Sunday, December 26, 2010

Carrots for Christmas

Not like this:
Like this:


I want my kids to be motivated to finish their school work and do their chores.  But I don't want to pay them for every little thing, let them watch oodles of TV or play hours of video games in exchange.  So for Christmas I bought some carrots (in the form of board and card games) for my little donkeys. 

So far we've played these games: Loot, Sleeping Queens, Rat-A-Tat-Cat, Haba Animal Upon Animal Stacking Game, Wig Out!, and Too Many Monkeys.  All winners!  The only one that the kids were kind of meh about was Monza - by HABA.  My plan is to promise them 30 minutes of game time after each school day, when all chores are done.  (And some of the games will hone their math and reading skills - shhhh!)

So what are your favorite family games?  We have a few more new ones (thanks Grandpa Bill/Grandma Cindy and Grandma Jean/Grandpa Warren!) to try, but we love hearing about new ones.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Part two

So I was mulling around about my last post as I tried to sleep last night (Philip had taken the five older kids on a camp out, so it was just me and Leah around here.  And I never sleep well when Philip is gone).  And I realized that the dancing lady at church doesn't have a testimony any more dramatic than my own.

Maybe in the world's eyes her deliverance seems more profound, but in truth, we are all miraculously ransomed back from Hell if we have chosen to become His disciple.

She just "gets it" more than most of us do.  Because we have deluded ourselves.  We have created a man-made hierarchy of sin that allows us to say one person's hellhole was worse than another.  That one of us more desperately needed God than the other.

But the fact is, we were all depraved.  We were enemies of God.  Apart from His hand of redemption, there is no good thing in us.

I'm reading an interesting book: Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.  I'm only a few chapters in (I've heard that it becomes more controversial later, so I can't endorse the whole thing yet), but I wholeheartedly agree with his depiction of our condition before God and his indictment of American Christianity.  He writes, "You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less cause yourself to come to life."

We want a self-help Christianity.  We want salvation on our terms.  I've heard so many altar calls that shill Jesus as "the man with the answers who can make your life better."  But that is NOT Biblical.  The Bible says that we can expect persecution as we follow Christ, and that being refined and made into the image of the Son can be painful.  The Word says that anyone who is considering following Him must count the cost (all that you are/have) before making the decision.

But we have cooked up a milquetoast Jesus and a watered down Gospel.  Walk into any Christian book store and you will see smiling "evangelists" on book covers declaring how Jesus has a great plan for you, and that if you just follow 8 easy steps your life and afterlife will be hunky dory.

I'm not denying that He has an amazing plan for each of us.  I am floored when I realize that God created me, amongst the billions on this planet, and prepared a destiny for me. 

But that is not the meat of the Gospel.  That is the icing on the cake.  The truly amazing thing is that while I was dead in my sin, He rescued me.  He came down and bore the just wrath of the Father for my sin before I even took my first breath. 

And that's what the dancing lady at my church realizes.  Her eyes are clearly open to her own sin and the extravagant grace that has been poured out upon her.  I pray my eyes can be just as open.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Undignified

So there's a lady at my church that I'm always a little bit embarrassed for.

She's a little too loud.  And a little too flamboyant.  And dresses a little too young for her age.  And she praises a little off key and "amen"s a little too often and dances a little crazy.

And I always kind of wanted to shush her.

Until I heard her story.

How she was deeply addicted to drugs.  And sold her body to buy them.  And was estranged from her children.  And how she nearly died in her pit.

Until she was amazingly, completely, totally delivered by God.  How He drew her from the miry clay and set her feet upon a rock.

And I felt like Michal.  Who was ashamed of David when he danced before the Lord as they returned the Ark to Jerusalem.  And was barren.

And I repented and asked God to forgive me and not let me be barren in spirit because I was ashamed of someone else's joy and abandon before the Lord.  

Hopefully I've learned my lesson, but I know that tendency is always there.  To be critical of others because I am secretly jealous.  Because I wish I could be that free in worship.  I wish I could dance and not be concerned about what those around me think.  But I always hold back.

Maybe when I'm old and gray I'll feel free to be the crazy lady who sings too loud because she knows the pit her Savior has drawn her from.  But I really hope that day comes much sooner.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How did I not know about these things?

