All Ready for Another Year of Home Educating!

As Abbie will be turning 5 this year, and has recently learned to read and develop a much keener interest in exploring new topics (“Mommy, how does my body move? But I mean, what makes my muscles move my legs? But why…”), this will be our most formal year yet, although our main focus will still be on character development, Bible teaching, and learning to love learning.

Since I asked a while back for some suggestions, and have now made all of my purchases for up into the Fall and Winter, I thought you might like to see what I’ve decided on. My only favor I have to ask is that if I’ve chosen something that you really didn’t care for, would you mind not letting me know? If it was a really bad choice, I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon enough on my own! And just maybe, I’ll actually end up loving it and finding that it works well for our family. Thanks! :)

Math u see primer Math

After all my hemming and hawing and researching, in the end, I went with Math-U-See. Although she is already beyond a lot of the concepts in the Primer book (the first book), we’ve decided to start her there anyways, to help her establish a really solid foundation in the program.

We’ve been using it now for a few weeks, and so far, I like it. It’s not colorful or flashy, but I think it is teaching these beginning concepts well. Abbie feels successful, and enjoys doing it most days. She loves the manipulative blocks and the videos that we watch at the beginning of each unit. I love that I totally understanding what is being taught and why it’s being taught that way. So far, so good!

Rod and staff gr 1 Language Arts

I’ve decided to go with Rod and Staff Gr. 1, because I love the wholesome nature of their materials, and how Biblically based the program is (as in, it uses the Bible as it’s source of topics for reading- I’m not saying that there is a Biblical way to teach Language Arts, because if there is, I haven’t found those scriptures yet!). I know that at this young age, I could simply pull together my own program, and even find lots of free resources online.

The fact is, I’m new to all this. We’re moving into a busy season of life with a new baby and a new business, and this works for me. We’ll be using their Readers, as well as the Reading workbooks and the Phonics workbooks. For penmanship, I will either print off free activities from the web, or make my own, and we will probably do a lot of copy work from the Bible.

We’ll also be doing a whole lot of reading, both me reading aloud to the kids and Abbie reading to me. Along with all that reading, we will be working on the skill of Narration, where Abbie will learn to either tell, draw or write for me about what she has just heard or learned about.


Our Bible study will somewhat be covered by the Rod and Staff reading program, because it is really, truly all about the Bible! How fantastic is that?

In addition, we will continue reviewing and learning new questions and answers from the catechism in Big Truths for Little Kids
. We are also doing scripture memory, in line with the children’s program at our church.

Draw-to-learn-proverbs And lastly, I just got a really fun new book yesterday that we just couldn’t wait to begin! It’s called “Draw to Learn” and it will take us through the book of Proverbs. Each day, we will read a few verses from Proverbs, focusing on one key phrase or verse, and read a short paragraph talking about what the scripture means and then giving Abbie a drawing assignment. The drawings are meant to help instill the meaning of the verse and to work on learning to draw more purposefully at the same time. These are really neat books, so check them out! They have several to choose from (Psalms, Life of Jesus, etc.).

Fine Arts

Well, the book I just mentioned will be a part of this, as I give Abbie opportunities for drawing. In addition, I will be aiming to do an art project once a week or so, where we will work on other art skills like painting, cutting, pasting, crafting, etc.

At some point in the year, she will be beginning music lessons (probably piano), because there is certainly no reason not to once her Daddy is running a music school! :)

We’re also going to explore some poetry, in a light but fun way. I picked up a coloring book made by Dover, where the pictures are illustrations that go along with a collection of famous poetry. I’m thinking that every so often we will pull this book out and work at listening and repeating the poem with correct rhythm, talk about the rhyming or other interesting things about it, what it means, etc. and then color the picture.

Science/Social Studies

The complete zoo adventure I’m not ready to jump full force into these subjects yet, but we will explore them in a fun and easy-going way. For science, one resource that I picked up is a book called The Complete Zoo Adventure
from the BC Creation Association. This is a Creation based study of different zoo animals, and is meant to help you put together an enjoyable and informative zoo field trip. Because we have a year membership to the local zoo, we will just work our way through this book bit by bit, as we visit the zoo throughout the year, exploring different groups of animals, birds, reptiles, etc.

