Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas

So, again, I am being made to think about what Christmas is all about.

"Jesus is the reason for the season"

"Santa Claus comes and brings toys to all the good girls and boys"

"It's a time for friends and family to gather together"

"It just wouldn't be Christmas without the presents"

The last quote was a line that really stood out at me from the children's christmas program I attended with my family on Sunday. It isn't Christmas without presents? Really??

My little family of four is working on what we really believe about how to celebrate Christmas. We want to have a tradition that means something to our children after they've grown and left the nest. We're not sure how to do that.

I do know that I believe that celebrating Jesus's birth is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Christ was the ultimate Gift that God gave us. The Wise Men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh as gifts for the baby Jesus. These are all good reasons why we give gifts to each other. But how many? How expensive should they be? Do we measure expense by cost in dollars, or as an expenditure of the time spent to create the gift, or as a percentage of income? Who should spend the time to think about the gift: the gift giver, or the receiver (in writing a Christmas Wish List). Do we really gain any Christmas Cheer by giving pointless gifts to people who don't need anything anyway?

I also know that Santa Claus isn't real. We won't be having anything Santa in our home. Santa is a nice, cute story, but we will be encouraging our children to believe the truth - Santa isn't real, neither is the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Jesus, the son of God who was responsible for many miracles in the Old Testament and capable of anything, was born to a Virgin, whose birth was announced by Angels and a Star, who was worshipped by Shepherds, who grew up and lived without sin, who died as atonement for my sins, and rose from the dead, and by faith in him I am made worthy of heaven. The real story, true as it is, is unbelievable and amazing enough to keep me from seeing a need to fill my children's heads with lies about Santa.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is widely accepted as being a stressful time. Between decorating the home, buying and wrapping gifts, and going to parties, and baking goodies, and taking pictures, and writing and addressing and mailing Christmas Cards, singing carols, going to church....where do we find the true meaning behind all the busy-ness?? What's the point? To me there has to be a good reason to invite all this stress into my family's life.

So...the point of all this rambling writing: How to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way? Yes, it involves gifts - but how to avoid presents becoming the main event? Do we find a way to give to the needy? (anything you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me) What ways can we build meaningful holiday traditions that keep Christ the focus of CHRISTmas? I wish I had an answer for 2009....but hope to have one in place for 2010 and beyond.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What We've Been Doing Lately . . .

Since Luke was born, we've been spending a lot of time just trying to keep living life! It has been pretty hectic with our little 2 year old and our littler newborn, to care for the family between diapers and feeding and laundry and trying to keep flat surfaces clear of clutter (sort of clear, at least!). The only things that consistently got taken care of were the people - the housework and laundry are not the first priority at all! We are so thankful for our mothers, who have spent a lot of time helping out with housework and that has been such a blessing! We also had some friends bring some delicious meals to our home, which was not only a big help, but it felt great to have people to care for us in such a giving way!


The biggest problem really was my own ambition. Cora's birthday is December 8th, and I had wanted to re-do the South bedroom for her to sleep in - I made a quilt, a valance, and have sewn up pillows in the shape of a giraffe, a zebra, and an elephant. We'll soon be hanging a tiger picture on the wall, and possibly other animal pictures if we can find them. We'd wanted to move her to her Big Girl Room for her 2nd birthday. I had fully expected Luke to have been born sometime in October, since his due date was October 31st. I decided to wait until the baby was born to start on the bedroom project, and since he waited until November 10th to be born, and stayed at the hospital much longer than we'd anticipated, that was a big mistake! I had less than a month to finish all those projects, so every spare minute was spent in the sewing room. I did finish most of the sewing by her birthday party that we had on Saturday the 12th. It was a fun project, but I shouldn't have attempted it with a deadline like that with the new baby!
Sunday, December 13th, was another big day for the family, because Luke was baptized that day. My parents and grandpa and sister stayed overnight so it would be easier to make it to 8:00am church. Of course, I forgot my camera, but many others took pictures, so I am sure they will be willing to send them to me (I hope!). Luke was a good baby during the baptismal ceremony, and looked very handsome in his outfit. His grandma hosted a dinner afterwards, which was delicious!


(Cora in front of her birthday presents from her great grandparents, grandparents, aunt, and parents - the big box is filled with the animals, and wrapped in the quilt I made for her bed)

(Luke showing off one of his fitted cloth diapers - so soft, so comfy!)

(Tummy time is more fun with daddy and big sis too!)


(Cora and her baby doll, Mommy and Luke)


(Luke and Baby Doll with their Mommies in their wrap carriers - hands free is nice!)

I think we have been getting along pretty well!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Birth Announcement!

The newest member of our family is 2 weeks old today, so I am a little late in getting this out. I am fairly certain most of you already know about him anyway, but I still must write about it in the blog!

Luke Edward was born on 11/10/09, at 3:35am. He was over a week past his estimated due date, and we'd had a prenatal visit Monday afternoon, I was dilated to 4cm then, and everything looked fine in the NST, but we had planned to induce by that Friday if he hadn't been born by then. Monday evening was normal, uneventful, we went to bed, but at 11:39pm I was awakened by a VERY INTENSE contraction! I went to the bathroom, climbed back into bed, and about 10 minutes after the first one, I had another one. I stayed in bed until the 3rd one came a little less than 10 minutes later, but these were so very intense and obviously the real thing that I woke Matt up - "It's time!"

He ran around the house getting things put in the car while I attempted to get dressed (not too easy when you are in labor!). Finally I was ready to go, we got in the car and called his parents (12:44am) who live across the road to come and stay with Cora, and we were headed to the hospital. It's about a 40-45 minute drive to the hospital depending on traffic conditions, but my dear husband made it there in just over 30! His strategy: travel at a reasonably super fast speed to avoid getting a ticket for reckless driving, but he wasn't going to slow down if he saw another car - he thought that if we did get pulled over we'd get a police escort the rest of the way!

When we got to the hospital they let us in, we rode the elevator up to the second floor, and then had to walk the rest of the way to the birthing center, while a tech escorted us. I had to stop about every 50 feet for a contraction! Finally we made it, and they gave us a room, and it seemed like from there nothing ever slowed down. Nurses and techs asking questions, getting a heart rate reading from the baby, getting my blood pressure, me changing clothes, our doula arriving, them saying we had to move our car (thankfully, our doula was there and was able to get most of our stuff inside, then move the car....I could not have been without Matt at that point - those contractions were coming hard and fast and just would not let up!).

I was officially admitted to the hospital at 1:55am. Labor was really intense and never let up - with Cora I had a big contraction, then got to rest for several moments between the contractions. Seemed like with Luke's birth - I'd have a big contraction, just barely catch my breath, and then the next one would come. People were always asking me to do things in between contractions (reasonable things, really, but I was in labor and just wanted to rest!).

I spent a lot of time on a birth ball while Matt sat on the bed and I leaned on him and rocked back and forth, and was sooo glad we'd brought the exercise ball from home that I was used to - the one they had at the hospital was TINY! After they asked me to get in the bed so they could check my dilation, I then mostly was sitting up on my knees, facing the back of the bed, leaning over the back with it raised up for support. At some point, the doctor checked me and I was fully dilated, and I pushed for a little while in that position, until they had me flip over and sit down to actually birth the baby. I am not for sure how long I actually pushed - things were going so fast and I had no concept of time, but Luke was born at 3:35am.

They gave him right to me, and I was able to hold him for a little while, but I ended up hemorrhaging pretty badly, so the nurses took him to the warmer while the doctor worked on me to stop the bleeding, deliver the placenta, and stitch up my small tear. I ended up with a couple of shots, and they had to start an IV because I had lost so much blood. After I was taken care of, Matt brought Luke over (sometime around 4am) and he nursed for a little over an hour. Around then, the baby nurse came back to check his respiration, and it was in the 60's and higher (normal is in the 40s). She was concerned and was going to ask the head baby nurse, and it turned out they wanted to keep him for monitoring for a while until his breathing slowed to a normal rate.

Turned out what Luke had was TTN, which is basically just a fast respiration rate - it looked like he was panting. It isn't something that's preventable, or predictable. Sometimes it happens because the baby inhales amniotic fluid on the way out, sometimes it happens in a fast birth (like his was!) because the baby doesn't get enough time in the birth canal to squeeze the lungs and get them cleared out. There was no treatment for it, just time - as the baby adjusts to life outside the womb, he gradually begins to breathe normally. He didn't need to have oxygen, or an IV, just stayed on the monitor to track his respiration rate, heart rate, and oxygen levels. Since he was breathing so fast, it wasn't safe for him to be fed by mouth - there is a risk of aspiration which could lead to pneumonia. So, I pumped every 3 hours, and he was fed by a tube.