So, I hate to shop.  Really.

Philip will say, "Let's go to the mall."

And I'm all, "Why?  What do we need to buy there?"

And he's like, "Nothing, I just want to look around."

"AAARRRGGGHHH!" 

Seriously.  Hate.  Shopping.

So I do most of mine online.  It allows me to combine two things I love: sitting on my butt and getting mail.

Well, apparently I've been missing out.  My sister Emily told me yesterday about ebates.com.  I could have been earning a quarterly rebate check for the things I buy anyway.

So, if you, like me, have been missing out on this cold, hard cash, just follow this link and sign up.  It's wicked easy.  Just go to the site and pick your store when you are ready to shop online.  Shop like you normally do.  Then get a check in the mail 4 times per year. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Another site I really like is Mamapedia.  They have national daily deal and specific deals for your part of the country.  Today I scored a 2 yr subscription to Family Fun magazine for only $10.  Sweet gig, no?

More real blogging to follow when the kids are in bed, but I didn't know about this and wanted to save y'all some bucks!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Success

We live in a strange world with skewed priorities.

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day about our hopes and dreams for our kids.  She was telling me how she hoped her children did well in school, went to good colleges, got great jobs and were happy.  Which all sounds great.  I mean, what kind of mom wouldn't want those things for her kids?  We all want our kids to be happy and successful, right?

Except I wonder what gauge we are using to measure success - the world's or our Father's?  Because I never see good grades as a prerequisite for godliness.  I've never read that making money or getting an education are things we are called to.  There is nothing wrong with getting a college education, to be sure.  But are we insisting on measuring our children against the world's yardstick when we elevate book learning?

One hundred years ago a man could be a success without knowing much more than reading and writing.  He could farm the land, love his kids and wife and serve his God and be considered a success.  Because character and reputation were more important than money or knowledge (the Good Book says knowledge puffs up, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom).

But now we have added requirements for success.  Standards that only suit a certain type of child, but are applied across the board.

I have one daughter who will be successful on the world's terms.  Susannah loves to read, loves to write and loves to study.  She's friendly and outgoing and easy.

And I have at least two kids who are quirky.  Reading is not coming easily to them.  They are kind and sweet and wildly creative.  Nate loves stories and knows far more about history than most boys his age.  Abigail is constantly making some new craft or invention to brighten our lives.

And I am saddened to know that if I hold them to the world's standards of success, they may fail to measure up.  They may never have the 4.0 GPA.

But I can hold them to the Father's standards.  I can teach them to follow Him wholeheartedly.  To love people with His love and serve others.  I can teach them to measure their success by their relationship to their Maker instead of on the false scales of academic achievement.

And if I can do that, I will have succeeded.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Make-it Monday: Sausage, beans and rice

I made the most delicious meal tonight.  Of course, my kids turned their noses up at it and told me it looked like snail slime.  But hey, more for me!


Sausage, beans and rice

1 lb pork sausage (I used Whole Foods brand garlic and cracked pepper sausage)
2 cans kidney beans (red or white)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups brown rice (I like brown jasmine)
4 cups water
1 tsp salt

Cut sausage into bite sized pieces. Brown in pan and drain.

Pour 2 cans beans into colander and rinse well. (This keeps you from being so gassy!). Add to crockpot or baking dish. Mix in chicken broth/stock, onion powder, garlic powder, and sausage. Cook in crockpot on low or oven on 200 for 6 hrs.

Cook brown rice with salt and water - I use a rice cooker as I always seem to burn it on the stove.

Add salt and pepper to the sausage/beans to taste. Spoon over rice and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

This is also delicious with spinach or kale mixed in. 

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

If you don't have anything to say.....


Abigail is a real chatty Cathy.  Last night she was lying on the bed next to me running her mouth nonstop.  All sorts of randomness.  Suddenly she stopped and looked at my quizzically.  "Mama," she said, "I just love to talk.  Sometimes I don't have anything to say.  But I really just love talking."

After laughing my head off (which irritated the crap out of her - she is very sensitive to anyone laughing *at* her), I had a talk with her.  About how even though I love to hear her voice, especially when she sings, I also enjoy quiet.  And when  we are constantly running our lips we cannot hear what others are saying.

