brand leave-in conditioner for my curly hair and the facial cleanser is nice too. My husband prefers their hummus over Trader Joe’s. They offer pure maple syrup (we go through 2 bottles a week) cheaper than anywhere.

4) If you buy a product and it’s poor quality, bring it back. They will replace it AND give you your money back. I’ve taken them up on this offer more than once and it’s always granted cheerfully.

My ALDI shopping list is here and you can download it if you like. (Google doc.)

This is by no means a list of everything you could buy and love at ALDI. It’s simply my weird little list.

Before anyone asks, why do I buy Bugles? They’re the only “snack” food I buy, because they’re made with coconut oil instead of cheap nasty vegetable oils. A compromise food that the hubs and kids love.

4) Keep a sharp eye open for organic products. Yes, ALDI has a few. I buy organic potatoes and apples there, organic blueberries and strawberries, as well as organic blue corn tortilla chips. A few weeks ago ALDI experimented with offering raw cheese. I bought as many as I could to send a signal to management, but sadly they disappeared. They do offer KerryGold Irish cheese sometimes though, as well as other fancy cheeses that we like.

ALDI sells wild caught salmon, y’all. I would not be able to afford to feed my family wild caught salmon otherwise, because we eat 2 pounds at a sitting.

One last thing. I like shopping at ALDI because there is no toddler eye-level rack of candy and gum that the 2 year old can bite/grab/knock to the floor before you notice and then have to pay for.

Also, there are no magazines at the checkout. You know those magazines? The ones with the mildly pornographic photos? Those magazines embarrass my sons. They call them “gross”, and what they mean is  “inappropriate and immodest” and I don’t like those images being thrust into their faces in a place as innocent and ubiquitous as the grocery store for goodness sakes. It’s a real benefit not to have to see their embarrassed faces when we go to ALDI!

Do you shop at ALDI? What do you love or hate about it?

Other posts about ALDI:


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It Takes a Family to Raise a Toddler

It doesn’t take a village to raise a child. I take major umbrage with that statement.

However, it does take a family to raise a 2 year old.

Ruby was getting on everyone’s nerves this morning. It has been a cacophony of whining, crying/screaming when everything didn’t go her way. Caleb had his fingers in his ears, sitting at the table trying to do his writing assignment. Sadie had retreated to her room, unable to focus on her math amidst the noise.

I nursed her. She ate a good breakfast. I tried reading her a story. I played blocks with her. Still, she was overreacting to everything, shrieking constantly, defying my authority and being generally naughty.

And so I retreated to the cool of the basement with the baby on my hip, to deal with some delicate laundry.

Actually, I’ll be honest.

I needed a moment away from the 2 year old.

To calm down so I could deal with her appropriately. I could feel myself getting angry.

When I came back upstairs, Julien was rocking her in his arms and singing his own version of Three Little Birds by Bob Marley, edited on the fly to fit the situation.

“.. you should worry
’bout everything…
‘cos every little thing’s…
not gonna be alright…”

I guess this is just what a 2 year old needs to hear every once in awhile.

We all have mornings like that every once in awhile, don’t we?

I remember how difficult it was having these days with my oldest son, alone with no other people around to help.

This little one, however, has several available to take turns when Mom’s patience is nearing its limit.

And that is a very good thing.

She will say, "Let's fly", and he picks her up and "flies" her.


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Parenting Questions With No Answers

Some parenting issues have no real answers.

For instance, how is it that children (and husbands) can knock the hand towel off the towel bar, and not notice it much less replace it?

Why is it that some kids insist in being booger eaters? I mean, I get picking your nose. It’s all stuck in there and blocking your breathing, and who can be bothered to get up off the couch to get a tissue?

But… eating boogers?

Whatever happened to a good honest flick?

I try to explain to two particular children who shall remain nameless that boogers are a waste product, and just as we would not think of ingesting other bodily waste products, neither should we eat boogers full of detritus that the nose is trying to get rid of.

To no avail, sadly.

Here’s another dilemma:

When two sisters argue over Whose Friend It Is.

She’s MY friend because she’s the same age as me.

She’s MY friend because I met her FIRST (at the same event, on the same day, minutes before you, but still!).

How do you handle this one?

The older of the two insists that she wants to have a friend that her sister doesn’t have. Passionate fights over email addresses and phone numbers ensue.

I offered to procure a sharp sword and a bodyguard in order to split the friend in two, a la King Solomon, hoping that the real friend would please stand up and beg to give said friend to her sister.

I’m at a loss.

What do you do in these situations?


