Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet My Amazing Children (Hannah)


I was in Arizona with the kids visiting my parents when I found out I was pregnant again. Towards the end of pregnancy my midwife said my bladder was prolapsing pretty bad and I needed to see the doctor. The doctor convinced me that this should probably be my last baby. I signed the papers to have my tubes tied along with my bladder surgery. We planned to do it after my recovery. I was completely devastated. I asked God over and over to give me peace and this is one prayer He didn't answer. I felt so convicted for not being content. I was truly blessed to have 5 healthy little blessings. What did I have to complain about? However, I was relieved that He was making it clear to me what His will was for this area of my life because I had been back and forth about it our whole marriage so far.

I went into labor in the middle of the day. A friend came to sit with the kids and once again, I got to the hospital and my contractions stopped. I told the nurse I probably wasn't that far along and kinda wished I had stayed home a little longer. She checked me and said "Well, it's a good thing you didn't, you're at 7cm". The rest of the labor went really smooth. A rare thing for me. I delivered Hannah in my husband's loving arms and it was the most beautiful experience of my life. I felt like God was just allowing me to finish well. I treasured this gift in my arms thinking it would be my last and wishing I had treasured my others as much. Nursing actually went pretty well and the six week recovery flew by.



This was the start of a very bad habit but it blessed me so much to watch.


I went in for my check up and ended up with a different doctor. The prolapsing was gone. The doctor said she saw no reason to get my tubes tied unless that's what I truly wanted. So, since neither one of us were at peace about it, we didn't and I am so glad.

Hannah Banana was the easiest baby in the world. She was itty bitty and quiet. She continued to drop off the growth chart weighing in at 16 lbs at her one year check up, which of course caused some concern but after many, many tests, she was fine. Just tiny. I'm not sure when everything transitioned but her energy began to reach all new levels that I had never seen before in any of my children. She never was a long sleeper but she seemed to need much, much less then anyone else in the house. By this point I was beginning to think I had this parenting thing down. I was confident that I could train any child to sleep in a big girl bed within 3 days. I was consistent and up until this point, more stubborn and persistent then them. Hannah still doesn't stay in her bed 100% of the time. She still needs less sleep and has more energy then anyone else but after much prayer, many tears, lots of failures, some wins, and lots and lots of consistency and love, I've learned to enjoy her the way she is. I've decided that God has mighty plans for this mighty little girl if she can learn to be obedient to Him. He created her and He knows the plans he has for her and I can trust that they are good. When I begin to lose my patience and feel like she is out of control, it's usually because I'm not spending enough time filling up on God's Word and His love so I'm impatient and out of control. God knows what we need. There have been times on my journey with Hannah that I felt like a complete failure as a mom and was pretty sure I shouldn't have anymore children. Had God asked me I would have refused. I'm so glad he has good plans for me too and even more glad He doesn't always check with me first because I AM a failure as a mom, but ONLY without Him.

One more of that joyful smile, and yes, she cuts her own hair.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meet My Amazing Children (Josiah)




My favorite memory of this little guy is the day he asked me to marry him. He was about 4 years old and was absolutely devastated when I told him it was impossible due to the fact that I was already married. I started having very barable labor pains sometime in the afternoon with him. I decided to take a nice warm shower and relax. I was still somewhat traumatized from my last experience and there was no way I was going to go to the hospital and get sent home without a baby again. I swore I wouldn't go in there until I was ready to push. About an hour later my husband and oldest son started becoming very uncomfortable with the way I was moaning and groaning. I still refused to leave and John preceded to put shoes on my feet. When I saw Nathan was getting upset I decided I better go. I gripped the dashboard the whole 5 min. to the hospital. John pulled up to the front and walked me in. He asked if he had time to go park the car and I grumbled, "Of course, we've got lots of time since you made me come so early. I think the contractions are stopping!" This was all a little too familiar. I got checked into a room and the nurse decided she wanted to check me first being that this was my 4th baby. I laid on the table and told the nurse, "Please give me good news". She looked at me and said, "You're 9cm, no make that 10!" I wasn't even in a delivery room yet so she threw me in a wheel chair and began running through the hallway. We met John somewhere by the elevator as I felt this horrible urge to push. All I could think about was holding out until we got to that bed. As I lay down I here a voice say, "Hold on, don't push, your water hasn't broken yet. Doctor is almost here." "What! Don't push! Do you want me to cross my legs?" Ten minutes went by and by this time I was screaming and grabbing at people telling them they had better get someone in there now! "Then, this sweet angel of a nurse comes and whispers in my ear, "You go ahead and push honey, I've delivered them in the water bag before". I'm laughing as I'm writing this because that was music to my ears back then. I pushed and pushed. About 10 more minutes goes by and the doctor walks in. She gets her gloves on, and her pocket starts ringing. She tells the nurse she has to take the call and asks her to put it up to her ear. Yup, she answered the phone!!!! I'd been sitting there waiting 20 minutes at 10cm for her to break my water and she has a phone call first. John and I just looked at each other in bewilderment. (Now that I think about it, this is like the outrageous labor dreams I've been having lately since I've reached my third trimester) So, when she was done with her chat she breaks my water, out comes my baby and I fell in love again. Total labor, 1 hour 42 min. If you erase the 20 min. of waiting it would have been shorter. He was the sweetest little thing with a receiding hair line and a squished nose from sitting in the birth canal so long and I was in love again.


Here he is on his 1st Birthday.

This little guy is 5 now. He thanks God for his brothers every night and comes and snuggles us every morning. He is the first one done with his chores every day because he wants to be a hard worker like his Daddy someday. I took him to Walmart with me the other day. There was this very tall older man coming out the door. When he saw us he held the door open. Josiah went and stood right next to him to hold the door open for me, looks up at this giant, and say's "It's okay, I got it." He loves to hear the baby's heartbeat. We have a buddy system pairing up our older children with younger children when we are out and about. He's decided he is big enough to be Lily's buddy. She is one blessed little girl to have a big brother love her so much when he hasn't even met her yet and I am one blessed Mommy.

This whole series has been really great for me. I'm having to remember wonderful details of how each of my precious children came to be. This will be great to look back on when I'm having one of those days when I forget what I'm doing this for. I'm realizing again how blessed I am to have these truly amazing children.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meet My Amazing Children (Anina)


This is our "Fancy Nancy". My mom bought her the book when she was about 3 and I don't know if it's the book's fault that she insists on being fancy or if she was just born like that and the book fit her well. Either way, if you ask her to set the table, she gets into the china cabinet and you get the works. Candles and all. If you tell her to get dressed for PE you have to be extremely specific or she will come down in a pretty skirt and her PE shoes with her hair done fancy. The great thing about this is that she is now in charge of getting Hannah (3) dressed and Hannah absolutely loves it! She is the best big sister. I have never once heard her get frustrated with any of the little ones and she did not get this from me. She talks in the sweetest voice every time no matter what they are doing. They all respond really well to her too. (Interesting how that works....) John and I had been married for exactly a year when this precious little girl was born. Her name means "Answered prayer". I really didn't think I was worthy of being so blessed. I was married to the most wonderful man and having a baby the right way! It was such a different experience to have someone there with me. The pregnancy was pretty uneventful and that was sure new. I had my stitch removed at 37 weeks. Dilated immediately to 4cm. Went for a few walks and went right into labor within 24 hours. Went to the hospital and it stopped. Getting sent home had to be one of the most disappointing experiences of my life. I went to bed even though the contractions had started back up again. "I'll show them," I thought. "Send me home. I'm not going back until it's time to push." It became too much to just lay there so I got in the shower. I shaved my legs and washed my hair. I stayed in there until I ran out of hot water. By that time I could barely get dressed. My husband convinced me that it was time to go to the hospital. I was pretty sure he was right so we got back to the hospital and I had made it to 5 whole cm. "Are you kidding me!" She was face up as Nathan had been and if you've ever experienced this you feel like you are in transition the whole time from the back labor. I told the doctor but he said I was wrong. The rest is kind of a blur until it was time to push. I pushed and pushed and pushed and the doctor says, "You are not pushing hard enough." "What!" Did this guy realize that he was right by my foot! Who tells a woman in labor that she's not doing a good enough job? "I tried to explain to him again that she was not in the right position but what did I know. He was the professional. The he says, "I think this baby must be really big". Well, I finally got her out. All 7 lbs of her. Face up and lots of stitches but I didn't care anymore. This baby was so beautiful. Her hair was so long that we had to put it in a barrette to get her hospital pictures taken. She had the biggest eyes we had ever seen and never, ever cried. She is 7 years old now. Her love language is definitely "Physical touch". She doesn't just hug you. She squeezes until you "Know" you are loved. She rubs Daddy's back every morning (He's "Physical touch" too). And Gideon, our littlest guy, will go up to her and lift up his arms and say "Up". Then he'll lay his little head on her shoulder. This blesses a Mommy's heart more than anything. I really need to try and get a picture of it now that I think about it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meet My Amazing Children (Melaina)


