Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bug Spray/Sunscreen

This stuff REALLY works!!! I am "mosquito candy"; my family used to ask me if the bugs were biting yet because they always seemed to bite me first--if I said yes, we all went inside. I am usually skeptical of anything that doesn't have deet in it, yet claims to ward off our pesky summertime companions. But, Bullfrog Mosquito Coast does the trick--and with enough mildness that I can even spray my 1 year olds down with it. Even better, it provides SPF 30 sunblock to boot! 1 less thing to apply to squirmy kids. It's a spray pump, so it's super easy and quick--perfect for those sweaty afternoons when the kids want to play outside.

Three Cheers for Grandparents!!!

I just have to say how thankful I am for my children's grandparents (i.e. my parents and my in-laws). My in-laws are taking the kids for a couple of days this week so my husband and I can get away (our 6th anniversary is June 8). What a treat!! My mother has come to our house a couple of times this spring (she lives 4 1/2 hours away, so it's not a super short trip) to take care of us during our throw-up/RSV experiences and she kept the boys earlier this month already. And, my mother-in-law has been a gracious hostess when my husband headed there with the kids while I got a little girls' weekend in during March. (sigh) Such great grandparents! Since our faithful blog readers all know us quite well, I really don't need to remind anyone what a job it is--two crawlers/cruisers who are each a hefty 25 pounds and a VERY busy little 2 1/2 year old... it's a definite commitment to care for these guys. So, thank you to the best grandparents ever!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Going Green, part 6: Cloth Diapers

To see the first "Going Green" post and links to subsequent ones, click here.
This post is dedicated to my friend Lynn who first gave me the inspiration to try cloth diapering! Thank you, Lynn!

We use cloth diapers and love them! In case you've never considered them, let me offer some reasons.

1. Cheaper! We use some of the more expensive kinds, but still we are saving so much money!!! Even with buying an extra stash to have enough for twins, we will still be saving money. This is assuming the fewest diaper changes, potty training by 2 1/2, cheapest disposables we can find (Sam's brand): we will still be saving a minimum of $1300 over the course of diapering our twins. We have a high efficiency washer/dryer, so that helps keep our laundering costs down. (Note: even Sam's brand diapers have gone up in price since I first wrote this draft, so now, we'd be saving even more!)

2. Healthier. For all three of our kids, we've found that cloth diapers have all but eradicated diaper rash. We have never bought a tube of diaper rash cream. We still use the same tube of Butt Paste that was a baby shower gift for our first child, now 2 1/2 years old. When we switch back to disposables for a trip or other temporary use, frequently diaper rash begins to crop up. But a no-fail cure for that is to put that baby back in a Fuzzi Bunz with a little Huggies Liquid Powder... no more diaper rash almost immediately! There is also some research that suggests that baby boys are benefited in particular since disposables may raise the temperature enough next to the scrotum that sperm count is affected later in life. Haven't read a lot on this issue, but it's come up on some diapering websites occasionally.

3. Less Waste. This is a no-brainer and the number one reason for most cloth diaper advocates. However, if those first two reasons weren't so dramatic for us, I have to say that this would be a hard sell. It's a great side benefit, though, to our use of cloth diapers. We have very little trash to take out when you consider how many diapers we use a day. (And, the "word on the street" is that one baby contributes 1 ton of landfill waste during his/her first couple of years--the majority of it being diapers.)

We're not so hardcore that we don't ever use disposables. We often use them for church, overnight trips, and other temporary needs.

Our System

If we hadn't discovered such an easy cloth-diapering system, I don't think we'd have made the commitment. We use Fuzzi Bunz and Mommy's Touch pocket style diapers. Fuzzi Bunz are the best in my opinion. Both of these diapers are lined on the inside with fleece, so the baby's skin stays dry. The outside is a PUL fabric that is waterproof but breathable. There's a pocket between these two layers that we stuff with the liner of our choice (all kinds of absorbency levels here depending on whether the diaper needs to go for all night or just an hour or two during the day; we use Green Acres Designs one-size inserts and Happy Heiny's Hemp Stuffins). We shake off solid waste into the toilet (you can even buy flushable liners so there's hardly ever a need to scrape/rinse your diapers), throw all diapers into a "wet bag" (looks like a big waterproof duffel bag), and then throw the bag and the diapers into the wash at night. No soaking, rinsing in the toilet, or anything. The diapers are snapped on, so there are no pins. Very, very easy to use and care for. Right now, our boys are leaking out of some disposables at night, but no leaks with our Fuzzi Bunz! And they're so soft!!! Check out these websites if you're curious:

