Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Need Your Input

To continue, I need your input if you have any, because we have so much stuff!! Now to some folks we have nothing, but for our size house we have too much. We had to trim down when we moved here, and I think it's time to trim down again. Mostly, our stuff in storage is boxes and totes of children's clothes at different sizes. Also we have a couple of totes of seasonal changes of clothes for hubby and I. Our dining room closet holds my hanging dresses as my own closet is too short and they drag. It has a tote of toys or something, a sleeping bag, a bag of misc. fabric, and some blankets and our DVD and VHS player on the shelf. The problem with this closet is that the sliding doors are stiff and don't roll well, and there is a big ventilation pipe off to one side of it. But there is a hanging bar all the way across, that only has about a dozen items on it.
We have another closet in the tiny hall between the kitchen and the dining room that holds all games mostly. We have hooks down low so the kids can put away their own coats, and a basket for mittens and hats. Otherwise it is three or four shelves of games--most of which we can't play together because of the young ages of my children(pre-readers). Many of them are group games, that we don't want to get rid of because our families like to play games--trouble is our house is so small, no one visits us for very long--not long enough to break them out...So keep or donate??
Our front closet has a coat bar and shelf, and we have it stuffed with coats, hats, mittens etc for hubby and me, as well as the vacuum, and several boxes (china, other good dishes, some clothes) our suitcase set, and misc. bags for travelling. I haul around two sets of china dishes that are heirloom dishes--can't get rid of them...
Our kitchen has plenty of cupboard space, including a large pantry-type setup at one end, that holds our bulk stuff or dry goods. I also keep home canned stuff, and homemade jelly on short shelves in there. I have a shelf or two for our homeschool stuff also.
My biggest trouble spot is the area around the desk. I want to put the bassinet here at some point, cause it's near our bedroom, but we have a piano that we don't know what to do with, but as Nathan will be old enough for lessons soon, I don't want to get rid of it. Our interenet connection enters the house at this spot, so I am not exactly sure where we would set up the computer. Plus I have two boxes of odd fabric tucked in the corner, and a large bag of trim (you know--edge binding, ric-rac, lace, eyelet etc). I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep all of it, but in these uncertain economic times, I figure if I have fabric, I could at least make clothes, or blankets if I had to!! But the piano collects junk all the time. The top of the bookshelf does too. The desk isn't much better. The drawers have paper for the printer, sewing patterns, quilting instructions, and odds and ends...
We also struggle to keep toys under control. I have a toy box with a top tray in the living room. The little sink and stove tuck behind the living room chair, and books and puzzles are in the built in cupboard in the the living room by the heat vent, with doors I can shut. The dining room has a plastic three-drawer set that we keep stuffed animals in, cars, and blocks. However, we have a bag of large foam puzzle pieces, fabric car mats, animals that won't fit, and the cars/trucks are getting too many...Not to mention the collapsable tunnel in the dr closet, the lincoln log box, etc. We don't have as many toys as some, but given the house space, we HAVE to keep it limited. How much is too much??
I have very few knicky-knacky things around. Very little in our house is strickly for looks. Mostly it is functional. I have done some rearranging, I think it's helped a little...Any suggestions would be appreciated!!! What works well for all of you?? How do you all keep on top of clutter, and get maximum storage out of the least amount of space?

I Need Your Input






We are having another baby in six months or so, and the nesting instinct is flowing strong. Any of you who have been in my house know that it is teeny for a soon-to-be family of six. With our present arrangement, it is a two bedroom, one bath house, with no basement, and a small attic for storage. We do have a laundry room, but it isn't really heated, as well as my husband's office space(used to be a garage), and a small room where we keep our freezer, and cram full of boxes and things. There are two rooms that run front to back the length of the house, but they are rooms that our landlady uses for her salon, however, infrequently. A front room for her hair cutting stool, and a small back room for her two hair-drying chairs. So we can't put too much stuff out there. Right now our boots and some coats and my small cabinet sewing machine are out there, as well as a bushel of potatoes from the garden. Anyway, here are the pictures. I hope you can see the layout of the house, with all the closets etc. The rest are angles from the different rooms. I haven't gotten to my bedroom or the kitchen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Daily Struggles

As I go through each day's set of difficulties, I often wish I had someone here with me to guide or coach me through my tasks, attitudes, and struggles. I was pondering this today, as I washed dishes with my son(who is 4). I struggled all day to try to figure out what to do with these children, get my own work done, try to get them to help me some, try to think about what needs to be done tommorrow etc. I struggle constantly to find a balance, and quite frankly get bitter and frustrated as one day melts into another, and the struggle just seems to get harder, with no clear cut answers. I struggle to understand my thoughts--I need a sounding board to hash my thoughts out on and make sense of them. I was thinking, how nice it would be to have someone at my elbow giving me that sense of direction, laying a gentle hand on my shoulder (or mouth)when my temper starts to rise. Ready to give me sound guidance at the moment that I need it, and it occurred to me what the process of parenting IS. I had 18 years at home with a mother and a father. I had their years of priceless wisdom at my fingertips 24 hours a day. I had their understanding of the scriptures at my fingertips, had I cared to ask them. I felt at that moment that I wish I could take back all the years of peer-chasing, and chase them, instead. I wish I could take back all the years I spent hours working on sketches that ended up in the trash, and instead learn self-control, and willing self-sacrifice. I wish I had had the presence of mind to probe my mother and father for their experience in life and how they coped over the years with anger, lonliness, bitterness. I wish they had been brave enough to see my faults(I was a goody-two shoes, and self-righteous to boot), and tell me of them, and call them sin.
I feel that there is a whole season of living that God created and put there for my benefit, and that somehow I missed the whole point of it. But now that I have my own children and household to manage, all their education to execute, my own brain to continue to train and guide, I feel like there are years in my past that are just empty, filled with nothing that will come back to aid me in these moments of difficulty. I sincerely wish I had done things differently. I sincerely wish I had taken the time when I had it, to be more prepared for where I am now.

Why I have been gone

Hello Blogland friends!
I have been gone, and rather busy for the last few days. My dear hubby and I went to the 2009 Sufficiency of Scripture Conference hosted near Cincinnati OH. We were gone half of last week while kiddos stayed with nana and popop. We try to take a few days together before the birth of each of our children, as after a newborn comes along, you don't get much alone time for awhile.
The premise of the conference was how God's Holy Word is sufficient for guiding every area of life, and they tried to flesh this out by having a seminar on just about every area of life you can imagine. So they had smaller, shorter break-out sessions in the morning and afternoon each day, along with a keynote speaker each morning and night. It was refreshing, encouraging, and challenging. There were several families there (whole families--including babies and children), and lots of practical resources on everything from Creation Science to homeschooling, to the roles of wife, husband, mother, and father. We picked up several books and audio-teaching on CD. When I am through with them, I would be willing to lend them to individuals if you are interested, but I would like them back.
The titles are: Give Me Your Heart My Son(lectures from father/son retreat)
The Excellent Wife
The Wise Woman's Guide to Blessing Her Husband's Vision
Already Gone (Ken Ham)
Curriculum Advice by Victoria Botkin (homeschool aid)
Created for Work (teaching for fathers and sons about hard work)
2 childrens books for my boys(not up for borrow)
-one about dinosaurs/creation
-one about Noah's ark (creation based)

I am currently working through The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. Very interesting read, so far.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Struggle to Share People's Joy

I think I discovered something about myself today. Some of you who know me well may even say, "I coulda told you that!"
I really struggle to share in the material blessing of others--especially when a purchase seems to be extravagant. For example, I remember a time when a lady at my church purchased a new couch/chair set for her living room. It was brown overstuffed leather. Certainly beautiful, but I had seen the old couch and chair set, and I don't remember thinking it needed replacing. I struggled to share their joy.
Now when I see purposeful thrift, and the needed replacement of something, it's easier. If a family friend buys a new car that they have been saving for, after driving and repairing the old car for ten years, I can rejoice with them.
To some degree, I think I am justified, especially when I know something of the circumstances, and have a hunch that some or other purchase will place a burden of debt on individuals who really shouldn't take on anymore, but I suppose it's none of my business...Though how much help could we give one another if we weren't so closed off about these kind of things?
I don't think it's envy. I think I am pretty well content with my lot, because I know what we would have to give up to have more stuff or newer stuff, and we are not willing to give that up(ie time with family, the freedom of debt-free living etc). I guess the thing that makes it hard is seeing so many people not taking the harder, longer road. Seeing so many take what appears to be the easy road. The easy road of instant gratification, credit, and all the rest.
Now I am not trying to excuse my behavior--certainly I need to be more willing to rejoice when our Lord blesses someone in that way. Heaven knows I am joyful when it comes my way, and want others to rejoice with me!!
But do you know a sad thing in my opinion? A couple years ago, we finally paid off all our debt. You know, both my husband and I wanted to share our joy and relief of finally being debt-free!! However, imagine what it would feel like when you know that everyone you could share with isn't even close to debt-free? Kinda made it feel like boasting. We only shared it with a couple people...it just had to bust out, it was such a relief. But we both almost felt ashamed to want to share it with others. Hmmmmm....
Shouldn't we all be able to rejoice freely when we succeed in something we are guided to in Scripture?? After all, it was His blessing that enabled us to live on a budget, His provision that always covered us when times were tough, and ultimately, His direction that we were only following as He gave the grace to do so.
Does anyone have anything I can rejoice with you about today??

