Friday, December 29, 2006

Before I get to the Christmas trip update, I have to say...

You've got to check out this amazing new artist!!

Gregory Paul Smith on Shoutlife

Gregory's website

I have listened to this CD... ummm... I don't know... bunches of times since we got settled in from our Christmas trip to Kansas. God has given Gregory a phenomenal musical talent - both vocally and as a songwriter/arranger. And the message that He's given Gregory to share has been Such a Blessing to me these last two days.

Go check him out and friend him!

And yes, he happens to be my cousin-in-law. But I think I would be shouting about this CD even if he weren't. :-)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Update on Pregnancy/Cramping

Things seem to have calmed down with the cramping I was having, praise the Lord. Yesterday I had almost no cramping, and today I haven't had any so far. I'm going to continue being careful with my activity levels (and use my timer whenever I'm doing anything standing up/moving around!) today, but I'm optimistic that I'm over the trouble spot.

I'm putting more details here of this whole thing, just to be sure I'm tracking stuff well.

Mental/Emotional Notes:
The hardest part for me of this experience was feeling like it was my fault. See... I ran out of my progesterone cream about a week before I started cramping. I'm supposed to be using it until I'm at least 15 weeks, which is when the placenta is really supposed to kick in with extra progesterone production. So I kept telling myself I'd run to the herb store (we have a Terrific herb store here in our tiny town - it's called Root Diggin' Nation - isn't that a hoot?!). But I kept not getting it done.

To my guilty sobs Friday night of "How will either of us every forgive me if we lose this baby because I was too lazy to get more Prog. cream?," my wonderful husband assured me that if the Lord took this baby home, it would not be my fault. All life is in His hands, and if He chooses to take this little one home to praise His name for eternity, we can trust Him with that.

I found myself repeating Ps. 131 over and over to myself:
Oh LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.

What a wonderful thing to know that we have a loving and sovereign God.

"Treatment" notes:
~~I've been drinking Tons of water (dehydratiion can cause cramping, and Thursday was not a well-hydrated day) and focusing on taking it easy and trusting the Lord (read: accept His peace and Stay Calm).
~~Mom Smith picked up some Cramp Bark extract for me Friday afternoon, and that seems to help a lot. I haven't needed to use it since Saturday late afternoon, though, praise Him!
~~She also picked up some Prog. Cream, but it had Evening Primrose Oil in it, which is a phyto-estrogen - Not Good! So Jonathan picked up some simple Prog. Cream on his way home that evening, and I've been doubling up on that since Friday.
~~I remembered to take Vit E on Friday, but have forgotten it since unitl just now. I need to take some today, probably.

That's the scoop!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Prayers Appreciated

Late yesterday morning, I started cramping and spent most of the day on the couch. I haven't had any signs of bleeding, which is an encouraging thing. I'm not feeling "normal" today, but I'm not as tight as I was yesterday. I'm focusing on trusting the Lord and taking it easy as much as possible. Today I'm 13 weeks 4days.

Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, December 15, 2006

What a day yesterday!

Our van has really been needing to go into the shop, and as we're contemplating going to Hutchinson for Christmas, the need had become more pressing. So the Blessings and I took the van to Carriage Care yesterday morning. You should see the lovely paper chain we made in the waiting room!

The Diagnosis:
Lots of brake work (including dropping the axle to get to the needed area) - around $500.
New Tires - $???
New Throttle Position Sensor - $170

The exciting part of the day yesterday came when they figured out that our parking brake cables had gotten locked in the "On" position and had ruined our rear brake drums. They had to order the cables and couldn't get them till this morning. Pretty fast when you think about it, but there were my children and I (all of us!) sitting in their waiting room. We obviously weren't wanting to spend the night there, but it's not that easy to find a 30 minute ride for 6 children and a pregnant woman!

My terrific mom-in-law wound up driving over to pick us up and we crammed into her car. Before anyone calls the cops on me for that, Missouri seat-belts laws say that if you have more people in your vehicle than seat-belts, you don't have to worry about seat-belts. :-P While we waited for Mom, the Blessings and I walked several blocks down the street and had lunch at a fast food place - a rare treat for us. So I think for the Blessings especially it was a fun day overall.

You know the really amazing thing about all this? The thing that gives me perspective and makes me so very thankful? Last year about this time, our van broke down. A few weeks later, some dear friends of our Gave us the van we have now. This is a family with 10 children, whose own van was not running all that well. Yet they gave us a van that someone had given them, and trusted the Lord to meet their needs while they were His hands and feet to us. I believe this repair will be the first significant money we will have spent on this van. Isn't that neat??

And an additional note on God's amazing ways is that our homeschool group recently collected money and bought a "new" van for our friends that had given us their backup. It's the nicest van they've ever had (even has AC!!) and it was sooo wonderful to see the Lord reward them for their cheerful selfless giving.

To finish telling about our day yesterday, I got to have a shopping date with Jonathan last night, and we finished up most of our Christmas shopping together.

There are so many things in life that look "bad" to our earthly minds. Isn't it terrific that His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours?! He is working ALL things to the good for those who love Him. More importantly, I think, is that He is working everything for HIS glory. How amazing that our lives, in the pleasant times and in the rough times, can be used to bring glory to our Savior!