This is My precious Melaina. I love the way her eyes disappear when she smiles. I could not survive without this girl. You will here me say this 5 more times at least but, this girl is amazing!!! When Nathan was just 9 months old I found out I was pregnant again. I was still not married, my life was still a wreck but I was excited. Although, I was really unsure as to how I was going to possibly love anything as much as I loved Nathan. I was really worried about this. Life got really complicated for me and I ended up very, very alone with my little guy and this baby on the way. I was blessed to have a job working at home on the computer but I really did not have much contact with the outside world. I had my routine ultrasound scheduled when I was about 17 weeks along. I was absolutely positive it was another boy because I wanted a girl SO bad. As I lay on that table and watched this amazing little life growing inside me the tech writes "It's A Girl" across the screen. Tears came to my eyes. I couldn't believe it! When we were finished I was informed that the doctor wanted to see me. He sat me down and explained to me that I was dilated to 1cm and 50% effaced. He said, you could lose this baby and she will not survive. We need to take you in for emergency surgery to have a stitch put in your cervix and you will have to rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. "How will I do that?" I asked. "I live alone with a toddler. I don't have any help." I didn't know it at the time but this doctor knew the Lord and he was very sympathetic to my situation. I got saved not to long after this and God used this situation to show me how REAL He was. He met every need every day and I learned to rely on him because I could not provide for us nor could I physically care for Nathan. Somehow we got through each day. I went into early labor quite a few times. I lived on medication to keep the contractions away and one day I just reached a point where I felt like I couldn't continue like this. I hit my knees in my roach infested kitchen and cried out to the Lord for the first time in my life. I promised him if he saved my little girl I would teach her about Him. I know He doesn't need these things from us, and only He knows if we'll keep our pathetic promises or not but He honored that prayer and saved her and I am so grateful. I tore off of that stitch earlier then we wanted but for some reason she wasn't born until about 38 weeks. She crawled at 5 months, walked at 9 months and learned to read at about 4. She is always just one step behind her brother in school (Which keeps him moving thankfully) and can do just about anything to run this house. She cooks, and bakes, and cleans, changes diapers, laundry, sewing, crocheting, knitting...I could go on forever. She has a tender servant heart but is also very bold and strong at the same time. I love this girl. She is one of my greatest friends.

And I did fall in love just like the first time. It's amazing how that feeling never gets old. Never fades. Each time my precious little one is placed in my arms I cry and it is always love at first sight. I've experience it 7x and it is just as beautiful as the first.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meet My Amazing Children (Nathan)

I really do have the most amazing children in the world!!! I've been reminded of this lately because I hurt my back and have been pretty useless for the past 4 weeks.
I'll be posting a recent picture of each of them thanks to AlysunPetersPhotography. Her prices are very reasonable and she is a great person and great with the kids. She will come to the location of your choice so there's not stressful wait with kids you're trying to keep perfect. We did this at the local park and the kids got to play when we were done. Very casual and easy. I really needed it that way. She captured wonderful pictures of all of my children and this was no easy task.

This is Nathan. Born at 33 weeks. I was told he would only be 3 to 4 pounds. They had a neonatal nurse from Phoenix children's hospital in the delivery room ready to stabilize him on his way up to the air vac. Everyone who loved him was in the room ready to say goodbye if needed and he came out a whopping 5'13 and screaming. The love that came over me when they placed him on my chest was overwhelming. As I held him he began to whimper and have rapid breaths and they rushed him off to care for him. Immediately they handed me a paper. I don't remember exactly what I was signing over at the time but something along the lines of he needs this and that and we need permission right now and you won't hold us responsible. I was a Mother for a whole 2 min. I was 18 years old and not married. Until this moment I had never cared for anything more then myself. I prayed and begged a God I didn't even know to save this child and all I could do was cry in my own Mother's arms and wait what seemed like days. After spending 12 hours on oxygen and a few days in electrolyte therapy for Jaundice I was released from the hospital with this tiny, fragile, premature baby. I had know idea how my life was going to change but it was time for me to grow up. Today he is 11 years old and about 5'8, 120 lbs. Nothing tiny about him. Especially his heart. He is the best big brother anyone could imagine. I would not survive daily life without this amazing young man. He regularly says to me "Can I cook dinner tonight mom? Is there anything I can do for you Mom? Don't lift that Mom, I'll get it." If we are in a crowd with many children, he will find the loneliest child he can and make friends. His heart is huge and loves big. I know God saved him that day because He's got great big plans for him because I sure didn't deserve for Him to answer that prayer or for Him to bless me the way that he has.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on Cloth

As you know we've been making a lot of changes around here over the past year. A friend in my MOPs group asked me last week if it would be faster for me to tell her what I don't make rather then what I do. I had to think about it for a second. It didn't occur to me that I make more then I buy because it's been such a gradual thing. Little by little as I study and learn we've changed some things. It's not been drastic or overwhelming because it's been one thing at a time. But I guess from an outsiders point view we are really weird from everything to food, beauty care, home remedies for illnesses, toiletries, etc. When I got married I couldn't cook, clean, manage money, train children, and much much more. Now that I think about, I'm not sure what my husband saw in me. However, I had a desire to learn and I read everything I could get my hands on, that was bible based and would teach me how to be a wife, mom, and keeper of the home. I still have a long way to go but I guess if I look back the Lord's brought me a long way too.

Proverbs 14:18 The naive inherit folly, But the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

Proverbs 18:15 The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Webster's Dictionary defines "Prudence" as "Skill and good judgement in the use of resources, caution or circumspection as to danger or risk. "Prudent" is defined "Frugal".

It's so interesting to me that God cares about these things. He's pleased with us seeking knowledge and using what He's provided for us wisely. He say's if we are prudent we are wise.

My husband called me one day and said he was reading the Proverb for the day. He came to Proverbs 14:1. The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands. He wanted to thank me for building our home wisely. That's worth it right there!!!! So, my latest weird act is switching to cloth menstrual pads and cloth toilet paper. Yup, you read that right! I posted earlier about cloth diapers and their health benefits as well as cost effectiveness. You can read it here. I stated some facts on the hormones and chemicals in disposable diapers and a lot of them are in the menstrual pads and tampons as well. Women who switch to cloth, (And I know of few personally), claim to have less bleeding and less cramping. I don't know about you but I sure don't need any extra hormones when I'm on my period. I especially don't need any extra after I have a baby. So, I'm giving it a try. I'm only saving about $4.00 a month so this is more of a health conscience move. I'm also thinking ahead for my oldest daughter who has had signs of puberty and imbalanced hormones since she was 5. So here they are!


I can tell you how they work yet. I'll have to get back to you on that.
Now, for the toilet paper. It's 2 layers of cotton flannel. Talk about luxury! The kids have been ranting and raving about how soft it is. I was reading about putting wet ones in a wipe warmer with some lavender oil. I like this idea alot! We would have the most clean and fresh bottoms around. I'm saving another $20.00 a month right here which is going to pay for one of my girls to have piano lessons and I am not adding to my laundry! I just dump it in the diaper bucket and wash with a vinegar rinse cycle to sanitize. And don't worry, if you come over I will try to have a roll of paper under the sink just for you but I'd say you'd be missing out if you use it.