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where Are You All?

I hope I haven't said something to make any of you mad. I really don't mind comments. Really!! Part of why I wanted to start a blog, was to get reactions and feedback concerning some of my favorite controversial topics. I like debate and friendly disagreement. Some of you may be older, some younger, some may be married or single, working, or home. I would love the perspectives on my posts that all of you from different backgrounds can bring. I promise I won't get mad, unless you start using foul language--which I would be shocked if any of you did that anyway!!

I haven't posted in a few days, mostly because I have been in a mood funk, and feeling discouraged and lousy. I'm in that still-queasy stage of pregnancy, most of my clothes are just a couple inches small, but all my maternity clothes are still too huge. So I live in sweat pants and baggy shirts, and feel frumpy and tired...As a result, I've been behind in housework, and wanting to curl up and read(reading takes my mind off the food thing)...Haven't felt very inspired!! Except that one on housework--that really made me feel very inspired!!(to hire someone...hehe).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How About A Maid?

A friend and I were commenting today on how the kitchen so often seems to just swallow us up with messes, dishes, and whatnot. There are so many days that I just can't stay ahead of the dishes. I come to the end of the day and there are two loads (and I do mean LOADS) of dishes to wash.
I was pondering over housework this morning, and the thought occurred to me that it is actually a new phenomenon that most families do all their own housework. A hundred years ago, a middle class family could afford at least part-time household help, for the hardest, gruntiest sort of work--laundry, ironing, window washing, etc. Now I know there are some ladies who do this kind of work, five hours here and ten hours there, but even that is probably less than what most middle income matrons had in the last century.
If you remember, even the March family in Little Women had Hannah--who did most of the cooking and household care, and they were not a wealthy family at all--though I don't know if they always paid her wages or not.
I wonder how the economy could improve if we were still requireed to hire out for those kind of household necessities. And heaven knows it might provide our households with a bit more order!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

School Violence

I have commented to my husband several times about how school violence isn't new. If you look to schools 100 years ago or more, many schools had problems with bullying and violence--frequently against the teachers themselves.
Now the two examples I will give are from stories, but stories that were at least based on fact, if not written from real life examples.
The first one that comes to mind is from Farmer Boy, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is the story that tells about her husband Almanzo's growing up years. One of the tales told is about a bully who frequented their schoolhouse named Big Bill Ritchie. He was the son of a French trapper who lived in a little village of trappers. He was notorious for his fighting, his temper, and his ability to break up the school the other parents worked so hard to bring to their community. He had been known to beat up the teachers, one so badly, he died from it later. Mr. Corson, Almanzo's teacher, was described as a slim, pale man with small features--not a fighting man. When Almanzo expresses his concern to his own father, his father replies (more or less),"The school board hired Mr. Corson. It is his job and his problem to figure out, and I am expecting him to come out on top."
Anyway, later on when Big Bill finally starts to go after the teacher, Mr. Corson pulls a blacksnake whip, that is 15 feet long out of his desk, that has a solid iron handle, and proceeds to whip this bully to shreds. He lashes his skin and clothes to the point of bleeding, blubbering, and whimpering to leave. All his cronies slink out the back door, and Mr. Corson wins the day, and Almanzo is both amazed and relieved.
Now, my understanding is that Mr. Corson is NOT fired for such actions, but commended. He stood up to the bully, and gave him a taste of his own medicine. He also protected the other students from harm, and earned the respect of those who would otherwise have scorned him.
The other story I am thinking of is The Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski. When Birdie (the main character) starts school in their neck of the woods(Florida), a local bully does the same thing, only in that case, he is beaten to a pulp, and the school is let out for some time, because he is so injurred. However, the teacher takes his rod and does attempt to defend himself, but he was outnumbered 3 to 1.
Just gauging from these two examples, school violence isn't new. However, tying the teacher's hands and lessening punishment and discipinary action are.
Can you imagine what would happen today if a teacher attempted to do the same in a classroom today--even if he was faced with a student who was endangering everyone? Not that you want schools to be places of warfare, but with the reality of shootings, bomb threats, and other lovely(hint:sarcasm)modern contrivances of violence, it seems to me, it would be wise to have some kind of action available against such students. Perhaps a rotation of armed teachers? Only a few, and it could change from day to day, but it's a possibility.
I could see a teacher faced with a student who could be blowing his fellow classmates away, doing something to stop him, even if it harmed the student, and getting in trouble, or losing his job for doing so.
Seems to me things are getting a little out of whack?? And the government wants the schools to be even bigger, causing some students to feel even more alienated and afraid. I attended a large city-type school when I was 11, and the experience is not one I wanted to repeat or one I would want my children to endure. There were fights constantly, it was filthy, the food was rancid, and it was extremely overcrowded. I remember my science class housing 40 students in a college-type tiered classroom stepping down to where the teacher taught--in sixth grade!!
I think the older ways of school are more appealing-before the days of football, million-dollar budgets, and bussed in students from every corner of the county.
Farmer Boy describes their school system, also--imagine this in your neighborhood. The school Almanzo attended was, I think, a mile and a half from his house, and he and his brother and sisters walked, Almanzo carrying the lunch basket. It was your typical one-room school with the small children up front and the older children in the back. What I found interesting was this--the teacher boarded at each house in the district for two weeks. When the round of two week intervals had been completed for each home,(homes who had children in the school I would imagine)the school term was over. Also, I found it interesting that whenever Almanzo begged too much work at home, he was allowed to stay home and work instead of go to school. His parents were well-educated, and even wealthy for those times, but they still saw value in having their son stay home rather than go to school. Heaven knows he learned plenty of practical hands-on type things that school didn't offer. He also learned work ethic at home, and learned how to contribute to the family he came from. He learned bartering and business watching his mother and father sell their homegrown produce(his mother sells butter for 50 cents/pound! can you imagine?).
Nowadays, Almanzo would be forced to go to school, at least most of the time, and whose to say that the confining nature of the school to a freedom loving lad would have caused him to get antisocial and bitter?? However, we must group all students in the same pot and force them all to go to school so they have a better future, when some children and adolescents might be better off if they had other alternatives to institutional school. Like being at home, forging tighter bonds with mom and dad instead of peers--and so keeping them out of trouble. I understand it's pretty common that children who go to school tend to favor their peers' opinions more than mom and dad's.
I have crossed the line over into rambling, so I will sign off, but I will say that I am in no way trying to condemn anyone for their decision to send their children to school or keep them home, but I do wish more people would actually think about the decision before making it--too many just make the decision by default--public school--no other options.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dying to Our Flesh

The title of this post is something that has been giving me a lot of trouble lately. I struggle every day, every hour, every minute to overcome my flesh. Or perhaps the problem is, I don't overcome, because I don't struggle--I give in... I think the sanctifying reality of being a stay-at-home mom, is that you live with inconvenience. Live on a tight budget? Even more inconvenience. Homeschool your children? Even more...
Your whole life is controlled by the presence of your children--even in households where parental authority is respected and taught, 90% of your existence has to revolve around them. When they are teeny, you don't have any choice. They need all our time to provide their basic needs, and that doesn't stopp for at least 5-6 years (at lessening degrees). There is no decision you can make without considering the children.
Inside the home, until children are old enough to really be of help, mom does nearly everything, and the presence of children nearly always slows, hinders, and in a lot of situations undoes all the work. I think that this is why the feminist movement struck such a chord in so many women--the feeling that you are getting nowhere, doing the exact same tasks over and over. And as a mom doing this job, even when you have some idea of the importance of your work (in the long term), the minute by minute and day by day difficulties just shrink your life down and make it hard to remember the whole scope of what you are doing. It is so easy to get stuck in the details of getting coats on and "where is my shoe?" and vaccuming crumbs from under the table, and washing peed-on sheets, and plunging the toy out of the toilet, and digging race cars from under couch cushions. And as any mother of small children knows, living with day in and day out irritations, limitations, and the constant need to live for others is a HARD thing to do. Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience refers to needing things seen by others as being idols. We want our accomplishments to be seen. We want the recognition, the accolades. In our world of self-centered philosophy, this mindset is rampant. And the place it is most rampant is on the college campus! And yes this desire can become (or already is) an idol. We cloak it up under lots of names. We listen to lots of pop psychologists who tell us we deserve the time away, the extra income, the recognition. But, if we have a choice, is it God's best for us? God's best for us is always striving for Christ-likeness. And what is that? Pouring out our lives for others, as He did. Learning to rid ourselves of discontent, grumbling, unthankfulness, idolatry, self-importance,no matter the circumstance, and coming to rely on the only one who can redeem us and make us into new creatures.
What are we showing by our example to our children?? Are we showing them how to live for ourselves? Are we showing them how to rely on the strength the Holy Spirit can provide minute by minute? Are we showing them how and why to take everything to the Lord in prayer? Or are we so disgusted with our "lot" in life, that we do the bare minimum necessary for our households, and take every opportunity to leave our children so that we can feel like we are doing something worth while?
My parting thought is this--Mother Theresa was a beautiful woman and I believe, a godly one. Most people, mothers included would point to her as a wonderful example of loving godliness. However, she and all her fellow sisters spent a good portion of their time doing exactly what mothers do. She and her sisters of charity took care of babies, cleaned, fed, cooked, clothed anyone who needed them under stressful, and not ideal circumstances. Why do we see caring for the poor and the leper in Calcutta as being godly work, and see caring for our own flesh and blood as being inconvenient, bothersome, and frustrating?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Money-Saving Tips