What an awesome God!

Monday, December 11, 2006


Do any of you use the traditions of Advent to aid their family's focus at this time of year?

We've been learning bits about Advent traditions over the last couple of years, and have decided to incorporate some of them into our family celebrations this year. It seems like such a neat way to focus on what we truly have to celebrate!

Yes, we're in the second week of Advent already, and I just finished our Advent Wreath today. But that's okay, because this is a Tool to aid our worship, not something by which we will be ruled. So we're going to act like the next few days are the first week and the rest of this week will be the second week.

Last year, some friends of ours were using an Advent wreath for the first time. The husband ran into one of the elders from our chapel at the store and asked him a question about Advent wreaths. The elder looked aghast and replied, "I don't know - we're not liturgical!" So maybe we won't advertise at chapel on Sunday that we're using an Advent wreath this year. ;-)

Here's our wreath:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Balancing Journey - Part 5 - The Big Lightbulb!

Part 4 is new today also! Be sure to read it first!

As I dug into learning about Estrogen Dominance and hormonal balance, it became obvious to me that I really was showing many symptoms of Estrogen Dominance - not just the early pre-menopause. Many things clicked into place over the next few weeks.

The immediate question at hand, however, was what to do next.

When I returned from the retreat and began researching, I was simultaneously getting back on my diet by returning to the "Jump Start" phase - 3 days of nothing but protein/fruit shakes to help make a break from the sugar habit. As I was researching, I kept seeing how soy is tied to estrogen dominance, because it is a source of phytoestrogen. I dismissed this as relevant to me, because I had read enough other research on soy that we just don't "do soy" in our house.

However, on the fourth morning, as I prepared my breakfast protein/fruit shake (a shake which I had been making myself for breakfast almost every morning for over a year), I took a look at the label:

Soy protein.

I ran over to the pantry and took a look at the protein bars which I had used as a regular part of my dieting efforts for over a year:

Soy protein.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I was angry because I had worked so hard for over a year to lose weight and get in better shape - and my reward, due to lack of education, was early pre-menopause and the possibility that I might never have more children. At the same time, I was relieved that I finally knew a direction in which to go to help myself.

Obviously, that was the last protein shake I had for breakfast. And the protein bars went uneaten.

Two weeks later, I had my next period. It was a week early, but my symptoms were obviously lessened. The only thing I'd changed was dropping the soy protein. I honestly thought it might be a fluke, so I waited to see what the next month would bring...

My Balancing Journey - Part 4 - Some things I've learned...

... about hormonal imbalance.

There are two primary female hormones secreted by the ovaries - estrogen and progesterone.

There are actually three types of estrogen made by the body, but when we talk about hormones, these three are usually lumped together, along with animal estrogens, synthetic estrogens, phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), and xenoestrogens (environmental estrogens), because the body responds to all of them in the same way. Estrogen is a pro-growth hormone.

Progesterone is the other side of the hormonal coin. It is a pro-gestation hormone, balancing out the estrogen at the proper times in a woman's cycle.

The key with estrogen and progesterone is Balance. It isn't that estrogen is the bad hormone and progesterone is the good hormone. It's that they must be in proper balance for the body to function properly. In our society, there are so many sources, both environmental and dietary, of estrogen, that Estrogen Dominance has become extremely common.

Here is a list of some of the physiological effects of estrogen and progesterone. It's copyrighted, so I can't just copy it here. But it's very important information - please check it out.

Some of the most common effects of Estrogen Dominance are breast fibroids, PMS, moodiness, forgetfullness, excessive tiredness, hypothyroid-like symptoms, early pre-menopause, miscarriage, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.

Here are a couple of websites I've found that have good information on hormone balance:
The official website of Dr. John Lee, MD - Check out the main Articles page for lots of good information. Dr. Lee has also written several books, which you can probably check out at your local library.
Dr. Lam's extensive article on Estrogen Dominance

And so you have it - the tip of the iceberg of the learning journey I never thought I would need to begin at age (almost) 33. Please take the time to check out some of this information.

First Prenatal - at last!

Monday, we had our first prenatal - probably the latest we've ever had a first prenatal, but all is well.

Random notations from the prenatal-

Need to drink more water. I haven't been feeling as "green" lately, so it's easier to slack on the drinking. It's cool all the stuff your urine call tell you, eh?

My iron is great - 12.something. I was a bit concerned because I haven't done the best job of taking my vitamins lately.

Fundal height - not measured, but in the right spot.

Diet's okay, but could use improvement. Got sheets to keep track of what I eat. Guess I'll start tomorrow.... that Snickers I got at the hardware store today probably blew it, lol. ;-)

Need to find a way to exercise again. I was doing so well with this for a while, but...

Due to a communication glitch between Jonathan and I, we ended up hearing our little one's heartbeat. We usually have our care providers use a fetascope unless there is an indicated need for a doppler check, so except for once when we were leaving on vacation and I hadn't felt movement yet, we generally just hear the doppler occasionally during L&D. I have to admit. It was Such a Thrill to hear that little hearbeat. Wowsers. 164, by the way.

