Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gnowfglins eCourse

I like to periodically mention the eCourse I help teach, just in case anyone is interested!

Gnowfglins.com is run by an online friend of mine. She has constructed an entire course to teach people how to cook using traditional food preparation methods. The science behind this is fascinating, and she explains it as you go. In just a couple of weeks she's starting a class on cultured dairy - how to make your own sour cream, butter, cheese...pretty interesting and fun!

I have been involved in the current class on sourdough. For those interested, I have converted all of the sourdough recipes in the course to gluten free recipes. And they are delicious! Pizza crust (good pizza crust!), biscuits, donuts, bread, waffles, and lots more. The sourdough serves two purposes - leavening that doesn't require you to use store-bought yeast (which some people are sensitive to), and also reducing the phytic acid content in whole grains which keeps your body from absorbing minerals. This is the way people made bread for thousands of years. They had good reasons for it. :)

If you sign up through the links here, I will receive a small referral fee. Just so ya know. :) I really believe in the information in this course. I wholeheartedly recommend it! Subscriptions start at just $10/month.

Also, one of the most time-consuming aspects of this way of eating, is planning your meals. Though the prep time isn't really longer, it has to be done in advance. That's why Gnowfglins.com developed their handy meal plans. Each week, they send out the recipes for the week, along with a sheet where you can write down all your meals and prep steps for the week. This is a HUGE time-saver, not to mention it takes the stress out of figuring out what's for dinner.

Check out Gnowfglins.com for more information, and subscribe to the blog there - it's great info and I have occasionally guest-blogged. :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

7 Quick Takes

So much to say, so little time...

1. The allergy treatments we're doing with Audrey are working! Praise God! In the past few weeks, she's been able to eat banana, avocado, kiwi, and pineapple with no problems. Amazing. Her skin is healing up and getting smooth again. She still seems to be having trouble with certain spices, and that treatment is a few weeks down the road. Still, we are so happy to see real improvement.

2. Our trial with our former landlord was yesterday, and he didn't come. Therefore, we got a default judgment in our favor. It will still take some time to get our deposit back as we follow the court procedure, but this was a very positive thing. The judge kind of chuckled and said, "Happy New Year." :)

3. The van is broken again...or still. It wouldn't start in early December and we had it towed to a shop for a diagnostic. They wanted $700 to replace the fuel pump so we had it towed back to our house, where the towing guy proceeded to drive it off the truck. Come to find out it had run at the shop too, and they never mentioned that. Nick talked to some friends and they suggested cleaning the battery terminals to make sure it was getting a good connection. He did that, and the van ran fine for two more weeks. Then it quit again. At this point we're thinking it must be the fuel pump after all. Lame-o.

4. Our Christmas/Tessa's first birthday was SO fun. We opened presents at our house, then went to my parents' for brunch and more presents, then came home for naps, then had my parents and siblings to our house for MORE presents and birthday cake. Tess was about done with the presents by the end. And she LOVED her GF carrot cake. I made this one and spiced it with allspice and ginger since Audrey can't do cinnamon. It was very moist and delicious. I frosted it with the first recipe on this page, using coconut oil and coconut milk. Very good.

5. We are staying HOME for New Year's. And there are absolutely no complaints here.

6. I'm excited to get back into a regular routine after the holidays. We have lots of homeschooling projects that will be fun. I also am looking forward to hosting gluten free classes at my house.

7. My Christmas epiphany this year was this: God's not afraid of the dust of everyday life. Sometimes I get frustrated by dirt. I have three small children. There is no way to have everything clean all of the time. Relationships with people are messy. Cars break down. Sometimes our emotions control us when they shouldn't. Sometimes it seems the thing standing between a perfect environment/house is MONEY. But, God didn't send His son to be born to a rich family in a sterile, spotless hospital. He sent him to a dirty stable. They laid Him in a manger that had animal food, slobber and manure caked on it. Think of the germs! And people freak out about homebirth... ;) But none of that scared God. And He understands earth, in a way that is comforting to me.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I pray God's blessings on you and your families!

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light; those who dwelt in the land of intense darkness and the shadow of death, upon them has the Light shined.
Is. 9:2

Friday, December 3, 2010

Noticing

Yesterday, my sister and I went to visit my Gramma at the assisted living place she's at for a few days. This is a long story which I won't tell publicly, but if you are family or something and happen to want to hear the story, I'll be happy to tell you. Message me or something. :)

Anyway, our visit with Gramma was nice, and when we headed downstairs to leave, we walked past the community living room where several of the residents were sitting. They immediately spotted the children and exclaimed in excitement. We stopped and let them hug, chat, ask questions, and talk about how beautiful and cute they all were. (My sis had my nephew, and my three girls were there). One lady in particular, probably in her early 90's, latched onto me and kept talking to Tess and telling me how beautiful "he" was (she was wearing dark purple), and telling me,
"Give him everything. Give him everything you have. Give him so much love."
She was so passionate and purposeful in what she was saying that it brought tears to my eyes. We stood around for a few more minutes, and she said,
"I never had any children, though I would have loved to. We couldn't have children, and they wouldn't let us adopt because I was protestant and my husband was catholic. But we would have been great parents. Oh, how I wish we could have had a child. I wish you were my daughter."
It seemed shallow after that, but we needed to leave so I gave her a hug, wished her Merry Christmas, and she said again,
"Give him everything you have, all the love you can give him. But don't spoil him. But give him everything."

Her words keep playing in my mind, over and over. Sometimes this world is a sad place. That poor woman.

It's so easy to stop noticing. I want to take the time to actually look into my children's eyes when they talk to me. To sit down and hold Audrey when she asks (which is often). To have conversations with people that mean something. To listen for God's voice. I think it's so important not to let the busy work of life crowd out the important stuff. We've been in a challenging season of life, really for most of this year and I'm rather weary. But there is still so much joy to be found in life. What is bringing you joy?

5 Questions for Friday

1. If you could teleport, where would you go right now? Can be anywhere, anytime.

2. Cats or dogs? Why?

3. What are you asking for, for Christmas?

4. What are you most excited to give for Christmas?

5. How do you like your oatmeal?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

on marriage

Great thoughts from our friend and financial pastor, Amie Streater.

P.S. Buy her book!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5 Questions for...MY Friday. :)

1. What's the last thing you cooked?

2. What color is the thing closest to your left hand (other than the computer)?

3. What is your favorite Christmas Carol?

4. How many times have you watched the Thanksgiving Charlie Brown movie?

5. Favorite Thanksgiving dish?


Not much time for blogging lately. Life has been crazy, and full of details that aren't good for posting in blogs. However, God is faithful, my children are healthy, my husband is terrific, and I can't wait for rest and time with our family this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! God bless!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wisdom for mothers from 1905

This made me smile today. Funny how many things we used to know, but have to rediscover with every generation. Maybe we should start passing on these types of wisdom?

5 Questions for Friday

1. Did your family have any Thanksgiving traditions when you were growing up?

2. What's your favorite Disney movie?

3. What's the last article of clothing you bought? Was it a good purchase?

4. Favorite Christmas cookie?

5. Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket? If yes, please tell the story. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In Hiding

I have a peculiar habit when I get overwhelmed - I go into hiding.

I'm by no means unhappy right now. We are enjoying our new house, the kids are doing well, things are looking up. But I feel like I have so much to do that it's hard for me to play or even talk much. The curse of being "Martha" at heart? I suppose. Though I also think there are seasons for this. Stabilizing. Creating routine and structure. Accomplishing things around the house. Forming family culture without outside influences.

Of course, if we did this long-term, it wouldn't be healthy. And it won't last forever. For the time being, I'm finding myself looking forward to doing laundry and putting it away clean. To hanging pictures and deciding where to store DVDs. To reading Little House on the Prairie and memorizing Bible verses for Wednesday nights at church. To bringing in yet more boxes from the garage and rediscovering things we haven't seen in a few months.