Even God.

Because sometimes I am so busy rattling off my laundry list (why it is called a laundry list anyway?  Who actually has a laundry list?) of prayer requests that I don't shut my pie hole and just listen to God.  I love to talk so I miss out on real conversation.  And I wonder why I walk away and I'm not changed.

Maybe I need a dose of my own "shut up for a second" medicine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who am I performing for?

So these past few weeks have been frustrating.  I have so many different people telling me so many different things about how to run my home and teach my children.  Many of my friends have been chiding me about "doing too much" and telling me to take it easy, saying that the kids are fine and I don't need to worry. 

Other friends and family have been telling me that my children are "behind" or "socially awkward" (I won't bother pointing out that we know our oldest is behind due to his dyslexia and are spending loads of time and money to help him.  Nor shall I ascend my soapbox to pontificate ahout how homeschool  is always assumed to be the cause of misbehavior by homeschoolers, but public school is never blamed for social awkwardness in its denizens.) 

Another family member told me that he was concerned that homeschooling seemed to be more about my identity as a homeschooling mom than about what is best for my children.

Last night I was about ready to throw in the towel.   Take the kids down to Glenn Harmon and enroll them today.  Heck, Gabe qualifies for speech preschool 5 days a week, so I could just have the baby for two days a week and just Luke and Leah for 3.  And with all the people on both sides telling me how I am failing, it might be a relief to shove off the responsibility on someone else.  I fantasized about free time to sew, and clean house, and run errands with just a kid or two.

But I'm not ready to do that.  In my heart I know that this is the path God has for our pfamily right now.  Even though it would be easier to take the normal route, it is not what God has chosen for me.  And I have to remind myself of who my audience is. 

It's not my homeschooling friends.  If at some point we decide to pursue other educational pathways for our kids I know some of my friends will think I have missed God's leading and will be disappointed in me.

It's not my friends or family that blame all my kids' issues on homeschooling.  They do not have to answer to God for me.

It's the Lord.  He alone is the One I have to answer to.  The only One whose approval I should crave.

Now, it is wise to consider counsel.  It is always prudent to take criticism to the Lord and ask Him if there is anything valid or applicable in it.  But ultimately, we should be more in tune with His leading and His voice than the voices of the crowd.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

dinner conversation

Luke:  Mama, how did the devil become the devil? (notice the middle finger of grammar)

Me:  Umm.  Well, God created the devil to be His most special angel.  He was beautiful and had an important job leading the angels as they worshipped.  But the devil got jealous of God and said, "Hey!  I don't want to worship You, I want You to worship me!"  And he got some of the other angels to rebel with him. 
And then God said, "No way, Bubba Gump, and He cast the devil out of Heaven."

Nate:  Mom, I think God probably used more holier language than "Bubba Gump."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The baby is glaring at me...

from her swing.  She wants me to pick her up and stare in her sweet little face and listen to her coos. 

But I have to plan our lessons for this week, so her siblings don't grow up to be ignorant morons.  Sigh... freaking priorities.

We had a good trip and I had a lot of time in the car (only 29 hrs, actually) to think.  I have some ideas rumbling around to share with all y'all. 

But right now I must plan for the week and hit the hay.  Hopefully in that order.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Off to see the wizard.

No, not really.  But we are heading out on our trip.  We had originally planned to just go to Tulsa like we do every T-giving.  But dh's grandma is doing poorly, so we are heading to St Louis first. 

I know you are all jealous of me, getting to spend 30+ hrs in the car with 5 small children and a newborn.  You'll just have to live with the pain.

Be back in 6 days - smooch!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Things I Learned from Harry Potter

1. I have a studly husband who watched the kids so I could go see Harry Potter tonight.  Thanks, honey!

2. England is super cool looking and I want to move there, now.  And those accents, ***swoon***.

3. The scene where Ron destroys the locket horcrux is so powerful.  What a vivid picture of our battle with the enemy.  Ron knows he must destroy the horcrux, but a voice speaks from the swirling mist and lies to him.  It tells him that it knows his secrets and plays on them to destroy Ron's confidence.  Ron begins to waver, but Harry shouts that the voice is lying.  Finally Ron charges forward and annihilates the horcrux.