This went on until Thursday morning, around 9am, when finally his breathing had slowed enough that I could breastfeed him again! This was such great news - we'd been told that once his respiration got down, and once it was clear he was nursing well, that we could go home!

Unfortunately, I had to be discharged from the hospital by midnight on Thursday, so the remainder of that night was spent in the 4th floor "boarder parents lounge" which was an unsecured room in an unused wing of the hospital next to Pediatrics that had fold-out couches and a bathroom with a toilet and sink. My mom stayed with me so I woudn't have to stay alone and haul my stuff back and forth each time. Whenever Luke woke up and was ready to eat, the Nursery called Pediatrics who came down the hall to get me. I'd wake up, use the bathroom, stumble down the hall to the elevator, weave my sleepy way down the hall, request entrance into the birthing center, knock on the door to the nursery, wash my hands, and finally, 10 minutes after first learning he was hungry, nurse my baby. It was not at all ideal, but it was definitely better than him having a bottle and unlearning how to breastfeed!

So, after having been up all night on 11/10/09 when Luke was born, the longest stretch of sleep I had in the hospital was Wednesday night (or early Thursday morning) when we went from 1am to 6am and just skipped one pumping to try to get some rest. Other than that it was more like 2-3 hour stretches of sleep at a time, and by Friday morning I was EXHAUSTED! Being newly postpartum, hormonal, spending all that time awake, and in the nursery, with the monitors that beep nearly constantly, and having to be super careful of the wires strapped to your newborn anytime I held him - it was super stressful! We were VERY glad and so grateful to be discharged from the hospital Friday afternoon, we finally got to introduce Cora to her little brother, and started being a family of 4 at home!

Now that Luke is 2 weeks old, we're starting to get into the swing of "normal" - he's a really great eater (birth weight was 8lbs, 1oz, at discharge was 7lbs, 11oz, and on Monday at his first weight check was 8lbs, 9oz!), his big sister is very understanding that little Luke needs a lot of attention from Mommy and Daddy because he's a newborn. And really, even with such a rocky start, things are going pretty smoothly now - what a wonderful blessing from God!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Happy Halloween - But No Baby Yet

I really had not planned a costume for Cora for Halloween. But on Friday afternoon it became apparant that I might as well have something ready, since the baby was not here yet. I had just assumed we'd have been busy with other things, since the due date was October 31st!

But what to dress her up as? Well, every morning and night when we do chores across the road, we look for our neighbor's beautiful white cat. We see him most times, and Meow at him, and wink at him (like cats blink their eyes at you) but he hasn't let us pet him yet. So...Cora was a white cat for Halloween. She already had the white shirt, white tights, and white shoes. I sewed a tail, stuffed it with polyfil, and stitched it to a skirt made out of an old t-shirt, and the hat with cat ears was made from an old t-shirt as well. I used pink lipstick for the kitty nose, and eyeliner for her whiskers. She absolutely LOVED getting dressed as a kitty!

We got ready, took pictures, and of course had to show the neighbor how his cat had inspired Cora's costume! Then we took pictures at our house - me with the hat I had hoped her little brother would have actually worn on his head today! And Cora, being adorable, and holding her kitty cat tail.
Then we headed to "trunk or treat" at Matt's aunt and uncle's church, and Cora really got into the spirit of grabbing candy! She said "meow" a lot, and shook her tail, and it was a really good time.


This is being written and posted Sunday morning, and no signs of baby coming yet! He's for sure not going to be a Halloween baby though!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Still Pregnant!

Baby is due the end of this week, though! So excited for his arrival! We are so ready to meet him. Bags are packed. I've been doing a once-over of the house every night before bed to make sure everything is mostly clean, just in case I do go into labor and we have to leave! That way everything won't be a huge mess when we return. It seems a little crazy, but then it's been nice to wake up to a clean house in the morning!

The last two weekends we've been trying to get out of the house, anticipating that soon we will be more or less house bound with a newborn during flu season. Besides the fact that it's probably easier to get out and about with one child rather than two!

Last weekend, we tried out the mexican restaurant in town on Friday night - it was very good - nice fresh food! The menu made it clear what you were getting too, which was nice. We headed down after church on Sunday to Bass Pro Shop, and Cora loved it the minute we drove in the parking lot - she saw the boats, and all the stuffed animals, and the aquarium - it was well worth the drive to see her face light up every time she turned her head when she saw something new!

On Saturday this weekend we drove down to Madison and walked along the river - Cora in her stroller with Daddy pushing. It was a chilly, but beautifully sunny afternoon, and the fall colors along the banks of the Ohio River were stunning. There was a sign for a restaurant on the water, Lighthouse Cafe I think it was, and we ate down there. A barge went by, and we rocked gently with the wake of the boat as it passed while we ate our dinner. It was really neat! After dinner, we walked some more, and tried to get some chocolates to bring home (or in my case, eat on the way home!) but pretty much all the stores were closed up by 6pm! There are a lot of shops to look at in Madison, but it's pretty much a daytime town! We ended up going to a local coffee shop (love patronizing the local places rather than Starbucks when I get the chance!) and got a decaf Vanilla Mocha, and the woman gave us a cookie for Cora, free! Matt doesn't drink coffee, so he shared Cora's cookie. It was a fun little outing for the three of us.


It will be interesting to see if we end up having to come up with something to do this weekend, or if we will have the baby by then!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The "Nourishing Breakfast Challenge"

I'm in!

Michelle over at "She Looketh Well" has begun a "Nourishing Breakfast Challenge" where all week she will post recipes. For each breakfast you try and comment on, you get entered to win a book! Check out the link to the challenge here!

Soap!!

Last week my soap order from Cheeky Maiden Soap Company arrived. I am in love!


Pictured above is the Lavendar Baby Bar, the Breakfast Bar (with raw milk, honey, and oats), and the Nettle, Cedarwood, and Grapefruit Shampoo Bar, in their new home in our upstairs bathroom.
From the Cheeky Maiden website:
"Cheeky Maiden Soaps are REALLY natural soaps! She's picky about ingredients, and always avoids synthetic colors and preservatives! Our soap is now being forumulated without the use of synthetic fragrances as well. Not all handmade soap is the same! Cheeky Maiden offers unique handcrafted soaps formulated from a base of pure Olive, Palm, Avocado, Castor and Coconut oils. Shea Butter is added to create a luxuriously smooth, cleansing bar of soap. Her soaps will delight your senses! Swirls of natural color and light fragrances turn shower into spa! The perfect gift, each bar comes wrapped in its own designer label and tied with a bow. If you have never used handcrafted soap before, you are in for a real treat! "
Why do I bother to tell you all about my new soap?? If you surf over to her site and place an order as a first time customer, and put my name in the box, I will get $3 off my next soap purchase, and I am already planning what soaps I will get! So help yourself out, buy some GREAT soap, and help me out - put my name in for my discount when you do! :-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Countdown to Baby - Lots of Work to do!

Today is July 29, and I am now 27 weeks pregnant! Less than 13 weeks to go before baby arrives (that’s assuming he doesn’t come early!) and our family grows from 3 to 4. This pregnancy is going a lot faster than I thought! How exciting! But…..oh man I have a LOT of things I need to get done/under control before this happens!!

I’ve come up with a week by week approach that should help maintain my sanity.

For August, there is, in no particular order:

  • Sewing projects – maternity dress, dresses for Cora, a little tote bag for Cora, one baby project
  • Packing and going on a week’s vacation (fun, but hard to get much accomplished at home!)
  • Preserving corn and tomatoes (sauce, salsa, etc) for the year
  • Put away/sort Cora’s clothes by size, box up what she’s grown out of, and what she’s not big enough for yet.
  • Go through Cora’s little baby clothes, and pick out the stuff that is gender neutral that our son can wear.
  • Come up with an effective organization system for our laundry/hall/mud room/mail desk. (ha! Sounds impossible!!)

September’s tasks include:

  • Birthday parties
  • Reorganizing the computer room/office AND KEEP IT THAT WAY!!!
  • Sewing projects: More baby stuff, plus get started on some matching dolly things for the Big Sis!
  • Reorganize the Attic Room (my sewing/craft/storage room) so that Cora can be in there without getting into trouble
  • Finish re-upholstering antique rocking chair.

By the end of September, I’ll be approaching 36 weeks, and I hope to have all the baby stuff purchased, prepped, and ready for use by the time I reach 37 weeks – the time when a baby could be born and considered full-term. It won’t hurt to be ready by then, but I’d sure be scrambling if baby came early and I wasn’t!