Life is quiet. I'm grateful.

Friday, November 5, 2010

5 Questions for Friday

1. Favorite music to drive to?

2. Have you ever driven your dream car?

3. What's your Starbucks drink?

4. What's the song in your head?

5. Where did you meet your best friend?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Classes at my house

Starting this month, I'm going to be hosting classes at my house, about how to go Gluten Free (gluten free 101) and about how to make water kefir sodas. Because you, my friends, make the time to regularly read my ramblings, I figured you might be interested in my heart behind this. In no particular order...

Reason #1 - These are things I get asked about a lot. Like, several times a week most of the time. As much as I would like to (and as much as I've tried), I simply cannot walk people through these subjects individually and do it well. So if you've contacted me about these types of things and received a short answer that was incomplete, that's why. :) I'm not holding out on you, but aside from replying with a form letter, I honestly am afraid to broach the subject because of how much there is to communicate about them. They are HUGE subjects, that can take months and years to learn about. (And for me, they have. I have put hours and weeks and months into learning these things)

Reason #2 - Teaching these things in a physical class, where you can touch, see, hear, taste and smell works infinitely better than just reading an email. I can let you smell kefir that's gone too long, so when that happens to you, you know exactly what's wrong with it and how to fix it. Since I can't (usually) come personally smell your kefir, I want you to know what it should smell like. :)

Reason #3 - I believe in having people in my home, and in encouraging each other emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically in the area of health. Women need each other. We need to live in healthy community. I think sometimes out of fear, we don't spend enough time in each other's homes. And Facebook is not a substitute for this genuine community. I'm interested in the lives of the people who would seek out this information. I want to teach them what I know and encourage them to pursue answers for their own health.

Reason #4 - If I can, I want to use the hours of research I've done and the circumstances our family has experienced, to help pay off debt and make life more comfortable for our family. We are very blessed, but we also have massive student loans that we need to pay off in...oh...less than 30 years. Charging a little for the classes also ensures people will show up. In this age of too many FB invites, even requests for RSVP'ing aren't taken very seriously. I will put time and energy into these classes and make them worth your time and money, but I don't want to waste that energy.

My disclaimer is that I'm not a health professional of any kind. I have no certifications. I am a teacher though, and the things I've learned have come through my own research and experience for my own family. Each person needs to take responsibility for their own health and not rely on any individual for their health answers - doctor or otherwise. All I can do is tell you what I know and what has worked for us. It's up to you to decide if it will work for your circumstances.

So, with that said, works in progress:

Gluten Free Classes
Water Kefir Classes
Classes at Sara's on FB

Friday, October 29, 2010

5 Questions for Friday

1. What's one of your earliest memories?

2. How many pillows do you need to sleep comfortably?

3. Current craving?

4. Favorite piece of jewelry that you own?

5. Current frustration (a silly one is totally allowed)?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Idea

So I'm toying with a new brilliant (maybe?) idea: Gluten Free Classes at my house. Would anybody be interested in this?

Some class ideas I have:

Gluten Free 101 - the basics - how to avoid cross-contamination in your kitchen, what foods have gluten, a couple of basic meal ideas...

Gluten Free Cooking - meal planning, recipes, ideas

Gluten Free Sourdough - how to do a starter, how to convert recipes, making bread...

Gluten Free Desserts - maybe I could convince a friend of mine to teach this one. She makes awesome frou-frou GF desserts. ;)

Anyone?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Abide


John 15:4, 5 Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

What does it look like to go through each day without getting short-tempered or discouraged, afraid or worried? Is it possible to do that? It must be, or else God wouldn't have given us the instructions that He did:

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?

As far as I can tell, the only way to live this way is to Abide in Him. Here's the definition of abide, according to Dictionary.com:

–verb (used without object)
1. to remain; continue; stay: Abide with me.
2. to have one's abode; dwell; reside: to abide in a small Scottish village.
3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last.

This is being constantly aware of Him. Not concerning ourselves with anything, but talking with Him about all of it. Being aware of His presence during the most menial tasks during the day (If you haven't read it, check out Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God). It amazes me that He cares about all the details of our lives, but His Word assures us that He does. This is the intimacy with God that I long for. This will make us unshakable, steady and calm in any circumstance, knowing the heart of our God and trusting that His hand is working.

And, like Paul said, "
I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward." (Phil 3:13, 14)

Who's with me?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Five Questions (late)

1. What is your favorite vegetable?

2. The best use of pumpkin is_______?

3. What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

4. Are you going anywhere during the Holiday season?

5. Does it feel like it's almost November, to you?

Getting Organized

Everybody seems to have a different opinion on how clean is "clean." Personally, I find this intriguing. We all spend way too much time worrying about whether our house will live up to other peoples' standards, in my opinion. If it makes you happy, be confident. If it doesn't, find a way to fix it. (Or wait until your children grow up a bit, that may be necessary as well?)

Anyway, any time I find my house out of control, and feel there is no way to keep up, I always default to using Flylady. I love that her stuff is free (unless you want to buy her cleaning stuff that she recommends, which is definitely tempting), I love that she's positive and encouraging, I love that she gives a step-by-step process by which you can get your mess under control. I do NOT love how many emails she sends so I generally do not subscribe to her yahoo list, and I also refuse to wear shoes in my house all day. But her principles of housekeeping can't be beat.

I tend to do her plan in spurts, mainly because I'm not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't like to spend my entire life keeping my house spotless...but with her plan, I actually probably could. I generally use it to get things manageable, and then I'm able to maintain a level of cleanliness that I'm happy with, without doing exactly what she says.

I also found this iPhone app that really helps me keep track of what I'm supposed to be doing. It follows her "zones" and allows you to set up your own morning and evening routines. It even has a 15 minute timer built into it, and when time's up it plays this epic music, designed to help you feel like you accomplished something. :)

We're working on writing out morning and evening routines for each member of the family (well, Tess might get out of this), along with another 15-20 minutes of chores for each day. If all four of us work on the house, we'll get things fixed up in no time!

Do you use any particular method for keeping the house clean? Do your kids do chores? What household chores is each person responsible for? Do you hire a housekeeper? (Lucky! ~read that like Napoleon Dynamite) Do you WISH you had a method for keeping your house clean?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook


More here.
FOR TODAY, October 21, 2010

Outside my window...wispy, light clouds that are filtering the sun and making it colder than it should be. Our big backyard - firepit that we've yet to use (marshmallow roasting, anyone?), natural high prairie, a few small trees, a handful of zucchini plants from our landlord's garden that are hanging on just a bit longer.

I am thinking...about what to do next. I keep reminding myself of the good advice that is often echoed among homemakers and homeschoolers blogs - just "do the next thing." One thing at a time, it gets done. But the hard part is deciding what that next thing is...lots of prayer in this area lately.

I am thankful for...for a home. We like the layout of this house better than the one we moved from. For Tess FINALLY deciding to take some bites of sweet potato for me last night. Being the sole source of nourishment for another human being, for going on 19 months (including pregnancy) was becoming quite a chore. A woman can only eat so much!

From the learning rooms...how to pack a box, how to organize a dresser drawer, time in the backyard, exercise on the trampoline, reading together. The past weeks have been focused on moving, but these are needed life lessons as well.

From the kitchen...a fresh gluten free sourdough starter, and some gingerbread experimenting soon to follow. The newest lesson on the Gnowfglins.com sourdough ecourse is gingerbread made with sourdough starter. :)

I am wearing...black linen pants, flowered cream thermal shirt, green tee.