And Anina learned how to use the sewing machine. It's all straight lines and she made most of them. My girls are definitely more prepared for their future families at 9 and 7 then I ever was.

Also, I found this great website called Grocery Shrink. This family won Dave Ramsey's contest to pay off the most debt in a certain time because of their frugal ways. There is something on this website for everyone from meal planning and grocery shopping to decorating on a budget.

So tell me what you are doing to build your house. I would love to get more ideas. I'm off to read my bible now. If you're not building your home that is a great place to start!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And The Winner Is...

I wish I could give all of you cloth diapers to get you started. I just know once you try it you'll realize it's a piece of cake and you absolutely love it!!!! I really hope that you continue to search for your own stash. I have to say that I found some of the same diapers on Ebay for even cheaper. If you don't mind ordering them from China. I ordered four of them and they are exactly alike. They take about 25 days to get to you but they are only about $6 a piece, free shipping.

Keep checking back. I'll be doing another giveaway soon for you ladies who already cloth diaper with a homemade diaper to help promote a friend starting a new business with her husband. They are super cute!







So, the winner is Amanda!!!! Congratulations! I will be contacting you about shipping.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Benefits of Cloth Diapers and "A Giveaway"

COST

I was forced into cloth diapering. I had no idea how easy and cost effective it was going to be. My seventh baby had a chronic rash for the first 9 months of his life. He had oozing, bleeding sores. We tried everything. Even steroid cream and that was really pushing it for me. Nothing worked except letting him go naked. We decided to switch to cloth diapers and his rash was gone within 3 to 4 days. I realized that it was a lot easier then I thought and if I used them on my other little guy in diapers and my little girl who still needed pull ups over night I would save $60.00 a month. My original supply was $150.00 so they paid for themselves within 3 months of using them. We discovered, had we used cloth diapers for all 7 of our children, we would have saved approximately $6,000.00 so far. Calculating the cost of generic brand diapers, I figured the savings is approximately $780.00 per child using cloth diapers and wipes if they potty train by 2 1/2. This was enough to convince me to use cloth diapers forever.

A friend of mine asked me to help give a class on the benefits of cloth diapering. I was excited to share how cost effective they were. I had know idea what else I would learn that day.

HEALTH

I've heard a saying "What you don't know won't hurt you". This was not the case for my little guy. Disposable diapers contain:

Dioxin: An extremely toxic by-product of the paper bleaching process. It is listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It has caused genetic defects in lab animals and is banned in most countries but not the U.S.

Tributyl-tin (TBT): A highly toxic pollutant that absorbs through the skin and even minute ammounts caused hormonal imbalances in humans and animals. It can also cause infertility.

Sodium Polyacrylate: A super absorbent polymer (SAP). It's the gel like substance that comes out when the diaper is too wet. It can cause allergic reactions, irritation, bleeding of the perineum or scrotal tissues, fever, vomiting, staph infection, and in 1985 was banned from being used in tampons because of it's link to Toxic Shock Syndrome. When injected into rats it caused internal hemorrhaging, cardiovascular failure and death.

Phyto estrogens: Just what it says "Estrogen". My baby boy's especially don't need any of this or God would have given it to them. The diaper area absorbs these chemicals very easily.

The emissions from ONE disposable diaper were high enough to produce asthma-like symptoms in rats.

ENVIRONMENT

I am not an environmentalist. I'm just a frugal mom who loves to stay home with my children and help my hard working husband. However, some of these facts were very interesting to me.

Over 300 lbs. of wood, 50 lbs of petroleum feed stocks and 20 lbs of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby for one year.

Supposedly, a family can attribute 50% of their waste to disposable diapers. You could save money on your garbage bill!

10,000 tons of disposables are tossed into landfills each ear. That's 27.4 billion per year.

GIVEAWAY

Had I known what I know now, I would have switched to cloth diapers a long time ago. I've tried a few different kinds and have found what I think is the easiest to clean, the cheapest to buy, especially in the long run, and the cutest on. They are All In One Pocket Diapers. When I first looked at these they were very expensive. The name brands can run around $20-$30 a diaper. I've found them for a fraction of that and am giving 3 away (Courtesy of GoGreenPocketDiapers) to anyone who is willing to try cloth diapering.



This business was started by a mom just like us and her customer service is the best I've ever seen. Her diapers are cute and cheap. They have all snaps, no velcro to wear out. They are adjustable from newborn all the way up to toddlers. One stash of these will last you for many children, just a one time cost!

To enter, you have to be willing to try Cloth Diapering and not doing it already. Just leave a comment on this link or the facebook link and I will enter your name in a drawing. I will draw names in one week. Next Tuesday, November 2. (Wow, November already!!)

(Just a side note. A lot of these chemicals are in your menstrual pads too. I don't know about you but I don't need any extra hormones. Especially after I have a baby. I'm going to make some cloth pads and will be posting soon!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Keeping Things Functioning Around Here-Part 3

Organizing our Clutter

I haven't posted lately because my card reader broke! I know "No pictures" doesn't make a post very exciting but I figured I'd keep it going anyway.

The words in my title do not go together because the words "Organize" and "Clutter" DO NOT go together. When I begin to organize a space in my home or help someone else organize their home, the first thing I do is get three boxes out. I mark them "Throw away", "Put away" and "Donate". The "Put away" box is for items that do not belong in that room. If we leave the room every time we have something to put away it takes longer, and we get distracted so, when the box is full, I go put the things away in each room they belong in. If we do not have a place for donations we tend to not donate them and we shove them somewhere in our space. I tell my kids all the time, "If it doesn't have a place, then it doesn't belong in our space". I read in a magazine today that the average American only uses about 20% of what they have! We are spoiled. So, if you haven't used it in 6 months to a year, it is cluttering up your home and making MORE work for you. Work=Time, and I don't know about you but time is not something I can spare. I also read today that each family member should only be spending about 30 min. per day on housework. If this is true, then spending more time either means we have TOO much stuff, or the other members of our family are not doing their share which brings me to my next tip.

The Chore Box:
Another thing my children constantly hear me say is "Don't put it down, put it away". So, if I find it out, it goes in the chore box. On Fridays, we dump it out and you owe me a chore for each item in there. If your items exceed 5, you don't participate in "Kid night". A movie and dessert that night. This is after my children have decluttered their stuff because I realized one day they had way more then they could appreciate. Now that they have eliminated the things they don't use, they care for the things that their Daddy works very hard to provide.

Laundry:
We've found that when we dread putting our clothes away it's because our drawers are too full. A great tip for decluttering drawers, and this especially applies to junk drawers, is pour everything into a box. If you use it, then put it away in the drawer. After a month or so, get rid of the rest. In your closet, turn all of your hangers with the hooks facing you. After wearing and washing an item, hang it back up with the hook facing in. Everything left on hangers facing you needs to go. (This works great for the people in your family that have a hard time letting go of un-used items.)

Zones:
My house is divided into 4 zones.
Zone 1-Kitchen and office (Because the office is just off the kitchen)
Zone 2-Dining room and craft area
Zone 3-Bedrooms and bathrooms
Zone 4-Living room and entryway

I spend one week a month in each zone. First decluttering a little bit at a time. The best method I've read is this. Ask yourself 3 questions.