I’ll need to:

  • Wash stuff: car seat covers, crib sheets, clothes, cloth diapers
  • Buy the stuff I don’t have for baby: boy specific clothes, newborn sized cloth diapers, and other miscellaneous things – I’m registered at Mom4life.com – lots of really good things on my registry list if you’re looking for a good baby gift (wink, wink!!!!) Especially the Tummy Tub baby bathtub, the Twilight Turtle (as a nite lite alternative), the LilyPadz, the BumGenius Diapers (and the matching BabyLegs!), the Aden and Anais Muslin swaddling blankets….well, all the products I've registered for on that site will be VERY handy.
  • Get all the birth day stuff ready – food, snacks, baby book…..and so forth.

October’s work (beyond being sure all baby gear is ready to go):

  • Deep clean the house
  • Make sure plans are in place for Cora for both during the birth and after baby is born to help her feel important.
  • Food prep – making meals and freezing them for later use!

If I’m still pregnant the week baby is due, I plan on congratulating myself for getting everything ready in plenty of time, taking long walks, getting a hair cut, deep cleaning the house (again!), and just enjoying the last days of being a family of three before our new addition arrives!

My Toilets Smell Like Cedar!

Yes, I actually had fun cleaning the bathrooms this morning.

I'd been putting it off for the past week or two - my pregnancy body was making me feel nauseaus at the very thought of smelling the normal cleaning chemicals I use to clean the bathroom - toilet cleaner, and all-purpose bathroom cleaning spray. Every time I use those things to clean with, I have to use the fan in the bathroom, since the smell of the cleaning solution just makes it really hard to breathe. Besides, those chemicals are supposed to be unsafe for use during pregnancy (or that was my excuse, anyway!).

So I'd been putting it off. Matt offered to clean the bathrooms, but hadn't gotten around to it yet(!). Recently some of the youth from our church came by and helped me do some deep cleaning in the house, including washing windows. I was about to run out of Windex, so I called my MIL and she came to the rescue - she sells Watkins products and brought by a bottle of the Watkins Lavender and Rosemary Window Cleaning Solution - very very nice! The house smelled amazing of the lavender and rosemary essential oil for several days after the windows were cleaned. I really like it, and it will be tough for me to go back to buying regular windex after this!

She gave me a Watkins catalog, and they have other cleaning supplies in there too. A toilet bowl cleaner that has orange essential oil, and an all-purpose bathroom cleaning solution with lemon essential oil. I loved the thought of having my bathroom clean without the chemicals, and citrus-y smelling, too! But, the prices were a bit prohibitive, and while I was at Jay-C Plus yesterday, I stopped by the "hippy" section of the store - with all the organic foods and cleaners, and found that they had a Cedar scented toilet cleaner for half price. I also bought another all purpose cleaner, but I'm not as impressed with it (no scent).

So, as I was cleaning my bathrooms this morning, actually ENJOYING the scents that the cleaning products I was using were giving off, I felt quite happy with my purchase! This just may be the start to me beginning to investigate using more natural cleaning products, maybe even ones I can make up myself!

Here's to having a clean, fresh-smelling home!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Making Myself Teachable

Several months ago I found a little piece of home decor at Hobby Lobby I liked so well that I purchased it - it's now hanging in our living room on the wall. It's a little metal sign that says "Show me your ways, O Lord, guide me in your truth, and teach me. Psalm 25:4-5" Pretty simple, really.

I've been thinking though, about that verse, and life, and it's becoming obvious to me that I am making life more difficult than it needs to be.

Going through a time where you have to make a hard decision?? Check!

Having long talks with the spouse about said decision?? Check!

Lots of time spent in prayer, both alone, and with spouse?? Check!

Still having a hard time finding an answer to what to do about said hard decision?? Check!!

Here's what I've decided is missing: I am not spending time in the Word (reading the Bible). I've slacked off big time in that department. Yes, God uses a lot of ways to communicate with His children, but perhaps this time He needs to communicate through the Word. I plan to make a conscious effort to get back into a habit of reading scripture. When I do take the time to do this, I feel much more connected with God, when I let other things happen first and don't take the time to read the Bible, well....I feel less connected. Why do I continually fall out of this good habit? (don't answer that question....it's rhetorical)

Anyway, my prayer today is that God will gently lead me back to a closeness with Him through reading His Word, and that He will show me His ways, guide me in His truth, and teach me, and give me a teachable spirit!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

4th Anniversary Dinner for Four!

Last week my husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. We decided to make a dinner with the same menu items as our wedding reception, look at the pictures from our wedding album, and watch the video footage that Rick took of the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding, and reception. We listened to music during dinner, which Cora really enjoyed grooving to in her highchair!

If you're wondering about the title to this post, attendees at this dinner included my husband, our daughter, and of course, I am eating for two these days! :-)


I bought a dozen yellow roses for the table (the bridesmaids bouquets had yellow roses in them), and put one of our crystal wedding frames on the table, we pulled the curtains shut in the dining room, lit candles, poured sparkling apple cider into wine glasses. I made a two-layer white cake with white frosting, which I topped with two daisies (daisies were the main flower in our wedding).
The menu was:
BBQ Meatballs
Ham and Cheese Finger Sandwich
Cheesy Garlic Potatoes
Fruit Boats
Veggies (Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Carrots)
Crackers and Cheese
For dessert I baked a white cake with white frosting, but we were too full so didn't eat any. I also made some fudge. We DID eat some of that. :-)
It was a fun way to have a romantic evening at home. If you haven't tried celebrating your anniversary this way, I recommend it!
And, I have to tell you, the Ham and Cheese things I made weren't exactly like what we had at the reception - we had Mini buns with deli meat 4 years ago. This time I made up my own version of an open faced finger sandwich, here's the recipe:
Mix one package of diced ham with about 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 1-2 tablespoons fresh chives. Open a tube of crescent rolls and cut into small triangles, about 3"x3"x4", place on a cookie sheet. Spread each triangle with The Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb Spreadable Cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon per triangle. Place ham, cheese, and chive mixture in the center of the triangles, using up all of the mix - the triangles will be full. Bake according to crescent roll tube, or until dough is baked and golden brown. Serve hot.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Catch Up!

Well, I feel like I haven't updated the blog in a while, so here goes!

I recently wrote about struggles with bathtime and bedtime - no more! We purchased a "shampoo rinse cup" from One Step Ahead, which has a flexible side that molds around our daughter's head and keeps the water from going on her face - no more crying when we have to wet, lather, and rinse! Yay! She LOVES bathtime now. Often, now that it's summertime, we incorporate bathtime right before bedtime, and once she turned 18 months old, she no longer gets to have her "special" blanket all day - only in her crib at naptime or bedtime, so that gives her extra incentive to head to bed. So, a relaxing routine + getting to see blanket helps!

Cora's "Aunt" Louise brought her this rocking horse, which she loves! She "feeds" him crackers, and makes sure he gets plenty of water to drink, as she holds up her sippy cup to his muzzle. What a good horse owner she is!

Cora and I headed to visit her aunt Jill, where we had a very fun time getting to visit her and play on the playground. It was a really nice spot that was just for younger kids, many had babies smaller than Cora, but the majority were her size, a few were a little bigger. She LOVED watching the other children play. We also got to go to Barefoot Kids while there, which sells cloth diapers, and purchased some DreamEaze all-in-ones, which so far are GREAT, and a couple of pairs of training pants, though she's not really quite ready for that yet.

Then in mid-June we had the annual extended family gathering where nearly all of Matt's side of the family gets together here at the farm. His dad was one of 9 children, so all of his aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children assemble here at the farm. Many of the aunts and uncles live within a few miles of the "homeplace" which is just 1/4 mile north of our house. The kids get to play in the barn, go on hayrides to check the cows and calves, go along and do chores, play with the kittens, and just do all kinds of outdoor/farm things. The adults get to visit, enjoy plenty of good pitch-in cooking, and enjoy getting together again. It's always a fun time! Cora was one of 3 babies born within about a month of each other, and the littler ones got the first chance of sorting through the sunflower seeds to look for coins.

We had a taco buffet at our home on the Saturday of that weekend, and as we waited for everyone to arrive, the girls blew bubbles in the garage for Cora to watch and try to pop. If you haven't played with bubbles in a while - it's surprisingly fun even when you're not a kid anymore!

Then the next weekend was Father's Day, and we took this picture in our front yard early the morning before we headed to church. ((Isn't that girl and her daddy cute together????))