Cutie Tooties (where I bought my latest stash from--she's even placed special orders for me for products she's been temporarily out of--great customer service!)
Cotton Babies (where I first bought Fuzzi Bunz, but they no longer carry them; they do have an interesting diaper grant program for missionaries and other needy groups)
Sunshine Diapers (free shipping on Charlie's Soap--a natural detergent; great introductory diaper packages)
Kelly's Closet (great money-back offers on some popular diapers if they don't work for you)
Mother-Ease Diapers (more like the old-style cloth, but with snaps and such; my friends Lynn and Megan swear by them but they're a touch more work to care for then the lazy ones I use)
Real Diaper Association (reviews of every product related to cloth diapering--check it out before you buy!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Flower

Betsy did her flower. This is mine! Can you tell we are different :-).

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Tea Bag: Offensive Behavior

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

We are studying Proverbs in my Bible study right now. This verse really stuck out, and then I had a situation with it. Someone we know made a comment to my husband assuming I was a certain way. He backed me up, but I was riled up about it. How dare they assume something that is not true (and really stupid). If they really knew me, they would know the difference. And I have to see them in a week. Then this verse popped into my head. I realized--what a great example of overlooking an offense. Sure I could let it bother me. In reality, we are talking about someone who is not what I would call a strong Christian and has pretty selfish motives in mind. So I am going to forget it, hold my head high, knowing who I am in Christ, and be myself regardless of their "worldly opinions" (which really don't matter!). So here's to holding your own head high to overlook other offenses!

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Fruit of the Spirit (Goodness)

For other Fruit of the Spirit posts, check the series index in the right margin of the blog. This post is dedicated to my friend Kelly, mentioned below as my Bible study partner when I first studied the fruit of the Spirit.

I've been putting off writing about goodness because it's a hard fruit of the Spirit for me to understand sometimes--how can I be good? Aren't I a sinner, with a heart that is deceitful above all things? Isn't "good" a state of being? How can the Spirit make me more good when, because of Christ's work on the cross, I have already been justified in the sight of God?

Well, when all else fails, read the directions, right? Since I can't read Greek, I turned to a study on the fruit of the Spirit I did with a friend a few summers ago: Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore. This was a really great study by the way. At any rate, this study shed some light on this particular fruit of the Spirit, partly by telling what the Greek word translated "goodness" really means!

Here's a quotation that sums it up nicely: "The Greek word for goodness is agathosune. It means 'benevolent' and 'active goodness.' Agathosune 'is more than ...gentleness, kindness, a mellowing of characters. It is character energized, expressing itself in...benevolence, active good.... Agathosune does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good in others. A person may display his agathosune, his zeal for goodness and truth, in rebuking, correcting, or chastising.'" Moore goes on to point out that this goodness, this agathosune, pairs up nicely with other fruits of the Spirit, such as kindness and gentleness, to make us wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

When I reread that explanation of what the Greek word commonly translated as goodness really connotes, it's easy to see how goodness is indeed a fruit of the Spirit--and one we should pray for earnestly. Imagine a roommate who is actively good, someone who takes the time to not only serve her roommate(s) but perhaps gently point out sin (I, thankfully, had roommates like this--I have reminded my husband that he has several of my previous roommates to thank for the sharpening they did to my character before he had to live with me!). Or, think of a parent who, in conjunction with other fruits of the Spirit such as patience, love, and gentleness rebukes a child, correcting some small sin before it grows into ugly adulthood. Or, better still, what about a wife who lovingly and joyfully is actively seeking her husband's good. Goodness is certainly something we should pray that the Spirit grows in our lives!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What Kind of Flower are You?

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

So, apparently, after taking the little quiz, I'm a sunflower (which happens to be a great flower! I also have 3 packs of sunflower seeds to plant in my very limited full sun yard area....). What kind of flower are you? I don't know what the options are except that I followed the link from someone who was a purple cone flower (echinacea) and the quiz is on the blog of someone who's a hydrangea..... Feel free to leave your answer in the comment section!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Birth Control: Get the Facts (part of "The Struggle to Becoming 'Mom'")

Carrie has begun a series on "The Struggle to Becoming 'Mom'" and asked me to contribute some information on birth control options as part of this series. As she mentioned in her Part 1, the decision to exercise some means of birth control is a touchy one in Christian circles. I am not going to tell you what to do, but I am going to encourage you to get the facts before you make a decision in favor of any particular means of birth control. If you and your spouse have chosen not to use birth control at all, then you need read no further. But, if you and your spouse have chosen to use some method of birth control and you are a Christian who believes that all human life should be protected once conceived, then you must get the facts on the various methods out there.