In our current economic crunch, it is always wise to save a buck if you can. Along this line, I thought I would pass on some tips I have found that help keep costs down.
When I buy tomato product, I try to buy an all-purpose one. Usually I buy crushed tomatoes, as they have a more saucy texture than puree or sauce. I use these for everything from base for sloppy joes, to pizza sauce, to extend one jar of more expensive spaghetti sauce. I also use it to make my homemade tomato soup. I discovered recently, that buying a couple of tiny cans of tomato paste may be even more frugal--store brand crushed toms are 1.39. Store brand paste is .59.

Scour your local dollar store. I have very specific things I buy at the dollar store. I buy all our paper goods (not very much), toothpaste($1 a tube), most personal items (shampoo), and a select variety of dry goods. I like to get evaporated milk there (85cents), dish soap (85cents for Palmolive!), and recently, I purchased something called Cocoa Butter Creme for 1.65, that is a very rich, creamy lotion. That has pure cocoa butter, lanolin, etc. And it smells like chocolate!

See if you can discover an Amish or Menonnite store nearby. Even if it is not nearby, it maybe worth making an occasional trip. I buy from an Amish woman near us, who sells 10# of bread flour for 4.80. I buy all the sugar, bulk spices (1# of cinnamon for less than $2), some hot and cold cereal, cornstarch, dried fruit, cocoa, choc chips, nuts etc. for substantially less than the grocery store!! She also sells large cheese chunks like Mozzarella for 2.20/lb(groc store is 3.99/lb)
I also discovered an Amish farm selling apples for 7.50/bushel, already picked!

In the meat department, and our local grocery is great about having meat on sale all the time, I find ways of stretching a minimal amount of meat. Did you know that a family of five can make a meal of one boneless, skinless, chicken breast?? Cut it up and toss in a casserole or saute with spices, and add rice for chick and rice tacos. Mix with cottage cheese, all diced up, and some pimento and minced cucumber and spices for a sandwich salad. A large ham steak can go far too. I buy one large uncooked ham steak(about $4.50), with a bone, and can make up to three meals. I dice a bit up for soup, use some for casserole, throw a bit in some scrambled eggs. I frequently do the same with loose sausage. I buy on sale (1.49/lb) and package some of it into 1/2 lb bags for use in breakfast dishes where you don't need much.

We also eat a lot of hot cereal. We eat grits, cornmeal mush(fried), oatmeal, oatbran, no wheat products, cause of my wheat allergy, but they would certainly be an option otherwise. I can buy three pounds of cornmeal at my Amish store for $1.50, and use 2 cups of it for mush that I cool overnight, dredge in flour, and fry in oil. We top with butter and syrup. How much do you think it all costs?? Maybe $2.00 to feed all of us?? (as opposed to cold cereal in which we use almost a whole box in one sitting to feed all of us for 3 or 4 bucks.)

I avoid laundry detergent. I buy borax powder, washing soda, amonia and bleach and can usually combine something to get out most stains (ecxept bleach and amonia--bad idea!). I don't use laundry sheets or liquid softener. Use white vinegar instead.
I will be trying Charlie's Soap very soon, which, at $20/3# bag, sounds expensive, but will do 80 wash loads, and so breaks down to 4cents a load. Pretty cheap!

I mentioned above that I buy very little paper products. This is very true, sometimes to my dismay...However, they eat up the budget, and if I have to choose between paper napkins and food, I choose food. We only buy tissues when we are all sick. Otherwise, we use hankies--I know, some think that is gross, but I don't haul a dirty hanky around all day, I use one up all at once, and put it in the laundry. I keep a huge pile of rags on hand for cleaning and wiping up. I mean little ones for doing the mirrors, and towel rags for cleaning up spilled food. That way we don't waste $ on paper towels. I occasionally spring for napkins, but rarely, and then we only use them when the meal is really messy. Ya'll know I use cloth diapers, and wipes.

My, my--I certainly have been rambling!! Any tips that work for you-all, that I missed?? Hope these help!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Hard Pill to Swallow

I have been pondering the importance of preparing our children for adulthood. More importantly, preparing them in ways that will not only prepare them in practical skills, but will prepare them for their future mind-sets.
I come from a first generation Christian family. My grandparents, I do not believe were saved they way Scripture teaches. My parents were saved as adults (through the Catholic and Episcopal churches, no less), and did their best to introduce Christ to my brother and I. I lay no blame on them, as they did the best they could with what they had. They (mom and dad) had no example of what a Christian family looked like. I am grateful to them both for the way they struck out of their familial comfort zone, and chose to follow Christ.
However, I understood very little, starting my own family, about the importance of strong character. That sounds terrible, but I guess I mean the kind of strong character that can smile in the midst of dificulty, exhibit a sweet, kind spirit when plans are running amuck, and bear all things for love of the other person. Character that exhibits diligence when no one is watching, is thankful even in uncertain circumstances and most importantly, can remember to turn to the One who created us when that character is starting to crumble, due to stress, fear, exhaustion, confusion, and so on.
I struggle so often in the minute by minute living, when the house is chaotic, the kids aren't listening, supper is waiting to be made, I have a list of chores a mile long...or worse, half-done chores, waiting to be finished. I think about people from history like Caroline Ingalls, Laura Ingalls famous mother. Perhaps people overlook her in the story, but she was an amazing woman of character.
When they lived in the big woods, she operated her home in amazing dispatch and orderliness. Living in the middle of nowhere didn't let her off the hook. They live in a civilized fashion. She saw to it. She rarely spoke harshly, always had her little girls with her in every task, watching, helping and observing. You never hear Laura mention her mother complaining.
Later on, their family faces disease (malaria and scarlet fever), the stress of travelling and relocating, poverty (long winter), in which they had nothing to eat but dried beans, potatoes, and raw wheat, not to mention having to fuel their fire with sticks twisted from hay. All through the season when one blizzard followed another, Caroline looked for ways to keep their minds and hands active and busy. She tried to avoid idleness in her home at all costs. They memorized a lot of Scripture and pieces out of the different levels of school readers.
I have to wonder what her childhood years were and how they prepared her for role as Charle's wife. She had the skills to do everything from making butter and cheese, to making straw hats, to sewing, etc. I wonder how her mother went about preparing her. If you read on in the story, Laura marries Almanzo, and have their own set of hardships, but you get the impression that Laura faces them with a lot more complaining and whining than her mother did. She wasn't nearly as willing to do all she could to keep home cheerful, orderly, and peaceful.
What women do you look to for examples of Godliness in the home??

Friday, October 30, 2009

Encouraging Our Husbands

While I was washing dishes this evening, I put in one of my favorite movies(I watch 'em on the laptop in the kitchen). It was "It's a Wonderful Life", with Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart.
Not for the first time was I impressed with the courage and tenacity of the character Mary, who is George Bailey's wife in the movie. She has long had a crush on him, and when they finally get married, their honeymoon is cut short by the stock market crash, and every dollar they had to travel with had to be put into their business, or sink. She gave it all willingly, with no reproach. Later, he finds that she has been busily working out the arrangements of their first home, and she welcomes him home to a good dinner and shining, admiring eyes.
Later, as the movie illustrates, he goes through ups and downs, and she is always there, and always looking for any way she can to help him, support him, and encourage him.
I know these are fictional characters, but suppose for a moment, they were real. How precious and valuable do you think Mary would be to her husband? She encapsulates the verse "she does him good and not evil all the days of her life." She is his crown, quite literally. She goes about each day seeking to be a blessing and a help to her husband, not dragging him down with complaints. Even when great calamity falls upon her husband, and the security of their whole family is threatened, she rolls up her sleeves and finds a way to fix the problem, and welcomes him home (along with others) with open arms. Finally, he begins to see of himself what she knew all along, and has been trying to show him all these years--through her faithful love and willing sacrifice.
What do you see in your husband that he needs to know?
Tell him.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cold Weather Soup

I have made these two easy soups lately and they are fantastic!! Thought I would share with you all to enjoy.