1. What already goes on in this area? It's easier to make a place for your husband to dump his stuff where he already does then to try and nag him into dumping it somewhere else. If the shoes are left at the door, don't expect a pretty shoe basket in a bedroom closet to become their new home. If your family plays games in the living room, store them in the living room.
2. What supplies are needed for this activity? Once you've decided what goes on in the zone, throw away trash or items you are unable to donate, donate things that are not being used, or put away what does not belong. Categorize the rest into piles. Maybe by size or type. An example would be toys. Don't make it too complicated for the kids. I have blocks, mega legos, and a wooden train set all in one tub because they were always doing these things together. They would end up pulling out the blocks to make the train set bigger, etc. This is a very easy clean up for toddlers and preschoolers and they are learning to do their share!
3. What type/size container do I need? We tend to get this one backwards. Don't buy them first because they could end up too big or too small and you don't want them creating future clutter problems. The goal is to de-clutter and stay that way so you have more time for more important things like playing with your kids. So, look at the piles of everything you are keeping and then decide what will hold them neatly. I prefer containers you can't see through. You can find neat ways to label them when you're done.


Like I said earlier, I was not born organized. I don't think anyone is. It can be learned and I'm still learning everyday. Whenever I go to an appointment I search for the magazines with organizing tips. Woman's Day, Better Homes and Gardens, etc. I take notes in my planner when I read something good. My kids always search the free magazine rack at the library for me too! Some other great resources are Flylady and HannahKeeley. I would love to hear how you stay organized and contain your clutter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Keeping Things Functioning Around Here-Part 2

Organizing Our Homeschool

I've been homeschooling for 6 years now. It was not typically in style where I was when I started but I just knew when my oldest turned 5 that I couldn't send him away and so I began.

I was not born organized. I've come by it out of desperation. I've read everything I can get my hands on when it comes to organizing your home school and come across many different ways of doing things. I've gone back and forth with curriculum's and teaching styles yet there are a few things that have worked very well for us for a few years now no matter what curriculum we are using.

I'm going to focus on where to keep everything. I've heard many different suggestions on this. As homeschoolers we tend to collect everything we can find. I've seen free boxes at church and even picked up things at yard sales. If it's a good deal and we might use it sometime in our homeschooling career we bring it home. So, we have to find places to put the stuff.

I've heard it suggested that you box up and store the books you are not currently using and only keep out what you are. I tried this method however when I wanted to see if I had something, switched curriculum half way through because something wasn't working, or wanted to bless someone else in need, it was a real pain.

I like to keep everything I have out. I group it by subject and can see it easily. When I am given a box of books someone is no longer using, I keep what I "Know" I will use and pass on the rest. "You can't organize clutter!"


A great friend picked this up at an estate sale and then decided they didn't need it so I scored! I think it's an old china cabinet.

Here it is all closed up! NO Clutter and the best part, no flat surfaces to collect clutter. Flylady calls those "Hot spots".

Also in there is things like playdough, coloring supplies, stamps, learning toys for preschoolers only played with at school time, etc.

I keep my homeschooling stuff in my dining room which also dubs as a game room...

All of my games and puzzles are tucked neatly in there...

A scrap booking room...

Remember, keep things where you use them. My girls love to scrapbook. I enjoy it too but did not enjoy the mess we had to clean up and lug out when we were done. Now it's all right there!

There is one part of my dining room that does not function very well so I thought I'd include it.

I would love some suggestions here. This is above the sink in the kitchen. It just collects stuff. How can I make it useful? Help!

Anyway, back to where to keep stuff. My next favorite are my children's personal school supplies. I read of a lady whose husband built her a cabinet on wheels with dividers. She would move it around wherever they did school or wherever she felt like grading. I like the idea of "Mobile" so I came up with these a few years ago and have really benefited from it.


These are for my preschool age children. They keep all of their personal books and supplies in there. They also keep a pencil box with all of their utensils labeled with colored tape so I know who it belongs to when it is left out. Also notice the map under there. This is my dining table with a clear table cloth. This map came with a very expensive geography curriculum and they have learned more from sitting around this map then they did with the curriculum. My five year old will give you a pop quiz if you come over.

About first grade or so they graduate to these binders.

They hold everything!

They have according files that hold the books their reading and misc. workbooks and things. It holds their pencils and supplies. Even their rulers that they could never seem to find when the Math book would call for it.

And that is a flexible ruler, so they can't come to me with them broken anymore either!
I hole punch the bigger workbooks and keep everything in there filed by subject. These are great if we decide to do school snuggled up on the couch or go to the park which I've done a few times. They even brought them in to me in my bed when I had my surgery and we did a little. The older children also have desks in their rooms if they need some quiet and they can easily take them upstairs, supplies and all.

If you are looking to de-clutter some of your curriculum or are looking for new or used curriculum I've just discovered this great store by the Portland airport. It's called Exodus Books and they will buy your old curriculum and sell new and used curriculum for very great prices. They have everything organized by subject in the store and online!

Coming up next...Children's bedrooms!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Keeping Things Functioning Around Here-Part1

Top 10 Things I've learned from Flylady and More!

10. You can't organize clutter!

9. If it doesn't have a place (or you have 2 or 3 or 4 of them) it doesn't belong in your space.

8. Your laundry is done when it is washed, folded and put away. Not when your baskets are empty (which happens never).

We do about 20 loads of laundry a week here. I have a schedule and it comes out to about 3 loads a day Mon-Fri plus a load of wet towels after dinner each night. The kids and I sit down after nap time each day and fold and put away any clean laundry for the day. This also takes about 15 min. because we work together.

7. Never correct a helper when they are trying to HELP. This one's hard for me because I want to teach them to do it right (my way). I'm learning if I am thankful to them for their help, they will try harder next time. As they grow older they really are help! If I am impossible to please, they will stop trying.

6. Keep things where you use them and put them away as soon as you are done. This one is obvious but people rarely actually do it.

5. Keep my sink shining. I have white ceramic sinks in my house. I clean them with Clorox spray and then I dry them out after each use with a towel. After the dishes are done each meal, there is a wash tub under my sink to put dirty dishes in so my kitchen stays clean in between meals.

4. I clean my shower while I'm in it on the days I don't shave. I keep a magic eraser or I just use a cleaning rag and shampoo. Because I don't let the grime build up it doesn't even take elbow grease.

3. Swish and swipe my bathrooms.

I keep cleaning wipes and microfiber cloths under my bathroom sink. I wipe my counters, mirror, and sink every night in my evening routine. It takes maybe 2 min. I also keep a vase filled with soapy water with a toilet brush in it (those little bubble baths and hotel shampoos that you let clutter up your cabinet space is great for this). I swish it around in my toilet every night (5 seconds) and I haven't had to scrub my toilet since.

2. My daily routines.

The most functioning routine is my evening routine and makes a huge difference in the rest of my life.

Check calender
Lay clothes out for tomorrow
Straighten my bedroom (Even on the worst days this takes less then 5 min. because I've de-cluttered in here and everything has a place)
Swish and swipe my bathroom
Brush and floss my teeth, freshen up
Put towels in the dryer (Someone is assigned to put them in the washer after we clean up from dinner so they don't sit around and get stinky)
Send my hard working husband a goodnight text
Read my bible and pray

Aside from reading my bible this routine takes 15 min. tops and my bedroom and bathroom STAY clean. It seems like a lot of work after a long day but 15 is not that long. I have to remind myself how long it will take me later if I let my bathroom get grimy before I cleaned it and let things collect in my bedroom for days or even weeks before I touched it. It's also a nice place to do my devotions because there's nothing to distract me in this clean environment. My husband also comes home in the middle of the night and doesn't trip on anything! I could go on and on with this one...

1. If it takes less then 5 min. do it now or it will take more time later.




I do a zone each week in the month so the whole house gets a spring cleaning monthly in just 5-15 min. a day.

Week 1-Entryway and Dining room
Week 2-The kitchen
Week 3-Bathrooms
Week 4-Master bedroom
Week 5-The living room and stairs

My children have their daily chores and Wed. we have bible study in our home so we sweep, mop, and vacuum everywhere. We do a quick clean after all the kids are ready for bed (We run around and put everything in it's place). If this gets done quickly then we have time to read and sing while I'm putting them to bed.