I am creating...my new home. I'm actually having a blast dreaming up decor and places for pictures. We put the kids to bed early last night and I worked until 11pm. I'm feeling much better about things today than I was yesterday. Caring for kids is a full-time job by itself, and trying to unpack and set up a house sure gets overwhelming. I sincerely hope this is the last time for a looooong time.

I am going...to Denver for Audrey's allergy treatment tomorrow. Aside from that, our plans are to stick close to home...oh, and get the apartment cleaned out.

I am reading...a chronological Bible reading plan at Youversion.com. Right now I'm in the Psalms of David. It's really interesting to read the Psalms he wrote, surrounded by the historical events that took place in his life. Helps you gain perspective about how he sought God during difficult times. And, it makes me wanna write worship songs....more than usual.

I am hoping...that everything works out to finally sell our Jetta next week. It's looking like a go!

I am hearing...Hannah and Audrey playing together, Tess objecting to being gated away from where they're playing.

Around the house...unpacking, decorating, unpacking some more...

(after a three hour hiatus, I'm able to continue this post. :))

One of my favorite things...that all three children are sleeping AT THE SAME TIME right now. :)

A few plans for the rest of the week: Dr P appointment for Audrey, grocery shopping, cleaning the apartment, church, more unpacking.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...one of the many faces of Tessa...


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The House Report

The background:
We were living east of town, in a house that we loved, that we were renting. 23 days before our lease was set to expire, which technically means it had automatically renewed, our landlord informed us he had decided to rent-to-own the house (to a friend, we assume, since no one had seen the house). 2 days later, my grandfather passed away in CA. Two weeks later we returned from our trip there, with two weeks to find a place to live. There was NOTHING. June 1st, we moved into a 1000 square foot apartment - the five of us plus the dog and cat. October 16th, we moved back into the same neighborhood we were in before, with a better house and situation!

The stats:
3rd move in 15 months
To a house that God totally worked out
Owned by a wonderful Christian family who had to suddenly move to CA for a job
Who didn't have much time to clean and prepare the house
Who didn't even charge us a deposit (thankfully, since our last landlord has thus far disappeared with the last one)
3 minutes from our church that we love
5 bedrooms
1/2 acre yard

Favorite thing: bedroom that adjoins the master for Tessa. She's already waking up less.

Least favorite thing: carrying laundry down 4 half-flights of stairs to the basement. I've been spoiled with main or even bedroom-level laundry.

Most surprising: we ended up giving Hannah and Audrey their own rooms and we all love it.

Random project: yesterday I took the cabinet doors off two of the kitchen cabinets and set glass jars full of nuts, seeds, grain, etc. It looks so pretty!

Thanks: to Elizabeth and Karin, who spent most of their Saturday helping me deep-clean the kitchen.

Done: the kitchen and living room...mostly

To do: unpack the bedrooms and bathrooms, magic eraser the walls, clean the carpets, hang curtains, touch up paint in a few places

Need/want: to sell our big oak desk and buy a small one that fits in the kitchen, to sell the entertainment center and buy a tv stand that fits in the tv cubbyhole thingy, to figure out why one upstairs toilet doesn't flush, a garage door opener, bedside tables, a flat screen computer monitor for the small desk, to sell the two counter-top microwaves we have and buy a new over-the-stove one since it doesn't work

We are very blessed. And very busy. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Five Questions for Friday

1.What's something you are good at?

2. What's something you are not good at?

3. What's the last thing that made you laugh really hard?

4. What is your dream gift, to give or receive, if money were no object?

5. What's your favorite flower?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Change


I realize I am somewhat unique in this, but I thrive on change. Whenever I see people complain about how they hate change, I laugh to myself. I realize that sometimes there are things that you love, that are hard to leave behind. I do experience that. When we moved from our house to the apartment this spring, I shed many tears over that change. But I was still energized by a new place, a new home to set up. Nothing will drive me to depression faster than feeling like the way things are today, is the way they will always be. I want life to continually improve. I want to continually grow.

We're currently in waiting mode about our move. We know it will happen sometime this month, but we don't know when. And it's driving me crazy. Part of me wants to attack the packing with everything I've got, knowing that I can accomplish a lot of it and be ready to go. The other part of me says we might have three more weeks here and most of what's in the apartment, out of necessity, gets used frequently. Arg. And there's nothing anyone can do about it. Change, please come soon!

Friday, October 1, 2010

5 Questions for Friday

1. How do you typically spend your free time, as infrequent as it may be?

2. Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?

3. Why did you cry the last time? (be as general or specific as you'd like)

4. What's your favorite color to wear?

5. Tell us a favorite thing about your spouse/significant other.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baking

I decided to bake today. I've been dealing with a bit of discouragement in the food area. With all the food limitations, I get really tired now and then. It's not just a matter of feeding my children "healthy" food. There are many healthy foods that are not at all healthy for them. Because I have to do so many substitutions, often I have to experiment with multiple batches before getting something as good as I would like it to be. But, when it comes to baked things, the kids are awfully forgiving.


Today I made our weekly gluten free sourdough bread. I've been experimenting with this again. I had been making it the same every time for several weeks, but I'm tweeking the flour ratios and trying different things to see how they effect the texture, flavor and rise. This week's experiment was adding ground flax. It didn't rise as much as I hoped, but it did get round on top which seems difficult to achieve with gluten free doughs. It also seems maybe a bit more tender than without it, which I would definitely like. It doesn't change the flavor significantly. Last week's experiment was adding ground GF oats. That one was not a winner. It added a strange flavor that none of us enjoyed much.

I also made a batch of muffins. I had planned on two separate batches of muffins, one the girls could eat and one for Nick and me with things they couldn't have, but we were running low on the eggs from our chickens which we are feeding a soy-free feed so the eggs are easier on us. My parents are currently keeping our chickens, and we'll pick up more eggs this afternoon, then finish the muffins that I started soaking last night.


So, the girls' batch ended up being zucchini/ginger (both things they can have, though normally they would complain about eating zucchini), and I plan to do apples and cinnamon for Nick and me. Gnowfglins.com's eCourse just posted a sourdough muffin recipe which I easily adapted to GF with my brown rice starter, using 1/2 c. sweet rice flour and 1/2 c. tapioca flour, then following the rest of the recipe as written. For our muffins, I grated the zucchini and then squeezed out most of the water in a towel before adding to the batter. And I just used powdered ginger so the flavor wouldn't be too strong for the kids. I baked in a mini muffin tin so they would be more manageable for the kids.

With these add-ins (zucchini and ginger) that aren't inherently sweet, I think the batter could have used 1/2 c. of sugar. I used a bit more than 1/3 c. But otherwise they are very good. I might also add a bit less milk next time, so they would rise nicer. But then again, the zucchini added so much moisture that it's nearly impossible to judge that.

This is pretty much all I have accomplished so far today, since Tess decided not to nap and instead to fuss no matter what I tried. Much of this was done with her on my hip. :) Very ready for this round of teething to be done!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things that make me smile

The song I Was Made for Sunny Days on The Weepies new album. Wish I had written it.

How much Tess loves her daddy. And watching her "talk" to us. She is very serious about communicating, already.

The outfits Hannah and Audrey put together. Audrey is in red today, from head to toe. Hannah is wearing a striped pink shirt, red flowered skirt, gray pants, and pink sneakers. I fully intend to let them go to the library like that if they want.

Bacon.

Songs from The Jungle Book.

Thinking about being in our new house soon.

My pink geranium that LOVES the fall weather - cool nights and warm days.


FINALLY feeling better. The kids and I have been taking turns getting sick for 2+ weeks.

I think that's a good list. Not much sleep around here the past couple weeks as Tess is getting teeth number 5 and 6 at the same time, the upper ones first, for some reason. At least that's the only reason I can come up with for 3-4 wakeups every night. Soon she will have her own room again. That should be easier!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Musings on family

Easter 2010


I don't know what made me think of it recently, but the past week or so I've been thinking about how my children are eternal beings, just like me.