#1 Creamy Tomato Soup

1 small onion, minced
2 cp water
1-2 bullion cubes
15 oz tomatos (crushed, sauce, puree)
1/2 can evap milk (NOT sweet condensed)
1 cp milk
1 Tbsp sugar
cornstarch in water for thickener
oregano
basil
garlic powder
black pepper

I sautee the onion in butter for about 5 minutes, til it gets pale and soft. I add the water and the bullion and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the spices the tomatoes and the sugar and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Add the milk and bring back up to near boiling (note, sometimes, the milk seems to curdle due to the acidity in the tomatoes. But not always. If it does, ignore it and proceed. It will still taste good). Pour in thickener--not a lot as you want this soup creamy, but still soup--not pudding....Stir as it begins to get just thick enough to cling to the spoon. Serve with grilled ham and cheese.

#2 Ham and Potato Soup

1 good sized uncooked ham steak, cubed
1 large onion, minced
beef bullion (2 cbs)
1 1/2 qt water
five medium potatoes, smallishly cubed
1 can evap milk
black pepper
parsley
grated cheese
Sautee ham and onion in butter til onion is soft. Add water and beef bullion and potato cubes. Bring to a simmer and cook potatoes til tender. Add evap milk, and spices. Reheat til barely boiling. Add cornstarch and water for thickener, stirring til creamy. Add couple handfuls of grated cheese--cheddar colby, whatever..
Stir in cheese til melted. Serve

These are both easy and tasty. I will warn you all--I don't measure when I make soup. I guesstimate. I eyeball it. I sprinkle of this and a dash of that. These amounts are my hypothesis of what I think I used...Any of you who are soup makers, feel free to adjust accordingly! If you are not a soup maker, pick my brain if something doesn't come out right, and I will try to tweak it for you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our Sanctification

I have been thinking a lot about the biblical family, lately. I think having #4 on the way has me thinking about children, their purpose, and the way they change our lives. In today's culture, children are--for all our pro-life propaganda--looked upon as inconveniences and hindrances. Perhaps you think that our children are those that never worry or irritate their parents. I am at this moment, typing to the wail of the child that woke up thirty minutes after I put him down, and hasn't stopped screaming since...I know about the inconvenience of children.
But only in the last couple of generations has convenience taken such a top priority. Or perhaps we should call it something else--easy, or easier. When something is an inconvenience, it's harder, is it not?? But I digress.
Sometimes I wonder if we separate too much the world of our children and our relationship with God. I know I struggle to find time to read Scripture undisturbed, as my idea of a devotion time is to be quiet, with God, in unbroken concentration, often resulting in frustration and anger that I can't even have a time with the Lord without interruption.
Let me illustrate with a well-known figure of the media right now--Michelle Duggar. She, if you don't know, is the mother of 18 children, and they host a reality show called 18 and Counting. I have heard Christian women slam her as they express their own distress in parenting one or two children. They don't understand how she can be so "perfect". The fact that she seems to never lose her cool, she is always smiling, she never seems to be at a loss for energy or inspiration. I think the presence of a real live mother who has such a beautiful life with her family makes us other women ashamed and jealous. However, if you peruse her family's site, she makes no bones about the fact that there have been times when she had a much smaller family (like six)and felt very exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed.
My question is, has the Lord used her children to mold and shape her in to the woman she is?? Have her children, in essence, been a tool for her sanctification?? (ie process into Christ-likeness) In having such a large family, has she had to learn to so totally depend on God's strength, that after having done so for so many years, she has learned to instinctively do things like "cast all your cares upon Him" and by so doing has "peace that passes all understanding".
We see larger families and I we think say to ourselves,"I am glad it's her and not me, I could never handle that many children."
Do you see what the implication is here?? That we, in and of ourselves, are the ones holding the reins for our families. That we decide to only have as many children as we can handle--in our own strength. It's true that a couple children are all we can handle in our own strength. But if we could come to the realization that we are not to do anything in our own strength--especially parent--perhaps we could begin to view children as a means for our own Christ-likeness. That the poor attitudes we display when something goes ary due to our children also need to be weeded out and disposed of, knowing that we are to "be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Yes, parenting is hard. Parenting our children to love the Lord and obey Him is even harder. But I don't remember convenience clauses added to any of the Bible's references to teach and train our children.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conference on Uniting Church and Family

I just found out about something that sounds really interesting. Doug Phillips of Vision Forum (www.visionforum.com) is aiding in the presentation of a conference whose purpose is to unite church and family--also called the family integrated church concept. The main thrust is how the church is wondering where all the young people have gone. This line of thought is suggesting that the age-segregated variety of church we have mostly now is the reason. It's like we are telling our children and young people "church isn't for you--go over there." Five and ten years later, we wonder why they no longer want to be involved in church, or always are church-hopping--attending the ones with the best programs.
The idea is that if we want to raise a generation of young people who love church, and attend out of love and obedience to Christ, we can't bend them away from it now. Get them involved now. Find ways of incorporating children in the work of the church. Let's teach them how to serve every week! Have them assist in taking offering, or have older children or youth read the call to worship passage. Or give the announcements. Church isn't about going to the best programs to be served, it's for the purpose of teaching in sound doctrine, exhortation among believers, and I also think it's about learning to serve one another. Kelly Crawfor has a great article on this topic in her archives on Church and Children's Ministry. I think it's called "How Shall We Then REach Them?". Great stuff to consider.
It would be a great thing for pastors to attend.

Today We Tried Something New

I have been frustrated with our household lately. It seems like so many days go by where I run around like crazy, making meals, cleaning, laundry etc, and my children simply play all day everywhere, with no real guidance or interaction with me.
So I thought I would try instituting a new daily rule. No toys until after lunch. That every day, the mornings are to be devoted to helping mommy, getting dresses etc. School in our house happens after lunch as my older child is only five, and it takes us maybe 1/2 hour to work through some reading and number worksheets and whatnot. Timothy is not quite four, and is still learning letter recognition, so we work on that for 10 or 15 minutes after Nathan's time. Then, toys and play can happen.
I think this may work for three reasons. 1) I think it will force me to begin to include them more in housework--don't think that I never give my children chores to do, but so far it's been a more incidental thing, rather than a regular "do this every day at this time" kind of thing. 2) I think it will preserve the interest of the toys we have if they have a period of time each day that those toys are out of commission--entirely. 3) I also think it will help cut down on the messy house to have limited hours of toys, which will in turn cut down on my workload each day.
What do ya'll think??
This is the first major scheduling attempt of sorts I have tried to implement. And today, so far, it has worked!! This morning, when the no toys rule was still in effect, I was ironing, and my older boys and I were sitting together reciting mother goose rhymes. Maybe I will get really ambitious and start memorizing Scripture!
Let's see if it's still working a week from now.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chair Caning

I think the Lord may have given me another idea for a home business. Have you ever been to an antique store, or flea market, and encountered a cane bottom rocker? Unfortunately, the weave of the cane is usually broken out. You see, after a time, the reed that is used dries out badly, and becomes brittle, especially since we don't use oil to polish and clean our wood surfaces anymore. So I had a thought--perhaps I could start working on learning how to reweave the bottoms of the chairs. But not with reed, with something that I think would be ten times stronger than reed and less likely to become brittle. It's my secret--otherwise, ya'll might beat me to it, and then my grand idea for a home business won't fly, and you won't hire me to do it, you'll do it yourself. (I'm a selfish soul, what can I say...).
Anyway, if any of you out there happen to have a cane bottom chair that is broken, cracked etc. Lemme know, or if you happen to see one that you could get cheap, pick it up and send it my way, and I'll see if I can repair it for you.
If you are wondering, I was an art major in college, and took weaving, so I'm not entirely clueless about this matter.
Prices--well, I won't know until I actually start doing it, but I am anticipating that the overhead in materials won't be that expensive, it's just a matter of time involved. Let's just say that I am inclined to charge less in labor if it means people can actually afford to pay for it, and use the service. Even if that means I only earn $2.00/hour. I don't know about you, but a product priced high that is sitting on my shelf brings in less income than a lower priced product that goes like hotcakes!! Which makes more sense?? Besides, here at home, $2/hr is more than I bring in now, right??
Lemme know what you all think!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I wish I wasn't so impatient