My cheapo wheel was off by a couple days (something I would have realized if I'd bothered to look at the calendar). Our new official ETA is June 19. The big deal with the wheel being off is that I actually hit 12 weeks yesterday (instead of tomorrow). No cramping, no spotting. So I think I'm ready to do the next post in My Balancing Journey - what I've learned about hormone imbalance. Praise the Lord!

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Sweet Kate has been running a fever a good portion of the week, without much sign of other symptoms. Ever since Elanor landed in the hospital several years ago with a severe blood infection, fevers without symptoms make us very nervous.

The fever seemed to be starting to dissipate Thursday and most of Friday. Then Friday afternoon/evening it went up very quickly to 105'. Our doctor's office was closed because of the nasty weather here, so we ended up taking her to Urgent Care. Praise the Lord the rest of the Blessings had two sets of grandparents here to have fun with!

A chest x-ray showed that Katie has pneumonia in her left lung. She is doing well enough that the Dr. said she didn't need to be admitted to the hospital, and we were very thankful to bring her home with us. I know next-to-nothing about pneumonia, so I will be doing a lot of research.

Thanks for your prayers! We're praising the Lord that He helped us catch it before it got any worse.

Monday, November 27, 2006

So Excited

I'm so excited right now that I'm on the verge of tears. I just got off the phone with the midwife in Kansas, and things are all good for us to come home to have this baby. I also finally made my first pre-natal appointment for next Monday (here, not in KS).

I realized mid-week last week that subconscious fear about losing the baby because of the hormonal imbalance had me frozen in my plan making. I made it my goal to get past that fear and make those calls this week. And here it is, not even 1pm on Monday, and I've done it! Praise the Lord!

Besides that...
My precious parents are on their way toward me RIGHT NOW! I haven't seen them since the end of May, and then for not nearly long enough. They should be here tonight in time for our homeschool group's Open House to hear the Blessings sing in the choir.

My hubby is done with work early and is on his way home. Yay! We're hoping to get our table finished up while the weather is so nice. Highs in the upper 60's today, tomorrow, and Wed. High on Thursday - 34'!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sleep, blessed sleep

Yesterday was a wonderful wonderful day. It was also very full and challenging for me. So last night at 9.30, I hit the sack. I woke up at 8.30 this morning, and dozed off and on until around 9.30. Best night's sleep I've had in ages. Praise the Lord!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

10 weeks

I'm 10 weeks along today. Praise the Lord.


We had a beautiful Thanksgiving day together today. Jonathan, the Blessings and the folks got lots of raking done (and the leaves burned) and the front yard/side yard look great. It was a gorgeous day today - sunny and at least in the 60's. I love it when Thanksgiving Day is warm like that!

It was a pretty "green" day for me (one of the more intense I've had, I think), so I focused my energy on getting stuff done for dinner, and skipped the raking. But I sat out on the steps in the sunshine for a while before I went to lay down; enjoying watching everyone having fun. I said to Jonathan, "It's amazing that one can be so blissfully happy and physically miserable at the same time." :-)

So very much to be thankful for. God is good.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Personality Quiz

You Are An INFJ

The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.
Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.
You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.
You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.

You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

Hmmmm... what do you think?

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Neat Way to say Thanks

This is a site set up by Xerox to make it easy to say Thanks to our troops. Kind of ironic... what they do is so far from easy, and it's made so easy for us to say thank you. It takes less than 2 minutes!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Water, the wonder cure

A friend of mine suggested a few weeks ago that I try to drink more water to help dilute whatever causes the nausea. I've really seen it be effective most of the time, so I thought I'd throw that out there.... :-)

I was planning to work on My Balancing Journey this afternoon while Jonathan is finishing up some work stuff, but I think I need to go sit down with my big jug o' water and dilute. Hopefully I'll be feeling better in time to get my next entry or two done.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Balancing Journey - Pt 3 - What Next?!?

While I enjoyed the rest of that weekend retreat, I had a cloud of questions haning over my head. The biggest question, the one that shook me to the core, was whether this early pre-menopause meant no more babies. That could be a book by itself, and I'm not even going to try to do it justice right now.

So... I went home, greatly shaken, to begin a learning journey that I never expected to take at this point in my life.

Back on the FlyWagon again

A couple of background notes...

*I have found myself really struggling this pregnancy with giving in to feeling badly, and therefore being super lethargic, tired, and physically miserable a good deal of the time. Especially in the morning. In the last few weeks, I've gotten almost no group school work done with the Blessings, something we count on for getting our work for the year accomplished.

*Several years ago, Beka led me to (thanks Honey!). It has been a lifesaver in so many ways, and has changed my thinking about a lot of things. I have this tendency to go in spurts with Flylady, and sometime in late winter/spring, I tend to start letting go of habits that I've been working on establishing. I always have a wake-up call when the holidays start to approach, though, because I've found the only way I can get through the holiday months with any sense of clarity and calm is to FLY!


A few nights ago, I had my yearly epiphany and realized I had better start Flying, and fast! So I got out my Holiday Control Journal and have been working on that. I also re-started Flylady emails.