The goal for all of these things is to have more time to focus on what's important. Also to have an open door in our home. Having people say they were coming for a visit used to put me in a full blown panic attack which was not very fun for my family because we were living in CHAOS (Can't Have Any One Over Syndrom). My home is not perfect but is functioning in a small amount of space with 9 people and a dog and I am a lot less stressed. (My husband enjoys it too!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homemade Graham Crackers

While Melaina was away today we decided to bake for her for a change. A lady brought these to our women's meeting last Friday and I was really impressed but decided to try them gluten/dairy free of course for Melaina who can no longer eat graham crackers.

Recipe:

1/2 c. cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
1/2 c. honey (I used raw, unfiltered)
2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
3 1\2 c. pastry whole wheat flour (I used spelt flour which is technically a gluten but very easy to digest. It does not bother Melaina at all and can be substituted straight across for wheat flour. I'm pretty sure regular wheat flour would work just fine also.)
1 1\2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1\2 c. milk (I used goat's milk and you actually couldn't taste it at all)

Mix liquids first except milk, then add dry ingredients alternately with milk. If dough is too sticky add more flour. It should be stiff enough to roll out on a floured surface without sticking. Roll out to 1/4" thick (The thinner they are the crunchier they get. My first batch was a little too think and tasted more like cookies then crackers but still very yummy). Cut in squares or with your favorite cutters. Prick with a fork to make holes and bake at 300 until edges are slightly brown (This was about 12 min. in my oven). Cool before removing from cookie tray.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Priorities

Colossians 3:1-2 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

I had a lot of time to spend in God's word while I was healing. He was showing me many things through that time but mostly about my priorities. When I wasn't reading I was listening to the bible or teaching Cd's and tapes that have been laying around my house for years. I didn't take for granted the time I did get to spend with my family because I had nothing to distract me as far as chores or homeschooling. Some days it was so quiet around here it was ear piercing and I would just ask the Lord, "What should I do now?". I got a vision of what it would be like if I set my mind on things above throughout my daily life. I was so overwhelmed with 4 children doing school this year and 3 toddlers under foot that I neglected what's most important. Reading God's word daily with my children and focusing on their character and heart. I told myself this was my husband's responsibility. Don't get me wrong, the laundry does need to get done, the house does need to be livable and somewhat sanitary, and if our children can't pass a state test we might have to answer to the authorities. But will these things matter when we get to heaven. Will I regret spending so much time trying to get things "Done"?

The most practical advice I've ever heard is this. "When your day isn't going as well as you planned and everything seems out of order and control, stop and do something different. Take your children to the park or for a walk. Put them in the bath to play. Something outside of the schedule to round everyone up and be able to keep smiling into their little hearts." My children won't remember if my house was clean on August 9, 2010, but if I focus on the things that are eternal today, it will matter "Forever".

The wisest advice I've had comes from a woman I admire. She raised 9 children, 8 boys and 1 girl. She said if she accomplished nothing else in a day she was in God's word every morning with her children. ALL of her children are serving the Lord. Her family shines brightly for Him in their own families. She not only affected her children but their spouses and children and children's children and so on. I'm up and moving around finally but not exactly back to normal. My body tells me when I've done enough and it's a good reminder of the things I learned while I was in bed. I'm still having to focus on what's important because I don't have much to give. My laundry is behind and my floors are disgusting but someday that won't matter. If I choose to fill my children's hearts with eternal things I won't regret it. If I choose to focus on what's not done around here, I could get back in the habit of daily trying to get everything done except what's really important.


This picture has nothing to do with it but I thought it was cute!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Slow Recovery

I wish I could say that I am fully content with my weaknesses but God is sure working on me this week. I've been stuck in bed. I had a new kind of cervical cerclage put in last Friday and the procedure is supposed to hold better but is a little more intense. I cooked meals ahead and froze them, cleaned everything in sight, did all the laundry, and planned out everyone's jobs and duties. I thought, "It'll be ok. I've done this 6 other times before." Well, the company that was supposed to have come and gone showed up the day I got home from the hospital and I thought okay, I've got frozen meals. My husband's work forced him back earlier then expected, my house fell apart, my pride was gone, and for 3 days I felt like I was in labor and was sure I was going to miscarry.

"And he has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness," Most glady, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

As I lay there I thought, I have got to go to the hospital and get checked out but I couldn't imagine even walking to the car because I could barely make it to the bathroom. I wanted peace. I wanted this doctor to tell me that my baby was ok.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:7

I began to pray, "God you can give me peace. I'm helpless and scared and I need your peace". The next thing I knew it was the morning. Peace had come in like a river and I slept through the night!!!! The next day my bleeding stopped. I have still had tremendous pain and contractions but the doctor continues to say, "If you're not bleeding I'm not concerned". God has shown both my husband and I that this baby is His will. He has a beautiful plan for our lives that we never thought we wanted and definitely don't deserve. God has shown us so clearly that He wants us to trust Him with everything. Our home, our finances, our every decision, our marriage, and yes, how many children He wants us to have. He's done such a work in our hearts this past week I'm overwhelmed. I've got a burden for the things of the Lord in my family so heavy while I lay in these 4 walls and all I've been able to do is pray. (Like that's not enough, huh) Without the focus of cooking, and laundry, and cleaning, and schooling, and all those things I'm too weak to do, I've learned to pray for my family like I never have before. For Christ's sake, when I'm weak, He is strongest in my life.

When people ask me "How do you do it with that many kids?" my answer has always been that God gives me what I need as I need it. My response used to mean that he gives me the strength and wisdom to take on more but how wrong I was. I can't do this. I am so weak and so fleshly. God has given me everything I need this week from amazing children who rise up and run the house to beautiful women of God, who have gone before me on this road, to care for my children and take care of the physical needs I can't meet right now.

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8

I truly desire to please the Lord and bring glory to Him as a wife and a mom. Nothing else really matters and I praise God for showing me so clearly this week and allowing this precious life inside of me to thrive through all of the trauma. I got a visit from my midwife yesterday and we got a good strong heartbeat. Praise the Lord. He truly is good to me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Consumed with baby thoughts

Since the day I found out I was pregnant I have been sick, sick and more sick. I couldn't shake this feeling that I had two little persons growing inside of me. I asked my midwife and she was pretty sure there was only one. My next visit left me even more convinced. I was measuring big and was still super sick. I began to research twin pregnancies and had "All" the signs. So I prayed, "I don't know what this means for my incompetent cervix but Your will be done Lord". When it came time to schedule my appointment for the specialist to do my surgery they wanted to see me right away. I was so anxious to get my ultrasound and confirm my suspicions. Well, I was wrong. The ultrasound tech confirmed that there is definitely one baby. To my surprise this huge "Let down" feeling came over me. I was really disappointed. I was so sure and it was the perfect reason to be so sick. Then the doctor came in. He's a perinatologist. I don't even know what that means exactly and I've never been to this office before but they are really high tech and thorough. He began to describe to me how healthy my baby was. I couldn't repeat it all but something about "Calcium in the nasal passages and low chances of down syndrome". He even told me which ovary my egg came from because there was a huge cyst left there maintaining good levels of hormones for the baby. All this is useless information but I began to feel really thankful as I watched this tiny little heartbeat on the screen and these tiny little legs and feet moving around already. God has blessed me so richly even when I didn't think it's what I needed. I just keep thinking if more Mommy's could see the precious life growing inside of her at such an early stage, maybe some of them would feel this all consuming love I feel right now and choose life.

(If I could figure out how to get the ultrasound pictures on my computer they would be here)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pregnant and blessed by the Lord

Behold children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

Does this mean that one should have as many arrows to fill their quiver as they possibly can? I heard it explained the other day that a warrior needs lots of arrows to fight a battle and living as Christians in this world definitely makes us warriors fighting a battle. But, I also heard it explained that if you have a quiver full of broken arrows then you are defeating your purpose. I do believe that the Lord is fully capable of opening and closing wombs as he pleases and we should seek him for everything in our lives but as far as I can tell the Bible isn't real clear on the subject one way or another.