I have had this nagging impatience lately. As you all know, I am expecting our fourth baby. We live, presently, in a small house about 1000 square feet, that will be housing six people. When we moved from our last house, we got rid of several pieces of furniture, and slimmed down our possessions in general. Since then, I have taken stuff to the local thrift store etc. Another baby means that we have to find places for the bassinet, and eventually, how to fit them all in one bedroom, with four beds. Hmmmm.
We also have had our first snow of the season. And I do mean snow! It snowed all day yesterday, all day today, and may be still snowing now. It's only October! I am being overcome by a bad case of cabin fever, and it's not even winter yet. I have three rambunctious boys in the house that are under the age of six. The winter months are stretching out before me....I'd like to just go pile under a snow bank and sleep until spring....But, alas, I can't.
I hate to sound complaining, but I would love to be somewhere that is a little bit permanent. I would love to have the space that will sufficiently store things, and enough rooms to label as play and not play areas, so that some of my house can look pretty--you know, a dining room without legos under the table, and lincoln logs on the chairs...And a mudroom where the coats and hats and scarves can go, instead of half-all-over-my-living room, maybe near the closet...
I have to keep reminding myself that we live within our means. We don't have the funds for a home to buy, yet, so we make do with the house that the Lord provided that fits into our budget, small though it may be. I have to remind myself that I would rather be here in our present circumstance, and be able to sleep at night (barring the baby) rather than strapped with bills I cannot pay, and an ulcer. It's hard to watch all the other family members move ahead, and feel like we are still in limbo, but I have to remind myself that we are moving ahead, just not in ways that are visible to all. We are saving more aggressively, we are saving expenses by making do here, we are training and teaching and discipling our children day-by-day, and hopefully preparing them for the day when we will be moving to a house where they will activley serve the family, contributing by their work, etc.
And all this has to be lived out one day at a time. The money has to be saved one dollar at a time. Lessons need to be learned one mistake at a time.
But chocolate always helps!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wakeful Baby

Has anyone ever had to live with a baby that won't stay asleep all night? Our baby right now is a monster at night time. We go through bedtime routine, he falls asleep in arms usually very quickly, we put him in his bed and leave him well covered. Usually at least twice he wakes up through the night. We have wondered if his peepee stings his skin and is uncomfortable when he is wet, so we consistently change him and usually put him right back to bed. Sometimes he falls back asleep quickly, sometimes he screams for however long we let him scream. The problem is, all three kiddos are in the same room. So if we let him bellow for more than thirty minutes, Nathan and Timothy wake up, then it's all three of them bellowing. So we really can't do what we did with the other two and let him just cry til he falls asleep, but unfortunately, he may not be learning to fall asleep by himself--you know, how to comfort himself back to sleep. We never (or very rarely) take him into bed with us. I have occcasionally, when hubby is doing overnight shift, if I can't get him back to sleep, or if he is sick, or can't seem to get warmed up. But I try to get him back into his own bed as soon as possible. We don't do co-sleeping. We only have a queen-sized bed, and both of us are somewhat violent sleepers. We would either never get sleep ourselves, or squash the baby...neither are good options.
Any suggestions?? We also will need the crib for new one before too long, so the toddler bed will be coming out of the attic for Keith soon, maybe that will help.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Maybe this 'il get a rise outa ya'll!!

We have, presently, three June birthdays in our family. By the next June, we will have a fourth....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This is the way we can the pumpkin, can the pumpkin...

Hello friends. I am sorry I haven't been very diligent in posting. It has been rather a busy week. This past Tuesday, I had my first experience as a volunteer for CEF. For those of you who are unaware, that stands for Child Evangelism Fellowship. It is an evangelistis program that reaches children during the schoolday. They hold release time classes at an alternate location (other than public school), where the children receive a Bible lesson and a song, and learn about missions. I am taking on the missions aspect of this ministry (for one release-time class).
Friday, I had an ABW (Ladie's Aide Society) meeting that I serve as secretary for, and had to prepare gluten free dish for myself and dessert. They had turkey, which was fine, but I couldn't eat the gravy or the stuffing, or the mac and cheese or the green bean casserole(all campbell's soup has wheat starch!). So I had some of my own dish, some turkey, some scalloped corn, baked beans, and dessert.
Friday night, I had family coming in to spend the night, so we could cook up pumpkins together, and can them. So early this morning, my mom and friend Melody came to help, along with my sis-in-law and her foster-daughter.
We spend the whole day cooking and canning pumpkin. We finished up the processing around 8pm, and they all were gone by 9pm. We got 34 pints of pureed pumpkin. We had both of our double decker canners filled. Whew!! And I have a stock pot of cooked, rough pumpkin that we started but never finished, that I will have to do later. I still have 16 ripe pumpkins to do at some point, plus a slew of green ones...But we must have processed at least thirty of them!! Only one major incident, Annette my sis-in-law, did cut her finger while hefting down on the chunk of pumpkin, when it slipped. We did have to rush her to the ER. She did have to get three stitches--it was a pretty bad cut. But we came back and finished up without too much problem.
I have a filthy kitchen, 18 or so jars of canned pumpkin, probably 10 jars worth to still do, and tommorrow's Sunday.
Did I mention we have a demoninational association meeting tommorrow, after church??
Can I stop moving now??
Whimper.....
Good night!!
ps my husband's doing an overnight shift, tonight....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Like Our Dishes

The one thing that occurred to me the other day, is that as a mother, I am the doer-of-all-work in my home. I am the laundress, the bed-maker, the dish-washer, the rinse-the-cloth-diaper-out-in-the-toileter. As I was washing dishes the other day, after I posted the one about sin, it occurred to me that perhaps our sin is like our dirty dishes. You see, when those dishes were on the store shelf,or at the yard sale, I had no responsibility to clean them. It wasn't until I purchased them and brought them home and began to use them that the responsibility to wash them became mine. I think, in some way, we are like that with God. Our step of salvation is the purchase of us, and after that purchase, it is now God's responsibility to wash us clean. And like the dishes that are used every day, He must clean us over and over and over. After all, we are called vessels, right?? A vessel that sits on a shelf and never used, hasn't much purpose, correct?? However, the ones that are used a lot, need constant washing, drying and putting away, only to be pulled out when a need arises. The dirtying of my dishes doesn't make them any less mine, in fact, because they are in a way dependent on me for cleaning, it makes them more mine. But the dirtiness on a plate doesn't render it ineffective, it simply needs to be taken up by the master dish washer to be made ready for service again!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How Does Sin Affect Us?

One of the things I have been pondering lately is how sin affects us after we are new creations. Let me see if I can clarify my question. Before we repent, and are saved through Christ's atonement, sin is the barrier that holds us away from God. Our sin puts us on one side of the chasm and God on the other. After we cross that chasm through faith and repentance, we do still sin, don't we? And yet our sin doesn't put us back on the other side of the chasm, does it?? What would be the point of salvation, then? So what effect does our sin have after we are saved? I know the Scriptures indicate that sin can still cause a breach of relationship with God in the life of a believer, but I understand it to be a much lesser breach than the pre-salvation breach. Any thoughts??

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What We Have Been Up To

Hello everyone. No, nothing is wrong, just tired. I haven't had a chance to sit down and post for days, it feels like. The whole fam is down a little with colds and sniffles, including me. My ears are muffly, and my nose is stuffed/runny(i always wondered how it can be both???). My upper chest feels thick and weezy, and sleeping is difficult.
However, we have not time off. We are still busy as ever!! Monday, my parents came for dinner and my dear mother stayed over to watch the boys while I went to a church meeting. Tuesday, I took mom home early in the morning. Wednesday, we had church to get ready for in the evening. Thursday we had MOPS, plus an errand or two. Tomorrow, I have a friend coming over to spend an hour, and I am going to do some mending for her. Whewwww! Did I mention that my dear husband is doing an overnight shift tonight for some extra hours?? He'll need to sleep in the morning...
Let's see, I have projects coming out my ears. My cousin Michelle(hi meesh!)sent four huge bags of fabric to me through my mommy when they were out in Jersey this past week. In amongst that fabric was three beautiful yards of linen. Not a linen blend, but real linen. It's a heavy, wonderful quality. I have been cutting and hemming them into dishtowels. There is nothing better than heavy linen for fuzzless dishtowels. I was thinking about doing a little give-away here on the blog, for anyone who might like one of these beauties. I just hafta think of a good way to narrow it down--you know some good question, or poll or something....for all six of my followers...
I experimented with a new way of cooking up a couple pumpkins tonight. I steamed them on the rack in my steam canner. Worked like a charm!! Steamed two in half an hour!! Just have to drain the water off, so I can can it solid pack. Some fam is coming on the weekend of the tenth to help me process all the pumpkin!!
There have been some new developments I am not looking forward to, however. My hubby works for a residential treatment facility that is funded (at least in part) by state and federal money(as well as local and private). Well, since the budget isn't done yet in those areas of government, his company is scrambling for funds. Things have been very tight around here, and as much as I would hate to see it go, the internet may have to be allowed to go. We have to finish our contract for one year, but when it's up, it may have to be up for awhile. I don't know, right now, but in our rural area, there isn't any competition, so prices are high (I think). It could save us $30-40/month, and right now, every little bit helps. The budget has been a little bit squeezy, lately, and I think it's back to the scrimp and pinch mode for a while.
So, I will let you all know what's happening before we just disappear. Becaue this means we will not be able to check our email or anything, unless we go to a library. We have to do what we must, however.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It has taken five years

I have been a mother now for a little over five years. I am mother to one baby in heaven, that I will meet one day. We lost her(don't really know), when she was ten weeks in the womb. Quietly sleeping in their beds are Nathan-5, Timothy-almost 4, and Keith-16mos.
You know it has taken all of these five years for me to really like being a mom? I always grew up thinking that I wanted to be a mom, to be a stay-at-home mother who did all the homekeeping. Up until recently I have inwardly rebelled at the sacrifice of being a mom. When my oldest ones were teeny, I struggled with bitterness at the cost of being a mom. Perhaps part of what happens to us as moms is that we are softened. Instead of being the young know-it-all in our twenties, we grow into the thirty-something and forty-something know-it-not. As children and life experiences change us and challenge us, hurt us, confuse us, love us, we let go of our little pet theories and learn to love. We learn to love our children as they are, we learn to love our husbands as they are, we learn to love God whether we see Him or not, we learn to love and accept ourselves exactly as He made us.
Instead of straining after what I am not doing, (like back then), I am content to watch my baby sleep, to snuggle my older ones and dance with them (they still want to!) I am happier cleaning up the messy kitchen than I used to be, I am more contented to be home than away. I am happier singing Jesus Loves Me and Amazin' Grace with my little ones then to be earning a six-figure salary.
When I am old, and my children and grandchildren and perhaps great-grandchildren are around me, loving me, caring for me, I will be happy that I took time out of my life to love them and care for them, and teach them the importance of loving and caring for others. In the light of old age, no longer does the career life have any appeal. When I am an old woman, I will want faces I love surrounding me, not possessions and bank accounts. When I am an old woman, I will then know, more than ever, the value of the work I have done, though I may not have earned a cent.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Project I have Been Working on


A lady in our church who has been suffering from serious health problems for some time is going to be moving soon. She will be moving to Maryland to be near her daughter, and hence will be leaving our congregation. This Sunday is our monthly potluck dinner after service and she will be there as a going away. I suggest making a quilt for her that everyone can sign and here it is.

We Have Been Contemplating

My husband and I had a wonderful talk last night on our way home from Bible Study. It covered so many things, I can't hardly break it down enough to share it with you.
The two of us have been very frustrated with our walk's with Christ lately. We both have been contemplating the nature of God, how He is manifest in our lives, what, concerning our sanctification is ours to do and what is His to do, if we really, deep down, don't hold to an unbiblical pragmatic view of life and faith (ie it's only true if it works), and on and on.
We both read a book last week called Blessed Child by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright that gave us some food for thought. It is a novel, but full of quite deep theology. Anyway, it is about a ten-year-old child who was raised in a monastery whose life is in danger, and about the flight for his life, and the people who are to keep him safe. He was raised and thoroughly discipled by a monk in this monastery, and was taught to see and understand the kingdom of God in a very tangible way.
Anyway, as we were talking about our individual walks and questions and struggles, we both have felt that we (us plus most of Christian America) do too much compartmentalizing of our faith. When I say this, I mean we put it in a box too much. It doesn't seem to have a place in the minute by minute living. That the life in the kingdom that that book illustrated showed how this boy (and eventually others) lived knowingly in this world and the Kingdom of God simultaneously.
The questions I began to ask my husband were things like, "What does living in the kingdom look like when I am trying to get dinner ready with three screaming children hanging on me??" Or "What does kingdom living look like when the boys are ready to scratch each other's eyes out, they are so mad at each other?" Or "What does kingdom living look like when one of my children prays of his own accord for a boo-boo to be healed, only to look at it still there, not understanding why it is still there and waiting for an explanation from me as to why??"
I am so tired of trying to apply Scripture and Biblical understanding like you would a bandaid to life's day to day difficulties. I'm tired of praying for healing of individuals only to watch them deteriorate and die, or perhaps heal, but no differently than if they simply healed naturally, through many weeks of pain and struggle.
I'm tired of this life that is supposed to be abundant and victorious, and yet I have a feeling that part of the reason is because this life is the tip of the iceberg of what following Christ is supposed to be, and I haven't discovered it yet. I'm wondering if the Lord isn't beginning to give me the desire for Him. The desire that I know I am supposed to have, but could never quite muster it up on my own?? The desire that is like digging potatoes(see previous post).
He is beginning to show me about life and love, and what it's all about, and the part that I see is only on the surface. Hmmm. More later.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Only have a few minutes...

I thought I would sit down and post a little bit before I have to get supper on to cook. Dear husband will be going on home duty this evening while I go shopping for groceries. Earlier in the day, the kids and I ran around and did our incidental shopping for bulk stuff and odds and ends that we get elsewhere.
Speaking of shopping, I would like to find out what ya'll spend on groceries. There are times when our food budget just doesn't seem to stretch, and I wonder if it's because I am simply not budgeting enough. We are a family of five and I budget on average, about $85/week. THat includes things like tp and shampoo. Lemme know!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Anyone Want a Pumpkin??




So, something happened last night. It starts with the letter "f". When I woke up this morning, our thermometer said 32*. It froze last night. EWWWW!
So anyway, as a result, my children and I spent most of the day at the garden gathering the summers last produce. We pulled the rest of the carrots, picked all the pumpkins(minus a few teeny ones), found three cukes, pulled three small green peppers, and pulled a couple of stray onions, lost in the tangle. Let me tell you... We have about 30 pumpkins!! All sizes from a 20 poumder, to tiny gourd-sized ones. Most of them are standard pie-pumpkins, great for actually cooking up for pie, muffins, and so on. Problem is, I don't have that many recipes for pumpkin that I could use that much of!! Anyone have a recipe for pumpkin soup?? Or other baking ideas?? I thought a creamy pumpkin soup with sour cream and such might be good? I don't want to bake so much that i end up shaped like a pumpkin...
Anyway, if you live close enough and would like a pumpkin, how about you leave a comment on this post. I will contact you and we can set up how to get one to you.
bye for now

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time for the Switch

Two days ago, we retrieved the winter clothing out of storage, and have spent the last two days sorting it and repacking all our summer things. This is one way the Lord has provided for our needs--the free clothing everyone seems to give us!! Our three boys have sooo many clothes. And right now, I think I have purchased underwear, socks, and a few pairs of pants, in the last year. Everything else has been just given to us. Now at times I get irritated at the storage containers that have to be hauled out and repacked for each season, but that is a whole lot better than haulin' out my wallet to purchase clothes every time I turn around.
When I do have to buy clothes for my children (except underwear), I mostly shop used. There is a thrift store just a few miles away that carries a lot of stuff!! Just today, we were there to get some things for myself and hubby,(I still have baby weight, and hubby wears his pants out so fast..). I purchased three pairs of men's pants, three skirts, two pairs of women's pants, and six or eight shirts for twelve dollars!! I also purchased some sheet fabric there awhile ago in nice colors with the purpose of making myself some skirts for around the house. I only have one made...Oh well, soon it will get dark at 4:30 and I'll need something to do...
Let's see, I am also working on the last of the harvest for the season. We dug potatoes, got a bushel and a half, we still have all our pumpkins in the field, though we picked some mystery squashes, cause the vine was rotting. We also stopped by our local produce market and picked up a bushel of peaches to can and freeze. Made 10 jars of jam, and so far, six bags of frozen. Still have half-a-bushel to go. I just remembered that I have MOPS tommorrow morning. So much for getting caught up tommorrow...Suddenly, I have the immediate desire to go and be busy...love ya'll!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Bounty, and then Some





Not much to say, just some pix of the daily goings-on of our family. Garden produce, gluten-free blueberry muffins, etc. Enjoy!!

Our Desires,Not Intentions

If you look in my book list, the most recent one I have read is Blessed Child, by Ted Dekker. Great Read!! A little thriller, a little romance, a lot of Jesus, a lot of politics, a lot of action!!
This isn't a book critique, so I'll work on getting to my point in mentioning it. There is a quote in the book during a dialogue part about seeking the kingdom of God. Paraphrased, it says that it is the desire that leads to the seeking that will result in finding the Kingdom of God, not our intentions.
I was pondering that while I dug my potatoes today in our garden. I was really getting into digging them, let me tell you!! I had my sandals off, and was just reveling in the dirt and every time I found a cache of potatoes, I was just inspired to dig and find more! Sometimes I would find a couple, and then nothing. However, I found that if I kept on digging, I would frequently find more. I had to search in all directions, I had to dig down deeper often, sometimes I even had a rock or a root to contend with, but let me tell you, I wanted those potatoes!!
I desired those potatoes--enough to push through whatever was in my way. It was the desire for the potatoes that urged me on, that didn't let me rest in finding ways to get to them.
You can probably see where this is going. If my intentions were to dig potatoes, I could encounter a hard one and say, "Eh, who cares, I am digging potatoes--who cares if I miss a few?" And move on, not realizing that the motherload may lie right underneath.
Is our life with God lived out the same way?? Our intentions are to seek God. So we do a little Bible study, we attend a seminar, we spend some time praying. But watch out!! Encounter the rocks and roots of a time crunch, a medical problem, an inconvenient parking space, an untimely death, and wham--doubts, questions, weariness, and so on seem to choke out our intentions. However, if our desire is for more of Christ himself, what will keep us away from Him?? If we desire Him in a way a thousand times more intensely than my desire for potatoes, we will push through all rocks and roots of life to find him, won't we?