I would also like to explore some basic physical geography. I’ve bought two large wall maps of both Canada, and of the world, which I’ve put up in our learning room. As we study different animals, we will mark on our maps where those animals come from. We will also be reading the book Missionary Stories with the Millers
as a read aloud, and as we do, we will mark on our map where each story takes place and learn a little bit about that country.

I’ve also picked up a few books on physical geography, with lots of experiments for younger children. We’re just going to use these as an add on, and every once in a while I’ll let Abbie choose a topics/experiment that she is most interested in learning about.

The Big Picture

Overall, we’re still going to be keeping things light and easy, with a few areas more structured than before (mainly math, language arts and Bible), making sure that we have lots of fun along the way. I want to remain as flexible as possible, am allowing for a lot of delight-directed learning, and keeping in mind this list of 10 Things To Do With Your Child Before Age 10. We’ll be doing a lot of reading, library visits, hopefully field trips and whatever else we think we might like to do!

If anyone’s interested, I’d be happy to post up the schedule I’ve made for next year, let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure I get it posted up.

Have you planned out your home educating for next year? What are some of your goals and plans? Any new resources you’re excited to use?

Pregnancy Update: 36 Weeks


Unbelievable that I am about 4 weeks away, and possibly even less, from meeting our new baby!

And you may be happy to know (just because it proves that I am a real person, just like the rest of you) that I am not a Wonderwoman, either. I have hit somewhat of a wall, and though I still feel well overall and am grateful to be having such a healthy pregnancy, I'm tired. I'm uncomfortable. I'm achy, and not sleeping well. I'm even waddling. LOL! It's all good, though, and so very worthwhile! Pregnancy is a blessing, after all!

Nonetheless, I am grateful to have just a little bit more time before this sweet baby arrives, and am doing my best to finish up preparations, and am currently doing my best not to fall asleep at the computer as I write this blog post. :) I'm actually starting to feel pretty calm and prepared about baby's arrival, which I think is due to the fact that I began preparations so much in advance. I've updated my progress on my lists again- my general to-do and my freezer meal stash.

Baby is definitely in position now (and a good position, at that), and my midwife is guessing about 4/5 engaged. Braxton-Hicks contractions have picked up, and I have more and more of them as each day progresses, especially on days when I am probably working just a bit too hard. Nothing serious, though, and I don't think I'm in danger of having baby arrive too early. Since I have smaller babies (7 lbs 11 oz and 6 lbs 6 oz), I'd like to give this one about another 2 weeks to fatten up, and then it can come whenever it likes. :)

One of my major focuses lately has been on preparing for the labor and birth, and though I won't go into it in too much detail (since I'm working on a post on this topic), I'll tell you just a bit of what I'm doing. I've been re-reading my book on Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, and just refreshing myself on the techniques. It feels good to review it. I've also been reading some natural birth stories on the internet, just reminding myself of all the different ways that births can happen and being encouraged by reading about other women who've had natural childbirth as well.

My goal this time is to just feel more prepared for this birth. Caden's birth, though still a positive experience, was a bit chaotic and harried for several reasons and I was not able to relax very well, either physically or mentally. I would like to have more of a sense of calm and relaxation with this birth, even if it's speedy and intense like Caden's was.

One other thing that I'm trying this time is to use prenatal herbs, specifically Dr Christopher's Pre-Natal Formula
(recommended by Lindsay). I was also considering the Gentle Birth Formula (recommended by Crystal). Both were approved and highly regarded by a midwife/naturopath who works alongside my midwife. In the end, I went with Dr. Christopher's because it came in capsules rather than a tincture and I was worried about really bad tasting herbs. :) A silly reason, but I had to decide somehow! I chose to wait until I hit 35 weeks (rather than 34) to start using them, just because I do have smaller babies and didn't know how my body would respond to the herbs. So far, so good! I've also been drinking a nutrient tea (Red Raspberry, Red Clover, Nettle, Peppermint and Oatstraw) up to this point, but this week am switching over to just Red Raspberry Leaf tea, a really good choice for uterine toning and preparation.

Just a few things left to do… get the pool inflated and our room more set up for the homebirth, buy the last of my homebirth supplies, do some more gardening and preserving, start berry picking and filling up our freezer, among a few other things, but I think it's all do-able!

Thank you so much for all of the sweet offers for guest posts, as well as the many emails and comments that I have received wishing us well with this new baby, and letting me know that you are praying for me. I can't tell you how humbling it is to feel so supported by all of you lovely ladies that I have never even met, but I am grateful for it! :)

This will probably be my last pregnancy update until the event actually happens. I'll do my best to let you know just as soon as I can when he/she is here! Once baby is here and I start my "babymoon", you can expect a steady stream of exceptional guest posts on a really wide variety of topics, as well as cute baby and family photos, and little updates or topics of interest here and there as I decide to pipe up (I have never claimed that silence or being concise with my words was one of my strengths! LOL!).

How are the rest of the pregnant mamas doing? I always love to hear how you're doing!

Long-Term Storage for Lacto-fermented Veggies?

I've made my own lacto-fermented veggies and condiments and we enjoyed them in the fridge for up to a couple of months.

However, I am unsure of what I can do for long-term storage (since they generally need to be kept cool once the fermentation has taken place, so that they don't over-ferment, leading to soggy veggies, bad taste and possibly safety issues). I only have one fridge and cannot possibly store all of the pickles that I truly want to make this summer with my garden bounty (or anything else I decide to try, like lacto-fermented salsas, chutneys, etc.).

What's a nourishing foodie/frugal food preserver to do?!?

What other options have any of you tried for keeping these veggies when fridge room just wasn't available (and neither is a root cellar- a garage is the best I've got!)?

Along this topic, I am also planning to purchase a book on fermentation and food preserving, so that I have something even more in-depth than the chapter in Nourishing Traditions
(though that is a fantastic place to begin). Here are the two books I'm considering:

Wild fermentation book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods


Preserving food book Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation

Any thoughts on either book?

I've heard many rave reviews of Wild Fermenation and it was originally my first choice, although from what I've heard it includes just a little bit too much information on the author's alternative lifestyle. The Preserving Food book also sounds great, though perhaps lacks some detail in it's discussion of preserving safety and in some of the recipes. Other book suggestions (so long as they have plenty of recipes for making use of my garden produce!) would be appreciated!

Bugaloo Winner!

We have a winner! The lucky lady is…

Kentucky Kate!

(If you haven't already received my email, please email me, Kate!)

For the rest of you who are still drooling over fondly recalling the positively adorable and well-priced leather baby shoes from Bugaloo Kids, you can go ahead and purchase your own through this banner link:

A Seasonal Menu Plan

Mpm summer bbq

This week I made a departure from my usual style of menu planning.

Since we've been doing this special diet for my husband (a little over a month now), my repertoire of meals has been rather limited. Doing my menu plans each week has felt a bit discouraging, as I stare once again at my (short) list of the meals that I can make, that we all enjoy. I'm sure those of you who have been on restricted diets for any amount of time know what I'm talking about! :)

Rather than feel frustrated with it each week, I decided to follow Lindsay's plan of making a seasonal menu plan. It works by giving a theme to each day of the week, and then choosing 3-4 options that fit under that theme. Each meal will be made once a month, or perhaps twice if you only have 3 options on a certain day. I think it will take the brainwork and stump-ed-ness out of my planning (you know, when you sit at the table, tapping your pen and staring
alternatively at your meager meal plan, then out the window, then back
down at the meal plan for way too long)! I spent a while working on this and really digging deep to come up with recipes we could eat, and I'm happy with the results!

Here's how I've set mine up, for the next 3 months or so until we're back to our regular fare:

Monday- Main Dish Salads/Veggie Based

  1. Chicken Meal Salad (a really hearty salad with hard boiled eggs, avocado, lots of veggies, etc.)
  2. Stir-fry with beef or chicken or turkey, served over brown rice
  3. Taco Salad (except that right now we're skipping the tomatoes, sour cream, and he can only have gouda cheese on his)
  4. Avocado/Pepper/Black Bean salad (Ry and I adore this light salad, which I've recently been adding a bit of corn and cilantro to as well. The kids, not so much, so I make them rice and beans)

Tuesday- Sandwiches/Soup

  1. Lentil Vegetable Soup with bread or biscuits
  2. Wrap Sandwiches (homemade tortillas with any mix of protein, veggies, cheese, etc.)
  3. Chowder (either this Garden Chowder, with some slight tweaks to make it diet friendly, or my favorite Salmon Broccoli Sweet Potato Chowder, also with a few changes)
  4. Bierocks or German Beef and Cabbage Pockets (we just tried this tonight and fell in love! I can't use a bread dough, since it would require yeast or sweetener. Instead, I just used Kimi's Ground Beef and Cabbage Filling slightly altered, and put it inside her dairy-free Biscuit recipe, making them into pockets. By doubling the biscuit recipe and making the filling recipe about 1 1/2 times as large, I was able to make 20 pockets, which made one dinner for tonight and one for my after-baby freezer stash.)

Wednesday- Italian or Ethnic Dishes

  1. Cold or hot rice pasta (with chicken or sausage, and any variety of veggies), and either a cashew alfredo sauce, an olive oil based pasta salad dressing, or vegan pesto.
  2. Curry or lentil dahl, over rice or served with homemade chapatis (flatbread, similar to tortillas)
  3. White Lasagna Casserole (this is a new dish I created last week, in an attempt to use up some lasagna noodles I had. It's made without tomatoes, has a white dairy-free sauce, shredded zucchinni and carrots, plus sausage, and a generous helping of feta cheese. Surprisingly good!)
  4. Italian Rice Salad

Thursday- Mexican or Casseroles

  1. Sweet Potato Burritos in homemade tortillas (wow, these really are addictive!)
  2. Chicken or turkey pot pie, with whatever veggies are seasonal or on hand
  3. Chicken or beef fajitas

Friday- Favorites

  1. Pizza (using my tortillas as a crust, due to no yeast). I serve Ry's with vegan pesto instead of tomato sauce.
  2. Meat main dish (steak, ribs, roast chicken, etc.) with a grain (rice, millet, quinoa) and steamed or raw veggies.
  3. Feta burgers (no buns), with sweet potato fries.

Saturday/Sundays- Simple and quick!

  1. Leftovers!
  2. Sausages (fried with apples/peppers, or with a grain dish and salad, or with corn on the cob)
  3. Any sort of tortilla sandwich, quesadilla, wrap, etc. Whatever's in the fridge!
  4. Salmon Cakes (from Nourishing Traditions) or Fish Coconut Curry, with rice or other grain and a veggie
  5. Macaroni and Cheese (brown rice pasta, hemp milk, and gouda, Ry's main cheese indulgence these days!)

Ta-da! No stress meal planning! I'm so relieved that I did this as part of my personal retreat this weekend (which was wonderful, by the way).

It's Menu Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie!

Have you ever tried making a seaonal menu plan like this? How did it work for you? If not, how do you organize your meal planning?

Links I’ve Loved Lately

(How's that for alliteration? :)


Learning to use less electricity (50 ways) @ Proverbs 31 Living

Healthy Home Tips: Choose Better Body Care Products @ Environmental Working Group

Lessons From History: The Dignity of Making Ends Meet @ The Nourishing Gourmet

Birthing Choices Series (primarily on homebirth and intervention-free birthing) @ Sorta Crunchy

The No Spend Month Challenge @ Small Notebook

Have you read any great blog posts or sites lately that you want to pass on?

Taking a Personal Retreat

Notebook on table
Image by Amir K.

Every once in a while, a mom could use to just get away for a little while.

I'm not talking about self-indulgence or feeding the idea of constantly needing "me time". Our society tells us often enough that it's time we stopped doing everything for everybody else and started focusing on meeting our own needs. I don't believe that type of thinking is Biblical. We have been called to serve our families, laying down our lives for others and for God's kingdom, and to trust in Him (not ourselves) to ultimately meet all of our needs!

I do, however, think that it can be an incredibly beneficial thing to plan to take a "personal retreat" once or twice a year. This can be anything from a couple of hours in a coffee shop, to spending the day at a park by yourself, to actually going overnight somewhere and having a full day or two by yourself. It all depends on the season of life that you are in (newborn or nursing babies, a husband or family member that is able to stay with the children), your financial limitations, etc. but I think that anyone can find a way to carve out at least a little bit of purposeful time.

So what's the point of taking a personal retreat?

For me, it is a way to spend some focused, quiet time seeking God, reading His word, praying over specific issues in my life and just generally asking Him to renew my vision and my priorities for the season of life that He has me in.

It is also an opportunity to read encouraging or challenging books on important topics (on mothering, on marriage, on home educating, on a specific spiritual topic). It can be an ideal time to really flesh out the different things in my life that are fighting for my attention, and bring some clarity to what is most important and then make a plan to focus on those things and release the others.

Planning can happen more easily when I am already in the mode of refocusing myself and setting goals and priorities. I find it the perfect time to tweak my schedules and routines, to plan for upcoming months of home educating and blogging, to determine projects I want to accomplish, to choose new books to read or set a new direction for personal devotions, and to set goals (and steps to accomplish those goals) in various areas.

If you're interested in the idea of taking one, see this older post where I talk a little bit more about taking retreats, and also highlight the book Shopping for Time
which was instrumental for me in beginning to take my own retreats!

What I'll be doing this weekend…

Starting tonight, I will be serving dinner to my family and then leaving the house for several hours alone. The next morning after breakfast, I will go out again and take the entire day, until it's time to come home for dinner. My husband and I have been planning this for quite some time, and he is fully supportive of my desire to do this. He also takes retreats a couple of times a year, and we are both in agreement as to just how helpful they are to us and how they enable us to better function in the roles that God has given us.

I've been anticipating taking this retreat for the last several months, and I am so eager to go and enjoy some intimate fellowship with God, and to come home (as I always do) just bursting with eagerness and joy to do what He has called me to do, with a fresh sense of purpose and direction!

Have you ever taken a personal retreat? What did you find the most beneficial about it? If not, would you like to take one?

Free Groceries and Other Random Thoughts

 I'm writing this towards the end of a busy day (midwife home appointment this morning, and then a day at the zoo with my sweet children to celebrate Canada Day!). Here are a few things that have been on my mind:


**The kids on the train, at the end of our zoo day, showing off their face painting!**

1) Swagbucks are awesome!

First of all, thank you so much to all who signed up for Swagbucks and helped me to earn a fun gift certificate for a Father's Day present! He was thrilled to receive it, and I was so blessed that you all helped me out!

Secondly, I am having way too much fun with Swagbucks these days. I have been earning Amazon gift cards like crazy, and here's the great thing: I can use them to buy free groceries! I didn't think of this at first, but later realized (as I was thinking of all the different things Amazon sells) that groceries were totally a possibility, and there are so many options of natural, organic and even bulk foods! How cool is that?

If you haven't signed up for Swagbucks yet, you can do so by clicking on the banner below. The more friends who sign up under you, the more points you earn, so let others know about it and soon you'll be earning gift cards for Amazon (.com and .ca), iTunes, Starbucks, Target, etc. Yay for free stuff!

Search & Win

2) I'm making progress!

I continue to putter away at my "before baby" to-do lists. My list of foods that I want to have put away in the freezer is nearly complete. All that's left is a bit more baking, and possibly a different meal concept to replace Shepherd's Pie, since my husband can't eat that on his special diet.

My general to-do list is also going well! Last week I got the infant car seat washed and ready, and we did a trial run in the car. No problems, whatsoever! Praise God! This week, the shelves in my family room were fixed (thanks Ryan!) and so I've almost finished re-organizing that room, and just have a little bit of work and decoration left to do. My Nana has agreed to make my nursing pads, a friend is making some feminine cloth pads, and I also made a few myself, using my Nana's incredible sewing machine (I will not be jealous, I will not covet! :). All the newborn diapers and clothes are clean and ready to go. My garden is doing great, and I've been trying to preserve foods as they are available in abundance (drying herbs, freezing peas and turnips and spinach, etc.), and just caring for it and planting my last few summer seedlings.

This weekend is my personal retreat, on Friday evening and Saturday during the day. I'm so excited to spend some extended time really seeking the Lord and doing some planning (home educating, scheduling, blogging, etc.) that will really help me out as I enter this new season of life. And this morning we had our home visit with the midwife, and have just a few last details to get ready for our homebirth (pick up the pool and inflate it, buy just a few more supplies, gather the things I would like to use for comfort during labor, etc.). It's all coming together!

3) Guest posting spots are all filled up!

This was one of the other major things on my list. Last week I put out a request, and I could not believe how quickly and wonderfully my need for guest bloggers was met!

I already have all the guest posts that I need. What a blessing! Thank you so much, ladies, and I am so looking forward to all that you have to share! :)

No ‘Poo Update

Remember back when I made the crazy decision to toss my shampoo and start going “no-‘poo”? Ever wonder what happened with that experiment?


Over a year later, I’m pleased to say that I have continued it for the most part! I went strong with this method from last April, up until December this year, when I got pregnant. The only time that I briefly stopped was during the first half of this pregnancy, when my hair, scalp and hormones all went crazy. It wasn’t pretty, so I started using natural shampoos again for that season.

Since things have evened out a bit (probably the last 3 months or so) and for all of the months I did it last year, I’ve been really enjoying my simple, frugal habit.

The method I’m using these days is to:

  • Keep a squirt bottle with about 1/8 baking soda and the rest water in the shower. It settles between use, so each time I just shake it up briefly before I use it. I squirt it all over the top of my head and a bit onto the back, and then just rub it around and somewhat “lather” it (I add the quotations because it’s not a true lather, like shampoo, but it does foam up a bit) for about 30 seconds, then rinse.
  • Next I use some apple cider vinegar for conditioning. I dilute it 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water and keep it in a glass jar with a lid. This isn’t ideal, and I’d like to get a squirt or spray bottle for it as well. I only apply it to the bottom half of my hair, because it causes my fine, thin hair to get a bit greasy if I use it anywhere near my scalp.
  • Every once in a while, I shampoo with a high quality, natural shampoo that I happened to have around. It served as a nice transition from when I stopped no-‘poo temporarily, and has helped me to ease back into it without it being obvious that I was transitioning back again. Soon I don’t think I will need to use it anymore at all.
  • I wash my hair only every 2nd day. Back when I started, last April, I was a shower-every-day kind of girl, and my hair would get so greasy without being washed daily. Between the no-‘poo and gradually spacing out my showers (taking advantage of days at home, when I could toss it up in a ponytail!), I’ve managed to get it to the place where I can almost always go 2 days in between. The picture of my hair above is actually taken on a 2nd day, without showering, and you really can’t tell.

Once in a while, I notice that my hair is a bit dry, but then again, I’m struggling to stay hydrated enough with a summer pregnancy, and it has been a dry summer here so far this year. I have experimented once with using my homemade mayonnaise as a deep conditioner, but I didn’t find the results particularly impressive, so I haven’t bothered much since then.

I stumbled across a blog post the other day, about how a mother has adapted a similar method for her daughter’s beautiful, long hair. She uses a natural bar soap, every 5 days, and then the apple cider vinegar rinse for conditioning. Looks like it’s working well for her. Check it out!

For my kids, I continue to use just water on Caden’s short and fine hair, and maybe 1-2 drops of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
on Abbie’s slightly longer (but still very fine) hair. I wash their hair about 1-2 times per week and I don’t ever find that it looks dirty. I mean, aside from the smears of yogurt and jam and spaghetti sauce. :)

Have any of you transitioned over to using the no-‘poo method? How is it going for you, and do you do it any differently than I do? Any deep conditioning suggestions for me? What are the rest of you using for shampooing?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

Q&A: Living with PCOS


I've enjoyed your posts on PCOS. I'm struggling with that right
now. Do you think this condition contributes to my sugar cravings?


Definitely! But it's not just the PCOS, although that certainly contributes. I can think of 3 likely reasons for sugar cravings:

1) Unbalanced blood sugar and insulin levels, common in most with PCOS. When our blood sugar levels gets too low (and our insulin is off and thus not able to help balance it) the natural response is that we crave… yup, you guessed it. Sugar! It becomes a horrible, vicious cycle. Your blood sugar is low, so you crave sugar, you eat a donut, you feel great for a couple hours, then your blood sugar plummets, so you crave some chocolate, and on and on and on.

2) Most women (whether they have PCOS or not) have higher Candida or yeast levels in their bodies than is healthy. Basically, Candida is a form of yeast that feeds off of sugars, carbs, yeast, etc. that we eat You can imagine how much there is to feed Candida in a typical North American diet- all that white flour, sugar in nearly everything, yeasted white breads everywhere!

3) The fact that most of us are simply addicted to sugar and simple carbohydrates (white flours, pasta, store-bought baking, etc.).

What to do about sugar cravings?

The overall best thing is to move towards a whole foods diet, gradually cutting out more and more processed and packaged foods. Make your eating revolve around nutrient-dense animals foods (grass-fed meat and poultry, free-range eggs, whole and preferably raw dairy, wild fish), as well as whole grains like whole wheat flour, oats, brown rice and others (instead of refined, white grains), and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Start replacing typical sweets and baked goods with homemade, more wholesome versions (and better sweeteners, like honey, maple syrup or Rapdura), or try eating fruit when those sugar cravings come instead. Seek out whole grain sourdough or sprouted grain breads, in place of store-bought white bread. And try to always eat a bit of protein with every meal or snack throughout the day, to keep that blood sugar balanced!