My husband taught an adult Sunday school class at our church this past August on bio-ethics, specifically those dealing with beginning of life issues (stem cell research, abortion, fertility treatments, etc.). He ran out of time to actually teach the birth control section, but he'd already begun doing the research for it. In the process of that research, we discovered some sobering things. The following information is based primarily on his research and our experience with the different health care providers I've had for my pregnancies.

Instead of redoing all the excellent information already available on the web which outlines birth control methods and how they work, I would like to simply help you know what to look for. My husband and I believe without question that we are to protect each human life since we, as humans, are made in the image of God. That image is not a physical one; it refers to our reflection of God's communicable attributes: responsibility, creativity, sociability, intelligence, freedom--just to name a few (as opposed to his incommunicable attributes--the things that make Him God--such as omnipotence/sovereignty, omnipresence, and omniscience to name a few).

Because we also believe that human life begins at conception, we feel that any birth control method that interferes with the developing human, once conceived, is inherently immoral for us as believers. Therefore, we want a method that only prevents conception/fertilization and that does not prevent implantation in the uterus of an already fertilized egg. My husband and I have used various methods of birth control throughout the years, assuming that each one we used was "safe" for us to use as Christians. We discovered otherwise during his research, and thankfully, had only used the now off-limits methods for a very brief time (incidentally, while I was nursing newborns--so the odds of the birth control method having been needed were slim).

Here is what we discovered: the various birth control methods are not as clear cut as we once thought. Barrier methods are all about the same as far as their availability to us, ethically speaking. Natural family planning (fertility awareness method) is also available. We knew that the "morning after pill" was not an option since it did not prevent conception. From that point, though, we mistakenly assumed that "the pill" and IUD's sort of worked the same: preventing conception. That is not true. Some pills do prevent the woman from ovulating, hence preventing conception. But, some pills only prevent implantation (the egg already being fertilized). All IUD's prevent implantation, while one (copper) supposedly inhibits fertilization.

Here is what you do: when you ask your health care provider about the different options, if you are wanting only to prevent conception/fertilization, then you must use those terms. The medical community defines pregnancy as beginning at implantation. Therefore, when you ask for a method that prevents pregnancy, anything--including something which only prevents implantation--is "allowed." I've started asking for methods which do not prevent implantation, but do prevent fertilization. My doctor has been very agreeable to discuss the different options that fit that requirement.

You can also look at the following websites; they are very helpful in describing how the different methods work as regards to what each one prevents/allows. Be warned: these websites use medically and anatomically correct terminology, descriptions, and images.

ACOG Patient Education Pamphlets (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
Mayo Clinic Guide
Information about the copper-bearing IUD (an abstract of a study demonstrating its effectiveness/how it works; I include this because specific information was hard to find on the copper IUD with a basic search)
Fertility Awareness Method (natural family planning) (this is the most comprehensive "natural" approach out there; I'm including it because the range of natural family planning is pretty broad--most don't allude to this specifics of this approach)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Great Gardening Game Has Begun

I (Betsy) really enjoy being outside. So, I'm attempting a vegetable garden again. My husband and I don't merely grow a few tomatoes in a pot on a patio; oh, no--he clears a 25x25-foot space in the back yard, fencing it in so the dogs can't get to it, and we buy plants...lots of plants. One time, in Atlanta, when we were really into roses, we bought 30 rose bushes during the course of the year. Needless to say, we frequently purchase more than we can successfully grow. This year, I kept it rather smaller than our last attempt: 12 tomato plants of various types/sizes, 8 sweet pepper plants, 1 jalapeno plant, 6 cucumber plants, various herbs to add to our existing (and thriving) herb garden, and seeds for the plants I couldn't find already started (bush beans, radishes, butternut squash, etc.). Essentially, we're planting food we will actually consume: cucumbers, salsa and tomato sauce ingredients (we have a big canner), etc. Since we don't like zucchini much (unless it's camouflaged in something like Meatless Manicotti), we're not planting that prolific producer this year.