When I was pregnant with my fifth child the doctor said I had things prolapsing so bad that it would make natural delivery complicated and things would probably get worse after the birth to the point that I would need surgery, preventing me from having any more children, within a few months after. I cried out to the Lord on the way home that day. I didn't feel that my family was complete but knew that I was soooooo blessed already and if God said I was done then He knew better then me and I was OK with that and at peace that it was His will and so thankful He was making it clear.

But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb. 1 Samuel 1:5

This was this my easiest and most beautiful birth. At my six week check up I had to see a different doctor. She did the normal exam but said nothing about anything "Prolapsing". When I asked her about it she saw nothing of the sort. "Interesting" I thought.

We still weren't sure as to what the plan was but figured we had some time because I was nursing and didn't usually get pregnant while nursing. Well, it's official, nursing is not a form of birth control for me. Seventeen months later came Elijah. The whole pregnancy thing does not come easy for me. I have a stitch surgically put in my cervix to hold it closed. I battle pre-mature labor often, my babies are usually born at 37 weeks the within a day or so of the stitch coming out and the first few weeks are extremely emotional and overwhelming. Babies born at 37 weeks are considered full term but they would prefer to sleep rather then eat and then they lose weight which makes them sleepier which makes for milk reduction which makes for more weight loss and more sleepiness and the cycle goes on...and as many times as I've gone through it it doesn't get any easier, I am still an emotional wreck, and so overwhelmed I feel I can't survive it one more time.

Well, just as I was feeling like things were getting back to normal I went in for my check up. The baby was actually 8 weeks at this time. You guessed it. I was pregnant putting us at 7. Whoa. Gideon was born 10 months and 1 week after Elijah. Hannah was 2 years and 2 months with 2 baby brothers. So, my husband decided, time for a break. We need to catch up with what we have. Although I was just as overwhelmed as he was this was hard for me. I prayed that God would show me His perfect will for me and He did.

Titus 2:5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

My husband is a wonderful provider and loves to spend time with his children. I can relate to the pressure of not feeling like there is enough of me to go around. The Lord began to change my heart as I submitted to my husband in this area. It made no sense to have a baby if I couldn't raise the baby to be a warrior for Christ because I was having another baby. So, some time has gone by and I could feel the Lord preparing my heart for another child. I thought, "Okay Lord, someday that sounds great. I'm finally starting to get a handle on the training around here. Just please prepare John's heart first." I knew I was still in His perfect will because John was content with his decision and I respected that. I've learned the hard way that God reveals things to him sometimes that He doesn't share with me or that my heart may be too tender to see. Well, you guessed it. Despite our best efforts to prevent it, I am pregnant. I do know that God has NEVER cursed anyone with a child. They are ALWAYS a blessing from the Lord. I know that it was His perfect will for my life and that there are no barriers too strong for Him (Not even rubber ones!).

In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 56:11

Well, I would love to tell you that my husband jumped for joy and shouted it to the world. This would be the perfect reaction to ease my worries. This would mean that he didn't care about the van that had broken down the day before, or the extra hours he was putting in at work, or the pressures he was already feeling as the head of our household. I would love to tell you that I was completely understanding to his situation and that I didn't take it personal but we are the farthest thing from perfect and trusting the Lord with all of our being is hard. Our flesh gets in the way and we view things from our perspective rather then with God's eyes and eternity. I've gone back and forth from praying for my husband and trying to be understanding (which brings me peace) and becoming self focused and angry (which gives me the opposite of peace). I asked the Lord three time why He did it this way and He clearly responded, "My ways are not your ways".

Since the announcement, my husband has come up with names for a boy or a girl. A couple of days ago he came up to me with our precious little Gideon (now 13 months) and said, "He wasn't in the plan and look at this smile". I sure do love this man and God sure does have a plan for us. Neither of us feel worthy of this high calling, but who are we to question the Lord? My husband doesn't realized it but he is the perfect man for the job. I have survived motherhood so far because of him. We would appreciate your prayers, and an infant seat and some maternity clothes if you have those laying around. I gave mine away.

Here is another link of a post by a woman I admire that has decided with her husband to put it completely in God's hands. She puts it beautifully.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Counter Productive

"Make all negative behavior counter productive". What does this mean? I've read it a hundred times but I don't know if I was fully getting it until recently. Nathan (My almost 11 year old) says "It's like football, they've been on the offensive and us on the defense and they are about to make a touchdown. Our little ones out number the big people in the house right now. Up until recently it felt like they were beginning to take over. After, many nights crying out to God, reading my bible daily, and devouring anything on biblical child training I could get my hands on I think I'm finally getting it. I've always firmly believed in spanking my children for rebellion and foolishness. I always attempt to explain to them why they are being disciplined and give them lots of hugs and affirmation when we're done. That's counter productive for them right? I thought so, but why is it not stopping them from having the same undesirable behavior again and again. So, we've kicked it up a notch. I think we used to be really good at this but lost our way amongst the chaos.

The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15

So, now we ask ourselves. What is my child trying to achieve by acting this way and then, in addition to the spanking we give them the opposite. Examples below but first...

Enter, Hannah.


Calling this precious, 20 lb, 3 year old a handful would be an understatement. Besides having an energy level unlike anything I've ever seen before, she has a physical strength that exceeds her physical appearance by far. Add 2 baby brothers to her first 2 years and 2 months of life and an overwhelmed mommy, you have one hard to manage child. I've potty trained her 3 times. It took almost 2 years to train her to stay in a bed (The rest of the kids less then a week). I could go on but you get the point. Don't get me wrong. I love this little girl with all of my being. She is the sweetest little thing and the greatest big sister. She gives the best hugs and has the sweetest smile on her face 95% of the day...

Sunday (Mother's Day): We went to the park after dinner as a family and had a great time. It began to get a little chilly so as my husband finished up an intense game of tag (I love this man), I took the little ones to the car. Hannah proceeds to throw herself on the parking lot ground in protest of leaving the park before "She" was finished. I spanked her to no avail. So, I picked her up and placed her in her car seat. It took all of my physical strength to buckle this child in her seat. Normally this would throw me into despair crying all the way home to my husband. Not this time. (My husband is great at encouraging me in these times and the best teammate to have but I'm convinced that my new found energy for my family is a result of filling up on God's precious word consistently. Read Psalm 119). But, I also had a trick play she wasn't aware of. Her hopes in throwing a fit was to stay at the park or at least make us miserable for not granting her wish. Not only did I give her no emotion whatsoever for her little display but I calmly said, "Okay Hannah, you are not going to play next time we come to the park". She paused for a moment and then decided that wasn't so bad cause when would we really go to the park again and Mom will forget by then anyway. And so she continued. All the way home.

Monday (The next day): After dinner I tell everyone to get their shoes on we're going to the park. Shouts of joy from everyone! We get there and I pull out the stroller, explain to Hannah that she won't be playing because she refused to get in her car seat the day before and strapped her in. I parked her next to the playground and we all had a good time.
This was not enjoyable for me but because I love her I cannot allow these fits to continue. I know many adults, who live their lives exercising they're self will, constantly self indulging with no thought to consequences on them or those they love. And as a woman who, in my flesh can throw a great big fit when I don't get my way knows, this is not something she will grow out of on her own. I want her to learn to yield her will to do mighty things for God someday. So, as we are leaving the park I say, "Okay Hannah, get right in your seat so you can play next time". She excitedly agrees and gets right in the car but, noticing something on the floor does not get in her seat. So, I say again (which I shouldn't have done because I'm trying to mean what I say and say what I mean), "Hannah, get in you seat or you are going to lose play time next time too". I put the stroller in the trunk and come back to her climbing all over the van. "Okay, you lost your play time next time too." Fit #2 begins. Which proves that she's starting to believe me but still undesirable behavior. Same scenario as the day before. I physically put her in her seat.
Tuesday: Back to the park. Pull the stroller out. We all play in the freezing cold while she watches. Time to leave, I say, "Okay, do you want to play next time?". She nods, gets out of the stroller and climbs into her seat and buckles herself! I didn't even know she could do that! I excitedly affirm her good behavior.
Wednesday: Back to the park. Nice weather. Friends come. We have dinner. Hannah plays and plays. Time to leave and she gets right in her seat!!!