 Isn't this how the enemy works in our own lives?  We know what we must do.  We see the sin that so easily besets us and don't want to be conquered by it.  But the enemy lies to us and we can become entranced and duped by those lies if we don't have the voice of Truth shouting in our ears (be it the Word or friends who speak Truth).  Ultimately though, it is not our friends' job to silence the enemy.   It is ours alone. 

May we all be empowered by the Holy Spirit to destroy the enemy that desires to ensnare us.

4. I also discovered that I am a giant sap since I totally cried when Dobby died.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Numbering our days

I've been following the story of two classmates of mine, Chad and Ryan Arnold, from Oral Roberts University. You can read their story here.

It's a heartbreaking story.  One brother was dying.  His younger brother offered to be a living liver donor (the liver regenerates, so it can be split between the donor and the recipient).  The surgery went well for the receiving brother, but the donor died a few days later. 

As I was scrolling through the comment section I was amazed at some of the terrible things people wrote.  That it was a waste of life, and selfish of the donating brother (he left behind a wife and three small children).

I was shocked.  Because none of us is promised even one more breath.  This life is a vapor, a wisp, and it will be gone for every single one of us before we know it.  Unless we are the generation that takes the Great Commission to all peoples and the Lord returns, we will all taste death.

Ryan Arnold gave his life for his brother.  He did not know he would die, but he knew it was a real risk.  And he chose to act sacrificially.  My death could be meaningless.  I could get hit by a runaway car walking to the mailbox in the morning.  And it would just be a tragic accident.  No one would get a second chance at life.


My point here is not to be maudlin.  It is to say that we would be wise to ask God, like the psalmist, for the wisdom to "number our days aright."  We don't know when "that day" will be for any of us.  But we know it is coming, sure as sunrise follows the night. 

We might not get the chance to witness to that co-worker again.  To hug that child or make that phone call or right that wrong.  To forgive that hurt or take that first step of faith.  So let us all live every day as if it is our last.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sin is costly

So today we were crabby. The kids were wound up and grouchy and I was restless. So we did the only smart thing we could do. We went to the park. Usually the outdoor air and sunshine do us a great deal of good.

I decided to be extra sweet and drive the kids 30 minutes to their absolute favorite park over in Benbrook. We played for an hour or so and everyone was having a great time. It was very windy though, and as the afternoon wore on, it was getting pretty chilly. I was cold and Leah was cold so I gave the kids a warning that we'd be leaving in 10 to 15 minutes.

At which point Abigail had a meltdown. Screaming, crying, flailing on the ground meltdown. I instructed her to get a grip or we would have to leave immediately. She continued to scream and screech at the top of her lungs. I tried to pick her up to calm her down and she began to beat at me with her fists.

So we loaded up the car and left.

All the other kids were mad because they didn't think that Abby's misbehavior should cost them.

But that's the way sin is. My sin doesn't just penalize me. It hurts the people around me too. Everyone in our family pays when one of us chooses to disobey. Maybe it would help me avoid sin if I would decrease the navel-gazing and look around to contemplate how my disobedience may cost the ones I love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Have I told you how much I love my tub?

Well, not mine exactly. I mean, I'm a little big for it.

But I got this baby tub with Gabe and it just rocks.

True, most of the time I just bathe Leah in the tub with me, but she's getting more head control and really loves the water. So I whipped out the washpod today and she was so happy. She was smiling a bunch, but her smiles are brief and hard to capture.



Monday, November 15, 2010

God is a better parent than I am

I lost my wedding ring a while back. (I'm sure it is in the house somewhere, but I just can't seem to find it.) Then I lost my cell phone last week. I was getting really frustrated with my penchant for losing things when a couple of my friends asked if I had prayed and asked the Lord where my ring and phone were.

I smiled and said that I thought God would just like me to get my act together and stop losing things.

Because my daughter Abigail had just lost her glasses (4 days after I bought them for her). And we didn't pray about them. I just got angry and fumed at her.

And I tend to think God parents me like I parent my kids. Like God gets tired of me pestering Him for things I should be responsible for. Like He runs short on patience and wants some "Him" time. Like He gets frustrated teaching me the same lesson over and over and over.

But He is not a parent made in my image.