Then after church for Father's Day we headed to the lake where we met up with my parents and sister who had camped the night before. Cora got to go on a few bike rides, Dad grilled steaks, we had a delicious lunch, then headed down to the lake where amazingly we were the only ones swimming at that spot. Cora had fun playing in the sand, and we all enjoyed cooling off in the water.
And this week was our county fair. We went as a family on Tuesday, and then worked the Farm Bureau booth last night, giving out free popcorn, while Cora wandered the fair with her grandparents, and had fun collecting stickers (she didn't wear them, grandma and grandpa did!) and seeing the sights. The picture is of her in the car seat (I took the picture, Matt was driving). She has just been jabbering away a lot more lately....no clue what she's saying, but she even speaks with her hands for emphasis! It may be time to get some regular Signing Time videos, since we only have Baby Signing Time. I know we've avoided a few tantrums because she's been able to tell us what she needs/wants without being able to speak clearly yet. She's close, but the sentences she rattles off now are nowhere near coherent, but you can sure tell she thinks they are!

Of course we've been busy doing other things too, and don't feel bad if I didn't mention a specific activity, but I just included the ones I had pictures for!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Church as Christ's Bride

We Will Dance

Sing a song of celebration
Lift up a shout of praise
For the Bridegroom will come
The glorious one
And oh, we will look on his face
We’ll go to a much better place

Dance with all your might
Lift up your hands and clap for joy
The time’s drawing near
When he will appear
And oh, we will stand by his side
A strong, pure, spotless bride

(Refrain)We will dance on the streets that are golden

The glorious bride and the great Son of man
From every tongue and tribe and nation
Will join in the song of the lamb


We sang this song in church this Sunday. It’s never really struck me before like it did this time, but it just clicked with me. Jesus is our Groom, our husband-to-be. “We” the church – all believers in Him – are His Bride. Hmm. Think about that for a minute. All kinds of people have lots of different views on what marriage should be, but Scripture has laid it out pretty plainly what the husband and wife’s roles are: distinctly different, but both necessary.

Anyway, singing this song made me think of my wedding day. I was so excited. Especially after the opening songs, and all the attendants were already up front, and they had just closed the doors to the sanctuary of the church so I could make my entrance with my father. I was so excited I was jumping up and down. In my Wedding Dress! And, after all the many many hours of preparation to be ready for that day, why shouldn’t I be excited?

We were engaged in October, 2004, and married July 23, 2005, and that whole time frame was filled with much tender thought and preparation for this big day. The church, the flowers, the cake, the caterer, the invitations, the guest list, the dress! So many details needed to be attended to. This doesn’t even count the preparation of myself the day of: getting my hair and makeup done, manicured and pedicured, putting on that big wedding dress that required undergarments I don’t even know the names of! All this in addition to every day life: as a Purdue student, as a part-time employee at a bagel shop, as a woman engaged to the man who was building our home. This was an extra job! It was a lot of work to make sure everything was just right!

And so, remembering the ecstatic feeling I had as I was preparing to walk down the aisle that day after all the months of hard work and preparations and loving thoughts of how wonderful it would be to be married to my soon-to-be husband, I felt a little bit ashamed singing that song in church on Sunday. I mean, I’m excited to be Christ’s bride….but certainly not jumping up and down with a silly grin on my face excited. And as for preparations: essentially nonexistent! I mean, sure, I go to church on Sundays, and pray, and try to read the Bible somewhat frequently…..but this is not the all-consuming, using every-spare-minute preparation that I demonstrated in preparing for my Wedding day in July 2005.

With that, I hope to be able to change my focus, and bring it more towards Jesus and the things He is doing in my life and the lives of others. I want to actively pursue serving Him more, to prepare for that day when the Bridegroom comes. So many people don’t yet know Jesus, and that day will not be a happy day for them – how can I sit complacently and ignore that fact? It is so important to share, and it’s just too easy to forget that. So, my prayer today is that God would give His Bride, the Church (including me!) an increased desire to be faithful to Him and His lifesaving work, and to demonstrate that increased desire by behaving as a dearly cherished Bride. Thank you, God, for always being faithful to us, even when we are not faithful to you by letting other things get in the way.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cloth Diaper Update (Again)

Diapering a toddler is a lot different than diapering a newborn, or a crawler. My nearly 18-month-old daughter is becoming quite adept at removing her diapers at will. Not good. Part of the problem is that the velcro on the Bummi's diaper covers is not sticking as well as it used to. Very disappointing.
I am very happy with the BumGenius diapers we bought from Mom4Life. They are one size adjustable, which means they are supposed to fit from newborn through whenever. They fit Cora well at about 22 lbs, with room to grow. She actually gets happy when she sees that I am getting ready to put one of those diapers on her! It's cute. Plus, it should be easy to pack the diaper bag with a newborn and a toddler if they both can wear the same diapers. The drawback to these diapers is that they are pocket diapers, which means I have to stuff them before they can be used, which is time-consuming and annoying.

The Kushies AIO's I bought are basically just shredded. The waterproof cover has fallen apart and is useless. I can still use these diapers at home between naps, but they are sketchy. I know I still saved money using these diapers even though I won't be able to use them with baby #2, but it is disappointing to have them not last.

I am impressed with the Bumkins AIO diapers. We got several used from Jackie, and they don't appear to have aged a bit since Cora's been using them. They aren't all that absorbant, though, which means they aren't as bulky. But you need to change these with each pee (like you should with every diaper), so that makes them not-so-good for nighttime or naptime or in the car. If these diapers get a big pee or more than one pee, they start to seep into clothes. But, they are very easy to add an insert or doubler to, which then makes them a good choice for naptime or car time. The only thing I would really change about the Bumkins is that they don't have elastic, which I think helps with the fit around the legs and helps contain poopy messes. Otherwise, long-lasting and a good diaper.

So, I'm on the search for the "perfect" cloth diaper. Give me a one-size adjustable diaper, with elastic at the waist and legs, yet is AIO, but can easily have a doubler added to it if needed, that WILL LAST a long time. If anyone knows of a diaper that fits the bill, please, please, let me know!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Growing Family

I wrote this blog post on another of my blogs just now, and wanted to share it here, on this blog, too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mom4Life Mother Load Giveaway






Check out Mom4Life's online shop - one of my favorite sources for innovative products for babies and toddlers, breastfeeding and cloth diapering needs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Landscaping Improvements!

This is the area just outside our front porch "before" we worked on it a little this weekend:
And this is what it looks like "after"!


Matt used the weed-eater really close to the ground, then we raked the grass off, then he used the tiller as much as possible. I dug up the rest of the sod (not all that much) with the shovel by hand, then he re-tilled it to make it smooth. We placed the stepping stones so we'd still have a direct path from sidewalk to the south porch, and I intend to plant a couple of Yucca plants (perennial, supposed to be easy-care, get kind of large) between the stones and the daylilies. I put rocks where I want to put them, but they're hard to see. Then, for now, petunias to fill the gaps, but soon I want to find a perennial low-growing, flowering ground cover, but I haven't found the right one yet.
I am pleased with how it turned out. The pictures don't really do it justice. I have a double shepherd's hook stuck in the ground, and I was going to feed hummingbirds, but I prefer for the hummingbirds to feed from the flowers in the garden - I think it's better for them! The other thought I had was a couple of wind chimes, but then to find two that coordinate. What other options are there for inexpensive things to hang from a shepherds hook?? I put some snowflake christmas ornaments out there this winter, but I'll definitely want something more summery for this season!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rubber Ducky, You're the One!

.....You make bath time lots of fun! Rubber ducky I am awfully fond of you!

Okay...so often whenever I think of giving Cora a bath, that is the song I think of/sing to her! (It's from Sesame Street)

For a long time Cora was fine with taking baths.....then she started to HATE them....screaming from start to finish, trying to crawl out of the tub.....bad stuff. That lasted all of about 2 bathtime tries before Mommy couldn't handle that behavior.

So she takes showers with Mommy. I hold her in one arm on my hip, while I wash her with the other, and then switch. Works pretty well. She even has learned it's fun to open her mouth and let the water fall on her tongue. If Daddy's home I pass her out to him for drying, and I shave my legs without her. Otherwise, it doesn't happen. No one's commented about my hairy legs yet, so it works for me!

Well, I'd been trying to think up ways to get her to have fun playing in the bathtub. She has some pretty great tub toys, she enjoyes swimming, or playing in puddles (alot!). I already had a non-slip tub mat in there to keep her from slipping around. So I drew up a bath and got in with her, and we played with her toys, got her comfortable in the water, and she didn't want to get out!