Benefits so far (and I don't even have the plants in the ground!)
  1. HOURS of entertainment for my toddler who is "helping" Mommy.
  2. Significant exercise since I'm turning under the ground via a big shovel and hoe.
  3. Lots of great time experiencing the great outdoors and getting Vitamin D through sun exposure.
  4. Free daytime activity for aforementioned toddler and Mommy
  5. Nature lessons on the fly (today we let an orange ladybug crawl all over me and stretch its little wings)
  6. Great fun for toddler while little brothers are napping.... (did I mention she loves to be outside?!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Some is Better than None (Colossians 3)

This one goes out to perfectionists and self-sufficient females everywhere! I (Betsy) don't know about the rest of you, but I believe over the years I've internalized the following well known verses as "Do everything without help and perfectly; if it should be done, then it must be done and done perfectly and without help." The two verses in reality say, "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col. 3:17); and "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Col. 3:23).

Now, I could write millions of pages on Colossians 3, but suffice it to say for now that these verses follow the equally well known exhortation to set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. How does this relate to perfectionism and self-sufficiency? Read on....

The Fly Lady was the first one to really open my eyes to this glaring truth. She says in her materials something to the effect that housework done imperfectly still blesses your family. I realized that she was right; not ever doing some of the housework because I didn't have time to do it right was not blessing anyone. Instead, I could use the 15 minutes I had to clean up the kitchen instead of thinking I didn't have time "to do anything." Instantly our dinner was more peaceful.

I think we often communicate in our churches that, since we are doing everything for the Lord, everything must be done perfectly. We are losing the critical message of the first half of Colossians 3: we are first serving the Lord where he has called us. If he has called you, like me, to be the wife of a college professor with random hours and the mother of 3 children two and under, then the house will not be perfectly clean, nor will dinner be gourmet, nor will the clothes be ironed. My higher calling is to be a wife and mother, and do what is before me to the best of my current ability and as for the Lord. I tend to do nothing rather than do it half way; I'm realizing that I will be a better wife and mother if I at least start, even if it's only half-way. Let me illustrate with a short list of ideals and the half-way point:

1. We're supposed to read to our children at least 3o minutes every day; 15 minutes is still better than 0.
2. I'd like to lose weight, but rarely have time to work out; refusing to eat the extra jelly beans is still better than nothing.
3. I should be praying and reading my Bible every day (for a long time!); 15 minutes of earnest prayer every morning is certainly better than none at all.
4. I'd love to have a scrapbook for all my children; pictures by themselves are better than no photos at all.
5. I'd love to be entertaining all the time with elaborate meals and fancy table settings; hot dogs, chips, and watermelon on paper plates is better than showing no hospitality.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sunday Morning Worship Prep: "Whole House Tidy"

I'm totally stealing the title of today's post from my friend, "Mrs. T." She wrote a post on her blog recently about their practice on Saturdays and called it the "Whole House Tidy." It's a great post about getting ready for Sunday--especially if you have older children in the house (her kids range from 15 months to 13 (or 14?) years old). Check it out for inspiration--she includes the words to a great hymn at the end.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cheerios: some Haiku

Sixty seven years
Ready-to-eat cereal
First one of its kind

Beloved by all
Eaten in sickness and health
Toasted oat circles

Breakfast, lunch, dinner
And anytime in between
We love Cheerios

Thursday, May 15, 2008

First Words

My friend Bridgette's son Ethan recently said his first word: "Uh-Oh." (Congrats, little E!) She wondered if it "counted" as a first word. I said it absolutely did! My boys just had their one-year check up and our pediatrician reminded us to be on the lookout for meaningful communication. She gave us a number of "words" for which to be alert in the next few months; we're hoping for 10 or so for each boy by their 15 month check-up. What counts?
  1. any actual (recognizable) word, even if said only one time
  2. any meaningful syllable if repeated for the same object/event consistently (in other words, even if the sound is nothing like "cup" but is spoken every time a cup is offered, it counts)
  3. for multiples: if one babbles to the other and he/she responds with a meaningful action (like handing the first a toy), then apparently they have "spoken" to each other
So, what were your children's first words? (My daughter's was "dog"--probably because we have two 100 pound labs that love our children almost as much as we do)

Going Green, part 5: Reusable Grocery Bags

To see the first "Going Green" post and links to subsequent ones, click here.