He is slow to anger, and abounding in patience. He doesn't need alone time. He wants me to come to Him. Often.

I need to sit at His feet and read the Word more. So I can understand what kind of parent He is and be made into His image. Instead of making my faults into His character.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oops!

So I know I promised to blog every day. Well, last night I came home from work, lay down in my room to nurse Leah and fell asleep. But, to be fair, I did blog in my sleep. I'm not kidding! In my dream I wrote the most awesome, epiphany-filled blog entry. But I could not remember for the life of me what it was about when I woke up. Kind of like the time I invented a card game called Margaritaville in my sleep and made a boatload of money. When I woke up I couldn't remember the rules to my super awesome game either. Sigh....

So here is another picture of the World's Cutest Baby to make up for my early napping.

Friday, November 12, 2010

In which I practice great self control in Target

Just a funny story for today.

Yesterday I was at Target with Leah and the older three kids. Leah was riding tummy to tummy in a ring sling. She is obsessed with looking up at the ceiling fans, lights and sparkly faux ornaments at Target. I had my hand behind her head, supporting it, though she has quite a bit of head control already.

Out of nowhere this stranger runs up, grabs my hand and pushes it up, shouting "Oh my goodness, you have to support her head! Is this your first baby?"

I was quiet for a minute and said, "No, she's actually my sixth."

The lady stares at me and says, "Oh, well didn't they teach you that?"

I just glared at her until she walked away.

At which point Nate turns to me and says, "I'm really proud of you, Mommy, for not slapping her. She was an idiot."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

All y'all are so smart!

So, today, per the advice of all you smarty pantses(?) I took a day off. Ish. Well, as much as one can take a day off with kids. We ran errands, bought a dishwasher (yeah!) and chilled out. My dad and stepmom came over tonight and we played games. I may do this a few more times in the next week or so because it was good for my soul.

And now I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Margin

I'm overwhelmed today. The house is a wreck. I have a fever again and my axillary lymph nodes are huge. Mastitis again? Maybe. It seems like as soon as I think I'm getting my mojo back I get sick. Grrr.

I'm beginning to see the wisdom in what my homebirth friends do. Their midwife makes them stay in bed for the first three days. Then they can get up briefly for the next 2 wks. But mostly they are to eat and nurse. And that's it.

Maybe I should have done that. And maybe I wouldn't be so tired two months later. Because right now I just want to crawl in bed (if I can scale the piles of clothes in my bedroom floor) for a day or two.

But I felt like I had to bounce back from birth/surgery like it never happened. Because it's what people expect of me. I'm the one who's supposed to have it all together, right? I feel like if I admit that I'm drowning it will mean that I was a moron. That the people who told me that I am crazy and can't really mother all these kids well were right. That I've bitten off far more than I can chew.

But does it really mean that? Or does it mean that for this season I need some help?

A problem I'm finding is that people have more good intentions than they do time. And by "people" I mean myself as well. I intend to have a clean house and do all sorts of awesome things with the kids. I intend to do amazing crafts and cook all natural foods and sew a ton of neato clothes for them. I intend to teach my kids to be servants by helping others in our church.

But I don't have time to do all the things I want to do. Is it because instead of looking to the Father and obeying, I have looked at all the things others do and assumed that to be a good Christian mom I must do them too? Is it because I've looked at the world and adopted their standards for my kids' needs (sports, instruments, activities)? Is it because I have mistaken folks' online identities for reality? (Because it's easy to look shiny perfect on the internet). I think I need more margin.

I need to have a schedule that doesn't have us running 24 hrs a day. I need free time so I can respond to the Holy Spirit's leading and help others, whether it's by babysitting or cooking or running a few errands for someone else. When I am doing so much stuff (even good stuff) that I cannot help someone out, I am not where God wants me to be.

We do far less in our family than many others do. Partly because we have a lot of kids, and partly by design. I want my kids to see that margin is not optional. It is necessary. There are so many good things we could be doing. But when I start seeing people as distractions, instead of my purpose, something has to change.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

On the lighter side - guess who's two months old?

Miss Leah Claire!



Sometimes I am just amazed. I sooooo don't deserve a baby this sweet. God is amazing - His plans for us are so much bigger and better than we could ever imagine.