Now, after I hold her for a while in the shower, she wants down, so she can play with her toys in the water! I guess all I can say is be careful what you wish for, because now instead of crying when she's in the tub, she cries when I take her out!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Interesting and Worth your time Video

At the end of the video clip (about 9 minutes) you can find a link for Segment 2, 3, 4, and 5. I would suggest it is well worth your time to watch all 5 segments. Watch them, let me know what you think!


Check it out:


Monday, May 11, 2009

Sleepy Head, Time for Bed

Bed time has changed over time since Cora was first born in December, 2007.

When we first brought her home, it was whenever we could finally get her to sleep, and she certainly didn't sleep through the night!

Then later on, she'd usually finally nod off around 10 or 11pm...much later than mommy wanted, since daddy had to be in bed earlier since he had to be at work but Matt would go to bed, then whenever I could finally get Cora asleep, I'd go to bed, but sleep in after he got up.

That pretty much lasted until September, 2008, when we had a bad windstorm on a Sunday afternoon, which put us out of power until sometime on Thursday that week! We were operating on generators to keep the freezers frozen, and lanterns or flashlights at night. That meant no TV on in the evenings, and no nite lite either. Surprisingly, our daughter was ready to go to bed well before her previous usual bedtime of 10 or 11pm, somewhere around 8 or 9 when it got dark, plus, she was sleeping more soundly through the night!!

We quickly discovered how sensitive our daughter is to the light when time for bed, so all winter, all we did was just turn out all the lights in the house, and she knew it was time to go to sleep.

In comes spring, and with it daylight savings time. Uh oh - soon it will be staying bright light out until 10pm for a good part of the summer, and we'd prefer our daughter to keep her bedtime around 8 or 9pm....but how????

So far, what we've been trying is to implement a more structured bedtime routine. Sometime after dinner we make sure she's in her pajamas (often it's just the clothes she had on all day if they're still clean - she wears mostly comfy knit clothes anyway) then play with her for a while in the living room. After a while we let her pick out a book to read, read it, then offer her a chance to go potty, put her in a night time diaper, brush her teeth, find her blanket, and than daddy carries her upstairs.

The trouble is, she's begun crying as daddy carries her up the stairs. Thankfully, she's usually calmed down and quiet (asleep) by the time he gets back down the stairs, but it's tough to put her to bed crying. I'm hoping she gets accustomed to this routine, and starts going to sleep easier. She's been weaned for about a month now, which it was a lot easier when she'd nurse to sleep, then daddy would carry the sleeping baby upstairs and calmly and gently lay her in her bed, still asleep. But, nursing is not an option - baby's decided she's doesn't want to anymore! And it still worked pretty well when it was already pretty dark at 8pm, but now that it's staying light-ish til 9pm...we're running into problems.

Anybody got any night time routine tips they want to share, to help make it easier for our daughter to go to sleep willingly??? I'd love to hear them!

Happy Mother's Day...or...Cora Got Her Stitches Out!

Right after church Sunday morning, we headed back to the ER, where they said we could bring her back to remove the stitches and it would all be included in the bill. There was absolutely no wait, but Cora could definitely remember her previous experience at the ER.

She was uneasy once we got her out of the car, and cried every time the nurse tried to do anything to her: take her temperature, wrap the little thing around her toe to take her oxygen and blood pressure, look at her..she was nervous! When he walked us back to the room, with the bed in the middle, she just all out started crying, poor girl!

There was a lovely mural on the wall though, of an African Safari - a giraffe, elephant, monkey, lions....very pretty, and she had fun looking at the animals which was a great distraction for her, and she was pretty calm. At least until anyone would come in the room, when she'd start crying again. She was especially distraught when more than one would come in at a time. The doctor came in and took a look, then gave the nurses the okay to remove the stitches. They did a good job. I held her legs, Matt held her head, and one nurse held her arms up over her head while she laid down on the bed. Another nurse took out the stitches. She cried, but it was more at the restraint than anything.

We stopped at CVS for some scar treatment - they had one especially for kids, which we bought. She rubbed her cut once after we got her home and awake from her nap, which broke the little scab loose, and she bled a little, but put a tiny bandaid on which helped for a couple hours until she pulled it off. Eventually the scab which she'd rubbed loose fell off, and I was worried that we'd had the stitches out too soon, but the longer she goes, the better it looks. We're putting polysporin on it until the once-scabbed part gets more healed, then we'll use the scar cream. Glad she's on the mend.

Monday, May 4, 2009

One Brave Child


Last night was supposed to be a calm Sunday evening. We'd finished supper by 7, and Matt and I settled onto the couch to watch "America's Funniest Videos" while Cora played in the living room in front of us. It was a nice, relaxing evening. AFV had just gotten over, and we had started the first part of Extreme Makeover and was just going to watch til the first commercial, then put Cora to bed and call it a night since Matt had to be at work in the morning.
Cora was a bundle of energy, going from her mommy and daddy, then back across the floor to a toy - just having fun. She took off towards the dining room away from us and tripped, and I heard the "thunk" of her head hitting the rocking chair. I leaped off the couch and picked her up, I knew she'd need comforting, but I was not expecting to see the blood streaming from her face!!
Panic!! We did pretty good, tried pressing towels to her face to stop the bleeding, and just went immediately to the car seat to head to the hospital. Matt drove, I sat next to Cora. She was a sight! Drying blood all over her face, covering her shirt, I had blood all over me. I prayed out loud on the way to the hospital that God give Cora peace and allow us to get in and be seen right away. Wouldn't you know, not a single person in line at check in, and by the time Matt had parked the truck they took she and I back while he filled out the paperwork. They worked on cleaning up her face, and then had to strap her into this thing called the "papoose" that was basically a straight jacket for babies, while someone held her head. She HATED that, even worse I think than when the doctor stitched up her face! He numbed the area, then cleaned her up, and started in on the stitches - 6 in all. They put an antibiotic on the stitches, since it was a bad place to try to bandage. The minute they unstrapped her and I could hold her again, she stopped crying. We're supposed to take her back in 7 days to get the stitches out.
She fell asleep on the way home, and I tried to hold an ice pack with crushed ice to her cut (they said to try to ice it as much as she would allow) after we got home and before we got her out of the car seat. Well, that woke her up, and she just couldn't calm down until almost 2 hours later. We changed her, we gave her some water, we watched Baby Signing Time, she played on the rocking horse. She was starting to calm down, but her eye was itchy, and she kept rubbing it, and accidentally bumping against her cut, which made her cry all over again. Finally she calmed down enough that she was ready to sleep.
She woke up pretty happily this morning. Not too much swelling, and was just ready to eat breakfast and play. What a blessing to have such a happy natured child, and to know that she's got a Heavenly Father watching out for her too.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Schedule

I am so excited to report that I have found a system that seems to work towards motivating me to keep a clean (ish) house!!

Seriously, I hate cleaning. Enough to the point that I have a tendency to allow things to pile up and up and up until what was once a simple job of sweeping the floor becomes a monumental task involving picking up lots of things off the floor first so you can even see it! Especially with the warm weather coming on, I had been really sadly slacking off in this department.

So I came up with a list of all the things I thought should be done around here. Some stuff to be done every day, some to be done once/week, some once/month, some quarterly, biannually, or just annually. Some stuff (like taking out the trash and laundry) has to just be done "as needed."

I've listed the Daily and Weekly jobs below:

Daily Job
Wipe off kitchen countertops, glass stove top, and dining room table
Sweep hard floors

Weekly Job

Mop Floors – "Mopping Monday"
Clean Bathrooms – "Toilet Tuesday"
Vacuum Carpet – Wednesday (If windows are open, vacuum bugs from sills)
Town Run – Groceries, etc – "Thrifty Thursday"
Handwash Dishes - Friday

Yeah, I know, it's really cheesy that I have come up with "catchy" names for my chore days. But you have to get your motivation where you can!! I have been doing this for a week now, and it has REALLY helped! It looks like potentially our house will always be clean! Maybe not all at once, but doing all the cleaning all in one day never works for me, especially chasing around a 16 month old toddler! I am so glad I have found a system that seems to be working for the way I like to work (a little at a time) and allows me to keep a clean house and not feel guilty about not playing with Cora (she can either help or wait 'til Mommy's done sweeping the floor - it doesn't take up that much time anymore).

So I've been doing it for a week now, and what was once a HUGE job, was broken into tiny steps that were actually quite managable. Plus, I get the weekends "off" :-)

Anybody out there want to share tips they use to help with finding the motivation to do housework?? I'd love to hear your hints!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How would you spend it?

So I am pretty sure I'm going to enter the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes. Hope I don't wind up with mountains of junk mail, but $5,000 a week for the rest of your life is hard to pass up!