Christian theologians generally agree that humans are three parts - spirit, soul and body. Body is the physical part, soul is the mind and emotions, and spirit is the part that was redeemed by Christ's death and will live forever - either in Heaven or hell, depending on whether they believe in Christ....

It's easy for me to get caught up in the daily stuff (the body and soul parts) when dealing with my children. They are currently, for a short time on earth, in submission to me as their mother, and it is my job to help teach them about God and model Godly behavior to them. (Whew. In some ways, what a task! In other ways, what else could I do?) But, even though they're just children now, they're still eternal beings, like me. And spiritually, they have the same ability to minister to me as I have to them. And Hannah and Audrey have both accepted Christ, and love to talk about the things of God. And when you start thinking in terms of eternity, the 25 or 30 years age difference between me and my kids seems rather insignificant. They have as much to teach me as I have to teach them.

All of this may seem kind of self-evident, but I just keep thinking about it. When I think about my kids like that, it makes it impossible to be impatient with them. It makes me discipline lovingly and gently. It just generally makes me respect and enjoy them more. I need to remember this. I have been enjoying them so much the past few days. How amazing to be part of creating an eternal being who is made to be in relationship with God? How amazing to learn to live together, and love each other? This family thing God came up with is pretty amazing.

Yesterday my youngest sister was home from college and all of my siblings were together at my parents' house for the first time in a long time. We have so much shared history together, so many inside jokes. We each have strengths and weaknesses, but my parents are having the honor of watching their children become adults. Their work is paying off. When kids are little it sometimes seems like the days never end. But at some point, they do. Rather quickly, they say.

Putting all these rather unrelated thoughts together makes me happy to be a mom, happy to be home raising my children, happy to have the experience of watching them grow, happy to HAVE them because of their value in my life and the lives of other people... Moms, what we're doing is worth it. Keep up the good work. :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Five Questions for Friday

1. How many kids would you have, if you didn't feel limited by money, time, other resources? Be honest. :)

2. Who is your favorite Veggie Tales character?

3. What time did you get up this morning and why?

4. What thing have you always wanted to try making but haven't?

5. What smells remind you of your childhood?

Thanks to Derfwad Manor for the idea!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

More here.
FOR TODAY, September 23, 2010

Outside my window...Blue sky, fluffy white clouds, light breeze. I must admit that I love September's weather. It's the ominous months of snow approaching that I dread. :)

I am thinking...about our family schedule. I have more students than I've had in a while, Nick is going to start teaching guitar, and between that and church stuff and going to Dr P once a week, our schedule is feeling awfully tight. We're having to make some tough decisions about how we spend our time and money. Not very fun.

I am thankful for...Audrey's quickly healing arms and legs. The allergy treatments are working wonderfully on her eczema. She hasn't looked this good in a very long time. For time alone with Nick. For rediscovering C.S. Lewis again. His writing makes my heart smile and always has. Having signed paperwork on our rental house! Waiting to find out our moving date. Should know within a week...hard to wait!

From the learning rooms...reading together, Bible study, letters and numbers... Hannah wrote her name without help or prompting for the first time! This is a huge hurdle for her! Things have been pretty simple this week as we've been dealing with sickness again.

From the kitchen...I go through times of excitement and boredom in the kitchen. Currently I'm bored and uninspired. Buying a few more things pre-prepared than usual, and I'm a little slower to keep up with the usual stuff. Sometimes I wish we could just eat out every meal, but it's not an option health-wise or budget-wise.

I am wearing...Silver brand jeans (the most reasonably-priced ones that come in a 35" inseam:) and white tee.

I am creating...my new home. In my mind. :) Mentally decorating the place...

I am going...to a meeting about my piano curriculum today. It's been on hold for several months for a handful of reasons. It will be interesting to see what God has in mind.

I am reading...a compilation of C.S. Lewis readings called Made for Heaven. Listening to a recording of Lewis' God in the Dock. Also have a whole stack of library books waiting for me. I always want to read more than I have time for. :)

I am hoping...for good news from several places. Things seem to take a long time to work out.

I am hearing...Hannah and Audrey playing with princesses in their room. Birds chirping outside.

Around the house...no comment.

One of my favorite things...watching Tess crawl around the apartment. She's pretty fast now. I'll take my eyes off her for a second and she's off around the corner, investigating something new. It's so fun to watch them discover stuff, everything is new.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Worship team tonight and Sunday, Dr P tomorrow, Nick will have to work quite a bit on Saturday because of coming home from work early a lot this week for piano and my meeting today. Bringing a meal to a dear friend and meeting her new sweet baby.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...posted it on FB so some of you have already seen it, but it makes me smile so here it is again. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Confession

I can think of no household task that I find more frustrating and often painful, than the simple task of changing the crib sheet.

Why is it so stinkin' hard?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cloth Diapers

Don't run screaming, please. :) This isn't as hard as you think it is.

A few of the reasons I love my cloth diapers:

-They're cheap
-I don't run out of diapers (assuming I wash them on time, which isn't hard)
-I don't have to wonder what kinds of horrible chemicals my baby is being exposed to every day
-They're soft and comfortable, not scratchy
-They're cuter
-They don't leak as much
-They're cheap (have I mentioned that yet?)

We use Thirsties diaper covers like these, which you can buy about 500 different places. They're about $11-12, you need about 4-6 of them, and they last several months. They make them in lots of colors and even patterns now, I saw yesterday! Our initial investment was about $120, and we've spent maybe an additional $50 on covers over the past 9 months. That's about $19 a month, plus the expense of washing them. The initial investment was a bit steep, but definitely worth it in the long run. If you can't afford to do them full-time, you could buy a few at a time and work up to it.

Fold a standard pre-fold diaper into thirds and lay it inside, then fasten the velcro. That's it!

You do have to change diapers more often when using cloth. Since they don't have all those chemicals to "wick" away moisture, if the diaper is wet all the time baby will get a rash, and they can be nasty. The solution is simple: change the diaper more often. ;)

These diapers rarely leak. When we used disposables, we always bought the most expensive ones because otherwise we ruined clothes nonstop. Cloth occasionally leaks around the legs just a bit, but you rarely have those all-the-way-up-the-back blowouts like with disposables, because there is elastic across the top back. It's also easier to make them fit correctly, since the velcro tabs run all the way across the top of the front of the diaper. You can angle the tabs and make them as loose or as tight as you need.

The washing part is scary to lots of people. That part's not bad either:

I keep a "wet bag" hung on the corner of Tessa's crib, and throw the diapers and the dirty covers in it. Every other day, I dump the whole thing into the washer. They get a cold rinse in the most water my washer will do, then a long, hot wash with laundry soap (not detergent). The covers get laid on top of the dryer to air dry, and the diapers go in the dryer. Voila'! Clean diapers. This is not rocket science. :)

Occasionally, the soap starts to build up in the fabric and the diapers need to be stripped. That means you put just the diapers (not the covers) in a hot wash with no detergent, and wash them until the water is clear. No bleach is needed, and the diapers come out almost perfectly white, with no smell. You can also dry outside in the sun and they will bleach white again.

I was nervous starting out - would I hate them after a month or two? Would I wish I had bought something different? Would she grow out of them too fast? Would it be too gross? I've been pleased with the answers. She's 9 months on Friday and I still love them. I may have enjoyed something else, but this was the cheapest option, and certainly good enough. She does grow out of the covers and they need to be replaced every 3-4 months, for size and for wear/smell. Not bad at all. As long as I don't get a big whiff of the diapers when throwing them in the wash, they are not gross at all to me.