As far as my other goals this week? Well, I DID get out of bed with the alarm this morning. But as I was shaving my legs the power went out. Just came back on a little while ago. So we adjourned to the backyard most of the day and enjoyed the sunshine. 68 degrees! Woot!

I will do my quiet time tonight, but first dh and I have a hot date to go get a new dishwasher. Because ours has turned into a dishdirtier. And that's not good.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Faith-full

First off, I want to say thanks to my tens of readers for their undeserved compliments. All y'all just warm my heart. (Yes, Mom, I am a real Texan. I said "all y'all" - and last week I bought gold shoes. Scary, no?)

Second, I was really tempted to not blog today just to be an object lesson from yesterday about not being Supermom.

But I noticed something today in church that got me thinking. There was a typo up on the screen during one of the songs. (Yes, I am a bit AR and notice these things). The screen read "faithfull" instead of "faithful". Which caused me to ponder.

When I think of the fruit of the Spirit, I always think of faithfulness sort of like loyalty or consistency. But what if it also means being full of faith? And what if that is really the same thing?

It requires faith to trust that as I am consistent in the daily things God will be faithful to fulfill His promises to me. So I guess I need to be both faithful (loyal, consistent) and faith-full (trusting, expecting).

May not be a news flash to anyone else, but I thought is was kind of interesting. Hope y'all had a restful Sabbath and are empowered to take on the week. This week I am working on our morning routine, so I will be reporting daily on my progress towards reestablishing good habits. I am committing to be out of bed at 7 each morning and will be consistent in my quiet time. Harass me please and ask if I'm behaving!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I'm not Supermom.

Comments I often hear:

"Whoa! I could NOT handle that many kids."
"I could not handle homeschooling - I would kill them."
"You have that many kids and you still work part time? You must be Supermom."

The truth is, I am NOT Supermom. There are days when I wonder what the HECK I was thinking. Days when I want to drop them off at the nearest school and go get a pedicure. And a glass of wine. I often feel inadequate.

But remember a chapel speaker at ORU saying "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." And I KNOW He has called me. I had my first female surgery at age 16 and didn't know if I would ever carry a child. But His Word says, "He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD." (Ps 113:9) And He has been so faithful in doing just that.

So why would He fail now? The only failure is in my lack of belief in His sustenance.

He has promised me all sufficient grace (II Cor. 12:9).

He has promised to lead me (Is. 40:11).

He has promised that my children will be taught of Him and have great peace (Is. 54:13)

So even though I joke when asked how I "do it all" (which I don't, seriously, you have not seen my bathroom!) that I function on equal parts Jesus and caffeine, the truth is that any goodness in me comes directly from Him. And the only way any of us can fulfill our calling well is through Him. By daily crying out to Him and trusting that He will provide what we need to excel.

The truth is that I don't have to be Supermom, because I have a super God. And I'm not trusting in my sufficiency, I'm leaning wholly on His.

Friday, November 05, 2010

making babies

I have friends with lots of kids. And I mean LOTS of kids. One friend has 15, one has 13, one has 11. Many of my friends have families that fall on the larger end of the modern spectrum. 4, 5 or 6 kids is a normal sized family amongst my friends.

Many of them follow the quiverfull movement, a movement that eschews any kind of contraception. They believe that we should give complete control of our wombs to God, an idea which sounds perfect in theory, but can break down in practice when we assume that ceding control means total inaction.

We always intended to have a large family.

But after Nate (severe PIH, gained 30 lb of fluid in the last week, kidneys failed, was induced and delivered a floppy, grey baby 4 wks early - thankfully he perked up quickly), people told us we should stop. I wondered if I could ever go through that again. I wondered if it would be foolish to try again.

And yet, I knew God had put it in my heart to bear more children. So we tried again. Had Susannah (preterm labor at 31 wks, PROM at 33 wks, delivery with chorioamnionitis at 34 wks), and then Abigail (PROM at 33 wks with a transverse lie, emergency c/s, chorioamnionitis again, NICU).

Everyone thought we were nuts when we got pg with Luke. But I did better (36 wk c/s) and then with Gabe I actually went term (38.5 wks, 2 cm separation in uterus, c/s, high blood pressure). My parents begged us to get a tubal. But we held on to what God had put in our hearts.