I haven't even entered yet, but still I am daydreaming of what in the world I would do with $5,000/week.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

First, I would try really hard not to tell ANYONE.

We'd pay off the mortgage on the house (not sure if there's a prepayment penalty on that one, though)

We'd put some back in investments for each of our children. For college, or their first car, or house, or something good.

I'd make sure to get all the horsey, endurance tack that I wanted. Probably a new saddle! Maybe a living quarters trailer? The trailer we have now is a stock trailer - dual purpose - livestock and horses, so it'd be nice not to have to "share". Definitely would also get another super-safe, trail broke horse - a "husband" or "friend" horse, so if I had someone who wanted to ride with me, they could.

We'd get a tractor for Matt - he's been wanting a smaller tractor to use for hay, etc. Probably several other farm-related items. We'd get our LGD a buddy so he would always have a doggy friend, besides just goat-friends.

I'd hire someone to help me in the house, either a couple days/week or a couple of hours/day Monday - Friday. With two babies, I'll be having my hands full! Plus, cleaning isn't included as one of my top 50 favorite activities.

Nicer Vacations. Although, we really do enjoy the vacations we take (it's more about who you're with than where you go), but we'd probably start going to more fancy, expensive places. Like Hawaii. Or Europe!

That's all I can really think of! Of course, we'd probably quit buying our clothes on sale, and we'd probably start buying top of the line stuff (like the $400 stroller, rather than finding on at a yard sale!). But I hope we wouldn't go too over-the-top.

So, that's all the things I can imagine us doing for ourselves, but what's really exciting to me is what all we could do for others with our money! I mean, $5,000/week -that's a LOT! We could have all the stuff I mentioned and still have PLENTY to give to others.

I'd also like to be able to give to those in need as situations come up and as God leads. Like the people who have been affected by the flooding last year in June, like those who have health concerns w/out insurance and need help - it would be great to be able to freely give generously and anonymously in times like that!

Our church would get money, certainly, but I'd like to be able to give to others in need as well. Like the Pregnancy Care Center, an organization that helps women and men who find themselves in an unexpectedly pregnant situation to made godly decisions and provides them resources.

There's lots of worthy organizations, it would be tough to narrow it down, but we'd be lead to give to the right places for the right reasons. I just hope that if we did actually win, we'd be able to remember and do things for the right reasons, not get selfish. Realistically, there is no way we'd win, but it sure is fun to think about what we'd do if we did!





What would you do? If you want to participate, answer and leave a comment here so I can see
what you put down!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Announcement!

pregnancy calendar

Well, it’s about time I announce this on the blog: My husband and I are expecting our second child!

We’re very excited about it, the baby is due around the end of October, first of November. Cora, our firstborn daughter, will be 22 months when she becomes a big sister.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stay-at-home-mom, Keeper of the Home - Real Life Reflections

I have posted up what I consider to be the reasons for why I stay at home and keep house, my "Ideal" job description, if you will.

I have a confession to make: most of the time I do not live up to my ideal.

I don't even come close.

A lot of the time my house is dirty. There are often times when I can't find a clean spot on the counter to make dinner. I often wait too long to wash diapers and barely get the latest load dry before my daughter needs a change. I spend (waste) way too much time on the internet. My toilets don't get cleaned real often. I actually dislike cleaning quite a lot. Sometimes Cora stays in her pajamas all day if we don't plan to leave the house (sometimes mommy does too...).

All of this is to say that while I may aim big, I am no superwoman. I don't always (usually never) have it all put together. To me this is saying a lot about how much time really needs to be committed to doing this job - because if someone who doesn't even work outside the home can't find time to get it all done, how could I ever do it if I worked part or full-time??

But, God does call different people to do different things, and as much as I am convinced in my heart of hearts that this is the job for me (and arguably, most married women and mothers), it is quite possible that He is calling other wives and mothers elsewhere. Now, I am not at all trying to make wives/mothers feel guilty for choices they have made that are irreversible. Nothing can change the past, but it is certainly not too late to change the future. Earnestly seek God's face on these things - he may have bigger plans for you than your 9-5 (or whatever hours they are) and it is possible you will find that God is calling you to stay at work. Only you and God can decide that, I am not here to judge, I'm only trying to put into words what I feel is the vital importance of staying home with children and keeping house for your husband. There are also some women who are experiencing difficult circumstances - single mothers, for instance, who have no choice but to work to provide for their children. Not judging those women, or anyone. That is not my place. I just wish to shed some light into the important role that a woman does have in her own home. If she doesn't fulfill that role - who will?

I just feel that the voice of the wife and mother who stays home is quite silent compared to the mainstream "American" way path of high school, college, get a degree, get a career, and don't let marriage and family get in the way of pursuing your dream. It may not be directly spoken, but I certainly have had to struggle with this attitude for myself. I genuinely believe that I have the better part by staying home and fulfilling my duty there.

The “Ideal” I Strive for in Keeping House – Why I do This Part II

Now, for the wife being the keeper of the home. (See part I on being a stay-at-home-mom here) This is proving to be a more difficult topic to write about than I thought - I have to say I'm having a terrible time writing out my thoughts on this, so I may not be very clear. If you have questions, please do write them in the comments section, and I will try to answer them to help clarify what I mean.

I believe that God created men and women to be different. Each has different talents and abilities given to them, and each person brings different traits to the marriage. These different skill sets that husband and wife have help each one to be a helper to the other. In the most basic sense, I believe that the husband's role is to support the family by providing for their needs, and protecting them as the head of the household. He is to have the final say in important decisions, and he has a very important role in raising his children by demonstrating what a godly man lives like. A wife's job is parallel and yet opposite to her husband's - she is to oversee the home in a way that puts to greatest use what the husband has provided, and as keeper of the home provide a haven there where she, her husband, and her children can be safe and grow as a family. The wife is to respect her husband, and he loves her dearly. When both husband and wife are operating in these respective roles to their utmost, using their talents and skills that God has given them, the whole family will operate more smoothly than if each family member acted as an individual.

My goals in keeping the home for my husband are more about feelings and love and respect than actual written out "rules." I'm striving to be a "wife of noble character" as described in Proverbs 31:10-12: "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." The rest of the chapter goes on to list specific ways that this wife serves her family. I feel that each married couple will have a different list of specific ways that will best serve their family.

Each husband and wife has different likes and dislikes, and special skills and talents, so each family will look different in how it lives out those Bible verses. But, to me, no matter how the verses are lived out specifically, in general, to me the point is that both husband and wife are expected to have "noble character" toward each other, and that means that both husband and wife will be looking to the other's needs in a servant like attitude. As Christians, servants are what we all are called to be, and we must first be willing to serve those in our own home before we can effectively serve others. If I am serving my husband to help him be renewed and refreshed when he comes home, I am able to help prepare him to show Christ's love to those he comes in contact with - the same for my children. If I can serve them by training them with Christian values and guiding them and preparing them to go out into the world, as a whole our family will have greater impact for Christ than if each member of the family had to serve themselves, then leave the home and try to serve others.

I mentioned before in a much previous blog post that I had made up a list of goals I had for myself, and I think here is an appropriate place to share them. It shows some specific tasks or ideals that fit for my family because of our specific talents, preferences, and personalities.
  1. To make my husband know how much I love him by caring for him everyday and being a joy for him to be around. Proverbs 25:24 - "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife."
  2. To have a solid faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus, and be an obvious example to those I meet in all walks in life. In other words, I want to be seen as a Christian not only at Church, but everywhere I go; at the bank, in my home, by our family - everyone. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. . ."
  3. Make our home a pleasant place to be. Keep it clean and tidy, decorate it so that our surroundings are pleasing to the eye, all without spending too much money.
  4. Grow a flower garden around our home and landscape it in a pleasing way, so that we can enjoy our yard and feel proud of it, and eat produce from our vegetable garden.
  5. Raise children and teach them how to be creative people and to be strong Christians in a world where "anything goes."

#1 just makes sense because I know my husband - his "love language" (the way he best shows love and receives it) is by doing things for other people. He likes to take care of me - by changing the oil in my car, by taking care of things so that I won't have to worry about them. I want to strive to show that kind of love back to him (by making sure he has sweet tea in the fridge and a snack when he gets home, etc.), even though my main love language is different (I prefer to show and receive love by spending time, listening, snuggling, talking - and I "safely trust" that my husband is trying to increase the way he shows that to me, even though it takes him way out of his comfort zone)

#2 and I feel #5 in fact goes along with the stay-at-home-mom post, in that as I try to work hard daily to improve my faith walk and relationship with Jesus, my daughter as well as others will see that, and prayerfully she will see things that her mommy does by faith that she will be able to model as well. However, I first must be patient and kind and serving towards my family at home, or else how hypocritical will that look for my daughter when she sees mommy being so nice and patient to others, but I can't seem to keep my cool at home. This is an area for me that needs the fruit of the Spirit! I pray that I can be more and more Spirit-filled so I can have the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that a mother needs in ways that she can only have supernaturally! No mother (or anyone!) can have all of those qualities to the extent that she needs them alone - she needs God's help through the Holy Spirit.