This post is dedicated to my neighbor, Karen, who faithfully uses reusable grocery bags!

I (Betsy) used to think that people who took reusable bags to the grocery store were a little nutty, more "earthy" than I had time to be. Well, I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that reusable grocery bags are the way to go most of the time. Here's a short list of my conclusions:

  • hold more stuff (they're bigger)-->fewer bags needed-->fewer trips to unload
  • stand upright in the car (the ones you can buy in the grocery store)-->cans don't go rolling around the floor
  • won't break if a sharp object/can is too heavy
  • more eco-friendly (duh)
  • easier to carry in the house/larger straps
  • more child friendly! No longer do I have to worry that my three little ones are going to start playing in the bags while I'm putting groceries up because the reusable bags won't suffocate them
  • have to remember to take them to the store... (some people leave them in their cars so they won't forget when they leave the house)
  • some things (like meat) are best put in plastic bags you can throw away (you can always put them in a plastic produce-type bag at the store and then in your reusable bag)
  • some things (like fragile produce) are best put in smaller bags so they won't get crushed
It's definitely worth it to acquire some of these bags (or use extra tote bags lying around your house--any of you teachers? You should have plenty of these lying around!). Use plastic when you need to for certain items, but get in the habit of using reusable bags as often as you can.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Top Five Ways to Make Gifts More Personal

Wrapping up a "boring-but-requested" blender for a bride? Got a much needed, but boring package of diapers for a new mom? Don't have much cash, but want to give a special gift? The following are some ways to make gifts a little more personal while keeping practicality in mind.
  1. Stick with a theme: this helps when you're shopping on a budget and collecting sale items from various places. A baby shower example: bath theme (gift could include baby shampoo, hooded towel, rubber ducky). A bridal shower example: small kitchen utensil theme (gift could include several utensils on the registry, plus a neat scone mix to use the new utensils for).
  2. Include something personal: The easiest example here is to include hand written recipes with a small kitchen appliance you're taking to a bridal shower.
  3. Make something: I have a friend who is a Stampin' Up demonstrator. She often makes darling customized scrapbooks for new babies who are younger siblings; she knows that the mom doesn't have as much time for that second baby's scrapbook and gives her a head start! We also got two "Diaper Cakes" from people when our twins were born; one of these was a homemade affair and the kids helped make it! (the photo is of a diaper cake for a girl) There's always the option of homemade food-related gifts (baking mixes, baked goods, hot beverage mixes, etc.).
  4. Volunteer Your Services: Give a gift of babysitting to a harried young mom. Offer to run errands for an elderly lady or clean house for your mother. Give a grass-cutting "coupon" to your dad for Father's Day. You can come up with several ideas and package them all together as "coupons" the recipient can receive at his/her leisure.
  5. The Sky's the Limit! Hopefully the above four suggestions have inspired you enough that you can come up with a fifth. Feel free to comment about the special way you make gifts more personal.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tea Bag-Fruits of our Labor

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

It is so hard and frustrating to keep going on sometimes. With summer and vacations approaching, remember you are doing God's Will for your life right now!

Musings on Motherhood

Let's say you, a neighbor of mine out walking your dog, stops by to see how we are doing this morning. Perhaps you haven't seen me out and about in a couple of weeks and are just saying "hi." Let's pretend, too, that you don't have any young children at home yourself and, therefore, are always interested in what my little clan is doing. Here's what you might see this morning (11:00 a.m. on a Monday): a pile of laundry (eclipsing its small basket) on the couch, chairs scattered around the play area, toys scattered on the floor, stuff on every surface of the play area, some miscellaneous stuff on the dining room table, and a big bag of trash by the front door awaiting its final journey to the trash can. If I were this pretend neighbor, I can guarantee you that I'd be thinking these people were messy, what was the mother doing all morning, why wasn't stuff picked up, etc. etc. etc.

Now, as a mother, here's my perspective: the laundry is clean and needs to be folded; the stuff was up off the floor (and on all available surfaces) and chairs moved around because my toddler broke a glass this morning--necessitating some vacuuming and mopping; toys are scattered around because both my twins are now crawling and like to drop toys around in their forays into new territory; and I haven't gotten anything else accomplished this morning because my boys ate a number of crayons and had to be cleaned up (and their clothes and surrounding area cleaned up). But you know what!? All of it--ALL OF IT--is a blessing.