You will find, as I have (and I was seriously, completely addicted to sugar and white carbs!) that over time your taste buds will change and you will stop craving these sugars so badly. Your body and taste buds will begin to be much more satisfied with these wholesome foods, and you will start to feel better… so much better! Less headaches, less cravings, less fatigue, less digestive issues, less breakouts, less roller-coaster emotions. It's a very. good. thing. :)

I'm curious about the PCOS thing, which I also have. Did u take any
medication or supplements to help you be more fertile after u went off
the pill? My cycle is SO irregular, i haven't got the foggiest clue
whether or when I ovulate. I'm becoming quite depressed and
despondent, because we really want kids. But every time i miss a
period, it seems to be just my messed up cycle. I thought u might have
some advice.

God bless

Liz, I'm so sorry. I know the discouragement you're feeling and it's hard. Huge hugs to you!

The biggest thing that I did when I went off the pill (which I would never, ever recommend- avoid it like the plague!) was to switch my diet over to a whole foods diet as I've just talked about above. I think that this was really helpful for me in starting to replenish many of the nutrients that the pill had sucked out of my body, begin to balance my blood sugar and insulin levels, and to start to nourish my body more fully so that it could get back to cycling more regularly.

I'll tell you the truth, that it didn't happen overnight. It has been a process of about 6-7 years since I began to deal with PCOS, over the course of which my body has gradually begun to cycle more regularly on it's own, allowing me to conceive more easily. Even after having my first baby, when my cycle came back it was still incredibly irregular and it took us a year to conceive our second child, which eventually happened with the help of a mild ovulation medication (Clomid, also not something I particularly recommend).

A few suggestions… one is to add a really good quality B vitamin into your diet. Make sure that it has all of the B vitamins, but especially B6 and B12, which are crucial for hormones and reproductive function. These are really depleted while being on the pill. Another suggestion is to start tracking your cycle by charting it. This will really give you more of an idea of what's actually happening in your body, which is priceless. Third, look into Vitex, which I will talk about below.

I have really enjoyed your series on PCOS and have
even ordered Nourishing Traditions. I have a quick question about
Vitex. You mentioned that this was one of the most effective things
that you have taken for PCOS. I was wondering how often you took it
(i.e. every day of the month, only before ovulation stopping after you
ovulated, etc.). I've been wondering if I should stop taking after I
ovulated and wanted to hear what your experience has been as far as
that goes. Thanks!

Great question! For those who don't know, Vitex
(also known as Chasteberry) is a herb that is traditionally known to help balance hormones, specifically Follicle-Stimulating and Lutenizing hormones (crucial for ovulation). Many women, especially those with PCOS, have found that it helps to balance things enough to encourage ovulation and more regular cycles.

Vitex This was the case for me. I have used it both during the year that we tried to conceive our son, and also for several months before conceiving the baby I am carrying now. Both times I found it effective.

The thing about Vitex is that it requires a little bit of patience. In both instances, it took about 3 months to start to notice the effects from it and to begin to ovulate. This is considered very normal when using Vitex. It is recommended to use it steadily for 3-4 months before expecting to see any (or at least many) changes.

I have used both a tincture form, as well as capsules because they were cheaper. I found the tincture slightly more effective, but both worked. You can buy it at almost any health food store, in their herbs section. Look for it under both Vitex
and/or Chasteberry.

It should always be used daily in order to be effective. As for specific dosage, that will depend on which type, brand, etc. that you are using. Consult the package, or speak to a naturopath or a herbalist for more on dosage.

In all my research, I have never read anything suggesting that it is dangerous to continue on with it after ovulation, in case of conception. I would discontinue it as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test, but if you continually stop each time you ovulate, you will never be able to take it regularly enough to see it's effects. If anyone has any really solid information on a reason why it should be discontinued after ovulation, I'd be really interested to hear/read it, but my personal opinion is that it's not harmful.

For those with PCOS, is any of this helpful? Does it spark further questions or comments? Any other issues you would like to have specifically discussed?