#3 and #4 go together - You know that feeling you get when you check into the hotel or cabin you are staying in on vacation? A relief as you crash on the bed after hauling your luggage in after many hours of strenuous travel, "phew...we're here - we can finally relax and forget the stress of life, we're on vacation!" That is a feeling that I hope to be able to recreate daily in my home. I truly desire to make our home a peaceful haven of rest from a busy and hectic world, so that while I work in the home, when my husband comes home from work, while my children are learning and growing up, we can continually be renewed and refreshed physically, mentally, and spiritually. This is a lofty goal, but I do think it can be accomplished with diligence on my part, and a spirit of love and service on behalf of the rest of the family members. I don't think that this feeling can be accomplished without viewing keeping the home as a fulltime job.

Now, that numbered list and the explanations given are pretty obvious that they are specific to my family. Each husband and wife must look for ways to show their love for their spouse in ways that will be most obvious to them.

I just have felt so committed and convicted that being a stay-at-home-mom and keeper of the home is the best place for me to be, that I just have to share my conviction with all. I don't think there's any way I could accomplish all of this without devoting the bulk of my time to doing it, and thankfully my husband has seen the fruits of my labor and also values what I do. We both have made sacrifices financially for me to stay at home, but for us, those sacrifices pale greatly in comparison with all we have gained. In fact, we both have said that even if circumstances change (if Matt loses his job, or some other unforeseeable happens) we are willing to do much more sacrificing to ensure I am able to continue to do my work here at home, because it is a powerful work that can certainly really impact the lives of our children in such a positive way.

Being a keeper of the home is a job I wish I had begun since we were first married, so I would have been more practiced at it before our first child arrived. Having a baby to care for certainly makes keeping the home more difficult. Part of the reason I am writing this is that staying at home just was not at all a vocation I ever saw as valuable unless there were children involved. I no longer see this as true - a wife can do so much for her husband and her household with her time - she can use her talents and skills to stretch the dollar her husband brings home, she can show hospitality to others by inviting them into her home, she will have more time to serve others outside her home (mothers with newborns, helping the sick, volunteering...and so on). A lot has changed in our culture since it was no longer popular for wives and mothers to stay at home after th 40s and 50s, and a lot of that change has NOT been for the better. It is possible that if more wives and mothers stayed home and served their families first, that we might see a shift back to a lower divorce rate and other social problems.

After having made the transition to stay-at-home-mom, keeper of the home, and having seen how difficult it was for me to try to find a "job-description" and validity in a world that keeps implying that what I am doing isn't worth it, I sincerely hope that I can give validity to other women who see value in these same things, and to encourage them to make the leap, or continue to be diligent in their very important work as wife and mother.

The “Ideal” I Strive for in Keeping House – Why I do This Part I

So what’s the big deal? Why do I find it so important that I stay home with my daughter, and keep the home for my husband? (Keeping the home will be covered in Part II)

The main thing for our family right now is caring for the baby as a stay at home mom. Holding the baby, putting her down for naps, wiping her bottom after a poop, teaching her how to roll a ball and play with blocks, giving her baths, changing her clothes when they get dirty, nourishing her – these are all things that someone must do for a young child. And it is a short, certainly not comprehensive list. It is my not-so-humble opinion that no one besides a child’s own mother is going to do any of these tasks with as much care, love, and fondness as she can.

Certainly, day cares and babysitters provide adequate care. The children are fed, changed, wiped. Maybe even with love. I’ve been a babysitter before, and really enjoyed taking care of those children, but absolutely nothing can compare to the kind of love that I have for my daughter. It’s just a different kind of love. The child the mother has carried for 9 months and painstakingly gave birth to is much more special to her than any other child could be. I also feel that adoptive parents can and do love the same way or greater than birth parents – the adoption process I understand is a grueling task to go through. I’m not saying a child put in day care or with a sitter isn’t getting adequate or even good care – I’m just saying that absolutely Mom is going to do a much better job.

For me and my husband, we choose for my daughter to have the best care, all the time, and that is by being in the care of her mother or father. Sure, sometimes we leave her with a sitter for an evening, but the majority of her time is spent with her parents.

Aside from just the basics of child care, I think another big job a stay at home mom has is child training. Having Mom at home ensures the child can receive timely discipline when necessary, rather than allowing bad behavior to slide and slowly escalate. If Mom worked all day, and the day care ignored inappropriate behaviors, then Mom or Dad is the “bad guy” when she has to discipline them when she picks them up, and perhaps to avoid feeling as though they’re disciplining their children all the time, they avoid discipline altogether. If mom is with the child throughout the day, one of her roles will be disciplinarian, but she will also be able to provide for her children in other ways, so since she has more time with her child, she can be disciplinarian, cook, playmate, teacher, and so she will feel less guilt for spending most of her time disciplining, since that will just be a small part of her job as stay at home mom.

Another big part of child training is the fact that children learn by watching what those closest to her and around her do the most. I take my daughter with me most places I go, and she is learning by watching me interact with the people we come in contact with. She learns by watching how I spend my time even while we’re at home. She learns from me by watching how I speak to her dad – facial expressions, voice tones, volume. Beyond just the basics of everyday life, she is also watching her parents as they live out their faith. She’s learning by watching and imitating the things we do. This fact of how she learns is both great and intimidating. The main thing I must accomplish in order to teach her how to be a responsible adult is to demonstrate the desirable behaviors to her. Whoa! What a responsibility! Imparting a value system through example sounds like a fulltime job in itself, and is a powerful reason for the parents to be the ones caring for the child, so that they can be sure their values and faith system is being passed on to their children.

Our family has decided that the benefits of me being a stay at home mom to care for and discipline and be an example for our daughter is absolutely worth it to our family.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Sequence of Events

Check out those rocks!

Ooops!

Better get back up.

Up . . .

Almost there . . .
Phew! Made it :-)

My Cora's still a little wobbly trying to walk in the great outdoors, but she isn't afraid to keep trying! Fortunately, the falling isn't too far down for her, but she is one tough cookie!





Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mom4Life Giveaway

Check out the link here!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Journey Home

This is such a personal topic, and I am having difficulty deciding how far back to go in writing. I don’t want to bore you to death, but yet I don’t want to leave anything important out, either! So bear with me, you may get more than you bargained for but is that necessarily a bad thing?

Growing up, my sister (not quite 3 years younger) and I stayed with my grandma part time, while mom worked part time, when we weren’t in school. I don’t remember the pre-school days, so Mom will have to fill in that part if she wants. Eventually, Mom started working full time, which I remember most clearly due to having to spend long hours at school after hours to be picked up, especially after high school on days when I didn’t have sports practice. I went to a private Christian school from preK-8th grade, and then a private Christian high school. In the summers when we were old enough we either stayed home by ourselves, or with the other set of grandparents who lived across the road. I spent a lot of time showing my horses in 4H and rated shows, and decided I wanted to work with horses “when I grew up.”

I then went to college, with a goal of learning what I needed to run a horse farm. Well, I learned that I didn’t have what I needed: a big name reputation in horses, and plenty of money! I met my soon-to-be husband my freshman year. We dated while at school, and then after he graduated we made the long-distance relationship work – we knew we had a special thing together and decided it was worth it. Soon we started talking of marriage, and I worked out how I could finish the necessary credits to finish my Animal Agribusiness degree in 3 years at the main campus. We got married in 2005, and I commuted to the local college to finish up my degree. I walked in the graduation ceremony in May 2006.

After we were married in 2005, I started working part time at a very large egg farm. This company was #3 in the nation for egg production, and one of the bigger animal agribusinesses in the area for me to intern at while I finished my degree. I was on track to become a manager in some capacity at this firm, working a while at different locations to learn all aspects of the company before deciding where the best fit was for me. I started full-time at this company immediately after graduation. It wasn’t a perfect fit for me, but probably about as good as I was going to find here locally. I spent some time interviewing at other places, but found no other options, so I stayed, and eventually earned some seniority, got a raise, and was doing well.