Monday, September 14, 2009

On a Practical Note

I have been catching up on laundry today. My usual Monday routine. We also have cleaned the house, mowed the grass, organized our produce, switched summer clothes for winter ones, and the list goes on. My poor husband is suffering through his usual round of dusty clothes misery(ahh-chooo!).
A practical laundry tip for anyone who suffers from greasy-head stains on their pillow cases, (that seems to be there even if you change the cases every week!), is ammonia. I have a dear husband who tends to have an oily scalp, so his pillowcases need some extra TLC. This is just like my father, whose cases have been stained for years. Anyway, you know, that yellow haze that lingers where your head goes? And has that scalp smell you just can't get out?? Go buy a one dollar bottle of clear ammonia. Do all the laundry that has sweat-type stains--undershirts, pillowcases, even sheets, where the edge where you grab with your hands tends to get icky. I frequently do a load of whites with ammonia instead of bleach. You see, ammonia is a grease cutter, and bleach is not. Now after you dissolve all that head oil out of the fabric, bleach can do a wonderful job of whitening things up!!(A half cup of borax will help the ammonia along, if your water is hard)
Let's see, tommorrow we intend to go and dig potatoes, as long as it doesn't rain. We'll see how well they have done. We also have carrots, pumpkins, and a last skimming of bean plants. We also intend on doing some looking for a produce stand that carries bulk peaches so we can freeze some, and make some peach marmalade. I have decided that I need add a new category to my budget. I need to start tucking away a little through the winter months so that in the summer when produce is ripe I have some funds to buy bulk without it breaking the budget now. Note to self:start new page in saving ledger...Speaking of which, I need to go over the budget, so we can do our banking tommorrow.
love ya'll!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thoughts Concerning Church

After having been exposed to the family integrated church concept, I have decided(with hubby's support) to bring my children with me into services. I have been doing so now for over six months. I struggle, as the wife of a pastor, to keep my young ones under control for the hour of the service. They are 5, 4, and 1. The older two get bored and the baby either squirms or screams after a bit. I have tried to bring a few quiet toys and paper and pencil, and such with me into service, but it only serves to distract for a little while. I want my children to love church, to look forward to going to church, and I hate having to be stern and disapproving all the time at church, just to keep them in line. Don't get me wrong, I think our boys are fairly obedient, but we did send them to jr. church the first 18 months of going to this church, and now I think, we are reaping the consequences. I have to hold the baby on my lap, which means my ability to hold either of the other two is limited. The older boys cannot touch the floor when sitting on the pew, and therefore, their legs get tired. I was given the idea of sitting down with the children at home and listen to preaching tapes and practice sitting there quietly for a slot of minutes at a time. I want to do this, but it is on my never ending list that never quite makes it in. Any suggestions?
I'll post the thoughts on why this is important next time.

The Dilemma of the Homemaker

This is a dilemma that has baffled me ever since I started having children. Has anyone else struggled with the "time with the Lord is a privilege". And as with other privileges it is to be reserved for times when the daily grind is done? After all, what do we tell our children? "No movie til toys are picked up" or "I can't give you dessert unless you do the work of cleaning your plate". It's sooo easy to think of God as the reward at the end of the day if we get our "to do" lists completed. The problem is, and a way Satan uses to discourage us, is when we get behind on everything that needs to be done, we wake up and go to bed behind on the list!! And this could go on for days!! Every day, hoping to catch up sufficiently enough to devote a half an hour, or *gasp* an hour to worshipping the Lord and reading His Word. But the chore list is endless, our energy wanes, the piles of laundry, dishes (that you have already washed once), and toys seem to increase not decrease!! Perhaps we should all try an experiment. This week, let's all put God first. Let's let the dishes sit in the sink (heaven knows they've already sat--another half hour won't hurt 'em!), sit down on the floor with your Bible, and the children playing nearby and read. And then get the children together and sing some songs to the Lord together. A great children's worship tape, I think, is Kids of the Kingdom, with Annie Herring. Let's do this first thing every day for a week and see how our workload goes. Are you with me??

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I NEED to win Charlie's Soap!!





There is a give-away at one of my favorite sites--www.inashoe.com, for Charlie's soap. I have heard of it before, and that it is really great for cloth diapers, which we use. My baby, however, has had miserable diaper rash for over two months now that we can't get rid of. Quite literally little blisters, that get infected, and we have tried everything we can think of to help the little man!! Charlie's Soap could do it!! So, hence, I need to win!! THis soap is supposed to be great for hardish water, and completely non-residue. I have heard people ranting and raving about it!!! For people with skin problems, and such and other allergies, it is supposed to be great. As my boys would say "Hip, hip, horray!! Hip, hip, horray!! For Charlies' Soap!!
And Charlie's Soap is soo versatile, here are some other things I thought I would try cleaning with it!!(Well, maybye not the boy, and the carrots...)Check out his soap at www.charliesoap.com.

What a Busy Day!

I feel like that has titled a lot of my postings lately. Let's see, made french toast for breakfast,(or french "toes", as we tell it to our boys--only to hear them scream...and giggle). Then me and the boys went on an adventure this morning to a place we'd never been. We wended our way to an out-of-the way hardware/construction store in search of masonite or tempered hardboard to make homemade chalkboard for school. We purchased a four by eight foot sheet and had them cut it so we could get it home. Then we stopped by a natural food store that didn't look like much from the outside, but boy was it huge!! Literally out in the middle of nowhere!! And it was extremely clean and orderly and had a huge amount of stuff!! Glad to find way out here in the middle of nothing. The nearest one i knew of is in Wellsboro and that is forty-five minutes away. This one was maybe a half hour away. Let's see, after that we stopped at the Amish store for butter, as it's cheaper there. Then we got home and proceeded to work on painting our chalkboards, and I put on like three coats! Then I worked on sorting and braiding our onions into hanks. I got seven big hanks plus some that need to be used right away or they will rot, etc. I also got a half-bushel of short stem ones that can't be braided. So I will probably chop and can the onions that are questionable--after all you can buy canned pearl onions, right?? Besides, I want to use my new canner!!! Then we came in to get ready for bed, and I looked at my boys, and they were filthy. So, into the tub they went...
Now I am doing a quick post while my baby hangs on me, ready for bed.
Good Night!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our Nasal Passages Runneth Over...




Strange sounding title, eh? Well, we harvested onions out of our garden today and I thought I would put some pix of the bounty God has blessed us with. The bucket actually has potatoes underneath the carrots. It has been such a wet summer, though, that I hope the onions don't all rot. So far, we have the rest of the carrots to take in, which should yield about half a bushel, almost all the potatoes to dig up, which I am expecting at least two bushels of those, and about 25 pie pumpkins that are all about half ripe.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Favorite Stones


Here is a group of four. You can kinda get an idea of what I am trying to do.

My favorite one


In my desire to earn a little money, I am been working on producing these pretty little stones to sell as jewelry pendants. I just thought I would post a few that are my favorites. I had both shells and stones. Most of them are from Camp Judson on Lake Erie. Aren't they lovely??

Daily Happenings


First off, we purchased a new pressure canner last week that I am so excited about!! I have never had my own. Always borrowed my mom's before. So here it is.
On a different note, I have been so into my calling right now. Being homemaker is a beautiful thing right now. My baby is a little less needy, my older two are discovering the world around them, and learning to read. I am really into thinking about how to best teach and disciple them each day. What's most important in their character development and how to instill it.
I am enjoying the challenge of making do on our tight budget, continuing to learn to cook and bake gluten-free with more successes than failures. It is a wonderful gift of God that we have wonderful seasons of interest, purpose, some degree of success and more!! I just want to revel in all aspects of being mother and wife and homemaker!! Get into life with my children and plan and arrange and organize and learn and, and, and yes!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Biscuits, not from Biscquick!!


I just learned a new feature on my blog!! I have been tring to figure out how to add in a picture with text. The picture feature makes the picture huge!! I just figured out how to add a picture into the text...ahhh
Anyway, I have a recipe for making gluten-free biscuits out of cornstarch. Aren't these beautiful?? We dined on turkey-sausage gravy and biscuits this morning for breakfast. I was quite pleased with how these came out.

How to teach diligence

I have really wondered, at times, how to teach diligence to my children. I have three boys ages 5, 4, 14mos. I would really like to begin teaching them about diligence now, but I get frustrated with myself and what seems like a lack of diligence on my part. I think about what people say concerning raising children--you know the more is caught than taught?? Well if that is true, then all I can see is the fact that I oftentimes do cut corners because I have so many corners to keep clean. I get frustrated with the example I set to my children because I feel like I am not diligent with every task. The problem is, there is no way I could be diligent (perfect) in every task I do. I wouldn't get everything done sufficiently. I would have 50% of the needed work complete and the rest would be completely undone. Do you see my dilemma? So how does a busy mother attempt to teach something that she struggles with herself?? Perhaps I should look up the word diligent, to get a specific definition. 'Cause, you know, perhaps what could make the difference is a phrase like "given certain circumstances". I just hope I can make my children see that I am diligent over the whole host of my sphere, and that what is perceived as cutting corners is for the purpose of getting it all pretty much done, so there aren't any glaring problems in the home.