I do need to say that she still isn't interested in solids, so she is still only breastfed. This makes a difference in how clean the diapers get and how bad the smell is. Once she gets on solids consistently, I'll see how it goes. I may look into doing G Diapers at that point. But, for a breastfed infant, this is super easy!

Another great resource is Jillian's Drawers. They have a trial where you pay a certain amount to try several different diaper types for three weeks. You send back what you don't want, and keep what you do. You only pay for the ones you keep, plus $10! We did that when Tess was an infant, and it really helped me understand how different brands and types fit, wash, wear, etc.

There ya have it. I still smile when I wash mine, no joke. :) Hope you'll give them a try!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook


FOR TODAY, September 18, 2010

Outside my window...it's dark now. But, we have having the glorious September weather that we have every year. 40 or 50 at night, 80 during the day. Clear and bright. Windswept, but that's common on the high plains.

I am thinking...about what we're wearing to church in the morning. I thought getting myself ready for church was hard. Try getting FOUR girls (myself included) ready for church!

I am thankful for...this week: new friends, old friends, Dr P, my family (including parents and siblings), feeling better. I woke up Tuesday feeling fine, and by 10am was absolutely miserable. Turns out I had my first (and hopefully last) bout with mastitis. Got that cleared up fairly quickly, but the headache that came with the fever remained and became migraine-ish. When we took Audrey to Dr P for her allergy treatment, he offered to adjust my neck for me, which had it better in oh...5 minutes. It tried to come back this evening, but something to eat and drink knocked it out again. So, I'm on the mend. But this week slipped away with very little accomplished - school, housework, etc.

From the learning rooms...one of the great things about homeschooling, is that when people are sick...you just stop. This is okay. Kids need to understand that when they are sick, they need to stop, rest and get well. I think this teaches important lessons about rhythm of life and what's really important. The world goes on without you. :) Then, when everyone feels better, you start again.

That said, the girls just started a Wednesday night program at church called Truth Seekers. I am so excited about this, and so are they. We did their homework and learned their Bible verse for the week over breakfast this morning. I was involved in a similar program as a child and LOVED it. Hannah learns just the way I do, and made me smile as she easily picked the answers to specific questions out of the Bible reading for the week.

From the kitchen...Large amounts of leftovers and veggies to use up resulted in a pretty yummy turkey veggie wild rice soup last night, of which I will be eating for DAYS, since the kids can't and Nick probably won't eat it. Also took a meal to a family from church that just had triplets. They now have 5 boys, 4 and under. They are very blessed and very busy. :)

I am wearing...khaki skirt, white tank and black short sleeved collared shirt.

I am creating...I need to come up with another creative outlet. I could use something hands-on to do besides cooking 24/7. A cross-stitch perhaps? I haven't done one of those in 20 years probably. Wonder if Hannah's old enough for one of those little ones yet?

I am going...crazy...wanna come along? We have been waaaaay too busy the past couple of weeks. Time to say no and stay home. I think. ;)

I am reading...too many blogs and too much facebook. Time to cut back and bit and read something productive.

I am hoping...that we find out tomorrow when we'll be moving. Please, please....

I am hearing...the dishwasher. That Nick loaded. This makes me happy.

Around the house...at the moment, it's a wreck. Being sick all week does not lend itself to keeping up with things. Hopefully we can get it back under control tomorrow. Might start packing this week, depending on what we find out?

One of my favorite things...hearing my nephew laugh hysterically at Hannah and Audrey on Thursday. Hadn't heard him laugh before! He even laughed at me a little. :)

A few plans for the rest of the week: Nick's on worship team in the morning. Piano lessons Tuesday. Dr P on Friday. Hopefully lots of staying home and enjoying school together.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...I took NO pictures this week. Will try again. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mini-me


I have rather frequent conversations with my mom and dad about raising children. After all, they raised 5 of them. And I really respect the job they did. They aren't perfect, but they really did their best to tune into what we needed, and what God asked them to do. I'm forever grateful. And I take advantage of having their advice readily available.

The other night, mom pointed out to me that Hannah is pretty much exactly like me. I knew this, but it kind of hit me fresh in the way she explained it to me. I have a mirror to look into. All the things I hate about myself will probably be magnified in her. Whew. This presents interesting challenges, but also interesting opportunities in relating to her. As God works in my heart, I should be able to pass on to her secrets in dealing with our rather strong personality. :) But it also means that it is soooooo easy for me to react to her rather than respond.

This morning, for example. I was sick yesterday (seem to have had my first, and hopefully last, bout with mastitis. Yuck), and not feeling so hot today yet. I had finally dragged myself out of bed this morning and was sitting on the edge of the bed nursing Tessa when Audrey started yelling at me from the other room. Hannah came in to inform me that Audrey needed me (really?). I responded in frustration, tiredness and not feeling good, in a less-than-loving way. Hannah then turned around and left the room, and I heard her copy my exact tone and words to Audrey in the other room. Ugh. Time to work on my tone again. But without my little tape-recorder, I honestly would not have "heard" the I way sounded.

My dad likes to say that the purpose of this parent-child relationship is more to make the parents more like Jesus than the kids. I would tend to agree.

Do you have a mini-me? What kinds of things do you learn from him/her?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Discipline


I am purposefully not going to go into specifics here, because the last thing I want to do is start a debate about spanking vs. not spanking, etc. That would miss the point, I think.

We just finished our chapter of Little House in the Big Woods for today, and it brought up a very interesting conversation with Hannah and Audrey at naptime. Laura's cousin Charley was supposed to be helping his dad and Laura's Pa with the oat harvest. Rain was coming and they had to have the harvest in before it was ruined by the water. Charley was asked multiple times to run errands which he did with a terrible attitude, he hid tools, he got in the way, and finally resorted to screaming like he was in trouble just for the fun of it. Three times he did this and three times they found him laughing, but he was not disciplined. A fourth time he started screaming, but this time they ignored him and continued working. This was the time he actually needed help because he had stepped on a yellow jacket's nest and was being stung. Before they figured out he was in trouble, he had been stung all over his body, and the swelling was horrible. Pretty tough way for a kid to learn a lesson...

Two things about this - first, what an interesting way to illustrate to my children the importance of telling the truth and being obedient. This is the holistic aspect of homeschooling. We're not talking about discipline, we're reading literature. But literature can produce so many opportunities to talk about ideas. To talk about real life and how to live it well. I love that we have the freedom to stop and talk about things like this while doing a subject that is, on the surface, unrelated.

Second, this underscores for me the importance of disciplining my children in love. What if that boy's father, the first time he screamed and laughed about it, had disciplined him? That child might have then had the ability to do what was being asked of him without having that horrific experience with the bees - which honestly could have killed him.

(Incidentally, the way they treated all those bee stings? They went outside, made some mud, plastered him in it, and wrapped him from head to toe in cloth. The mud would then dry and draw the poison out of the stings. Back to that whole holistic thing - we do this with mosquito bites. You can buy bentonite clay at the health food store, mix it with water, and apply to bites. I am highly allergic to bites, they swell up huge and feverish and this is the only thing that helps them heal in under a month. Ah, the wisdom of past generations...)

There is much said about different discipline methods and ideas these days. Personally, I feel I've almost read too many of them. I start to feel paralyzed by all the conflicting information. One "expert" says one thing, another says the opposite, and both are convinced you could ruin your children if you don't follow their advice. Here's the conclusion I've come to: Pursue God. Love your family as unselfishly as you can. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Seek wise counsel. Do the hard things. Don't make excuses. Get enough sleep, and ask for the things you need.

That's all any of us can do. The rest is up to God and our child's free will. Thoughts?