I tell you what! I am just thanking the Lord for helping me back on the FlyWagon (yes, I made that term up myself). Here's some of what I've been doing this week -

Getting ready for Thanksgiving
Starting to bake Christmas gifts (it's going to be a Very Frugal year, so I need to start now and freeze stuff as I go)
Having Dinner planned and/or started before noon yesterday and today
Sitting down with the Blessings for breakfast and our Firm Foundations lesson
Exercising (just got back to that today)
Shining my sink
Working on getting back to my morning and evening routines (I'm not rushing into this one; it's such a process for me)

It's interesting to me how much better I feel physically now that I'm getting stuff accomplished. I'm not finding myself on the couch or back in bed most of the morning. And mentally/emotionally, it's of course much better to be being productive instead of lethargic.

I'm contemplating proposing to my hubby that we turn the Resurrection season into a major family holiday... in part, to keep me from falling off the FlyWagon!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another interruption to the Balancing Journey... Pregnancy note

I've had friends talk while pregnant about how "this baby just doesn't like ______ " and I have to admit, I inwardly laughed. It seemed so silly.

But that's because I'd never experienced it!

And now... I'm growing a baby who doesn't like coffee. I limit myself during pregnancy to 1 cup of caffeine a day, so it's not like I'm missing out on *that* much. But, ya know? I really like my coffee. And baby makes it clear that we have a difference of opinion. Nausea like .... ugghh.

I'm curious to see this aversion to coffee wears off when we pass the 12 week mark. If not, I know one of the first things I'm going to be asking for after baby arrives!

By the way... Today = 8 weeks + 2 days.

Neat Fashion/Modesty tool

Modest Fashion Tips

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Balancing Journey - Part 2 - The Nerve to Ask

July 7-9, 2006, I had the joy of spending the weekend with a wonderful group of women who have a combined knowledge pool on women's health issues that would blow you away. They are also a terrificly diverse group of dear friends, and this weekend retreat with them has been a life-changing event both years that I have gone.

On Saturday evening, I got up my nerve to ask about the things that were going on with my body. This roomful of wise women looked at me, then looked at each other. You know when folks look at each other like they know something you don't know? Aggravating, isn't it? Well, then they asked me how old I was (setting off alarm bells - yikes! It couldn't be that!), and when I told them I would turn 33 at the end of the month, most murmured that I was too young. However, my dear friend Mary was in the back of the room, shaking her head, so I asked her what she was thinking.

Mary shared with me that she had been doing a lot of research lately, and was learning that it is becoming more and more common for women to be showing signs of pre-menopause early - even in their early 30's! This is due in great part to the huge amount of estrogens and xenoestrogens (chemicals that act just like estrogens in our bodies) that are present in our environment. Indeed, my symptoms were typical pre-menopausal symptoms, and were probably due to an hormonal imbalance.

My Balancing Journey - Part 1 - Beginning to Grasp Reality

In May of 2006, we were down in NC to visit family, and I missed most of a day of precious fellowship with family because I was in such intense pain.

I was finally able to put into words some things that had been going on with my body for the last 6-8 months. It wasn't cramps - I've known cramps for years. It was as if what my body had formerly done over the course of 5 days each month, it was now trying to do all in one day. It didn't quite accomplish that; it took 3 days usually, but the intensity of that one day would blow me out of commission entirely.

I also began to grasp that something had to be going on. What, I didn't know, and I didn't know how to find out. Maybe I didn't want to find out...

My Balancing Journey - Intro

I've been meaning to blog about this for months, and for some reason have found it rather daunting. I think it is important that I share this story, because it is one that so many women (and their husbands, for that matter!) need to hear. So here goes.

Where'd that big truck go that ran over me??

Yep, yesterday was my big day to get hit with whatever this bug is that's plowed through the family this week. I'd still not back to normal, but I'm marginally functional today. Jonathan's convinced I'll be just ducky for our chapel Talent Night today (which we're hosting). I'm not so sure, but I hope he's right. :-)

Since movement isn't such a good thing right now, I'm going to try to get some blogging done. That and a big nap this afternoon!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sick Count Update

Okay... 2 done, 3 recovering, 1 in the midst...

Things to be thankful for -

The child that handles being sick the worst is the only one sick right now. God knows I need all available patience and grace for this one!

She's sick during the day. I was dreading another long night of holding sick heads, changing clothes, doing laundry, etc, etc, etc

So far, I'm only pregnancy nauseous, which for me isn't a violent thing, just an ebb and flow of greenness.


I think I've had a breakthrough! I realized today that I really want to blog more about this pregnancy, to have a written record of the process, etc. #7 babies just don't normally have a very good shot at knowing what things were like when they were on the way, etc, and I want a record for this little one.

That led me to realize that, while it didn't begin that way, blogging has unfortunately become more about if I'm read and commented on than about writing. I want to re-focus there.

And I need to go give lunch to those of my Blessings who can eat it. Doozey of a flu this week. 2 down, 3 in process, 1 looking green (that 's the kid count... Laurel looks green much of the time, lol).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

WalMart and the GLBT agenda

GLBT = gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered

Walmart has recently stepped up its involvement in the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. The following links are for your information, so you can get your info from "the horses mouths." Do the research and draw your own conclusions. I'm not bossing anyone around on this. :-)


Here is where the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Announces Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Membership

Here is Walmart's brief comment about it on their website

Here is Walmart's list of diversity organizations they work with from 2005. This showed me that they been involved with the NGLCC for a while; this year they just stepped up their commitment

Here and here are a couple of news stories on the stepped-up membership.