Monday, August 31, 2009

How I have spent the last Week

We have been on "vacation" this last week at my dad-in-law's house. My bro-in-law is here with his family and two of his youth group members. Earlier in the week there was my sis-in-law, her hubby, and their foster daughter. So it's been a busy, yet relaxing week. We went hiking one day to Rickett's Glen, a waterfall hike near Muncy, PA. Beautiful!! However, it was hard to hike in the pouring down rain. We went one-quarter of the way down the gorge and then back up.
We have cooked over the campfire several times, which has been fun. And have cooked a couple big breakfasts which were good!!
Let's see, I worked on the stones for my business--must have near thirty of them done!! I have read a few books, and done a lot of swimming (d-i-l has a pool). Played with my boys, tooks some naps, used disposables instead of cloth diapers, and now I'll tell you the best part of the "vacation"--learning how to split wood.
HUH?? I am sure you all think I am nuts. But really, my b-i-l was splitting firewood for my d-i-l and I asked if I could help. So Jon showed me how to use the maul, and I've split wood three different times over the last few days. Today I did nearly the whole pile (minus three logs) by myself. Jon (b-i-l) has this weird splitting maul that is a six or eight inch long wedge, but it is just a triangle. I guess it's really old, and they have never found another one like it, but it is about 12 lbs. I would guess, and does the best job of splitting even the biggest logs! I have been surprisingly not sore, and as a SAHM of three children, I don't get to exert myself very often. It felt GOOD!! I will post photos tomorrow if I can get out and do some more. Who woulda thought?

Clarification On Welfare Post

I would like to clarify something about that post. I am in no way trying to slam or criticize those individuals who have occasionally used gov't asistance like food stamps or WIC when there is a lay-off of a job or something. Heaven knows my own parents did that when we moved and they couldn't find jobs that paid well enough to cover our meager expenses (we were a frugal family). My husband and I did that a few years ago when the babies were small (WIC), and things very tight. However, I am talking about a very temporary circumstance that isn't long term, and in no way attmepts to take unfair advantage of the assistance provided. In my parents and in our own situations, we were on a budget, accrued no debt that we could avoid, paid our bills faithfully, tithed, even in the worst of times, and sought to be as frugal as possible in our lifestyle choices (food, clothes etc).
My concern is for the individuals who seem to be wasteful in their habits, undisciplined, those just begging for govt assistance with no strings attached!
Give me your thoughts please.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rox? Roks? Rocks? Rawks? Rahks? Rocs?

So I have a sidebar that mentions the business idea I have been trying to get into gear. I finally gathered all the necessary tools, and have started production. Since I have finally figured out how to post photos on the internet, I will post pictures as soon as I finish them. I think however, since I don't know if home businesses are allowed to post on blogs, as in ordering through a blog, I will direct anyone who wishes to place an order to email me at my regular email, claybyfaith@yahoo.com. They are shaping up nicely!! Should be some pretty stones out soon!! By the way, what's the favorite spelling??

Monday, August 24, 2009

Berries Galore!!


I will put on pictures of the blackberries that I picked in Kane yesterday as soon as I figure out how to do so with the digital camera my mom is letting me borrow. Hubby and I picked 7 and 1/2 quarts yesterday!! Beautiful day to pick too. Not rainy, just parly cloudy and not overly hot or humid. That gives me 11 quarts frozen, and fourteen jars of jelly. WOOHOOO!!

How do Christians Respond to Welfare Families?

I have a load I would like to get off my chest. How do Christians respond to families that live wholly off of welfare?? Parents who don't lead their children or teach them,families who live slovenly, and whose personal choices and habits only contribute to their problems, and those who thinks that the government should come in and pay for everything?
How does a Christian respond to this kind of family?? Are we kind and loving only?? Do we always give to them when they ask and never ask back? Do we ever speak out against entitlements? Knowing full well that by so doing we are in essence saying," I think your livelihood should be removed completely."
I was thinking out loud to my husband one day and it occurred to me that there really all kinds of jobs that even disabled people could do, it just would take some dedicated Christian businessmen to start something like that. But why not? Why shouldn't the Christian community find ways of employing people who would otherwise end up on govt assistance??
Has anyone else thought this one through??

Monday, August 17, 2009

THIS IS THE WAY WE PICK THE BERRIES, PICK THE ...

I am currently blogging from my parent's house in Kane, as we are here once again, making the most of the berry season, by picking furiously. I managed to pick enough to make a batch of jelly, plus three quarts to freeze. If the weather holds, we may come again next week, as the blackberries are NOT done yet--still a lot of green ones and red ones. Hats off and thanks to my dear mother who has sweetly been watching children for me while I go and pick, as children under five really shouldn't be wading into blackberry thickets to help...These are wild, scrubby, buggy, overgrown thickets that are treacherous underfoot, but loaded with the most beautiful berries!! Fat, juicy, as big as my thumb! Thanks to my dad who went with me this morning to pick, and to my friend Melody who went with me this evening.
Blackberry pie, here I come!!

This was soo neat.

If anyone has not heard of the Waller family, you need to. They are a missionary family to Israel with nine children. Their oldest boy, Brayden, recently got married and they followed a courtship/arranged marriage pattern. They were betrothed and then separated until he came to get her, and complete the marriage ceremony, much like Jewish weddings, all meant to symbolize the coming of the Messiah to claim us His bride!! They are working on a documentary of their wedding and it looks soo neat...To see more of this family go to www.hayovel.com and look on the children's page for wedding details. Very cool idea!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Busy-ness Continues...

The month of August has just been super-busy so far, and it doesn't look like it is going to slow down any. This weekend is to be my husband's first wedding that he will be officiating at as a minister. My dear mother is here tonight, and will be staying through Sunday, so she can care for our boys so that hubby and I can attend the festivities freely. Not that we don't love taking our children, but with Chara officiating, it would make things simpler to go without them. So, he is off for the next two days and we will have several hours together and without the boys...ahhhhh....the silence...the clean clothes....ahhhhh...I LOVE my children with a passion. But it is lovely when the Lord provides some opportunities for rest and time with a beloved spouse.
Anyway, next weekend, I plan to go berry picking back home in Kane where I grew up and know all the best wild berry spots!!
Somewhere in all this mess is our anniversary(happy one to us!), then we have an outreach in the town where we pastor during Old Home Week (local town fair). There are several things going on that week that we will need to be apart of. Then, we have a week of "vacation" camping at hubby's dad's place with brother Jon and his family, so that will be good, but busy. Then it's September!! And we will need to start focusing on homeschooling again!!!
Whewwwwww!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Busy Day!!

So today was blueberry picking day for us!! My sis-in-law came up and we went picking out to a place near Wellsboro,PA. Really cheap!! We picked 43 quarts total. I took 23 and she took 20(I have the bigger family). The day in a nutshell? Really soggy ground, really muddy feet, lots and lots of berries, REALLY bad sunburn (on me), three dirty boys--will the fun never end??
Now the next thing we need to get done is garden work. I am sure I have green beans that need picking, and lots of weeds that need hoeing, etc.etc. Things are growing well, but we have had sooo much rain, I am afraid things will rot in the ground soon.
I also made yummy gluten-free cookies yesterday. Something like a brownie, but not quite...mmmmm
All for now--love ya'll!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Natural Ways to De-Stink!!

I have been, over the last year, trying to find ways of removing BO without using aluminum-based antiperspirants. You see, I have a theory that has no basis in science, it is just my own thoughts--but I wonder if the increase in Autism and related disorders could be linked to aluminum and breast feeding. More women are breastfeeding now than thirty years ago, and the rates of autism is on the rise. Everyone know how bad aluminum is for you--so why not? Anyhow, I have been avoiding using it except once in awhile, when I wanted to be sure to be stink-free(like a funeral...).
Anyway, has anyone (out of all you millions out there) ever found a concoction that works well? So far I have tried using mineral salts that you wet and rub under your arm, I have tried a homemade powder of cornstarch, baking soda, and tea tree oil, and also straight tea tree oil, dabbed on a wash cloth. My father-in-law suggested using colloidal silver. I have also checked out ones at the natural food store nearby. I have also taken to washing underarms every day with anti-bacterial soap, which seems to help.
I figure, you know, God made our sweat glands for a purpose, and if they are blocked and kept from allowing wastes to flow out in our sweat, then all that mess is locked inside, where it could do more damage.
I don't know, perhaps I just have more and worse-smelling sweat than most people, but it seems that most home remedies only work about 6 hours before I notice odor,and either stay home so no one smells me, or rewash and reapply!!
Also, I noticed it worse when the weather warmed up and I started weeding the garden twice a week!!