Friday, September 10, 2010

On Rediscovering My Passion

Once upon a time, I was a teenage girl who knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what I wanted to be when I grew up. I attempted to skip going to school and just jump right into ministry. No sense wasting time, in my book. I was hired as the worship ministry secretary of a large church in town as an 18 year old. I just wanted to be close to ministry. That job got me just close enough that it almost drove me crazy. Now, I was playing and singing all the time, not to mention learning about budgets, lighting, sound equipment, productions, event planning, scheduling, copyright, preparing for choir rehearsal, video - both as a camera operator and director, and lots of other stuff. Looking back on it, I wish I had understood that I WAS being schooled. In the real world. It was an amazing opportunity for a young worship leader. I was a bit too immature to see it all accurately, but I sure did learn a lot anyway.

After a year and a half of that, I attended Bible school which provided other opportunities for worship (and playing hippie music in coffee shops). After that ended, I spent two years fumbling around before finally deciding to take out school loans to attend ORU, since I wasn't moving forward in ministry but couldn't really afford school and wanted to major in worship ministry. I played and sang regularly in our church there, and did very well in school. There I met Nick and we began to plan our future together - most definitely including doing worship ministry together.

Then...I found out I couldn't get any more school loans. I had to move home before he was finished. He joined me here 6 months later with a degree in music and no job, so he began doing bookkeeping for my dad's business. We got married, and shortly afterward I was offered another worship ministry secretary job. But I had a feeling, which turned out to be correct, that we were expecting a baby already. I knew I wanted to stay home with my children, so I turned it down. And before we knew it, for many reasons, years went by without worship ministry being a part of our lives. I raised kids, Nick did accounting, we scraped by. It wasn't what we had dreamed of, and there were definitely times when we were pretty disillusioned with the whole thing. But we didn't see any other choices.

At the most random times, I would see someone playing and singing and burst into tears. It was no longer a part of my thoughts, but it was still built into me. I often asked God why I didn't feel His presence like I used to, and was pretty sure He was saying that I needed to be playing...but I couldn't. When I did try, I would simply cry. During all of this, I continued to teach - even teach worship music, and loved it, but I could not wrap my heart around it, if that makes sense. There was a huge disconnect between my faith, which continued to grow, and my music, which was stagnant.

Just a year ago, through a string of events completely unrelated to worship ministry, we landed at a new church. And God is reawakening the dream we thought had died. I resisted at first. And I'm still not sure exactly what to say about it. My thoughts and feelings still confuse me often. But at this point I do know that what I was made to do - create worship for God - breathes life into every other area of life. Parenting children takes on a new light. I'm raising kids because that creates worship for God - whether my kids grow up to be worship leaders that play music (which wouldn't surprise me, given their heritage) or if their worship takes a different form. We care for our bodies by eating well and exercising because it gives us strength to do the ministry to which we are called. We clean up the house and homeschool and do everything else we do, from an outflow of our primary calling in life. And it brings so much joy. And so much strength.

In some ways, life has never been more challenging and busy. But we have more peace and joy in our home than we have had...maybe ever, as sad as that is to me. I can't wait to see what the future holds. We can't do it in our own strength, but God is there. I look forward, most of the time, to getting up in the morning. And it's difficult to explain this to people! I know few people who know without a doubt that they are right where God wants them to be. Please, please, figure that out. Your life will never be the same. There are still hard days, but there is so much to live for!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook


FOR TODAY, September 8, 2010

Outside my window...it's an overcast, chilly day. Across the courtyard, the wind is blowing the leaves of the oak tree that is covered with acorns.

I am thinking...about the house that we are hopefully moving to next month. Honestly, I'm trying not to get my hopes up about it yet, because papers still have to be signed. Choosing to trust that it will all work out for our good, whatever happens.

I am thankful for...my hardworking husband who loves me. Healthy children. A place to live. Enough food to eat. A wonderful church. A faithful God. The privilege of homeschooling my children. We are so blessed.

From the learning rooms...made a trip to the library today. The kids love to play reading games on the computers, so today I sat next to them and put items on hold on the computer. Found a few interesting things there today, notably books that came from the search "games for children." The variety of things that have been written continually astounds me.

From the kitchen...at least for me, the experiment with dairy has failed. The kids seem to do fine on raw goat's milk. I was so miserable last night with stomach issues that I am done for now. Time to take a break. Butter, I shall miss you.

Aside from that, we made a trip to a local natural meat company last week, which has made for some yummy dinners. Nick and I enjoyed BBQ ribs last week, we got some delicious ground beef that has been hamburgers, tacos, and spaghetti, and tonight the plan is roasted turkey legs.

I am wearing...black linen pants, black and white flowered top.

I am creating...order in my home. Things had gotten out of hand in the organization department, as they are apt to do. A long conversation with Nick yielded at least half a dozen mentions of how messy the house was, and he came up with the idea of having family clean-up-the-house time before bed each night. I feel like I have my life back! Waking up to a clean house each morning gives me much more confidence in confronting the day. I even cleaned out the van and our master closet today. Very satisfying.

I am going...out to a friend's home east of town tomorrow, at least that's the plan. They had a massive garden this summer which she posted pics of on FB and I drooled over. They also raise chickens. We're going to just have our own little chat about homesteading. I'm bringing my kefir and sourdough. :)

I am reading...everything I can get my hands on right now. I tend to read in spurts. On the tables and counters and floor at the moment: The Christian Home Educators of Colorado handbook, Victoria Osteen's "Love Your Life," John Bevere's "Driven by Eternity," Charlotte Mason, "Home Education Vol. 1," and Caroline Moorehead "Dancing to the Precipice." I've been trying to finish that last one, from the library, for literally a year. I reach the limit on renewals and have to take it back and then check it out again. I think this is the third time. It's about 800 pages long (maybe not quite that long), and it's history so it's slow reading...but fascinating.

I am hoping...that it stays warm just a BIT longer...

I am hearing...the dryer. Yay for all three children sleeping at the same time. :)

Around the house...starting to think about packing in the next couple of weeks. Assuming the move will happen, moving day is probably October 16th. I really hope this is the last move for YEARS.

One of my favorite things...curling up in bed with a book.

A few plans for the rest of the week: worship team for one or both of us (still waiting to hear), getting Toby groomed (yay!), a birthday party, a baby shower, a trip to Denver for Audrey's allergy treatment. Whew. Sounds like a lot!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...Hannah arranged her Barbies and princesses on her pillows right before bedtime.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wisdom

(An aside: go Google images for "wisdom." The results are quite interesting. I decided not to add one to this post, partially because of the results I found. Amazing how wisdom means so many different things!)

Something that's been on my mind lately: how do the wisdom talked about in Proverbs and the moment-by-moment guidance from the Holy Spirit compare? Are they the same thing? I've been reading the Proverb for the day, most days, and have had lots of time to consider this. I have no definite answers, but here are some thoughts. Love to hear yours as well!

-Everything good is from God, therefore any wisdom is from God.

-People didn't have the Holy Spirit when Proverbs was written, so they were missing a very important component of wisdom that we have readily available to us in the New Testament.

-I remember from Bible school (but couldn't quote references without some study) that wisdom in Proverbs is Christ personified, so technically all the wisdom there was complete.

-Proverbs regularly talks about the wisdom from God, as opposed to the wisdom of the world...

In other not really related news, Lisa Bevere is releasing a new book on Sept 21st, and I'm excited about it. She's one of my favorites.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fun things this week

-Pineapple water kefir. Man, if your family is hooked on sodas, you should get some of this stuff. It's yummy and it's easy and it's good for you and it's fun. I have lots of extra kefir grains and can even mail them to ya. Let me know if you want some.

-Having my gluten free sourdough recipes posted on the Gnowfglins.com Sourdough eCourse. This is a really neat thing, people. If you want to learn how to cook/make nourishing, traditional food, sign up for this. It doesn't cost anything to sign up, and you pay what you can when you can. It is a WEALTH of information.