You know why the glass dropped and the crayons were consumed? Because I'd popped out into the back yard, leaving the three unsupervised for a few minutes, to talk across the fence with my neighbor behind me who just had a miscarriage (her first pregnancy--and they dearly want children). My house may be a wreck, I may spend half the day cleaning up stuff/kids I hadn't planned on, and my body may be a living testimony to bearing three children in a very short time, but I am blessed indeed to be a mother, especially to my three darlings! So, I'm not ashamed of the mess, nor of my appearance, nor of my three grubby urchins.

If you, as my hypothetical dog-walking neighbor, were to stop by this morning, I hope I'd keep this perspective, offer you a cup of tea, and welcome my children into your presence, letting you and them benefit from each other's acquaintance.

Going Green, part 4: Appliances

To see the first "Going Green" post and links to subsequent ones, click here.
AAaahhh.... the (very low) hum of my high-efficiency washer as it gets load after load after load of clothes, blankets, and cloth diapers clean is music to my ears. My new dishwasher, also quiet, is cleaning my dishes as I type--dishes I didn't have to pre-wash in the sink. I just scraped off food and put them in! And my freezer, in the basement, is full of meals, bread, and other various and sundry food items--keeping them frozen for far less money than its predecessor.

It just so happens that, during this past year, we've had a number of appliances break on us. Our dishwasher gave out when I was pregnant with my twins. When we bought our new one, we learned that most of the newer models wash dishes well enough that you don't have to pre-wash/rinse them in the sink! Our dishwasher has done a pretty good job of this; stuck on egg and cheese do not come off well, nor does the silverware get as clean without a pre-rinse. Everything else does just great. This is helping us reduce our water usage!

Our washing machine broke the first week we brought our first twin home from the hospital! His brother was still in the NICU. Well, newborns can produce more laundry than the rest of the house together. So, getting a new washer was pretty urgent. We took the plunge and bought a high efficiency front loader and have been so thankful!!! The amount of water these things use compared to the top loaders is quite remarkable. An average top loader uses about 50-70 gallons of water per load. Front loaders: 14 gallons per load!!!! Our water bill shows us a bar graph of water usage over the past year. The month we added cloth diapers for two newborns showed a bar graph equal to the month before the boys were even born! That was proof enough for me. If I could do that much laundry and still not be using any more water than before my newborns even contributed their immense wash load to the rotation, then my new washer was indeed saving us money and water!

The photo at the top is from the sticker inside our freezer. It's hard to see, but in the bottom middle, there's a phrase saying "energy performance certified." Most appliances that are more energy efficient than their counterparts will advertise themselves as "energy star certified" or something to that effect. It's worth considering these more efficient appliances if you're in the market for a new (large) home appliance. They might cost a little more money up front, but they really do work well at saving energy (and your utilities bills) compared to the more in-efficient models. Do some research, check the ratings, and bring home a new energy-efficient appliance. Our next appliance needing replacing is a water heater.... dare we go tank-less?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Are My Boys Great or What!

Had to share my Mother's Day surprises. First I got several good "homemade" preschool items-and he would not let me open them until today. And the pictures are of the real gifts. Good Hubby, knowing I liked tea, found this cool nautical teapot! We like nautical decor. He also got me the azalea bush. But wonderful 5 yr old son, got me this ring! (Green is his favorite color.) Hope all of your Mother's Day surprises were good!

Titus 2: Our Mother

("Titus 2" refers to the way we should all be living, but particularly to Titus's urging for older women to be teaching younger women.)

Our mother is most definitely the older woman who has had the most influence on us. We are so thankful that she is a godly woman; what a treasure those of us have who have had the privilege to be around women like this from birth! There are countless things we have learned from our mother, and we will each post a top 10 list later (and probably more after that!). But for now, suffice it to say that we are grateful to have a mother who exhibits the following:

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. " Titus 2:3-5

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sunday Morning Worship Prep.: Saturday

To keep Sunday morning, you must keep Saturday night! This is especially true when you have young children. This refers to both your preparation on Saturday and your plans for Saturday evening.