We started feeling the itch to grow our family. I say “we” even though Matt has always had it in his mind that he was going to one day get married, and have children (one or two). Me, I was neutral on marriage (until I met Matt, then I was definitely interested!) and I certainly didn’t want children! In my na├»ve thought – all you did as a parent was take care of your children, work all day, come home and make dinner and crash – you were too tired to do anything else because your kids (through having to provide for their various needs/wants) took up all your time. Somehow, I managed to forget my thoughts on child-rearing, after seeing many of our friends having babies (so cute!) and I finally came around and thought this would be a good idea for Matt and I, too. Matt had always wanted at least one child, and being very practical, gave it some thought, and while we may not have been perfectly financially ready, he had been given the advice by some of the guys at work that “you’ll never be ready for kids until you start having them” so he decided that we might as well start trying.

So at my next GYN appointment, I mentioned this notion to the doctor, who pretty straightforwardly said that we’ll just need to stop taking the Pill, and start trying! I had wanted to wait a few months (use other form of birth control) to make sure all of the remnants of having taken the Pill for quite some time were out of my system, but the Doctor assured me that it was just fine to go ahead and try, since we didn’t know how fertile we would be, that it may take some fertility treatments. Well, 2 periods later, I was getting pretty late, and wouldn’t you know – I was pregnant! (and on a side note, I don’t ever intend to use the Pill as a form of birth control ever again – after stopping it’s use, I found my moods to be much better, my weight to be more easily controlled, and I have also found out more about how it actually works, and that it actually prevents implantation of a fertilized embryo, rather than preventing ovulation in the first place, as I originally thought…that’s a lot like early abortion. Besides, no form of birth control is 100% effective, so I’m having difficulty justifying it’s use at all – doesn’t God know what’s best for us, anyway? This could be a big topic, perhaps a separate post on it some other time.)

So, anyway, we found out we were expecting. I kept working it turns out until the forecasted due date (December 7, 2008). All along we kept talking about what to do after my FMLA time ran out. We both liked the idea of me staying home with our child, but weren’t exactly sure we could swing it financially. Some pros: no one would take better care of our baby than it’s own mother, I could save money by making more from-scratch meals, we could have a cleaner home, I would have more time to do things at home and we could just relax and enjoy family time when Matt got home from work, I wouldn’t have to try to figure out how to handle breastfeeding while away from baby, and other myriad small things (of course, it turns out we were DREAMING when it came to some of the supposed new realities of having a stay at home mom at home, but maybe someday, when there aren’t such small babies in the house). Some cons: less income, I might end up going crazy by having to stay home, I might drive Matt crazy by talking his ears off when he got home. There weren’t as many cons, but yet they were some pretty powerful ones. Hard to imagine bringing a baby home and not being able to support it, or going nuts trying to make things work.

So, after some evaluation (and not as much prayerful consideration as there should have been) I decided to take the company granted 6 weeks off, plus the rest of the Family Medical Leave Act allowed time off, for a total of 12 weeks off, and see how it went. I could not imagine leaving this 12 week old tiny baby who was dependant on my wholly for nutrition, and who I was just starting to get to know. I applied for an additional 6 weeks of personal leave time at work, which I could have kept applying for every 6 weeks, for up to a year. At the end of this 6 weeks, I chose to allow my leave to expire, thereby quitting my job. I wasn’t exactly (at all) put together, I was struggling to find my feet with a newborn and a new career that I had essentially ZERO training for as a stay at home mom, but it was so fulfilling and in my heart I (and Matt) knew it was the best for not only our daughter but our family.

A couple of weeks later I got a call from the office manager of my former employer. They had had a few people either quit or get fired, and were in a bind and was hoping I could come in and fill in for a few weeks at any number of hours I was willing. At the same pay rate as when I had left. I told him I would talk it over with my husband and let him know. We decided to go ahead and do it, I’d work 2 days a week, find a sitter from church for Cora, I had talked to the manager about how I was committed to continuing breastfeeding and would need to be allowed time and a private, clean place (not a bathroom) to pump milk. Things were falling into place. The first person I called was willing to stay with Cora, so I called the office and had my first day back scheduled.

Then just a few days before I was to start, she called and said it wasn’t going to work any more for her to keep Cora, due to an upcoming surgery. I let the office know I was having trouble finding a sitter, but I was still trying. I called another person, it wouldn’t work for her to watch my baby. Called someone else, the last person I was going to try. She said she would be happy to do it, but asked me a couple of questions: What was I going to miss on those 2 days/week – her first words, her first steps?, and Did we really really need the extra money? The extra money would have been nice. The uncertainty of what milestones would have been missed was hard to wrap my mind around – I wanted to be the one to be with my child as she experienced childhood – not someone else. I wanted to provide for her security, not the turmoil of being one place 2 days a week, then back at home sometimes, here and there other days. I felt the security of knowing she was going to be with Mommy was important. I felt that it was important to be able to continue nursing her, which has been proven to be the best for babies.

I just couldn’t see leaving my tiny baby girl with someone else (even someone I trusted well) even just two days each week. God had given us this responsibility, and as such we had the job to raise her to our best ability. Intentionally choosing to leave her with someone else when we didn’t have to didn’t seem to be in her best interest. So, I called the office manager the very day before I was to start back, and told him that while I had found a sitter, I could not justify leaving our girl. I apologized for flaking out, and thanked him for the opportunity, but told him that ultimately I felt that being a Mom was the more important job that I was given right now.

It turned out that having to go through that process of actively deciding that being a stay at home mom was the best for our family was a great experience to go through. It gave me conviction that though it was not the easiest thing to stay home, it was the best for our family. But, as much as I wanted to and was convinced that this was to be my career, I had never HELD a newborn before, let alone been the sole caretaker for one. Never washed diapers, never done a great job of having a clean house, never actively pursued the various activities involved in keeping home. It was definite, head first, on-the-job training. I didn’t really have an example to work from, either. My mom had either worked part time or full time, and Matt’s mom worked full time since he was a baby. I don’t have too many close friends whose husbands farm part time in addition to working full time, who garden, can, freeze, breastfeed, are involved at church, are learning to sew, do cloth diapers, who keep the home, who cook for their husbands, who raise goats, who ride horses as a hobby, and are actually sane. Actually, I don’t know ANYONE who does or even attempts to do ALL those things well, myself included!

While I pretty much feel inadequate in most of the areas of my current job description, at least I have been able to work through in my heart that it is a valuable job that is definitely worth doing. I don’t think that anyone besides the mother and wife would strive to do as good of a job as I aim for in the same tasks. I am proud to be a stay at home mom and keeper of our home. I’m not always proud of the amount of things I’m able to accomplish (some days NOTHING gets crossed off on the to-do list) but I can always be proud of the choice our family has made. By making sacrifices to make sure I can stay home and raise our daughter, we are making sure she will have as good a foundation of faith as she can, that she will KNOW she is loved, and that there will be someone always there for her if she needs something.

For me, I cannot imagine myself being successful working and being a mother and a wife. At least one of my duties would suffer. Would it be my family who’s mother is exhausted from working all day, coming home and trying to put supper on the table while keeping up with laundry and cleaning house on the weekends? Or would it be my job performance, because of having to stay home with a sick child unexpectedly? Either way, I would not be able to do my best in any realm, and how could I be happy by not succeeding in ANYTHING?

Later, I will share what I view as the “ideal” job description that I have as a stay at home mom and keeper of our home and wife to my husband. Let me tell you, it’s enough to fill 8 days a week, and I rarely get it all together, especially now that Cora’s little. As much as I want to, I am not able to do everything I would like, the house isn’t really all that clean, we eat out sometimes, we run out of milk or eggs occasionally. But, for me, it is so worth it for my husband and daughter to know by my presence at home and my actions that they are important to me. If you’d have asked me even 5 years ago if I would be a stay at home mom and wife, I never in a million years would have guessed myself to be convinced of these things, but now I can’t imagine life any other way.

Today, it’s really not the norm for a college-educated woman to “give up” her career to do what I’m doing. A lot of people seem to think I’m “wasting” my education. A lot of people expect me to go back to work once Cora’s in school. Even I assumed I would go to school, find a job, and work – motherhood and family was never really something on my radar. But, I will argue that I have certainly NOT wasted my education, nor even “given up” anything at all – rather, I am so fully blessed by the opportunity to be able to do what I am doing, that those women who have never considered staying at home are the ones who are missing out on something very special. My only hope in posting about this is that someone else who is on the fence as I was at one point will be able to read the story of our journey, and make their decision with a little less of a struggle than we did. Sometimes the right thing isn’t the easiest, but it’s certainly the most rewarding. Do what God says do, and he will take care of the rest. I pray that God will make His will clear to those who might be reading this and wondering about their vocation and calling.