-Nick and I lead worship rehearsal Thursday night and are leading in services this weekend. I'm so grateful for a "safe" place to experiment and learn how to do this. I'm out of practice, and feel inexperienced in many ways, but I'm so excited to be doing it. I'm also very glad God is still honored even with our imperfections. "My strength is made perfect in weakness..."

-Our sweet little Audrey turned 4 years old. Hard to believe. I remember her birth like it was yesterday...in our tiny house in the forest. She was so cuddly...still is!

-Tess has finally decided to start getting around. 8 months old! She's still not crawling yet, but she's now doing the rocking on all fours, which I hope means she'll figure it out soon. So far she scoots on hands and toes, and rolls. It's pretty funny, but she's really quick! Time to keep the house vacuumed. ;)

-Audrey's allergy treatments at Dr P for her eczema are working! I can't express what a load off my shoulders this is...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Little House in the Big Woods

Hannah, Audrey and I have started Laura Ingalls Wilder's books at naptime. I wondered if they were old enough yet, but as I hoped they really love them, and identify with Laura especially. I loved these books as a kid, and have so much fun experiencing them with my kids. One thing I didn't expect though, is that I see the stories through the eyes of Ma and Pa now, instead of Laura. I'm left with a new-found awe of what they went through just to survive.

Like yesterday, we read the chapter called "Two Big Bears." Pa had to WALK to town through the snow, carrying his furs for the spring, couldn't carry his gun, and didn't return at sundown like he was supposed to. So Laura carried the lantern, and she and Ma headed to the barn to milk the cow. Outside the barn, they found what they thought was the cow because of the dim light, so Ma smacked it to try to get it to move into the barn, but when Laura raised the lantern, they got just enough of a glimpse for Ma to see it was a bear! She calmly asked Laura to go back to the house, and when they got about halfway, Ma scooped her up and ran to the house, locking the door behind them.

I kept tearing up, reading this story to the kids. I just can't imagine living out in the middle of nowhere like that, with my husband gone, not sure if he would even return. The weight of caring for three young children is incredible sometimes, but I don't know how those pioneer women did what they did. Incredible.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Rant...

Fascinating post that tells the story of a family's journey to heal their son's autism.

As an aside, (basically unrelated to the post, I know nothing about the author's spiritual leanings) I find it interesting and strange that "natural" medicine is often only embraced by people with a New Age world view, and is often outright rejected by Christians. If we believe that God created our bodies in amazing ways, then we ought to believe that our bodies can be healed if we will only work with them in the way God intended them to work. As it is, the people who think we evolved from apes have more faith in our bodies'.....design. Very strange. Very backward.

I have a child who I firmly believe would have been diagnosed autistic, if it hadn't been for avoiding vaccines and being diagnosed with gluten intolerance early. She has a sensitive system, moreso than most perhaps. But, sooner or later, the onslaught of chemicals and toxins we can be exposed to on a daily basis is sure to catch up with even the strongest ones.

This doesn't mean we live in fear. I think it's very common for this to lead to fear-based decisions for our children. Our children are still in God's hands, no matter how many "best" choices we make for them. But it does mean keeping our eyes open. It means paying attention, not just accepting the status quo. And I think it means never giving up on finding answers to the health issues our children may have. Never settling into a sense of "this is the way it has to be." That's not a comfortable way to live, I can say from firsthand experience. But our kids are too precious, have too much to accomplish in the world that needs them, for us to give up and allow them to function at a level that is lower than they were intended to function. Never give up. There are answers. There have to be. God works miracles every day.

OK. Who else needs the soapbox today?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Indecision


Something I've been wrestling with a lot lately, is indecision over what I should throw my energy into each day. Laundry? Cleaning? Take the kids to the library? Get the grocery shopping done so we don't have to do it when Daddy's home? Sit down and read to the kids? Plan some field trip? Work on the free photo book I want to order? Meal planning? Or should I just throw caution (and nap time) to the wind, and go hang out with a friend?

I'm fully able to accomplish what I put my energy into for the day, but I can't do everything. I often stop and pray for direction but sometimes don't get any specific instructions.

What about you? How do you decide where to spend your energy?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tiny Chicken Eggs


See that cute little yolk? One of our baby chicks from last spring just started laying! :)

Workbook discoveries


We did workbooks today for school. The principles of Charlotte Mason discourage long hours of book work for children of this age, instead encouraging you to stick to short (like, 20 minutes) periods of time that will allow the child to pay attention for the entire time and therefore develop habits of paying attention rather than getting frustrated or drifting off mentally. I think we adults could use some practice of a similar type!

Anyway, this kind of work is new enough to my kids and they are still curious enough that once we start, they don't want to stop! That's a good thing!

Things I noticed today:

-Hannah recognizes all her numbers but cannot yet write them well. That's a pleasant surprise to me, since we haven't focused on learning them at all. The writing part is completely in-keeping with a CM philosophy. Writing comes as their hand-eye coordination develops - sometimes not till 6 or 7, depending on the kid. She seems to be drawn more to numbers than letters. What do I do with a math kid? I suspect she and her Daddy will spend lots of quality time enjoying math together. :)

-Teaching opposites is kind of hard! I'm pretty good at finding other ways of describing things, considering I've been teaching piano for 15+ years...but that one had me baffled a bit today. Eventually I just pointed out the answers, trusting that over time the concept would catch on. Then we moved on to something else.

-Audrey did well with colors - choosing the right color crayon to color the picture. She had a little trouble remembering green and purple for awhile, but it came easily today.

Yesterday we were all so tired of being cooped up in the apartment that we went to my parents and played outside for awhile. It was time to focus on P.E. for the day. :) The girls also did a bit of yoga with me this morning. That's always entertaining.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spiritual Directors

This post brought tears to my eyes tonight. The thing that will make the greatest impact on our kids is to know the presence of God. No amount of training, nagging, or discipline will replace it. How are we inviting the presence of God into our homes and demonstrating it for our children?

Remember Who You Are

We had a rough day around here yesterday. Fussy baby, restless kids who kept fighting and getting in trouble, and a grouchy mommy (me!) who needed an attitude adjustment. There wasn't much school accomplished, though I did manage to park us in front of a library video about Beethoven before naptime. Audrey promptly fell asleep. I guess it was boring. :)

Once we got the kids put to bed last night, Nick went to bed too because he's fighting off a cold. Suddenly, at 9:30pm, the house was quiet and I was alone! Nick and I are leading worship on Sept 5th, (come worship with us!) and I'm in charge of the song list this time, so I found myself working on that. In the midst of worshipping and trying out songs, I heard God whisper, "You forgot who you are, today." Well, that would explain a thing or two...

Who am I? Well, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am called to worship leadership. I went through a long period of time that I doubted that, but I feel like I'm waking up again after a long sleep. I know that through relationship with God I'm completely forgiven and covered with the blood of Jesus. God doesn't love me less because I mess up, or more when I do well. My behavior or achievement has no bearing on my relationship with God. I know that God has called me to raise my children, and that He will equip Nick and me to do that. I have a Divine calling, and I'm Divinely equipped. This creates a confidence - not in my own abilities, because as soon as I trust those I fall flat on my face - but on Who God is in my life and what He is asking me to do. It's a moment by moment reliance on Him.

I'll be the first to say...I don't do this steadily. But I'm learning. And I'm determined to get there. This is the only way I know how to parent. Prior to discovering that I am a better parent when I lean on God, I was a mess. This parenting thing is far harder than I can manage in my own strength.