In related news, here is the press release from Boise State University about their Diversity Week (this week, actually). It lists the sponsors and events. It's a must-read, in my opinion. This is where the "agenda" part of this becomes more obvious.

So... there's some information for you do with it as you are led.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A new twist...

I love this piece on Psalm 23. I got it from a new friend on the site.

The Lord is my Shepherd
That's Relationship!

I shall not want
That's Supply!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
That's Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters.
That's Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul
That's Healing!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.
That's Guidance!

For His name sake
That's Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
That's Testing!

I will fear no evil.
That's Protection!

For Thou art with me
That's Faithfulness!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me,
That's Discipline!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
That's Hope!

Thou anointest my head with oil,
That's Consecration!

My cup runneth over.
That's Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my
That's Blessing!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord.
That's Security!

That's Eternity!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Okay, not quite back to work

I'm liking that purple texture on the sides of my blog more and more. I'd like to find a template that I could incorporate that purple background into. Maybe I need to look back through the free templates I've been looking at with that in mind...

Okay, really back to work now.

Busy with Office Stuff

I'm working lots this week in the office, getting papers filed and pitched, taking care of phone calls I've been avoiding, stuff like that. Strange, these are the things that I tend to procrastinate about, and yet, when the office is clean and tidy, I feel sooo good. Makes me wonder why I avoid it.

Back to work...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy "Get Organized Week"

While preparing our chapel calendar for October, I learned that the first week in October is Get Organized Week.

So, what are your organizational plans?

Do you have any organization tips or helps to share?

On my projects list for this week -
**Finish switching out seasonal clothes (doing this in the fall, by the way, is a sure-fire way to get warmer weather. My apologies to those in the St Louis area who aren't thrilled about the brief return of summer - it's suposed to get up to 90 today!)

**Work in the office, clearing clutter and getting things filed.

**Get the huge load of give-away stuff to the Agape House and out of my house!

**Possibly - work more on going through the toys in the garage.

Organizational Tips? One word - Flylady.

Off to tackle the office counter...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Messing with template

I've been fiddling with my existing template, as well as looking for a new one... so things will be fluid here for a while.

WFMW - Free Video Maker!

I haven't been doing WFMW long enough to have a "best of." So I'm going to go ahead and post something new, because I'm so excited about this nifty neat free tool I happened upon through the blogvine...

At One True Media, you can easily put together video montages, photo books, etc. The one thing I've tried is the video montage. To put it together and share it via email and your blog is free! If you want a DVD of it, it's a pretty penny, but I'm thrilled with what you get for free. :-)

Here's my first project - The Reunion Montage.

KBC Reunion Montage

Monday, September 25, 2006

I finally remembered

I told Johnny I'd get him this picture, and I've been forgetting...

and one with Davey -

Note - This post done with old-fashioned HTML, thumbnails and all, because the blogspot image thingy-ma-jig was not working. Rarr! I feel so fabulously nerdy!

That's my girl...

I'm trying to figure out what to fix the Blessings for breakfast this morning, and I ask Grace, "What do you want to eat, Grace?"

She thinks for a bit.

"Ummm.... Chocolate."

"Did you say Chocolate?"


Yessiree, that's my daughter alright.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fall Into Reading

Katrina over at Callapidder Days is hosting a Fall Into Reading Challenge.

I don't feel like I have a complete list, because I've had a very busy weekend, but I'm going to post what I have at this point, because I need a bit of a push to get some reading done. The Cumberland Books catalog is superb reading, but I should probably not re-read that until mid-December, eh?

So here's what I have so far, in no particular order or fanciness -
Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
Uprising - Erwin Raphael McManus
The Complete Fairy Tales - George MacDonald
Adela Cathcart - George MacDonald
Wulf the Saxon - G.A. Henty
A Brother Beloved - Francena H Arnold
Three Shall Be One - Francena H Arnold
Twice Freed - Patricia M St John
Stories by O'Henry - (surprise!) O'Henry

I'm also wanting to go onto the Gutenburg Project and get some older biographies and autobiographies. But I don't have time to do that tonight, so I'll update my list later.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Capturing the Educational Moment, Part 2

This is my entry to win a camera in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest sponsored by Spunky and Academic Superstore.

Well, Mama can't resist an entry about her children's educational moments.

We have been blessed to be a part of a growing homeschool support group in our area, which has been all kinds of wonderful for our family. One big blessing for us has been the Friday classes. We have two 10 week sessions each year where classes are offered that most parents can't do at home. Things like art, taught by a true artist; choir, directed by a mom with a Masters degree in Music; Spanish, taught by a mom who was a missionary in Ecuador for years; strings classes taught by a proficient violin player.

Besides loving opportunities to visit with other like-minded moms, I love that these classes are not restricted by age. Our six Blessings, ages 3-10, can sing in choir and paint in art alongside children of all ages.


Capturing the Educational Moment...

This is my entry to win a camera in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest sponsored by Spunky and Academic Superstore.

My first impulse on hearing of this contest, was, as a homeschool mom, to write about some fabulous educational moment in our home. That could still happen, but for starters I've decided to write about my inspiration to become a teacher.

Miss Entz, my third grade teacher, was a life-changing teacher. She was of the few adults that I knew, besides my parents, who didn't talk down to kids just because they were kids. She treated us with respect and we returned that respect.

Many of the "educational moments" from my time in Miss Entz's class were due to her ability to think outside the box.

I struggled with grasping how cups, pints, quarts and such fit together, so she had me play at the kitchen sink measuring water into Mason jars.
I still think of the "greater than" and "less than" signs in terms of the green laminated alligator wanting to "eat" the larger number.
We performed the Nutcracker, and the Pied Piper, among other things.
We had "Christmas around the World" throughout the month of December, I think. My family lived next to the school, and I have in my head a photograph taken of me as St. Lucia, acting out the Swedish Festival of Lights by taking "breakfast" to my mother in bed (the whole class was in our house, and it was the middle of the day).

These are a few of the special moments Miss Entz gave our class. She inspired me to teach. And though I did not realize back then that I would one day be teaching my own children in my home, her respect and creativity stick with me to this day. If I'm half the teacher she was, my children will be very blessed.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Arghh! Blogging time escapes me!

I want time to write about our weekend camping trip with FoMM, post pictures of said camping trip, write about all my splendid little new projects, etc, etc. But I must go do breakfast with the Blessings. Maybe later.

I'll just post this picture of me with a couple of my dearest friends (from the reunion a couple weeks ago):

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Apple Picking

We went on a wonderfully fun field trip with our homeschool support group today. We picked apples at an orchard - the first time our family has had the opportunity to do so. We've picked berries, and somehow I went with the expectation that it was going to be tedious that way, but no! It was easy and fun, and the apples are oh so fabulously yummy. The cost for the excursion with $4/child, including a hay ride, a small petting yard, a maze, a delicious cup of cider, a tall playset with nifty slide, and a bag for apples that holds 6-7 lbs. $4. 6-7 lbs. Around here, that's a real steal. And some of the best and juiciest apples I've ever had.

You can kind of see the issue my camera had today. That "diffused lighting" effect? Not intentional. Got most of the way through the day before I realized I needed to clean my camera. Looking through the pictures, it created a wide range of effects, some quite pleasing.

Grocery shopping on the way home, roast in the oven, and now I need to start getting ready for our camping trip this weekend!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

God-given Instinct

My three year old... my youngest child... my child who has never seen me rock or burp a baby...

was just now standing by my desk, baby doll in arms. She had the baby on its tummy over one arm, well supported, while she patted it gently on the back. And the sway. The child has the sway.

So very precious.

WFMW - Homeschool Records

I homeschool in Missouri, where we are required to keep, among other things, a daily log of our schooling hours. The process of logging hours has, quite frankly, been the bane of my existence as a homeschool mom. One of the things that makes it difficult for me is that we are not required to produce our records unless we are called on the carpet (aka - accused of truancy). It's a remote enough possibility that it's unmotivating on a day-to-day basis, but real enough that I wouldn't want to chance having my kiddos taken away because I didn't have them "in school" as required. Then there's that whole Romans 13 thing with authority being given by God. So, yeah. Gotta log.

Well, I'm a computer person. I never thought I'd make that statement, but my husband's turned me into a minor geek. So I've looked for computer driven solutions to my logging problem. I've been excited about several nifty programs, but none of them worked for me. Well, it wasn't the programs that failed. It was me.

Long story short, I realized that, as a simple schooler, I need a simple logging program! And, I have found by many trials and many errors, I need it to be on paper. So I set out this summer to create as simple a logging program as I could, and yet one that would help me meet the requirements of my state.

LoggingSimply.xls is the result. I did the sheets in Word at first, but after a couple of months of using it, I love it so much that I want to share with other desperately simple schoolers. I thought I'd spiff it up a bit by putting it in a spreadsheet file, so things could be lined up properly (something I wasn't worried about too much myself), and all in one downloadable file. If you're interested, you can take a look.

NOTE: I have done my best to follow WFMW guidelines, but I'm new at this, so if you see I've done something wrong, please let me know gently. Thanks, and God Bless!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Having trouble spitting stuff out...

Despite the fact that I have lots of thoughts running around inside my head, I've been having trouble making my way to blogland to spit them out. And tonight probably won't be much better.

But I did get pictures from the KBC reunion posted here, under KBC 50 Reunion_People and KBC 50th Reunion_Grounds. Also some neat pictures of a field of sunflowers under the Scenery album.

Wild New Background

Well... is it too wild? It's a clip from some shots we got of a field of sunflowers on our way home from Kansas.

Here's one of my favorites from the same field:

A laundry addendum

I don't think I mentioned that the Blessings, for the most part, do their own laundry. The day that is their laundry day is the day **they** do their laundry. Hence the oldest two doing the laundry of the youngest two. And when Kate and Grace get big enough, the boys will use that day to teach them how to do their laundry.

And my sons shall never say when they're in college, as my brother did repeatedly, "Mom, can you show me how again??" lol Not that my brother didn't remember how to do it! But I think our boys will be so used to doing laundry by then that the thought of asking wouldn't occur to them.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Works for me Wednesday - Laundry for Ten

With six Blessings and four adults sharing one washer and dryer, laundry can pile up fast. Here are a couple things that have worked for me (inspiration thank-you's to Managers of Their Homes and to a fabulous mom of 10 who spoke at our homeschool support group meeting last year).

** Each child has a dirty laundry drawer. Not in their dresser (yuck!), but the plastic kind you can stack atop one another. So there's a stack of three in the girls' room and three in the boys'. I printed out a picture of each child (about 3" by 3"?) and packing taped them to the front of the drawers (yes, if I were really a cool homeschooling Mama, I would have contact paper, but somehow that never gets in the cart...). Anyhoo, the pictures make it super easy for each child to know which drawer is theirs, even the non-readers.

** Each child has a laundry day. The two oldest (who are boys) do the laundry for the two little girls, cause it's easy to sort. So, Monday is D and G, Tuesday is B and K, Wednesday is E, Thursday is E. I try to wash sheets on Friday, if they haven't been snuck in during the week.

** Adult laundry, along with towels and such, gets snuck in when the Blessings aren't doing their laundry - often in the evening or first thing in the morning.

Note - I don't manage to do this consistently every week. But when I do, it makes a huge difference! Hope that helps someone out.

EDIT - I've added an additional thought here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Moms for Modesty

We just got back from several days in Kansas (about which I have Much To Blog!) and I found this wonderfulness from Jules over at Everyday Mommy:

Moms for Modesty Mission Statement
*As a Mom for Modesty I believe in common-sense modesty for girls and young women.

*I believe in refraining from sexualizing our girls and young women.

*I believe that it is unwise and unfair to taunt boys and young men by permitting my daughter(s) to dress in an immodest manner.

*I believe that true beauty comes from within and I strive to teach my daughter(s) this truth.

*I will loyally shop at retailers that provide girls' and young womens clothing that is modest, affordable and stylish.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Crazy day of getting ready...

We're leaving for Kansas this evening. Wheee!

Tons to do, and I'm running out of hours. But we're headed home for a long weekend, and we shall see lots of friends and precious ones. Woot!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Amy's story of the homebirth she went to last Friday night had this wonderful quote in it. I've really got to read that book!

Here is a little mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, to her most tender cares, to her life-long prayers! Oh how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!

~ Elizabeth Prentiss’ Stepping Heavenward

Friday, August 25, 2006

Everyday Things...

Jules over at Everyday Mommy has started a new weekly feature to help us remember all the Everyday Things we have for which to be thankful. Yay!

I'll be more newly creative next time, but what came to mind right away this morning is the following piece that my dear friend Stacy and I wrote together when we were at Emmaus Bible College together years ago (like... 12 years! ack!). We actually mailed this out to a bunch of our friends. They must've thought we were nuts, but I still love it. :-)

Simple Minds Think Alike
I like the smell of mowed grass and to play in the leaves. I like to color, and the sun shining on my face. I like it when the clouds make a movie. I like to giggle, get into snowball fights, and play in the dirt. I like walking barefoot. I like melted ice cream dripping out of the bottom of the cone. I like bonfires, drawing hearts, and fresh flowers. I like the smell of the rain coming, and I like picking mulberries. I like the smell of the sun on a hot summer day. I like camping out under the stars, and hiking. I like crawling into fresh warm clothes right out of the dryer. I like to be silly, and I like the mountains. I like peaches, and Amish Mormon boys named Mick.
I like to wake up to white outside, and to crash when I’m skiing. I like it when turn signals are in sync. I like ugly cars and sunsets on red mesas. I like to have fun, and I like it when God winks at me with the stars. I like to make snow angels and to play in the rain. I like moms and dads. I like phone calls, and singing, especially with friends. I like baking chocolate chip cookies. I like the sound of crickets, and sifting out on the fire escapes at night. I like strawberry rhubarb pie. I like watching clouds move across a full moon, and the color of the sky right before a storm. I like hugs. And kisses. I like babies and sunflowers and pictures of memories, and pillows. I like red sand, and candlelight. I like puppies, and building sand castles. I like to swing. I like rays of sun through a cloudy sky, and long walks. I like praying with friends. I like the sound of wind, and hugs from God. I like warm blankets, thunder and lightning, and leaves in the fall. I like dreams with happy endings, and Hat Monopoly. I like watching wheat fields dance. I like jeans and T-shirts, hearing people talk to themselves, and waterfalls. I like it when the sky looks like an ocean, and when clouds look like mountains. I like seat wars, iced coffee, and the Fourth of July. I like to sprawl. I like trees, and the smell of familiar places. I like irises, jungle gyms, and lemonade. I like to skate. I like backrubs, plaid, and twisting my hair. I like to read, and I like big bows. I like Pachebel’s Canon in D. I like road trips and teddy bears. I like Kansas, Arizona, and Colorado. I like forest green and navy blue. I like weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays. I like Christmas, hats, the Hokey-pokey, and homemade bread. I like hard work and sweat. And I like to give gifts. I like to swim on hot days. I like to be serenaded. I like snakes. Little ones. And big ones. I like to be loved. I like putt-putt, blowing bubbles, and food at the fair. I like to help out. I like to hum. And whistle. I like Scripture songs and the clang of the camp bell. I like to watch married couples. I like cross-stitching, skiing in powder, and fog. I like quilts, and being with good friends. I like playing cards and ice cream headaches. I like pigs, chocolate, Christmas lights, and braids. I like clear nights, old couches, and talking with friends until early morning. I like playing in streams. I like the “Great cookie Caper” and Capture-the-Flag. I like to bark and snort. I like letters, warm fuzzies, and singing at the dinner table. I like to play hockey and soccer. I like ponytails, eating snow, and herbs (yes, even herbs!). I like rolling down sand dunes. And fresh air. I like to enjoy the simple things in life.
~By Stacy and Laurel, 1994

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Life in a shoe: the methods and madness of one mother of 8: Grocery shopping with a handful of Littles

This is my first time to hit the "Blog This!" button. This is a super piece about shopping with the kiddos.

An additional reason I'm thankful for compliments on my Blessings' behavior is because it often gives me a needed attitude/perspective adjustment. Of course, I also like it when folks say, "Are ALLLL those kids yours????" because gives me an instant attitude fix as I beam thankfully and with joyful enthusiasm respond, "They sure are!!" Like Kim says in her article, I don't want to be the poster family for birth control. Quite the opposite - I want our family to be an advertisement for God and the blessings He sends our way.

It used to bother me so much when people would ask "Are all those yours????" with such rudeness and obvious amazement at my lack of sanity. Well, I'm not claiming to be all that sane in general, but I can tell you one thing I'm totally sane about, and that's welcoming the children God sends us! The question doesn't bother me anymore. In fact, I welcome it. Because I'm sure to have my attitude adjusted (God has a way of sending these people to me when I'm ready to pull my hair out because my children are, alas, not yet perfect - surely they get that from someone besides me!), and because the Lord will hopefully be able to use us in folks' lives to cause them to reconsider some things. Anyhoo....

Life in a shoe: the methods and madness of one mother of 8: Grocery shopping with a handful of Littles

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Thoughts from the deck

The guys had to leave super early this morning, so I've been up since before 6.00 - wow. Decided it would be better for me to stay up than to go back to bed. It's now time to make breakfast for the Blessings, but first...

While I was enjoying some quiet time on the deck, listening to the birds and such and watching Polly stalk Beren, I was reading from the first chapter of Luke. Mary's response to the angel's pronouncement is terrific:

And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me
according to your word." Luke 1.38

She's just been told her world is going to turn upsidedown. Yes, I know, I've read that every Jewish girl dreamed of being the chosen one, but when you get down to brass tacks, there's a lot of unpleasant reality that Mary has in front of her. The amazing blessing of carrying the Messiah, of being entrusted with raising the Son of God, yes. But also the months and years of "what will/do people think/say?" Those thoughts had to come into her mind, don't you think? And yet she says to the angel, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word."

How often I balk at the the process that must precede the things the Lord has called me to do. And yet, Mary's response is the proper one. May my heart and my will also say, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word."

Jonathan and Dad Smith did some great cabinet work yesterday and today.
Here's the start...

Cabinets up, no crown molding...

And the difference crown molding makes - wow!

They also made friends with this cute baby squirrel, who was crawling around in the saw...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Trying new things

I'm wanting to try the image placement here, so ...
Here's a neat picture that J took earlier this month. We had some stuff on the burnpile, and the late afternoon sun was coming through the trees making wonderful sunbursts with the smoke.

What I do on a day when I'm too tired to do school...

I've been up later than usual the last three nights (which is saying something for a woman who finds herself grateful when she gets to bed before 12.30 am), and I didn't pull myself out of bed until almost 10. The fact that the guys didn't have much to do on the cabinet job they were finishing up this morning affected my mental ability to choose to sleep in - I generally don't consider that an option unless I'm horribly sick.

Anyhoo... once I dragged my body out of bed, showered, and got Jonathan off to work, I still didn't think I was going to manage to accomplish anything today. So I made homemade donuts. Does that have any element of sense in it? I didn't think so. But they were yummy and the Blessings loved them.

I was still feeling realistic enough to know that school was not going to happen today, it being noon and me still not feeling up to the challenges that would likely come with trying to do school with children who were up past midnight last night.

Sooo... what do you do when you're exhausted, your children are tired, and school is just not going to happen? ... Clean the house! I realize that this is not particularly sense-making, but it works for us. So, while the girls were out at Grandma's working on their Bible stuff, I got the boys started - Barak in the living room, Davey in the attic (boys' room), and Josiah in the dining room. And I started in on the mountain of dishes that somehow piled up over the weekend. When the girls came in, they started on their room, which will be finished after nap. But the boys finished their assigned rooms and the dishes are drying. Go team!!

We have leftovers from last night's dinner in the fridge awaiting suppertime, the house is fairly tidy, and we should be in a much better place for getting school done tomorrow. Praise the Lord!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Joining the Blogspot Ranks

Sometimes I think I must be in a contest to see just how many accounts I can set up online...