This was victory enough for me but I have not had one problem with her getting in her car seat since! Everywhere we go and every time we leave to come home she happily gets right in! Not only am I a happier Mommy in these situations but she's happy too! Some of you might be saying, "That's a lot of work". Yes, but she already was a lot of work but now it's a lot less work to go somewhere.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nine Years!!!!


For some that might not seem like that long. And I hope I can look back someday (like on our 50th anniversary) and say the same. But today, it seems like a huge accomplishment. Our God is so good. I could never fully express what He's done in our lives but we've sure had to rely on Him. On our own, we won't make it. With Him, nothing is impossible.

We met at my cousin Angela's house. Her and her husband were showing me Christ by the the way they lived their lives and the way that they loved me. As a result I had to have this Christ in my life too. The changes God was doing in me were so fast that it was overwhelming at times. I was pregnant with my second child, alone, and just trying to survive. They would drive 45 minutes to pick me up for dinner on the weekends and then go to the Saturday night church service with them. John would frequently go for dinner and church also. It was a lot different then the Saturday nights I was used to for sure. I didn't notice him at first but he was so gentle and kind. I remember telling my cousin, "He'll make someone a great husband one day". She agreed knowing how he felt about me but said nothing. Everyone was just giving me time to heal from my past and grow in the Lord.

He began to spend time with Nathan (about 1 1/2 at the time) like I had never seen anyone spend with him before. He would play for hours and Nathan just soaked it up. I loved sitting back and watching. Partly because I was so cautious of men but mostly because I just enjoyed the break. My belly was ever growing with baby number 2 and I was just plain tired being from a single mom.

Melaina was born January 16, 2001 at 4:00 a.m. Angela brought me a Christmas moose from John. Said he had asked her to give it to me. I was very confused by this gift. Was it for the baby or me? Why a Christmas moose? What did it mean. (I still haven't figured that one out Babe, if you're reading this) I realized I kinda missed him. Not that I hoped he'd come to the hospital and see me like that but I began to wonder, "Why do I care?". I had pledged to be alone for the rest of my life and focus on these children God had so graciously gifted me with.

I recovered for a couple of weeks but couldn't wait to get back to church. My apartment was so lonely. I had walked away from all of my old friends and worked at home on the computer so the only adult contact I got was on the weekends when they'd come pick us up for church. It seemed like every sermon was just for me. I had this plaque hanging in my bathroom and the first scripture on it was Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." I had to learn more about this God who could give someone like me a future and hope. I knew I didn't deserve it but I sure wanted it for my children who didn't ask for any of this.

One weekend, we were there like usual and I was very overwhelmed with my two babies. Nathan was acting out since the new baby and I had to take him into the bedroom to deal with it. While I was in there I heard the baby wake up and begin to cry. I just fell on the bed in total defeat and begged the Lord to help me. I knew I had put myself in this position but this was too much. I begged him to make her stop crying. She instantly stopped. "Wow Lord! Thank you!" I cried. I composed myself and went back out to the living room and found John asleep with Melaina sleeping on his chest. I thought this was an interesting answer to my prayer. This man I had hardly said more than a few words to seemed to love this precious little baby.

Angela called me a few weeks later and asked if it would be okay if John picked us up for church because they were going out of town but didn't really want us to miss it. I said "Sure". He came and I wasn't quite ready to go so he came in and started helping get the kids ready. "Wow Lord!" I thought, "These Christian guys are sure helpful and serving". We got into the car and I had to move the box of Sees Candy out of my way to sit down. "He likes Sees too," I thought, "Should I ask him for a piece?". "Don't you want it?" he asked. I didn't even realize it was for me. I was so oblivious to his feelings for me. I never thought he could ever care about someone as messed up as me. I didn't feel worthy of love. We talked and talked and talked the whole way there. He carried my babies through the nursery without a care of what people might think. I was intrigued with this man to say the least. On the way home he said he needed to share something with me so that I had all the information and wasn't surprised later. "Oh no," I thought. "There is something wrong with him. He is too good to be true." He shared that he had been in prison a few years prior and found the Lord there. He said God had changed him and he wasn't that man anymore but thought I needed to know. I was again amazed by this God who changed people like this. John thought this would scare me away but it drew me to him. To the God in him that could do such miracles. I knew he wasn't that man anymore. I had seen him with my precious children whom I would protect with my life! He said, "Do me a favor. Go home and read Jeremiah 29:11." I knew I had heard that somewhere but couldn't remember so I said "Okay".

I sat on the toilet that night (sorry for the graphics) and looked up at my plaque. It read, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 No way! This God really was amazing. "Why am I feeling all these things Lord! I'm so scared. I don't want to be hurt ever again." (I'm still learning more each day how to trust him with this)

April 28, 2001 we were married. We danced the night away with our children and then went to a hotel close by because I was still nursing Melaina. She was 3 months old by this time and had never taken a bottle but I figured since it was my honeymoon she'd have to. She said no to the sitter all night long and we had to go pick her up. She joined us on our honeymoon for the rest of the weekend. And so our marriage began. I brought 2 kids and lots and lots of luggage through that door. The chaos hasn't ever ended and we're still decluttering some of that luggage. Seven children and nine years, there's never a dull moment.

(This is him dancing and singing to Hannah, baby number 5, like he does with all of them at this age. He would do this to put her to sleep so I could get extra rest. He still has a way of lulling her to sleep which if you know Hannah you know this is quite the skill.)

I used to think that this was a very unhealthy way to start out. I guess it is in a way but God can make beauty from ashes for sure. Recently our Pastor challenged us to remember what first drew us to each other. What qualities did the other person have that made us want them. I felt so guilty for being drawn to him for the way he played with Nathan and held my baby that day but then John said he was drawn to the type of mother I was to them also. He loved how I would load them up in the stroller and walk miles to get what we needed from the store. (Most men would call the baggage honey but that is why I love you so much.) He said he knew when he met me that I was the wife he'd been praying for. I was 4 months pregnant at that time. He said I was beautiful and he couldn't tell until I turned around anyway. (I've gained a few since then but he doesn't mind) I didn't feel I deserved a man like this and I still don't. He is the husband I never could have dreamed of and the best daddy in the world. I fall more in love him everyday. I love him more now then ever before. This weekend we are going away for our anniversary! It's the first time I haven't been pregnant or nursing in eight years.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Homesick

Lately I've been finding so much comfort in God's holy word. I had a friend who often prayed this would happen for me. When she died I wasn't sure if I would survive because I regularly found comfort talking to her. I couldn't imagine my life without her. Her voice still plays in my head sometimes. "Don't even think those thoughts Season." "Remember to be his cheerleader." "Never correct someone who is trying to help you." She taught me to be a better a wife, a better mom, a better friend, a better cook, and a better sewer (I know that should say seamstress but I'm hardly that so I'm calling it a sewer). I was just better because of her but most of all, she taught me to fully rely on my God for everything. To diligently seek Him in His word so I would be lacking nothing I needed for this life.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:2-3

There were so many times I can think of where I would turn to her in sorrow and she would immediately open her bible and turn me to Him. One time in particular really sticks out to me. I had reached the "Depths of despair" as Anne of Green Gables calls it, and lied on her couch hopeless. What a sight I'm sure. She sat in the chair next to me and nursed me back to health with scripture for hours! What devotion. I want to be at least half that kind of friend. I want to point everyone I come in contact with to my heavenly Father who heals the deepest of wounds. Who loves unconditionally without fail every time all the time.

When she lay in that hospital bed and they gave her a 5 percent chance of survival I told everyone there that God was going to heal her. I was absolutely sure of it because I knew that she would bring Him so much glory because of it. I knew she would tell everyone how God did what they thought impossible. I knew that He needed her here (As if He needs anything) to continue to glorify Him. I knew that He knew her family needed her and I needed her.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

God knew what would bring Him the most glory. I left the hospital with her daughter that evening planning to go home and freshen up and go right back. She was gone by the time we got home. Never had I felt a blow like this one. This wound was deep and I was sure it would never heal and that I would not survive.