And had beautiful Leah by c/s at 35 wks. And a tubal ligation. Because I have people here who need me. And a big God who can grow my family by adoption too. And there is a difference between reacting out of fear and acting out of prayerful prudence.

My point is, go to the Father and then just obey. Yes, the world's view on children is skewed. The Church has embraced this view and even many Christians see children as a burden instead of a blessing. But that doesn't mean we are spiritually obligated to pop out as many children as we possibly can. It means we need to see kids with God's heart, cheerfully accept the ones He brings into our lives and obey Him. The point is to yield. To be putty in His hands. It's not a contest to see who can collect the most kids.

I have friends who have born children at great risk to their lives, and I worry about the children who may be left motherless if they choose to bear another child. But on the opposite end of that spectrum I had an elder at our old church tell us that God doesn't care how many kids we have. That our childbearing choices (other than abortion) are no more important to the Father than the color of the car we drive. And I think they are both off base. We need not be foolish when our bodies are screaming to stop. But children are a blessing, and we will advance the kingdom of God as we raise godly seed. So ending our fruitfulness on a whim of personal preference seems just as foolish. We must be very prayerful about any decision of this magnitude and make sure our hearts and motivations are clean before altering God's design for our bodies.

I don't want to be labeled "quiverfull" though I certainly believe I have a full quiver. I want to be clay in His hands, submitting wholly to His will.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Homeschooling, special needs, preschool and punching friends

I have a lot on my plate. (And if I ever forget this, I'm sure a stranger will remind me that I "sure have my hands full" next time I go to Costco). This is our fourth year of homeschooling. Last year was the first year that I really felt like we hit our stride. Of course, having Leah right at the beginning of this school year kind of threw a wrench into the works, but we are slowly getting back on track.

Our oldest son, Nate, is dyslexic. He is 10 and reads on a first grade level. For the first two years that we homeschooled (and the year he went to public K) I beat my head against the wall trying to teach him to read. We tried so many curriculums and strategies. Finally, last year he was tested at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and diagnosed with dyslexia. Since then we have made a lot of progress towards reading well. But Nate still needs a lot of help.

Abigail shows some of the same tendencies that Nate did at that age. After over a year of phonics instruction she still does not recognize all of her letters. So I anticipate that she may need reading help as well.

Our two little boys, Luke and Gabe, both have severe speech delays. (Can I tell you how much I cried when Gabriel finally said, "I love you, Mama" for the first time last week?) They attend walk-in speech therapy at the local public school twice a week, but it was recommended that Gabe attend full time speech preschool.

There's only one me. And with a new baby, I am limited. So we made the prayerful decision to enroll Luke and Gabe in preschool two days a week. It will help with their speech issues and give me more time to intensely focus on schooling the older three, especially Nate and Abby.

But do you know what some of my homeschooling friends said? They were appalled that we would send our babies away. Even for 10 hrs a week. "If God wanted our babies to be put in school they would be born in classrooms instead of families," one of them sniffed. And I wanted to punch the stupid out of her. In Christian love, of course.

You see, Philip and I are homeschooling right now because we have prayed and believe it is the best thing for our family and our children. But that may change later. Some of our kids may go to private school or even (gasp) public school. It depends on what God tells us each child needs.

Because we are not disciples of the homeschool movement.

We are disciples of Christ. And our educational goals for our children are simple. We want them to be well-rounded, well-read, capable servants of Christ who have the skills they need to succeed at the calling He has placed on their lives. Homeschooling is not the goal, it is the method that we are using right now on our path to raising our little ones to love and serve Him.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Breaking the box habit

Our sweet Luke was out of control. We were noticing crazy behaviors out of him. Things you would not expect from a 4 yr old - screeching, fit throwing, hyperactivity, etc. We did not know what to do.

After some prayer, I was led to look at Luke's diet. I decided to remove artificial colors and preservatives from his diet. Which meant moving to an almost completely "from scratch" way of cooking. I like to cook so this didn't seem too bad.

Except for breakfast. We were addicted to the box. Of cereal, that is. And even the healthy cereals have BHT and other chemicals in them. And most are LOADED with sugar.

So I have embarked upon a journey to ban the box from our house.