The more you prepare on Saturday, the more smoothly Sunday mornings will go (or, at least, you up your chances!). Take some time to think through your usual Sunday morning routine. What can you do Saturday to lessen your Sunday morning to-do list? For instance, in our house, we do the following on Saturdays:
  • fill diaper bag with diapers, extra onesies, snacks for the ride home, sippy cups for nursery use, etc.
  • put diaper bag in car
  • make sure church clothes are washed and ironed if necessary (this means we've already planned what we're going to be wearing!)
  • locate all applicable accessories: hair bows, shoes, cardigans, hats, coats, etc.
  • gather all Sunday school material (my husband and I both frequently teach)
  • get Sunday morning breakfast ready or planned (hardboiled eggs often appear on our Sunday breakfast table)
  • make sure the car has gas (driving an SUV 40 minutes to church means that you can't make it on "E")
  • Saturday night baths
We also have had to curtail our previous Saturday evening outings. Sunday is a long day for young children. Therefore, when possible, we have dinner guests on Friday instead of Saturday; we aren't out late on Saturday nights if we can help it (there have been some rare occasions that we paid for the next day). Even when we do have guests on Saturday evenings, we frequently put our children to bed at their regular time, even if guests are still present. Another option is to have the guests in question come for an early dinner (or simply come over and fellowship before dinner instead of sitting around after; they might arrive at 5:oo even though you aren't planning to eat until 6:00). Guests with young children will appreciate this last option because they need to get their children in bed, too!

Happy Saturday prep for Sunday morning worship!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Struggle of Becoming Mom-Early Loss

As I continue to talk about the struggle of becoming a mom, one of the biggest struggles to deal with is the loss of a child. I have experienced two kinds: early miscarriages (under 12 weeks); and a later loss (though not medically considered a stillborn, I still had to deliver a baby boy.) This one will be about the early losses.

I had two early miscarriages. One of mine was at 5 weeks, and one was at 9 weeks. Neither one was really coupled by huge emotional pain like the later one, so I won't talk about that aspect as much here. With early ones, though there can be significant emotional pain, I think a lot of it is frustration. For many, it is your first time trying. The earlier they are, the less you tend to be "attached". In fact, it probably affected my husband the least-we didn't even have an ultrasound to look at before we lost the babies.

Yes, they are babies. I want to clarify that right now! Don't let anyone tell you they aren't. The majority of miscarriages are due to chromosomal problems and your body absorbs it back, or dispels it. Kind of a natural selection process. It can be extremely frustrating, especially if you are purposefully trying. With both of mine, I had positive pregnancy tests too. As a result, we have waited longer and longer to tell people when we are pregnant. Too many times we have had to re-call everyone and let them know we lost it. Yet a child was still conceived. There is nothing biblically that says it's not a child until x number of weeks. It is one from conception!

We have also had relief. As horrible as it sounds, one of our miscarriages was a unexpected pregnancy, and although we would have welcomed the child, it was terrible timing. After the experience was over, we had some relief, knowing we could wait until we were ready.

If you have, or ever think you are having a miscarriage, here are some things to consider and know:

  • "Drop to your knees": Talk to God. I can honestly say, it is the only reason we have been able to deal with ours like we have. We have been given such peace about each situation, even un-natural peace. Our fears haven't been totally taken away, but we are OK with his plan!
  • Any unusual pain or bleeding needs to be talked about with your doctor. And if you think something is amiss, read up on the signs (Internet or book) of a miscarriage to be prepared!
  • It's OK to cry: You may have been thrilled to know you were pregnant and this is a HUGE let-down. Your hormones are also on a HUGE roller-coaster!
  • There is physical and emotional pain: Miscarriages are painful physically. Even if you have a D&C it can be uncomfortable. Emotionally, it can be gut wrenching in the process, and hard to face for the next time you are going to try to have a baby.
  • If you have repeated losses, there may be another problem. Your doctor can talk to you about this.
  • No one will know what you are going through unless they have been through it themselves. If you do know someone else who has experienced a loss, talk to them. It is always nice to have a shoulder to cry on, or have someone for support! And be a support in return.
  • Ask for help: My darling husband returned a bunch of baby/maternity things after we lost our baby boy. He knew I couldn't face it! We are only so strong emotionally and need support. I also asked for prayer from a Bible study group.
  • Other babies: The first thing you will notice or see are other pregnant moms, or newborns. You may even have close friends who are pregnant. Prepare yourself emotionally for these encounters. They aren't easy at first.
  • Give yourself time-to heal physically and emotionally. Do things as you see fit. Some can bounce back quickly, and some it takes awhile to deal with the pain.
  • Communicate with your spouse: Be open about what you are feeling and find out their thoughts. And come to a mutual agreement about your next step. No one else will be experiencing it with you like they will.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Top 5 Children's Cartoon Movies & TV

Well, we all know there is time spent in front of the tube. I don't think we have posted this yet. Here are my kids top 5 movies, and then top 5 tv shows. Betsy will have some variance (like her daughter likes Mary Poppins and we don't have it.) And these are all geared toward 5 and under.

1. Curious George (I know top for Betsy too!)
2. Toy Story (Both 1&2)
3. Robin Hood-the cartoon of course
4. Beauty & the Beast-yes, my boys like it too!
5. Winnie the Pooh
(And any other Disney and Pixar cartoon could fit!)

1. Curious George (PBS)
2. Clifford (PBS)
3. Bob the Builder (PBS)
4. Thomas the Tank Engine (PBS)
5. Tom & Jerry (WB?)
*I like PBS a lot because generally the cartoons are better, and you don't have bad commercials in the middle of shows!!!

Going Green, part 3: the 3R's for Food

To see the first "Going Green" post and links to subsequent ones, click here.
This post is in honor of my mother who taught me how to cook, how to shop with a list, how not to be wasteful when I cook, and how to use that freezer!!

Can you practice the 3R's of Going Green (reduce, reuse, recycle) with food? You betcha.

Learn to cook from scratch; you'll need less prepared food which is more expensive and typically comes in wasteful packaging. Make a menu for the week and then make a corresponding grocery list. This will save you from buying food you won't end up eating (and therefore wasting). Use that freezer for leftovers! Vegetable soup tastes great with odds and ends of leftover, seasoned veggies that have been frozen. Don't have time to use the whole stalk of celery? Cut it up and freeze it for use in soups. You can even freeze milk if you don't have time to use it before it's date! There are whole books written on how to use your freezer; Carrie also wrote a good basic article for our full tummies blog.

You can certainly recycle and/or compost your food and food-related trash. In addition to such obvious solutions to help your kitchen get a little greener, you can also buy from bulk bins in local stores (typically, you can find stores selling grains and herbs/spices in bulk; Fresh Market, Whole Foods stores, farmer's markets, co-ops, etc. usually fall into this category). This allows you to buy the small amount you might actually need of wheat bran and also avoid extra packaging (and this also can save you money!). You can also buy in bulk from places like Sam's Club, BJ's, etc. This can also help reduce packaging, depending on what you buy (for instance, we buy a big 5-pound block of American cheese; each slice is not individually wrapped, so we save all those little plastic wrappers.)

Eating Out
How can you be greener when eating out? Consider the following: bringing back a reusable cup to coffee shops. Tell the person taking your order what you don't/won't eat. (I don't like tomatoes on my burgers; if I tell them that up front, then there's a tomato slice saved from the trash.) In fast food places, don't take more napkins (or ketchup packets, sugar packets, etc.) than you will need. Don't order more food than you should eat; this will save you from over-eating and/or wasting the extra food. You could also frequent places like Panera, which use regular dishes, over places like McAllister's, which use disposable dishes.

These are just a few kitchen and food strategies to get you started on your greener quest. Start looking around your kitchen as you prepare food. What can you reduce? What can you reuse? What can you recycle?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Top Five Bridal Shower Gifts

Some bridal showers have themes (gardening, cooking, lingerie, etc.). The following list is assuming there is no stated theme. These are gifts which Carrie and I have both given and received and come highly recommended, particularly when you are giving the gift to someone you haven't already known for decades. Always give a gift receipt; new brides are often swamped with duplicates and need to return items.
  1. Something from the registry
  2. Something from the registry
  3. Something from the registry
  4. Something from the registry
  5. Gift cards.
I'm serious, folks. Unless you know that couple so well you can predict exactly what will make their day extra special, then stick to their requests!!!! Very often, the list contains truly essential items (dishes, towels, kitchen appliances) that the couple probably can't afford on their own. We get to help them set up house.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Teabag: Sore from the Race!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

By the way, I ran ALL of my 5k race this weekend! I am quite sore today, and weary. But my kids have also been very tiresome lately. Yet, hopefully the time spent with them now, doing our best for God will reap a wonderful harvest in their lives to come. So keep doing good!