I love the story of Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles. She had 19 children and the story goes that she often couldn't find a private place to pray. (I know the feeling, and I only have 3!) So she developed a habit of pulling her apron up over her head. The kids played around her feet but knew not to disturb her, and she was in that "secret place" where she could be refreshed. I don't think I'll start wearing an apron for this purpose (although I have seen some cute ones!), but the principle stands. As moms, we have to do whatever it takes to find that refreshing we need, or we will have nothing to offer our families.

The calling of God on our lives gives us dignity and confidence and poise. If you know you're a princess, you act like one! (Can you tell I have three little girls?)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. - 2 Peter 1:3

How do we get everything we need? Through knowledge of Him who has called us! So without that knowledge, we do NOT have everything we need. It's really kinda arrogant to think that we do have everything we need, apart from knowledge of Him. On the other hand, if we know Him, we should be confident and enthusiastic about life. He's promised everything we need!

So...this is easy to say and harder to walk out. Think I'll go get started...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This is the morning we had...



Attempting to salvage the rest of the day...

Someone Please Explain This

My children, while still holding their breakfast in their hand, or still having a full plate, will ask for a snack.

AHHH!!! *Runs away to hide in the closet*

Monday, August 23, 2010

Starfall.com

My kids LOVE this site...

On Loving and Respecting Our Kids

Something that I woke up thinking about this morning:

I remember when I was a kid, people would often ask my mom why she didn't put us in school. She had many reasons, I'm sure, but the one reason I remember her giving the most often was this: I love my kids. I want them with me. I miss them when they're gone. That made a big impact on me as a kid. I felt wanted and appreciated.
To this day, I don't know many people who feel that way about their kids. I often see people complain about having their kids home from school, etc. I don't love being with mine all the time, and I need frequent, regular breaks. But I pray often for God to keep my heart soft toward my kids. If I'm angry or frustrated with one of them, I ask Him to change my heart so I can treat that child with respect and kindness.

The thing that I think helps the most with this, is to remember my imperfections and God's complete forgiveness and love for me. It's only through understanding how much I'm given grace that I can really give grace to my kids and other people around me.
I think this is a huge part of being able to homeschool. Those are some long hours with my kids. I get really really tired sometimes. But I want to fall in love with who my kids are as people. Hannah is incredibly organized and correct. She can bring order to chaos, and that is something people will value in her for the rest of her life. Audrey is so full of joy. She has an amazing sense of humor and she's not even 4! Tessa is so tolerant and patient. She just loves people and loves to communicate. They really are incredible people. We have some hard days, but rather than focusing on those, I want to focus on my kids strengths and allow the process of parenting them to help me become the person I'm supposed to be, as well as helping train them in the way they should go.


What about you? What traits do you appreciate in your kids? What do you do on hard days to refocus and change the atmosphere? Any thoughts about creating an atmosphere of respect and love in your home?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cabin Fever

All the kids came down with colds this week. Tess hasn't really been sick before, and she is so funny about it. Her nose is running nonstop and if I don't get to her in time, she'll wipe it on her arm and yell, "UGH!!!" Just exactly how we all feel with a cold.

We traded a day at the apple farm with Daddy for a Saturday morning with no Daddy so he could get his work hours in, and we had to stay home from church this morning while he was scheduled on the worship team...and the walls are closing in a bit. Currently the girls are bathing and grooming their Barbie dolls in the bathroom sink and I just finished sitting in the living room staring at the wall for a few minutes. Sometimes it helps, ya know.

We're going to have to conjure up a way to spend some time in the sunshine this afternoon...but I also want a nap!

Friday, August 20, 2010

First Day of School


Hannah started kindergarten this week.

I have to tell a little back story about this. My parents made the choice to homeschool me back in the 80's in Southern California. Most people didn't even know it was legal, in fact I remember being closely questioned about why we weren't in school...pretty much everywhere we went. The grocery store, the dentist... To this day I'm not sure why everybody was so concerned about it, but they were. I guess maybe the culture really has changed significantly with regards to schooling.

Anyway, my memories of my childhood are very sweet. I'm the oldest of five. After a couple of hours of bookwork, we spent our days playing outside, reading, baking, creating, gardening... We each had our strengths and weaknesses, but overall we excelled in school. When I was 14 my parents and I together made the decision for me to attend Christian high school. It was time, for us. But I loved being homeschooled.

When it came to our own children, there has been very little question what we would do. OK, that's not completely true. There is a small part of me that wants to put my kids in school, and go do something more "grown up" than wiping noses, reading picturebooks, and working on manners every day. So we have considered other options. But in the end, what has always won out is the experience of teaching my own children, of having long days to play and learn together, of experiencing education as a family unit. This is what we wanted for our family. Life as school.

Though in some ways I've been doing this for years since we didn't send our kids to preschool, this week was our first "real" school week. I'm happy to report that it has felt as natural as I hoped. This is what I know. This is the lifestyle I loved as a child and am excited to recreate in my own home. I know this choice is not for everyone - there are as many different family situations as there are families, but I also know so many people who don't feel confident enough to teach their own children, though they would like to. I am, by nature, an exhort-er, so I'm quite sure that in expressing my own experience I will come across sometimes as trying to persuade you to homeschool as well. If you are confident in the education choices you have made for your family, please don't take offense. But if there is something in you that longs to do this, please follow along in our journey. I'll try to be as realistic as possible, but I'm not going to hide the joy that I have in the privilege of doing this with and for my children. It's the most fun I've had in a while.

End of short back story that was really long.

We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Sometimes it surprises me that I can say that as confidently as I do, except that everything I read about it resonates with me so deeply, that even if/when we incorporate other things in order to accommodate needs, I will always see us as Charlotte Mason homeschooolers. I'll reference some things at the end of this post, if you want to learn more about this way of homeschooling.

All that said, I bought a $1 teacher's planning book at Target. It has a row for each day of the week and 6 columns for subjects. I am using it more for a school record book, so that I can see what we've done each week. In the state of Colorado, we don't have to do formal school until age 6, so the goal for this year is to spark a love of learning in Hannah (and also in Audrey, age 4), and to have her pick up things along the way. So I'm not doing every subject every day.

After breakfast, we pick up the house and get dressed for the day. If there is too much commotion or some sort of emergency that keeps this from happening, we flex with it. Ideally, we'd be ready for school by 10 or 11am at the latest. Some things we did this week: Reading together followed by narration - the kids telling me back the story they remember. Starting nature notebooks with a walk around my parents' backyard in the forest. A field trip to a you-pick apple farm. A trip to the library and math games on the computers. A first piano lesson. A video (from the library) about the artist Michelangelo and his works of art. Learning to play leapfrog in the living room. About 20 minutes of workbooks. And life skills like making beds, organizing toys, and sticking around to work out a conflict instead of running away. Today we didn't get any school done because of a trip to the nutritionist, but Daddy's working Saturday this week, so we'll make it up tomorrow with looking up wildflower names to write in our notebooks, and reading books together.

It's that simple. It's that fun. It's that natural. It's not hard. It actually gives a structure and a goal to our days at home together that I'm grateful for. I'm so excited for this year.

More about Charlotte Mason:
Charlotte Mason Bio
Simply Charlotte Mason - tips and ideas
Ambleside Online - free online book lists/curriculum
Charlotte's Original Series - SOOOO good.

Why another blog?

Answer: I don't know. It's not like there aren't enough of them out there. Nobody has much that's new to say. (I will refrain from singing Barenaked Ladies "It's all been done." Oh wait, nevermind.) I had another blog, one that I've been writing for years now. But when a season of life has ended, I have always had a need to go buy a new journal. Even if the old one isn't full. I see this the same way. Because in several ways, things are different than they were a few months ago. And I want to write about it. And this is the easiest way. So here I am. Nick will hopefully be around some too, but I'm not sure. It's up to him. He's currently asleep on the couch behind me. :)