Her funeral had over 700 people attend. She wasn't famous my most peoples standards but she touched peoples lives for the Lord. Everyone she met was touched somehow and this turnout was the result. As I sat in this room full with that many people I felt so alone. I was angry at God. I didn't understand. As the funeral went on and they spoke of her life I began to feel comfort. God's loving arms wrapped around me like I had never felt before. I realized what drew me to her was Him. He shined so brightly in her. I realized that every time I was comforted by her I was actually comforted by Him. The joy in her was His joy. The love in her was His love. He was still there. He was holding her and me at the same time. When all those hands went up to accept the Lord at her funeral I got a small glimpse of what God was doing. Other people were realizing just like me there deep need for Him. She would have gladly given her life knowing that. God did so many amazing things in so many lives that I could see. I can't imagine what He did that I didn't see.




She'd be so happy to know that I'm learning to seek Him for everything. That I'm falling in love with His word. It brings me great comfort and joy that I get to tell her someday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Clarified Butter

We've all been craving carbs lately. Holly said it's because we're not eating enough good fat (butter, coconut oil, etc...). Not everything goes well with coconut oil and olive oil loses a lot of it's nutrition when heated at high temperatures but Melaina, Elijah, and Gideon can't have butter. I've heard of clarified butter (also known as ghee) before but wasn't sure how to make it. I guess by cooking it down you can take the lactose and things out of the butter and only leave the oil which is the nutritious part. I found a recipe and with Holly's help, I tried it. It worked great! Melaina didn't throw up or even get a stomach ache. She can have butter!!! We made nut pancakes this morning loaded with butter. She was pretty excited.

No, it will not make you fat. It's good fat your body actually needs and knows what to do with. I was just reading that back in the day mothers would sell their cream from their farms to make extra cash because it was high in demand but their children were malnourished. I don't want my children to be malnourished so I'm going to feed my children lots of real butter and other things with good fat. Not margarine that the cockroaches and ants won't even eat.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weekly Menu 1

I've had some comments asking to share recipes I'm using as I learn knew things about Health. I used to pride myself on making the yummiest food possible without any thought to the nutritional value of the food I was placing before my family. I love to hear "This is really good Mommy. Can we have this again sometime?" (My wonderful husband thankfully eats whatever I make which I really appreciate but since I like him so much I'd like to keep him healthy too.) Melaina's allergies eliminated most of our recipes. No more cream of whatever soups or seasoning packets. Cheese seemed to make everything better but she couldn't have that either.

I've posted a little already about some of the things we're discovering she can have. They're all called living foods because they have live microorganisms (good bacteria) that is nourishing and healing to our bodies. However, they don't all taste as good as they are. So, as part of my quest for better health for my family, I've started a new recipe binder with my oldest daughter. She received this really neat scrapbook style cookbook for Christmas and as we find nourishing recipes that actually taste good we add them to the binder. I'm so new to this but I'll share what I have so far.

I've decided to make the same meals every week until we get this new style of cooking down. Properly preparing foods that our bodies can digest takes a little more planning and preparing so I'm going to stick with this plan until we get it down and then maybe we'll try adding a little more variety.

MONDAY
Breakfast: Soaked oatmeal sweetened with agave nectar and dried fruit)
Lunch: Loaded Baked Potatoes
Dinner: Taco Salad or Black Bean Chicken Burritos with Soaked whole wheat tortillas (cut extra lettuce for Tuesday)

TUESDAY
Breakfast: Kefir smoothies and nuts?
Lunch: Leftover taco salad
Dinner: Rosemary Chicken (Make bone stock (super healing to the body)out of the carcasses and cutting veggies for the soup or soaking beans for chili Wednesday) with smashed potatoes, gravy and Salad (cut the night before)(Also soak oatmeal for Wednesday)

WEDNESDAY
Breakfast: Soaked Oatmeal Bake
Lunch and Dinner: Soup or Chicken Chili made out of the left over chicken and stock) with bread (soak rice in rice cooker for Thursday making sure there’s extra for fried rice on Friday)

THURSDAY
Breakfast: Kefir smoothies and peanut butter toast?
Lunch: Left over soup or Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches
Dinner: Stir Fry (alternating chicken and beef) (Also cutting veggies for egg bake and pizza Friday)

FRIDAY
Breakfast: Veggie egg bake (prepared the night before) and fruit
Lunch: Fried Rice
Dinner: Homemade Pizza

SATURDAY
Breakfast: Big breakfast (making leftovers for Sunday)
Lunch: Leftover pizza and salad with lots of raw veggies
Dinner: Variety day (trying new recipes or Daddy cooks)

SUNDAY
Breakfast: Left over breakfast from Saturday or peanut butter toast
Lunch: Kefir smoothie and salad
Dinner: Steak, potatoes, and salad
(Soak beans, rice, and oatmeal for Monday)

Snacks: kefir smoothie; fruit; raw veggies; cheese

I purchase one box of organic grass fed beef a month, and hormone and antibiotic free whole chickens. Free range would be better but I haven't worked it into the budget yet. I buy organic, omega 3 eggs, or farm fresh when I can. I buy mostly organic produce because I don't like genetically modified food or pesticides going into my children's fragile little bodies. I make all of my sauces including my own taco seasoning from scratch because everything at the store seems to have preservatives that are hard for our bodies to digest. Properly preparing our food and only putting in nourishing food allows our bodies to do what God intended them to do, use what it needs, and discharge the rest building our immune systems at the same time. I know I could use a few less fat storage's on my body and some more energy. How about you?

I will be posting recipes separately if you let me know which ones you want. To learn how to properly soak your grains I like Nourishing Gourmet and Kelly the kitchen Kop.

After reading over this I know it seems like a lot of extra work but it's really not. As I make adjustments here and there it's ended up being about the same on the food budget because I make everything from scratch and I always have the kids helping me in the kitchen. They've learned so much that they can prepare a meal themselves if I need them to. The best part is I have so much peace and joy as I serve these things to my family.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Growing Weary and Pressing On

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Oh, does this encourage me today. I've been feeling very defeated these past couple of days. Ever since I started this blog and a bible study at my house it seems as if everything else is falling apart around me. It's been a good reminder to me of how often I struggle with my flesh still. I'm going on ten years since I gave my life to Christ and there's still so much house cleaning to do. Let's just get it out in the open right now. Just because I have seven children does not mean I have it all together. On the contrary. I am daily overwhelmed and blown away by how much God has chosen to bless me but this verse sums it up. He's chosen me, as weak, foolish, and unwise as I am.

Lately I've been falling in love my bible more and more. I'm realizing how much I need to be filling up with spiritual food so that my flesh doesn't take over.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16

Another thing I'm learning to do is take it to Jesus.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light"
Matthew 11:28-30

Praise the Lord I don't have to do these things on my own. I sure have been feeling weary lately and it's because I can't do it all on my own. When I try, I burn out. I appreciate the encouraging comments and am blessed to know that others are being blessed. So, I'm going to press on with this journey to love my family more and more, and hopefully point to Christ in the process.

Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cloth Wipes


I realized since I was using cloth diapers it would be easier and cheaper to use cloth wipes too. I cut old flannel receiving blankets and microfiber terry cloth towels into 6" squares. I took one of each and sewed right sides together. Turned them right side out and sewed a top stitch to close the seam. (This was the perfect project to teach Anina-6 how to use the sewing machine too. Doubled up quality time, life skills, and money saving all in one.) (This is my justification for skipping school today) They're so soft on their little bottoms and now I don't have to make the extra trip to garbage to throw away the wipes. They're great for wiping messy faces and hands too. I stack them in my wipe container and pour on my wipe solution:

2 c. water
1 T. baby soap
1 t. olive oil
1/8 t. tea tree oil