Last week I made 20 dozen muffins (pumpkin chocolate chip, double chocolate, applesauce, whole wheat English muffins, and whole wheat scones). Got them in the freezer with 8 loaves of applesauce bread. So each morning I take some out, microwave them for 20 seconds or so and the kids slather them with butter. Mmm!

I also made a 2 gallons of applesauce and 1 gallon of granola. This should last us a couple weeks.

This morning I made whole wheat tortillas and we ate them with butter and cinnamon sugar. We also had yogurt. And even though the kids are sick and crabby, they aren't acting crazy.

I purchased some ebooks from The Heavenly Homemaker and I'm really enjoying learning to cook REAL FOOD that doesn't involve cans of chemical laden crap.

Here are a few pics of my newly fixed and stocked deep freeze (notice the 12 freezer meals too! Woot!)





And just for fun, this is what happens when you don't clean off your counters before starting the crockpot. Oops!



So, please, spam me with your favorite make-ahead breakfast recipes.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I'm BAAAACK!

So, you may be wondering where I disappeared to. For almost a year. Well, life got crazy.

I had a miscarriage.

Then got pregnant again. And was freaky tired. For months. And barfing.

And then I severed tendons in my fingers. And couldn't type.

Then I worked.

And then I had a gorgeous, amazing, adorable, all-around perfect baby girl. Five weeks early. So she eats. A lot. And all night.

But now she's almost 2 months old and I'm back. I promise to write SOMETHING every day this month. I DON'T promise that it will be awesome. But I'll try.

And here's my sweet girl.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

France & Germany

For France, we had a picnic with friends in the backyard, complete with baguettes, butter, grapes, cheese, apples, chocolate and sparkling cider. We had crepes several times during the 2 weeks we spent in France. We loved them so much we now eat them regularly for lunch. We made croque monsieur for supper one night and quiche with chocolate mousse another night. The kids loved France. They would like to move there.

But again, my pics disappeared into the netherworld.

We loved the German food as well. We made chicken paprikash (Hungarian, I know) with spaetzle, but that's a normal menu item for us. So to go "all out" and have real German food, we made jaegershnitzel. It was amazing. But crazy time-consuming. And not waistline friendly. As my kids would say, "It is a sometimes food, not an all-the-time food."

Norway

For Norway, we celebrated St Lucia's day. We made peperkakor cookies and the girls dressed in St. Lucia costumes (yes, as a matter of fact, those are pillowcases with holes cut for the arms).


We had a feast of dilled fish, potato dumplings and lefse. The lefse and fish were awesome.





The dumplings were like grey, slimy balls of nasty. Avoid at all costs!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Brazil

My friend Melanie and her kids came over for our G-rated Brazilian Carnivale. We made brigadeiro, arroz branco, bohnilo de quiejo and frango assado from this site. They were pretty good. The chicken was a little gooey. I like my wings crispy, so I would use much less liquid next time. But the candies were a hit. The kids colored pictures and made Carnivale masks and flutes.

But somehow I los the pictures.

Since I spent a summer in Venezuela in high school, we also took a day trip there and made empanadas.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Mexico

So, I'm a little behind here. After studying the good ol' US of A, we moved on to Mexico (in September). We made tamales, dulce de leche bars and a pinata. My sister and her boys joined us for our "fiesta grande".

First, the pinata:
Tip #1 - Mix cinnamon into your paper maiche. It will smell less like a bowl of sick.



Tip #2 - Brooms help for painting.


Tip #3 - Consider how you will hang the pinata before it is painted and dry. We used ribbon.




The kids had a blast smacking the tar out of it.

The tamales were great. Got the recipe here: www.crockpot365.blogspot.com. The kids were really interested in making them. Until about the 3rd one. Then they ran off. They turned out really good. You will need to rotate them at some point. The ones on the bottom of our pot burned.










We made dulce de leche in the crockpot too (cans of sweetened condensed milk, covered with water, cooked on low for 8 hrs.) We spread the dulce de leche on a cinnamon graham cracker crust. Mmm.



The kids made "rope art" and tissue paper flower decorations.
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Funny

Sorry I've been gone so long. I have a ton of stuff to post, just been short on time. (Imagine that, the kids sucking up all my time...) Here's a funny of Gabe: