Risky Pregnancies, Sibling Relationships, Postpartum, Laziness in Homeschooling and More: 4 Moms Q & A

It’s time for the 4 Moms to answer some of our reader’s questions. I got a good batch of questions from my Facebook readers this week, thanks ya’ll! moms of many manage

Elizabeth wondered,

how we homeschool with a new baby in the house.

Our specific school schedule depends upon the baby and his/her personality and needs. We’ve been blessed, for the most part, with content, happy babies and are generally back into homeschooling within a few days to a few weeks of the baby arriving. However, we don’t hesitate to take more time off if the baby (or we) need it. It’s one advantage of year round homeschooling.

The 4 Moms recently posted about coping with a newborn for more ideas about making the adjustment.

Another Elizabeth asked,

How do you handle portion sizes at meals? Do you limit how much your children can eat? I rarely get 2 nights out of meals anymore, and feel like as these children all get to be teens they will eat us out of house and home!”

At the beginning of the meal we dish each family member a reasonable portion of everything on the table. As people finish eating we offer them more of what is available, usually this would be another serving of vegetables and perhaps bread or rice. We generally don’t have an ‘all you can eat’ policy, but seconds on veggies are generally available.

The short answer to whether we limit how much our children eat is, ‘yes, kinda’. We make a recipe go as far as it should. For example, if I make something that should feed 24 (we have 12 people in our family who eat solid food), then we will reserve half of that to serve at another meal rather than allow everyone to eat it all up. We also rarely get two nights out of meals, but we do double, triple or quadruple recipes to stock our freezer.

Bethany wondered,

“How would you and your husband handle it if your doctor advised you not to get pregnant again due to a real risk to mom and baby?”

This is a tough question. For years, Mark and I have specifically prayed that we will never face this scenario.

It’s impossible to answer this question without knowing all the specifics.

In our society  where most doctors do not hold a biblical view of children and/or God, doctors are very, very quick to recommend not having more children because of a “real risk to mom and baby”.

I had a friend who was told that if she became pregnant again, she would certainly die or, best case, have a stroke. She went on, to the amazement of the doctors, to have three more healthy children with absolutely no problems.

Another friend was told that, because of a heart condition, she should not have any more children. She sailed through one pregnancy without a single problem. The next pregnancy she struggled through difficulties with her heart, but the end result was a healthy mom and baby.

A young lady in my parent’s church was told to never get pregnant because it would be impossible for her to carry a baby long enough for it to be viable and if she tried, she would be putting her life in extreme jeopardy. The doctors were shocked when she had a normal, healthy pregnancy without a single complication and a beautiful healthy baby.

We also have several friends who have witnessed God closing their womb when they were faced with this scenario.

It’s difficult to fully rely on the medical experts when most hold such a low opinion of life that they frequently encourage mothers to kill their own babies in order to prolong their lives.

My mother was told that if she did not abort her last pregnancy that neither she nor the baby would survive. (They both did.)

We have a friend who very recently was in the ER and the medical staff tried to insist that the parents abort the baby whose heart was still beating within it’s mother’s womb. They told the parents that there was no hope for the baby and that the mother would die, if they didn’t kill the baby immediately. Our gracious Lord took His precious little one directly into His presence and preserved the life of the mother . These parents are not guilty of murder only because they refused obey the medical ‘wisdom’.

We’ve had several friends who’ve had to visit multiple doctors and fight to find someone who would provide medical care for children who God created with special needs, because so many doctors think that these children should just be killed.

All of this to say that we, personally, do not have a lot of confidence in a doctor’s prediction. They simply don’t know what will happen. Our God knows more than the medical experts of our day. 🙂

We believe that:

  • Children are a blessing
  • God is sovereign
  •  not a single person with an eternal soul is created by accident, but by the loving, all knowing sovereign hand of God and that He has a purpose for them that we cannot begin to know
  • even in the midst of trials and hardships that God is working it for our good and His glory

We also believe that “greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13)

So what would we do? We would pray, pray, pray. And then we would seek to be faithful to God and what we believe about His character and His word.

Sally said,

“How does your family foster great sibling relations?”

What a blessing to see our children enjoy being with each other. It’s one of the beautiful blessings of being a parent.

Here are some tips and links to additional posts for fostering great sibling relationships.

Do not let sin reign in these relationships. Sin destroys and the primary thing that sin destroys is relationships. It’s important to teach our children both how to avoid sin and how to deal with sin within the relationship. (See the link to solving sibling squabbles below.)

Cultivate relationships by giving your children plenty of time together. Don’t assume that just because they live in the same house that they have enough. Even if you are ‘always’ home, if your children are too busy with school work, reading or their own individual projects and activities, they may never develop the type of relationship that you wish to see. They need to spend lots of time working, playing, talking and interacting with each other.

Have a great parent/child relationship. This is the first relationship in your child’s life and is a reference for other relationships so make sure this relationship is deep and healthy.

Here are more posts about sibling relationships:

We’ve made a lot of decisions over the years with the specific goal of developing strong sibling relationships. We believe that it’s something that is worth working toward and we’re enjoying seeing the beautiful benefits in our children. We’re looking forward to watching these relationships as our children enter adulthood.

Andrea wondered,

How do you stay on budget feeding so many people?”

Well, sometimes we don’t! 🙂

Cook from scratch. Purchase dry beans, whole grains, fresh produce, spices and milk at the grocery and make what you need from the most basic ingredients. Avoid pre-made or pre-mixed anything (soups, mixes, seasonings, breads, yogurts, etc.) – Cooking from scratch

Don’t limit ‘from scratch’ to just food. We make all of our own laundry detergent, household cleaners, toothpaste, deoderant and we’re getting ready to begin making our own soap.

Buy in bulk. We are buying less and less at the grocery store. Instead we are buying most everything in bulk.

We’re currently ordering from  Azure Standard and Bulk Natural Foods.

Serve real, whole foods. For lots of help with moving toward a more natural, whole foods diet, I highly recommend GNOFGLINS. Their online courses have been invaluable to our family as we work toward healthier eating.

For more ideas: Tips for feeding a large family on a budget.

Noel asked,

With any of your children,have you ever experienced extended ‘baby blues’ or post partum depression afterwards or has it just been ‘right back to the norm’?”

Not really. When I have struggled a bit, I’ve had good success with using wild yam (a natural form of progesterone) and essential oils to help balance things out. (I really, really want to post tons about essential oils. They’ve been such a blessing for our family!)

Becky wondered,

How do you and your husband carve out special alone time together?”

My number one best tip is to put your children to bed early enough so that you and your husband have time alone every evening. Our children have always had an early bedtime so most evenings we have a few hours alone together.

When our kids were little we enjoyed an occasional “date night in” , as our kids have gotten older, we’ve gotten into a lovely habit of having lunch together one day a week.

There have also been seasons when we have gotten up early and prayed or exercised together.

For more info: Spending time alone with your husband

The Straightened Path asked,

At what point do you go from treating your body “postpartum” like and begin preparing it for the possibility of another baby? Or do those things look the same for you?”

All but two of our children have been conceived within 4-9 months of having a baby, so they look the same for me.

She also wondered,

Do you exercise after having a baby or do you consider getting back to your daily routine & breastfeeding exercise enough?”

I do exercise after having a baby, but I didn’t when we had all little ones. I find that T-Tapp helps not only with weight loss, but, believe it or not, it helps in getting those hormones back into balance. Yes, really! I honestly dislike doing the exercises, it’s not any fun, but it is super effective and I always feel better when I do it.

Dana asked,

How do you handle a child who is just plain lazy when it comes to school work?”

She goes on to say, “I go over her work afterwards and find that she seldom does all the directions ask her to do. She’s 12 and very capable of reading directions and understanding them, but I feel like I have to spoon feed her”

This sounds like a basic obedience issue. If you’ve told her to complete the directions and she is capable of doing so, then she is simply choosing to disobey you. If this is the case, I would address it how you address any other type of disobedience.

I didn’t get to all the questions, but little man is ready to eat.

You may be interested in:

Visit the other moms of many to see what they have to say:

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31 Responses to Risky Pregnancies, Sibling Relationships, Postpartum, Laziness in Homeschooling and More: 4 Moms Q & A
  1. Anna
    November 1, 2012 | 10:26 am

    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer people’s questions and blog. I am always so blessed and encouraged by reading things here, and I often feel like your answers help me to focus on the things that really matter. 🙂


  2. Jenn
    November 1, 2012 | 10:30 am

    I remember in a post you did sometime back, you said that you spent around $75.00 per person per month for your grocery budget. We are trying to come up with a set amount to spend every month and was just wondering what your readers budget for groceries. In our family we have tried a very low food/personal care budget and it didn’t allow room for much stocking up and making sure we have panty items on hand. But on the other hand we had it way to high at one time and felt like it just gave us room to buy junk, which we don’t want either. I thought this post was extremely useful and wondeful. I love learning from the moms of many posts! God Bless!


    Heather Reply:

    curious if this is still the amount you go by. We have 8 to feed = $600. There is no way we could do that for 1 month (not enough,we probably spend almost twice that)


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We have $80 per person, per month as our goal and usually spend less than $100 per person, per month.

    Of course a lot may depend on the part of the country you live (we live in Tennessee) and how available food co-ops are in your area. But we have tons of fresh, organic produce (we’re part of a CSA), pay a little more to get raw milk, and cream (to make our own butter) and use all grass fed beef.

    Where we save is making from scratch. We rarely (if ever) purchase bread products, yogurt, pre-made anything at the store. We just make everything from scratch and purchase ingredients (such as wheat berries, fresh milk, etc.) in bulk or through a co-op.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Jen,

    We’ve found that between $80-$100 per person, per month is doable for our family and that allows us to pay more for some things that are important to us (raw milk, raw milk butter, fresh organic produce, etc.).


  3. Blair @ The Straightened Path
    November 1, 2012 | 11:00 am

    Great post Kim! I’m glad you included links to old posts and you are too sweet to link to my page with my questions too! Thank you.


  4. jayme @ No Regrets Living
    November 1, 2012 | 12:40 pm

    Jealous that you’ve been able to get pregnant 4-9 months after the last baby. I wish my body was working like that!


    Kristin Reply:

    I do too! My body doesn’t begin to ovulate until some time after the first year! And I’m healthy and in my 20’s! I guess it’s just God’s way of numbering our family 😉 It’s good that we’re all different 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks for your comments! I appreciate the quick fertility more now than I did when the children were all tiny. 🙂

    I think that I’m in the minority on this score, as generally breastfeeding as much as I do (co-sleeping, baby not sleeping through the night, no supplementation and delayed solids) is an effective child spacer.

    I do believe it’s one of God’s ways to demonstrate that He is the author of life. He plans our families and His plan for each of us is different according to the role He would have us play.

    Blessings to you both!


  5. Serenity
    November 1, 2012 | 1:25 pm

    As usual I learned a lot from you today:) I would love it if you would post more about herbs! My hubby is an RN but we do not take medicine usually. According to hubby each med you take causes problems that require two more meds (not every time, of course, but in the ICU he sees it every day). Before you know it you have a nasty cycle.
    Thanks for your encouraging blog!


  6. Gwenyth
    November 1, 2012 | 1:47 pm

    Would love to see a post someday on tips for preparing and using dry beans! Might seem basic, but it’s something I haven’t had great success with yet. Or, maybe you’ve already talked about that somewhere/sometime?


  7. Bethany B
    November 1, 2012 | 2:01 pm

    Kimberly, I have a follow-up question to your answer about risky pregnancies.

    Did the couples whom you wrote about specifically pray for a closed womb or did they pray for God’s will? Do you believe its wrong to pray for a closed womb?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I truly appreciate it.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    I don’t think that it’s wrong to pray for a closed womb as long as you are praying that, above all, God’s will be done. After all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ prayed that if it was God’s will that the cup would pass from Him.

    I know one couple took steps to prevent future pregnancies, but that God put her into menopause (at the age of 35), so it was unnecessary.

    Others have done both, praying for a closed womb and praying for God’s will. There have been times when Mark and I have prayed that God would space our children further apart.

    He is the one who both opens and closes the womb and He does so for our good and His glory.


  8. harmonyl
    November 1, 2012 | 2:15 pm

    So this is a bit of a spin-off from the question about risky pregnancies. What about when Mom has a disease before getting pregnant, and the medication is dangerous to the baby – I’m not talking about mildly risky, I’m talking about category X drugs that cause serious life-threatening defects or are abortifacients?

    This isn’t an idle question… my mom was recently diagnosed with a disease for which all the major treatments are category X drugs. She is well past her childbearing years, but I have shown signs of the early stages of the disease and I am definitely still having babies. IF I were diagnosed with this disease (not a guarantee, but I’ve had some symptoms and a blood test that indicated I could have it), I want to have thought through what I would do.

    Opting to not taking the medication for years on end would have very, very serious consequences for my health (my mom went from very healthy to very close to fully disabled in the year she was seeking a diagnosis), but it would obviously be out of the question for me to get pregnant while on a drug that causes miscarriages.



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Whew! What a difficult situation. I think I would refer to the things that we believe above:

    • Children are a blessing
    • God is sovereign
    • not a single person with an eternal soul is created by accident, but by the loving, all knowing sovereign hand of God and that He has a purpose for them that we cannot begin to know
    • even in the midst of trials and hardships that God is working it for our good and His glory

    I would expand the ‘children are a blessing’ statement to state that all children are a blessing. Children who are miscarried are a blessing. They are eternal souls who will praise God forever in heaven even if they never drew breath here on earth. And children with special needs are blessings.

    I would also reiterate that “greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend”.

    I’m not certain what we would do (other than pray and pray and pray), but we do believe everything above and, by God’s grace, would seek to be faithful to those truths.

    {{hugs}} and praying that you will never have to face that scenario!


    harmonyl Reply:

    Thank you for the reply. 🙂

    “I’m not certain what we would do (other than pray and pray and pray), but we do believe everything above and, by God’s grace, would seek to be faithful to those truths.”

    That’s pretty much what we’re doing now – and also why we’re trying to think through this now instead of at a later time when we might be more likely to act on the emotion of the moment rather than taking the time to make a godly decision.


    Lydia Reply:

    Sorry to comment on this without it being addressed to other readers. I just feel so much truth about what you say about doctors, Kim, and it was so beautifully said. And to offer another suggestion too, to harmony1, to perhaps try another system of medicine like Oriental medicine or Ayurveda before taking any medicine that could be so harmful (If its harmful to a baby it can’t be good for you either!) or if nothing like that is available in your area, at least seek out a second and third opinion before doing so. Doctors here try to push drugs soooo much when they aren’t even necessary, and our whole system of medicine is kind of corrupt it seems. I was on a very strong, damaging to pregnancy and commonly prescribed medicine for 5 years before I had the good fortune of meeting a friend from India who knew all about Ayurveda and told me my problem was, in essence, that my body was producing too much gas. After seeing an Ayurveda Doctor and taking the (natural) Ayurveda medicine, my disease gradually went away in a period of 3 months. Seek out all your options, and best of luck to you! May God bless you.


  9. Lindsey in AL
    November 1, 2012 | 4:33 pm

    We are a family of almost 8 and spend about $150 most weeks. We don’t eat grains which limits our budget-friendly cooking somewhat. We do hunt though, which helps. When we have an especially good paycheck we stock up on the things that can be stored. We should probably budget a certain amount into savings each week for stocking up but we haven’t yet. The Lord has always managed to provide just what we needed at the right time and we’re very thankful for that.
    I did recently read that food (not eating out) should not exceed 19% of your net income, if that helps.


  10. mel
    November 1, 2012 | 6:10 pm

    Are you still using the same homemade laundry soap with success? I have been using a recipe with washing soda and borax and grated soap for a while now. It seemed to work well, but now I think things aren’t getting as clean as they should…I am specifically noticing odors in things, especially my teenager’s clothing. I was going to ditch the homemade soap, but I really don’t want to because it saves so much…! I was curious what you tried the first time that didn’t work…thinking of trying your recipe to see if it works out better for us. i’d love to find something that works and save the money!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Mel,

    Yes, we’re still using our homemade laundry soap and are happy with it.

    For loads that are likely to have odor problems (wet sheets in our house) I throw in a bit of extra baking soda to the specific load. (I use a small handful.)

    I hope that helps you because using your own laundry detergent does save a lot of money.


  11. Bethany J
    November 1, 2012 | 10:28 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this post, I appreciate all of these answers. I am not sure but I may have been the Bethany who asked the question about risky pregnancies, my memory is a bit cloudy with a 5 month old and 2 year old keeping me busy all day.
    I agree with you with all of the above points relating to family and how God views children I am just not sure how to deal with my particular situation, we would very much like to have more children but our first was born at 26 weighing 1 lbs 9 oz and our five month old was born at 28 weeks weighing 2 lbs 4 oz. The 5 month old barely made it due to my having a placental abruption (with no outward signs, the Lord lead my doctor to do an ultrasound and they saw the abruption happening and they rushed me into an emergency c section, his heart rate was 50 and he was born with an APGAR of 1. Thankfully he has no long term damage), I was told that if I was at home when it happened we both would have died.) After he was born the doctors did lots of tests because of the complications I had with both births and found I have a rare blood clotting disorder and I have to be on a medication that is rated “X”- known to cause bad birth defects to babies concieved while the mother was on the med. I was told if we are to have more children I have to go off of the med and onto an injection before we conceive. It just isn’t as simple as I thought having children would be for us. I came from a large family where my mom had 7 complication free births, several at home. We are just having a hard time knowing if we should take the risks to have more children knowing how many possible complications are likely to happen or close up that option and pursue adoption for possible future children.
    I love your blog and appreciate your insights!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Bethany,

    Of course this decision is one that God has given you to make and He will give you the wisdom and strength you need to make it. I don’t know all of the facts/risks (i.e. whether your life is at risk if you’re not on the medication or the risk is primarily to the baby) and I have not been given the wisdom to make your decision.

    I want to mention my friend because I think it’s relevant to your situation. I have a dear friend who also has a rare blood clotting disorder. Her blood clots too easily and as a result she tends to get blood clots between the uterine wall and placenta, cutting off oxygen supply to the baby.

    She and her husband have wrestled and struggled with the dilemma you are facing and I know that they have learned to trust God more through the process.

    They have a small private graveyard for the little ones they’ve lost with 7 little head stones, but they also are preparing to meet their 6th healthy baby. We’ve grieved with them at small, private funeral services and rejoiced with them as God adds more to their family here on earth.

    At one point during a time of struggle she said to me that she was just so tired of birthing babies directly into heaven and didn’t think that she could keep going (they lost about 4 in a row at this point). My heart breaks for the difficult path they have walked, but I’ve been blessed by God’s grace shining through them.

    Through it all they recognize that God gives and God takes away. They realize that this has a purpose and they bless Him in His goodness. They are busy raising those children whom God has preserved and they look forward to someday meeting the children that God.

    God is good and will give you and your husband the wisdom that you need to make this extremely difficult decision.

    Another option is to consider and research alternative treatments for your condition. I’ve been amazed at the very effective options that are available for many problems. The friend I mentioned above has thoroughly researched her condition has changed diet, added supplements and seen natural-pathic doctors to avoid the drugs that traditional doctors resort to. It may not be possible in your situation, but it may be something to look into.

    May God bless you and your husband and give you the wisdom, strength and contentment you need to walk the path that He has ordained for you.


  12. Tommie
    November 2, 2012 | 2:09 am

    Please share your toothpaste recipe! How long have you been using this recipe?


    Jamie Reply:

    I was JUST about to ask these SAME TWO questions :).


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We’ve been using (and tweaking) this basic recipe for several months.

    4 Tblsp coconut oil
    4 Tblsp baking soda
    2 tsp Dr Bronners Castile Liquid Soap (we use peppermint, but you could use the baby mild if you don’t like peppermint)
    2 tsp xylitol (this is a sweetener and it’s been proven to reduce cavities, prevent tooth decay and gum disease.)
    20 drops therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil
    2 drops therapeutic grade Thieves essential oil

    Mix together the xylitol and Castile soap until the xylitol dissolves. Then mix in remaining ingredients.

    We’ve made this without any baking soda for the children (they prefer that).

    We make this in double batches in wide mouth mason jars and use tongue depressors to apply it to the toothbrushes.


  13. Elizabeth Sacks
    November 3, 2012 | 10:38 am

    Thanks for the answer and the link! We did well with Ava when she was just born (that is child no. 3) but nobody was in school then! I know it took roughly a month for us all to get back into the swing of things, so I scheduled roughly a month. Kim C at Life in a Shoe mentioned year round schooling as well, and I’m wondering if I should just restructure my school year entirely. PA homeschool law doesn’t say anything about traditional school years, but they do require at least 180 days. I’m wondering if I can be super flexible about when those days occur.

    Also, as I shared on Life In A Shoe, this is a source of real anxiety for me, something I think I need to get a hold of! This being our first year homeschooling is difficult in its own right, as we sort out what works and what doesn’t. But two things really make me nervous.
    1.) Living in PA, in an especially hostile to homeschoolers school district, in which I used to have professional ties.
    2.) Family objections. Many of our family do not hide their hostility towards homeschooling, and have mentioned it to and in front of our children.

    Because of these two things, I feel a constant pressure to justify our choices. I know (in my head) that I needn’t justify God’s Word, and that I needn’t justify a trust in it that both my husband and I try to confirm daily. We are (blessedly) on the same page. He is my knight in shining armor, and makes it a point to be a team when it comes to outside objections. In many ways, my constant anxiety is more of an issue than the problems themselves! This is an area in where I need to simply put more trust in God, and soldier on! The mechanics are not as hard as the emotions!


  14. Julie
    November 5, 2012 | 3:26 pm

    I would be really interested in a post on essential oils. I am always looking for more natural ways to boost immunity and keep my family healthy!

    Great post.


  15. Christie Martin
    November 5, 2012 | 4:02 pm

    I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for answering a question in which I feel our Lord was using for my ears~It was the question about risky pregnancies. I recently had a miscarriage followed by a pulmonary embolism (I’ve had 2 successful uncomplicated pregnancies previously). While in the hospital, I was told to forget having any more children and that I would need blood thinners for life (despite no medical or family history of clots). I finally found a Christian pulmonologist who will support us in future pregnancies and who also supports our faith. However, I have had a heart of fear lately and reading your answer I just feel at peace and that you are SO right that our Lord knows His purpose for all of us and He will give us our answers we are looking for through prayer, not medical doctors. Thank you so much!!!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. May God bless you with continued calmness and safety.


  16. Liz
    November 5, 2012 | 11:21 pm

    Dana asked,

    “How do you handle a child who is just plain lazy when it comes to school work?”

    Kim, you may be correct that it is “disobedience,” but some children have a condition that is often goes undiagnosed,it is called “Executive Function Disorder(EFD).” Children with this disorder need to be shown how to read and break down directions/instructions to make sure they are not missing anything. EFD can also show up in areas of time management and organization of priorities to complete a task or tasks. See more information at http://www.ldonline.org/article/24880/



  17. Ashleigh
    November 23, 2012 | 11:37 pm

    Hello! I am new to your blog, but have several friends who are regular readers. My husband and I have 3 beautiful, precious gifts. We had our third baby in May, so he is now 6 months old. We are very open to having more children, yet I really enjoy “savoring” each child’s babyhood. I really think I’m pregnant again with our 4th, but for some reason am having a hard time accepting it. I know this child will be a blessing too, but I guess I’m just here for some encouragement. Has anyone else struggled with this- that is, wanting to “savor” each child’s babyhood?


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