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What Goes Around

I’ve started a new habit around here. In the afternoons, when I head to my bed to put the 2 year old and baby down for a nap, Julien (12) and Sadie (7) take turns coming into my bedroom for read-aloud sessions.

This accomplishes a few things: One, Ruby falls asleep easily because she doesn’t realize I’m trying to put her to sleep. Two, the time is put to productive use but I still get to rest some.

For Julien, I chose Swiss Family Robinson. My oldest has read it 7 times and when I asked him if it would be a good choice for his younger brother, he replied in earnest, “Yes, but it HAS to be unabridged. The abridged leaves too much good stuff out!”.

So far we’re enjoying it, it’s a lovely story of faith, courage and family life…although it is a little odd that we’re in chapter 4 and still don’t know the narrator’s wife’s name (we knew the boy’s names immediately), and she seems to be little more than a maid, with no opinions of her own. Ah, well. You can’t have everything.

Sadie is hearing The Trumpet of the Swan, which was a favorite of mine when I was about her age. (There’s just something special about E.B. White, no?)

Unlike Julien, Sadie insists on reading a portion aloud to me first. Yesterday listening to her was a bit surreal. She read a passage about the proud cob discovering that his son Louis had no voice. As vain as he tended to be, he handled the situation with tenderness. She read it so well, her cute still somewhat babyish voice putting feeling into the reading, emphasizing the right words and changing the voices depending on who was speaking.

A very warm feeling came over me. It felt like happiness, nostalgia and something else mixed together and poured all around my belly. All the hours I’ve spent reading to her suddenly paid off, and she was able to bring me happiness by reading to me.

Anyway, it was lovely.

P.S. If you have a reluctant reader who suddenly begins complaining that she can’t see well, take her to get an eye exam. She might need glasses like Sadie did.

By the way, if you’re a big Anne of Green Gables fan, or want your kids to become one, check this out: The Anne Stories: 11 Books, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne’s House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles of Avonlea, Plus Audiobooks for just .99 on Amazon. Did you know that you do NOT have to own a Kindle to buy and read Kindle books? You can read them on your phone or computer!

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My Beef With Standardized Testing

This week my kids are doing standardized tests.


1. to bring to or make of an established standard size, weight, quality, strength, or the like: to standardize manufactured parts.

2. to compare with or test by a standard.

3. to choose or establish a standard for.

Creative Commons License photo credit: albertogp123

I’m not administering these tests because I believe they’re valuable, but because I have to in order to comply with the law.

I have a problem with standardized testing, and the whole thing is making me irritable. I resent this intrusion of the state into my family life and parenting.

Since I don’t have to actually show the tests to any authorities, and if they showed up at my door and requested them I would flatly let them know that fact, it’s especially annoying that I have to stop TEACHING in order to test them.

I dislike standardized tests for several reasons. One, a standardized test proves that a child a) is good at testing (and doesn’t tell you how intelligent they are or how well they learn) and  b) has been taught what’s on the test.

“3. to choose or establish a standard for.”

Who should best decide what “standards” I set for my kid’s education?

“…And these words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 6:6,7

(This is the primary reason I homeschool, so that I can do this teaching all day long.)

Since the state doesn’t give birth to my children, feed them in the night, clothe them, hold them when they’re sick, read stories for hours each day, worry when they begin toddling around, and teach them right from wrong, I don’t think they should get to decide what my kids learn and what assessments I use to gauge their learning. They have requirements for my homeschool, but don’t provide any assistance whatsoever. I buy my own school supplies, books, textbooks. I pay for field trips. I pay school taxes to support a system I don’t believe in.

The kids are doing well on these tests, incidentally. But it’s interesting to me that my 10 year old daughter, who is a wonderful student and reading constantly, is showing signs of test anxiety. I assured her that noone is going to see this test but me. I explained to her my feelings about testing so she understood where I stand, but she’s still stressed about it and did quite poorly on the  practice test.

“1. to bring to or make of an established standard size, weight, quality, strength, or the like: to standardize manufactured parts.”

Kids (like all people) don’t come standardized and I don’t believe their education should be either. There is no body of knowledge that every 10 year old or 14 year old “should” learn.

As I explained to my children, what if there was a test for all 40 year olds and the government demanded that 39 year old adults take it so we can “pass”? How would I do on the test? How would your dad do? What would be on the test? (And who gets to decide that?) Are we both intelligent? Do we know the same things? And does it matter?

How do you feel about standardized testing in your homeschool? Is there a requirement to do testing in your state?


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